Findingravity, it’s been real. Fistbump.

I’m just going to cut right to the heart of this post:

Sometimes I have these moments of panic where I’m like, “WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING?” Why is this not your career? Why aren’t you doing this thing that you love that you’ve been doing since you were four when your preschool teacher wrote in your student journal, “Carley spends a lot of time at the writing station, I think she’s destined to be a writer.”

And that’s a scary thing to think about – that maybe I’m doing this whole thing wrong. I know there isn’t really a way to do this thing “right”, because really, we’re all getting out of bed every day and doing the best we can. Still, it’s a scary thing to consciously accept that there’s this gift that I’m neglecting.

I don’t mean to say “gift” implying that I’ve been “gifted” with this incredible talent, because I haven’t. There are millions of writers out there who I admire, and are more talented than I am. There are millions of writers out there who are getting PAID to be more talented than I am.  But it’s a gift in the sense that I have an out. I have something to turn to. A place to go and people who listen (whether or not they want to is not something I can comment on. My family, friends, and the Internet have been extremely kind and gracious in choosing to read the words I constantly force upon them).

Is it a gift to have something you love to do?
Yes.
Is it a damn shame not to make it your career?
Maybe.

I have a very real fear that the thing I love so much could become work that I hate if I made it my life’s work. I KNOW THAT IS A CRAZY THING TO THINK. But it’s a thing that I think about often. I’ve seen, known, and loved people whose work has driven them absolutely insane, and maybe I’m being selfish here, but I don’t want the beautiful relationship I have with my writing to become a thing that I’m putting off because I’d rather be watching Mad Men. (Okay, I said Mad Men to sound trendy but maybe I meant New Girl. Whatever.)

And none of this is to say that I’m not happy with my career at the moment, because I’m fortunate to wake up every day and work with an incredible team filled with people I truly value and want to be around. I get to work on projects that are so damn inspiring that suddenly I’m walking home from an impromptu evening work meeting on a random Tuesday and I’m hit with this overwhelming feeling of, “Holy shit, people are so cool – their ideas, and their dreams, and their brains are JUST SO BIG AND COOL.”

But sometimes, the writing half of me shouts, “Hey! What about me? I’m cool, too!”

Which leads me to my next point:

I’ve been the proud owner of Findingravity for coming up on three years, and sometimes you work on something for three years and it carries you through the rest of your life. But other times, you outgrow things. You outgrow mindsets, and belief systems, and even people. Sometimes you rediscover them and you try to make them fit, like finding your old prom dress. And you take it off the hanger and hold it up to your body, and you try to squeeze into it. When it doesn’t fit, you’re a little crushed, because when you find that sorbet green tulle trailing beauty, for a moment, you wish you could be 18 again.

And you learn that as humans we are elastic, and resilient, and we really can stretch much, much further than we ever thought we could. That it’s actually healthy to outgrow. Sometimes, I read this blog, and despite it being filled with wonderful experiences that I’m unequivocally proud of, I feel heavy and sad all at once. This space is completely emblematic of where I was at very nebulous time in my life. Not knowing what I wanted, moving to a new city, embarking on this journey that, as a woman, has been so important in shaping who I’ve become. But now, I feel like I’m in a different point in my life.

I feel like I’m a different person. Part of growing into who I am and who I want to be in my adult life means learning how to challenge the people and places and parts of myself I’m too comfortable with. Life is really just about being brave enough to ask really difficult questions, and figuring out how to move forward no matter the answer. For me, right now, life is about learning how to cut through the middle of all the bullshit, and doing so with compassion and kindness, while not sacrificing my value. (I can say bullshit and compassion in the same sentence, right?)

I want the hub that houses my personal writing to demonstrate that sentiment.

I want to write for my blog again, and I WILL write for my blog again, and I hope that you are all still here when I do (because I love you all). That said, I want the place that I write to represent me accurately, and the truth is, right now it doesn’t. It’s going to take a few months of soul searching and digging and rejiggering, and design hounding, but I plan to relaunch a new blog hopefully between now and the New Year. A place that is home. It’s probably the first step in making writing a thing that I actually DO, you know, as part of my external, public facing life. It’s also probably going to occupy every spare moment of my free time to the point where it’s Saturday night and I’m locked away eating soup from a package.

It’s been a long time since I’ve poured myself into my writing, but it will all be worth it.

I’ll see you guys on the other side of whatever it is I’m about to do.

All of this is to say: Findingravity, it’s been real. Fist bump into explosion.

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“Strong Woman” Marketing: Not The Title Of A New Ad Agency

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Being a woman whose career has spanned advertising, social media marketing, and public relations, my feelings toward large, national, and particularly inspirational brand campaigns have been tainted. The reality is that behind every large marketing stunt telling a group of people that they’re worthy of love, or education, or even equal pay (for real though, equal pay), is a company making millions of dollars banking on the fact that their customers will relate to their brand. That their brand will feel “human”. That a new insecure consumer will surface and they’ll immediately be able to piggy back off of, and make money from, whatever self-doubt they have.

That’s not to say it’s not brilliant, it’s just that as a woman working in this field, it’s hard to believe that any brand selling me on being a “strong woman” truly gives an honest shit about me being a “strong woman”. You want to sell me soap, so you’re going to tell me that the kind of beauty I possess is realistic and barefaced, natural even. You want to sell me underwear, which is as next-to-nothing as I can get before going completely nude, so you’re going to chill out on the photoshop because naked people aren’t intrinsically smooth all over. You’ll do this parallel to plastering messaging about the models in your advertising campaigns not being photoshopped on every billboard across Manhattan. You want to sell me menstrual pads, so you’ll probably also want to sell me on feeling powerful, confident, and strong, because what woman in 2014 doesn’t want to feel those things?

Sounds cynical, right? That’s because it is.

That said, when I put down my critical thinking cap and take off my advertising cloak — two invisible articles of clothing I try to put on every morning, before I wash my face with your product, wear your product, or apply your product liberally to my forehead wrinkles (…I’m 26 and I have forehead wrinkles, what do you want to sell me?) I ask myself one honest question:

“What is one thing I’d like to see change about the media?”

I can say, without hesitation, that the #1 thing I would like to change is the way women are portrayed.

Last week, Always embarked on a new campaign called #LikeAGirl. The basis of the campaign poignantly points out that when young adults are asked to demonstrate various actions “like a girl”, they act in a way that is flimsy, weak, and melodramatic. When children are asked, however, they demonstrate the only way they know how. They run, fight, and throw furiously, like a girl, the same way a boy would, presumably before the age at which they are digesting media that tells them otherwise. It successfully capitalizes the feelings that span prepubescent girls learning about their changing bodies, pubescent teens experiencing the physical inconveniences that come with being a girl, and adult women, like myself. Grown ups in a world where doing “X” like a woman still never really feels as commanding as it would if I were a man (or recently, an arts and crafts chain).

It’s hard to feel like you can ever win in the media, when half of the magazines, networks, and brands out there are telling you that you need X, Y, and Z to make him feel hot. That your ass isn’t fat enough, that your stomach isn’t flat enough, that men can be confident in the board room but women should be confident in the bedroom. Sure, it’s easy to say that undoubtedly Dove, Arie, and Always’ sales have, and will spike due to the inspirational nature of these campaigns, but maybe, just maybe, they are pioneering a new branding trend, spawning a shift in the way marketers think women want to be spoken to.

Brands have both the power and responsibility to play a strong hand in the way culture shifts. If given the choice, I’d rather have big brands and companies, brands that I’ve represented and worked with, global and corporate conglomerates that have female brand managers, CEOs, and presidents, pushing out messaging that shines a positive light on what it means to be a female. That we ARE strong. That we ARE smart. That we ARE capable. Women everywhere are fighting the good fight to be seen not as extensions of our male counterparts, but as equals, and it is encouraging to see brands fighting the good fight alongside us. No, we don’t need to buy your soap, underwear, or feminine care products to feel good about ourselves, but as a woman I can at least appreciate a brand that isn’t shoving “15 tips and tricks to making your nether regions look, smell, and be more attractive to the male species” messaging down my throat.

Perhaps we’ll see more of these ads infiltrating television, the Internet, and women’s magazines, and in turn, infiltrating the minds of the impressionable young women (and men) consuming them.

Note: This post originally appeared on Medium. For more of my writing on Medium, click here!

Kind and Gentle

 

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You know you’ve reached a new level of sleep deprived when you’ve started tracking your sleep on an iPhone app.(No, seriously…I’ve been TRACKING my sleep on an iphone app).

I’ve tried everything from not drinking coffee (haha, jk, neverrrrrr), to yoga, to going to bed earlier, to guided Sunday night meditations. Alas, I have simply not been able to sleep for oh, I don’t know, about two months. I even started writing down my thoughts before getting in bed at night and upon waking up in the morning to see if there was any correlation between how I was sleeping and what I was thinking about. Maybe if I could figure out exactly what was on my mind, I could get a better feel for where my brain was at.

What I realized was that between relationship stress, social stress, work stress, money stress, and everything in between stress, a lot goes on in my dome piece. Perhaps one of the most interesting “findings” was how inwardly hard on myself I was being about not sleeping. I was actually beating myself up for not being able to sleep – which was probably wasting a ton of mental energy itself. And for what gain?

Often times the best way to solve a problem is to drop it entirely.
To stop making it a problem.
So, at 10pm last week, I decided to drop it all.

I crawled in bed at 10pm and turned out all of the lights. Usually I stick a movie or show on at night (ok, I’ll come clean, it’s almost always “Friends” or “New Girl”) but this was something entirely new and foreign. I had intention. In a moment of desperation, I lit a candle on each side of my bed, put on some soft music across the room, shut my laptop, turned off my television, crawled into bed in my underwear (it’s getting real, I just said underwear), and something happened.

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As I lay there in my glowing room, free from my smart phone, free from my television, free from my planner, my google calendar, and my sleeping apps, I felt myself breathing differently. I placed one hand on my heart and another on my stomach, and I felt the gliding rise and fall. It felt like months of weight and energy that had been bouncing around inside the walls of my body had finally found a place to go.

Out.

I didn’t think, or move, or speak, out of fear that the feeling of complete peace would go away. I just lay there in the dark for fifteen minutes in solitude.

Sometimes the feeling of being alone is a scary thing, but damn it felt good.

So, with one of my new favorite bands playing in the background (Penny and Sparrow – check ‘em out) I blew out the candles, and dozed off.
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I know – this is actually just a post about falling asleep, but I think it’s important. It’s bigger than the fact that I NEEDED to not feel like a zombie. (But, guys, I NEEDED to not feel like a zombie). It was more that I needed to just feel okay. I needed to be a little friendlier to myself, to accept that I was so tired, that thinking about being tired was actually more tiresome. And I did – I reached a point of self acceptance, where I could just acknowledge that a lot was happening, but I was allowed to be alone on my room in the dark and feel good about myself. It had nothing to do with success or failure at work, with success or failure in relationships, or any type of success or failure. It also had nothing to do with tracking what I was feeling, watching, reading, listening to, drinking, eating, and onward – because that’s just taxing.

It felt good just to exist and be kind and gentle with myself.

So let’s all just try to be kind and gentle with ourselves this week.

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