loner

I like doing things alone better.

I am an only child so that may make more sense… maybe?

Whatever the case may be I’ve never disliked being alone.

However, this is not the case for all.

Rather than asking why others dislike solitude, I thought about why I enjoy being alone!

‘ME TIME’

Don’t get me wrong — I like being social!

But I also enjoy spending time by myself.

Recharge yourself. It’s necessary.

I AM AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN

There is a certain satisfaction in doing something outside of the norm.

We all know it.

Being alone in public tends to be one of those taboo things.

So yeah, if I go to a happy hour alone to journal it is okay to feel confident in your difference!

Just follow through with what feels good for you.

You’ll be amazed by how awesome happiness feels!

APPRECIATE YOURSELF

Something I have learned overtime is that no will be will able to give you love you’re “looking for”.

You have to love yourself.
That’s the only way.
All that good (cliche) bullsh*t.

Hey, I don’t make the rules!

Think about all the joys of solitude, such as no one else to account for or answer to.

It is freeing!

Do you guys like having alone time?
Let me know in the comments below!

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex

regression is easier than progression

Welcome to 2020 people! I hope you all had an amazing time ringing in the new year. I spent mine, very lavishly, chowing down on house lo mein from my favorite Chinese restaurant, while snuggled up in bed. The life of a 21-year old gal living in the city! 

This past week I reconnected with a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while over coffee. Funny enough, we have both been spending a lot of time reading; similar books within the same genre, if not by the same author! We got into conversation about Donald Miller’s, Building a Storybrand, which breaks down the framework of how to successfully convey a message. It’s a great read and I would highly recommend everyone check it out. 

When I got home, I glanced over to my shelf and focused on Miller’s book. I noticed the corner of a loose paper peeking out and decided to revisit the notes I had taken while reading the book sometime over the summer. The loose page was scribbled with notes. 

“You must signal change,” stood out of me. My mental wheels began to turn, thinking of all the ways I want to better myself entering the new year. One of them is spending more time with people who challenge my mind and push me to think outside of the box. However, when you are so accustomed to one way of living, making a major change is not going to be easy. 

Falling into old habits is easy. Much easier than establishing new habits. To live your most impactful life, you must ensure you are happy!

As I have touched on in other posts, the way to be happy is to understand your individual needs and meet them. For me, I have to be active daily. Whether that be stretching, going to a workout class, strength training or walking around the city! If I don’t get my daily sweat in, I begin to feel “off.” By this, I mean a minor irritation which can build up to become a major irritation. Small things add up. 

When I get into these moods, I feel unmotivated or unhappy or some other negative feeling. Being able to identify these needs and why you are feeling this way is key to being your best, most productive self.

Once I have identified what I’m lacking, I work towards correcting it. Like many others, my regression tends to have a domino effect. Why? Because falling into old habits is easy! 

Hitting the snooze button repeatedly on my alarm, rather than waking up to have coffee and read is a very easy thing to slip back into. Especially when it’s so cozy and dark in the morning. BUT this is not a productive way to do things. I know once I take off the blanket, I will be up. The more times you break your old habit and replace it with the new one (sitting up and putting your feet on the floor after your alarm goes off), the easier to becomes to retrain your brain to have an automated response. Yay for minimal brain-power required to perform habit loops!

Although breaking the habit is difficult, when we pair the disliked thing (waking up early) with something we enjoy (morning coffee), the brain is even more likely to create the new automated response. It’s similar to a reward system in the way that we do something we don’t like, then get a treat for doing it. Our brains like that. 

While I am by no means able to provide a specific method for which to follow, I hope to have at least planted an idea to help further your growth. ☺️

Talk soon, 
Alex

finding the silver lining

Call me a hopeless romantic — or a person who took control of their life — but I love finding silver linings. Having the ability to accept that certain situations in life are outside of your control is the key to inner peace and true happiness. Or so I’ve found. My worldview used to be much different than it is now. I largely attribute this positive change to my ability to search for whatever positivity lies in a heap of negativity. Even if you have difficulty finding something, you maintain the hope that something will be found.

