A Dedicated Minimalist

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The first time Emma Kepley and I met for coffee and pastries at a small cafe called Bakeri in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it was a kindred spirit vibe that reassured me she’d be able to show the growth I’ve experienced in the last two years of my life, with just the few clicks of a button. (Okay, and some minor direction, girlfriend had to coach me through the first four of five frames). Still, I haven’t been photographed since I was 19-years-old while helping my good friend, Linsey, build up her photography portfolio. Those photographs were filled with bright paint splatter, sunflowers, and driftwood drenched beaches, hopping from location to location, and often from season to season.
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I’m on the cusp of my two year anniversary in New York, and however long I decide to stay here, I wanted to document this very point in my life. The evolution from a sprightly college student hoping to take over the entire world, to the always confident, often caffeinated, sometimes narcoleptic, globe-trotting, city-dwelling, hard working woman I now am. I wanted to remove the need to prove anything in these photos, stripping my New York experience of all the elements the mind usually drifts to when it pictures what a New York life might look like.
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One thing I am eternally grateful for, especially in the last two years, is having been an active member of my own life. I think we sometimes fall into a habit of letting things happen to us. Sometimes it’s easy to let life happen around us. When we reach the end of whatever road we’re on, we look back and think, “Wait, what just happened? Where was I for all of that? ” I can say with full disclosure I’ve had those moments, but in the last two years, every decision, easy or difficult, has been made with intention. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s my road, and it’s becoming navigable.
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I was really looking to Emma to help me tell a story with both the visible and emotional parallels. In these photos, I finally see conviction behind my eyes and spine in my smile. I can see how hard I’ve worked, how little I’ve slept, the struggle, the anticipation, the gratification, the frustration, all of the ups and downs - real emotions. There is a wakeful solitude that comes with going all in on something – on a city, on a future, on friendships and relationships, and most importantly, ourselves.  That totality has been crucial to my happiness. And while it may sound like I’m playing my cards with a heavy hand, part of growing up, for me, has simply meant trimming the fat. In a lot of ways, it has meant becoming a dedicated minimalist.

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This is a unique time in my life, where I have my future by the reins, where I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but also I’ve done a few things right along the way. Above all, I’ve never stopped learning. I’ve quite purposefully surrounded myself with people more intelligent, more creative, more experienced, and more ambitious than I am. I wanted to really get to the heart of that feeling and display my journey to this moment in a vulnerable, “show-and-tell-all” kind of way.
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That letting go-ness.
That being alone-ness.
That unabashed selfishness.
That, “this is what I’ve built and I did it for myself”…ness. 
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I knew from those first moments with Emma that I’d want her to shoot this in my apartment. Why? Because every part of this needed to be as intimate, personal, and easy to digest as possible. Letting someone into your home can sometimes feel like performance art. It’s like saying – this is where I dwell, where I keep the things I love. Come, be part of it.  If you’ve been here for a while, you know by now that I don’t hide much. This blog is, in many ways, like letting you all into my home, just as I did Emma. But photographs are special in that they allow us to time travel in a very visual, still way. I wanted to be able to look back on these photographs later down the road. Perhaps I’ll be married, perhaps I’ll have children, and a dog, and home, and a mortgage. Perhaps not.
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Either way, I hope someday to recall this particularly brave and empowering time in my twenties, when I had so few things to fear. 

 

 

 

 

Two Years On This Spaceship!

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December marked two years of blogging at Findingravity. It blows my mind to think about how much I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been steering this ship. Or…spaceship, if we’re talking gravity.

Nevermind.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that you “need a pretty blog design”or to “have a unique voice” because…Well, of course. Also, who am I to tell you how to run your show. This isn’t about “the hustle” or whatever trendy word people use for working really hard on something, usually between the hours of 10pm and 3am. But I am going to share a few things I’ve learned along the way, that have shaped the way my blog has played out. I’m not going to assign numbers to these to make it a little less list-y. I’ve also tried to refrain from telling you how to make your blog more successful. I’m not a guru/ninja/connoisseur/Harry Potter. I’m just a girl with a blog who likes to share things. (Things that are not Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Yo. Get your own).

I just had to start, even if it was nowhere extraordinary. I started my blog in a coffee shop after work one day (I know, eye roll). I was feeling intellectually unfulfilled and a little bit lost, as most of us in our twenties tend to feel at some stage. I had my degree, teaching experience, and was working full time, but it wasn’t cutting it. I knew there had to be more out there. I knew that I had skills that weren’t being put to use, and while I didn’t know much about blogging other than what I’d learned in a basic university computer class, it sounded like a good way to utilize some of my creativity. After telling my mom that it felt like I was just floating around as if I had lost my sense of gravity, Findingravity was born. I had five blog followers but I was happy. (Thanks Mom, Dad, and friends! You guys rock for not saying my blog sucked).

