Coffee Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about coffee a lot lately. I’m officially obsessed with a venti caramel iced coffee from Starbucks and it’s a daily occurrence when I’m here. When I’m home, I have my $0.99 iced coffee from Cumberland Farms and the second I sip it, I’m back at Choate, flying down Colony Road in my minivan so I can get my post-workout, pre-yoga iced coffee and it’s the summer where I realized a dream. I was never a coffee person until last year in London -- I think I was afraid of becoming a caffeine addict or something. My advisor, Dr. Entelis, happened to be in London presenting a paper at LSE, and he suggested we meet for coffee. I realized that I couldn’t act like a 12-year old and order a hot chocolate at All Bar One, so when he ordered a cappuccino, I did the same, and the rest is history. I fell in love with the foamy milk at the top, and the thick espresso, and how warm and satisfying it was. I would go to Caffe Nero on Kingsway and do administrative work while sipping on a cappuccino with chocolate powder on the top and I felt so grown up and “European”. When I was in Zurich, I popped into this cafe that Lenin used to frequent, and in Paris, I read a book in Le Quasimodo while sipping on the most beautiful cappuccino I had ever seen. When I visited my family in Ireland, I tried Bailey's coffee and all I can say is "Slainte" to that. I liked being able to say, “Oh, let’s meet for coffee” and complaining that I was in desperate need of caffeine on an early morning bus ride to Wales. I didn’t really know what being in desperate need of caffeine meant until last semester when I basically didn’t sleep and needed little boosts throughout my day. I would be rushing down 125th street, still half-asleep because I had been up until 2 in the morning finishing my reading, and would pray that I had just enough time to stop in McDonalds for an iced coffee, or that I could at least go into CVS and get a Bai juice, just to get through the first part of my day. I will admit that I’m not one to crave a cup of drip coffee from a Keurig. It just doesn’t do it for me. Instead, I dream of a macchiato, a caffe mocha, or an iced coffee. Iced coffee is really where it’s at for me. It’s cold and refreshing and I tell myself it’s hydrating because of the ice as I take tiny sips of the last dregs when the ice is melting.

 

I have a collection of coffee mugs now, which I realized only this week. I got a mug from the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and one with “Fordham Pep Band Alumni” on it as a senior gift. I got a huge mug from Starbucks in London that has this beautiful relief of the city on it, and “London” inscribed on the inside rim that I look at every time I take a sip. That one is only for tea because it’s a substantial mug that gives me the perfect amount of Egyptian Licorice, or Throat Coat tea. I’m so bad about washing it, so the inside is coated in tea remnants, which I know is kind of gross, but it gives it character. There’s the blue mug with the handle inside the mug, so you can wrap your hand around the cup as you sip. It doesn’t fit underneath my HotShot so it mostly chills on my nightstand as a pretty trinket. My best friend Brittany knows how deep my love of tea goes, and she’s been taking ceramics classes, so for my birthday, she gave me beautiful mug that she painted herself. It says something about how, regardless of how far we are in distance, we’re never that far from each other, and I think of her every time I look at it. She also got me this loose tea infuser that looks like someone wearing pants, so the little arms go over the rim of the cup and it looks like the person is just chilling in the mug, infusing your tea. Too cute.

I was making tea for a friend last night in the orange mug that was on my desk and I suddenly remembered how I acquired it. When my parents dropped me off on August 26th, 2012, my mom handed me a gift bag and told me to open it later. Inside was the softest cashmere wrap that she said would be perfect after a shower with a cup of tea. There were also two matching orange mugs for me and Christianna, my roommate. I don’t know if she still has hers, but now when I look at this mug, I think of how scared I was freshman year, how I cried in the bushes of Loyola on my third night, and how I’m living here now as a senior. I think of how my dad got me the HotShot and how it has somehow survived almost four years and countless uses. It’s a good sturdy mug in a cheerful orange, and it’s exactly what I needed on that first night. Thanks, mom.

 

Coffee is becoming a social thing, too. I love walking to Dunkin with Jamie and sitting on Eddie’s. Walking to Starbucks guarantees a good stretch and a friendly face at some point. When I’m home and need a place to focus on job apps and side hustles, I’ll drive to Starbucks and easily spend four hours entranced and motivated by the hum of strangers and acquaintances from home. I’ll come out smelling like coffee, and I think it’s one of the best perfumes there is, and it lasts much longer. It’s an easy way to catch up with a friend that doesn’t take as long as dinner and is completely socially acceptable in the middle of the day...unlike drinking a bottle of wine. It’s a way to meet someone you’ve been wanting to know but don’t know how to tell them other than, “Do you want to get coffee sometime?” And then you’ll agonize over what to wear before remembering that great stripey dress you got over spring break and pairing it with a denim jacket, sneakers, and cute crossbody with sunglasses. You’ll walk down to the new coffee shop with the sun shining and the prospect of a great cappuccino and an even better conversation adding spring to your step. 

 

 

Life is great. Coffee makes it better.

 

 

Inspired by...Love

Well isn’t this an interesting topic for today!  What is love?  Love has definitely been on my mind lately, but today I’m going to talk about love for a place:

I’ve fallen in love with London in the 8 months I’ve been here, and it’s not just because it’s “new”, because after 8 months, the exciting newness totally wears off.  I love London because it feels right to be here.  There’s this energy that London has that I can only describe as a “buzz.”  It’s not that crazy high-strung hype of New York (as much as I miss it!), but rather, it’s buzzing hum of activity and culture. 

London is historic — you have the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the statue to Nelson Trafalgar, and so many relics to its history that have become embedded into its overall scheme.  Of course, there’s Buckingham Palace, home of the Royal Family, and references to the monarchy all over the place, such as the “Victoria” and “Jubilee” Tube lines, the Victoria and Albert museum, and the “Jubilee Bridge”, for example.  London is a microcosm of the British monarchy that dates back hundreds of years.  The East End was once home to the majority of immigrants to London and you can still see remnants of this influx of culture, from Brick Lane (home to the best curry I’ve ever had) to the oldest synagogue in Britain, which brings me to my next point:

London is full of culture.  I’ve never experienced such a multicultural, cosmopolitan city like London before.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it, other than the fact that there are all kinds of people and cultures here.  Museums are all free and they're open late on certain nights of the week, and people go to them as a social event!  There is such rich culture that you can feel from the people and their social calendars.

London is refined and orderly.  Coming from a super type-A person, I really appreciate the fact that it is an unwritten rule that you stand on the right of the escalator and walk on the left side, and that it is reinforced by “tutting” at those who do not obey.  The Tube runs regularly (when it’s in operation, as in, before 1am and after 5:30 am) and stations are clearly marked.  Besides those two obvious examples, I just get get a sense of order here, and I love it!

Being in London feels right to me, finally.  I feel like I belong here and that the layout of the city and its history and people make sense to me.  I can go for a run and not get lost while still being able to still marvel at the sight of the Houses of Parliament lit up from across the Thames at dusk.  London is familiar, without being boring, because I don’t think it could ever be boring.  London is what I needed and what I still need, and though the “honeymoon phase” has perhaps ended and I get annoyed at tourists and the fact that I still can’t tell which way cars are going to turn, I feel a sense of purpose here and a commitment to something greater than myself. 

