Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's finally winter!

Our school let out early today due to "inclement weather," and it wasn't even snowing when I got home. Although today's outfit was my lazy-day ensemble of a tank top, sweater, and jeans, I wanted to take some pictures in the snow, so here's an outfit post nonetheless!

It was extremely foggy down by the reservoir across the street from my house, so my brave camera Phillip took a trip with my through the snow to get a few shots before I couldn't feel my hands. Anyway, I got at least one good one!

Fuzzy-hooded sweater: PacSun
Tank top: Aerie
Jeans: PacSun
Boots:  Khombu
Bow: F21
Necklace: I don't remember, but it's a friendship necklace: I gave the other half to my friend Sophie when she moved to Florida in fifth grade.
Choker: Claire's, probably. A relic of my childhood that I dig out sometimes. :)

Photography by yours truly.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In which Nadine rambles on excessively about matters irrelevant to anyone but herself

Hello there, all. Tonight, I want to share with you something a little more personal than an outfit or some preachy life philosophy of mine. I'd like to share a little bit of my story. Why? Well, I have a dream to some day be able to reach out and connect with people all over the world who are struggling with similar problems to mine. I want to help people, give speeches. I want to change lives, and I want people to know that they are better than their issues. So, I'm going to start right now.

A lot of people don't understand depression, especially when it occurs in talented, intelligent, well-liked youths from well-off families in happy little towns. Looking back on my life from an objective point of view, I had no reason to be suicidal two years ago. I had loving friends, good grades, a leading role in the drama production, quite a bit of talent, and lots of nice material things. So why on earth shouldn't I be happy? It makes even less sense when I consider how I despised my body: I am 5'3" and weigh 93 pounds. I have wavy/curly thick brown hair and very pale skin and big hazel eyes and long legs for my height and curves that suit my body perfectly. But when I looked in the mirror then, I wanted to destroy the body I was born into. And I did. I slashed at my arms, stomach, legs, and even once my cheek. I hated myself. I hated my personality, my body, my life. I was never good enough, and I felt so utterly alone. All I knew was that I wanted life to end.

I'll spare you the rest of that sob story. The point is, just because I lived in a nice house and had nice clothes and had a bunch of friends didn't stop me from trying to die. Depression isn't that simple. And hey, guess what? You can't cure it. I am still manic-depressive. Although for the past two months I've been overwhelmingly manic, it's definitely still difficult. Sometimes, for a split second, I want out of this world and all its pressures and cruelties. But I am stronger than I think I am. I've seen myself go from about-to-check-into-a-mental-hospital to bursting-with-happiness-and-creativity within a day. Life is beautiful, and I know that. So how do I deal with the sad stuff?

It's a process; I'm still learning. For starters, my priority right now is to figure out what I'm doing for me and what I'm doing for other people, and then to stop doing the things I'm only doing for other people. I've caused myself so much misery in the past by sticking with friends that only dragged me down and participating in activities just because I didn't want to be left out once again. And guess what - I'm still having immense difficulty extracting myself from situations that make me miserable. I've been drilled with these misconceptions that I have to do certain things. Some of them are pressures from my parents to take a zillion and one AP classes. Others are unspoken rules from my friends and fellow actors that you have to be in the autumn drama or else you'll be left out in the spring musical. And frankly, I can't handle a zillion and one AP classes, and I'm not going to do something just for the sake of looking good on college applications. And since the teacher who directs the autumn drama gives me anxiety attacks simply by existing, it's really not smart to participate.

Basically, I need to compartmentalize the different aspects of my life and then prioritize, cutting out the things that are dragging me down or that I don't particularly care about. One of the main causes of my depression and anxiety is my own over-complication of life. Agh! Talk about frustrating, when it's something that is completely in my power to change. As Sam vents about in this post, I need to simplify my life, physically and mentally. It's like an exercise we did when I studied the preforming arts at Cambridge University over the summer: we'd lay down, close our eyes, and envision placing all our stresses and distractions in a giant trash bag so that we could be calm and present in the space throughout the class. That's exactly what I need to do right now: get myself a big imaginary trash bag and fill it to the brim. And while I'm at it, a big physical trash bag would be a good idea, too... my room is long overdue for some cleaning.

