Rockin’ the Romper

Vine & Roses - Romper

It’s that time of year again…you know…the time when you start stocking up your closet like you’ve never shopped before and have no clothes for spring and summer. You’re doing that, too, right?

I have avoided Target liked the plague, but I wasn’t so successful in resisting one of my favorite boutiques during a weekend of errands. Last Saturday was the first spring-like day we’ve had so far. Actually, it felt almost like summer, and I wasted no time throwing on a romper, packing a beach bag and heading out the door. After an unexpected delay in my old hometown, and a large gap before a photo shoot, I found myself with some time to kill. I strolled Main Street and landed at Vine & Roses. Every season usually begins and ends with a purchase from this store, and this spring was no exception. Honestly, I’m shopped out after all of my purchases leading up to my California trip, but after one loop around the store I had already spotted my new love.

Vine & Roses - Romper

The romper is a summer staple, but it works just as well for cooler days in spring with a cardigan. I jumped on the trend last summer and haven’t looked back since. This latest purchase marks the third romper I own, and I’m sure there will be more that come after it.

Vine & Roses has the most exquisite clothing. It’s a place where you can find one-of-a-kind, quality pieces. This macramé romper, with bold colors and delicate open-back was just too pretty to pass up. I can already envision it being on repeat this summer!

For more from Vine & Roses, see here and here.

The Founder’s Mindset by Talentedly

The Founder's Mindset - Talentedly

Last week I attended The Founder’s Mindset: Why a Strong Mind Equals a Successful Business hosted by Talentedly at Wix Lounge. Usually, the idea of going into New York City on a weekday — after work — seems pretty daunting to me. But, after thinking about the event for a couple of days, I found myself intrigued and excited to hear what Lydia, the founder of Talentedly, had to say.

If you are unfamiliar with Talentedly, they are an online service designed to help people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond make professional progress. They combine online tools and one-on-one professional training to fit your budget. Their goal is to make work feel amazing. I don’t know about you, but that’s a goal I support!

The event was everything I had hoped it would be…and more. From the minute I arrived at Wix Lounge I instantly felt inspired by all of the people in the room. Lydia began by delivering a series of slides detailing the foundation of the “growth mindset” and how mind, body and soul play into it. It was a concept that was new to me, but that I needed to adopt in my own life. The growth mindset is the brainchild of psychologist Carol Dweck and asserts that people can develop their abilities through hard work and dedication. Unlike the fixed mindset, in which people believe that their talent alone equates to success, irrespective of personal drive and determination, the growth mindset creates a love of learning and a desire to be successful, despite setbacks.

I found this idea of retraining your mindset to be fascinating. Lydia went on to ask a series of questions and had us keep track of how many times we answered “Yes.”

The questions included:

Did I avoid a challenge today?

Did I give up easily?

Did I believe or say that an effort was useless or wasteful?

I found my own answers to these questions revealing. I had never given much thought to questions like these before — questions that made me think about my day in a reflective manner and reevaluate some of my feelings. I admit that I don’t always have the most positive mindset. I tend to be anxious about things that may never happen, dwell on mistakes from the past and be blind to my present needs. These are things that I need to work on to have a successful professional career, and Lydia’s questions, combined with her upbeat, positive personality made me take what she was saying to heart.

Some of the takeaways from the evening included:

If you declare openly that you are working towards a goal, you are 75% more likely to achieve it: Tell a friend or a colleague if you have a goal that you would like to accomplish. Once you say it out loud, and to another person, it forces you to be accountable for that objective.

Invest in yourself: I think often people get so absorbed in their everyday lives that they forget to do things for themselves. Whether it’s going to the gym, learning to meditate, or taking an online class, you are worth the time and you should never be too busy for yourself!

Before the event ended, Lydia talked about the Growth Mindset Challenge, which involves a commitment to answering eight questions for 67 days (the amount of time it takes to foster a habit).

A sample of the questions posed were:

Did I sleep well and wake refreshed this morning?

Did I avoid something/someone because I couldn’t guarantee my success?

Did I ignore someone’s comments or perspective?

The benefit of this exercise is that it builds mental strength, allows you to keep track of your mind, body and soul and can help you implement changes so you can be more productive and successful.

