Lance Svendsen on His New Book titled Run Anyway – A Story About Running in Two of the Most Famous Marathons in History

Author Lance Svendsen’s new book on running, life, and hope. Bottom line: a must read.

Lance Svendsen is so many things, a father, a pastor, a runner, and a writer to capture it all. 

Always having an interest in people, Lance sought opportunities to help everyone he met. Lance’s interest in people allowed him to easily transition into youth ministry after college, where he felt a strong purpose in helping young adults navigate life and their faith. Lance felt particularly called to preaching within youth ministry, despite it personally being nerve wracking to do so. The belief that Lance’s own discomfort helped others feel more comfortable and grow in their faith carried him through. 

Lance took this principle and strived to apply it in other areas of his life. Having an interest in running, Lance saw the opportunity to run in order to raise money for his cousins, who had recently lost their father, Lance’s uncle, due to cancer. Lance was determined to run in the New York City marathon, a worthy feat, and had just one month to prepare. In 2012, however, the marathon was cancelled for the first time ever due to Hurricane Sandy. Despite the race being cancelled, Lance wanted to fulfill his promise of running for the cause and, when Lance reached out to others who were going to participate in the race, he uncovered a whole running community that related to his strong desire to follow through on a promise. In just 35 hours, Lance organized a race that was attended by over 3,000 people as a substitution for the missed marathon. At the starting line, Lance realized just how much racing meant to so many of those runners- an opportunity to show up for the individual causes they believed in. 

This was enough to motivate Lance to help organize and participate in many other races, such as 500 for the Fallen, a 500-mile continuous relay leaving from Concord, MA and arriving at Arlington Cemetery to raise awareness for children who have lost a parent while serving in the military. Lance also participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he finished the race just 10 minutes before the terrifying terrorist bombing occurred in downtown Boston. It’s easy to say that Lance’s running experiences have shaped his perspective around life, faith, and personal sacrifice. 

Lance continued using his gift for running and true grit in Guatemala, where he volunteered for an organization called Hope of Life. With Hope of Life, Lance would go on foot into specific Guatemalan villages, that could not be accessed via car, to bring sick children to locations with proper medical care. Although at the time the guide that runs this program would not normally allow non-natives on these dangerous trips, Lance had just completed a 50 mile race, which he used as leverage when convincing the guide of his willingness and ability. It’s as if all of the pieces leading up to this moment fell right into place. 

Lance just recently released his first book called Run Anyway, documenting this incredible journey from makeshift marathon to perilous trek through the mountains of Guatemala. The book documents this series of events from a first person perspective, much of the book being inspired by intimate excerpts from the personal journals that he kept throughout his life. These journals formed the building blocks for the book, which expertly knits together both significant national and personal events to take the reader on an incredible journey. 

During our interview, when I asked Lance about one thing he learned throughout the book writing process, he mentions that he’s glad he didn’t wait longer to start writing. When Lance first began, he didn’t know how his book would end, but he knew that he had a story to tell.

It’s a story about the recalibration periods in Lance’s life. Chances for Lance to self reflect and to ensure that he is always on the right trail, going the right way. 

It’s about someone who stepped out of their comfort zone and then stepped out again. 

It’s about adventure, catastrophe, faith, and hope. 

It’s about life. 

Give it a read. 

Get the book here!


Friend Favorites Part X

The favorites that are on my mind and in my life.

I thought no better way to end the series than to share all of my favorites with my baby blog community! I love reading all of the recommendations that get published by friends on the blog and I have had so much fun researching all of the snacks, beauty products, clothing items, hobbies, and TV shows that have come across my way. I am sad that this friend favorites series has to come to a close, but looking forward to many more friend appearances on the blog in the not so distant future. I hope you try out some of my favorites and enjoy them as much as I do. There is so much you can tell about people by what they love. So, here’s something about me.


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Tostitos hint of lime chips and fresh guacamole is one of my favorite go-tos when it comes to snacking. Everyone loves guacamole and it’s even better dipped with Tostitos’ tangy chips with a hint of lime. Crunchy, citrus, creamy, and salty – check, check, check, and check!

Black cherries have always been a childhood favorite of mine around the summer time. I have fond memories of my dad and I sitting in our backyard seeing who could spit our cherry pits the farthest. My dad was always a clear winner and so are these delicious, tart cherries. 

Strawberry Haagen Dazs ice cream has never been a flavor that I would reach for in the grocery store. My tastes have always lied in cookies and cream, dulce de leche, or rum raisin. However, our neighbors often serve this flavor at any party or event that they hold, so it has slowly grown on me over the years. And who doesn’t love pink!

Beauty Product

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Laneige Mini pore waterclay mask is one skin care product that cannot be over looked. I first got hooked on Laneige when my friend Jahnvi recommended that I give the product line a try. Many samples and purchases later, I found this face mask and really fell in love with it. What I especially like about the product is that it comes with this amazing face sponge to help you wipe the excess mask away while you rinse it off. I have definitely seen a significant improvement in my skin overall and I hope you do too!

