As Read By Kara

April 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

Many of you asked me for book suggestions after reading Books Over Boyfriends, so I put together a reading list of my 10 favorites from the past year. These books will make you laugh, cry, smile and guess. They will make you feel comforted and confused, simple and complex. They will make you wish you wrote them first.

I tried to list them in order of how much I loved them, but I kept changing my mind. Trust me, they are all worth reading. I have included my favorite quote from each book. Click the titles for links to summaries better than any I could write myself.

1. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”

ill-give-you-the-sun

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life–or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window–is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”

81YFR0tzqgL._SL1500_

3. Paper Towns by John Green

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.”

51hgkNew+XL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

Book Review-The Girl on the Train

5. The One & Only by Emily Giffin

“So much of how we see the world is a matter of interpretation. A matter of wishing and wanting and hoping rather than really deep-down believing.”

Book Review The One and Only

6. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan Introduction by Anne Fadiman

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We can’t, we must not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

1397733525000-TheOppositeOfLoneliness-600

7. Looking For Alaska by John Green

“But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”

Looking_for_Alaska_original_cover

8. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit. That’s why you can’t save it all up like that. Because by the time you finally see each other, you’re catching up only on the big things, because it’s too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life.”

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-9781442426702_hr

9. YES Please by Amy Poehler

“I have realized that mystery is what keeps people away, and I’ve grown tired of smoke and mirrors. I yearn for the clean, well-lighted place. So let’s peek behind the curtain and hail the others like us. The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around.”

81yNb5R70oL

10. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

rowell_ep_us

Enjoy! & if you’re in the Manchester area, let me know if you’re interested in starting a summer book club.

Books Over Boyfriends

March 24, 2015 § 1 Comment

I am a physical book kind of girl.

I love the feel of the pages, the aesthetic of the inside cover panel and the way I can gauge my progress simply by glancing at the bookmark. I can’t read a book without a highlighter & page flags close by. Every book I’ve ever read is a well-loved, dog-eared, color-coded wonderland.

I’m sharing this with you because I want to help you understand my love affair with books. You see, this is a relatively new thing for me…

I always thought that by this age, a man would have my heart.

However, as a traveling sorority consultant working primarily with 18-22 year old women, run-ins with the male species are hard to come by. So, I’ve been spending most of my free time cozying up with books, and I’ve come to realize that they make great companions. They make me less stressed, more interesting, and I can count on them to be there whenever I feel lonely. Plus, as soon as I’m done with one, there is always another waiting in the wings!

I enjoy reading for the same reason as anyone else—an escape. I love the way a book allows me to insert myself into somebody else’s story. It allows me to spend time with fictional characters in faraway lands while real life waits in the parking lot.

One of my favorite things about reading is that the stories stay with me after the covers are closed. While I’m no longer immersed in the pages and the names of the characters inevitably escape me, the lessons learned from each book I read follow me wherever I go. If ever I need to be reminded of a sentiment, I refer back to my well-marked pages.

In a way, I feel like the books I’ve read are like my diaries.

If you were to gather them all, flip through and read every passage I’ve ever highlighted, you would really understand me; the way I think, what I believe in, what I wish I were like, what I wish I had written first. There is something so beautifully vulnerable about that.

You can learn a lot about a person by noticing their highlights and paying attention to the things they appear to love.

But there is still so much to wonder. Did they love it because it made them laugh? Cry? Think? Dream? Smile? Did it bring them back to a memory? Did it make their heart pound?

I feel naked when I think of another person reading the books I’ve read, wondering about all my markings. Do they make me seem more predictable or more complex?

They would come across coffee specks on the outside margins and wonder if I read that chapter in my kitchen or somewhere else. Maybe they would picture me at a hole-in-the-wall bakery or on the neighbors’ back porch.

They would come across mascara-stained pages and wonder which line was the one that made me feel. Maybe they wouldn’t need to wonder because they felt it, too.

I think that’s why I am so infatuated with the idea of books that once belonged to strangers. Someday soon I want to raid a used book store and buy the most tattered and marked-up books I can find. I want to buy books with inscriptions inside the front cover and notes in the margins. They feed my fascination with the way books connect people.

I’m in love with the way a book can tell the story written on its pages as well as the story of its reader.

