Posted by & filed under On Fashion, On Life.

This week has me beat. Strike that. October has me beat. I’m currently typing on a “loaner computer” from my campus bookstore; long story short, my own laptop decided that it should take a hiatus from life and go to a better place with warmer weather and tropical computer drinks. Cheers to that. But since I have two exams this week and a seemingly endless list of things to do and read and email and write; I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed, and I need to step back and remember happier times and happier people.

We all know Julie Andrews, right? Right. If you don’t recall, shame on you, go watch the Princess Diaries and skip through a meadow singing THE HILLLLS ARE ALIVEEEEEE. In the same musical where said meadow-singing occurs, she does this whole “these are a few of my favorite things” ordeal about kittens and strudel, and obviously every single thing she says is 100% accurate and fit for a queen (get it?). So I’m taking after the ol’ Jules and getting happy over some of the best things in life. And of course, I’m not biased. I’m also trying to spread some cheer, since that always seems to make me feel better. So, score $300 to Kate Spade below. (And if you’re into making other people’s days, too, you’ll take your winnings and buy me something pretty.)

What makes me happy?

This man.

boyfriend

As seen on Instagram.

 

This dress.

eshakti dress

C/o Eshakti.

God’s word.
My mom.

mom
My kitten.

pumpkin

It’s my cat in a box.

My whole big family who talks too much and laughs too loud, but those talking too much and laughing too loud isn’t a thing where I come from so really they’re just wonderful.

Chocolate of the darkest nature.

Waking up to the rocky theme song. Thanks, boyfriend.

Scented candles. A million of them, everywhere. Can’t stop won’t stop.

Painting my nails twice a week.

nail polish

I lost count at 100. Whoops.

It’s makes me happy to make other people happy. That’s the whole reasons I started this here blog thing, and it’s the thing that makes me come back time and time again to try and write something inspiringly witty and helpful and pretty and fun.
Statement necklaces make me happy. Especially when layered with chunky things or chambray things or delightfully simple things.

baublebar

Like this Baublebar knockout over a basic charcoal and black ensemble.

Flowers make me happy. Specifically, roses (clever, right?). I’m not against bouquets on my doorstep or sent to work or put on the table for when I come home, just in case any of you were wondering…

Crossing things off the to-do list makes me happier than it should. I’m working on this, trying to get better at not living my days vicariously through lists written in colored gel pens. But that feeling of just getting s*** done? Incomparable.

Discovering new music on Spotify makes me happy. This is such a cool feature, I can’t get enough. I’ve discovered so many amazing artists through browsing (Nico and Vinz, anyone?), to the point where when someone asks me who I listen to I have no idea how to answer the question because I listen to everyone.

Things that smell like Thanksgiving and winter. I won’t say the P-word, because I’m trying to not be “basic”, whatever that means…

Bargain hunting makes me happy, and embracing the whole treasure hunt of shopping off-price. It’s like thrifting, but for brand spankin new stuff. I’ve been living in my Michael Kors trench coat and waterfall cardigan, because nothing says fall like Scandal (i.e. the trench coat) and cozy cardigans.

trenchcoat

When in doubt, pop the coral.

Blogging makes me happy. Or I wouldn’t be here. I’d be in the Bahamas probably, because I hear it’s nice there.

Seeing people do good, kind things for other people makes me happy. Like when people pick up someone’s dropped book or pay for a drive-thru coffee or leave a note on a car to help a neighbor in need. That is proof that really good, kind people still exist, and those are the best kinds of people.

This blog makes me happy. And this one, this one, and this one. Oh, and this one, too.

Getting packages makes me happy. There’s something so thrilling about opening up a surprise and just knowing that it’s going to be a good one.

Coffee makes me happy. Really delicious coffee that isn’t too bitter, but doesn’t have any sugar or artificial crap; one shot of pumpkin or caramel will do, thankyoukindly.

Winning things makes me happy. Last week I won two hand-painted coffee mugs from Grey Skies Blue, so I can now drink my hot mint green tea in such inspirational style it is ridiculous.

And now, I want to share that winning-things-happiness with you.

kate spade giveaway

 

I’ve teamed up with my blogger friends to bring you a giveaway with an amazing prize for one lucky reader! We’re giving away a $300 Kate Spade gift card, so it’s a party.

You can enter daily over the next two weeks and earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway with your friends on social media. Good luck!

Prize: $300 Kate Spade Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Co-hosts: Lush to Blush // Grace In Style // Peaches In A Pod // Polished Closets Island Hipster // Snippets With Alex // Style Tab // The Jort Report // A Labour of Life Miss Erin Says // Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog // SimplyCarmenRenee // Shopping My Closet Womanly Woman // Beyond the Khaki Pants // Palmtrees & Happiness // Coming Up Roses // Pumps and Push-Ups

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 10/31 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Image via Unsplash

 

Now, I want to know…

What makes you happiest? What little joys get you feelin’ good and loving life day after day?  

Your time is now, go out there and show ‘em what you’re worth (in case you were wondering, you’re worth a lot).

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Posted by & filed under On Life.

you'll get there.
You have no idea the degree to which hearing this phrase used to drive me straight to Nutsville.
“You’ll get there.”
As if somehow, magically, you’ll just get there.
Get where, even?
The boyf used to drive me completely craycray every time he’d utter those 3 words (3? 4? 3 and a half? Contractions complicate things.). I would want to vent and go through this whole schpeal, and I always figured he’d come back with some superbly motivational speech about how I just need to do yaddayaddayadda and all of my dreams will come true and I’ll be back to my senses, feelin’ good and killin’ it.
Nope. All I got was, “you’ll get there.”
And this totally stressed me out, up until last week. I found myself in my shared dorm bathroom, tweezing my eyebrows to distract myself from my state of confusion and discontent over my own business aspirations. I heard my own inner voice trying to convince myself that I will, in fact, get there.
“There” isn’t even a geographically plausible location, yet apparently I’ll find it if I just believe. What is this, Oz?
But, Let me grab my ruby slippers and tell you why it works.
Because it’s true. Simple as that.
This has become one of my favorite quotes, because of its delightful simplicity. Somehow, it has the ability to really calm me down and bring me back to firmer reality.
It grounds me and, even if momentarily, makes me feel centered and alright with the world. Meditate on it for a sec.
So often, what are our anxieties surrounding? The future. The unknown. The uncertain, the unsure, and the to-be-determined. We stress and we cry and we worry about the things that scare us and make us feel less in control of the twists on our path, and that’s an uncomfortable fact of life. But that’s just it – not knowing what lies ahead is a fact of life.
But, so long as you keep the faith in yourself and beyond, focus on your goals and work to make them happen, you’ve done pretty much everything; giving that extra push of worry doesn’t give you anything but stomach pains and stress pimples. If and when you’ve done everything in your immediate power to “make it happen,” there’s no guarantee that it actually WILL…there’s just a guarantee that you’re 100% better off than you would be had you been ok with doing nothing at all. You position yourself openly towards your aspirations and hopes, dreaming of this ultimate, satisfying destination – a point where you feel solid, like you are complete because you made it.
But that’s just an ideal; oftentimes, if you’re living right, your goals are in a constant state of flux and evolution, and they grow and change as you do. Chances are, you’re ever going to be at a point in life where you can say that you are totally done, have achieved all of your goals, and have no more on you our plate to tackle. And that’s perfectly alright (normal, in fact). It ties back into another favorite quote of mine: happiness is a journey, not a destination.
So, in the end, you’ll get there.
While it’s no be-all-end-all solution, just reminding yourself that you will, in fact, get there – wherever there is – can be endlessly reassuring and peace-bringing. Know that at some point a sort of resolution can be had, so long as you continue doin’ your thang and believing in your purpose. It might not be a physical location; for me, often the phrase helps most when I sense myself lacking clarity or understanding on how to proceed with something. Whether it’s with my blog or business, recruiting for an internship, or connecting with another human being, sometimes I’m just not sure what to do next, and that stresses me out.
But.
Even when you have no idea which way to go or which path to choose.
Even when you feel like you’re never going to be able to get where you want to go.
Even when you don’t know which step to take next, or feel just generally lost and confused.
Don’t worry.
You’ll get there.
The Daily Tay Blogtober14
Happy #Blogtober14, happy hump day, happy rain…happy happy.
What’s your favorite quote to get you through those harder moments? I keep a journal full of all things inspiring and motivational (if you’d like me to share a whole slue of ‘em in a post, hollah at me), so I’m 100% interested in hearing your own faves that have meaning and resonate the most.
And for anyone keeping tabs on me right now, you know that I blacked out in prison on Friday. While that was a real blast, apparently it wasn’t exciting enough; I’m currently blogging from my college house computer lab, as my laptop got hacked and has to be entirely re-configured (translation: it’s back to square one, factory settings, laptop circa 2012). Right now for me, “getting there” reads as getting to Friday.
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Posted by & filed under On Life.

On Friday, I went to prison. I didn’t have to wear orange, which is good because orange makes me look like a dehydrated pumpkin. It’s really not my color. I also blacked out. I know what you’re thinking…but not that kind of black out. Let me explain…

I spent a day at the New Jersey State Prison. It’s one of the oldest lock-ups in the United States, and has the maximum level of security in all the Garden State.

prison

Yup, we have arrived. PSA: Razor wire collapse inward on you upon touching it. Sooooooo, no one is getting over that wall.

 

I’m fortunate enough to have some of the biggest badass professors in the history of badass professors. One in particular, my law prof, has some connections with the NJ “correctional facilities” and managed to get us in for the day. We were 1 of 2 tour groups that’s been allowed in all year.

And now, I’m going to let you all in.

In class, punishment always ends up becoming a focal point of discussion. As in, how should criminals be punished for the crimes they commit? Does the current justice system work justly? Should different “levels” of punishment indicate the severity of crimes and serve as deterrents for would-be criminals? Or should Hammurabi’s code of old come into play, where “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” means that what you do unto others is what comes right back at you. What about capital punishment? Should that even be a thing at all?

These questions are hard to answer. And they get even harder when you become personally involved in a case, be it through personal victimization or that of a loved one. So, this experience was definitely an interesting one for me, for a plethora of reasons.

I saw the life of pent-up permanence that convicted murderers, high profile gang members, and top-dog drug dealers learn to call normality. 95% of the inmates at the NJ State Prison have a sentence of 50 years or more. Many are there for life. Some, for life and then some. I didn’t even know that you could receive multiple life sentences (as if one isn’t severe enough).

Upon entering the prison, our tiny group of ten was ID’d and given badges for entry. We all hit the metal detectors, which even the correctional officers need to pass on a daily basis. I wasn’t allowed to wear a normal bra that day, as the underwire would set off the detector. That’s how strict these things are, ladies and gents. Most of my group set off the warning beep and had to be manually searched. But me and my sticky boobs…we were clear.

And a side note: you’ll notice not an unusual lack of photos here. I mean, If I wasn’t even allowed to wear a bra, you think they let me bring in a camera?! No way José.

After passing through detection, we made our way to a boardroom, where we were greeted by the two prison superintendents and three correctional officers who gave us the low-down on the prison, its history, the inmates, and what we were about to witness.

Then, the tour began.

We started off headed towards the North compound, where the baddest of the bad are held. But we weren’t allowed anywhere near inmates here; instead, we saw the tiny yellow rooms where prisoners can meet with an attorney. We saw sliver windows that look like giant mail slots where inmates who aren’t allowed physical contact can still communicate occasionally with a visitor. We saw the rows of telephones in the sky that correctional officers regulate for those with that privilege. And then we moved to another gate.

The funny thing was, to get from any point to another throughout the prison, there are gates to get through. And by gates, I mean those stereotypically represented prison cell gates that keep every criminal from the outside world. Odd, since my tour group and the crew of correctional officers had no record to garner such punishment.

But it added perspective.

Under normal circumstances, many inmates are allowed to freely move within the prison (Very OITNB). Our presence, however, meant ongoing radio communications to cease all inmate movement as we passed through; we would wait behind a locked gate as one area was literally cleared of prisoners by having them escorted behind another locked gate. Once they’re locked in, we’re out.

