City Guides

How I Try To Find Peace & Quiet In A Busy Place Like NYC

I finally felt like I got a grip on things. I was on top of my game at work, Oliver & I were in a good routine of working out and budgeting our food, and I was making new friends and enjoying the city for what felt like the first time since moving here. Yes, it sure felt like I was finally settling the score with New York City…until one day at work when one of my favorite sandals magically broke.

It’s not like someone stepped on it, or it got caught on something. I was at work walking into the bathroom and my left sandal started to feel floppy. I look down and notice that one of the back straps had completely came clean out of the sole. No amount of glue or tape could save that day, so I just flopped around the office with a broken sandal for six more hours until the end of the day when I could buy new shoes to get home in.

New York 1, Kiersten 0.

Now granted, it was fun having an excuse to go shoe shopping that day, and I ended up with these cute flats and even a clearance set of booties for the Fall. So I wasn’t complaining much. But the whole rest of the day after breaking my shoe, I couldn’t stop chuckling at the irony of it all. Five minutes before my sandal tragedy, I had been telling a coworker about how I finally felt on top of things…that I could handle this chaotic city way better than our meet cute back in August of 2016. It’s like NYC heard me and thought, “you think you can handle the beast? Sucker, try again.”

The irony was too real, so I chuckled all the way to the shoe store.

As I rode the F train home that night in my cute new flats, my mind was reflecting on other chaotic moments I have to constantly deal with in NYC. Like the absurd amount of small space in our studio apartment, dancing through the busy streets since no one ever seems to walk in a straight line, getting pushed in Grand Central station when commuting to work (because there are way too many people in there), hot subway stations that I swear make me sweat more than a workout, and somehow being okay with the ridiculous price of food here. $14 for a salad at lunch? Really, New York?!?

Yet somehow, amidst the chaos, we have found a sense of normalcy here in the city. Yes, New Yorkers deal with a crap ton on a daily basis—and anyone on the outside looking in would think we are totally insane for still doing this. But after a year of living here, we are finally calling our studio apartment “home.” We are learning to cruise among the chaos, and during that time of reflection on the train, I was able to pinpoint a few reasons why.

Get involved locally

After a long week of commuting to Manhattan and working our tushies off, the last thing Oliver & I want to do is hang out in those busy streets (especially during tourist season). At the end of the week, I start to crave relaxing weekends spent in our quaint Brooklyn neighborhood. We live on the edge of Windsor Terrace and Kensington, and in my opinion, we’re getting the best out of both locations where we live. In my free time, I love going to Windsor Coffee to write, spending an afternoon reading in Prospect Park (which is a glorious 5-minute walk from our apartment), going to the farmer’s markets in Ditmas Park and Park Slope, and getting involved at TGC—our church here in Brooklyn. By making an effort to get involved locally, we are able to make our neighborhood truly feel like home.

Take time to quiet the mind

I try to do find peace and quiet multiple different ways during the week, but the most prominent time is my hour of self-care on Sunday nights. Every Sunday, I draw myself a bubble bath, light a candle, put on some tunes, and lay in the tub with a glass of wine. Sometimes I’ll brainstorm my to-do’s for my week ahead, but after a few minutes I end up just sitting there listening to the tunes instead. Afterwards, I’ll paint my nails…because I’m still convinced having cute, manicured nails makes one work harder during the week. It’s pretty much a scientific fact at this point.

Having that hour (sometimes even just 30 or 45 minutes) has been so good for my soul once Monday rolls around. It helps me to relax, to reflect, and to feel like I *still* have a grip on things—despite the broken sandals and the sweltering city heat.

Live in the present

If I ever told 17-year-old me that I found NYC chaotic and way too much too handle, I have a feeling she would just slap me in the face. Oliver and I still joke about how me being an editor in New York is the “original dream,” and it’s still so overwhelming and beautiful to actually believe. And how have I been handling it? Complaining! Like any normal human being, I’m thinking about the next step—the “what ifs” in life that doom us all.

Thinking this way had me hating the now and craving tomorrow, and when this finally came to my attention I kind of felt like I deserved that slap from 17-year-old me. This is my now. And if I don’t live it, I’m going to miss it.

Enjoy the simple things

New York, or any city for that matter, is always so busy. Everyone is shooting for some kind of goal, and here in New York it’s more competitive than I have ever experienced in my life. I thought high school was bad…it’s got nothing on this crazy cut-throat city. I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of a challenge, but I also know how challenges (and going for your dreams) can chew you up and spit you back out with a demolished ego and a broken heart.

Here’s the thing…if I’m not taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life, then I’m kind of missing the point. Yes, it’s great to have goals—I wouldn’t be here without them. But it’s also good to pay attention to the little things that make me happy. When I’m not at work, I try to focus on the simple things in my life. This includes journaling, reading, blogging, praying, sitting in coffee shops, cooking, and spending time with my husband. I quiet my mind and heart from the busy NYC world and try to focus on what matters at the moment. Enjoying the task before me, even if that’s just cooking dinner while listening to some tunes, or finally scrapbooking pictures from our wedding.

Embrace the chaos

I have a friend who is always using the hashtag #EmbraceTheChaos on her Instagram. She just moved with her family to Denver, has two adorable little boys, and loves to workout. I love following her journey because of those posts, and that simple hashtag puts my life into perspective. New York City is scary, busy, and never slows down. But guess what, life also doesn’t slow down.

So really, we have two options: We can live life complaining, or we can #EmbracetheChaos. We can either complain about how our all-time favorite sandals broke and that life “never goes my way.” Or we can head to a shoe store, buy a new pair, and accept the new adventure.

New York 1, Kiersten 1.

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