What I Wish I Learned in College

The diploma I still haven't framed.

The diploma I still haven’t framed.

Last week, I read a Denver Post piece about the Ruby on Rails program, an educational curriculum created by Galvanize, Denver’s local community of tech-focused start-ups. Basically, it’s an immersive six-month program that teaches students who have no prior programming experience the hands-on technical skills needed for becoming a professional web developer. The program costs $20,000, but it comes with a money back guarantee: upon completion of the program’s requirements, you’ll be able to get a job in Colorado making at least $60,000 per year, or they’ll give your money back.

Now, as someone who took a couple HTML classes and hated them, this program probably wouldn’t be a good fit for me, but the concept is truly genius. Can you imagine what would happen if education institutions across the country adopted a similar model—learn real skills and get a well-paying job, or we’ll give you your money back?  My mind is a little blown just thinking about it.

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How to Stop Worrying…Reflections on a Life-Long Practice

This is my signature worry grimace.

This is my signature worry grimace.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a worrying problem. When I was 10, I suffered from stomachaches and nausea every morning, so my parents took me to the doctor, thinking maybe I had a tumor or an ulcer. After putting a mini camera down my throat and into my stomach, the doctor concluded there was nothing physically wrong with me—just stress. I worried too much. As a teenager, I was prescribed anti-anxiety meds, but I found the side effects worse than the worrying. I stopped taking them. When I was 21, I ended up in the emergency room because of excruciating back pain. I could barely lift myself off the couch, let alone drive or dress myself. Was I dying? Nope, it was just stress, which caused debilitating muscle spasms that ripped throughout the length of my back.

I’ve gotten a lot better since then. I found yoga. I take a daily cocktail of vitamin supplements to improve my sense of wellbeing. I’ve tried chakra balancing, Reiki, Neuro Emotional Technique, acupressure, sound therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I’ve read countless books on philosophy, mindfulness, kindness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, meditation and relaxation techniques. And all of these things—cumulatively, over the years—have helped. But sometimes I still catch myself in that worrying cycle: If I don’t get this job, then I’m going to run out of money, then people will think less of me, then this will happen, then THIS will happen—and before I know it, I’m stressed about something that isn’t even actually happening.

You see, worrying is sneaky. You might think it’s helping you—that perhaps you’ll be more prepared for unforeseen events if you worry and think and plan and deliberate over them. But the truth is simply this: you can’t predict the future. (And despite my best efforts, neither can I). Excessively worrying about improbable events is only robbing you of the present—and ultimately, your life.

So I like to play a game called “Where am I now.” I wish I could remember which book I picked it up from, because I certainly didn’t come up with it on my own, but I find it helps the most. Basically, it’s a way to halt my worrying cycle and focus on the present.

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Dining and Dashing Through the Snow

Snowshoeing to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

Snowshoeing to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse.

I had heard of the violet hour before, as well as the green hour and yellow hour, but never the blue hour. It wasn’t until I was standing at the edge of a dense forest, about to snowshoe along a well-worn trail in the snow, that I thought to myself, “If there is such a thing as the blue hour, surely this is it.” The sun had disappeared behind a distant mountain range, its radiant glow diffusing along the ridgeline, while the moon had already risen on the other side of us, turning the glittery, white snow into a soft blue hue. It was about 5:15 p.m. on Christmas day, and we were on our way to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse, a quaint, candlelit restaurant housed in a remote yurt, which you can reach via snowshoes, cross country skis or snowmobile. For novelty’s sake (and so I could finally cross it off my list of things to do in Colorado), my boyfriend and I opted for snowshoes. Continue reading

My Love for EDC Continues

Every so often, I get to write about something I’m genuinely excited about. It typically involves some kind of specialty cocktail or a new spot to imbibe in my neighborhood, but this time, it was about Pasquale Rotella, founder of Insomiac Events and the creator of Electric Daisy Carnival (or EDC, as it’s known by acolytes). In case you’ve somehow never heard of the weekend-long dance extravaganza, here’s the trailer for EDC Vegas 2013:

Anyway, for the past couple weeks, I’ve been looking forward to this article coming out, and when I finally saw the published piece, I was super bummed to realize they cut out my favorite part. I realize the omitted paragraph was written in a more flower-y, less journalistic style (and the editors probably needed to trim the word count), so I totally understand their move. But I’m still a tiny bit disappointed. So here it is, copied and pasted from my original draft, the paragraph that was supposed to be sandwiched between the last two paragraphs of the article (which you can read in its entirety here).

“Of course, in the case of EDC, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. It’s more than the booming beats reverberating throughout the core of your body, the dazzling delirium of lights, the circus-like procession of otherworldly performance artists. There’s an intangible sense of excitement in the air—a magnetic, electric charge—much like the static tingle on your skin before a storm rolls in. It’s the positive energy brought by the fans, an energy that charges Rotella like a lifeblood.”