When people ask me how to grow a following I always feel like I don’t know the answer. “Write…press publish…rinse…repeat?” Show people that you’re genuine. Care. Open a vein or two. Communicate with the people who are kind enough to take time out of their days to read your work. There are no shortcuts here. I’m not going to tell you to always post photos, and that if you like it then you shoulda put a filter on it. That’s garbage. My suggestion is to write quality content and have patience.

I forgot about money. I think my blogging experience would have been sad and unfulfilling had I started with monetization in mind. Truthfully, I didn’t know what monetizing a blog was until I went to my first blogging conference. Here’s a fun secret – my blog STILL isn’t monetized. I know the world in which bloggers are making $OMG.00 per post to wear a pair of shoes. I work in it every day. Having career in digital media, I can see the value of that for both the brand AND the blogger. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to monetize and have turned them down. I enjoy taking a no pressure approach to blogging, for now. I write when I have something to say. That may change someday, and if you CHOOSE to (or currently) monetize, great! But I hope you never forget why you started. (Which is hopefully because you love it).

There will be a-holes. I once found out a couple of kids I went to college with were making fun of my blog on Facebook. At first I was hurt, because these were people I’d been nothing but friendly to. It was after I kindly thanked them for their page views and moved on that I realized there are internet trolls who occasionally come out from underneath their sad little bridges. They’ll belittle you for no reason other than they think basking in the anonymity that the internet provides is ballsy. It’s not. These people are cowards. I ignore these people. (Except for right now. Sup, peeps? I see you.)

There will also be critics, and these are different than a-holes. They may say negative things about your writing style, point of view, or overall piece you’ve just poured your heart into. They may whole-heartedly disagree with you. I know I have people who read my blog who probably don’t relate to or agree with what I have to say 100% of the time, and some have been quite vocal about it. I appreciate these differences in opinions. Considering and reflecting on these dialogues have helped me grow as a person and a writer. I think it’s okay to digest what these people have to say — provided it isn’t racist, sexist, or unnecessary bigotry, otherwise see previous, “There will be a-holes”.

It’s possible to make some really great, lasting friendships through blogging. Kate from Greatestescapist and Holly from HollySaysHey have turned into real life friends…That I hang out with outside of the blogosphere, and if it weren’t for miles and distance between us, I’m sure there are a bunch more blog friends I’d get ice cream or lattes or grab beers with. (Depending which of those three sounds most enticing. I’m a big fan of ice cream).

I’ve found stepping away when I don’t feel inspired is better than forcing content when my brain has turned into oatmeal. If you’re thoughts are feeling like mush, your writing may translate into mush. It’s okay to step away for a week, or a month, or five months, or however long it takes for you to feel good about the work you’re doing. People might disagree with me here, and I know plenty of writers who strongly feel that any form of writing is better than no writing. Don’t get me wrong, I write when I don’t feel like writing ALL..THE…TIME…It’s just not writing that I would publish on my blog. It stays trapped in my journal, or on napkins, or bar coasters, never to be seen by anybody (except for maybe the bartender). I’ve taken a hiatus or two from blogging. When the thing I love starts becoming work that I hate, I consider taking a little break or finding a new way of approaching it.

Despite how much I love writing, I feel it takes a lot of bravery (and sometimes convincing) to put my thoughts into words, and then to share them with the world. I’ve learned so much about risk taking through pressing publish on pieces that rocked my core. Writing about somebody passing away, or somebody putting my heart through a hamburger grinder, or somebody loving me, or trying to love me, or not being able to love me the way I want them to…All terrifying, and all part of being human.

And I’m going to stop there, because these really are the most important things Findingravity has taught me in the last two years. Having this blog and being a part of something growing has been extremely cathartic. I’m not sure how this blog will evolve in the future, I just know that it will. I’ve tinkered with the idea of some rebranding accompanied by a potential name change, but that’s all much further down the road. For now, thanks for being on this crazy roller coaster with me! I mean it. I think you’re all great people, and I wish I could high five each and every one of you!

On Being Emotionally Available

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We sat in a restaurant with nothing more than a candle, dessert, and inescapable tension between us. Playing air hockey with our conversation, light and sharp, I watched our dialogue ricochet off of the the walls, off of the windows, off my chest, each time falling into my lap. Each time, the scoreboard changing in his favor.

“I’m just not emotionally available right now.”

Game over.


Weeks later I was still hearing that phrase, trying to wrap my mind around what those two words could possibly mean. Not in relation to us, because that was evident. But emotionally unavailable? That’s Dark.

