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.



My 24th Monologue

In ten days I'll be turning the big twenty-five. It's as if the world put a touch base on my calendar and the meeting subject says: Your 25th Anniversary. I can hear the conversation now...

"Well you've been with Earth Corporation for quarter of a century.. what do you have to show for it? 

I fully plan on relaxing in my seat and with a smile in reply,

"Well where shall I begin?"

Now I haven't saved any babies. And I haven't built homes for the homeless. But there are some things I've done and experienced that I either:

A) Never thought would happen.
B) Never thought I could do.

And I think that's pretty cool.

There have been things in this year alone that would make me argue twenty-four is the new coming of age. Twenty-four is where your life turns upside down. You're running around feeling homeless because you're not old enough to feel like an college alum and you're not young enough to act like you're in college. Clearly the latter is not felt by everyone I know. But I digress.

Every year at my birthday dinner, surrounded by friends, I give a birthday toast to the year that has gone by and the people sharing and celebrating in the day I was born. I give thanks and usually it ends with a few tears (mostly mine). And while I fully plan on delivering that toast this year... words...mere words cannot express the life change that was my twenty fourth year with Earth Corp. I want to have these words written down so that someday a twenty-four year old somewhere may stumble upon this and say, "Oh thank god. I'm not mentally unsound."

Because you are most certainly not. You are finding your way. And from a girl who hates to ask for directions, even Google maps could not point me in the right direction. And yet, here I am, 355 days later still kickin and asking for more. Crazy how things just work out.

In my twenty fourth year I moved across the country, said a final goodbye to my Grandfather, started a new job, attended the Accessory Awards in New York, hung out in South Korea, made a new life for myself, while meeting some of the greatest people on this planet. Without them... I would not be the new woman I am today.

So in the spirit of twenty four and in anticipation of the big 2-5, here's a list I compiled of things I believe you need to do when you're twenty-four...(or as Britney Spears would say, not a girl... not yet a womannn...)

1. Travel. Travel. Travel. And I don't mean across the globe. I mean to the town twenty minutes away that you haven't been to yet. Your neighboring state. Hell, go travel to your next door neighbor! But get out there. Meet and connect. Sparks are the best when they're unexpected.

2. Move away from home. You can do it. When I flew from my hometown to my new city I had never been so scared in my life. What if I failed? What if I locked myself out of my apartment? What if I got lost and couldn't find my way back? This actually was a legitimate fear of mine as I still use GPS to get to the grocery store. But do it. You'll get lost. You'll have nights where you beg your friends to visit. And there will be times you think you made a mistake...but you didn't. You're growing up.

3. Challenge your circle. Look at the people you surround yourself with and ask, "Does this group of people reflect the person I am wanting or am currently becoming?" Because as an adult your friends are a reflection of YOU. Choose them wisely and love them intensely.

4. Increase your car knowledge. Learn a little bit about your car, or enough that when you go to get your oil changed that you don't agree to a zillion dollars worth of "repairs." Because I did.

5. Budget. Mistakes are costly...see #4.

6. Find a hobby. Remember that thing you used to do as a kid after school? Start doing that again. Unless its weird... then maybe find a new thing.

7. Celebrate the little wins. At twenty-four there are a lot of little moments when you're just winning, but they come in tiny packages. Enjoy them. Go grab drinks and cheers till you stumble. The little wins get you to tomorrow, and tomorrow could mean something BIG.

8. Accept that your path is not everyone's. I am not getting married. I have a ton of friends who are (can't wait to own that dance floor) and that's ok. People fall in love and agree to forever when they're ready... not because it's next on the To-Do List.

9. Lose your lists. Life is not a "To-Do" list where you get to check everything off. Most of the time (if you're doing it right) you won't get to half of your "to-do's" because life happens. Life cannot be contained to a list. Lists are for groceries. Again, see #8.

10. Be Selfish. This is your time and you're only going to get one shot at life where the only person that matters is you.  When you're improving yourself, you're preparing for the next big adventure. And there is nothing worse than having an adventure show up at your door that you're not ready for.

And in words better than my own, I leave you with this...

"To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.
What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for 
that which could have been their finest hour."

Be ready. Be loving. Be traveling. Be twenty-four. 

Because if you're not twenty-four, you'll never be ready for twenty-five.



