Monthly Archives: September 2011

true to your heart

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what growing up really means. I think one of the most important parts of growing up is making your own decisions. Not just making them, but living with the consequences of them. There is no one to fall back on anymore. No one to soften the fall. No one to take the blame. No one to experience the repercussions other than you. Not so fun really, but it’s inevitable. It’s responsibility. It’s being an adult. (It sucks).

What I’m learning is that you have to trust your decisions. Go with your intuition and trust your heart. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. There are so many outside influences who will always be giving their opinions on what path you should be taking, and you should listen to a certain extent and bend where you absolutely can. Digest what is being said and take from it what you will, but ultimately this is your journey. Above all else, you must always be true to yourself.

Not everyone will always agree with you, even the people you love. But in the end, those people want what’s best for you. As someone very wise recently told me, Ultimately, when you make yourself happy, you make the people that love you happy as well.”

When making any difficult decision, you have to believe that no one knows you better than you. Take your time, think things through, weigh your choices, consider the effects of your actions and do what you know will make you a better you. This is your story to write. Take advantage of this opportunity you’ve been given. Be confident in yourself. Be confident in your decisions. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Gawd, I need to learn to take my own advice…

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Autumn

Chicago, IL - Fall 2009

Fall begins tomorrow and I am so looking forward to it. Here are my top 10 reasons why I LOVE this season:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks
  2. The weather (yes, I know, I’m in LA and we don’t have seasons, but it’s not as hot)
  3. Dark nail polish colors
  4. Lazy weekends “watching” college football
  5. Thanksgiving
  6. Sweaters, boots & scarves
  7. Going to the pumpkin patch /haunted hayride/haunted house
  8. All my favorite TV shows are back
  9. Fall candles
  10. The leaves/colors (again, we don’t have much of this in LA, but it was one of my favorite things about the Midwest)

What are your favorite things about fall?

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Coral Tree Cafe

If you live in Los Angeles, you NEED to try the Coral Tree Cafe: 17499 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316

It’s a little pricey, but oh, so cute!  Perfect place to stop for a light breakfast. Look how beautiful their cappuccinos are:

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The Shoe That Fit

An idea I always had for this blog was to every once in a while ask someone to write about their post-college experience. My reason being I think it’s important for us to share our stories and let people our age know we’re not the only ones having these thoughts, emotions, fears, experiences, etc.

I am so excited to have Stephanie Marchese be my first guest blogger! She found Va Bene and reached out to me (which I am so grateful for!), making me realize she’d be a perfect person to write about her journey after graduation.

I hope you get as much from her story as I do. Here’s a little background info on Stephanie before you get started:

Stephanie Marchese of Totowa, New Jersey received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Massachusetts in Amherst on May 15, 2010. Stephanie graduated with academic distinction from the school of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a degree in Political Science and Italian. She considers herself a political junkie, a frequent flyer, a die-hard Patriots fan, a wine connoisseur and a Disney aficionado. When she was five she wanted to be a NYC Rockette. She is most proud of her time spent abroad in Italy, her contributions to the UMass Dance Team, volunteering on Obama’s campaign and her master’s degree in Italian literature. Stephanie is a legislative policy analyst for the New Jersey Hospital Association which is a not-for-profit trade organization committed to helping NJ hospitals and health systems provide quality, accessible and affordable care to their communities.

And now, her story:

To me, the very thought of life after graduation was inconceivable. My life in Amherst morphed into a repetitious cycle of homework, exams, dance team practices and being a normal twenty-something-year-old kid trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. As May approached I began to feel uneasy about solidifying an answer. Wanna know the truth? I didn’t know. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan. This was life after graduation.

The unknown can be exciting for some, but for an obsessive compulsive control freak like myself, it was as horrifying as losing my daily planner. One evening in May, I sat quiet on my parents’ deck with my college photo album in hand. I perused each page much like a yearbook, remembering the last four years of my life. I loved college because there was always an end goal in sight. I knew where I was headed and I got there. The faces in the pictures reminded me of a time not too long ago. A time when waking up at noon and eating dessert before dinner were completely acceptable. As I sat there in the shadows of the sunset, I wondered what would be next. Graduation seemed like forever ago and the job search was not looking promising. I looked to the horizon and thought, “here we go.”

And so started my life post-graduation. My friends dispersed all over the country. Some remained on the east coast while others moved west calling San Francisco and Denver home. I started feeling lonely and sad, even empty. This was an entirely new concept I had to grapple with. I was a planner! In the months that followed I drove myself crazy trying to find a job. I sent out dozens upon dozens of resumes. I even tried my hand at odd jobs to pass the time. I like to describe that period of my life as the time I traded in jobs as frequently as I changed my shoes. I was crazed in finding the perfect job, the perfect ending. So much so, that I was forcing the shoe to fit. This Cinderella just had to wait her turn.

And so I waited. I calmed down. I stopped worrying. I eventually realized that breaking myself down wasn’t worth it. Letting life come to me would be the better option. So I traded in my daycare team t-shirt for a pair of shades and a UMass tee and got to living my life. That summer I sat longer in the sun, read a couple of books, ate well, learned how to cook and spent time with my friends, family and boyfriend. Before I knew it, the summer I had been dreading turned into the summer I wished wouldn’t end.

Skipping ahead, that fall I found myself at Rutgers University pursuing a master’s degree in Italian. As part of my new “living for Stephanie” plan I decided to study a subject I was most passionate about. I began to get busy—the  kind of busy that keeps you on your toes. I was happy again. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

 On a cool October night, my boyfriend sent me a job post from the internet. He urged me to apply, but I wasn’t convinced. The post was a month old and I didn’t even have a cover letter written. He pressed me until I sent my resume. I didn’t have any expectations. In fact, I didn’t even think they would call, but they did. Monday I was asked to interview, Friday I was offered the job. The shoe finally fit!

I like to think if I could go back in time I would have some great advice for my newly graduated self. I like to think I’d tell that young girl to follow the roads of life. I’d tell her that no one person has it all figured out. I would explain the importance of living a life completely unabridged, stressing how truly liberating it felt to NOT have all the answers.

So young people on the heels of your college graduation I offer you this…

Graduating college? Well, you can expect to go through a variety of changes and emotions over the next few months. Don’t worry though. Part of learning in your 20s is done through making mistakes. Trust you’ll make plenty of ‘em. Now is your time to learn, to find yourself, to figure out what you are all about. Don’t waste time worrying about the “what-ifs.” What and if are two simple words, but putting them together can drive a person crazy. Live freely, openly, spiritually, happily. Love unconditionally and remember to laugh at your misfortunes. Trust me, the best years of your life don’t end after graduation, they are just beginning.

Stephanie, I can’t thank you enough for this post!

If anyone else would like to share their story, please shoot me an email. Would love to hear about the path you’ve taken!

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the “something” that was missing…

I started my Path Finder course today on http://www.chookooloonks.com/ and I had no idea how much I was needing something like this. I had been craving creativity and I didn’t even know it.

Today I was just in a foul mood. Unfortunately, my boyfriend was on the receiving end of this. To be quite honest, I was acting like an ass. My excuses were that I was tired, overwhelmed, stressed, pissed that the long weekend was over, anxious, etc. The usual. But really, I was on vacation last weekend and was just coming off a three-day weekend; why was I so out of control? When I finally took the time to sit down and start Path Finder I realized that I had been missing something.

My bad mood and emotional state was more about me not making time for the things I love to do. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t read a book in forever, I haven’t photographed anything lately, I haven’t drawn in ages, hell—I haven’t even done any scrapbooking on http://www.shutterfly.com/. I am starving for creativity. I haven’t been making any time to do the things that make me me.

The first exercise of the course required journaling. You had to do it with a pen and paper though.  It sounds so silly, but it felt so good! I loved the imperfectness of it. I loved the spelling mistakes, the incorrect grammar, the messy handwriting. I couldn’t go back and make everything perfect like I can in a Word document. Sometimes the perfection of it all is just so exhausting. Being able to write in a stream of consciousness was wonderful.

I see good things coming from my new class. I’m hoping for it to bring me back to creativity, and in doing so, make me a better girlfriend, friend, sister, daughter and all-around person. I’m thinking this may give me the positive energy I’ve been yearning for.

I know this much for sure: creativity brings me joy. And I am going to do everything I can to look for those things that inspire me to be creative, original, authentic, imaginative—happy.

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