Ouai fine to medium hair treatment masque came as a recommendation from one of the expert sales people at Sephora. I mentioned to her that I was looking to revitalize my hair a bit, having come out of a long spell of bleaching and dyeing. She told me that this OUAI masque is one of the best in the industry and to give it a try. I have to say that I was not disappointed! This masque really moisturizes and adds volume to your hair, showing visible results in two weeks I’d say. Best hair masque I have used to date, for sure. 

Glossier milky jelly cleanser has been a long time favorite of mine, so I thought that it was about time that it made some beauty list of mine at some point. The smell is to die for and I love the fact that the cleanser is supposed to be applied with minimal water right on the face in order to really clean and refresh the skin. The texture of the product is also really fun, a true jelly feeling that is super soothing to the skin. This is definitely a favorite, I just wish I didn’t run out so quickly!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Club Monaco linen blend shorts have been a recent splurge of mine- yes I bought these in all three colors during their recent 25% off sale. I love the cut of these shorts and that they are super flowy and breathable. What can I say, if you like something, stick with it and buy every color!

An Etsy phone charm is something that I never thought I would be purchasing… until I recently saw a friend with one and instantly knew I needed one for myself. I scoured the internet for ones that I thought would be super fun, yet not overly Y2k- if you know what I am saying. I found this Etsy store and loved the charms that they made, so ordered one for myself and can’t wait until it arrives in the mail this week. 

SOJOs vintage cat eye sunglasses are a purchase that I tell everyone I know about. I love the style of the glasses and you can get them on Amazon for under $15! Yes, you heard me right. I hate to spend too much on sunglasses when I consider myself a liability when it comes to small luxury goods. I have a tendency to loose my favorite things, so it’s a good thing I know that these are easily replaceable. 

Show or Movie

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Selena is just a series that I knew I’d love when I first started watching it. It has incredible music, costumes, and acting, so I knew I wouldn’t be wasting any time on this two season limited series. It’s easy to fall in love with Selena and her incredible family, following their journey from homelessness to stardom. It’s a 10 out of 10 for me. 

The newly released Cruella movie is one for sure not to be missed! Leading ladies Emma Stone and Emma Thompson play incredible opposing forces in this prequel to the cult Disney classic 101 Dalmatians. The costumes are purely incredible and the storyline is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. So quickly find yourself a friend with Disney+ and start up the popcorn!

Watching the Shahs of Sunset has become a Sunday night ritual that my whole family enjoys. Having watched the show for many seasons now, it feels as though the characters are like my glamorous distant Persian relatives. The reality TV show is filled with tears, laughs, and a whole lot of shimmer and shine. I always finish the show wanting more- until next Sunday!

Hobby or Activity

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I can’t say that I am very good at it, but I also can’t say that I haven’t tried! Meditating has become a new hobby of mind that I have started doing before bed time to help turn off my brain and relax. I have been using Headspace on Netflix to learn more about the practice as well as the Peloton app’s meditation courses. The deep breathing exercises have changed my life when it comes to managing anxiety. I recommend you also give it a try if you have any curiosity around the practice! It can only help!

Going to the plant nursery has become a recent frequent event of my family’s over the weekends. I find something so relaxing about spending time among the plants and in nature. Smelling the flowers and picking out plants for our yard is such a fun way to spend time outside, get some exercise, and shop! Sounds like all of my favorite things in one!

An obvious passion of mine is blogging, and it’s a good thing that it is! I love taking the time after work to write, read, and strategize on the week’s content and what I think you all would enjoy reading about! Blogging has changed my perspective around content creation, entrepreneurship, branding, marketing- you name it! I especially love putting out blog posts and reading all of your feedback and responses. Thank you for reading, it means more than you know!

Friend Favorites Part IX

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

The pandemic has taught me the importance of picking up the phone and making a random call to my good friends or texting a buddy I haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s those small interactions that keep us all together. It’s not only the deep talks, but the quick check-ins. Sending a funny GIF, an inside joke as a text, or a voice message just to say “I love you”. I find that these touch points are the ones that mean the most to me. It means “I thought of you” and “I care that you’re in my life”. Here’s to more friends, more chats, and more sharing- like these favorites! Let’s jump right into it!

Michelle (left), Saint Nova (center), Tommy (right)


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Michelle: Trader Joe’s dried mango slices. It’s delicious AND nutritious!! They are also super affordable and easy to munch on throughout the day!

Saint Nova: Lately I have been slacking on health and divulging into junk. Junk being Jalapeño Cheetos, perfect for anytime with enough kick. I have always liked chips and things on the go, it’s always a good light option that can hold me over until the next drag show or meal. 

