Sunday, May 22, 2016

Our Shared Shelf: The Newest and Coolest Feminist Book Club

At the start of the new year I made a series of goals (as I always do). The usual ones were there: exercise more, eat better, be a better person (wow. . .) but this year I wanted to guarantee that I spend more time reading than watching TV. Let's just say, last year was an all-time reading low for me between graduate school auditions and senior classes. I think I read maybe a total of ten books (excluding books for school).

To keep me on track and provide me with new and interesting reads, I have been participating in Emma Watson's feminist book club Our Shared Shelf through Goodreads. Each month Emma chooses a book and the entire community reads it and then uses the Goodreads site to comment and discuss the book.

So far we have read:

January - My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem

February - The Color Purple - Alice Walker

March - all about love - bell hooks

April - How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran

I just received my book for May in the mail today and it is: The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

The thing that I especially love about participating in Our Shared Shelf is that it provides me with interesting and diverse reads that I might not otherwise pick up. I grew up reading the tried and true classics (Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, etcetera) because of this I have picky book taste. I'm always afraid that if I pick up one of the "hot-off-the-press" books I'll be disappointed because the writing style or content isn't to my taste, and then I've wasted a whole week or something on a book I don't like!!! *cue panic attack*

However, (and I'm being honest) I have yet to read a book in this book club that I didn't enjoy. The diversity of the genres and writing style keeps reading each book fresh and exciting. Most of the months I finish the book in the first week after receiving it and can't wait to receive the next one.

If you're looking for a way to boost your reading this year and familiarize yourself with Feminist literature, this is a great crash course. Please, please join me on the online community at Goodreads!

Believe it or not, this post is not sponsored by Goodreads *or* Our Shared Shelf. I just happen to love both of those things dearly. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

All the New Things

Life has been full of change and new experiences lately. 

Two weeks ago today Jordan and I made the move to Cleveland so I can start my studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. We are absolutely loving our new apartment, our new city, and my new school. But somehow, even after the many times I moved growing up, packing up all your belongings and attempting to settle in a new place can feel so stressful! It took me a few days to adjust into the new setting but I am happy to say that this place is really beginning to feel like home. 

As each September begins to roll around I find myself in a similar place. I may not have moved but often I find myself at a new school, job, or simply in a new situation. As many of us are heading off to new things and are attempting to settle into a new normal after a loosey-goosey summer, here are some shared ideas that can help center and focus you for a new season. 

1. Establish habits and a routine. I find this is especially helpful to do for mornings when you wake up feeling cranky and "off". Start your day with meditation, some stretching, or maybe just a good, strong cuppa. 

2. View each change as a fresh start, a new beginning. This is your chance to leave behind all the mistakes you've made before and start afresh. This school year is yours!

3. Take some time to reorganize. I like to clean out my purse or bag. Sometimes buying a small gadget, like a new pen or planner can do the trick and make you feel on top of your game. I recently found this one and love it! Did everyone already know that Moleskin made such awesome planners?!

4. Get your yoga on! While I love a good asana (and am actually starting this 30 day challenge), I recently read a yogi's post about embracing yoga with or without asana. Meaning, even when you're not working your way through poses, focusing and being present in each moment is perhaps an even more important part of the practice. That is your yoga. Right now I'm working on calm breathing and focusing my attention on one task at a time. 

5. And when you realize you can't make it on your own, call your person. Chaos and stress can cause us to feel isolated and alone, we may even feel like we don't have a person to call or talk to. Even if you feel you're stepping out on a limb, make a phone call, write a letter, and reach out to a friend. You may find that they are as much in need of good company as you are. 

Good luck, my friends! I know I've spoken to so many people this year who are starting new, intimidating phases of their lives. Just know that I'm right there with you, and we've got this!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back in the Good Ol' U.S. of A!

Hello Readers!

After my trek across the globe, I've now returned to the States and am working to get into the swing of things as I finish up my undergraduate degree and prepare to move to Cleveland in just two short weeks--YIKES!

Since I've been away for quite a while I thought I would share a few posts with pictures and "what I've learned" comments from my time away. To catch you all up in case you missed past posts, I spent about a month overseas in Duino, Italy, a relatively small port town on the coast of the Adriatic.  In Duino I attend the International Festival of the Adriatic, a chamber music festival hosted at the United World College of the Adriatic. From the window of my dorm room at the UWC, I could see the coasts of both Slovenia and Croatia--amazing! It was such an exciting and eye-opening experience so please indulge me as I'm sure I proceed to overshare photos and information. 

Here are some photos from my first couple days in Duino!
Due to jet lag I woke up at 4:30 the first morning in Duino. Luckily, it gave me time to take a little hike around the coast and see this stunning view!

My morning espresso (most of the time, cappuccino, actually) that
I got at a local bar/cafe called Mickey Mouse. :)
The view of Il Castello di Duino from the back patio at the UWC. The dormitory of the UWC was originally the servants quarters of the castle, so we're pretty much neighbors with the princess who lives there!

View from my dormitory window. For some reason the colors really remind me of Van Gogh. 

These views though! I felt like I was taking a picture every time I looked out the window (in actuality I probably was!) but how can you resist when every day you're presented with a view that's as new and exciting as this!

The pictures below are of the nearby city, Trieste. It's about a 30 minute bus ride away and is the closest "hub". It's a lovely city to be in as there are no cars within the city limits (the streets are too small) and so it doesn't feel stressful to navigate and/or wander around. 