The Break Up

Ever since I was a child, I have lived a life "on the go." I rarely pause and open the doors to my closeted thoughts and emotions. When I feel something unpleasant I put it in the same box that I would an ex boyfriend's possessions. I find some space in my walk in and slip the box neatly in a dimly lit corner and prance on my merry way. I'm a "go-go girl." The problem being that a "go-go girl" doesn't quite know how to stop.

As a young professional I am pleased with the success I've enjoyed over the years. I love the tenacious nature of a board meeting. I thrive under extreme pressure. I promise, plan, and produce. My professional endurance has only increased with each new task and project. Give me a challenge and I can accomplish it, no ifs ands or buts. Just plain results.

When it comes to my personal life, I deal with things in a very similar way. I don't shy away from confrontation, and my passion comes through with the people I both love and dislike. I've been this way since I can remember. I say what I feel when I feel it. You will never hear me say, "I should've said this..." For better or worse it's hard for me to walk away and leave things unsaid. Not surprising, this wasn't always beneficial.  In first grade my teacher pulled me aside,

"Kristin you can't just go telling people you don't like them." 

Strong willed and confident, my green eyes grew wide with surprise and disbelief, 

"Hmm I think I can. I just told him I didn't want to be his Valentine because I don't like him. 
You should say how you feel."

Things were always drawn in black and white, right and wrong; I grew up practicing the art of matter-of-fact so diligently that now it is an instinctual perspective. When people learn this about me they are always surprised...but you're a writer...shouldn't you see the gray? Honestly, I wish I could but reading the gray in life has always been as good as hieroglyphics. And as for the writer part...being a writer only makes it harder. When you're a writer you see things in letters, dialogues, and plots. To an extent, I've always believed that every great story of the human heart has already been lived, now we just relive them with the universe as our narrator. It's the curse and the blessing in being creative. You see the big picture, you see the last line on page 711. You think you know the ending even when you're living in the middle.

At least that's what you tell yourself. Because to admit that you don't know and to wake up in a world of gray (or everything in hieroglyphics) is pretty damn horrifying. Where are the lines? Where's the order to make sense of it all? And... how the hell do I read hieroglyphics?

To my creatively organized mind this is pure anarchy. These moments create speed bumps in my otherwise nascar driver navigation of life. These speed bumps are necessary. They force you to see things that no longer want to stay in the dimly lit corner. And sometimes when you shine a light on them, you may not like what you see. It's a discovery. 

Currently I'm on a journey, albeit not by choice, in finding the beauty in the indirect. The messages written between the ink. Unpacking the possibilities in the unsaid. What an idea.  It is the biggest challenge I have encountered. It goes against the complete "go-go girl" mentality because it demands that you press pause. These discoveries require you to sit with a cup of coffee and slowly chew on air. This usage of time ironically makes me want to grind my teeth. 

I bought some books today to help channel my mind. The woman checking me out at Target questioned me, "You going through a breakup?" I guess two self help books, fresh flowers, and a bottle of wine will give that impression.

I initially answered her with a laugh and assured her that no I wasn't. But the more I sit here and write to you, the more I realize I kind of am. It is the break up between the old and new versions of myself. And much like any break up, it is hard. But one does not need to wait for a crisis to pull the plug on the now and start again tomorrow. Sometimes it means a good cry at the things you leave behind and wide eyes at what may come tomorrow. I don't know what awaits me, but I know it's a better version of myself. And for today--that's enough. My new favorite song says it best, perhaps you've heard it?

"let it go... let it go...that perfect girl is gone."



Talking Back

"When something is important enough, you do it--even if the odds are not in your favor."
- Elon Musk

Even though a man (who I greatly respect) said these words, this is a message women around the world need to take to heart. Through the years I have watched women I admire and love let themselves get cast as an understudy instead of the lead actress of their lives.  There is an undercurrent in both the personal and professional realm pulling us back into the riptide. We are accepting the role of option over priority. I have to sit back this morning and ask why? And what can be done?

Sheryl Sandberg, the voice of the Lean In movement communicates a clear message about the precipice women have reached. She states that "it is now time to cheer on girls and women who WANT to sit at the table." But what about those who have no desire to be knighted into the ways of the round table? Have we left them behind? 

