Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recommended with August

white and purple orchids

Since August is my birthday month, the links I'll be sharing this go round are all about some of my favorite things.


Edible terrarium desserts!  How cute!

Also, however many plants I may have in my home, I'm pretty sure I'll never be at this level.

I love kokedama hanging string gardens, but they always look so precarious.  Turns out they're pretty easy to make, though.  Check out this kokedama tutorial with care tips.


I will have this ridiculously happy shiba vine bookmarked forever and for always.  (sound on)

Made me laugh.  A lot.


15 different cultural tea traditions from Mental Floss - I really like learning about things like this!

Zen Tea is based in Atlanta, and I've discovered my all time favorite loose leaf in their store.  Chocolate mint rooibos has cozy, bright, and comfort all wrapped up into one delicious blend.  Right now they have it on their online store as part of their rooibos sampler pack, but if you're in Atlanta, stop by their Chamblee brick and mortar and get yourself a bag!

Other awesome things

When the font you use gets you convicted of a crime

I just learned about Museum Hack, a company that makes trips to the museum even cooler than they already are!

Really feeling this silver hairstyle these days.  My own silver strands have started cropping at both my temples, now, so it's only a matter of time!

Happy August!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

When the big picture shifts, part 2

Blog post: when your career demands a shift

What they don't tell you about getting a B.A. in Communication Studies is how vague and nondescript it is.  In one of my first interviews after college, the guy across the desk from me asked "So what does Communications mean?" and I honestly didn't know what to tell him, though it may be a testament to what I did learn at college that I was able to pull something out of thin air to satisfy his question in the moment.

Right after college, I had my old summer job at Office Depot that kept me busy for about another year.  Then, after having little luck in landing a "real" job, I left the country for the promise of a salary and benefits in exchange for teaching ESL in Korea.  Turns out having "Korea" on my resume was what got me the interview for my first "real American" job, 7 months after I returned to the States.  I worked as an administrative assistant/receptionist/office manager in a small office for a year and a half or so, and I really enjoyed it.  I loved supporting a tiny team and building those internal relationships.  The job also confirmed that I am a killer organizer, a fast learner, and great at getting stuff done.  I had outgrown the job, though, and needed something new to keep me interested and fulfilled, so into the fast-paced startup world I went as a Campus Operations Manager for The Iron Yard, then a glorified global customer service coordinator, financial services rep, curriculum editor, new hire trainer, and all around Swiss army knife.  (I have a thing for small companies and many hats.)


Maybe you already knew some of this, but long story short, today is my last day.  When I first heard the news that The Iron Yard was closing and I had two weeks before being unemployed, one of my biggest anxieties was figuring out what in the world to do next.  Having a degree in communications supposedly sets you up for almost anything (that's what the career counselor said), but it's seemed to me to be more of a jack-of-all-trades degree, the kind that doesn't give you any real direction or real skill.  This led me to look beyond my college experience to my professional experience and even my hobbies, and I've decided to try and pursue a career in editing and/or writing.

Remember, I've never had a career path.  I've been a vagabond in my professional trajectory, and stepping out on something that started as a side hustle and a hobby is frightening.  I'm afraid to fail.  I'm afraid to get the job but find that I hate it.  I'm afraid that the main reason why I want this is because I'm a pretentious and prideful person and saying "I'm an editor" sounds like I am somebody.  But, I do want to give this a shot.  I want to leave it all out on the court and see what happens.  That was my perspective when Caleb and I started dating (and got engaged... and actually that perspective stayed with me until my wedding day), and it turned out pretty great.  Editing and I have so much going for us, it would be a cop out to not try it.  So here I am, going forward into the unknown!


On the practical side of things, I am craving advice, encouragement, and job leads, and if you can help with either of those, I'd be grateful.  Even if the job hunt takes longer because of it, Caleb and I are staying in Atlanta for the time being.  We've also taken up a side hustle as dog boarders through Rover, which has been fun so far.  (Sign up here to get $20 off your first booking (shameless plug).  Gotta get that cash so I can have all those coffee dates with professional mentors.)  Feel free to pass along my LinkedIn profile to anyone who may be interested, and comment below or email me through the button on the right of the page with anything that could be helpful!

