#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Lena S.


Inspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

This week, I have a fantastic questionnaire from Lena S., a coworker-turned-friend. Lena is never without a smile, has a great laugh, and is a super rad human all-around. Let’s get to it!

When did you last die?

This is the first question but I left it unanswered till the end. And still don’t know what to say. Maybe I am not spiritual enough to form an adequate response.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The prospect of a good day ahead. I’ve realized that it’s on me to either plan at least one thing I can get excited about or get excited about one thing I have planned. Both work.

What became of your childhood dreams?

I’m very bad at remembering specific things from my childhood. Like when I read memories and people write about something that happened when they were five in vivid detail, I just can’t help thinking they can’t possibly remember that! I’m haven’t ever been someone who sets hard goals… more “whatever happens, I’ll be okay with”

What sets you apart from everyone else?

Maybe my willingness to change my opinion when presented with convincing arguments. Also I’ve never been someone to hold a grudge.

What is missing from your life?

Meditation! I am convinced it would help my mental well-being a lot but have yet to make the time to integrate it into my life. I’ve already downloaded the Headspace app. So we’ll see.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?


Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?.

I’m from the outskirts of Hamburg, from I a town I think is utterly boring and lacks character. We bought my childhood home and the property it is on from my grandfather. He and my dad then had a feud that spanned decades over the backyard which was resolved last year. So now it’s actually quite nice and spacious there… Alas, it is still in that same town, so I would not consider it enviable. I’m not even sure that was the question, so…

What have you given up?

Time… carefreeness.. and the ability to play The Sims for hours on end without feeling guilty. Which, I guess goes hand in hand with the other two.

What do you do with your money?

Spend it on food, for the most part.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Dusting! At least it would, if ever remembered to do it.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Spending a whole day doing whatever I want. This does not happen very often because I work almost every day, but when it does: it’s heaven. I love creating things. I have recently taken up sewing again and signed up for a knitting course at the Volkshochschule, which I’m positively giddy about.

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A voucher for a massage (not by the hands of the gift-giver, but a professional one!)

Cite three living artists whom you love.

“And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already.” Tim Minchin

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” 
Mary Oliver

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” Amy Poehler

What do you stick up for?

Everyone’s right to express their opinion and live the life they enjoy living – as long as they don’t deliberately hurt anyone in the process.

What are you capable of refusing?

Help, more often than I should, probably. I also got better at accepting or asking for it though!

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My knees. Everyone in my family has shitty knees and at 27, mine are starting to hurt with every step up or down a flight of stairs.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Accept mannerisms or opinions I don’t understand or agree with.

What do other people reproach you for? 

I tend to make more plans and set more dates with others than I actually have time for and then end up cancelling or combining them. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Give food for thought.. enable me to look at things through the artist’s emotional or cultural lens.

“Life is not about grand gestures but is best lived finding beauty and meaning in the mundane.”

In what form would you like to return?

Bird, I think. Would love to experience what flying feels like.


Hear, hear on playing the Sims for hours on end, the Headspace app, and pretty much all Lena said! Amazing, Lena! Thanks so much for taking part!

faith, poetry, words for the heart, writers

World Poetry Day 2017 || Max Ehrmann


Yesterday, my dear friend Helen shared the following poem. Since reading it, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s beautiful, timely, and every time I read it, I feel as though I’m praying.

Max Ehrmann


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

See past World Poetry Day posts here.


life lessons, poetry, saw it loved it, three things, words for the heart

Three things.


sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

… a beautiful E.E. Cummings poem “Sweet Spring“, plus six more since it’s the first day of Spring (finalllllly).


Have you seen Grey Gardens? It’s fascinating. In every sense of the word. There’s not a Fourth of July that goes by that I don’t want to recreate Little Edie’s “Flag Dance.” But I remember being really struck by the amount of books they had lining the walls of their home. So when I saw this article from the Paris Review, I knew it was going to an interesting read. And I wasn’t wrong.

The Grey Gardens shelves are also lined with what can best be described as pastime books, leftover from luxuriously idle beachfront childhoods: turn-of-the-century children’s and nursery books, collections of poems and crossword puzzles. (“Cross word puzzles are my delight,” wrote Little Edie in one book, which contains one unfinished puzzle with only two filled-in words: “Qarter” [sic] and “WASP.”) Yet the Beale family apparently also read, or at least owned, heartier fare: the complete works of Byron, Shakespeare, and Balzac stand alongside volumes of Milton, Burns, Proust, and Browning. (Little Edie reportedly wrote her own poetry until her death, in 2002). The conditions of these books run the gamut, from gently aged to wholly destroyed; one first edition of Gone With the Wind actually appears to be melting, an effect I’d never before seen in a book, no matter how misused.


