Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm dreaming of a J.Crew polka dot Christmas...

J.Crew Collection Cashmere Polka Dot Sweater

Today when I opened my email what should appear but a J.Crew discount code bringing holiday cheer!

If only I could afford my dream item: the cashmere polka dot sweater. Even though it's on sale and an extra 30% off with free shipping, it's still not within this hard working grad student's budget. Sad day. I'll just have to keep on dreaming.

What's your dream present this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Harnessing My Mojo

Last Monday I started a December intersession course on the press and the presidency. December intersession courses meet three times a week for three weeks with class periods running three hours long. It's been intense. Reading articles, writing papers, and studying for my first "midterm" have all but consumed my life. I've become a familiar face at the Starbucks near my office and spent way too much money eating out. It's tough trying to be on the ball enough to pack one meal let alone two. Am I right?

Despite the insanity last week was amazing. I was on top of everything, made it to the gym on my one night off, and did several social activities on Saturday. The only thing that would have made the week better was if I'd gotten my butt to church. I've slipped a little there again, not as bad as before but I still need to keep recommitting.

Last week I found the mojo I've been missing for a long time. All I kept thinking was, "Wow, I wish I could feel like this all the time!". This week, on the other hand, has been hell. I had an extremely offensive encounter with a doctor on Monday and late Tuesday night found out my grandmother had passed away. Plus, we also found out my dad's interview for a new job has been postponed until after the first of the year.

The icing on top of the crap sundae was having a paper due and my midterm on Wednesday, plus another paper due on Thursday. I stayed home from work Wednesday and studied my butt off while trying to be there for my siblings and parents as they dealt with my grandma's passing. Going into my test I felt sick and had a massive headache.

Although I didn't feel like I harnessed my mojo this week, prayer helped me make it through. I ended up doing really well on my midterm which felt really good. I worked hard for those A's. Now it's one more week of class, two papers, and a final exam to go.

Tonight I'm going to temper my social anxiety and go have fun with my friends seeing the Lincoln Park ZooLights. I really just want to go home and sleep but I know going out is important and that once I get there it will be a lot of fun (I'm silly, I know).

One more week baby!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Style Files: Meredith Grey

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

The moment I saw the Tequila Is Not My Friend tote from Kate Spade I immediately thought of the one and only Meredith Grey.

If you're a Grey's Anatomy fan you know tequila is Meredith's kryptonite. After a hard day's night she and Cristina dance their troubles away accompanied by their favorite bottle.

While I don't drink myself, I completely relate to the need to blow off steam and cut loose. In college my roommates and I had epic dance parties courtesy of Pitbull's "The Anthem"--the best dance song ever.

 Meredith, you take your tequila, I'll take my diet coke. Dance party tonight. It's on!

P.S. Combine this tote with classic pieces and maybe you'll find your own McDreamy. A girl can dream.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Break

Monday, Monday. Coming off a long weekend is never fun. I had major anxiety yesterday because this week I'm staring a December intersession class, which means I'll be in class three nights a week for three hours for the next three weeks...ahh! I just have to keep telling myself it'll be ok. I can handle this...I'm a rockstar.

Other than feeling rather down yesterday I had a great Thanksgiving break. I went and saw Anna Karenina with a friend Wednesday afternoon after getting off work early (hooray). It was absolutely PHENOMENAL. I can't even describe how mesmerized I was by the entire production. It's unlike any movie I've ever seen.

This year I had my first experience having a "Friendsgiving". My friend Elise hosted a fabulous dinner in which I contributed homemade mashed potatoes. We played Boggle and some other games while also enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man.

Although I skipped the Black Friday madness, I ventured out into my neighborhood during the afternoon. To my delight, I found an absolutely adorable shop called Two Sided. They had a Christmas pop-up shop with fabulous vintage decor and cards. I purchased a silver wreath (pictures to come). Two Sided also sells Rifle Paper Co. products! The only thing that would have made my outing better was if my mom had been with me.

How was your Thanksgiving holiday?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Finding Joy

photo by Hanne Johansen
I know today's Wednesday Wisdom should probably include the word "thankful" or "gratitude", but I think this quote evokes a message of thanksgiving in a different way. Finding joy in life is a never ending quest. Acceptance and balance are both concepts that are difficult to grasp and fully embrace.

We all have a different story. However, many times I find myself focused on what I think my story should be rather than making peace with my reality. While I'm constantly working to maintain a calm, content state of being, it's definitely something I've improved upon over the years transitioning from teenager to young adult.

It takes a lot to live. People break our hearts. We lose homes, friends, and loved ones. Wrong decisions produce consequences. A lack of consistency can plague us from day-to-day. Tragedy besets even the best of people.

So how do we keep going? How do we find the joy that's been promised to us? As Tolstoy admonishes, it's all about our perspective and acceptance of the here and now.

