Tag Archives: Friendships

Book Review: Normal Gets You Nowhere

Note: This post contains explicit language

While on vacation, I read Kelly Cutrone‘s Normal Gets You Nowhere. This is her second book after the wildly popular If You Have to Cry, Go Outside. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, so I’m glad the opportunity presented itself on vacation. I was not disappointed; I couldn’t put the book down and finished before the cruise was over.

Normal Gets You NowhereCutrone’s straightforward attitude shined in this book, as she offers insights on topics including religion, empowering young girls and death. She holds nothing back and provides a fresh perspective on ideas that aren’t frequently challenged. Below are my favorite de-normalizing thoughts from Cutrone with my opinion mixed in.

  • Cutrone starts by telling everyone to figure out how they are sacred, magical and special. This is an individual truth that all must nurture and develop. In her words, “I want you to fuck the Earth with your energy.” We are each responsible for the energy we put out to the universe so we might as well put positive energy out there.
  • Next, she discussed the media and how society is overstimulated with ridiculous distractions. We should be challenging what is fed to us via the media, whether it be through traditional, digital or social channels. People are programmed to not dig deeper; we should ignore that programming and push the envelope.
  • In speaking about empowering young women, Cutrone talks about sexual repression and how we teach young girls to be coy but not how to be honest. Amen! All women should be comfortable talking about sex and empowered to say what they feel versus doing the norm.
  • I LOVED the chapter about holidays: Why celebrate and spend money on days you don’t believe in? Tailor holidays to your personal belief system and only back ideas you firmly believe in.
  • She describes life as a bank account: random acts of kindness and telling truths are the deposits. Kelly CutroneBeing stupid and messing with others are withdrawals. If we give more than we take, we progress. I couldn’t agree more with this concept. It ties back to the energy we put out there – the more good we put out, the more good we shall receive.
  • Your “no matter what” club: The people who you would do anything for, not because they’d do it for but because you want to; because your life would not be the same without them. Sometimes, these people disappoint you and don’t progress as quickly as you do. That is not a reason to discard them. Do not let your ambition get in the way of this group of people.
  • Lastly, Cutrone approaches the topic of death with clarity and vulnerability, speaking about her grandparents’ and father’s passings. As someone who is still grieving, this chapter was hard but necessary to get through. You should plan your death, who’s there and how you want your life to be celebrated. That’s the key – death should be a celebration of someone’s life.

I could write another 500 words about Normal Gets You Nowhere and all of the examples Cutrone provides about why being normal isn’t the best way to live. To that end, I want to thank Kelly Cutrone for putting it out there and challenging the stereotypes. I also want to thank all of the women in my life: my mom, grandmothers, girlfriends and colleagues, who have embraced being different and have lived their lives on their terms versus others.

I highly recommend Normal Gets You Nowhere – you’ll feel inspired to think and live in a more authentic way. If you have read the book, please share your opinions in the comments section!

Cruising is a Girl’s Best Friend

I spent last week cruising the Caribbean with one of my best friends. I’m not sure what I was more excited about: my unlimited drink package or being able to lay in the sunlight for hours at end. I just couldn’t wait to get away and unwind.

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

One thing we didn’t plan for on the cruise was spring break. Being a bit removed from the college life, we completely forgot that the March is when most colleges have their spring break. Lucky us! Our ship was filled with college seniors letting loose and partying one more time before graduation. Most would be annoyed by this rowdy bunch but I was intrigued. I never went away on spring break during college. I wondered if I was ever as carefree as the group of girls we made friends with. Maybe..?

One thing about being on a cruise: If you’re remotely friendly or social, you will have an entourage following you by the end of the vacation. We literally had all sorts of people hanging out with us throughout the cruise. What can I say; we’re a good time!

At one point during the trip, I believe our new friends referred to me as Oprah. What an honor! I was talking to them about life after graduation. There’s advice people beat into your head, mostly around finding a job, being financially responsible and not burning bridges. What they don’t tell you is that the hardest part about graduating college and becoming adults is transitioning your friendships. In college, everyone has the same goal: to make it out alive (aka to graduate). After college, those goals and priorities shift and look different for each person. You’re going to have friends who get married right after college, choose to go to graduate school and some who might be a little lost. I said this to my new friends from UGA and the reaction I

Some of our friends from dinner

Some of our friends from dinner

got was priceless. No one had ever said that to them. Admittedly, they are worried about their friendships, people moving away and life changing. As I talked to them with one of my college best friends next to me, I was honest: it’s hard, you’ll argue, breakdown, freak out and cry..a lot. But just remember, not everyone grows up at the same time. No one’s dreams should look the same. Understanding and respecting that is the key to holding on to those friendships post college.

