June Sponsor Spotlight

It's time for my monthly sponsor round up! I totally love these guys for supporting my blog, and you should definitely check them out! Without sponsors, I wouldn't be able to all the stuff I do.

Check out their definitive guide to the best books for Business Majors!

Today Undergrad Success is a vibrant community of 30+ authors with one purpose; help others become the best version of themselves.
What's your favorite summer snack?           
Coconut Popsicles. They are amazing; delicious and super hydrating. 
What's the most exciting/coolest thing you've done this summer?
We are revamping our site!
What's your dream vacation?
There are these really amazing trips through Under 30 Experiences that I've heard nothing but amazing things about. Traveling can be life changing, and doing it with a dozen other individuals, many of which are involved in the startup/entrepreneurial scene just magnifies it.

by Kriselle
Livin' and Lovin' Blog is a representation of myself and what I like on my blog. I talk about everything you can imagine--fashion, beauty, dating, faith, and food.
What's your favorite summer snack?           
S'mores ice cream from Handel's ice cream. They have a couple locations in California and a lot in Ohio, but I can't remember where else. They make s'mores ice cream the way it should be made: graham cracker-flavored ice cream with marshmallows and chocolate chunks.
What's the most exciting/coolest thing you've done this summer?
Nothing yet, I'm excited to travel and work at a camp this summer!
What's your dream vacation?

I'd love to go to Hawaii or New York.

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Holler If Ya Hear Me Review

I saw Holler If Ya Hear Me last weekend, and I'm sad to report I was unimpressed. The music of Tupac carries a lot of great messages and power, and it seems like the minds behind it relied too heavily on that to carry the show.

I was very excited for the show, since any show that aims to broaden Broadway's audience gets me super pumped. The majority of America has certain ideas of what a "musical" is and what Broadway does, and these are usually informed by high school productions they saw once or twice that were likely terribly underfunded, and often-times poorly managed, with talent nowhere near that which Broadway has fostered-- not to knock high schools and their theater programs which foster the greats of today and tomorrow, but the point I'm making is that a lot of people have a very narrow idea about what the theater world has to offer because they've only seen the small scale and have never seen the big leagues. Even when Broadway shows tour, they often end up at the large cities, so people living further out typically don't encounter the theater scene in their day-to-day lives. Add to that an idea that musicals are these campy, rhinestone-bedazzled affairs, and you've got a picture of a Broadway that only caters to certain people with certain taste-- this kind of picture robs people of an understanding of the diversity that exists within the community in terms of story, music, taste, etc. So naturally, I hoped that Holler would be one of those shows that challenges the ideas that people have about what Broadway is and who it's for.

Unfortunately, the only impression Holler made on me was that there was too much money and too much rush put behind this project which struck me as unfinished and unpolished at best. It's as if everyone backing the show was more excited about the idea of a Tupac musical than they were about making a good show. The story and characters were underdeveloped and the sound was poorly balanced. The flow of the story and transitions were so poorly cobbled together that the actors struggled to make what was written in an unnatural manner seem more natural. None of the actors gave particularly sterling performances, but I place the fault on the material. There were a few moments when the actors really pushed through the nonsense, but mostly the story held everyone back.

I thought the sets were really well done for the show, and the lighting, although a bit gaudy for my taste, was decent. For the most part though, the poor storyline and character development ruined everything. It was very apparent that the writers were just looking to find ways to incorporate certain songs in the show, even at the expense of the story. It was a lot like watching an absurd children's program in another language-- there were these images that you know were supposed to make sense together, but you just couldn't get them to fit in any coherent way. The ending was unsatisfying. I did not really care about any of the characters. It seemed much like the angsty ramblings of an angry teen, aiming to be profound, yet lost in sputtering, superficial, forceful aimlessness.

