Finding your rhythm

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My word, life is exciting!

It's been almost two weeks since my big move from Los Angeles.

I'm finally unpacked and it's starting to feel like home in my little place in San Francisco. I'm going out with friends, getting lost almost daily on public transportation and the like, and eating to my heart's content. The food here is simply amazing. Hearty, full-bodied, and rather local and organic. 

I talked with one of my best friends this morning who had recently made the move from Washington DC to New York City. He was ecstatic. We commiserated over our moving experiences and delighted in our spontaneous decisions to move to a new city. We were proud and surprised by our bravery to just pick up and go.  

One thing we did differ on was our opinion of why our move felt so right. We both mentioned that most of all, we were responding to a certain rhythm associated with our move. Something just clicked.

For him-- he felt the Universe was aligning because he was surrounded by the right people. They were inspiring, welcoming, and warm.

For me-- I feel like things are coming together because I am in the right environment. This city is inspiring, welcoming, and warm.**

 (**to the soul, not the touch).

There of course is no right answer here-- rhythm and a sense of belonging can be found in different ways. How lucky for us that we have found it!

(And that is not to say that the people here aren't a part of why I feel like I'm 'home'. They are. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and friendliness of everyone in San Francisco, not to mention a wonderfully welcoming group of friends that I am so lucky to have.)

I might not have all the details figured out but every morning when I open my curtains and take a look out at the city-- I get all sorts of butterflies. I'm here and it feels right and the rest of the details will be figured out in due time. 

If you are in the middle of a big life change or simply thinking about the possibility--- 

Just keep going.

...and don't forget to enjoy the ride! Find your little joys. Don't worry about how it will all work out but simply know-- from a deep place inside of you-- that it will. 

This insight has been rather powerful to me in the last two weeks-- and as I found out-- many of my friends. I hope it helps you, too. source

This insight has been rather powerful to me in the last two weeks-- and as I found out-- many of my friends. I hope it helps you, too. source

Use this time and really take a look at yourself. You are strong. You are courageous. You are the kind of person who does not idly sit by day after day. You take action, one little step at a time. These are the moments that you will look back on in pride and disbelief. How did you do it when you were so unsure of what was going to happen?

Get up every morning, smile, dream, and head out the door. Dance and dance more until you find your rhythm.

 

XO, 

Jenny

 

new beginnings

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Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror just came on my Pandora, I have dinner plans tonight across the bay, my room is finally starting to look like me, and I live in San Francisco. 

I live in San Francisco.

I don't know how it happened, but I live here. 

At some point over the last two weeks I have:  

  • Left my job
  • Found a perfect and affordable place to live
  • Sold my car
  • Had three (going on four!) interviews with an amazing  company
  • Visited San Francisco twice to lock down details
  • Found someone to sublet my apartment
  • Re-painted all of my furniture
  • Carefully packed all of my belongings with the help of my friends
  • Rented a moving truck, packed up the moving truck, unloaded said moving truck

And now... I'm here!

I feel like I'm living in an alternate reality/dream world. For the past two years I have spent so much time thinking about what it would be like to be a San Franciscan. I will admit, it is certainly different once you're actually here. It's difficult to find your rhythm again in a new place, but I'm figuring it out slowly.

Moving cities is one of the most rewarding things in life. You're back at square one. No one knows that you can do a really great James Blunt impression or that you secretly dislike the economic effects of pandas. The frozen yogurt people have never seen you before and you're not sure where your gym is. But there is something quite earth-shaking about walking down streets that are your home yet you have no idea where you are. It's an unsettling, settling feeling.

I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. All of the details in between my decision to leave and me actually being here prove that to me. It was almost effortless. (Minus the sweaty moving of boxes and furniture... ugh!)

This process has been quite humbling. I needed a good restart. What better way than to do it in my favorite city in the world?

Many more San Francisco thoughts and musings to come. This is my (new) home, after all! How lucky am I?

Here are some (not so new) updates from Wise Sister that you might have missed in the past two weeks: 

  • Sloppy Firsts on be cultured: Exciting stuff, wise ladies! You'll be hearing a lot more from Wise Sister guest writer Anna Swenson. First up: her review of Sloppy Firsts , the first book of Megan McCafferty's five part book series.

Talk soon. Time for me to head out and adventure! 

XO, 

Jenny

 

pinch me

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Wise ladies!

So. Much. Has. Happened. (And is happening). 

I am moving to San Francisco next Friday. As in a week from today. 

I locked down an apartment on Monday, found a wonderful girl to sublet for the rest of my lease, rented a moving truck, picked up a ton of boxes, and have begun saying goodbye to friends.

This was never my plan. But life happens when you're busy planning sometimes.

Things got crazy at work-- and that's the easiest way to put it. I'm glad to be moving on but sad to say goodbye to work friends and all of the experiences that came along with my job. I have always known that Los Angeles was not going to be my forever home-- but this was so sudden!  It was an upsetting time and I felt very lost. But then all of the details fell into place-- and are bigger and better than anything I could have planned for myself.

Life is such a beautiful, thrilling adventure. And so is moving across state... I have my work cut out for me! Thank you for being patient with me during this transitional time. I'm finally starting to feel like my sassy, busy self again. Check back on Monday for some exciting new Wise Sister reads, including guest posts from the some of my favorite lady writers: Anna Swenson, Kit Steinkellner, and Jamie Wise.

I'm very happy and looking forward to writing to you-- from the bay! Where I'll be living!

(Pinch me).  

XO, 

Jenny

back to reality

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I'm back! 

After two long, glorious weeks of (mostly) leisure time in the mountains, I'm back in Los Angeles.

As you can probably guess, I'm exhausted. You know when you get back from a jam-packed trip and you feel like you need a vacation... from your vacation?

I have many stories to share, lots of awkward moments, and a lot of rewarding experiences along the way. Stay tuned for a week of relaxing Wise Sister anecdotes and photos!

