Aries

April 16, 2014

Aries

…And so it begins, my personal study into Astrology. If you know me, you have probably heard me say things about being a Libra at least once. I never used to put much stock into Astrology until I began following it and reading it – now I find it to be an entertaining motivational piece of my day. I almost always read my horoscope and have read up on my sign, but don’t know much about the other signs, so I am starting this column to educate both myself and you.

The first sign of the zodiac is Aries, which is the sign designated to those born between March 21 – April 20. Aries represents beginnings and is the sign most tied to birth and childhood. If you know an Aries, you probably think of them as being energetic and “fiery,” as they are ruled by Mars, the planet named after to Roman god of war. Aries do not like being misunderstood and thought of as things that they are not.

PERSONALITY
Aries are the embodiment of the first seven years of life and all that childhood wonder has to offer. They do well either as the shining star, or as an empowered explorer. They are known for demanding the attention of those around them, but not to seek approval, rather they enjoy feeling like they are being heard and acknowledged. The Achilles Heel of an Aries is self-doubt – the highly developed Aries will foster a healthy level of introspection so that sees of doubt will not shake their foundations.

Many Aries make very good leaders; in fact, the best Aries are dynamic pioneers and will do well when put in charge of others. Lesser developed Aries are prone to self-pity when their leadership skills are challenged. Remember Aries, everything is a process. Stay strong and steadfast.

Aries element

ELEMENT: FIRE
Those born under fire signs are often thought of as both combustive and energetic. They are believed to be very intense in almost everything they do. They are defined by their passions and have fierce personalities. In a literal sense, fire is an ongoing chemical reaction that releases both heat and light. Fire signs in the zodiac are usually warm personalities that will bring a sense of positivity and passion to those around them.

Aries is a willful sign, not valuing patience, rather valuing a go-getter attitude. They enjoy excitement, accomplishment and insistence. They have an innate physical side to their personalities, often seeking physical challenges.

QUALITY: CARDINAL
All cardinal signs are said to be the most pure form of their sign’s traits. This is true for Aries – they are the most fiery of the fire signs. This sign is the initiator of spring and growth and encompasses those traits as well. All cardinal signs are believed to be the most stubborn in their elements traits and are the institutions behind their season. Aries, like the other cardinals, is a go-getter and is known for being involved in activities such as starting up businesses and organizations. Many Aries people may have a knack in sports or other physical activities and will often be the captain of the team. The most conflicting situation to a cardinal sign is one of indecision.

SYMBOL: THE RAM
The Ram is a sign of aggression, courage and abundance. The Ram takes life head on, but on the flip side will often butt heads with enemies. The Ram is not here to make friends (not to say that they don’t), but rather it exists to get the ball rolling and make things happen – an integral piece of society and the world.

aries rulers

RULER: MARS
Aries is ruled by the red planet, Mars. Mars was named after the Roman god of war, but Aries is not necessarily a war-like sign. Rather, Aries is known for determination, action and overcoming obstacles. You are an implementer and make a great addition to any project or team (you probably started that project or team, didn’t you…). You are successful, unstoppable and adventurous.

MODE: INTUITION
The modes of Astrology are often related back to Jungian functionality archetypes – if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry – I will get into that in another post. For now, you should know that the four modes are intuition, sensation, thinking and feeling. Each sign is believed to be characterized by one of these functions, starting with Aries, who is intuitive.

Intuitive people trust information that is not proven and is gathered through the imagination, insight and hunches – making them impulsive, but not always wrong. They are often looking at the big picture and are not overly concerned with details. They are always on the lookout for new possibilities and Jung believed that the intuitives are the most difficult to understand of all of the modes.

MOTTO: “I AM”
The Ram is not concerned with feelings, insights or musings. They exist and they know who they are and what they have to offer. This saying reveals the Aries ego-centric nature but does not imply anything negative. The Aries is confident, bold and sure.

aries plants

PLANTS: FERN, POPPY, THISTLE
The fern is a sturdy plant, that adds a beauty and character to any indoor environment. If you’re an Aries, trying putting a fern or two into your home to keep yourself balanced. For those wishing to channel strength and leadership, plant a fern in your home too. Poppys are said to bring wealth. Trying picking up a poppy essential oil and wear a bit to a job interview or burn it in your home to create a positive environment and bring on an entrepreneurial spirit. The Milk Thistle is renowned for protecting the liver and can be consumed as an extract in pill form.