Thanksgiving is a good reminder to focus on the good in life rather than its deficiencies. I am grateful that despite the challenges life presents I know what is really important--my relationship with my family, friends, and Savior.

Joy is possible, we just have to be willing to find it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

winter dreams in red, white, and blue

snow / moss stitch / fair isle / zigzag / striped

Hats are a major winter necessity here in the Windy City. Even if the temperature seems mild, gusts of wind regularly materialize seemingly out of nowhere. The city has definitely earned it's nickname.

Lately my winter hat musings have taken on a red, white, and blue theme. I particularly love the snow hat from Target. I think it's very Kate Spade (and at a fraction of the cost)! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanks For...Hot Chocolate

I drink hot chocolate like it's going out of style. Summer. Spring. Winter. Fall. It doesn't matter.

My latest obsession is Starbucks' salted caramel hot chocolate. Party in my mouth. There's something about Starbucks that makes everything better. It's happiness bundled up in a cup for $3.55.

If I could afford it, I would buy a cup of hocho everyday. But instead, I have to curb my appetite and ration my spending. My expensive hot chocolate is intermingled with regular servings of nestle instant hot cocoa. Stephen's Gourmet is my favorite but they don't sell it in Chicago. I might just have to pick some up in Utah over Christmas.

I love hot chocolate!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cozy Nights...

plaid pajamas / owl socks / blanket / you've got mail / owl mug

The weather has turned cold here in Chicago. Over the weekend temperatures teased us at 60 degrees but by Monday we'd dropped into the 30s. Time to pull out the hats, gloves, and scarves!

Cool temperatures also make me long for cozy nights at home bundled up in adorable pajamas, a soft blanket, and warm cup of cocoa watching a fabulous chick flick. Who doesn't want a PJ set after watching Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail?

All of these items are very affordable. I'm a grad student so I'm always doing things on a budget. The mugs are $10 dollars or less and the pajama sets are both $25. At those prices you can afford to get the whole ensemble!

What's one of your favorite chick flicks to watch on a cozy night in?

Monday, November 12, 2012

What I've been up to lately...

Illustration by Katie Rogers of Paper Fashion
Over the past few weeks I haven't blogged consistently, if at all. As I've mentioned before, doing grad school and working full-time has taken its toll on my ability to balance everything in my life. However, I'm happy to say as of last Friday at exactly 12:00 noon I kissed another quarter of grad school goodbye! Can I get a woot, woot?!

This quarter I had the opportunity to delve into an new area of writing: politics. My class focused on hard news reporting, social media, and video editing (something in which I had absolutely ZERO experience). I feel like my skills and knowledge have grown so much. I was terrified going into the class but I was also determined to look my fear in the face and kick butt.

I've included links to all the work I've done this quarter in case you're interested in taking a peek. I think I'm most proud of my tweeting on Election Day. The Chicago Huffington Post even re-tweeted one of my tweets!

Happy Monday everyone!

Election Day Coverage:

Other Work This Quarter:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanks For...Good Friends

image source
I wanted to start this yesterday but the first of November got away from me. In honor of Thanksgiving, every day this month I'm going to post one thing I'm thankful for. I think it'll be a fun way to stay focused on the things that matter most and express my gratitude for the many blessings in my life.

What are you thankful for today?

real life struggles...

It's strange to watch my parents struggle and feel intense emotional pain. I'm thousands of miles away and can't do anything to help them. Now I understand a little bit better how they must feel when I struggle.

I never imagined the country's economic downfall would invade my family's life. It was something I read about in the New York Times, not real life.

I want to sob and scream it isn't fair. My dad was the best employee in his department and he was the one who got laid off. My parents have lost their beautiful home.

For the past month my mom and dad, along with the help of church members and my brother and his husband, have been preparing to move to Utah. They'll be living with my aunt until they get back on their feet.

Right now the hardships seem to keep snowballing. In a way I feel like my parents are experiencing a version of what Jobe must have gone through.

I'm biased but my parents are some of the best people I know. They've endured substantial trials throughout their lives all with dignity and grace.

I know Heavenly Father is guiding them as they navigate this next phase of life. They know they've made the right decision. I do have faith that it will all work out--that my dad will find a good job and eventually my parents will own a home again.

I'm not totally devoid of peace but there are so many unknowns. It's a long and tough road ahead.
Peace and faith aide endurance but don't dissolve the pain and heartache.

Today is the day. It's finally arrived. The U-Haul is packed and the Fidler caravan is en route. We've all talked about it for the past two months but it doesn't feel real. Life is hard.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

go ahead, eat some candy...

Happy Halloween! Isn't this image adorable and hilarious? I can't get over it. Totally made my day. I can hardly believe it's the end of October. In a week I'll be done with fall quarter for grad school. Crazy.

