Getting Comfortable With Wrong.

This monologue is the introduction to my talk on design at LevelUpCon.

It was the summer of 2004 and I was at a crossroads between accepting my dream internship as a graphic designer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or accepting a full time job as a graphic designer in Washington, D.C. at…. FOX Architects. I remember this moment like it was yesterday and I was terrified that I was going to make the wrong choice.

I had just packed up everything I owned, living through four of the best years of my life at RIT, and I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. Putting it mildly, I was at an all time low (at the age of 21 with two job opportunities in front of me). I put my head down on the cold tile tabletop and closed my eyes. I began to imagine what my life might look like if I followed my then “dream” and many questions ensued: What are the chances the MET would hire me full-time after my internship was done? How would I like living with my parents and riding a bus one-and-a-half hours into and out of the city each day? Why is college over? How did four years go by so fast? Why me?

I wasn’t getting any closer to a decision.

All my life I knew I was going to be an artist. I studied artists. I painted like artists. I drew like artists. I read books about artists. I hung out with artists. I lived at art museums. I worked at an art museum. I even created a binder that had a page for each art museum in the United States and the MET was page number one. I had done everything I needed to do to be considered by the “mecca” of all art museums, and they accepted me.

My decision seems to have had an obvious choice, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time. From a very young age, my parents taught me, my brother and my sister that we need to consider what was “reasonable” in order to ensure a financially secure future. So I wondered, was a low paying internship at my dream job, reasonable? A full-time job at a no-name architecture firm, on the other hand, was reasonable… right?

So I packed up my blue 1996 Honda Civic with manual transmission and moved to Northern Virginia on June 17, 2004. No other date is burned into my mind like that one.

I look back ten years later and try to soothe my inner artist. She thinks I made the biggest mistake of my life – it was the wrong choice. A complete failure. But the truth is: I am not unhappy with anything that has transpired over the last decade. In fact, I consider myself incredibly lucky that I now own my own business where I enjoy working with hand-selected clients all while making a very comfortable living. Deep down in the pit of my stomach I know I settled, but does that mean I made the wrong decision?

We put so much pressure on making the wrong choice that sometimes we forget to consider what it is that we really want. It’s nothing short of fear, worry and doubt. We worry we won’t be good enough, we fear for our financial security and we doubt the choices we’ve made. It’s possible to stand in this paralyzing mental framework of wrong and compare our decisions to what could have been instead of having the strength to imagine what will be, no matter how we choose.

My dear friend Debbie Millman recently produced a visual essay, Fail Safe, in which she tells a similar story about having the courage to fail. Her conclusion really resonated with me:

In the grand scheme of life, maybe (just maybe) it is not about knowing or not knowing, choosing or not choosing. Perhaps what is truly known can’t be described or articulated by creativity or logic, science or art—but perhaps by the most authentic and meaningful combination of the two: poetry. As Robert Frost once wrote, “A poem beings as a lump in the throat, sense of wrong, a homesickness, a love sickness. It’s never a thought to begin with.”

It’s really really scary to follow your dreams, no matter if you do or if you don’t. You will fail at something at some point along your journey. When you do:

Pick yourself up.

Dust yourself off.

Check your blind spot, and then have the courage to get back in the damn game. We’re waiting for you.

180 miles TO. END. CANCER.

To be quite frank, I’m so sick and tired of cancer. I hate it. I hate how it takes away my friends and loved ones. I hate how it affects healthy young people. I hate how it selfishly takes away memories and years. This is why I’ve decided to ride 180 miles again this year in an effort to raise $2,200 for cancer research.

Last year I rode 180 miles with Team Speranza to celebrate the life and memory of a dear family friend, Phil Krause. Here are some images from that ride in 2011:

Phil was a selfless light. He brought laughter, love and hope to everyone around him. He was my Uncle’s best friend. He was my Cousin’s Godfather. He was a brother and a dear friend. He was my mentor.

Phil taught me many things, but the one thing that he always reminded me to do was to ENJOY every single moment of my life. He told me to revel in it and marvel at it. He always told me to use all of my talents to make each day better than the last one.

