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Summertime: Action, Adventure, Amazement!

9 Jun


I tend to spend a lot of my time planning out the future, maybe it’s the Capricorn in me. Conveniently enough, it’s summer, the time for big dreams and huge plans.  After all, I spend months brainstorming summer plans (just look at my most popular post today, Mid-Summer Check-Up)!

Moving around and seeing new things inspire me: they feed my ambitions, drive my writing hand and push me to do and see more.

What I’m Seeing…

+Northern California! I’m going to Suisun City for a family reunion and I am SUPER excited – I’ve never been to California before. I look forward to basking in the sunshine, frolicking on the beach and touring the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean factory. Don’t ask which one I expect enjoy the most.

+Orlando, Florida – Where I’m going act a touristy mess. (I have my limits though. No fannypacks.) I’m going with my family to Orlando. I would love to go to Disney World, but it’s expensive, especially if you want to see all of the parks. (though if I were to have to go to ONE, which one does everyone suggest? Just in case.) I am, however, going to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Expect copious amounts of butterbeer, which probably isn’t the best plan, considering I love rollercoasters.

+Seeing the Savage Beauty exhibit in NYC. I have never been this excited for an exhibition in my life. It is totally worth an eight-hour pilgrimage. Plus, I’ve never been to the Met before. Of course, being me, I am already searching Yelp for where I plan on eating.

+The Hesselbein Leadership Summit – Frances Hesselbein is a force of nature. I can’t wait to bask in her knowledge and meet amazing, driven people from the around the world. Pittsburgh, here I come…back?

What I [should be – will be] Doing…

I want to do a ton of things. I haven’t ever written these down, but the inimitable Alexandra Franzen inspired me with her strong words and naked ambition. So why not?

+I want to be a renaissance woman, with skills in all kinds of trades, from scuba, to sewing, to kung-fu to cooking.

+I want to surround myself with electric, fantastic, brilliant people.

+I want to luxuriate in romance, passion, cuddling and great sex

+I want to continue pushing my body to its limits – more running, jumping and climbing.

+I want to continue trying new things, even things as simple as jumping into dancing water or riding a bicycle in a dress

+I want to connect to The Source – by remaining humble, mindful and meditative.



What do you want to accomplish this summer?

xoxo, Tara


Words to Live By – Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

7 Feb

source (if you know where this was originally found, let me know!)

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.



Do You Need that Expansion Pack? Or…Why Your (Love) Life Should be More Like the Sims

18 Oct

Note: You don’t have to have a strong familiarity with The Sims to understand what I’m about to say, but if you’d like to brush up, there’s plenty of information on its Wikipedia page.

A lot of people put emphasis on “summer love” – but I truly think the time the yearn for coupledom starts once summertime starts to cool down and slowly but surely, the leaves begin to change. Catching the eye of an attractive stranger suddenly becomes less appealing, as cuddling with a special someone underneath a blanket – warm drink optional, but highly recommended – quickly rises in priority. Don’t even get me started on holidays: if you’re alone by then you must be hopeless, am I right?

Sound familiar?

A lot of us have had this feeling – myself included. When feeling flirty, free and uncommitted loses its luster, things start to feel a bit incomplete without a special someone to fill in the blanks you may have in your life. But is that really what you need?

Enter …The Sims.

And no, I am not suggesting you play it, but I would recommend against it if you have work to do.

The Sims is a fantastic game – if you don’t agree, just humor me. There are so many possibilities and choices you can make. While you don’t have control over every single thing and you determine much of the game’s outcome by choices you make. The open-ended nature and never-ending set of goals make it possible to play for hours. Plus, of course, there is so much richness and detail in almost all aspects of the game, that you can dive in, no matter how you like to play. To make it even more expansive, there are expansion packs – they add more variety and dimensions to the game. For example, in one, your Sim gains the ability to attend college.

This isn’t a paid advertisement for the game, though.

Part of the appeal of the Sims is the fact that it’s a great game out of the box – expansion packs enhance the experience, but they surely don’t make the game: you’d probably be having fun whether your Sim was attending college or not.

But just like the Sims doesn’t need an expansion pack to be enjoyable, you shouldn’t need a “special someone” to give your life the spark it needs, either.