BODY: HEAD
Each sign in the zodiac relates to pieces of the human body. Aries, being the first sign, relates to the head. This includes the cerebrospinal system, the cerebrum, the jaw and the face too. So Aries, make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid migraines and please, for the love of Pete, wear a helmet when you’re being adventurous. Hehe.

STONES: DIAMOND, RUBY, EMERALD, AMETHYST
Diamond: enhances self-confidence
Ruby: raises fighting spirit
Emerald: helps communication
Amethyst: relieves headaches

aries color palette

So what do you guys think? Excited to read about your sign? Stay tuned for more information on what each of these characteristics is and what they all mean for all of the signs!

Sidewalk Scents

April 14, 2014

sidewalk scents

If you’ve ever been to Europe (particularly if you came from suburban USA), part of the initial shock is how much people live on the street. They walk places, they eat at restaurants with patio seating and they are all so close together.

If you’re like me, you’re probably used to driving everywhere because the only thing within walking distance is maybe a KFC and a Chase Bank. If you’re really lucky, a liquor store. In Paris though, you can walk almost anywhere and it’s incredibly liberating for those of us who grew up with miles between our home and the grocery store. It’s this behavior of walking that got my nose twitching as soon as I got to Paris.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the smells of France when I first arrived. Meg picked me up at a bus stop and we promptly scuttled to a subway station that smelled awful. New York City has an alley stench – Paris has a subway one. I formed about 19 harsh opinions of Paris during my first metro ride, most of which ended up not being valid at all. Especially ones about the wafting scent of urine… (seriously, whoa).

sidewalk scents

Upon further exploration, I found that most of Paris actually smells quite lovely! There’s always something edible nearby, so expect to smell espresso from patio cafe’s, bread from the bakeries, fresh tobacco because Parisians smoke like chimneys and flowers! Oh the flowers! France does not mess around when it comes to flowers.

In Denver, you’re hard pressed to find an affordable bouquet anywhere except your run-of-the-mill grocery bunch of roses, which can get a bit boring. In Paris though, there are people selling fresh flora all over the place.

sidewalk scents

sidewalk scents

The lesson here is that when in France, don’t breathe in the subway. I kid you not, I saw men actually peeing in the metro underground on three separate occasions. Yeah. I don’t know about that. But spritz a hanky and save all your breathing for above-ground where Paris retains some of the best smells I have ever… smelt. Smelled? Smelt. There are many sidewalk scents in Paris and I highly encourage sniffing openly – don’t worry, the French already think you’re a weird American anyway.

sidewalk scents

Self Love

April 11, 2014

Be Kind To Yourself

There’s such a strong infrastructure setup for how we as humans should treat other people. There are laws, rules, religions and moral codes that all have punishment and reward systems that are meant to keep us treating each other well. My parents enforced these rules a lot when my siblings and I were children. We had to learn how to play nice with one another, treat each other like equals and in general, be kind and respectful to all people. We learned lessons about saying mean things and the cruelty that comes from lashing out. We also learned about never using physical force to try and solve our problems and how to keep our tempers in check. We learned a lot about loving each other and loving the people in the world around us.

What we didn’t really learn much about was loving ourselves though.

I don’t blame my parents, because I don’t think anyone taught them either. Or their parents. I don’t blame anyone. I think self love is a chapter missing from a lot of our books.

This has been a very real lesson for me this year while talking with my counselor. We have looked a lot into how I treat myself and to be honest, I have done a lot of mean things to myself. It’s a strange concept, because I think I am intrinsically selfish, like most humans. I fulfill my survival needs and then so much more. I buy myself things that I want and I am definitely out to “get mine”. The issue is deeper than the momentary fulfillments, though. When I dig really deep into my behaviors and my coping mechanisms and my reactions, I find a lot of disappointment in who I am. I use that disappointment to drive myself like fuel. I have told myself “you should be better,” and then used that to become “better”. I tend to yell at myself when I do things that I regard as “stupid,” even though I would never ever yell at one of my friends for accidentally spilling something.