Things I’m trying to accept about myself and not care if it’s too much for someone else.

“I’ve stopped being sorry for all my soft. I won’t apologise because I miss you, or because I said it, or because I text you first, or again. I think everyone spends too much time trying to close themselves off. I don’t want to be cool or indifferent, I want to be honest. If I love you at 5AM, I’d damn well rather that you know I felt it. If I love you two hours later, I’ll tell you then too. Listen, I won’t wait double the time it takes for you to text me back because I don’t want to. I don’t care enough to be patient with you. I’m happy, you made me feel that way, don’t you want to know? So that’s how it’s going to be. I’m going to leave myself as open as a church door. And I’m going to wake you up before the crack of dawn to tell you that I’m fucking joyful, no pretending, not from me, not ever. Would you like some coffee, would you please kiss me? Here, these are my hands, this is my mouth, it is all yours.” – Azra.T “Don’t Wait Three Days to Text First.”  

heard it loved it, history, lists, nerd words, podcasts

I hear(t) it: 9 Podcasts I love


Living in central Hamburg, I spend a lot of time getting from place to place on foot. And, since having anxiety, I don’t like to give my brain a lot of alone time to come up with new things to worry about. (Probably not the best way to cope, but distraction has gotten my brain this far!) That’s why I love listening to podcasts while getting around. But they’re also great entertainment while you clean, cook, or play Candy Crush on your couch. 😉

Finding a great podcast is like finding a new favorite series, and each week I look forward to new episodes. Ahead are a few personal favorites I love.

  • Watch What Crappens: As a seasonal “Bravoholic,” there are certain Bravo shows I never miss, and haven’t missed in years. Flipping Out, The Real Housewives of New York City, Beverly Hills, Potomac, et al., Below Deck… being just a few. Unfortunately, not so many of my friends are as into it as I am… leaving me wanting to make fun of it with someone. Anyone. So you can imagine how stoked I was upon finding Watch What Crappens, a podcast where hosts Ronnie Karam and Ben Mandelker talk all things they love to make fun of on Bravo. Check out their website here, and this Huffington Post interview.
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking: A new favorite, Terrible, Thanks for Asking (TTFA) tackles issues I don’t typically look for in a podcast—stories of incredible sorrow, pain, and the like. Hosted by author Nora McInerny, a “notable widow”, “Episode 0” alone will leave you gutted, hopeful, and most importantly, wanting to know more. It reminds you of your humanity. Your vulnerability. And the strength we all have within to overcome the inevitable challenges and sadness none of us are protected from. Check out the website here, and this trailer.
  • The History Chicks: I used to love Stuff You Missed In History Class, but was ready for something new. Then I discovered The History Chicks and the rest, well, is history. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Unpretentious, informative, and wonderfully told, this podcast features hosts Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider, two women who describe the show as such: Two women. Half the population. Several thousand years of history. About an hour. Go. And really, that’s all you need to know. I especially loved their Dorothy Parker episodes (listen to one & two). Check out the website here and an interview from my very own hometown newspaper, The Kansas City Star, here.
  • Missing Richard Simmons: As someone who vividly remembers Sweatin’ to the Oldies in my living room with my siblings a child, I have become absolutely entranced by the “disappearance” of Richard Simmons. So when I started hearing, rather reading, about it on the internet, my iPhone couldn’t download it fast enough. Filmmaker Dan Taberski started this podcast as a way to search for Richard, or possibly as a way to reach him. In any case, it’s bizarre, enthralling, and really shows you a side of Richard Simmons we all most likely underestimated; he affected so many people’s lives in a positive way. Though I will admit at times you do find yourself wondering if maybe we should just leave Richard alone, I will also admit that I can’t stop listening. Check out the website here.
  • Uhh Yeah Dude: The podcast I’ve been most loyal to the longest, Uhh Yeah Dude features hosts Jonathan Larroquette (son of actor John Larroquette) and Seth Romatelli discussing, debating, and making fun of all kinds of current events happening in America. After all, their tagline is “America through the eyes of two American-Americans.” With more than 500 episodes(!), I often find myself listening to old episodes in between the new ones because I just love these guys so much. Check out their website here, and this rad video about the show here.
  • WTF with Marc Maron: I really love listening to comedians talk when they’re not “on.” So, WTF with Marc Maron is an obvious favorite. Hearing about their struggles before and after success, really makes it known that no one has it easy. And more importantly, as someone who struggles with using humor to cope with my anxiety, so many of the interviews talk about the oft unsung side of comedy; how so much of humor is used to mask anxiety, how much of it is rooted in insecurity. Marc Maron is a podcast king and boasts episodes featuring comedians Conan O’Brien, Robin Williams, Will Arnett, Ben Stiller, Lorne Michaels, and even politicians including President Barack Obama. Check out the website here, where you can also find tons of articles that dive into the podcast’s history, success, and notable moments
  • My Favorite Murder: With such a name, it’s a bit of a gamble when you mention this podcast to anyone outside of the podcast-sphere. But stay with me for a second if you’re confused, I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds! My Favorite Murder (MFM) is hosted by two women who are self-proclaimed lovers of true crime. I mean, there’s a reason there’s literally a channel called Investigation Discovery and shows like NCIS and Law & Order: SVU are such hits; human beings are fascinated by the absurdities life can sometimes deliver. And, unlike many true crime podcasts, My Favorite Murder offers a light-hearted take on the bizarre, while keeping it respectful. Having been a die-hard Unsolved Mysteries fan as a child (totally appropriate, I know), I’ve really enjoyed dipping my toe back into the true crime genre without it being too terrifying. Because being a grown up is frightening enough, am I right? Check out the website here, and SSDGM. 
  • #HerStory: In a similar vein to that of The History Chicks, #HerStory tells the stories of 50 historical women, but instead of having the same host every story, invites contemporary women ranging from elected officials, academics, and mothers, to filmmakers, authors, activists, and CEO’s to tell the historic women’s stories. A bit bummed it only has 50 episodes, but a great listen nonetheless. Check out the website here, and read more about the project sponsor, Chick History, here