I love vacations because it gives me a chance to reflect about life. If I didn’t meet these girls, I don’t know if I would have thought about how graduating impacted my friendships. I might not have realized how blessed I am to have friends who respect each other’s decisions and understand one another’s journeys. It wasn’t a vacation of a lifetime, but I got to push pause on reality, let my thoughts unravel, dance until the sun rose and unplug from technology.

Tell me about your most recent vacation! Any big revelations or did you make any new friends?

My favorite picture of Haiti

My favorite picture of Haiti

London is Always a Good Idea

Have you ever wanted to just get on a plane and go, not caring where you went? That was my mindset earlier this year when my friend Lauren suggested we go to London to visit our Temple friends who were studying abroad. After some planning (I’m lucky, Lauren did everything), we were off on our London adventure earlier this month.

View from the top of the London Eye, my favorite!

View from the top of the London Eye, my favorite!

To say we were excited was an understatement. It was the first vacation we both were taking a vacation in a while and it certainly felt good to be able to afford such a trip. God bless Lauren for finding these AMAZING London passes that got us into pretty much everything: Kensington Palace, Winston Churchill War Rooms, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Thames River Tour, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. We managed to pack just the right amount to sightseeing into our week. To top it off, we also made our way to Paris midweek!

I’m not sure I can put into words how amazing this journey was. We didn’t rush but we didn’t waste a single minute. Each day was spent exploring, wandering and seeing incredible, historical masterpieces. No picture could capture the expansiveness of Tower Bridge, the view from the London Eye or the perfect architecture of the Eiffel Tower. You have to see it to believe it!

I went into this vacation wanting to decompress, to remember how fortunate I was and to enjoy a week away with one of my best friends. Maybe it was that I needed this trip or that I vowed to have an open, carefree attitude throughout, but whatever it was, my little week-long trip taught me about..

– Silence: People on the Tube (London’s subway) don’t talk to one another, aren’t on their cell phones and in turn, the ride is pretty quiet, much different from a Manhattan subway. I find silence very uncomfortable; it makes me feel like something is wrong, so I am constantly trying to fill the silence. Instead this time, I just let it be on the Tube and while wandering around. This almost calming silence allowed me to fully absorb everything I was experiencing.

– Intention: I’ve written about being more intentional and intentional choices before. But, for some reason that idea hit me again while abroad. It struck me most at Tate Modern where there were floors of Picasso and Dali masterpieces that were 100% intentional. With every stroke, they gave meaning, political or otherwise, to each one of their works. Seeing that made me want to be more intentional with my time, thoughts, everything.

– Friendship: I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know this before but I’ve found such an amazing friend in Lauren.

The only picture of us that wasn't a selfie!

The only picture of us that wasn’t a selfie!

I couldn’t imagine taking this trip with anyone else. There was a level of appreciation we both had for this trip, which made it 100 times better. She also managed not to kill me (big plus!) and we absolutely laughed our way through London.

– Travel: Another thing I knew but hadn’t experience in a while: Travel is essential to growing, evolving your perspective and becoming all you can be. It doesn’t matter where you go, who you go with or what you do, just go. While I feel like London is always a good idea, truthfully ANY travel is always a good idea! I now want to plan several more vacations because I came home feeling so recharged, appreciative and that I had learned something.

London was never on my bucket list but I am so glad Lauren pushed the idea on me. It was an exceptional week filled with history, wandering and overall good times. Now I can’t wait for the next adventure!

What places are on your bucket list? Any recommendations for my next journey? Please please please share!

Outside Abbey Road Studio, where the Beatles recorded. So cool!

Outside Abbey Road Studio, where the Beatles recorded. So cool!

The Blurred Line

Having about six months of work experience under my belt, I’ve gotten to attend a handful of professional events. Most were conferences at hotels that lasted several days. The atmosphere at these conferences can be more relaxed than when working in the office. This environment coupled with the prospect of free alcohol, causal dress and music can be a bit dangerous.

