Tag Archives: friendship

On the most beautiful work of all

Have you ever read the book Just Kid’s by Patti Smith? I read it years ago but it’s one of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve closed the back cover. In it, the renowned artist recounts her exceptional relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as they navigate New York City, specifically the Chelsea Hotel, in the 60’s and 70’s.  It is one of the most beautiful depictions of friendship I have ever read.

While the couple parted romantically, they remained close friends and it is clear they understood each other and each other’s art more than anyone else could. Truly artistic soul mates.

Recently, I stumbled upon the letter Patti wrote to Robert days before his untimely passing – a letter he was never able to read. It made my breath catch just as it had the first time I read it.

Dear Robert,

Often as I lie awake I wonder if you are also lying awake. Are you in pain, or feeling alone? You drew me from the darkest period of my young life, sharing with me the sacred mystery of what it is to be an artist. I learned to see through you and never compose a line or draw a curve that does not come from the knowledge I derived in our precious time together. Your work, coming from a fluid source, can be traced to the naked song of your youth. You spoke then of holding hands with God. Remember, through everything, you have always held that hand. Grip it hard, Robert, and don’t let it go.

The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off, too. But before I did, it occurred to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of your work in my mind, that of all your work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.


Isn’t that so heartbreaking and extraordinary? What a lovely reminder to us all – amidst the pressures we encounter every day to do good and beautiful work, to create, and to leave something behind that’s bigger than us – that we can be the most beautiful work of all. That people will remember a smile or a kind ear or our unfaltering friendship before anything else.

Just something I’m sitting with and thinking about and wanted to share. xoxo

Beautiful Work:

If you’ve never read Just Kids, I HIGHLY recommend picking it up.

Here’s a great interview Patti Smith did about Robert Mapplethorpe.

Looking for another great read? I recently finished Some Girls by Jillian Lauren and it’s a really fun and fascinating memoir. In it, Jillian Lauren often asks herself, “What would Patti Smith do?”

What do you think? What does Patti’s letter bring up for you? Let’s chat in the comments below. Love y’all! 


How to… (one dozen super rad things I think you should do!)

how to do one dozen things


We’re in the dog days of Summer down here in South Florida. Heat index over 100 and daily afternoon thunderstorms that arrive out of nowhere and leave just as quick. It’s pretty bananas. So, Chet and I are escaping to Delray Beach for a few days. I’m going to sit my butt on the beach (with a couple good books + an iPhone full of podcasts), eat conch fritters, drink rosé, and soak in some #saltlife vibes.

I’ll get back to posting ’round these parts next week. But since you’re already here, why not stick around and check out some posts I pulled from the archives! Here’s how to do ONE DOZEN super rad things…

How to start a fascinating conversation with a friend (or stranger).

How to use stickers to stick to your goals. 

How to make a super cute calendar from burlap.

How to use jars for DIY wedding decor.

How to create the perfect care package. 

How to take meaningful breaks during long projects. 

How to give your office a style upgrade.

How to tap into the power of self-care.

How to work on your female friendships.

How to practice styling photos.

How to dance more.

How to pack for a weekend away in the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 + Side Effect.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week and I’ll see you back here soon! 🙂

P.S. If you have any posts (how-to’s or otherwise) you think I should tackle when I get back, LEAVE  YOUR IDEAS BELOW! Thanks. 

Ballin’ on a Budget – Ditch the Friends Who Are Always “Makin’ it Rain”

Today, I’d like to start a new series on the blog! One that highlights easy strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET. Each month, I’m going to propose something for all of us to ditch in order to free up some line items on our budgets with values that can go to more practical expenditures like paying down on debt and saving for special occasions. Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you! So, let’s get started…

ditch your makin it rain friends

We all have a few of those friends who spend to their heart’s content and, whether deliberately or not, encourage us to do the same. One major elimination you can make in your journey towards getting financially fit is to ditch the constantly “makin’ it rain” friends. Now I know this sounds harsh but it doesn’t mean you have to cut all friendships out of your life or that you have to forego a social life. It just means you need to examine your “little black book” with a fine tooth comb. Identify those social connections who are contagiously bad with money. Whether their expendable income is from their parent’s pocket book or their own doesn’t matter. Reflect on the last few times you socialized with them. Did it involve driving long distances or splitting expensive cab fare? Were you found in the midst of a never-ending rotation of buying rounds of cocktails made with top-shelf liquor? Check out your bank statement from the night. How much did that dinner bill ACTUALLY come to? Now, consider whether you can flip this friendship on it’s head, financially speaking, OR if you need to cut them out completely.