There are many more, but these seem to be playing in my earbuds the most as of late. I am also looking for new recommendations, so don’t hesitate to send them through!

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman

#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Carina S.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-5-08-01-pmInspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

After such great feedback following the last questionnaire, I’m excited to introduce this week’s: Carina S. Carina is another long-time instagram friend who bakes amazing desserts. Carina is a native German, but she answered all her questions in English. Amazing, right?

When did you last die?

I just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and that book killed me. The story is so heartbreaking and more tragic than real life could ever be, but at the same time so universally human. I underlined so many paragraphs.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

That’s simple: I have to go to work and catch my train on time. (Not the most poetic reason, I know.)

What became of your childhood dreams?

Not much I’m afraid. I always wanted to be an actress (or a singer, but I’m so bad at karaoke!). My Oscar speech is practically written and rehearsed. But it’s been years since the last time I stood on a stage…

What sets you apart from everyone else?

My curls probably? I am also very good at doing small talk which seems to be something most people struggle with.

What is missing from your life?

Right now: adventure. I’m 23 and work a full-time job. There isn’t enough flexibility in my everyday life to do whatever I want whenever I want it. So no impromptu adventures for me. On the plus side: I do have more money to spend on myself than some other people my age who are still going to university.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Absolutely! But not everyone can be good at every kind of art. Someone could be a fantastic painter but a terrible writer at the same time. You just have to find out in which way you can express yourself best.

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?.

I grew up (and still live) in the suburbs of a big city in southern Germany. In my opinion, it is one of the most comfortable and easy ways to live.

What have you given up?

Meat and fish. I decided to be a vegetarian about 6 years ago and I never looked back. The way I cook has changed for the better and the longer I go without eating animals the more absurd eating them seems to me.

What do you do with your money?

Treat myself! I buy exotic food and nice smelling shampoo. But also save something for my future self. (How very responsible of me!)

What household task gives you the most trouble?

All of them? I don’t understand people who like to do housework at all. It may be therapeutic in some ways but it’s just no fun at all.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

There are so many! French macarons, bubble baths, an evening alone at home, freshly washed bed sheets, comfy shoes, a cup of tea…

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

The moment this question pops up, my mind goes completely blank and I can’t remember one thing I want.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

