Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: Whoa, Halfway There

glitter watch charming charlie
The lethal three: glitter, pastels, neon
boston public library
Books, blossoms, beauty
charles river cambridge
Explore
life alive cambridge
Organic vegan cafes: my wallet cries, but my stomach is exuberant
Horseneck Beach
Sun, water, sand, happiness
thrifting haul
Successful thrifting expedition: picked up the lot, minus the shoes, for only $15.09
black-eyed susan
Little sprig of sunshine
glow band
Glow
indoor cycling
Hi, my name is Lily, and I'm your indoor cycling instructor.
Photos from my instagram and vscogrid

Whoa, livin' on a prayer. 

In the past three weeks, I've:

--taught cycling classes
--decorated my soul away
--driven students to the doctor and ER
--woken up at 4am to shuttle students to the airport
--stepped in for a yoga workshop last-minute
--initiated an impromptu dance party on the stairs
--handled difficult parents on the phone
--explored the gems of Massachusetts
--taken care of a hall of middle-school girls as a co-RA

I've become more familiar with the multitude of bright souls around me, from staff to students. I've watched the awkward introductions melt into warm bonding, followed by a maelstrom of tears and fierce hugs as the students parted ways when session one drew to an end.

It's hard to believe that I've already been at Explo for a month, including staff orientation. Here, I've witnessed incredible growth: once-bullied middle-schoolers have found the courage to share their stories, students from warring nations have made peace, children have released their qualms of judgment to follow their passion and instinct. They have unearthed a clearer image of who they are and who they dream of becoming.

As a staff member, have I changed? I don't know. I can confidently say, however, that I've learned more about myself. I've learned that I can, indeed, survive on just under eight hours of sleep per day. I've learned that I'm more capable of adapting than I thought. I've learned to better balance my own endeavors with our limited off time. I've learned that while meaningful conversations and connections energize me, I also need plenty of time to explore and ponder on my own. I've learned to be more adventurous, zany, flexible, creative, selfless.

Three weeks of the program down, three weeks to go. Let's do this, session two.

*                        *                          *

On a more logistics-esque note, I was thoroughly touched by your comments on my last post. I'm unfortunately unable to drop by your blogs until this weekend, due to the hectic move-in, move-out phase, but I will talk to you all soon.

On a separate note, I'm now on VSCOGrid! If you've heard of the editing program, VSCOCam, this is its social side. What I love about it, however, is that you have no idea who's following you, and who you're following also has no idea. There are no numbers involved--just art. I consider this a more casual, aesthetics-focused version of instagram. You can still find me on both platforms, but I'll likely be updating my VSCOGrid more often.

Hugs,
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Pineapples, Parks, and Ponderings

pineapple print shirt, yellow lace skirt
pineapple print shirt, yellow lace skirt
pineapple shirt
gold keds
Top, Kohl's | Skirt, H&M | Shoes, Keds | Necklace, Nordstrom BP

As I was adjusting the exposure and contrast on these photos, I was tempted to retouch the mosquito scars on my legs, tame the frizzy flyaways, modify my questionably-lumpy knees, erase the peek of magenta sports bra.

I struggle against the tyranny of perfection regularly, but the force of its clutches is especially prevalent when I blog. You're not put-together enough, your outfits aren't glam enough, you don't post enough, your following isn't growing enough, it whispers menacingly in my ear.

Some days, I almost give in. Some days, I question what I'm doing. Why bother blogging, when there are countless other kindred spirits who are clearly more dedicated to nuturing their respective internet nooks? Who undoubtedly fulfill the personal style blogger ideals, or even transcend them? 

There are many things that I could do differently. I could actually speak fashion instead of spewing personal tidbits in my posts. I could wear makeup regularly. I could shoot photos until every detail is on point. I could write a niche blog. I could research SEO and analyze stats until my head hurt. I could comment on every blog upon which I stumble for the purpose of exposure.

But I don't want to. I want to document my unique human experience. I want to share the beautiful and ugly truths of my life. I want to foster relationships with fellow bloggers. I want to read and comment on blogs that I genuinely like. I want resonate deeply with the multitude of souls inhabiting this planet. 

