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Choose your words wisely…

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about “my word.” For any of you that have ever read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, you may be familiar with the passage in which Liz is sitting with her new Italian friend, Giulio, who is trying to explain to Liz why she might be feeling separated from the city of Roma. He simply says, “Maybe you and Rome just have different words” (103).

Different words. Different words? I paused at this, and then, like Liz, questioned in curiosity what he meant by “different words.” Giulio continues,

…Every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people’s thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought…

Liz presses on in this passage, asking Giulio to elaborate on what Rome’s identifying word was. Giulio nonchalantly responds,

SEX.

This isn’t what was captivating about this passage to me. What really made me think was Liz’s personal reflection that followed:

…Now if you are to believe Giulio, that little word–SEX–cobbles the streets beneath your feet in Rome, runs through the fountains here,  fills the air like traffic noise. Thinking about it, dressing for it, seeking it, considering it, refusing it, making a sport and game out of it–that’s all anybody is doing.

Not only is Liz’s imagery scrumptious, but the connection she made between a person’s word and their inner-most self is what really captivated me. It isn’t that your word simply describes you; rather, you own your word. You are your word. You possess every quality of your word to the point that your word and you are interchangeable.

After reading (and digesting) this, I couldn’t help but wonder what my word is. Passion? Determination? Faith? 

Towards the end of her journey, Liz chooses the word “antevasin” as her self-identifier–a Sanskrit word meaning “one who lives at the border.”

While I haven’t discovered my word quite yet, my plan in the meantime is to continue eating and praying and loving. -KB

What Should I Do?

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I haven’t written in a few days, and maybe this is why I feel off. This past week has been one of those weeks for me that is so core-shakingly difficult and confusing and frustrating that I barely even recognize myself at the moment. What I mean by this is that it has been one of those weeks where I spend every conscious moment pondering who I am and where I am headed. If you’ve ever had one of these moments yourself (I’m assuming almost every adult human has), you will know exactly what I’m talking about. There is even a special word to describe it: College.

It isn’t that every day of my twenties is spent pondering life and how I fit into it, although I will say there are moments where I stop in my tracks and scream to myself, “What…………….is happening?!?” This week, there has been more screaming in my brain than I have ever experienced before. To begin with, I am an intern at an investment company that moves so fast that I often feel like I’m being trampled, left in the dust still registering that I was even pushed down. If you don’t stand up for yourself, you are left far, far behind (and rightfully so–if you don’t know what you’re doing there, you simply don’t belong). I am so lost I don’t even know who to turn to at my job, which explains why I have been stuck working 25 hours a week while flailing through my accounting courses. So there’s that… Also, it’s midterms at most American universities on the quarter system. So, long story short, my fuse was running short.

Last Thursday night around 11pm, I casually called my dad for a question regarding my taxes (oh, also it’s tax season. Hooray…). The minute I heard my dad’s voice, something in me collapsed. Immediately, I broke out in sobs, breathing so hard over the phone that all my dad could do was wait for me to finish. What is it…? Are you okay?! My dad, being the doctor that he is, immediately wanted to rescue me. Although, the more I talked to him, the more I realized I could only save myself. This is what my dad told me:

For starters, he told me I was working too much (duh…). I could have foreseen this about a month ago, although I refused to admit to myself that I couldn’t do it all. Secondly, he told me a story in which I had never heard before (which is strange as my dad tends to over-tell ALL his stories). The story is a bit pointless unless you know my dad personally (you might know my dad, as he seems to know everyone), although his point was that everyone in the course of their lifetime has a moment–maybe even moments– where they collapse, questioning if the decisions they are making now are even remotely close to what they want for themselves in their upcoming  future. Now this is something that struck me as my dad is one of those people who seems to have had it all figured out minutes after entering this cold, hard world. All I could say was, yeah…

Yeah. That’s how I feel. You hit the nail on the head with that one, dad.

After I got off the phone, I dried my tears and just sat. And since (its been about eight days since), I have simply continued to sit. Sit on my thoughts about who I know myself to be right now, who I know I want to become, what I’ve already accomplished, what I want to accomplish in the future, and so on. And since, I can tell you I’ve come to find a small sense of serenity. How? Mostly because I just continued to sit.

