A Poem for the Enlightened

A couple of weeks ago, these beautiful words arrived on my doorstep. At the time, I wasn't ready to hear them and didn't want to confront the loaded meanings behind each emotion.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of it all, but I do know that when something stirs you, it is meant to be shared. And I want to thank the person who shared this with me & for all of the memories behind your wonderfully crafted words.

What does it mean to be human? Is it our capacity for thought? Or our ability to transmit our wisdom to future generations?

Surely these are parts of it, but there is so much more to man than the mind. 

There is always the heart and soul, and it is from these that feelings derive. Feelings of love, hurt, happiness and courage. Indeed it is through these emotions that we become human.

Love. The most beautiful of emotions. Love is the feeling one gets when they look into another and their heart jumps; the rush of energy from ones' soul to another as their lips touch; the feeling of safety one finds in their lover.
But it is much more than just a relationship with another.

Love is the witnessing of the beauty that surrounds us every day, through good and bad, found in oneself and all the places one can imagine. For if one fails to recognize this, one truly forgets what it is to love.

But love is also about hurt. The hurt that comes from realizing mistakes, taking the beauties of life for granted and feeling as if a hole has been torn right through the self. This pain we all surely know and it is the worst pain one can endure. But it is also part of what makes us human--pushing us to learn, cope and most importantly, feel. It is out of this pain that one learns about themselves: who they've been, who they want to be, and who they want to be with. And it is through this pain that one again finds happiness.

Happiness is the feeling one gets when they allow themselves to truly love and hurt. Happiness is the appreciation one feels for all that has happened, through happy and sad, and is brave enough to even thank the hurt. True happiness is when someone becomes so comfortable with their self that they can share their happiness with another, never losing themselves in the process. Happiness is the courage to do what needs to be done to awake the love and hurt in another, knowing it will not be easy.

Courage is both the least and most important of emotions. For one must be courageous enough to fight the good fight but also to know when to let the fight go. One must be courageous enough to look back on the past and smile, no matter how bad it hurts.

Courage is the understanding that life goes on.

Images via 1, 2, 3,


Blue-Haired Beauties

Unfortunately I came down with a nasty case of strep throat this weekend and I couldn't properly showcase my blue hair in the true fashion I would have liked.

Luckily these blue-haired beauties have been working it for me (both in the past & present) and have given me the inspiration to own it when I am healthy enough to do so--which is hopefully tomorrow; I'm completely over this whole being sick in the summer thing!  

{Norah Jones}

{Gwen Stefani}
{Katy Perry}

{Lady Gaga}

{Peaches Geldof}
Images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 


Pop of Color

I have blue hair! 

Horrible hard water making my hair disgusting + feeling a little punk rock lately = Amanda with blue bangs. 

Not sure if its the fact that I've been listening to 90s grunge music for the last 2 weeks or the badass feeling of my newfound freedom, but whatever the case I'm feeling a little crazy lately and decided my look should match. 

Hence, rocking the lip stud out again. 

Maybe I'm just rebelling for my last full summer as a "kid" and I know that once I enter the corporate world at some point, I won't be able to let my freak flag fly as highly. Keyword "as." 

Either way, I'm loving my little pops of color for summer! 


School Stress Squashers

Week 9 (of 10; 11 including finals) already?! When did that happen?

The last few weeks of school have come up so quickly... I can barely believe I'm going to be walking across a stage to collect my college diploma in 18 days.

And I can't believe all the work I have standing between me and that day!

Not sure whether the teachers waited until the end to pile on the work or if I've just been putting it off myself since my fellow seniors can't seem to stop enticing me with fun that feels like freshman year all over again.

Whatever the case, the pressure is on and the beautiful sunshine is making it that much harder to pay attention.

Here are a few things that are keeping me sane throughout all of this school stress...

                   Knowing that my best friend Paige is going to be here next Thursday to visit for the weekend! 


                              {How can these guys not make you smile?}                              {Champagne on a Sunday}

{Cubs games and craziness}

And especially getting work done at Savor the Flavor, my new favorite homework spot in Lincoln Park. The Build-Your-Own Grilled Cheese & Iced Chai were exactly the fuel I needed to get things checked off the seemingly never-ending to-do list.

Puppy Image via 1


Brighton Pier: Travel Photo of the Day

Brighton, England

Anywhere in the world is fun with Daisy Durling-Goode, but I was especially excited for a weekend away to the south of England where she goes to university. 

