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!)

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,



Thanks to 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,


"Domestic Sundays"

Sunday is, by far, my favorite day of the week.  "Really?" you ask.  I know, I know.  Sundays, for many, is that frantic day where we remember all of the things we were supposed to do over the weekend, and then dread the start of another work week.  For me (though I've totally been there!), however, Sundays are my happy days because I have a routine called "Domestic Sunday."  Note: I can't take full credit for this glorious day because I actually saw it on Pinterest, but even still, here it goes:

I try to get up fairly early on Sundays (especially now because I have to be in the security office by 7am) and during the school year, I would do an hour to an hour and a half of yoga from a video I pick from (more about that later!) so I would already be in a good mood when I was done.  While I would do my yoga, I would do all of my laundry for the week, including sheets, comforter, pillowcases, towels, bathrobe, pajamas, and all of my clothes.  Let me just say that there is nothing comparable to climbing into bed between freshly washed sheets while wearing clean pajamas, after having taken a shower and drying off with a clean towel.  I guess you could say I like things clean =)  I also like adding a little baking soda and white vinegar to my laundry because it helps release odors and leave you clothes even fresher!

After yoga, I would start the cleaning process of my day which included dusting the windows and mirror with all-natural glass cleaner, dusting all hard surfaces (windowsills, floors, fridge, desk, etc,) with this lovely homemade cleaner I made out of vinegar, tea tree oil, and a little water (my mom always says that the only things you need to clean are lemon juice, vinegar, tea tree oil, and baking soda and wow is she right!), and then vacuuming my carpet with my sad little Dirt Devil that has the world's worst battery life….  The scent that would then fill my room is one that I can only attribute to Sunday because it so fresh and light and clean.  

I love having a plan of action for the week because, between jobs, internships, class, and other commitments, I get pretty busy.  I make lists of everything I need to get done that week for my blog and personal life, I plan outfits and workouts, and I make note of all of my appointments.  Sound overwhelming?  I'll admit that it is a little but I have this incredible accomplished feeling when I look at my planner and my monogrammed "master list" notepad and have a visual idea of everything that I need/want to do.  

It's not all work, though!  On Sundays, I like to treat myself to sushi and a movie, frozen yogurt and fruit from the new place a few blocks over, or a cup of tea and a good book. =)

Having a day devoted to myself and what makes me happy really gets me ready for the week and I've found that I'm more productive and, of course, inspired.

What about you?  How do you like to treat yourself and get ready for your week?

Inspired to be,


All ready for the week!

All ready for the week!

On Being a 20-Something

I am almost a 20-something.  (I turn 20 in October!)  That's a common phrase we hear today, isn't it?  It spans such a wide range of ages, though.  You have the 20-year-olds, still in college, still teenagers in everything except calendar years.  You have the 25-year-olds who are "adults" but at that in-between stage.  They are the true young adults, I think.  They're just starting out, probably at their first established jobs and in their first serious relationships.  Then you have the late 20 something-year-olds who are getting married and having kids and thinking about the next impending decade of the 30's.  

I am at the very beginning of this vast and exciting decade. I am living on my own (on campus, but it still counts), I have my first office job to which I have to commute in the mornings, and I feel more grown up than I have in a long time.  This summer is going to be a summer of an immense transition in my life because not only do I have all of this going on right now, but in the fall, I am setting off on a year-long study abroad adventure in London, which, I have to say, is my dream come true.  I feel like I am at a great precipice (line borrowed from Titanic!) right now, and it thrills me.  I have so much in front of me and there is a world of possibility open to me.  I am discovering my passions for politics, social media, travel, writing, women's empowerment, yoga, and wellness, and immersing myself in them by launching my blog, interning at the DEA, working in the city, going to Europe, etc.  When I think of this entire life I have ahead of me, the uncertainty of what's going to happen next doesn't send me into a whirlwind of anxiety like it used to during my freshman year.  It gives me this soaring, joyful, passionate, inspired, feeling that lifts me up.  I am in my 20's, the years in which I can begin to do whatever I want to do and be who I want to be.  Isn't it exciting to think that these years are the perfect combination of youthful inspiration and passion and mature ability to make that inspiration a reality?  It is a beautiful blend and I cannot wait to dive in.

Inspired to be,