Monday, December 14, 2009

See for yoursE.L.F.!

I remember hearing about Eyes Lips Face on Oprah in 2004. It claimed to have makeup for the masses at unbeatable prices. Now that I'm making less money, it's time to get frugal. E.L.F. is one way to be beautiful without paying an arm and a leg.

My recent purchase consisted of 2 mascaras and 2 eyeliners. With shipping, my total was $11. And the majority of that was the shipping price. Each item was $1.00. Yep, it's the dollar menu for beauty buffs!

I decided to get black and brown, since those are what I primarily use in my color palette. However, there was blue, violet, and green available at the time. For those of you who are more adventurous than I, you too can appreciate paying $1.00 for your eyeliner!

Now was it worth it? I'd say yes overall, but here are a couple disclaimers. This is after weeks of use, too:

1. The eyeliner is an eyeliner pen, which I love. However, my brown color came dry. It was like a marker that ran out of ink. When I put it under water, the color flows once again, but the next day it's dried up. Obviously, I'm not using it, as I feel that's too much effort to put forth, especially when you feel like it's going to start running down your face due to the extra moisture. The black eyeliner has been nothing but perfection.

2. The mascara is...worth the dollar you pay for it. It's not the best mascara I've ever used, but for $1.00, it does what I need it to do - make my lashes look like they're there (mine get lighter in color on the ends). The mascara I purchased is a double mascara - waterproof on one end, regular on the other. A nice feature, but I'd say the quality is about the same on either side.

Disclaimer for these disclaimers: All products purchased were $1.00. If this is the worst it gets, then they've made an E.L.F. fan out of me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Life Reminders

A recent article assignment led me to meet some Lafayette-enthusiasts. On this particular day, it was a dreary morning and my lovely cup of coffee just wasn't doing the trick. All I could think was, 'if I was in Florida right now, I would be waking up to sunshine and way happier about it.' Lucky for me, I was on my way out the door to chat with a few women who promote Lafayette to the masses.

It was a Monday morning, which is typical to find people less-than-chipper. But when I walked into this particular establishment, I felt nothing but excitement for the week ahead. Every one of the ladies I talked to (5 in total) was happy to talk to me and gush about our little corner of the world. They reminded me of the quaint, yet busy, downtown that's booming with activities every weekend. They reminded me of the outdoor recreation we have thanks to parks, trails, and festivals. They reminded me that the university provides decent sporting events at the right price. All in all, it was a great reminder of why I moved home.

I've wanted to live in downtown Chicago since I can remember, and that dream hasn't gone away. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't buck-up and appreciate where I live and the fact that I have great friends and family nearby. And the beauty of living closer to family and friends means I can spend my future vacations visiting those warmer places instead of coming home.

Would it have been fun to go to Indy or Chicago to go out with friends? Sure. But instead, I spent this weekend taking my dogs to one of the parks and strolling around the outdoor Pre-Thanksgiving Market. And after 5 days of rain, it was the perfect way to enjoy a gorgeous November weekend.

Isn't funny how life sends you friendly reminders about why you're where you are?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Get Your Glow On

All Aveda products are 80-95% natural, from the packaging to the fabulous product in the bottle. I've heard from people that Aveda changes you. Any hair or skin issues are rectified with the use of Aveda. So, I figured, while I work for a salon/spa, maybe I'll check out what these people are talking about. I've come to find out it's true.

I've tried many a face cleanser in my day, and come winter, my skin is drying out (which is incredible since I have oily skin, go figure). One of the estheticians pointed out to me that my skin is sensitive if I'm suffering from breakouts. This makes sense because that's how your skin reacts to what you're doing to it. Some folks are lucky enough to have skin that's a bit more mello. For me, I needed a gentle cleanser that doesn't completely strip my skin of it's natural oil. And, I needed a moisturizer that would keep breakouts at bay, but also keep my skin feeling good. So, I tried the Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser, Acne Relief Lotion, and the Tourmaline Charged Protecting Lotion.

The Foaming Cleanser gently cleans out your pores without harsh chemicals to kill the dirt and bacteria. It doesn't leave your face feeling tight and dry. With 2 pumps of product and some gentle scrubbing, your skin feels healthy and clean. Here in Lafayette, you can get it for $25 off the shelf. I know, a little much for those of us watching our pennies, but I purchased the travel size version and that lasted me about six weeks. My guess is that this larger bottle will last a solid 3 months at least.

I use the Acne Relief Lotion at night. It has salycylic acid, which kills the bacteria lingering in your skin. Personally, I've had back reactions to this type of acid, but the kind Aveda uses is derived naturally from a plant. The man-made stuff is what irritates my skin. In the morning, my skin looks and feels refreshed and ready to combat whatever the world wants to throw at it for the day. The lotion is a bit on the pricey side, too, but you use a finger's-worth once a day: it's worth it and it'll last you awhile.

For daytime, I use the Tourmaline Protecting Lotion. My fair skin needs SPF, even in the Midwest (I already have sun-damage according to a recent facial, so you should probably be using SPF too!). And this moisturizer isn't heavy or greasy. It's just the right amount of love to keep your skin feeling great. This bottle is about $40 I believe, and a finger's-worth is all you need.

Your skin is your biggest body organ, and one of the most important. It protects us from damage from the everyday elements. So why not protect it while it's protecting us? Many cleansers are advertised to "scrub away dirt" and "attack bacteria". Instead of attacking our skin, let's show it some healthy love to give us a glow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's Your Occasion?

In my travels and experiences since graduating in May 2008, I, like many other 20-somethings (and human beings in general), am trying to find my place. I find myself dabbling in different interests. I'm figuring out my life's balance, though I feel like it won't really be balanced for some time. Still, I'm taking steps to figure out who I am and who I'm not.