Caleb and I have both dealt with unemployment before, but not since 2012 and not since coming into our own, professionally.  It's a blow to be back on the beat again, but I am confident that this season won't last long.  We're both smart, capable, and at least somewhat charming people, and we have a lot of people who love us.  I'll be sure to update y'all when I have good news to share, and I hope that happens soon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When the big pictures shifts, part 1

Last Wednesday, I got a call from the CMO of my company to let me know that The Iron Yard, by rule of the board, will be shutting its doors permanently.  Our current classes will be taught till graduation, an extra month of career support offered to alumni, and then it's all going to be finished.  And my last day will be August 2.

Even though a co-worker friend of mine had sent me a hurried Slack message with the bad news a split second before I picked up the phone call, I was shocked and taken by complete surprise.  I always thought I'd be with this company until, or unless, I made the decision to move on to something different.  I have been cultivating dreams and goals for myself within this company, and just this year I'd seen a lot of encouraging forward motion in my personal career here.  Suddenly, it's gone, and the big picture shifts.


It's one thing to lose your job.  It's another thing to have to begin the grueling job hunt.  It's a completely other thing to love your beloved company, to see your friends go through the same pain, to feel deep sympathy for everyone around you, and to know that there won't be any campus, headquarters, or mother ship to return to for reunions.  Our network will move to social media and occasional coffee dates.  Our mark will be seen in the waves of new web developers breaking into the tech industry.  Our legacy will live on exclusively in the lives we changed.

When you tilt your head to see the situation in that light, when you realize how the greatness and beauty and ingenuity that was crafted within these walls will live on even when the walls fall down, it's very, very easy to breathe again.  To open your hands and connect with the reason why we were all doing this in the first place.  Our mission was to make lasting change in the lives of those around us, and we did a heck of a job of that.  Thankfully the mission will be carried further by different coding bootcamps, online tutorial sites, and other avenues, and while I may not be in the center of the magic much longer, there will still be magic happening.


I can't express my wholehearted appreciation and love for The Iron Yard well enough.  I'd come to the Atlanta campus from a very traditional work environment looking for a challenge.  Somehow I interviewed 3 days after submitting my resume, and I was hired two days later after I met the team in person.  With conservative operations experience but an eagerness to succeed, I entered the startup world, the tech world, The Iron Yard world, and one of the best teaching experiences of my life.

The struggles came quickly, but so did the support and encouragement from the people around me at work.  My role was a very new one, and two other Campus Operations Managers came on board at other campuses soon after I was hired.  Our weekly collaboration talks and our company-wide required journaling sessions were my safety net.  I struggled, but I never struggled alone.  When my personal life brought shadows with me into work, my teams told me they'd love to help however they could.  My Atlanta teammates have been anchors during some of the most turbulent storms of my adult life.  When work situations and relationships got tricky or sticky or straight up unhealthy, even more of my work friends spoke up, reached out to me, shared advice, and gave me hugs (many of them virtual hugs).

The Iron Yard has a great track record of hiring excellent human beings.  One of the greatest pains in my heart is the pain of losing these friends.  Yes, there's always Twitter, and maybe I'll make it down to Tampa or Orlando one day so I can grab a drink with folks in person, but not being able to work with these people every day is going to a hard adjustment.  From the executives to the new trainees, there are so many people I deeply care about and deeply appreciate at this company.  I know it hurts us all to see us all in this situation, but I'm thankful that even in this, we aren't alone.  We have each other.  We have our inside jokes.  And we have one more week all together to raise standards, change lives, and do the incredible.


Every time I think through this situation, I always end up with the most beautiful silver linings.  I'm tempted to write more here about my own personal situation, but I'd rather keep that separate, because what I already have here stands on its own so well.  The Iron Yard grew organically as a new solution to a real problem, and I'm so honored to have been a part of it.  Our team estimates that 3,000+ careers were changed for the better thanks to The Iron Yard, and I know our reach goes even further through the free kids classes, coding crash courses, event sponsorships, and field trips we've hosted, etc.  Every campus has had an impact on their city, and I can't wait to be stopped on the street by people touched by our work when I wear my Iron shirt in public.  Yes, even though I've almost completely moved away from screen printed tees, The Iron Yard shield is a badge of honor, and I'm proud to wear it.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Recommended with July

Appalachia country | America the beautiful

Happy birthday, America!  You're a beautiful country with innovative people who are the most generous in the world.  There will always be plenty of work to be done in better caring for the tired, poor, and huddled masses, and I am still proud of the good you do do.  Keep moving forward, Americans.  Love trumps hate.
Here's a favorite video of a slice of American culture: the cast of STOMP + The Harlem Globe Trotters

And a different side of America: Superman vs the Ku Klux Klan actually happened

Encouragement for today: "If we celebrated growing and getting healthy as much as we did perfection, it would be a lot easier to get help." 