Unfortunately, books are heavy. So are my suitcases.

So for now I leave my physical books in places I’ve been, to tell pieces of my story through words written by authors who don’t even know I exist. I’m anxiously awaiting the day I’ll have a library of my own filled with shabby, highlighted pages that will keep me alive long after I’m gone.

[Book list coming soon]

FullSizeRender-2

A Gut You Can Trust

March 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

It’s been 19 flights, 17 cities, 4 Ubers, 3 cabs, 1 train ride and a Canadian rental car since I last blogged. (I don’t really count the poem I wrote for Dr. Seuss).

FullSizeRender-1 Cool things I’ve done since then:

  • I turned 23.
  • I hung out with Minnie Mouse.
  • I “rang them bells” at Club Cumming.
  • I got my first speeding ticket (Cool? Debatable. Noteworthy? Yes.)
  • I watched my sister star as the lead in a Broadway show.
  • I gambled in a casino for the very first time.
  • I got hightop, snakeskin Nike sneakers.
  • I starred as Frosty the Snowman in a kindergarten play.
  • I traveled to 11 countries in 10 hours. (Thank God for Epcot)
  • I watched the Patriots win yet another Super Bowl.
  • I hugged Emma Stone.
  • I “fangirled” over the Spice Girls with Emma Stone.
  • I missed my MegaBus back to New Hampshire because of Emma Stone.
  • I basically stopped breathing BECAUSE OMG EMMA STONE.

FullSizeRender-3

When I’m not doing cool things like those I mentioned above, I’m doing other cool things with collegiate chapters of Alpha Delta Pi. As my time as a Leadership Consultant is quickly dwindling, I can’t help but look back and be grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned thus far, like the importance of flexibility, patience, independence, and packing the heaviest items toward the wheels of my suitcase.

The most important lesson, however, is one that was difficult for me to articulate. But that’s why we have mentors and loved ones… to help us find the words we can’t find ourselves. More on that later.

Toward the end of last semester, I spent a few days in Charleston visiting with all my favorite people at my old stomping grounds. As a woman who prides herself on “flying by the seat of [my] pants” most of my visits were surprise drop-ins to friends, co-workers and professors alike. I was so excited when I caught my former boss, the always-busy & always-smiling Stephanie Auwaerter, at a good time to talk. As I was sharing with Steph all the places I’d been and skills I’d developed, I struggled to articulate my favorite part of the job—my appreciation for the creative freedom that comes along with it.

I shared with Steph that although I’d always held leadership roles and worked hard, I’d often held back a little more than I’m proud to admit. I rarely shared my opinions if I didn’t think they’d be well received and I usually relied on my classmates to ask the questions I was too embarrassed to ask. My mind is often overflowing with ideas, but I developed this pattern of silencing myself due to lack of confidence. I almost always thought someone else would come up with something better, or what I was thinking might be stupid. I’d been living so much of my young life as the Queen of TalkingMyselfOutOfThings. It wasn’t cool and it wasn’t propelling me forward.

Throughout college I worked toward sharpening my skills and growing comfortable contributing more substantially in group settings. It was a slow but steady process. Now that I’m traveling on my own and facing new challenges and opportunities each day, I have developed the confidence to recognize areas that need improvement and capitalize on them in true Kara Cronin style. I feel entitled to think up a workshop or share my outlandish ideas with the knowledge that maybe they’ll resonate with others, come to fruition and make an impact. And if they don’t? Well, I think there’s a quote somewhere about the biggest failures leading to the greatest successes. Live and learn.

So Steph looks at me and says, “You know what you’re saying, right? You’ve developed a gut you can trust.”

I love that! Don’t you love that? She is so right. I may have always had a good gut instinct but it has taken me 23 years to fully believe in it. It is so refreshing to believe in it.

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to expose yourself to situations that will help you develop a gut you can trust. Find a job or a hobby that motivates you to challenge yourself while feeling confident and empowered to do things your way. I promise, it feels damn good.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! 