I've figured out that I'm currently exploring my purpose. While working for JA, I figured out my purpose pretty quickly. I don't mean my general job duties, I mean the thing that makes me get up and go every day. My purpose was to help the kids in Osceola County, Florida to become better citizens. I still have a passion for helping kids, but my desire to learn more about the fashion industry led me to my current job with the Aveda salon. My general job duties are outlined, of course, but I'm still figuring out my overall purpose. I'm exploring some opportunities within the business that will be supplementary to my daily routine. It sounds like these opportunities will be helping the business put on events to benefit our community. I like my job, don't get me wrong. But this extra piece of it, the piece that I'm volunteering to do, I think will end up being my purpose here. Not only will I be helping to coordinate the daily workings of a top salon, I'll also be promoting our salon via community outreach as we try to help some of the nonprofit organizations in town. This aspect of my job at JA was my favorite part - getting out there and showing the people what we were made of (and helping people in the process).

So, even though I'm in a completely different position/work environment, maybe this is another sign pointing me toward where I'm supposed to go. At least I feel like I'm on the path.

This quote inspired today's post:

"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." ~Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

I'm figuring out what occasion I'm rising to, one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Young women like myself are always looking for the next best thing. This season's shoes, bags, sweaters, etc, are within many women's comfort zones. One would think that hair and makeup would fall into this category, too. I beg to differ.

I feel like as a woman, or maybe just being a human being, we want to find something that works for us. Whether it's the perfect pair of jeans or hairstyle, when we find these things, we don't want to let them go. For example, I had a pair of GLO jeans purchased from Kohl's many moons ago. These were the MOST comfortable pair of jeans I'd ever put on. I'm pretty sure I wore them from age 16 to 20. While there are certain staples that are difficult to part with (though I've found some lovely denim from Old Navy that compares nicely), when it comes to hair and makeup, trends are always changing. Brands are coming up with all kinds of products to keep us interested. Yet, many of us find that "perfect" eye shadow and can't part with it for ages because of its alleged level of perfection.

I am this girl. I've been wearing the same eye shadow for over a year now. Not only is this unhealthy (you really should replace makeup more often than just annually), but seasons and trends have changed. It can be a hard industry to keep up with. That's where my new job comes in.

As a guest coordinator for an Aveda salon, I now have new products to try on a daily basis. As an employee, it would benefit me to at least try all the products I can so I can better inform the masses of our earth-friendly skin care, hair care, and makeup. I'm happy to do so and can't wait for my discount to start!

This has brought on a new idea: a weekly segment dedicated to product-testing. It may be primarily Aveda (what can I say, I'm there 40 hours a week), but I'm open for suggestions. If you see or hear something about an up-and-coming product, but are nervous to step outside the box, let me do the stepping for you. Trust me to keep it real enough to give you an idea of how the product works. I'll even post some pics so you can see the results.

Comments and questions are welcome, and I will get to all of them as best as I can. Here's to us trying something new, together.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Premiere Week

Some of you may know that I didn't subscribe to television when I lived in Orlando. I had internet, so I watched things online. Now that I'm living at home, my television habits are back in full swing and there is a whole line-up of shows back in action this week. Let's break it down:

Monday: How I Met Your Mother
If you're not watching this show, you need to start. Following the lives of early-30-somethings in NYC, HIMYM is one of the funniest shows I've found on television. It has a silliness that everyone's witnessed in their respective night-out-situations while Ted narrates the story to his children. With each episode, the viewer comes closer to finding out the age-old question, how I met your mother. Dear Jason Segel: I've loved you on this show, but after I Love You, Man, I love you even more. Each episode brings a smile to my face.

Tuesday: The Good Wife
Mr. Big is back as a political figure who gets caught in the usual sex scandal. But this time, we get a glimpse into what may happen once the cameras are turned off. Julianna Margulies plays the wife of Chris Noth's character. Seeing her playing it cool during a press conference, then proceeding to slapping her husband in the face once they're alone has this girl wanting to know more.

Wednesday: Mercy
The commercial got me hooked on this new series, too. After returning from Iraq as a military nurse, Veronica uses her instincts to save lives in a U.S. hospital. She uses a straw to save a man in a car accident. What's not to love about medical improvisation?

Thursday: Grey's Anatomy
Last season's finale left me so stressed out, I'm already nervous. We left George on an operating table after being hit by a truck and Izzy was suffering complications from her surgery. We see them both in the after-life at the hospital, but it looks like one or both of them will be returning to Seattle Grace to continue their life. Who will it be? I'm on the edge of my seat, ready to find out!

In addition to a great week in TV, I also have the day off tomorrow. Don't get too jealous, I'll be working Tuesday through Saturday. But, having a three-day weekend this weekend is nothing to complain about!

And, check out my column for some snippets of Emmy fashion! Enjoy:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just be nice.

Alright, folks, here's a Miss Manners reminder:

When someone is talking, it's rude to interrupt. If you'd like to share your thoughts with the person speaking, wait until they're finished, then wait for the appropriate time and place to make your thoughts known. This goes for presidential addresses in Congress, award-winner speeches, and everyday folks like us just trying to share stories with each other. Being courteous of others isn't difficult. Respect is something everyone deserves, whether or not you agree with the person who has the floor. You are entitled to your own opinion, but that doesn't mean you should steal someone else's spotlight just because you think your opinion is better.

*Stepping down from soap box*

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

En Vogue

It's been awhile since I've written anything that's not my blog. I purchased the September issue of Vogue when it came out, which is a great research tool (what a great business expense!). While flipping through more of the 500+ pages of Prada, Fendi, and other high-end designers' artwork, I came across an ad that made me look twice. It was an ad for K-Mart.

A smartly-dressed female donning a brilliant plaid overcoat and chic black ruffle dress is standing proud with the words "smart statements" making their own bold statement across her stylish bag. It made me look twice because it wasn't obvious where the outfit came from until I saw the words "Shop online now at"

For those who don't me, I'm going to be honest with you and tell you I'm a snob when it comes to shopping. My uncle and I just bonded this weekend over our shared fear of garage sales and flea markets (don't even mention Goodwill). I found a fabulous coffee table at a garage sale, but I would have never stopped had my Tampa love not been with me in the car. In addition to garage sales, I get uncomfortable thinking about serious shopping at the likes of places like Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Wal-Mart is great for cheap necessities and food items (some, not all), but never would I even try to find clothing I would feel good buying. However: with my job-change and living situation, maybe the time has come to look past the stigmas of these feared establishments. And given their most recent ad, I think K-Mart is positioning itself smartly in today's economy where people want to be stylish, but are sticking to a budget (something I need to work on).