TommyMy current favorite snack is glazed pecans. In addition to providing a boost of protein, fats, and fiber, they’re a great pick-me-up when I’m feeling sluggish and don’t leave me feeling heavy.

Beauty Product

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Michelle: Olive and June nail polish. I love their nail polish because it’s really great quality and they make it super easy to get professional looking nails. I am no artist but somehow they make my nails look like I went to the salon!

Saint Nova: I haven’t always been a skincare freak or anything of it. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Clinque fresh pressed moisturizer has hit the spot every time. I have oily skin so finding moisturizers that don’t make my face even oilier is hard. This works and gives my face just enough. 

TommyDr. Squatch men’s natural soaps are my favorite right now. In addition to their tantalizing scents, they leave me feeling fresh and clean!

Favorite Clothing Item

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MichelleFunky jeans with embroidery on them. I love spicing up a classic blue Jean with a fancy design. They really spice up an outfit and look a lot more creative than a regular pair of jeans. I got them thrifted and so they are super unique and I like that I haven’t seen anyone wearing the same pair as me when I’m out and about.

Saint Nova: I have always had expensive taste, but not an expensive budget. I love designer dupes and I found these Bottega Venetta mesh heels from SHIEN and I love. They give me the luxury look without the price.

TommyMy favorite clothing item would have to be my black overalls. They can serve a practical purpose or be a fashion statement depending on the day!

Show or Movie

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MichelleAre You the One? on MTV is my fav show right now. It’s a reality TV show where there ten girls and ten guys and they each take a test ahead of time and figure out who their perfect match is in the house. It’s hilarious seeing everyone fight over one another and start stupid drama! There also is a logic component to it because they have a reveal at the end of every episode based on the pairs who is correct and who isn’t and it’s fun to try to look at past matches to understand who can or can’t be a match based on the numbers.

Saint Nova: Currently, I have been into psycho thrillers. Behind Her Eyes on Netflix is a chilling series that combines drama with chilling astral projection stories. It really gets you thinking about what our mind could or is able to do. What are the many things we can do with our minds that are yet to be discovered. 

TommyMy favorite movie has been and always will be Juice (1992). It was filmed in my hometown of NYC and features events that I was able to relate to growing up in the city with my friends.

Hobby or Activity

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MichelleI have been really into thrifting lately! There are two thrift shops within walking distance of me and it’s so fun to explore new styles and find unique pieces on the weekends! It’s also fun to remake a piece by cutting it or sewing it and making your own custom piece!

Saint Nova: DRAG DRAG & DRAG. I recently began my drag career and I love it. It combines my love of performing with makeup and fashion. It has helped me when I didn’t feel so great about myself. It helped me explore so many things about myself and express my gender identity.

TommyMy favorite hobby is fishing. It allows me to get out in nature and temporarily forget everything else I have going on.

Friend Favorites Part VIII

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

If there is one thing I think is worth collecting, it’s friends. I love thinking about every person that I have ever met and how our lives will forever be intersected. We will have memories, and stories, and experiences that no one can take away from us. That is something quite special. If there is one thing that I have learned from writing this blog, it’s how much I value and am in awe of my friends. They inspire me to dream bigger, do better, and be my very best. That got deep quick! On a lighter note, here are three of my friends and all of the fun things they are loving lately. Enjoy!

Olivia (right), Egem (center), Hashmita (left)


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Olivia: As of now, my favorite thing to snack on is anything beets! I’ve been putting them in all my salads, making hummus with them and they’re my side dishes to every meal. I think they’re beautiful and I love how sweet they are. 

Egem: Trader Joe’s Elote Corn Chip Dippers. Not to be dramatic, but I would die for these chips. They’re super good alone because of the seasoning and even better dipped into anything (which for me is usually hummus). 

Hashmita: Biscoff– it’s the perfect snack with my daily coffee.

Beauty Product

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Olivia: Since high school i have been in love with anything Glossier. My favorite product of theirs is their liquid Futuredew highlighter, I’m not a huge makeup person but glitter is always something I add. 

Egem: Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro Whipped Cream. I’m obsessed with this product. It’s a moisturizer that is super light and actually feels refreshing for hours, so a little goes a long way; I find that it is very similar to Tatcha’s Water Cream. 

Hashmita: Mac amplified lipstick in smoked almond. It’s the perfect shade for my skin tone!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Olivia: It’s been much warmer in Washington, D.C. and sundresses have my heart! I love that they’re so simple of an outfit and yet look put together, and they are perfect for the summer. I thrift all of my sundresses too so they’re always unique. 

Egem: Chunky vintage belts. I’ve been wearing a ton of slip dresses and sundresses lately, and I think an oversized belt really helps add a silhouette and make the outfit more interesting. I also think it goes well with the chunky/mismatched trend that’s happening right now with La Manso rings and “candy” jewelry  from the likes of Wald Berlin, Brinker & Eliza, Martha Calvo, etc.