After analyzing your friendships and their corresponding relationship to your finances, what’s next? Here are four easy steps you can take over the next four weeks to help you take financial control of your social life…

Week 1. Make a list of everything you enjoy doing or would like to try that costs little to no money. Don’t worry if the list is super long…I’ll wait…..get it all down! Now, keep this list handy as a reference when looking for social outings or activities with friends, family, and neighbors. When choosing to meet up with a friend it can be easy to default to costly adventures, like dinner and drinks or catching a flick at a movie theater, that are seriously lacking in creativity. Most would gladly exchange these go-to’s for a free concert on the square or a game of scrabble at your kitchen table…you just have to be brave enough to make the suggestion. Establishing your list is the first step!

Week 2. Choose to have “the money” conversation. Conversing about money is a taboo. But shying away from the topic can hinder the ability to have realistic discussions with the folks who would gladly get in your corner and help you achieve your goals. Now, I certainly think these conversations have a time and a place. I don’t think you should be having them with any Joe Shmoe and I don’t think you should shout intimate financial details from the rooftops like how much you earn or how much debt you’re working on paying off. But I DO think there’s extreme value in speaking your goals out loud. Why are you trying to live your life with a ballin’ on a budget mindset? Is it to pay off your student loans? Is it to finally take that trip to Paris? Is it to save enough to establish an emergency fund? This week, tell a close friend your current short-term financial goal. At the least, you’ll have someone who understands why you don’t want to run around town makin’ it rain anymore. At the most, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. And you never know, maybe they’re working towards a similar goal! You’ll never know unless you share.

recurring ritual with friends

Week 3. Commit to a recurring ritual with a friend or friends. If socializing is of importance to you but you’re also actively watching your wallet, it helps to think ahead. In my experience, the EASIEST way to do this is set up a ritual on YOUR terms. It can be so tempting to fit in a catch-up with a friend over a restaurant meal or a night out at a bar but if you carve out time for them in other ways, you’ll find the need for these money-draining experiences diminishes. This step is completely adaptable based on how much time you have available and your preferences. The important thing is figuring out what’s going to bring you and your friends happiness with out spending a ton of money. This is the week to figure it out and lock them in! Your ritual can be as simple as gathering a few pals one night a week to watch a movie or as elaborate as planning a monthly pot-luck picnic at the local park (complete with field games!). Maybe you and a pal want to be running buddies on Tuesday and Thursday mornings? Maybe you extend an open invitation for anyone to stop by your house for Mario Kart on Saturday afternoons? Maybe you gather your best and brightest lady-friends once a month to talk about a book or knit or practice French. You don’t need to lay down a bunch of cash to bring joy to your life and make lasting memories with your friends.

Week 4. Say no! While it’s awesome to be armed with an arsenal of low-cost socializing ideas, there are still times when we just CAN’T be in control. You’ll no doubt still receive invitations for more expensive outings and events. So, start strategizing your action plan. How can you turn down these opportunities with grace? Now, I get it. FOMO (fear of missing out) starts to creep in. You get the feeling that if you say “no” one itty-bitty, little time you’ll never get asked to do anything EVER again!!! I think the best way to combat this is with honesty. Tell whomever extended the invite what circumstances are causing you to pass on this particular opportunity. Would you have to pay for a sitter? Do you have a looming deadline? Did you just move making money a little tight for the month? Let them know. And then find a way to let them know you still value your friendship–whether that be inviting them to the next occurrence of your recurring ritual (see above!) or sending a card or scheduling a phone date to hear all about what happened during the event you couldn’t attend. For this final week, your mantra is, “I can’t do it all. I can’t pay for it all. And that’s OK.”

girl in yellow flowers


Week 1 – 

33 Fun, Frugal Fall Activities

Free Stuff To Do Every Day In NYC

Free-time this Fall? No need to break the bank!

30 free things you can do tomorrow…

Week 2 – 

The Power of Stating Your Intentions Out Loud

Set Financial Goals

Use these 5 steps to talk to your friends about money without making anyone uncomfortable

Week 3 –

25 Movies To Watch When You Don’t Want To Go Out

53 Make-Ahead Picnic Foods

How to Start a Book Club

The #1 Item You Need For House Guests

Week 4 –

How to Say No Without Ruining Relationships

How to deal with the fear of missing out when you’re forced to be frugal

Fighting FOMO

19 Awesome Things to Do Alone


Do you have your own tips or resources for taking financial control of your social life? Is this an area of your “spending diet” that you struggle with? Do you think following these weekly steps could help? Let’s chat in the comments below!

