Sunday, November 8, 2015

Recent Realizations

Now that I've lived in New York City for over four full months, I thought I would share my two most recent realizations. I've been a bit apprehensive about sharing these particular thoughts but given my life long pursuit to be a fruit loop in a world of cheerios, why hold back now?

First, New York City rodents are endearing. I remember my first sighting. I was sitting at my temporary folding desk during Period 9 and saw something larger than a bug but smaller than a student go dashing across my doorway. In a panic I slowly raised my feet from the ground so that no part of my body was touching the floor. After deciding to investigate, I tossed a few objects within arms reach onto the floor to hopefully startle the little critter and scare them into hiding so I could consult with my colleagues over the incident. A few squeals and goosebumps filled moments later, it was confirmed, I was cohabiting with mice. My whole body began to itch as I thought about all of the diseases I had potentially contracted.

As an aside, I did not grow up in a place where mice and rats are typically common. If I see a spider, cockroach, or other creepy critter, I typically rise to the occasion to smash without any hesitation or let it be. The mice and rats were different until...

One crisp fall Monday evening as I was waiting for a subway, I saw a rat on the tracks. While my initial reaction was "ew" I became fascinated and used the distance as an opportunity to observe. The poor little guy was dodging subway cars to try and obtain a Doritos crumb from the abandoned bag for his family. Perhaps someone's dropped bagel could be tonight's dinner. It saddened me. The resilient rat doesn't have the luxury to pop into Whole Foods like myself and pick up a deliciously prepared organic meal or call Seamless when he feels like splurging. He's forced to live off of the waste of others given New York City is not overflowing with it's abundant natural resources.

It's honestly been my biggest transformation since moving to New York City. I'm quite positive I offered one an oatmeal bath today for his noticeably dry skin. Yes, I speak aloud to the rodents and yes, I think it's rather normal. Let's just hope I don't spy one scurrying across my living room anytime soon.

Second, bicycles are the most dangerous form of transportation. I may be a bit biased in this statement in that I was never a particularly strong bike rider. I never preferred to ride bikes and fortunately I only had one bike so if a friend was over, bikes were not the activity of choice. However, a lot of my friends had family bikes and always suggested we go on a ride. Given that I was the tallest, I was always discriminated against and forced to ride the "Dad's bike." Growing up, my mom had instilled in me the love for fashionable footwear since a young age and I didn't exactly wear sneakers to my friends house to play. So on top of riding dad's bike, I was always in some over the knee boot or strappy sandal and I inevitably fell off and ended up walking the bike back home. One summer in college for an internship, my provided transportation was a bike. I was impressed by how quickly I embraced the bike life style and was starting to get a bit adventurous with my choices. Then, one blistering hot afternoon, I started to travel down a hill too quickly and in a panic squeezed the brake handle without realizing I had only squeezed one and therefore flipped myself off the bike into the road shattering my beloved BlackBerry. I woke up briefly after and made a vow at that moment to never ride a bike again.

Given this context, it's to no surprise that I don't find all of the bicycles in New York as endearing as I do the rats. They are truly terrifying. There are no rules for the operators of bikes. They ride on the roads with cars. They ride on the sidewalks with pedestrians. When the light turns red, any law-abiding automobile driver comes to a stop. Bicycles continue to fly on through and expect you to wait. I see the WALK sign but I'm always afraid of being flattened by a bicycle.

Henry has inherited this trait from me and he too fears the bicycles. He will start barking whenever one comes too close on our walks. One Saturday, after returning from a pleasantly crisp walk in the park, a young child ran into Henry with his bike in our lobby. Henry and the child were both laid out across the floor having toppled off of the bike and I was trying to save Henry from the danger of that bike with training wheels. We were both pretty shook up and are fortunate the driver was only four.

Heading into this week, remember, rats are friends. Bikes are not.



Sunday, November 1, 2015


"I don't want to get to the end and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and errands and receipts and dirty dishes." - Shauna Niequist

One of my dearest friends sent me Savor this year for my birthday. I was a bit apprehensive as I don't have the best track record with daily devotions or journaling. I did my best to read consistently through October (there were a few nights where I had to read multiple days) and I'm loving how refreshed I feel. Even though it brought along fall and candy corn, October is always one of the longest months.