I want to extend another huge thank you to the ladies who kept you happily reading whilst I was away. Their content was honest and inspirational and I hope you enjoyed it. 

Thanks ladies! 

You might have noticed that there were two missing features last week. Things fell through and I was sans computer. Such is life. The good news is that there will be a couple more guest posts coming up soon! 

First though, before I get back to the work grind for a bit... two photos from my two different weeks away!

With my former campers Ashley and Brette. Now they're all grown up and counselors! 

With my former campers Ashley and Brette. Now they're all grown up and counselors! 

With my friend Spencer on the beach in Lake Tahoe

With my friend Spencer on the beach in Lake Tahoe

Also, some things I learned in the last two weeks:

  • Just because everyone around you is having a second ice cream sandwich-- you don't necessarily need one, too. But you might.

  • It's important to get sleep. It's also important to take the opportunity to professionally find or 'birth' your clown at 2am with the best clown teacher ever. 

  • Don't get into a heated discussion in the backseat of the car, in traffic, on the last day of your trip. UNLESS: the girl next to you states that a) women should not get paid as much as men, b) assumes that women in an office setting must all be assistants or secretaries, and c) that at the end of the day a woman has to be in the home because a man isn't capable of doing it. Then by all means you must (respectfully) speak your mind.

  • Any pang of sadness I feel for not having stayed in England can be instantly soothed with a 4th of July spent on the beach with a cool beverage in hand and an American flag sarong tied around my waist. I love America.

  • All girls have stretch marks. And cellulite for that matter. 

  • Help clean up, especially when everyone else stops. Whatever spare change or treasures you find are totally yours.

  • Make good decisions at all times-- but don't let them hold you back either. Experience life. Trust others.

Just a couple gems from the past two weeks. More to come! 

I sincerely hope you all had a wonderful long holiday weekend with lots of watermelon, sunblock, and good people around you!

XO, 

Jenny

 

The Denim Vest : Natalie Comstock from Natalie Dressed

I met our guest blogger for the day, Natalie, at the same time I met Casie--  at Jess Lively's Living with Intention workshop in San Francisco. After enjoying her perfectly executed event stylings for the day and her sweet and cheery outlook, I had to check out her lifestyle blog, Natalie Dressed. I've been hooked ever since!

Today Natalie shares with us her styling tips on a summer essential... the denim vest.

Thanks, Natalie!

 

If there's one thing you need in your closet for this summer that you may not already own, I say it's a denim vest. Denim is huge this summer. There's colored denim, classic cutoff denim shorts, printed denim, chambray shirts, and even overalls are back in style. The denim vest is extremely versatile and every time I wear one, I feel like my outfit is a little more complete. It's a great way to make dresses more casual or to add something interesting to a basic tee. There are a million ways to wear one and they make every outfit just a little cooler.


  • Throw one on over a button up and double up the collars for a cool layering effect. Go for a sleeveless button up if it's hot out.
  • Wear one fully or partially buttoned up from the top down and add a statement necklace on top.
  • Don't be afraid to wear it with other denim. Denim on denim is a super popular look right now. In the third photo above, I'm sporting denim on denim on denim.
  • Rock one over a dress to make it a little more laid back. I love wearing mine over maxi dresses.
  • Play around with layers. Don't be afraid to throw a jacket on over if it gets cool in the evenings. A vest is a great layering piece.
  • If you're a little weary about denim on denim, pair a denim vest with a white tank and printed silk shorts for a put together but super comfy look.


Here's a few options at varying price points, all under $100.


Have fun with it!



Ten Ways to Annoy Your Teenager : Kristen Brakeman

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Though I love my children dearly (even my two teenagers), their condescending tone can really get under my skin.  It’s like they think I’m an idiot, and they clearly find me embarrassing.  I don’t get it.  It’s not like I’m showing up at school in dirty sweatpants or revealing short skirts and high heels.  I’ve seen the other moms - I know there are many out there who are more embarrassing than me.  (Really.)

That’s why my kids’ attitude bothers me so much.  And I confess that lately I’ve begun to retaliate.  How do I do it?   By purposely trying to annoy them. 

I realize it’s immature of me, but I figure if it releases some of my pent up anger, we’re all better off in the long run.

Here’s how you can do it too:

1. Mispronounce things they hold dear. 

Taunt them with statements like, “Is this song by that boy band you like, New Direction?”  (Mom  - It’s One Direction!) Or, “I don’t know if that Gingham Style song is very appropriate. I can’t understand the words even!” And, “Why don’t you post that picture on your Tom-bull page?” Feign shock when they correct you, each and every time.  

2. Pretend you signed up to chaperone their field trips or better yet, dances. 

Follow through only if feeling really vindictive and have that kind of time to waste.

3. Be much too interested in their interests.

“So what happened in drama class today? When will Mr. Pratt start the auditions? Did he say? Are you going to audition for the role of Juliet or Nurse? How many words are in the play?” Or “How many classes do you have with Dylan this year? How bout Alissa?  Brynn? Sabrina? Garrett? Jeannie? Caroline? Beth? David? Avery? Maddy...?” Or even better,  “Did Natalie hook up with Derek this summer? How long have they been together? Do you think they’ll go to prom?”

4. Hide their favorite clothes. 

Heck, they accuse parents of doing it every day anyway.   Stash their “only good pair of jeans” under the bed.  Hide their favorite black bandeau behind their curtains.  Stow one track shoe in their sock drawer.  (Bonus – this helps prove your point that if they kept their room tidier they could find things easier.) 

5. When their friends come over to visit, outstay your welcome. 

Plop your body on the couch right between them and try really hard to teen talk, “So what movie you watching?  Oh, The Vow?  Get out!  That Channing Tatum is so hot.  It’s redonkuluss!”  Which leads me to . . .

6. Use their slang, but use it wrong.  

“This lasagna is so ghetto ... Those potholes are sick... Pass me the peas, cuz YOLO!... Hey there Mr. Car, don’t get all up in my grill... Daddy’s gone golfing, you know your baby daddy’s a real playa... Wow, our cell phone bill is so high, why they get all chillin on me?... Girls, did you let someone in your back door? Total Fail.”

