6 Stunning Sweaters that Transition Easily from Fall to Winter

You’ll notice after grazing over this list that I don’t really do color. After about a decade of trying to convince myself that I like patterns, florals, and vibrant color in general, I’ve finally decided to call it quits. And, though it pains me to say it, my style definitely leans more towards the French aesthetic than it does bold and vibrant Italian. Somehow all those years I spent growing up in Italy have been overshadowed by a sea of neutrals in the wake of moving to New York.

sweater weatherThe older I get, the more I find that I’m drawn to minimalism with a hint of flare. I love solid neutral color blocking with a really great embellished shoe. I also really love contrasting fabric weights against one another. Below you’ll find bulky sweaters with unique shapes to pair with everything from leather skinnies to feminine midi skirts. And, though winter may be swiftly approaching, there’s always a place in my wardrobe for something a little sheer. Much to the surprise of my inner 6-year-old, turtlenecks are one of my favorite pieces to use a base for layering or to wear along under a leather bomber. The sheer number below would actually pair really well with the off-the-shoulder moment I’ve included in this list. After all, who wouldn’t carry over the off-the-shoulder look into winter if they didn’t have to worry about getting cold?

Because I haven’t completely given up on color, I still make an effort  to venture beyond my go-to tones of navy, cream, olive, and grey—albeit, the effort is very minimal. I’ve included a gorgeous red embellished Anthropologie sweater that I could pretty much live in all winter long. Every once in a while, I surprise myself and fall in love with dramatic sleeves. Anthropologie has definitely mastered the art of balancing rustic cool with just the right amount of drama.

Living in New York, I definitely have a love/hate relationship with the months— including and those that fall between—December through May. Sweaters are great until you need six layers and a fur-lined coat just to feel like you’re still roaming amongst the living. I am committing to letting the pieces in my wardrobe meet one another this year, so come May I expect to be a master of stylish layering. If you’ve got any special tricks for wearing pieces in your wardrobe year-round, feel free to share them!

 

 

 

Anthropologie Layered Off-The-Shoulder Pullover

ANTHROPOLOGIE Layered Off-The-Shoulder Pullover, $98 at anthropologie.com

 

Urban Flossy High Neck Jumper

FRENCH CONNECTION Urban Flossy High Neck Jumper, $138 at frenchconnection.com

Endless Rose Ruffle Sweater

ENDLESS ROSE Ruffle Sweater, $88 at revolve.com

David Lerner Knit Turtleneck

DAVID LERNER Knit Turtleneck, $84 at revolve.com

Free People Fiesta Jacket

FREE PEOPLE Fiesta Jacket, $228 at freepeople.com

 

10 Over-The-Top Heels That Are Totally Worth Breaking the Bank For

It is not a secret that I am shoe obsessed. One of my earliest fashion memories dates back to 1996 when my mother and I lived in Naples, Italy. On warm summer Sundays, we’d walk from our house in Pozzuoli to a small neighborhood trattoria on Via Montenuovo Licola that—to this day—still prepares the best pizza margherita and penne all’arrabiatta that I’ve ever had. It’s called Da Bernardo, in case you’re ever hungry in Napoli. After a healthy serving of bruschetta, pizza and pasta (carbs, carbs, and more delicious carbs) and of course the obligatory serving of coffee drenched lady fingers (tiramisu), we’d continue our promenade down to the flea market.

Italian flea markets are nothing like the weekend bazaars of America. They’re far more adventurous and riddled with treasures and gems of the premium and luxury fashion variety. One Sunday, after dinner at Da Bernardo, we ventured once again to our coveted treasure trove and were greeted by the usual hoard of bustling vendors yelling prices in sing-songy voices “Cinque-mille Lire! Dieci-mille Lire!”— this was before the Euro was the national currency. And that’s when I spotted them: cream Valentino lace-up woven wedge booties, size 37. They were gorgeous and I have to have them.No 21 Mustard Yellow Elaphe Heel Sandal w: Pom Pom Tassel Fringe I pleaded with my mom to buy them for me and after lots of bargaining with the vendor, they were mine. My first pair of designer shoes and I loved them recklessly. At six, I wasn’t old enough to wear heeled wedges and at size 37, the shoes were still way too big for me, but I cherished them. They were my prized possession and I couldn’t wait to grow into them.

