Coffee with a Friend

I’ve always been surprised at how fun it is to meet at a local coffee house & sit & chat. This past afternoon, I was able to meet with a friend of mine who also loves coffee, and we were able to chat for over an hour. Something about sitting around others sipping coffee that begs you to reflect on your past doings & current goals.

We sipped & gossiped, enjoyed each other’s growth and offered advice when warranted. I was so intrigued to hear she was hoping to travel across the country soon, to do some exploring–and while on this trip, she really hopes to find some answers about herself. I was moved by this sentiment of hers, and could not help but to try to see where it applies in my own life. I found myself in agreement–something about putting yourself around “newness” through travel, pushes your growth.

However, with all this hope & talk of growth—I am not an easy traveler. Car rides & airplanes make me nauseous. I get worried that I forgot something crucial somewhere. What if something you can’t plan for like say the cats learning how to turn on the oven? What if my GPS accidentally sent me to the wrong state?? I have been getting some more practice managing these anxious travel-induced thoughts this summer via exposing myself, but it still has not been easy.

Tomorrow, Ryan & I are off to Long Island for a wedding. I am beyond excited to go, and be a part of this wedding & to see everything about it, but I’m still so grateful I don’t have to drive myself. For now, my growth is acknowledging that I need some help getting through my travel-induced anxiety, and Ryan’s patience in the matter makes for the circumstances to not feel as daunting. I want travel to become something that doesn’t feel like a another thing to get done and I want to learn about enjoying the journey as well as the destination—after all, it is one of the best known metaphor for some reason!

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Why I Write

I used to keep a diary when I was little because I thought it would be interesting for people to read when I was dead. Morbid much? But younger me was FASCINATED with archeology, and believed that history lived in the every day. My favorite series of books when I was in elementary school were the Dear America series, and I copied that style. “Dear Diary”  littered the openings of my entries. Diaries became a little spacey for me throughout high school & college, but I do have entries, and I keep one more consistently now. I use them as reference points for myself, and find them important for self growth, but I hope to leave couple full ones behind.

I also write because of my love of words. I am a fan of the dictionary, and try to constantly expand my vocabulary by looking up possible synonyms. I feel at peace while reading or writing because I get to be exposed to the things that give me joy. Even while discussing topics of horror, or politics, or perhaps something boring–having the right words around me allows me to not feel the panic of the content.

I believe that writing is important because it connects you to others. It is my chosen medium, but there are aspects of writing that leaks everywhere which makes me feel that more appreciate of writers in general. A favorite song needs to be written, a poem needs the right syntax, theories & philosophical questions can be discussed across educational spectrums. Words impact everyone, and allows for me to feel closer to other human’s & their experiences.

Finally, I write to prove to myself that I am creative. I often feel like I have these fragments or beginnings of ideas, but the need for them to be perfect will end up with me not starting. Writing gets me into the mindset of “Just Do It,” since words do not write themselves.

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My Current Projects

I tend to want to start EVERYTHING— but have a hard time finishing the tasks. Perhaps it’s bad follow through, or perhaps a need for it to be perfect that causes me to abort a project, or even better, a combination,  but it has been something I have been dealing with all my life.

I had a professor talk to us about the importance of  telling others your goals:“You are more likely to complete something if you can verbalize & visualize the outcome,” he lectured.

Yet the concept struck a chord. So here’s a small list of the projects/post ideas I have. If I write it out, it counts!

  1. I am currently visiting ice cream shops with Ryan #icecreamquest. It has been a really fun way to get out of the apartment—but we had to start spacing the ice cream stops out more so that we don’t end up becoming sick of it.
  2. I have been researching skin care routines– so many products! I have a green tea and/or tea tree allergy (not positive ) which makes finding products time consuming. I aim to compile a list of products for sensitive skin.
  3. I am partaking in the GoodReads Reading Challenge. Basically, you take the number of books you read last year, and add 3. I read a lot last year (57) so my goal this year is 60. I have some catching up to do this month & plan on posting the books I ended up enjoying.