7. Dance. 

At home, in the car, in the store - whenever the beat moves you, and the more enthusiastic, the better.

8. Offer to contact their school. 

Whenever they come home whining about some perceived injustice immediately offer to write a strongly worded letter on their behalf. “Why don’t I email your PE teacher and just explain that you were having your period so you couldn’t jog the whole mile?” Or, “I’ll write to your English teacher and tell him your bedtime is 10:00 o’clock and you didn’t have time to write the essay.” Or, “Another dress code violation? Let me contact that principal and tell her that I prefer you wear short shorts and see-through tops.”

9. Comment on Pinterest or their Facebook page. 

It’s best to reserve this only for when you’re really angry.

10. Exist.

The other option is to do all that touchy-feely talky stuff that the experts recommend. Frankly I find these tactics more fun.

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Kristen is an essayist, fiction writer, and a blogger for the CS Monitor. Besides writing, she works on comedy and awards shows like The Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Oscars Red Carpet, and the Comedy Central Roasts. Check out her website, KristenBrakeman.com, where you can find more of her candid thoughts:  "...like a piece about teaching my daughter to swear and another about shopping at the stinky and loud Hollister store with my tween."

My Time in the Peace Corps : Kate Williams

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When I first considered traveling abroad I wanted to study Spanish in Spain for a summer with my peers. I was a sophomore in college. Little did I know then that the experience would open my eyes to a whole new world of culture, food, interesting people, and the excitement of discovering a new place. Just like many human habits, traveling can become addicting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like chocolate where there is simply the enjoyment and savoring of the experience... (well accept the cellulite). Traveling is addictive work. It takes a lot planning, can be costly, requires you to leave your comfort zone, may get a bit grungy-- but-- it is all part of the thrill of what a new place you have never set eyes on can offer you experience-wise.

A few years out of college I was working a full-time finance job in Philadelphia and finding myself missing the travel. Since graduating I had taken a few weeks to travel around India, returned to Spain and adventured to Costa Rica, but something was still missing. My daily life was lackluster. I decided that I wanted to LIVE abroad and see if that twist would fill the void I felt. After investigating my options, I applied to the Peace Corps with the notion of dedicating my time and ability to help others and gain a completely new experience of my own. A year after sending in my application essays, doctor appointments, and interviews I found myself presented with the opportunity to drop what I was doing...

...and move to Nicaragua to become a Small Business Advisor and Educator. After mulling around in my head that Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the northern hemisphere after Haiti, I took the leap of faith. 

It was the best dang leap I ever took.  

During my two years of service I learned to put other’s needs in front of my own, but not too far in front that I sacrificed my happiness.

I learned balance.

I learned Spanish. I taught yoga in Spanish.

I worked with a Microfinance institution Pro Mujer where I taught women how to manage their business and finances to have better earnings to support their families.

I taught high school seniors how to start a creative business model and write a business plan.

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I worked with a women’s cooperative called Artesania del Mar to expand their jewelry making business and export to the states.

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I put on women’s youth leadership camps to make sure they knew their options on choosing their destiny when it came to healthy sex, relationships, and future decisions.

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I learned how to surf and fell in love with the sea all over again.

I ate fruits I had never seen before and animal parts I hope to never see again.

I lived with a Nicaragua family, was present when my 'niece' was born, and watched her grow to be one-and-a-half before I left.

I made amazing friends.

I ran an ultra marathon up a volcano.

Hold on though!

Before it all sounds like a fairy tale, there were times when it was hard, really hard. I missed my family, even though they came to visit and we traveled the amazing sites of Nicaragua together. I missed my culture, but now that I’m back, I miss Nica. I lived in a city, but sometimes there wasn’t water or the electricity went out, so I used a head-lamp. I saw some of the most breathtaking sunsets. Sometimes it was so hot I woke up in a full on sweat in the middle of the night. I salsa danced my heart out. I had to deal with cat-calls on the streets due to my blonde hair. I galloped horses on the beach. I rode hot sweaty packed yellow school buses when I traveled to the capitol. I missed my friends, but they too came to visit.

Are you seeing the pattern?

The highs were oh so high and sometimes the lows got real low. I learned to cope, to not overreact, to appreciate what is present, to enjoy the beautiful moments, and take it all in stride. I learned life skills.

In short, I lived, deeply. 

What I gained from my two years abroad is extremely hard to describe in words, but I’ll tell you that it didn’t extinguish that fire-y itch I feel to travel. It fed it until it was a full-on beach bonfire! I have a much greater appreciation for our life in the United States and a better understanding of what I took for granted. I will not tell you that the two years I spent in Chinandega, Nicaragua were easy, but they will forever be memorable because they were thrilling, challenging and I became a better person because of it. 

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I am now beginning my graduate studies at the University of South Carolina where I will be getting my masters in International Business Administration. After nine months here I will depart for Guadalajara, Mexico for four months of immersion and then on to a six-month internship with a company in South America (I’m hoping for Chile or Peru).

My Peace Corps experience has shown me that I want to continue to weave Latin America in to my future career. And now-- I have the language to do so. You don’t need to live abroad to reap the benefits of traveling. Although I'm biased and truly believe  that the longer you are abroad the deeper the transformation, so take that into consideration. To travel to new places and understand new cultures will serve you in any path you choose in life. A dollar spent traveling and experiencing is a dollar well spent. Even if it’s discovering what our beautiful country has to offer-- do it. The different parts of the U.S. have different cultures of their own to explore.

My desire to travel has not subsided and I hope it never will, because it’s when you take that step in to the unknown that you discover more about yourself.  

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Don't let my business experience fool you if you are interested in the Peace Corps. There are several types of Peace Corps volunteers that work in agriculture/nutrition, teaching English, environmental awareness, maternal health and HIV/AIDS prevention. Each country is different and has specific needs.