Good job, K-Mart. You might have convinced this girl to peruse your latest fashion offerings. I don't make any promises, though.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 12

Things are settling down a bit after the 1,000-mile-drive. I have a new bed, my things are unpacked, and my bedroom is looking more organized. I'll be setting up my computer and other office-y items this week in a space that will hopefully inspire many more writings, both paid and unpaid. In the meantime, I'm currently set up at the kitchen table with a vanilla chai.

So I moved home. Now what?

My day starts at 6:30am when I crawl out of bed and go to the neighbor's house to make sure their daughter makes the bus to go to school. It's an hour in the morning making sure the child is fed and it gives me time to read. Not a bad deal.

Last week, I started my new job. I'm working as a Guest Coordinator at Evan Todd Aveda Salon near campus. The first week was super busy and all over the place, but by Friday, I felt like I was really grasping my job duties and the workings of one of the best salons in the Midwest (no joke). The people are super nice and everyone has been patient with me as I learn the ropes. I'm also learning patience with this job in that I need to pace myself. There's no way I'll learn everything all at once; it's a process that takes time. At least I'm having fun at work learning about Aveda products (which are amazing, when you buy Aveda, you're helping the world. Seriously.). It's also inspiring me to make some drastic hair changes, so we'll see how that goes!

As far as living at home, it's not too bad. Not much has changed. It's weird not having my sister living here anymore. I kind of understand how it was for her when I went away to college. But, she lives close enough that it's nice to be able to go hang out with her for a bit after I get done with work.

It's also great to be close to some good friends. This weekend was a fellow Purdue alumna's bachelorette party. Had I still been in Florida, there's no way I could have made it. It was a fun girls' night out, complete with little black dresses and rounds of shots for all. I'll admit it: I feel like I need another day to recover, which makes me feel old. I guess it was going to happen eventually.

So this blog was started as a way to keep my family and friends updated on my life in Florida. I'm thinking this will be going in a new direction (with my recent relocation, that was probably a given). There will still be the day-to-day life updates, but look forward to reading about work events and my journey through the beauty industry. This will be an interesting year; probably pretty comparable to the last year I've had.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Not-So-Personal Belongings

When I moved to Florida last July, I packed up two suitcases and jumped on a plane. The rest of my things slowly made their way down via my wonderful grandparents who make the drive from Indiana fairly regularly. Now I'm getting ready to pack up my car to drive home in a few days. And I've come to the conclusion that moving as a grown-up sucks.

I don't even have that much stuff. I don't need a moving truck (at least at this point, I don't think I do). My furniture is going to a good home here. I'm donating some things. I've packed my books, DVDs, some kitchen things, and my bathroom things. So that should leave clothes and shoes, right?

Apparently I have more things than I thought. And less boxes than I thought.

Moving makes you realize the beauty of living as simply as possible. I was all ready to just throw out the things that don't really matter, that I can just buy new when I get my own place again. Moving in with Mom and Dad means I don't need much. There are things I'm hanging on to because I have some sort of attachment to them. And I'm trying to tell myself that so much of this stuff is just that: stuff.

But what if it's stuff my Mom bought me because my parents are wonderful and helped me get on my feet here? What if it's stuff that my family gave me because at some point I actually liked it? What if it's stuff that I just don't know how to deal with?

*Deep Breath*

Some day there will be another apartment that will need new things. The things I have for this apartment were for this apartment. Who knows if I'd even want it later? It's too expensive to move it and I don't want to store it; I'd rather it be used. Even though it's just stuff, why is it so difficult to decide what to do with it?

I guess the question is this: will I miss my stuff as much as I miss my friends and family right now?

Answer: I highly doubt it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Music Therapy

I consider myself a music junkie in the sense that I love music. I may not be knowledgeable of under-the-radar bands, but I do have an appreciation for all kinds of music. If you ever want to talk music or introduce me to some new tunes, I'm game.

With that said, after joining 20-something Bloggers, I stumbled on some FREE tunes thanks to Urban Outfitters. All you had to do was visit the site and say, yes, please pour your sweet sounds into my iTunes. We're talking 25 songs of delicious, new, and funky noise to dance around the living room to.

Music therapy is one of my favorite things (a close second to shoe therapy, which I can check off my list for today). During the stressful time of packing up my life, arranging for my furniture to be taken away, and closing up shop with my job at JA, music was just what this girl needed. And now I'd like to share my happiness with the world in the form of YouTube videos so you, too, can appreciate these bands and what they have to say (or sing). Enjoy!

And this last one wasn't included in the freebies, but it's a recent love of mine:

Can't wait to make some cds for the 18-hour car ride home!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Clicking my ruby slippers

I'm quitting my job.

That's no typo. The job I was so excited to have 10 months ago is the same job I'm officially leaving on the 14th. (Enter WTF?!?! moment here)

Last year, I arrived with the intention of figuring it out. I wanted to work at Disney. That didn't work. I worked at a bar and did some writing. Then JA offered me a great position to work hard to help kids. The writing has continued through all of my ventures. I've contributed to fashion and women's health publications and have loved every minute of it. But the thought of having to put it on the back-burner when my schedule is hectic during the school year wasn't sitting well with me. My work load lessened a bit this summer, allowing me to really take time to reflect on my life here. In the spring, I was getting the feeling that Florida wasn't the place for me and that I wanted to get out, but at the time I was prepared to just wait it out. Then this summer, I had an AHA! moment.

I want to work in the fashion industry. I want to write about it. It fascinates me on a daily basis. I love talking to designers. I love watching trends. I love sharing my observations with the masses. My favorite part of the past two years has been my writing. So, after some soul-searching, I've come to a conclusion. I'm not happy here, so I need to make a change. I'm also broke, and will be broke for quite some time if I stay here. So what's my next move?