The port! 

We got to watch the sun as it set over the port. So beautiful. The buildings in this Square, called La Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia, had that gold-flecked paint (what do you call that???) and so as the sun set it reflected brilliantly on the buildings. Unfortunately, I'm a terrible photographer so I wasn't able to capture its beauty in a photo well. 

One of my Butler gals, me, and my roomate at the UWC at the statue in the middle of the Piazza. 

Here's a wonky photo of the statue with a bonus feature of someone's head. Wait, I think that's mine!
Hope you enjoyed the photos! More to come soon!

Monday, June 1, 2015

On Flying With A Cello

In just a few days I will be leaving for Duino, Italy where I'll be participating in the International Music Festival of the Adriatic. While I won't be flying with my cello this time (they've generously offered to rent cellos for those attending IMFA), I know that many other cellists will be taking their instruments on board. To help navigate the craziness that is flying with an instrument,  I've made a detailed checklist of how to order tickets, prepare your instrument, get through security, and board the plane!

Ordering Tickets:
  • Always purchase a second ticket for your cello. Do not simply assume there will be seats on the plane. Reserve seat under Cello (Last Name).
  • Read and print out the Instrument Policy for the airline with which you will be flying. Keep it on hand (in a carry-on) in case you need to show a TSA agent or steward.
  • Be aware that the seats in the back of some small aircraft (specifically the ones that only have 3 seats across instead of the usual 4 or 6) will not have leg room enough to fit your cello. If you are flying on a small aircraft, do your best to get seats near the front where there tends to be more legroom. 
  • A ticket for an instrument should always be the window seat as it is safety hazard for the instrument to be blocking a passenger's access to the aisle. 

Preparing your instrument:
  • Loosen the strings. Not so much that the bridge isn't supported but enough that there's no worry if the air pressure changes slightly a string will snap. 
  • Place a scarf or small blanket underneath the fingerboard. Be careful not to stuff it under there. I always use a scarf which is smaller and fits more comfortably inside a case.
In the Security Line:
  • When your ID and tickets are being checked, point out to the TSA agent that you have purchased a ticket for your cello. {One time the agent checking me in only scanned one of my tickets not realizing I was holding two! Thankfully, a person working at the terminal desk realized the error before I boarded and "checked-in" the other ticket for me.}
  • When it's your turn to remove your shoes, belt and other items for scanning, simply place your cello (in a sealed hard case!) on the conveyer belt to be scanned. Don't worry, this will in no way damage the instrument!
Boarding the Plane:
  • Most stewards and airline workers know right away that you're a musician and that, yes, your cello will be boarding with you. If, however, you're flying out of smaller airport, you may want to walk up to the check-in desk at your terminal and inform them that you're bringing your cello on board and that you purchased a ticket ahead of time. 
  • Carry your cello in front of you, not on your back, when walking through the airplane aisle so that you don't get stuck and/or bump passengers. 
  • Place your cello in the seat closest to the window, ask your airline steward for a seat belt extender, and then buckle the seat belt and extender over top of your cello. 
If you all have any questions, advice or experiences you'd like to share, please comment below! It's always great to hear which airlines people have had success or trouble traveling with so that others can follow suit. 

Have a great start to your summer and happy travels!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Announcing . . .

After more than a year of preparation and months of auditons, I am pleased to announce that next year I will be moving to Cleveland, Ohio the pursue a Masters of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

This has been a dream of mine for years. Even during my last round of auditions (when I was looking into transferring) I had a poster of CIM hanging on the wall next to my bed. Words cannot explain how devastated I was when I was not accepted in as an undergraduate. So now, after working dilligently for the last two years, I am excited to be pursuing a degree at my dream school. 

Thank you all for your support and encouragement!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Summer in Duino, Italy? You Can Help!

Hello Readers!

A few weeks ago one of my friends (a violinist at my school) encouraged me to apply to a summer festival she would be attending in Italy this coming June. After some research I applied to the festival not really expecting to be accepted or be given scholarship.

Welllll . . . I was indeed accepted and actually given a substantial scholarship. Unfortunately, I still need to pay for 2/3 of the tuition and my airfare to get over there. This is an amazing opportunity and I would feel silly to pass it up, thus I am asking for financial assistance from friends, family, neighbors and music lovers! Feel free to take a look at my fundraising page here and familiarize yourself with the festival here

Small donations are welcome and if you are unable to donate, feel free to share the link through social media or on your own blog. Any help in this process is greatly appreciated!

Thanks in Advance!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Photography Feature

Hello All!

I'm back from my hiatus to hopefully post more consistently now. 

This past autumn I had some photos taken by my favorite photographer in town (check him out on FaceBook here or on his website here). I was in desperate need of some new headshots to send with my grad school applications (the last one's I had taken were my high school Senior pictures . . . 5 years ago) and Christian did a fantastic job. Check out his work and, if you're in the Indianapolis area, maybe book a shoot!

The thing I love about these photos is that they have an editorial edge to them. A lot of headshots turn out stuffy and posed looking and I love that these look classic and professional but simultaneously look like art! Also, I happened to have these pics taken at a time when I was being loaned a fantastic 1760 Landolfi cello so I love that I will always have these pictures to commemorate an exciting year of playing a beautiful instrument.