That’s what love is, to me.  Love is not just the physical or superficial aspects of something, but rather, how the partnership of the two of you manifests itself.  You don’t have to love every single thing and walk around with a huge smile on your face, but you should still find something to marvel at and believe that you are committed to something that goes beyond your immediate needs.

Inspired to be,

Katherine

Inspired by...Bravery

I think this entire year has been a time of bravery for me.  I remember sitting on the coach from Heathrow, incredibly jet lagged, and thinking, “Oh my god, WHAT HAVE I DONE???”  I was absolutely paralysed by fear for the first few days, and even weeks, because I was so far out of my comfort zone — I was literally an ocean away from everything I had ever known — and I didn’t think I would ever feel comfortable.  Now, over eight months later, I have a different perspective on what exactly I had done :)


I was watching The Princess Diaries the other day and I got to the part with one of my favourite quotes.  It’s the scene where Mia is so convinced that she can never be a princess or a queen and run Genovia…until she reads a letter from her father imparting a bit of wisdom on her.  He tells her, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, the decision that something else is more important” which I think fits in perfectly with my year in London. 


Was I terrified because I was an ocean away from my comfort zone?  Yes.  Was I in a strange and unfamiliar city?  Oh yes, I was.  Was I in a completely new academic system in which I didn’t even come close to feeling like I had my sh*t together?  Absolutely.  But, was it worth it?  100%.  I think I was brave this year because, despite feeling that tightness in my chest that signals anxiety threatening to break through the surface, and despite feeling like a mess in class half the time, and despite the unfamiliarity surrounding me, I got through each day, one by one.  I knew that this year was what I needed — I had to get out and see the world, and try something different, and study at one of the world’s best universities, because ultimately, I would grow and be a better person because of it. 


I am not the person who left in September and who curled up in the seat of a coach, watching the English suburbs pass by and questioning every decision I had made up until now.  It took a long time, and many emails and frantic Skype calls with my mom, but  I survived the tears and fears, and here I am, eight months later, and I am so happy with who I have become.  


I was brave, not because I wasn’t afraid, but because I (subconsciously) decided that London was more important.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Blogging Tips

Happy Birthday, KatherInspired!  I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I took the plunge, made a Squarespace account, bought my domain, and started this blog…all during a shift at the Fordham Public Safety office! It’s been an incredible year since I took the ideas that had been burning at the top of my mental to-do lists, so in honour of our first birthday, I have a few blogging tips that I’ve learned throughout the year:

 

 

1. Consistency: While I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up blogging every single day once this challenge is over, I do appreciate consistency when it comes to blogging.  It doesn’t have to be every day, because life gets in the way, but set a goal for yourself and know that you want something up on your blog however many days per week that you choose.  Readers will soon figure it out, and it will totally help drive traffic to your blog.  Also, it helps in the initial stages of planning your blog, because if you can think of content to put on your blog at a consistent rate, you’ve got a great idea going that will soon become a personal brand.

 

2. Organise: Take the time and invest in your blogging system!  First, pick a place to write your blog posts that is not your blog itself.  I’ve had way too many “ahhhh!” moments where I’ve finished a nice long post…and then Safari decides to quit on me, deleting everything I’ve just done.  Talk about a nightmare, right?  Now, I use an Evernote notebook (check out my Digital Tools post for more info!) that I’ve labelled “KatherInspired” where I keep all of my post drafts until they’re ready to publish.  I’m also working on developing a style guide for my blog and brand so I’ll keep track of colour scheme ideas, themes and fonts I like, and a (in the works!) social media plan in a separate notebook.  This way, all of my ideas are in one place!  You can use whatever system works, but I strongly recommend that you try out various platforms and systems and figure out what keeps your groove going.


3. Content: At least once per week, I’ll do what I call a “content catch-up” where I’ll check all the latest posts on certain websites (Levo League, MindBodyGreen, the HBIC Project, etc.) that inspire me.  I keep a list of bloggers, companies, and brands that have great social media and I’ll check those on a regular basis, as well.  I also have subscriptions to magazines such as Oprah, RealSimple, Glamour, InStyle, and The Week, so I can stay up to date on everything going on in the world that I love!  Each of the things I “check” has to do with my “inspired” brand and the more I read, the more inspiration I get.  I really recommend doing the same because someone once said, “To be a writer, one must read.”  Take inspiration from the world and let it fuel your blog!


And finally, HAVE FUN!  Make your blog whatever you want it to be — fill it with your thoughts, pictures, graphics, quotes, colour, life, anything that makes you happy.  Opening up your blog should give you a sense of pride so take the time and make something you’re proud of!


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Summer Bucket List!

With 11 days to go until I am back home in the states and summer has officially begun, thinking out my summer bucket list was exactly what I needed!  

 

1. READ…a lot

     After doing nothing but course reading for the past six months, I am in desperate need of a good story to dive into and sooth my worn-out brain and re-inspire me.  I have a list of fiction and non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to get to, so stay tuned! 

 

2. Friends!

     It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen my best friend Brittany, but now that she is back in New York, and I’ll soon be back in Connecticut, I can’t wait for NYC dates at our favourite restaurant, Red Bamboo, complete with bubble tea and a walk on the high line, hair and makeup lessons (she’s my style guru), catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, and just being together.  I also can’t wait to see my darling sister, Farishta, too!  She’s much closer to home, thankfully, so I’m looking forward to long walks, tea dates, making Indian/Afghan food, and talking about life.  

 

3. The 20-Something Project

     Since becoming a 20-something, I’ve been having this identity crisis about “growing up” and entering the real world, and I’ve realised that I don’t know the first thing about the real world.  I mean, who does?  But, I want to become financially independent (like, grocery shop without my parents’ credit card, for example, learn how to invest my money, manage a credit card, etc.), figure out my personal style, get my health and wellness on track, and work on my personal brand.  Any tips, books, podcasts, etc. that you can suggest would be very much appreciated!

 

4. Blogging, Smart Girls Group, theSkimm, apps and content

     And now onto my digital life!  I, of course, will continue to blog but I love that the #BlogEverydayInMay challenge has gotten me to blog, well, every day (except for this week when I fell behind…).  I’ve really enjoyed these prompts and want to work on increasing my blogging and social media output.  I also want to keep working on my projects for Smart Girls Group and theSkimm and even become more involved.  As for apps and content, I cannot wait to get my new phone (first new phone in over two years!  Yay for more space!) and load it up with apps, and just keep soaking up the digital world that I’ve come to love so much.