“Making music. Baking cakes. Sewing curtains. These things mean something greater: that we have been known from the very start. Our eye color, our hairline, our jawline, the shape of our big toe, the tone of our voice. These things have been designed from the very beginning. What kind of music we listen to. The sort of skirt that looks good. The baseball cap, the tennis shoe, the orange bandana. We have been made to find these things for ourselves and take them in as ours, like adopted children: habits, hobbies, idiosyncrasies, gestures, moods, tastes, tendencies, worries. They have been put in us for good measure. Perhaps we don’t like what we see: our hips, our loss of hair, our shoe size, our dimples, our knuckles too big, our eating habits, our disposition. We have disclosed these things in secret, likes and dislikes, behind doors with locks, our lonely rooms, our messy desks, our empty hearts, our sudden bursts of energy, our sudden bouts of depression. Don’t worry. Put away your mirrors and your beauty magazines and your books on tape. There is someone right here who knows you more than you do, who is making room on the couch, who is fixing a meal, who is putting on your favorite record, who is listening intently to what you have to say, who is standing there with you, face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. There is no space left uncovered. This is where you belong.“ (Sufjan Stevens)

(I discovered this quote yesterday and I’m obsessed with it. It comforts me somehow.)

”Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (J.K. Rowling)

“You’re considered superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.” (Sofia Coppola)

What do you stick up for?

I like to think that I stick up for myself whenever it’s necessary but I’m not nearly consistent enough to do it every time. It’s something I work on all the time.

What are you capable of refusing?

Many things: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, a second cup of coffee, bacon, Amazon Prime (I work in publishing: we do hate Amazon a lot ;))…

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My skin. Which is the most annoying thing ever. It breaks out super fast, reddens for no reason at all und I can only wear cotton shirts because it gets irritated to easily.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Self love especially makes me able to push through bad times. And I don’t mean the self love that’s based on taking bubble baths and buying nail polish (which is great too!), but the one where you look at your temporary upset feelings and decide to not act on them and instead go on with your day.

What do other people reproach you for? 

I’m a lazy person, I tend to forget to contact my friends and my humor can be too bitter and sarcastic sometimes. I can be terribly harsh when someone else wants to give me tips on what to do when I haven’t asked them for advice.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

She was fed by art and cake equally.

In what form would you like to return?

As a cat. A big fat cuddly cat. Sleeping most of the time sounds heavenly!

These are my new favorite posts. I love getting to hear all of the wonderful insights my friends have. Thanks so much, Carina! This was wunderbar!

anxiety, feminism, the future is female, three things, words of women

Three things.


Happy Women’s History Month! I’m going to bring back Words from Wise Women — check out the archives here — who would you like to see featured? Also, check out this amazing infographic, “Women’s History: A conversation through time.” Looking for daily inspiration on rad women? Cup of Jane is a great follow.


Sometimes I struggle with trying to explain my anxiety to friends and family. It’s not an easy thing to describe. My go-to metaphor is the “keeping your head above water while the waves keep growing.” So when I saw this article from The Mightya great resource for all-things mental health—I was really interested to see how others put it into words. #5 & 12. Too real.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 10.25.04

Words of Women, as always, killing it with their advice and insights.

The most important thing to do, however, is to pull yourself inward today and focus on the details in your life that need attention. We may feel worn out with the process and exhausted by our own resistance. It is time to take a breath, take stock, acknowledge what has been surrendered and see what pieces are left. What are the next steps you need to take to keep the momentum going? Sign up for the newsletter for tomorrow’s tips in using this energy to make the most of our week, month and year. Sign up here.

Seeing the Words of Women newsletter in my inbox always makes me happy. It’s beautiful for both the eyes and the heart. You won’t regret it, I promise. And this is coming from someone who usually hates newsletters.


anxiety, healing heartbreak, the future is female, three things

Three things.


Man Repeller had a pop-up shop this week in NYC & I so wish they’d do one in Europe. I love this mug. But really, as MR always poignantly points out, it goes beyond the beautiful stuff, it’s about gathering together to learn, share, and love.

But most importantly, all the time, I hope we’ll provide safety. My mom tries to tell me that pregnancy is not all its cracked out to be. She recalls the memory of being 23 and seven-months-pregnant as a new immigrant in New York, married to my dad, an insensitive boy at the time, with her parents thousands of miles away. “I was scared and self-conscious and alone,” she often tells me. “I needed something like Man Repeller, but didn’t have it.” It reminds me of how I felt when I was 14 and heartbroken and didn’t understand if friendship was supposed to be painful and full of deceit because it was. That’s when I needed Man Repeller.

So this place, really, beyond the wifi and the books and the boob lamp, is a physical reminder that even inside the depths of darkness that is so black we lose our balance, we are soooooooooo not alone.

Leandra is just everything, right?


Emma Stone did an interview with The Talks and talked openly about her anxiety and struggles as a sensitive person. (So rad to hear her talk openly about it.)

“For a long time I thought being a sensitive person was a curse.”


Who knew a balloon could show you so much? (Original source unknown.)