On Image

This body of mine has been through a lot. As a teenager I modeled in both commercial print and high fashion runway. The classic story is that around sixteen I had the opportunity to sign with a well known agency in New York City, but encouraged by equal parts tradition and my own intellectual curiosity I chose to finish high school and go to college.

In the future I will create more detailed posts about my experience and use my platform to add my voice to a much larger conversation about body image, weight, inclusivity, diversity, etc. but from my own experience, I can say that my body had changed very much over the past six years. Retrospectively, I look at how these changes reflect what I was going through in that particular moment in my life.

From overexercising and strictly monitoring my caloric intake my lanky, and frankly underweight sixteen year old self became a senior in high school using exercise as an outlet to manage the stress of the upcoming transition to college. My freshman year was the first time in my life that I was away from everything that had defined my life previously and I found myself no longer going to the gym or intentionally exercising and indulging in all of the culinary experiences that my life in Copenhagen, Denmark and Tours, France had to offer. I would not take back this for anything, but the image of my body changed: I was fuller than I ever had been before and no longer sixteen and, frankly, felt very much not at ease in my own skin. Transitioning to a sophomore (/junior) year at Wake Forest was easily one of the most difficult experiences to date and feeling discomfort in my own skin did not help. Coupled with the stresses of a university workload, creating my narrative and navigating a foreign social environment, the sixteen year old demons found themselves back into my head. Over spring break I went to the doctors office for a regular visit and the nurse looked at me perplexed and I looked down and saw a number on the scale that I had not seen since I was seventeen.

After reading and researching about the lives of successful women and men, a consistent theme was self care. Throughout my life I have always operated in a manner of doing things to reach an end goal. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there is no end goal with health: it's more about longevity and adding life to our years and years to our lives. The final year of my undergraduate experience, one of my goals is discovering the way I will fulfill this necessity of self care to not only make myself a better person to live with in my physical container, but to use this authentic sense of confidence to be able to more fully show up for those around me.


Library of Congress

"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." - Thomas Jefferson

I spend a lot of my time in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University and can without a doubt say that I take for granted a big, beautiful building full of books and a space dedicated entirely to learning. Libraries are so common on university campuses and in cities that we often forget that there was once a time where and still are instances where having access to information (much less the internet and anything else you could ever imagine ... instantaneously ... at your fingertips) was reserved for a certain elite portion of the population.

Having access to knowledge is power, but power is more so the ability to comprehend and challenge the given narrative and provide an alternate viewpoint. As Jefferson put it best when our country was in its developmental phases, the liberating power of free press is only progressive when this power is given to an informed citizenry. I found myself on my most recent trip to Washington D.C just marveling at the overwhelming quality of the architecture of the Library of Congress and thought it very much evoked the same kind of awe that access to knowledge can bring those who are curious. 

Stay curious. The world needs more thinkers. That's what being a student means to me: it's not about memorizing facts and spitting back information, it's about redefining, refining and challenging my perception of the world and experimenting with different ways of framing a commonly accepted story to shed light on a new, innovative way of thinking. 


Favorite Podcasts

I mentioned in my last post the fact that part of my research will be the creation of my own podcast! My interest in and loyal following of podcasts is fairly new. I know myself well enough that anytime I put on an audiobook and try and justify it as "just a way to multitask" that I always end up tuning it out, and to be quite honest, the same happened for the first few of my podcast listening sessions. However, as a politics major and someone who genuinely wants a true awareness of what is going on around me, I have become an avid podcast listener these past two months. My roommate and I had quite different morning routines and I found myself alone in the room in the mornings to get ready and I found this to be the best time to trade my usual music sessions into the time where I qued all kinds of journalism up to start my morning. I am a strong believer that one cannot simply read one article, one news paper, or listen to one show or one voice and call themselves informed. I listen to all kinds of political podcasts to get the whole picture and all of the perspectives, which will help me formulate my own opinions and a better understanding of the objective truth.

Here are my favorites at the moment ... I use Spotify as my source:

Economist Radio (for more detailed coverage of specific events or phenomenon)
POLITICO's EU Confidential (excellent inside information about EU political climate)
The Intelligence (detailed coverage of niche subjects that are often overlooked by mass media)
The Daily (quick, easy to digest coverage of necessary events to be aware of and occasional, detailed editorials)
WSJ What's News (similar kind of content as The Daily)
Today in Focus (similar kind of content as The Daily) 
NPR News Now (similar kind of content as The Daily)
Post Reports (similar kind of content as The Daily)
The NPR Politics Podcast (in depth coverage of events in American politics)
Pod Save America (in depth coverage of events in American politics)

What are some of your favorite political / journalism podcasts? I'm ALWAYS here for more :)


Transitioning (Again)

If you've read my blog for the past few years, you know I am no stranger to transitions. My life certainly has taken some unexpected turns and I am definitely keen to what is next. In the spirit of non-comparison (like I talked about in my last post) and transparency (to keep it real, because you know, authenticity is cool) I thought it might be interesting to chat about how my summer is shaping up to look like ... it's certainly not what I thought it would look like two months ago!  (ps. The above photo is our new porch, my mom and I worked on redoing it over Easter weekend and it finally all came together. It's definitely our new favorite hangout spot.)

* My mom and I are tagging along on trip to Washington D.C. with my dad for a continuing medical education conference. I'm excited to go to some of the lesser known museums and am geeked about going to the Library of Congress.

* I am planning our family trip to LONDON! We booked this last minute because we did not know what the summer would hold with lots of new events happening in our family. We are SO excited because about a month ago British Airways announced a nonstop flight between Charleston and London (Heathrow) and we are very excited to have this opportunity! I am definitely going to be taking my parents to some of my favorite places in London that I have discovered these past two years of being there :)

* At the end of the month, I am going back to Wake for six weeks to take my required science course for my liberal arts core curriculum. There is NO way I would be found in a lab doing biology or chemistry, so I chose computer science. I am actually stoked. I taught myself how to code some parts of this website, I created a website for my position with the Center for Global Programs and Studies, and I did a huge coding project for my political science research methods class this past semester.

* I will be at Wake this whole month taking my class, volunteering and doing what I can to help with programming in the Center for Global Programs and Studies.

* The BIGGEST project I am undertaking this summer is an independent research project with the guidance of two professors here at Wake. I am so excited to challenge myself through about ten weeks of intensive reading, research, writing and theory formulation under my own direction and inspired by my own interests. In a nutshell, I am doing a case study about referendums in the Danish Parliament related to the European Union. My topic is a lot more multi-facted and complex, but I have 10 weeks to unpack it all. I am definitely going to be sharing my findings on my blog, but also I am making a podcast (!!!) to verbalize my theories, research and really internalize my findings. The month of June will be all about my research.

* By the end of this month my month dedicated to research will be condensed into a thirty page paper so that I can meet my deadline with a week of revising before submission.

* While not concrete, there are still weekends this month that I want to travel. I have friends and family all over Florida and potentially an exciting trip to the north east

* While all of this is happening, it is now "next year" and what that means is that graduation is lingering right around the corner. The next step is on the other side of this door is basically here. In addition to my research about Danish EU referendums, I will be researching and formulating the next chapter of my life.

* I have a huge deadline August 7th which means my research will be completed!

* I move back to Wake Forest very early because I will be in training for my new job as a Resident Advisor in an upperclassmen residence building. In addition, the newest cohort of Global Awakenings freshman will be having their orientation and I certainly will be involved in that.

*  After a summer of research, adventure, self care and preparing the best possible version myself for what is to come, at the end of this month, I start my special third and final year of college.

Thank you so much for taking the time read a little outline of what is to come. I hope you stay around as I share my findings for my research. I know it is a very niche topic, but I am very excited to share my passion of the Nordic Model and European Union relations with you.




A Year in Five Bullet Points


Finals are over. All my papers have been submitted. My sophomore/junior academic year is finished and I successfully completed a full year on the Reynolda Campus at Wake Forest University while missing Copenhagen, Denmark every single day. It's absolutely unfathomable how fast time as an undergrad goes by - much less when you decide to accelerate the experience - and I am just now strapping down my seat belt for the roller coaster that is about to be my final year. If you've read my blog before then you know how much I love to talk, and quite honestly I have a lot I could say about my experiences from this past academic year. As a personal challenge, however, I have decided to limit myself to five bullet points as a summation of everything I have been through, what I have learned and what the foreseeable future looks like for me. Maybe one day I will break all of these five points down in a longer post.

* Friendships take effort and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone and keep yourself there. Really, it's about flirting with vulnerability. I've learned a lot over the past two years about people, especially when it comes to who I choose to surround myself with. But what I have learned most is that friendships are a choice, a commitment and sometimes a sacrifice (of time, of ego, etc.). And most importantly, friendships absolutely take two people. These past two years I have basically become a networking pro and know how to make friends. I try all my options, but I don't force it when things don't work. People sometimes just don't get along and that is OK. After all, I don't like people who don't like me.

* In no way shape or form is there a "right" way to do college. Falling into the trap of comparison and becoming captivated by grand narratives will lead to disappointment and confusion. Recognizing that each story, each journey, is different, is the way to create a college experience that is unique and powerful to form the best possible version of oneself.

* Privilege. At a school like Wake Forest, is undeniable. This past year has me reflecting heavily upon the position that I occupy in this social stratosphere. With that being said, I have learned the power of hard work, setting my goals and putting my nose to the grind. If I have the privilege to remove myself from the outside world and solely focus on my education, then it is essential for me to do my absolute best to give back to the world what I have been given. The version of my best does not have to look like anyone else's.

* In college, balance is hard and its OKAY to not to have all parts of life working in sync. Working out for the first time in my life was not a priority, when I had a spare moment I needed to sleep and sometimes I needed to sleep but for my own well being I needed to be with my friends. Sometimes you work hard and sometimes you play hard. Some days you eat oatmeal, a Kind Bar, and salad, some days you have two dinners. Some days you wear a blazer, but most days you wear leggings and a sweatshirt. Whatever the circumstance, I learned to let it come. These college years are different from the rest of my life, I have my whole life ahead to find balance.

* Call your family. No matter how busy I found myself, I recognized that this whole experience would not be possible without my family. I call my mom literally every day and my dad and I communicate via texts, GIFs of the Demon Deacon and pictures of my dog. No matter how much I grow, I will never grow away from my roots.


The City Where It All Comes Back To

It always comes back to Paris. It was one of the first European cities I had ever been to and it was the place I found myself coming back to time and time again. Come to Paris and you will no longer wonder why all of the greatest writers of our day were enchanted by this place. There really is something about beautiful, magical Paris that takes your breath away. Each. Time.

I have so many photos of this beautiful city. In the fall, in the spring and in the summer. I have been to Paris enough times now that I have my favorite neighborhoods, sights start to look familiar and I even have a list of off the beaten path places that I want to remember the next time that I am in this here. Because we know each other so well, I could take photos of Paris that were not the typical of a tourist. I could begin to capture the way in which this city made me feel: nostalgic, wistful, whimsical, a little melancholic and of course the familiar feeling of bubbling warmth in the pit of my stomach.

I took these photos when I was in Paris last spring. I travelled alone from Copenhagen and had plans to meet up with a few friends who were living there at the time. I took one day; however, completely in solitude ... which is something you don't often have the chance to while in college. In solitude and with no particular plans in mind I wandered throughout this city and stopped by places that I had not been to before ... arrondissements that I had yet to explore.

Paris is one of those places that is from another time period ... in the best way possible. Of course it is one of the most progressive places for industry and commerce, but the architecture keeps this treasure sentimentally well nested in la Belle Epoque.


Hello, It's Me

Hello, Internet. It's me again. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my ramblings and muddling through the realness with me. Thank you also for those of you who reached out to me after my last post. I have been thinking a lot about the internet, and while there are some days I want to be a sheep herder in Iceland and leave this world behind, it is in these moments I am so thankful for the connection, the support. 

You know what time of year it is. It's the beginning. Page 3 / 365. Do you have your resolutions all mapped out to the T? Your gym memberships bought? Your diets planned? Your motivational podcasts qued? And what about those trash bags to de-clutter ... you got those babies ready to go? 

Stressed? Don't be. I have done none of this and honestly I don't plan on it. You see I'm trying something different this year ... mostly because I am in a situation that I had never have been before. To spare you the details I am not at my healthiest point in my life ... these past few months I have known more illness and more injury than I ever have in my twenty years here. I am in the process of learning to live in my body as a baby && winter break has been met with a lot of time off and lots of introspection about how I foresee this next year of my life panning out. It's going to be quite different: no huge adventures abroad have been planned yet and no transitions are happening until 2020. This year is going to be the year of work: both academically and on cultivating the person that I want to be as I graduate and head out into the world sooner than I know it. 

I have created a list of five points that I wanted to share with you about where I want my mindset to be for this upcoming year. It is a bit ironic since once of my goals for this year is more finely distinguishing the line between my public and my private life and my life online and off ... but you know what they say ... what you put in writing make you accountable && you know I am all about creating community. 

I. Relearn how to be alone
I listened to a very interesting TED talk the other day which inspired me to relook into something my only child self knew how to do when I was younger ... and while I have become more of an extrovert than an introvert nowadays (which is so exciting and so fun) there are qualities I want to re-cultivate to be a more mindful, focused human being. 

II. Write. Every. Day
Ever since I can remember my teachers and professors have told me I possess a skill for writing. Truth be told ... I hate it. The physical act of forcing myself to sit down and bang out some words on a screen or notebook does not appeal to me at all; however, once I am done there is a space that I long to prolong in my head -- the space of clarity through processing the internal world externally. I have made myself a promise to write everyday so that this flame of creativity stays lit, so that I can explore the world through my thoughts. 

III. Declutter my newsfeed and only view what will make me a better person.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how I interact with social content. The way in which I have used social media since first downloading Instagram June 2012 has changed immensely: It has become mindless and I have started using the internet as a tool to pass time and to escape the feeling of boredom that I have once known so well that I am now a stranger to. I have been unfollowing a lot of people and  brands and cleared out my feeds to people who I no longer know, wish to know or who no longer serve me in becoming the person that I want to be. It is liberating. In doing this I am looking to reshape how I use the internet and use it as a tool ... not a crutch.  

IV. Make real change and become part of the real world
Intentionally vague? Absolutely. Most of my life has been dedicated to learning and enriching myself with the goal of one day bringing this carefully curated version of my being to contribute to the world. I am at a point now where I am ready to bring my person I have become and implement her into society through active, real and life changing service to humanity. 

V. Read a book a month
Pretty self explanatory here. I read a LOT for school ... mostly things that I do not choose / are very dry. I have chosen some books to read these next few months that are ones to challenge the way I have been thinking to provide myself with tools to be a more innovative, inclusive and deductive thinker and leader. 

Here is to a year of cultivating an intellectual
discovering the best version of myself
balancing emotions and practicality
taking things as they come

all to become the most empowered version of myself to share with the world and fight for what I believe in, never surrendering and never backing down

cheers to a year of hope!

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