And tune in next month when we tackle THE COFFEE SHOP HABIT!



A quick catch up between friends.

outside cafe

If we were on a coffee date this morning we would sit outside in the cool promise of a Summer early morning. We would drink iced coffee from mason jars and split three baked goods, still warm, because we couldn’t make up our minds so early in the day. I would, perhaps, slide off my sandals and tuck my feet up under my thighs in the cross-leg position I prefer, because at nearly 30, the idea of sitting lady-like for too long still evades me. We might unapologetically admit the rapidity with which we completed the latest season of Orange Is the New Black. Surely agreeing that Piper is the literal worst. Maybe I mention seeing a Bluegrass band at the beginning of the week and how it’s a weekly event and free. Maybe you say we should catch the next one. We both agree we need to make Pimm’s Cups and bulletin boards made from thrifted picture frames and wine corks, but not necessarily in that order. I would pull the book I’m reading out of my backpack and you’d read the jacket cover, nodding. Perhaps we discuss an article we’ve pored over, perhaps we discuss people’s ridiculous Facebook posting habits. As I check the time on my trusty iPhone, I’d probably get distracted and ask you to reveal your most used emojis and then share mine. A last, random anecdote to smile about each time I look at my phone for the rest of the day.

Later that evening I’d text you, “Thanks for the coffee date! You are the literal OPPOSITE of Piper Chapman. *coffee cup* *kimono* *crying while smiling face* *knife* *prayer hands* *poop*”

Summer days/Summer nights.

Hey y’all, just wanted to share a few pictures and fun stuff from the last couple of weeks. No rhyme, nor reason…just a trip to Bowling Green, K.Y. and the ol’ fourth of juLY! Ok so maybe some rhyme.

Chet and I met in Bowling Green when he was getting his masters and I was working for the WKU forensics team so fueled by the promise of nostalgia and some beloved familiar faces we decided to load up the Subaru and swing down to Warren County for a couple of days. In true BG fashion we did a LOT of casual family dining at various restaurants new and old (thumbs up to 643, thumbs down to Novo Dolce and always and forever my ❤ belongs to the Ichibanians).

Hilariously, our friends Ben and Chad clued us in to a hidden secret: The best coffee in Bowling Green can be found at Olive Garden. Wacky, right? But I’ve gotta hand it to them…we went and tried it out and both agreed our cup(s) of joe were super on point. Just ask to sit in the bar area (there are cozy lil booths and the service is snappy) order up a carafe or two and get a round of tiny desserts. So random but surprisingly a decadent experience. Only in BG…HA!



We also hit up a bunch of consignment stores. There seems to be one of these establishments on every block in the beege but unfortunately, the consignment game in Lexington is considerably lacking. We scored a red coat wrack with shiny silver hooks and a Mark Twain voodoo doll from Consignment Corner. The former is looking fantastic hung by my back door and the latter is resting happily atop a bookshelf. At Labold and Sons, Chet and I clocked this sweet print from Print Mafia as soon as we walked in the door.


We took these lil babes home, along with a Polaroid camera that would, later in life, inspire the design for the Instagram logo.


Chet found a recipe for some magical solution proclaiming to work wonders on whitening and brightening old electronics. I’d like to see if we can’t get this thing looking sparkly and new!

We had such a wonderful time catching up with our BG pals (and watching COPIOUS amounts of drag queen videos) that we needed a LOT of fuel to make it back to Lex…some more fuel than others.


Now, jumping ahead a week or so! I had to work on The Fourth of July which was sort of a huge bummer because it’s a favorite of mine. Luckily, I came home to a sparkler party! What a save!!!


sparklerme   sparklerchet

Just serving some patriotic, Lady Liberty realness (did I mention we’ve been binge watching Rupaul’s Drag Race since returning from BG…that Ben…what an influence!)


So happy to spend my Fourth with this one. He’s pretty much the cutest…and takes all my requests for front-facing camera selfies in stride, even when they involve holding fire.



Grief, Facebook and Ambient Awareness.


A couple years ago a girl I went to high school with took her own life. We didn’t have many classes together except for Film Studies, which if we’re being honest, while we sat next to each other, we both usually slept through. We spent the night together on someone’s basement couches during a string of luck known as multiple snow days in a row. We ate lunch at the same table every other day my senior year. Friendships play out; people go their separate ways. Within hours of her last breath I knew that she was gone. I got a little teary and thought, “she did seem so sad lately.”