Chicago in the fall is lovely. Every day I find joy walking home from the bus crunching leaves under my feet. So many people say fall is their favorite time of year. I know it's mine. Pumpkins. Leaves. Halloween. Sweaters. Thanksgiving. Caramel Apple Spice drinks. Boots. It all makes me happy to be alive.

I hope you've all had a wonderful October. Make sure you eat some candy today. October 31 without candy just isn't right. Indulge.

Here's to a splendid November!

Monday, October 29, 2012

What's it like on the inside of love?

I don't know what it's like to be a "we". I'm 25 and never been in a serious relationship. I look around and see friends, acquaintances, and strangers paired together, marching forward two-by-two. How would that be? Honestly, I have no idea.

I'm not afraid of being alone. I'm good at it; sometimes too good. But the truth is all I really want is to share my life with someone. Dinner date on Saturday night...check. Groupon for a charming B&B in honey and I will be there with bells on. Free back massage whenever I need it...done.  

My deepest desire is to be a wife and mother. For whatever reason love hasn't come my way yet. I've made my peace with my reality as best I can. I'm not bitter or angry. Frustrated and confused at times? Yes. Perplexed by the whole love equation? Definitely. Ridiculously impatient? Guilty.

I've never wanted to be one of those people sitting around waiting for life to begin. I'm looking for a partner, not someone to make me whole. You have to learn to live in the "now". I try to focus on bettering myself and finding joy. Some days, weeks, and months are better than others.

I've been on dates, kissed a few guys. Several guys have even quote "broken-up" with me despite the fact that we hadn't started dating. Funny stories let me tell ya. A few years ago I found a person I could actually picture a real future with--not some fantasy or unattainable desire--but a life beyond the honeymoon phase. The timing wasn't right.

Right now I'm on the outside of love. It "must be a different view to be a me with a you..." I don't know what the future holds, but I move forward. Daydreaming, wondering, and hoping.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New York State of Mind: This Land Series

photo by Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Last quarter in my urban affairs journalism class, we learned how to write deep, meaningful stories influenced by a newsworthy topic or event. I find these type of features to be the most powerful. They put a human face on a issue or situation we may not otherwise understand or know about. It's nonfiction writing at its best.

Today I'm sharing Part 1 of the "This Land" series by New York Times writer Dan Barry. Take a few minutes today and step into Donna Dove's world of Elyria, Ohio. You may be surprised how much you can reality to her reality.

At the Corner of Hope and Worry by Dan Barry, New York Times

"From the vantage point of these booths and Formica countertops, the past improves with distance, the present keeps piling on, and a promising future is practically willed by the resilient patrons."

More about the series:
The dateline is Elyria, Ohio, a city of 55,000 about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland. You know this town, even if you have never been here. A place buffeted by time and the economy, a place where the expectations have been lowered, but not hopes for better days to come. A place where politicians, in this election year, say the American dream is still possible. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: We are the Girls

photo by Alexis Perevoschikov

While I don't agree with every aspect of this quote, I think it's a good reminder to stop the glorification of busy; to understand and internalize your individual worth.

I spent the first 19 years of my life trying to be everything. If you work hard you can accomplish anything. Live life to the fullest. Give 110% everyday. I applied these adages literally and liberally. 

While I accomplished a lot during my teen years (I have a box full of plaques and certificates to prove it), I never let my success sink in. I never felt good enough and failed to recognize that I was the person I was trying so hard to be.

It took a complete mental and physical breakdown for me to stop and re-evaluate my life; to understand that just because I could or wanted to do something it didn't mean I should. I wanted so badly to help and influence others I failed to take care of myself.

Today, at the age of 25, I still possess an innate drive to succeed and put my whole heart into things, but I also know I have limits. Balancing life is tricky and although I don't have it all figured out, I'm more centered and happy with who I am right now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the long and short of it...

one / two / three / four / five / six
I've always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. In middle school all I wanted was a straight bob. My thick, wavy hair never quite cooperated. If only I'd known about CHI straighteners. That wouldn't come until college.

In high school I desired long, straight hair. Early morning seminary class required me to get up at 4:30 am to achieve my luscious locks. A shoulder injury saved me from that insanity. I couldn't raise my arm above my head. Consequently,  I was forced to come to terms with my curly hair. Total blessing in disguise on more levels than one.  

I wish I'd known and understood as a preteen and teenager that celebrities wear wigs and hair extensions. They have access to the most expensive hair products and best stylists money can buy.

Reality check. You're never going to look like Jennifer Aniston on your genes or budget, Clarissa. Don't obsess too much. Take a chill pill girl.  

Last night I was talking to my best friend, Sarah, on the phone and suddenly her tone changed. "Ok, I have to ask you a serious question." I braced myself for the unknown. "I'm getting my hair done tomorrow and I can't decide if I want to go light or dark. What do you think?" Phew, this was a serious matter I could handle!

