I Survived: Texas Part I

Mondays are for candlelit writing sessions with Copeland playing in the background. Funny how no matter where I find myself; give me a comfy spot, a laptop, and acoustic music... I'll write you something pretty.

I love writing at night and right as the sun comes up. Clearly, I like to ensure that there are zero interruptions. Writing after a long day is the best. Or really doing anything after a long day. But if nothing else, I love to write at the end of a day to say I put something into the world in the past 24 hours. I created something on a Monday and said, "Oh.. hey world! I did this... so today was pretty grand."

Depeche Mode just came on the shuffle. This post is gonna be good.

I am so ridiculously in love with summertime. I can honestly say that despite hardships, heartbreak, and just all around some shitty situations... none of these have ever infiltrated a sweet summer of mine. Summer is for falling in love, watching stars, and fresh flowers on the windowsill. Summer is for the dreamers, and through this year I can say that I have hung onto that.

Last week I celebrated my first year of dating Texas and remarkably we are going strong. I fought this whole "cowboy boots" deal, but now I admit I am hunting down my first pair. I gave in and went to Buc-ees (glorified gas station), attended the rodeo TWICE (I borrowed boots obvi), and have cheered at several turtle races (my turtle was scratched once... never found out what happened...).

All in all though, this year has been one of growth and lots of faith. Faith in friendships, the future, and in taking new leaps into the unknown. I remember my plane ride when I was leaving Chicago "for good" and I knew it would be a while before I was back in my hometown. I remember telling myself that I had to do this. I had to push myself. I had to find out what I was made of.

Apparently I'm stronger than I thought. Starting over is hard, but it forces you to look in the mirror and figure out who you are. It enables a lot of alone time, and it fosters self improvement. I am so thankful for the friends (who have become family) that I have met and explored with in this year and I can't wait for another year of discovery, river tubing, wineries, and day trips to the ocean. I'm excited again for what's to come.

They say that if you want to get what you want, just stop looking. Just stop asking. Just sit still and wait.

I am happy to report that whoever "they" are, they weren't wrong. In 365 days of living in the unknown, I've finished my first (of many) lap and can say that good things truly do come to those who wait.

To those of you in a tough time-please hang on. You're about to come around the corner and what's in store will surely make you smile.

To those of you in a miraculous time-enjoy every second, every breath, every morning of happiness. Soak it in like summer. Bask in it like the sun. Bring people in to sit with you and stay warm.

And to those of you who just have no fucking clue. You're completely normal. You are brave. Take a minute to celebrate your strength in accepting the unknown. Baby steps are still steps.

Five for Fighting just came on... 100 Years...

How can you not want to get out there and do something awesome?

"...when you've only got 100 years to live."

Cheers y'all,



Hello Summer

There is nothing I love more than waking up to a weekend that's only begun. My friends and I are famous for making it worth our while, these forty eight hours of freedom. We're known for drives to the ocean when the mainland gets to be a little too much. We're not above wasting a whole day by the pool with faijitas. And if I'm not at a brunch; I'm probably off grabbing a "like it" scoop of mexican vanilla ice cream (vanilla and cinnamon for those who don't know).

Summer is by far my favorite lover. He tells me about the best songs and when it rains we watch only Oscar worthy movies. How wonderful to live in a world that when the sun is shining, you have something to sing along to? 

During the summer weekends even darkness does not dissuade us from dancing under a satin blanket of stars. Street lamps and glow sticks provide pops of yellows and neons to light the way and call for others to join. 

In other words, we started in the winter & now we're here.

Hello Summer.



The Wishing Tree

Growing up there was a large oak tree that lived in the center of my neighborhood. Anyone from New York knows these kinds of trees are to be revered; as their existence is dwindling next to shadow casting skyscrapers. On weekends where my Grandmother would visit, we'd sit under the tree together and talk about life. Now, me as a seven year old, life consisted of the newest Barbie and whether or not I was allowed to ride my bike without a helmet. Clearly, I was all about the bigger issues back then. A visionary--if you will.  Yet, we'd sit together happy as clams and I'd share my most daring of dreams and look up to a green and blue sky, eyes wide with hope. 

It was at the end of an afternoon with my Grandmother that she proclaimed this large tree to be our wishing tree. Whenever something seemed out of reach by my tiny hands, I was to sit underneath the magical leaves of the wishing tree and make a wish.  Initially I frowned in my childish skepticism, 
"What if I want the highest leaf? A wish won't let me reach it." My grandmother laughed and patted my head,
"Wishes bring everything a little bit closer, then it's your job to reach for it."