Here are the things I learned while I was sitting with my thoughts: (1) Working at an investment company isn’t making me happy. The people who walk through those elevator doors every single day are truly happy (well, most of them anyways). They LOVE stocks and bonds. Excel fucking EXCITES them to no end. They want to high-five and throw a football because they love America and they love football, and hell, their city just won the Super Bowl! This isn’t me. Also, I’m a finance major, so this is worrisome. (2) I want to travel. I have continued to write about, think about, talk about and obsess over my life in Italy every single God damn day since I returned to my life in the U.S. To no end. My friends are probably begging me to stop. But I can’t. It’s what makes me want to throw a football and high-five. (3) So far, most of my life thus far has consisted of living and making decisions based on what I thought I should or ought to do. What would my parents say if I did X? What classes should I take? Would my friends judge me if I did that? Should I be praying more? Oh I shouldn’t do that. Maybe I should do this! What do you think? Do you think I should do it? Maybe I shouldn’t. FOR GOD SAKES, KATIE, FUCKING STOP. Just… stop.

So, I’ve decided to just stop. To listen to myself. To sit.

These past couple of days have actually been much more enjoyable for me. For one, I’ve decided that I actually want a tattoo. If you knew me before this grandiose self-revelation, you would know that I would have NEVER gotten a tattoo. But I want one. And it will make me happy. And it will be for me and me only. Who gives a shit about what I should do? Also, I’ve come to realize that I have no idea whats going to happen when I graduate. And that’s okay. Because I’m not a fortune-teller.

Also, I’m going to continue to travel.

This is the end of everything I have figured out in my head while I was sitting. Maybe you feel as energized as I do right now after coming to realize all of this. But, probably not.

This week I think I’m going to continue to sit. Also, I will continue to tell myself, FUCK DOING THINGS JUST BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO DO THEM. Except my taxes, maybe.

Namaste – KB.

Bikram Yoga: Best thing ever…or worst nightmare?

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In spirit of my new daily attempt at yoga, I attended a Bikram yoga class for the first time at the SweatBox in Seattle (for those of you who are fellow Seattlites and have yet to check it out… check it http://sweatboxyoga.com). Needless to say, it was the sweatiest, hottest, smelliest thing I have ever done. Ever. And yet, it was fairly rewarding?

I must admit, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I walked into the class with my newly purchased GroupOn. Sure, I knew there would be sweat and probably a lot of too-cool-for-school Capitol Hill yogis, but I was NOT expecting to immediately be hit with a wall of stank and musty heat the minute I walked into the room. My eyes quickly widened at the sight of hairy old hippies dressed in the tiniest speedos I have ever seen stretching out in warrior 2. Since I was running late, I grabbed the only available spot on the floor, directly in front of the heating lamps of course, and settled onto my mat while I did a quick crowd-scan. That was another thing, there was a crowd. There were close to about 25 other sweating humans in this tiny box of a room (aha! The name “sweatbox” just clicked for me!), with barely enough room for me to touch my toes without being in close proximity to my neighbor’s asshole.

By the end of the hour and a half (in my opinion, about an hour too long for me), I dragged my body outside thanking God the whole way that I had successfully avoided death. Without a care, or any energy to walk back to the locker room, I stripped off my soaking wet clothes on the street and stumbled back to my car with my roommate by my side. The next morning, I woke up feeling oddly cleansed and certainly sore.

I’m not sure why, but I am definitely doing it again. Call me crazy, but the challenge was thrilling. Except next time, I am definitely downing a few bottles of water the day before…

I salute you, fellow Bikramers. – KB

A Day for Anniversaries

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If I were to measure my year in smiles, I would say it was a fairly big year. Today marks the day I left to begin my journey abroad exactly one year ago.

When I close my eyes and let the memories from my trip wash over me, many things come to mind. Laughter. Adventure. Train rides. Red wine (and purple lips…). Sunsets. Friendship. Couch surfing. Dancing. Kissing. Salty Mediterranean waves. 

In theory, I suppose you can say that I changed. I was no longer safe, I was bold. I stopped thinking and started acting. But when I think about it further, I realize that I really just found the person I have always been; the person I never got the chance to be before. I have always been someone full of life and curiosity, I just simply never had the opportunity to express it.

After spending the first half of the year finding myself, I spent the second half of the year in reflection. And now, I suppose you can say my reflection is coming to an end and I am beginning a new chapter called “How to Further Yourself” (hence my blog to track my progress). Now that I know who I am (mostly), my job is to continue growing. So really, my journey abroad was just the beginning of my next journey into adulthood.

And so my new adventure begins…

Per my title, today holds another anniversary for me: The half way mark of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge. I began this challenge in effort to become more physically and emotionally flexible. After spending 15 days stretching myself beyond my limits, I have discovered a few things about myself: (1) I actually can commit. I was always a “dabbler”and never consistently practiced. Now, I officially understand how to flow through poses (and through life). (2) I am flexible. Who knew? And finally, (3) I will mostly likely never ever be able to do the splits… and I am okay with that.

