Place de la Madeleine

May 16, 2014

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

I’m missing you, Paris. I’m really really missing you. Especially one person in Paris… cough Meg cough. I’m missing going to the Boulangerie right next to Meg’s apartment and talking about men and our dreams and our 23 year old lives.

One of my favorite parts of staying with Meg was that she’s basically the perfect Paris guide. The combination of our mutual love for beer, good food and coffee and her acute sense of all things fashionable was the best way to be introduced to the city of light.

Meg insisted that I had to try some macarons when I mentioned my love for sweets, so we walked in the rain all the way down Place de la Madeleine in pursuit of some kitschy (albeit gorgeous, delicious, lovely) french cookies.

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Paris for my first few days was anything but touristy. Meg took me to all of her favorite spots that were well off the beaten path of cameras and souvenirs. We saved the corny and clinquant for the end of the trip, making sure that I would be able to say “I’ve seen Paris” by the time I left. So when we got into the 8th and on the Avenue, I felt like I was experiencing a different city altogether.

This was the Paris I’d imagined. Posh posh shopping, people dressed to the nines, perfectly polished streets and traffic; in the road and on foot. Everywhere else that we had seen felt like I was walking through my own neighborhood (except, you know, better), but this. This was Paris.

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Not to say that this was necessarily my favorite part of Paris, it wasn’t even close. It was definitive though. It was the presentation of all Paris stereotypes and what an American imagines having never been there. Actually, this part of Paris reminded me of parts of every city I’ve ever been in: 16th street mall in Denver (or dare I say Cherry Creek), Broadway in Nashville, Gaslamp in San Diego, Beverly Hills in LA.

It’s something to be experienced, even if just for a few hours.

Bisous bisous for now, Paris!

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées

Goal | 007

May 5, 2014

Goal of the Month

I was a self-published author once… in middle school. I wrote a book on my desktop computer in my bedroom and printed a copy for each of my friends to read. The story is so embarrassing (and brilliant) that I am actually embarrassed to tell you what it’s about, but I’m also a bit proud so I’ll go ahead.

The plot circulated around the members of my favorite band falling in love with my friends and I.

Yes. That happened.

Needless to say, my novel was a smash hit in my social circle. My friends begged me to write more and more until the book went past the 50-page mark and I had exhausted the simplistic plot so much that I strongly considered making my book into a series. I also have some vague memories of my mother getting pretty cranky about how quickly my printer ink was running out. I daftly tried to convince her that I was just doing a lot of school work.

I might have peaked as a writer in the 7th grade though. My college thesis barely hit 40 pages and I can safely say that none of my peers were trying to bribe me to write them into my thesis as a character. Twelve years and a lot of life experience later, I am finally ready to start writing my first full-length novel. I’d like to think that I’ve aged nicely and will still have the compelling touch that I embraced so fully at the age of 13.

I’ve avoided starting my book for a long time, due to a severe amount of insecurity about my writing that I developed during my years as a journalism student in college. I became a very good writer, but I also learned that editors will destroy you. They will read your writing and they will kill it.

“Your writing is not your baby,” my professor would say. “You can’t let it be, because people will kill your baby. They will tear it apart and destroy it and you will have to remake it over and over and over. Do not get emotionally attached to your writing, or you’ll hate being a writer,” she would warn us.

It was some of the best advice I have ever received, but it also kept me from following this dream of mine until I was good and ready – and well, to be honest, I’m not good and ready, but I have realized I probably never will be. I am going to put myself out there though and just do it.

The worst-case scenario is that an editor doesn’t even glance at it and I simply print a couple copies and give it to all of my friends again. Ha! So for my goal of the month, I am going to begin the planning and writing stages of making my very own novel. My true goal is to not give up on this project when it gets hard though.

Goal of the Month

My goal of the month for April was to simply try and catch up in a few areas of my life. I did a decent job, all things considered. The first third of this year has been a doozy, but I haven’t come to expect anything less after the past 2.5 years of my life have been a doozy. I got way overloaded with work and did a good job of trying to catch up in April. I still have a long way to go, but I am ready to knock the ball out of the park.

April was a great month because I gave myself some emotional space to continue my process of healing, but I also began to push back on myself and was able to get the ball rolling. Sometimes all you need is to push back a little and it’s all downhill from there.

I want to continue working long days, forcing myself to focus even when it’s hard and getting some things off my plate so I can bring about some change in my life.

April was a good successful month though!

Road Trip Fever

May 3, 2014

Road Trip Fever

Sandals on the floor of the car, pulling over to snap a photo with the most picturesque cactus, chip bags blowing around the backseat, playlists consisting of ’90s anthems + hip hop jams, wind blown hair, night-time diner stops, exploring the small towns of America… I think I have the road trip fever.

I went one one by myself through southern Colorado last summer and one with my boyfriend across the country to San Francisco/Tahoe and I’m already yearning to get back on the road again! This year I have a feeling that I will head out on a road trip or two to visit my boyfriend while he’s on tour across America.

I’m recruiting friends to join me and already looking at the best dates to go *squeal*. We have options along the west coast all the way through Canada and then some in the south down to Florida or a handful across the midwest too.

Planning a road trip (or two!) is keeping me from getting too sad about Jeff leaving for the whole summer again and giving me something to look forward to. Cheers to the bright side!

Anyone else planning any road trips for this year?!

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Water Taxi

April 29, 2014

Peanut Island Water Taxi

I’ve been thinking about my adventures in the past two years a lot lately. It’s an interesting realization that I’ve basically only traveled alone or with strangers in the past few years. Well, mostly. I’ve traveled with my boyfriend a lot, but when we travel it’s always for his job and when we get where we’re going, I’m typically completely solo except for an occasional dinner together. This kind of travel used to really stress me out, but now that I’m not doing it as much I find myself missing it sometimes.

I had to be really brave to just set out by myself and do things like take a water taxi to an island off the coast of Florida for the day. I had to get a lot of nerve to travel to Europe by myself and take trains, planes and boats all alone for 3 weeks. I definitely had to push myself to spend a month in Peru with a handful of complete strangers too.

The more I reminisce on these times, the more proud I am of myself for leaving my comfort zone and just going with the flow. I’m so grateful for the random times I’ve had and for the boldness that seems to come to me only during travel…

Peanut Island Water Taxi

Peanut Island Water Taxi

When I decided to get out of my hotel during a short trip to Florida last year and take a “water taxi” to a little place called Peanut Island, I didn’t know what to expect. I found this strange website with some vague directions off Yelp on how to find my taxi boat and just went for it.

Taking a water taxi was… just awesome. When I got to my dock, I found an ATM and a bar and decided to sit down and have a little drink so I could work up the will to go talk to the Captain of the boat and set out on my day-journey. Two gin and tonics later, I found Captain Joe (I recognized him from the website) and thanks to my liquid (gin) courage (buzz), I hopped on board and the two of us set out for Peanut Island.

Peanut Island Water Taxi

Captain Joe was a pretty neat fellow, who gave me lots of history on Peanut Island and tourism there. My roundtrip taxi ride only cost me $10 and I had a few different timing options, which was convenient. I took a second taxi from Peanut Island over to another nearby island for lunch and had to pay a bit more to a different service, which was definitely worth it.

Peanut Island Water Taxi

If you ever find yourself in Palm Beach (or West Palm Beach), I definitely recommend finding Captain Joe’s water taxi and hopping over to Peanut Island for a day. What kinds of bold travel experiences do you guys have? Have you ever traveled alone?

xoxo

Peanut Island Water Taxi

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