Hashmita: A pair of comfy shorts. Working from home is a lot more easy in a comfortable pair of shorts. It’s also the perfect clothing item to beat the heat. 

Show or Movie

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Olivia: I absolutely love the show VEEP! It’s a show I have rewatched countless times. I enjoy funny TV shows more than any other TV and Juila Louis Dreyfus is always fantastic. 

Egem: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Sometimes, I just want to turn my brain off and watch someone worry about whether their Prada bag matches their socks for an hour. RHOBH is great mindless television, and watching it with a group of friends makes it especially fun. 

Hashmita: Lucifer. It’s has the perfect mix of crime, romance and Lucifer is easy on the eyes 

Hobby or Activity

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Olivia: My favorite hobby is playing my ukulele. I picked it up a few years ago and have self taught myself quite a few songs. I love practicing new songs and ways of playing or strumming so it’s a hobby I can’t ever get enough of!

Egem:  Disposable Photography. I recently got a pack of disposable cameras from Amazon, and have been having a great time going around in NYC with friends and documenting everything. I like that, unlike a heavier camera, I can just whip this one out and take pictures that happen in the moment!

Hashmita: Playing card games with my family, especially UNO. With the current lockdown and everyone being stuck at home it’s the perfect way to pass time.

Friend Favorites Part VII

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

I hope this series never ends! It’s truly such a connector between me and old and new friends! It’s provides a window into what they are up to when I am not able to experience them in person. And if you know anything about me, you know I miss my friends! The pandemic as well as country borders can separate us, but the Friend Favorites series keeps us together. This week, I am featuring my bestie Jahnvi, my new work friend Mackenzie, and one of my first friends from college Tanisha! These ladies are as sophisticated and fun as it gets, so take notes! I know I will be!

Jahnvi (left), Mackenzie (center), Tanisha (right)


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Jahnvi: My go-to snack are masala flavored Lay’s chips. They are my favorite kind of chip, with just enough spice- however, if you know me you really can never have enough spice!

Mackenzie: SkinnyPop Popcorn! I’ve always loved popcorn, in fact 98% of the reason I go to the theater is for the popcorn. Since theaters in Toronto have been closed since October, I’ve been obsessed with SkinnyPop as a yummy and healthier alternative.

Tanisha: Cucumber with lemon, salt and red chili powder. It’s refreshing, light and delicious when I don’t want to eat something heavy. 

Beauty Product

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Jahnvi: Currently I am obsessed with this Forest Essentials Intensive Hair Repair Masque and this Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt. I use both of them once a week (usually on a weekend / whenever I’m bored and want to pamper myself in lockdown). First I apply the masque all over for about 45-ish minutes while I watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Then I wash it off using the scrub- I also read that the best way to wash your hair is actually upside down, apparently it increases blood flow. I’m not sure if it works, but it doesn’t hurt to try. 

Mackenzie: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. The French know how to do skincare! This cream is iconic for a reason – it makes your face feel like satin.

Tanisha: Revlon One Step Volumizer hair dryer. With thick and curly hair like mine and not much time in the day, this product makes my hair straight and smooth within 10 mins. It’s honestly my go to and I can’t live without it.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Jahnvi: Since we’re back in lockdown in India, I have gone back to living in my pajamas. I really like these ones from Uniqlo because they’re so breathable and cooling! Also I like wearing full pajama sets because I feel, and look, more put-together wearing them. 

Mackenzie: UGG Cozette Slide. When WFH started I decided to treat myself to a new type of “work shoe,” and now I’m absolutely obsessed with them.

Tanisha: Zara wide leg ripped blue jeans. They’re high waisted so with summer around the corner, they’re perfect for crop tops and anything really. 

Show or Movie

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Jahnvi: I’m super into survival / apocalyptic movies right now, probably because it makes me feel even more grateful to be at home (with a warm bed, and with no shortage of food supplies). Highly recommend this strategy for anyone with lockdown fatigue. So far my favorite has been Adrift which is based on a true story about a couple caught in a class 4 hurricane in the Pacific Ocean. It’s an amazing story with unreal views (so you also feel like you’re transported to a beautiful place without leaving your bed).

Mackenzie: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I can hear you judging me from there! But hear me out – since the onset of the pandemic our social lives have nearly halted, so watching a reality TV show has in some ways been a (more glamorous!) substitute for socializing.

Tanisha: Ginny and Georgia. A fun loving, hilarious, and surprisingly deep, but relatable story about a mom and daughter relationship.

Hobby or Activity

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Jahnvi: I’ve been swimming as much as I can, especially when I am in a bad mood or stressed. It instantly makes me feel better and makes me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation.

Mackenzie: Morning Walks. I love to get up and go for walk first thing in the morning. I like to call it my “fake commute.” I usually bring a coffee and listen to a podcast. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and feel somewhat accomplished before starting the workday.

