The Irony in Getting What You Want

Once upon a time, I interned at a magazine in its editorial department. It was my senior year in college, which I like to think was just yesterday but, in reality, was nearly three years ago, and I was pretty sure I was winning at everything in life. I interviewed fun entrepreneurs and interesting professionals, wrote several articles a week, and was certain I was the next Diane Sawyer (print edition).

I wanted to work for the magazine more than anywhere else after I graduated — so badly that I even applied for the receptionist position, which made about no money and obviously had nothing to do with journalism. From my whopping seven hours a week spent in the office, I was positive the people and atmosphere were everything I could ever dream of in a first job environment. (Clearly seven weekly hours is enough to tell something like that, right?…)

It all seemed ideal, except for this one girl.

She was a full-time employee, and I worked with her on a couple fact checking assignments. I knew her job vaguely revolved around fact checking and data analysis within the editorial department, and I can clearly remember watching her walk down a hall one day with a sullen look on her face, a norm, and thinking to myself, I would hate to have her job.

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Money Talk

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Recently, I cut up my two credit cards, started paying for (most) things with cash only, and made a BUDGET — like, a budget that I actually use. How boring am I? Stay with me here, because I think some folks out there in a similar life stage to mine might need to hear this.

Cutting the credit cards was the weirdest, and hardest, part of my money transformation. When I was a sophomore in college, I opened an envelope from the bank that I thought was a statement for my debit card, which was probably over-drafted. Inside, I found instead a shiny credit card, accompanied by a note saying I had 700 whole dollars I was allowed to spend.

Boy, did I spend.

At first, I was like, “K, I need to be smart about this. People wrack up credit card debt faster than they can say ‘Nordstrom anniversary sale.’ I’m just gonna use this on big things and emergencies.” Riiiiight.

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Inspiration, Where You At?

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My ideal weekday would be this: wake up at 6 or 7 a.m., make coffee and a healthy breakfast, write for two to three hours, head to the gym for a solid workout, go home, shower, work some more (writing, answering emails, planning), go to happy hour or dinner with friends, read for an hour or so, and go to bed. Maybe throw in some Real Housewives to that lineup, too.

That probably sounds like the most boring schedule imaginable to a lot of people, but for me—holy smokes—that is a dream. (Also, I’d make sure my weekends would have a LITTLE more excitement. Promise.) Life would be so much easier. I could easily manifest my inspirations and dreams, and each day would be frustration-less and peaceful, right?

NO! Even if I had what, in my mind, seems like the most idyllic schedule, road bumps would come out of nowhere and struggle would ensue, because that’s just how life works. Things change and rarely go according to plan, and that’s alright. I’ve finally come to accept that fact (on most days, at least—though sometimes I’m still in denial and whine about the unfairness of life).

For the most part, I realize that even if I plan away my life to my heart’s content, certain aspects can still go awry. For the control freak in me (which is, oh, probably the majority of me), that’s painful to admit. But for the wannabe go-with-the-flow, spontaneous hippie (which makes up MAYBE 2 percent of me, contrary to these photos), that’s a-okay.

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So, with all that in mind (you know, the fact that life sucks sometimes), how’s one supposed to get anything done—especially in the realm of creativity? Not that other realms are any easier to navigate, but it’s just that, well, they kind of are. Sorry to say it, but more logical, analytical, or tangible work than creativity is work that people can wrap their minds around day in and day out.

I can say that because that’s the sort of work I do in my 9-to-5 job. It’s straightforward, black and white, and maneuverable. Sure, there are obstacles, just like anything else. But in the pursuit of creativity, the obstacle is always, “How can I make something interesting (or beautiful or original or inspiring, and so on) out of nothing?” It’s the struggle of creation. (Which is why it’s called creativity.) Say what you want, but in jobs that don’t surround a creative pursuit, that obstacle simply doesn’t exist.

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I struggle with balancing inspiration and creativity with the rest of my life all the time. I think everyone does, to some extent. I’ve written about this struggle many times, complained about this struggle to my nearest even more often, and, more than anything else, wracked my brain thinking and worrying about this struggle until my head almost spins. And here I am, again, writing about it, because I’m a little looney I’ve been contemplating this balance more than ever lately.

I don’t always follow my own advice—in fact, I rarely do—but I’ve written down a few notes on how I try to maintain or reignite my own inspiration, even when it feels like the most difficult thing to grasp on to, thanks to life and all its distractions and impurities.