The concept of “silver linings” has always been present in my mind. I have developed the ability to look at something that can be perceived so poorly by others, find the hope within and do my best to strive towards it. This was not always the case — I have chosen to view life this way.

Silver lining graphic

Perception differs from person to person. Two individuals can experience the exact same event, yet exhibit completely different responses. This is because external factors play a large role in the development of our perception. However, what is important to remember is that perception and reality do not always coincide.

David Eagleman explains this disconnect between perception and reality in the simplest way. Look in the mirror. Move your eyes to the left, to the right, then back to the left. You never see your eyes move.

Although there is no evidence of gaps in your perception, critical parts of the experience have been edited out such as the visual experience of your eyes moving side to side.

An individual’s perception of the world is composed of previous experiences, expectations, context clues and other outside stimuli. Although these external factors are able to influence the way an individual views a situation, it is not the determining factor. Perception is able to be altered.

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m doing pretty well for where I’ve been. Early on in life, I was repeatedly faced with incredibly trying circumstances that many other people in my situation may have let consume them. Being an angsty and misunderstood youth, I often wondered why this — for lack of better term — BULLSHIT was assigned to me.

I stole a bobblehead from pre-K once and I returned it the next day, okay! WTF, world?!

I am not attempting to compare tragedies in life, but just to give you a synopsis of a few major ones so you know I’m not bullshitting this post…
I am legally an orphan in the state of Pennsylvania. I spent a portion of my childhood living in an unstable, toxic home environment. I have less than five immediate family members. And I was displaced from my childhood home, allowed only a few hours to gather my belongs, losing most of my irreplaceable childhood memories, aside from what I could fit into a cardboard box. And, fun fact, that home is now a settlement used to facilitate the re-integration of individuals with criminal backgrounds.

I think it goes without saying, but that shit SUCKED. However, here I am — still standing! Despite December trying to kill me. Much of my sanity I attribute to humor. In life, you must be able to laugh at yourself and the situations you encounter. Otherwise, you will be miserable and bitter. Believe me, I’ve been there. This is where searching for the silver lining will help you maintain your mental facilities! Seeing as I do not know what is plaguing you, I am going to tell you about the positive aspects I have found from the sucky circumstances I mentioned above.

Although it sucks not having your biological parents on this earth to see you flourish into the best version of yourself, I WOULD NOT be who I am without what I have experienced. I know I would not have been able to: attend my (at the time) dream school; have such a compelling personal essay topic; or apply to seven colleges and universities for free. Another positive aspect that is rather f*cked up but true is that whoever has the ~honor~ of ending up with me won’t have to deal with in-laws! Plus because of my incredibly small (relevant) family, when I eventually write and publish my book there won’t be many people to offend!☺️☺️☺️

These events also taught me crucial life skills some people do not develop until much later in life, if at all, such as: dealing with loss, becoming accountable for yourself, facilitating communication, and altering perspective.

If there is one thing you take away from my tangent here, look for the positive aspects in negative situations. It’s going to be hard at first, and I am not going to lie and say it becomes easier — you just become better at finding the needle in the haystack of nonsense. Remember to laugh at your failures, shortcomings and unfortunate situations! Do not fixate on or become consumed with negativity. For more tips on that, check out an older post of mine, eliminating negativity.

As always, thank you for reading.

Talk to yall soon,
Alex

are you an imposter?

The topic of imposter syndrome has been incredibly relevant in my life within the past few weeks. Not saying my feelings are unique, but I had no idea a name for this feeling existed and was shared by so many people! In short — imposter syndrome refers to one not believing they are as capable, or competent, as others perceive them to be. Imposters fear being exposed as a fraud or phony.

Uh, guilty.

Living in the digital age with social media depicting the perfect lives of others, it is easy to get sucked into the delusions thrust upon us. However, keep in mind someone may be looking at you, aspiring to live your life. Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “Me? No way.”
Aside from social media, the demeanor in which you carry yourself sets the stage for how others perceive you. People may look at you and think, “Wow! They’ve got it together,” meanwhile you’re in your head thinking, “don’t mess up, don’t mess up.”