We discussed at length the pros and cons of going lighter vs. darker. Eventually, we settled on her keeping her blonde highlights and not going significantly darker. She's going to spice it up with fun bangs. That will satisfy her need for change without doing something drastic.

These are important decisions people. 

Two years ago I chopped my hair off to look like Carey Mulligan. Currently, my hair is close to Rashida Jones' length without the bangs. Don't get me started on bangs. If I'm patient enough, hopefully I can get my hair to SJP's length. I really want to be able to do a sock bun but my hair grows SO slow. We'll see if I can hold out. 

What are you hair struggles? Do you prefer long or short? Curly or straight? Favorite products?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Little Baby Muffin is Sick

It was a rough weekend. Friday morning I woke up and Harper wasn't herself. She has a condition where her balance isn't always great but this was different. When I got home from work I found her sprawled out in the middle of the floor. She never does that. She couldn't stand up or hold her head up. Something was seriously wrong.

I forced her into her kitty crate (she hates that thing) and hopped a cab to the animal hospital. She cried the whole way there. We rushed into an exam room and they soon took Harper away to do blood work and tests. All I could do was wait.

Sitting in the Chicago Animal Hospital ER endless thoughts and questions clouded my mind. How do people go through things like this with their own children? If I'm this worried and scared for my cat how will I react when I have kids? Is Harper ok? Is she in pain? There's nothing I can do!

Waiting to hear a diagnosis--animal or human--is one of the worst feelings in the world. I felt so helpless and pathetic. I suddenly became hyper aware how alone I am. Everyone else had their significant other by their side. I live 2,000 miles away from the people I love. I don't have a boyfriend or husband. I have friends here but it's not the same. Friday night I didn't have a person.

I live alone. Home won't be the same if I don't have Harper. I need the little baby muffin to be ok.

I couldn't talk on my phone in the lobby and didn't want to step outside so I relied on text messages to get me through the 2.5 hrs of waiting. Sarah was at the Jazz game with Chris and Kenz. They sent me funny pictures and kept me laughing. Keely, my parents, and auntie all kept checking in too. c

Finally, the doctor called be into the exam room and proceeded to tell me that Harper's blood and enzyme levels were all normal. He didn't know what was wrong. 2.5 hours and a ridiculous amount of money later we had nothing.

Saturday and Sunday I got her to eat and drink a little bit and she went potty--all good things. I just have to keep watching her and see how she does. I pray everything will be ok.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New York State of Mind: A Spiritual Message

I'm straying slightly from my usual New York State of Mind format today. My intent with this series is to provide thought provoking, well-written material from trusted sources. Today I'm sharing a spiritual message. It is not my intent to push my beliefs on anyone, but rather to share what I find influential and meaningful in hopes that it may enrich the lives of others.  

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch general conference and listen to wonderful messages from my church leaders. In the LDS church, general conference is held twice a year during April and October. It's a wonderful opportunity to receive direction and counsel from inspired leaders.

My favorite talk from conference was Where is the Pavilion? by President Henry B. Eyring. Here is an excerpt I found particularly powerful:

"Although His time is not always our time, we can be sure that the Lord keeps His promises. For any of you who now feel that He is hard to reach, I testify that the day will come that we all will see Him face to face. Just as there is nothing now to obscure His view of us, there will be nothing to obscure our view of Him. We will all stand before Him, in person...we want to see Jesus Christ now, but our certain reunion with Him at the judgment bar will be more pleasing if we first do the things that make Him as familiar to us as we are to Him. As we serve Him, we become like Him, and we feel closer to Him as we approach that day when nothing will hide our view."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

Hello friends! Sorry for my blogging absence. I've been struggling to find a balance between working full-time and going to school. Right now things are a little hectic and I'm trying to get back on track.  I've wanted to blog but haven't been able to muster the energy to even write a grocery list or get my butt to the gym.

Last night I came home from work, ate a bowl of cereal, snuggled with my sweet little Harper, and went to bed. At 7:00pm. Didn't wake up until 7:00 am this morning. Still late to work. You gotta love days like that. Ah the sweet, craziness of life.

Here's some Wednesday Wisdom via Pinterest to brighten your day (and mine)!


Friday, October 5, 2012

New York State of Mind: Playing House

photo by Ruven Afanador

I've been slacking big time on my reading this week. Working full-time and going to school are catching up with me. Here's a short little Q&A with Diane Keaton about a coffee table book she published called "House". Definitely checking this one out next time I'm at Barnes & Noble. Have a lovely weekend!

Playing House by Stephen Heyman, New York Times Magazine

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jihan of Geronimo! Balloons

photo by Kimberly Genevieve
Back home in Everett, WA, I met Jihan when we both served on a church youth committee in high school. I was a newbie to the group and a year or two younger than everyone else.