Embrace the reasoning behind an excuse. Look, we’re all humans. It’s practically in our DNA to excuse ourselves when we underperform. (People who command others to never make excuses make me angry. Everyone does it!) Instead of turning it into a grandiose explanation, though, simply accept it. Too tired to write? Too busy to paint? Too overwhelmed to cook? Then don’t, and try again tomorrow. And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen then, either.

Start. Start something today. Start a list of ideas. Start writing a sentence. Start thinking about a new plot line. Start planning when you can truly start. It doesn’t mean you’ll finish today, and it doesn’t mean you’ll even actually create anything today. But you’ll be setting creativity in motion by not ignoring it or actively placing it at the end of your priority list any longer.

Go easy on yourself. Flexibility is something I work on continuously. Isn’t it true that we’re hardest on ourselves? Punishing myself for being less productive than another day or another person isn’t going to make me feel anymore positive toward working on a goal. Let’s go ahead and allow ourselves the grace we give others, yes?

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(P.S. I have been selfishly SITTING on these stunning, dreamy photos by Aleah Clark, but I finally figured: What better time to post these beauties than in a blog post about inspiration? Enjoy! Also, Aleah is based in California but travels often. She is such a bright and positive spirit, and, speaking of creativity and inspo, she’s beyond talented. Work with her!)

Maxi Dress: Altar’d State

Eyelash Extensions and A Burrito Dress. Yep.

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Fun fact: when I wore this dress to work at my first job out of college, an older coworker of mine asked if there were miniature burritos all over it. He was our graphic designer and, as you can imagine, a little kooky, and I crack up thinking about a dress covered in burritos any time I wear this dress. Maybe I should just save this dress to wear when I go eat burritos? That story has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I love it. So there you go.

Anyway! The sky began falling in Dallas today. Can you tell from these photos? The weather is supposed to keep up the madness — thunder, lighting, wind, and lots and lots of rain — for the next EIGHT DAYS. April showers and all that, I guess. But I’m pretty happy today nonetheless because a) I love overcast weather and rain (even when it’s windy as all get out), and b) I’m giving a new beauty fad a little test run. And so far, I’m pretty obsessed.

I stopped in to Flirty Girl Lash Studio on Saturday and met with Crystal, the owner, to get some eyelash extensions! I love me some long and luscious eyelashes, and I have since I started wearing makeup, like, ten years ago (and now I feel old). If I had to bring one beauty product with me to a deserted island, I’d definitely choose sunscreen. But my second choice would absolutely be mascara.

I’m constantly on the hunt for the best mascara out there that’s lengthening, but not clumpy, and my girlfriends can tell you I am the first to jump on any occasion where false lashes might be of good use. So the thought of not even needing to use mascara, yet getting the look of long, beautiful eyelashes, was pret-ty appealing.

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The other perfect part about eyelash extensions is that I’m sort of the laziest when it comes to my day-to-day makeup. I use about, oh, five products, and it takes about five minutes for me to apply them. But now I don’t have to use ANY eye makeup (unless I want to throw on eye shadow or eyeliner, which I don’t typically do on a normal day). So literally, y’all, my makeup routine now is a three-minute process. In this post, I’m wearing concealer, face powder, and bronzer. I’m in lazy-girl heaven.

Plus, getting the extensions applied was relaxing and painless, so much so that I fell fast asleep during the process. It took about an hour, and laying there with my eyes closed for that amount of time is bound to end with me nodding off once or twice. Every once in a while, I’d feel Crystal re-align my head, which had literally nodded to the side as I dozed off to sleep. Whoops.

Before starting, she showed me a few different looks to choose from, from minimalistic extensions (a more natural look) to super-diva (thick, voluminous, dramatic). I chose the simpler ones, and Crystal adapted the style some to make my eyes look larger per my request. I loved that she tailored it to exactly what I wanted.

If you’re on the fence with this fad like I was (I wasn’t sure if I would like the finished look as much as I do), I’d say absolutely give it a shot. And if you’re in the Dallas or North Texas area, I 100-percent recommend Flirty Girl in Plano (at The Shops at Legacy)! Crystal and her girls will take great care of you. Pinky promise.

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THIS WEATHER THOUGH.

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Babydoll (burrito) dress: old, similar here and here // Ankle boots: Dolce by Mojo Moxy // Eyelash extensions (LOVE): Flirty Girl Lash Studio