I don’t remember the last time I was this inspired. Having spent the last year writing a book about I AM THAT GIRL, I spent a significant amount of my time cooped up in a room with very little interaction with the outside world. My dream has always been to be an author; there was something about creatively stringing together words in order to paint a picture in someone’s mind that captured my heart. But reality is often different from what you imagined. I love to write, but I also love to be out in the world, interacting with people, sharing my life experiences and soaking up theirs.
Needless to say, after the pendulum swung in one direction for the past year, my social game needed to be ramped up and it’s actually perfect timing. The book is complete and I’m not yet in campaign mode to promote this bad boy for the September 4th launch. I have a very audacious goal of getting 20,000 books paid for by different companies, organizations and individuals to give away to our audience. My hope was that if even 5 percent of them go on to start a local chapter, then we will launch 1,000 new chapters just with the debut of the book. Talk about something that gets me out of bed each morning!
There’s something about a huge goal that sets me on fire. Few things are as cool as witnessing people in your life showing up when you need them the most. From my parents to friends to business acquaintances and even the woman I just saw in Starbucks; I’ve been inspired for people to hear our mission and understand our goal of not just getting a “book” into girls’ hands, but a guide on how to be THAT GIRL. It’s a 21st Century manifesto about being your best self and an open invitation to join our community. Just in the past week, I’ve had one of the best graphic designers at Avec in New York City offer to design the book cover for free because the project “inspires her.” A team is willing to create an online shopping experience where we can sell the books out of a sincere desire to see our community grow. Three beauty-full women at a marketing firm have agreed to publicize the heck of of this project because all three are passionate about our cause.
All I know is that people are showing up in a way I never could’ve imagined. I left my tiny workroom, turned my fingers off and my mouth on, trying to get the word out hoping some angel donor out there understands the potential of this project. Now, I have no idea how 20,000 books will get bought on behalf of our community, but I know it will happen because of the generosity people have already poured into bringing this book to fruition. I believe miracles happen every single day and that it’s possible for magic to spring up when we have the guts to dream big.
So whoever you are and whatever roll you play in furthering our mission, thank you. Thank you for your support, for believing in us all these years, for understanding the importance of our work and helping us get our message to as many girls as possible. Whether you simply donate a conversation about our book launch or buy a book for yourself, your girlfriends, a local school or underwrite all 20,000; I’m grateful for your contribution to I AM THAT GIRL.
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Whether you like her music or not, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Lady Gaga has served up some pretty interesting life advice throughout her career. When it came to women following men or their dreams, the singer once said, “If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” Something about that really resonated with me. While Lady Gaga wasn’t the single soul who encouraged me to pursue a very competitive residency, her quote definitely gave me a little extra encouragement to continue to follow my dreams.
In retrospect as I revisit the quote from a different place in life, I wonder if love and career always have to be at odds. If I were to channel Lady Gaga, which I often do, I think she meant don’t give up your dreams for love. In other words, don’t ever sacrifice yourself for love. But with all the questioning today of whether women can really “have it all” without toeing the line of insanity or harnessing some really killer acting skills, I wonder if we should realistically focus on pursuing both career and love at the same time.
Both men and women in medicine and other training-intense fields often lament that the logistics of training and the time constraints make it nearly impossible to seriously date or get into a relationship. Marriage and kids are always pushed off and the rates of unmarried singles are higher in some professions simply because some people don’t think they have the time, energy or focus to try to multitask. Some people in the training phase even swear off relationships, resolving to be single no matter what in order to fully focus on education. What I think is the real problem, though, is that people see this as a problem. I’ve met many people who feel very bitter toward the training process, complaining about the length of time it takes and how it’s unfavorable to being available emotionally and physically for a real relationship.
On the other hand, I know several people who successfully managed amazing relationships during training. What I’m saying here is that no matter what your Facebook relationship status is or the amount of time you’re able to spend finding “the one,” if that’s what you’re looking for, be happy and accept your station in life. That, in my opinion, is the only way to attract a suitable mate.
The truth is people in relationships are not the ones who have all this time, energy or focus to devote to each other. They’re not the ones whose jobs don’t take a great deal of emotional energy every day. These individuals are the ones who suit each other and complement each other’s passion. So be happy no matter what your station in life because only then will you attract someone as amazing and devoted to your career as you are, regardless of how much time you have to text or go to the movies.