I'm moving home. Yeah, I never thought I'd say that, either. I'll be working for an Aveda salon utilizing my customer service skills, marketing creativity, and genuine interest in health and beauty. I'll be continuing my web column, which will concentrate on trends in Indianapolis. I'll be pursuing other writing endeavors in Indianapolis and Chicago. And most importantly, I'll be closer to the friends and family I've missed during my time being over 1,000 miles away.

As my grandmother said, I gave it the old college-try. I came down here to figure things out, and I have. This will be a big change, but a needed change. And while I know I'm leaving behind a wonderful community of people, I know that my path is headed in the best direction for me.

I'm nervous. I'm a little sad. And I can't wait to go home.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When New York Calls

Last week I started calling New York fashion magazine editors to ask about pitching stories. You don't want to send the wrong pitch to the wrong person, and there may be a particular format they want. I called three places, leaving messages with two and talking to one. 1 out of 3 ain't bad, so I was happy.

As I'm in a left-turn lane, my phone rings. Thanks to Sprint, my phone tells me it's New York calling. I answer. An editor from a major fashion magazine is on the other end, ready with names to give me. I see a Post-It in my car as I scramble for a pen and try to be delightful and professional as I'm driving through an intersection. I write down (very poorly, the damn pen would hardly work) names of editors who would accept my story pitches. I proceed to ask what their email addresses might be, giving the example of what the publishing company is. This would have worked, had I said the correct publishing company name. The editor corrects me and I respond as if I just offended the freaking Queen of England with many I'm Sorrys and "I knew that, I've just been in touch with more than one company." Editor laughs and assures me it's no problem. Editor gives me the correct email addresses and wishes me luck. I thank editor profusely for returning my call and hang up.

After making a few more notes to myself (all while driving, mind you) and accidentally honking my car horn at people, I put the phone down. Then I realize, wow. I called New York, and New York actually called me back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary

As of July 18, I have now lived in Florida for one year. Here is what I've learned about Florida and myself since jumping on a plane just 12 months ago.

~My favorite beach is Clearwater.
~If you live here, you are on everyone else's spring break or family vacation the entire months of March, April, and December.
~Disney is not my thing. It's just not.
~People here are...different. I've dated, I've gone out downtown, and I work here. And people are crazy wherever you go.
~Wearing a tie isn't necessary.
~Linen suits are supposedly ok.
~In the community I work in, there are people working so hard every day to make it better. That's pretty cool.
~It seems to me that being a workaholic is weird.
~I am capable of jumping on a plane and making it work.
~I miss my family, which is something I never thought I'd say.
~I miss having close friends within driving distance.
~I know my way around here, but that doesn't mean I like driving here. Tourists are nuts.
~I also know that we need the tourists because that's a huge part of Florida's income. I could still do without them.
~I'm accepting the fact that Florida is not the place for me.

This has been an enlightening year and a good experience for me thus far. As my priorities are changing, so are my wants and needs. As a 20-something, how long does it take to realize what makes you happy and actually act on it?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wake-Up Call.

I've made some not-great decisions in my lifetime. It's to be expected as a human. Camo-jeans, frat parties, waiting until the last minute to study for a test, or choosing to purchase Ray Ban sunglasses instead of saving money for groceries: all of these are a sampling of the silly things I've done as a young adult (except the jeans, those were 6th grade). And I'm here to admit today that I've driven after having a drink or two. We're talking alcoholic beverages. And yes, there have been a couple instances whenI had no business getting behind the wheel, but did it anyway. These were only a couple instances, but still inexcusable. Before you start judging, my guess is that you or someone you know has done the exact same thing. I'm not telling you this so that you can tell me how dumb I've been because I know. In fact, I knew immediately afterward how stupid it was. I'm telling you this because I now am fully aware of the potential consequences for these actions.

With that being said, I'm here to tell you that drinking and driving will no longer be even close to an option for this girl. Not even 1 drink (which supposedly increases your chances of a car accident by up to 50%).

A 16-year-old girl was killed in Santa Fe last weekend, along with three of her friends, due to a drunk driver crashing into them. Four out of the five people in her car were killed instantly, including her, and the driver of their car is barely alive. The driver of the other vehicle walked away. He also has a DWI on his record already.

The girl I'm referring to is the daughter of a great family I grew up with in Illinois. I held her when she was born (July 4th, today is her birthday). All of us kids played when our moms wanted to get together. We visited them when they moved to New Mexico. We saw her mom last year when she came for a visit.

The news of this tragedy immediately brought shock. I couldn't speak. And when I did speak, it was pretty much me cursing like a sailor. Then the tears came. I couldn't be in my apartment alone and everyone I talked to that night and the next day could barely understand this story because I was talking through tears.

Typically I don't like to share this much emotion via the Internet, but I think this deserves attention. Even though I've made some really unfortunate decisions, I'm ok. I haven't hurt anyone else. This guy's decision took 4 lives in a matter of minutes. Am I lucky that it's never happened to me? Maybe. Or there's a guardian angel giving me X amount of chances to be stupid. Either way, this was my wake up call this week. It's been an emotional roller coaster and I thank my friends for dealing with my instability.

Expressing emotion through writing is an avenue I thought I'd take to try to deal with this. So, I figured sharing her story with you would help me overcome my sadness and grief while maybe providing you readers some insight into what happens when you make stupid decisions.

Can I do anything about the decisions I've made? No. Can I change how I act in the future? I plan to.

And click here for the article.

We were lucky to have known you and will never forget you. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Monday, June 22, 2009

And Another

I've started a new writing venture: online. Obviously I've been blogging for awhile, but the new gig will actually pay me to write about fashion and style in Orlando. It will be updated frequently with fashion news, trends I witness on a weekly basis, and hopefully I'll be able to cover different events to share with the masses. The more hits the site gets, the more successful it is. Check back frequently for updates! And, please be patient as I get used to online formatting. :)

Orlando Fashion and Style Examiner


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You've Got Mail

I'm online constantly. So why not try online dating?