Perhaps I had been too honest with my words, or too clumsy with my heart (among other things, I spill, drop, and trip over everything within a five foot radius). Perhaps I had been too vulnerable by simply offering to lie next to him and see him for who he was. Perhaps he had been too vulnerable for showing me. Perhaps I had been “TOO Carley”, as if I have dials and knobs and switches to turn down when people start to unzip their suitcases, unpacking and sorting their baggage in front of me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that it had nothing to do with me. Emotional pain, heartache specifically, registers in the brain in the same way that physical pain does. Place your hand on a hot stove and get burned, you probably won’t be quick to touch another hot stove. That pain not only burns into our hand, but our memory as well. So we learn to be more careful around stoves, but do we avoid cooking all together?

I get it. I’ve been there. It’s easy to feel fragile when you know you’re precious cargo. But please, reader, stranger, friend, if there’s one thing you take away from this blog, let it be this, because this is THE ONLY reason I’m here. This is the reason I started:

Be emotionally available, to all of it.

Be emotionally available to the people who prove themselves brave enough to open their hearts, or minds, or faced up palms across the table to you. That’s the biggest form of bravery there is. There are people out there crazy enough to love us for the terrifying creatures that we are, capable taking torches to the things we are supposed to love the most. When our emotions short circuit, we often burn everything in our paths. It isn’t until we’re staring at the ashes, that we see the beauty of what once existed, and the gaping hole of what is missing.

It is the most tragic human condition there is.

Be emotionally available to hurt. To rejection. To failure. Be unapologetically open to whatever narrative you’re staring down the barrel of. The weakest I’ve ever felt was that moment when somebody told me they were emotionally unavailable to me. Naturally, it seemed as if they were the ones holding the sword. But the strongest I have ever felt came in realizing that I was the one wearing the armor. That somebody else’s feelings toward me, or lack thereof, would never render me empty.

Anyone can bleed. It’s not particularly special or impressive. To feel is a different ball game.

It’s SUPPOSED to hurt when you realize the work you’re doing isn’t work that you love. There’s no fancy panoramic penthouse apartment in the world that’s big enough to hide you from that monster. It’s the kind of realization that hopefully wakes you the hell up and causes you to put your passions under the microscope. You can either be open and available to that self reflective crap you’re afraid of, or you can be a shell aimlessly passing through the various stages of life.

It’s SUPPOSED to hurt when you realize that your body’s in Omaha, or Augusta, or Portland, but maybe your mind is in New York City, or your heart is in London, or your soul is in Sydney. The moment you needed to leave was the moment you realized “there were roads willing to take you anywhere you wanted to go”. That was the moment you should have packed your bags, and every day that you stay will be another day you wonder why you haven’t gone already.

And it’s SUPPOSED to hurt when you realize you treated your feelings like appliances. When you couldn’t compartmentalize them, you dismissed them as broken. You’ll pass fragments of her on the street, and in the subway, and in that song you always skip through. They’ll slip through the gaps in your fingers that her hands used to fill as you clumsily try to piece them together. You’ll fail. Know that whenever that song comes on, you’ll instantly be wherever you were the first time the two of you heard it. There will be no skip button. The day you met her was the day you stopped thinking about anyone else.

So if anything’s going to take you from 0 to 200 in 3.5 seconds, let it be THOSE things.

Fight through the urge to abandon them.

Make the call when you need to hear their voice.
Play the song when you’re afraid to remember.
Accept the job you don’t think you’re cut out for.
Send the letter when their words weren’t enough.
And move when you’re feeling restless.

In the name of bravery, when a moment, because that’s all it will be, grabs you, let it. When it pulses through you like static shock, reminding you that for an instant you foolishly thought grabbing a metal door handle, or your own heart, couldn’t hurt you, let it shock you. Go straight to the doorstep of the girl you can’t stop thinking about, or the friend you lost touch with, or the dream you’ve been meaning to ring. Stop putting it off, because with every passing day, he, she, and it only gets further away.

Be emotionally available to the notion that you’re right, it might NOT work out.

But what if it did?

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Things That I Don’t Instagram.

Yesterday I posted this picture on Instagram and Twitter (that’s a sly plug for you to follow me on both of those platforms AND the bridge to the story I’m about to tell you).

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The image was captioned, “Love your sass, New York.”



After posting the picture, I took a brief moment to reflect on this poster and how it speaks to why I love New York. I know I haven’t always felt this way; sometimes I’ve despised it here. I chuckle sometimes when people think that living in New York is synonymous with a glamorous lifestyle filled with swanky nights out and rooftop parties, where I casually make nice with diplomats and celebrities alike.