Someone wise once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

And Rupaul was speaking the absolute truth. If your life is lacking in some regard – you feel purposeless, your self-esteem isn’t up to par, etcetera, relying on somebody (or something!) else to mend those problems can be a fruitless endeavor. If you expect someone lovely to sweep you off your feet and suddenly – everything will be different! – you may be in for some serious disappointment. Hoping an external force to solve your personal problems single-handedly is a very lofty expectation – one that very few people, or things can live up to. Not only does this create high standards on your end; it might be frustratingly difficult to achieve for the other person as well. Expecting someone to be magical is just plain unfair.

These mechanisms go past significant others – you could apply the same idea things like weight or fitness level, place of residence, the clothes in your closet or the figure in your bank account. If these things change, all of your problems will evaporate, leaving your life tens of times better. Unfortunately, that’s not true. They’re a way of shifting the problem on an external force, because let’s face it: total accountability can be terrifying. I can relate.

When things are a jumbled mess within, adding something extra on top probably won’t fix things – instead, they might become even more complicated. What’s the sense in installing an expansion pack if your game is broken? Now you’re playing the same busted Sims – but hey, at least they can go to college! When the game’s not crashing, of course.

Just like you shouldn’t need an expansion pack to enjoy the Sims properly, you shouldn’t need a romantic relationship or some other substitute in order to enjoy your life. Adding something or someone to the mix can be truly wonderful – but ineffective if there are some serious technical issues already in place. Unless there’s a solid foundation, you’re missing out on the true experience. And why would you want to do that?

Just remember: External forces do not make you worthy of love, fulfillment or happiness. You do.

And here’s a hint: you are already worthy. Trust me. But of course, it’s not up to me to tell you.

xoxo, Tara

What’s Your Power Anthem?

22 Sep


Is there a song that gets you energized? You know what I mean: the song that can make you drop everything and sing along when it comes on your MP3 player?

Is there a song that makes you feel like you can face the world and anything that can come your way? If so, darling, perhaps it’s your power song.

Having a song that truly inspires you can be incredible – there’s an immediate change in the atmosphere when you hear the opening notes and suddenly your entire mood can change for the better.  In my opinion, the power of music should never be underestimated.

One of my favorite songs like this is RuPaul’s “Supermodel”. This song came to me in a relatively dark period in my life. I felt really down about myself – like I was a terrible bore in a girl costume. I had decided that I had nothing notable to offer anybody because I wasn’t “particularly” anything – not particularly smart, funny, interesting, athletic or worthy of friendship. Of course, that’s total rubbish! Eventually I learned to quit doubting myself so much. And I say to all the other people who feel the same way: You’re a fabulous, radiant creature, and the greatest disservice you can do to the world is to keep it all to yourself. Share the love!

Maybe you don’t have a song of this type of your own – well, I’m here to help you!

Start by Mood:

There are songs that I love because they help put me in wildly different moods. While it might be hard to discover music based on the tone it sets, there are websites that make it a bit easier:

◊ Stereo Mood is a music radio website that has crowd-sourced stations sorted according to mood. While the basic ones like “happy” are represented, you can also find stations that are more specific, like “good karma” or “epic”. Give them a spin – you never know what you’ll find!

◊ Musicovery is one of my other favorites – similar to Stereo Mood, you can set the tone by clicking a point in a grid, pinpointing precisely what type of music you’re looking for.

◊ Pandora is another great resource – if you already know where to start, it can recommend music for you based on specific artists and songs that you’ve specified.

Are you still unsure where to start? Here are some more songs that make me, personally, feel particularly epic:

◊ Rock Star (Jason Nevins Remix) by N*E*R*D

◊ Covergirl by RuPaul

◊ Fighter by Christina Aguilera

◊ Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson

◊ Free Your Mind by En Vogue

◊ Hat 2 The Back by TLC

◊ Aphrodite by Kylie Minogue

Jordan makes light music

But now what?

Maybe you’ve found a song that has a strong effect on you  – the tune gets your blood pumping, the lyrics speak to you in a direct and profound way, what do you do then? You’ve purchased it at your retailer of choice and it’s now sitting comfortably on the Music folder on your computer.