It's so disappointing given how amazing Tupac's lyrics were-- they could have had such impact on shaping a storyline and yet, I sat watching, confused, dissatisfied, and quite frankly, annoyed. How could someone do this to the audience? To the actors? I'd like to believe that the creative team had some serious qualms about this show, and at the very least, that the people with the purse strings somewhat bullied this show through production because I shudder to think what kind of creative team would put together this show without any remorse or regret. Honestly, it's hard to be a creative, balancing integrity and survival when they can sometimes be at odds. I seriously don't hold any of the shortcomings against the creative team, because I know that more likely than not, there was just immense money and pressure pushing this project through with little regard for their creative qualms-- I'm mostly just disappointed.

That said, I don't recommend this show. I don't want people to spend money and convince the people with money, the investors out there, that shiny, gimmicky, incomplete shows like this are worth investing money in. I would much rather see that money go to shows that deserve the spotlight-- ones that will last. There are so many shows that close far too early because there isn't enough money, often because of a marketing team that fails to sway people to open their wallets and go see whichever production. I would rather see an After Midnight continue on for 6 more months with the help of a better marketing team and more investors than watch helplessly as Holler gets backed by deep pockets while After Midnight closes too young. Sadly, After Midnight is closing Sunday, and it's a damn tragedy.

Harper's Rating: 1 / 5
The cast are very talented at singing and rapping.
The set is pretty damn amazing.
Lighting is good, depending on your tastes.
The story is flimsy, as are the characters.
The sound is poorly balanced in the songs.
The dialogue to song shifts are crazy awkward. (Seriously, you kind of have to nail this if you're making a musical)
It lacks authenticity, depth, and voice. 
Misuse of Tupac's work. (Sorry, I went there)

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Fly By Night at Playwrights Horizon

This past weekend, I took on a three-show-weekend. I saw Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Fly By Night on Saturday, and Holler If Ya Hear Me on Sunday. I'm going to review all of them, but I figured I'd start with my favorite, and the one closing first. Since Fly By Night is part of Playwrights Horizons' Spring Season, it will end its run on Sunday the 29th.

Holy crap am I glad I got to see this show. There are some shows you watch that are pure flights of fancy-- entertainment with a focus on diversion. This is not that kind of show. Fly By Night is the kind of show that manages to tell a story that, in addition to making you laugh and jam out, will also make you re-examine your life. How are you living? Why are you living? What does it all mean, and is there even a point? It's been called  Off-Broadway's answer to The Fault In Our Stars.

Set over the course of a year culminating in the 1965 Black-Out that brought the entire northeast to its knees, Fly By Night centers around Harold, a 20-something guy working as a sandwich-maker at a dreary little deli in New York City. It begins with the death of his mother, Cecily, after which his father hopes to mourn with Harold, but Harold would much rather flee the scene and try to move on. Meanwhile, Miriam and Daphne are sisters who leave South Dakota for New York, wherein they find themselves in a love triangle with Harold. It's a story that has a bit of magic, humor, and a whole lot of bouncing between the ideas of destiny and the mundane, causing us to consider that maybe our divine destinies are made up of not just the great highs and lows, but the everyday choices we make, including the moments when we don't know what the hell we are doing.

The music is absolutely amazing. I need a cast recording right now, but it looks like I'll have to wait til December. There is a live band in the middle of the stage, Austin/Brooklyn band Foe Destroyer, that is just unbelievably amazing, and they accompany the show. I cannot sing high enough praises for where the music takes this show.

The writing of this show is so well-done, presenting a story that is both nuanced and raucous. There is quite a bit of jumping around in the narration of the story, which is at once playful and ingenious. It creates a world where time and space fold into itself into PH's relatively small stage, and where the lives of our heroes intersect and parallel in ways that a linear story-telling method would not allow for. It goes back to the idea that hindsight is 20/20, and the moments that are turning points in our lives often don't feel like it when they are upon us, and only after seeing the outcome do we realize how one small decision, or one encounter, has become a part of our lives in a big way. The characters are sometimes exaggerated, but nonetheless interesting, sympathetic, and likeable, even when cranky. Every character reaches some sort of big realizations about their time on earth, or its meaning, but the show doesn't feel preachy or supercilious. It feels authentic, its emotionality genuine.

I cannot say whether or not this show's story has a happy ending or a sad one. I don't think the show really cares if it's sad or happy, because it was meaningful. A show or a life, it's about whether or not a life is fulfilling, and how we connect with others. I think this show not only tells a story about the importance of a life of meaning and connection, but leads one in its own right. I highly recommend grabbing seats to this show before it ends its run!

Harper's Rating: 5 / 5 (!!!)

Amazing music
Fantastic performances by all the cast
Intimate performance space-- no bad seats in the house
Great storyline that's playful and funny, but also deep and thought-provoking
You might cry. You probably will cry. But everyone will cry with you.
That's really the only con. I loved this show.

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Bee and Puppycat Love

Okay, so if you're not totally obsessed with Bee and Puppycat, you need to check this out.

Okay, now that I have changed your life forever with this webcartoon (from the mind that brought you the gender-bent Adventure Time episodes with Fionna and Cake) we can be on the same page. Naturally, this two-part cartoon needed to be expanded into a series, so a kickstarted was launched-- and was the most successful youtube Kickstarter ever-- and 4th most successful entertainment-category Kickstarter, only behind 3 Hollywood-backed projects. So now we're eventually going to get a 9-episode series, with prayers that maybe Cartoon Network will have the good sense to pick up the show. There's also a comic out now, which I have been collecting-- It's super cute.

I love this series. I love it so much that I made a couple pieces for my Red Bubble Shop with Bee and Puppycat!

also available as t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, iphone cases, ipad cases, samsung galaxy cases, and throw pillows.
also available as t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, iphone cases, samsung galaxy cases, and stickers
Seriously, this series is so interesting and cute and fun. I want to buy so much merchandise. Look at all these goodies on welovefine!
this shirt is all I've ever wanted
I love this show so much and I need more of it immediately. I loved the last issue of the comic that came out (#2) that had a music box themed story, and I'm speculating like crazy!

Is anyone else totally obsessed with Bee and Puppycat?

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Harper Watched: Unhung Hero

If you're not okay with me talking about a movie about guy-parts, you best stop reading right here right now. I recently watched a movie called Unhung Hero, a documentary about a man with a small manhood who goes on an across the world search for the answer to the age old question: "Does size matter?"

Meet Patrick Moote, the "hero" in question: A sometimes actor and all-the-time small-package-haver. He proposed to his girlfriend at a UCLA basketball game via jumbotron and she said no. The video went viral, and his humiliation was seen not just by an entire basketball arena, but millions of people around the world. When he later asked why she rejected him, her answer was that he was way too small in the downstairs area. And so begins our hero's journey, seeing doctors, anthropologists, adult industry figures, therapists, and more, which takes him around the world on a quest to answer a question that many are too afraid to ask.

This movie is brave-- and not in a profound, deep, life-changing, soul-shattering sort of way, but in its vulnerability and unflappable approach to answering a seriously difficult question that touches on the insecurities of millions of men around the world. Patrick is really putting himself out there-- I mean how many people have the balls to make a movie about how they have an underwhelming undercarriage? (Side note: my deft wordplay is an attempt to avoid weird spammers and showing up in unsavory google searches.)

Don't watch this movie if you're not comfortable with shots of statues of giant guy parts. It happens-- and yes, somewhere in the world, there's a statue garden dedicated to that one specific anatomical feature. If you're not comfortable with talks about the biology, anthropology, sociology, and business (yes, business) associated with the subject matter, skip this movie.

This movie is not perfect, but I attribute a lot of that to the difficulty of the subject matter. I mean, after all, how easy can it be to tell this kind of story from a first-person perspective? The editing is not particularly masterful, but I will say that it feels honest. While the film's mission is stated to be seeking answers for men everywhere, it's very much a personal journey for Patrick. In that way, the tone of the film matches his personality. Friends describe him as a funny guy, but a funny guy who uses humor to cope with his insecurities, and maybe even avoid dealing with them. Don't worry-- there is a level of resolution at the end, but the journey takes him to a lot of unusual places where he tries to be open, but as a stand-up comedian, he copes with his vulnerability with humor. This film is, in many ways, Patrick's attempt to deal with a pretty earth-shattering incident: getting your proposal for marriage rejected, having it broadcast, then go viral, then finding out you have some itty-bitty bits (he had not previously been this aware of the fact), while simultaneously finding out that's why you were rejected.

There's a lot of weird and wacky stuff you'll see in this movie-- none of it necessarily right or wrong, but it shows varied perspectives from around the world and across different points of view, from doctors to sex therapists to everyday people. It is genuinely interesting, so if you've ever wondered whether size matters or not, or why we think it does, or what that means for men and their partners, this is a good movie to check out.

Among the things I appreciated were the global perspective, since this is a very universally human subject matter, and it would be ridiculous to leave out opinions from other cultures outside the west. I liked the honesty-- not a whole ton of avoiding the question really went on, which is great, because obviously that's directly contrary to the purpose of the film. It was funny, and I guess that's a bonus here, because we're talking about one of the biggest (or littlest) sources of insecurity for roughly half the human population, and with self-deprecating humor that laughs at the absurdity of it all, rather than at anyone's expense, it was a good direction for the film to go in. It also is very open in recognizing that not all relationship dynamics involving the body-part-in-question are heterosexual, which I like because, that's the reality of the world. It didn't really incorporate many trans*peoples' views, which is a downer, but admittedly gender-sexual dynamics are even more nuanced within those communities, and it may have been difficult for the filmmakers to try to fairly showcase those viewpoints in all their diversity within this 84 minute movie.

If you're interested in checking out this documentary, it's available on Netflix.

Harper's Rating: 3.5 / 5
Pros: Pretty good handling of difficult subject matter, good humor, pretty well-rounded approach to finding answers, probably the only documentary out there on this subject
Cons: Definitely not for everyone, maybe a little too honest/raw for some people, not a hard-hitting documentary is that's what you're looking for, not particularly brilliant in terms of film-making, so you really have to be in it for the subject-matter

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Hopelessness, Hope, and Heroism

You guys probably noticed I'm running a giveaway with xoMia by now, thanks to the twitter posts and the rather large notice about it in my sidebar. So far, we've raised half the money Autumn needs get certified to help people struggling with thoughts of suicide! That's AMAZING. Everyone who donates or spreads the word about IMAlive is a hero, because you are taking action to save a life. Not every hero is a caped crusader. As Philip Zimbardo says, the keys to raising a society of people who do good is to emphasize every person's role as "a hero in waiting" that sees opportunities to act heroically in everyday situations, and then acts on them. So thank you to everyone who has work to support IMAlive.

Depression is often described as "the inability to form a picture of one's own future." That's another way of saying long-term, significant hopelessness. Things that empower people, remind people or help them realize that they guide their own destiny, and things that lessen the sting of continuing on despite the constant storm upon them, are really important in aiding recovery and coping. One of the reasons why Mia and I picked our comics for this giveaway is because seeing heroines like Ms Marvel and Fionna be awesome in comics, while fun fiction, also reminds us that we're also cool, interesting, flawed, but growing people who have the power to make choices that shape our future. I love these comics because seeing female heroines overcome their shortcomings, insecurities, and fear to do bad-ass things. They remind me that I can be a bad-ass. I can break the rules that keep me down and overcome stereotypes and labels. They show me through beautiful art and exciting stories how wonderful the world is, no matter how flawed, and how I can have a hand at making it better.

I'm giving away my complete Fionna and Cake, and I picked it for a lot of reasons. Firstly, because I love Adventure Time and I love Fionna and Cake, and I was sure my readers would, too. Secondly, Fionna and Cake are awesome ladies who show that you can be weird and make mistakes and still be a totally awesome hero! Thirdly, the Fionna and Cake series means a lot to me because it really speaks to the way dreams can come true.

Fionna and Cake, the genderswapped versions of Finn and Jake on Adventure Time, are actually not the products of the original Adventure Time creators. Fionna and Cake were developed by a fan named Natasha Allegri. Fionna and Cake became super popular in the Adventure Time fandom, along with their other genderswapped counterparts, Prince Gumball, Marshall Lee, Lord Monochromicorn, etc. and eventually the showrunners reached out to Natasha to make Fionna and the gang a real thing on the actual show Adventure Time. So far there have been two Fionna and Cake episodes, tons of official merchandise, and of course, comic books.

Natasha used the connections and skills she picked up working on Adventure Time to create her own original cartoon on the studio's youtube channel for their webcartoons, Cartoon Hangover, and released her two-part cartoon, Bee and Puppycat. It was a one-off, and then went on to Kickstarter to raise funds to produce more episodes. That Kickstarter is the #1 most successful Kickstarter for any youtube project, and is the 4th most successful in the Entertainment category-- only behind 3 Hollywood-backed productions. We're now going to get 9 more Bee and Puppycat episodes, and a Bee and Puppycat comic is now out!

Natasha's story really gives me hope that I can accomplish my dreams, too. She wasn't a well-known artist, or an art school wunderkind that the art world was raving about. She was just another art school grad with passion and hope. There is a lot of good in this world,  and even if you are feeling depressed or even suicidal, there are tons of reasons to believe that tomorrow can be better. We all have futures that we can have a hand in shaping if we have courage and work hard. Natasha is proof of that. She writes girls who are flawed and sometimes embarrassing, but unflappable in their courage to keep being themselves, and when the time comes, they rise to the challenges ahead of them. There is a market for that, because a lot of us are that girl, or are comforted by that girl, or want to be that girl.

Autumn, my friend whom we are hoping to fund with this giveaway, is also working to show others that the hopelessness they feel is temporary, and that the reality is that they can live a wonderful, full life despite whatever they feel right now, in this moment. Your lows don't have to be your defining moments-- instead, they can be turning points. We're working to get Autumn's suicide prevention / crisis intervention training and certification completely funded, so she can start saving lives and showing people that they deserve to live a fulfilling life. Basically, Autumn herself is becoming a superheroine like Fionna and Ms Marvel. You can be a hero, too, by spreading the word about IMAlive, the web chat-based suicide helpline, telling people how they can fund volunteers, and funding volunteers like Autumn yourself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Weekend Links 06.13.2014

This week was totally rainy, but still productive!

What these highly successful women wish they knew at 22 >>>

The Kanye West Self-Compliment Generator >>>

Be sure to learn about this awesome suicide prevention resource and potentially win some hero-tastic comics! >>>

One mom's quest to better understand her young daughter's gender identity helps her discovered how very layered and complex gender really is >>>

Learn about an awesome suicide helpline you need to tell the WORLD about and win comics like Fionna and Cake, and Ms Marvel! Let's be heroes!  >>>

12 Ways to Help out a Sick Friend from someone with the sniffles to a friend with a chronic illness >>>

60+ Totally Valid Reasons to Cosplay >>>

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June To-Dos

Summer is officially upon us! I just started a bangin' summer internship and one of the coolest jobs I've ever had, and hopefully you all are doing similarly awesome things! Summer is a time to let go of things you've been clutching and just relax.

Learn a new recipe. You probably have more time now that it's summer, and it's also a great time to dedicate to developing better habits. Take some time to try out a new healthy recipe, and maybe even a few more. If you kind of want to start slow, try reworking an old favorite, like your handy spaghetti recipe, but swap in spaghetti squash.

Discover some new music. Whether you're partying on the weekend, catching the odd show, or just looking for some extra motivation at the office, music is a key part of any summer. Cruise around Pandora and find some new artists! My recommendations? Stromae, Movits!, and Cassie Steele.

Fill your social calendar. Take a couple hours this weekend to find some cool stuff happening this summer and buy tickets, RSVP, and put it in your calendar. Invite friends and make more friends. There are often tons of cool free or under $30 events going on in the summer. Take advantage of them and don't regret missing out on another summer! Don't overextend yourself, but make an effort to get out more!

What's on your to do list this month?
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The Tony's and Teachers

So, last night was the Tony Awards. It's the biggest night on the theater community calendar, because for those who aren't in the know, this is our Oscars. (And I use "our" a little loosely, since I'm more fan than artist, but I am still, as a fan, a part of it.) It was a big night for everyone involved, nominees to winners to enthusiasts and friends. No matter who wins our loses, it's a night to celebrate a thing we all love, and a craft that challenges us artistically, intellectually, and spiritually. We laugh, we cry, we sing, we dance, we break hearts and props and paradigms. Live theater is in many ways an act of love for humanity-- stepping into the skin of another and laying everything you have out there, 8 shows a week, live, so that a story can be told, which leads to lives being reexamined and changed. It is truly a marvel of humanity that we out of all the beings on earth can do theater and to the amazing extent that we do.

I had a ton of fun. I went to Randy Rainbow's Tony Awards Viewing Party at 42West with some friends and we had a great time drinking champagne, playing Broadway Trivia, and winning prizes. I was the only one out of my group to win anything but admittedly it was a pretty crowded room and I won with a super easy "Finish the Lyrics" of Hairspray's "You Can't Stop the Beat"-- Emilyn didn't know I could sing so she was surprised, hahaha! I won the OBCR of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Every year at the Tony's winners thank not just god, their colleagues, and families, but teachers. It is incredibly important to encourage creativity and passion early on in life. Today we're facing some really scary linearization of success and happiness. Life's not a one-path game with an automatic X+Y- Z = happiness formula. Recess is getting booted for in-class time. The arts are losing funding for sports-- which I'll admit are important, but they will not ever serve every child. We are suffocating creativity and passion in so many kids for obedience and convention. There is a balance that must be struck, and that balance is different for every child. And so our arts teachers-- theater teachers and art teachers and music teachers-- are fighting an uphill battle to keep kids excited to explore the arts in school districts that would rather cut their funding. For kids like me who were unathletic and kind of weird and wanted to tell stories and draw, my art teachers and theater teacher were so critical in encouraging the weirdness and passion that make me who I am, and they made me proud of what I brought to the table rather than shaming me for not having something.

I love marketing, and I love business, but those passions would not have come to be without the groundwork laid by art and music and theater. Those teachers that encourage a creative child, giving them an outlet, rather than telling them to sit quietly all the time, those are our beacons home. They guide us toward self-discovery and love. Sometimes, they even take us to our life's purpose, while other times, they open us up to innovation and new ways of thinking.

It's on nights like the Tony's that we really remember why those teachers are so important. We look at the immense body of work that some of these artists have created and we remember that it all started somewhere and was cultivated by many someones. Brilliance rarely happens without support. Many artists thank the little studios and early teachers that made them love the arts in the first place and we should, too. How much poorer would the world be without arts teachers. Hopefully, we'll never have to know.

As a quick reminder, please remember to check out my latest giveaway! In addition to being a giveaway for some lady-tastic comics, we're raising support, awareness, and funds for a suicide prevention resource. Check it out and tell your friends!

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OOTD: First Friday!

This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing an item through the link on this page may result in my gaining a small commission. 

Yesterday was my first Friday in New York this summer, and at my internship with Canary. Week one at the office pretty successfully completed. I work at one of the coolest companies ever, and everyone I work with is like a comic-book level genius. Oh and they're all like artistically brilliant as well-- out of like a 25 person operation, 3 are opera singers. A ton of us also draw and paint and sing... It's such a cool environment and group.

Working at a start-up, work wear is pretty casual. I usually like to get much more formal for in-person meetings with people outside of the company, but most days everyone dresses pretty chill, in dark jeans or skirts and cool tees. A lot of people go pretty hard in the shoe category, though, so of course I've been wearing these babies. Shoe game too strong! I got tons of compliments on them. I like that I can have so much fun with my clothes at work :)

Canary hoodie - from Canary, printed on American Apparel 
Toasty yellow tee - Target
Black belt - from my grandma  similar
Batman Skirt - Bluegreenaqua
Marigold tights - Target
Grey dotted socks - Target
Gold Oxfords - Sam Edelman via Marshalls