While I love my new position and living in New York City, I was moving at a pace that was a bit unsustainable which is not who I want to be. There were days, even weeks, where I felt like a collection of emails, posts, learning, budgets, and subways rides. My outreach to those I love had become targeted and purposeful and less authentic at times as I felt like I was trying to force being present when really I just needed to make time for me.

I wasn't savoring the moments and found myself starting to feel unhappy. Through reading Savor, I've become reconnected with what version of myself I most want to be. I've missed a few deadlines and realized that the world keeps spinning. I've gained a few pounds but I loved the moments of sharing meals with friends so I can't beat myself up over the gain. The apartment has been a mess, but I've loved my time reading each night.

While life does not have a pause moment, I want to be more mindful of pausing myself and enjoying the moments that create my life.

With gratitude,


P.S. I recently purchased myself a DSLR camera and I kind of love it. I started carrying a larger bag so I can always have on me. As of now, my main subjects are Henry and leaves but I'm sure I'll be progressing soon. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Don't You Love New York in the Fall?

I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. Aside from watching You've Got Mail consistently, I've been falling in love all over again with New York this fall. I walk as much as possible crunching on every leaf I see. I get a bit carried away with my layers. And, I haven't had the window units on for a few weeks now! (Yay! More spending money!)

One of the happiest perks of living in New York City is living so close to one of my best friends, Krista. We haven't lived in the same city since 2007 and we had become quite accustomed to rare, twice yearly weekends. Now, we can casually meet up in Central Park in the afternoon, brunch away any time, and obsess over The Real Housewives of Orange County from the same couch. While I know we will never be fifteen again where are worlds revolved around each other, it's so fun to be reunited with my best friend! 

In the spirit of fall, I fell in love (deeply) with a few pieces from Tory Burch during a Labor Day weekend shopping trip with Geales. Thankfully, my birthday is in September (and I'm quite spoiled) so I've been living in this fa-la-la-la outfit. Krista and I went to brunch last Saturday and with a 20 minute wait, what better way to spend it then a mini photoshoot on the street?  


my little Madewell model

What's more perfectly fall than an Apple Cider Bellini with a cinnamon stick? Oh my yummsicles!

A throwback to our former modeling days at the ripe age of eleven (we may have been twelve, we do have braces after all.) Back when we would use my mom's zoom camera and ride our bikes to the CVS to develop the roll of film in one-hour so we could immediately cut the photos and create a lovely design for the #sassysistasnotebook. 



Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Overwhelmed. The only word I can truly think of to describe how I've been feeling of as lately. I started to dabble outside of the overwhelmedness (that's a fun word) towards the end of the summer and then school started and it all fell back in to the quicksand.

To preface this, I'm happy with my job. I love what I'm doing so much that I allow it to be all consuming in ways I've never experienced before. It's a great feeling. I love that the books I'm reading at night correlate with my work. The insane number of articles saved to my reading list, all related to what I do. It's exciting. I'm in the constant mode of make note to save and possibly implement a strategy. I've made so many notes for myself that I can't keep track.

As of lately, I've been a mess. For example, the lights in my kitchen have been out for almost three weeks now. I attempted to change myself and had a mini panic over the height and decided my living room lamp will suffice in the room for now. I have a super. It's a simple fix. My bedroom has dirty clothes on the floor that Henry has helped to spread about the room and display in mix-matched outfits. And I've somehow managed to accumulate a collection of shoes in all rooms of my apartment. (Black booties? Bathroom. Gray sneakers? Kitchen.)

In a moment of weakness, I returned to the lists. I worked so hard earlier this year to overcome this obsession with "the lists." The to do lists that I allowed to consume my life. I was pushing and trying my hardest to be resilient in the list temptation, and I caved. I've been missing deadlines. Regularly. And I have to be reminded about the deadlines I've missed which is the highest level of humiliation.

I've welcomed the lists back in to my life and they're all consuming. I use the lists to write out everything I have to do which is exciting yet when I include tasks like "Henry Park" and "watch Scandal" the items on the list become tasks and not so much things I enjoy.

I know part of it is adulthood. The errands. The responsibilities. But I feel like as of recently, I've become a series of tasks on the list and its simply overwhelming. I keep waiting for it to end, to cross everything off of the list, but as I eagerly cross items off, the list continues to grow simultaneously. I have a new job. In a new city. A new life. And while some things remained the same, so much has changed. I find myself craving routine, time to run, the simple pleasure of enjoying my meals, and reading a book.

