Hi there! In honor of my 27th birthday, which I’m celebrating this week, I wanted to share 27 things that you might not know about me. I can’t wait to hear what surprises you most–or what you can relate to the most!
1. I worked at a Starbucks in downtown Boston for several months when I was in college. This normally wouldn’t have held much significance in my life–it taught me to never sacrifice sleep for a job; to never work in a demanding customer service position as an introvert; and how to make a damn good cappuccino. However, in the last month that I worked there, one of my regular customers worked up the nerve to ask me on a date. We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary in April! (You can hear all about our wedding in these 2 posts: Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are and My 5 Happiest Wedding Memories & 2 Biggest Stressors!)
2. I’m a big Myers-Briggs nerd. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post: Why You Should Know Your Personality Type!) I use it to understand the world around me every day. I’m an INFJ, and when I found this out in college, it changed my understanding of my entire life. INFJs often feel lonely in the world because they’re the rarest personality type; so knowing why I always felt this way was such an enlightening revelation! If you’re a Myers-Briggs nerd too, let’s talk!
3. When I love someone, I can sense their emotions from far away. I used to assume that this ability was unique to me, and I doubted its veracity for a long time. I’m not one to believe in psychic abilities or other impossible-to-prove phenomena. However, I later discovered that this is common in INFJs–our uncommonly strong empathic abilities are to blame. (I write more about this in my post, “Do Soulmates Exist?“)
4. I have two tattoos: an eagle feather on my left arm, and two roses on my right arm. I got them when I was 20 and 21–and no, I don’t regret it! The idea for the eagle feather came to me when I was volunteering on a Lakota Sioux reservation when I was 18. Eagle feathers, which are white with a black tip, symbolize the natural balance between dark and light in our lives. It’s about taking the good with the bad, because both are inevitable and necessary. The Sioux believe that eagles, which fly higher than all other birds, are the messengers between heaven and earth.They believe that holding an eagle feather gets the attention of the heavens; and they’re so sacred that if they touch they ground, they must be burned. They give eagle feathers to warriors who have shown bravery in difficult circumstances, symbolizing the wisdom that they’ve gained from enduring the struggles of war. I knew when I first heard this folklore that I hadn’t earned my eagle feather yet; but after enduring a handful of struggles that changed who I was and brought me a great deal of wisdom, I knew I was ready. (The roses I just got because they were pretty, intending to turn them into a botanical half-sleeve later on–which I hope to do soon, after collecting ideas and inspiration for the last six years!)
5. I was vegetarian for a decade. It’s impossible for me to turn off my brain when I’m eating–if it wasn’t ethically raised, I can’t enjoy it. I can’t separate the concept of “delicious food” from that of “living things that I don’t deserve to kill for my own enjoyment.” When I met my now-husband, a lifelong meat lover and cook, he requested (insisted) that I meet him in the middle. I started eating fish first, and later, chicken and turkey. (I still don’t like chicken very much, but DAMN, am I glad that I eat fish and turkey!) I still feel like a vegetarian. My rule is that I eat foods that I can feel good about–pasture-raised chickens from small local farms and wild Alaskan salmon, for example. But I’ll never preach to you about my beliefs on food–what you eat is your decision, and it’s not my place to judge.
6. I first set out to be a singer/songwriter before life ultimately took me in a different direction. When I was deciding where to go to college, I was torn between all of the things that I loved–music, photography, writing, psychology. It felt like a binary choice to me: I had to choose the thing that I loved most, and give up everything else in the pursuit of a single dream. I was accepted into Berklee College of Music–a huge honor–and the matter seemed to be settled. It’s why I moved to Boston, which changed my life in an infinite number of ways; but I didn’t end up graduating from Berklee. I realized that I had painted myself into a corner, forsaking all of my other passions for my love of music… which didn’t exactly translate into a practical career. I still love music, and I’ve written many songs since I left Berklee; but I learned that trying to turn a beloved creative pursuit into a career is sometimes the worst thing that you can do. I hope to bring my music out into the public eye again someday! (To hear the full story, read my post: Why I Don’t Regret Walking Away from the Career I Thought I Wanted!)
7. I haven’t always lived in Boston–I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, in a small town famous for its annual horse show and fair. All of my childhood memories were formed in the same home, where my family has lived since I was 6 months old. I moved to Boston when I was 18; and I feel more connected to this city than I ever felt in Philadelphia! (Read my series on Boston’s most gorgeous neighborhoods to see the city through my eyes!)