Tips on Global Thinking:

  • Check out www.peacecorps.gov to see what volunteers have done around the world and if something speaks to you.
  • Read books on social entrepreneurship and learn what is going on outside our countries borders development wise. Even if you don’t plan on serving, it’s important to know what is going on out there in Africa, Latin America, etc.
  • I recommend The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz was one of the books that pushed me to apply to Peace Corps.
  • Three Cups of Tea and Half the Sky (a book, documentary, and now a movement) are great for educating yourself on international development.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or comments on any of the above!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Scones : Casie McCarthy from Skipping Scones

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I am so pleased to introduce you to our guest blogger of the day: Casie McCarthy! 

I met Casie a couple of months ago in San Francisco at a Living with Intention workshop with the inimitable Jess Lively. Casie was our resident 'foodie' of the weekend, whipping up such delightful treats as blueberry crumble bars, buckwheat porridge, and quinoa pita sandwiches. YUM. 

Buckwheat porridge, delicious pear scones, and tablescape by Natalie! (source)

Buckwheat porridge, delicious pear scones, and tablescape by Natalie! (source)

Casie recently launched her new blog, Skipping Scones, and has lovingly shared one of her favorite recipes with us today. With totally easy steps and an ingredient list to feel good about, what's not to enjoy? 

Casie, here! I'm a trained architect with a passion for cooking--- wait, scratch that-- I have a passion for making other people happy--- and my portal is cooking!  

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I grew up with a mother that cooked all of our meals. In fact I I only have a select few memories of actually eating in a restaurant. She is a great cook, always experimenting but always sticking to her amazing staples that we all asked for. When I go home to visit I never ask to eat out, but my mother always asks me what she can cook for me. It makes me so happy and feel like I'm home again, having genuine time with those that I love the most.  

I believe these memories were the building blocks to my passion. For me, cooking isn't about anything else but putting a smile on someone else's face, opening their eyes to new tastes, and creating new memories with this event. If I had to pick one thing that consistently has been a favorite of mine, I would pick the un-popularized baked breakfast good-- the scone. I find it to be a yummier biscuit, more dense and perfect with coffee or tea!

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Scones have always been my thing and therefore I'm looking to share something that makes me so happy with others. Introducing new flavors (cranberry and lemon, peanut butter and strawberries, mmm) and promoting a comfort food with your coffee or tea on the weekends! I'm scheming to start my own business one day, but for now I enjoy hosting parties at my home, catering whenever possible and bringing in treats for my office mates.  

Right now, I'd love to share with you one my favorite recipes, currently:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Scones

yield: 12-16 scones

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Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups quick-oats

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup chopped and toasted peanuts + 1/2 cup for top of scone

Preheat the oven to 400° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend in coconut oil. Stir in the buttermilk and peanut butter. Carefully fold in the chopped strawberries and 3/4 cup toasted peanuts. Once all combined, use a medium size ice cream scoop to plop the mix onto the lined baking sheets. Add a few toasted nut pieces on top of each scone. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the scones are golden and cooked through.

Pull out and let the scones cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thanks, Jenny, for letting me share my passion!

Why I Didn't Go to Prom : Anna Swenson

I'd like to introduce you to Wise Sister's guest blogger for the day: Anna Swenson! Anna and I went to college together but didn't really connect until after graduation. She's an incredibly insightful and honest writer, not to mention a brilliant woman. I hope you enjoy what will surely be the first of many Anna Swenson posts.

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Prom is such a huge deal when you’re in high school. Who’s going with whom? What are they wearing? How are they getting there? Who’s going to look like they had the most fun when they post pictures of the night on every social media possible?

I read all the magazines and saw all the movies. I thought prom was going to be the most glittering, glamorous, emotionally authentic night of my young life.

But I didn’t go to prom.

Even after watching the vintage classics (16 Candles, Pretty in Pink), the modern classics (Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed), and the campy not-exactly-classic-at-all (High School Musical 3), I don’t have any pictures of me all done up in a dress that will be out of fashion before the shutter clicks. I kind of regret that, so I want to share my experience with you, in case you’re having the same kind of struggles with that huge rite of puffy taffeta passage.

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It’s not something I think about a lot – college was an immense social relief for me, and I’m at peace with the girl I was at sixteen. But she was wrong about many things, and her anxiety about prom is a great example of the narrow way you can get to thinking when you aren’t sure who and what is right in the world.

As a feminist, I kind of cringe to tell you that the major reason I didn’t go to prom was the silliest of reasons: I didn’t have a date. Even though I was trying to be a confident, independent young woman as a senior in high school and few of my friends had dates, I felt such a bruising shame that no one asked me to prom that I couldn’t bear to buy a ticket just for me.

I had this argument to myself then that if I acted like I didn’t want a boyfriend, a prom date, or even a guy friend, no one could hurt me by not giving me that. For years I’d been hearing about the elaborate ways guys asked girls to prom using bathtubs, whipped cream, and roses. But I pretended I didn’t want that – saying it was dumb that guys had to ask the girl, that prom was for boring squares, that it was a capitalist con to get us to waste our money on limos for a false sense of belonging.

Those might be true, but they weren’t true to me: I wanted to be asked to the prom in an elaborate and public fashion. I thought the fact that I hadn’t caught the attention of the catcher on the baseball team or the cute debate guy meant I was wholly unworthy. That’s the opposite of true. I didn’t need an elaborate scavenger hunt leading to a corsage to validate the fact that I deserved to wear a pretty dress and dance under the stars. I needed to believe it about myself.

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I went camping with my parents the weekend of senior prom. I remember laying on the bank of a river as my whole class was spinning on the dance floor, feeling as though it were true to the rocky bottom that no one would ever dance with me. But the deeper truth – below the rocks, to the clay – was that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to make my own center, around what I believed and not around what I’d seen in magazines and movies. I wasn’t ready to dance alone in a crowded room, to tell people I didn’t have a date. What I regret really, more than not going to prom, is not allowing myself to be on a different emotional schedule than on the school calendar.