After a crazy night out complete with pirates, liter-sized bottles of cider and sleeping in my clothes (including my coat), we decided to be a little more civil and explore the city. Hanging out on the board walk was a blast and I even ended up winning that cute little pink seahorse (Shirley) at one of the sideshow games. 

Looking back at these photos makes me want to be in England this summer more than ever. Especially since Daisy told me the other day that this song reminded me of her and wants it to be our summer anthem.

Even if we're 4,000 miles apart, I'm sure we'll find a way to make these moments happen and share it in our own way. Gotta do what you gotta do for those that mean the most. xxxxxxxxx <--England style


The past few weeks have been an exciting influx of new faces & places. 

That's the the thing about closing a door -- it usually leads to the opening of many more. 

And things just seem to sneak up on you when you least expect it. I feel like I'm back in kindergarden again, making new friends wherever I go and learning so much about different ways of thinking and all the crazy ways people are going about their lives. 

Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words (yes, admittedly after seeing that uber-cheesy Kate Beckinsale & John Cusack movie), but the idea of spontaneously coming across amazing things has always been so romantic to me and I've been lucky enough to experience serendipity in a number of different situations.

Sometimes the best things just happen when you aren't even looking.

Images via 1, 2


Dying to Go Destinations: Moscow & St. Petersburg

My flight over Moscow
Ever since I flew through the Sheremetyevo International Airport on my
way to Beijing, I have been absolutely fixated on going back to Russia.

The vibrant colors and interesting shapes of the European and Asian-influenced architecture is unlike anything I've ever seen before and I love
how the main churches stand out like pieces of pop art.

Although I'm not a huge cold weather fan (weird being from Minnesota...), 
the photos of Moscow & St. Petersburg covered in a fresh coat of snow are 
so gorgeous that I would consider battling the below 0 temperatures just to
get a glimpse of the beautiful winter wonderland.

Images via 12345
Frigid weather would also give me
an excuse to rock out a sexy Russian ushanka (literally translates to "ear hat") while ice skating in the heart of historic Moscow or strolling through snow-blanketed streets in St. Petersburg.

Regardless of the time of year, Russia's rich culture and dark history are intensely intriguing. Even simply being in the airport for the short hour and a half I was there, I felt a sense of mysterious magnitude coming from the Slavic-speakers around me.

And it is a mystery I definitely want to know more about...


Balance is Beautiful

Paging through The Five Book by Dave Zadra, I came across this little reminder to stay balanced.

Definitely needed this inspiration on a Monday! P.S. Don't mind my alien thumb...


Kangaroo Cuddles: Travel Photo of the Day

Queensland, Australia

I heard this lovely gem on my drive home from Winnemac Park yesterday and it transported me back to my first few weeks in Melbourne. Of course we couldn't get enough of this goofy tune as we were getting integrated into our new lives in the "Land Down Under."

Everything about this picture is so quintessentially Oz. The adorable roo hopping up to say hello, the yellow & green Australian soccer jersey and the fact that I was wearing it because of my leadership in being the drunkest person the night before. Yeah, Australians are all about awarding people for their drunken, sloppiness. Fabulous. 

But besides that, they are also extremely friendly and approachable people--just like this little guy who was all about kickin' it with a crazy American girl. 


Finding a Balance...

...is a hell of a lot harder than I want it to be.

As much as you try to plan things out and find a happy medium between everything, there is no denying that life just likes to get in the way sometimes.

Whether it's midterms or a tough break-up, it's very easy to lose focus of everything you set out to do.

Images via 1, 2
This post is more for myself than anything...just to give some perspective into what I truly want to do and what kind of balance I actually want to have.

With four full weeks left of my undergrad career, I'm not as concerned with planning out every detail quite yet--it is the season for grad parties, tough finals and goodbyes after all.

But when summer hits, I've got some big goals (including really getting this blog to take off!) and I wanted to share them so I'd maybe have some sort of standard to hold myself to...

My no bull-shit, stop-making-excuses training start day is quickly approaching (June 11) and I will truly have to dedicate myself to getting in shape for the Chicago Marathon in October. I'm kind of nervous seeing as how my true laziness has really shown itself these last couple months, but I just have to keep my eye on the end goal!

Landing this internship at the RedEye is an absolute dream come true! I can't wait to continue growing as a writer at a publication that I love to read.

