Saturday, July 26, 2014

Giveaway :: Monogrammed Jack Rogers

Oh, happy day!!! If you've been wanting to add a pair of Jack Rogers to your collection or want to get your first pair, get ready to be excited! We're teaming up to giveaway a pair this week...

And not just any old pair... a monogrammed pair!

In addition to the classic diamond monogram, they've recently released a circle version. I can't decide which one I like the best– they're both too cute. And the color options? I die!

Woo! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below:

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Good luck!
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Friday, July 25, 2014

On My Radar

This week was really awesome. For about a hundred different reasons, but mostly that every day had just the right amount of work and play. I think it's just that I love summer and we've had some perfect summer days and summer storms at night. Started the week bright and early with a 7:15 am Monday meeting and I crammed in as much as possible– work and play wise. A fun trip to the movies on Tuesday, all the walks in Central Park, meetings and coffees and dinners. Love

I'm looking forward to a low-key weekend. I intend on soaking up every ounce of summer sunshine possible because August is looming around the corner. #summerforever

Here's what's on my radar this week:

ONE // Kerasilk Treatment

Teen Vogue just posted this amazing article reviewing a new Keratin treatment called Kerasilk. It is supposedly non-toxic and it's customizable. You can keep your curls. Without the frizz! The one thing that has always caused me to not do any kind of semi-permanent/permanent hair straightening technique is that I always thought I'd want my hair to be curly. I love the idea and I'm very, very tempted to try. Plus, how amazing does Leslie's hair look?!

TWO // Bindi Irwin

Can you believe that Bindi is 16? She's turned into such a wonderful young woman, and you know it's only the very beginning of her career. She was only eight when her dad passed away, but she's already continuing to create a lasting legacy in his memory. Pretty incredible. 

Is it an "On My Radar" post without at least one reference to Harry Potter? Whoops! Sorry, I'm not sorry; I'm just a tiny bit obsessed. Obviously I took this quiz... and got Molly Weasley??? I guess it could be worse, but I was totes rooting for a Hermione draw ;-) Let me know which character you get!

I'm certainly a sucker for anything related to moms. I love moms! These photos are pretty darn beautiful and moving... in the simple ways that make mom mom. The photographs were taken over 50 years ago for a book called Family and were rediscovered just recently. How much has changed? Not much! I couldn't even pick a favorite– they're all great.

FIVE // J. Crew New Arrivals

I know, I know. It's still summer. But sheesh, if the J. Crew new arrivals aren't the cutest things ever. I already pre-ordered these shoes and can't wait to do some actual fall shopping soon.

What's on your radar this week?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pressure Around College

So I read this article about "elite" colleges and why you shouldn't go them. The article is a bit dramatic at times and definitely has an agenda. But it does have some interesting points regarding how we "manufacture" students for the college application process and what happens when students arrive on campuses in the fall.

While I was reading the article, I couldn't help but think about my personal college application grooming and the ultimate result. In high school, a lot of my friends and myself went to college counselors. There were a handful in our area, but most of us barely talked about the process together with each other. We knew who went to Mrs. SoandSo and who went to Mr. Whatshisname, but it was a pretty stealth operation.

My application to Georgetown was a perfectly crafted well-rounded work of art. The right numbers. The right extra-curriculars with a handful of elected positions: government, journalism, music, and (of course) athletics. I really don't know how we made it through high school in one piece. I will admit that I loved everything I did. I lived for the Youth in Government conferences, fell in love with rowing, had so much fun with my yearbook friends, and never wanted chorus to end! But there was always that looming pressure of getting into a good college. Even though I enjoyed what I did, I absolutely knew that the combination was going to help me (aka my resume) stand out.

... it worked. I opened a three-days-late early acceptance letter from Georgetown on December 18, 2007. I remember crying, which probably looked like happy tears from everyone else's perspective, but they were really tears of relief. I felt like, okay I'm done, I can breathe.

I was so excited to move in!