5. Live it up at my dream internship

     I’ve been dreaming of the summer I would intern at Choate Rosemary Hall’s summer programs for eight years, and it’s finally here!  I could not be more excited to return to the place that changed my life and be a part of it once more.  I not only get to live on campus and be a dorm advisor to middle school and high school girls, I get to help teach, chaperone excursions, run a sport, and just throw myself into life at Choate.  Dream. Summer.  :)


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Beauty

Ahh, beauty, such a pertinent topic at the moment.  Today’s (Day 22!) prompt asked me how I define beauty, and right now, that’s a tough topic for me, because I’m having a hard time feeling completely beautiful.   Hang on tight, because here comes a looooong stream of consciousness, punctuated by pictures of myself when I felt beautiful: 

 

Superficially, it comes from spending the past year in Europe and having my “routine” a little altered — I don’t have my juicer or my blender, I’m on a different budget, and I couldn’t afford a gym until the last month.  And I know, deep down, that life is about living in whatever world you happen to be in at the moment and accepting that that is where you are and who you are at the moment.  This is what my life looks like at the moment, and I am still learning how to accept it (with 11 days to go, of course :) )  Honestly, I’m not happy with my body and the way it looks.  I’ve felt like that for the past year or so, because a lot has happened in the past year, and I believe that our bodies reflect what’s going on inside us, both physically and emotionally. 

 

Two summers ago, I felt fabulous.  I had survived my freshman year, I was working, I had a boyfriend who I loved, I was home, and life was good.  I was in fantastic shape that summer — my friend and I were running daily as she was training to run cross country in the fall, I was boxing at my gym, going to yoga, juicing like crazy, and I’ve never felt as confident and strong as I did that summer.  I don’t really know what changed when the summer was over, but that was the last time I felt truly good about my body.  My body began to change and it wasn’t significant, but I didn’t feel that glow, that fire of confidence that I had felt over the summer, and I haven’t felt that way since, no matter what I’ve done.  I’m not one of those people who “diets” and is determined to lose five pounds or something.  In fact, I don’t even know how much I weigh, because I’m pretty sure if I did, I’d start obsessing because that’s who I am.  I exercise because endorphins are my stress-relieving drug of choice and I like how it makes me feel.  But lately, I’ve started looking at pictures of myself from that summer up until last spring and a little part of me says, “God, I looked so skinny then!”  And I hate that more than anything because I shouldn’t be comparing who I am with who I was because things are different now.  But I do it anyway, and it always comes back to that summer. 

 

What was it about that summer, though?  It wasn’t like it was a perfect summer — my boss drove me crazy for three months, for example, and other little things like that — but I cling to it internally.  I remember how happy Dylan and I were that summer and how I think it was the last truly happy time we had before we broke up months later.  I remember going to the beach, long emails with my best friend Brittany, getting my new laptop, but I also really remember the physical aspects of that summer.  I was running a ton, which always makes me feel good, I had discovered juicing and was amazed at how light and free I felt, I was trying hot yoga for the first time, and I got to go boxing several days a week.  That summer, I bought my first two-piece bathing suit and skinny jeans, and I remember my mom saying how happy I seemed.  And I was, I really was happy that summer.  

 

I don’t know what changed when I went back to Fordham in August, but something did and I’m still trying to figure it out.  Maybe it was my relationship and how it started to drain me.  Relationships can be so good for your sense of beauty, if they’re with good people.  And it’s not like I’m completely dependent on people telling me I’m beautiful in order to feel that way, but guys aren’t that perceptive and won’t notice the tiny things about your appearance that you obsess over.  If you’ve got a good one, he’ll tell you you’re beautiful no matter what.  I used to obsess over what I would wear on a date until I started to realise that he didn’t care what I was wearing at all.  It’s an amazing feeling, one that I haven’t had in a very long time, which is so frustrating to me.  I’m not saying that relationships and beauty are a direct correlation because my relationship and my body didn’t go downhill at the same exact time, thank god.  What I’m saying is that having someone who thinks you’re gorgeous makes you feel gorgeous, and I want that again.  

 

The past year and a half has been a time of incredible transformation, mentally, emotionally…and physically.  Right now, I’m at this weird in-between place in my life, where I think I’m just about to break into the next phase of my life, but I have to get there first, and I think my body both emotionally and physically is reflecting that.  I try so hard not to be hard on myself and to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I love you” to the reflection.  But right now, I see a stomach that I don’t like, weird-shaped thighs, a chest that sticks out (want a challenge?  Find me the perfect sports bra that doesn’t make me look like I have a neon sign on my chest and doesn’t make jumping and running torture), and a butt that I swear to god I would give so much to be a tiny bit smaller, and, to put it simply, it sucks.  I’m finding very little I like right now, and I think some of that comes from how I’m feeling internally, as well.  All I can say is that a change is coming…eventually.


So what is beauty?  Beauty is how you feel, inside and outside.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Blogging Crushes!

I’ve already told you all about the websites and columnists I have bookmarked so I can get inspired by them every week, but now I’m here to talk about a few of my favourite bloggers who are definitely my blogging crushes!

 

 

1. Carly Heitlinger at The College Prepster

 

Carly Heitlinger, a.k.a The College Prepster is a perfect example of a 20-something taking over the blogging world!  She started her blog to escape from the horrors of a freshman accounting class at Georgetown, and in the however-many-years since, she has become a sensation.  I’m usually not a fan of “preppy” blogs, but this chica is killing it!  In terms of blogging, she is consistent (at least once a day) and her posts are so much fun to read.  She writes about what it’s like to blog for a living, the adventures she has in NYC, trips she takes, personal matters like anxiety and perfectionism, organising tips, product reviews, style, beauty, and on and on.  I’ve discovered some of my favourite apps and organisation techniques via Carly, and have a whole list of places I need to get to once I go back to New York.  She’s the kind of blogger that makes you want to be her because her life is so fabulous, but she’s also incredibly relatable and seems like a really interesting person.  She came and spoke at the Smart Girls Conference last summer (and will be returning this summer) and she really is as cool as she appears on her blog.  Plus, she has the cutest toy poodle named Teddy who has his own Instagram, so there’s a social media goal for you :)

 

2. Quincy Bulin at QuincyBulin.com

Quincy is the Editor in Chief at Smart Girls Group and a true inspiration!  I’ve been working with her (remotely) for about a year and I recently discovered her blog — it quickly jumped to the top of my must-read list.  First, her blog is gorgeous!  It’s a very simple, clean design that lets the words and message shine through…and oh boy, do they shine!  Quincy is wise beyond her years and I really connect with her because she’s so authentic.  Her blog reads like a journal, like a hidden layer or buried treasure you uncover only by reading more.  She writes about living up to her “hype” on social media, getting out of a rut, her faith, her boyfriend, her decision to leave New York.  WOW, right?  Her [digital] voice is so soothing and warm and she is truly a gift to the world, both digital and in reality.

 

3. Alex Mathews at AlexGoesToEurope.com

First, I LOVE the title of Alex’s blog!  It gets right to the point and tells you exactly what her blog is going to be about.  Second, Alex is a great friend of mine (who I met this year! Yay, study abroad!) and is the one who told me about this challenge, so how could she not be one of my blogging crushes?  I love how Alex writes both about her trips around Europe (she and I have a serious case of wanderlust) and about the little things she encounters and experiences living in London.  I appreciate that she writes about the big things, and the personal things, like nerdiness, and anxiety and being an introvert, because how comforting is that? :)  You go, girl! 