A few weeks ago I asked you guys to send me topic suggestions on Instagram. A friend of mine from college, Emma, is the amazing individual who requested this. I only mention this because she is one of the people I credit with my mental health journey. Emma, bless her soul, met me when I was a silly freshman in college going through sorority recruitment. The stars aligned — I was recruited to the same sorority and we were paired as big and little sisters.
Emma took that role seriously. She was one of the first people in my life to tell me things I didn’t want to hear. She brought me to terms with realities I did not want to acknowledge whether it came to boys, social drama, life before college or everything else you can imagine. Emma is someone I have always admired when it comes to juggling the nonsense life brings, and so being requested this topic from her made me reflect that much more. I feel like an imposter writing this! Haha.

Although an oversaturated phrase, “Fake it til you make it,” still holds true. Maintaining a positive, affirming mindset is incredibly healthy. Imagine how you speak about yourself to others. Many imposters “suffer from chronic self-doubt” that roots in low self-confidence. Those who lack self-efficacy, viewing themselves as individuals not capable of great things, speak lowly of themselves. How do you expect someone to believe in you when you don’t even believe in yourself?

Individuals practicing a healthy mindset are more likely to share accomplishments and engage in other confident behaviors. The laws of energy say similar energies stick together, which is why it can feel like when one bad thing happens more follow. We are allowing that negative energy to dominate and attract like forces (other negatives). However, if we rechannel the negative into positive, we will attract better energy into our lives.

Struggling with self-doubt can be even more difficult when those closest to you are not the most helpful at building you up. Friends and family, although they carry so much love, are not always the best at expressing it. Over the years I have been working on affirming myself rather than seeking affirmation from others. When you take control of your happiness, it is liberating! I wrote more about this on a blog a few weeks ago, if you’re interested in some tips for eliminating negativity. Prioritizing time to explore my passions allows me to grow into my best self, which shows through to others.

Stay kind to yourself through positive affirmations and other forms of self-love. Try your best not to compare your life to others, because you never know who is comparing theirs to you saying, “I wish.” Keep in mind that everyone is a little bit crazy. Some just camouflage it better than others.

Thank y’all for reading.
Talk soon,
Alex

focus on the now

Hey there everyone! I want to share an idea that was conveyed to me through a book I read this week, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The theory is that we, as humans, do not prioritize enough time to allow our minds to “escape.” During these periods of creativity and/or rest, the brain activates synapses outside its typical radius, allowing the individual’s conscious mindset to expand. Yes; rest, because sleep is amazing!! McKeown mentions “Sleep Is the New Status Symbol,” an article in The New York Times highlighting that the most successful people in the world get 8+ hours of sleep. (both awesome reads)

McKeown has inspired me to make a few lifestyle changes as we transition into the new year — 2020! I am feeling amazing about ending this final month of the decade and entering a new period of life. The remained of 2019, I am prioritizing creating space for uninterrupted thought in my daily life. Proudly I can say I have done this every day of December and plan to continue until it becomes a seamless habit.

During this 5 or 10 minutes, I will journal or meditate.
Yes, it sounds lame — I know. Just give it a shot. Allowing yourself time alone with your thoughts can seem daunting, but remember you are in control. During this time it is important to be aware of your breathing. Being in control of your breath is the most important aspect of being present.

When I am taking my time to escape, I spend a few moments working any stress out of my neck or anywhere else I may feel tense. Then I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I am always astonished at the capacity of the lungs. Feeling the expansion within my chest brings my attention to the shallowness of average breathing. Each inhale fills my chest with air, like helium in a balloon, with each exhale releasing some helium.

The goal here is for the balloon… (you)… to float… (relax). And while this works for me, this may not work for you.
Try at your own risk. I also make sure to set an alarm because sometimes I fall asleep. 😋

Yeah, I wanted to keep this week’s post short and sweet. Remember to be present at the moment and focus on the now. I have found taking control of my breathing to be incredibly helpful in centering myself.

As always, thank you for reading.
Talk to y’all soon!
Alex

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 –

giphy

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!
Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

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

october favorites

Hi guys! I am going to be the hundredth person to say this but I cannot believe 2019 is coming to an end. October went by ~scary~ fast. (ba dum tss) 
Come on, I had to!! 