Jihan took me under her wing and was a complete sweetheart. She always made me feel comfortable and part of the group. Plus, I couldn't get over her fantastic red lipstick and chestnut brown hair.

She was, and still is, stunning inside and out. 

When I moved to Chicago last year I bought a bed via the Internet from a girl who was moving to another state. She was already gone by the time I arrived so I corresponded with her former roommate, Charlotte.

As Charlotte and I got to know each other we quickly discovered we were both from the Seattle area and there was a certain someone we both knew: Jihan! Come to find out Charlotte and Jihan are actually best friends.

Sometimes it really is a small world.

To come full circle, this summer I had the opportunity to intern for The Everygirl. When the editors Alaina and Danielle asked us for future career feature ideas I knew immediately who I would recommend. Today you get to see why.

Head over to The Everygirl to read all about Jihan Zencirli of Geronimo! Balloons.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Apple Picking in Wisconsin

Happy October! How was everyone's weekend? I spent my Saturday in Wisconsin picking apples with friends at an adorable farm. We also enjoyed homemade donuts, bratwurst, and apple cider shakes. It was the perfect way to usher in fall--my favorite time of the year.

Last night I made apple crisp (I've already eaten half of it!). This week I plan to make these apple recipes featured on The Everygirl. I can't wait to try the cheddar apple quick bread. Yummy!

Wisconsin is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit. As much as I love the city life, it's always refreshing to get out and enjoy nature. It really is a beautiful state and I'm sure more Wisconsin adventures will ensue in the coming months.

What's one of your favorite fall activities? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

New York State of Mind: Hometown Journalism

photo by Mill Creek Multimedia
Today I'm sharing a heartwarming article written by Julie Muhlstein, a fantastic columnist from my hometown of Everett, WA.

Stories like this one are wonderful to write and even better to read. They give me hope and make me grateful for the blessings in my own life. I hope you enjoy Gage's story as much as I did. Happy Friday!

Everett Boy's wish to be a cop granted by Julie Muhlstein, The Herald - Everett, WA
In other news, guess what I'm doing tomorrow...going apple picking in Wisconsin! I'm so excited. Pictures to come on Monday. What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

my mixtape for you

listen here
I love Spotify. You can access an endless variety of music without forking over a $1.29 per song (sorry iTunes). It's a great way to give a new artist a listen and check out all the songs on a brand new album before you decide to buy it. Plus, who doesn't love creating playlists! 

Today I thought it'd be fun to share the five songs currently at the top of my playlist. My mixtape for you if you will. How do you like to listen to music? What's your favorite song right now?

Monday, September 24, 2012

fantastic dresses to brighten a monday morning

photos via InStyle
It's a Monday if there ever was one. This morning I woke up an hour late. Then, when I went to catch the bus I found out it wasn't running due to construction. Can you say awesome with a capital 'A'?!

To brighten your morning and mine, here are my favorite looks from last night's Emmy's. Julianne Moore wins best dressed hands down. The color. The flowing skirt. The laid back hair. Elegant simplicity at it's best. Moore's ensemble emitted the same tone and splendor as Emma Stone's Calvin Klein frock at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards.

Ginnifer Goodwin's magnificent tangerine Monique Lhuillier confection was a close second for me. And although Julianne Hough resembled a shiny mermaid, I found myself completely on board with her look. Strange but true. It must be her fabulous hair.

What looks were your favorite?

Friday, September 21, 2012

New York State of Mind

A thoughtful analysis about preconceived, often prejudice, notions on leadership...
Must Great Leaders Be Gregarious? by Susan Cain, The New York Times
"We prize leaders who are eager talkers over those who have something to say. In 2004, we praised George W. Bush because we wanted to drink a beer with him. Now we criticize President Obama because he won’t drink one with us."
Another raw, poignant essay from Times' ongoing series about Anxiety...

Surviving the Pain at the Roots by Alexandra Heather Foss, The New York Times
"I believe that anxiety is the result of a violent culture where abuse has been so normalized it seems insignificant. We are told that to be strong means to suffer in silence, when strength really comes from giving our suffering a voice."
An engaging perspective on the motivation behind work and its relationship to leisure...

What Work Is Really For by Gary Gutting, The New York Times 
"Capitalism, with its devotion to profit, is not in itself evil. But it becomes evil when it controls our choices for the sake of profit."
A fascinating albeit disturbing article about the workings of child molesters, with the Jerry Sandusky scandal taking center stage...
In Plain View by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
"When monsters roam free, we assume that people in positions of authority ought to be able to catch them if only they did their jobs. But that might be wishful thinking."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Romantic Optimism

I wasn't a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love, but I completely identify with this statement. It sums up my experience with love. Too often I have fallen in love with a guy's potential rather than the here and now.