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

Inspired by...Road Trip!

There’s something about road trips that makes me think of summer and the ultimate bonding experience.  Maybe it’s the freedom of the road in front of you and the fact that you’re in complete control of where you go and what you do that entices and excites me so much (life as a control freak :) ).  I’ve always loved car trips, ever since I was little, which reminds me of a road trip I took when I was 8:

 

My dad had been away all summer at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, receiving special training, and it was a long (10 weeks, to be exact!) summer without him.  I remember bits and pieces of that summer — my mom and I bribing my brother with baseball cards and bubble gum so he would do his reading lessons,  going to summer camp and getting a canoe stuck in a swamp, beach days at Horseback, but what I remember quite clearly is the “road trip” we took down to Virginia for my dad’s graduation ceremony at the end of the summer.

 

My grandparents came down the night before, armed with all sorts of treats — like books, and journals, and tic-tac-toe notepads — to keep us occupied on what I was told would be a 9-hour journey.  My mom woke me up at 4:00 the following morning (I actually remember the time quite distinctly), and I remember being carried in my pajamas out to our old Dodge minivan.  I thought it was so cool that I was up so early (it makes a difference when someone’s carrying you!) and that I got to go in the car in my pajamas and drive through states I had never seen before, but I also remember the excitement of finally seeing my dad again.  This road trip was what took me to see my dad, finally.  I think that’s why I like road trips — because it’s a journey to something that you’ve planned and there’s not only a destination or a person waiting for you at the end, but you also get to see the sights along the way.

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

Inspired by...Accomplishments

First exam: CHECK!  I survived my Islamic Empires exam with only some minor pain in my fingers (anyone up to give me a hand massage???) and the majority of my sanity, so I am feeling quite accomplished this evening.  Speaking of that, here are a few more accomplishments for Day 19 of #BlogEverydayInMay!

1. Smart Mail: When I got the Operations Intern position with Smart Girls Group, I never imagined that I would get to create something like Smart Mail, and run it a year and a half later!   With support and advice from the lovely Smart Starter of SGG herself, Emily Raleigh, I started a weekly newsletter with a tiny little staff that showcased what was going on in Smart Girls Group.  The staff grew…and then outgrew our weekly spot, so I designed and relaunched the all-new Smart Mail to span four days and give you a little dose of SGG in your inbox in the morning, Monday through Thursday.  Today, we number 22 amazingly dedicated team-members and it has been a privilege to work with them.  (Want to sign up?  Head to newsletter.smartgirlsgroup.com!)

2. My study abroad year at the London School of Economics: 2 weeks premature, but I am on the other side of my study abroad adventure year!  Between all of the preparations to come here (the visa process was quite a hassle), and everything I’ve experienced and learned throughout the year, this is a huge accomplishment that I will remember forever.

3. My 17-day, 9-city EuRail tour of Europe!: Years of dreaming, months of planning, and weeks of preparation came down to my massive inter-rail tour of Europe, which I successfully executed and survived in one piece.  I got to see and experience cities and sights I have been dreaming of, and I got to have an adventure all on my own.  If I can tour Europe for two and a half weeks mainly on my own, I think I can do anything :)

4. Publishing 2 articles to the Fordham Political Review: This was really big for me, because I am not always eager to put myself out there.  I had had ideas for articles ever since I started working for FPR, but I just couldn’t get myself to actually write something.  Writing and submitting an article meant leaving myself vulnerable to so many people — my fellow editors, my friends, readers, the internet, etc. — so it took me a while before I was finally able to write and submit my first article on microfinance opportunities for women.  I remember how relieved I was when it finally went live…and then how I felt when some random reader felt the need to email me a diatribe about how wrong I was.  I was a little stung at the time, but if that’s the worst that can happen, who cares?  My friend Dave actually took it positively when I told him — he said I had started an academic dialogue (!) — so looking back, it’s not that bad.  I published my second article on the aftermath of the Arab Spring a few months ago, and I am pleased to say that it is one of the articles listed on the cover of this semester’s edition!  I’m already gearing up for round three, so wish me luck! (Articles can be found here and here!)

5. Learning to eat healthy on a student budget: London is anything but cheap, so let’s just lead with that.  I am responsible for all of my own cooking, so I had to learn quickly how to eat on a relatively small budget, while still eating healthy (it does wonders for my anxiety!).  I discovered the beauty of soup and how I can make a huge pot for around $12 and have dinner for a week.  Sweet potatoes became the ultimate breakfast and quick meal/snack/anything.  Carrots and celery with hummus are relatively inexpensive and are the perfect lunch.  I can buy a container of soup from Sainsbury’s and use it as a sauce for steamed vegetables and lentils or rice and have that make two meals.  It’s been quite the adventure learning how to really fend for myself (kind of; my parents help me out with groceries #ThanksMomAndDad), but I love the feeling!

And finally...

6. KatherInspired: I had wanted to start a blog and have a little corner of the internet for myself and my thoughts for a while, but it took some time before I was finally able to do it.  I think I came up with the name late one night last year and all of a sudden, tag-lines and logos were popping into my head and I had to do something about it.  Next Sunday (the 24th of May) is KatherInspired’s first birthday — it all started during a weekend shift in the Fordham Security Office when I just gritted my teeth and did it, but I am so happy I started this blog.  It’s been so much fun to muse and record my year in London and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Inspired to be,

Katherine

 

Thanks to www.foundlovenowwhat.com for the challenge! :)

 

Inspired by...10 Things That Cheer Me Up!

How relevant is this topic, right now?! I have my first exam tomorrow (wish me luck!) and more next week so amidst all of the revision fun, here are 10 things that always cheer me up when I’m feeling a little down [Cue “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music]:

 

1. Music: I am a huge playlist person since organising my music into neat little categories is so me.  Among others, I have a “2015 Year of Dreams” playlist that I’m adding to with songs from happy points throughout the year, a playlist my mom made me about 4 years ago with more nostalgic and comforting songs, my Broadway playlist (I really belt out these songs sometimes, especially when I’m driving), and my newly made “Smart Girl/HBIC” playlist that is my ultimate power playlist.  This is the one that I really jam out to when I’m having a tough day or just need to smile and relax a bit.

 

2. Cooking and baking: There’s something so rhythmic about being in the kitchen that makes you forget everything else because you have to pay attention so much.  There’s a quote from the movie Julie and Julia where Julie gets home from a miserable day at work and tells her husband, “You know why I love cooking?  Because on a day where nothing makes sense, I know that if you mix egg yolks, sugar, chocolate and cream, it will become thick and perfect.”  It’s my zen.

 

3. The West Wing: I’m on a West Wing kick since nothing inspires me in the intellectual sense quite like this show.  It’s familiar since I grew up watching it and it makes me think of my dad, but it’s a political masterpiece and reminds me of why I study what I study, and who I want to be one day.

