Monday, September 7, 2015

Now Playing: Slow it Down

I'm a true music fan, endlessly searching for new artists on Spotify and constantly returning to old favorites. For me, music is the best way of calming down and reminding myself to breathe, so a lot of my favorite music includes slow, contemplative tunes with beautiful lyrics and soft melodies.

Here's a playlist with a title appropriately inspired by one of the songs I've included, Slow it Down. When you need to calm down, take a nap, or simply breathe, turn to this playlist for a selection of these simple, soothing songs.

The following playlist can be found here on Spotify. Happy listening!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Deep, Introspective Breath: Meditation for Beginners

After finishing the second week of my junior year of college, I feel myself needing to take a deep, slow breath and collect myself. Finding a balance between spending time with my friends, attending all events for my sorority, and completing all my homework has been more of a challenge than I predicted for the year. Classes are harder and there are more and more opportunities for social situations, making it really hard to keep things in perspective and remind myself that I am, first and foremost, at college for an education.

Basically, I'm stressed, questioning my commitment to my major, worrying about what I'm going to do after college...

photo source
Enter my new best friend: meditation. I've meditated before, in high school gym classes and a spirituality course I took last semester. But never have I actually gotten around to just meditating, just for myself, just because I needed to recenter my being. This is the first year I've been truly mindful of my mental and spiritual health, taking the time to heal myself through meditation.

Let me tell you, it feels great.

It helps that one of my best friends and housemates, Jules, is taking a class on the mind-body connection this year and has to meditate for homework, so I've been joining her for that. But more and more often I've been taking time to find some self-guided meditations on YouTube and just be mindful of my being for a few minutes.

It's helpful to have a starting point if you're meditating for the first time, so here are some tips that I've found helpful (thanks, Jules!) as I begin my meditation journey.

1. Turn the lights low - maybe light a candle or set the lamps in your room to a low level. No one can be relaxed under the harsh glare of fluorescent lightbulbs.

2. Get comfortable - sit on a yoga mat, folded towel, or blanket, if you'd like. Cross your legs pretzel-style, or put the bottoms of your feet together in butterfly pose. Let your hands cup or lace naturally; they'll usually settle in your lap or rest lightly on your feet.

3. Find a great guided meditation, if you're uncertain of exactly where to begin. These two videos are fantastic, especially as a beginner.

4. Focus on your breathing! It's so important. Mindfulness begins with you acknowledging the power of your breath, the way it fills your lungs and travels throughout your body. Don't worry about blocking out stressful thoughts; just start by thinking about how you breathe.

And that's all there is to it!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Please Stand By!

This blog was something I started on a whim because I'd always dreamed of being a fashion blogger, but somewhere along the line I lost sight of 1. content, 2. timing, and 3. motivation. I'd love to completely reboot this blog and make it the best it can be! I don't want to delete the posts I've previously written because I think it's good to have something to look back on as my writing improves. But I really would like to become a more active blogger in the future.

So now it's time for an upgrade!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Club: Memoir Edition

As an English major, I have very little time during the school year to read for pleasure. (Right now The Saga of the Volsungs and Gulliver's Travels are staring guiltily at me. Every spare moment of my day, I feel like I should be reading for class.)

Still, I've been trying to make extra time this year to read more. I've recently finished two books that I'm absolutely obsessed with. Funnily enough, they're both memoirs. Normally I'm more of a novel person, but these memoirs were both amazing, for completely different reasons.

Mindy Kaling is Hollywood's new "It Girl," and for good reason. She is brilliant, sharp-witted, and stylish; she's a talented writer and actor, in addition to being gorgeous and hilarious. Basically, I want her as my BFF. Who doesn't? She seems like she has it all.

Her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), was the best book I've read in a long time. Nearly every page, I was stopping to read a line out loud to my roommate. Kaling is just so funny. I'm not exaggerating when I say the book had me laughing out loud page after page. Plus, unlike other celebrities, Mindy Kaling just seems easy to relate to. This is a really fast read, so if you have any spare time in your life I really recommend this book.

The second memoir I read is completely different. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, is the tale of remarkable courage and strength in the face of staggering difficulties. Cheryl lost her mother to cancer very suddenly at a young age and suddenly, her world was flipped upside down. Her marriage crumpled, her siblings scattered, and she turned to drugs for escape. Just when she thought she hit rock bottom, she discovered the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking trail stretching from Mexico north all along the west coast. She decides, abruptly and with no true hiking experience, to hike the PCT alone in an attempt to regain control of her life

Losing and finding herself along the trail, Cheryl perseveres through sweltering heat, blankets of snow, blisters and torn toenails and a backpack so huge she names it "Monster." Facing the elements, Cheryl struggles in the wild, but ultimately learns to adapt to the great outdoors. She meets fellow hikers on the trail, but it's in her moments of solitude that she finds her greatest strength.

