Make Life More Valuable: Part I

In my life, my most treasured moments either stem from family or exploring. I am so thankful to have the ability to travel the world, explore new places and learn different culture. Even if it’s just a little weekend getaway in a cabin with my girlfriends or a ten day adventure to several European cities, I find that the art of travel brings creativity and inspiration to everyday life.

Last Winter, I took ballroom dancing lessons and never imagined it would bring such value to my life. But not even just ballroom dancing — dancing in any form is a beautiful way to express yourself. Have you ever gotten in the car, turned on your music as loud as possible and danced around in the driver’s seat all alone? Well, I tend to do that more often than I’d admit. There’s just something about losing yourself in moves that makes the worries in the world seem so minuscule.

Sometimes I forget to take a break. I run, run, run and then when I finally catch my breath, I am reminded how amazing it feels. I like to just rest…relax…read a book, drink a cup of tea on my balcony and watch the sunrise. Seriously, take time to relax because when you have a chance to actually see the world spinning, it’s a beautiful thing.

A healthy lifestyle makes for a healthy business and a healthy relationship with yourself and others. Fitness and nutrition have  always been an important part of my nature. My personal recipe for healthy living is: juice (once a day, usually breakfast) + cardio (three times per week) + weight lifting (three times per week) and if you’re good, you can build a routine to put them together alternating days on different muscles. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself was hiring a personal trainer. I learned what type of weight lifting I should be doing for my body structure and goals.

Something I’ve struggled with for many years is my fear of loneliness. I’ve always been committed to overcoming that by trying to find things I enjoy doing by myself. That led me to moving into my first apartment by myself and really getting used to the feeling of solitude. In that time, I experienced some of my most creative moments. I painted, wrote poetry, read classic novels, watched foreign films and documentaries, shot some of my most compelling images and even learned how to grow a window garden (OK, so maybe I was still a little unsure of the whole living alone thing during that time.) But that point is, I did it.

Something that has added so much more value to my life of late is actually volunteering in order to improve the life of others. This year, I will be choosing one organization each month to donate my time and efforts to help those in need. After covering twelve different volunteer categories, I hope to find the ones that need the most and build a relationship with them and contribute as often as possible. Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to the community but you can also meet amazing individuals and learn a lot about yourself in the process.

These two simple words can change everything.

What is some of the best advice you’ve heard or given about making life more valuable?

Inspire: Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

Podcasts are a great source for knowledge, startup tips and inspiration. I typically listen to podcasts in the morning while drinking my coffee and sifting through emails or even during my mid-day break while running at the gym. Since I don’t always have the time to open a good business book, podcasts give me the ability to learn more about marketing, business, economics, and education. Sometimes, I like to speed the programs up on my iPhone to 1.5x to get through the programs quickly but still retain information. A list of my favorites include:

1) NPR: From Scratch – Host, Jessica Harris interviews some of the most reputable CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Founders of today’s business world.

2) Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner – A treasure chest for startups, this site had over 2000 free videos and podcasts featuring innovative thought leaders and business profiles.

3) Startups for the Rest of Us – This podcast provides an amazing amount of valuable information about the startup life for developers, designers and entrepreneurs that are launching software products.

4) This American Life – Ira Glass hosts this weekly, hour long podcast that features journalistic nonfiction, essays and compelling short stories. I’ve been listening to this station for many years and find myself crying or laughing along with the author.

5) NPR: Planet Money – The Economy, Explained. Planet Money’s team does a incredible job of taking the complexities of global economy and interpreting it for the average American. After listening to a couple episodes of Planet Money, you’ll feel like you’ve known these guys for years.

6) HBR Ideacast – Harvard Business Review podcast features breakthrough ideas and commentary from leading minds in management. A great way to learn something new!

7) TED Radio Hour: Building a Better Classroom – Although this entire podcast has inspiring lectures, I found this episode with Sir Ken Robinson to be most interesting. He discusses education today and how to bring creativity back into the classroom. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

8) The Lifestyle Business Podcast – This podcast provides tips for living a mobile business lifestyle. They also offer an private membership and host worldwide conferences. If you’ve ever thought about business location independence, this is the program for you.

9) Startup Slingshot – Listen to this podcast if you’re a hungry entrepreneur looking for tools, tips and tactics about launching and growing a technology startup.

10) Mixergy – This podcast is a collection of business tips and interviews with well-known proven entrepreneurs. The success stories and passion within them is enough to encourage the startup life for anyone.

and just a few more….

What are your favorite podcasts? Did I miss one that you swear by? Leave a comment!

 

Girls in a Cabin

After hours of driving through winding roads in the woods, we finally arrived at our girls’ getaway weekend retreat. We approached the cozy log cabin and our city-girl personalities started to shine through. Of course, we didn’t think to bring flashlights so there we are, all huddled closely together, using our cell phones to peer into the darkness…”Wait, shh.. what was that?” “Hello? Is anyone out there?” “No really, did I just see someone looking in the window?” Completely freaked out, we finally made it inside and after a bottle of wine, we felt right at home!

We never once turned on the TV and we had no cell service the whole weekend. In fact, at the very beginning of the trip, I had to call the other car of girls but had no way of doing so until we set out driving in to the dark forest and happened upon a cord phone in a box on a tree in the woods. Scariest thing ever!

It was a weekend of talking… a lot of talking: stories, secrets, laughing, and of course s’mores, wine and jacuzzi time.

Over the past two years, we’ve all been getting to know each other more and more over dinners and shopping trips but this weekend was such a great treat to really connect and appreciate our friendship on a higher level. I’m so thankful to have a group of girls that I can be myself around and learn so much from. Here’s to true friends!

VOTE

Everyone knows how important it is to cast your ballot, no matter who you’re voting for so be sure to VOTE if you haven’t already!

Yesterday, I spontaneously attended the Obama rally in Ohio and had to share my experience.

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I don’t typically discuss my political views on social media but I love election time! Not the excessive ads and the perceived brainwashing (on either side) but the passion and energy that comes along with campaigns.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the White House, the year before, I was invited to take photos of Air Force One during a stop in Columbus and the year before that, I took my first trip to our nation’s capital. To me, it was incredibly mesmerizing. The image I found most beautiful about Washington was right in front of the tulip covered U.S. Capitol: yards and yards of people, all different cultures, beliefs, races and ages, all laying on the same bed of grass. That is what being an American is all about. Individuality and freedom.

Have a voice. It’s your time to shine.

Things I Love About Autumn (Photos + Playlist)

Running and hiking in the crunchy leaves

Pumpkin patches!

Apple picking – and then baking homemade apple pies

The smell of firewood

Pumpkin spice coffee

Snuggling up on the couch with a good book

Pumpkin flavored everything

Cooking homemade soup

Wearing scarves and flannels

Autumn Inspired Playlists: [Listen Here]

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904
  2. First Aid Kit – Wolf
  3. M. Ward – Pure Joy
  4. Vetiver – Roll On Babe
  5. The National – Fake Empire
  6. The Lumineers – Stubborn Love
  7. Fruit Bats – Seaweed
  8. Beach House – Myth
  9. Alexi Murdoch – Blue Mind
  10. Iron & Wine – Lion’s Mane
  11. Andrew Bird – Give It Away
  12. Sufjan Stevens – For the Widows in Paradise
  13. Camera Obscura – Tears for Affairs
  14. Ryan Adams – Two
  15. First Adi Kit – Emmylou
  16. Blitzen Trapper – Furr
  17. Guillemots – Fleet
  18. Neko Case – Maybe Sparrow
  19. The Walkmen – Heaven
  20. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap

What are your favorite things about this beautiful season?