Ten Questions About Life, Answered Rapid-Fire Style!


Before we launched the new site, I spent many an hour going back through my old posts and tagging them. It wasn’t the most thrilling task, but it had its advantages: re-reading seven years worth of material was like going back through an old journal. I had forgotten how many advice posts I used to write, especially back in the beginning. I was really inspired by that, so I took it to Facebook.

I said, “I’m gonna do a blog post answering your questions about anything — love, careers, travel, magic, blogging, style, beauty — rapid-fire style. So, what’s on your mind?!”

Below are a handful of questions, answered with as much brevity as I could muster!

I want to know how you stay organised with all your fantastic stuff in a small apartment! (Brittany Norma)

The most important thing for me is making sure everything has its place. I organise my drawers (both my desk drawers and chest of drawers) meticulously, I keep all my jewellery in one particular area, etc. My biggest storage hurdle is beauty products, but I use shoebox-sized containers for different types of make-up (one box for eye-shadow, one box for foundation, etc.), and I stack them on top of one another.

Ultimately, though, the secret to my success is that I also maintain a 5×10 storage container which is essentially my off-season closet! It has a huge double rolling rack, two pink storage trunks, and dozens of shoe boxes. It has been described by a few of my friends as “the best vintage shop in New York”. If I tried to squeeze all of that stuff into our apartment, it would be like living in an episode of Hoarders!

I try to tame my sartorial obsession as much as I can. Over the last year or so, I have started to institute a policy of cleaning out my closet before I go out and get anything new. I take clothes to Buffalo Exchange often, which means I a) have more space in my wardrobe, and b) get credit to buy new items. Win/win!

I’m a professional artist. How can I maximize my income from home? (Julie Rivera Saltzberg)

Start thinking of yourself as a business owner rather than an artist. Andy Warhol said that making money was the best art, so channel him and consider how you could shift from paint to profits!

Learning how to extract an income from the thing you love can be tricky, but my advice would be to look at other successful artists you know and learn from their triumphs and mistakes. Molly Crabapple is a superb example of a smart, savvy artist who works extremely hard but also manages to generate a good living.

Also, take some time to set some goals and decide what your definition of success actually is. This will prevent you from getting discouraged six months down the road!

I would like to know about your writing/blogging rituals. Are you a day writer, night writer? Computer, pencil? Coffee, tea? What makes you tick as a writer? (Amelia Earhart)

I have a couple of mental windows during my day when the ideas flow thick and fast: at the crack o’ dawn and in the evening. They last a few hours each. I always take advantage of the first window, and do the bulk of my writing between 7am and noon. As for the second, I really only write at night if my husband isn’t around. When I lived by myself, I definitely wrote more!

I do all my writing using my computer, which is a MacBook Air, and mostly I do it in my office, but when I need a change of scenery I pack it (along with a pair of headphones) into my Blogcademy tote bag and go to a nearby coffee shop.

Do I have rituals? Yes. I like to drink yerba mate tea with almond milk while I write, pausing to swirl the milk while I think. I often burn candles. Sometimes I spritz the air with an essential oil spray of peppermint and sweet orange to help me focus. I always listen to music, usually instrumental hip-hop or ambient downbeat stuff. I use StayFocusd to block Gmail and social media for almost the entire morning. Sometimes I sit cross-legged. I swear by BrainON supplements, and I always feel more lucid and laser-sharp when I wear lipstick.

Having said that, as an international playgirl who spends a massive amount of time in hotel rooms, strange apartments and on planes, I have learned not to be precious about it, and to write wherever and whenever I can. I see it as a gift, actually: being in an unfamiliar environment invigorates and inspires me like mad.

How do you decide what you want to do with your life? It might be a silly question but I’m currently struggling with this. (Maria Barrales)

Maria, this is such a huge question, and you could easily spend your entire lifetime trying to answer it. In fact, many people do, and I think we get hung up on the idea of trying to find our purpose, rather than simply living life and enjoying it.

I believe you will never find your life purpose if you’re not having fun or filling your life up with love. It’s common to think that your purpose will be something grand and groundbreaking, but it may not be. Maybe the reason you’re here is to be a really wonderful friend, maybe it’s to express yourself through dance, and perhaps it’s to inspire others. You don’t have to cure cancer to live a rich and fulfilling life.

My friend Gabby did a fantastic video on this very subject; check it out! (Her incredible new book, Miracles Now, came out today, too! It’s genius, I insist you go and have a squizz.)

What do you pack in your carry-on when traveling? (Kirstie Fitzgerald)

First things first: the bag in question. The more I travel, the smarter a backpack seemed. I always take my backpack now, and it has saved my shoulders (and posture)!

Inside it, you will always find: my MacBook Air (a total godsend) and charger, noise-cancelling headphones (either Bose or Beats By Dre), KIND bars, tissues, Treat lip balm (it is seriously the best lip balm on the planet), sunglasses, my wallet, iPhone, and a scarf.

If I’m flying long-haul, I also carry make-up remover wipes, moisturiser and serums to keep my skin hydrated while I sleep, an eye-mask, even more snacks, melatonin tablets to help me sleep, a pen and a notebook. I find that I don’t need much more than these essentials. Keeping it simple also keeps you sane!