One of the challenges is joining a website geared toward meeting people. Mine was some obscure site that was too easy to navigate. Dating isn't meant to be easy, so why would I try an easy site? So, I tried one of the more "well-known" sites.

Internet dating for women is...interesting. You can choose the age group of men you would be interested in, but someone who is 35 can still see your profile and comment on it. Some people post pictures, some do not. I'm the type of internet-dater who needs to see a pic, sorry, but if you don't have a pic, what's a girl supposed to think? Anyone who messages me and seems a little pushy (i.e. "hey baby, let's chat"), I'm immediately turned off. I don't answer men on the street who talk that way, so why would I answer an online message?

Now, there have been a few who may be proven worthy. Legitimate email conversations not eluding to meeting in a desolate location = within my comfort zone.

Obviously, playing it safe is a given. If someone asks to meet in the middle of nowhere, alone, then red flags should be going up. But, so far, the people I'm "meeting" and actually spending time responding to, seem relatively normal. We'll see what happens if/when I take the next step of meeting a couple of them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nail Polish and Tattoos

I started volunteering at Give Kids the World today. For those who are unfamiliar with GKTW, this vacation spot is meant for children with disabilities and/or life-threatening diseases. Some people think it would be very difficult to volunteer in a place where you see sick kids all the time. But this is a place where kids can come without being poked and prodded and just be kids. They offer wheelchairs that can go in pools, they have parties, they have dinners, games, all kinds of activities. And it's all paid for. The families stay in villas set up like a neighborhood. They travel to theme parks, the beach if they can, or they just hang out and enjoy their time together. Here are a few observations from today:

-A 9-year-old girl who was in a coma in December and her family never thought they'd be able to travel to Florida. She went to Disney and couldn't make the walk from the tram to the gate, but after getting her nails painted at the spa in GKTW, her long day was a little more bearable.
-An 8-year-old boy who went to Disney on Saturday, his 2nd day in town. He ended up in the hospital Saturday night. The cancer in his blood takes a lot out of him. He was thrilled to get an airbrush tattoo at the spa with his younger brother.
-Siblings who offered all the support they could, no matter how old they were.

And last but not least, parents who, no matter what's happened to their families, were excited to see their kids happy. They are some of the strongest people I've ever met considering they don't know how much longer they have with these brilliant kids.

I booked spa appointments, helped kids pick out tattoos, and heard about how much fun they had seeing Shamu. It was wicked awesome.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To be continued...

I'm finding that traveling by plane is my favorite way to travel. I get so much accomplished. And I'm not even talking about work, as much as I greatly appreciate a day of nothing but productivity. I'm talking about relaxing.

I was able to finish a book and three magazines last weekend while flying back and forth to Philadelphia to visit a friend. I apparently don't finish reading material at home, so why not count on a flight to make it happen?

My real relaxation was actually during the course of the weekend, though the flight helped. I've forgotten my appreciation for the northern states. I stayed outside the city, which is aesthetically appealing, unlike Florida. I slept more than I've slept in months. We drank wine, talked, played cards, wandered around the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border, and ate more ice cream than I should have.

It was an incredible break from the craziness of my life here. And not even my own life, but being able to enjoy myself without feeling like I'm on everyone else's vacation. Plus, the weather was perfect. Warm sun during the day, and cool evenings without humidity. It was actually comfortable to sit outside.

It was a perfect weekend for some reflection time. And while I'm still in the reflecting process, I came across this quote:

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

In other words, I'm thinking about things that would be out of my comfort zone, but so exciting to take on. And with that, I'm leaving this post as a cliffhanger until I figure out what's coming next. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

On Your Mark

First dating game challenge completed: Go to a High School Track.

I was initially a little nervous about this challenge because school is ending this week and I had no idea how to go to a high school track without being a total creeper. Then I read about the City of Kissimmee and the City of St. Cloud hosting the annual Hershey's Track and Field Games at one of the high schools here in town. And they needed volunteers!

I skipped yoga class on Saturday morning to register the 8-14-year-olds for their track and field events. A few cute guys were in attendance, but they were the boyfriends/husbands of the mothers. There was one who was absolutely adorable and we became friends for awhile, but he was 3-years-old. So, as far as the dating challenge goes, this challenge wasn't a great success.

However, I had forgetten how much fun track meets are! Some of the parents were nuts, but all in all, it was great to be helping out at such a great event. I got to talking with some of the people in the Parks and Recreation Department. It turns out they have tons of things like this going on all summer, so this may be something I start volunteering for regularly.

No Mr. Right in sight yet, but I'm all about trying new things that I'd never think to do!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Dating Game

My Tampa love has roped me into something and I have no idea how it will turn out. But, at the very least, it's going to be interesting and fun. :)

After jokingly purchasing the book "1001 Ways to Meet Mr. Right," she and her coworker decided to try some of these suggestions. When she told me about it, my curiousity got the best of me. I am now part of a competition to see if my randomly-selected 10 ways will result in a date. And the roads to love are as follows:

1. Pontoon Boat Party
2. Hit a Hotel Pool
3. - the online category
4. Aids Walk
5. Poetry Reading
6. Orchard
7. Convenience Store
8. Auditions
9. CD Store
10. High School Track

The goal is to do one a week until they are all completed. I'll be updating my progress here...let the dating game begin!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Not going to the chapel

Indiana was great. I'm glad to be back in Florida.

I loved being with my family every day. It gave me the feeling of being a kid again; carefree and playing all day. I spent ample time with friends I hadn't seen in ages, which again provided the carefree feeling, only college-style. Needless to say, I spent plenty of time at Harry's. :)

The end of my vacation was spent bridesmaiding, as I like to call it. Typically I love weddings. I love the dresses, the flowers, the food selection, the music played, the toasting, everything down to the table settings. This wedding was fun, but it made me second-guess my big-wedding-dreams.

I've now stood-up in 3 weddings. And no matter what colors, dresses, and food were chosen, they all have one thing in common: they're kind of a pain in the ass.