 

4. Yoga: There’s no problem that a good headstand can’t fix!  I remember the day I could finally do a headstand in the middle of the room and let me tell you, that feeling when you get your legs right in the air and you can view the world upside down is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  Beyond headstands, though, the stretching feels amazing and I get a nice buzz afterwards.


5. Long walks: I always make sure to take a break in between major chunks of work since getting my blood moving is exactly what I need!  I especially love my walks here since I get to drink in the beauty of London and clear my head a bit.

 

6. My Vinyasa scarf: My mom got me the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf for my birthday and I am in LOVE!  It’s so soft and stretchy and you can wear it like a scarf, a shrug, a wrap, and even a blanket.  I love curling up in this and feeling warm and cosy.

 

7. Making lists and organising: When life starts to feel overwhelming, taking a few minutes and making a list of things to do and things you want to do is very therapeutic.  Added bonus: colour-code it!  There’s something about a neat list that makes life seem a little more manageable.  Also, cleaning helps, too!  A few weeks ago, I spent about 15 minutes tackling this huge pile of papers, ticket stubs, pamphlets, etc. from this whole year, condensed it, and fit it neatly into a plastic envelope that looks much less scary!  It was such a feeling of accomplishment!

 

8. A hot drink: cappuccino or Egyptian Licorice tea: I’ve recently discovered the beauty that is a good cappuccino, and while caffeine isn’t the best for anxiety, it just tastes so warm and luxurious!  My favourite tea is Egyptian Licorice tea (from Yogi Tea) and I’ve been drinking it for years — it has a lovely spicy-sweet taste and instantly puts me in a good mood.

 

9. Digital content: It sounds a little odd, but I always set aside time once or twice a week for all of the digital content I like to read.  This can be articles I’ve saved in my reading list on Safari or checking blogs, columnists, and websites that I find inspiring.  I like feeling caught up with the world and I find I learn a lot from these little catch-up times.  Also, I Pin a lot of the articles that I like so it goes back to the organising thing.  Extra points if you combine this with tea or a cappuccino. 

 

10. Reading: When I’ve had to read for revision for several hours, a change of pace with one of my favourite books does wonders!  It lets me escape and be taken for a ride by a story, rather than facts that I have to put together.  

 

11. Harry Potter audiobooks: When I was about 11, I borrowed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiocassette (it was 2005, people!) from my aunt and I think I listened to the book about 5 times that summer.  I used to carry my Walkman with me to car rides and swim meets, and listen to it in bed, because Jim Dale (the narrator) has the voice of an angel.  It’s so familiar to me that listening to it for just five minutes totally relaxes me.  In fact, I downloaded the audiobook onto my laptop a few months ago and am listening to it again!  I listened to a few of them last summer on my commute to work, and it was the best way to start my day!

 

12. (This is the last one, I promise!)  A good chat.  Whether it be with my mom, my dad, my brother, or my friends, a good chat refreshes me and puts things in perspective.


I know that was more, but it actually helped after a long day to think of “My Favorite Things”!


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...Not Being Held Back

Another deep prompt from #BlogEverydayInMay!  I wrote earlier today about what I am struggling with right now, so a few more thoughts on the subject:

 

Fear. 

 

Fear is holding me back at the moment.  I am worried about my exams, not only because they’re hard, but because what if it turns out I’m not as smart as I think I am? I have no reason to believe that I won’t be fine, but what if…?  This is new to me, and I’m not someone who adapts to change very easily.  I cling to what I know and I refuse to let anything else in, so much so that I panic and it drains me and I can’t think.  It’s what happened when I first got here and everything was strange, and it’s happening again.  I know that because when this happens, the person I turn to is my mom and I tend to get a little clingy.  It’s so frustrating because I’m 20 years old and I want to grow up and feel like I’ve got a handle on my life. 

 

I know that this summer and next year will be a time of immense transition, but for now, this in-between phase is driving me crazy.  To put it very simply, I have things to work through at the moment, and fear, especially fear of change is one of the things preventing me from working through them.  


But, exams are exams and I’ll survive somehow.  One of the best cures for anxiety is music, I strongly believe, especially the following pertinent song: Let It Go.


Inspired to be… (and inspired to Let It Go!),


Katherine

Inspired by...London Reflections

Wow, it’s been a busy few days, hence the lack of #BlogEverydayInMay posts!  I usually blog in the evenings, but I’ve had things going on and it’s hard to get back into my usual groove.  Anyway, the two prompts that I’ve missed are: “What is your favourite stamp in your passport” and “What are you struggling with right now?” which I am going to combine in a “London Reflection”!

I love passport stamps.  Ever since I got my passport for a school trip to Canada my senior year, I’ve longed to have this little book filled with details of my adventures.  Unfortunately, crossing the US-Canada border doesn’t necessitate a stamp, so I had to wait until my trip to Paris the following year.  I remember looking at the stamp fondly, as a record of my first flight and first trip to Europe.  My favourite stamp, however, is on page 8 — this is where I have my British visa and a stamp on the right-hand side dating from September 25th at Heathrow Terminal 3.  This is where this whole year began, on a morning I barely remember because I was jet-lagged out of my skull and starting to have that creeping sensation of “oh my god what have I done?”  Looking back on it now, however, and I have fonder feelings towards it.  That sticker and the little stamp on the side represent this entire year and the emotions, adventures, and growth that have come with it.  This year has flown by faster than I realised until about two weeks ago.

 I feel like I’ve been here forever, but I’ve been living in Europe for eight months and will be back in the States in just about 18 days.  I’ve already written about the emotional ups and downs that I’ve ridden throughout the year, but right now, I’m thinking about how close I was to not studying abroad, or not coming here specifically, and I can’t imagine my life without this experience.  This year has allowed me to visit twelve countries, fall in love with London, have one of the most academically-enriching years I’ve ever had, meet incredible people, and grow more than I ever expected.  I am not the person who flew out of JFK on September 24th and am so happy that I have survived.

And now onto the tough part: exams.  Before I can go on my bittersweet way back to the States on June 4th, I have to make it through four exams which the LSE Exams Department felt the need to point out are made intentionally difficult.  Thanks, guys.  I’ve never taken exams in the British system before and these exams in general just feel different to me.  I’ve had a difficult weekend in terms of studying (“revision”!) because right now, I’m feeling very overwhelmed and like I just can’t wrap my head around things.  It shifts from one class to another — on Friday, I was stressing about my Islamic Empires exam, and now I’m stressing about my Politics in Europe class.  I have my first exam on Tuesday which is my Islamic Empires exam and I’m starting to feel better about it, but trying to force an entire year’s worth of information into my head is sparking some of my [until-now latent] anxiety, which is just great.  And it’s not like I haven’t been a good student all year, so much that this year has thrown my confidence in my intelligence for a serious loop, which I believe is completely necessary in terms of growth and all that, but I’m scared.  That’s the only way I can say it: I’m scared to take these exams.  It’s hard to be so close to the end that I can feel what my bed at home feels like, but have four incredibly difficult hurdles to jump over (haha, hurdles, my old elbow-breaking friend) and I find myself saying “I just want to go home” as I try to read my notes.  Friday and Saturday were hardest, but I woke up today in a much better mood and am finally able to take some deep breaths.  Once I have Tuesday out of the way, the exams won’t feel so new, so I think that will help a lot.  Until then, however, I just need to push myself through and it will all be over soon.  Wish me luck!