In all seriousness, October moved quickly. Throughout the month I rediscovered a lot of old go-to’s which is always awesome for a college student on a budget. But I did pick up a few new items which I have been rocking hardcore. 

If you want to know more about the stuff I’ve been loving for the month of October, read on! 

FASHION

Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know what I’m going to say. Those of you who don’t already follow me: you are missing out! I have been LOVING my Free People Teddy Bear Peacoat. I’m not sure what the actual color is called but it’s an off-white, cream color — super versatile! 

I picked this baby up at Nordstrom Rack on 17th and Chestnut for a BARGAIN. The regular price was $150, but after the markdown I paid just under $70! That is wild for a warm, stylish FREE PEOPLE jacket.  

Aside from the color I got, there were two other options: hunter green and burnt orange. I would have bought them all if that was practical, however, it is not. 

This month I have started to dabble in fashion DIY. Nothing super drastic — I have not learned to sew yet, but we’re working on it!! Nonetheless, I’ve been messing around with a pair of sharp scissors cropping just about every sweatshirt I own and distressing old pairs of jeans. 

I unearthed an older pair of dark wash Gap jeans. I love (most) Gap jeans. They really make the booty pop, ya know. But anyway, sometimes you need to kind of grow into your clothes and so I bought the jeans a few seasons ago but really never loved them on me. 

All the snacks I have been eating recently must be doing something for me because the fit of these jeans is now perfect! (Shoutout to Oreos and cinnamon raisin bagels, woot woot)

After cutting some tasteful slits, roughing the seems up a bit with an old nail buffing block (get creative with what you’ve got!!) and distressing the ankles, they turned into my new fave pants. 

As I mentioned, jeans aren’t the only things I’ve been cutting up. Cropped sweatshirts are my new jam. 

I always lusted after the cute ones you can buy but I thought, “I can cut jeans. I can cut sweatshirts too! This is what Youtube tutorials were created for.” From there, I have never looked back. 

A family friend asked me if every sweatshirt I own is cropped. 
No, dude. I have two that are not, FYI. 
Let’s be honest, if I’m at home I am probably wearing a cropped hoodie. They’re sooo cozy!! How can you blame me?!

AND the best part is that you don’t get too warm since it allows better airflow (duh). Throw on some leggings, cozy socks and you’re all set to be the most comfy person in the house. 

Grab your scissors and get cutting. I’d recommend starting with older stuff you don’t care as much about incase there are any technical difficulties. 😋

BEAUTY

I’ve been cycling through my makeup collection which, unfortunately, was placed on the backburner since summer was so freaking hot! Nonetheless, I rediscovered two L’Oreal face products I have really been enjoying: Magic BB Anti-Redness and True Match Concealer in fair/light N 1-2-3. 

Both products are great. Dare I say holy grails??! Super blendable, buildable coverage. Honestly, I dig the entire L’Oreal True Match line. 10/10 would recommend. 

Photo by L’Oreal Paris

Those of you present in the tri-state area during October probably took notice it was rather wet month, which makes my hair sad. 😔

One of the reasons I dislike rainy days so much is because my hair can get super frizzy then I am totally fed up with it. The other reason is because after 21-years of living I have yet to get myself a pair of rain boots which would keep my feet dry and cozy. 

One of those two problems have been solved by a $14.00 bottle of mousse from Target! About a month ago I picked up Kristin Ess Instant Lift Volumizing Mousse on a whim. I was looking for a product to add more body to my hair. I had used a curl cream by the brand previously and enjoyed it, so why not give something else a go? I am not disappointed. 

The mousse does its job of adding volume, thickness and hold. However, another bonus is that it does an awesome job of combating frizz! I typically apply a generous amount of mousse to my hair while it is wet. I have found flipping my head upside down and scrunching the mousse closer to my roots, specifically towards the back of the head, really adds that extra oomph. This technique, sometimes paired with a tousled blow-dry, yields the best results for me. 

LIFESTYLE

At the start of the month I decided to implement some new habits, one of which is attending networking events more regularly. These events are an amazing way to meet new people, exchange ideas and build my network. I’ve come to the realization that if I want others to take me seriously, I have to first take myself seriously. Ya girl got business cards. They’re awesome. I’m happy. 