I love the whole idea of the wedding. When I have that special someone to spend the rest of my life with, I want to celebrate that with close friends and family. However, spending a year and a half planning for the day of the celebration seems to be more work than it's worth. Yes, you make beautiful memories. But I've come to the conclusion that a wedding brings out the worst in people and can be hell for your family. All the stress and running around and planning now gives me a headache, whereas before I couldn't wait for it to be my turn to run around for my princess-day. Now I see that whether or not you like your future in-laws doesn't matter because there will be some sort of drama with them when it comes to the wedding. There's usually enough drama with in-laws without a wedding, isn't there? Sure, everyone gets along fine after the vows are complete, but was it worth the months of arguing and stress?

My point for all this is not to say that I'm against all weddings and plan to never again attend one. I still like going to them, especially if there's good music and an open bar. I think this was another experience leading me in the direction of the person I'm becoming. Just don't be offended if I invite only my parents and sister to a wedding ceremony on the beach. I'll still want to have a fun party somewhere to celebrate with the rest of my peeps; it might just be at a local wine bar or something instead of a banquet hall.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back Home Again

It's been a reflective couple of weeks.

I'm realizing that I like my job, but I don't want it to become my life. I want to have a life outside of work. I want to be able to come home at the end of the day and de-stress, not worry about what happened or what's to come tomorrow. My social network is very important to me outside of work. I don't want to become the 9-5 drone who gets up at 5:30am, works out, goes to work, comes home, goes to sleep, and repeats this process 5 days a week. I'm learning that it's all a balancing act, and that when something gets unbalanced, it throws you for a loop.

My job has been...frustrating. I'm learning from the mistakes I didn't know I was making at the time I made them. I'm learning that I can't please everyone. I'm learning that I am only one person, and that unless I do or think about JA 24-hours a day, there are things that just have to wait until tomorrow. I felt myself turning into a drone, and a cranky one at that. Work was seeping into my car, my apartment, and therefore my free time. And I'm sorry, it's just not worth it.

I need things to be somewhat organized (though looking at my office you would never guess). I need structure, but couldn't quite figure out where that structure was needed in terms of my job. Over the last month, I have allowed anyone and everyone to use my time the way they needed to, which is fine. I work for a non-profit; I can't refuse everyone because I'm tired one day. But, that doesn't mean that I should be catering to everyone's wants and needs. There need to be boundaries. And guess what? I can create them.

I can create schedules to keep me and everyone on task. I can say "NO" because my expectations weren't met. I can feel not-guilty for setting rules and deadlines that someone might not like. There's a reason for rules: it helps us avoid chaos. In my case, it will take less pressure off of me and my volunteers, which I think is a win-win situation if you ask me.

So, my recent revelation of having standards and deadlines was put to the test this week. I'm leaving this Saturday to go to Indiana until the 24th, which means there isn't time for people to argue with me and my rules. And it's actually been working! I'm not mean, just very to-the-point about my schedule. I'm learning that many people just don't do well with having a lot of options. If you give them fewer options, then usually they make a decision quicker (or you can make it for them). Nothing has backlashed yet and most things are in place for next week while I'm gone. Now, tomorrow will be a freaking busy day, but it probably would have been even if I wasn't leaving on Saturday. And when I get on the plane on Saturday, I am confident that nothing will collapse while I'm gone. I don't need to feel so important that I can get away for a few days. Yes, it's a week of work, two of the days being event days. But, I am not the Lone Ranger, and the weight of the world is not on my shoulders. These events will happen and they will be as successful as they can be, with or without me. And I was able to make sure everything was as in-place as I could make it.

Am I tired? Hell yes. A good tired, though. An accomplished tired.

I'm going home to stand-up in a wedding. In between wedding-related events, I plan to hang out with my sister, read a couple of books, and play with my dogs. I have some lunch things planned, but that's about it. A week of nothing but relaxing with friends and family.

I never thought I'd say this, but I can't wait to go home to Indiana.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The rest is yet to come

Why is it that it takes until you're 22-years-old to finally admit that you're growing up? I suppose it's part of the growing-up process, yes?

My job is teaching me a lot. I have days when I think I'm on top of the world and I have days when I can barely keep up. Sometimes I love the running around like a crazy person, yet some days I just want to sit in my office and hide. No matter what is happening, I'm learning more and more about myself and the world every day. And this is what I was looking forward to when I graduated.

I have to say the favorite part of my job is the people I'm meeting. Not just every month, but literally every WEEK. Sometimes for days in a row. I consider myself extremely lucky because the people I meet are much like me. As mentioned in my previous post, I'm meeting people who are motivated and positive thinkers. These are people with which I want to surround myself. Knowing some of these people gives me hope that one of my biggest fears will never come true: getting too comfortable to take a risk.

A lady I trained yesterday told me "if you're smart, you'll move where your job takes you." She had just finished telling me about the journey she and her husband had taken through life. They lived in multiple cities, made great friends in every one, and retired to Florida where they still do so much traveling, they're not even home most of the month. Immediately after chatting with her, I got a chance to chat with someone else I met before and learned about her exciting career path that is long from over. Both of these women are likely older than my mother (who is NOT old, for the record) and are far from leading sedentary lives. In fact, as an intern in college, I met another woman exactly like this. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow. I want to be JUST like her!" And these people inspire me over and over again.

My latest inspiration is my writing. Well, not MY writing, just writing in general. I'm realizing that I LOVE it. I can't get enough of it. Even though I'm completely swamped at work, I'm constantly telling the newspaper to send me more assignments. And this week it hit me: maybe I should be working toward becoming a writer full-time.

Now, no rash decisions have been made yet. I do enjoy my full-time job and see the obvious benefits of being able to pay bills with that income. However, in my free-time, I'm taking the steps to become a freelance writer. I'm starting small with my first client right now, but I'm researching ways to grow my portfolio. There are tons of jobs out there for freelance writers, it's just a matter of me being brave enough to say "here I am, World!"