We moved back to America a year later and our weekend flea market excursions were no more. Side note: were I ever to run for fashion office of America (if that was actually a thing), the first order of business on my campaign agenda would be to increase the number of luxury flea markets. I mean, hey—we’re in a recession and bartering is a necessary skill in every culture and in every corner of the world.

Anyway, upon moving back to America, I was grounded for something and our home, being grounded was always represented by losing some sort of fashion privilege (image has always been a big deal for me. I could have cared less about losing my allowance). I was nearing the point where those gorgeous Valentino boots were beginning to fit so my mom took the boots and a few other choice items from my wardrobe and put them in a black Gucci Embellished Cutout Leather Pumpstrash bag and “gave them away.” I found out later that she hid them in the garage. After a few months in the garage, I sort of forgot about them. When I went to retrieve them, to my surprise the bag was gone. My mom had forgotten she’d bagged them and mistook them for donation clothing and gave them to the Salvation Army. My shoes were gone forever. I was heartbroken and some lucky shopper was one glorious, life-changing, Earth-shatteringly beautiful pair of Valentino booties richer.

My mom still apologizes about those shoes but the damage has been done. I am forever scared, and twenty years later, I still think about their shoes and shudder at their absence. So, yes— I take shoes very, very seriously.  Every year, I lie to plan my life around a theme. Last year was my year of travel— fitting because I turned 25, so I spent five months traveling around Europe and the US alone as a sort of coming-of-age trek. This year I focused on image and appearance and decided to curb my shopping habit by only buying investment pieces. In the shoe category, I committed to only buying shoes that double as art —ordinary shoes have no place in my wardrobe. I like this because it allows me to wear really basic pieces and dress them up with a fabulous shoe, cutting my morning prep time in half now that I don’t obsess over mixing and matching pieces.

In honor of my oath of “shoes as art,” here are 10 seriously stunning shoes that are so gorgeous they could double as room decor.

1. No.21 Mustard Yellow Elaphe Heel Sandal with Pom Pom & Fringe ($456, at forzieri.com)

2. No.21 Satin Wrap High Heel Sandal ($858, at forzieri.com)

3. 3.1 Phillip Lim Kyoto Silver and Malbec Leather Ankle Knotted Sandal ($650, at forzieri.com)

4. Pierre Hardy black and White Leather Lola Sandal ($358, at forzieri.com)

5. Proenza Schouler Black and White Leather Open Toe Sandals w/ Chunky Wooden Heel ($426, at forzieri.com)

6. Tabitha Simmons Flouncy Linen Heel in Red & Ecru ($279 , at fwrd.com)

7. Loeffler Randall Nicolette Multicolor Fox Fur & Suede Ankle-Wrap Sandal ($450, at saks.com)

8. Gucci Embellished Cutout Leather Pumps ($1850, at asos.com)

9. Maison Margiela Mirror Leather Heels ($545, at fwrd.com)

10. Alexander Wang Ellery Studded Leather Block-Heel Pumps ($995, at saks.com)

Meet Miller, The Muse

Artist of the Week: Miller

In her debut song, “Take It Off,” Houston native singer/songwriter, Miller, delivers depth and range uncanny to those who are rookies in the game. Far from conventional pop music, Miller is an R&B artist–true to form– who sings with gusto and soul-barring emotion. Keep up with the rising starlet via her Instagram, YouTube, and Soundcloud channels.

Asos Summer sale jumpsuits Art by Virginia Lowman

13 Gorgeous Fall-Ready Jumpsuits To Snag From the ASOS Summer Sale

It’s a tough truth to bear, but summer is coming to a close. And, while I’m definitely going to miss lazy beach days and catching a wave under the warm summer sun, I am always excited when September draws near because I get to pull out my autumn wear. For me, that means jumpsuits and bombers, embellished booties and the occasional graphic print. Either way, fall IMO is the most fashionable time of year. Since all of the major retailers are having their summer sales and perhaps getting rid of a few pieces from seasons passed, I decided to scour ASOS for their hottest fall gear on discount. Here are 13 gorgeous neutral jumpsuits you can pair with blazers, sweaters, and fur (faux is cool too) collars to transition your wardrobe into fall. If you’re feeling daring, dress them up with graphic prints or embellished heels for a looks that next-level chic. The best part: you can purchase guilt-free because they’re all on sale!

