Photography by Brianne Lee

Photography by Brianne Lee

A Year In Review

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

When one year comes to a close and a new one stretches out before you, it’s nice to reflect on what is past and peer hopefully into the still-unknown future… wouldn’t you agree?

I just spent some time looking through old pictures and blog posts from the whole of 2014, and it was crazy to think of how much has changed in only one year.  Big things. Living in Italy… my photography… friends…… ME.  And as crazy and scary as life can be sometimes, I am simply beside myself with excitement for the year to come, because it feels like a fresh chance.  I know that’s mainly a mental thing, but who cares? 

2015…  Such high hopes I have for you!  Not because I’m being unrealistic and I think that THIS year will be the one where I actually keep all my resolutions. But because I’m finally really starting to understand myself, and I’m discovering passions I didn’t even know I had, and I’m feeling ready to make stuff happen.

So basically, that’s my resolution this year.  My mantra, if you will.  Make stuff happen.  A little less wishing and hoping and thinking and a little more acting and doing and creating. 

We’re all on our own journey here, and yours will likely look different than mine.  But I hope you’re going into 2015 with a similar mindset: it’s gonna be great, because we’re gonna make it great.  

I really enjoy looking back on my posts on my own blog, and hopefully some of you may enjoy peeking back in time a bit, too, whether for the first time or for the second.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane and revisit some favorite moments from 2014…


That time I threw myself off the side of a mountain, tossed my coin in the Trevi Fountain, and ate gelato like it was my job.

Visited the fairy-tale city of Prague, spent 3 hours in the Milan police station, and was visited by a friend from home!

Had an unforgettable spring break in Greece, took weekends trip to Southern Italy, the Cinque Terre, and Tuscany.

Traveled to Croatia and Bosnia in the same weekend, was visited by another friend from home, started a 3-week long backpacking trip in Ireland and ended the month with a One Direction concert. 

Continued backpacking, making stops in Scotland and France, was reunited with my family in Zurich, Switzerland, relaxed by the waters of Lake Como, made one last stop in Florence to show the family my newfound home, traveled back to the states and was surprised at the airport by my best friend. 

Dealt with reverse-culture shock by taking a two weekend trips to Minneapolis in the same month.

Celebrated the bestie's birthday, and started back at school again.

A month of various shoots and creative projects.

Celebrated my birthday, reveled in the Fall season, and traveled to Seattle.

A month of reflection and Starbucks holiday drinks. :)

Lots of exploring, photo opportunities, and music listening. 

Thanks for traveling back in time with me today... have a wonderful last day of 2014!


Why I Love Harry Potter

Sunday, December 28, 2014

As I sit here watching ABC Family's Harry Potter weekend event, I can't help but remember the first time I picked up a Harry Potter book or sat in line at the movie theatre for 6 hours waiting for the premiere of one of the films. I've come up with a list of 10 reasons why I love Harry Potter. 
I could have kept going, really, but I'll save that for a part 2. :)

(All photos were taken 3 years ago during a family trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.

1. Once you start reading the books, you cannot put them down. There’s something about J.K. Rowling’s style that just captivates you. It’s eloquent, wordy and at the same time compact. It captures the moment perfectly and immerses you in the lines on the page you’re reading.

2. You get to whip out your British accent when quoting the amazing lines.

3. Harry Potter is a world by itself. How many times have you craved butterbeer, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans or a Chocolate Frog? How many times have you wondered if there’s really could exist something like platform 9 and 3/4 in Kings Cross Station, a magical school like Hogwarts or a shopping center like Diagon Alley? No, I’m not being delusional. When you read the books, the world in which the story is set truly captivates you. For the time you’re reading, you’re taken away from gloomy realities to a place where, even when it’s at war, is a better alternative.

4. It's timeless. Rowling’s book are very much in an era-less world. It conveys this enicing old-fashioned charm of cobblestoned streets in Hogsmeade, leather-bound books and ink-dipped quills.

5. The books are genius. How many times did you wonder while reading them how J.K. Rowling came up with the idea behind them? The sheer amount of creativity behind the books is almost unmatched.

6. After investing in a set of characters for seven books, it is natural to feel like you know them, and I think this is why many have found it such an emotional experience, as the final film draws to a close, to end this chapter in their life. It’s like saying goodbye to childhood friends. Throughout the series, and particularly in the sixth book, we are given a lot of information about why things have come to be. The back stories – of Voldemort, of Harry’s parents, of Dumbledore- are some of my favourite bits. I find it satisfying to know that Rowling seemed to have a plan for everything all along, and nothing happens ‘just because’.

7. There is a real community of Potter fans; also known as "Potterheads" – we went to all the midnight book releases, and midnight showings of the films. We discuss the plot lines and intricacies, and marvel at the genius of J.K. Rowling and how she so expertly weaved everything together, and thought about every single aspect of a character’s life – going far beyond what is simply written on the page. 

8. The books do not shy away from showing the hard faces of life. Hate is widely expressed. Some parts are violent and other parts are just chilling. The world of Harry Potter is not just some world where everything is happy. It’s a place where things can go wrong and when they do, it’s on a massive scale. The conflicts are not easily solved. Sure, it’s fiction but at least not everything works out for the best all the time. You lose some of the people you love. You get betrayed. But you can always recover.

10. They might be fiction and fantasy but the books are gut-wrenchingly real. Not only has J. K. Rowling created wonderful, complex role models, but she’s also come up with a world as dark as our own. I think we can all relate to the fear Harry and his friends live through every day. As we get older, we learn that life isn’t magical, we’re not invincible, and our loved ones won’t be here forever. Rowling reminds us that life is still worth living, there are always people out there worth fighting for, and we can beat the darkness.

Even though I may never walk through the hallways of Hogwarts, these stories and characters have brought so much magic to my life. Everytime I read the books today, I get something more out of it. The emotional moments are raw and real, and I can appreciate them now more at age 21 than I ever could at age 7.  It means something different to every Potterhead, but these books changed our lives.

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