 

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My Summers Growing Up

I am a “nerd”. Nerd can be defined in the following 2 ways:

  1. boringly studious
  2. a single minded expert in a particular technical field

I hit both of these marks on numerous different topics, but most specifically, about writing and music. I can spend hours researching genres, composers or topics just for the fun of it, and my GoodReads to-read-list will never be fully read. These activities are solitary, and I like being alone—very different than lonely.

I grew up playing the classical violin– another solitary activity. I was under the age of 5 when I started, so I had to grow physically with the instrument. When you move from one size of a violin to another, your world shifts all over again. The finger spaces feel like mountains. My violin teacher believed in repetition until memorization.  These thoughts were to help combat the growing pains. If I practiced enough then I would have the right combination of fingering and bowing in my head, so as to focus on the other factors shifting around–such as the size of the violin, or someone in the audience sneezing etc etc.

To this day, I can hum to you a “practice spot.” We would rehearse the same bar of music for an hour straight–never more than a single line. I would be assigned an etude, a scale and maybe if I sounded okay, she would give me a little excerpt of pieces to get ahead on. She believed in muscle memory, and believed that nerves could be ironed out by preparation. Aspects of this way of thinking can be beneficial, and I was a nervous player. She slowly helped me to see that I could prepare, and if I felt prepared, I was not such a nervous wreck in other situations.

It was the year before high school. I had practiced so hard, and done everything I thought I could and…I had wanted to be moved up to the Youth Orchestra, desperately. They were going to Carnegie Hall that year. All of my other violin friends made it. But… I had botched the audition. A full year of work, decided in less than 5 minutes. My bow hit the string weird from the start. Everything I had practiced seemed to go out the window. I had practiced the opening over and over, and it didn’t matter. I was not playing Mozart, I was playing some notes I strung together. They gave me the sight reading, and it was like I didn’t know how to read music. I left the audition feeling smaller than when I started the violin.

So it came as a small reprieve, a small grace that I was going away for camp that summer. I didn’t need to be around the disappointed gaze of my violin teacher—her other students had made it, and somehow it felt like I hadn’t prepared enough. Point Counter Point was in Vermont–no cell service, a small cabin with roommates and it was on a lake. I learned viola that year, and made friendships, and skipped practice to read on the dock. I was fully 14, and it didn’t matter here what orchestra I was in at home, as long as I practiced here–I got to make a fresh start.

The following summer, another one of my violin teacher’s students ended up attending the music camp as well. It is such a vital part to feel connected to other youths who liked doing similar things, so I understand now why my violin teacher pushed us both to attend. I believe it comes back to the idea of being alone but never lonely–we were never lonely while playing. Tara ended up being placed in my cabin. Even though we had grown up playing concerts together, we never really interacted outside of that scope. We both found out we had made it into the Youth’s first violin section, so we practiced together, we complained together–in short, we became lifelong friends.

Tara and I ended up at 2 more music camps together– a total of 12 weeks of our lives together spent at very, very nerdy places. We sat and calculated how much time per day we were spending on the violin– it was around 9 hours, during our summer vacations. We really loved it, but it was also a lot of the experiences we got to have, both playing and not playing the violin, that helped shape our friendship.

After high school graduation, neither of us majored in violin. We both still kept it somehow in our lives though, to this day.  For my wedding present, Tara sent me tickets to see the Philadelphia Orchestra because Joshua Bell, my idol was playing. She lives in a different state, but I cried because all these years later, we still are thinking about the violin and the strings of friendship that formed during band camps.  It was Ryan’s first classical concert, and it was wonderful to be able to show him this side of me, but I missed being able to lean in and say things only fellow classical musicians know. I missed Tara.

As Joshua Bell was done playing, the audience truly went wild. The conductor had pointed out earlier that there were students here from the camp that Tara and I had attended all those summers ago. I let the emotion of aging hit me, but then I truly let the gratitude seep in. We got to be in those seats once, and we had truly made the most of band camp–we ended up being big nerds, and we were okay with that in each other. We had found what it truly meant to be friends.