Tanisha: Going to the grocery store, because what else is there to do, really?

10 Things on My 2021 Summer Bucket List

Summer days drifting away, but oh those summer nights.

If you’re like me, you live for the summer. It’s a time to slow down, enjoy the heat, and make the most of some ideal, sunny weather. For me, summer is super nostalgic, reminding me of all of the beach trips that I took as a kid or the long awaited outdoor barbecues and pool days I dreamt of during the school year. Although this year summer still looks a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to set aside ten summer bucket list items that I hope to check off in the coming months. Some of these items on my summer list are new, some are old, and some are plain necessities for having a complete summer. Add them to your own bucket list and check them off with me! Who knows what this summer has in store for us!

Shower in an Outdoor Shower

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There is nothing that screams summer more than an outdoor shower. In the summer, I try to do everything outside as much as possible- exercise, eat, read, you name it! Add showering outside to the list! Using an outdoor shower after the beach is just one of the little pleasures in life that I enjoy when the summer season rolls around. Although I don’t own one, I am making it a priority to track down an outdoor shower before the summer ends! Keep your eyes peeled!

Drive-In or Outdoor Movie 

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I have never been to a drive-in movie, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, I have seen that this format of movie viewing has recently seen an uptick in popularity. I, for one, love seeing a movie in the theaters and miss the outing ever since in-person theaters closed down last year. Although it may take some online digging, I am definitely going to see if I can find a ticket!

New York Botanical Garden

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The New York Botanical Garden is just one of those places that takes you to a whole new world. I have seen plant species there that I have never seen or heard of in my entire life, which fascinates and intrigues me always. The beauty of the gardens is unparalleled and takes me to my happy place. The terrarium is by far my favorite destination in the garden; a wave of color, sights, and smells that truly makes for a unique experience with every visit. This summer the artist Yayoi Kusama has partnered with the garden to create a colorful, polka dot infused exhibition that I just can’t wait to see!

Picnic Lunch

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Having a picnic is something that I have wanted to do for a while now, yet need some pressure to make happen. I am hoping that adding it to this list will give me that much needed push. There’s just seems like something so precious about bringing a basket full of snacks, pouring a chilled drink, and sitting on a soft blanket in the park. Call me romantic… because you would be right.  

Day at the Beach 

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Along with every other person who is making a summer 2021 bucket list, I have placed on my list a day at the beach. Practically no summer of mine has gone by without me sticking my toes in the sand and I would hate to break tradition. For me, the beach puts a lot of life into perspective. It reminds me that the world is so much bigger than I am and puts my worries and troubles into appropriate scale. Being at the beach also reminds me of how beautiful nature is and how us humans don’t deserve it. But I am glad it is here for us to enjoy regardless. 

Museum Day 

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If you know anything about me, you know I love a museum. When the heat of summer gets too overwhelming, that’s when you know museum day has arrived. Museums have taught me so much about the world and can provide a respite from the hectic pace of everyday life. In a museum, you set the pace, you choose your own adventure, and find what interests you. Plus, it’s a great way to generate some dinner time discussion to talk about all you have seen! 

Visit a Vineyard

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Have I ever been to a vineyard before? No. Will I let another summer go by without having gone to one? Also, no. There just seems to be something so picturesque about spending a lazy day in nature, drinking wine, and strolling through the rows of grapes. An added sunset wouldn’t hurt the day and neither would a sun kissed, freckled, tan. 

Go Fruit Picking

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I love fruit and I love outdoor activities, so going fruit picking seemed like a natural fit. I once went blackberry picking in Maine and it was such a fun time that I am eager to give it a go again more locally. There is just something so satisfying about picking your own fruit from the Earth and seeing where your food is coming from. An added bonus, now you’ve got fruit for weeks once you’re done!

Find a Summer Hat

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There are hat people and there are people who don’t wear hats. I have always fallen into the latter category up until this summer. In the effort to spend as much time outside as possible, I find that a fine straw hat could be my new accessory of the season. It’s a step outside of my comfort zone, but I am willing to give it a go!

Get a Summer Manicure

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It has been a hot minute since I have gotten my nails done, something that I have waited to do until I became fully vaccinated. Now, the time has come for me to finally step into a nail salon and get some fun, summer inspired nails to brighten up my summer look! My nail beds are screaming for this bucket list item to be checked off, that’s for sure!

Friend Favorites Part VI

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Friends are those who celebrate the victories with us and provide a shoulder to rest on when times are tough. Friends remember where we put our house keys and can offer the best help when picking out a date-night outfit. Friends laugh at our jokes, when they are far from funny, and sing karaoke with us, putting up with our off-pitch vocals. Friends support our hard decisions and call out our bad ones. Friends feed us when we are sick and lift us up on their shoulders when we are thriving (and at a concert). Our friends, they really do it all and these three ladies are no exception! These friends of mine have a whole new slew of recommendations for you this week, from classical gorilla painting to snail trail skin solutions. Wow, I really do love my friends- and all of their quirks!

