This week is packed full with midterms, projects, summer apps (say what? there’s more?!), stats psets, playing catch up, and just running… in the rain… across campus. And for that, I am grateful there are friends who aren’t to scared to sing raindrops are falling on my head (alert: premaratne classic!) So amidst all of this, I thought I’d just share some of the things that have kept me sane and smiling through this crazy week with no white spaces on my calendar. Woo!
1. This is just beautiful. And really makes me want to learn how to play the piano. One day.
2. This should just make you smile. SMILE.
3. As should Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe it’s just me, but she just comes across as so very real. Not to mention she won an Oscar!
4. Because friends are amazing and one sweet girl reminded me of this.
5. And just one last one: This woman just always inspires me, even as she says… Good morning, America! There’s always room for a little gratitude.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. There’s been a lot of chatter about what women can and can’t have… and whether or not they really can have it all. First, off what does “having it all” even mean? It’s an elusive and evading concept at best. And worse yet, it’s not really reachable, is it? Quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I would be scared and unhappy if I ever did feel that I really did “have it all.” I’m a fixer, a problem solver, a creative mess. And if I have everything, what’s worth fighting for? Ok yes, I’m taking this question a little bit to toward the extreme side. But my point remains: if I were to respond to Anne Marie Slaughter’s article or Sheryl Sandberg’s rallying cry, I’d say that yes, you can’t necessarily have it all, but you can have what you want, and what you really, really need.
I think sometimes that if all you learn in college is what exactly you need to be a proper functioning adult– and as an added benefit, a successful one– you’ve learned quite a bit. Setting time aside to figure out the 3-5 things you need each and every week to be at your best is doable… and it’s helpful. It’s something I’ve seen so many female leaders from Marissa Mayer to my professors talk about. Whether you need to grocery shop and know what’s in your fridge, go out and dance, or just eat out once every week, honing in on that one ‘need’ and making it a priority for yourself helps. It helps you ask others for help on the things you really don’t want to be doing and it helps you stave off that resentment you feel at the end of the week when you’ve worked too hard and you can’t even get the one darn thing you really want.
For me, I’ve realized those things I need keep changing. And that’s not a bad thing. But there are constants. Like swinging outside on the playground and skating to music or teaching little kids . It’s just having an hour to drink coffee and watch Meet the Press on Sundays or carving out the time in my schedule to fixate on my friends’ lives and their adventures. These are all things I need. Slowly and slowly, they’ve become priorities. And you know what? That’s a good thing. I don’t think you should ever have to explain your priorities. But you can (and I’d endeavor should) make them happen. Just for you.
Sometimes, we talk (or write) too much. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy and here is to a wonderful week ahead!
Be mesmerized by the enormity of your dream; then don’t let it go.
Light a small fire within and you’ll be surprised by just how naturally passionate you have always been.
Yi Peng — Thailand’s Festival of Lights. During this centuries-old celebration thousands gather to send the country’s famous paper lanterns skyward to pay homage to Lord Buddha and cleanse themselves of bad luck. One day.
2013 — An installation for the One Billion Rising Campaign by Artist Shilpa Gupta in India. This is an amalgamation of different languages coming together poetically. The installation comes alive with lights at Carter Road by night.
Now, I realize that there are so many (amusing) ways that the title of this post could be misconstrued. Knowing this, I feel obliged to put your doubts to rest right now, for this 19 year old is still a momma’s girl and the only ‘maternal’ pangs I have are for my own mother, because gosh, sometimes I do miss her so hopelessly much. Even though we’re whirring and spinning through this crazy college life, where we bump into each other for the dinner date or the movie night or the study session, all the while we’re still very much on our own tracks. Sometimes I wish that I was still young enough to be in the backseat with my mom at the wheel. But, at least when I go home and attempt to drive a car, one of my parents will inevitably insist that they follow behind me in their car or sit beside me in the passenger’s seat– now, that may sound equally hopeless, but its still endearing and luckily I’ve mustered up the courage to politely refuse once in a while :)
The real reason I write is to share a personal passion of mine: Maternal Health. And a wonderful program called the Young Champions of Maternal Health, run out of the Maternal Health Task Force Project at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Participating in the first-ever international fellowship that focuses specifically on developing the next generation of leaders which will fight for the maternal health cause, the Young Champions are entrepreneurs, innovators, global health enthusiasts, and activists who develop a project to improve the quality of maternal healthcare in poor resource settings.
Working in the priority areas of Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Mexico, these Maternal Health Youth Champions include Solomon Abebe Addis of Ethiopia, who is working to research news ways of improving the health of HIV positive mothers, Priya John of India, who is hoping to gain clinical experience while improving efforts to document and report maternal deaths at the local level, and Luz Maria Soto Pizano of Mexico, who is working to develop programs for pregnant women to ensure that they receive the care that they need.
Here are the facts:
194 women die out of every 100,000 live births in Bangladesh
13,000 women in Tanzania die every year due to labor and pregnancy-related complications
Nearly 70,000 young women die every year because their bodies are not ready for motherhood
90% of these deaths are preventable.
Now, meet the solution:
The current class of Young Champions, their mentors, and IIE staff at the 2013 Global Maternal Health Conference.
Life lately has been busy, productive, not-so-productive, and cha(llen)nging. I’m still finding my way back on this campus and I won’t lie to you–it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be. Harvard is one busy place some times. And this school thing? With deadlines and homework– is not exactly familiar to me anymore, ya know? Through it all, I’ve been oh so thankful for little moments like these…
Coffeeshops on snowy Sundays. Two words: Hot Chocolate.
Am I right?
Turns out while I was gone this little establishment called INSOMNIA COOKIES popped up.
Chocolate chip cookies and warm milk? Um, I think yes.
There are a lot of ‘intellectual’ debates one can have here. Like what M&M is actually the best? I mean, is this really even a debate? Thank you for trying to convince me otherwise, Meredith. Not. (Brown m&ms for the win)
And lest you think the only good moments have involved food, I snapped this last Sunday. It’s a purple sunset. PURPLE. And to be fair (sorry to disappoint you!), this was snapped in the dining hall… during a meal. Ok, so I lied. But this sunset?
Wherever you are, I hope you take sometime to unwind and slow down. Take it easy. It’s so helpful. Happy weekend! – Inesha
Cameron Russell is tall, beautiful, and looks magazine ready as she steps onto the stage at a recent TED conference. She’s also a Victoria’s Secret model. But as she proceeds to do a “wardrobe change” in front of the crowded room, she also discusses how miraculous it is that she can change what people think of her in just a few minutes. And just how powerful that is.
But Cameron’s entire talk is about perception, and how even careers like modeling, which may seem to many a young girl to be the epitome of a glamorous, comfortable lifestyle, are not always all that appears on a glossy, photoshopped fashion spread in the pages of Elle.
Cameron’s message is refreshing, honest, and surprising in a way that puts the mantra of female empowerment and body image conflicts in an entirely new light.
The next thing people always ask me is, ‘can I be a model when I grow up?’ And, my first answer is ‘I don’t know, they don’t put me in charge of that.’ But the second answer, and what I really want to say to these little girls is, ‘Why? You know, you could be anything.’
I venture to say that not many people–especially those in Cameron’s position–would tell another to not strive to be like them. And yet this (role) model does. But more than that, for all the women and young girls listening she opens up a window into a world full of possibilities that are not based on a “genetic lottery,” as she calls it. That message means more by virtue of coming from a model’s mouth. At the very least, Cameron says something that catches most of us off guard, but at the most–and in reality–what she has done is caught one of our engrained perceptions by the tail, held it tightly, and challenged it to swim upstream in a different direction.
You could be anything.
If you still want to be a model, Cameron says, “Be my Boss.”
Take a few minutes to watch her inspiring talk here!
Walking through the Square this afternoon I was met by at least three separate “be careful, Miss”–that perfectly friendly Bostonian greeting that tells me why yes, I have finally met the famed New England winter. It also tells me that everyone around me who sees this short girl with the far too heavy backpack sloshing and sliding along in her boots must not be from around here. Well, guilty as charged.
I must say one thing though–the way they handle snow up here is nothing short of amazing. The kind of snow that would have shut my hometown down for weeks was cleared off the roads in about 24 hrs. Businesses were open again today and there was an unusually large number of people holding Starbucks cups tightly in their gloved and mitted hands as if it were gold–or at least a reward, for braving the snow maze.
A Harvard Tradition #harvardbucketlist
When Nemo came through, my friends and I were definitely not even considering venturing outside. But in the hours after the worst of the storm, soon the hollering and shouting could be easily heard throughout Mather House. All of us had been lounging on the various couches and sofas in the other common room, when we hurriedly went to the window to see what all the commotion was about.
None other than twenty students were standing at one edge of the courtyard cheering and waving their arms while pointing at the other. Our gazes slowly shifted. Save a single pair of shorts, a young man was running stark naked through the courtyard–at remarkable speed I might add (not that this is surprising considering the subzero temperatures). Apparently someone had just lost a snowball fight.
Now, neither my friends nor I are so crazy that we could have ever been persuaded to shed our layers and run for it, but the next day we did gear up for another Harvard tradition:
sledding down Widener Library’s steps.
It was quite the scene. Loud hoots and shouts from people lining up with their contraband dining hall trays to sled down the famous steps, their friends and supporters cheering them on and piling as much snow as they could onto the pathway to cushion their ride. Our motley crew left Mather and trekked our way to Harvard Yard on a route through almost unrecognizable territory–roads strewn with white, snow plows saving the day, and plenty of students, families, and tourists alike coming to share in this remarkable world of white. I for one, Virginia girl that I am, have never seen that much snow in my life. But man was I excited to sled on it :)
That was one memorable afternoon and, if the weather is kind to us for the two remaining winters that I have here at Harvard, it will be the only one of its kind. There were Seniors flooding the yard in swarms, excited to check another item off of that #bucketlist during their last semester as undergraduates. As we were leaving the “slopes” I saw one recent grad who has been living and working in our House and has become a friend over the past semester.
“Have you ever done this before?” I asked her.
“Nope, this kind of thing only happens once,” she replied with a grin.
I suppose what she meant was, it only happens once while you’re at Harvard–so you better make it count. :)