Sally in another city

Two months from today, I will be up in the air, on my way to London for 5 weeks of adventure.  It’s been seven years since I was there last, but I can still picture the winding roads and crowded markets like it was yesterday, and I’m aching to be a part of it again.

Earlier this year, three things happened at once that put this plan into action.

  1. My best friend Sara quit her job to follow her dream of going to a cooking school in France.
  2. I was busy planning bachelorette parties, showers, and wedding festivities for two of my favorite people in the world – my sister, Kat, and my college bff, Priti.  We were having a great time, but it highlighted how long it had been since I planned something incredible for myself.
  3. I got my annual bonus and realized that I never got around to spending last year’s bonus, not really.

I thought back to this amazing book I read last year – Happy Money, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.  It talked about investing in experiences, and not conforming to society’s expectations for what makes people happy or successful.  Looking at my bank account, I felt like I had a few choices: a) keep saving… forever. b) buy an apartment – but as soon as I said this out loud, I realized how little I’m ready for this long-term commitment and responsibility, and how unlikely it was to make me happier (I love my sweet apartment, amazing location, and awesome roommate!) or c) put it all on the table and have a trip of a lifetime.

I opted for c and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  My trip starts in London, where I’ve rented two different Airbnb places for different parts of the trip – in totally different parts of town – during which time my parents are coming to visit (yay!).  Then the last 10 days, Katie (the aforementioned amazing roommate and high school bff) is coming over and we’re heading down toward France together to visit chef-in-training Sara, have seaside adventures, and then head to Barcelona.  We’ll also have 22 hours in Istanbul on the way home, because if you’re going to have a layover, why not go somewhere incredible?

Now, the countdown is on – I’m figuring out what I need to pack, making a list of what I actually want to do abroad, and buying tickets for the last leg of the trip.  As an added bonus, getting ready for being a tourist again has pushed me to look at my current city in a new way, running down roads I’ve never been on and making the most of this lovely summer.

Look for reports from Sally in another city – Londontown – this fall.  And until then – enjoy the sunshine!

How I learned to stop worrying and get clean

I’m a tidy person (as long as you don’t ask my coworkers).  I take good care of my space and I like getting down and dirty now and then, with the reward of a sparkling house to show for my work.

But since I’ve started living in my current apartment, I never had time to really take on my chores the way they deserved.  There was always something else I needed – or really wanted! – to do.  Going to the gym, trivia with my friends, getting some great project knocked out at work, catching up with my family – there are a million ways I can think of spending a few hours, and they all kept winning over cleaning.

Then I read this amazing book: Happy Money, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.   I heard Michael speak at the Boston Book Fest, bought the book on the spot, and think it’s the best purchase I ever made.  Until this week.

Because this week, I finally got a house cleaner.  And now, I’m never looking back.

Coming home and seeing that my stove really CAN get clean, looking at our shiny mirrors and smudge-free floors, kicking off the month with a squeaky-clean start – it made me realize how much I had resigned myself to just be constantly a little bit unhappy with our apartment, our home.  I thought that somehow, if I couldn’t make this work on my own, I deserved to not be satisfied.  But after reading Happy Money, I realized that this simply isn’t true – not when I could spend a few bucks to have some help.  Now, I don’t just have a cleaner house – I have more time to do the things I care about (who would have thought you could buy time!  These authors did!), and I have a house that I want to welcome people into 10x more than before.  And I plan to do just that.

And if it gets dirty again because my friends and I have some fun?  The cleaners are coming back next month, and we can start fresh – together – once more.