If you are waiting for someone to dance with, know for yourself that you don’t need the someone to allow you to dance. And if you don’t feel ready to dance alone, allow in your gentle heart for that to be okay. If the person you are interested in doesn’t even notice you exist, it’s really okay – don’t let that scare you. Someday, if it’s right, they will be ready. Someday, so will you.

I should say that my story has something of a happy ending: College was a great unfurling for me, of learning and forgiveness, for the world and myself. It took me until I was twenty-one to even kiss someone, but now I’m with a great guy who really notices me, for the right reasons. And though he’s a great dancer, he’s proud of me when I want to dance alone.

 

Way, way better than a prom date.

Way, way better than a prom date.

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Anna Swenson is a writer living in the desert. A public relations professional by day, she enjoys making up stories, riding her bike around downtown Phoenix, and painting her nails colors of which her mom doesn't approve. More of her work can be found at www.annaswens.com.

What Were You Like? : Gretchen Enders

Here is the very first of what I think will be my favorite feature on Wise Sister. 

What were you like? will feature different women that have been where you are now. They've laughed, struggled, succeeded, and collected some worldly knowledge along the way. And now they're here to share that knowledge with YOU. 

If I didn't know our first WWYL lady, I don't know where I would be today. Not only is she one of my dearest friends but also someone I look up to so incredibly much.

Please meet Gretchen Enders-- a quick-witted, warm-hearted firecracker-of-a-lady-- then, and now!

Name: Gretchen Enders

Age: 36

What was being a teenager like for you?

I’m not going to mince words, being a teenager was really hard for me. I had a loving family and wonderful friends, yet I was a bundle of nerves and hormones, a live wire, always crying about something. I think back and am shocked by what a number puberty can do to one’s body and mind. Everything felt so important: grades, friend dynamics, if my locker in the “cool” hall, if Chris Scavone looked at me during 4th period period, if I going to start at the volleyball game on Friday. No wonder I was crying all the time, it was exhausting work just getting through the day. And as a freshman in high school I was six feet tall, so I felt like Frankenstein’s monster walking down the hall. But I sort of loved that part, being different without having to try. 

What was cool when you were in high school? What were you listening to, loving, and doing?

Grunge was in full swing when I was in high school. Nirvana and Pearl Jam and oversized sweaters and ripped, baggy jeans. It seems like we were always at one show or another, and summer weekends were always spent at Red Rocks (an amazing concert venue just out side Denver). To this day, Cannonball by The Breeders makes me feel like I’m driving around in Jen’s Saturn.  

What did you want to "be when you grew up"?

I wanted more than anything to be famous actress. I was obsessed with movies and television and so badly wanted to be a part of it. I remember feeling physically ill because I wanted it so badly. 

Did you have a guilty pleasure?

I was a completely self-centered teenager who thought the world revolved around her, so I didn’t feel guilty about anything. 

Did you pursue higher education? What various jobs have you worked?

I went to the University of Washington. Man, did I have a great time in college, some of the best years ever. I received a degree in Art History and six months later I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career. I took only one acting class in college, but I was confident that I didn’t need training. This seems an especially short-sided, not at all well thought out plan now. I did take the GRE (the test needed to apply for graduate school) so that I had a backup plan should LA not pan out. 

The best thing that could have possibly happened to me was discovering improv comedy. There was a little theater down the street from my apartment and it became my creative home for over a decade. I took every class I could, performed whenever anyone asked, volunteered my time and energy. Once you get an audience to laugh, it’s hard not to go after that feeling as often as possible. Improv changed my life. 

 

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How have you changed since you were a teenager-- and how are you the same?

I’m so much nicer to myself now. I try to remember that everyone is living their own life and is probably not at all worried about how I look in this particular outfit. Back in high school I never felt pretty enough or skinny enough, which just seems like such a waste of time and energy now. My priorities as an adult are so different.  

A few years back, I made Ricky Gervais laugh. What I said to make him laugh isn’t important, and explaining jokes only serves to suck all the humor out of them anyway. I wasn't the prettiest girl in the room, or the best dressed, but for that moment, I was the funniest. And for me, that beats pretty and fashionable any day of the week. 

Walk us through a day in Gretchen's life (then... and now!).

Then: It was school and then volleyball practice, and any free time was spent with friends. When I wasn’t playing volleyball I always had a job (at a local hotel and a movie theater). My parents instilled a very strong work ethic in me which has proved invaluable. 

Now: For the first time in my life I don’t have a daily job to go to which has been a major adjustment. First thing in the morning I like to do something physical to start the day off on a good foot (hiking, yoga, spinning). I like to have at least two writing projects going on at a time. Right now I’m working on a comedy series pilot script, as well as a screenplay. 

What's important to you?

In no particular order… laughter, love, travel, design, kindness, a great story, did I already say “laughter”?

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I like that I can be thrown into a social situation and feel totally comfortable. The trick here is that people enjoy talking about themselves, keep asking questions and you’ll inevitably find yourself in a conversation. I can go to a party by myself and walk out with at least one new friend.  

What would you want to tell sixteen-year-old you?

  • Be nicer to your mom. She’s the most important person in the world. 
  • Get a job waiting tables as soon as possible. You can always find a restaurant job and they pay better and are more flexible than retail work.  
  • Don't worry about not making varsity junior year. Turns out volleyball won’t be your career. 
  • Drink more water.

 

in good hands

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I am so excited to...  

a) drive up the mountain to Camp Bravo tomorrow for a week of nature-surrounded theatre summer camp festivities,

b) go to Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July week full of waterside sitting and enjoying friends' company,

and

c) for all of you to see the amazing things lined up on Wise Sister! 

The next two weeks of Wise Sister will be anything but absent in my absence. I have eight different inspirational features from eight different inspirational women, sure to put a pep in your step and help you see the world in a brighter, more curious way. They have been so kind to lend us their wisdom and I can't wait for you to see what we've prepared for you. 