I strongly urge anyone who is in the early stages of their career or looking to change careers to visit Talentedly’s site. I got so much out of this event, and I can’t wait for the next one!

*Photo courtesy of Talentedly

Munching on Macarons

Macaron Cafe - New York City

Everyone loves the macaron. The delicate French confection packs a lot of flavor into a small, colorfully sandwiched dessert. If you are searching for quality macarons, then look no further than New York City’s MacarOn Café. I stopped there in March to meet a friend for coffee, and my eyes were drawn to the brightly colored macarons, perfectly displayed and looking oh-so-delicious. I couldn’t help but order a few to bring back home for myself and my grandmother (who loves macarons and voted these the best she has ever had!).

Macaron Cafe - New York City

I was delighted when the MacarOn Café told me they were introducing a new flavor for spring. They already offer an exquisite selection, but their latest creation takes the cake (or the cookie!). If you like chocolate (et moi, j’aime le chocolat!), and grew up making S’mores, then the milk chocolate, marshmallow fluff and sprinkles macaron is for you. Let’s just say from the first bite I was sold. Even though I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows, this combination was rich and the flavors complemented one another well. If Nutella, dark chocolate or mocha macarons are your thing, then you should give the new milk chocolate and marshmallow fluff flavor a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Two other flavors that I have tried are the rose lychee and the coconut. The former has a very sweet, distinctively fruity undertone to it, while expertly capturing the lychee flavor (and I love it for its pretty pastel pink exterior), while the latter has a subtle hint of coconut in a creamy filling.

What I appreciate about the MacarOn Café is the amazing range of decadent combinations that they offer (pumpkin cinnamon, anyone?), and that each bite is unique. Spend some time on their site or in their cafe browsing the heavenly selection to see for yourself! Whether you order online or in-person, be prepared to receive your treats in a box that is as charming as its contents.

The texture of these macarons is a testament to the quality ingredients that the MacarOn Café uses. True macaron connoisseurs will appreciate the consistency that has been achieved to ensure that the macaron is not too hard and chewy or too soft and mushy. I particularly like that they are not overly sweet, but satisfy my sugar cravings!

With four locations in New York City, this is the perfect place to grab breakfast from their daily menu, stop in for a mid-afternoon macaron snack, or place an order for a lunchbox delivery if you happen to live or work nearby. And if you don’t call New York City home, you can still have your macarons and eat them, too, with their convenient order-by-phone option.

I think all that’s left to say is…bon appétit!

Photography by Vlad Polchaninoff
Macarons courtesy of the MacarOn Café

Cruising in Cali – Part III

Alcatraz - San Francisco

The highlight of my time in San Francisco was touring Alcatraz. As a Political Science major and Justice, Law and Society minor in college, I am fascinated with all things related to the criminal justice system. I always wanted to see Alcatraz and had envisioned what this abandoned fortress would look like in person.

Alcatraz - San Francisco

From San Francisco, Alcatraz sits about a mile and a half away on an isolated island. Originally, the island was used as a way to protect the coastal waterways after California was acquired by the United States in 1848. The United States Department of Justice obtained Alcatraz in 1933 and the island became part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Alcatraz - San Francisco

Alcatraz - San Francisco

During the prison’s 29-year history, it housed some of the most infamous inmates, from Al Capone to Robert “The Birdman” Stroud. The island, known as “The Rock,” was virtually escape-proof due to its isolated location, rough currents and frigid waters. But that didn’t deter inmates from trying. In June of 1962, three inmates escaped after leaving dummy heads in their beds to distract the guards during night check. After slipping into the San Francisco Bay, they vanished. The 1979 movie Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood, was filmed entirely on location and details the inmates sophisticated jailbreak.

The last prisoner left the island in March of 1963 when the prison was closed due to deteriorating infrastructure and the high costs of maintenance.

Alcatraz - San Francisco

The short ferry ride to Alcatraz offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. Dress warm, as the weather can be unpredictable and fog and wind are common. Once at Alcatraz, a Park Ranger greets you and gives you the rules of the island. The land is federally protected and now home to historic gardens, tidepools and bird colonies.