I’m really good at comparing myself to other people and thinking “I wish I was different,” which more often than not, is pretty cruel to myself. My dear friend Brianna talked about this recently. It’s such a painful and unnecessary thing to do.

So how do you love yourself more?

Here are a few of my tips on how to be kind to you:

1. Give Yourself A Break
The next time you mess up, try being nice to yourself like you would to a friend who made the same mistake. Tell yourself that it’s okay, that yes, you will try harder and that sometimes, shit happens. Maybe you snapped at your significant other, resolve to treat them better, but at the same time resolve to love yourself. Maybe you acted like an idiot when you accidentally drank too much. Try to be kind to yourself and laugh it off. Progress is made at a slow speed (if at all) when you do it by whipping yourself.

2. Get In The Habit Of Encouraging Yourself
Wake up, tell yourself that today is your day. Give yourself a mental hug and say “I’m okay, in fact, I’m great.” Ask yourself if there is anything you could possibly be working harder on and then work harder on it. Don’t think about how you’re sucking at something, just focus on how to get better. Thank yourself for the things you would thank other people for. Trust yourself and keep telling yourself that you’re just learning and trying like everyone else. Take a note from Dani’s book. She knows what I’m talking about here.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
This is really hard, I know. Instead of saying “look at so and so, just look at their job, their home, their life, their body,” try
instead looking at yourself and confronting the insecurity that you’re having. Do you really want to be someone else, or do you simply feel insecure about your thighs being so round?

My best advice is that if you must compare, compare to yourself. Know what is possible and what is reasonable and what is fair. Listen to your friends when they tell you what is probably a more realistic version of things.

The sooner you accept and love yourself, the sooner you can drop those really heavy weights off your shoulders and get back to living this short life you have.

4. Observe The World Around You
One of the most beautiful things that I have learned recently is to get out of my own head. When I feel like torturing myself, I find it best to get away from the current situation and take a little time to reset before I go back. My favorite thing to do is to go for a walk and think about the things I am seeing.

Humans like to get stuck in our little realities and nothing productive happens when we get into cycles in our brain. Take a step back and go look at the sky and think about the color blue and the nature of clouds and where the people on that plane are traveling to. Separate yourself from focusing only on you and focus on the things you can see and hear and smell and touch.

For a few more ideas, check out Clementine Daily’s “5 Ways to be Kind to Yourself

Be kind to yourself, friends.

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Tuileries

April 10, 2014

Tuileries

OY VEY! It’s been almost a whole year since I went to Paris and in typical me fashion, I have only posted one blog post about my adventures and stay with my friend Meg. I swear I will never get through my travel pictures. I just keep taking them and hoarding them all to myself!

I’m pretty fond of Paris for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is the incredible attention that goes into the landscaping and city planning. The hedges trimmed, the buildings with their patina touches, everything is so aesthetically pleasing. Even among the sprawling beauty of the city, places like the Tuileries Garden are a step above even that. Immaculate and pristine. Picture perfect. Je suis sous le charme.

Tuileries

Tuileries

Located in the posh posh 1st arrondissement, Meg and I spent the day eating macarons, shopping and tourist watching. The garden was an interesting split of tourists and locals on their lunch hour, enjoying the windy afternoon outdoors.

That’s another great thing about Paris – it’s maybe the most tourist-visited city in the world, yet the locals are everywhere! They mingle their way through all of Paris, not allowing the consistent stream of foreigners to deter them from enjoying their own city too. Sometimes I wonder if the magic, charm and beauty of Paris wears off if you live there…

Tuileries

Tuileries

Can I admit something? I cannot speak a damn word of French. Actually, I can speak 1. I know how to say “beef” in French. Please don’t ask. *wink wink*

When I was prepping to go to Europe, I only had 3 weeks between the time that I booked my ticket to go and the time that I landed in Holland and then traveled to Germany and France. So I frantically tried to learn a small handful of phrases in both German and French (I didn’t even attempt Dutch, lol) and I only learned how to say “I do not speak French” in French and apparently even that was not quite correct. I think maybe I should devote some more time in my life to foreign languages. Since college, my Spanish has gone to the birds too. Uni-lingual. Or maybe just… lingual? Sigh.