Please know that Instagram is not real life. I generally don’t Instagram the times I feel inadequate, terrified, or discouraged. In fact, here are the real life things that have or do happen that I don’t Instagram:

  • The ungodly check I cut my landlord every month
  • The time I cried myself to sleep at 5:00 in the morning because I was awake at 5:00 in the morning crying. I do not know why I was crying. I just felt like it needed to happen.
  • The cockroach in my apartment that made me cry when I was home alone
  • The weeks worth of takeout I order because I don’t have time to make dinner
  • The time I caught the construction workers outside my apartment peering into my kitchen while I was making coffee in my underwear. Privacy isn’t a realistic expectation in New York.
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    The only thing that’s altered my life more than moving to New York has been choosing to stay. Careers have started here. Relationships have ended here. I’ve grown out of friendships here. I’ve grown into myself here. The velocity at which things have begun, ended, and come full circle, has caused the involuntary yet beautiful whiplash one needs to figure their lives out. On one hand, I seldom see my family, can’t remember my last good night of sleep, usually work through lunch AND dinner, and cancel personal plans more often than I keep them, because at the end of the day nothing is more exciting to me than watching New Girl on Netflix. Nothing.

    That being said – New York is the most electric and creative city there is, with a sick sense of humor to boot, and if you’re willing to work your ass off, sleep on a couch or two, and push through the 5am mental break downs and big insects, it’s so worth it.

    So – There I stood in a coffee shop Instagraming this accurate representation of New York to a newsfeed of friends, acquaintances, and blog followers, while reveling in the fact that I’ve adapted to New York’s attitude. Not my attitude about living here, but the attitude of the city itself. New York definitely has it’s own attitude, and for a brief moment, I thought I was a part of it.

    Coffee in hand, I placed my purse down on the table. Before sitting down I realized I forgot to ask for cream, so I walked back up to the counter to ask the barista for a splash of half and half. Upon returning to the table, my stomach sank.

    My purse was gone.

    As in, stolen. Somebody stole my purse in the thirty seconds it took for me to put cream in my coffee. Frantically, I ripped my backpack open, moved chairs out of the way, and searched the area like a bloodhound. But here’s the thing, I didn’t misplace it. In fact, I placed it out in the open, stupidly.

    And it sucked, because sometimes people are sucky, and sucky things happen, but you just have to be open to the idea that you can grow from these things. I’m not saying I had a grand epiphany from my purse being stolen. In fact, I was fuming. I left the coffee shop and charged down the street with more stomp in my step than Tyra Banks. What I am saying, is that I allowed myself the 10 minute walk to work to be angry, cancelled my cards, had my keys recut, and carried on business as usual. Sometimes shit happens, and you have to take it, deal with it like an adult, and move on, which is really one of the greatest lessons this city has taught me.

    Maybe that person needed the 25 dollars in my purse, my gum, and my impressive collection of business cards more than I did. Maybe they’re just an asshole. And maybe next time I get up to put cream in my coffee, I’ll bring my purse with me.

    Noted, New York.

    PS – I still love your sass.

    LIKE A BAWSE!!

    A few weeks ago, my coworker and I were in Hallmark picking out a congratulatory card for a fashion blogger we regularly work with who has recently become engaged. We scanned the typical stocked card isles, browsing through the “Where’s Waldo” game of greeting cards that is the Hallmark section of any CVS, when we spotted it.

    NATIONAL BOSS’S DAY.

    At the same time, we both stopped and burst out laughing. WAS THIS A THING? We knew we had to do something. We tossed around a few ideas walking back to the office. A party? A present? A surprise visit to the office by our good friends of One Direction to personally serenade our bosses with an acapella version of That’s What Makes You Beautiful?

    Acca-WHAAAT? Just kidding. We don’t know them.

    Given that we spent an entire week over the summer (ahemmm probably more) blasting nothing but Katy Perry jams in the office, it only seemed fair that the final decision had to include our favorite Teenage Dream, and it had to include all of us thanking them for all they do on a Daily Basis.

    So, without further ado I present to you our rendition of ROAR for our wonderful bosses, sang in perfect key by none other than the full team of SGPR. (Note: We may or may not have been lip syncing).



    In all seriousness – I can’t tell you how much it means to me being able to come to work every day and loving not only the work that I’m doing, but also the people I’m around. Countless times I’ve been told that my face lights up when I talk about my career and the wonderful people it encompasses every day. I still find it impossible to believe that I’ve only been on this track for four months, because starting at this company meant embarking on a new career path. Every day I am learning new things about this world, and myself. Areas where I have room to grow, areas I am already pretty good at but want to become better at, and areas which are completely dark to me that I can’t wait to dip my toes in.

    Not to mention – it’s not at every job you get to lip sync a magical montage of Katy Perry for the people who employ you.

    That HAS to count for something.

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    Carley Walks Into Sephora…BA-DUM-CHHH!