 

1 . ASOS Two-in-One Jumpsuit ($74, at asos.com)

2. ASOS Tailored Double-Breasted Romper ($53, at asos.com)

3. ASOS Sleeveless Shirt Detail Jumpsuit ($51, at asos.com)

4. ASOS Denim Wide Lge Jumpsuit with Collar in Indigo ($23, at asos.com)

5. ASOS Jersey Jumpsuit with Wide Leg in Variegated Stipe ($44, at asos.com)

6. ASOS Premium Jumpsuit in Bonded Satin ($62.50, at asos.com)

7. ASOS White Oversized Jumpsuit in Gingham ($43.50, at asos.com)

8. Pepe Jeans Donny Wrap Front Belted Jumpsuit ($91, at asos.com)

9. AX Paris Plus Jumpsuit in Stripe ($49, at asos.com)

10. Maison Scotch Safari Boilersuit ($138, at asos.com)

11. Millie Mackintosh Khaki Cutout Jumpsuit ($81, at asos.com)

12. ASOS Structured Plunge Jumpsuit ($36.50, at asos.com)

13. ASOS Jersey Overall in Strip With Pockets ($39.50, at asos.com)

 

Waxing 101: Couldn’t Get to The Olympics but I Still Took a Trip to Brazil

While the whole world is tuned into Rio for the Olympics, I’m channeling Brazil in my own way courtesy of the European Wax Center—it is summer, after all! And who wants extra foliage down there when you’re trying to show off a new bikini or flex on the Gram? If shaving just isn’t cutting it (see what I did there?), and laser hair removal is a little too pricey, then waxing is probably your next best bet. And, while the process may not be the most comfortable, the end results are well worth it. Last year, I wrote an article for ESSENCE.com depicting my first “trip to Brazil,” and with the Olympics in full swing and the mercury steadily rising, I think it’s only fitting that I share it with you here. So, consider this an act of charitable giving if you’re considering going bare down there, but you’re unsure of what to expect. Here’s a play-by-play. Thank me later!

In many respects, getting a Brazilian is a rite of passage; a leaving behind of one’s childhood and entering into a smoother, sleeker future— one paved in wax. I have a theory that waxing below the belt is a very metropolitan thing to do. There’s something about New York, LA and certainly Miami that make waxing a lifestyle. Women in these areas simply don’t do hair “down there.” In fact, upon leaving the European Wax Center, I felt a lightness of being—or perhaps it was more of a sleekness given my newly acquired ‘do. Either way, I felt as though I’d joined a tribe. I was also just pleased that I’d actually gone through with it.

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Art Credit: Manrepeller

I should note here, that at this point I have literally bared it all in the name of beauty—my body having served as the site of many a social beauty experiment. But, it was still somewhat nerve-racking to walk into a room and be asked —very politely— to “strip down from the waist down.” If I’m completely honest, I’ll admit that I paused for a moment to give my wax specialist, Ambure, time to leave the room while I undressed. I also waited for her to hand me a robe, but when she turned away and began stirring a vat of wax, I realized very quickly that privacy was obsolete in this setting. After all, hadn’t I come —quite literally— to “bare it all” anyway? I took a moment to breathe a grateful sigh of relief for the serendipitous chance that I’d worn a tunic that day, so I wouldn’t have to mount the waxing table bare-bottomed.

Tip: If it’s your first time or you’re a little body conscious, wear a tunic or long tee the day of, so you can cover-up leading up to and immediately after waxing.

Memories of the Waxing Fiasco of 2012 flashed across my mind— that time in college when I tried to give myself a Brazilian because my roommate told me she did her own all of the time. It was then that I learned the meaning of “everything ain’t for everybody.” I tugged the slightest bit on that wax strip, decided it wasn’t worth the pain and spent the next 30 or 40 minutes gently peeling the strip off with coconut oil. (For the record, coconut oil, you’re the real MVP!) I mounted the table, laid on my back and tucked the bottom of my tunic between my legs to shield myself from both the wax and the waxer. I still had a chance to escape, right? Shaving isn’t so terrible. And there’s always laser hair removal.

When asked to press my feet together and spread my knees, I instinctively pressed my knees together and spread my feet.bikini-wax-nsfw-1490748

“Don’t be shy. Take a breath and relax, this will be more uncomfortable if you’re tense,” Ambure assured me.

A few things kept me on edge: Do wax specialists compare their client’s “situations?” Had I trimmed enough this morning to make this process as painless as possible? Winter’s coming, do I really want to do this? I still had a chance to escape, right? I was still clenching my tunic.

Tip: Your hair should be the length of a grain of rice before waxing. Any shorter and hair removal may be difficult. If your hair is on the longer side, trim down to about a quarter of an inch. 

“On a scale of 1-10, what should I expect pain-wise?” I asked out of curiosity, but also desperate for conversation to draw attention away from my oddly decent, indecent exposure. She explained that pain receptors are located near pressure points, so the more pressure she applied during the waxing, the less likely it was that I would focus on the pain. By the time she’d finished that statement, she’d already prepped my skin with body powder and applied the first two strips of wax. In other words, it was too late to escape. By the time I’d finished my request for a landing strip, she’d already waxed and applied two more strips of hard wax. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t comfortable, but I could tolerate it. Four strips down.

“Almost done. You’re doing great!”

Wax and needles are two things that cause people to revert back to their childhood, making statements like, “you’re doing great” necessary. She applied more wax and the few undisturbed follicles left below my navel wept as Wait. There’s more? scrolled through my mind. Two strips later, I was hair free and then I was asked to flip over. Surprisingly, the backside waxing is seemingly painless. If anything, I focused more on the warmth of the wax than the waxing itself, but the anxiety of waiting for the strips to be removed is almost overwhelming since you can’t watch as it happens.

EWC Ingrown SerumTip: Exfoliate the skin around your lady parts 2-3 times a week to prevent in-grown hairs and slough off dead skin. It will keep your skin smooth and make waxing easier, as the pain experienced during waxing is often caused by dead skin built up around the hair. We recommend this product.

In 10 minutes, I was the newest member of the care-free, hair-free tribe. Ambure followed the wax treatment with EWC Ingrown Hair Serum ($25), an oil-based serum chock-full-of gentle exfoliants and hydrating goodies like glycolic acid, tea tree oil, and berry extract. I slipped into my pants, left a 20% tip (it’s only right!) and prepared to make use of the European Wax Center‘s motto, “walk in, strut out.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I felt like a new woman. I may even have texted a friend something to the tune of “Honestly, it’s so smooth I just want to dance in the street… naked!”giphy-2 Needless to say, I’m a convert. Two things are certain: Shaving is out. And I’m introducing all of my closest girlfriends to my waxologist-turned-unofficial BTBB (below the belt bestie).

 

Virginia Lowman originally wrote this article for ESSENCE.com

Considering baring it all for summer, but scared to try it? Share your concerns and send me your questions!

Social Media Obsessed: Living for Likes

During my freshman year of college, a male friend asked me via text one evening if I thought I was beautiful. It seemed an unusual question to pose and so it gave me a moment of pause—not because I was unsure, but rather because my answer made me feel guilty and a little vain. “Yes, I’m beautiful,” I answered, and quickly followed it by stating that answering otherwise would imply that I didn’t find my mother beautiful—that I considered her genes to be flawed or lack-luster in some way resulting in my dissatisfaction with my appearance. And, while I do think that I’m beautiful, I found it troublesome that I felt the need to justify my thoughts with a safe “if, then” scenario.

In an interview with TODAY, Northwestern Psychology professor, Renee Engein, addressed the issue of mixed messages, which dictate what is acceptable and desirable for women stating, “We still live in a world that isn’t quite comfortable with women who [do] acknowledge their worth.” In an age of transparency and authenticity, and with the advent of the selfie, social media has proven to be bilateral in its effects— encouraging women to claim and flaunt their beauty, but equally discouraging as the face of beauty has morphed into something that is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve.

023_Virginia_Solange_Fashion_shootSomewhere during the transition from dark room SLR film to digital cameras, beauty lost its way. And though the concept of beauty has always been framed by men from a point of authority and possession, beauty in its most perfect form has become a paradoxical concept fashioned after that which is created by a filter or cosmetic surgery—photoshopped or otherwise. While society has always used beauty as a tool for critique and treated it as a private gentleman’s club—elite territory reserved for men’s folly where women are sex objects that are bid on for pleasure—some women still accept this as the norm and vie for entry, though everyone is not granted access because not everyone possesses a beauty that is delicate, diaphanous or traditional.

