26 on the 26th

Hello readers, today I am leveling up… it’s my birthday! 🙂  The big one… my golden birthday! 26 on the 26th, oh my!


I’ve been thinking the last couple weeks how I want to approach this and then one morning on my walk to school started making a list (of course) in my phone.  That list has now become 26 thoughts, musings, lessons, and philosophies of yours truly.  It honestly doesn’t even feel like my birthday today, but I love that it’s on my favorite day of the week, Motivational Monday.   🙂  I know… I may be the ONE person who actually LOVES Mondays!  It’s a fresh start every 7 days to kick ass.  And no worries, I still have a fabulous fall outfit here for you to shop!  Nothing beats fall fashion of course, and one of my absolute favorite looks has always been a preppy pleated skirt.


Outfit Details: Skirt SPLURGE / Skirt STEAL // Blouse // Blazer SPLURGE / Blazer STEAL // Tights // Bag // Sunnies // Lipstick // Boots

So instead of making this post two parts, I’m going to embed the rest of my outfit in my words of wisdom… so without further ado…


26- It’s okay to be obsessed. With everything! Why not? Why are you only going to like something, when you can love it? Have passion. Be enthusiastic.  Let what draws you light your fire.  I don’t understand people who just LIKE things… are your emotions not all there? Learn to love what you like.

25- Common courtesy isn’t so common. It’s the little decent acts of kindness that fill in the gaps of relationships. Not even romantic relationships; think about the barista who makes your coffee every morning. Why not look at her and ask, “how are you?” And not while looking through your phone… make eye contact, be present. Make someone’s day through common courtesy and notice all the ways your own days improve.

24- Eye contact. Speaking of… eye contact can REALLY change the dynamic of a conversation. It’s the simplest, purest form of compassion.


23- More people should look at art. Looking at art can teach us so much. I love going to museums and getting lost in galleries. If I could spend every weekend in the Met, I would. I’ve probably visited the impressionist’s wing dozens of times, but each time I learn something new. There is so much history and presence that can be uncovered through art. Go see some.

22- Ignorance really is bliss. And knowledge is a burden. But you should never, ever stop learning. About anything. Know poetry, know literature, know sports, know politics. Be well rounded and realize when others can’t keep up in conversation or see the world as you do, it’s time to level up your environment.

21- What you discuss with your friends matters. If you and your circle only talk about others, then it’s time to reevaluate some things. Have more meaningful conversations. Discuss books. Discuss ideas. Motivate each other and grow as an entity. I’m so lucky to be at Columbia where I have met some truly remarkable minds. It’s okay to walk out of people’s lives if they are not helping to push you forward. You ARE who your friends are; why waste your time?

20- Pity should not be in your life. Don’t give it. Don’t accept it. A real friend doesn’t say, “aw, poor you.” Instead they tell you to man up and deal with it. And if you’re a real friend, you would do the same back.


19- It’s okay to cry. And be vulnerable. We are, after all, human, and come with many emotions. Why hide them? Be raw. Be emotional. It’s not weak. People who judge you for being vulnerable are only insecure about themselves. Accept this and let yourself break down once in awhile. You’re allowed to stumble, but don’t fall too hard.

18- People don’t know how to apologize. The faster you learn and accept this, the easier your life will become. In a real apology you do not ever bring up what the other person did. Grow up. Admit what YOU did and make amends. Be the bigger person who knows how to apologize.

17- The punches are the best part. Life will throw a lot of them, but realize it’s only because you’re leveling up spiritually. The universe knows you are CAPABLE and you should realize it too. Any obstacle only means you’re closer to something better. So smile and conquer your challenges with grace.


16- Your haters are your biggest fan. I think I realized this when I was about 15… wow was that really so long ago?! But it’s true. They want to hate and stalk and lurk and creep and talk? Good. Let them. And give them exactly what they want.

15- It’s okay to be selfish. It’s a double-edged sword when you have as many trust issues as I do, yet see the best in people. But I’ve learned that when people see my goodness as weakness, it’s okay for me to be selfish and stand up for myself. It’s okay to say, “I don’t appreciate how you’re treating me” and expect better.

14- Poetry. You should really surround your life with more poetry. Keats, Leav, Goethe, Hafiz, Shire, Whitman, Faudet, Neruda, Rumi…


13- Don’t settle. Did you wake up today and do what you love? Why not? You’re not going to order something okay on the menu; you’re going to order the best item. Don’t settle for ANYTHING in life. Don’t lower your standards or expectations. My best example is being at Columbia right now. I applied to ONE school and ONE program with most everyone telling me to come up with a plan B. My response? Plan B is for those who know they’re going to fail.  And if I hadn’t been accepted, I would be trying again right now.

12- I look very sad most of the time. I hear this a lot lately. “Why do you look so sad/ forlorn/ wistful?” I promise I’m not sad! Hearing this reminds me of reminds me of an Anna Karenina quote…

“Why are you sad?”

“Because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.”

Maybe it’s part of my emotional being. I think I get lost in my thoughts so much and it shows on my face. But it’s who I am and I’m learning to love it about myself.

11- Indecision is a decision. Especially when it comes to love.


10- I hate games. Be upfront. Be open. Language is beautiful. Learn to express yourself.

9- Forgiveness IS the foundation. Probably one of the hardest lessons I’m still learning at 26. I won’t get too into it because it’s cliché at this point, but learning to forgive someone who never apologizes can be of the most freeing, beautiful things in life. Stop picking at the wounds, take control, and let yourself heal.

8- Focus on the GOOD. We all bitch and moan, but make it a habit to counter each complaint with a compliment. Compliment yourself. Appreciate the meal you just had. Smile at the warm bed you sleep in every night. Love your friends and family. It’s not cute to keep complaining either… no one cares. I know I still do it all the time, but I have really become more aware of this and try my best to concentrate on what makes me smile more.

7- Heartbreaks don’t get easier. There is a misconception that the first time you fall in love is when you have the most love to give and after that you can never love as much. I don’t believe this. I think after each heartbreak you realize how much more love you really do have (and want) to give.


6- Let yourself be missed. I really should take my own advice more! I’m too available and wrestle with my demons on this one, but I can’t help but want to always be there for those I care about.  My friends, my family, my colleagues… I have this overwhelming guilt when I can’t be the best most dependable person for them.  So I pledge with my new year ahead to step back, and let myself be missed.

5- Want to impress me? Teach me something. I think I saw that on a quote online once, but it really resonated!  Help me grow intellectually, emotionally, spiritually… and I promise to reciprocate.

4- Conversation is key. Nothing stimulates me more than conversation. I know within a matter of minutes meeting someone if our friendship will progress just based on what is offered during conversation. In the first week of school I was having lunch with a friend and they asked me, “what are your quirks?” It was so random and unique and I actually had to think about it! This person has become one of my closest friends E V E R. We talk and teach each other about poetry, language, business, culture, human rights… everything.  I truly believe conversation is the primary foundation of any relationship, because when you have nothing left to talk about then what else is left to do?

3- Learn the art of living. Life is short. Make it remarkable.


2- I know what I want. I want a partnership. A best friend to learn and love and grow with. Someone to trust wholeheartedly, who trusts me too. It’s a little frustrating always being asked, “why are you single,” but it’s because I know what I want.  I’m not easily attracted to people on a level that I feel there is potential room for commitment.  Anyone can have a relationship, but to have a lifelong partnership is the ultimate goal.

1- Life is beautiful. My mantra.


azadeh, black

Photography courtesy of: Daniel Nelson