March 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hard to find perfect words but I guess I will try,

To wish a big happy birthday to a most special guy–
The only doctor who’s known to make everyone smile,
Thanks for teaching us authenticity is always in style.
You taught us being silly is more than okay
And that we have the power to pave our own way. 
You told us those who don’t mind are the ones who matter,
And for your nonsensical wisdom I couldn’t be gladder.
Your rhymes will stay with me as I continue to grow,
Always in my mind & I thought you should know.
Your creativity and wit have inspired me, too
And for that, Dr. Seuss I give a big ol’ thank you! 


A Simple Idea, Not A Small One

November 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s been 8 flights, 6 cities and 5 rental cars since I last blogged. I’ve officially fallen prey to “not having enough time” and I’m sick of it. It is a terrible excuse. SO here I go again, re-starting my mission to blog regularly without big gaps… to make time for this pastime I just so happen to love. Personal challenge accepted.

To catch you up, here are some recent highlights of my life:

    • My favorite season [autumn] officially arrived!
    • rice krispieI met the largest Rice Krispie treat on the planet
    • The Voice Season 7 began
    • I finished what is now my favorite book (I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson)
    • I stole Sadie’s identity at Christopher Newport University
    • I tried [& enjoyed] Strawberry Phosphate
    • I was upgraded to First Class
    • The Panera employees in Rome, GA learned my order so I can now say “the usual”IMG_0033
    • I had my first (and second and third) Sheetz experience with ADPi at Allegheny
    • Theta Upsilon was officially installed at Shorter University
    • I went to a Mask and Wig show and went on an impromptu “dessert tour” at UPenn
    • I discovered my new favorite coffee shop (Swift & Finch)
    • MY SISTER GOT MARRIED! 
    • I had a “selfie photo shoot” with Alan Cumming

alan cumming

In between each of these monumental events, I was able to grab coffee with old friends or make new ones and encounter many of the nicest strangers! From flight attendants and people around me in airport security lines to NYC cab drivers and street florists, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by great people. These people and moments have reminded me, once again, to find the payoff in every situation. If you always look for the positive, not only will you find it but it will likely come looking for you!

If you know me at all, you know that I am a firm believer in small things and their power to make the biggest differences. I remind myself of that daily, and I try my best to encourage others to adopt that perspective. Never let anything distract from the importance of appreciating, acknowledging and creating little victories for ourselves and those around us.

On one of my recent visits an ADPi sister and I got to talking about our mutual love for this mentality. As a result, she shared with me a TED talk which she had used in a chapter workshop and I have now shared on every chapter visit since. The speaker in the video, Drew Dudley, does an excellent job helping the audience understand the idea that we are all change agents and we are all capable of making a difference in this world simply by making a difference in the lives around us.

Watch Dudley’s TED talk here:

(Big thanks to Katey Barley (ΘΝ) for sharing this video, therefore creating a “lollipop moment” for me.)

I hope Dudley’s talk resonates with you and helps you begin to expect lollipop moments every day– to create them and to acknowledge them. Using this mentality we can come one step closer to making this world a little happier.

As Dudley said it best, “It’s a simple idea but I don’t think it’s a small one.”

“Katie Who?”

September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

September 9th brought with it a new set of butterflies in my tummy as it was the day of my first visit outside of Georgia. That means the first visit I would fly to, the first visit when I would worry if all my bags would make it to claim, and the first visit when I would walk out of the airport doors and look for a car with ADPi letters, not knowing who would be inside and how they would react to me.

My nerves quickly subsided when my plane landed smoothly, my bags were the first on the conveyer belt and I walked outside to meet Jenna & Gab. They welcomed me with big hugs and bright smiles and didn’t skip a beat before asking me how much I loved Britney Spears. As we were reminiscing about the days when Brit & Justin were the poster children for denim and true love, I knew I was going to love Theta Rho.   brit i love it

Once I arrived on campus I looked at my schedule and realized that over the next three days I would be meeting with 8 different sisters named Katie. That made my job of remembering names extremely easy, but explaining which one I was actually with presented a whole new challenge.

One of the very few non-Katies that I got to spend time with was my roomie Snicks (fun fact: she doesn’t even like Snickers)! Snicks and her roommates showered me with goodies including a lifetime supply of hummus, a stuffed baby Alphie and a face mask so we could #treatourselves the night before recruitment.