Pelotonia 11 was such a memorable experience. I enjoyed every single solitary moment of it. Pelotonia 11 was the fruition of everything Phil taught me about enjoying life, and I can’t imagine not riding Pelotonia 12 in his memory for another year.

I hope you can support me through messages, donations and love! Here is a link to my rider profile for more information on making a donation. I plan to write more consistently this year about my training and progress as Pelotonia 12 approaches. Stay tuned for updates! Thank you for your support!

Sad UP. Confident Jawbone.

I was more excited for that Jawbone UP then I really should have been. Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t really think it was going to be the answer to a more active lifestyle, but I was excited to track my progress, patterns and use it to my fitness advantage.

A mere three days after my upbeat and optimistic blog post, my UP vibrated and died. No more tracking. No more patters. No more movement alerts. Seriously? Yep. I should have just gotten the FITBIT. Maybe I still will.

Then, after tweeting about my broken and sad-faced UP, a friend of mine sent me this link. Too ironic right? That never happens to me. The article states:

Jawbone has released an announcement that it will offer a no-questions-asked refund policy on the UP in order to win back customer confidence.

I submitted my information and yesterday I got my refund in the mail. Nope, they weren’t kidding.

I’m not sure if this has really changed my opinion of the UP. After all, I did buy it from the Apple store and I’m sure they would have taken it back.

Overall thoughts: The data it collected was interesting, but not ground breaking. Again, the sleep data was by far the most interesting but not necessary. It didn’t help me sleep better, in fact I probably slept worse knowing it was tracking me ALL NIGHT LONG. The feature that allows you to compete against other people was motivating. I was waiting for my sister to get one and the day she did mine stopped working. Hilarious.

Overall great idea — I’m anxious to see what they come out with as an adaption to the UP. Will I buy it? Maybe. I haven’t lost my confidence in Jawbone.

Finding your truth and the F word.

I was surfing my TED subscription on YouTube and came across Gabrielle Bernstein‘s TEDxFiDiWomen Talk. I can’t recall how I heard of Bernstein, but she’s a motivational speaker and author of Add More Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness . She also has a YouTube channel that I subscribe to and quite enjoy. She posts short vlogs on recent thoughts or just general words of motivation.

Her TED Talk below put me in a good mood yesterday and convinced me that I need to start living beyond my wildest dreams, every day.

26 Days of UP by Jawbone

Yeah so Hi. It’s been a while since my last post on my favorite smoothies. I’ve started and stopped several posts until NOW.

Yesterday I purchased the UP by Jawbone and I am officially IN LOVE. UP is a new device created to track daily activities, specifically: eating, sleeping and movement to inspire healthier lifestyles. The device itself is a bracelet that you wear 24 hours a day. It collects data on steps, workouts and food intake during the day and sleep patterns at night. I really like the bracelet because it’s both stylish (IMO) and comfortable. I forget I’m wearing it!

So far the most interesting data collected is while I’m sleeping. It tracks how often I wake up and whether I’m getting light or deep sleep. IT’S CRAZY! The first night I slept horribly — probably because I was anxious to get the reading as soon as I woke. This is what the reading looked like on my first day:

The other really cool feature is that you can set it as an alarm clock – a silent alarm clock that vibrates to gently wake you. The technology is designed to intelligently wake you at the ideal moment in your natural sleep cycle just before your desired wake time. This might be the best feature.

The active data is interesting – not sure how accurate it is though. I wore it to the gym today where I did cardio for over an hour – a mix of running, step and latter work. It couldn’t accurately calculate my steps on a machine, but it did calculate my time on the treadmill.

Another very cool feature is the movement reminder. Set an interval of time (I set mine at an hour) and your UP wristband will vibrate on your wrist to remind you to move when you’ve been inactive for too long. This could also be my favorite feature.