And so I will keep going. I will keep being real, human, personal. I will keep probing my restless thoughts in these posts. I will keep doing whatever it is that I'm doing, regardless of whether it conforms to a given standard. 

Shush, voice. Let me do my thing. Let me be me. 

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Monday, July 6, 2015

PostalPix Review: Instagram Prints

instagram prints, dorm decorating ideas
postalpix
instagram prints, postalpix
instagram prints, postalpix
instagram prints, postalpix
instagram prints, postalpix, dorm decorating ideas

Dorm-decorating season started early for me this year. Before I jetted off to Wellesley College for my summer program job, I scoured the internet for some simple but chic gems to make my seven-week stay more homey.

At the beginning of freshman year, I decorated my wall with photos of friends, but within a few months, the snapshots no longer felt relevant. High school graduation, youth orchestra, that one leadership conference a couple years back, prom--all of it felt so far away, in both a literal and figurative sense. Instead of inspiring me, my wall exacerbated my upheaval of home and identity and place. 

While I'm now well-adjusted to the changes that college brought, I still packed the pictures of lovely people and fond memories away at the end of the school year. This time, I wanted something that would remain pertinent and uplifting despite the passage of time and new experiences. 

The result? PostalPix, an android and iphone app that allows you to make prints of your insta shots. During freshman year, my account also evolved from shots of hangouts to artsy endeavors. I now rarely post pictures of people (minus the ocassional ootd), and aspire to capture the happy little moments, such as finding a beautiful flower on a morning run, or filling a whole journal. My instagram is now both less personal and more personal--it's less close to my immediate life, but more applicable to the life of others. And correspondingly, it's more likely that these photos will remain relevant--I'm much happier to hang a photo of the New England landscape seven months ago than a shot of a group of friends who no longer interact. 

The actual verdict on the company? PostalPix was easy to use, and I have no doubt that the photos will hold up for the rest of the summer, for my sophomore year at Amherst, and beyond. To use the app, you first must create an account with your email. I've had no trouble with spam so far, and the only emails I've received from PostalPix were about my order, or holiday discount codes. I ordered twenty-four 4 x 4 squares (29 cents a square), and the total was just over $7 after a 20% discount code, including shipping. The app did have some trouble with my final upload. but customer service responded within two days, refunding my last sqaure, and offering me a code for five free prints. And despite the delay, I received the photos in a week, just in time for my trip. I'm really pleased with the matte finish, the clarity of the photos, and even happier to be greeted by my favorite shots in this new environment.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Taking Flight: Airport Outfit and Summer Adventures

college student style
brown forever 21 blazer, peter pan collar mint top, polkadot pants
college student style
brown forever 21 blazer, peter pan collar mint top
brown leather oxfords, polkadot pants
Blazer, Forever 21 | Top, China | Pants, Macy's | Shoes, DSV

"Are you going to Boston for business or leisure?"

I paused for a moment. "I'm going for work. So I guess business. Except I'm working at a summer program for middle schoolers. So it's not fancy business or anything. I'm a college student."

There I was again, my oh-so-eloquent self. 

It was the usual plane pleasantries. I was both flattered and disturbed to be mistaken for a real, live, working, fancy business trip adult. Either my outfit was super fresh, or I looked middle-aged (much to my dismay, I'm often mistaken for my eleven-year old brother's mother). I hope it was the former.

Flying out to my RA/indoor cycling instructor job certainly didn't call for a blazer and oxfords, but I'm glad I nabbed the chance to dress up. For the past week, it's been one heck of a ride--and I've spent most of the week tackling various tasks in athletic clothes. 

I've laughed a lot, felt stressed a lot, and haven't slept a lot, but it's safe to say that I'm happy to have immersed myself in this new experience so far. The lows are low, but the highs are high. For instance, my heart totally melted when one of my students asked what gym I taught cycling classes at. When I said I haven't ever taught gym classes, she told that she thought I should. 

Rolling hills are ahead, but I'm ready to conquer them--on and off the bike.

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Because I have very limited time off-duty (2 hours a weekday, plus one full weekend day per week), I'll only be out and about interacting each weekend. Feel free to keep up if you like, and I'll talk to you soon!