Grace (left), Tara (center), Jazmin (right)


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Grace: No bake energy bites because they are easy to make, store, and eat!

Tara: I love making acai bowls! I buy either Sambazon or Trader Joe’s base and throw in any fruit and a tbsp of peanut butter for creaminess!

Jazmin: I just got a big pack of amazing creamy fresh mangoes and have had one everyday this past week. I’m an addict. It’s replaced my need for other desserts so it feels slightly healthier. 

Beauty Product

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Grace: COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. This is weird, but you feel the difference and it makes your face feel so great!

Tara: Glossier perfume! I love the scent so much and spray it wherever I go!

Jazmin: My favorite beauty product right now is a Tree Hut Shea Sugar Exfoliating Body Scrub in Coconut Lime I got from Walmart. It’s coconut and lime scented, but not overwhelming as I have really sensitive skin.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Grace: Men dry stretch long sleeve sweatshirt from Uniqlo is the best. I like how basic and versatile it is for Zoom. Also, pockets! Love ’em!

Tara: This Abercrombie polka dot top with a square neckline and tie straps is my favorite and super cute for summer! (similar here)

Jazmin: My favorite clothing item I have right now is a jean jacket I just got from a vintage store in New York City. It has jean sleeves and an old Victorian painting- type tapestry fabric on the main body and it’s so pretty.

Show or Movie

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Grace: Legend of the White Snake. I just finished this C-Drama based off of this old legend and I love that I was able to trick myself to learn more Chinese through this. 

Tara: I have been watching The Crown and I love it! Every time I watch another episode I end up googling the royal family for hours and go down a rabbit hole. 

Jazmin: I’m obsessed with watching any Food Network show and I’m very excited for Spring Baking Championship finale! Another show I was obsessed with a month ago was Ramy, which is on Hulu and is amazing. 

Hobby or Activity

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Grace: I’ve been biking a lot more and discovering new trails that run over 45 miles. Washington Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is a new trail that I have found and love. Even though I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life, I feel like I am discovering a new place every time I am hitting the road. 

Tara: I recently moved back to Boston, so I love to take stroll when the weather is nice and go thrifting!

Jazmin: My current favorite hobby is painting because I think it’s really calming but also fun. I’ve only picked it up this past year and have started painting gorillas in classic well known paintings. I don’t know why, but I think it’s so funny and they’ve turned out kind of OK? (Ursula says: “incredible!”)

Marie Dye on Becoming a Good Leader

Anyone can become a good leader, it’s up to you to take the first step!

When it comes to leadership, it is always best to talk to an expert, that expert being Marie Dye. Marie is a part-time lecturer and a licensed coach, with experience teaching courses at Rutgers University, Kean University, Montclair State University and Union County College. Her courses revolve around leadership, interpersonal communication, group communication, and public speaking. Marie has earned an International Coach Federation (ICF) certification in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance from Rutgers University; a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Seton Hall University, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Kean University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It is clear, Marie is passionate about both education and leadership!

Marie fell into this line of work from her desire to help both herself and other people communicate better, at work and within their personal relationships. In her early career, Marie’s work had been in a variety of different roles where she was serving and connecting with people, whether it be in customer service, banking, or social work. Marie quickly discovered that she wanted to learn how to communicate better, capture a person’s attention, and clearly get her message across. This was especially tied to her work at Bank of New York, when she was tasked with leading and navigating difficult conversations with those much older than herself. Specifically, Marie was asked to terminate someone, an experience that taught her the power of leadership and the responsibilities that follow suit. To Marie, good leaders are self aware, they understand the importance of perception management, and identify the needs of the people around them. “We communicate to get our needs met,” says Marie, whose passion for understanding the subject has been the pursuit of her career. 

Marie breaks down four important factors that contribute to effective leadership that everyone can benefit from, including servant leadership, having a compelling vision, cultivating a positive organizational culture, and embracing individual identity. If you are interested in becoming an effective compelling leader, keep reading!

Servant Leadership 

Marie notes that it wasn’t until her time at Seton Hall University that she really began to understand that leadership is not just about your name and title, but rather what you do to develop others. This is better known as servant leadership, an important aspect of effective leadership. Marie says that it is important for good leaders to be curious about the people they are leading in order to support them as they work towards mobilizing the team to achieve their goals. There is no trickery or manipulation necessary. The overarching goal is to lead others so that they grow and develop as individuals and emerging leaders. Marie believes it is important  that everyone feels seen, valued and heard, because this creates a culture where everyone wants to  bring their best to the table. 