Alcatraz - San Francisco

You can tour the cells and prison building on your own, but the audio tour will provide added insight where you can hear from former Alcatraz inmates as they explain about the different cell blocks and what life was like inside.

Alcatraz - San Francisco

Alcatraz - San Francisco

Alcatraz - San Francisco

Alcatraz - San Francisco

It is a fascinating experience being able to visit Alcatraz, a once notorious super-max prison. It’s hard to imagine that an island with sprawling flowers and filled with wildlife was once a cold, inhospitable prison setting. The deteriorating buildings remain as a reminder of the island’s history, but the new inhabitants are creating a bright future for the land.

Cruising in Cali – Part II

San Francisco, CA

I have been obsessed with San Francisco for a while now, so I was excited to be heading north on the third day of my California trip.

The weather was nice on my first full day in San Francisco and I was eager to get out and explore, but San Francisco’s climate reminded me more of New York than California. It was sunny, but only in the mid-50’s with a brisk wind. I didn’t mind the temperature when I was huffing and puffing up hills, but once I stopped to catch my breath I really felt that cold air. Most of my first day was occupied with touristy things…and a lot of walking.

The hotel, a Holiday Inn, was nestled in a convenient location, between Van Ness and California Street. It made walking down to the Fisherman’s Wharf easy and there were plenty of quaint coffee houses along the way. Of course, I spotted a crêperie and that decided where I would eat breakfast during my stay.

The Crêpe House was a charming space on Polk Street. The corner cafe offered meal and dessert crêpes, as well as French toast, eggs and sandwiches. I knew I needed a sweet crêpe to make up for the 12 hours I had spent the previous day in the car en route to San Francisco, and a cappuccino to start the day off on the right foot. I ordered a strawberry and Nutella crêpe, which arrived on a cheerfully bright plate. The crêpe was delicious, and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. It was just what I needed. I slowly sipped on my frothy cappuccino as I people-watched and psyched myself up to tackle some serious hills.

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The Crêpe House - San Francisco

The Crêpe House - San Francisco

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I didn’t bother looking at a map of San Francisco because it is such a manageable city and everything is within a walkable distance. From Polk Street I could see the water and thought that it wouldn’t take too long to walk. After a few blocks I found my way to Lombard, home to the worlds crookedest street, and on my list of things to see in San Francisco. It is a major tourist attraction with people lining up at the top and bottom of the street to take photos. You can also walk down the side of the street and get some good shots of cars gingerly going down it. From there, the Wharf was an easy walk.

Lombard Street - San Francisco

Once at the Wharf, I took in the beautiful scenery of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the water. The next stop was Ghirardelli. I had been warned about the Ghirardelli stores and knew that I would probably spend (and buy!) more than I should there. To say that the experience was something out of Willie Wonka would be an understatement. Ghirardelli was founded in San Francisco in 1852 and the stores now make up Ghirardelli Square. The bulb lights illuminating the chocolatiers name facing San Francisco Bay used to attract sailors and are still there today. The stores feature everything you would expect — chocolates, shakes, cakes, fudge and more. If you are looking for a sweet treat then this is your stop. I ordered a brownie sundae after spending the morning walking (or should I say, hiking?) and didn’t feel any remorse. I had certainly earned however many calories (and grams of sugar) were in it.

Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco

Ghirardelli -San Francisco

Ghirardelli - San Francisco

If you are heading to the Wharf, take a stroll down the main street towards the piers. There are plenty of tourist traps selling souvenirs (yes, I stopped at a few of them!), but there are also some great places to get a bowl of clam chowder and enjoy a nice lunch or dinner overlooking San Francisco Bay. In terms of exploring the city, there are a few ways to get around. Walking will keep you in good shape, but make sure you have proper footwear. I tried wearing my Adrienne Vittadini flats on the first day and by the afternoon my feet were killing me. You can also rent bicycles, Segways, take a bus or boat tour, or hitch a ride on a cable car, which I highly recommend. Anyway you choose to get around, San Francisco is a scenic place to explore.

Stay tuned for my next adventure…touring Alcatraz!