    WELCOME TO HELL

    WELCOME TO HELL

     

    Sephora is like Disney Land. And not in a good way.

    Big, overwhelming, expensive, and nothing feels real. Except at Disney Land, I get to take a picture with Minnie Mouse. I could probably kill two birds with one stone and head on over to the Times Square Sephora where I COULD actually take a picture with Minnie Mouse – Except Minnie Mouse is probably also the guy who stands on the corner holding the “Not going to lie, I need drug money” sign.

    Let’s be honest. We all know that scenario ends with me in fetal position underneath a park bench. Although after spending 15 minutes in ANY Sephora, I pretty much feel like that regardless.

    For those of you who are new here, my constant battle with Sephora and all things “foundation-y” is not a new thing. I am fundamentally bad at make-up. I recently convinced myself that I was hip enough to do that cat eye trick with black eyeliner, and a good friend of mine kindly pointed out that my swoops were crooked.

    And trust me, saying, “I’m not good at make-up” isn’t like when someone says, “I don’t like TV” to make themselves sound important. I LIKE make-up, on other people. I see someone looking effortlessly chic with just the right amount of je ne sais quoi, and my inner girly-girl goes:

    “BUT HOWWWWW?!?!?!?!?!?”

    I also have this problem with risk taking, in which I do not take them in make-up land. I asked a sales person in the store tonight to help me pick out a “fun lipstick shade” because I’m generally boring with lipstick. The unsuspecting sales lady brought me over to the Nars section, and I proceeded to make an awkward joke out loud, (WHY, GOD? WHY?), about how Nars rhymes with Mars.

    The sales lady did not laugh.

    After toying around with a few different colors, we settled on a pink shade, because EVERY lip color I own is a “nude” shade.  They probably wouldn’t even be considered colors, or shades, or whatever the correct terminology is. Actually, I own one feisty red color that I pull out when I’m feeling especially dangerous.

    And by dangerous, I mean weddings.

    The woman picked up a hot pink lipstick and checked the bottom.

    Sales Person: “This is ‘Funny Face’ by Nars.”
    Me: *Blank Stare*
    Sales Person: “It’s one of the more popular pinks!”
    Me: *Blank Stare*
    Sales Person: “Would you like to try it on?”
    Me: “Who gets to pick the names? Funny Face doesn’t sound too comforting if it’s going on MY face.”
    Sales Person: *Blank Stare*

    Guys, I looked like Nicki Minaj. White Nicki Minaj. White Nicki Minaj wearing a flannel and a pony tail. It was bad. At least I didn’t start rapping “Super Bass”. Or twerking.

    She then took me to the “Smashbox” counter, where I made a joke about how they must have taken their name from “Smashmouth”…Yes…Like, the band.

    Note to self: Space Jokes and 90’s band references are not appreciated in Sephora.

    You know what I’ve learned is also not appreciated in Sephora? My presence.

    It’s cool though, because after gathering my dignity in my black little make-up basket, I picked out a new lip color by Clinique.

    Nude. Except it’s not JUST Nude. It’s…”Heaping Hazelnut.”

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    Feelings That Never Leave You

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    “It’s going to be okay, honey.”
    “No. It’s not going to be okay. You still have another child, but I lost my only brother.”

    I didn’t realize fifteen years after yelling those words across an empty room, that those would be the words I’d still remember. I didn’t realize sitting on my brother’s nursing home bed, that fifteen years later I’d remember, despite having just eaten strawberry ice cream out of a Styrofoam cup, how entirely empty I felt at the time. I didn’t realize how small I would feel sitting on my brother’s bed without him, and how feeling small in an empty bed would come back to me every year on that day. I didn’t realize I’d remember desperately trying to peel off and save all the stickers I’d placed at the foot of his bed after every hospital visit. I didn’t realize I’d remember thinking my father was joking when he told me Josh was gone

    I didn’t realize I’d question how a person’s whole life could fit into a few cardboard boxes, or that I’d remember yanking the tape off of the boxes my parents had packed up, thinking that if I unpacked them all, I could put his life back together.

    Those types of feelings just never leave you.

    This year, on the anniversary of Josh’s death, I sat in my Brooklyn apartment in bed alone and stared at a picture of my dad holding Josh when he was a baby. It’s a picture I stole from a photo album years ago that I keep at the bottom of my desk drawer, hidden under blank cards for special occasions, and old journals that I don’t read anymore, but still feel the need to hold onto in fear of forgetting my memories.

    I think that’s how I used to approach talking about my brother. A friend of mine in high school told me that when I talked about Josh, my eyes would gloss over and become foggy, speaking as if I had rehearsed my script and knew what my lines were. For a long time, that’s exactly how it was. There were several things I knew I could say about Josh that were impersonal enough to keep me safe from really feeling anything. They would also keep the person I was speaking to safe from feeling awkward about the fact that they had just asked if I had any siblings and I responded, “No, my brother passed away.”