I realize that this post is completely irrelevant to everyone but myself. Hopefully I'll follow up with more personal posts that convey some sort of relatable message...  I guess tonight I just needed to rant.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stumble Saturday!

Hello all! I hope you've had a lovely week. I've been very busy, and marveling at the weather -- one day it's fifty-five degrees, the next there are two inches of snow on the ground and fifty mile per hour winds. Anyway, hoping the weather has been slightly less schizophrenic where you are... here are some lovely links! - a compilation of all the crazy, awesome, useless and creative things you can find on the internet. Some of these things I would actually love to have.

Little Black Bag is one of those monthly-package sites where they send you a few items every month for a discounted fee. The cool thing about this is that for less than fifty dollars you get several designer accessories, often which are almost one hundred dollars each! You can return items you don't like and skip any month.

These gorgeous seashell soy candles by MyWindansea on Etsy are to die for. I'm a little bit obsessed with candles, and it's so interesting to see all the creative ideas people have for them.

This Life Is Messy Bootcamp is the cutest thing ever. At some point I'd like to take the e-course! I have good organizational intentions, but as much as I love cute little planners and having a spot for everything, it never quite seems to catch on. Habits are deadly!

My dear friend Sam's blog, Lipstick On My Coffee Cup, is worth looking at! It's a general lifestyle blog with a big focus on fashion. She's an amazing person, a great blogger, and one of my greatest life inspirations. :) I'm thinking of doing a feature on her right here on Repurpose in the near future, so stay tuned!

If you or anyone you know has a baby, I'd suggest checking out MyCuteGenes on Etsy! Run by my creative cousin Stacy, the shop sells innovative cloth diapers that make the most sense for any parent. As you'll see on her shop page, she's on vacation (up here in New York, visiting the family - I just saw her today!), but you can check out her Facebook fan page in the mean time.

And, while we're on the subject of Stacy and her beautiful girl, here's a picture from earlier today of my little brother and me (looking only a little bit ghastly) with a very tired baby Mia!

That's all for today - I hope you all enjoyed these links and are having a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bayley in Wonderland

The wind was cold, but Bayley and I had an amazing shoot today! The concept came across really well, and the lighting was phenomenal. Check out my favorites on my Flickr!

And here's a cute little candid shot for all you lovely blog readers:

Isn't she adorable?
And in case you were wondering, the bunny is wearing a Topshop headband for a bow-tie.

Hope you're all having a fantastic week and staying warm!

Repurpose grand opening!

So sorry for my absence, all! I've been delightfully busy this week. It's so nice to be off of school for a short while. Anyway, here's the big news! Repurpose, my online store, is officially open for business!

I'm psyched. I only have six items listed so far, but my ideas are endless. I'm right smack dab in the middle of a creative explosion over here, it's so exciting! :) My sketchbook is by my side at all times, because I'm constantly writing down a new idea for a product. Hopefully I'll be posting some DIY ideas soon for you all!

In the mean time, blog posts may be a little scarce; I'm booked with plans through the end of this week. Don't think I've forgotten about you, though! Today I'm doing a conceptual photo shoot with my dear friend Bayley -- perhaps I'll post a sneak-peak of those pictures later tonight!

In the mean time, feel free to peruse Repurpose! You can get there by following this link, or by clicking the "products" sidebar on the right-hand side of the page! And be sure to keep your eyes out right here for giveaways and coupon codes!


Hand-stamped cards, anyone? :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Outfit: a pop of color

Having had a relaxing night of bubble baths and baking cookies last night, I decided to have a rather productive day today. I've done some cleaning, made birthday gifts for Pete's sweet little sister Sarah and my friend Joe, and taken a walk with my dad. He's not exactly a photographer, but here are some outfit photos nonetheless!

Skipping stones in the reservoir across the street from the house.

As you also may have noticed, I completely redid the blog layout! Expect more changes in the future... I'm not entirely satisfied.