Most people understand that they are at a work function and maintain a level of professionalism. But after attending some of these events, it’s easy to see how the line between personal and professional can be blurred quite quickly. I’ve met some amazing individuals while working and connected with them on both a personal and professional level. While I do consider some of them friends and sounding boards, there is still a line I’m not willing to cross like at a work event.

cross_lineIn my opinion, drinking helps to cloud your judgement and make you forget that you are actually at work with colleagues and superiors. However, alcohol consumption is not the only way to cross the personal/professional line. Over-sharing personal information, using foul language and busting an inappropriate dance move can all contribute to a loss in credibility. As a younger professional, that is the last thing I want to do. But I’ll admit, it was hard in California to remember I was working and not on vacation. We were at a great location, in casual clothing and had the opportunity to relax after working all day. One could easily get caught up in all of that.

Based off my experience at these conferences, here are a few tips I thought of to maintain the personal/professional balance:

1. If you drink, know your limits. I’m a fan of alternating: one drink then one glass of water.Work Husband

2. Dress causal but still appropriately. No ripped jeans or cut-offs. If your grandmother would be embarrassed seeing you in a certain outfit, don’t wear it.

3. If you want to have a personal conversation, do it away from the rest of the team and more importantly, away from attendees.

4. Schedule time outside of work to meet and catch up with work friends. It will be more fun that way!

When working onsite events, it is especially easy to unwind too much and forget you’re at work. No one is saying don’t build friendships at work or celebrate with your work friends. But there is a time and a place for that. A work event is about the attendees, not the onsite team. I’m grateful that my team set high standards onsite this past week. It absolutely helped me maintain my professionalism.

To The Moon & Back

Today’s post has two purposes: celebrate my very first college friend’s birthday and continue on with the 30 Days of Truth Challenge. Let me first take you back five years ago to August 2008. I happened to get lucky and land the single room at the end of the 4th floor short side hallway in Peabody Residence Hall. The single was nice but the hall itself wasn’t. Yet, I created the absolute best memories there and made a lifelong friend in the process.

trishbdPoor Trish was the girl who lived next to me freshman year. I honestly think we became friends because I was so loud and she heard all of my conversations through the super thin Peabody walls. Thank God for those walls. She was my first real friend at Temple and five years later, she is one of my best friends and the most level-headed person I know. I often wonder how someone who is so calm and laid back could be a friend with someone as high-strung and insane as me. But she is and for that, I am very grateful. This leads me to the next Truth Challenge prompts:

Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.

Part one: While Trish and I have pretty much been friends for our entire college careers, there was a time when our relationship wasn’t as strong as it is today. This was due to a lot of things that have subsequently changed for a variety of reasons. That being said, I don’t ever want our friendship to go back to that place. I know I couldn’t live without Trish, her perspective on life that helps to keep me calm and grounded. In broader terms, I know I couldn’t live without my friends – maybe not the exact same people but an inner circle that I rely on for support and advice. My friends keep me going; without them, I don’t make sense.

Part two: There’s a laundry list of things (even people) I could live without. However, one thing I know I could live without is drama. That is one of the many things my friendship with Trish has taught me. The drama is just not worth it. Life is simply too short, as cliché as that sounds. Trish has the patience of a saint and is happy just being with people. She’s not high maintenance and reminds me that friendships (or any relationship really) shouldn’t be. There’s no need for drama; talk it and hug it out and things will be just fine.

moonMy life has changed more than ever since I started college. The one constant has been my friendship with Trish. She has consistently and happily shown up during the last five years. There’s no way I could ever express how grateful I am for that. I know I say that about all my friends but in reality, she has been the only there, on the ground with me at Temple for the entire time. The memories we have are priceless and hysterical. I know the future only holds more great things for us. Happy Birthday Trish!

It Started With An Email

“The most memorable people in your life will be the friends who loved you

when you weren’t very lovable”

bd3About two years ago in April, I sent an email that would change the course of my life more than I ever could have imagined. This live-changing email was accepting an executive board position with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I knew it would be a great resume booster and would be a position that challenged me. Little did I know what the next year and a half had in store for me.