And that's what I mean about my biggest fear. I don't ever want to be comfortable enough to not put myself out there. I want to keep challenging myself and make some mistakes along the way. I want to be able to tell my story one day with the phrase "I had no idea X would lead to Z later on, but I'm glad I took the chance." I suppose I've done that already, with buying a plane ticket on a whim and moving 1,000 miles away. Honestly though, that's not enough for this girl. I want to keep moving and keep seeing things. I want to keep meeting people and making connections. I want to live my life to the fullest, and for me, seriously pursuing a profession in writing might be the key.

So what's next? Building up my portfolio with more freelancing opportunities and researching what grad school could do for my career. And at some point, maybe a new place to blog about.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Health Update

This week was an interesting week.

I went for a blood test last week to check my cholesterol. It came back. It's not good.

In fact, it's bad. My overall cholesterol is 246. My bad cholesterol is 20 points higher than it should be and my triglycerides are 80 points higher than they should be. This is really bad. After my doctor appointment, it was time to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I eat out at least a few times a week. It's usually dinners out, or lunches for work. I order whatever I want depending on how I feel and it usually includes fries, a burger if I'm in the mood, cheesy goodness, and a beer or other spirited beverage (except for work things, of course). I drink wine fairly often, usually with my dinner at home or after dinner. I have quite a sweet tooth, so even though I try to stick to frozen yogurt at home, that doesn't happen when I'm out because "I can splurge". Well, these are weekly splurges, which isn't a splurge, it's a habit.

I go back for another blood test in August. I have four months to prove to myself that I am in control. Everything I eat is my choice. Exercising is my choice. So I'm going to limit (not eliminate, for fear of later binging) anything fried, extra sweetened, not whole wheat, and alcoholic. Including my beloved wine that is currently on my wine rack. The good news is that right now, everything I look at that's bad to eat just reminds me of the goo in my arteries. The good news is I like working out. The bad news (well, good in a sense) is that it took my body screaming at me in the form of big red letters reading "ABNORMAL-SEE DOCTOR" for me to open my eyes and realize I'm literally slowly killing myself.

People tell me I'm so young to have this "issue". I'm really trying to not think of it as an issue. At the end of 4 months, if my numbers are all on their way back to normal, that doesn't mean I can "go easy" on myself and eat whatever whenever. This just means that my body reacts to what I do in this way. And I'm ok with that. Do I need the crappy food? No. Do I need the wine all the time? No. I do need to eat and exercise so I can function on a day-to-day basis. I need to take care of myself so I can keep doing the things I love to do.

That was my wake-up call this week. And I've worked out every day and felt good about what I ate all week. It's at least a start.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crazy/Beautiful: Life as I know it

I typically feel grateful and lucky each day about my life. Not necessarily all day every day, but at least once a day I think to myself "Wow. My life is pretty awesome."

I pretty much felt this way all week until my Purdue memories came creeping back. One of my best friends came down for a visit. She was at one time the roommate of another best friend who lives in Tampa, so the three of us made sure to spend plenty of time together. And let me tell you: I don't laugh as hard as I did this week except with my sister.

These two phenomenal women came to my apartment last weekend and we shopped, ate key lime pie, watched The Hills, and just hung out. The crazy things we talked about had us keeled over in laughter. Then our visitor and I went to Tampa to have dinner with the third musketeer on Thursday. Between my shoe getting caught on the deck at Bahama Breeze and our crazy waiter who lingered too long in silence before saying anything, we were in tears of laughter on the drive home. Then, the visitor and I said goodbye. It was almost tearful and I couldn't figure out why. Brief background on this visitor: she became my rock after a difficult break-up and we've basically been BFF ever since. We even traveled Europe together. So, as I was driving home from dropping her off and wishing her well on her travels back to Indiana, all these memories came rushing back. I realized I missed the convenience of having my best friends a few blocks away. This turned into missing my family who is normally 20 minutes away. Then it was missing the comfort of all things familiar in Lafayette, IN: something I thought I would NEVER say. So what could I do to get myself out of this sadness? Move closer to my family? Make all my friends move back to Purdue?

Nope. As much as I've known my life has changed (just by 1,000 miles or so), it took having two best friends within a 60-mile radius for me to realize that ALL our lives are changing. Every day. There's not a whole lot we can do about it and things will never be as they were. This isn't a bad thing, of course. We're growing up; things evolve because that's what life does whether or not you want it to. We're not college students, but working adults who are trying to figure out how to live the best way we can. And when I think about all the cool things I get to do on a daily basis, that's when I can pull myself out of the sadness and say "aren't I lucky to have friends and family who, no matter what, love and support me?"

This week at work I met some incredible people. They were truly inspiring to talk to. We shared values and ideas that made me feel so excited to be meeting people with such similar mindsets as my own. These were people who want to change the world like I do. These are the characters I should be adding to my life story: people who will encourage me and join me in making a difference. Whether it's big or small, I think I'm forming a core group of people who want the best for others and will do everything in their power to help.

When I remind myself of the work I do, the goals I have, and the people I'm meeting, I remember that I'm ok. I miss my family. I miss my close friends. But at the same time, if I got up tomorrow and moved home to Indiana, nothing would be the same. I wouldn't be in the place I am now in this community that I'm starting to love. Being a part of my community here gets more important to me every day. For me, that's what life is all about: finding your niche where you see yourself growing and contributing. I have friends here. One of my BFFs is an hour away. I have family here, too. Is it the same as my college life? Of course not, but if it was, I wouldn't be doing half the things I'm doing now. But because of my family and friends, I'm doing things I couldn't do without their support.

Speaking of which, I was offered my first paid writing position. I'll be an independent contractor for a women's news magazine. My first article hasn't been published yet, but was loved by the article's subject. I'm looking forward to what's coming with this opportunity!

So I'm meeting people. Opportunities are around every corner. And I was able to spend nearly a whole week with two people who know me so well, they wouldn't let me get away with whining about my shoe getting stuck in front of a deck full of people.

I think it's safe to say I'm getting used to being a grown-up. And I think I like it.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Happy Friday!

