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...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...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...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...Cafe Days

As many of you know (from my frequent Instagram pictures and tweets), that I am a (new) cappuccino enthusiast.  I was never a coffee person - which most people can’t believe, but remember how high-strung I tend to be and then add caffeine - but last term, I was meeting my advisor from Fordham for coffee and he introduced me to cappuccinos…and the rest is history!  There is nothing I love quite like sitting in a semi-busy cafe, sipping on a cappuccino with the occasional pain au chocolat dipped in the foam.  

I also make my cappuccino habits productive.  While I save schoolwork like essay-writing and reading for my classes for the silent sections of the library, I love getting “personal” work done in cafes.  Something about the hum of activity and the openness of cafes makes me more productive.  I’ll write blog posts, work on Smart Girls Group projects, send emails, work on personal branding work, and do my biweekly “content check.” 

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I keep a few bookmark folders for websites I like to keep up to date on.  I love to read and learn about the world, to put it rather simply, so at least once a week, I’ll do a full content read where I scan through all of these websites (LevoLeague, Smart, Pretty, and Awkward, HBIC Project, MindBodyGreen, and I am That Girl are my favourites), save article I like for future reference, pin/post/tweet relevant ones, etc.  As I’m moving towards the specialised phase of my academic life, I’ve been keeping tabs on certain news sites, columnists (Nicholas Kristof and Thomas Friedman, for example), and specialty current events sites.  My field of study (Political Science, Middle East Studies, International Development, Women’s Issues) is one that is constantly changing, so I need to stay as up-to-date as possible!

During my cafe days (Wednesday afternoons and Fridays), I’ll read my book while I’m having my cappuccino, and then pop in my headphones and get down to work when I’m done.  I’ve been known to spend up to four hours in the Caffe Nero on Kingsway or the one by the Waterloo Bridge and completely lose track of time, which is such a lovely feeling.  I keep my planner with me so I can cross things off my list and when I walk out, not only am I freshly cappuccino-ed, but my weekly to-do list is just a bit shorter!  This is something I highly recommend as a change of scenery can do wonders!

Inspired to be,

Katherine

20 Hours in Connecticut

That title was shamelessly borrowed from my favorite show, The West Wing, in case anyone was wondering. :)

Anyway, I got the rare opportunity to go home for a night this week and see my mom!  My dad and brother are on a baseball road trip in California right now (loving the Snapchats from L.A…) so we got some girl time.  I was in desperate need of a haircut since it had been over a year since I had last gotten anything other than my fast-growing bangs, and let me tell you, it was getting bad.  I have really thick hair so when it's long, it just get to be such a pain, especially in the summer as I'm walking seven blocks uphill to commute to work.  The prospect of a fresh, clean haircut in itself was enough to get me excited to come home, but then my mom said she had a surprise for me as well!

I got out of work early and got an earlier train home (I have to take 3 different trains so it's always an adventure!) so my mom and I were able to take a yoga class at our favorite yoga studio.  I have to say, there's nothing like an hour of "Happy Hour" yoga, complete with headstands and essential oils to ring in the weekend!  We also picked up green juices and salads (yup, my mom and I are fun) to have at home on the patio.  When we got home, I headed up to my room and….my mom redecorated!  I recently acquired a queen-sized bed from a family friend who was redoing her guest bedroom but I was still using my old twin-size comforter on it, and my room was still in that awkward stage in between me living in it permanently in high school and periodically in college so it was time for a change.  Well, my mom got new sheets, a beautiful poofy comforter, and throw pillows! 

Thanks, Mom!

Thanks, Mom!

Needless to say, climbing into bed last night was an absolute JOY! :)

My mom and I talk and text a lot during the day but on Friday night, we sat outside on the patio in these lounge chairs and just chatted for a while about family and life and it was so different than talking on the phone.  Out of everyone I miss while I'm here at school, it's definitely my mom.

Yesterday, we got up super early to drive to Massachusetts to see my grandparents and so I could get a hair cut!  Yes, my hairdresser is in Massachusetts but it's completely worth it.  Felix is nuts but, hey, he can cut hair.  After a shorter, layered cut and a blow-out, I felt like a whole new woman!  I had wanted to go for something a little more sophisticated so this was a good start.

We visited my grandparents, as well, and I got to catch up with my grandfather who's in an assisted living facility after a stroke he had back in December.  He's making a ton of progress and I've missed talking to him about history since I learn so much from talking to him.  Seriously, he knows everything.  The farm stand across the street from their house and the facility opened an ice cream/grill stand so we checked it out and tried their regular french fries, sweet potato fries (my personal favorite) and onion rings which were sooo good!  Also, they had a ton of flavors of ice cream and I just had to check it out so I tried "Pumpkin Patch" which is always my favorite but hard to get since most places only carry it in the fall.  This was probably the best pumpkin ice cream I've ever had since it had caramel swirls, sliced almonds, chocolate, and raisins, in addition to incredible pumpkin flavor!  I forgot to take a picture so I'll let you imagine that wonder….

After a rushed drive home and another rushed drive to the train station, I was headed back to New York already but feeling nice and refreshed.  Oh, and I discovered that Squarespace (the platform I use for my blog) has a mobile app so I can write on the go!  Perfect for the traveler. 

So, it was a short visit home but just what I needed!  Sometimes a little refresher is what we need to get our inspiration back, right?

Inspired to be,

Katherine

Blown-out hair and my dress for the Smart Girls Group Conference! (I'm also wearing heels!!)

Blown-out hair and my dress for the Smart Girls Group Conference! (I'm also wearing heels!!)