I always wear a big sweater, too. I find planes are usually freezing, and if they’re not, the sweater makes a great impromptu blanket. I like to cover my head with it, too, to sleep. It looks weird but it works a treat!

I’m pretty envious of the awesome lady posse you’ve got going on with Shauna and Kat – as someone who has relatively few female friends I’d love to know, how do you find such awesome women to hang with? (Anastasia Sproull)

I get asked this question a lot, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I have met absolutely every single of my best girlfriends via the internet!

Now, a caveat: I’m so blessed to have incredible girlfriends but most of my BFFs live somewhere other than New York, which means travelling to see them is super-fun but they are not necessarily on-hand for an emergency cookie-baking session or last-minute dinner. This is the blessing and the curse of having an international playgirl friendship circle!

I have a handful of female friends in NYC who I adore, and we see each other as much as we can. When it comes to casual weekend hang-out sessions, you’ll usually find me doing something with my husband, or with some of our coupled-up friends.

To properly address your question: finding friends isn’t difficult (yay, the internet!), but growing close and maintaining a friendship can be. You have to prioritise your babes, make yourself available and continue to reach out. Celebrate their successes loudly and give them your unconditional love and support. I think treating all your friends as if they’re your best friend is a really good practice.

What would be your “top ten wardrobe staples every woman should own?” I’m sick of reading the same list over and over complete with “white button down shirts” and “LBD”s. (Claire Taylor)

I generally find those sartorial prescriptions quite obnoxious and extremely presumptuous. I don’t have any room in my life for a white button-down! Eff all that. Wear colours that make your eyes pop, underwear which flatters your figure, and shoes that a) you can walk in and b) make you feel like a badass. Beyond that, don’t get locked into one look forever. Experimentation is the spice of life!

Where do you keep all your creative notes and ideas… Are there tons of journals laying about filled with content and inspiration you haven’t yet gotten to? Or do you live in the moment and write spontaneously? (Catherine Du Bois)

I used to fill multiple journals with scribbles, notes, and doodles, but as you may have guessed, that’s a recipe for disaster. You can never find anything!

These days, I keep it simple. I use a wonderful text editing program called TextWrangler which enables me to have multiple documents open at once, and I am constantly toggling between them. They are categorised by project (galadarling.com, Carousel links, Things I Love Thursday, Radical Self Love Letters, etc.), and I add to them whenever I have an idea.

For organisation and to-do lists, I have a day planner which I keep on my desk, and I use it to write down (and more satisfyingly, cross off) tasks.

Finally, I have a big black sketchbook which I use as my Radical Self Love Bible, and I add to it constantly. It’s a more free-form space where I can explore ideas and get my craft on. It’s also a really good excuse to bust out the washi tape (my new obsession!). If you’d like to learn how to create your own Radical Self Love Bible, join me in Bible School!

What advice would you give people who are stuck in a low-paying dead end job and don’t have the $ to go back to school? (Megan Harris)

Firstly, let’s count our blessings. This is a temporary situation, and if you want to change it, you can. There are also some advantages to a job you don’t care about: for example, when the day is over, you can leave it behind. (When your work is your passion, you think about it all the time.) Secondly, school can only do so much, and getting a degree doesn’t guarantee anything in this world. You’d probably learn more — and go further — by finding a mentor, volunteering, and learning in your own time.

I worked low-paying dead-end jobs for years, and while I didn’t relish my time spent in the office, I did what I could outside of work to make my life more pleasant. I went dancing on the weekends, I saw my friends as much as I could, and I wrote all the time. I wrote in a notebook on the way to work, I wrote on my laptop in bed every night, I wrote letters to my friends and posted journal entries online. I could not be stopped!

Now, I don’t know what it is you really want to do with your life, so I have to answer in generalities. Fill your life with the things you love to do. Look around at the people you admire and read their back-story to see how they got from here to there. Keep trying new things, and look out for opportunities to do something different. But ultimately, if you want to do something momentous, there is no “advice” that will help you. There is no failsafe 3 point process. You just have to jump in with both feet and go for it!

How do you balance between the hustle of making your dreams come true and keeping the dream alive and fresh and exciting? (Cristina Emily Vigil)

Lou Holtz said, “If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.” I would take it a step further and say that if you’re waking up every day and thinking, ‘Oh God, time to go work on my “dream” again…’, then it’s time to shift your focus to something else.

If your dream is beginning to make you yawn, ask yourself whether it’s really a challenge. A goal should be constantly shifting and readjusting in order to accommodate the new things you’ve learned, and the small successes you’ve achieved.

Truthfully, we all have moments of burn-out and exhaustion, even when we’re working on something we really love. But if your one-time love is feeling lacklustre, and you’ve gone months without being able to drum up any enthusiasm, it’s time to heave-ho. It’s important to know when it’s time to move on and try something else.

No matter what your dream is, it won’t come to fruition just by wriggling your nose (unfortunately). Achieving a goal is difficult; if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be a goal, it would simply be another item on your to-do list. All good things involve hustle, hard work, perspiration and the occasional swear word. That’s what makes it oh-so rewarding when it all comes together!



Photo by Made U Look.