Don’t stop there!

Perhaps you could make the song your ringtone, so you can be frequently reminded of the message. Maybe you could write the best lyrics on your mirror or post them somewhere you can see it. Maybe you’ll keep the song in mind for one of “those days”, where nothing seems to be going the way you want. That’s okay too!

Currently, my bedroom mirror reads: “I’m fierce and feeling mighty, I’m a golden girl – I’m an Aphrodite”, quoted from the amazing Kylie Minogue. Don’t just listen to the lyrics – absorb them and live them.

Are there any songs that you think of as your power anthem? Share them in the comments!




Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the song that gets me going every time, the song that makes me feel like I can conquer the world with my raw strength and power.

I’m so ready to get down to business and defeat the Huns. Just watch me.

29 Ways to Make the Most of Autumn and have Fun in Fall!

20 Sep

autumn falls...

Hello there, loved ones! If you haven’t heard, this Thursday, the 23rd, is this year’s autumnal equinox, signaling the end of summer, and the start of fall. Some of you are dreading the idea of stashing away your flip-flops and sun dresses for the next few months, but don’t despair! Autumn isn’t just the start of school and the end of shorts – and there are tons of ways you can appreciate it. Here are some ideas for things to do in the fall:

Experience the Season

♥ Experience the equinox! The autumn equinox actually happens at a specific time, not just a specific day. This year the equinox will be occurring at the inconvenient – for me, at least – time of 3:09 am. For updated times of the various equinoxes, you can check this website.

♥ Enjoy the scents in the air – I think that every season has a distinct scent. If you’re unable to go outside, items scented with cedarwood seem to help.

♥ Get into the spirit of back to school! Even if you aren’t currently enrolled in school, this can still apply to you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I get a definite enjoyment from cracking open new notebooks and opening a set of new pens (if you were wondering, Sharpie pens.) for the school year. Even if it’s as basic as a box of Ticonderogas, go ahead and treat yourself.

♥ Enjoy fall athletics like football, hockey or soccer (preferably yourself, but you can watch too!)

♥ Switch up your soundtrack – I’m going to have to retire some of my favorite sugary pop goodness for the next few months, unless I want to dream of summer. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I can forsee myself listening to a lot of Jason Mraz and Lauryn Hill. Kanye West’s College Dropout also tends to get a lot of play.

Get Out

♥ Give yourself a nature walk: One of my favorite parts of autumn is taking long walks and breathing in that nice, chilly air. Autumn (and spring, also) is unique in that the weather tends to err on the side of moderate, so take the time to enjoy the great outdoors before it truly gets cold!

♥ Find and attend your area’s local fall festival. It’s probably cheap, too!

♥ Collect leaves throughout the season as they change from green to brown and press them. It creates a neat gradation effect. Also, did you know that the activity of watching the leaves change colors is called “leaf peeping“? I didn’t!

♥ Spend some quality time out on a porch or deck: it might not be too appealing in the coming weeks!

♥ Indulge in some fall festivities – If you’ve never gone on a hayride, taken a trip to the pumpkin patch, or something similar – or if you’re like me and haven’t done so in over a decade – now’s the time! Wear overalls and plaid if you’re so inclined. On that note…

♥ One word: Oktoberfest. There may be a local variant if you aren’t close to Bavaria.

Treat Yourself

♥ Enjoy the return of sweaters and scarves. If you’re bored with what you already have, donate them and make your own!

♥ Support your Farmer’s Market – With autumn comes the end of the growing season, and as a result, many farmer’s markets and co-ops will be closing soon until the warmer months. My suggestion? Indulge in some locally produced goodness while you can. I just bought some peaches and apple cider and I don’t regret it one bit.

♥ Host and/or attend a potluck with friends or family.

♥ Swap your iced tea for hot tea (or hot apple cider, but I’m biased)

♥ Pull out your tights and leggings. Bonus points if they’re in a color other than a variant of black or opaque.

♥ Prepare for Halloween! I’m not the biggest Halloween fan in the world, I’ll admit but it’s grown on me in recent years, especially since I don’t want to let an opportunity to dress up as ridiculously as you like and ingest tons of candy to pass me by!

