Monday Muse

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling mixing prints and birds like the pro she is

When I think about the kind of woman I want to be as I move into the next stages of my career, lots of amazing role models in television come to mind, but no one quite inspires me like Mindy Kaling. Not only is “The Mindy Project” one of the most watchable shows out there right now, but Kaling is a bona fide #girlboss who unabashedly demands competence from everyone she works with and never apologizes for what she wants. As someone who spends a bit too much time making sure the people around me are happy and feel heard, I could certainly afford to channel Kaling more often. As she puts it: “I love women who don’t ask, ‘Is that okay?’ after everything they say.” You know what I’m getting at, right..? Is that okay?

On a purely creative level, I must also note that Kaling inspires me because her writing manages to all at once keep it real and make me feel good about the world I live in. I think her blend of harsh honesty and optimism is actually what makes the universe of her TV show one that viewers both want to watch and then crawl into, and, on some levels, I think that little universe also improves people’s lives. If I just aspire to create TV worlds like this, I think know I will do pretty well for myself.

Photo via Pinterest.

You might also like:

Monday Muse

Judy Garland

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in "Strike Up The Band"

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in “Strike Up The Band”

I used to dream of being Dorothy Gale from Kansas — not so much because of L. Frank Baum’s prose, but almost entirely because of Judy Garland. She had such grace, charisma, and, oh, that voice. With a four-decade career, three Grammys, and some of cinema’s most iconic movies under her belt,  couldn’t we all afford to channel a little Judy in our everyday lives? Sure she had her demons, but most complicated people who are worth knowing do. While as a child I particularly adored “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as an adult I’m drawn to John Gorka’s bittersweet song about the dichotomy of stardust and strife in Judy’s life. It’s called “Heart Upon Demand” — give it a listen and let me know whether it also tugs at your heartstrings.

Photo via Pinterest.

You might also like:

Monday Muse

Merry Clayton

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

How many people can say they performed in front of Mick Jagger while wearing hair rollers and one month later had a hit song? Merry Clayton is decidedly the only siren with those bragging rights, and while her vocals on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” are probably her most recognizable recording, I think the most notable thing about her is that she’s lent her voice to hundreds of famous tracks in which it actually goes unrecognized. Continue Reading

You might also like:

Movies and TV

Cheating on the Coens

Martin Freeman in Fargo by Matthias Clamer

Martin Freeman in Fargo (2014, FX)

I’d heard it said many times from many peripheral friends wearing tight pants: “Fargo — yes, the damn TV show — is brilliant… You need to drop everything and check it out!” I was always reluctant to believe these rave reviews, however, because a) I didn’t quite trust the taste of people who apparently thought they looked grand in tight pants, and b) I didn’t want to cheat on the Coen brothers’ 1996 movie. Fast forward to one year after the series debuted on FX when I finally broke down and watched the first episode as part of some work research, and I must say it was one of the most fun hours I’ve ever spent “working” and one of the best TV pilots I’ve seen in ages.

The show stays true to the dark humor coupled with bursts of extreme violence that made the Coen brothers’ movie so iconic, but it strays enough in story and in its entirely original cast of characters that I never get the sense I’m being unfaithful to the original. In fact, I think the choice to set the TV series in the fictional town of Bemidji instead of in the show’s namesake of Fargo is representative of the myriad spot-on decisions that creator/showrunner Noah Hawley made that allow the show to deviate from the original while helping viewers feel ever faithful to it. So, now I’m going to make like all my tight-pants-wearing compatriots and tell you, “Watch Fargo — yes, the damn TV show — and I promise you won’t feel like you’re cheating on Francis McDormand.” I, for one, am looking forward to a guilt-free marathon viewing this weekend of all the sardonic humor and  bloody bludgeonings the town of Bemidji has to offer.