Tuileries

Tuileries

Tuileries Garden is a must in Paris. Even the Louvre is not a must in my book (I mean unless you plan a whole extra day for it), but the garden is so beautiful and the perfect place to stop for lunch while you walk your way through the shops and sights in the 1st.

Lotta Nieminen

April 8, 2014

Lotta Nieminen

Happy 1 year anniversary as a freelancer to me! It was 1 year ago today that I created my business cards, not sure whether I was going to continue trying to find a job at an agency without any portfolio or graphic design experience to speak of besides the graphics on my blog. I was terrified, but somehow convinced a few random people to give me work and teach me new things along the way. Sometimes I felt like I was flying, other times learning how to do graphic design while trying to establish my own business felt like pulling teeth. Hell, it still feels like that.

One of the hardest parts about the past year was my consistent indecision as to whether or not I planned on remaining a freelancer. I struggled with money, confidence, skill-levels and emotional turmoil for a whole year, which left me questioning whether or not I could even make it, and then again, whether or not I wanted to…

But it has been a year and I love being my own boss. I would love having a project manager as a partner in this business, but if I stick with it, it will come. There are so many kinks to be ironed out still, but here I am.

And 1 year later, it is time for me to really brand myself. I made some cute make-shift cards and a template website and have no real documentation for my business and well. You know what? There just aren’t enough hours.

In steps Lotta Nieminen though. In my first year as a designer, I have looked to Lotta’s work as a beacon of inspiration in the crazy times.

Lotta Nieminen

Lotta Nieminen

Lotta and her accomplishments are something that I dream of. Her minimal aesthetic inspires me to no end and while I spend my days photoshopping pictures of weed for dispensaries and before and after banners for plastic surgery centers, I dream of the day that I will collaborate with brands like Hermes, Volkswagon and New York Magazine.

Lotta Nieminen

Lotta’s work inspires me to not give up (even though I have thought about it so many times) on being a designer and to learn how to grow and expand my skills and connections. I cannot tell you guys how many times in the past year I have had a client tell me that they don’t like something I have done (sometimes nicely and sometimes not so much) and had to take a few deep breaths, hold back the shake in my voice and erase everything and start again. Being a designer, like being any kind of artist, is so incredibly frustrating and at the same time, incredibly freeing. Nothing will awake you like creating something, but nothing will crush you like hearing that the thing you have created is amateur or not good.

Lotta Nieminen

That’s why I love Lotta’s work so much; it speaks through simplicity, intention and skill. No doubt she faced many of the challenges that I do, being a young freelancer like myself. But she was nominated as one of Forbes magazines 30 under 30 and is widely recognized for her aesthetic.

So today, my friends, cheers to perseverance through hardship and cheers to finding the lights in your field, the muses that keep you going.

See more of Lotta’s work here and my own work here.

Goal | 006

April 2, 2014

goal of the month: back on track

March was a really weird month for me and I can’t say that April is off to a more clever start. I’ve been simultaneously slammed with work and burnt the heck out. Not a great combo.

April is my month to bounce back though. It’s so funny because I made this list of goals in January and haven’t done a damn thing on that list. 2014 has been all about surviving, growing (slowly) and being kind to myself.

Some things I want to do in April are get back into healthy eating gradually, blog more, knock some work out of the way, center myself physically with a simple workout routine and clean myself and my spaces up. A lot of reorganizing things that have gone astray. To help myself, I am going to create some good daily routines (morning, noon and night) to add some checks and balances and make sure that I am accomplishing what I need to be. I also want to utilize some calendars for things like blogging and work. Lastly, I am going to start some serious spring cleaning in my home and dump out all my junk foods and spruce up my whole space to get things back in order and keep myself moving forward!

How do you guys stay on track? I could use some ideas if you have them…

xoxo

UHH

March 28, 2014

UHHHHH. Hi. I haven’t been around much lately guys. I have been SO busy. I didn’t even make a goal for March, but if I had it might be something like “Don’t Drown,” because I am just swamped.