    So awkward. SO awkward in a way that I can’t even describe. And I hate more than anything that something that happened in my life could make somebody else feel uncomfortable, but I guess that’s what death is to some people. Uncomfortable.

    Those types of feelings just never leave you.

    So for a while there, I kept memories of Josh buried underneath stacks of business cards and matches collected at restaurants, somewhere near my stapler, only to be opened on special occasions like college graduations and birthdays, where I would say something like, “I wish Josh could be here.” And my parents would say, “Us, too, honey. Us, too.”

    After sitting in bed for five hours this year on the day Josh passed, I realized I wasn’t doing Josh any justice by staining my brand new West Elm pillow cases and depriving myself of sunlight. I realized I still had a few of his t-shirts, all of my memories, and a few hours left in the day to celebrate his life. I realized how lucky I am to have known somebody who never knew what it was to feel resentment, who only knew how to love unconditionally, who never saw color, or gender, or race. I realized, had it not been for all the time I spent on the playground, the school bus, and even in the principal’s office defending other disabled children from being made fun of, that I would not be the woman I am today, capable of a kind of compassion that I hope to never lose sight of. I realized that I deserve for my eyes to light up, not gloss over, when I talk about my brother, because so few people were able to experience him the way that I did.

    I realized that his life never needed to be put back together, because it never actually fell apart, and his life was so much more than taped up cardboard boxes. The truth is, fifteen years ago a tragic event occurred in my life, and that sometimes, bad things happen so that worse things don’t.

    And those types of feelings, well, they never leave you either. <3

    (Reader Question) Off the Beaten Path

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    A while back I received an awesome question from Kelly over at Manhattan Red:

    “What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path place in NY? I made a vow to do one “touristy thing” each week this summer, but I also have my appreciation for those little, unheard-of places.”

    I was just talking to somebody the other day about the difference between living in New York and visiting New York, a conversation which stemmed from my often talked about general disliking of Times Square during the day…Particularly in summer…It’s ACTUALLY like being stuck stationary in a car while a herd of 8,000 cows takes three hours to cross the road. It’s what I imagine Hell to be like. Hell, with Elmo, Spiderman, and Buzz Light-year. Except It’s not really Elmo, Spiderman, and Buzz Light-year, but rather sweaty people dressed as Elmo, Spiderman, and Buzz Light-year trying to take five bucks from you for a picture.

    Seriously. It’s my personal Hell. I’ll admit (reluctantly) that there IS something magical about Times Square at night when everything is lit up and the temperature drops below 80 degrees.

    I have a sincere appreciation for the tourist attractions of New York City. Seeing the city from the top of the Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center, or the Empire State Building WILL take your breath away. I’ve never felt smaller. You’ll see this grand skyline before you and wonder how you ever thought you mattered. I’ve been in the Financial District countless times for client meetings, and every time I know I’m going to be in the area, I’ll arrive 20 minutes early so I can take a walk by St Paul’s Chapel just next to Ground Zero. Not once have I stood outside of that building and not cried. And every time I pass the Flat Iron building, I stop in my tracks and look up. I’ve waited in line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park at least ten times.

    There is something to be said for the parts of New York that are exposed to the every day tourists. There is also something to be said for allowing yourself to feel like an every day tourist, even in the town you’re living in.

    I truly fell in love with New York (A feeling that has taken a long time to grow deep inside of me. You may remember a time when I thought that I hated New York) because there are so many parts of this city that go unnoticed by people who don’t take the time to discover them. There are vulnerable parts of this city that whisper so quietly, you wouldn’t know they were there if you were too busy following Googlemap directions on your phone.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say ALL of these places are “hole-in-the-wall”, or “off the beaten path”. but I would say that I discovered them through nights spent talking with good friends for five hours in the company of candle light, made momentous life discoveries, changed career paths, poured my heart out, and have been forever changed by some of them. They are places I have laughed so hard I’ve almost spit my drink out, places I’ve had tipsy conversations, places I’ve danced, places I’ve chowwed down at, places I’ve casually and often accidentally strolled through with my Nikon, and places I’ll keep going back to as long as I live in this city.

    Pouring Ribbons – Between the bartenders wearing vintage vests and bowties and the swanky circular wooden tabletops, it would be a shame to miss out on this hidden gem of a bar in the East Village. (Though marked only by a small green awning, easy to physically miss, so keep your eyes peeled). I only recently discovered this place after it was recommended to me by a coworker. BONUS – One of the best Manhattans I’ve ever sipped on.