Cruising in Cali – Part I

Against my better judgement, I have returned to the East Coast where it feels like spring may finally have arrived…I hope for good this time! It has been an adjustment getting back into the swing of work and emails, but I’m managing. Since I still find myself daydreaming about California life, I thought I would share some of the highlights from my trip. I spent the first two days in Los Angeles seeing as much as I could in the time allotted. Read on for my adventures!

My first day in Los Angeles was wonderful. It was a cloudless, breezy day, which was perfect for walking around. First up on the agenda was a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the stars. It was crowded, as there was a movie premier for Furious 7, which blocked a section of the street and made seeing parts of the Walk of Fame virtually impossible. But I managed to locate the stars of Joan Rivers, Judge Judith Sheindlin (fellow American University alumna) and Pierce Brosnan.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

After some sightseeing, and stops in a few tourist shops (I’m a sucker for souvenirs), it was off to Runyon Canyon. I’ve heard a lot about Runyon Canyon and it was a place I wanted to see. It’s a bit of a trek from the Walk of Fame, but still manageable. I’m not going to lie. The hike up the Canyon was serious exercise, and I certainly earned my high-calorie lunch afterwards. You can take the hike at your own pace, but it is very hilly and steep in some places. Being the adrenaline junky that I am, I wanted to hike every peak and valley that I could. I took great shots of Los Angeles, and only managed to slip twice on the rough terrain. If Runyon Canyon is in your future, I would advise you to bring water along on the hike. There is a convenient station at the main entrance that has snacks and bottled water for sale on the honor system. Also, make sure you have sunscreen. I didn’t heed that warning and ended up with a nasty sunburn thanks to the deceptively breezy day (and the fact that it was April and all). A good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes would serve you well. I wore my running shoes, which did the job, but probably weren’t the best for the terrain.

Runyon Canyon - LA

Runyon Canyon - LA

Runyon Canyon - LA

I could have called it a day when I finished Runyon Canyon. My legs felt like Jello from all of the hiking, but the Griffith Park Observatory was up next. From there, you can get a glimpse of the infamous Hollywood sign, as well as more scenic views of Los Angeles. The building itself is a work of art and inside you can learn about constellations, planets and star gazing. Once through the front door, take a look at the beautiful murals on the walls and ceiling.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

View from Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

And if you are going to go to the Observatory, you might as well continue the journey and see the Hollywood sign. You can drive about a mile up from the Observatory before you have to park and make the rest of the voyage on foot. This was my second hike of the day. I would say it is approximately two and half miles each way to see the sign. Thankfully, it’s not as hilly as Runyon Canyon, but you would be wise to have hiking shoes and water with you. I did it later in the day, so the sun was not much of an issue (but my sunburns were already setting in!). There is also a stable in the area that offers trail rides. I saw a lot of people on horseback and wished I had time to do that as well. It was the perfect place for a leisurely trail ride! Follow the path to the very end where you will be greeted by the Hollywood sign. You can only get so close (about a half mile under the sign), but it is still an impressive thing to see in person.

Horseback Riding in LA

Hollywood Sign - LA

LA Sunset

The adventure continues….

I woke up sore from all the hiking I had done on the first day. I must have hiked more than ten miles! My sunburn was quite visible, ruining any hopes I had of lounging at the beach. The morning involved a visit to Sony to tour the building and sets. If you are interested in touring Sony Pictures Studios or Paramount Pictures Studio, I would recommend getting tickets in advance as the tours sell out quickly.

Sony Pictures Studios

The Sony tour was about two hours and involved a short movie about the studio’s history before our guide walked us through sets of popular shows such as Breaking Bad, The Goldbergs and Ray Donovan (sorry, no photos allowed!). It was fascinating to learn how the sets are constructed and to be able to walk through some of them. As a Jeopardy fan, the highlight for me was seeing the actual stage where the show is taped.

Jeopardy Set

The property itself has quite a history with famous singers and actors, from Barbra Streisand to Brad Pitt walking its halls. Unfortunately, there were no stars to be seen on the tour, but it was fun to imagine what the place must have looked like during the days of Marlon Brando and Rita Hayworth. Much of the old glamour remains to this day despite various divisions and additions.

