The 20 Something Years Feed

The Twenty-Something Checklist

Paper & Glam - The Twenty Something Checklist

Have you read Jennifer Schaffer's A Checklist for Age 19? Jennifer's list is genius, here are a couple of my favorite hauntingly true lines:

Know that you are on track for successes that will always be secondary to that thing you really wanted but were too cowardly to chase. Imagine yourself surrounded by Excel sheets on 40-inch iMac screens and feel terror.

Get excited about things like jogging and dinner parties and rooftop gardens and adopted mutts and raw foods. Start training for a 5K. Throw together an evening with sliced tomatoes and Charles Shaw and medium-rare, Forman-grilled steaks. Climb onto the roof of a two-story academic building at night. Visit the websites of animal shelters, point and click and say ‘that’s the one.’ Develop neurotic habits when choosing produce at Trader Joe’s. Craft convincing imitations of a world you’ve yet to enter. Exist in a perpetual state of preparation for a life you’ve yet to earn.

Forgive. Forget. Fake it. Chin up. Wear lipstick, make lists, make sure your voicemail isn’t full. Mix protein shakes, send timely thank you notes, sip drinks more slowly...develop perfect posture. Be gracious, be kind, eliminate self-pity. Capitalize your emails, read the news, walk briskly, stay focused, and never, ever let on that you are somewhat lost and sometimes lonely and so completely confused (and would someone please just let me know what it is I’m supposed to do next, where exactly I’m supposed to go–). Just keep going. Go, and do not stop.

Jennifer's list inspired me to create my own Twenty Something Checklist of 20 pieces of advice I wish I'd heard before embarking on the decade after college. I did not write all the lines, I curated many of them from a variety of blogs, books, movies, magazines, and great conversations. It's a cheat sheet for life in your twenties, and I hope you find it as useful.

  1. Drink too much coffee, wear bright pink nail polish, and never settle for a life you don't want. {Paper & Glam}

  2. Washing your hair is going to be a chore. But you should do it anyway. You will feel better about yourself.

  3. Life is a constant battle between I want to look good in a bikini and Treat yo'self. Find a balance. {Paper & Glam}

  4. He is going to break your heart but he’s just another male human who finds it hard to deal with Mondays, too.

  5. In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it. {Mitch Albom, Five People You Meet In Heaven}

  6. If you want to feel like a put together individual instead of a frazzled mess, get up earlier. Watch the sun come up as you drink your first cup of coffee. Make your bed. Keep your room clean. Buy some candles and fresh flowers. {Paper & Glam}

  7. Don’t fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names, understand why they're here and don't need to be in the future. Some of them are very nice.

  8. Whenever you feel like critizing someone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had. {Scott F. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatspy}

  9. Music is good for you. Pop music will get you ready in the morning quickly and with a little sparkle. Country will remind you to keep it simple. Love songs will make you cry and think about that boy again. It’s healthy to let it out, but do move on. {Paper & Glam}

  10. Victim complexes are not attractive. Boys (or girls) will not date you because you are sad. They are not going to date you and kiss your aching bones and cure you of your dragging depression. Wake up. Take a bath. Do your hair. Be attractive.

  11. Sadness is not poetic. Depression is not beautiful. Laying in bed all day and eating too much is lazy,  it is not tragic or pretty. Get up. Go outside. Let the sun warm your bones. Live.

  12. If it makes you happy, do it. Dedicate your life to it. Wake up early and stay up late for it. Skip parties and late nights out if it means spending more time on that thing you were put on earth to do. Print it on shirts and collect things that inspire you to do more of it. Do not care what people think. {Paper & Glam}

  13. When you get to your mid-twenties, every other weekend is a wedding related activity. Chin up, we're all right there with you. {Paper & Glam}

  14. You're a lucky girl if you've got your own apartment, coffee in the cabinet and books on the shelf. {Paper & Glam}

  15. Don't lose too much weight. Girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. {Marty McConnell}

  16. If you miss someone, miss them. Send them life and love everytime you think of them, and then drop it. {Eat. Pray. Love.}

  17. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. We all need to leave and come back for all the same reasons. {Donald Miller}

  18. A Sunday well spent brings a weeks content.

  19. The sound of high heels on the pavement as you walk is the ultimate power trip, like you could be buying milk or on your way to assassinate someone.

  20. Live an exemplary life. Think about the woman you wanted to grow up to become, is that the person you see looking back at you in the mirror? If not, it's not too late to live a life of example. {Paper & Glam}

What's on your Twenty-Something Checklist? 

*The lines without the {source} are unknown. If you know the source, please share.