Just a few short years earlier and hers would have been a tragedy I would hear about from my mom or a co-worker, someone who had read the day’s obituaries in the local paper and put it together that she and I had graduated from the same high school in the same year. They would have asked, “Did you know this girl? She died.” And with a cloudy recognition her name would invoke a familiar face, maybe memory would pull up a conversation we had about prom over cafeteria fries. But, even though I hadn’t seen her since we received our diplomas, at the time of her passing I had been watching her for years.

If you were around for the beginnings of Facebook you know what I mean when I say she was one of those people who immediately sent friend requests to everyone from our high school graduating class. Of course I accepted. Only a few months before we were making “WTF?” faces to each other over an unnecessarily difficult final film exam. Yet, as the time between that last school bell and the present got longer and longer, I kept her in my little online social sphere.

It sounds cliche but I guess we all (that first Facebook generation) watched each other grow up. I watched her picture on my screen go from trying to look cute to business casual.  Saw her play with her dogs. Fall in and out of love. Compose frustrated words about work and chronic pain. Watched as she clicked “post” on words that someone, somewhere must now know were for them, begging them to help her. And it’s weird because her death hit me harder than I thought it should–even though I know those words weren’t for me–or really for so many of us that inevitably saw them. How should grief look for those of us merely ambiently aware of a life now cut short?

In college, I became quite taken with the idea of “ambient awareness,” or, the term sociologists coined for the peripheral social awareness we experience by participating in online social media. Within this online world we have an omnipresent knowledge and constant connection with our social circle. And this notion seems counter-intuitive when you look at the process of gaining and maintaining a social circle in generations prior. In childhood you have a whole slew of friends–from school, the neighborhood, summer camp, ballet class, soccer team. At the end of your K-12 schooling you’re at the peak. You move away from home–maybe a few of these hometown friendships remain but not many. You replace the old friends with new. Maybe you move again. Lose touch with more people. Meet a few new. And on and on…never quite regaining enough ground to maintain the sheer volume of friendships you once had. But that was ok. In fact, social scientists assured these past generations this was normal, scientifically natural. Now, imagine having a level of awareness regarding every single one of those acquaintances you acquired on your path to your tiny but acceptable social group. Imagine never shedding yourself of the neighborhood kid who shared their scooter or the girl who lived 2 doors down in your sophomore dorm. Knowing details about their lives that ranged from mundane to intimate. Sociologists now compare this unprecedented, snowballing trajectory to being stuck in a small town for the rest of your life.

In his New York Times article, Clive Thompson said ambient awareness is, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on mood through the little things. Meaning, as we scroll through someone’s digital information we are noting tone through micro-blogging, pictures, shares and comments. The banal informs a larger narrative.  Thompson argues:

“This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting.”

And when the dots create a dark formation, a somber painting you didn’t necessarily want to see but couldn’t turn away from, the portrait of the life feels just as real, even though physically lacking.

News of a stillborn baby has felt like a kick in the gut because I watched a woman “like” baby photos and share articles about natural family planning. Smiled when she finally announced her pregnancy–seemingly to me. Rolled my eyes at an ultra-sound picture (but was secretly endeared). Laughed at her candid and far-from-flattering description of her pregnant-self. Furrowed my brow with worry when she announced the inactivity inside of her.

A grieving father’s words have felt like sickening voyeurism; his pain too raw and intimate to be included in. Yet with each passing day I would go back for more until eventually I could see the storm passing and the light breaking through. I felt a weight release from my chest at the thought of his healing.

This grief is something past generations have not had to navigate but that doesn’t make it any less real. We are sort of charting new waters here, so I suppose, what I’m saying, is let’s chart them well. I was profoundly touched a few months ago when, yet again, my computer screen was the bearer of tragic news, and I learned another life had been cut too short. In the days that followed I watched a whole community of peripherally aware individuals exemplify kindness and goodness. Their grief manifested into a beautiful display of solidarity, stories detailing memories, and even spreadsheets for donations of food called-in from thousands of miles away. I watched as the constraints of physical presence melted away.  Perhaps, in the end, that’s the best and the easiest thing we can do. Be present without needing to be physically present. Isn’t that how the person at the other end of our grief reached us to begin with?

(Painting by Cynthia Angeles)