How to moonwalk, in gifs

For at least a year now, I've been having trouble sleeping through the night.  Stress and blue light from my phone are big factors for me, and I've used a little calming yoga and a magnesium supplement to help me sleep better.  Here are some other great tips for getting your mind and body to rest at night.

Sara Tasker from Me & Orla wrote a very poignant post about Living with Less + Trust. "For a lot of us, it’s the fear of not having enough that makes us hold onto things."

Also from Sara: "What this has made me realise is, people’s emotions are not really an indicator of their strength.  It is a fallacy and a joke to believe that suppressing our true feelings is in some way admirable; that faking the same state of consciousness at all times is the best representation of a  healthy mind."

Your daily dose of cuteness: Puppy training and 3D printed cat armor

Friday, June 23, 2017

Water the flowers, not the weeds

A small clover bouquet | water the flowers, not the weeds
Much of this year has been a time of unrest for me, of distress, panic, fear, and vulnerability without comfort.  In the midst of this, a massage therapist shared with me that meditation could be helpful, and that led me to browsing the website of Ziva Mind, which she had recommended.  While I never did sign up for their subscription, I did find this one phrase that stuck out for me and brought fresh breath to my spirit.

Water the flowers, not the weeds.

When your days seem effortless and you're filled to the brim with thankfulness,
treasure these seasons of happiness.

When your control of situations slips with your grip,
dwell on where you are steady and secure.

When everything is something to complain about,
hunt for the blessings you haven't noticed yet.

Now this phrase just assumes that there are flowers with the weeds, which I wanted to point out.  There is something beautiful and worthy of gratefulness, no matter where you are.  I have yet to come across a story where that isn't true.  If you're where I was a few months ago, take heart.  When we dwell on the negative, it grows larger and stronger, even if it's just in our perspectives.  The same happens for the good when we dwell on it.

This is something I haven't taken to heart and action completely yet, but I know it will only benefit myself and others to focus on the positive and to allow that mindset to bring buoyancy to every area of my life.  To help with this, I have picked up meditation.  I'm nowhere close to being good at it, but just like yoga, it's something that you get better at with time, and even when you suck at it, it already has benefits to offer.  I plan on writing a post soon with some first impressions and ideas for getting started with meditation.

My question for you

How do you stay buoyant in your life?  In your crappy and straight up awful situations?  What keeps you strong or calm or persistent?  If you could start getting things right much earlier, what advice would you share with yourself?

You can see the page where I found this maxim here along with some great advice on managing holiday and travel stress.

Friday, May 5, 2017

How to introduce yourself to Bollywood

I know that my blog doesn't usually cover film in any respect, but Bollywood movies are something that bring me great happiness, and I'd love to spread the joy!  

The genre is large and overwhelming even without being a clueless foreigner, so I wanted to share short reviews of the movies I've watched and give some recommendations for potential entry drugs movies.  Be aware: the plots can sometimes get flimsy, the reactions dramatic, and the dance numbers infectious.  The style, messages, and themes are different from what I'm used to in the USA, but they're also so often beautiful and exciting.  For me, Bollywood is a perfect small escape to a new world full of color and life.  I hope you'll check some of these out, and if you do, let me know what you think!

Ram Leela | 5/5 stars

I first fell in love with this movie from the music.  It would show up on my Bollywood Pandora channel, I would swoon, and favorite song after song from the soundtrack.  When I finally got around to watching it, it was a complete experience!  This movie is saturation with the color, culture, and tradition of India while telling a classic Romeo and Juliet story.  (For a brief but mind blowing introduction to the bold and exciting main male character, check out this entrance dance number.)  It might be a bit long and in depth for a first-timer, but after you've worked yourself up to enjoying Bollywood, definitely make it to watching this one.