If you've been reading TCP for a while, you probably already know what my freshman year at Georgetown was like.  To keep a long story short, I didn't adjust well to college life that first semester. I had never spent any time away from my parents like that before and I only knew one person at the entire school... so there was this immediate sense of loneliness from Day 1. Then, the all-consuming feeling of failure took over. The relief I had felt nine months before then was wiped away in an instant when the pressure to "get a good job" came into the picture. The pressure to get into a good school was bad, the pressure to get into a good job was worse. While my high school was definitely competitive, Georgetown was that to an Nth degree. It absolutely crushed me.

In fact, I failed (12%!!!!) the first college midterm I ever took. Not because I didn't know the material (I got the one question I answered correct), but because I had a terrible panic attack within ten minutes and (obviously) was asked to leave. I was so concerned with getting a perfect score that I ended up sabotaging myself.

That was, unfortunately, only the beginning. The fear of failure had turned into actual failure– if you're going off of the grading system that is– and I spiraled out of control. (I don't like talking about some of the unhealthy coping mechanisms I turned to because I would never want someone else to try/do/resort to it... but you can just take my word that it was not good.) I did manage to pull through it and finish the semester almost miraculously albeit not "perfectly" as I had once envisioned.

In retrospect, failing was the best thing to happen to me. (I started my blog because I needed an outlet that wasn't class/studying!) It also immediately took the pressure off, once I got better. I had failed. The worst had happened and the world continued. It made me put college into perspective and I think I enjoyed my experience a LOT more because I wasn't focused on driving myself into a hole of academic madness achievement in the pursuit of a "good job." 

My unique experiences and network led me to the perfect job for my first year out of college and I ultimately turned what was my creative outlet into my full time dream job. 

I know I have a huge audience of girls in high school feeling the college pressure and college girls feeling the job pressure (and moms with daughters going through all the pressure)... with back to school right around the corner– sorry to bring it up, I know it's still summer– I worry about the girls who are like the 18 year old Carly heading off to a more-or-less pressure cooker of a college. 

You can succeed, and will succeed, without putting a perfectionism-driven pressure on yourself. The best advice I can give is what I wish I had done before everything got rough:

– Share my concerns with my parents immediately. Don't worry about putting on a "good face" for your parents, if you're struggling with something talking about it from the beginning can help. It's also just nice to know someone's behind you no matter what from the beginning. 

– Meet with professors after the first class. When I did start struggling in an outward fashion, I didn't have a relationship with my professors and that was their first interaction with me. If I felt more familiar with them, I think I would have been more comfortable reaching out with concerns I was having regarding tests/material from the get-go.

– Ask for help as soon as you sense something was wrong. I knew I was getting ready to go down the wrong path and kept it in. Partly because I was scared to tell anyone what I was going through and partly because I didn't really know who to even tell. A professor? A dean? My roommate? Every college should have some kind of counseling services..... if you think something is wrong, go. (At Georgetown it's called "CAPS")


PS Recommended reading: Path to Passion and The Supposed Tos.
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Trick for Finding New Inspiration

Ruts are the worst. Creative ruts are the worst kinds in my opinion. Sometimes I'm just... not feeling it. "It" being whatever is going on in my life. I don't feel energized by my work. My closet bores me. Activities and events seem lackluster.

A bad day here and there is to be expected, of course, but when it drags on for a couple (or more) days, then I know it's time to seek inspiration. I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to finding new inspiration, but the best trick I have?

Changing my perspective.

Now, in typical Carly fashion, this has countless different applications. Whenever I change my perspective, in whatever form it happens to take, I end up feeling like someone has implanted a whole new brain in my head. The ideas, it seems, really start flowing!

Here are some ways you can change your perspective:

Rearrange some things // This is going to sound ridiculous, but I moved the location of my bed last year and turned it so it faced my closet instead of the windows. For whatever reason– perhaps some feng shui came into play– I slept so much better. I fell asleep faster and woke up feeling better. I do this with my desk from time to time as well. I'll switch out pens, change my notepads, move some things around... I'll even get into my desktop computer and re-organize the files.

– If you have the space, try moving your desk to face a new direction, like the windows.
– Clear off your desk and recreate a streamlined set up
– Spend an afternoon organizing files (paper and digital)

Move // What better way to change your perspective than to literally change your perspective. In college, I always worked at the same table in the library, getting there at 6am to secure the location. Because it was the same spot every time, it provided a safe, secure spot to study 99% of the time. But sometimes... I just needed to move. A quiet nook in the dungeon (aka basement) of the library, a new coffee shop, or even the floor of a friend's dorm room could be just the ticket to a re-inspired paper-writing session.