 
Inspired to be,

Katherine 

Inspired by...Quirks

First of all, I love the word “quirk.”  Doesn’t it sound so fitting?  After some deep shower-thinking, here are my top quirks!  Enjoy and try not to judge :)

1. I can lick my elbow.  I’m really proud of this and would be happy to show you.

2. I have to shower and wash my hair before I go to bed each night — no matter how late it is, I sleep best on wet, clean hair.

3. I don’t like crowds. AT ALL.  I don’t mind crowded subways/Tubes, but a crowded street or a crowded room freaks me out and I get this weird feeling that I have to shove myself out.  

4. Sometimes when I’m walking, or showering, or laying in bed before I fall asleep, I make up stories in my head that basically narrate what my perfect life will look like :)

5. I am obsessed with postcards and keeping little mementos like ticket stubs, pamphlets, stickers, etc..  Some day I’ll make a scrapbook…some day

6. I practice smiles and other facial expressions in the mirror when I’m getting ready in the morning/evening.  Musical theatre never left me!

7. Colour-coding and list-making make me happy

8. I like going into bookstores and making list upon list of books I want to read — I think it has something to do with the idea that I will read all of these books some day.

9. I love teddy bears.  In fact, when I got back to London in January and needed some comfort, I went to Build a Bear and made a bear…which I told the assistant was for my cousin.  He totally saw through it.

10. I’ve owned and worn the same pair of sunglasses since my freshman year of high school which is when I finally got contacts.  Brittany and my mother are probably going to cringe when they read this.

That’s all I can think of for now!  Embrace your quirks!

Inspired to be,

Katherine 

Inspired by...Advice for Graduates

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since my high school graduation…and only a year until my college graduation!  To say that time flies would be the understatement of the century.  I struggled a bit with this topic since I am dying for some premature graduation advice myself, but I then thought of my brother who is graduating from high school in about three and a half weeks (I know that because I get to come home for his graduation!), so here are some pearls of [hopefully] wisdom for him:

Dear David,

You did it!  You survived Choate, which is easier said than done.  I remember moving you into your room in Mem just a few weeks before I started my senior year and I can’t believe you’re already about to graduate.  The past four years, for both of us, have flown by.  

On my first night at Fordham, all of the freshmen gathered on the lawn for a candle-lighting ceremony.  We were each given a candle and the orientation leaders played a song from F.U.N called “We are Young.”  It’s a little dated, but one line in the song says, “So I’ll set the world on fire” and they played it because Saint Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) often said, “Go forth, and set the world on fire.”  Hence, the candles held in our innocent little hands.  He often said this because the mission of the Jesuit tradition is to spread God’s word through education and service.  Religious beliefs aside, it’s some of the best wisdom I’ve ever received, which is why I’m sharing it with you.  

College is the beginning of an adventure like you’ve never experienced before.  I know you’ve lived away from home for the past four years, so you’re used to that kind of independence, but you will find that you have even more in September.  You are in charge of your classes and social life, and while that may seem overwhelming, it is truly a blessing.  This freedom gives you the opportunity to create your own life and your own path, whatever it may be.  When Saint Ignatius said to “set the world on fire” he meant to do big, bold things in your life, regardless of the definition.  You now get to not only discover your passions, but fuel them however you please.  That is how you change the world — by throwing yourself into what you love and what makes you “tick.”  You don’t have to know exactly what that is and it doesn’t have to necessarily be related to your “major.”  Find your niche and build your life right there. 

Take advantage of every opportunity, whether they be clubs, lectures, professors, trips, etc.  Everyone and everything has something to teach you so soak it up and somewhere along the way, you’ll settle into a rhythm along a path that feels right at the moment.  And that path can change because it’s your life, no one else’s.  Make plans, and then change them, and enjoy the freedom you have now to do so.  Everything will work out, I promise, and I’m always here for you.

So, go forth, and SET THE WORLD ON FIRE!  I love you and am

Love,

Kate

Inspired by...Digital Life

In the last year, I’ve been developing more of a “digital life” — working on my personal brand, Smart Girls Group, blogging, and even school!  Fun fact: I swore by taking notes the “old fashioned way” until I came to LSE.  My notes were completely illegible (I write faster in tiny cursive…which isn’t particularly clear) and that’s the kiss of death when you’re in class here, so I switched to digital and I may never go back!  Check out my favourite digital tools that keep me organised and functional!

 

1. Evernote

     Evernote has changed my life!  Like I said, I was never much of a digital note-taker before I came here, but Evernote is the secret to my (hopeful) success.  You definitely have to invest in it and force yourself to use it for a while, but once you get a system going, you will be hooked, I promise.  I love that you can create “notebooks” since I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with notebooks, and I love how organised everything becomes.  I have notebooks for everything — all of my classes, my blog (every post is initially written in Evernote and then transferred to Squarespace since I’ve had Safari quit on me and delete my drafts one too many times), books I want to read, internship ideas, articles, to-do lists, everything.

 

2. Google Drive / Dropbox

     I’m still getting the hang of Google Drive, but at Smart Girls Group, we use it for everything.  It’s come especially in handy during revision since my classmates and I use it to share notes and stay organised.  What I’ve been doing is creating folders for each class and then individual documents for each topic I’m revising.  That’s another beauty of Google Drive — as long as you have an internet connection, you have a word processor, slideshow creator, and spreadsheets right at your fingertips!  The same goes for Dropbox, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t automatically come with word processing.  You can edit existing files using Microsoft Word online, and I haven’t really needed it, but to some people, it could make a difference.  What’s great about both of these tools is that they come with apps, so you can access your files on all of your devices.  Huge lifesaver!

 

3. Flickr

     When I got back from my massive trip around Europe, I had sooo many pictures I wanted to send to my grandparents…but there’s a data limit on emails.  They don’t have Facebook and I wanted a way to share an album, so I created a Flickr account.  It takes a little getting used to, but it’s a great way to share pictures.  I’ve actually backed up my entire photo library onto Flickr and set it so it goes automatically, and then I created an album of just pictures that I wanted to share.  Then, I got a public link for the album and voila!  Now anyone with the link can see that particular album and it’s been a huge hit.  This is another tool that you can get as an app, as well.

 

4. Pinterest

     I’m obsessed with Pinterest, no shame.  Pinterest is perfect for the super-organised type-A people like me who like to keep things in folders and neat little spaces since you can create “boards” for anything you like and then clip things to individual boards.  I also downloaded the Pinterest button for Safari so I can clip anything I see online to my Pinterest account which is great for organising articles and adding content to my profile.  Yes, it can be a huge time suck, but it doesn’t really feel like you’re procrastinating :)

 

5. Squarespace

     My blog is powered by Squarespace and I love it!  I’m not into graphic design or creating my own theme, but I like a nice simple, clean look, which is why I chose Squarespace.  I loved that you can buy your domain, theme, and hosting all from one place since I don’t like messing around with different accounts for all of these things.  If you like to customise, I would go with another platform, but for a woman on the go like myself, Squarespace is perfect for me.