I had been an active member of PRSSA for two years so I knew the members and the executive board. When I accepted the position as well as one with PRowl Public Relations, 95 percent of the rising EBOARD as well as the graduating seniors thought I was insane. They were probably right but one person knew I could handle it. And within the last year and a half, that person has become my person.

If you asked me to describe my friendship with Lauren, I honestly don’t think I could. We talk all day everyday, send the same message at the same time to each other at least once a week and have managed to see each other monthly despite working and living in two different cities. I guess it’s hard to put it into words because it just works. It started one day at Templefest and the rest is history. We’re on the same wavelength, we can anticipate each other’s reactions and value each other’s opinion no matter how honest they may be.

Ask anyone who knows us and they’ll tell you there’s no one quite like us. We’ve been known to call andIMG_0157 sing into the phone at all hours of the night, bicker over where to eat dinner and drop pretty much anything to watch Scandal. One day, Lauren will become Olivia Pope, I’m sure of it. More than anything, we keep it real. There’s no lying, no hiding emotions, no pretending everything is okay when it’s not. In the last year, this girl has seen me at my absolute worst and watched me take complete nervous breakdowns (ones that mostly weren’t necessary). Despite all of that, she still manages to be my friend and love me unconditionally. Same goes for her obviously, though her freakouts are fall less frequent.

It still amazes me to think one decision changed my life so dramatically. I often wonder what life would be like if I didn’t take that position and didn’t become such good friends with Lauren. Life would be a lot less entertaining, that is for sure. A part of me wishes this friendship was formed sooner. But I guess everything happens for a reason…maybe we just weren’t ready to leave our comfort zones yet. Whatever the reason, I am beyond grateful for this friendship and can’t wait to watch the rest unfold.

Sometimes the smallest decisions impact us in the biggest ways. 

In honor of Lauren’s birthday, allow me to introduce you to our theme song.

Family Fridays: Going The Distance

friends1My friends play a huge role in my life. They are my sounding board for big and small decisions, my shoulders to lean on when life becomes unbearable and my personal entourage when dancing appears to be the only solution. Over the years, they have become my family and for that, I will be forever grateful.

I am a firm believer that any relationship shouldn’t be difficult. It should not cause you stress or panicfriends5 when making plans. Once you all are together, conversation should flow naturally and everyone should feel comfortable. This is how I’ve always felt about relationships, especially friendships. In my mind, friends are there to relieve stress, not create it. However, within the last few months, everything has changed.

friends3Graduating college and moving back to New Jersey has singlehandedly changed most of my college friendships. I went from seeing these girls most everyday, having to walk only a few blocks to find them. Now, my best college friends are in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and California, among other places. They are no longer a quick walk away and I can’t just run down the stairs for a hug when necessary. That being said, my hometown friends are just minutes around the corner so presumably, it would be easier to see them. Well, one has moved closer to her job and another is in graduate school. Our schedules just don’t coincide the way they did during careless summer breaks. So what are we supposed to do now?!

friends2We go the distance. We make sacrifices for the people we care about. Thank goodness for FaceTime, Gmail chats and GroupMe conversations. Ifriends7 don’t know how people survived in separate parts of the country without technology. I think all of us have received a wake-up call, realizing making our friendships last will take a little more effort than in the past. This has caused some additional stress in that finding the time to check in, visit and coordinate schedules isn’t easy. As I searched Amtrak and Megabus yesterday for reasonable and timely trips to D.C., I could have easily pulled my hair out. Instead, I thought about why I was going to D.C. and how many times Niki (and Mike) trekked to Philadelphia or New Jersey to see me. It made the process worth it.

friends6My friends and I have struggled with the changes growing up has brought us. We each now have different responsibilities that consume a good majority of our time. Despite jobs, graduate school, wedding planning and volunteer work, we have managed to keep our friendships going. Calls, text messages, tweets, emails and gchats have all contributed to our success. Technology has played a huge part in keeping us in touch and I am very thankful for its evolution.

Most importantly, nothing has truly changed. Being together still brings its share of laughable moments and thought-provoking conversations.friends4 No matter how long we’ve been apart, things seem to fall right back into place like we’ve never left one another’s side. I am blessed with the greatest friends in the world and know our friendships will continue well into the future, thanks to our ability to go the distance.

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