Shirt: Forever 21
Cardigan (underneath my coat): PacSun
Peacoat:  Calvin Klein
Suspenders: H&M
Jeans: PacSun
Converse: Journey's
Earrings: Forever 21

Friday, February 17, 2012

5 Things I've Learned in 2012

As I may have previously mentioned, I've watched myself grow more drastically and rapidly in 2012 than I ever have in my life -- and in a positive way! I've begun to look at the world through a whole new lens, and I thought I'd share a few pearls of wisdom. Perhaps I'll concoct (wow, that is a weird word to look at) a few more of these as the year progresses!

1. Everyone has something to teach you. This is a prime example of why one should never be close-minded to new opinions, people, and ideas. We are constantly learning, and by closing ourselves off to all the variety this diverse world has to offer, we are restricting our knowledge and overall happiness. No matter how young or old a person is, I promise that you can learn something from them. Small children speak as many words of wisdom as the elderly. Teenagers often have as viable opinions as adults. You could meet a person from any walk of life and I am one hundred and ten percent sure that they can teach you something you never knew or considered before. The more you expose yourself to culture and education, the wiser a person you become. In any case, if you can't find a seed of inspiration of how to act or who to be, you can always learn from example what not to do!

2. This is going to sound like the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, but all you really need to do to be happy is choose happiness. And I'm not some blessed spoiled kid with a perfect life. Far from it. I've battled depression for four years. Two Novembers ago I was suicidal, and this past November I came pretty close again. I've struggled with self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety attacks, and a tangled web of complexes. I'm still, technically, manic-depressive; I can't change my DNA. But what I could change is my attitude. So, on the first day of this new year, I put my foot down. I said to myself, I refuse to let misery control my life any longer. And you know what? It hasn't. I've stopped all but one anxiety attack this entire year. I haven't spent one single day lying in bed for hours staring at the ceiling and mourning all the things I should be doing. I reconnected with my passions, I got in touch with old friends, I made new friends! I dared myself to step out of my comfort zone. I started trying again, really trying to be happy. I've gone to bed exhausted every night this year, but it's not the I-want-to-die depression lethargy anymore. It's an I'm-wiped-but-today-was-awesome kind of tiredness. And I bet a lot of people have it worse than me and happiness seems like an impossibility, but I promise you, if you refuse to let life run you down, you are invincible. Let me illustrate this concept with a picture you may have seen before:
Yes, it's really that simple.

3. When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world politely smile at the world and move around to face it.  I could this modified statement various ways, but my main point is that sometimes, you have to play society's silly game if you ever want to win it. As much as I love to learn, I honestly feel that today education system is doing me no justice. I firmly believe that I could be moving mountains if I didn't have to spend so much time on school and homework. But I can't just drop out of high school; I have my future to consider. I'd like to get my cosmetology degree before I graduate high school, and then go on to college and take classes with a focus on fashion, business, and perhaps photography. Without those skills, I could probably open up my own store for Repurpose, but, let's face it, if I have the opportunity for higher-level education, why do without? My parents are dedicated to making sure I have the best education possible, so it would be a bit stupid to say "oh, screw college, I'll be alright." Unfortunately, I have to complete high school to get into college, so I might as well use these bright brains I've been granted while I'm stuck here. That's the way life works; often we have to do something we may not particularly enjoy or go through a rough phase of life before the heavens open up and we're able to fully and completely do what we love. It may be hard, and it's sure unfair, but you just have to grit your teeth and bear it -- and, most importantly, don't resent it. Put your full heart into whatever it is you're doing, even if it's not your idea of what you'd like to do. As previously stated, you can learn from everyone and everything. Keep your eyes and ears open and plug on. You'll probably be the better because of it.

