Finding Myself

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Eat, Pray, Love of a Similar Kind

My marital status has not changed, nor have I traveled around the world for self-discovery like author Sarah Gilbert. However, I did step out of my comfort zone last Friday on an adventure of my own making. I packed my bags and flew over 2,000 miles to Florida, where I rented a car and made my way along the west coast from Sarasota to Pensacola visiting old friends and making new ones. I’ve learned a lot over the past week, and have gotten to know myself a little better in the process.

Six days in to my own nine day eat, pray and love journey, I discovered what calamari, Sheepshead and a chocotini taste like, and felt the grains of 99 percent quartz between my toes on Siesta Key beach. I prayed for wisdom behind the wheel of my rental car set at 80 the whole way, and I’ve basked in the scent of Black Cloves vanilla cigars and the love I’ve witnessed between family and friends, as well as the passion among lovers. At first, the purpose of my trip was simply a getaway, but it has ended up becoming so much more—a need to prove something to myself—that I can find my way both literally and figuratively. And that I can do it sans Franklin (a.k.a. day planner) … with minimal shakes. Armed with a map, directions from the friendly employees at Gainesville, Florida’s Dunkin’ Donuts and a pick-up at Pensacola Airport’s Budget Car Rental, I eventually reached my destination in Gulf Shores, Alabama around 500 miles later and several Dennis Prager “Happiness Hour” messages (thanks P.F.).

Day seven finds me beginning my morning reclining in an easy chair on the balcony of my sister and brother-in-law’s condo, the Gulf of Mexico crashing against the sands below. As for the rest of it—the black and white, the yin and yang, finding myself and figuring out my future—that I am still working on. And because it will be a lifelong journey, anyway, my plan is to embrace it all with eyes, arms and heart wide open. ~ cs

First Impressions … or Free Advice that’s Write on the Money

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Last week I talked about how the concept of “less is more” in my writing — and so many other areas of life—and how it came up during my first three weeks of interning at In With Skin.  Another concept I have learned on the job, and in a few of my writing courses at ASU, is the importance of titles that pop.  With each blog draft I turn in to my managing editor for approval, she challenges me to try a catchier title, or to play around with it…a little bit.  After all, the title I choose provides a reader with a first impression of my work and the magazine I represent.

I believe this advice is relevant for anyone with something important to communicate, especially when we are inundated daily with mass media.  Admittedly, I press delete if the subject line of an e-mail does not grab my attention and lure me in within the first 10 seconds.  And although judging a book by its cover is not recommended, I am often drawn to one over another simply based on title.  Stretching this concept into life and the less is more philosophy, I am reminded that whether I’m writing an article on international beauty trends, or meeting my classroom of first graders for the first time, first impressions make a difference.  ~ cs

In the Words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “Less is More”

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(Thanks, W.A.)

Today ends my third week interning for InWithSkin as a Beauty Editor.  I am having the time of my life—writing weekly blogs, researching and writing for the upcoming May/June issue, and simply being surrounded by lovers of all things publishing-related.  I also believe in the premise of the magazine: it’s not just a beauty magazine; it’s a look at beauty from the inside-out through healthy choices.  Further, as I have maintained since returning to ASU as a non-traditional student in January of ‘09, it’s always the write time to learn something new—and each day I’ve been on the job is no exception. 

For example, every week I write and submit my blogs to the magazine’s managing editor for approval prior to posting.  She returns each piece with constructive editorial comments inserted.  My favorite: …make more concise.  This advice is certainly not new, but a good reminder that less is more, and not just in my writing.  To me it means many of the things I’ve been blogging about: simplifying, minimizing distractions, prioritizing, and choosing the write words to effectively communicate.  With our busy lives, it only makes sense.  And perhaps if this attitude—less is more—becomes a daily habit, I will be all the richer for the simple things in life.  ~ cs

Multitasking Equals Write Thinking

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Although the only deadline for posting on my blog is self-imposed, I feel the pressure of coming up with something to write four days “late.”  It seems that with the craziness of my new schedule over the past couple weeks, I still haven’t gotten simplifying down to a science.  A big problem for me is that I fill my days with too much to accomplish in a set number of hours without sacrificing exercise and sleep.  So on any given day, I expect to commute for an hour and a half round trip, arrive at my internship two hours early (carpooling), work 6 hours, type another 4 hours, hit the gym, prepare a nutritious meal, wash laundry, feed and water the cats and empty their litter boxes, clean up the kitchen, get my hair cut, call the doctor’s office, pay a bill, spend time in prayer—and then still come up with something to write about. 

But frankly, I’m tapped out by the end of each day, so I fix a cup of Chai tea with a splash of milk and honey and play around on Facebook for a while, catch up on some e-mails, then crawl into bed, only to start all over again 5 hours later and naively think that today I will have the extra time to scrub the toilets, clean out the microwave, and write something life-changing.  As hard as I try to simplify, life happens and the cat suddenly needs to see the vet or I have an emergency doctor appointment.  This is when multitasking comes in handy.

When I’m waiting for my dinner to finish cooking, I empty the dishwasher.  When I’m taking the rare time to watch a TV show, I give myself a manicure.  When I’m in between appointments, I make a few phone calls.  I still don’t accomplish everything in my planner, but when I multitask, it’s easier to make my deadlines.  Which reminds me, this coming week when I’m at the dentist getting a new crown, I’ll start thinking about my next blog.  ~ cs