Bottom line: You have to value the people around you. Be genuinely interested in who they are and what they care about. Supporting them to be their best. Building a strong community will gain their respect and their commitment to your compelling vision. Remember a worker bee won’t go the extra mile for you or your company, but the soldier in the trenches will when their captain believes in them and is right beside them. 

Compelling Vision 

This brings us to Marie’s second point in being a good leader, which is having and communicating a compelling vision. Leadership is about influence and people follow those who influence them, whether it be a pastor, social media influencer, or sports superstar. The leader’s job is to understand what the people value so they know what motivates them. It is also in the best interest of the leader to communicate their own beliefs, values and goals. A leader’s vision becomes compelling when it  aligns with their followers values and beliefs. Followers need to understand their leader’s motivations and how their efforts play a part in achieving the leader’s goals and the overall vision. Part of achieving a compelling vision is treating people equally and creating partnerships in leadership and the outcome. 

Bottom Line: Leadership is not about telling someone what to do, it is more about being in community with the people you lead and creating a vision that people feel aligned with. 

Positive Organizational Culture

Almost one hundred percent of the time, culture is determined by who is leading it. It is the leader’s fault if the organizational culture is bad- to put a fine point on it. The culture determines how people feel, if they are heard, and if they feel valued. 

Here are some examples:

In a negative or toxic culture, everyone is fearful, everyone watches their own back, secretly wishing the organization or leadership will fail. There is a distaste for change and no innovation, new ideas, or growth occur. 

On the other hand, when you have a good culture, there is an overwhelming feeling of safety, innovation is welcome from everyone down to the janitor, and everyone brings value. No one desires to leave, people are growing and getting better positions- hey, they even want to work late! These people will carry you through the crisis, they will not abandon or sell you out because there is a tremendous sense of community. 

Bottom Line: The leader affects the culture and the culture affects the people. Leaders are at the heart of employee motivation and the dependency of company or team success. 

Embracing Individual Identity

Research shows that there are certain attributes that effective leaders have, yet there is also substantial evidence that leadership can be taught to anyone; everyone has the potential to become an effective leader. The first step in becoming a leader is knowing who you are and discovering your individual style of leadership- there is no one size fits all! Servant leadership is the basic premise, but your own style of leadership is based on your specific personality, skills, and qualities. 

A trend that Marie sees in those she coaches on how to lead are that they are trying to lead in a way that they think people are supposed to act or behave.  Most people aren’t clear about who they are and what their leadership style is. It all starts with the most simple, yet complex questions. Who am I?

Bottom Line: Developing and nurturing your leadership style is something most people have never had to think about before.  Leadership is not what you see on television, it’s see inside! Marie emphasizes the fact that leaders must be transparent and honest about who they are on the inside.

So what is your style of leadership and how can you develop it? 

You can start by asking yourself these questions and jotting down your responses as a quick start:

  • What are your objectives and goals?
  • We communicate to meet our needs, consider what your needs are and how do you feel most comfortable communicating them?
  • When have you communicated effectively in the past? Why were you successful? When have you communicated and it hasn’t worked? Why were you not successful? 
  • Think about a time when you did not communicate effectively. Why were you not successful? What would you change? 
  • Review your communication style and remember listening is part of communication! Are you a listener or talker, how do you process information? How do the people that you lead communicate and process information?

Taking it a step further? There is also a series of personality tests that you can take, such as 360 leadership assessment, Myers Briggs, and Strengths Finder. Marie recommends, however, to layer these assessments and take more than one. Basically, build a file on yourself! Take the assessment on your own or  find a  certified coach to work with.    

Bottom Line: Find your strengths and capitalize on them when practicing leadership.

You never know, you might even be surprised about what you learn about yourself as you lead others. 

1 Year Since Graduating From College During a Global Pandemic

Well that went fast!

Well, a year it has been; one year since graduating from Babson College and an unexpected one to say the least! I celebrated by final graduation virtually last weekend, despite having grander plans to celebrate in-person. Although the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of an in-person celebration for me, I realized the importance of reflecting on this important event and why celebrating it in an alternative way shouldn’t detract from any feeling of achievement. In fact, staying home for graduation made me realize such a critical lesson: the importance of gratefulness. 

If you would have told me a year and a half ago that I wouldn’t be attending my graduation, a global pandemic interfering would have been the least likely scenario I would have dreamt of hindering me from graduating at Babson. When times were challenging working on my honors thesis, I thought about walking across the stage with my honors peers. When I spent hours on the weekends studying for exams and writing papers, I thought about how much it would mean to receive a latin honors- how proud my family would be. My whole primary school education, I worked tirelessly towards graduating from college. A formal graduation to celebrate it all.