4. Learn to accept things the way they are. Sad as it is, the sun doesn't rise in the morning just to make your day bright. Every day, I see people griping and grumbling and stressing about things they can't control. If I look at my news feed right now, Facebook statuses include "I f***in hate this town", "The weather sucks, hurry up spring" "No Glee concert this year... oh look there's my heart shattered on the floor" and "Ugghhh Mr._____ is a b****** im gonna bomb this test!". Well, I'm sorry, but you can't control this town, the weather, whether or not Glee tours, or the workload your teacher assigns. So what is the point in getting upset about it? Complaining about the weather won't make summer come any sooner, so honey I suggest you put on a sweater, make yourself some soup and get over it. Life isn't easy and it isn't fair, but that doesn't mean life isn't good. It really is exactly what you make it. I, for one, don't plan to waste any more of my precious time worrying and groaning about the bad things. It's okay to let yourself have a pity party every once in a while, but after you wipe your tears you need to get up and do something about it. If you can change your situation, great. But if you can't, you're going to have to find a way to deal, because being sad isn't going to get anybody anywhere. I wasted so much of my life being miserable because I was depressed, always thinking that if I was put on meds, or if the weather got nicer, or if I didn't take such challenging classes I would be happier. Wrong. Once I accepted the difficult reality of life, I was much better prepared to take control of my own happiness -- and take control of it I have!

5. You really, really, really need to live in the moment. I don't know if you have a time machine, but I don't, which means every second I've been alive is a second I will never get back. People are always saying "I need more time" or "I don't have the time." Well, what are you doing with all the time you do have? Are you watching TV or wasting time on the internet? Busy, working people who want to get in shape often say they don't any time to go to the gym. Well, maybe that's true, but eating a healthy diet doesn't take any more time than eating a poor one. Doing a one-minute yoga stretch in the morning is not going to make you late for the rest of your day. So, prioritize and commit. I promise you, if you really want something badly enough, you will make time for it. To live an inspired lifestyle is to make the most of every moment. Laugh more often. Call that old friend you've been meaning to call. Multitask. Buy a planner and schedule your day, and then actually stick to it as much as possible. Write in a journal before you go to sleep. Never put anything off until tomorrow, because tomorrow isn't garunteed. If you want to be happy, you have to live today. Time is the most precious thing we have. So don't waste it. In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

And also, print out pictures more often. Looking at some photos from 2011 just now really made me smile. I'll share a few...

A conceptual photoshoot my dear friend Bayley and I had over the summer. Top left: me attempting a kid-like airplane stance on the swing and looking more like a corpse. Top right: Candid of Bayley being the adorable and beautiful person she is. Bottom left: "I'm a moose." Enough said. Bottom right: I just thought this was super cute. It was also the last picture taken before my camera Phillip sporadically fell off his tripod and broke, sending him to the shop for quite a while. :(
I love my friends to death. Top left: my friends Joe and Ricky with my darling Pete in the middle. We were going for a walk and I snapped a few candid shots when we were milling about in my backyard. This was the day I got my pixie haircut! Top right: Probably the best shot ever of my friends Ricky and Julia, creepily waiting for the pizza man to arrive at my house. I promise you we were sober, too. Bottom left: I was taking a picture of the beautiful Jaclyn when Joe walked by and made a face. I still think it's the best picture of him I've ever taken. Bottom right: Me, days before I cut my hair, and Ricky. He's the cutest thing. 

There are countless more, of course, that I'd love to share, but I don't feel like making a zillion more collages, so enjoy that glimpse into my 2011 for now! I laughed so much looking at old pictures. Just another reason to make the most of every moment. :)

I've noticed how I end every single post with a sentence beginning in "I hope," so I'm going to twist it up and say that I do quite wish you've all been well and you've enjoyed my rambling, preachy kernels of wisdom! Cheers! x

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Tidbits

Just dropping in for a quick photo-montage of my Valentine's Day this year! Unfortunately, I've contracted the flu, which spoiled last night's plans, but my sweet boyfriend came over with flowers and chocolate (and chocolate flowers that he made himself) and took care of me all evening. I am absolutely the luckiest person on the face of the earth to have him.

I made these Madeleine cookies using a heart-shaped muffin pan the other day! The recipe can be found here.