I don't want my life to be a collection of "to do" tasks. I want to savor every moment and appreciate the many gifts. I'm making a conscious effort "to do" this without it being another task on the list. I'm attempting to be more diligent with my postings as the support through this blog has been overflowing, but please know that my absence may only be me not doing something on the list and savoring the moments of the day.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Twenty Six

Once upon a time, I turned twenty six and celebrated in the least exciting way. While the start was far from pleasant, twenty six ended up being my most defining year thus far. I've been reflecting, as I do every year, and really trying to discover the best way to articulate my growth this past year. I came up with this, a puzzle.

I spent many days of my childhood at my Nana's house (great grandmother) while my Mema (grandmother) and her other sisters completed puzzles on the screened in back porch. They would spend hours each day working on one of their 10,000+ piece puzzles that took them weeks possibly even months to complete. I would try to be interested but after the initial gratification of finding two pieces that fit, five year old Danielle thought it would be much more beneficial to the morale of the group for me to perform self-made dance routines in my red tutu or create a mess of my Nana's kitchen crafting my original cheese sandwiches that I charged them all twenty five cents for or teach myself how to play the organ until it broke (I'm quite positive it never broke, they simply weren't prepared for my musical genius.)

Ok, back to the puzzle, I got distracted on a trip down memory lane. The past year to me is not a completed puzzle, because I am far from completing my puzzle, but in the past year, the small pieces came together to form one piece of the overall image. You know when you're doing a puzzle and the pieces come together to form a doll (I had a puzzle in my room growing up of many many porcelain dolls) and while you're not done with the entire puzzle that one piece of it is fully informed? Thats how I feel the past year was.

I think I was in search for something without really knowing it and each puzzle piece of this past year lead me to completing one section of my puzzle. Henry's liver disease. Attending the Forbes Under 30 Summit. Being featured on The Everygirl. Traveling to Uganda. Improving myself as a runner. Meeting Inslee. Hosting multiple blog events. Watching my girls transition to college. Pushing myself to embrace being uncomfortable. Developing a friendship into a relationship. Moving to New York City. Beginning a new career. While individually unique, each of these pieces came together to develop me into who I am today.

I'm more confident in myself and am excited to discover the next image in my puzzle. Though I'm ok with it taking a while to present itself while I enjoy this image.

Thank you to all of my friends and my parents who supported me persistently this past year. My puzzle would not be complete without you.

Cheers to twenty seven!


Sunday, September 13, 2015


This may be the longest break I've taken from the blog and honestly, I enjoyed it. School started two weeks ago, one of my best friends came in town for a week, Henry caught a contagious cough virus, and I'm desperately in search of a regular routine.

Our school was not completely painted until two days before school started and I'm still utilizing a fold up table as a desk. I share this not as a complaint but because I'm truly proud of myself. With my OCD, one of the things I'm most particular about is my space. Given that I've spent the past few weeks sitting at a fold up table, with no decor on the walls, and a fan blowing as high as possible while I still sweat, I'm proud that I haven't had a meltdown because not too long ago, this wouldn't have been possible. The complexities of the space would have prevented me from doing my work. I would have been incredibly distracted by the chaos and not able to function but, that's not the case. While, I'm certainly not perfect and I've battled my hiccups in adjusting and being more flexible, I'm proud of myself for accommodating the environment and not making it all about me and my anxiety.

Since it's been a month, I thought I would share my top 10 favorites of the past month.

Starbucks Refreshers
I know it's #PSL season but this summer, I discovered Refreshers and I'm obsessed. Strawberry Acai is my favorite, Very Berry Hibiscus is pretty delicious too but I also manage to find blackberries in my teeth. I know as the temperatures begin to lower, I won't want my daily iced drink, but for now, I feel so trendy popping in to Starbucks each morning.

Mile High Run Club

Think Fly Wheel and Soul Cycle (ok, I've never technically been to Soul Cycle but I think I've seen enough references) but for runners. It's a room with cool temperatures, upbeat music, fun color changing lights, and treadmills. I know I can run by myself for free, but I've become such a better runner since starting Mile High Run Club. My form, pace, and love for running have all improved. It's a great combination of running, stretching, and strengthening. Definitely one of my favorite work outs!