Friday, April 7, 2017

My new hobby: Foraging!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen a lot more foliage popping up in the pictures I share lately.  Along with music, writing, and many styles of dance, I've recently added foraging to my collection of hobbies!

It all started last fall when two friends of mine mentioned some Atlanta folks who had found some chantrelle mushrooms in local parks.  I had never heard of anyone eating wild food like that, and definitely not mushrooms, but when I realized there were tasty mushrooms hanging around outside, just waiting to be eaten (and that they were free!) I was immediately interested.  Mushrooms are one of my top favorite foods, and being able to find my own sounded really exciting.

The only problem was, I didn't know how to get started.  And if you do any research on where to start looking for wild mushrooms, the internet will tell you very fast that seasoned mushroom hunters do not share their foraging spots.  They want to keep their crops to themselves, period.

Once I realized I had to be self-sufficient in learning how to forage, I bought Mushrooms Demystified and set myself to memorizing identifying traits of easy beginner mushrooms and figuring out where around Atlanta they might be hiding in season.

Turns out, there is pretty much no chance of finding edible mushrooms in the winter, which is just when I got started.  I went out hunting so many times with no success because of the cold weather and because I was looking for mushrooms that are a lot more rare than I expected them to be.  I actually became quite discouraged and was thinking about giving up on mushroom hunting until the fall when I knew some other varieties would be springing up in the city.

Around this time, I started looking into foraging hashtags on Instagram and coming across a lot of accounts of folks who had a lot of info to share about wild edibles.  Once I found some people who were located in the Southeast, I started to get a more realistic perspective of what I could expect to find in my area and when I could expect it.  Having their pictures show up on my feed brought back my excitement and my drive to find all these exciting things I could eat from the outdoors.

Soon after, I found out about a foraging ramble hosted by a small local farm.  Chris and Isia of the Cracks in the Sidewalk Farmlet invited the community to their farm to wander the grounds and learn about all the foragables that come in the spring.  I spent my own money (!!) to learn from them, I took copious notes, and I had a great time.

Spending time with Chris and Isia on their farm was the perfect catalyst to a more relaxed perspective on foraging.  Instead of feeling like I have to work hard to find specific treasures, I learned that there are edibles in my own backyard, available for the picking when I want to spend the time picking them.  Having the knowledge of what's edible near me lets me enjoy walking and looking around my neighborhood and seeing what's available.  Hunting for specific edibles is great, too, but it wasn't until I let go of that intense drive that I actually found what I'd originally been looking for: morel mushrooms.

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I found them just two blocks from my house!  I couldn't believe it!  After about a month of weekend walks in the woods, of staying low to the ground and of thinking "maybe I don't like this very much after all," these mushrooms revealed themselves while my sister and I were sauntering along with absolutely no agenda.  I completely freaked out when I saw them, to the point of cussing, which is a rare thing for me.  Thankfully, my sister had her phone with her, so we could capture this moment of glorious success and serendipity.

I couldn't believe my luck!  And while I'd love to try and find some more in the parks I'd been looking in earlier in the year, I might let myself be satisfied with what I have this time.  My backyard has so many violets, henbit, cleaver, dandelion, chickweed, and probably even more that I could use in salads, and I think I'm going to be happy with that.

Foraging resources for beginners 

Instagram accounts to follow:

MylesJonesProject (Georgia)
Free State Forager (Mississipi)
farma_cee (Appalachia)
Foraging and Feasting (USA)
Wild Food Love (USA)

Herb Inc Alabama (Alabama)
Organic and Wild (Michigan)
Yellow Elanor (Pacific Northwest)
Real Wild Thing (Ontario)
Foraged and Found Edibles (Northeast + Seattle)

Atlanta resources:

Homestead Atlanta | An organization that highlights primitive and homestead skill workshops
Concrete Jungle | A map of foragables on public land
ForageATL | This page has a monthly list of medicinal foragables.
Mushroom Club of Georgia


Women's Heritage | "Bringing elements of the homestead to every day life"
Stone Axe Herbals | Blogging through homesteading

Other resources:

Falling Fruit |  An international site showing you available edibles in your area (similar to Concrete Jungle)

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