♥ Start adding cinnamon to your hot drinks. It goes great in Greek yogurt too…

♥ Enjoy apple products, unless you’re allergic of course – but for there’s always apples to apples

♥ Eat seasonally – This varies for people, but when I think of fall and food, the first thing that comes to mind -aside from Thanksgiving – is pumpkins. Which is fine with me, since pumpkins are so versatile. While I can’t make pumpkin soup in my dorm room, trading in my summer pina coladas for a pumpkin spice latte will help me ease the transition from summer to fall.

Try Something New

♥ Turn your old t-shirts into a quilt

♥ Spend a date at the museum, with yourself or with another – the new school year is the best time to learn something new

♥ Switch up your color palette –  Okay, I’ll admit: I don’t always select the colors of my wardrobe based on the season. But it does seem fun to trade my bright nail polish for a more subdued tone.

♥ Make a flower headband with leaves and seasonal flowers.

♥ Start wearing gold trinkets – to me, they only seem appropriate in the colder months! Flea markets, thrift stores and Goodwill are goldmines. Forever 21, too.

♥ Rakes some leaves and jump in them – Disclaimer: It would probably be best if you had some claim to these leaves but it’s not strictly necessary. Make sure there’s no dog poop before jumping.

♥ Watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown“. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

♥ Keep your air clean and fresh, whether you’re inclined to keep your window open or not

And finally…

♥ Make the most of your days – they’re getting shorter, after all!

Do you have any more suggestions? What activities just make you think of fall? Share them in the comments!

xoxo, Tara

Soulstealer/What I Wore – 9.14.10

15 Sep

Hello everyone! Time for another photographic update! It’s strange how I always seem to be frolicking through flowers when I do these, isn’t it? Anyway, I felt it was time to début my brand-new hairdo (which I will reflect in my About Me page soon, promise!). These photographs are from the BB’s (my term for the boyfriend) visit up from Maryland. We went to my favorite spot in Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory to see the Agave tree bloom for its first and only time before it gets cut down.

Top: Charlotte Russe. Jeans: JC Penney. Bag: Handmade in Tanzania. Scarf: Necklush

Check out that blown glass sculpture! Phipps is full of them, and the artistry put in them is amazing. Every time I visit, I’m captivated by how lifelike and delicate they are in their construction. I can never imagine how one can take a solid object like glass and manipulate it in such creative ways.


I’m not exactly sure what this plant is, but it looks cool, doesn’t it? I feel like it’s an alien creature about to suck out my brains. Spooky! There’s a costume idea in there somewhere…

Or I could just dress up as the agave tree and my Halloween costume dilemma (another post for another time) would be solved. Ha! This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer”.


They also had these awesome sculptures made of plant debris and fallen branches from last year’s snowstorm. I like this one in particular, because it looks like some strange, ghostly vision of a flying unicorn.


And of course, you can’t forget the flowers. Every collection at Phipps is unique and stunningly beautiful. I’m lucky that I came on the last day of the summer show – the next time I come, which is bound to be soon, will be completely different!

Until next time,

xoxo, Tara




Artist Feature: Dawn Okoro

18 Aug

Obligatory Plug: Have you voted in the Black Weblog Awards yet? See this post for more information! Voting ends August 31st!

Dawn Okoro is one of my favorite artists. I love the way she plays with composition and various mediums to create her striking images. I also think the subject matter she draws inspiration from is quite fascinating, as well. (For instance, the pictures included in this post depict women in various positions of power.)

But most of all, I love her striking color. Her vibrant palettes always seem to catch my attention on her website, even in grayscale.

More about the artist, from her website:

Dawn Okoro’s work is informed by the composition techniques used in fashion photography. Using oil, acrylic and pencil, she incorporates photography, collage, and ideas from popular culture. Her artwork embodies space, movement, pattern, design, texture, and color; as well as lived experiences and self-reflexivity. Self-reflexivity is a process by which she critically examines the experiences (exterior and interior) that shape her everyday life and those that surround her.

For more information, you can visit her official website or her blog. All images were sourced from Okoro’s official website.

xoxo, Tara