The crux of social media is its ability to deceive. Once upon a time, print and television outlets were reserved for the uncharacteristically beautiful—or those who had access to professional airbrushing and teams of people who made them appear perfect. Today, the tools for beauty are no longer limited to makeup, but technology as well. Filter-filled social media and photo manipulation apps have expanded that once limited pool of perfection to everyday people creating a virtual auction block for Millennials and Gen Z-ers, where double-taps and likes are used in place of currency. This new man-made beauty is impacting the way that women view themselves. In a recent Dove #SpeakBeautiful campaign, a study revealed that “82% of women feel that imposed beauty standards are unrealistic.”

In lieu of Donald Trump’s interview with the New York Times in which he stated that supermodel, Heidi Klum, is “no longer a 10,” I asked a few close male counterparts about their qualifications for a “10.” Of the many answers that I received, one stood out in particular, “The perfect 10 doesn’t wake up as a 10; she wakes up as a solid 7 or 8. Social media has changed the game,” stated 27-year-old music industry professional, Trevor Washington*. While this statement is interesting for a number of reasons—namely the judgment of women based on a point system—it is equally intriguing because social media has played a role in altering beauty standards for some modern men. This should not come as a surprise considering that a recent study revealed that the average millennial spends “18 hours a day consuming media, 5.4 of which are spent on social media.”

In January of last year, The Renfrew Foundation Center conducted an online survey of 1,710 millennial men and women and found that nearly 48% of those who post photos to social media sites enhance their looks. Seventy percent of women admit to photo manipulation— everything from removing blemishes to changing skin color and weight. “All this taking and posting photos has become an obsession of sorts. We feel pressured to edit and alter our images so we look like what we think of as our ‘best selves’ instead of our real selves”, said Adrienne Ressler, Vice President, Professional Development, The Renfrew Center Foundation, and renowned body image expert.

As shallow as Trevor’s* “perfect 10” comment may seem, the thought process behind it is far from unusual. Social media has exacerbated the pressure to fall within this new “traditional” standard of beauty i.e, clear skin, prominent features, slim waist broad hips,  and feminine facial features. We’ve acknowledged that beauty is power and social presence is becoming increasingly more prevalent. Since its genesis, Instagram has become much less of a photo diary and much more of a curated experience. We’ve recognized that people often follow lifestyles that they aspire to, which often require beautiful photos. Personally, I use three different apps before posting any picture on my Instagram account, selfie or otherwise. And, while I do not discredit my worth and I still consider myself to be beautiful, were my college friend to pose that same question to me today, my answer may be a little different. Instead of falling back on an “if, then” statement—if was I being completely honest—my answer today may be something along the lines of “Yes, I’m beautiful; but sometimes I like myself more on Instagram.”

*Names have been changed.

Virginia Lowman originally wrote this article for ESSENCE.com

How to Apply Mascara Like a Pro

I’m typically a minimalist when it comes to makeup, but two things are certain when I leave the house: my brows are perfectly groomed and my lashes are lengthy and feathery. In fact, I have a running joke with my friends that outside of skincare, my eyes are the most important part of my face. Friends—my boyfriend in particular—know that when I’m doing my lashes or filling in my brows I am not to be disturbed. They understand that this is a process. I typically use three different kinds of mascara applied in timed intervals for various parts of my lashes. To be frank, often times, it’s less about the formula and much more about the brush. Although, I will say that I tend to prefer smoother mascara over the ultra-creamy ones because those tend to clump more and they also feel heavy on the lashes. Read on to discover my lash routine and my top picks to nail my signature feathery, bright-eyed look.

1. For your first coat use a lengthening mascara. The spooley should be long and should not have densely packed bristles. Apply one coat of this mascara to clean lashes wiggling the brush upwards from the base of the lash. Be sure to coat all of your lashes once, but double-up on the center lashes.

2. Using the same mascara coat the back of your lashes drawing upwards from mid-lash to tip

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GETTY images

3. Alternating to your second mascara— preferably one with a densely packed brush— hold your mascara at a vertical angle and focus on the outer lashes, drawing your mascara wand outward from the base. You want to be sure that your outer lashes are as separated as possible.

4. Keeping with the same mascara, focus on the lashes on the inner corners of your eyes and repeat step three.

5. Switch to your last mascara and hold your arm at a 90-degree angle keeping your mascara wand parallel to the floor and run the wand over the tips of your lashes.