5th Avenue Mile
In efforts to qualify for the 2016 Marathon, I signed up for 8 races through NYRR. Since Mom was here for the Fun Run 5k, I did a race in Harlem, a France 8k through the park, and today I completed the 5th Avenue Mile. Signing up, I thought it was a fancy, chill NYRR race for all the other slackers like myself who wanted to run the marathon and only wanted to commit to one mile. Well, it's a full day event with Olympic athletes and media coverage. I was a bit intimidated but decided to see what I could do. I certainly could have done better but I proudly finished in 6:48!

Finding Neverland the Musical 

Geales and I decided to see a Broadway show while she was in town. I'd seen quite a few ads for Finding Neverland and since tickets were pretty affordable, off to the theatre we went. OMG! Favorite show ever. I laughed, I cried, I was amazed by the production and every detail that was thought through and there's dogs! The musical features four precious little boys with British accents, I fell in love and now I'm determined to be a Real Housewife of Broadway! Seriously, if you're planning to visit the city, I strongly recommend and if you need a companion, let me know. I've been working on memorizing the soundtrack so I'd love to sing along!

Tory Burch 
I haven't been shopping since I've been in New York except last weekend when Geales and I ended up in Tory Burch following a brunch in Chelsea. I'm considering how I can either a.) dress as a character in Times Square or b.) book Henry a modeling gig for extra crash to purchase these boots and this sweater.


I'm notoriously a slow reader. I have the best intentions in starting books, but always find myself falling asleep two pages in. I decided to opt out of TV for a bit and loved reading The Royal We. I was a bit skeptical as it's roughly based on Will and Kate except the main character, Bex, is from America, making it completely untrue and completely OK that I read it without destroying any of my day dream fantasies that is the perfection of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Pope Francis to Visit NYC
I'm not sure if I'm more excited or bummed about this. I truly LOVE Pope Francis and definitely plan to name one of my future children after him (just like I grew up going to Catholic school with many John Paul's... I doubt he will be the only one.) Anyways, he's coming to New York on my birthday. Recently, it was announced that he will be taking a drive through Central Park to see more people. If I look out my bedroom window, I can see the road Pope Francis will be riding along. I wouldn't even need a ticket. Over 90,000 people applied and 45,000 tickets were awarded and some are already going on eBay for over $2,000. It's a Friday and a school day so I will definitely be working and distracted but I'm quite upset that I won't get to see Pope Francis.

I truly struggled with laundry in New York until I found Cleanly. First, I tried a local place for wash and fold and dry cleaning however, they quickly destroyed by white sheets and took no accountability. After a lash out on Yelp and Google Reviews, I tried another service which was perfectly fine but I didn't love the ways my clothes smelled. I'm sure it was normal detergent but ever since I've done my own laundry, I've been committed to Tide Original Scent. So while the other service was great, my clothes never smelled like me and I always felt like I was wearing someone else's things or sleeping in someone else's bed. Dramatic, I'm aware. I did my laundry myself but its honestly so draining. I have to go downstairs, with my card and my detergent, set my timer to go back in 40 minutes then transfer to dryers and then set another timer, and well, again with the dramatics, I find it to be a pain.

Milk Bar Milkshakes 
My love for Momofuku Milk Bar is no secret. Recently, they unrolled a milkshake (made with their signature cereal milk) where they include three whole b'day cake truffles and sprinkles. Holy heaven! It's a $9 milkshake but it's worth lever penny.

School Blog
Lastly, I've expanded my blogging. Introducing The DPHHS Choice. If you're not a student at DPHHS, it's probably not as exciting but I can't wait to start blogging for my students. I'm sure they will all be just as eager as I am about college readiness and college persistence in no time! I plan to update once weekly, fingers crossed they enjoy it!

Ok, cookies and bed! It felt good to catch up.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Peek Inside My New York City Apartment

I mentioned earlier this week how I utilized my Dad's camera to discover my immense talent for photography this past weekend. In one day, I snapped over 700 pictures including a little photo tour of my apartment. Now that I've reviewed my work, I've realized photography may remain a hobby as I don't think my pictures are going to published anytime soon. 