You might also like:

Monday Muse

Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe at The Ambassador Hotel in NYC, photographed by Ed Fergeinst (1955 )

Marilyn Monroe at The Ambassador Hotel in NYC, photographed by Ed Fergeinst (1955)

If you’ve met me for a split second or spent even a couple minutes perusing this blog, then you know I have a more-than-mild obsession with Marilyn Monroe. This infatuation began in high school when I was a curvy girl who hadn’t quite grown into her woman’s figure. In an attempt to accept myself and feel more comfortable in my own skin, I began researching vintage fashion and old-Hollywood actresses; and, slowly but surely, all the magazine clippings of Kate Moss on my wall began being replaced by photos of Marilyn, the queen of curves and coy smiles. I immersed myself in her movies and biographies, and even read numerous conspiracy-theory books about her death, all secretly with the hope that if I surrounded myself with images of this hourglass-rocking woman who was so undeniably sexy and beautiful, I would eventually start viewing myself that way… As a knockout and a powerhouse of femininity that all the mean girls who called me “chubby,” “fat,” or a “heifer” simply couldn’t compete with. I’m not saying I ever quite succeeded at seeing myself solely in this bodacious, positive light, but Marilyn got me close.

Continue Reading

You might also like:

Sweet Nothings

Whirlwinds

The husband and me silly-ing it up at a holiday party

The husband and me silly-ing it up at a holiday party this year

Why, hello there. Since last we spoke I’ve become a redhead, discovered an awesome recipe for flourless chocolate-chip cookies, and, oh yeah, been working on a damn cool TV show at NBC. It’s all been nothing short of a whirlwind, but, when I look back on the blurry big events of the last year, what stands out to me most is this: somewhere in between all the milestones, Los Angeles has started to feel more like home. LA is such a big, daunting city with no real center to speak of, but Jeremy and I have been taking it on day-by-day — renovating our house every chance we get and finding new pockets of this ocean-side desert that we love, while forever fine-tuning the way we balance our professional and personal lives. I just wanted to pop by to share these updates and say hello. Write at ya soon, darlings! -Coté

You might also like:

Inspiring Tidbits

Eyes Off You

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

I was not a fan of Maya Angelou when I first read her work as a persnickety pre-teen who had an inexplicable distaste for memoirs, but in the years since her words have often touched me in moments when I’ve been in need of inspiration and reassurance. Upon second reading, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became one of my favorite books, and what woman amongst us has not somehow been moved by her poem Phenomenal Woman? Of the many Maya Angelou quotes filling the interwebs today, the one I find most moving right now is…

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

-Maya Angelou

In fond (albeit sometimes fickle) remembrance, I am feeling very grateful for Maya Angelou’s turns of phrase on this day. I hope she inspires you in a similar way as well.

Image source: Pinterest.

You might also like:

Sweet Nothings

Twenty Fourteen

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

I hope your new year is off to a smashing start, dears! Have you already begun making resolutions for all the grand things you want to do, be, and see in 2014? I sure have. Big surprise, I know. Seeing as I love, love, love setting goals, I’ve tried to rein myself in this year and just stick to a few simple, very achievable things that I genuinely think will make for a happier me in the year ahead. I’ve made one professional goal, one health goal, and two personal goals. Apparently, I just couldn’t help myself on that last one. In case it inspires you, here’s what I’m striving to do over the next 365 days and beyond…

  • Professionally speaking… This year, I really want to push myself to get my work out there more. Although this task often feels daunting due to my intense work schedule, I’m determined not to let anything deter me in 2014. Whether it’s posting photos to Instagram, composing silly little blog entries, or submitting short stories and essays to magazines, I’m keen to send at least one tiny creation of mine into the universe every day.
  • Healthfully speaking… Pure and simple, my goal is to eat leafy greens at least twice a day. Yup, every day. Bring on the noise, bring on the kale.
  • Personally speaking… Firstly, I plan to make time at least once a month for my hubby and I to go out for dinner with friends in LA. {Once monthly sounds so piddly, I know, but — trust me — it is a vast improvement on our current lifestyle as workaholic hermits.} Secondly, I really want to streamline my morning and evening routines this year. This is to say, I have long suspected that most normal, highly functioning adults belong to a secret society that lets them in on precious insights about the business of life, like the best times to shower, grocery shop, or vacuum without scaring their dogs half to death. Although I don’t expect an invite from this society anytime soon, I’m determined to revamp my closet, hang clocks above my bathtub, and follow every other life hack possible until I feel like an honorary member.

