How Big Is Your Brave

How Sara Bareilles helped me become fierce and fearless 

Written October 2013

Last month my friend and I saw Sara Bareilles at the Greek. I have been a huge fan since I saw Sara play at a college music festival in 2009. We all know her #1 hit “Love Song,” but this woman is so much more than that catchy albeit empowering pop song. She is at home on stage in more ways than one. Firstly, her voice is completely powerful, and live it’s a religious experience… until she drops her first F-bomb then a dozen subsequent ones. That leads me to my second point: she connects to her audience. Someone yells out “I love you, Sara,” and she’ll call it out right back. The stage is her couch, and the venue is her living room; everyone feels at home as she tells you about the experiences that informed the song she is about to play.

Before she played “Manhattan” on that September night, she discussed her decision to leave Los Angeles—her home of fourteen years—to make the cross-country move to New York City: a need for change, a bittersweet good-bye, and the knowledge that this chapter of her life was coming to an end. She hints at a break-up, perhaps because she was back at the scene of the crime. The lyrics were chillingly beautiful. Written from the perspective of her ex, the one who’s left behind, you get a sense of the pain felt from both parties.

At the show at the Greek, she dropped the veil of detachment that she sometimes puts up while discussing her journey in making the new album. Perhaps it had to do with coming back to L.A. after moving. Perhaps it had to do with playing the iconic stage. Regardless, she showed raw emotion that struck a chord with me.

It was during this song that my eyes started to well up with tears. It was during this song when I had a moment of clarity accepting that all the tension I had felt in the months prior was for naught. After a stressful day, I’ll drive home from work to my quiet apartment trying to breathe deeply and think about anything else. It finally occurred to me that what was missing from my day was the ease of surrounding family and a feeling of home.
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My First Orange October in San Francisco

A year ago, I reflected on cheering on the Giants from San Francisco

The last time I was home for the World Series, I was in high school. I remember visiting California Adventure that October and seeing a Giants sign hung proudly across the faux Golden Gate Bridge (to be fair… and especially since we were in Angels country, there was a halo around the A in the life-sized California letters). In 2010, I watched the Series with my cousin in our Los Angeles apartment. In 2012, I watched the Series with a couple hundred Bay Area fans in Manhattan’s infamous Finnerty’s. That was the closest I came to experiencing a Giants World Series celebration with alcohol.

This year I moved home, and I was thrilled to be working walking distance to AT&T Park—home of the Giants. My first fall home, my first World Series of-age. What have I learned? The Giants aren’t just from San Francisco. They are San Francisco. And San Francisco is them. Here are 7 truths I’ve experienced over this Orange October.

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Everybody Say [Happy Birthday] Ms. Carter

On Beyoncé’s Birthday, 10 lessons from her live performances

beyonce

PHOTO: Time.com.

Today Beyoncé turns 34. We know from many stars before (i.e. Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani) that if you work your pound cake hard enough, you’ll only get better with age. A year ago, I attended the On the Run tour when it made its final stop in San Francisco. I made a concerted effort to avoid any spoilers (as if the show was one of my favorite murder mystery shows… i.e. one with a villain named A), but I knew I was in for a treat.

Mr. and Mrs. Carter set up shop at the home of the Giants, AT&T Park. The energy was palpable walking in; we have watched countless Giants games, but no one had attended a concert there before. No one knew what to expect. The crowd was grabbing pre-show beers, scarfing down some kind of sustenance to soak in the alcohol, hurrying to their seats, chatting uncontrollably.

Then the lights dimmed. Everyone stopped talking. Everyone got on their feet. There were maybe two occasions when the crowd sat down, and it definitely wasn’t during “Forever Young” (Justin Timberlake who? Just kidding. I love JT, but Bey brought new swag to the song) when the entire stadium lit up with 50,000 cell phone lights.

Nothing else mattered while we were gathered together for Jay and Bey. Their technically perfect performance left us wanting nothing more than to savor those two and a half hours. We left changed. But what does that mean really? Let me tell you. In honor of the Queen Bey’s birthday, here are 10 lessons I realized from her live performances, both at On The Run and at that insane spectacular at the MTV Video Music Awards.

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Living with Bitchy Resting Face

My 3 techniques for alleviating Bitchy Resting Face

bitchy resting face

PHOTO: Mizkit.

My bitchy resting face started early—as early as the age of 3. I like to think that it was part of the reason no one liked me in elementary school, that I was merely misunderstood. In truth, I was the girl everyone called “bossy,” so if I’m being honest with myself that likely contributed as well. Another day, another post.

Today I want to to focus solely on the issue of Bitchy Resting Face. It’s real, and I’ve worked most of my life trying to manage public perception of myself because of it. Plus, let’s be real: frowning, however unintentional, causes wrinkles. Here are three techniques I practiced over the last decade that may help alleviate prejudice against your Bitchy Resting Face.

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Leaving Home for Home

1 year after moving, a look back at my decision to leave Los Angeles

los angeles

PHOTO: Tara Freese.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2005, fresh out of high school and ready to tackle my first taste of freedom. The rivalry between the Bay and L.A. was palpable among my friends at LMU, and shortly after starting my freshmen year, I was already homesick for San Francisco. Every opportunity I had to fly home for an extended weekend, I took. Then after opening my eyes to the world and studying abroad in Florence, my perspective changed. My senior year I embraced the limited amount of time I had left in college, took an off-campus internship, and really started to explore the city I had lived in for three years beyond the neighborhood around LMU.