Heres to another year! Adventure on. -KB

Meet the Girls Who Changed my Life

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I left for Italy expecting good food, beautiful sites, and a whole lot of kissing on both cheeks. What I didn’t expect to find (a day into my journey, I might add) was two partners to share every up and every down with. I boarded my flight on January 20th in Seattle filled with sadness of leaving my loved ones, excited at the adventure ahead, and scared at the thought of being alone through the next six months.

I arrived in Rome, tired and extremely awake simultaneously, to meet my roommate, Alexa. My first thought of her was, Oh my gosh! She is so tiny and Southern! How cute!

With activities to keep us busy throughout the day — this, I might add, after failing to sleep on the day long flight — Alexa and I fell asleep the first night fairly quickly after chatting about our families and where we came from.

The following morning, waiting in a herd of American students leaving for our bus to tour the city, I saw a girl in the crowd of people standing off to the side simply observing the crowd. She was paired with some cool boots and a soft looking sweater. Feeling a bit lost, I walked up to her and her friend (also known as Sarah, another large part of my journey) and asked if they knew what we should be doing while waiting. Immediately, Gabby burst with conversation, all about her flight to Rome and a colorful story of how her luggage was lost somewhere in Germany while she was only left with a pair of leggings and a carry-on. I thought, this girl is funny as hell. The next moment, after quickly introducing Gabby to Alexa, turned out to be the moment that started it all: The friendship of a lifetime.

This story is dedicated to Gabby and Alexa, my rocks.

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Meet Alexa:

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Over the course of my trip, Alexa was there day-in and day-out, mostly because she couldn’t escape me! We lived in a small walk-up apartment (which we were convinced was haunted) with our house mother named Annalisa, sharing a small bedroom with two twin beds and one wooden wardrobe for our clothes.

I can’t quite describe in words how our friendship progressed. I guess you could say we began bonding over our many nights together, eating dinner with Annalisa, then staying out into the wee hours of the morning, laughing and dancing and, of course, always scouting the local Italian men. Alexa is a woman of much confidence, always knowing where she stands in the world and how she feels about it. You look at her and simply stand there mesmerized as she just radiates happiness. It’s almost as if nothing gets her down. She became one of the many people who began to shape the person I started to become in Italy– her laughter and excitement for adventure positively contagious. I believe I started to love myself mostly because Alexa loved me before I even knew who I was.

I don’t think I will ever be able to full relay to Alexa how much she changed my life over the course of six short months. All I can say is, I am forever changed by her.

Meet Gabby:

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Gabby is a pistol. I don’t believe I have ever struck up a friendship as strong as I did with Gabby right off the bat. On the outside, Gabby is this go-getter girl on fire. To say she is a force of nature is certainly an understatement. She will take your breath away.

On the inside, Gabby is undeniably the most protective and loyal person I have ever come across. Make a snarky comment to me, and Gabby will be on your ass like white on rice. I think part of the reason she became someone I was so emotionally connected with was because she was more like a sister than anything. Whether I was puking in a back alleyway on cobblestone streets or needed to be carried home, Gabby was there, dragging me the whole way. She could take one look at me and it was almost like she knew exactly what I was thinking. Most of all, Gabby made me feel like I was alive. I was constantly living on the edge, with little worry of ever falling just knowing she would catch me if I did. I learned how fun life is when you take it by the balls, and I plan to live my life accordingly here on out.

I can’t even imagine my life without Gabby, and I don’t think I ever plan to. Although, with the volume of her voice, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to lose her!

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You are forever apart of me. I love you girls. Love, KB.

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100 Things To Do Before I Die (in no particular order)!

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1. Save a life.