This is a good thing… being swamped means I am making money! But I don’t have the extra hours in a day for blogging lately. I feel like I have so much work that if I worked 24 hours a day for 3 weeks it still might not be finished…

BUT I AM A MACHINE.

And I’ll be back soon. Less sleep, more blogging.

xoxo

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Keep New York City Clean

March 19, 2014

Keep New York City Clean

Mmmm can we just talk about New York and the weather for a minute? I know, I know everyone’s heard enough about the polar vortex to last them the gaping sum of all their cat lives, but I have to pipe in here for a moment. I was in NYC in October, when I went on tour with my boyfriend and the band he works for. We stayed for just over a glorious week in the city and it was perfect. I wore dresses without tights, scarves and light jackets. Then we went back for a few more shows in December & January and what the flying expletive happened, NYC? My third trip to New York in just a few months and hell hath FROZE over, my god.

Keep New York City Clean

Keep New York City Clean

I still aspire to live in the city at some point, so I am trying to cope with this negative degree weather thing. The worst part of it all was that between December and January, I was in New York for basically three weeks and there was only one single day where I didn’t have a penetrating fear of frost bite… One. Day.

So I’m just trying to remember NYC like these photos. Warm tones, cool breeze, patio drinks. Not the evil frozen city that I was stuck in.

Keep New York City Clean

Keep New York City Clean

I want to let everyone on the East Coast in on a little secret. When everyone out west heard of this “polar vortex,” we all laughed at you. We did. And I am not saying it was right, but come on… “polar”…”vortex”… Let’s grow a pair, NYC. It’s winter, it’s cold.

That’s what I thought.

Until I got there.

And what the.

No.

On behalf of all of the western half of the United States, I’d like to send NYC a formal apology for not taking you guys seriously. The polar vortex is indeed real, and very much a frozen weather pattern of doom and we just didn’t know because it’s cold here, but not that cold and oh man I am so sorry.

Keep New York City Clean

Keep New York City Clean

The extra super special part about New York is that in three months, all of you city folk will have thawed and will all be complaining about Heat Wave Such And Such and everyone will be dying without AC (which is completely mandated in every building here in Colorado) and your pit stains will have taken over your dry skin. Good luck.

Don’t worry, hurricane season will be just around the corner.

Talk about a city who gets the shitsburg of weather.

I feel bad for you New York. But not that bad, because you have total domination over the months of September – November.

Keep New York City Clean

Keep New York City Clean

Check out a few of my NYC favorites below (but wait til October if you can):

1. DAVIDsTea
275 Bleecker St.

2. Everyman Espresso
301 W. Broadway

3. Bar Ciccio Alimentari
190 Avenue of the Americas

Freebie: Spring Fever Desktop

March 17, 2014

desktop

There’s an old Chinese proverb that states “if you wear sandals, summer will come sooner”… so you know. I’m the rainmaker, baby. I’m wearing sandals and it’s 55 degrees out and I am shivering like a chihuahua…

I’ve got spring fever, what can I say? I made you a spring fever desktop. That’s what I can say.

Are you guys READY?! I’m talking picnics in the park, riding bikes, baseball games, flowers, margaritas on the patio. Hallelujah! There’s no proverb about putting springy backgrounds on all of your devices, but i am pretty sure it generates the same kind of luck like a rabbit’s foot keychain.

desktop wallpaper

- Check out another really cool desktop (currently on my phone) from Lucky Number Seven Blog

- Some sweet notes on Spring Weather

- Make a custom stamp of your face

- A cute couple who is going on 52 dates this year

- The health benefits of a blood orange

- An amazing way to record your travels

Winter Blues

March 6, 2014

winter blues

Winter is weird. The first half of it is so lovely with Christmas lights and eating delicious food and seeing my family. The second half staring mid-January is full of sad feels, wind, below freezing temperatures and uh tax season. I don’t really perk up until April rolls around, giving me January through March with a consistently blue feeling lingering around.