I'm not an outdoorsy person by any means, but this book makes me want to scale a mountain and lose myself in the wilderness. It's inspirational in ways I can't even describe and makes me feel like, if Cheryl succeeded on her own in the wild, I can do anything. I definitely recommend reading this emotional and motivational memoir! What sort of books have you been reading lately?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Favorite Fashion Bloggers

I love fashion. Shopping, browsing Pinterest, and reading fashion blogs are some of my favorite hobbies. Sometimes my size intimidates me and keeps me from wearing what I'd really like to wear (I'm not plus-sized, but I'm not model-skinny, either. I'm that ambiguous gray area that's really hard to dress because I don't fall to either extreme). Still, I think fashion and style are so much fun to play around with!

Back in high school, I discovered the magical world of fashion blogging, and since then my interest has only grown. Here are some of the sites that help inspire me and my own personal style:

1. Delightfully Tacky: I've been obsessed with Elizabeth's blog probably since I discovered what blogging was. In my early high school years, when I was deep in the throes of my hippie phase, Elizabeth's earthy, bohemian style was so refreshing to see amid all the preppy style blogs I saw. She keeps it so real in all her posts and makes me want to move to Washington or hop in an RV and travel the country. (Plus I really want her hair.)

2. Unfancy: I'm really, really bad at minimalism. If I had to name a deadly sin for myself it would probably be gluttony. But Caroline's blog makes me want to streamline not only my wardrobe, but all the excessive parts of my life. Plus her capsule wardrobe means her style is clean, classic, and easily recreated.

3. Kendi Everyday: Kendi's style is truly enviable, but what really made me fall in love with her blog was her easygoing tone and her sense of humor. I didn't feel like I was reading a blog; I truly felt like I was just having a conversation with her. That's exactly the kind of tone I aim for in my writing - never stuffy, never preachy, just casual and fun. (She's also my inspiration for colorful outfits.)

4. What Would a Nerd Wear: Sadly, this blog is no longer active, and hasn't been for a few years now. Still, it was my favorite blog for the longest time. Tania, a self-proclaimed nerd, felt like kin to me somehow. A fellow book-lover, her outfits never felt too overdone or stuffy. As a high school student reading her blog, I could easily imitate her sense of style.

I love fashion blogging because no two fashion bloggers, or their styles, are alike. The four women above all have very different styles, but they always look amazing because they exude confidence in their photos. Are you inspired by any particular fashion bloggers?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inspiration Strikes

On Saturday, I went home for the first time all semester to spend the night at my house, get some work done, and pick up a few things I needed from home. I've really started to love driving on the highway, especially by myself, and I was in such a good mood driving back to campus on Sunday. There was no traffic on the roads, I was listening to Vance Joy, it was snowing out, and I was suddenly struck by the idea that I needed to do something with my life.

This is nothing new. I have this sort of epiphany - this sudden sense of wanderlust, this ambitious desire to plunge headfirst into something - pretty often. But for some reason, cruising down Route 1 in the snow singing along to Riptide, the urge to change my life suddenly felt really, really real. Even though the weather was less than ideal, the fact that it was March 1 really made me think of spring and upcoming adventures in store for me as the weather gets warmer. It inspired me to make a post of, well, things that are currently inspiring me, to keep my spirits up until the warm weather gets here for good! 

This is probably the best picture I've ever taken
The High Line: I can't wait to get back to New York City over spring break. The last few city trips I've taken have been freezing, so I'm looking forward to sunny, mild weather. Wandering through Chelsea Market and strolling along the High Line are some of my favorite city activities when it's nice out. How amazing is that artwork up there? 
Archaic Torso of Apollo: This is one of those poems that always gets me right in the feels, even though every time I read it I'm not entirely sure I've grasped its meaning. Rainer Maria Rilke is a literary genius, though, and this is one of my favorite poems. The final line just gets me every time I read it: You must change your life. 
Wild: I am so into Cheryl Strayed's memoir. It's a remarkably inspirational tale of one woman's impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, with no previous hiking experience. Her courage, not only on the trail, but in all facets of her life, is truly uplifting. This book makes me want to drive off to some mountain somewhere in the hopes of rediscovering myself. 

Hopefully I'll be able to direct some of this blind ambition toward accomplishing something important this spring! What's currently inspiring you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New York, New York

Les Miserables; Dom and I brave the cold at Rockefeller Center
My friend Dominick has inadvertently become my unofficial Broadway buddy. In November, he and I went into the city and rushed tickets for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which was hilarious and had an amazing soundtrack, not to mention an exceptionally talented cast. We had such luck getting tickets then (plus getting autographs and a picture with one of the lead actors after the show) that this Saturday, we decided to try our luck again.
Dom strikes his best 24601 pose; I pose with the exquisitely talented Ramin Karimloo
We had our sights set on Cabaret, because Alan Cumming and Emma Stone make a duo you just can't refuse. Unfortunately, they weren't selling rush tickets that day, so after hustling from Penn Station to Studio 54, we had to turn and run back nine blocks to the theater where Les Miserables plays. We luckily got tickets, even though we had to sit on literal opposite sides of the theater from each other. 

I think I have to move Les Miz up the ranks of my top favorite musicals. Seeing it performed live was beautiful. Ramin Karimloo, as Jean Valjean, was everything I had heard he would be and more. Dom claimed that the rendition of "Bring Him Home" that we heard was the best version he had ever heard, and I agree - the applause for that song went on for ages. And I cried during the final scene. I couldn't help it. The beautiful final message of Les Mis - "To love another person is to see the face of God" - always chokes me up, and the actors had me so invested in the characters they played that I couldn't stop the tears from coming. One of my friends insisted that your perception of Les Miz depends entirely on the cast you see, and I have to say the entire cast I saw was truly exceptional. 
Dom has only been to the city a few times, where I've spent more days there than I can count, but I always have a blast when we go. We get cookies at Schmackary's bakery (delicious!) and hit the touristy sites like Times Square and Rockefeller Center. (Dom has a particular soft spot for the arbitrary Matt Lauer cardboard cutout in the NBC Studio store.)  

Visiting the city always gets me in a New York state of mind. When I go with my friends, we stick to familiar areas, but when I visit my brother, we venture into areas of the city I don't frequent. I'll be so sad when my brother and his girlfriend move out of the city this summer so my brother can attend med school, because I'll be losing my city tour guide! Still, I know I'll live in the city at some point in my life - it's been a dream of mine for years. So, until then, here's to my first city trip of 2015 and here's to many more! 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 - The Year of Words

I decided long before New Year's Eve that 2015 was going to be an important year for me - the year of words. Now, this isn't much of a shock to people who know me - I had my first article published in my town's newspaper when I was in third grade, I won the English department award when graduating high school, I'm an English major, and I own no less than four literary-themed shirts. Of course 2015 is going to be a year of words - every year in my life is a year of words.

But 2015 is going to be the year I focus on words, and making words count:

  • I made it a goal to write every day
  • While interning at, I'll be writing a lot anyway!
  • I've determined to settle for nothing less than high A's on all my papers this semester (not that I've ever slacked off in class, but I want a 4.0 GPA, not the 3.9 I got this semester)
  • I've decided to minor in marketing, which will hopefully help me learn how to market my words...or something.
But even more importantly than writing words, 2015 is going to be the year of me reading words. Last year, I was horrified when Alyssa asked me if I had read any good books lately, and my answer was a shocking no! I had gotten so caught up in reading books for my classes, I hadn't read for fun all year! Alyssa's most recent post on her 2015 Reading Goals, not to mention the following picture I've found on Pinterest, has inspired me to read much more this year and remember to read more than just the assigned reading for my English classes. 

This list is pretty ambitious, but if you're up for the challenge, head over to PopSugar and download a copy of the 2015 Reading Challenge! Whether you have a set number of books you'd like to read this year or you're just hoping to pick up one new book, good luck and happy reading! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I had the most wonderful Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's celebrations this year! Nothing but wonderful relaxing time spent with my closest family and friends. I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from the amazing holiday season!

On Christmas Eve, my parents, my brother Chris, and I attempted to take a selfie on my mom's iPad, then headed over to my grandparents' house for our Christmas Eve tradition: Polish 7-fish Christmas Eve dinner (complete with lots of pierogis), then Christmas cookies and present opening, followed by my brother and I seeing who can count the most Christmas lights on the drive home. (We've been playing this game probably since I was old enough to count, and we used to use this opportunity to search the skies for Santa! Even though we're in our twenties now, we still get competitive.)

On Christmas Day, my brother and I woke up extremely early to open presents with our parents and enjoy a Christmas breakfast before cooking and getting ready to go to my aunt and uncle's house. Another tradition, Christmas day is always filled with aunts, uncles, my other grandparents, and as many cousins as we can wrangle from our various spots in the country. Above, I have a great picture of my mom and all her siblings (sans one sister of hers who lives in Florida) and my grandparents! I don't have a copy of the annual cousin picture (which we all gripe about every year), but I have a picture of me and all my girl cousins (except the oldest, who lives in Missouri). I'm the baby of the family and I'm already 20 years old, so it's really cool to get together every year and see what everyone is up to. Plus, there's tons of food and dessert, which makes this annual gathering even better. (My uncle is a fantastic cook.)
Finally, there's New Year's Eve! My friend Catherine (on the left) threw a huge fancy dress party at her house with all her closest friends from college and our hometown. I got to see all my friends from high school I hadn't seen in years, and it was amazing to spend the night with my best friends: Catherine, Tara, who goes to school in North Carolina, and Joanna (on the right in the bow) who goes to school in Alabama. I couldn't have asked for a more fun night or to spend it with better people. These girls are truly my best friends and I was thrilled to ring in the new year with all of them.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, no matter what holidays you celebrated!