IMG_0453

Just to add another Katie to the mix, I got to have lunch with KATIE B! For those of you who don’t know Katie B., she is the best friend/soul sister of my consultant sister, Meg Hoffay, and basically became a celebrity during LC training. Katie B. showed me around New Haven, introduced me to yummy mexican food & took me to Quinnipiac to visit her old stomping grounds, meet the Theta Theta chapter president and of course take some pics to make Meg jealous. We love you girlfriend!

Katie B. was only the beginning of the special visitors… I got to spend a little time with the lovely parents of my best friend and big diamond sister, Kat. The Shidlers stepped in as my second family for the night, treating me to a delicious dinner complete with lots of laughter. It was so nice to be around such a happy couple who remind me so much of my own parents.

The next day, President Katie Tuohy took me on an excursion to the fanciest two-story Target where we got to use the cart escalator. That’s a real thing, people! We took a break from all the craziness by taking a quick breather on the floor of the drink dispenser aisle, because anything goes during recruitment!

I would be remiss not to mention all the fabulous and iconic dining establishments the Theta Rho sisters introduced me to. If you’re ever in Fairfield/Bridgeport (the line is blurred) you should go to Chips for breakfast, Colony for dinner and Galaxy basically anytime. If you’re in dire need of some late night eats you absolutely MUST make a quick visit to Merritt Canteen to try their infamous Mac & Cheese bites. They taste even better than they sound!

Selfie with the chapter!

Recruitment went by in the blink of an eye– so much hard work, so little sleep. It all payed off and we welcomed 46 new Alphas home on bid night. SO proud! ADPi really does pick the best! Shout out to International Officers, Katherine Levasseur and Cassie Sherry for making the trip to Sacred Heart. They are both excellent resources and gave off the perfect energy to add into the recruitment mix. Plus, it’s always nice to see familiar faces!

Before I knew it, bid night turned into travel morning and it was time for me to jump in the car with Jill Gray and head to the airport, which nearly turned into a trip to the Cheesecake Factory instead. As luck would have it, the stars aligned for dramatic effect and Sam Smith’s Stay With Me blared through the speakers as we approached the Delta terminal, nearly causing me to shed a tear.

brit im sad

As tempting as Jill’s sing-along was, it was time for me to check my bags, hop on a plane and head back to the peach state!

Ladies of Theta Rho– I feel so lucky to call y’all my sisters. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to work with you and I’m excited to watch as you continue to grow. Thanks for all the memories. Hopefully we can sing Oops I Did It Again together someday in the future!

xoxo

IMG_0606

10 Reasons to Smile A Little Bigger

September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

It is important to make time for happy things no matter how long or stressful your day may be. That is what I told myself just over a year ago and it has since led me to wonderful stories, videos and organizations such as SoulPancake, UpWorthy and TED Talks. It has opened my eyes to the beautiful things going on in the world around us and has allowed me at least a moment of “warm & fuzzy” every single day. Today I felt like sharing a few of my finds. Some are the most recent and others from long ago but they will all give you your daily dose of rainbows and sunshine. Enjoy! 

1. Here you can watch this adorable little boy get a foul ball at Fenway Park and selflessly give it away to the little girl behind him. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 8.18.57 PM

2. Read the uplifting message Taylor Swift sent to a fan who was getting bullied here.

3. Watch this video promoting the Always “#LikeAGirl” campaign, centered around empowering women and redefining what it means to do something like a girl in a beautiful way.

4. In this video SoulPancake encourages people on the street to take a moment and write themselves a love letter.

5. In this video “The Impression Guys” pretend to be celebrities and make phone calls to random people to brighten their day.

6. Watch 13 year-old Logan Laplante as he wows the TEDx audience by sharing his perspective on education.

7. Let your heart smile while you watch Kid President throw a surprise party for the most deserving retiring teacher.

8. Listen to how this lesbian woman responded to a 4 year-old who asked if she was a boy. I promise, this will apply to you regardless of your sexual identity.

9. Check out this prankster as he pretends to be a homeless person but actually gives back to everyone who gives to him.

10. Last but not least, I will leave you with this masterpiece, a throwback, from the one and only Justin Timberlake. You are a genius, sir. I have yet to see a day that couldn’t be fixed by watching this: 

BONUS: This song & this scene. Enjoy! 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,809 other followers