Though I started to find my groove—particularly once I was working full-time at a magazine and working events in glamorous Beverly Hills and exciting West Hollywood—it wasn’t until a couple years after college that I finally admitted to all my Bay Area friends that I loved L.A. I even started to feel a sense of pride in the city (though I will never ever support the Dodgers), especially when people told me how much they hated it.

Many people decide to start fresh after college by moving to a new city; I was not one of those people, though I did face the obstacle of making new friends after my college friends slowly but surely left the area. The last time I really felt like I started a new chapter in my life was when I originally left home. Serendipitously, while cleaning out my place, I found the video from my cotillion and watched it with my parents. My 18-year-old self gave a speech about leaving for college, moving to L.A., and what I’d learned up to that point in life. It was so fascinating to look back at the girl I was before I started this L.A. adventure… and to feel the difference in what I went through then versus what I’m going through now.

Back then I had so much direction and focus: I knew my purpose in moving, I knew what I would study in college, I knew what I wanted to do after (though at that point I thought I would be a high school English teacher first). Now I’m leaving L.A. with more life experience and a better sense of who I have become, though what the future holds may still be hazy (or should I say foggy).

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What I Learned | Twenty-Seven

One week prior to my 28th birthday, a reflection on turning twenty-seven

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Just a month after my 27th birthday, I already felt like a changed woman. Okay, it helps a lot that I left my job just two weeks prior to my birthday and essentially was living like a college kid on summer vacation… so after five years of a regular 9 to 6 job without a lot of free time to travel and breathe, feeling different was inevitable. Nevertheless, the change of pace prompted a lot of reflection and self-discovery. Here’s what I’ve learned since turning 27.

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Downward Dog Diss

A yoga nightmare, 5 lessons I took away, and tips on starting yoga

I find the start of each new season to be a great time to refresh and refocus. Yoga is my way of physically manifesting that philosophy, so I tend to make sure it’s part of my schedule as the seasons turn.

I had never regretted my decision to take a yoga class… until last Wednesday.

I headed to this studio, new to me, with anticipation. It was on my list of studios to try ever since I moved back—probably because it was one of the few with free and easy parking; unlike L.A., here nowhere you go has valet. The studio was warm (I’m talking temperature), and I’m much more comfortable in airy (read, air conditioned) studios but I let go and embraced the fact that I would likely leave the class feeling relaxed and refreshed.

With my limited experience, I believe yoga is a practice of constantly letting go of the ego, calming your mind, focusing your breath, listening to your body. On this evening, the night before the full moon, what our instructor led us through was the complete opposite of that. The class started in a seated position focusing in on the breath. I felt myself center. And this was the last time I would feel calm for the rest of the evening.

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On Burning Out

The story of my wake-up call one year ago and tips on avoiding burn-out

A friend and I were talking about people’s different thresholds of “busy.” She has a full-time office job and teaches fitness classes 3 to 4 days a week. A colleague of mine has a full-time job, teaches an extracurricular class once a week, oh, and has a husband and four kids to care for. I attest my own desire to fill my days to my early training in elementary school. My mom had my sisters and me in after-school activities galore—from ballet to swimming, speed reading (an excuse for me to spend more time at the library) to student council. Once I left school for the real world, I felt the need to continue being “involved”… I became my high school alumni association’s class representative, joined my sorority’s alumni chapter and took on a leadership role, then found other ways to use my marketing knowledge by joining my sister’s company’s team part time and decided to get back into writing by launching The Single Diaries with a friend.

The only sure thing is that we have 24 hours in a day and, when you have an inflexible office job, you have to wake up at a certain time every morning. For someone like me who can stay up all night, it is a challenge to stay committed to a bedtime when I can find other things I want to do but didn’t have time to earlier in the day (write or edit a post, read a book, watch Melrose Place). There were evenings when after work I thought I could do it all: run off to an early barre class, stop by a book club meeting, then finish editing a post scheduled to go up the next day. Other days I had to make sacrifices. Instead of organizing a boozy brunch (one of my favorite pastimes), I committed to a Saturday work session at a local cafe.

Taking on an extra project is great in the years after college when making money needs to be your priority to pay for student loans and to get your feet off the ground. In those years, most of us need to work a traditional full-time job to learn the value of a paycheck and to garner experience to build our resume. A side hustle is a way for you to find your passion and develop the skills you need to make your dreams a reality. But what happens when your full-time job and your side hustle leave you with little to no free time?

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My Day on a Juice Cleanse

My experience with a 1-day juice cleanse from Project Juice

PHOTO: PHOTO: Project Juice.

PHOTO: PHOTO: Project Juice.

It’s true; crash diets are not sustainable, and adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to look and feel your best year round. But there are times when you really want to look like a rock star for pictures: your 30th birthday, your wedding, and festival season. One month left before Coachella, and every festival goer is probably working overtime to get their bodies “picture perfect.” I’m not great at following particular restrictions for an extended period of time, so I save any crazy rules for 3-4 weeks prior to my moment of glory. This year I’m starting with a day of juice to jumpstart and reset. Curious to see how a carnivore like me fares on a liquid diet? Read on for my first successful experience on a juice cleanse… and the lessons I learned for the next one.

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5 Habits to Drop in 2015

PHOTO: Pinterest.

PHOTO: Pinterest.

Over the years I’ve realized the power of positivity which, for the new year, usually means focusing on the goals we want to accomplish. However, during a very telling self-reflection after my job burnout last summer, I realized the only way to truly evolve is to face my flaws. As we transition into another year of learning, here are the bad habits I vow to leave behind.

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