I'm writing today from the comforts of the Panera Bread about 2 minutes from my apartment, hazelnut coffee as my companion for the morning. The new blog I posted earlier this week has me really motivated for life and what's to come. I'm realizing that writing is really important to me and while I have to do my 9-5 job (which is rarely ever 9-5, but you get what I mean), I want to make the time to what I LOVE to do. That means I got up when the alarm went off this morning instead of hitting snooze. I left my house at 7:30am to come hang out in a yummy coffee/bagel atmosphere so I can write down my thoughts for the masses to read. And I gotta tell ya: it's all worth it.

I think it's worth it to have the peace of mind that I'm doing something for ME. I like to workout a few times a week, and I think of that as ME time, too. But writing is one of those things that takes me somewhere else; away from my real life. Even if it's just for a little while, it's so worth it and refreshing. And I feel like I really accomplished something, so even if I still struggle to recruit volunteers or get people to listen to me about how I want to change the world, I know that personally, I've accomplished a great deal. I took the time out of my day to relax and refocus my energy into something other than work. It was such a great feeling to wake up today and not immediately think about work, which is what usually happens. I get up and as I shower and get ready, my JA to-do list gets longer and longer. Most days it's motivating to get up and get out the door, other days it's a drag. Either way, it's my job and I love it. But being able to get up and think about nothing but what I want to write about: now that's a nice change of pace, especially on a weekday. I told a friend that I'd have to start saving my writing for the weekends. Then I realized that's what I save EVERYTHING for: all my fun, relaxing things have to wait until Saturday or Sunday. So asked myself, why? Do I have to wait until the weekend to do what I WANT to do?

The answer is no. If it's something I want to do, I should be able to do it. If I can make it work into my schedule, then there is no reason whatsoever to not take time out of my day to chill and do something I love to do. Granted, this won't be an everyday occurrence, but this morning I've proved to myself that I'm capable of having it all, even if it's just once a week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Blog

Three young women inviting cyberspace to read about us learning about life. It should be entertaining, maybe enlightening, and not the least bit boring.

I'll be keeping this blog, but also contributing to the other one with two of my best friends. We all go through crazy phases, so check out how we are dealing with ours.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Changing the World

Right now I wish I were in my Purdue bubble. You know, the place you're in when you're at college for 4 years. You think you're immersed in the real world, but you're not. Now I am and I gotta tell ya: it's not all it's cracked up to be.

I really do love my life. My job is great, I love my family and friends, and every day I feel blessed for what I have. But given everything on the news about the economy and how stressed out everyone is, it drains you. I'm seeing friends losing jobs or moving jobs. I'm hearing about more and more company cutbacks. Remember: I work for a non-profit. Cutbacks aren't good to hear. I'm not particularly worried, but there really isn't anything that can totally reassure me that things will be fine. I'm trying to be financially smart, which is hard when you're just starting out. I'm reading everything I can about saving, investing (at some point), and what it means to really live within your means. I think I'm trying to avoid the hardships so many people are experiencing right now. And every day that I hear more bad news about money, banks, and the economy, I remind myself that THIS is why I do my job.

For those who are not totally familiar, the point of Junior Achievement is to give kids the tools to NOT screw up like so many of us have over the last few years. Granted, that's not exactly the mission statement, but it pretty much sums it up. We're teaching kids the importance of being financially literate, why business ethics are vital, and we're inspiring them to be entrepreneurs later in life. Hopefully I'm helping to mold the next generation into intelligent, ethical, and responsible citizens who will desperately try to do the right thing, even when it seems like everyone else is doing the exact opposite. Hopefully I'm helping to diminish confusion and uncertainty in the minds of kids who don't understand why their parents are stressing about foreclosure. This is why I do my job: so kids today will be responsible in their own jobs and lives later.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Today's blog: Pictures! Car and apartment, ENJOY. (Don't be alarmed if pictures are weirdly spaced or don't match exactly with the text. According to my recent personality profile, I don't do well with the small details.)

This is my new baby: Snow White. She's a 2008 Hyundai Tucson and it's safe to say we're in love.

Now, apartment:

This is when you look from the front door.

This is the dining set from my cousin's family. There's a fourth chair, it lives in my bedroom.

These are both sides of my kitchen.

Both views of the living room.

View of the bedroom from the living room:

Bedroom with view of bathroom:

This is the view of the bathroom from the foyer.

I love my new place. Thank you to Mom because I'd still be living with unpacked boxes. :)

Memo to all: I have no internet or cable at home right now. 1) I typically don't miss it when I don't have it. 2) I have weddings to travel for/be in over the next few months, so money that would be spent on home entertainment will be going toward plane tickets. I read a lot. Anyway, if I don't respond via email very quickly, or have no idea what's going on on television, it is because my most convenient source of internet is at work when I'm helping volunteers inspire kids to become good citizens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Long time no blog.

So, nearly two months since my last post. Sorry.

My last post mentioned a training conference that went very well. I had a blast and was so happy I went. It reenergized me for my job and gave me new confidence.

Fast forward to Christmas 2008. I spent a lovely 4 days with my family. My sister got a Wii for Christmas, so we made like our 10-year-old selves and stayed in pjs all day to play video games. My 22-year-old self loved it. My sister and I needed some bonding time, so being home with her was great. We watched movies with Mom and Dad. And of course provided more noise than that house has seen in months.

New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2008/9: Great food, great wine, great friends. In fact, a little too much great wine. We played Circle of Death/King's/whatever you called it in college. This resulted in a silly hostess (me). But we had a lot of fun!

January 2, 2009: I signed for my first grown-up apartment! Yep, I'll be staying put until at least March 2010. I found the place via a friend of mine. It's a young community with pools, a nice clubhouse, etc. Perfect for a young single lady.

January 17-20, 2009: Mom comes for the move. Thank. God. I don't know what I would've done without her. We had a lot of fun and I'm so grateful she came. There would still be unpacked boxes had she not been there while I was at work. And picture this: Meredith and Darlene manuevering a giant U-Haul. Yep, it's ok to smile and laugh to yourself. We sure did!

And I just got a call from Daddy, who is in town for a conference. I'll update more about work and stuff this week!

Hope everyone is well! :)