All of the guest posts will be featured on this page ONLY for the next two weeks. That means that if you are subscribed to Wise Sister, they will be delivered straight to your inbox every morning. I can't think of a better way to start your day!  

If you are not yet subscribed to Wise Sister-- now is the time! There will be some remarkable pieces that you won't want to miss. 

(Psst-- there's a little 'subscribe' button on the right side of this page... easy peasy!)

In the meantime, here are some new things to check out. Yes, there are fewer than usual. In my excitedness and need to get everything prepped for the upcoming weeks... I seemed to have let some of the present slip through my fingers. Such is life! (But still, there are new things to check out). 

Wise Sister Updates: 

  • You have Wise Sister's permission to eat ice cream! (As if you needed it). Read more here on eat ice cream!, on inspiration.

  • A photographer does something a little different for her daughter's fifth birthday... check out her creative photo shoot on real lady heroes, on good news.

I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In and was hoping to get you a review post today... but it must wait. I absolutely loved the book and can't wait to talk about it. Here's a little Wise Sister homework to carry you into the weekend... Sheryl Sandberg's TEDtalk, Why we have too few women leaders. It correlates perfectly with some topics she covers in the book and is really eye-opening. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a LOT of packing to do. 

A huge thank you to my contributors in the upcoming weeks-- and an even bigger thank you to my readers. 

I'll be seeing you!

XO, 

Jenny

summertime

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Summer 'officially' starts this Friday, June 21st.

I'm more than prepared.  

Summertime has changed meaning for me over the course of my life. When I was younger it meant that I was spending hours a day at swim team, watching soap operas with my mom in the afternoon, eating sandwiches on the floor in a wet towel, going on family vacations to Lake Powell and Sequoia and helping out more around the house.

In high school I spent most of my summers (again) at swim team, going to dance technique classes so I could make the dance team in the fall, working at the little league snack bar, golfing, driving to San Diego with my mom and sister in our sweet little motorhome, and hanging out with friends and my boyfriend. 

Summers in college were hot-hot-HOT. My apartments in Arizona rarely had air conditioner (just the good ol' swamp cooler).  I worked at local theaters as a stage manager and went to the movies to keep cool. I spent all of my free time with friends or bbq-ing with family.

Now that I'm out in Los Angeles, living the dream so to speak, my summers are on their way to looking rather "adult-like". I'm trying to combat that whatever way I can. 

Monday through Friday I'm hard at work and writing. I fit in time at the gym before work, get home at the end of the day around 7pm, make dinner and hang out with my roommate, sleep, and do it all again the next day. It can feel rather monotonous-- especially when I'm used to the summer adventures of yesteryear! 

But the weekends? Ah... the weekends. The weekends are my summertime!  

My weekends are packed from morning to night with fun. Beach time, running around outside, shopping (bad Jenny), seeing movies, hanging out with friends and seeing what kind of free fun we can find in this big city. It's glorious.  

I hope that you are kicking off your own summertime this weekend in the right way! Only two more days to go!

Here are some new things on the blog to check out... 

Wise Sister Updates: 

  • Jamie gives us the facts about Caffeine : friend or foe? on healthy time.  Teens are drinking more and more caffeine these days and I wondered, is that morning cup of coffee or two affecting you in the wrong way? Jamie's nutritional wisdom came to the rescue, as always!

  • And as always, check out our inspiration page to get your day off on the right foot! 

I have a feeling that this summer is going to be one of my very best, despite my very business-like schedule. With the next two weeks off on vacation, I think I might be onto something!

 

XO,  

Jenny

 

What did your summertimes used to look like? What do they look like now?  

 

snacking on blueberries

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Yesterday morning I found myself sitting on the couch before work, checking emails and snacking on blueberries. 

Casually.

I was casually snacking on blueberries.

In an instant I realized how bizarre this moment was.

There was once a time when I wouldn't touch a blueberry unless it was (a) surrounded by fluffy muffin, (b) in a smoothie or (c) buried deep into a pancake covered in maple syrup. I vividly remember scooping around blueberries in fruit salads and making a face when I'd have to eat an unavoidable raw blueberry. I most certainly thought that eating blueberries, by themselves and not incased in gluten-filled goodness, was an act of force that those 'health nuts' brought upon themselves.  

And here I was with a plate full of blueberries and blue-tinged fingertips, snacking away without a thought. 

I was a relatively picky eater growing up-- but when I hit college I made a decision. I didn't want to be the girl who 'didn't like mushrooms' or the girl who 'can't eat that because I don't like gorgonzola cheese'.  

I promised myself that I would have a bite or whatever I didn't 'like', every time. Just a bite. 

Slowly a bite became two. I made a face and pushed through-- getting used to the texture of raw tomatoes or the bitterness of mustard.  And blueberries were there all along, too. You should like these some day, I would tell myself. They're full of anti-oxidants and good for my brain, eyes, and digestion

I didn't think it was going to do any good, and frankly I never thought I would LOVE eating these foods I once despised.

But through tiny babysteps I learned to love and embrace things that are good for me, even when I'm nervous or grossed out at first. Turns out the aversion is just linked to fear of the unknown. Or finding out that you really love blueberries and wanting to snack on them. 

I might also point out that saying, "I've tried it before and I don't like it" gets a big ol' Bert Stare from me. One. more. bite!

Now-- plenty of new things to catch up on! 

Wise Sister Updates: 

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  • This good news story talks about the mural arts program in Philadelphia, which helps cultivate at-risk youth and beautify the city with a paintbrush in hand. It's a must read/watch.

  • do something, on  inspiration will encourage you to take that leap of faith this weekend! Or perhaps even try something new. You've never had plantain chips? Get yourself to a Cuban bakery, stat.

I should take my own advice this weekend, too. Gulp.

Does anyone have some... black olives I could... try?

Blech. (I mean, yay.) (No, I don't). 

XO, 

Jenny

 

two weeks notice

I've been working hard behind the scenes this week on plans for Wise Sister.