– Try out a new coffee shop
– Spread out on the floor
– Trade your favorite floor in the library for a louder (or quieter) one

Get moving // Different than the "move" note, even though it seems similar. When I need to change my perspective, one of the easiest– but most often forgotten– things to do is just to go for a walk. I find that I often just feel like I need to "power through" the rut... which ends up with me basically banging my head against my desk and rewriting something 400 times and getting absolutely nowhere. Walks, even short ones down the street, help me think about different things. It's almost like my brain opens up and gets rid of the thoughts and clutter that are causing the rut! I try to let my mind wander as much as I can when I'm walking around.  During a particularly bad rut, you know when it lasts for like a week, I really feel like I put the miles in. I will walk everywhere. Just to try to clear my brain. And just when I think the rut is the new normal, it disappears!

– Go for a run, take a yoga class, find a friend to walk with
– Take the stairs instead of the elevator
– Window shop in a mall

Delve into a black hole // I normally try to avoid getting sucked into a black hole of the internet. But when it comes to ruts, sometimes you have to do something a bit different! I personally love Youtube black holes because it seriously helps me stop thinking about my problem and focus completely (almost blindly) on something totally different. Pinterest is also great, but try to fill your feed with some new boards so you're not seeing things that you're used to. Another great option if you're feeling bold, the NY Times. Read until you can read no more!

– Swap out the book you're reading for one that you read about online
– Play the "Genghis Khan" game on Wikipedia (click "random article" and try to get to the page on Genghis Khan in three clicks
– Teach yourself how to do something new with Youtube videos 

Look at the problem differently // Well, duh, right? It's so much easier said than done I'll admit... but it's worth the exercise. Think you know everything about the problem, but there are probably holes in your theories. (In fact, there's definitely a hole... you're in a rut!!) Put on your devil's advocate hat and poke holes left in right. (I always try to channel that student who tries to find flaws in the professors statement or that friend that always finds something wrong with everything.)

– Write down five possibilities and dissect what makes them wrong (i.e. their fatal flaw)
– Come up with the craziest, out-of-this-world ideas that could solve the problem– alien invasions? okay! Push your limits in your thinking!
– Shoot off ideas at a rapid pace and don't hold yourself back or think any answer is wrong, just go

Do you have tips for getting out of a rut and finding new inspiration?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gingham Shirtdress

This is the gingham shirtdress I needed to have a few weeks ago after spotting it on a stranger outside of Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, it sold out pretty quickly (although it's available in some colors/sizes still), but I did hunt around the internet to find some other fabulous gingham options... just in time to finish out the summer season strong.

Side note: IT IS STILL SUMMER. Do you hear that retailers?! Do not force fall clothing on me just yet... I'm still thawing out from the winter.

I love all kinds of lengths when it comes to hemlines on skirts and dresses. This dress is a bit longer than I normally would pull for myself, but I'm totally into the classic silhouette– and the tie at the waist is flattering. Modest, not frumpy!

I've worn the dress a handful of times already, but notably wore it when I was on a panel for a conference in the city. I have a whole strategy around figuring out what to wear when I speak or have to be on some sort of stage. Length of dress is the most important factor. Seriously, nothing worse than being on a stage and sitting down only to have your hemline ride up... I don't want to deal with worrying about how much leg (or more) can be seen. A full, long skirt rests perfectly when seated. And print and color are both important as well... because I totally start to sweat on stage. I'm not the biggest sweater normally, but hand me a microphone and I'm a sweaty mess. (TMI?) For me, darker prints help hide the fact that I'm more or less a puddle, Alex Mack style. 

And shall we talk about the handbag? I love the girls at Cinco Powell and I also love their products. (Remember this monogrammed tote?! It's on sale now!) The newest handbag has officially made its way into my handbag repertoire. Wear it with or without the monogram tag, or switch the tag out for a different color depending on your outfit... and the straps can be worn long for a crossbody or looped short (like I have it in the photos).

Shop more gingham styles below:

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