2. Fall in love (over and over and over).

3. Get the giggles at the most inappropriate moment ever.

4. Wear yellow to a funeral to celebrate a life rather than mourn the end of one!

5. Retire.

6. Slap a stranger’s ass.

7. Become friends with someone much (and I mean much) older.

8. Buy a house in a different country.

9. Savor some wine on a rooftop.

10. Wear a faux fur coat out to a bar one evening and pretend I’m a movie star.

11. Pet a camel and feed it camel food.

12. Find out what camels eat.

13. Buy my parents a really nice gift.

14. Travel to 7 6 out of the 7 continents (sorry, Antarctica).

15. Go scuba diving.

16. Have a pen-pal.

17. Build a nearly perfect fire.

18. Graduate college.

19. Take a sabbatical.

20. Stay in bed for one whole day (although, allow myself to use the bathroom).

21. Help someone cross off something on their bucket list.

22. Share my deepest, darkest secrets with someone.

23. Run a marathon.

24. Have my cake and eat it too.

25. Live in New York City.

26. Watch a child-birth.

27. Write a book.

28. Get all my moles checked (sooner rather than later…)

29. Have a hard core make-out session at a drive-in movie.

30. Find my soul mate.

31. Go on a guilty-free shopping spree.

32. Go to a book signing and get a book signed that I’ve actually read.

33. Meditate in Bali.

34. Read a newspaper naked in front of my window.

35. Hike through a rainforest.

36. Visit an orphanage and donate in any way that I can.

37. Break into a pool and skinny dip at night.

38. Make an inspiring public speech.

39. Make a wish come true.

40. Own my very own dog.

41. Name my dog Mooshoo.

42. Go to a movie alone.

43. Stay in touch with someone I met on a plane.

44. Wear an outrageous outfit in public shamelessly.

45. Have a no-feelings-attached male best friend.

46. Host a couch-surfer.

47. Host a dinner party and actually make all the food (no grocery bought dessert).

48. Pretend I am Carrie Bradshaw for the night and order a cosmo and wear sparkles.

49. Ice-skate without cursing at myself (and whoever I am with) the whole time.

50. Watch P.S. I love You without crying.

51. Have a study-abroad reunion.

52. Wear a smokey-eye and pretend my name is Bridget at a party.

53. Make my own piecrust.

54. Learn how to make graffiti art.

55. Buy my own couch.

56. Feed a koala some mint.

57. Buy expensive heels (over $250).

58. Go on a blind date.

59. Ride on a moped through cobblestone streets.

60. Grow a garden.

61. Pee my pants at a comedy show.

62. Find my “dream job.”

63. Get a mentor.

64. Meet Diane Von Furstenburg.

65. Research my ancestors.

66. Spend one St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

67. Watch two people I love get married.

68. Ride a tandem bike across The San Francisco Bridge (again).

69. Send my step-mom flowers for no reason in particular.

70. Spend a Christmas in London.

71. Learn how to make my grandma’s eggplant Parmesan.

72. Go on a road trip with my best friends along the West Coast.

73. Buy a veteran a drink to thank them for their service.

74. Dress up like Heidi in Germany (braids and all).

75. Teach a parrot a word.

76. Tell my little sister how much she inspires me.

77. Tell my older sister how grateful I am to have her in my life.

78. Tailgate HARD at a South Carolina football game.

79. Learn how to do a cartwheel.

80. Go out for drinks with a former teacher of mine.

81. Shop at Barney’s New York (preferably at the Barney’s in New York).

82. Become an aunt.

83. Watch a live WNBA game.

84. Drink coconut milk out of a coconut.

85. Work for some sort of creative design company.

86. Make a dress and actually wear it this time.

87. Put my lighter (or phone) up at a concert.

88. Pick some wild flowers and give them to a significant other.

89. Work in a foreign country.

90. Inspire a child.

91. Buy a pair of footie pajamas (tie-dyed, obviously).

92. Subscribe to a magazine (no email subscriptions).

93. Visit a brewery to see how beer is made.

94. Ride a horse bareback.

95. Teach someone a card game.

96. Become lifetime friends with someone I met in a hostel.

97. Die happy.

98.Wear a ridiculous, British inspired, crafty looking hat.

99. Watch a movie and read the book after.

100. Leave a mark on the world.

If anyone would like to help me accomplish some of these, I would be forever grateful. In the meantime, keep on keepin’ on. -KB

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Little Fish in a Big Pond

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 The one thing all famous authors, world-class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things. – Mike Dooley

I have found myself saying and thinking things lately like I’m only an intern or maybe when I’m older or I’m not even 21 yet! 

It is fairly easy to count yourself out because of your limitations. Age, size, knowledge– you name it. I come across people everyday opting out of something they truly want to be apart of simply because they don’t fit the image. Trust me, I do it all the time. But why is this? We are counting ourselves out before we even begin. We don’t even give ourselves a chance to mess up, we simply quit before the game begins.

I recently stumbled upon (at the library, not on StumbleUpon.com) this quote by Mike Dooley. He points out something very simple that seems to be a bit trifling to people: We all start out at the bottom.

But does being at the bottom really mean you aren’t worth anything? Or does it just mean you have yet to be noticed?