Alex Swanson, Freelance Content Creator, 2020.

But anyway, If you follow me on social media (if you don’t you are really missing out) you may be aware I attended a social media panel hosted by Gather: Social Media Group earlier in the month.

My friend and former colleague, Camille Mola, spoke on the panel along with four other amazing women. These boss ladies discussed how they have built, and continue to grow, their presence on social media and all that jazz. Everyone shared wonderful knowledge; it was amazing. Awesome, insightful, beautiful boss babe Camille (in the killer white booties above) also has a blog. You should go check it out after this post. ☺️

Although I was not a panelist, I spoke a lot. Probably more than an audience member should have but hey, that’s me. And in my defense, it kind of became an open forum!! 

I guess the panelist didn’t mind too much because I, along with four other audience members, were gifted “INFLUENCER: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media” by Brittany Hennessy

If you are anyone who is interested in gaining traction as a content creator (…”influencer”…), get on this book! It is written from the perspective of a scout. Brittany Hennessy founded her own influencer development company. In this book she is telling you exactly what the people who have money to give you to promote their products or brands want to see. 

Another lifestyle adjustment I have been working towards during this month is drinking water. Those of you who know me personally are probably thinking, “Alex, what?? You drink tons of water — it’s super annoying..”
While this may be true, I do not drink as much water as I should! Especially in relation to the amount of coffee I consume. (I am trying to cut back but it’s so difficult. I have been drinking coffee since I was about 8 years old? My gram would have me fix her cup each day after work and obviously I had to taste it to make sure it was perfect. Based on that factual evidence, gram is the root of my coffee addiction. Love you anyway.) 

Drinking more water was something I was aware I should work on, but it wasn’t until Adrienne Finch told me in an episode of Self-Made CEO that should really try harder that I actually started doing it. Transitioning us perfectly into podcasts! 

Okay, real talk, podcasts intimidated me. They still do! I’ve wanted to get into them for the longest time but I had no idea where to start. I am one of those people who gets a bit overwhelmed when there are too many things to choose from. Then I end up procrastinating the choice altogether.  I know I am not alone with this one, haha. 

However, my want to get involved with podcasts finally outweighed my fear of entering that new world. One of my favorite Youtubers from back in the day, Kenzie Elizabeth, launched a podcast series, IYSM. So I found it on Spotify, saw an episode title which jumped out to me and hit play. From there I eased my way into other suggested podcasts. Now here we are. I’m hooked! 

If you’re looking for one to start out with, an OG Youtuber, Lauren Elizabeth, just launched a series. It would be a great one to start with since there are currently four episodes live. Give MOOD a listen! 

Lauren is an awesome boss woman and I aspire to be like her. 

RANDOM

I am big into dental hygiene. 

After I brush my teeth, I want the inside of my cheeks to burn when I smile. 

Although I love the dentist and I’m a super freak when it comes to teeth, I never fed into the mouthwash gimmick. Until now. Crest Pro-Health Intense Mouthwash has totally changed my life. It is scary looking, which I love. And this stuff gets the job DONE. 

I find oral hygiene to be similar to exercising — it sucks in the moment but afterwards you feel great. Yeah, this sh*t is going to burn. Keep swishing. 

I get a lot of questions and comments about my teeth, so if you guys would be interested in hearing more about that stuff, let me know in the comments below! 

If you’ve stuck around this far, thank you for reading. Time is the most valuable thing a person can give and I appreciate each moment given my work. ☺️

Talk to y’all soon! 
Alex

eulogy for my past self

I would like to begin this post by disclaiming I am not at all an astrological die-hard. Prior to this year, my extent of interest in horoscopes was reading mine if I happen to be flipping through a magazine. However, anyone who is close to me can attest that Co-Star Astrology is now my religion. No literally, my aunt has said that multiple times now… Co-Star is an app which uses your date and time of birth to pretty much predict your whole live. No exaggeration.