8. I’ve always loved animals. I’m the person who gravitates toward the dog or cat at a party before I warm up to the people there! My first dog was a gentle-hearted black dog named Molly; and my second was a spunky Westie named Lily. As soon as Alex and I had our own space, we adopted two mischievous black kittens: Stella, who has giant green eyes and a tail that’s always in the shape of a question mark; and Felix, who will kick off a conversation with a simple “meow” and keep it going for as long as you’re willing to respond. Two years ago, we adopted Jack, our Carolina pup who’s known for his giant ears, endless licks, and goofy spirit. (Oh–and he made it into a Wayfair photoshoot once!) I love sharing my home with formerly stray animals who have so much love to give. When you picture me writing a blog post, picture at least two animals curled up on my lap.
9. I have a bad habit of fainting at the worst times. The first time I fainted was during a televised choral performance in the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The next time I fainted was during a performance of the Carmina Burana, when I set off a chain reaction of fainting across our choir. Most recently, I started to feel faint during brunch; decided to sprint through the parking lot (?!) as the tunnel vision set in; and ended up in the hospital with a nasty concussion and a scuffed-up face.
10. My secret talent is making badass playlists. If you like folk, indie, alt-country, bluegrass, or singer-songwriter music at all, I’ve got a playlist for every possible occasion and mood. Trust me–you should follow me on Spotify. You should also check out my two curated music posts: My Top 50 Must-Listen Albums and Curated Songs, Photos & Quotes in Celebration of Spring. (Look out for more of these posts in the near future!)
11. I have an undying love for the social sciences. I have a master’s degree in psychology, and my bachelor’s degree was in sociology and psychology. I planned on getting a Ph.D. so that I could study the science of love for the rest of my life; but in the course of getting my master’s degree and searching for jobs, I realized that I was really meant to be a writer all along. (Read more about this in my posts How I Came to Be a Writer and Dear Unemployed Recent Grad: You’re Not Alone!)
12. Lemon is my kryptonite–even more so than chocolate! I squeeze lemon on everything that I cook–its bright, zesty acidity makes it my favorite ingredient by far. All of my favorite recipes have lemon in them: my lemon-lavender zucchini bread; salmon with leeks & lemon cream sauce; sweet potatoes with beets & lemon-truffle sauce… the list goes on and on! (I hope to do another recipe post soon, so stay tuned!)
13. Daily walks keep me sane. As long as it’s not pouring, you can always find me wandering the streets of Boston during my lunch breaks. It’s a ritual that I developed at my first job, where I sat in a cubicle with no natural light and found myself feeling sleepy and frazzled as the day went on. Taking an hour for myself keeps my spirits, creativity, and productivity high through the afternoon. It’s refreshing to step away from my work to recharge, especially for an introvert and empath who so easily absorbs the emotions of other people. (This is also when I take all of my photos of Boston that you see on my Instagram feed every morning!)
14. When I’m stressed, I organize. I’ve never made a big decision without an extensive spreadsheet. Putting things into a rational order is my way of transforming subjective emotions into a quantifiable science. I use a paper planner so that I can start each day with a prioritized to-do list that I can check off as I work. When I’m procrastinating, I’ve been known to pull everything out of my kitchen cabinets and spend all day putting them into labeled mason jars in specific arrangements. My closet is sorted by color, season, and item of clothing. Did I mention that I have OCD? No, but really, I do 😂
15. Artichokes have always been my favorite food. I was likely the first preschooler to ever ask for artichokes for her birthday dinner (with a side of beets!). And I’m not talking about artichoke hearts, which everyone seems to have fallen in love with recently–I’m talking whole, fresh artichokes, spiky leaves and all, dipped in tangy lemon butter. 😍
16. I owe everything to reading. I learned to read in preschool, and I immediately began devouring book after book. I credit reading with every ounce of my intelligence and writing talent. My parents had to set rules around how many books I was allowed to check out of the library each week (our Saturday ritual), and how many I could stack into my backpack every morning (10). I once got in trouble for trying to read all 10 books under my desk during class, reading one page of each book at a time. I suspect that my teacher was more bemused than angry–I remember him asking, “Really?! How in the world were you reading ten books at once?” My house is filled with books–four full shelves that are always overflowing with new finds that I can’t wait to read.
17. My backyard is one of my favorite places. What makes our house special is the fact that the Charles River (the same one that separates Boston from Cambridge–but upstream, where it’s smaller and much cleaner!) is literally in our backyard. My dad recently built me my very own canoe; so in my free time, you can usually find me paddling around in a state of glee. We hung a hammock between two trees on the edge of the water, where I love to read on lazy summer afternoons. We have a big porch and a fire pit where we love to share a bottle of wine with friends when it’s warm. We grow a massive vegetable garden every summer, and we planted fruit trees that will hopefully bring us some cherries, apples, and peaches this year. And Jack gets to run around with our neighbors’ dogs whenever he pleases!