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In our digital age, it’s not uncommon for an up-and-coming band to generate a lot of online buzz. What makes Scottish electro-pop group CHVRCHES unique, though, is the fact that the trio received that buzz even before a debut EP was complete. After releasing just two tracks, “Lies” and “The Mother We Share,” the band was already opening for Passion Pit and came in fifth in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll. Pretty good for a group that only formed in 2011. In March, CHVRCHES put out their long-awaited debut EP, Recover, which included the track, “Now Is Not The Time.” The video for the electronic and pop medley features the band members performing at a roller skating rink. There’s just something so straightforward and simultaneously other-worldly about the lead singer’s ethereal vocals juxtaposed with the colorful lights and the roller skaters weaving in and out of the background.
CHVRCHES came together by happenstance, since all three members were already involved in other bands. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry holds a law degree along with a master’s degree in journalism and performed with the band Blue Sky Archives. Keyboardist/vocalist Iain Cook composed music for TV as well as film and used to play with Aereogramme, while fellow keyboardist/vocalist Martin Doherty toured with The Twilight Sad. Iain and Martin asked Lauren to perform on a few tracks and rather unexpectedly, a new group took shape. The trio recorded music with hints of Prince, Kate Bush and Depeche Mode in a basement studio in Glasgow. In 2012, the group uploaded those two sample songs and experienced an immediate reaction. This glowing virtual word-of-mouth landed the band a spot as Passion Pit’s opening act and secured several festival dates in both Europe and North America. Originally called CHURCHES, the group switched out the “u” for a “v” to distinguish themselves online. Now with the release of Recover and a full-length album in the works, CHVRCHES seem poised to have a lasting impact on both electronic and pop music. We love the trio’s dynamic ability to make electronic music with soul and are fascinated that this band evolved from something so organic.
Check out the video for “Now Is Not The Time” below before heading over to I AM THAT GIRL’s YouTube channel. While you’re there, don’t forget to tune into our Music Mondays playlist, which is updated every week.
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“Did you hear about the hippo?” That was the first thing I heard on the other end of the phone as I cautiously answered a number from a weird area code. Sure enough, it was my boyfriend dialing in from Germany, all excited about a story he had just read online. My natural response to such a random inquiry was, “No, what happened?” He recounted a marvelous survival story of a man who had apparently been swallowed from the waist up.
“I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry,” the survivor explained. “I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.”
I mean, the guy barely survived and now has hands down the best dinner story ever. The reality was that as my boyfriend shared this rather bizarre and unfortunate story, I couldn’t help but feel the guy’s pain. OK, maybe I wasn’t literally in the mouth of a hippo, but sometimes I kind of feel like I am. Is that a weird thing to admit? I’m talking about those days where nothing seems to go right. Like the other day when after being on hold for 45 minutes with my insurance company, they hung up on me, two of my conference calls were canceled minutes before, I desperately needed to make a run to the grocery store which left me hungry as well as short-tempered and to add insult to injury, I stubbed my toe that morning and it was still throbbing as a reminder of my carelessness. It was a metaphorical death by paper cuts, if you know what I mean.
Later on I was just sitting at my house, stomping on my computer with angry fingers hoping that my Mac might grant me the sympathy I wasn’t getting from anyone else. For the record, she offered me none. But that’s when it dawned on me that sometimes life feels like a huge hippo that has swallowed us form the waste up and it sucks. The times where it feels like nothing is going right, everything is hard and your noggin is sore from hitting it in the exact same spot on the exact same wall over and over and over again. The good news embedded in this seemingly dismal blog is that there is hope at the end of our hippo-eating story and it’s that homeboy survived and so will we.
So, here is my encouragement to you and to myself for that matter. Sometimes we get chomped on by life, it stuffs us down its dark, slimy throat and in that moment, we have an opportunity to get a bit of perspective. That way, when it opens its mouth up again and spits us out, we get to dust off and get back out there. So whether you’re in a hippo’s mouth, recently out of one or far from a hippo pond altogether, remember that the pain, frustration, disappointment, failure and heartbreak is fleeting. My mom’s advice remains true that, “This too will pass.” My advice in the meantime, though, is to sing at the top of your lungs and make the best of your sticky circumstances. Because it’s not about if we get swallowed, it’s about when and for the record, you too will live to tell the tale.
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As a child, one of my favorite things was our annual family trip to Maine. We would pack up the Subaru station wagon and head out from our Connecticut suburb to spend a week in a world unspoiled. Hours dragged every time we drove up, such was my excitement to reach this place of boundless fun. And when we got there, I could not wait to frolic in the woods, chase down the seagulls on the beach, row out to our hidden island and lick the butter from my fingers after eating succulent lobster cooked in seawater retrieved from our dock. It was the epitome of getting away, disconnecting completely through an adventure unspoiled by TV, smartphones or iPads and it was wonderful.
In our modern age, we have moved so far away from the ability to disconnect. With pressures from work, school and our busy social life, it has become nearly impossible to engage with friends and family without outside distractions. Part of the reason my trips to Maine were so momentous was because it was uninterrupted family time. We played Crazy Eights until the wee hours of the night and ate saltwater taffy on the docks of Boothbay Harbor. We did everything together and there were no beeping phones to disturb our hours of easy, untroubled happiness.
As an adult now, I often feel the need to take a break from modern stressors in a concerted effort to reconnect with friends and family. If you have been feeling a bit frazzled recently, odds are you need a break, too. So, here are five suggestions on how to reconnect by disconnecting.
1. Take a trip. Just don’t go to a place that has cell phone service. Try a national park.
2. Power down. Since cell phone companies have discovered a way to make towers look like trees, there may still be service in the middle of the woods, so make sure you turn your smartphone off.
3. Go to the ocean. It doesn’t have to be picturesque or perfect, just get to the nearest place smelling of salt water and with a vast expanse of blue.
4. Bring your friends or family. Take those you hold nearest to your heart on this journey and make sure to preface it with a “no electronics” rule.
5. Don’t fret. There’s no need to worry about the parties you may be missing or the work you could be getting done. These things are inconsequential. What’s important is forgetting about the “what if” and living in the moment.
The main aim of these steps is to hit a refresher button, to get your life back on track and to slough off that layer of stress that’s constantly weighing you down. The only way to do that absolutely is to detach yourself from distractions, like the iPhone that has become so attached to you that sometimes you wake up in the morning clutching it in your hand. Another goal is to strengthen the bonds with your friends and family. It’s called quality time and it means time without diversions, time to sit down and have real, meaningful conversations.
So, start planning your adventure now and begin weaning yourself from your laptop because going cold turkey from your electronics is not as easy as it seems.
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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in your life? I would imagine that right now you are thinking of the stuff in your bedroom, the piles on your desk at work or perhaps the never-ending To-Do list of all that menial and mundane stuff. What if I asked you specifically about the people that clutter up your life?
Do you spend some of your precious free time nurturing friendships that don’t give back and then find yourself lacking time to contribute to other meaningful relationships? What about the drama that can come from unhealthy friendships or unwanted relationships? It’s time to focus on some spring cleaning by cleansing your mind and lifestyle of this unwanted clutter.
I realize that the proposed task at hand might be daunting, but think of it as similar to cleaning out your shoe closet. Shoes that no longer fit? Out. Shoes that only hurt your feet so you dread wearing them? Out. Shoes that no longer fit with your season in life? Out. Once the clutter is gone, you are left with a much cleaner space to see the great shoe selection you had all along.
This can be the same with friendships and relationships. I am a big believer in seasons of life and some relationships are timeless, like a great pair of black pumps, and with proper attention and care, they will be with you the rest of your life. Other friendships can have a season of purpose, but then fade or wear out, to the point that they really don’t add much value to your character anymore. Just because the shoe no longer fits or is passed its lifespan, doesn’t make it a bad shoe. It served its purpose and it’s just time to move on.
Don’t let overextending yourself with exhaustive or painful relationships clutter up the space that can allow timeless and great new relationships to shine. Cleaning can be hard work and maybe it doesn’t mean throwing things away, just boxing them up to revisit another season. Are we still talking about shoes or friendships or relationships? I’ll let you decide. No matter what you choose, spring cleaning is always a great catalyst for making space for new and exciting “shoes” to come your way.
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Escondido’s 10-track debut album, The Ghost of Escondido, was recorded live all in one day. Jessica Maros and Tyler James had one rehearsal with a backing band and then produced the record the very next day. “We wanted it to be like Clint Eastwood playing pop songs at one of the honky-tonks downtown,” Tyler explained on the duo’s site. “But we’ve been told it sounds like desert sex.” The band’s video for “Black Roses” reinforces that gritty ideal as it unfolds like a spaghetti western mixed with a touch of peculiarity in the style of David Lynch.
Jessica and Tyler met in Nashville while Tyler was recording a mutual friend in his home studio. Jessica got his attention when she began quietly playing the song “Rodeo Queen” on the couch, so he recorded her impromptu performance and added a little groove. The pair checked out the track later that night and decided to record an album together. Both artists had experienced some success with other endeavors. Jessica, originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, fashioned clothing and jewelry while working on her music. Prince and Lady Antebellum wore her jewelry and some of her dresses even made their way to the red carpet at the Oscars and the Country Music Association Awards. James grew up in Iowa and worked as a solo artist along with performing as a member of the band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. After agreeing to put an album together, the band spent two months crafting material before recording the songs on October 17, 2011 at Nashville’s The Casino. The Ghost of Escondido was released in February and the band has appeared on Conan as well as received major attention from both country and pop radio. Escondido’s ’70s-influenced country/pop sound has us excited and if this music video is a prelude of things to come, we’re definitely longing for the next out-of-the-box, hybrid take on one of their enchanting songs.
Watch Escondido’s video for “Black Roses” below before heading over to I AM THAT GIRL’s YouTube channel. While you’re there, don’t forget to tune into our Music Mondays playlist, which is updated every week.
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The recent debate over Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, has garnered a lot of attention in the news since it just became legal to purchase it over the counter. Since 2006, the pill required not only a doctor’s prescription, but demanded that you were at least 17 years old to request it without a parent or guardian present. This presented many complications and deterrents for people (even those well over the age of 17) who for a variety of reasons wanted access to this kind of emergency contraceptive. Unfortunately we still live in a country where not everyone has access to health care, so going to the doctor may be too expensive. Taking the time off work to go to the doctor or a Planned Parenthood location could also be deterrents to using this form of contraceptive.
While it’s easy to make this an emotional debate by saying that nobody wants a 10-year-old walking into a pharmacy and buying this over the counter, the reality is that when you look at the data of sexually active youth, the percentage of 10 and even 11-year-olds having sex is virtually miniscule. Even 16-year-olds having sex make up less than 25% of the teenage population. The reality is that there continues to be a debate over the religious and political views on a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her body.
At the end of the day, I have my own opinions. While fortunately I have never had to walk in the shoes of a woman choosing between keeping a child, giving it away for adoption or opting to terminate the pregnancy, I certainly don’t envy a girl presented with any of those options. I also believe that my own religious and political views should have no bearing on another person. While my faith guides my life, I’m certainly not here to tell anyone else how to live their life, nor do I think anyone else should stand on a pedestal preaching their beliefs to others.
I strongly believe that a woman’s body is her own and what she chooses to do with it is her own decision. I believe that access to contraceptives should be available to women and that making access to them difficult only complicates a girl’s life and thrusts her into a stickier situation. I hope that at some point, there is not a room full of predominately men arguing over the right a woman does or doesn’t have to her body. I hope that we see the value in freedom of choice as much as we do freedom of speech and our freedom to bear arms.
More than the laws created or undone, I think if we spent a fraction of the time educating girls and empowering them to make good, wise decisions, this whole issue would be greatly diminished. I believe that if we were raising strong, confident and driven young girls, teen pregnancy would drop significantly. Too many people want to argue over the symptoms and not address the real problem. I see young girls often having unprotected sex in the hopes of getting approval, which only feeds insecurity. If we could exchange this people-pleasing tendency with an unwavering sense of self-esteem and empower girls to use condoms without shame, then maybe this debate would slowly fade away. Until then, people will stand around pedantically throwing religious quotes, political slander and self-righteous jargon instead of really hearing the voices of those most affected.
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