Once the tour at Sony concluded, I was off to Pasadena where I met Jenna, an editor whom I contacted for coffee at Copa Vida. We chatted for a bit over our lattes and I mentioned to her that I wanted to head to the beach. She suggested Manhattan Beach for its shopping and dining.

Copa Vida-Pasadena, CA

The drive from Pasadena to Manhattan Beach took a while thanks to LA traffic, but it was absolutely worth it once there. Oh, what I would give to live in a house by the beach in a warm climate! Manhattan Beach is a great place to eat, shop, and of course, lay out in the sun. It has a beautiful pier with panoramic views of the ocean and is a nice place to walk around and experience the California beach life.

There are no shortage of restaurants to choose from in the area, but Jenna recommended The Strand House and after one look at the swanky restaurant, I could see why. The modern building, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is a block from the beach. I ordered the C’est la Veev cocktail, which contained Veev açai, yuzu, blackberry, mint, lime and ginger beer. It was refreshing after a long day out and about, and a great choice to enjoy while people-watching and waiting for my food. For my entrée, the margarita pizza struck my fancy and did not disappoint. The sauce was one of the sweetest I have ever had!

The Strand House - Manhattan Beach, CA

I was eager to dip my toes into some California sand after admiring the views from the restaurant. Unlike the rocky North Shore beaches that I am used to on Long Island, the sand was soft and lush. Despite warm temperatures during the day, the beach was too cool for swimming or lounging. But it was still nice to take in the ocean and the beach air.

Manhattan Beach, CA

Manhattan Beach, CA

Before heading back to the hotel I wanted to stop in some of the shops. Manhattan Beach had a nice mix of retail stores and small local establishments. I found my way into Trina Turk, Splendid, Free People, Michael Kors and Lucky Brand, but managed to walk out empty-handed. However, all bets were off when I spotted the Bonaventura Gelato Lounge. I ordered a cup containing four flavors: Nutella, double brownie, salted caramel and white chocolate. It was decadent and more than I could eat after my meal.

Gelato Lounge - Manhattan Beach, CA

By the end of two action-packed days, I was tired and looking forward to an early retreat to the hotel room.

Capturing California

What’s not to love about California? I had the most amazing time in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The weather was perfect (but a little cooler than I would have liked in San Francisco!), the beaches were beautiful and there was no shortage of incredible places to dine. I think it’s fair to say that I am obsessed with the lifestyle in California. Everyone seems relaxed and happy — I would be too, with bright, sunny days to look forward to practically year-round. But don’t worry. For those of you stuck in colder climates I will be sharing plenty more about my West Coast getaway, including places to see and helpful tips for planning a trip of your own. So stay tuned!

Happy Friday!

Yoga at Runyon Canyon

{Yoga at Runyon Canyon}

Manhattan Beach, CA

{Taking in the scenery at Manhattan Beach}

Jeopardy

{What is…touring Jeopardy}

Elephant Seals

{Stopped to see the elephant seals en route to San Francisco}

Ghirardelli

{The original Ghirardelli shop – Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco}

Alcatraz

{Spent Easter at Alcatraz}

San Francisco Cable Car

{Hopped on a San Francisco cable car}

Pacific Coast Highway

{Made a friend along the Pacific Coast Highway}

Follow me on Instagram to see more from my adventures!

Guest Post: How Blogging Helped Me Find a Career Path I Love

The Everygirl - PBteen

Today, I’m excited to welcome Elana Lyn Gross, who writes the career and lifestyle blog, Elana Lyn. I found her blog shortly after I began my own, and her words instantly resonated with me. Since then, I have had the opportunity to meet Elana and I am happy to say that she is as lovely in person as she appears on her blog.

I’ve mentioned the importance of finding your passion, but have you ever wondered how you can transition it into a career? Read on for Elana’s insight into just that:

This post is by Elana Lyn Gross and was originally published on one of my favorite publications, Live in the Grey.

If you had asked me to predict my career path five years ago, I never would have said marketing.

I studied criminal justice and psychology in college and thought that the logical next step would be law school. After graduating, I became a paralegal at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. I decided to start a blog. To accommodate my schedule, I would write blog posts on the weekends and schedule them to be published during the week. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I was actually passionate about. And then I had an epiphany: What you did “for fun” as a kid may reveal the right career path for you as an adult.