I tend to root for the underdog. Because, after all, don’t we all perform better when we know we have nothing to lose? So this year I want to stop using my age and lack of credible life experiences as an excuse. I am a 20-year-old woman, dammit, and I expect to be treated like one.

I encourage everyone to speak up and count yourself in. You deserve it. And after all, you have nothing to lose, right?

Always rooting for you, underdog. -KB

Taste the Rainbow

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There is certainly truth in the saying you are what you eat. In which case, I was most likely a whole lot of gelato during my time in Italy.

Besides all the gelato, my Italian diet was really quite simple, and re-evaluating my health this new year has got me thinking about my diet in America in comparison. In terms of color, there is nothing simple. Tuscan dishes are often full of cheek-pinching reds, eye-catching greens and deep yellows. Each bite is so mouth wateringly fresh that you cannot help but savour every taste in your mouth for as long as possible until you realize you sound like Bob Wiley at the dinner table in “What About Bob?”.

Italians make fresh food seem revolutionary. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of tasty home cooked meals (thanks, Grandma!) as well as gourmet restaurant meals, but there is something about a simple arrabiata sauce and some pici pasta to get your taste buds dancin’.

Most importantly, I think the picture below captivates what Italians have perfected so well: The art of making a meal to bring your loved ones together. This picture (showing Gabby and Alexa petting a stranger’s dog at the table) perfectly captures the evening. Here we were–in Rome, fresh out of the states, led on a bit of a wild goose chase by a girl I had just met who declared her sister told her of this secret restaurant her Italian boyfriend had shown her during her own time abroad. Long story short, this was a “secret” restaurant that was being run by a man who, simply put, didn’t quite feel up  to paying for a restaurant license and instead operated as an impromptu eatery in his living room with his braless wife and scruffy dog by his side. Moral of the story? BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE.

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So, my new goal (yes, I have a lot of goals): Eat fresh. Eat local. And most importantly, eat with love.

For those of you interested, here is a link to an article in the NY Times about this “secret” restaurant (also called “Da I Due Cecconi” or rather “Two Fat Guys”). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/travel/22choice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& 

Buon Appetito! -KB

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30 Day Do You Yoga Challenge

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30 Day Do You Yoga Challenge

New Years resolutions seem to consistently revolve around health for most people. Whether it be your emotional health, physical health, how “healthy” your bank account is, etc.This year I’m working on improving my health by becoming more flexible, emotionally and physically.

To be completely honest, I didn’t even really know that being flexible was something I should be concerned with. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago while aimlessly clicking on YouTube videos that I found “Day 1″ of the 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Being a dabbler in yoga over the past couple of years, I was intrigued and clicked play. I figured, hell, why not? Its better than starting on my accounting homework.

After Day 1 I was hooked. A 30 day yoga challenge was exactly what I needed and, aha!, all within the comfort of my own home… amidst the stacks of textbooks and coffee stained newspapers lying on my bedroom floor.

After sleeping on it more (and consequently waking up as tightly wound as I was before starting the yoga challenge), I began to connect the dots. Maybe what I’m missing about my carefree Italian living-spontaneuous couchsurfing-pasta eating self since coming home from my travels was that I stopped being flexible. Living in Italy made me live moment to moment. There was no planning. No calculating. Just an open mind and a will to see as much as possible. Where has that girl gone?

So, my goal is to get back to that place of flexibility. And I challenge you to the 30 day “Do You” challenge.

Keep calm and yoga on. -KB

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What Am I Doing?

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 This is me: 20-year-old girl (woman? post-teenager? American? soul searcher?) on a generic journey of self discovery through four of the most thrilling and scary and hard years of my life. Oh yes, I am talking the most common question every twenty-something across the world has asked themselves: Who am I and what does this all mean?!

As part of my journey, I figured why not try a little experiment? My goal is to blog (online journal — whatever the hell this is) as much as I can throughout the next year of my life to see how I’ve grown (hopefully I find some growth at the start of 2015…).

To begin with, I have recently returned (in June) from one of the most life-changing and core shaking experiences of my life: A semester abroad. I lived with a little lady named Annalisa in the spectacular city of Florence, Italy for six months simply learning and loving and eating and dancing and couchsurfing. It was perfetto. I met two of the most wonderful friends anyone could ever ask for, Alexa and Gabby (whom you will be reading A LOT about), and with them conquered Europe (and some of my fears, I might add).

This is my journey after one of the greatest journeys of my life.

Cheers! -KB

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