 

I’d love to hear about your favourite digital tools, as well!

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

Inspired by...Who Inspires Me!

How could I write a blog called “KatherInspired” and NOT write about who and what inspires me?  I mean, I technically do it on a daily basis, but for today’s #BlogEverydayInMay, let’s talk about some smart women who (inadvertently) push me to do and be my best:

 

Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Elizabeth McCord

     Let’s hear it for the first two female Secretaries of State, and the fiction version of both of them!  Say what you want about Hillary Clinton, but these three women embody my life goals.  I dream of not only becoming Secretary of State, but of being as strong and badass as these women are.   Also, I wrote an article for Smart Girls Group on Hillary Clinton so click here to check it out! 

 

Hermione Granger / Emma Watson

     Like I’ve said before, I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan since I was seven years old.  Not only were the books the most beautiful examples of master storytelling that I’ve ever read, but no character has ever spoken to me quite like Hermione.  (As a testament to this, I was Hermione for Halloween three years in a row and used to put mousse in my hair to make it bushy like hers!)  Before she became friends with Harry and Ron, she was on her own, working as hard as she could so she could always raise her hand in class.  She didn’t care what anyone thought of her and wasn’t afraid of working hard.  She stood up for those who needed an advocate and was so loving and supportive of her friends and family, no matter what.  Emma Watson is embracing her inner Hermione, as well!  She graduated from Brown and is a champion of the #HeForShe United Nations campaign — she is truly using her position for the best.

 

Abbey Bartlett, Amelia Gardner, CJ Cregg, Donna Moss, Ainsley Hayes

     I grew up watching The West Wing with my parents and it is because of that show that I am a political science major.  This show sparked and fuels my interest in politics and diplomacy, and it also has given me incredible role models.  The women in this show are tough, and smart, and witty, and fabulous — each of them.  I think of them each time I am talking about politics with someone and they have inspired me for years.  Want some classic scenes?  Click here, here, here, here, and here, and try to not feel inspired.

 

My Smart Girls Sisters!

     How could I not mention my sisters from Smart Girls Group???  They inspire me each day to be a Smart Girl, to be myself, and to share this with the world.  They are incredibly positive, driven, and ambitious women and I am so lucky to have them in my life!

 

I could go on and on about the people who inspire me…but you’ll have to keep reading KatherInspired for more!

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

[Always] Inspired by...My Mom

Disclaimer: there are no recent pictures of me and my mom!  Seriously, the last picture was taken two years ago and it’s horrible so we’re just not even going to go there.  I am such a bad millennial because I can’t do that obligatory Mother’s Day picture post on Facebook, but I do have two things.  1) a blog and a challenge that is conveniently telling me to write about the most important thing my mom taught me. 2) This picture, taken in Bordeaux after my mom and I went to the mecca of all boulangeries and had the most incredible pastries I have ever and will ever have in my life.  How cute is she???


My mom taught me about dedication.  She worked from home while my brother and I were growing up so that, if one of us got sick at school, she could come pick us up. or so she could spend time with us on school vacations; so she could come to all of our various meets, performances, kindergarten graduations — you name it, she was there.  Never have I known a person who has given everything she has for her family like my mom did.  I remember the summer before fourth grade, for example, when my dad was away the entire summer at the FBI academy in Virginia, and it was just my mom taking care of me and my brother for those 10 weeks.  I was only eight years old, so I couldn’t really realise how excruciating that must have been for her.  She had always taken care of me, my brother, and my dad, but she still had my dad to lean on, and be the other parent.  That summer, it was just her.  And, while still working from home, she did it, and we survived the infamous summer of 2003.  There are a thousand more memories like this, but it would take an entire book, rather than a blog post, to go through all of the specifics.


My mom has been there for me in every sense of the word — the good, the bad, and the awkward.  She has been a part of some of my happiest memories, like when I came out of school in April of 7th grade and she was sitting in the car holding up a big packet from Choate Rosemary Hall with my acceptance letter to their summer program inside.  (Choate’s on my mind right now for several reasons)  She let me be homeschooled for my freshman and sophomore year of high school and spent two years driving me around to classes and co-ops and things and because of her I experienced another huge shift in my academic mentality.  She was there when I was in the middle of an abusive and manipulative relationship and struggling to fight my way back to the surface.  She held me as I learned to breathe again, still shell-shocked, and as I navigated “normal” school again.  She became my closest confidante as I entered happy times again, always listening to the stories from my day, no matter how late I got home.  When I fell in love and was terrified of losing myself again, she was there.  She had my first acceptance letter displayed on the kitchen counter when I got home from school one day in February.  She came to every single performance of Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang and Titanic, every track and cross country meet, all the little senior events…everything.  When I was a complete emotional disaster during my first year at Fordham, she would always answer the phone, even if it was the fifth time I had called that day “just to say hi.”  


My mom is my lookalike (seriously, the resemblance of our childhood pictures is a little scary) and we have been told a thousand times that we look like Molly Ringwald.  In fact, for my 18th birthday, I got the DVD of Sixteen Candles and we watched it together (a year and a half later :) ).  She is my style guru because I’m absolutely hopeless.  From her (and her mother), I inherited a love of all things food.  She taught me how to not just follow a recipe, but how to actually cook for myself.  She helped me come out of my shell and become independent, and has taught me — actually, she’s still teaching me — to accept and love myself.  When something happens, whether it be good or not-so-good, she is the first person I think to tell, because I know she will understand without me having to explain myself too much.  My mom knows me better than anyone else in the world, and that is an immense comfort that is impossible to put precisely into words.


So, my mom taught me not only dedication, but about immense love and devotion, both to yourself and those that you love, and I hope that I can come even a little close to doing for my family what my mom has done for the past 21 years.  Here’s to you, Mom.  I love you.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...A Mom Memory

This is technically Day 9 of the challenge, so the official Mother’s Day post will be going up tonight, but this prompt is to share a favourite memory from my childhood and it actually does involve my mom!  I can’t say that I have a favourite memory of my childhood — how can I pick just one moment that makes the rest pale in comparison? — because I had a great childhood, but I love telling this story.  It’s a simple moment from sixth grade, but it always makes me smile.

 

At the beginning of sixth grade, the fourth Harry Potter movie came out.  I was a huge Harry Potter fan (some would say fanatic) growing up; I had read all of the books several times, whizzed through the new ones when they came out, constantly made Polyjuice Potion with the kit I had gotten for my birthday, was Hermione for several Halloweens in a row, and the list just goes on and on.  Naturally, I was dying to see the movie.