About a year ago, I did a series of post offering a tour of my expansive Charlotte abode. In reality, not expansive but when you split the post into four, you can make it appear quite majestic. (Check out this post for links to all of my Charlotte apartment tours.) Fortunately, I had more than needed in Charlotte and was able to bring majority of my belongings with me to New York for an easily furnished apartment. With the hardwood floors, I had to order a few area rugs, which I did 4th of July weekend through Overstock's 75% off sale. Additionally, I opted to sell my sofa and love seat in Charlotte for an upgrade to a sleeper sofa. (Hint: When you visit me, you can sleep on the sleeper sofa instead of snugging up in bed with me and Hens!)  Everything else, you'll recognize from my old place. Without further ado, introducing my NYC apartment! 

I've trained Henry too well. He spied a camera and instantly started striking poses all over the apartment. Initially, I tried to snap a few without him but decided he added a natural flair of perfection to the photos.



Monday, August 10, 2015

Proud Moments

These past two years, I have been consistently awed and inspired by my girls. With the collection of their college acceptances this spring and scholarships awarded since, I could not fathom being any more impressed and inspired by them than I was on our celebration day.

I know I should no longer be surprised, but being witness to their constant encouragement and support of each other these past few weeks has been captivating. While I'm proud of their accomplishments and accolades they've cumulated, it is their demonstration of character that has impressed me the most.

As the start of their college chapters are approaching, these girls have lifted each other up to new heights. Wishing each other well as they move to new cities, take risks, and defy the odds. Not only privately but on social media as well. They are genuinely proud of each other and how they are redefining their trajectories together. I think back to my own transition to college and how I selfishly only thought about myself, my transition, my evolution, ME. I thought about my friends and how I would miss them, but worried more about their recruitment processes for sororities than encouraging them to become advocates for our generation.

Then, I think about Paloma and this immensely difficult journey that she has traveled. While I've always been proud of Paloma and who she is and her college acceptances as an undocumented student, these past few weeks have blown me away. I've watched her grow into the strongest advocate for herself. She's arranged conversations with Directors of Enrollment and Financial Aid at Elon as well as Program Directors for The Dream USA. She's taken the reigns over her future and fought relentlessly for her education. As she's networked her way across multiple platforms for opportunity these past few weeks, the other girls have stepped up. They too are reaching out to advocate on behalf of Paloma and ensuring that they don't take their access to education for granted.

They think of each other before they think of themselves and most importantly, they think of all of those not afforded the same educational opportunities. For a group of seventeen and freshly eighteen year olds, it's refreshing. I'm eager to see the women they become.

While Paloma's journey is going to look different than initially planned, (she is going to defer Elon for a year while working with an immigration attorney and interning in Charlotte) I wouldn't change her story. These moments of upset and heart break for her have molded her into the young woman she truly is. She's powerful. She's relentless. She's inspiring. She has a voice. This activist she has grown in to is reflected amongst the other girls.

In a perfect world, they will arrive on their college campuses this fall and graduate in the class of 2019. As much as I would love this to be true, I realize that there will be setbacks and hardships along the way. Their paths may look different from each others and that's OK. Despite whatever challenges they may encounter, I know they will persist. Every failed exam, missed assignment, inevitable heartache, poor roommate choice, lost shower shoe, and missed leadership opportunity will mold these girls into exactly the young women they are meant to be.

They have my heart, always.



Sunday, August 9, 2015


Each week, I have intentions of sharing more on the blog and then somehow, it manages to be Sunday again. I'm going to make this post quick because I am excited for an episode of Gossip Girl before bed. Priorities. 

Last week began summer professional development for all staff. While only hour was added to the length of my work-day, it felt like a century. The work itself is exciting and meeting the entire staff, as small as we may be, is still energizing and I feel even more invested in my work. I've found myself snapping obnoxiously and practicing issuing demerits on Henry. "That's one for lack of urgency. We need to quickly return home so Mom is not late." As fun as it's been, I find the constant socializing to be draining. There's a lot of "turn and talk" "share out" and I even performed in a revised version of Barbie Girl (I'm a DP girl, in a DP world... Life at DP, it's so gritty) where I danced and sang on stage.  I'm proud of myself for pushing my limits socially and trying to build authentic relationships with my new colleagues, but am seriously considering coffee. As someone who is more reserved and introverted in nature, the increase in energy has effected me. 

My parents decided last Wednesday, to fly to New York on Thursday. I love spending time with them and feel like our time together is never enough so I was certainly eager for them to arrive. Mom and I did a 5k in Central Park with New York Road Runners. I am attempting to do the 9 + 1 program, run 9 races and complete 1 volunteer shift before December 31st to qualify for the 2016 Marathon. I have all of the events on my calendar, now I can't miss a step, literally. 

