Old Favorites: Tan Button-down + White Lace Dress

dress over button-down
dress over button-down
how to style a lace dress for fall
how to style a lace dress for fall
how to style a lace dress for fall
heart necklace outfit
Button-down, Goodwill | Dress, Kohl's | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger | Necklace, Macy's | Bow, Rire Boutique
Photos by my brother

At home, it's easy to settle.

It's all too easy to waste away before backlit screens, thumbing through social media feeds, mindlessly scrolling through pop-culture articles, oogling enviable products on retail websites. 

It's too easy to dream without acting, drawing up grandiose plans but then casting them aside. It's too easy to exist without living.

So as I indulge in my self-prescribed days of "actual break," and attempt to recover from the blasted post-finals sniffles, I strive for enriching relaxation. 

Yes, I am that girl who watches lectures and reads social psychology books for fun (don't fret, I also consume more than my fair share of frivolous media--definitely a guilty pleasure).

Of course, the lecture and book in question deviate far from standard academia.

The talk is Randy Pausch's Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, as part of Carnegie Mellon's "Last Lecture" series. It was actually taped in 2007, but his message is timeless. Pausch was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, but still continued to maximize his final months as an effervescent soul. You can find the lecture on youtube, or you can pick up the book version. Here are my favorite snippets:

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." 
[on his cancer diagnosis]

"Brick walls are there for a reaon. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something" 
[on obstacles to goals]

As for the social psych book, I finally finished Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath that I had begun over Thanksgiving break. Gladwell's thesis is basically my life anthem: that misfortunes can be powerful portals to great achievements. Transforming failures into impetuses has propelled me so much further than innate motivation. Here's my favorite excerpt:

"...the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty....Giants are not what we think they are. They same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable" (6).

And on that note, let's take some time to reflect on the footprints we've left behind and our trajectory ahead.

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Cotton Candy Dreams: Mint and Pink Outfit + Life Reflections

mint and pink outfit, college style
mint and pink outfit, college style
mint and pink outfit
mint and pink outfit
mint and pink outfit
Sweater, Target | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Skirt, Wet Seal | Keds, eBay

I am mesmerized.

Head resting against the cool, textured plastic walls, I peer outside the plane window. We soar among voluminous white clouds against pure blue skies. Golden light filters through the fluffy bodies, illuminating the dreamland. I can almost imagine myself floating freely, unconstrained by the sturdy frame of this flying machine. I can almost imagine myself prancing through the immaculate mist before sprawling peacefully atop these inviting thrones. 

In the midst of my cloudland daydream, I begin to wonder if recent life happenings have also been but figments of my imagination.

The cotton candy skies of our first sunrise expedition. A candlelit dinner in a Mediterranean restaurant. Tender kisses atop a cozy blanket, in a grassy field overlooking the mountains.

I'm skeptical. I could be the clumsy lead in some sappy rom-com. Or this could be The Truman Show. I could be absolutely delusional. 

But I know it's all real, and I'm apprehensive. Romanticized snippet descriptions exude the swirls of warmth and novelty that have been my life, but they can't even begin to paint the true picture.

The plane begins its descent. I bid a quick farewell to my dream scene before we're immersed in the majestic, white masses themselves. The sunlight and blue skies disappear: all I see is cloud. Nothing but endless, condensed water vapor that obscures all lines of sight and disrupts all sense of direction. 

This is reality. I'm feeling my way through the thickest fog, entirely new to this whole romance thing (google plz tell me how to relationship). I have no idea where I am or where I'm going, whether the ride will be turbulent or smooth. 

But I am absolutely certain that all is clear above, in the dreamland, and below, beneath the clouds, where I can see the world in a different light, from a new perspective. 

We break through the dense mist. The scenes below reassure me--the farmlands become suburbia become rivers of bustling cars. I smile.

I'll break through, too.  

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Chasing Sunrises: Floral Blazer + Tulle Skirt

Blazer, Kohl's | Button-down, Target | Skirt, eShakti | Necklace, Nordstrom | Oxfords, Forever 21

6:18 am.

I hop out of bed, flick on the lights. Unlike my usual school mornings, the sun has yet to awaken.

I should feel groggy--but instead, warm, pulsing anticipation fills my body. It's the first day of reading period, I had the luxury of climbing into bed before 10:30 pm last night, I'm up to witness my first sunrise.

Pulling on my thickest sweater, warmest boots, coziest scarf, I tiptoe out of my room into the quiet hallway. In the empty common room, I peek out the window: the mountains in the distance are black, their silhouette rests serenely against a deep orange and calm blue gradient. The transition between the two contrasting colors is so smooth, so subtle--nature's finest work of art. 

I awaken a still-sleeping floormate, and we venture into the cold. Streetlamps light our way as we head towards the "beach," the ironic name of our science center's observation deck. Once there, we shiver in the crisp morning chill, ears red from the boisterous wind, exposed fingertips icy and numb.

Huddled for body warmth, we wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, a sliver of gold appears just above the peak of the black silhouette. It intensifies, growing brighter, warmer, more brilliant.

Finally, the sun makes its grand entrance, emerging completely from its respite. 

Enveloped in misty golden light, surrounded by the endless blue sky, I smile.

Here's to simple beauty, serenity, exploring the uncharted. Here's to beginning.

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Bon Courage: Gingham Button-down + Maroon Skater Skirt

how to style printed sweatshirts french quotes
how to style printed sweatshirts french quotes
Button-down, thrifted ASOS | Sweatshirt, Love Nail Tree | Skirt, China | Oxfords, Forever 21
Photos by Alura Chung-Mehdi

When the going gets rough, I often attempt to lift my spirits through my outfit choices. 

Sweatshirts with statements such as "We will," "Harmony: where chaos and peace come together," and of course, "Bon Courage," make regular appearances. 

As finals week quickly approaches, I found "Bon Courage" most fitting. A French phrase, it's most commonly used to express encouragement during time of difficulty. Think a deeper version of good luck. 

So take heart--conquer those exams, papers, reports. Conquer those intimidating, demanding tasks. 

Emerson once said: What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

Let's do this. Bon courage. 

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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: Nothing Gold Can Stay

Attempting to remedy the winter sniffles with hot tea and a good read
No place like home
The world needs more
fall outfit with flower crown
Triple threat: mint, florals, lace
new york public library
Scenic study spot
crepes on columbus nyc
Indulgent
artsy fall photo
Gradient
fall outfit
Tis the season
All photos from my instagram

As the days before winter break dwindle away, I find myself feeling more reluctant than eager to leave fall semester behind.

Despite late nights wrestling with proofs in a type of geometry where triangles have less than 180 degrees and rectangles don't exist, despite the extra commitment of two jobs, despite 4pm sunsets and gloomy weather that forebodes of winter--this semester has been the most resonant yet. I've found resonance in even my toughest (trippiest?) classes and additional duties.

It's a blessing to be trained well in a challenging proofs course. It's blessing to be a teaching assistant for a blind student in linear algebra and to be a leader in orchestra. It's a blessing to be part of the Asian culture house. It's a blessing to have run the Hartford half marathon. It's a blessing to love where I'm at, despite inevitable hardships.

Tumultuous waves are ahead as the end of the semester nears, but I run a tight ship. While I wish I could preseve this time, these moments, for quite awhile and keep living them, nothing gold can stay. So I'll keep sailing ahead, toward the promise of an unfamiliar horizon and the adventures that await.

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