The problem I have been observing and will continue to explore is that women have one main obstacle, both in the home, office, grocery store, or whatever your current dwelling may be. We allow ourselves in our relationships with both genders to be options instead of priorities. We accept, too often, that patience is a virtue. Women are to be kind and sensitive creatures. We are compassionate and nurturing. We are understanding. I don't intend to argue with these truths, but let me share what we are not...

We are not doormats. We are not options. We are not weak.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that a woman "was like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water." But what about the day to day when we're swimming in a temperate climate? Are we only to show strength when the circumstances demand it of us?

The older I become I am constantly redefining my definition of womanhood. I love my gender identity. I relish in being both sexy and smart. I feel at peace in my God-given body. I enjoy being a nurturer and I strive to be compassionate. 

But I am not patient. I am not sensitive. And everyday I fight the internal battle of refusing to accept I come second.  I have watched too many women be taken advantage of with this mentality. I admit there was a time where I felt that I could cast my own goals aside and sign the contract to a lifetime of second place. Surprisingly enough, I am not referring to marriage. One can have these types of relationships with all sorts of dynamics. I have had several. Yet recent events have me thinking about the example I am setting for the next generation of women by allowing such behavior. 

What am I demonstrating by accepting negligence and dishonesty? 

It is too easy to cast strong women aside and make "bold" claims that they are bossy or crazy.
Or even worse--BOTH.

To my peers in this uphill battle for equality and respect, demanding the best of someone is not being bossy or crazy. It is being true to who you are. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I have held hands, given hugs, and stayed up late with many bruised hearts. I have read all the texts (woman on woman, man to woman) and I have even been amused to receive a few of them. When I demand priority status, do not mistake that as a request. You get one shot at life here; do not waste your time with those who do not have time for you. After all, Mr. Musk states above, that "when something is important enough--you do it." And you are important. You are the Oscar winner. You are the President of your life--not the First Lady.

If you think my gender (or the attributes you assume I encompass) make me weak, or less than worthy of being a priority, then you are the one who shall be cast aside. 

This is not a funeral of the American woman- rather it is a revolution. All we can ask of one another is that we live lives full of honesty and respect towards others. That is all we owe one another. We, as women, must continue to evolve and constantly update the definition of womanhood. We are constantly emerging, creating, innovating, and most importantly raising in the ranks.  We must abandon old idioms of submission and demand the BEST of one another. 

One day my son or daughter will look at my life. They will hear stories, read articles, and integrate their findings in their own behaviors and choices. I will tell them two things

1. Demand the best of your peers.
2. The truth will never fail you.

And if I have a daughter, "You are the President. Not the First Lady."



Across The Quad

I sit around humming "Boston" by Augustana as I fold a week's worth of laundry. Where did the years go to when I first heard this? I remember it well. Sitting in my dorm room in Bloomington, my friends and I would sway on bunk beds to the lyrics that seemed to know our secrets. We'd lay on the quad and talk about the world's problems...and how we had all answers. If only the world would look over its shoulder. "Call on me! I know I know!" We'd eagerly reach out, almost toppling out of our desks.

We had real problems. You're dating who now? You got cut from which sorority? Your roommate said what? Your parents cut you off? You lost your meal plan? 

My father and I would talk on the phone weekly. I'd call him after my English class and pat myself on the back with my straight A's. Only a freshman and I felt as if I ruled the school. When my Dad would call me out and tell me I hadn't yet met the real world, or even a slice of reality, I'd scoff and reply,

"Dad, I'm in college. My job is 24/7! I have real problems I have to deal with. 
Do you know what kind of stress I'm under?"

I think of that now and smile. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that everything is relative. We cannot be who we are today without who we were a few years ago. For example, freshman year of college taught me I'm not edgy.  Despite my love for alternative rock, fake piercings, and black everything--I realized I feel much more like myself in a high waisted skirt and a cardigan. I also learned permanent marker is not suitable nail polish. And fake nails make typing twenty page essays incredibly hard.

Without experimentation we have no way of knowing what we like or who we are. Each phase of my life has led me to the one I'm in now. The one I call, Mt. Twentysomething. No longer a college grad, yet not quite old enough to accept that I'm an alum. Mt. Twentysomething is named as such because while in your twenties you constantly feel like you're scaling a mountain, with the sweet promise that once you reach the top, (turning thirty) you will be able to see things much more clearly and with newfound wisdom. Fingers crossed.

My freshman year of college the movie, Across The Universe came out. The student center had a movie night for all the frosh and after the film ended, you could hear "Hey Jude" being sung throughout campus. That night at every frat party, off campus bar, or on the roof of the library (no comment), you heard Jude being told what's up. I loved it. With linked arms, my friends and I paraded around campus, PBR in hand, and sang for all of central Illinois to hear. We stumbled across the grass beneath a moonlit sky, dreaming of when we'd meet our Jude. Or if there would ever be a band as great as the Beatles. Again, just being real problem solvers.

Both of those questions remain outstanding, but the memory never ceases to bring a smile to my face. Tomorrow's problems  may not be as easy as the ones back then, but where there is music and good friends... I have faith that with linked arms we'll manage through. 

Keep the faith and find the freshman in you. 



A Prom Education

Tonight I was kept awake by tomorrow's problems. The remedy? An old picture I found. The photo was from my senior year prom and in it are the happiest girls in America. These girls had no idea what the next seven years would bring, and they could've cared less. Because on a muggy night in the beginning of May, they were dancing on a cruise boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. Boys, homework, and college could wait until tomorrow. These girls lived for the moment.
Better yet-- they lived for themselves.

A few engagements, weddings, and babies later, we're what society calls "all grown up." But I see that girl in the prom photo and think, "Now that's a girl who can handle a board of directors meeting."

We forget these things so easily. We forget the innate talent that's within us when things get hard. We reach for security blankets instead of digging up the strength and tenacity that was in us the whole time. I know I do. When things become overwhelming I don't let myself breathe. I push myself to the brink and leave myself so dehydrated that I forget to thirst. That's what happens when you want it all- you try and do it all. It can be done, but it cannot be done alone. 

Life these days is not so different from the days and weeks before prom. Before prom we all sat around Starbucks and made guesses on what boys would ask us. Looking back on the boys who agreed to take our group to prom-- you all were pretty damn brave. I salute each of you. We weren't easy to deal with. The fiances, husbands, and boyfriends of today would agree. We were a lot to handle...and still are.

But we sat around in uncertainty and worried about all the things that could go wrong. The wrong date, the ugly corsage (which would probably leave you dateless), a horrible up-do at the salon (definitely leave you dateless), and let's not forget the spray tan nightmares (no prom for you!). The reality that the day of prom I could wake up looking like a homeless oompa loompa kept me up all night. Always tomorrow's problems keeping me up tonight, even back then.

That's where I learn and relearn the true value of those friendships. Those girls are still the ones I call when I can't sleep. They were then and they are now my "phone a friend." The problems have changed, but the love is everlasting. They hold my hand all night. We've done it for one another so many times that we know exactly what to say to bring a smile back from the abyss. The words, "You're not alone" have never been so beautiful.

A few Aprils ago I had to say goodbye to two special people in my life. It all took place in the span of ten days and those girls were at my front door in Chicago, full of old photos, story telling, and celebrating the lives that were cut too short. We've traveled across the country for one another, and even made trips to Lake Shore Drive just to clear our heads at 2:30 am, Oreo McFlurries in hand.

They taught me how to become the woman I am today- and without them I would not be so strong. So tonight I want to acknowledge the gift that is having an extra pair of footprints walk this life with you. Because as much as we want to do it all, and do it all ourselves... we weren't made to do this alone.

Life is just like prom. Remember that you didn't get ready alone, and you didn't dance by yourself.

Treat your tomorrows like prom. Go fix your nails, nix the spray tan, and dance with your friends. Everything else will take care of itself. Remember that when it came down to it, your hair got sweaty and gross, your date was a bore, and all that mattered was a night with the people you love the most. That's why we're here. For moments like that. Go out and make more of them. Screw everything else.



A Shallow Shoreline

When things get to be too much... I start to drive. Usually it doesn't matter where I'm headed, for as I've been told it's the "journey my darling-not the destination." Well consider me a world traveler.

I drove with friends to the beach this weekend and the air did wonders.  There is something so humbling standing at the shoreline of an ocean. Doesn't matter which one- you suddenly become insignificant. Oddly enough, feeling insignificant and small was exactly what I needed.

We live in a world where the day to day is drenched in neon highlighters and glows in the dark to keep you awake. I've been told to "not sweat the little" things; but this is often when I'm already drenched. What's a girl to do in times such as these? Drive to the beach.

Looking out at the big blue wonder I felt every worry, stress, and doubt begin to wash away with the tide. None of what keeps me awake tonight will matter on this night a year from now. This realization had me composing on napkins and grabbing at tiny pencils. Inspiration was everywhere.  Everything in the present is but a moment in time. A stranger saying hello, a lover kissing you, a friend holding your hand. These are all just reels on the movie screen, flipping too quickly for any of us to appreciate.

Recently I sat with a friend during a rough time in their life. Learning the truth behind months of lies can often be the most painful heartache. For it is not the lack of love, but rather the disregard for human compassion that can send us into the darkest of holes. It can make you feel broken. And as someone who has felt broken, I can say it is the most troubling of emotions. It is not easily fixed, yet it is a feeling we try to patch up the fastest. The vulnerability with learning a truth, where all this time you were living a lie- is an experience I would not wish on even those who are most be deserving. Deception can make one feel as if they are at the bottom of the ocean, and that they will never come back up for air. As I watched the waves crash up against the rocks, I could not help but marvel at how even a rooted stem of seaweed eventually rises.

Saturday afternoon at the beach was one of necessity and clarity. I think I had forgotten that so many of the answers we seek are often right in front of us. On a Saturday in February the solace I sought was found in a blue body of water, everlasting, strong, and endless.

Sometimes in the thick of the mayhem it is important to remember that we are but just one person standing on the shoreline. If the waves could have spoken I think they would have said,

"Many have stood where you are now. Everything will be alright."

I don't know about you, but I'm a believer.



A Girl Named Lulu

Listen up gentlemen. There's a new girl in town and boy does she have a lot to say about you. Her name is Lulu and she's friends with every ex girlfriend, former lover, and extinguished flame you ever decided to light up. Tread lightly my bar hopping bachelors- it looks like your play book is being published on the world wide web.

The app is called Lulu which was launched in February 2013 by Alexandra Chong. She says she created the app "because [her] girlfriends and [herself] needed it." I mean god forbid you just ask a friend if she's heard of the guy you met. Now, Sherlock Homegirl has a new trick up her sleeve. Googling a guy? Not in 2014.

How Lulu works is that it links up through your Facebook. Oh, and have I mentioned it's girls only? From there you go through each male friend and rate them. You can use surveys about him and use hashtags to describe him to new girls he may meet. The pound symbol now has an added punch.

Lulu assures men that they can be removed from Lulu at any time and can download the app to see their current comments or status. Unlike Yelp, Lulu does not let any girls write their own comments, you can only choose from a predetermined menu of descriptions. But still...isn't this a little much ladies?

Up to you to decide. As for me, call me old fashion but Lulu won't be invited to any of my dinner parties. You know what they say about the loudest voice in the room...



The Gridlock Escape

For the past twenty-two days I have traveled under the radar of the internet. I deactivated Facebook, closed multiple accounts of social media, and could not easily be reached by the telephone. Texts went unanswered, phone calls went missing, and my voicemail began to pile up with frantic, yet amused tones of friends asking,

"KB... where in god's name are you? Are you among the living?"

I am pleased to report I am. In all honesty, the decision to go off the grid came a few weeks ago. I couldn't sleep and my mind was reeling with nonsense matter. It was 3 am and my life was in gridlock. My once inspired thoughts had become centered around the material of the internet, the going ons of people I rarely spoke to, and I was posing for photos in a way that would "look great on Facebook." I needed a restart. I needed the kind of quiet that one can only find when you turn off the phone and disconnect the computer. I was seeking solace and instead of continuing to sit in the traffic jam of noise, I got off at the nearest exit and just hoped for the best.

I think what I loved most about "being off the grid" was not the quiet, nor the sudden mystery about other people's lives, but rather that my life was again my own. No one knew what I was up to, where I was, who I was with, or what the hell had even happened to my Facebook. Blocked? Unfriended? Or did she really...no she couldn't... Why yes I did. I got rid of my Facebook and found it surprisingly liberating. Also, I'm sure everyone's newsfeeds welcome the break.

The reason I have reactivated my social media is to keep up with friends and the unavoidable truth that Facebook is one of the best channels for bloggers. So if you're in need of something to read when the Red Line breaks down, your plane is delayed, or you're literally stuck in gridlock--rest assured you'll have something to peruse should the mood strike you.