The food log is, eh OK. It tracks food with images you take with your phone, which is a great reminder but it can’t accurately tabulate calories through those images (that would be cool!). I wouldn’t suggest getting the UP solely to track food intake since the data collected isn’t giving a reading of anything useful if you are trying to count calories.

I’m anxious to use UP steadily for the remainder of the month of December. I’ll report back in January with a more accurate review once I’ve used it daily for 26 more days.

I met Gabrielle Bonheur tonight.

Breathtakingly gorgeous, Coco Before Chanel was an amazing look at the life of Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, the pioneering French fashion designer who’s menswear-inspired fashions with expensive simplicity make her one of the most important figures in the fashion industry, ever.

The film began as the quiet young Coco, at the age of 12 years, was dropped at the orphanage of Aubazine where she learned the trade of a seamstress. After six years in the orphanage she left and continued her work as a seamstress by day and a cabaret singer by night. She performed in clubs where the regulars called her “coco” after the songs she used to sing: Vous n’auriez pas vu Coco?

Chanel was a determined young woman. She was tough, hard working, dedicated to her craft and terribly ambitious. While living as a mistress with Étienne Balsan, a French textile heir, she continued her work in the tailoring shop then began designing hats as a hobby. She designed many hats for Balsan’s friend — the theater actress Gabrielle Dorziat which helped her gain recognition as a designer. Her hobby soon turned into a deep interest, a passion that took her to Paris and opened her eyes to the world of fashion.

After becoming a licensed hat maker (modiste) in 1910, Chanel opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris named Chanel Modes. She continued to design luxurious hats for Gabrielle Dorziat until the love of her life, Captain Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel, whom she met through Balsan, died it a tragic car accident. The film portrayed Chanel’s devastation as life changing, fully propelling her fashion design. She spent her days and all hours of the night developing her ideas into a career as a fashion designer.

The film’s cinematography was sensational. Each frame was gracefully articulate in color, composition, lighting. Here are a few frames in sequential order.











Watch the trailer and submerse yourself in Coco.

“Wired” to the iPad

I wasn’t sure I really cared about the iPad. I mean, how much more technology do I really need (I totally feel like my grandma saying that).

Here’s the thing: technology is changing the way we engage with each other and with content. The iPad is going to enable magazines to thrive again, using multidimensional experiences to re-engage with their audience. This is so cool! Check out this video by Wired on their new iPad App:

Yogurt & the 14-day Activia Challenge

I’m not sure if it was the money back guarantee or the fact that I was sick and tired of an upset belly on a daily basis, I tried the Activia 14 day Challenge. What did I have to lose ya know, especially since a 4-pack was on sale for $1.99 at Wegmans at the time.

Strawberry Activia

As most of you know, I just started writing professionally for Weight Lost Plans and as part of this week’s news assignment I decided to do a little research on probiotics and all their hype. First it’s important to understand that yogurt is made by introducing non-harmful bacteria into milk. All yogurts contain the starter cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. It’s significant to also note that between these two bacterial, there are a number of strains, and studies show that all of these strains are associated with reducing diarrhea, which means yogurt on it’s own is naturally good for your digestive system. Recently though, several manufacturers of yogurt — and other products — are beginning to add extra probiotic strains to their products in the hopes of providing extra health benefits and improved marketability.

According to a Johns Hopkins health Alert, Dannon Activia was the first yogurt to market itself as “probiotic,” meaning that it has added live bacterial cultures. The added bacterial that it contains is called Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010, otherwise known as Bifidus Regularis, a proprietary strain trademarked by Dannon. The interesting thing about this strain is that it has been shown to survive the trip through the digestive tract and reach the colon intact.

And so it began for me – almost a month ago I began the challenge. At first I didn’t really notice much, but about 3 days in I realized that I ended the day with no cramps or bloating as I normally have. By the weekend I totally forgot my mid morning yogurt snack and by Sunday my belly was noticeably rumble-ly. HUH! Back to focus on Monday and through the next weekend, I was hooked. This yogurt was really doing the trick and to this day I’m still eating it. Marketing ploy or not, the 14-day Activia Challege worked for me!