    Smorgasburg/Brooklyn Flea – When all else fails in the spring/summer, the Smorgasburg on a Saturday and the Brooklyn Flea Market on a Sunday are a few of my go-to spots. Located on Kent in Williamsurg, Smorgasburg is an outdoor flea market of sorts, where all of the best local vendors come and set up stands. I think I could actually eat ALL the food at Smorgasburg. I highly recommend Milktruck Grilled Cheese and S’more Bakery. (Yes, they actually TORCH your marshmallow. So badass.

    Primp and Polish – While I grew up being quite sporty, and…well…let’s just say I was known to spend a few hours playing Nintendo in my day (Paperboy…hollerrrr), I do actually enjoy girly things also. I was mostly against manicures because they would chip playing Basketball, Volleyball, and playing guitar – and that’s just wasted money! Then some genius invented gel manicures and it was so. If you’re looking for a place to get your nails done, Primp and Polish is a dream. (Also recommended by one of my coworkers. It’s a good thing I work with such a cool people).

    Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co – If you’re in Brooklyn and you haven’t stopped in Odd Fellows for two scoops, you’re simply not doing it right. With flavors like Miso Butterscotch Cherry, PBJ with Toast, Maple-Bacon Pecan, and Blueberry Buttermilk, you have NO excuse not to go.

    Elsa – As you can probably tell, I have a mad love affair with the Lower East Side. Don’t tell Brooklyn. I’ve probably laughed the hardest I’ve ever laughed in Elsa, which I think says something about its intimate environment. Part of you wants to whisper to the person you’re sitting across from, yet its vibe is both comfortable and welcoming. Most noticeably, the Elsa bartenders are friendly, accommodating, and no strangers to five-hour-long catch-ups. Like a good friend, Elsa never rushes you out the door, even long after you’ve finished ordering.

    Rue B – Located on Ave B, I highly recommend Rue B. If you’re a fan of Live Jazz music and huge portraits of your favorite classic actors and musicians (so a less tacky Hard Rock Café), check this place out. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was hanging picture of James Dean. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for somewhere casual, but not at all divey.

    Rocco’s – I grew up in the Boston area, and coming from a small town I’m a huge fan of family owned businesses. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably heard me swoon over the Cannolis at Mikes Pasty in the Italian North End of Boston. Rocco’s is the Mike’s Pastry of New York. Skip the expensive cupcakes and take a trip to the West Village for a black & white cannoli or a slice of fruit topped cheesecake.

    The High Line – I guess some people could consider this a little touristy, but I had no idea what The High Line was prior to living in New York. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The High Line is an old elevated freight line turned walk through park/garden in the Meatpacking District. It’s a gorgeous one mile walk filled with parts of the old train tracks, along with sculptures, greenery, and art displays. Since it IS a path, I’m definitely hesitant to say it’s “off the beaten path” but still worth checking out!

    Night Hawk Cinema – Without a doubt the coolest cinema I’ve ever been to. Situated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they serve specialty cocktails that go along with the movie you’re viewing. I most recently saw The Bling Ring at the Night Hawk, and the service was awesome. I was even more surprised that the servers were able to navigate up and down the dark aisles without falling over/blocking your view. It has a super laid back vibe and offers a great mix of new and old movies.

    If you’re a New York City dweller like myself, or you’ve been here a handful of times to have hidden gems of your own, please feel free to share! Thanks, Kelly, for a fantastic question! I’m planning on doing another installment like this in a few months.

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    Findingravity + Portovelo Shoes GIVEAWAY!!

    Do you like shoes? (Um…OF COURSE!)
    Do you like giveaways? (EVEN BETTER!)
    Do you like travel and adventure? (To foreign countries. Or, ya know, to Mars? Or even simply to the thrift store on a casual Saturday. As Honey Boo Boo would say…#Dollamakemeholla!)

    Findingravity – Portovelo in NYC.

    Do you like videos starring yours truly, featuring dancing with percussion bands and juggling apples? (Well, duh.)

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    Portovelo Shoes wants you to get moving.

    It doesn’t matter where you plan on going, just go. Peel the covers back and let the dripping sunlight graze your bare legs. Try on five different outfits, make your mind up, and change it again.

    You’re allowed to change your mind.
    You’re ALWAYS allowed to change your mind.

    Find your shoes. Don’t just walk down the steps, dance. Feel each bouncing step beneath your feet. Play a song so many times on repeat that it gets stuck in your head. Let that be the soundtrack to your day.

    I’m teaming up with Portovelo Shoes to give away a pair of these cute sneaks just in time for Fourth of July weekend, since these shoes so conveniently come in perfectly patriotic colors. So whether you’re planning a cross country trip or an adventure in the city, get moving. But rest assured your feet will be traveling in comfort AND style. (Ahemmm…Double Whammy!)