Why, you might ask? Well, I'm going to be gone for... two weeks .

TWO WEEKS.

My working brain has yet to comprehend the joy and leisure that comes with that amount of time off from work and real life responsibilities. Despite the fact that I will be out of town and adventuring--- Wise Sister will still be up and running!

I've got lots of exciting things planned. Next Saturday couldn't come soon enough-- for me OR Wise Sister.

Consider this my two weeks (vacation) notice.

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The first week I will be up in the San Bernardino Mountains at my favorite place in the world, Camp Bravo. This will be my ninth year up the mountain! I was a camper, counselor, and now Assistant Director at this AMAZING theater camp for high school kids. It is truly my greatest passion (and a huge reason I wanted to start Wise Sister in the first place).

My days are super-packed up the mountain. At any given time I'm:

(a) running around setting up camp activities,

(b) working one-on-one with the counselors and campers,

(c) playing a round of our favorite guessing game, Dirt or Bruise? (in reference to mysterious dark marks on our legs and arms that are simply unavoidable at a summer camp

(d) observing workshops, or

e) doing anything and everything while running on coffee and four hours of sleep.

I love it.

Despite all of the busyness there is nothing more rewarding to me than Camp Bravo.  It's my detox/ashram/spiritual escape every year. No cell phone or internet, no driving in traffic. I plug back in, recharge, remind myself of the things that truly matter and make me happy, and head down the mountain refreshed and ready. I CAN'T WAIT. 

The second week I will be in Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July! It's all confirmed and I booked my flight yesterday morning. I'm flying into San Francisco, driving up a couple days later with friends, and the rest of the week is a total mystery. Don't worry-- I'll make sure to report back with all of my patriotic lakeside adventures.

Can you even believe how lucky I am to take two weeks off of work? It's a summertime miracle.

In the meantime-- I'm trying to be super healthy (see: lunch plate above. Sheesh). Hello not-so-itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-red-and-white-polka-dot-bikini!

Jamie will be back later this week with more healthy nutrition posts to keep us on track during this sizzly-swimming season. Until then, here are some things to catch up on!

 

Wise Sister Updates:  

How is your summer shaping up? Any big plans or goals you're working on?

XO, 

Jenny

 

she works hard for the doughnut

If today being Friday isn't amazing enough--- it's also National Doughnut Day!

I'm glad I found out after I had a big hearty bowl full of steel-cut oatmeal and blueberries this morning. Now my only goal is to get through the day (in a productive manner) so then I will be deserving of doughnut blissdom. 

I have a double-header softball game tonight-- after which I have already talked some teammates into grabbing some sugary circular treats afterwards. Like I said earlier this week-- looking forward to something in the future can make the present a little sweeter.

Some Wise Sister love to send you into the weekend...

  • Need some tips on finding your signature look? In my first ever fashion post-- check out finding your style, on tell it like it is. If you already have a look you love there's some great tips for refining and editing your closet, as well!
  • Two new inspiration posts to put you in the summer/right state of mind. The first: otter pops. The second:  the negative committee. An icy treat and blocking out the mean guys in your head will make this weekend an easy summertime dream.
  • This video will make you squeal with delight. Check out sea otter hoop dreams, on good news. It's exactly how it sounds but better . 

Now if you'll excuse me-- I have a mighty to-do list to tackle. First up: taking a walk outside while I fantasize about a certain maple doughnut in my future.

XO,  

Jenny

P.s. Here's some Donna Summer inspiration to help you get things done today.

(Feel free to substitute 'doughnut' for 'money'). 

looking forward

Everyday can begin to feel mundane unless you have something to look forward to . 

I try to live in the moment as much as I can-- savoring the energy around me and not dwelling on what's happened or what might happen. Whether I'm having a conversation with a friend or I'm jamming to my favorite song on the radio-- I try to focus on the here and now. But sometimes having something exciting coming up on your calendar is just the thing you need to put you in the right frame of mind!

I found out on Friday night that I MIGHT have 4th of July plans in Lake Tahoe. MIGHT! Even though none of the details are worked out yet-- just the thought of having something adventurous to look forward to put a huge pep in my step.

Getting up to go to the gym in the morning is a little easier, I'm daydreaming like crazy, and every time I open my top drawer I smile (/cringe nervously) when I see my red and white polka-dot bathing suit. Whether I go to Lake Tahoe or not, I'll be doing something fun on the 4th of July-- and I can count on that. 

Until then I am thoroughly enjoying the happy mood I'm in! 

New things to check out on Wise Sister: 

  • a wise sister favorite - POPCORN, on healthy time: Jamie rationalizes all of my desires to eat popcorn every day. We all owe her a huge thank you.  
  • the word : hate, on tell it like it is:  I lay down the law on why I greatly dislike the word "hate"-- and why you should stop throwing it around, too!
  • girls just gotta have fun, on be cultured: This is almost silly to put on "be cultured" but I think it's hilarious and had to share. Sophia Grace was made famous for her stellar YouTube renditions of various Nicki Minaj songs while wearing a tutu and princess crown. It's hard to deny that the girl has talent and serious spunk! Check out her very own, professionally produced music video and original song. Priceless.

Need something to look forward to?  Friday isn't too far away-- start thinking about your weekend! Plan a movie night with friends or find a free concert or poetry slam to go to this weekend.

Voila-- today's a little brighter already.

XO,

Jenny

 

under the weather

Jenny here-- reporting to you live from "I'm in denial that I'm sick".

Still at work. Still needing to get things done. With zero energy. 

What do I have, you say?

I'm not really someone who gets "sick" in a conventional way. I don't get colds, or the flu, or anything diagnosable. I just don't feel right. I get warm and hazy and my head feels heavy and I feel my body fighting something off.

Each time I don't feel well I have a different plan of action to aid in my recovery. Here's my current prescription:

  1. Sit on the couch with the window open. Optional: cats on lap (depending on their current nap regimen)
  2. Eat artichokes and chocolate chips and drink copious amounts of water
  3. Watch What Not to Wear and Four Weddings and anything on the Oprah Channel

Sometimes it's soup and potatoes and shows on Nick Jr. that make me feel better. But this time around, these things seem to be really doing the trick. 