Since I was a child, I always loved writing. I shared short stories, long stories, journal posts and memoirs with friends and family. Though I lost sight of that when I went to college, oddly enough, I do something similar now.

When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a Gen Y women’s career development startup followed my blog posts on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications. My current employer also hired me because of my blog, social media, and freelance writing portfolio. They were looking for someone to manage our clients’ social media presence and, given my blogging experience, they realized that I could create an online brand.

I started a blog “for fun,” but blogging introduced me to a world that I hadn’t even known existed. To my surprise, there were career paths incorporating exactly what I was doing “for fun.” Today, I have a job doing what I love. I actually continue to blog and freelance during my personal time. As I improve my writing and blogging skills, I become a better professional.

Here are a few ways that blogging and building a personal brand helped me to find a fulfilling career path. Hopefully these tips will inspire you to find your own success!

1. BRAINSTORM

Many people wait for the “perfect” topic or idea before they even start a blog. Instead of stalling and waiting until perfection struck, I started right after doing the following brainstorming exercise:

– First, jot down a list of things that you enjoy reading, writing, or talk about. You can look at your Internet browsing history if you’re drawing a blank. Then, write down the words that you would want people to use when they describe you. Your blog and social media will reflect the topics you are passionate about and the personal values you have prioritized.

– Next, come up with a working mission statement and tagline.

– Finally, start writing! Don’t worry about sounding strange at first—you’ll learn to hone your voice and writing as you go along.

2. BE AUTHENTIC

Have you ever noticed that kids get really excited about almost anything they talk about? That’s a good thing. It’s so much more fun to talk to someone who is enthusiastic about a topic – it’s contagious. It will be much more fun for your audience to read a blog post that you actually enjoyed writing. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said:

“We think sometimes we’re only drawn to the good, but we’re actually drawn to the authentic. We like people who are real more than those who hide their true selves under layers of artificial niceties.”

You aren’t perfect and your blog doesn’t have to be either; people will be drawn to your authenticity and fervor. This is also key to the type of career you might want to pursue! If you want to write about fashion, for example, take it as a sign that you may be destined for a career in the fashion industry.

3. BE UNIQUE

Don’t be afraid to branch out. I have grown so much both personally and professionally since creating my blog. I have had new experiences, developed new interests and learned new skills, which have consequently changed the content of my blog. You are multifaceted. Your blog will be more interesting, relevant and fulfilling if you share the many aspects that make you who you are.

4. BE SOCIAL

Social media has revolutionized mentoring by providing access to influential and inspiring people. Join the conversation by sharing your work and promoting others’ work. Make a community for yourself by finding other bloggers who you admire. Use social media to listen to what people are talking about, learn what they like and adapt accordingly. When people tell me that they like my blog, I ask them what topic they like best and least, what they want to see more of and if they have any ideas for future topics. The best part of this exercise is that every answer is different, and I discover something every time I ask.

Maintaining a blog takes work – but it won’t feel like a job if you love it. Blog if it makes you happy. You just might learn a lot about yourself (and get your dream job) in the process.

Images via The Everygirl

Bold Beauties

Revlon HD & Topshop

{Left: Revlon HD Lip Lacquer Pink Ruby | Right: Topshop Rio Rio}

Even though the temperature might not agree, I have decided the time has come to break out the bright spring/summer lipstick colors. You may remember from last year that I was seriously crushing on coral. I still am — but I’ve found some new brands, and colors, to love.

Revlon HD Lip Lacquer in Pink Ruby

Revlon HD Lip Lacquer in Pink Ruby

This color was outside my comfort zone, but my fears were squashed with one wear. Pink Ruby is a bright and fun color for spring, and best of all, it has some serious staying power. Its glossy sheen adds volume to your lips and gives you the perfect pout. Although I prefer lipstick to gloss, this gem has won me over.

Topshop Lipstick in Rio Rio

Topshop Lipstick in Rio Rio

Who am I to pass up another coral lipstick? You can never have too many, right? Rio Rio has been on my list of colors to try for a while, so I was thrilled when I spotted a Topshop store in New York City last month. This color is the perfect matte shade if you are looking for a coral that is both work appropriate and spring-y.