Friday morning, with my urgency to get to work, I slipped down a staircase in my building and fell down an entire flight of stairs. The bruise is one of the worst I've ever had and I've certainly been in pain ever since. It looks like the growing of the bruise has subsided and now it's going through a phase of changing colors. Seriously, it's awful. 

Since I was injured Friday, we stayed in and I shared with Mom and Dad the greatness that is cookie delivery. 

Saturday, I tapped into an unknown talent of photography. I had asked my Dad to bring his fancy schmancy camera as there have been a few instances when iPhone simply did not capture the moment to the quality of my liking. When Henry woke up Saturday, I thought off leash hours would be prime time for photo session in the park. 

Close to 300 pictures later, it was suggested I leave the camera at home. I went on a frenzy snapping Henry, my apartment (pictures to come soon), Henry in my apartment, the sidewalk, the trees, the seal lions at the zoo, and I may have possibly played paparazzi to my parents. 

I even ventured out from behind the camera, briefly. I mentioned it above but on Saturday we went to the Central Park Zoo. That morning, my Dad and I watched a series of television shows on various animals while Mom went for a run which spurred the trip. While most of the zoo was covered in tourist and I get very anxious around strollers, small children, and directionally challenged individuals, overall the park was enjoyable. We even threw it back with a Dip N Dots treat. Then, as we were getting ready to venture to our 4D movie, we noticed the sea lions were a bit active. That is when we discovered feeding time was only five minutes away which meant that I was knocking children over for a front row seat, of course!

I love sea creatures. I went to Sea World Camp. I've seen Blackfish. Say what you want but these sea lions looked happy and I was equally as happy to play with them. I'm considering making this a routine trip. In my perfect world, I'd live in a house with Henry, sea lions, dolphins, turtles, lions, elephants, penguins, bears, and monkeys. Basically, I want to live in a zoo where all of the animals are house trained, smell lovely, and forget the laws of nature that may lead to kill each other to live harmoniously with me. 

Sam arrived Saturday evening which was the first time I've spent time with my parents and my boyfriend. I know, I'm 26 and this type of event is usually covered in high school possibly and most of my friends are married, but not me. I was excited for them to spend time together but equally as nervous as it's important to me that they all get along and truly enjoy each other's company. Thankfully, I kept my awkwardness to a minimum and we had Krista, Drew, two bottles of wine, and countless stories of the times when Krista and I thought we were destined for Hollywood (thank you 2002 for no You Tube) and make home VHS tapes of ourselves performing or hosting talk shows. 

Lovely weekend but here it is, Sunday evening, and I'm starting preparations for a new work week. I will do my very best to post more this week. I know you're eager for more snippets of my photography. 



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Admiring Other's Passions

It's no secret that my biggest passion is education, in particular college access. I'm easily immersed in my world of excitement, that I forget not everyone shares my level for enthusiasm. Though disappointed, I have to remind myself that this OK. We weren't meant to all have the same passions.

I was recently reading this article on Barbara Bush and while at one point, I shared her excitement for global healthcare, my passion has now shifted. It's not that I'm ambivalent to global healthcare improvements, I find the work of Barbara and other similar to her to be quite fascinating, yet it's not my highest priority.

Last week, on social media, I was a bit disappointed in a few posts that appeared on my feed. While the magnitude of Cecil the Lion was certainly amplified by the media, if it's a cause that peaks someone's passion, and motivated them to speak out on an issue, let it happen. I do not see the value in belittling an issue someone cares about because you may find something else more urgent.

I'm motivated by education and self empowerment means to eradicate world hunger, nonetheless, I can still value the perspective of someone who may be motivated by global warming or elephants.

There are infinite number of causes to support and and choice is one of the things that make us truly human. We have interests. They aren't all the same. They're beautifully different which is incredible because it affords us the opportunity to learn from each other.

While I would love for CNN to do a Breaking News notification over the inefficiencies of our education system and the lack of preparedness among first generation college students, if people want the Lion, at least they are standing behind something.



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Loving What I Do

It still feels like a dream that my new title is College Counselor. There are times during the day, when I will find myself on a college website researching admissions information to be compiled into my own database of ranked schools, with a high percentage of financial aid met for demonstrated need, high freshman retention and graduation rates, and most importantly, support of underrepresented groups. I’ll catch myself reading an article about the disparity in access to higher education and muttering, “not at work, wait till you’re home.” Then I remember… this is my work! My greatest passion and what energizes me to my utmost core, is what I do.