Today Is My Birthday!

Treats from Happy Cakes

Treats from Happy Cakes

Yes, today is my birthday. And while I’m seriously excited to spend the day doing whatever pleases me (namely, perusing Van Gogh pieces at the Denver Art Museum, sipping cocktails at The Brown Palace and enjoying a romantic dinner at one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Denver, all while wearing my beloved purple velvet pants—yes, purple velvet!), I’m also pretty excited about my intention for this year.

I like to think of my birthday as my New Year’s celebration, because it truly is the beginning of my own new year. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but every year, I do set an intention on the anniversary of my life. This year, I want it to be “Practice gratitude.” Because being grateful really is a practice: something I have to work on every day and something that I may never perfect, but hopefully through continual practice, I can become better at it, letting gratitude become the filter for my thoughts, then for my feelings and then for my actions.

Ever since Thanksgiving last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of gratitude, especially since it’s so directly related to our happiness. When we really recognize all the small blessings in our lives, as Piero Ferrucci wisely put it: we discover that happiness is already here. It already exists, unsuspected. Right in front of our eyes.

An Ode to The Squeaky Bean

The radish appetizer, like a little garden of deliciousness.

Have you ever had one of those serendipitous moments when you kind of just stumble into a place, only to realize you’ve accidentally discovered something wonderful? That’s a bit like how I found The Squeaky Bean. Well, not exactly. My boyfriend suggested it as we were wandering around downtown after a Great Divide brewery tour, hoping to find somewhere that looked interesting for dinner and continued-drinking.

So, The Squeaky Bean is housed in one of those nondescript downtown buildings that has a vaguely historical feel, but once you step inside, this place has considerably more character. The recessed dining room touts exposed brick walls, a giant Bingo board with various numbers lit up, and metallic chandeliers made from random things like reflective glass or silver spoons. Naturally, we sat at the bar, which was decorated with rows of Mason jars filled colorful, house-made cocktail cherries—oh, and a Farrah Fawcett shrine. Seriously. Continue reading

There’s Something About Susan

I don’t normally wax poetic about commercials (partly because I don’t own a television, so commercials are a rarity in my life as it is), but I’m absolutely in love with the Fear No Susan Glenn ads. I just saw the web commercial last night, which doesn’t even tell you what it’s selling—it just has a cryptic hash tag displayed at the end. I was so intrigued that I looked it up, only to find out it was an ad for Axe body products. Wow, really?

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Getaway in Crested Butte

My friend Jared took this beautiful picture of Crested Butte.

Have you ever seen those signs that say, “Welcome to Colorful Colorado”? I think they might have been talking about Crested Butte. Over Labor Day Weekend, we gathered up a group of friends and made the trek over to “the last great Colorado ski town,” which is (arguably) a 4.5-hour drive from Denver.

This quaint mountain town has a bustling historic district stretching along Elk Avenue, where brightly painted shops and vibrant restaurants are interspersed with splintery wooden cabins and original buildings from the early 1900s. Surrounding the town are jutting mountains with groves of aspen trees snaking up the sides, stark rock cliffs and grassy meadows with swaying wildflowers. Apparently, Crested Butte is also nicknamed “The Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” which makes me want to come back in July to revel in all its summertime glory.

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Vegan Ratatouille

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m definitely not vegan. But my boyfriend is, so as a vegan + meativore household, I’m always on the search for recipes that will satisfy his dietary restrictions and my need for delicious, flavorful (i.e. meat lover friendly) food. Most of the time, I can tweak a regular recipe to fit the bill or find some kind of middle ground between a vegan and non-vegan recipe. This is the latest addition to my collection of “vegan recipes that don’t suck”: spiraled ratatouille, made with fresh summer vegetables.

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How “Unfriending” Will Set You Free

Unfriending is not a sin.

So, I recently responded to a post on Facebook that broached a political topic. (I know, I know—I should have known better than to even get involved.) I won’t say what the discussion was about, because they usually all end up the same way anyway: one or more people responding with hyperbolic, fallacy-ridden claims that have nothing to do with the original point or discussion. After a couple comments back and forth, I decided just to hit “unfriend.”

Some people might think this is harsh, but when it comes down to it, we’re not even “real” friends. We used to know each other in high school, but now she lives a life that is completely opposite of mine. Her posts are generally about her children (whom I’ve never met), or they’re in support of political viewpoints that I don’t identify with. Basically, her day-to-day updates add no value to my life, and her ideas don’t contribute to my overall happiness or knowledge.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’re fed up with a random acquaintance’s frequent posts about their cat/baby/religion/political views. Or maybe you’re fueling a broken heart by Facebook-stalking an ex (or worse—their new paramour). Just stop. Unfriend. (Or at the very least, unsubscribe to their posts.) You won’t be missing out on some vital piece of information by uncluttering your news feed. “Most information is time consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence,” attests Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek. I certainly think that applies here. Continue reading