Now that I'm grown I think of this tree often and the magic it provided to my childhood. This tree would actually be the subject of my first piece of literature, a crying post, and a immovable moment in time when I first believed. It gave me hope that beyond a regimented life, there lies a path for those who still believe in magic. A path for only the courageous, the strong, and the wonderful wanderers. A tree, of all things,  provided me with the foundation of believing in something you cannot see. 

One day when I have children of my own, they will have wishing trees. Right along with their Abc's, they will learn that nothing is more than a wish and a reach away. For most of my achievements began as silly wishes, a wish for something not yet defined. Always wanting more and wishing for the next star barely out of reach; this is the birth of ambition. There have been many who told me that my wishes cannot, could not, and would not come true. But I've always known better.

Because years ago, on a Saturday, a young girl was given a wishing tree. And with that tree, the idea that if you want something badly enough....nothing, not even the highest leaf is out of reach.

Make a wish.



Making Sense of Sororities

One of my favorite things is when people discover I was in a sorority and then reply with,

"Oh, that makes sense."

I'm glad you think so. Aside from learning how to paint my nails on my right hand with my left, being in a sorority was one of the best things I've ever done. Learning how to coexist with more girls than you'd ever like to be around, is a skill that has taken me far in my career, as the fashion industry is dominated by women. Sorority women are not just girls in neons playing powderpuff on the lacrosse field. Let me list the ways Greek girls have a leg up on life:

1. We know when to keep things to ourselves. After endless chapter meetings of wanting to say whatever comes to mind, we've learned to pick and choose our words carefully because after all- you live with these girls. You learn very quickly in a sorority when to say what's on your mind, and how to deliver it in a way that won't end up like this:

2. Sorority girls are mini politicians. We don't mess around when it comes time for officer elections, and we definitely won't when it comes time for that next promotion. Shaking hands and kissing babies? That's the way of yesterday. We can create a campaign, deliver inspiring speeches, and pass our finals. Bring it on Washington.

3. We have a worldwide network of sisters. Enough said.

4. We'll get our hands dirty. Habitat for Humanity? Food drives? Car washes? You name it- we've done it. You haven't seen determination until you've met a chapter that believes in a cause. Sorority girls are philanthropic warriors. 

5. We hold ourselves accountable for our actions. While my neighbor would crawl home at 4 am, I did not have that luxury. Being in a sorority means being a part of the bigger picture and what it means to set an example for the next class. It's learning that every action has a reaction, and doing what's right isn't always what's easy.  Actually it never is. It's never easy.

7. Multi-tasker is our middle name. Literally. What did you think the M in KMB stood for? Plan a formal, design tee shirts, practice recruitment, tutor on campus, run for Panhellenic, and do everything else college requires? Challenge accepted.

8. We always choose Paris. Being in a sorority means having a front row seat to the reality show that is undergrad college. Between your own experiences and those of your sisters, you learn quickly that while boys may come and go--your friends are always going to be there to put you on the plane to France. Or they'll make you watch The Hills until you promise you'll stop talking to Justin Bobby.

9. We're as loyal as they come. Being a part of a sisterhood means that while you may not love everyone in your chapter, they're your sister regardless. When push comes to shove you're there for each other through thick and thin.

10. You're an independent, successful, beautiful badass. There's no other way of saying it. The women I've been lucky to know and call my friends are people who inspire me to do better, do more, and become the best version of myself. We don't shy away from a board room presentation; we've already learned how to keep the attention of 100+ women with unlimited texting. We're brave and ready to take on the next challenge, whatever that may be. We've learned what it means to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We celebrate one another and are each other's cheerleaders through life. So I'm glad it "makes sense" that I was in a sorority. Because I was and I love it.



Hmmmm. Ok.

Twenty five is the age where there is an unspoken divide amongst your circle of friends. There are those who are ready for a family, marriage, and all the glories that come with buying your first home. To those, I tip my flower fastener in your direction. There are also those who are simply not ready to grow roots. They're the rootless, the wild, and they've been known to throw diamond rings in rivers. ....No comment on the rings in rivers portion.

As a member of the latter party, and having attended our last Wild Things Convention, there are a few things that caused quite the stir, a titch of confusion if you will. We've complied a list for your reading pleasure. Enjoy, have a laugh, and please don't email me defending your mason jars.

1. You saw this coming...when did mason jars become iconic motif for weddings everywhere? Did all of my friends secretly grow up in barns? Because last time I checked, the suburbs of Chicago had electricity and running water. I mean... your dad drives a mercedes. Free the fireflies and invest in a lamp. It'll last longer. Return on investment my friends. We are the most educated generation thus far, and yet we are regressing to mason jars... why...? We created Facebook and yet we are enslaving fireflies...