As I work toward my goals, I will be sure to let you know if I learn any secrets that I think you would like. But, enough about me. How are your goals and resolutions shaping up? If you want more inspiration, here’s some food for thought about the golden rules of making goals, setting simple goals, mid-year goals, and laid-back resolutions. What’s up with you and your scheming? Leave a comment.

Image via Justina Blakeney.

You might also like:

Inspiring Tidbits

Silence

"Shhh," says the ballerina.

“Shhh,” says the ballerina, “now get to work.”

Sorry for all the silence this past week, darlin’s! I’ve been up against a lot of deadlines, and apparently am nowhere near as good at budgeting my time as I like to think I am. After working rather long days, I’ve been unwinding by watching an episode of City Ballet every night before bed. Have you seen it? It is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker and is really quite charming. Ever since watching the documentary “First Position” by Bess Kargman, I’ve felt a strong kinship with ballerinas and the level of dedication they pour into their craft. There was something about that documentary that quite simply touched me and made me feel inspired to try and emulate the work ethic/practice-makes-perfect mentality of a ballerina in my life as a writer. And so, as I burn the candle on both ends, I love being comforted and kept company by the aspiring dancers of New York City Ballet. These tutu-and-tights-clad companions are no substitute for you, however, dear readers… I so very much look forward to chatting with you on the flip side of all these due dates! Leave a comment.

Photo from Girl In A Tutu via Pinterest.

You might also like:

Inspiring Tidbits

Thankfulness Phases

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking about the different kinds of thankfulness I’ve experienced throughout my life, and, as it turns out, it has really gone in phases. When I was a teenager, I engaged in a whole lot of “why me?” thinking, and as a result I had to look to my accomplishments and my hard work whenever I wanted to feel a sense of true gratitude. This is to say, my life felt like way too much of a mess for me to count my blessings, so I counted my persistence, lofty goals, and other traits within me as things I was thankful for instead of counting things in my external world.

That angst-riddled teenager grew up to be quite the self-critical adult, however, and I now realize it has been ages since I’ve listed one of my personal accomplishments as something I’m grateful for. Merely talking or thinking about something I’ve accomplished opens a jumbo can of worms and gets me dwelling on things I should have done differently, dreams I wish I’d achieved yesterday, etc., so counting my blessings is definitely the surest route to gratitude for the adult version of me. Lately, I find myself feeling grateful for things like: the roof over my head, my husband’s unparallelled ability to listen, the smell of currant-spice candles on cold nights, being able to afford fresh groceries and special meals out, our pup and all his antics, my good health, my loving family around the world, wool socks, and the lemons falling daily from our backyard trees. And, the list goes on.

While my current gratitude list sounds like something you’d more traditionally hear rattled off when counting one’s blessings at the Thanksgiving table (and it admittedly feels a bit less self-absorbed than my old way of giving thanks), I think finding things to be grateful for within ourselves is equally important. In fact, I’m pretty sure there will be points in the future when the world around me feels a little bleak and I’ll need to look inwards in order to find things to be thankful for. And, the more I think about it, I realize that these phasing forms of gratitude are actually quite healthy. The ability to feel grateful is so important to our appreciation of life and our sense of hope that I think we should all count our blessings wherever we can find them. When we’re going through phases of loving our world, they’re probably outside of us; when we’re not so hot on our world, these sources of gratitude are probably within us. Whatever other phases we’re going through, I hope you — dear reader — and I are always able to to seek out and celebrate the best parts of our lives, because finding the good in life keeps us going and makes the journey extra sweet…Has the way you experience thankfulness changed as you’ve grown and evolved? I would love to hear your take! Leave a comment.

Psst: In case you’re wondering, I made the above image using a lovely hand-drawn border I found on We Lived Happily Ever After.

You might also like: