summer 2021: recent reads

Hello and welcome, fellow readers and non-readers.
From a young age I have been captivated by words, hence the natural attraction to reading and writing.

Recently I’ve been enjoying some books, and I wanted to share them with y’all! I have compiled a list of titles and my own little tidbits. Enjoy. 🙂

FICTION

  • Something to Live For by Richard Roper
  • Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

NON-FICTION

  • I Think, Therefore I Draw by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein
  • Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese
  • The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness by Gucci Mane
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
  • The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place by David Sheff
  • 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna Wiest

Something to Live For
by Richard Roper

“How Not to Die Alone” was the original title for this novel. Unfortunately, the reading market was not receptive to such bluntness. Roper’s piece was republished with new cover art and name. It’s darkly funny, life-affirming contents, however, remain.

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Easy read. Very likable protagonist (Andrew) and unique storyline.

Rating: 4/5


Gods Behaving Badly
by Marie Phillips

The cover art is what really sold me on this one. My copy features Apollo, Greek god of the sun and one of the twelve Olympians, donning a pair purple and orange smiley boxers.

This is a spicy read that will keep you giggling the entire way through.

Very fun.

Rating: 3.5/5


I Think, Therefore I Draw
by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

This book is written by a pair of Harvard buddies. The two men studied philosophy together and want to share their thoughts.

Various cartoons (like Bradford Veley’s) are explained by the men with a twist of humor.

Oy, vey! Veley

For the reader looking to flex the good ol’ mental muscles.

Rating: 3.5/5


Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide
by John Cleese

If I were to become President of the United States, I would make this book a legal reading requirement for all.

If you’re familiar with Monty Python, classic 1970s British sketch comedy, then you recognize this authors name. Cleese does a beautiful job introducing the concept of creativity to all readers.

This short Dr. Seuss-esque should be read by everyone.

Rating: 5/5


The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness
by Gucci Mane

Gucci Mane is a literary genius.

Ok no, I kid. But this is a really entertaining book if you are able to momentarily forget you exchanged real money for this book.

I admittedly did not finish this entire read, but I will go back to it at some point! Some of the quotes are so outlandish; it’s like watching a cringe thing you can’t look away from.

“If you keep lookin’ back you gon’ trip going forward.”

Rating: 2.5/5


Greenlights
by Matthew McConaughey

I have so many thoughts on this book I could write an entire blog post. Matthew shares so many funny stories, life-lessons, and thought-provoking concepts.

The formatting is the book is a cross between autobiography, photo album, and journal. It’s awesome really.

JUST
KEEP
LIVIN’

Rating: 5/5


The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place
by David Sheff

Wow, this book is intense. I already had an interest in meditation but wow this book reignited the flame. And yes, it is non-fiction.

Jarvis Jay Masters has spent more of his life in prison than he has as a free man. He is a published author, devoted Buddhist, ‘child of the system’, and so much more.

I cannot stress enough how impactful this read is. If you have never tried meditation and have any interest, I would recommend reading more into Jarvis’ story.

The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place

“Sometimes a warrior’s task is to sit with defeat.”

Rating: 4.5/5


101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think
by Brianna Wiest

I am still working my way through this baby.
This is not one of those quick reads. I keep a notepad in the book and jot down quotes and thoughts that come to mind while I read.

The lessons are impressive and poignant.
If you are considering this book, I would highly recommend skimming through in the book store. You’ll be hooked.

(10) Most people do not want to be happy, which is why they are not.

Rating: 5/5



feature: camille mola, positive publicity

The best public relations practitioners are flexible, curious, and bold individuals. 

My dear friend and fellow young professional Camille Mola, a suburban Springfield, Pa., native turned chic Philly gal, fits these adjectives flawlessly.

Camille has the role of PR and Communications Manager for the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia. The tuition-free institution is over eighty-five years old and is dedicated to professionally training singers to share their gifts with the world.

Mid-March 2020, the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic began changing life as we knew it. The global health emergency imposed stay-at-home orders and banned social gatherings forcing everyone to pivot and strategize how to move forward in the new normal. All performances planned for academy were cancelled and classes were suspended indefinitely. 

“AVA was founded on ensuring singers can hone their gifts, I knew we could still do that. We just needed to adjust.”

Camille Mola on how COVID-19 impacted AVA

Camille has successfully headed the launch of AVA’s newly designed website in December 2020, an entirely virtual fall season of performances for 2021, and helped the academy adjust offerings while maintaining focus on students training. 

Academy of Vocal Arts Website Redesign by Camille Mola

The website redesign for AVA spanned from September to December and required a lot of brainstorming, collaboration, and precision.

Program Details Blurb

“The new website is modern style with a classic, timeless accent,” she said. “The older design was not very user-friendly. I wanted to make sure the story and mission of AVA is crystal clear to all visitors.” 

Outside of the semi-structured 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work week, Camille manages Positive Publicity, a lifestyle blog she established in 2012 during her sophomore year at Penn State University. Her mission is to imagine and create beauty in all forms and share positivity with the world. 

Camille’s physical and virtual presence embody her self-proclaimed pursuit. Her solo apartment in the Spring Garden area of the city is decorated with funky wall art and eclectic decor from local artisan shops.

My favorite piece in her home is a Philly-esque Pantone palette from South Fellini. The piece features colors such as burnt orange and canary yellow, labeled ‘broad street line’ and ‘whiz wit’ respectively.

As always with Camille, our conversation took many detours ranging from her new living situation, woes of living as a young woman, recent work and life achievements, and aspirations for the future. Camille shared that she is excited to continue her real job and working to build her personal brand by staying active on her blog, social media accounts, and networking.

Follow Camille on Instagram to keep up with her latest content!

She also launched a free weekly newsletter, ‘why don’t you cry about it?’ You can subscribe via substack here.

the art of self-dates

Modern culture places such heavy emphasis on romantic love. 

As if finding the perfect partner fills inner voids, solves all problems, and completes the ideal life! 

No one else is able to fix the world and make you ‘whole’. Only you can.

Self-love is incredibly powerful. 

Spending time and energy becoming comfortable with solitude has so many benefits. 

The Law of Attraction exists and has proven positive attracts positive. 

When you practice love and gratitude, more abundance will flow toward you. 

Whatever, I’ll just date myself.

Stop arguing against yourself by highlighting flaws. We tend to be more judgemental and harsh to ourselves than we would be to others. 

To be able to fully love yourself, you must know you can trust yourself. 

As you lean into self-love, you will become more comfortable being introspective. 

Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes.

Carl G. Jung

date ideas 

Meditate.
Great guided meditations are out there. My go-to podcasts for ‘me’ time are Purely Being Guided Meditation and The Mindful Minute. If you are looking to take a nap or rest for the evening, check out Michael Sealey.

Read.
I used to crush fiction books when I was younger. I currently gravitate toward books centered on self-improvement and development. Pick up a book and get lost for a bit.  

Move your body.
Take a walk and catch up on a podcast. Stretch. Do a yoga flow. Dance in the mirror to your favorite record. Whichever way you want to get active, do it. 

Get cute.
Style your hair; put on some fun eyeshadow; rock a funky outfit!
I always feel fierce after applying a crisp winged liner.
Spend time doing whatever makes you feel cute.

These are just a few self-dates ideas to get you started! Do whatever you enjoy.

Self-love is a journey we embark on each day of our lives. Some days are harder than others. But once we learn to savor the small joys of life, the good days begin to outweigh the bad.

Until next time,
Alex xoxo

i’m back.

Yo, what’s up guys!? 

It’s been a minute. 

How has life in the q been treating ya? 

It has been a rollercoaster ride for me, that’s for damn sure. And sadly, I’m sure this narrative resonates with many of you reading this. 

But hey — we made it to today! That’s a plus!! 

Anyway, life has been weird for everyone. 

I wouldn’t say I struggle with change, but I do have trouble with time management when structures are absent. 

I fuck around with my time. Not always, I promise!! 

When I’m on my shit and being productive, I’m really on it.

On the flip side, however, when I am sloppy with my schedules and routines, I am a total mess. 

During my time in quarantine, I have been telling myself I will read more. 

The book I am currently reading is by one of my OG Youtube faves, Meghan Rienks.

It’s “somewhat” of a memoir titled You’re Not Special

Of course I needed to read it.

I have been enjoying it. Meghan writes in a very conversational tone, similar to the one I try to emulate in my writing. 

This book is written as a walkthrough of Meghan’s life lessons essentially. 

I think I am enjoying it so much because I want to write a book in a similar style. This one is sparking a million ideas for my piece!

Today I read chapter 19, depression, which inspired me actually to begin writing this!

Mental illness is a stigma. WHY?

In reality, everyone knows someone who suffers from or has a friend/relative suffering from depression, anxiety, or another ‘mental illnesses.’ 

Yet if someone mentions the concept, heads turn. 

In the chapter, Meghan recounts her spiral to the lowest point of her depression, and her inability to mask it any longer. 

At the time, Meghan was a sophomore in college having issues with her ‘bestie’ roommates from the previous year and feeling like an outsider among her Greek life ‘sisters’. A tale I know too well. 

With Youtube being her career, she couldn’t fake a smile in front of the camera anymore. 

What did she do? She told her audience what was up. 

That’s brave. 

What is even more admirable about her choice to be transparent is that she kept along her mental health journey. 

I use the term journey specifically because it is continuous

I used to think that at some time I won’t be sad anymore. 

That was naive. 

However, what I have learned is that it is more important for good days to outweigh bad ones.

Here I am, being authentic, and telling you guys that I too am depressed. 

I’m sure a lot of you reading this are! 

It is okay to talk about it. 

It is okay to own that aspect of yourself. 

It is nothing to be ashamed of. 

It is okay not to be okay!!! 

I needed to write this post to remind myself of that. I’m here telling you guys too!! 

If you’ve read this far, take a minute to understand that whether you see it or not, you are fantastic for being alive right now. 

Times get hard, and seasons get dark. Each moment is a gift. 

update

Hey guys!

As we’re all aware the entire world is in a time of transition.

For many of us, the structures of our lives have been taken away.
However, despite the impact of outside circumstances you are in control of your life.

Over this period of self-isolation, I have reflected inward and practiced grounding myself to our new reality.
Regular practice of yoga and meditation (hippie-dippy sh*t) help immensely!

Even just a few minutes daily adds up.

I have been loving ADRIENE and KASSANDRA for yoga stretches and workouts. Adriene also has some pretty awesome meditations on her Youtube channel.

For meditations, my go-to podcasts are PURELY BEING, MINDFUL IN MINUTES, or WOMEN’S MEDITATION NETWORK.

All of these can be found on Apple Podcast or Spotify! I also encourage taking a solo search for “guided meditation” to see what else is available!

Channeling my inner energy and thinking about what I want to do with this time has sparked many mini fires within me.

I have a ton of ideas in the works including a scholarly article on authenticity and its relation to success that I cannot wait to share with the world. And while I love creating content for my blog, other aspirations of mine are calling me.

I have decided to take a hiatus from blogging to pursue other projects.

I appreciate the time spent reading my content. More to come in the future.

Keep up with me on INSTAGRAM in the meantime.

been there, done that

Hey guys!

The world is in a weird place right now to say least.
Who would have thought in 2020 humans would be encouraged to stay indoors while penguins at the aquarium are roaming freely!

Whilst participating in social distancing I have done a lot of thinking…

I need to prioritize myself.
I have to be my own biggest fan.
Practice what I preach!

I’ve decided to use this irregular period of ‘open’ time to further invest in myself.

Give all the thoughts I’ve scribbled on pieces of paper and shoved in notebooks space to expand.

I’m a go-getter. I’m ambitious.
All that good stuff that creates a somebody.

However, with positives come negatives.

I have a very difficult time relaxing. Chilling out — doing nothing.

Previously I felt that time spent resting, reading, watching YouTube videos, or doing “non-productive” tasks was wasteful.
I could be working to make money, brainstorming blog topics, or building other skills!

Not doing things that allow your mind to take a break and rest, ladies and gentlemen, is how you burn yourself out. 🙂

I didn’t quite realize I was guilty of this until I listened to THIS Self-Made CEO episode.

This podcast created by, entrepreneur and life-coach, Adrienne Finch has changed my life.

No joke.

I fell out of routine with listening to it and totally noticed a shift in my mood and productivity.
Not for the better, haha.

Over the past month I have actively been working mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude practices into my daily routine.

Although life around me has been crazy, I’ve felt stable (for the most part) internally.

This may all sound like bullshit. 

I get it — I was skeptical too!

But taking the time to introspectively evaluate yourself; who you are is so beneficial.

You are able to heal yourself.

You do not need anyone or anything to complete you.

You are whole.

Once you’re able to become your best self, you are able to give your best self to others. 

I encourage you all to find one positive aspect of whatever you’re experiencing.

I know we are all experiencing change on a large scale, however, I hope after reading this you’re able to find at least one light in the darkness!

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller stresses the importance of signaling change when beginning a journey of growth.

The world is signaling change.
Begin your journey.

I’m a firm believer that everything will be okay in the end. 

We have all gone through challenges and struggles before. 
The first time is always the hardest.
Everything after comes easily.

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex

everyday makeup

Hey guys. I’ve gotten quite a few messages on Instagram asking about my everyday makeup routine. Well, ask and you shall receive! 

I’m using ‘everyday’ lightly. I definitely do not wear this look everyday.
But this is my go-to day look.

I tend to focus on my skin makeup and brows because they’re the most important part of the look for me. 

I use a mix of drugstore and high-end products. I’ve listed some budget-friendly alternatives too! 

I hope you’re able to find a new product (or two)! 😋

Your skin is the canvas. Makeup is the medium.

So taking proper care of your skin will result in better makeup application and wear. 

I’m in the middle of figuring out what skincare products my face likes so if you’re interested in a skincare routine in the future, let me know! 

While my skin is going through its phases I’ve been switching between two face primers.

THIS Ciate London primer is great for hydrating dry or dull skin. It has a very subtle fruity scent that dissipates soon after application. 

I like wearing this product when I’m having a relatively good skin day. 

THIS Peter Thomas Roth primer is great for those with oily skin like myself. 

I shine like no other, I swear!

For cheaper options of skin prep, I enjoy THIS Milani Prime + Correct Setting Spray. 

It’s a primer AND setting spray — two for one! 

You can grab Milani products at any drugstore. I think I got mine at Ulta

While my primer sets on my skin, I move to eye makeup. 

My go-to shadow is a bright shimmer color all over the lid with heavier application towards the tear duct and a neutral warm brown swept in the crease. 

I have been gravitating towards THIS neutral shimmer set from Mac Cosmetics and THIS warm neutral palette from Thrive Causemetics

The Mac glitter shadows do have a bit of fallout which is why I apply shadow before undereye concealer or foundation. 

Stars In My Pocket (champagne shade in Mac palette) packed on the inner lid.

Frida (terracotta brown shade from Thrive palette) and Let’s Roll (red bronze glitter shadow) blended in the crease.

I picked up THIS undereye brightener by Becca a few weeks ago and have been loving it. 

My under eyes tends to crease throughout the day resulting in an aged look. 

Not cute. 

I put some product on the back of my hand then use my ring finger to warm up and apply the brightener under my eyes, around my nose and any dark spots. 

The product is a little heavy so a little goes a long way! 

After the brightener, I go in with THIS concealer. 

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

The only other Bare Minerals product I have tried is THIS gel serum foundation.
I unearthed it from my collection and admittedly don’t like it as much as the concealer.

This concealer is incredibly lightweight and natural-looking while providing INSANE coverage!  

If you have more dry skin you may not need to set the Becca brightener.

However, I do have rather oily skin and find the concealer and brightener looks best when I set with a bit of translucent powder. 

There is some under eye settling throughout the day.
I just blend it out with my finger then I’m good to go!

THIS Maybelline dark circle treatment is a comparable holy-grail drugstore brightener! 

I’ve been using THIS loose drugstore powder. I also really like THIS compact. 

It’s made for oily skin and I do find my shine holds off longer when set with this! 

I was recommended THIS Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer towards the end of summer by a girlfriend of mine and have been using it since!

I start by using a bit of the bronzer on a small contour brush and follow the “three-technique”. 

If you’re unfamiliar, it’s when you sweep bronzer from your temples, accentuating the cheekbones and then along the jawline. Mimicking the number three with your brush strokes.  

If I want more a more defined look I will follow up with THIS deeper bronzer by Becca in Bronzed Bondi

Clearly I need a makeup shopping spree

I’ve just about run out of THIS NYX WonderStick in Light but I was loving it while using it! 

Super blendable. The primers I mentioned for sure help the product glide but even alone this contour stick is awesome! 

If you’re willing to invest a bit more in a cream bronzer, I would recommend THIS one by MILK Cosmetics.

I am rather pale and do not find the shade to be too dark or muddy for my complexion.
Another incredibly creamy, blendable product!

My go-to powder blush recently has been THIS darker mauve shade, Truffle by The Body Shop.

This winter I’ve been really into cream blushes. THIS Lip + Cheek Stick by MILK Cosmetics brings such a youthful, glowy look to the skin. Shade Werk.

For highlighter, I’ve been sticking with my tried and true layering duo.

The label has completely worn off but the highlighter I use is very similar to THIS Clinique cream one.


It’s a really pretty pink, pearly shade. It reminds me of Benefit High Beam which I used to death in high school.

I apply the cream product to the back of my hand, then using a damp makeup sponge dab the product onto the high points of my face. 

Cheekbones, brow bones, the tip of the nose, and cupids bow. 

Get nuts with it! 

Then using my ring finger, I layer THIS Mac Mineralized Skin Finish in Lightscapade over the areas I applied cream highlighter. 

BROWS 

I’ve been getting my eyebrows threaded at Zara Brow Bar for about four years now. 

I love the way my brows have transformed and I’m super pleased to not have to put a ton of work into them! 

My brows aren’t super thick so I prefer a thinner style crayon/pencil to give a more natural look. 

I used THIS definer crayon/pencil in Brunette or Dark Brown for a while. 

But recently I switched up to an old favorite. 

THIS $10 micro brow pencil by NYX. When I take my time to use this, my brows look BOMB!

LASHES + LINER

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper has been my eyeliner of choice for about four and a half years. 

There was a stint of time — about 2 years — I wore winged eyeliner every day. 

I really like makeup! And I really wanted to perfect wings. 

Which I did. 

I would typically wing it out but I’ve been trying to perfect baby wings. 

That’s my new passion project. 

For my lashes, I was really loving THIS Tarte mini I picked up at Sephora but the fallout was too much. 

It was settling on my undereye area and irritating my contact lenses. 😔

I grabbed an old favorite on a recent trip to Sephora.
Another MILK Cosmetics product.

THIS mascara is worth the hype!

LIPS

L’OREAL Infalliable Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick in Dose of Cocoa; L’OREAL Infalliable Pro-Matte Gloss in Statement Nude; Sephora #LIPSTORIES in #9; Bite Beauty Amuse Bouchie Lipstick in Chai; Milani Lipstick in Naked; MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Twig. (left to right then down)

Variation of mauve/rosey mixes.

Spritz my face with Milani Setting Spray. 

I’m good to go. 

I always wash my hands immediately after because I wear a lot of dark clothes and touch a lot of product.

That’s it! Talk to y’all soon, 

Alex 

~ coffee vibes ~

When it comes to coffee some love it, others hate it.

I’m one of the coffee-loving fanatics.

I am actively cutting back on my caffeine intake. However, that being said, I’ve turned my coffee time into an event, or ritual, of sorts.

Branching outside of your typical at home medium roast black drip-coffee to more elaborate coffee house beverages makes the experience more lavish! Plus no cleaning up or work for you!

However, with the TONS of coffee drink available it can be overwhelming to choose.
Not to mention costly.

I’ve compiled a list of drinks I’ve been grabbing lately. They’re yummy, affordable and versatile — something for everyone!

SAXBYS

GO-GETTER ESPRESSO OVER ICE

I have two ways I will order this depending on what my coffee vibe is at the time.

If I’m feeling average I will opt for the iced espresso and add a splash of almond milk.

I also love cinnamon so if I’m feeling ~spicy~ I’ll mix in cinnamon powder!

If I’m feeling a coffee but not looking for the heaviness of milk or want something a little different I will get the espresso with coconut water.

It might sound strange but it’s good.

Don’t knock it til ya try it.

TIP
I always ask for espresso drinks in the smallest cup.

CHAI COLD BREW

I love chai scent, flavor, Pantone color — all of it!

When Saxbys launched the cold brew line I was super excited to try this one.

Love at first sip.
The keyword being first.

It was a tad too sweet for my liking.

Then I tried it dirty (added shot of espresso) and I was obsessed.

But if you’re looking to keep costs low this isn’t the option.

However, I recently discovered the half-sweet option which keeps the sweetness at bay while delivering just the right amount of caffeine at a decent price.

So if I’m looking for a pick-me-up I’ll get a small chai cold brew half sweet with little almond milk!

I mentioned in this older post that I am “spending the semester with Saxbys” as a Campus Partner!
Saxbys is a bit pricey if you’re accustomed to getting huuuuge low quality iced coffee from other more accessible places. However, the quality of Saxbys is worth it!
I want to help you get the best deals, dawg! I’ve taken it upon myself to sample the menu (food, drinks, snacks, etc.) and let you know what’s worth getting. 🙂

If you download the Saxbys app here you’ll get $3 off your first order!
That’s a free double shot, y’all.

STARBUCKS

DOUBLE SHOT OF ESPRESSO OVER ICE WITH COCONUT MILK

If you order through the Starbucks app (which I highly recommend), it has a fancier name.

I order this baby in a tall cup. I love it.

Lattes at Starbucks can be expensive and this is basically a concentrated coconut milk latte.

I prefer no sugar in my drinks so I do not get this sweetened, however, that is always an option!

ICED LONDON FOG TEA LATTE WITH COCONUT MILK

Yes. I’ve been really into coconut milk lately.

Starbucks’ standard grande London Fog Tea Latte is crafted with 2% milk and 4 pumps of vanilla flavor.

I modified it to a tall cup, 1 pump of vanilla and coconut milk.

The final result was decent! This is for sure an acquired taste.

I believe the traditional way would be 100% times better.

Unfortunately, I am unable to digest dairy. I will retry this one with soy milk!

HERMANS

If you’re really into coffee, check this place out.

Despite their array of espresso beverages, including something with tonic water that I am not sophisticated enough to enjoy, I often opt for black coffee.

The energy of the space is very welcoming. Something about sipping something so familiar in such a warm space is comforting.

I come here to do work, journal, daydream, etc.

It is hit or miss in terms of crowdedness.

If the weather allows I love sitting outdoors.

Red and white lawn chairs are set up along a South Philly street with cars passing by, neighborhood patrons walking their dogs, and all the other aspects of living life.

It may be because I grew up in the city but I find this space to be very pleasant and would recommend everyone sit outside and read a book, or just observe your surroundings.

Let me know in the comments below if y’all try any of the drinks I mentioned! What’s your go-to coffee order?

eliminating negativity

This week I asked on an Instagram poll what topic you would rather me ramble about: Eliminating Negativity or Imposter Syndrome.
Y’all spoke and I listened. Here I am delivering.
If you’re reading this on the day it is posted — Happy Turkey Day!


With the change of the seasons, the sun setting in the early afternoon, and obligatory family time creeping up, it becomes easier to fall into less productive habits and mindsets. Succumbing to these obstructive behaviors may feel more comfortable in the moment, but they are digressions along the path. These small defeats you allow yourself, like napping when you planned to work out or scrolling on Instagram when you should be finishing an assignment, maybe easier, but that doesn’t make them the right choice.

Eliminating negativity from my life has aided me in choosing the most advantageous options available to me, even when it is not the easiest or most appealing. Something a mentor has instilled within me, along with a wildly sarcastic sense of humor, is the truth that “you cannot control the situation, you can only control your reaction.” Although you may not be able to control the types of energy being directed at you, you are able to convert that energy once it is received. Imagine… You’re at work; your boss is in a mood and takes it out in microaggressions towards you.

The cause of your boss’ disgruntled attitude was most likely caused by an external force. Maybe a traffic jam on the commute into the office or an incorrect coffee order — nonetheless, he/she is allowing something other than themselves to dictate their emotions. More importantly, he/she is being overpowered by a failure outside of their control.

Now the question is — how do you avoid falling into the same negative feedback loop? **

I have found that eliminating any negativity I was allowing into my life has helped me to better focus on my goals and make the choices to work towards them.

** The “negative feedback loop” is a concept which Adrienne Finch discusses often in her podcast, Self-Made CEO. The idea essentially says we are responsible for the energy we attract into our lives. If we fail something and allow that failure to build the believe we truly cannot overcome a challenge, we fall victim to more opportunities that highlight our shortcomings. Thank you so much to Adrienne who took the time to reply to my DM and further define this concept!!

– WITHDRAWAL FROM TOXICITY –

This requires being very honest with yourself. Evaluate what you are devoting your energy to (x), then think about how it makes you feel to have spent time doing x. If you do not feel good about having spent your time doing it, don’t do it anymore. Time is the most valuable thing a person is able to offer, which is why I make a point to thank each of you for reading my posts each week. None of you have to be reading this right now, however, you are and I appreciate it. Anyhow, you should only spend your time doing things which make you happy. This may feel selfish at first, but just remember society has ingrained in us that being selfish is bad.

This is not necessarily true when it comes to the 24-hours we each have in a day. Every minute of those hours we allot to something. These are the literal moments that make us. It’s important to spend a good amount of them doing things which make us happy, in order to allow ourselves to be fulfilled — enlightening us to reach our full potentials.

Removing the toxic people, or things, in your life does not have to be permanent. Once you feel you are better equipped to deal with those things, you can integrate them back into life. However, for now, it’s most beneficial to distance yourself from negativity so you are able to grow stronger. This may be a very difficult task, especially when the people feeding you negative energy are your family members or close friends. However, I have found communication is a very powerful tool. Explain to them you are working on you (as cliche as they may sound), which for you, means prioritizing more alone time.

They will either respect your mature decision to better yourself and allow you to distance without being hurt, OR they’ll think you’re a weirdo and begin distancing themselves from you. The end result is the same — more time for you. 🙂

– IMPLEMENT POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY – 

The idea is to focus on building your strengths rather than fixing your flaws. “Resilience is the ability to bounce back in spite of adversity.” Overcoming limitations are the situations that strengthen the courage, conviction and other personality traits of impactful leaders.

I have been fortunate enough to find forms of de-stressing and mental relaxation which work for me relatively easily. Unfortunately, each method does not work for everyone and you may need to experiment with a few different techniques.

I have found podcasts to be incredible for my mental health. There are quite a few meditation / intention setting focused ones on Spotify. I really enjoy Sleep Cove and Mindful in Minutes: Mindful Morning! I have also rediscovered my love for reading. My excuse was “I don’t have the time.” But guess what, an extra hour isn’t just going to appear. If I really want to read more, I have to make the time. And so I did. Then between reading more frequently and blogging, I realized how much I love writing. I’m actually taking an advanced writing course in the spring, which I’m super pumped about! 🤓

As mentioned above, I began to withdrawal from toxic people I was allowing in my life and started to focus on what really makes me happy, then pursuing it (reading, writing, thinking creatively, sleeping, etc.) Find what you enjoy, that makes you feel good and is along the path towards your goals. Then do it.

– MAKE YOUR BED –

Seriously, listen to me: If you do not already, be sure to make your bed each morning.
You will leave your house and go about your day knowing you have accomplished something. You will be coming home to a neat bed, rather than a disheveled mess of blankets and pillows. It feels so good, believe me. Especially after a long day. This trick ties in with implementing positive psychology, as well. You are praising small victories, which builds and reinforces self-efficacy and confidence.

– BE GRATEFUL –

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This is pretty straightforward, but take time each day to remember what you are grateful for. There is always something. Be specific in what you’re reflecting on, which will instill the habit of looking for small things. You can take this time whenever you’d like (morning, afternoon, evening), but try to do it around the same time each day to better build the habit.

I take time in the morning while I am preparing my cup of coffee. The smell of coffee grounds is one of my favorite morning scents, along with bacon. Once my coffee is brewing I will spend the time thinking about how lucky I am to be alive — some people did not wake up. Although this may sounds incredibly lame, it is true. As humans, we must realize our mortality in order to embrace life. That’s just my way of doing it. I also reflect on the specific small wins of the day before, then prioritize my goals for the current day. This is an amazing way for me to organize my thoughts while my mind is getting set up, which helps to solidify ideas. Or so I’ve found. ☺️

Okay, I think this post is long enough. If you’re interested in knowing more about anything I mentioned, feel free to reach out to me! Once again, thank you for spending the time reading my work.

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex

Sources:
Brendtro, L. K., Brokenleg, M., & Steve, V. B. (2005). The circle of courage and positive psychology. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 14(3), 130-136. Retrieved from http://libproxy.temple.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.temple.edu/docview/214193531?accountid=14270

6 places to get sh*t done in Philly

I am a busy gal who wears many hats. I mean that figuratively — hats are not my accessory of choice. In all seriousness, I am almost always working on (or procrastinating working on) something. Whether it be assignments for class, content creation, freelance projects or general administrative labors of living, like scheduling dentist appointments. Juggling all of these roles and tasks can be tough. I’m sure many of you can relate!

I personally am most productive working outside of my house. There are days when I work from home but they tend to be centered around laundry, cleaning and cooking. Every so often the 1950’s housewife in me comes out — always a pleasant surprise!

However, it can be a tedious task to find good workplaces. This is why I’ve compiled a list of six of my favorite places to get sh*t done in the city! Don’t worry, these aren’t (all) your traditional coffeehouses.

  1. Devil’s Alley, 1907 Chestnut Street

During my freshman year of college I worked as a waitress here and made some good friends I still keep in touch with. When I’m not in the mood for a coffee and want to grab a beer or small bite, I go to Devil’s Alley. The high-ceilings and skylights above the bar makes my day — I am a huge fan of natural light!
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The bar staff is always great and there is a rotating draft list, which is a plus! The bar isn’t huge, and during the lunch rush (12pm – 2:30pm) it can get a little rowdy and loud. If you cannot work in a noisy environment, this probably isn’t your place.

The wifi is kind of erratic, but there is a complimentary hour pass available through Xfinity. I set up my hotspot from my cell phone, seat myself near an electrical outlet and tackle my work. I typically am here on Tuesdays or Wednesdays when Brett is bartending. Go see him and say Alex sent you — he hooks it up and is super personable!