2. Don't make up baby names and get mad when I pronounce them wrong. #learningcurve

3. Making people buy dresses they will never wear again. If I can't wear it again and if I won't look glamorous then I won't buy it. I will show up in burlap and tell you to deal.

4. Pinterest is the Disney to the twenty-something American girl. Unless you start making friends with animals; all the Pinterest projects in the world won't make you a princess. A wedding should reflect your style, not the style of everyone you pin from. #beentheredonethat

5. Pressure others to get engaged because you are. I have a wedding once a year, it's called my birthday. I'm not ready for a marriage, but when I am, I will be sure to let you and 1,023 of my Facebook know. There will be live coverage on all major networks along with real time tweets. Don't you worry. But for now though?

6. Getting married suddenly means you have a curfew? We miss you at the 4 a.m. bars. Come back :(

7. I once walked into a wedding and thought, "Oh shoot, I'm at Easter mass, this can't be right..."
Unless there is a easter egg hunt following the reception (which would be a great idea) maybe treat pastels as accent pieces instead of an elevated easter brunch. #bunnychic #IwillFindAllTheEggs

8. Converse.. go buy some shoes. If you're wearing Vera you probably might want to hold on the cons. Save that for the honeymoon... or never... never works too.

9. Twine is everywhere at weddings. If you're that in love with twine, nix the platinum wedding band and just tie some rope around your finger. #youarenotsouthern #whoareyou??

10. Chalkboards. This is up there with the mason jars. God forbid someone erase the arrows to where the reception is... how would we ever find it?

11. Vintage Chic. 
This is what that looks like:

This is what you think it looks like (thank you Pinterest):

12. Milestones are not mile markers. All jokes aside, marriage is a beautiful thing. To my engaged and married friends, I love each of you and you're all pretty awesome. Job well done at finding your partner in crime. And to my single friends, the same to you and I will see you this evening. We need to celebrate in one another's spot in life and realize that marriage is not the destination. We are not a generation of housewives, and I know I did not attend college to get my MRS. A marriage is making your best friend officially yours--let's get back to celebrating the beauty in that and put on a real pair of shoes. And if you go to Michael's to buy some mason jars, you're out of luck. I just bought all of them and will be retailing them for $50.00 a jar. Take that Pinterest.



12 Truths

You never know where life is going to take you. Sometimes the unexpected becomes the present. And when that happens... I like to remember these truths:

1. See someone smile because you put it there. Do it again tomorrow.

2. You don't have to find out you're dying to start living.

3. When words lose their meaning- take action.

4. The hard times were created to make you grow. The longer you fight it, the longer it'll last.

5. Never underestimate the gift that is being there for somebody.

6. We should all act more like Kid President. Minus the corn dogs.

7. When you make a mistake or hurt someone--always apologize.

8. Just because you think your life would make a great reality show...doesn't mean it has to be one.

9. Picnics are always a good idea.

10. You can see the world a lot better from the roof of your parents' house.

And that's about it.



A Homecoming

I've once heard it said that the best part about leaving home is being able to come back. As someone who returned home this past weekend, I have to say this is all too true. With a homecoming comes a feeling of familiarity that makes even the sleepiest of towns suddenly magical. Every sidewalk, highway, airport terminal... you realize that you once had your life play out here. The pages of your story were drafted in the place you call your hometown. A homecoming should set your soul on fire.

This best describes the past weekend for me. I came home full of expectations, hopes, dreams, and some news to share. My plane rides home are always full of anticipation, but this one takes the cake. You never know what will take place at a stage revisited. 

My best friends picked me up and driving down old highways we played our songs and spoke of the last time we were all together. We were in awe at how things had changed and yet our love for one another had only grown. It is through growing up that we see our friends as family; the champions of our heartbreak and the soothing voices at dawn. There is something about coming back to a town that calls you "one of their own." It's one of the best things I have experienced. It is unconditional community.

Lounging out on the deck with signature sangria, we discussed the latest and debated the now. Once upon a summer night we sat around these trees musing about prom problems, and now here we are talking of new engagements, new careers, and new lives. In a photo we look so adult. We've learned how to dress and that eye liner should be used sparingly. But in the middle of a dinner in Chicago you'll see the old characters come out to play. You'll hear the women who met as girls laugh at jokes while basking in the beauty of a ten year friendship. We each travel far now to reconvene our miniature congress of femininity and friendship. But where there is love, there is a way. And on a Saturday night in Chicago I was reminded just how special I am to have been given such a gift. 

After all, a homecoming is only as good as the home you come back to.