 

I was in the jazz band in sixth grade (#BandGeekForLife) and back then, rehearsals were held after school until about 4:30 or so.  I remember my mom picking me up from rehearsal and it seemed like any normal day…until we weren’t taking the usual route home.  We seemed to be driving as though we were going to the YMCA where I swam.  My mom pulled into a convenience store and told me to go in and buy two packs of M&Ms.  I assumed she needed them for a recipe, so I didn’t think much of it.  Then, before I knew it, we were in the movie theatre parking lot and my mom was telling me that we were going to see the Harry Potter movie!  

 

That night, we had popcorn and M&Ms for dinner (big deal, trust me!) and I got to feel all grown up and special while watching Harry Potter with my mom.  Mind you, my mom knew very little about Harry Potter so it’s a testament to her that she sat through the entire movie with me.  

 

Like I said, it’s a simple memory, but every time I eat popcorn and M&Ms (world’s best combination), I think of that night and my mom and everything feels okay.

 

Inspired to be,

 

Katherine

Inspired by...20 Years From Now...

Today’s #BlogEverydayInMay prompt — writing a letter to myself 20 years into the future —  really spoke to me because I feel as though I am right on the verge of some major change in my life.  With that in mind, here’s my letter.  [Also, I hate starting letters to the future with “Dear Me” or something like that, so I’m just going to write]

 

It is May 9th, 2015.  Big things are coming.  Some of it is coming home from London, but a lot of it has to do with growing up, in general.  I’m entering my final year in college (let’s talk about that for a minute), which is also, I believe, going to be one of the most pivotal years for me in my time at Fordham.  I’m going to be going to class, as per usual, but my focus will not just be on being a student.  I’ll be interning, working, tutoring, and continuing some of my positions from this year and last year, so I’ll be taking on a more professional lifestyle.  It’s terrifying because sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.  Sure, I have this whole academic/career plan, but the little things seem to escape me.  I am not financially independent, for example, which is a huge thing for me right now because I want that freedom.  I want a job and source of income, so I fund my own lifestyle.  I feel like I’m at this in-between stage, like a flower that’s just about to bloom.  It’s close, so close, but it just needs a liiiiitttle more sun, a tiny bit more water, and a teensy bit more love before it can just burst open and take on the world.  In 20 years, I’ll be 40, almost 41.  I have no idea what my life will look like, just like I have no idea what my life is going to look like at this point next year, but I think that’s the beauty of this stage of my life.  There are a million things that could happen, and the possibility is exhilarating. 

 

Life is so beautiful right now.  It’s also uncertain because I’m coming home in 25 days, and the adventure of a lifetime will come to a close.  I say that, but just because I won’t be in Europe doesn’t mean that this summer and next year and the year after won’t be an adventure in themselves.  I know that sounds so cliche, but I want you to never forget that.  This year has been so many things for me — at first, it was the kind of excitement where you don’t really know what you’re doing.  For me, that was getting on the plane and having this grand notion about what my enchanted life in London would be like.

 

 Then the jet lag and the general feeling of “Oh my GOD what have I DONE?” set in.  That’s the reality (and lack of sleep).  The first few months here were rough, to say the least.  I spent a lot of time on Skype crying to my mom and having this horrible tightness in my chest that always signalled a wave of anxiety about to knock me over.  The rough edges softened a bit as I began to travel and see the sights and begin to have an idea of how to survive classes here.  I still knew, however, that I would be home in just a few weeks, and that became my rock.

 Then I came home: relief.

 I could breathe because I was where everything was familiar…but that time ended way too quickly and my little bubble was burst as I made my way to the airport for the long stretch of my year away and it wasn’t pure excitement I was feeling because I knew how hard it was to fly away, now.  I was terrified of not being able to make it through the next five months, and it wasn’t exactly relief that I felt when I walked in the door to my room again.  Things were definitely familiar here, but it was anything but easy.  Classes were still a mental boxing match and I wasn’t on the winning side, still.  I got stronger, and was able to fight back more and more, but I can still feel my head spin in class.  I still missed my family and home, where everything made sense, and I still wondered if I was ever going to make it to June.

 

As the weeks went by, however, I began to feel something growing inside me: joy.  The good began to outweigh the not-so-good (because nothing here has really been “bad” per se).  I had my Community and Culture class that took us around London and introduced me to some amazing people, I got to travel a ton and have my solo adventure, I had Adventure Weekend, my Faith and Leadership class, and the days took on a more comfortable rhythm.  It was more than that, though.  I started to feel real, true happiness — not the happiness that masked the terror that I felt first term, but the feeling that I knew what I was doing.  I wasn’t longing for home anymore, because London felt like home.  I wasn’t dreaming of my “real” life at home or at Fordham, because this place, this school, this city, these friends, was and is my life.  I had more and more of those moments where you’re in complete disbelief that you are in this place because you’re just so damn happy that you can’t even begin to soak it all up and breathe it all in. 

I suppose that’s what life is like and what it feels like to truly grow and change, for the better.  So, I don’t know what’s going to be my life in 20 years, but I do know that whatever it is, I can do it.


Inspired to be,


Katherine

Inspired by...A Cause I Support

I’ve already blogged about Smart Girls Group, and what I do as part of the Smart Girls Sisterhood, but let me explain exactly why I am so obsessed with any and all things SGG:

Smart Girls Group is something that, had it existed back then, would have made my entire middle school and high school experience so much better.  I felt so fundamentally different during those long six years, and while I’ve struggled with feeling this way for most of my life, it became most profound during this lovely point in my life.  Some of it had to do with being an introvert and not liking what apparently everyone else liked.  In middle school, I was the girl who could spend hours in her room reading and not think twice about it, wore skirts and dresses all of the time, swam instead of playing soccer, hated sleepovers, and listened to the Annie and The Sound of Music soundtracks instead of the Jonas Brothers (#2008Life).  In high school, material-wise, I wasn’t quite as different from everyone else, but I was still this old soul introvert-type, and I constantly felt on the fringe of the general population that was my age.  Add that to being smart and nerdy, and you’ve got a recipe for a social disaster.  Mind you, things have gotten so much better as I’ve gotten older, but something that made it all click has been Smart Girls Group.

 

Smart Girls Group’s mission is to unite and empower ambitious young women, but for me, it goes so far beyond this.  It is such a positive community of bright and engaged women who are spreading sunshine and smarts wherever they go.  Smart Girls Group encourages you to live your best life and be smart in whatever it is you are smart in.  The way I’ve conceptualised it is that in Smart Girls Group, everyone is unique, but no one is “different.”  I was the girl who was different and liked what no one else liked, but that doesn’t matter with Smart Girls Group, because everyone is different and it’s encouraged and celebrated.

Their various social media platforms make my day so much brighter whenever I come across a post or a tweet or a picture, the website is full of articles and content from girls who want to help you live your best life, the newsletters that I put together not only give me something fun and non-academic to do, but getting them in my email inbox is just as fun as putting them together is.  Not only have I made some incredible friends from being a part of Smart Girls Group, but I am learning to be the Smart Girl that I wish I had been years ago: one who is different, smart, unique, whatever she is, embraces it, and shares it.

Inspired to be,

Katherine