A Long Obedience

Paper & Glam - A Long Obedience

The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; thereby results, have always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living. - Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil

Since we rang in the new year, I've been reading Eugene Peterson's A Long Obedience. If you're new to Eugene Peterson's work, he is brilliant. Not only did he translate the Bible into contemporary language in The Message translation, he's written over 30 books including one of my favorites, Leap Over A Wall on the life of King David. The most intriguing characteristic of Peterson's writing is his ability to show us how our individual journeys are mirrored in the stories of the Bible.

In A Long Obedience, he takes The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) and charters the journey of spiritual growth, starting with the most basic truth: life is a hard, there are no easy journeys.

The simplest and most ancient of human truths: Life is an arduous and tragic struggle that has a great deal to do with competence earned by struggling for excellence; with compassion, hard won by confronting conflict; and with modesty and patience, acquired through silence and suffering. - Thomas Szasz

This is a largely undisputed truth among spiritual teachers and psychologists. The first of the "Four Noble Truths" which Buddha taught was "life is suffering" and Scott Peck put it plainly yet eloquently in The Road Less Traveled:

Life is a series of problems. Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

But why is life so difficult? It forces us to persevere, seek to know God and ourselves, and ultimately, to grow.

In January, I met Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Gretchen shared that her research showed that the greatest determinants of happiness are novelty, challenge, and self-knowledge.

If we want to be happy we must challenge ourselves, seek to know ourselves, and change.

This truth is especially interesting in the context of spiritual journey and the odyssey of the twenty-something years. The spiritual journey is a quest for knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of God. When we embark on the path of growth we become students of our own human experience as predicated by our experiences with God.

Paper & Glam - Catalina Hike

As we climb up towards heaven we are challenged, and the by-products of that challenge is self-knowledge, and ultimately change. 

Let's climb the mountain of God. He'll show us the way he works so we can live the way we're made. - Isaiah 2:3, The Message

The mountain climb allegorizes the spiritual journey, just as the quest for the Holy Grail allegorized an inner spiritual search.

There is only one journey. Going inside yourself. - Rainer Maria Rilke

Imagine you are on a hike in the woods and you kept passing what appeared to be the same tree, over and over again. You would start to wonder if you were making any progress right? Inwardly, you know you're growing stronger and maturing, but outwardly, you're at the same place on the trail, stuck like we're waiting to catch a bus down the mountain, wondering if the bus is coming, and if it is coming, where is it taking you next?

This is the "long obedience."

How do we persevere on this mountain climb of life full of potholes, steep inclines, and winding roads?

I only know one way to cope: trust God when He says, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). 

The other thing we can remember in these times of treading water in life, is that God knows it's easy for us to lose our perspective and our compassion when all is going swimmingly. Without periods of perseverance, we can't "learn to be content in whatever state we find ourselves" (Philippians 4:11) and trust that "whatever happens, we know God has permitted it to take place to teach us and to perfect us for His service" (Billy Graham). 

God didn't promise that obedience will be easy, or glamorous, or romantic, but He promised a hope and a future. 

Paper & Glam - A Long Obedience and Spring

My encouragement today if you're in a trying season, or a slow season, or a long winter in life is to keep pressing on in the same direction. It's March, light the candles, Spring is coming.

Portland: Coffee, Combat Boots & Creative Culture

Paper & Glam - Portland City Guide

Ready for a weekend getaway to Portland, Oregon?

Paper & Glam - DEN - SEA - PDX

The trip started out shaky as Denver freeways turned to ice rinks overnight and the Denver airport canceled my flight due to the inclement weather. After sprinting through the airport to snag a flight to Seattle and a connection to Portland, my glossy travel companions and I, Vanity Fair and Vogue settled in for quiet flight to Portlandia.

Paper & Glam - Vogue Vanity Fair Travel Companions And touchdown...

Paper & Glam - Welcome to America's Bicyle Capital

After arriving in America's bicycle capital, I was greeted by this color-blocked library in my hotel's lobby at the Marriott City Center. We know I love color-blocked bookshelves!

Paper & Glam - Marriot City Center

The first stop on my Portland adventure was Stumptown Coffee, where I experienced the uncontested best skinny vanilla latte of my life. Stumptown's coffee is incredible and it's quality cannot be overstated. I'd also recommend picking up some of the Guatemalan beans to duplicate the experience in the comfort of your own home.

Paper & Glam - Stumptown Coffeephoto credit

Next on the agenda was a stop next door at the infamous VooDoo Doughnut. VooDoo's maple bacon bar will change your life and there is a line around the block at all hours to prove it! I'm thanking my lucky stars a VooDoo opened in Denver in December. Let me confess I made myself sick indulging in maple bacon delights on that fine day.

Paper & Glam - VooDoo Donut Shoppe

VooDoo has been featured on the Travel Channel's No Reservations as well as Bizarre Foods (you can watch the segments and drool here and here).