Losing My Butterfly

Losing My Butterfly

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of the neck. Ironically, Vanessa, in Greek, means butterfly.

Two years ago yesterday, on April 2, 2013, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and lost my butterfly. I remember the day so vividly, yet not at all. I was going to meet a friend whom I used to work with for a late lunch. I hadn’t received my biopsy results yet and I was getting anxious. It had been over a week and all I could get from the lab was a message to call my doctor. I called my endocrinologists’ office that morning and they said they would check for my results. When I didn’t hear anything later that day, I called again. The receptionist told me that the doctor had an appointment available at 3:15 p.m. and he would review the results with me. I knew instantly that the news would not be good. I called my friend and canceled our plans.

I still remember hearing the words from my endocrinologist’s mouth as he quietly whispered that I had papillary thyroid carcinoma. At first it didn’t register. I didn’t hear the carcinoma part, and quickly thought to myself, “Well, at least I don’t have thyroid cancer.” I may have even cracked a smile. I can’t remember the exact details after hearing the diagnosis.

My endocrinologist sat patiently in his chair waiting for my reaction. He spoke softly for what seemed like an eternity, but in fact was a little over an hour. It was probably the longest amount of time I had sat with a doctor as a patient. Weeks earlier he had told me I would need to be on Synthroid for the rest of my life due to an under-active thyroid. I tried hard to fight back tears. He noticed, and offered to do another blood test to be certain. I was temporarily at ease. Now that that was no longer an option I couldn’t even bring myself to cry.

I sat motionless on the examination table as he gave me all of my options, daydreaming about more pleasant things. Occasionally, my thoughts drifted to questions: Whom would I call to break the news to first? How would I tell my grandmother?

Then I focused. We talked about a partial thyroidectomy, but a total thyroidectomy was more advisable. He provided me with a list of surgeons in the area and in New York City. I didn’t know where I wanted to have surgery or which surgeon to see. His parting words to me were “not to make a research project out of this.” I had no clue what that really meant.

Fast forward two years and I live with an invisible illness. Thyroid-less and cancer-less, I depend on my daily Synthroid to get me through the day. When people learn I had thyroid cancer they tell me how great I look. I appreciate the compliment, but nobody knows how I really feel. Despite 10 hours of sleep on most nights (12, if it’s a weekend), I awake feeling like a zombie. No amount of coffee can counteract the grogginess, nor can a higher Synthroid dose that should technically give me more energy. There are many days where I wish I could implement nap time in my daily routine. Still, I am grateful that that is my worst symptom.

If I could offer advice to other newly diagnosed thyroid patients, it would be this:

1. Do your research: Find a good endocrinologist who will listen to you. This doctor will be your most important resource, and likely your doctor for life. Make sure you feel comfortable talking to him or her, and don’t be afraid to disagree if something doesn’t sound right. There are plenty of endocrinologists, so if one doctor is not a good fit, find another.

On the research front — read about thyroid cancer, undergoing a thyroidectomy, Synthroid and what to expect after surgery. The Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association and ThyroidChange (of which I am a supporter) are both valuable resources.

2. Ask questions: Just because your doctor went to medical school, it doesn’t mean he or she is always right. You know your body better than anyone, so always have your best interest at heart.

3. Utilize support groups: When I was first diagnosed I heard over and over that thyroid cancer was a “good” cancer or that if I “had” to get cancer, thyroid cancer was the one to get. I understand that people were trying to be supportive, but in 2015, approximately 1,950 people will die from thyroid cancer. I doubt they would agree that it is a “good” cancer. Support groups can be a helpful resource, and you can interact with people who are going, or have been through, a similar diagnosis.

4. Trust your gut: Here is where that “research project” line comes in to play. I did a ton of research — and I mean a ton! I saw four surgeons by the time I had concluded my “research” phase. Sure, it might have been overkill, but that is what I needed to feel confident in my decision to move forward.

5. Take time for yourself: Remember to breathe! It can be overwhelming going through a diagnosis like this, and hard not to get completely absorbed. Make time to see friends, go for a walk, or take a trip. It will help to clear your mind and you will make better decisions when you’ve allowed yourself some distance.