I'm keeping it simple in 2014.  I discovered something during my time away. I realized that living a life on the internet isn't really living. A realization that much like common sense, is not that common. My life cannot be fixed or enhanced by a sepia toned filter. It cannot be explained with a song I share from youtube. It's a living, breathing, messy, and stunningly beautiful piece of art. It's a canvas that I throw splatters of words on daily and cross my fingers that to someone it might make sense.

I'm back. This time will be different though. The blog is undergoing some massive changes, new friends, new adventures, and I cannot wait to share them all with you. I'm training for the 2014 Chicago marathon...so get ready for some running metaphors.

2014 is our year. It's a year for going off the grid. It's a year for reinventing.

It's a year for escaping from the gridlock.

And in the mean time... here's a photo of a puppy named Mr. Fitz.



Accessible Glamour

January in the retail world is a big red sign. Sales are constantly popping up across all major retailers as they prepare for resort wear and the beginning of spring. After running around the mall yesterday, I had to take a timeout at Starbucks to prioritize which stores I had to pay my respects to and which ones could wait for true Spring-Trans wear shopping. Here's what I came up with:

Forever21 should stay forever away. Zara is my happy place. With its western European influences, and back to the basics sampling, it is a style guru's gold mine. I think that people often hesitate bopping into the spanish retailer because of the European flair, but this is where trends become wearable. From blazers in color multipliers, to dresses that are Oscar-worthy, Zara presents a wardrobe closet that will take you from day to night, Sunday to Sunday.

My go-to guilty pleasures? Blazers (this is how I make my clothes look new), booties in every color and heel size,  fit-n-flare skirts, and of course--quilted moto jackets. One must always be prepared for spontaneous motorcycle adventures.

For the love of all that is a budget...never purchase a piece of jewelry here. Are they incredible? Absolutely. Are they worth the +100 dollars purchase? Absolutely not. J.Crew is for collared button downs adorned with faceted stones, pants that you can wear to your Grandma's birthday bash and then out to happy hours, and basic tees with words to make you smile. J.Crew is an illustration of casual glamour--the all American way. Currently they have some great vintage inspired sweater shrugs that are too comfy for words. I just bought three. I'm no hipster, but I love me a great chunky sweater. Comfy chic DOES exist.

My go-to guilty pleasures? TEES! TEES! TEES! J.Crew is partnering with Teach for America and the profit of these tee shirts will 100% go straight to the foundation. I mean really, it's for the kids. Their knit tee shirts are the most comfortable things on earth. Feel like wearing a pajama top to your 7 am meeting? Invest in some J.Crew tees. Also, I live for their collared button ups. Their cotton fabrication make them easy to wash (cold rinse only) and wrinkle free. Great for tucking into a pencil skirt and pairing it with a Zara pair of booties. Good to go.

Henri Bendel
When people ask me who I'm dating these days I should probably just answer my great friend Henri. I spend the most time with this guy and his treasures anyway. Plus he always knows what I like. For the month of January, a ton of their jewels are all 50% off along with adorable planners that will fit into your nylon tote. Organization AND sparkle? Sign me up! It's always surprising to me that quite a few of my friends have never had a Henri experience. I beg of you to check out their eCommerce selection online. You can get the J.Crew jewelry look without the J.Crew pricing. This accessory store is every girl's dreamt up jewelry box. Plus, I have a current obsession with anything rose gold and this store's assortment plays right into my heart. Henri, you know me well.

My go-to guilty pleasures? Stackable rings. These come in sets of three and physically show you how to pull of the stackable trend. They are the perfect little bit of sparkle to add to any ensemble. Plus they come in fun motifs like bows, skulls, and the Henri Bendel pendant. I had to get one. Next there's their candle candy shop. I say candy shop because you feel like this stuff smells too good to be good for you...but it is. My apartment constantly smells of their Chai candle, it keeps me calm.

These are my top three must-haves. If you have extra time some other stores rockin great sales are listed below:

-Ann Taylor (I'm a savage in their clearance section)
-Club Monaco (but be ready to splurge)

Hate driving and public transit? All of the mentioned stores are VERY easy-to-work websites. 

No excuses. No breaking the bank. Step into spring with a brand new style.