6. Coat your bottom lashes with a single coat of the mascara that you used in step one, drawing the wand from mid-lash to tip. Avoid touching the base of the lash to keep your lower lash line clean.

Virginia Lowman originally wrote this article for ESSENCE.com

Notes from the Trenches

So many things have transpired since my last post. Shall I begin with events of epic proportion or should I start with the humble nuances in my life? Hmm… let’s just start with the epic! Well, for starters, I left Houston and moved to New York to work for a very prominent magazine corporation. It is a temporary position scheduled to end in December, but I am grateful for the educational experiences that I’ve incurred thus far.

Currently, I live in what real estate agents would advertise as a “cozy” apartment. It is only after countless hours of apartment hunting on Craigslist that I have come to  realize that “cozy” is much less about comfort and much more about size. I can walk the length of my apartment in just over 27 steps. It is incredibly small. I am renting out the bedroom of a one bedroom apartment in the Midtown area. It’s a far cry from the “apartment with a view” that I was expecting to live in. For $1,100 a month, I have the luxury of a 10×8 square foot bedroom with the privacy of a curtain instead of a door and a window that opens to a brick wall of the bathroom in the apartment; a living room that is essentially off-limits as it doubles as my roommate’s bedroom, a kitchen which I do not use because my roommate is so particular about seemingly everything including what I throw away in the trashcan. As a result, I have limited my activity in the kitchen to merely using the sink and the microwave. My roommate is a peculiar middle-aged woman (just shy of 40) who doesn’t work, has a very limited and particular diet, enjoys singing and bobbing about listening to Britney Spears’ classic, “Baby One More Time,” and claims to be “green” and “very holistic” but uses plastic trash bags,  Clorox bleach wipes, Johnson and Johnson body wash, and dyes her hair with things other than henna. Perhaps we define these eco-friendly terms differently. Last time I checked, plastic was non-biodegradable; bleach, etc contains harsh toxins and is considered an unnatural cleaning agent.

Maybe two weeks ago, after showering and leaving for work, I received a text from her claiming that I clogged the shower drain because I use “unnatural” products, and now as a result she’s been forced to buy Drain-O. Of course, we’ll overlook the notion that more that half of the world’s occupants do not use “all natural” products, clear by the number of Duane Reade’s and Walgreens stores with aisles stocked with products such as Pantene Pro-V, Herbal Essences, Suave, and Garnier products. Needless to say,  I’ve since heavily considered buying a gym membership so that I do not have to shower there anymore and have begun making all efforts to avoid her. To speak well of her and frame her in a good light in your eyes, dear reader, I’ll simply state that she is crazy. Seriously. Psychotic.

As for my life in the magazine industry, it must remain somewhat of a secret, but to sum it up in a sentence, it is a frantic and hurried  environment. I have been able to write a bit which has been wonderful, although I am told that the work has been published for a blog instead of the magazine.  It is a lifestyle very similar to The Devil Wears Prada. Poor Andrea Sachs. One does not realize the difficulty of being an assistant until one is tasked with running down to the store for “an assortment of chocolate Truffles. Like good chocolates.” Naturally, because said “store” is not a chocolaterie, they do not sell a wide array of chocolate truffles. They sell one brand in an “assortment” of eight flavors. Who knew chocolate could induce so much stress?!

Living in the City however is a completely different experience. Of course uprooting from a place you know as “home” and moving to a new place is a somewhat ostracizing experience. However, the loneliness one can feel living alone in a place like New York City is overwhelming at times. For a city that is larger than life it’s easy to feel like a speck in the canvas of the grand scheme of things. While I do not regret moving here at all, I do wish that I would have taken more time to consider the act of actually living in the city, and allowed myself time to sit in the melancholy that could ensue from transplanting to such a monstrous, vibrant, engulfing city. I have come to understand, however, that God has deemed this a time of solitude for me to press into Him and not into my own desires, or in consulted pre conceived plans.

My anthem for the summer post graduation, was Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child.” I heard it blaring from a car speeding through union square today and tried to remind myself if the promise that song held just a month ago, and how I’m better off now than I was even just 30 days ago.