First, let me explain what Co-Star actually is. The company describes their application as a “hyper-personalized, social experience bringing astrology to the 21st century.” Whatever that means. Pretty much you input your birth date, time and place (state) then using NASA data, photos of the sky at the time you were born are generated. Based on this, the special voodoo magic maps out the whole damn solar system arrangement from when your infant body entered this world. I don’t know what the hell happened, but Co-Star knows me better than I know me! I am hooked and have dragged so many of my friends into the cult with me. (LOVE YOU ALL!!) But that is a whole other topic which I can go on about FOREVER. But dude, I’m telling you, Co-Star is the bitch who straight up calls you out on your shit and you hate her because you don’t want to hear it, but at the same time… you know she isn’t wrong…

Download it here. It’ll change your life. I’m going to be honest right now… prior to writing this, I did not really understand the algorithm of Co-Star. I was content with thinking it was my CIA agent spying on me. However, I digress.

I was lounging on the bench in my backyard sipping coffee and reading through Co-Star, as I normally do. Now, it is important to understand Co-Star gives you A LOT of information to read through — it’s not your typical one or two liner. And religiously, each morning I read through and take note of anything that particularly sticks out to me.

“Remember how far you’ve come. Write a eulogy for your past self.”

Again, for those of you who know me personally or even those who have read previous posts — I have changed a lot as a person in the past 12 months. Hell, I’m not the same person I was a month ago! Life moves on, people grow, all that good stuff.

Anyway, I began thinking a lot about it: “Remember how far you’ve come. Write a eulogy for your past self.” After awhile of mental brainstorming, I mustered up the courage to put my thoughts on paper. Now here I am, taking another step by actually fleshing out the idea in a Google Doc, presumably to be posted for public viewing.

Wild, I know. So hey, if you are not me and you are reading this: Woot woot! Go Alex! You did it! 🙂 As I mentioned, it took me months to put the initial thoughts on paper! So as you could imagine, I have been apprehensive to share these thoughts so publically.

Here goes:
I wish I could experience the bliss that is naivety again — even just briefly. You thought you knew it all. There is so much you have yet to find out about everything. Be kind to yourself, babe. Don’t just promote self-love, actually learn to love yourself. Stop repressing who you are for fear of ridicule. You are your own worst critic.

Learn how to validate yourself rather than relying on others to validate you. You can’t love anyone else until you’re able to love yourself. And although I would love to believe simply telling you this is enough to help you avoid the inevitable troubles ahead, it isn’t. You are going to have to experience these hardships in order for them to make an impact. There are going to be times when you are going to question why this bullshit happens to you; just keep on keeping on.

Although you may feel as though the entire world is against you, it’s not — give people a chance! Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised. Remember that it is okay to rely on others. It is okay to build relationships; intimacy has many facets. And no, vulnerability does not equate to weakness. It is impossible to be a great leaders to others until you identify and establish who you are.

Be more in tune with your attitude. Take notice to who is surrounding you when you are most happy or most fearless. Keep those people near and dear to you. However, remember relationships expand and contract. Whomever is meant to be in your life will be there in the way they were meant to be, although you may not understand it at the moment. With that in mind, value the people in your life. Be kind to all — you never know who someone may be to you someday. And while I feel as though there is so much more to say, it doesn’t really matter what I do or do not divulge… you won’t truly learn until you deal with the situations first-hand. You are smart, beautiful, amazing and everything else that goes along with that. Remember that always.

One of the main reasons I was so apprehensive to do this is because, in all honesty, I felt it was kind of dumb. I was wrong. I KNOW, I SAID IT. Seriously though… knowing what I know now, I would have so much advice for myself. The question is — would I change my choices? No, I would not. What I have been through is what has made me, me. And I am finally proud to say I am in a place where I love me.

Thanks for reading!

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex

life lessons: early 20s

Presently I am 21 years, 2 months and 28 days old. What makes me in the slightest bit qualified to give advice on living your early 20s when I’ve barely experienced them?!

I reached out through my Instagram story asking peeps (ages 20 – 27) to share with me some of their most important life lessons. Everyone I have spoken to about this have had, or are having, wavering feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty — myself included. My personal experiences living and growing as a young adult, along with gaining insight into the lives of others inspired me to create this post.