You can't change someone or make them progress faster than they're ready. You also can't propel two people to be at the same place in life if they're not. Despite my knowledge of these truths, I've fought like hell to disprove them. No such luck.

It's important to remain hopeful about love, but be careful not to deceive yourself into unnecessary heartache. There's no use running a three-legged race alone. It doesn't work. I've tried.

Monday, September 17, 2012

on my bookshelf...

Although working full-time and going to school seem to afford me little time to eat healthy and exercise, I've found myself reading more thanks to my one-hour lunch break and commute time on the bus.

Last month for The Everygirl Book Club I read Diane Keaton's memoir, Then Again. Like Diane's character and talent, Then Again is no ordinary memoir. Diane intertwines her mother's life story with her own, creating a beautiful tapestry highlighted by humor, memories, failures, and triumphs.

The Receptionist's cover might lead one to believe it's a work of fiction. However, Janet Groth's tale is one composed of fact and experience. Her prose captured me from start to finish. Anyone who is captivated by writing and publishing should read this unique biography.

I'll be delving into Mary Soames' memoir, A Daughter's Tale, this week. I discovered the book in the August issue of Vogue. Soames, Winston Churchill's only surviving child, was featured as part of the magazine's annual age issue. My interest was instantly piqued. Reading will now commence.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New York State of Mind: Lessons on Self & Country

photo by sophie takes pictures

Today I have two very different works to share with you. One--a poignant essay about self, the other--a moving photo essay dedicated to a greater purpose.

On Being Nothing by  Brian Jay Stanley, The New York Times

This thought provoking essay gives meaning to our individual need for self affirmation.

"If the world is a stage, then everyone’s an extra, acting minor roles in simultaneous scenes in which no one has the lead. With so much happening, society is poorly made to satisfy pride, but well made to satisfy interest, if we will only let go of our vanity and join the swirl of activity."

The Heroes of Ground Zero by Ron Beinner, Vanity Fair

This pieces combines moving photographs with equally poignant text.

"The firefighters and police officers who risked everything; the rescue workers who came from hundreds of miles away; the families who grieve; the leaders who rallied a shell-shocked city; the vigil keepers whose candles lit the night: These are among the images that will endure. This is the New York—and the America—worth fighting for, one not of skyscrapers, but of people."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom from Katie Armour

photo by Maia Harms
"If you want to make a lasting impression, be polished, but still reflect your own, personal style. Try to remember that dressing is a way of honoring the occasion and showing respect for those you meet. You don’t have to wear a suit to look professional, confident, and stylish. Go for the classics, but always with a hint of flair.” - Katie Armour, Matchbook Magazine

Katie's feature on Refinery 29

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11

Pennsylvania Firefighters - photo by Jonas Karlsson via Vanity Fair
14 years old. Freshman in high school. 6:30 am seminary class. A plane flew into the World Trad Center. Piled into Ben's Dodge Spirit on the way to school. The Pentagon has been hit. First period biology class. The second tower has been hit. We watch the news in class. Lab is canceled. The rest of the school day is a haze.

Mariners game is canceled. No planes in the sky. An eerie stillness fills the air. Back home watching the evening news. Replay of people calling loved ones from Flight 93. Destroyed section of the Pentagon. Death toll rising. Two towers emitting billowing black smoke. People jumping to their deaths. Firefighters storming the area. Desperate faces.Wounded hearts.

11 years ago I witnessed, along with the rest of America, a life-altering tragedy. I didn't directly know anyone who lost their life that day, but I felt the pain of the nation. September 11 is a day that will forever be imprinted upon our minds. Let it be a day we celebrate the strength of America. Recognize the sacrifice of others. Give thanks for the blessings we enjoy.

Remembering September 11 is about honor, sacrifice, justice, and love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Labor Day in Door County

Over Labor Day weekend I headed off to Wisconsin, the great land of cheese. My friends Charlotte and Colin took it upon themselves to organize a group camping trip in picturesque Door County along Lake Michigan. I'm so glad they invited met to tag along! The entire crew included: Me, Emily, Charlotte, Colin, Jamie, Jordan, Jimmy, Taylee, Bob, Brooke, Casey, and Elise.

Saturday morning we ventured out to Sisters Bay for breakfast at the legendary Al Johnson's,  a Swedish restaurant which houses goats on its roof! Emily, who grew up on a goat farm, was beside herself with happiness.

In the town of Fish Creek we took a nine mile bike ride to a lighthouse. About halfway through the ride Colin remarked, "I think I'm getting high off of this pure air." The rest of the afternoon was spent at the beach where Jimmy proceeded to do his best impression of a swimsuit model/baywatch girl. Hilarious. Once Bob, Brooke, Elise, and Casey arrived we celebrated sweet Elise's birthday with the entire crew.

Sunday morning we attended Church in a pocket-size building filled with friendly, devoted members. It's always refreshing to see that the gospel is the same where ever you go. Next, we set off for brunch at The Bistro. What should have been a leisurely hour filled with syrup and laughter turned into an epic ordeal. The Bistro should really change its name to The Bee-stro. Upon receiving our food, bees began to descend at a rapid rate. Charlotte's cherry french toast was a lost cause. We ended up moving inside and sitting at the bar. Come to find out, there was a nice hornets nest right above our table.

Tuckered out from our bee-filled meal, we returned to our cabins for a splendid Sunday nap. That evening we went on a hike to find a lighthouse in what Elise called "not a real place". Our hike required us to employ the childhood skills we'd acquired from days playing hot lava. The terrain was filled with muck resembling what I think dinosaur poop must of looked like. Even though we got dirty the lake view was worth it. We finished our busy day with an amazing meal at Shipwrecked. The sweet potato fries, pork butt sandwich, and root beer were beyond delicious.

The much needed long weekend was filled with good food, friends, and fun in the sun. It was wonderful to exchange buildings for trees and work for play. We'll be back Door County!

Friday, September 7, 2012

New York State of Mind via The Wall Street Journal

My first real introduction to the The Wall Street Journal was last summer when I was living at home in Seattle before heading to Chicago for grad school. My dad subscribed to the Journal so I had ready access straight from my doorstep. Knowing I was preparing to pursue a journalism degree, my dad encouraged me to read what he affectionately calls "a fantastic periodical." Insert snooty tone here.

While the paper's financial sections did not interest me, I made it a habit to read the "Life & Culture" section. One of my favorite articles from last summer, "Depression in Command", explores how depression impacted historically great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I battle clinical depression so whenever it is a topic of discussion my interest is peaked. This particular article provides a new perspective on how a perceived weakness can actually be the source of great strength.

Excerpt from "Depression in Command":

"Great crisis leaders are not like the rest of us; nor are they like mentally healthy leaders. When society is happy, they toil in sadness, seeking help from friends and family and doctors as they cope with an illness that can be debilitating, even deadly. Sometimes they are up, sometimes they are down, but they are never quite well."

"When traditional approaches begin to fail, however, great crisis leaders see new opportunities. When the past no longer guides the future, they invent a new future. When old questions are unanswerable and new questions unrecognized, they create new solutions. They are realistic enough to see painful truths, and when calamity occurs, they can lift up the rest of us."

"Their weakness is the secret of their strength."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Fly Over States

photo by Clarissa Fidler

Listening to Jason Aldean's song "Fly Over States" makes me cry, every time, without fail.  It's one of those songs that touches me so deeply it's hard for me to fully express my emotions in words. Several road trips within the last two years have led me to appreciate what Jason calls the "fly over states"--land void of skyscrapers and retailers, timeless scenes reminiscent of the American West.

There's a different feeling in those little towns with funny names--one of simplicity, determination, and understanding. Like the weathered, well used barns dotting the horizon, the people are strong. I've met real farmers who plow the earth and bust their asses for you and me. It's not an easy life. You don't always reap what you sow.

If you question how people can live their lives in what we might call the middle of nowhere, take a ride across the Badlands. Spend some time basking in the beauty of a corn field. Breathe in the open space. I've done just that and now, I too understand why God made those fly over states.

Read the lyrics and watch the music video. You'll understand what I'm trying to convey. 

"Fly Over States"

A couple of guys in first class on a flight
From New York to Los Angeles,
Kinda making small talk killing time,
Flirting with the flight attendants,
30, 000 feet above, could be Oklahoma,

Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms,
Man, it all looks the same,
Miles and miles of back roads and highways,
Connecting little towns with funny names,
Who'd want to live down there in the middle of nowhere,

They've never drove through Indiana,
Met the men who plowed that earth,
Planted that seed, busted his ass for you and me,
Or caught a harvest moon in Kansas,
They'd understand why god made those fly over states,

I bet that mile long Santa Fe freight train engineer's seen it all
Just like that flatbed cowboy stacking US steel on a 3-day haul
Road and rails under their feet
Yeah that sounds like a first class seat

On the plains of Oklahoma
With a windshield sunset in your eyes
Like a watercolored painted sky

You'll think heaven's doors have opened
You'll understand why god made
Those fly over states

Take a ride across the badlands
Feel that freedom on your face
Breathe in all that open space
Meet a girl from Amarillo
You'll understand why god made
You might even want to plant your stakes
In those fly over states

Have you ever been through Indiana
On the plains of Oklahoma
Take a ride

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One Year in Chicago!

I remember seeing the Chicago skyline for the first time driving east on the highway. My heart started racing. We passed historic Wrigley Field, a mere 10 minute walk from my new apartment. Driving along famous Lakeshore Drive my eyes skipped furiously from building to building. Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan completed the breathtaking scene. I kept repeating, "I live in the coolest place ever!" Eloquent, I know.

One year ago today my dad and I made the final trek across Wisconsin, completing our four-day road trip to the great the city of Chicago. Our ride across the Badlands the day before was one I'll never forget. More on that tomorrow for Wednesday's Wisdom.

Time is a strange entity. It's both present and fleeting. We move forward even if it feels like we're standing still. I'm always afraid that a year from now I'll be in the exact same place I am today.

I never planned on going to graduate school, let alone moving to Chicago. Looking back on everything that's happened and changed over the past year proves my worry that I'd be in the same place was once again unfounded. That gives me hope for the future.

Some major highlights from my first year in Chicago include: adopting my cat Harper, making new friends, exploring the city with visits from friends and family, selling my car, finishing my first year of grad school, interning with The Everygirl, and getting my first full-time job with benefits, vacation etc.

Living the dream isn't perfect like the movies. It's messy, hard, and confusing. I'm still not entirely sure why I'm here in Chicago but I know that good things can and do happen.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New York State of Mind

The positive and negative components of legacy vs. new media is a topic of frequent discussion in my graduate journalism courses. How we report the news and how the public consumes our material has been completely revolutionized by technology. Journalism is a completely different field than it was even 10 years ago.

Two plagiarism cases surfaced in the news media earlier this month. The following articles, particularly the one by David Carr, use the aforementioned plagiarism cases to provide an intuitive, new perspective on the changing landscape of journalism and its effect on the quality of writing and reporting that's produced.

Journalists Dancing on the Edge of Truth by David Carr, The New York Times
"It may not have made a difference: journalists are tasked as seekers of truth. Fabulists find the truth quotidian and boring, insufficient to convey them to the renown they seek."

A Scandal Threatens Zakaria's Image as a Media Star by Christine Haughney, The New York Times
"Not that long ago, getting a column in Time would have been the pinnacle of a journalist’s career. But expectations and opportunities have grown in the last few years. Many writers now market themselves as separate brands, and their journalism works largely as a promotion for more lucrative endeavors like writing books and public speaking."

photo by sophie takes pictures

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Apologies

It is difficult to take these wise words to heart. Hurt begs for a remedy. We crave validation. We expect justice. However, if you spend your days waiting for something that will never come, you only hurt yourself. Put down your weapons. Stop fighting a war you won't win. There is power in surrender.

"Oh he said it's crazy how love stays with me. You know it hurts me cause I don't wanna fight this war. It's amazing to see me reading through this scene of love and fear and apologies..."
Apologies by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.

image source

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm in a New York state of mind...

I've been wanting to start this column for quite some time but I haven't been able to get my act together on Fridays. No more excuses. From now on Fridays will be devoted to "New York State of Mind", a new column where I will include a link and short synopsis for several of my favorite articles from the New York Times that week, along with interesting pieces from other sources like Time and The New Yorker thrown in for good measure. ccc

I don't mean to pigeonhole good journalism into being only from New York, but I'm an old school purist at heart. In my journalism classes we're constantly analyzing the pros and cons of legacy vs. new media outlets. While I enjoy new media sources technology has helped create, I still find intrinsic value in reading articles from reliable, trusted legacy organizations like The New York Times.

My goal with this blog is to provide smart, relevant experiences, stories, and content. I know it's difficult to find the time to read all of the blogs, newspapers, magazines, and books that are available. I hope this column provides an opportunity for readers to appreciate good writing and spark an interest in new topics and ideas.

Today's post will be a little longer than usual as I've been saving up articles for the past few weeks. Enjoy!

Love, Money and Other People's Children by Mona Simpson, The New York Times
An intimate look at the relationship between nannies and the children they care for in relation to the child's relationship with his or her parents. A moving photo essay accompanies the piece.

Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30? by Alex Williams, The New York Times
Three conditions sociologists consider essential to making close friends: "proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other."

Wash That Blog Out with Soap by Penelope Green, The New York Times
A 24-year-old's viral Tumblr blog demonstrates, rather indecently, the struggles of my generation: bad or no jobs, crappy dates, and moving back in with the parents.

The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Oliver Burkeman, The New York Times
Believing that anything is possible doesn't necessarily set you up for success or happiness.

Learning How to Eat by Tamar Adler, The New Yorker
"Appetite grows by what it feeds on." Musings on "good" vs. "bad" food and the reasoning behind our food choices. Inspired by Julia Child's wisdom.

Movies from Books by Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"Many directors of moderate merit do well in capturing their own experience or that of others of modest and practical insight—when they lay hold of works of genius, they simply aren’t up to the material and reveal not the vastness of the author’s imagination but the limits of their own."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012