I won’t get into the science of it all, but many doctor’s recognize this feeling as seasonal depression. To me, it feels more like a lack of connectivity to the Earth and the Sun and living things. I don’t want to go outside much and the majority of things that make me feel really happy seem to exist in warmer months (there’s only just so much hot cocoa I can drink before my stomach is poofing over my pants and my body is craving iced tea).

I’ve compiled up a few tips that I have found that seem to help me a lot lately, I hope they help you out too if you get the winter blues!

1. Get Sunlight
Step outside, even if it’s cold and let your body soak in the small amount of Vitamin D you can get in the winter months. I find that being outside even when it’s not sunny still helps me. I bundle up as much as I can and try and go on mindful walks. I will sit by a lake and feed some ducks or take a mug of coffee out onto my porch and watch the sunset if I am feeling blue. Close your eyes and recognize the specific scents and sounds around you. Reset. Take that, winter blues!

2. Work On Personal Projects
Since I don’t really want to get out and about much at this time of year, I have taken to spending most of my free time developing business ideas, revamping my portfolio, organizing my home and sorting through old photos. Focus on bettering yourself at this time!

3. Yoga
Streeeeeetch! Stretching is so good for you and yoga is the ultimate stretch. If you already work out, incorporate it into your routine – especially some restorative class! If you don’t work out, think of yoga as the ramping up to a spring work out routine. Try and go at least 1-2 times per week and think of yoga as a reward to yourself for making it through another week of the cold and dark season.

4. Make Plans
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is start making lists of everything I want to do once it gets warm! For example:
- Go on a roadtrip
- Finally have a BBQ with friends at my apartment
- Paint my dresser
- Plant an herb garden
- Visit a theme park
- Learn how to make some new cocktails
- Go on a vacation to some place tropical

See? Feeling pretty happy about life already. Look up vacation packages for May or start collecting recipes for yummy summer cocktails.

5. Eat Well
Don’t get too tempted to continue eating like it’s the holidays! Try to cook 5-6 nights out of the week and eat complex proteins (like beans and rice or quinoa as a staple) in your diet. Also, now is a great time to get back into portion control. The holidays make our tummies stretch out and if you can get back into eating like it’s the summer well before summer comes around, you’ll be in a good place! I try and eat seasonally, so I recommend roasted squash (easy on the oil though), veggie based soups and fruit salads for dessert. Oh have you guys ever had quinoa in your yogurt? Try putting a few spoonfuls into your Greek yogurt in the morning and you’ll be full for longer!

6. Get Crafty
One of my favorite winter activities is making crafts. This week I’ve been working on my own small collection or pillow mists (I’ve been reading about aromatherapy!), and researching how to make my own teas. I really want to learn about herbs and their properties and flavors. To get my hands moving and my mind inspired I am working on jewelry this year! It’s a really fun hobby to pick up. I’m also trying my hand at calligraphy, which has turned out to be incredibly challenging but fun!

7. Watch Some Bad TV
I’ve recently picked up a slight addiction to really cheesy drama tv. It has made this past month of dull grey so much more bearable. I can enjoy silly characters who have way more personal issues than me while working on making logos or jewelry on my couch. Hallelujah!

8. Clean Things
This one is big for me. I get so lazy in the winter and my apartment always starts looking more and more like a rat’s nest full of trash and dust. Keeping my home clean gives me goals, passes the time and makes everything feel so much lighter and more comfortable. Make it a routine! I try and maintain one room each day of the week. Today I am going to be sweeping, mopping and dusting my living room. Tomorrow it will be my basement that gets some TLC.

9. Do Stuff For Other People
Try baking a batch of cookies, wrapping them, making a handmade card and surprising a few of your friends by delivering them to their doors. It will help you to stop getting stuck mentally and to think about someone you love. It will probably help brighten up their days too!

10. Start A Club Or Group
Now is the time to start that book club or band practice or running club that you have been meaning to start. Get around other people and give yourself some purpose in the day. I love short-term weekly goals like “practice my harmonica” or “read a few chapters”. Make it feel like a reward to yourself than a chore. Try and mentally use the phrase “I get to hang out with friends!” versus “I have to read a book”. I think the positive stance will make you enjoy things a bit more.

What do you guys do to stay cheery in the bummer months? For more ideas, I seriously loved this article on how to have a better day!