Not that I was unhappy in my role as a recruiter with Search Solution Group, but I found myself envious of my coworkers who were energized by the business industry. They would exhibit the same level of enthusiasm reading about mergers and acquisitions as I did reading about first generation college students and changes to the Common Application. While I exceled as a recruiter and my competitive tendencies proved advantageous, I’m completely giddy that I now spend my days discussing college preparedness with students and speaking with admissions officers who were as real to me as the talking snowman in a fairy tale.

It certainly took time for me realize this underlying passion and I’m thankful for the road that led me here. Reflecting back on my application experience when I hand created charts to display college information that I obtained from books (not as Excel savvy in 2006) it’s quite obvious that this is what I was destined to do. While disappointed with some of my own admissions decisions, I truly loved the process. I was in awe visiting campuses for the first time and experiencing college from a perspective other than Rory Gilmore’s time at Yale. Reflecting back to middle school, one of my best friends and I recorded an episode of “College Life in the Big World” (creative title, I know) where were transformed my parent’s living room into our oversized dorm consisting of a sofa, tray table for our Oreos, and a CD player to blast N’Sync while we did our homework in our Soffe shorts and cheerleading t shirts.

I know I have much more to educate myself on and I certainly don’t want my students to be at a disadvantage because I am newish to this role. I want to be more knowledgeable than the private counselors or who charge $15,000 to oversee the application process, ensuring already affluent students receive acceptances to the Ivy Leagues.  I want to be an advocate so that affirmative action isn’t something discussed with antipathy but rather appreciated for the opportunities we too often take for granted.

I’m sure there will be days with disappointments and impediments. Nonetheless, I’m confident my drive and eagerness for college access will succeed.



Monday, July 27, 2015

The Comforts

As I anticipated, the transplant from Charlotte to New York City was overwhelming. The adjustment period has certainly had its difficulties but it wasn’t until I conversation with one of my friends towards the end of last week that I realized how much I was clinging on to my comforts.

Retrospectively, this move has been the biggest transition I’ve ever undergone. Yes, going to college was a transition, but students going through the exact same transition surrounded me. It felt like everyone was eager for a new friend and asking a classmate to grab lunch after a five-minute conversation wasn’t completely unheard of and for the most part, the eagerness for friends was reciprocated. Flash forward to my first year out of college. Yes, I moved to a new city and started a new job, but all of my friends from Clemson were starting new jobs and moving to new cities too and majority of my friends in Charlotte were also new to the city. There was a connection and understanding that didn’t need to be justified and hanging out with quasi-strangers and getting to know each other was mutually exciting.

When I started with Search Solution Group, the career was new, but the city and majority of my friends remained the same. While moving to Montana and traveling to Uganda were intimidating, they both had definite timelines that were set prior to my leaving.

The transition to New York has not had any of these comforts. I moved to a new city where most people my age are a bit more settled into their friends groups. Fortunately for me, I’m not easily intimidated and I’ve made quite a few plans with acquaintances in hopes of possibly building friendships. The routine has been an adjustment. It only takes on trip with shaking arms before you start to think about making too many purchases. I plan my stops ahead of time and optimize days when I can utilize my backpack space on the way home from school. While I have a job that I LOVE, it’s not something I’ve ever done before (in this capacity.) Again, I’ve been a bit over assertive in seeking for guidance and expert opinions, but intimidating nonetheless.

While not seamless, I have been impressed with my transition until I realized how much I was clinging on to a few comforts. For the past two weeks, I’ve only eaten Fruity Pebbles for breakfast. Once on a random occasion in Charlotte, I would splurge on my childhood favorite, but then take my time eating my way through the box and enjoy the lengthy hiatus that would follow until my next purchase. However, in my limited time here, I’ve been through multiple boxes of Fruity Pebbles. For the past year, I never kept a box of Oreos in my house. Since moving to New York, I can’t tell you how many sleeves of Oreo’s I’ve consumed. Also, chocolate chip cookies happen to my most cherished comfort.  Eating a chocolate chip cookie makes me feel at home and peaceful no matter where I am or what I’m going through. Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever denied a chocolate chip cookie. So each night, I’ve been heating up a batch up chocolate chip cookies from the homemade dough I create each weekend and indulging with a Lilly Pulitzer cup filled with milk. Lastly, the pizza. Usually sweet tea is one of the ultimate comforts but since it’s not widely popular in New York and the few places that do offer the treat are far sub par from my specifications, I’ve resorted to pizza. Lunch? Pizza. Dinner? Pizza. I’ve had delivery, homemade, specialty, and frozen.