Yet, in reflecting back, I am reminded of how much more important the journey is than the destination. So much in life, I have a tendency to focus all of my energy on thinking about the end game. The final grade, landing the job, the next trip, or the end of the movie. I even distinctly remember how eager I was for the second semester of senior year to come, thinking that the celebrations around graduating that semester would be even better than the first semester. Parties would be better, classes would be better, the list goes on forever. Now, what I would do to go back! To relive those moments and to savor the, what seemed to be at the time, mundane events. 

To truly be content in every circumstance comes with gratitude for the provisions of that day. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me how much I have taken for granted and I am grateful for this newfound perspective of looking at the everyday with fresh eyes. I have a newfound gratefulness for the little things.

Graduation, however, was a big thing! But what I really realized I missed the most about being there wasn’t the pom and circumstance, but the people. My best friends, acquaintances, library co-workers, professor, and everyone in between. 

My international friends and I were able to bond on the day of graduation over the fact that we were not able to attend in-person. I took so much comfort in knowing that we had each other and that, if we did, we would be ok. That any disappointment, challenge, or obstacle that got in our way we could tackle because we would be there for each other. College does that to people. It binds them. 

My friends, professors, and faculty members made my experience at Babson what it was. And my friends are the ones that I know I will take with me throughout my entire life. My chapter in college may have closed, but the door will always remain open as long as I have those around me, who made my college experience what it was, to remind me of the memories and to inspire me to continue being the curious, adventurous, excitable person that I was and continue to be. 

I am forever grateful for the privilege to have attended college, for the incredible people that I have met, and the for professors who helped me grow along the way. 

If I remind myself of these things every day, I know that I will be ok. 

Friend Favorites Part V

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

15 friends later and here we are, halfway through the series! This week, I chose three friends (including one relative) that I have known for quite some time now. I love making new friends, but there is something quite special about having friends you have known for some time. And even these will friends surprise you! Who knew that my gal pal Fifi liked to people watch for style inspo, that my girlfriend Fay enjoyed munching on crackers, or that my own brother has been hiding a facemask that he enjoys from me! Enjoy these new friend favorites- I know I have!

Max (left), Fay (center), Fifi (right)

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Max: Siggis Honey Yogurt and granola. Siggis yogurt is the best, it has a bunch of probiotics and with the honey it is not too sour. This is also a great snack to have before working out, it gives me enough energy without feeling too full.

Fay: My favorite snack is Fantastic Original Rice Crackers because it is a healthy snack that tastes so good and fills me up.

Fifi: As you know, I don’t snack for the most part, but, if I do, I always get Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chocolate chip. It’s just the best ever! I even eat it when it’s 5 degrees in Boston.

Beauty Product

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Max: Belif First Aid Transforming Peel Off Mask. This mask is the absolute best! Coming from someone who has struggled with acne most of my life, I would use this mask before going out and it was like I had a new face after 15 min. It helped clear up some of my breakouts and take the redness out of my face. It is a total lifesaver especially if you are short on time.

Fay: My favorite beauty product is the Obagi Daily Hydro Drops because it is acts as a serum that is so light, yet it provides my face with instant hydration and leaves it with a lovely glow.

Fifi: Anti-aging serum called Rejuvenating Essentials from Comfort Zone. You know what I mean when you turn 25!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Max: My current favorite clothing item is my Replica bianchetto sneakers. I am in love with Maison Margiela replica sneakers. They are a classic look with a twist and great quality. The shoes are a great way to add a bit of fun to your everyday look. This version is my current favorite out of all of the ones in my rotation

Fay: My current favorite clothing line is COS because I can find a variety of items that suit different occasions, whether that be for work or daily outings and they constantly change the collection.

Fifi: I haven’t renewed my closet for a while, but I recently fell in love with the new Chanel flap in cherry, which is limited edition. It’s a new size and just by looking at the picture it makes me so happy, I guess also because spring is coming and I always need a new handbag!

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Max: My current favorite show is Veep. It has to be one of the best TV comedies of all times. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is amazing the whole cast is so talented and even if I have seen the episode a bunch of times I am always laughing. It is especially relatable to today’s political climate.

Fay: My favorite show right now is a Turkish TV series called Cukur and I enjoy watching it because it is an excellent combination of action, romance, and comedy, and storyline just keeps getting more and more interesting.

Fifi: I haven’t watched that much, but I do really like the movie Manchester by the Sea. It’s a little depressing, but it reveals the fact that sometimes you don’t have to work hard to heal the wounds you have from the past. You just have to let them be.

Hobby or Activity

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 12.49.51 PMMax: Current favorite hobby is riding on my Peloton. It’s so much fun and a great workout. I am someone who loved going out before the pandemic, so a ride on the peloton has been my way of coping being indoors for the past year.

Fay: My current favorite activity is going on my daily walk because I get a good 1-1.5 hour of time to just relax and listen to my music or a nice podcast. Of course the best part is when I end my walk with my dog, Asooli.

Fifi: People watching from my window! It sounds sketchy, but I really enjoyed looking at what everyone’s doing and what they are wearing.