Paper & Glam - VooDoo Donuts Sign

Next stop on our tour is Blue Star Donuts for a bacon maple face-off. Blue Star makes their donuts from a classic French recipe yielding light, fluffy donuts.

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donut Shop

If you want the pick of the litter, you'll need to head to the shop before 9 as they make their donuts daily, sell out, and close up shop. How did Blue Star stack up against VooDoo? Like apples and oranges. 

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donuts Selection

I could eat a dozen of Blue Star's maple delicacies where VooDoo leaves me at the point of overdose after just one of its famed maple bacon bars. Blue Star's donuts don't leave you feeling heavy or headed to type two diabetics. However, the gold medal goes to VooDoo...I see VooDoo donuts in my dreams.

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donut Maple Bacon

Next stop, Palio Coffee. I wanted to visit the coffee shop where Donald Miller wrote the author's note in Through Painted Desserts, which is one of my favorite passage of all time.

Paper & Glam - Palio Coffee

Palio was quaint and a writer's dream as Donald Miller describes it: 

I come here, to Palio coffee, for the big windows. If I sit outside, the sun gets on my computer screen, so I come inside, to this same table, and sit alongside the giant panes of glass. And it is like a movie out there, like a big screen of green...

Paper & Glam - Cupcake Jones

The best cupcakes I've encountered after Sprinkles (Sprinkles - The World's First Cupcake Bakery and "the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze" - Los Angeles Times) come from Cupcake Jones in the Pearl District. Cupcake Jones is full of fanciful flavors that change daily and seasonally. If you crave exotic cupcakes, this is your place.

Paper & Glam - Powell's Books

At last, we get to the reason I will always return to Portland as the book beacon beckons, Powell's...the world's largest independent bookstore.

Paper & Glam - Powell's City of Books

I spent a half-day rooming the rooms carefully color-coded ensuring bibliophiles safe passage and emerged with the holy grail of books, an early-edition hardcover of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast (and 15 other new used book friends).

Paper & Glam - Powell's Books Staircase

After all the intellectual stimulation I was ready for some comfort food from Boxer Ramen. We arrived at Boxer ten minutes before opening to find a line eagerly awaiting a crack in the hot pink door. 

Paper & Glam - Boxer Ramen

After a bowl of the Spicy Red Miso I understood why. Boxer Ramen is the best ramen I've experiences. Boxer is in a dead tie with Papa Haydn for my favorite meal of the trip

Paper & Glam - Ramen

After lunch at Boxer, we traipsed down an adjacent ally to Quin Candy for dessert. Quin is a modern and sophisticated candy shop boasting shelves of handmade gumdrops, marshmallows, chocolates and fruit chews. 

Paper & Glam - Quin Candy

After Quin, it was time for a little shopping down the street at the Doc Marten headquarters and flagship store...

Paper & Glam - Dr. Martens Headquarters

where I came away with the most adorable and edgy floral combat boots. One of the best things about Portland is its walk-ability. We walked almost everywhere we went which necessitates "air walk" comfort. These combat boots made me feel like a local while easily traversing the coffee and pastry-laden streets of Portland. While I ate my way through Portland, I also walked my way, which means I didn't board the plane back to Denver with extra caloric baggage. 

Paper and Glam - Floral Combat Boots

Portland has an honesty to it I've never felt in a city. It's truly a place you can let your hair down, and yet it's got this hipster, intellectual vibe running through it. Portland is the most literate city in the country, every barista and batender has a master's degree.

With Portland boasting the best coffee and the biggest bookstore, it's easy to see why. You can sit with a glass of wine and a fresh issue of Vogue at many cafes like Southpark unencumbered by the bustle you find in most major metropolitan cities. Portland it quietly chic with it's combat boot and coffee culture without taking on a trace of pretense. 

When I'm not hustling in IT to pay for the wicked expensive B.B.A. I earned which qualified me to sit behind a desk until five everyday and awaken stressed during the night, I just want to read books, drink coffee, and make stuff. Portland is a city full of current and ex-Intel/Oracle employees who understand you can have all you need with a cup of hot coffee, a pair of comfy combat boots, and a creative culture around you.

Dear Portland,

As I sit writing, staring out into grey skies, drinking Stumptown coffee from my Powell's Books mug, wearing macaron pajamas procured tax-free from Forever 21, reading a killer article about how American narcissim created a Hipster generation, I know you get me and I can't wait to return. 

Paper & Glam - Portland Writing

This city guide is by no means an exhaustive list of what to see in Portland, but it showcases the best parts of my trip, and in my humble opinion, what is not to be missed. On my next visit, I'll be sure to eat my way through some of "America's best street food" from Portland's 700 food trucks and make another stop at each of the above. 

And now I go check "Go Some Place New" off my list of 2014 resolutions!