Fashion: Fall Seven Times

DIY boots! I recently wore this on a windy day to a brunch in Soho with some friends. It was unseasonably warm out a couple weeks ago and I got so excited I decided to put on some flowery shoes! These shoes are actually really comfortable but I had to glue them up a bit more to stop all the fraying. Hopefully the stubborn, crazy strong E-6000 glue holds because I can’t give these shoes up. They’re too pretty.

I can’t wait for spring to really come!

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shoes DIY, top from Garage, skirt from H&M, jacket from Charade

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
― Paulo Coelho, Alchemist

"The Alchemist" and Achieving Dreams

I’m surprised it took me this long to read The Alchemist. The back cover of my edition features the hyperbolic blurb, “Every few decades a book comes along that changes the lives of its readers forever.” When I read that I thought a sarcastic, “yeah, okay.” But now, a few days later, I must happily eat my words.

It’s not that the book has changed my life, but its simple, inspiring message has caused a subtle but significant shift in my perspective. It all began with the introduction, written by Coelho himself. He discusses one’s calling in life and though he couches it in spiritual/semi-religious terms, it will resonate with anyone who has ever harbored a dream that seems impossible. For artists, especially, it feels especially relevant:

However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream…There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there…[We] must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. (vii)

tumblr_m5hlnzYdqg1qbaom0The simple, unbearable truth hidden in this novel is that our dream is possible, that it is we who frustrate the reaching of our goals and dreams because we are afraid. The universe, ruled in Coelho’s perspective by a higher being, wants us to achieve our calling. The universe will conspire to help us achieve it. Coelho says that because we expect the world to be harsh and hostile, it becomes that way through fear and inaction. If we work to achieve our goals and remain hopeful, they are absolutely within reach.

Soooo, that was the introduction. The theme carries throughout the narrative, however. We meet Santiago, a shepherd boy in the hills of Andalusia. He has already changed the trajectory of his life by eschewing a priesthood and becoming a shepherd so he could travel and see the world. He has a recurring dream of visiting the Egyptian Pyramids, has his dream interpreted by a Gypsy woman, and embarks on a quest of faith to find a treasure hidden at the Pyramids.

The novel reads like a parable the way Coelho refers to Santiago as “the boy” throughout. It’s a beautiful story about having faith in oneself and in the beauty of the earth. The language Coelho uses and the events that occur infuse the story with a sense of magic and spirituality. This kind of spirituality is inclusive of all religions and denominations; in fact, Coelho constantly emphasizes the connection that exists between people and the earth, people and other people, history and the future. Coelho himself expresses the belief that there is one Being, and that all religions manifest the same truth in different ways. The product of this belief is a novel like The Alchemist, which speaks to all people about letting go of fear to achieve their greatest potential.

I found this novel absolutely enchanting. I think this novel speaks to the power of spirituality and faith. I’ve heard much criticism about this novel, that it’s childish, self-help-bookish, etc. but I think its message is worth hearing. I know I found it worthwhile. Coelho has enchanted me before and I am confident he will in future.

The Valkyries is accompanying me to Alaska. When you read this I’ll probably already be finished (feverish plane reading is pretty awesome). Stay tuned for a review!


Coelho, P. The Alchemist. (1993) New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Fashion: All the Universe

So, I’ve done a bad thing: I’ve mixed brown and black. BUT, here’s the thing, I love it. I don’t know who thought of the rule that brown and black shouldn’t be worn together, but I’m guessing he’s the cousin of the person who abhors white after Labor Day. I’m a rebel, what can I say.

Once again, this dress is borrowed/stolen from my sister’s closet! This necklace is quickly becoming one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. It’s a compass pendant my best friend bought for me as a Christmas gift. The Cambridge Satchel Company bag I have was a present from my cousin as well, so I’m wondering if there is a single item in this outfit I actually bought myself. Probably not 🙂123456dress from my sister, necklace from Etsy, boots from DSW, bag from Cambridge Satchel Company

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation. And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” —Paulo Coelho

Book Lust: Lisa's Must Reads

I have been reading like a fiend so far this year but I still feel like I’m slacking, and also that there are too many books I want to read and only so many eyes I have in my face (only two). I’ve been dying to read these books. If you’ve read them and can offer insight, critical or otherwise, or if you have a fifty dollar bill you’d like to donate so I can buy these, let me know in the comments (I really should renew my library membership).

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1. Ender’s Game: my sister is teaching this book to her eighth graders and raving about it nonstop, and I’ll admit I’m curious about all the hype and controversy surrounding the film version. I’m never one to not read a novel/see a movie because of the personal beliefs of the artist. I believe art exists separate from its creator. Also, Ender’s Game is an undisputed classic and I’d like to experience it for myself.

2. His Dark Materials: this novel(s) is another example of being able to separate the artist’s own beliefs from the narrative and story. This trilogy is a classic fantasy piece of literature, and also happens to be a popular film. I’m noticing a pattern in my literary choices.

3. PAULO COELHO: i.e., everything he’s written. I’ve previously read By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and I loved it. I’m a third of the way through The Alchemist right now and highlighting every other line. Coelho has the ability to infuse a sense of magic into an otherwise mundane story. Santiago the shepherd and his journey to achieve his life’s purpose have me bewitched. I’m planning to read The Valkyries next.

4. 1Q84: I feel like I’ll need at least three weeks to read this tome, and I’d like to spend the necessary time with it. Hopefully I don’t put it off for too long. Maybe it’s a good plane read for my trip to and from Alaska next week. Being stuck on a plane is a great way to get some books read.

5. American Gods: I’m slowly moving my way through Gaiman’s oeuvre and loving every minute of it. Read what I thought of Stardust and Neverwhere while you’re here!

6. A Winter’s Tale: those sappy, beautifully-shot commercials for the film have made me want to read the novel. This desire may also be a symptom of the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day feeling in the air, but I’ll take it nonetheless! I’ve heard great things about the novel, so hopefully I get my hands on a copy of this soon. (Also a movie!)

7. The Lowland: I love to read immigrant literature, especially if it’s by one of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri. I received the hardcover for Christmas and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

There’s nothing I love to do more during the winter season than bury myself in blankets and read, most often with some sort of spiked hot beverage 😉

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Paulo Coelho’s heart wrenching little book is one of the best books I’ve read this year, or maybe ever. I’m on the verge of gushing here. After I read this book I went on a Goodreads adding spree and discovered I want to read every single thing Coelho ever wrote. I’d dig through his house for his credit card slips, if need be. New favorite author. Poetic, spiritual, this book hugs your heart and soul. There is so much love in a deceivingly skinny package. It’s not just an immense and powerful love story, but an immense and powerful life story. It’s breathtaking in scope and spirit. It’s also highly quotable, almost to the point where I wanted to copy and paste every [other] page.

But ultimately there is no good reason for our suffering, for in every love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we come to a spiritual experience. Those who are truly enlightened, those whose souls are illuminated by love, have been able to overcome all the inhibitions and preconceptions of their era. They have been joyful — because those who love conquer the world and have no fear of loss. True love is an act of total surrender.

By The River Piedra ReviewAnd that’s just in the introduction. Read More »