This is not to say your 20s aren’t a time of euphoria, entertainment and rebellion — because they totally are. Some of these lessons were prefaced with my favorite memories! I mean, come on, we all have a good “I Need to Take a Break from Drinking” story, right?

Thank you so much to the amazing people who took the time to share with me.

These lessons are in no particular order. They are equally important.

YOU ARE YOUR OWN BIGGEST CRITIC.

I want to share that many of the women who responded to my question touched on self-confidence or body image issues in someway. It has taken me my entire life, and I am still working through, learning to love and accept myself. “You are more than the sum of your parts,” is a quote I have reflected on daily for quite sometime now. It continues to remind me how far I have come in life and how much more potential I have beyond my corporeal self.

As some of you who follow me on social media may know, I am currently watching Mad Men. The show is amazing for many, many reasons. One of which being alpha-male character, Roger Sterling. His witty comments, alcohol-loosened mind and complex personality make him one of the most beloved characters. At some point in season 5 (I think? They all run together when you binge watch) Roger says, “It is far healthier to be flawed than insecure.” This line is one that really hit me. I paused the show, wrote the quote down and began to brainstorm what it means to my life. I’m telling you — great show!

In dark times it is easy to fall into patterns, allowing yourself to fall out of priority. Something or, often times, someone is used as a substitute. You cannot love someone else until you love yourself. While the distraction may work, it is not sustainable. The root issue of self-love needs to be attended to otherwise you will continue missing something in life.

CULTIVATE AND VALUE RELATIONSHIPS.

Whether it be platonic, romantic, professional, etc. all relationships should be respected. Although this may seem obvious, I cannot stress how important it is to establish and build a good name for yourself in the world. Life is wild and it will take you all over. It is unknown who you will bump into later in life or how they may impact you. For example at my previous job, I spent a bit of time working closely with old co-workers, including my manager from a couple years ago!

I cannot even begin to tell you the countless stories of my social webs somehow intersecting. This is why it is so important to have a diverse integration of people in your core circle. Keep the people who you enjoy spending time with close to you. Take comfort in knowing there is always someone in the world who loves you, although you may not know it. And remember, everyone wants to feel loved. Once you find the people you are able to communicate open and honestly with, be sure to show your appreciation and gratitude for them — they are not easy to come by.

LEARN TO ACCEPT AND GROW FROM CRITICISM.

Many of us, myself included, have received a critique we’ve struggled with accepting. A standout moment for me happened fall of my freshman year of high school. I remember the moment so vividly… My grandma and I were standing in the kitchen as she cooked dinner. She told me about her day at work, I told her about my day at school. Then she blindsided me. “Alexandra,” she said, “maybe you should make your eyeliner a bit thinner. It looks a little harsh…” She was absolutely correct! But at the time I thought I knew everything, so of course I wrote her off as a “hater” and continued to wear my eyeliner absurdly thick. While this critique is not as important as others may be, accepting you are not always right can be a hard pill to swallow.

Fellow Philly blogger and Positivity Publicity author, Camille Mola, shared her early 20s “were a time of some serious growth — whether I knew I was growing or not.” Camille attests that during this time of chaos, it was easy to feel like “everyone else has it all figured out, except for me.” It takes time to realize no one really knows what they’re doing! I find comfort in the fact that we are all playing along in this life trying to figure it out.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND COMMUNICATE IT.

COMMUNICATION IS SO IMPORTANT!!! Without properly being able to convey your feelings, the person (or people) you are dealing with will not understand your perspective. The same applies for the other side. In romantic situations is where I personally have found this communication to be very useful and empowering. In my personal experience of dating as a young woman I have taken notice, more often than not, there are expectations associated. This blame can be placed on a number of things, such as Tinder or Grindr, apps which condone immediate gratification. However, it can also be to blame on a lack of communication.

Just like communication, boundaries are integral to a healthy relationship. If you are in a situation in which you would rather be alone, say it. You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to leave a bad date and not call them back. You are allowed to speak up if you want a specific project role. No one will know unless you make it known.

Thanks for reading!

Talk to y’all soon,
Alex