Make sure you get fries! I opt for classic, but Old Bay are good too. Brain food, right??

2. Capital One Cafe, 135 South 17th Street

These spaces are located in major cities, including Philadelphia, Boston and Seattle. They offer free wifi for all visitors, a welcoming atmosphere, quality Peet’s Coffee and ample seating. There are also tons of electrical and USB ports! Nothing is worse than a giant working space with nowhere to charge electronics. First world problems, I know.

Aside from the perks mentioned above, there is free financial coaching available to anyone! Capital One identified the divide between millennials and banking then moved towards bridging that gap with the introduction of Capital One Cafes. Grab an incredibly cheap coffee (members get 50% off) and talk about how to better manage your money with an expert financial advisor? Yes please.

I have to admit I am partially biased since I am a Capital One member but hey, discounts on coffee are always appreciated. Plus there are time frames when members get free coffee! So yeah, being a member is great, I love it.

3. Herman’s Coffee, 1313 South 3rd Street

This former auto repair garage turned coffee shop is adorable with a wide variety of speciality espresso beverages, if you’re feeling adventurous! The aesthetic of this joint screams retro summer vibes. Coffee choices range from simple black coffee to espresso tonic mixes. The coffee is good and strong. Available seating options are large communal tables, solo bar seating or lawn chairs.

The inspiration behind this interior design concept comes from the owner’s grandfather, Herman, who was known for sitting in his lawn chair sipping a fresh cup of coffee. This space does more than just warm the heart with their story, they also are supportive of local business ventures! Over the summer they hosted pop-up shops with different Philly businesses, including 1-900-ICE-CREAM.
Follow Herman’s Coffee on Instagram for more information on future events!

4. Rittenhouse Square

Processed with VSCO with e7 presetFor those of you who know me personally, this is no surprise. I practically live in this park, I’m here so much! Growing up in the city, I have always found myself drawn to the park. I really enjoy people watching. I can sit on a bench and observe everything around me for long periods without being bored. The range of people you will encounter during your time here is quite remarkable! This is one of the reasons why Rittenhouse is such an awesome place to hang around. Some of my favorite stories of talking with strangers stems from this park, but that’s a whole different topic. Nonetheless, there is never a dull moment here!

On Tuesdays and Saturdays the park is lined with vendors selling fresh bouquets of flowers, produce, jellies, jams, bread and seasonal specialities. If I swing by on a Tuesday afternoon, I usually grab a mini pretzel from Lost Bread Co. Aside from food, artists and other creative spirits frequent the park. Although the weather is getting cooler, I would recommend spending some time in the park. It’s a great place to sit and recenter yourself, especially now that the crowds have thinned out from summer.

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The downside to this spot is the lack of wifi and electricity. However, there is a complimentary hour of Xfinity wifi you can use. And when you need to charge up or use the restroom, there is a Barnes & Nobles directly across the street which is open to the public! Inside, on the second floor, there is also a Starbucks cafe which you could work at but I crave the fresh air.

5. Good Karma Cafe, 928 Pine Street

This fair-trade coffee chain has four locations around Philadelphia, but this one is the largest (and my favorite). If I am going to be sitting in a coffee shop, then it has to hit all criteria: strong coffee, ample outlets and comfortable seating. Plus you’ve got to offer more than just coffee — ya girl has to eat!

Good Karma has tons of tables, offers the option of seat cushions and has an entire menus of food choices, which is awesome. Another plus is that they have a few outdoor tables, but they are difficult to snag!

6. Pennsport Beer Boutique, 242 Wharton Street

Photo from Yelp

I was at Herman’s Coffee one day working on some stuff. I got a bit hungry and this place was right next door attached to Charlie’s Roast Pork, a place that make bomb roast pork sandwiches. I decided on going there for lunch. I knew this little island of merchants has been in the Pennsport District for a while, but I am rarely ever by this part of South Philly — I spend a vast majority of my time in Center City.

Pennsport Beer Boutique offers 6 rotating draft beers, including a seasonal Cold Press Coffee Pumking by Southern Tier. (Which sounds AH-MAH-ZING!!) Aside from the draft list, there are an extensive variety of bottled options. Whatever you may choose, you’re allowed to drink it into Charlie’s Roast Pork. You bet I set myself up in the corner, ordered my food, ate and was incredibly nice to my waitress. 10/10 would recommend for good people, beer and food.

Where do you go to work in the city? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading. 🙂

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex