A palm reader and a fortune cookie

I can’t help but find wonder and awe in the short moments where everything suddenly feels as if it was meant to be. These points in my life literally give me chills. But they also provide me with a sense of validation. My life has, and always will have, some sort of purpose — even though the direction I’m headed often feels hazy.

With less than two weeks left in my officially booked time in New York, I’ve begun to face those real person questions that I never feel like I’ll be fully ready to answer. Where should I be looking for a job? Which companies are hiring? Do I commit to a seemingly perfect apartment before coming across said job? Where do I want to call my next home? I can’t even begin to come to terms with each of these questions, which leaves me feeling utterly overwhelmed and very much un-grounded at the end of most days.

SPI is officially over, which means that I have much more free time to ponder these questions. Over the course of one day (Friday), I went from being a student to being unemployed. Suddenly, I have no more set in stone plans. My sole goal is to find a job, and out of some deep sense of faith I adamantly believe that the position I am meant to take is going to present itself to me sooner or later.

But back to the meant to be moments, because the reason I feel so certain about finding the right job for me is because of the following experiences.

My trip to the palm reader:

About two weeks ago, I decided to visit a palm reader with one of my friends. It had been a long day, and I felt like I needed a little reassurance that my life was headed down some sort of quality path. I had seen the palm reader before, sitting on a chair on the sidewalk outside her shop about a block away from my dorm. But that day felt like the right day to inquire about her services, and I couldn’t have been more right about this gut feeling.

The palm reader told me to make two silent wishes to myself about my future. Out of a fear of bad karma and the serious powers of jinxing wishes, I won’t share them here. But I will admit that one was related to my career, and the other to my love life. Without saying anything, it was as if the palm reader picked up on the exact fears and anxieties that were rushing through my mind. With uncanny accuracy, she spoke of my most recent past and how it had shaped my current personality. She gave me a relatively specific timeline for major life events to come within the next year. But most importantly, she left me with a large grin on my face.

I have no doubt that the power of the palm reading might not be as spiritual as the establishment wants its customers to believe. But the take away message here is that I left feeling happy and empowered. So what if she can’t actually read my mind? She picked up on some sort of spiritual energy, and with that she instilled in me the stubborn will power to accomplish some of the items on her foretold calendar.

My fortune cookie:

After my trip to the palm reader, I went out to dinner with my friends. At the end of our Chinese meal, we received my favorite dish: the tray of fortune cookies. I found my fortune particularly timely after my visit to the palm reader just before this meal….

“Make your life an exclamation, not an explanation.”

I don’t need all of the answers to all of the questions I have. The next stage of my life is full of possibilities, and I could choose a number of paths knowing that they will lead to success and happiness. One thing I can be sure of is that I have friends and family who love me, and will support me regardless of whether or not my palm reading comes true.

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A Polished Magazine Launch

I haven’t had a chance to write a post for the past two weeks, mostly because almost all of this time was consumed in the culminating project of the magazine section at the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. All of the students in the program were divided into groups, given a magazine category, and instructed to create a new magazine brand that could fill a hole in the current market. I was assigned Editor in Chief of my group, and as such I did nothing but eat, sleep, and breath our brand.

I know that sounds awful; a girl writing about finding balance in the world couldn’t even manage to balance her personal and work lives so as to allow herself to write on her blog. But in all actuality, fully immersing myself into this project provided an enlightening experience on how people must work in equilibrium with one another.

Before arriving at SPI, I didn’t realize that playing softball in college would provide me with a unique perspective on how groups of people best function together. As an outfielder and a hitter early in the line up, I was very clear of my particular role on our squad. If one of our pitchers missed her spot and the opposing batter ripped a shot to the outfield, it was my job to have the pitcher’s back by either catching the ball for an out or relaying it in as quickly as possible to keep the batter from advancing too many bases. If an infielder made an error or let a ball get through the infield, as every great player will do from time to time, it was my job to back her up as well. At the plate, my at bats were disciplined and targeted: I needed to advance the runners on the base path, and ideally trade places with them so as to put more runs on the board for our team. Each day, at every practice and game, I was highly aware of my role and the expectation of my teammates that I perform it well. But I also knew that the same standards had been set for every other player on the field too. At the end of the day, we could not win a game if even just one of our players was not determined to fill her role to the best of her ability. On the flip side, we played exceptionally well when each of us found the determination and drive to fill our roles at full capacity. The range of roles on our team varied greatly: from motivators on the bench to team captains on the field. But all of these jobs were important and needed to be done well. 

The same sort of camaraderie is absolutely crucial to work in a professional setting, though particularly in publishing. In our brand launch, each student was assigned to a particular position — mimicking the types of jobs in a real publishing company. Though constructed into a slight hierarchy, each of these positions was instrumentally important in our brand construction. Without a business plan, our magazine could not make money. Without a social media strategy, our brand could not reach large enough audiences to compete with the already existing brands. Without a strong editorial staff, the magazine could not house rich and empowering content worthy of being distributed and read over multiple platforms. At the end of the day, we all needed to complete our individual jobs to the best of our abilities if we wanted our magazine to be a success.

Thus in a little less than three weeks, Polished was born. As a women’s lifestyle magazine targeting the young professional, Polished aims to serve as a mentor for the smart, savvy, and successful woman. In spite of her aspirations to become the next big leader in her industry, this woman understands the importance of balancing work and play, and knows how to have fun alongside the advancement of her career.

Because each member of our group performed his or her job well, our vision was actualized and we were able to create what could one day become a real magazine brand. Now that’s what I call balance in the real world.

My Introduction to the Publishing World

My first week at the NYU Summer Publishing Institute has proven to be extremely busy and fast paced. Each day I have learned more about the process of publishing magazines than I ever dreamed possible. The overarching theme of the lectures and presentations was that we should not look at magazines as a source of entertainment and advertising real estate (though they are those things too), but should instead see each magazine as encompassing a very particular brand.

Ellen DeGeneres has established one of the most successful brands in contemporary culture. At the publishing institute we discussed how she has mastered spreading her message across many demographics — which is actually a far more difficult task than it might otherwise seem. We discussed how Ellen speaks to a younger demographic through visual images online that link to her show, but can also draw in older generations through her t.v. show alone because of its pertinent content to the people of this age group’s lives. What I view as Ellen’s largest success, however, is her recognition of our need to find balance in our lives. The fact that Ellen resonates with such a large audience suggests that the quote below can and should be applied to the lives of many.

“My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The piña and the colada.” — Ellen DeGeneres.

I know that I have a lot left to learn, and will continue discovering more information about publishing as the weeks progress. But I also know that in order to continue trekking forward, I must remain grounded in a conscious effort to maintain balance in my life. The neatest aspect of magazines is that they provide an editorial and business staff with the opportunity to promote morals, ideals, and a very particular mindset to their target audiences. I’m glad to see that some brands today are already promoting the importance of balance in one’s life, and can only hope to stress the significance of this ideal to target audiences in the future.

From cows, colleges, and contentment to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of…

I have officially made the move from the small, Minnesotan college town I have grown to love over the past four years to the bustling metropolis that is New York City. Everything about the Big Apple is extreme, intense, and full of life. When checking my mom into her hotel room, we immediately walked into the middle of a photo shoot taking place in the center of the lobby. On a visit to Times Square, I was literally swept off my feet when a man wearing a Spider Man costume asked to take a picture with me, and then proceeded to pick me up as we posed in front of the camera. Late at night the city still bustles with life, as speedy cab drivers and on-the-go pedestrians whiz past you in all directions and on all sides of the street. The city seemingly never sleeps, and within the whirlwind of activity that surrounds me it’s hard not to feel completely uprooted and utterly un-grounded.

In a new environment filled with extremes, I’m reminded of my favorite novel —Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Though Bronte crafts this work during the tail end of the Romantic Era, the story includes themes that call for a balance of one’s passion and reason. Vivid emotions, especially those linked to images of nature, are typical of Romantic works. The reason and logic, on the other hand, link back to the Neoclassic Era. This blend not only makes Bronte’s Romantic work unique, but it also highlights the most applicable element of her novel to the lives of contemporary readers.

Bronte demonstrates the benefit of finding a sense of balance by depicting the unhappiness that follows her characters that fail to obtain a sense of equilibrium. Bronte most clearly highlights her characters’ need to balance their passion and reason by portraying the way some of these characters solely follow the whims of their intense desires. Catherine is one of these characters, and ultimately perishes as she drives herself into mad states of delusion and sickness when her body is literally overcome with her love for Heathcliff. For Catherine, the extremity of her passion ultimately leads to her demise, but along the way it limits her from ever being truly happy.

If extremes can be so limiting, then how I am going to survive two months living in a world that seems to be filled with nothing but these intense attributes? Like Bronte’s urge to find balance, I too will have to search for an equilibrium in my own life. For instance, every intimidating trip along an overcrowded street or subway rail can be countered with a simple night lounging in my room, catching up on some of my favorite t.v. shows. And maybe in the end, it really just simply links back to the passion and reason in Bronte’s tale. After all, an overwhelming and taxing trip in which I become completely disoriented, lost, and homesick can be logically avoided if I simply remember to bring along a guide book.

Finding Balance in the Real World

With my college graduation a mere four days away, the fact that I must leave the fantasy world of my life in school and enter the real world is ever present every step I take. Everyone on campus is packing up his or her life, clear through the piles of boxes and overflowing bins that fill almost all of the dorm hallways. Luckily for the underclassmen, this departure is temporary — they are merely putting their lives here on hold for three months. While many are sad to leave, ultimately they know that they will be coming back.

The seniors, myself included, carry a different look on their faces as they stroll through campus — sharing some of their last moments together at our beloved college on the hill. Many eyes gleam with excitement, having just completed one week of final exams, papers, and projects. Some carry a glimmer of fear with them as well, knowing that new jobs, internships, or graduate school programs will require a new and perhaps more difficult type of work. Others attempt to mask their sadness at leaving a world that has grown so familiar. The emotions range over a broad spectrum, and as such many seniors are expressing different extremes regarding their attitude toward leaving.

As I leave St. Olaf, my fellow seniors remind me of my ever-present need to attain balance in my life. I do not want utter sadness to throw me out of a routine I have grown to love. On the other hand, I do not want to treat my departure as trivial, because I know my life post graduation will never again be the same. I plan to attain balance between these two extremes by cherishing each moment I have left as an undergraduate student: the care-free nature of a lifestyle sans real world obligations, the professors who have pushed me to learn and grow, my family who has supported me to the moon and back, and the friends who have kept me grounded during my time on campus who I know I could not live without.

I hope that cherishing the many aspects I love about St. Olaf will persistently remind me of all the happiness I found on campus, without clouding these memories with any sadness that they will soon be over. By cherishing my time here, I believe I will maintain a sense of grounded equilibrium both leading up to and at the time when I must walk across the stage and receive my undergraduate diploma.