I took the day off yesterday but really needed to come into work today. Soon enough I shall reunite with said couch and treats, and hopefully on Monday I will be back in my spunky spirit. 

Until then-- I do have a couple of Wise Sister updates to send you off into the weekend!

What's new on Wise Sister...

  • do what you love, on tell it like it is: Finding the balance between what you want to do in life and how you're going to make it possible can be a difficult task. Here I break down the important things to consider when looking towards the 'fortune' in your future.
  • what did you eat today?, on healthy time: Jamie weighs in on the benefits of writing down what you eat and how you eat it (even the bites of cookie dough you're sneaking! But look who's talking...)
  • plant your garden and collaborate, on inspiration. The first encourages you to start planning today for your future. The second-- how working with the right people can add spice to your life.
  • save-a-life, on good news: Do you know what to do in the case of an emergency? Try out this Save-a-Life simulator and you'll be prepared! (and others will be thankful).

Stay well and be happy!

XO,

Jenny

freedom

I hope everyone had a restful, happy memorial day weekend!

When you have a day off from school, work, life-- and you're out living it up in the sun with fun people-- it's easy to forget why you have the day off in the first place.

I am proud to say that my grandfathers, uncle, dad, cousin, and now a couple friends have served in the armed forces. I am so grateful for their bravery and service. 

I did, of course, celebrate the freedom that they gave us by slathering on some sunblock, choosing some reasonably comfortable shoes, and going to Disneyland. That seems fair, right?

(California Adventure, too!)

(California Adventure, too!)

Having your best friend in town and an extra day in your weekend is the perfect excuse to go to Disneyland. And we brought our moms along, too! Lucky mamas...

Disneyland is always fun no matter how many times you go or how old you are. We had a blast-- but man oh man were we tired and sore the rest of the weekend! Thirteen hours on your feet and screaming on rides left us pooped by the end of the night.

Is anything more magical than a Disney fireworks show?! (...I didn't take this, obviously. I was far too mesmerized to snag a pic!)

Is anything more magical than a Disney fireworks show?! (...I didn't take this, obviously. I was far too mesmerized to snag a pic!)

After spending the rest of the weekend catching up on the NEW season of Arrested Development (hmm... so wondering what your thoughts are...) and having little get togethers with friends-- I'm a bit under the weather. Hey-- aren't I supposed to feel more rested after a long weekend?!

No matter. It's a four-day week after all. Anything is possible!

Wise Sister Updates:

  • when your friends succeed, on tell it like it is: I recently had a friend land a very exciting new opportunity... and I was green with envy. Keyword---- was. Here I share with you how to gracefully handle your friend's success and even be inspired by it!
  • how to have a better day and diane von furstenburg, on inspiration:  Some simple to-do's that can brighten up any day and advice from a very wise, strong lady.
  • calm.com, on healthy time: Ever thought meditating was a snooze and only for old tan yogis? This website might change your mind. Ahh... Totally worth the mental break from whatever is on your list today!

Hope you all had some down time to reflect and celebrate your freedom this weekend. May the good vibes carry you through (what's left of) the week!

XO,

Jenny

three day weekend

This weekend is going to be amazing for three delightful reasons.

1. We get one BONUS day off on Monday!

2. My best friend is visiting!

3. And-- We're going to...

(From our last trip to Disneyland in January. Let's hope this becomes a regular thing...)

(From our last trip to Disneyland in January. Let's hope this becomes a regular thing...)

It's difficult being far away from people you love. My best friend Alison and I have been living in different cities for the past two years but we've learned to make it work! We try and see each other when we can and talk on the phone as much as possible. It's amazing how friends can be there for you even when they're far, far away. 

I have many great friends living in Los Angeles with me-- but it does seem that several of my top ten favorite people (no I don't have an actual list... just in my head) live hundreds of miles away. It makes the moments apart difficult-- but the moments together even more rich.

Keeping in touch with friends who are far away is incredibly important if you wish to maintain a connection. It's a 50/50 effort but worth it in the end! I believe it was the Spice Girls who once said... "Make it last forever, friendship never ends". Talk about wise ladies.

Wise Sister Updates:

  • My sister emailed me the other day asking if she could write about mustard for a post. Mustard? Yeah, mustard! she said. Then she informed me that she had, in fact, already written said post. What resulted was a pretty interesting article on... you guessed it: mustard. Read what Wise Sister's dietitian, Jamie has to say about mustard-- mustard?, on healthytime. (How many times can I get away with saying mustard!?)

I hope you all have a wonderful memorial day weekend! Make sure to take some time to thank any veterans or soldiers in your life. There is a reason we have Monday off and it deserves acknowledgment!

XO,

Jenny

on your game

I have been giving my very best this week and it feels great. You know sometimes when you are just on your game

I'm on it. Last week was a different story. It was my birthday, I had zero motivation to do anything substantial, there were sweet treats in every direction, and exercise? Forget about it. And it's okay. Cause this week I'm working hard and feeling good. When you hit these motivational streaks you've just got to ride them out as long as you can. So-- I'm riding!

New Wise Sister things to check out today: 

  • I can owe some of my inspiration this week to the amazing Zach Sobiech. I wrote a post about him yesterday in inspiration-- meet zach sobiech. Take some time to check out his and his family's story. I promise it will put you in the right state of mind if you need some perspective.
  • If you've ever thought about writing (or never thought about it) I've compiled some reasons why it's time to start incorporating journaling into your everyday life. Check why you should be journaling, on tell it like it is
  • I'm totally in love with reading blogs-- and over the last couple of years I have gathered some favorites. In favorite blogs I feature three of my top go-to reads on be cultured. They're totally worth the browse-- beautiful, funny, and inspiring!

I hope these posts can get you on the right track and back on your game!

XO,

Jenny