A rather poor-quality image of one of Pete's handmade chocolate flowers. He's so thoughtful and talented. c:

I hope everyone is in better health than I am! Cheers! x

Monday, February 13, 2012

Outfit: a heavy dose of atmosphere

I'm notorious for wearing all of my new clothes the day after I purchase them. And, to my mother's distress, wearing "spring dresses in the winter". Okay, the windchill was below freezing today, but I had this outfit planned before I even got up in the morning, so how could I resist? 

I'm a dork, but it was really cold.

Dress: PacSun
Cardigan: Forever 21
Booties: Clark's
Tights: No idea, but children's tights are all that fit me. :p
Earrings: Forever 21
Necklace: PacSun

All pictures taken by yours truly.

I hope everyone is staying warm! I know I'm about to change into some sweatpants and my love's hoodie and bum around the house for the rest of the evening. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sunday shopping trip

In effort to beat the winter blues, I took a trip to the mall today. Retail therapy (even if I only spend a few bucks) always makes me so much happier. Meandering around stores gives me so many design ideas myself!

So, here's a glimpse of what I picked up today:

From The Body Shop, (and for 20% off using my membership card!) I got two lovely, extremely pigmented eyeshadows. The evening lighting is pretty poor, so the colors in these photos aren't as vivid as they are in person. The first is a beautiful purple, and the second a stunning silver.

Remember when Forever 21 was that tiny hovel in the corner of the mall? And now, in my local mall, it has two gigantic stories! Anyway, their prices are hard to beat, so it's always worth it to pop in. Earrings for $2 are worth the risk of running into 32589927 girls from my school. I got two pairs of fabulous, extremely lightweight earrings today!

And finally, along with a dress that you'll likely see in an upcoming outfit post, I used my PacSun gift card from Christmas for these two necklaces. It was buy one get one 50% off, so I decided to get the duel-necklace birdcage one as well! I have a thing for birdcages. 

I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many accessories. I'm also taking a film photography class, so I picked up my rental camera today. It's going to be my baby for the next semester. 

I hope everyone's weekend was as lovely as mine! I plan to make myself some ramen and watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off to cap off my Sunday night. Cheers!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stumble Saturday

Oh, dear! I only posted once this week, which I'm rather disappointed in myself about. I'm working on a few DIYs and such things, though, so never fear!

Check out this page of awesome, creepy, crazy, and useless things you can buy! I was pretty tempted by the wand remote-control, and of course I've been pining after the 35mm Diana Mini Lomography Camera for ages.

This list of 100 Ways To Become More Conscious was an interesting read. They never explicitly state what it is they mean by consciousness, but all of these tips will aid you in living a happy, healthy, inspired lifestyle! In essence, these are ways to be more connected with yourself.

This video of moving black and white lines, called a natural hallucinogen, made the whole world look fluid (no other words to really describe it) for about a minute after watching it. Pretty interesting! Not exactly a drug-free trip, but definitely a very cool, very temporary altering of perception.

DIY Sugar-Wax? Awesome. A natural and inexpensive alternative to a trip to the spa!

As a lover of theatre, I adore all these Improv Everywhere stunts! I'd love to get in on the action.

I never plan on getting a tattoo myself, but this ink artist's work is so intricate and unique. I'd get a painting that resembled those tattoos!

This article of Nine Habits That Can Do More Harm Than Good was enlightening. You should always think twice before doing something that's supposedly "good for you"!

I hope everyone has had a good week. Look forward to more frequent blog posts very soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On overcoming inhibition

It's a commonly-known fact that we only use a fraction of the capacity of our brains. But every so often, someone comes along who seems to get something that the rest of the world can't. These are the people that start civil rights movements and make milestone scientific discoveries, who change the face of art, whose names echo around the world. Often, these people are seen as eccentric, radical, and occasionally even crazy. Crazy, but brilliant. So, are they really created with superior knowledge, or did they simply decide to toe the line and see what would happen?

In my not-so-humble opinion, progress cannot be made unless someone branches off into the unknown. We're curious creatures, but social and moral taboos restrict us to certain perimeters of knowledge. Our functioning brain capacity is restricted enough; why on Earth shouldn't we use everything we've got?! The answer is that people are scared. Scared to break the social "rules" and have assumptions made about them. But the organizations or governments who establish these often unspoken rules are scared, too. The only reason to restrict education on a certain topic is because people might disagree with the accepted social standings. They might even be able to prove them wrong.

Ever think about that? Because I do. I spend an enormous amount of my time thinking about that, and researching all the things that people whisper about but can't openly say. People are usually rather shocked. You were reading an article on what? Are you some kind of (fill in the blank with a controversial trait i.e. lesbian, stoner, emo, sex addict, etc.)? No. Just because I want to be educated about things that no one seems to properly educate themselves about doesn't mean that I practice those things. Reading a book in which the main character self-harms isn't going to make me slash up my arms. Watching an educational video about a drug isn't going to make me want to get twisted all day every day. What is there to fear from education? And yet, our society condemns it. Often we only know negative results of things without understanding why or how or anything other than the fact that it's "wrong" or "bad."

Well, who says? Who says we shouldn't explore? Do you think you'd be reading this today if Benjamin Franklin hadn't thrown his kite out in a storm and discovered electricity? Do you think people would live in all parts of the world if Copernicus hadn't hypothesized that the Earth is round? Do you think civil rights would exist to the extent that they do if Martin Luther King Jr. had decided that he'd better just play it safe and accept inequality? The world is where it is today because people defied the norm. We cannot learn anything if we refuse to explore that which is untouched. Even if a particular tabooed substance or practice doesn't contribute to society, some tweaking and deeper research can lead to all new, exciting, life-changing discoveries. There is no harm in education unless someone's got something to hide.

If you're human, you probably have some thoughts locked up in that brain of yours that you'd never dare speak aloud. Even if you're not going to let them leave the confines on your mind, my opinion is that those untouchable questions are the ones most worth answering. No one can arrest you for thinking something because, as of now, we can't read minds. So what is the harm in exploring what's nagging your subconscious? Maybe you know something isn't quite right in your life but you don't want to turn over rocks. I encourage you to do just that. You never know. You could be the next "crazy" person who changes the world.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stumble Saturday!

Introducing a new feature: Stumble Saturday! Huzzah for silly alliteration, but the point is, every Saturday I'm going to post links, photos, and tidbits of information I've discovered and accumulated throughout the week either in my daily life or whilst perusing the magical land of Stumbleupon.

Check out this link of 10 things you can do with coconut oil! I was pretty surprised, especially because I'd never even heard of coconut oil before.

I encountered this fascinating documentary about LSD while on Stumbleupon yesterday. I'm deeply interested in psychology, so it's intriguing to learn about the way that drugs affect the mind. The documentary explains the science behind the drug, its positive and negative effects, its history, modern research, and includes numerous interviews with dealers, scientists, therapeutic patients, doctors, and recreational users. I'd say it's worth 45 minutes of your time!

This article, entitled What You Can't Say, was extremely fascinating to me. It explores present-day taboos in light of the facts that taboos from the past (like the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe) were treated as equally insane and are widely accepted in present day. Thinking about this called to mind how last night, when I was watching the above LSD documentary, my mother went into a manic rant about how drugs are bad and tried to tell me about fifty times that the information in the video was probably false. It wasn't even a video promoting the drug, it was purely education from all perspectives. I pretty much make it my goal in life to explore and know everything about tabooed topics like this, because, as I've said, education is your greatest tool and weapon.

If you don't already follow her, A Beautiful Mess is probably my all-time favorite blog. Elsie Larson is such an inspiration to me. :)

I'm kind of obsessing over this Kaleidoscope Wall Clock.

As a bit of a grammar Nazi, I loved this article about the 20 most common grammar mistakes.

I hope you enjoyed these random links! I'm going to have a lot of fun compiling them for you all. And forgive me for any random typos in this post, because my darling boyfriend was tickling me to death while I wrote it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

DIY Map Lampshade

I've had such a strong sense of wanderlust lately, which has spawned an obsession with maps of all kinds. My bedside lamp was always painfully boring to me, so I figured I would make it unique with an old roadmap!

What you need: lampshade (white or other pale color), an old map to cut up, strong double-sided tape or other adhesive.
First, you need your lamp! Make sure it's not plugged in and not still hot from being on. It would probably be significantly easier to just take the lampshade off the lamp, but I didn't think of that until afterwords.

Put your map up to the lampshade and cut a piece in the shape of one of the sides.

Use your adhesive to line all of the edges of the back side of the cutout.

Now, making sure there aren't any air pockets or creases, stick it on!

Repeat the same process with the other three sides. It is very important to make sure that the pieces do not overlap! If they do, they will create an opaque line when the lamp is turned on in that spot.
I found it helpful to use binder clips to make sure my maps stayed in place while I was tracing and cutting!

Ta-da! You're done! Plug it in and enjoy the soft orange glow!

The difference between a lit lamp and an unlit lamp. Keep in mind that you'll be able to see what's on the reverse side of the map!

A dash of anti-perspective.

Our society is governed by perspective. As mortal beings, we're incapable of looking at the world from a detached point of view. Our own memories, opinions, and circumstances warp our perspective into something biased and blind. We can't help it, and I believe it is both a blessing and a curse. Perspective offers diversity in the world, something we need to survive as a race, but it also blurs the lines between fact and fiction, right and wrong, good and bad to the point where one person's standards might be the polar opposite of another's!

This is one of the main reasons I have for a firm belief in education. I'm not talking about grades on a government-mandated standardized test, I'm talking about a well-rounded knowledge of all the information the world has to offer. As humans, we constantly take in information; I would just rather know about the inner-workings of an obscure middle-eastern religion than how much weight Snooki lost. Call me a nerd, but I love to learn. On the rare occasions I watch TV, I'm probably enjoying a documentary on the science channel with my younger brother. I'm never satisfied with just being told that something is the way it is and that's that. I have to know how and why. I believe that the more you know, the easier it is to see the world from a relatively neutral standpoint.

For example, in New York state you are mandated to take a health class in your sophomore year. On the first day of that health class, do you know what the teacher told us? 'Don't be stupid, don't smoke dope!' Well, that's all well and good, but "just say no" to a curious teenager doesn't mean anything. That whole speech was wasted on my class, partially because half of them are stoners already and partially because the other half have heard the meaningless words so many times they just tune it out. The best way to prevent ignorant or unacceptable behaviour is education. I don't know about you, but I don't want to make choices because someone told me to just say no, nor do I want to make choices because someone told me to just say yes! I want to know every side of the story, every positive and every negative. I don't feel comfortable making decisions without weighing out all my options and processing all the information. As a result, I am quite pleased to tell you that I honestly do not regret a single event in my life. Isn't that a better way to live?

I was raised with very sturdy morals and beliefs by my conservative, Catholic parents. They are wonderful people, and I thank them so much for instilling in me a thirst for knowledge because now, I've compiled a set of morals and beliefs entirely my own! As a child, I saw the world in black and white. People were good or bad, opinions were right or wrong. Now that I've grown as a person and been exposed to (and searched for!) a plethora of perspectives and cultures and lifestyles, I've come to see people as just people and opinions as just opinions. Despite the constant metaphorical comparison, life is not a game. No one wins. So why do we have to label everything black and white? We live in a world of dimension and color. Life is too complex to say that one path is the right path. Sure, if you're religious you trust that your faith will lead you to salvation. But just because your next-door-neighbor doesn't share the same beliefs doesn't mean that they can't find a salvation of their own. If you believe in a God, you probably believe that He wants you to be happy. So for the love of all things good in the world, don't do anything--anything!--for the sake of someone else. Research. Discover. Understand. The world is at your fingertips. If you're on the internet reading this right now, you have a planet full of information in the palm of your hand, literally. So take it and form your own values.

The only way a person can be doing something wrong is if they are not being true to themselves. So I challenge you to go out into the world and live. Learn ten new things today. Try to see an issue from both points of view, even if you don't particularly like one. The first step to living an inspired life is to let go of the concept of failure and truly embrace everything, the good and the bad, about being alive.