The truth is, the fruit of your life will be what you believe you are. It will not come with ease. Greatness does not itself manifest ok those who find comfort in living lackadaisically. Give yourself the opportunity to experience the exhaustion that comes from being extraordinary!

Until next time! À bientôt! VL

Wild Ambition

Recently, I went on a job interview and upon looking at my resume the interviewer noted,

“I see you have a Bachelor of Arts degree. Does that mean you studied the arts, like drawing?”

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What do you say to a question like that without seeming pompous or rude? Thankfully, I was able to stifle my laughter and replied,

“Not exactly. I have ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree because my particular area of study while in college, focused on liberal arts. Had I taken more science classes, I could have obtained a Bachelor of Science. However, given that I am an English major, I think a Bachelor of Science in English seems a bit foolish.”

She just looked at me and said: “Well, congratulations.” I’m not even sure if she knew what she was congratulating me for.

These are the questions that you do not expect to have to answer upon completing your college degree. One does not expect to be interviewed by someone who presumably has no degree. One also so does not expect to work for someone who does not have a degree. Unfortunately, hundreds of educated minds are wasting away in blue collar jobs in work environments where their degrees are not being utilized and their brains are vegetating as their everyday life is free of stimulating conversation.

I keep thinking “I need to figure out what I’m going to do with my life” My lease ends in June. If I don’t find a job by then, I’m going to have to pack up and move back home to the East coast–to be quite frank, I’m not completely opposed to the idea, but I’m not completely for it either. Some part of me feels like I should be panicking, but I’m actually quite calm about the whole ordeal.

I’d like to find a job and make some money,  but I’m not in a rush to lose a portion of my soul to corporate America; the land of suits, and ties, neutral wardrobes, and minimal style. Perhaps I’m naive, but I genuinely believe there is something great in store for me life something beyond corporate America and working for someone else.

I suppose this is where my issue with the education system lies. College is a period of discovery. It’s a time of experimentation, of creativity, and extraordinary conversation. It’s four–sometimes five/sometimes six–years of pushing the norm, trying new things, and learning how you, in particular, are uniquely different from, yet strikingly similar to all of the world’s inhabitants. And then you graduate, and all of a sudden, in many ways, you are expected to bottle up your individuality and sell it to the highest bidder in a spruced up deluxe package on parchment in the form of a cover letter and resume. Your conversations then turn from those striking Honor’s College conversations you once had about Plato’s Apology and the impact of Billie Holiday, to tired work jokes in the break room or how your boss’ tie is always too short.

My favorite college professor once told me,

“Many people live their lives without expecting great things to be in store for them; not realizing that, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be wildly ambitious in your life, but to do that you have to take everything that you do seriously. Have a sense of taking some control over your life as opposed to feeling buffeted. To make your fortune, you need to have faith in yourself.”

I’ve thought of those words of wisdom every day since I first heard them. Perhaps that’s why I’m not worried or scared–I’m too busy praying for guidance and being wildly ambitious.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

JEREMIAH 29:11

Kissing Wounds

There are times when I realize that some past emotional wounds are still very fresh though it seems a layer of skin has formed a scab over them. It’s easy to over look wounds if you tell yourself that they aren’t there or that you are grateful for their presence because they’ve given you character or taught you a lesson about yourself. When you are done justifying the presence of these wounds or the good that came out of the hurt they provided, and when you are done protecting your ego, sometimes your humanity will peer through and you’ll have a moment of clarity when you simply want to yell a long, passionate, violent strand of obscenities to the person or people who hurt you.
I am having that moment of clarity now. Fortunately for my spirit and the sake of being a lady, I don’t curse, and am therefore limiting myself to merely mentally composing said virile strand of obscenities that I’d like to lavish upon the inflictor of those wounds I aforementioned.
Mid composure, however, I wonder the point of it all? Why bother formulating the strand of verbal wrath that you probably will never release?
For healing, of course.
“For healing,” I tell myself; certain that this potent composition will make me feel better. The truth however, is that you cannot heal hurt with hate; and you cannot heal when you are storing hate in your heart. Hate is to love what pneumonia is to AIDS; a deadly virus that starts small and has the potential to completely shut down your system. Perhaps we need to stop kissing our wounds with petty attempts to strike back at our past, and instead, confront the pain that we’re trying so desperately to cover up.

What about you, what wounds are you kissing? What gratification and/or displeasure do those kisses bring?