Monthly Archives: February 2013

the key to life is imagination

Happy Friday everyone! Am I the only one who thinks four-day work weeks feel longer than full ones?

In my usual Friday fashion, I wanted to share a story about someone who inspires me. You all know by now that I’m a big fan of Kid President, but this week I bring you the story of Caine and his cardboard arcade. I’m aware this story is a few months old, but I’m just hearing about it and I hope it’s new to some of you as well.

cainesarcade_0

I was scrolling through this BuzzFeed article yesterday about 26 Moments That Restored Faith in Humanity This Year and there were a lot of touching, heartwarming and absolutely awe-inspiring stories. But the one that caught my attention was the story of 9-year-old Caine who spent an entire summer building an elaborate cardboard arcade out of his father’s auto part store in Los Angeles.

Caine, who has a love for arcades, used his imagination and creativity to construct some of the most classic games including “the claw” and tabletop soccer. Equipped with packing tape and boxes he created a business for himself – making t-shirts, business cards and quite frankly the best deal I’ve ever seen – fun passes that only cost $2 and buys you 500 games.

After an entire summer without getting any customers, but still not discouraged, a man named Nirvan came and spent the entire day playing in Caine’s arcade. Wanting to spread the word about the young entrepreneur, Nirvan took to social media and arranged a giant flashmob to show up and support Caine and his entire summer’s worth of work and imagination.

Caine’s Arcade has since inspired millions and launched a movement to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in kids, via the Imagination Foundation: imagination.is

Check out the video below and share it with your friends and family. I hope you were as inspired as I was. It goes to show you that anyone can a million dollar idea with some imagination (and cardboard.)

TGIF!

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

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#16. be a guest speaker at an event

Nine months ago I walked across a stage, was handed my diploma and made the transition from student to graduate. In my cap and gown, standing by some of my best friends, we looked at each other and knew everything was going to be different. We were being thrown out of our comfort zones full of Thursday night study sessions and monthly group dinners. No more sitting around tables at student org meetings or finishing the day over a few drinks and laughs.

Some of us had jobs already secured while others were still searching for the perfect one. Some packed up their lives for new adventures while others took a chance and put everything on the line. Although we were all in different places – some hating the jobs they had, others hating not having a job – we all had one thing in common: we missed our comfort zones. The feeling of knowing everyone and everything and the sense of security that came with it.

Nine months out, a lot has changed for all of us. Some have grown within their jobs, others have landed new ones. And while it hasn’t even been a full year and even though we don’t always get it right – we’re finding comfort in the new directions life has taken all of us.

Five awesome ladies doing big things. Took this from Alex's blog!

Five awesome ladies doing big things. Took this from Alex’s blog!

This is why I was beyond excited to speak in front of a PR class full of seniors and be invited to participate in Temple PRSSA’s Young Alumni Panel with four other alums (and friends) who are all doing great things.

I joined PRSSA as a freshman and by senior year I was on the e-board co-chairing the public relations committee. Every year I attended the alumni panel and listened eagerly in the audience as they would talk about the successes each of them found after graduation. I’d soak up every piece of advice they would have to offer about finding mentors or searching for jobs or obtaining the perfect internship. I scribbled it all down in notebook after notebook, hoping that by the time I graduated I would be able to return one day and pay it forward.

As the five of us sat there in front of a packed room full of eager, bright-eyed students, much like myself only a year ago, it was a surreal feeling of both pride and gratitude. We all talked about our involvement while we were at Temple, where our post-graduate journeys have taken us and offered advice on getting involved and making the most out of your college years. I was now the alum sharing her stories of success and hard work, hoping that I would serve as some sort of inspiration to those before me, much like past alumni were for me.

take pride

The experience solidified two things: that while my friends and I joke about being pseudo-adults and not having it all together, we don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit for everything we have accomplished these past nine months and how much we’ve all grown in such a short period of time. And two, that there is nothing more rewarding than being able to give back to an organization that has given so much to you over the years – from networking opportunities, hands-on experience to most importantly – the friendships you create and memories you make.

#15. a valentine’s day special: write 20 things i like about someone

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone, or as other’s like to call it – Happy Hallmark or Singles’ Awareness Day. Even though I’ve had a Valentine for the last seven years, I am not one of those girls who gets excited over the so-called “holiday.” In fact, I get pretty annoyed at all of the couples who make us taken girls look bad when they bitch about only getting 6 roses instead of 12 or Russell Stover’s  chocolate instead of Godiva.

Just a couple of goofs.

Just a couple of goofs.

I’m not going to try a cliché blog post about love being something that should be shown 365 days of the year, because you already know that. And that doesn’t just go for significant others I’d like to add – that goes for family and friends as well, the people who are there for you every day.

Because Mike and I are both pathetically broke this year, we’re not doing much out of the ordinary, although that’s been practically every year (last Valentine’s Day we celebrated with pizza. Clearly, he knows the way to my heart).

On my 213 in 2013 list, I wanted to write a list of 20 things I liked about someone and give it to them. I think people like to hear about all of the little quirks they have that make others smile. So I figured it would be the perfect “gift” for Mike – a small, yet sincere and heartfelt way to let him know the many reasons why I love him.

I was even lucky enough to be graced with a big heaping pile of #10. this morning. I’m definitely spoiled. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again – it’s the little, sweet, everyday gestures that make love as great as it is. The ones that you know will make your special someone smile. Not the rush to buy a bouquet of roses because you feel obligated to.

pancakes

Better than any pancakes you’ll ever eat. No, seriously.

Here are 20 (+1) reasons I have the greatest guy in the world.

things i love about you

20 things I love about you:

  1. Your prowess and unmatched talent with even the most challenging crossword puzzle.
  2. The way you sing along to every Steve Wonder song, eyes closed – head swaying.
  3. Your ridiculous musical talent and ability to pick up any instrument and teach yourself how to play it.
  4. That you let me be the big spoon.
  5. That you can never stay mad at me for too long without letting me make you laugh or smile.
  6. Your housekeeping skills and your understanding that I have OCD about dishes, beds that are made and laundry that is folded.
  7. How funny you can be when you’re not even trying. Confession: you’re much funnier than I let on.
  8. Your ugly cry. And how funny, and adorable and absolutely endearing it is and how it can turn even the most emotional moments into awkward, hysterical ones.
  9. Your crooked tooth. It gives your smile so much more pizazz than anyone else’s I’ve ever seen.
  10. How you always manage to make the most delicious, fluffy pancakes that are way better than those at any diner or restaurant I’ve ever been to.
  11. The way you hug me like you’ll never get to do it again. Every single time.
  12. Your patience – even with my most outrageous demands or temper tantrums. Your ability to see through my craziness and love me for even my worst parts.
  13. That you never let me win at the games we play just because I’m a girl. You kick my ass in Scrabble and checkers and I love you for it.
  14. Your thoughtfulness. Whether it comes in the form of a pint of ice cream I’ve been talking about craving or that you spent your day off from work cleaning the apartment – I appreciate every single thing you do.
  15. Your guilty face when you know I’m mad at you with your sad puppy eyes. You know it’s my kryptonite.
  16. That you have absolutely no athletic skills whatsoever, but it never keeps you from attempting to dunk a basket like Michael Jordan.
  17. When we’re driving and you randomly reach over and grab my hand.
  18. All of the things my friends and I make you put up with, from driving us around to listening to our garbagy gossip.
  19. When you sing in the shower and fill up the apartment with the sounds of soul, funk and jazz with your voice.
  20. That you make the perfect “Love Shack” karaoke partner and help us steal the show everywhere we go.

And one extra, for the road!

  1.  That you have been my karaoke partner, secret keeper, punching bag, source of comfort, joke teller, partner in crime, best friend and love of my life for the last seven years.

Thank you for everything you do to make this life the best life it can be. I love you from the bottom of my heart. Happy Valentine’s Day.

instead of giving up, give back

Around this time every year, I see my Facebook and Twitter feeds blow up with what everyone is giving up for Lent this year. Every year the “sacrifices” people are making sound familiar to years before – chocolate, icecream, Facebook, pizza, sex. I should preface this post by saying I don’t partake in Lent, even though many of my family members follow the Catholic faith. I’ve had an aversion to religion my entire life so I’m not a big believer in everything that Lent is supposed to stand for.

With that said, I still greatly respect and admire those who do believe and partake in the season. I’m sure that giving up guilty pleasures and vices for 40 days does not come easy (I once tried to give up pasta for a month and failed miserably.) However – after those 40 days are over, everyone will go back to their usual ways. They’ll go out and buy a Hershey bar or they’ll log in and spend the next five days catching up on everything they’ve missed on Facebook. My point is: the sacrifice is temporary.

lent

Which is why I think that in addition to the sacrifices people make every year, they should consider another way to approach the season of Lent. Instead of just taking something away from yourself, consider giving something back this year too. Think about the impact and difference you can make by taking time to volunteer with a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or participate in a neighborhood cleanup. Your actions aren’t just felt by you but by the people and the communities you touch through your acts of service, kindness and selflessness not to mention the impact will be felt much longer than 40 days. Instead of chocolate sales going down, people in need can receive help, streets can be cleaned up and lives can be changed for the better.

make a difference phrase on blackboard

To me, that sounds like a much more impactful way to honor the season. I know that Lent is supposed to be centered on the idea of sacrifice – so consider sacrificing some time for others this year.  I already have plans to volunteer with an animal rescue group and a soup kitchen in the coming weeks, which I could not be more excited for.

Volunteer opportunities are really easy to find. Check out the websites below to help get you started:

www.volunteermatch.org/

www.serve.gov/

http://www.idealist.org

How will you help make a difference this year?

#13 & #14 go wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping

Brace yourself kiddies, this is a double-header and it’s a long one.

I have always admittedly been one of those girls who daydreamed about her wedding day before I could even tie my shoes. I grew up in the middle of the Disney Princess phenomenon when every girl thought Prince Charming actually existed and that he’d sweep you off your feet on a magic carpet ride. Luckily, I grew out of that fairly quickly and Disney Princess movies were replaced with episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. For as long as I can remember, I’d watch every episode, curled up on my couch and dreamed about the day I’d finally be able to try on a wedding dress for the very first time.

In my fantasy, I’d come out of the dressing room and my mom, sister and closest friends would be sitting on a grand, white couch, sipping champagne as I made my way to the pedestal in the center of the room. They would all start crying and telling me how beautiful I looked. I’d turn around, catch a glance of myself in the mirror and with complete joy and excitement, jump eagerly up and down as I shouted “I’m saying yes to the dress!”

And that, my friends, is why fantasies are called fantasies. Thanks, TLC.

This past Saturday, I woke up at the crack of dawn, shaved my legs for the first time in a week and made the three hour drive to Pennsylvania to go wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping with my bridal party. My sister, the maid of honor, had made us two appointments that day and reservations for dinner afterwards to celebrate what we hoped would be a successful shopping trip. Oh, and did I mention there was a big blizzard in the Northeast this weekend? Yeah, only us. Luckily, the snow didn’t keep us away from a day full of tacky dresses, tulle and in the end, perfect and fantastical moments.

Every girl needs a little sparkle to help her feel special.

Every girl needs a little sparkle to help her feel special.

Unfortunately, in the area I was looking, there were a total of three bridal stores and of the three, one didn’t carry anything bigger than a size 10 (seriously?), so our choices were pretty limited. We drove up to the first stop of the day – Bridaltown. When I say this place is stuck in a really, really bad 1980s movie, I’m not kidding  — baby pink exterior, floral floor to ceiling wallpaper and stained magenta carpet, you name it. After being told they didn’t have a reservation in the system for us (liars, you called me thirty minutes ago to confirm), they took us to where they kept the bridesmaid dresses – a sad looking rack full of sad looking dresses. Dresses that were ill-fitting, poorly made and not to mention exorbitantly priced.

I wish I was joking... but this place actually exists.

I wish I was joking… but this place actually exists.

We decided the place sucked way too much to spend another minute there so we wrapped up our appointment.

Our next and last stop of the day was David’s Bridal in Plymouth Meeting. Before we could even walk into the store, Jess yanked the door a little too hard and her French manicured nail completely rips off and flies into the air. Alex and my mom are talking about doing shots out of the back of a car. I realize I have the Motley Crew as my bridal party (and quite frankly, couldn’t be happier about it, total dysfunction and all.)

Racks and racks and racks of dresses.

Racks and racks and racks of dresses.

The difference between Bridaltown and David’s Bridal is like describing the difference between heaven and hell. Gone are the pink walls and stained carpet with sad looking dresses and bitchy sales people. Instead there is a warm and welcoming hostess greeting me at the door, congratulating me on my upcoming wedding and to our left and right, rows upon rows of beautiful dresses. It’s finally starting to look a bit more like my TLC-inspired fantasy.

The girls run off and each take a row to pick out dresses for themselves as I greet my consultant, Lisa, who’s wearing combat boots, fishnets and is a complete and total angel. She asks me what I want and that’s when I realized – I had no clue. I had planned every other aspect of the wedding down to a drop of glitter and here I am, clueless as to how I want to look on my big day. I had two pictures of dresses I thought I’d like, told her my price point and said above all else – I want something that will make me look good.

She pulls the two dresses I showed her off the rack and a third, out-of-the-box choice – something she thought I’d look good in. As I get crammed into a corseted bra, put on a slip and get laced into my first dress, it finally hits me – this is my moment. The one I had been waiting for and had dreamed about for so long. I step out of the dressing room waiting to see the reaction of my mom’s face, my bridal party, everyone… and when I go out, nobody is there. HA. My mom is in the bathroom peeing and my bridesmaids didn’t even realize I was trying on dresses. It’s alright though, because the first dress was kind of a bust. Once everyone saw me in it they gave it an 8. Moving on.

Unfortunately, not a winner.

I go back in to try on the second dress – Lisa’s choice and before I can even look at myself in the mirror, my bridal party is oohing and aahing and my mom is crying. It’s hit her that her firstborn is getting married in a few months. Cue the tissues. The dress was beautiful – covered in ivory lace, intricate beading and form-fitted.

I try on the third dress, what I thought was going to be “the one” and it turns out it looked absolutely atrocious. My sister said I looked like a tent and the fabric felt like a cheap down comforter.

I put everyone’s favorite dress back on. But despite everyone loving it, I couldn’t see myself walking down the aisle in it. I didn’t like the way my body looked. I was uncomfortable. And before I knew it I was a few seconds away from a total bridal breakdown. My bridal party, the amazing group that they are, calmed me down by fanning me, telling me I looked beautiful and agreeing to let me have a break as they tried on their bridesmaid dresses.

As I sat in the chair, back in my jeans and cardigan, convinced I wouldn’t be leaving with a wedding dress, I took a deep breath and waited for them to come out of the dressing room. The first round of dresses didn’t produce any winners, although Jess thought it was a good idea to booty pop in her bubble dress. Like I said – Motley Crew.

They go back in and come back out with the second round of dresses and one by one, each of them looks absolutely stunning as they stand in front of me. Four girls with four very different body shapes and yet this one dress looks beautiful on all of them. It was a bridesmaid miracle. Okay, I thought. Things are looking up. Maybe I’ll find a dress afterall.

The color swatch for the bridesmaid dresses -- pewter gray!

The color swatch for the bridesmaid dresses — pewter gray!

I tell Lisa a few more basic ideas for what I’m looking for in a wedding dress. She pauses, nods her head and comes back with three more. I try the first one on and before its even laced up all the way, before I can even see myself – I knew.

I walked out onto the floor and stood in front of the mirror. I was beaming. Glowing, even, as I have been told. It wasn’t anything I had ever expected to fall in love with. But I was – I was completely, head-over-heels in love with this dress and I didn’t want to take it off. I felt beautiful for the first time that day.

I tried on the other two dresses she pulled as a courtesy (and because you only get to try on wedding dresses once in your life, so I figured I should have fun with it), but none of them came close to the first dress. My bridal party was eerily silent (a tactic I later learned to get me to admit to loving my dress instead of seeking their approval), but they told me to come back out in my favorite dress.

So I did. I put on the beautiful, white gown again and walked out to look at myself one last time before turning to my bridal party, holding back my tears and yelling “this is my dress!”

Lisa brought over the bell, a David’s Bridal tradition. She placed it in my hand, told me to close my eyes and make a wish for my wedding day. I let the moment sink in. That I was standing in the dress I would be wearing when I’d become Mike’s wife. That I was surrounded by people who all genuinely love me. That I had never felt more beautiful. I made a wish, opened my eyes and rang the hell out of that bell, so loudly that the entire store stopped to clap and congratulate me.

I wish it was acceptable to wear my wedding dress every day until September.

I wish it was acceptable to wear my wedding dress every day until September.

It was better than any fantasy I could have ever had. It was imperfectly perfect in every way.

We wrapped up the day by grabbing dinner and drinks at California Pizza Kitchen – complimentary “wedding” pie included.

Our waitress was amazing and gave me free keylime pie to celebrate my special day.

Our waitress was amazing and gave me free keylime pie to celebrate my special day.

I spent the next day staring at my wedding dress, picturing myself walking down the aisle to the man I love, with the women I love standing right beside me.

even if you’re broken, you can pick up the pieces

If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know I have a bit of a crush on Kid President. And not in the weird, creepy – he’s only 9 kind of way, but in the “damn, I really wish I was that awesome” way.

By now, I’m sure most of you have seen his pep talk that went viral and if you haven’t, then you NEED to check it out. It’s the perfect remedy for those days that feel a little gray.

kidprez

Kid President has just released his latest video – a look at the behind-the-scenes story of how the awesome, do-gooder, danceaholic became a sweeping inspiration across the country.

If you’ve ever watched any of his videos, you’d never guess that he lives with a disorder. It’s called Osteogenesis Imperfecta — better know as the “brittle bones disease” which makes it very easy for him to break or fracture bones. You’d think with a problem like that it could really hold someone back from living life to the fullest, but it has never kept him from shaking his tailfeather and being an inspiration to everyone that watches him.

As he’s demonstrated time and time again, even if you’re broken, you can always put the pieces back together. A lesson all of us should remember on our roughest days.

Check out Kid President’s latest video and share it with your friends and family.

#12. win a game of trivia

I am a vessel of random, mostly useless facts. My brain is like a sponge in the worst way, meaning I will absorb information that for the most part, will never serve a purpose. That is, until a game of trivia comes along and that weird factoid taking up valuable space in my brain comes in handy. This is why I put “win a game of trivia” on my 213 in 2013 list. So I can make use of years of half-watching Jeopardy games, hours of reading news articles and my strange obsession with memorizing things like all of the state’s capitols. And last night, the Funkie Duckies brought home victory.

These rubber ducks actually exist somewhere on the internet...

These rubber ducks actually exist somewhere on the internet…

As you can probably gather from my previous post, these past few days haven’t been the easiest. So a night of cheap drinks and trivia with an awesome group of people was exactly what the doctor ordered. Luckily, Blackfinn, a bar in downtown Bethesda holds trivia night every Wednesday with different themes ranging from 80s pop hits to 90s sitcom shows. Last night’s theme, in honor of the recent passage of Groundhog’s Day, was all about none other than Bill Murray.

While I have seen several of Murray’s blockbusters like Groundhog Day, Caddyshack and Ghostbusters, I am by no means a Bill Murray expert. So the chances of winning seemed pretty slim to none. As we waited for the game to start we slid into a booth and drank martini after martini after martini (okay, maybe that was just me actually, but hey – it was brain fuel) and chowed down on your typical bar food of wings, fries and burgers.

Bill-murray-fish-mouth

The game finally started and the first round was general trivia. After failing to come up with anything witty for our group name, we settled on the Funkie Duckies. The questions ranged from AMC’s most viewed television premiere to the mass of a human brain and we all piped in eagerly each time one of us knew the answer to a question, feeling a sense of self-worth for absorbing that random fact some time years ago.

Round one was a breeze and we came out victorious. To show for it, we won a free round of shots (no idea what it was but it tasted like whiskey and maraschino cherry juice) and a Bud Light koozie. Not bad.

The next round fired up – 10 questions about Bill and his most memorable movies and roles. I chimed in once or twice but Mike was clearly the Bill Murray master and didn’t even look up to ask us for help the majority of the game. It’s times like that when I realize maybe his hours of perusing IMBD articles are worth it.

Round two wrapped up and again, we were declared the winners. More free shots except this time it looked like the toilet water in a porter potty and tasted like it too. But free is free and the taste of victory made it go down a little bit easier.

Still feeling queasy after this one.

Still feeling queasy after this one.

The third and final round was by far the hardest. The host played clips of songs from movies made famous by Bill. The obvious ones like Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors were easy. The others left us stumped and I knew there was a slim chance of us winning the third round in a row. But to lighten the blow of our imminent loss, “I believe I can fly,” made famous by Space Jam came on and the entire table participated in an obnoxiously loud and embarrassing sing-along with hand gestures to match.

We lost the final round but were declared the overall champions and scored a $50 gift card, which we are saving for our next trivia night.

I didn’t get into bed until 11:30 last night and I knew I was going to be exhausted for work the next day. But Bill Murray, free shots and R. Kelly sing-a-longs are the stuff of life and should never be missed for a few extra hours of sleep.