It was almost like being at a zoo, but face paint was replaced with teardrops, photo booths were placed with mug shots, and cotton candy was replaced with cream of everything.

We were shown all areas of prison life, from the various living arrangements, to the barber shop and law library, where certain inmates have the chance to become makeshift paralegals for other inmates. Based on the size of the waiting list, I’d say a prison paralegal is the thing to be.

Finally, we made it to the West compound, where prisoners with special needs are held. There, a window decent in size overlooks “the yard,” where people have anywhere from an hour a day to an hour a week for time outside with their given unit. There’s a basketball court, a pull-up bar, and a pile of weights for optional training. And when time is up, inmates single-file their way back. No one gets out, seeing as three loops of razor wires and barbed metals line every penitentiary wall. Where would exist castle towers are instead metal towers of white – the only truly fortified location since correctional officers are unarmed. Those towers have the real weapons, and they watch from above like the Big Brother of jail. The yard is searched after every batch of inmates leaves to ensure no balls laced with drugs were tossed over, or no homemade shanks were strategically placed under tables or chairs for later use.

prison1

From the outside, not quite looking in: Prison Towers.

 

As we waited behind the window for the yard to change, some inmates started looking up at us and making motion; it’s their method of communicating, apparently, with other inmates from around the prison – a whole new sign language.

Also as we waited, my stomach started growling. I ate breakfast at 6:30 that morning, as our bus boarded at 7 am, and it was now 11:30 with nothing in between. I know, I know…such a first world problem, especially given our circumstances that day. I don’t know about you, but I’m a girl who needs my snacks and good ol’ H2O to keep it up throughout the day.

I’ve passed out before, so I know the telltale signs that a blackout is about to happen.

As my thoughts went straight to my stomach, I shifted over to lean against a wall; my head was starting to feel it. As I started to bend down into a quasi-wall sit, the blackout hit, and I felt my hearing start to block up and shut out as my vision got progressively non-existent. I managed to lean over to my professor and say “I’m about to pass out” as he grabbed my arm and walked me to a seat. Someone grabbed a cup of water, our three correctional guard escorts surrounded me, and next thing I knew no less than 15 officers were up and around me yelling, “Call 911!” I felt like I just started a riot for prison break-out given the crew that responded to my code call-in.

In my professor’s 20 years of doing this trip, this was his first time seeing someone actually get “coded.” (You know, like “Code blue in the right wing, go go go!”).

I would be the dingbat to pass out in prison.

Water quickly got me to my senses, enough to tell everyone that this has happened to me before and I swear I’m just really really really hungry. A snack and some orange juice would suffice thankyoukindly.

Nope. “Too late, an ambulance is on its way, you need to go to the hospital.”

Well OK then, that escalated quickly. This is said as a gurney and wheelchair are flying into the room, and I’m sufficiently overwhelmed.

I insisted that I really just needed some snacks, this has happened before, no I’m not diabetic, my mom is a nurse, I know what’s happening to me, I just need a freakin’ granola bar and juice pouch. So as I was I stressing out about that, I’m about to be escorted out of prison in an emergency medical getup surrounded by correctional officers…now, I’m straightup hangry.

With a little bit of water I was already un-nauseous and no longer dizzy, so I was just chillin’ out as I got wheeled down to the front gate to wait for paramedics. Then questioning from the prison medic, who apparently couldn’t do anything for me but call for the hospital. Professor handed me gummy worms. Yes. Gummy Worms. I was munching away, already feeling a million times better and 100% less faint. Questioning from a nurse. Questioning from officers.

Professor dropped me a Kind bar as two parademics wheeled in; at this point, my entire class is down in the lobby, too, so I’m sure my paleness from fainting was replaced by a solid blush from sheer embarrassment.

I answered their questions fine, refused to get in the ambulance, and called it a day.

We bussed back to campus, all of us sound asleep, and the professor took us out to eat. Because by that time, we were all a bunch of hangry prisonbreaks.

And that’s my story about the time I blacked out in prison.

Have you ever toured a correctional facility? What do you think about the current methods of punishment? Have you ever passed out in prison?

Pleasepleaseplease tell me I’m not the only one.

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