Build a Balance
This baby has been in the works for quite awhile and I'm excited to have more time to pour my heart&soul into it.

This beautiful guitar taunts me day in and day out. All I want is to be able to pick it up and belt something out, but it usually ends in me walking away with disgust because I don't even know where to begin. 

Not only am I dying to learn, but I also kind of owe it to my family seeing as how my Dad owns a guitar shop...it's just kind of shameful that I can't play.  

With a little extra free-time that won't have to be spent doing homework (ooh sweet summertime), I definitely want NEED to dedicate it to learning how to play this bad boy. 

Also under music, I'm including: FESTIVALS. Definitely going to need some fun to add into the balance. I already have tickets to Lollapalooza (first-timer!) and need to get on snagging a pass for Spring Awakening too!

Along with these core-four, I can't wait to see what else the summer has in store...


DePaul Urban Garden

On Friday morning, Danielle and I joined the DePaul Urban Farming Organization (UFO) in breaking ground on the first urban farm on campus.
Packing some soil.
I first met my roommate Danielle in an Environmental Conservation course our sophomore year and it was an instant love affair--both with her as a friend and with the subject matter. 


Through living with Danielle and reporting on the food crisis in Chicago earlier this year, my eyes have really been opened to the importance of sustainability and what we can do to ensure a long life span for both people and the Earth. 

Unfortunately we didn't get to do any planting, but the UFO plans to grow a variety of fruits and veggies that they will donate to community food banks/pantries around the city. 


Guardian Lions at Jade Buddha Temple: Travel Photo of the Day

Shanghai, China

China is on my mind. Finally uploaded my pictures from Hong Kong the other night and I can't get it out of my head! Had to make this the first random travel picture I posted because it is one of my favorites from the trip. I do have to give Bianca the credit though since I think she stole my camera to take this one. 

Throughout my 15 day trip to China, I was constantly on the lookout for the Imperial guardian lions (shishi 石狮子) that stand watch outside of many establishments (both ancient and new!) in the country.

With the male lion's paw on the world and the female lion's paw on her playful cub, the pair seem to find a strong, powerful balance between embracing the world and making it your own while loving and protecting those close to you. Sounds about right to me.


The Aviary

Last Friday night, I had the privilege of indulging on delicious drinks at the chic Chicago cocktail lounge The Aviary.

{Bird Cage Kitchen}
Operated by chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas (Alinea), Aviary is all about its cocktails. And gorgeous presentation. 

The four-star restaurant takes dining and drinking to the next level, engaging all of the senses with a wide variety of innovative and cutting-edge cocktail crafts.


My personal favorite of the night was the coco-loco ($15) off the el Bulli menu, which debuted in February 2012. This frozen rum & vodka treat is dipped in liquid nitrogen 7 times to achieve its light and airy texture and killer flavor.

{Rob Roy}
{In The Rocks}


With recommendations from Tizzie, an Aviary regular, Diego ordered some of the most unique items off the A La Carte menu. I only got a picture of In The Rocks ($18) after the egg was cracked (left), but when it was first brought out, the hollow egg of ice was whole with demerara, angostura and bourbon injected inside. One swift crack later and Diego was enjoying the delicious rum and whiskey cocktail. Bringing aromatics into the mix, his second drink-the Rob Roy ($19)-was served in an air-tight plastic bag that released a calming lavender scent when popped.  
{Berry & Molly Arlington}

Bianca and I both opted to do the Prix Fixe menu to keep our costs down a bit. For $45 we chose an item from three different preset sections. Off the first, we both had the Berry drink made with lemon, thyme and bourbon. From the second, the Molly Arlington--a mix of seville orange shrub, champagne and cognac. And the best of all? Horchata served the only way it should be--in styrofoam cups with plastic straws!  

{white sangria in suspension}
B also tried the white sangria in suspension, which uses Xanathan gum to separate the layers of fruit and herbs to make them appear as if they are floating. 

She ended with the Ginger mix of shiso, peychaud's and vodka for a nice, stomach settling cocktail. ----->

Between the four of us, we racked up a tab of nearly $350. With the 18% service charge already added, I felt like it was a fair price for the great service and attention to detail that went into each drink.

Definitely too expensive to become a regular spot, but we had a lot of fun treating ourselves for a night and doing something different than pounding shots at a house party or drinking cheap beer at a Lincoln Park/Wrigley spot.