In addition to feeling exhausted, which I shared last week, my tummy has been terrible these past few weeks. Constant upset from my poor dietary selections and increase in anxiety. I wasn’t aware of this hole I had dug myself in to until one of my closest friends called me out on it last week. (Always a true sign of friendship, they tell you even what you don’t want to hear.) She brought to my attention how unsurprising it was that I hadn’t been feeling so well given my most recent dietary choices.

So instead of wallowing in self-pity and doubting my life changes (I’m not always as confident as I like to come off), I’ve decided to take charge in my trajectory. While I am sure I will struggle (accountability is part of why I am sharing this post) I have to do what’s best for me and that does not include Fruity Pebbles, Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, and pizza. Instead of finding comfort in watching countless episodes of Gossip Girl (I’m slightly embarrassed with the number of seasons I’ve binge watched since moving to New York) I’m going to push myself to find comfort out of my comfort zone. Considering reading a few new books, running more (despite the heat), and most importantly trying to eat well.

Not that I am committing myself to a chocolate-chip-Oreo-pizza-fruity pebble free life, but I don’t need to be consuming these not so lovely treats on a daily basis.

The move hasn’t been entirely all overwhelming, check my Instagram for proof, I know I would have found any transition of this magnitude intimidating, even if I crossed the pond to be the new nanny for the Camridges.  That sounds really rather lovely. Me, George, Charlotte, Henry, and Kate becoming BFFs. Hmm… maybe my next move!



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Revised Golden Rule

Treat others the way you want to be treated. An expression that I'm quite familiar with and attempted to follow until more recently when I started to think about how selfish the Golden Rule truly is and how following it was negatively impacting my life. Treat others the way YOU want be treated. At it's very core, it's selfish and egotistical.

Not that I am one to deny being selfish. I certainly have my self centric ways and would prefer if the world were to operate under Danielle's dreams. Sadly, I don't think the British monarchy is going to be ruling the world any time soon and NYC residents won't all have to bow to my purebred non-mixed, non-rescued, labrador, Henry.

Back to reality, I started thinking about both my personal and professional lives and how they would be improved if I took on the perspective of not how I wanted to be treated, but how others want to be treated. We are all different and thankfully have our own preferences and styles. Not everyone enjoys a detailed spread sheet as much as I do and prefers the silence and solitude that I often I enjoy.

When working with others, I'm trying to be more conscious of how that person would most value our interactions. While, I would rather someone send an email than relay a message face to face potentially distracting me from my current project, I recognize that some place value in personal interactions.

I spent some time reflecting on my interactions with an individual whom I had found to be unbelievably ignorant and therefore did not value them in my life. Through a conversation, I was asked if I thought of myself as so superior to others that I could not learn something (even the most minuscule piece of information) from everyone. I certainly don't want to be perceived as pompous and started to think about how I could shift this mindset to place more value on others.

While it was be much easier to think of my interactions in terms of myself, I'm realizing that in order to build truly meaningful relationships, both professional and personal, I need to think about the other person and accommodate myself to best meet their needs.

Maybe I send a SnapChat instead of a text. Maybe I stop and have a conversation with someone in my building whom I wouldn't ordinarily speak to. Maybe I step out of my own comfort zone of introvert solitude to engage in conversations. Maybe it means asking one of the owners of the adored rescue dogs in the park, about their life as a savior and complimenting them on their pooch. Maybe I don't send so many details in an email. Maybe I look you in the eye during our meeting instead of typing every word into Google Drive to be saved as notes from our conversation.

Since I only recently became cognizant of the value of treating others how they want to be treated, I still have improving to do. Overall, since making note of this, I've seen a shift in my interactions and how I'm perceived by others. Not that I am suddenly Miss Congeniality as I certainly have my crankier tendancies, but I do enjoy the serenity that accompanies making others feel comfortable around me through my purposeful interactions (which are starting to become a bit more natural.)