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    To enter the giveaway is quite simple:

    *Mandatory*

    Go on Twitter, follow Portovelo Shoes, and send a tweet to @PortoveloShoes with the hashtag #PortoveloShoesGiveaway, letting them know where you’d go in your Portovelos.

    A few starter tweets:

    “I’d do the Dougie in my @PortoveloShoes. #PortoveloShoesGiveaway”
    “I’d become the sixth member of One Direction in my @PortoveloShoes! #PortoveloShoesGiveaway”
    “I’d take a EuroTrip with my friend @carbarton in my @PortoveloShoes! #PortoveloShoesGiveaway”

    *Optional bonus entries*

    You’ll qualify for additional entries if you do any of the following:
    -Leave a comment below letting me know where you’d go in your Portovelo Shoes.
    -Like the Portovelo Facebook Page and leave a comment letting them know that Findingravity sent you.
    -Find a way to get Joseph Gordon-Levitt to go on a date with me.

    All entries must be in by July 1st. I’ll be announcing the winner at 11 am on July 1st, and you’ll have two hours to claim your prize.

    Any questions? Let’s chat!

    Embracing the Unknown

    Two weeks ago, I quit my job.

    Wait, WHAT? I know.

    I don’t speak of my job very often on my blog…On purpose.

    I view my blog as an open, vulnerable, honest space. I’m pretty keen on letting you guys into the weird little corners of my life, especially when it involves that time my family had to pay me to go on the Jaws ride due to my irrational fear of anything sharky…and…you know…the fact that I’m 25 and I still don’t really know how to use make up. That being said, much like in a relationship, I think it’s important to have parts of your life that are reserved for you. Whether that’s a hobby, a job, a journal, whatever it is, find something and choose not to share it with everyone. Keep a few secrets sacred.

    It’s kind of like being a spy. Kind of.

    Let me preface all of this by saying that I loved my job. I loved the people at my job. I loved the office, the location, and my CEO. I loved my teams, the brands I worked on, and my role at the company. I loved that my job was the reason I moved to New York City, and that it was the launch pad for my career. I love everything thing it’s taught me about myself, and I feel good knowing it is a place I will always feel connected to.

    That being said, I knew deep down it was time to go exploring. A sort of spelunking if you will.

    I had no back up plan in place…On purpose.

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    I think sometimes we become so wrapped up in looking into the future, that we forget where we are and what we’re feeling right now. There is a lot of validity in the now, but often we are so afraid of the answers, that we stop asking the important questions. These questions are different for everyone. Every year I try to evaluate where I’m at by asking myself questions and doing my best to answer them honestly. After a year with my company, I knew I had a few questions that needed to be be answered.

    This time around those questions were:

  • Am I happy?
  • Am I being challenged enough?
  • Do I feel creatively fulfilled and utilized everyday?
  • Am I growing personally and professionally?


  • I always seem to put a lot of thought into the many scenarios that could play out. It can be a vice, because I tend to spend hours over thinking things, but it’s nice in the sense that once my mind is made up I go into tackle mode. I zero in on whatever it is and charge full speed ahead. (Note: This is not generally applied to people. Have no fear, if I see you on the street and I want to give you a hug, I won’t charge and tackle you).

    Once I took the time to answer those questions, I knew exactly what I needed. I needed to take a few weeks to recharge my creative batteries. I needed to spend a little time with family. I needed to get out of the city, smell the fresh air, dig my toes into the sand, go kayaking, stay up until 1am with my best friend having deep life chats, start fresh, and MOSTLY I really needed to learn how to do that hat flip trick that I always see the kids in the subway cars doing.

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    I’m getting there. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a vine of my many failed hat flip attempts.

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    I just needed to embrace the unknown, a concept I am still trying to work my way through. Not knowing is kind of scary. To some extent, we never REALLY know anything, we just think we do. We think we need more of this or less of that and we try our best to adjust accordingly. I wanted to experience letting go of something, bravely, without feeling like I had to plan my next ten steps. What actually ended up happening was kind of serendipitous.

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    I stumbled upon a company that I knew had a lot to offer me creatively, intellectually, and professionally. I knew the moment I found them, that it was a company I had to work for. I applied the day before giving my two weeks notice.

    I start Monday.

    So cheers to the unknown. To not having everything perfectly planned out. To going after what you want for yourself, for your career, for your love life, for your future. Cheers to listening to your head sometimes, but following your heart. Cheers to wildly chasing your dreams when you’re young. To losing and finding balance. To knowing what you’re capable of. Cheers to, “Why?” Cheers to, “Why not?” Cheers to asking yourself scary questions and answering them honestly.

    Cheers to it’s never too late.

    Cheers to taking a chance on something good, because nothing good ever gets away.