“I often romanticize packing up & escaping the grit and grime of New York…” – Carlen Altman
Hi! My name is Carlen. I do a bunch of random things including writing, making movies, performing standup comedy, and running my own jewelry company. Having lived in New York City my whole life, you would think I would be used to all the noise, crowds and mysterious smells of the city, but alas, it is still very difficult to take it all in!
Up until very recently, I would often feel overwhelmed by my surroundings, and while others were out socializing on a Friday night, I would be home lying in the fetal position, reading books with titles like “The Highly Sensitive Adult” or “Guide To Raising Rabbits” (which are two great books, by the way).
I used to often romanticize packing up and escaping the grit and grime of New York without telling a soul and moving to the woods by myself with a menagerie of pets – perhaps maybe even learning how to play the didgeridoo (why not?). The thing is, I know myself and I know I would soon get bored in the woods and start romanticizing the very same city I just left – not to mention, if I actually left without a trace, I know my friends and family would be at least a little concerned (hopefully).
So what is a compromise between living in the city and hiding in seclusion in a forest? Trying to make my New York City life as tranquil and forest-like as possible! Here are some steps I have slowly figured out for living in a big city but making your life feel like a calm experience.
Wake up early (ugh, I know). Waking up early gives you more time in your day and despite the glorious feeling of your comforter, it is so worth it. I have been waking up 2 hours earlier than I used to every morning and it has changed my life. I now have more time to do the following things below…
1. Sit in nature as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be a cliff overlooking a waterfall, even sitting in your local park, or under a tree can help relax you. There is scientific proof to back this up (***link to 10 Reasons Why You Feel so Good in Nature by Kris Abrams)
2. Meditate in the mornings and before bed. You can learn how to meditate at The David Lynch Foundation, or Google it and you will find all sorts of resources.
3. When walking through the city, avoid the main avenues where the crowds are. I always walk on the side streets where I won’t be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city. Because of this I’ve found I am so much calmer walking places now.
4. Decorate your home with natural objects, such as plants, crystals, and stones. Coming home will be a much more postitive experience, despite what may be going on outside.
5. If your living situation permits, get a pet! I live with a pet rabbit and a hissing cockroach and they are two of my best friends. Just make sure you have the time and space to commit to them.
6. Make your house smell nice with incense or candles, preferably beeswax.
7. Volunteer with a cause that you believe in. Stepping outside yourself and helping others, whether it is humans, animals, or our planet, will help you feel more peaceful. I am currently involved with a group called WolfPAC which you can check out and get involved with, no matter what part of the country you’re in! I’ve also started my own activism website, called The Deep End Club, with my good friend Tennessee Thomas. Stay tuned!
8. With you, carry around something that smells nice. I always carry a little bottle of amber oil and a satchel of lavender. Smelling these two scents immediately helps me calm down, wherever I am – even in the heart of Times Square!
9. Look up at the stars at night. I know this can be hard with all the lights of the city, but it is possible to see at least one or two stars if you squint. Looking up at the stars reminds us how small we are and can often make the stress of the city and our lives seem trivial in comparison to bigger questions such as WHY AM I HERE? and WHERE ARE THE ALIENS?
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