 

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Monday Morning Coffee

When I was little, I used to steal my Grandma’s coffee. I loved the way it tasted—warm and a little bitter, but most importantly, I felt like a grown up. My mommy had some in her cup every morning, my grammy would have some too & I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. So whenever I was over, I would steal the sips out of my Grandma’s mug when I thought she wasn’t looking, but she knew it was me. Who else? My sister was 2 1/2 tops, at this point, and she had other things to do. The coffee was mine for the taking. But instead of scolding me for taking her coffee, my Grandma poured me a small cup of my own, and said it was “okay to have a little.”

I did not stop stealing sips of her coffee until I eventually could have my own cups. I stole some from my mother too. My mom didn’t want me to start drinking coffee for health reasons (fair) but I wanted desperately to be seen as older than I was.  I was mature enough for coffee Mom! I could handle it! I was done growing! All of my arguments were made. My mom eventually started letting me drink coffee every day with her when I was in the 6th grade. It was big doings because I had to wake up an hour earlier than everyone for the middle school bus. I got to have coffee with Mom & I felt like my life was going to happen. Maybe I’d even get asked on a date! That could happen to coffee drinkers, my 12 year old self pondered while sipping her watered down coffee.

Slowly 2 of my sisters started to join in as they too had to get up earlier and earlier. Our days were getting more packed, and somewhere along the way, the coffee time in the morning became scarcer and scarcer. Coffee in the mornings were purely for purpose instead of socializing. Days and schedules were discussed. Things were in motion. The cups we had were on-the-go.

Coffee in college brought back some more aspect of socializing. I had study groups in small Starbucks, and I had some groups where we would stop to grab each other coffee before class if it was on the way–it became a point of discussion. “Oh man, my night was so busy studying xyz…pass the coffee!” In academia, business, pretty much any aspect of life– being overtired becomes glamorous at some point, so you better have a signature drink to match. After college, I entered into the working world where coffee was again an on-the-go experience.  I frequented drive-thrus, mobil-ordered ahead, got my apps. I justified my coffee addiction as “cheaper than cigarettes” but not any more beneficial to my health. I substituted meals for coffee, and felt like I didn’t have time to enjoy any of it because I had other things that were more important.

When I met Ryan, I was not in a good place. I had been on a road of anger directed at everyone and everything.  I felt really lonely, but instead of admitting that, I lashed out and grew distant, or overshared as a test of people’s loyalty. I didn’t know how to be a good friend. Ryan & I met under funny circumstances, and not in our best state of mind thanks to another liquid. We hit it off and ended up going on dates, tip-toeing around the topic for 1 month before he asked me to be his girlfriend with a mouthful of Sour-patch kids. He was introverted like myself, but his sense of humor made me double over. I remembered thinking “I love laughing with him” after a date where he had made me dinner, and couldn’t get the wine bottle to open.

Falling in love with Ryan reminded me about my first stolen sips of coffee. His whole persona was like a cup made just for me–warm, inviting and grown up. He did not want to play games with me, he wanted a real relationship. He wanted to make me laugh and hear about my day, or tell me about his–but most importantly to me, he wanted to be as persistent as a cup of coffee. My everyday choice, my forever go-to.

Ryan makes my coffee for me in the morning. Not every day, but about 3 times or so a week, he brings me a cup of coffee that somehow tastes better because he made it. He puts in a dash of cinnamon, and some sugar, but it’s all about the timing. It’s a small way that he shows me love every single day. When I taste the coffee he made for me, I sit and think about the day ahead, or ask him what’s going to be happening in his world for the day. When my coffee is still hot, the day seems to have that much more potential to it. After he leaves for work, while my coffee is still warm, I usually call my Mom or my Grandma. I feel better after checking on both of them, to make sure that they too got a cup of warm coffee & love that day, because that’s what coffee means to me.

Here’s a picture of Ryan:

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He’s usually behind the camera, but I made him pose for a shot. He’s wearing a soft grey t-shirt, some blue shorts from an unknown time & some Vans as well.

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