18. The Notes app on my phone is an accurate representation of my brain. Whenever I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I write a note on my phone. Song ideas that come to me as I’m falling asleep; recipes that I want to turn into blog posts; a list of my favorite sparkling wines; books that I want to read… If there’s one thing that someone could read to get an accurate picture of who I am, from my neuroses to my inspirations, it’s my notes to myself on my phone.
19. I’ve been an insomniac since preschool. My brain has no “Do Not Disturb” mode, although I desperately wish that it did! I have a vivid memory of lying in bed when I was in preschool, trying to figure out what would exist if the universe had never formed. Total darkness? Was darkness still a kind of existence, or was it the absence of existence? This was me as a four-year-old. I haven’t fallen asleep in less than an hour ever since! (If your mind is filled with existential questions too, you’ll love these two posts: Do You Believe in Fate? and When Places Become Characters in Our Stories!)
20. I once had a tradition of completely reinventing myself once a year, from elementary school through college. It was my way of trying on different identities for size–an experiment in seeing whether other people would treat me differently because of how I looked, or if I would feel like a different person inside because I looked different on the outside. Age 10: Tomboy. Age 12: Whatever the popular girls were wearing. Age 13: Punk rock. Age 14: Trying to be invisible. Age 16: Flower child. Age 19: Red hair, then brown hair, then black (by accident, from too many layers of hair dye!). Age 21: Cowboy boots. It wasn’t until I was out of school that I could finally stop aligning myself with a particular style in order to establish who I was–for other people and for myself. My style today? Feminine with edge, plus a touch of rustic inspiration.
21. I was always meant to be an editor. I was pretty insufferable as a precocious elementary schooler, constantly correcting teachers’ spelling. My fourth grade teacher finally found a solution: to make me the first-ever student editor of the school paper.
22. It’s far too easy to make me cry. Some common triggers: Videos about stray dogs finally finding their “forever homes” (or even just the phrase “forever homes,” depending on my mood). Misunderstandings with people whose opinions I value. When birthday or holiday plans don’t unfold how I want them to. When my favorite clothes shrink in the dryer. Being reminded of the fact that the people I love won’t be around forever. (Brb, grabbing tissues…)
23. I love cards–sending them, sure, but especially receiving them! If I get a good card, I save it forever, reading it whenever I need a reminder of who I am and the people who love me. I even take pictures of every card that I get, just in case anything ever happens to the physical cards.
24. Some of my favorite musicians that I’ve seen live are Sarah Jarosz, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, John Mayer (2 times), Grace Potter (3 times), Ari Hest, and Kacey Musgraves. Some of the musicians that I’m DYING to see live are Aoife O’Donovan, BOY, Brandi Carlile, and Nickel Creek. (You can hear my favorite songs from each of these artists in my post, My Top 50 Must-Listen Albums!)
25. I’m a textbook introvert: Quiet in groups and novel situations, taking in my surroundings and listening to other people; but I come alive as soon as I feel comfortable. I’m fascinated by people’s stories; and the only thing more energizing for me than a long, contemplative walk in a beautiful place is a late-night conversation about what really matters in life. (P.S. If you’re an introvert, or an extrovert longing to understand the introverts in your life, you’ll love this post: 15 Strengths & Struggles for Introverts at Work!)
26. Traveling is my favorite thing in the world (get it?). My travel philosophy is equal parts intention and serendipity: I do intensive research before I leave to figure out where the most beautiful places are (and the best places to eat along the way!). I’ll pick a neighborhood to wander each day, with a list of places to visit if we feel like setting a destination. But my favorite thing to do is wander through narrow streets with my camera in hand, taking in the sights and letting the city guide me. I love traveling with my husband, because he’s not afraid to strike up conversations with locals, finding out insider tips and making friends all across the world. Most recently, we’ve visited California, Iceland, Alaska, and France. Next, I’d love to see Amsterdam, Norway, the Mediterranean (all of it, honestly!), and every beautifully ancient Eastern European city.
27. I’m basically a blend of 4 fictional characters that I loved as a kid: Matilda, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Harriet the Spy.
So, what do you think? Which facts could you relate to most–and which surprised you most? Do you have any facts or stories of your own to share? I’d love to hear them!