ALSO! Check out the current giveaway I'm running with Mia from xoMia! Learn more about a great suicide prevention resource, spread the word, and even consider donating. We're giving away the Complete Fionna and Cake comic collection as well as Ms. Marvel 1-4 featuring Kamala Khan, the first Muslim to headline a Marvel comic! Hooray for bad-ass heroines, and hooray for helping stop suicide! CLICK HERE :D
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Geek Girls for Suicide Prevention Giveaway

I am a geek. I also have panic disorder and depression. Much like allergies, there are times when it's not even an issue and there are times when it's really annoying and acts up. There's "medicine" I can "take" to help with the symptoms, whether it's talking to a friend, or going on a walk, or being alone for a while, or doing a little netflix marathon, and there are even preventative measures I can take to help avoid a flare up of symptoms, like eating right and sleeping right and having fun with friends fairly regularly and not isolating myself-- but it's not something that can be cured. Nor does it have to be curable for someone to live a healthy and productive life. Sometimes, I think it might even be easier for me to live with day-to-day than being allergic to peanuts or cats. I'd hate to be allergic to cats! I'm already allergic to bunnies, haven't I suffered enough? (Real talk though, I still hold bunnies whenever I get the chance despite the 6 hours of sinus misery that follows.) Of course, sometimes it feels like the worst thing to ever happen to a person ever, which intellectually I know is not true (I mean, come on, childbirth is a really rough experience and some people even opt to do it more than once-- thanks, mom, for enduring that and giving me an awesome sister, by the way!) but emotionally, when you're in the midst of depression or a panic attack, it's hard for your brain to process the idea of anything outside your own misery.

For me, one of the things that helps is having things I care about that don't demand a lot from me but are still really fun. It's definitely good to care about big important things like your job or school or a project you're working on, but sometimes they can feel more about the demand and less about the love, and when you find yourself emotionally exhausted from wrestling with constantly encroaching darkness, you need to escape to a place of love with minor responsibility. Maybe it's gaming, or art, or TV, or books-- these things can give you something to care about that won't ask for much in return. These things can help ground you when you start to feel overwhelmed or burned-out. They can help you get out of your head and remind you that there is life beyond the feelings your brain chemistry is stuck on.

It's important to recognize that you're not "crazy" or being some form of selfish/oversensitive/overdramatic/whatever if you have these feelings of being trapped in a really negative emotional state. Feelings are a product of your brain doing some really complicated stuff. Your entire human experience is a product of your brain! And not everyone's brain is the same, and some people have a little less of x chemical and a little more of y chemical, and that's okay as long as you work with it and find ways to have a fulfilling, healthy life-- everyone deserves a shot at that. This means sometimes you need to ask for help, whether it's spiritual guidance, physical or medical intervention, or just someone to talk to without feeling like a burden.

When someone is dealing with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, that can be really difficult. You might not feel like you're worth helping or the time it takes out of someone's day to care for you. You might be scared to talk to someone about your very scary feelings. You might be afraid to burden someone who has no idea how to handle the situation. For these reasons, it is so critical that we have services like Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. In addition, there are many local state hotlines to turn to. But many people today have a hard time talking on the phone-- it feels uncomfortable in this age of texting and instant messaging via facebook and skype. That's where IMAlive comes in.

IMAlive is a non-profit suicide help chat service. Chats are done through the site, and it's the first online network with 100% of its volunteers are trained and certified in crisis intervention. This is a REALLY important site to tell everyone you know about-- you never know who might be hurting.

IMAlive is able to operate thanks to donations and volunteers. Without those two things, they would be unable to operate. And now I bring you to the very reason why this giveaway is happening: to help fund volunteers.

IMAlive volunteers are fully-trained and certified, but they only get that way after paying $250 to get trained. A friend of mine, Autumn, is trying to raise funds so that she can get trained. I want her to meet her goal and get trained, because not only is Autumn excited to work with IMAlive, but because she is pursuing a career in clinical psychology. Helping Autumn to work with IMAlive and receive these certifications will help Autumn help others for years to come, making your donation literally a gift that keeps on giving. Awesome, right? Who could refuse such a sweet deal?

No one, but Mia from xoMia and I are going to sweeten the pot by putting some coolio geeky stuff up for grabs for supporting Autumn and IMAlive. We both really care about the importance of talking about issues of mental health, and we are both geek girls who thought that one really fantastic way to talk about this issue was by talking about our positive outlets like geekery that help us deal with stress.

Our goal is to fully fund Autumn (and at $250, even $5 from 50 people means she's fully funded!) and then continue on to funding other soon-to-be volunteers. Let's do this!

International entries will be accepted.
You do not have to donate in order to participate in this giveaway, but we highly recommend it. Why not do a good deed instead of buying a fancy latte, especially when you could win a prize for doing so?
Please screen capture your donation and save it for entry verification purposes. That means no anonymous donations-- we have to be able to identify it. We'll only ask you to show it to us via email if you are selected as one of the winners.
When submitting an entry for a donation, be sure to type "your name as it appears on the donation list / $amount / name of the volunteer you donated to" in the box where it asks for the info. Failure to do so will invalidate your entry.
Thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Weekend Links 06.05.2014

It's my second weekend in the city this summer, and for the most part, I'm hanging out with friends this weekend. Enjoy these links!

A list of great places/ways to save money on tons of different purchases for your home >>>

Holy crap this is cool and you ned to try it-- it's aurally hypnotic >>>

If summer reading lists feel too intimidating for you, try these 14 brilliant works of literature you can read in the time it takes to eat lunch >>>

30 difficult but completely necessary steps to success >>>

Unusual words! >>>

13 things science has no idea how to explain >>>

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OOTD: Second Day of Work

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase through the link, I may receive a small commission.

I moved back to New York for yet another summer internship-- and believe me, this internship is a far cry from the last. Random Nerf gun battles, a kitchen full of organic delights, every kind of coffee-making machine ever (do you know what a roaster looks like? Now, I do!), and catered lunch everyday. My internship is amazing and crazy and I am surrounded by geniuses. I looked super cool my first day of work, but in my excitement and tiredness, I forgot to document my outfit. So here's today's outfit-- my second day of work!

Floral ruffle blouse - TJ Maxx similar
Pink and Grey gemed statement necklace - J Crew similar
Owl Belt - Francesca's Collection similar
Light Pink Pleated Polka Dot Midi Skirt - Thrifted similar
Nude Heels - Marshalls similar
"Magical Girl" Bracelet - made myself similar
Vintage Coach Shoulder Bag - Coach via my mother similar

In other news-- I was just featured on Lady Code as their Lady of the Month!
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New Layout, New Services, New, Lower Sponsorship Rates

As you have probably noticed, Harper Honey has gotten a bit of an upgrade! I kept most of the design elements the same as the previous design, but for a few add-ons, and changed up the color scheme.

The color scheme was actually inspired by this palette featuring one of my favorite Disney Princesses, Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. I altered some of the colors and added quite a few more to give myself a full deck to work with. I hope you guys like the end result!

I'm also now offering college essay consulting. I actually really love helping people tell their stories, and when I was in high school, I had applied early decision and got into W&M, so I spent the second semester chillaxing and editing my friends' essays. I'm offering a range of services, from helping you pick a good topic that really showcases you, to giving you feedback on your current draft, to working with you through 3 different drafts. You can easily navigate to that by hitting the "college essay consulting" at the top navigation bar. I'm only offering this service for a few months, so you might want to knock this out of the way if you're getting ready for college app season. (There are actually quite a few reasons to do a bulk of your college essay work over the summer.) Also, on a free note, I also still have these free college app organization printables available for download. I've gotten really great feedback about them over the years, so if you feel like your college apps threaten to bury you in disorganized misery, check them out. You can also check out my college help section to answer many questions you may have.

Lastly, I've changed up my sponsorship rates, which you can view on my sponsorship page. I've dropped all of my rates because I wasn't selling at full capacity. Some of my rates have dropped by more than half and all have dropped more than 25%. I'd love to get some new blood in my sidebar and social media!

Don't forget to enter the Livin' and Lovin' Blogiversary Giveaway I'm co-hosting, and, as ever, I'd love it if you followed me on facebook and bloglovin to keep up-to-date with Harper Honey.

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