How I Got In Cosmopolitan Magazine

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A little over 7 months ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I was reading an article in Cosmopolitan magazine. By some twist of fate, I had begun getting the magazine every month in the mail. I had never paid for a subscription or signed up for one, but a few months earlier they just started coming. When I was younger, an issue of Cosmo was like rebellion gold. Racy articles and male models had my friends and I sneaking them to sleepovers each month, gasping and giggling with each page turn. Like most women, as I got older, they lost their glamour a bit. Once you read one “Best Sex Ever” article, you’ve read them all. At 26, I was reading Cosmo for the true life stories, book recommendations and letter from the editor, then passing them on to a friend.

On this particular Sunday, I read an article about a woman in a relationship and once I was done with the article I thought to myself, “I seriously could have written that.” My next thought was, ” Why don’t I try to write something like that?” The wheels of my mind started turning , my confidence was high and the idea of being shot down or ignored didn’t bother me. If there is one thing I do, it is put myself out there without hesitation. Nothing amazing happens to a woman who is too scared to come out of the shadows and I am living this life with the goal of enjoying many amazing moments.

I flipped to the front of the magazine and saw that at the end of the letter from the editor in each edition, there is an email address for Joanna Coles, Cosmo’s Editor in Chief. I figured this was not her actual email (I was right) but thought someone might monitor it regardless so I wrote her an email. I told her my name, I pitched my article idea, told her why it would be something readers would enjoy, linked some of my work and sent it off into the world.

Then I forgot about it.

Three weeks later on the very last day of Lent, April 2nd, I received two emails. This part of my story is the most important because every opportunity I have been given has been given to me by God. It is by His grace that my life unfolds the way it does, He opens the doors and I run through them with my hair on fire, trusting fully in Him. On the last day of Lent, after spending the previous 6 weeks sacrificing in a way that was both beautiful and challenging for me personally, I got an email from a job application I filled out a month earlier and I got an email from Cosmo. It was a surreal moment and it was not a coincidence. I got the job and I got the article, (turns out Joanna Coles herself loved the pitch!) God is amazing my friends.

I am sure some readers or some of my friends out there probably think it is ridiculous that I would say faith opened a door to a crazy, over the top, magazine like cosmo but through this experienced I have realized that my own opinion of the magazine has changed drastically. Yes, the magazine has some raunchy articles and yes they wrote a couple sentences around the text of my piece that I would never write myself, but through this process I realized that comso’s main goal is women empowerment. They want women to build up other women, embrace their fellow sisters and rally around each other. They strive for real articles that break down traditional judgments in an attempt to show that behind our differences, we are the same. We all just want to be accepted and loved for who we are and the editors at cosmo want articles that evoke that in the reader. I love that and I am part of that movement and I am proud to be part of this crazy, racy, empowering, uplifting, motivating magazine.

Over the next 4 months I worked with the editors of Cosmo. I was initially extremely nervous about writing for them. My style of writing is honest but conservative. I wanted to do my article justice without compromising my integrity. I went into an initial agreement of 600 words and I started writing. 1,000 words later, I couldn’t cut my word count down anymore. I sent it to my editor and to my surprise, she asked for more. More examples, more details, more words. We worked through edits and examples and a few laughs. She changed some words for effect and she pushed me slightly out of my conservative comfort zone. Eventually, I accepted the small changes she wanted to make and stopped worrying. Those mentioned in my article had to agree that I represented their feelings and reactions accurately and in the end, 900 of my very own words were published in one of the nations largest women magazines in August, 2015.

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After it came out I went through stages of pride to embarrassment. I was thrilled yet terrified. I was afraid I gave too much of myself and overly exposed my heart. I was comforted, overjoyed and deeply touched by everyone that went out and grabbed a copy and those that shared their thoughts about it with me. Looking back, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life and one I will cherish forever. I hope I am able to write for other publications in the future but for now, I am taking a break from submissions and pitches. I want to spend time writing because it is something I love and something that brings joy to my soul. I want to write whatever I want without fitting into a mold. I want to maintain my honest authenticity and I want to spend my weekends here, on this site, with you.

I wanted to share the details of this experience with you because I want you to chase every last crazy beautiful dream you have. Never be scared of failure and never let rejection slow you down. I am asked often, “How did you get in cosmo?” My answer is always that I just had the balls to put myself out there. There was no magical connection or person I had on the inside. I was just the reader of a magazine who had an idea and tried to make it happen. All I had to do was believe in myself. If a door opens for you, run through it. Don’t be scared, don’t fear judgment or other people’s opinions, just run and enjoy every single amazing minute.

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For A Friend In Pain

Written By: Kara Dailey

It’s the worst kind of pain to fall madly in love with someone who lights a fire in you, only to realize that they are not always the one you will share your life with. It’s an all over body ache kind of pain, like a piece of your heart vanishes into thin air without a trace. It’s been more than two years since I’ve been in that space, but it’s not a feeling you forget.

When I first sat down to write this entry I was planning on writing about what it’s been like to be known as the perpetually single friend. Since most of my friends are in committed relationships I thought it would be funny to write about what my life’s been like since I ended my long-term relationship. I played around with taking time to acknowledge how lonely it feels to process a broken heart, but still including a lot of  ‘I‘m an independent woman, I don’t need no man until he needs me’ type of shit. Then I started thinking about how I’ve changed over the past two years; how I’ve learned so much by living life alone, with myself as my first priority, addressing my personal short comings, and getting my life together. I felt good about the whole idea but when I sat down to put my heartbreak and witty one-liners into words, it hit me. One of my closest friends just chose to end her relationship with a man she truly loves and all of our recent conversations came flooding back. So I thought, instead, maybe I should write her some words of encouragement that all friends need to hear from time to time…

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First of all, I want to tell you how proud I am to be your friend. You inspire me to work harder, laugh longer, and keep my lipstick game strong. I want you to know that I understand how shitty it feels to have an amazing night out with friends and come home only to break down in a full on ugly face cry the minute you’re alone in bed. Why are you crying in the middle of a trashy TLC reality show if you weren’t even thinking about him? Who fucking knows, but it’s terrible – that’s going to happen for a bit, and it’s okay. It’s totally normal to cry as long as you never lose sight of the fact that you are amazing AF. The loneliness lingers but, never doubt, you’re doing what is best for you and that is always the right choice. I must admit that I detest the word lonely. It sounds scary and permanent and gives me that body ache feeling. I promise that being single is not as bad as everyone clinging to his or her significant other makes it seem. Here’s what I wish someone told me when I was riding the newly-single-struggle-bus:

Don’t settle, travel as often as you can because making new memories is so clutch; call any weekend and we can plan day trips and weekend getaways whenever your heart desires. Being the third wheel is actually incredibly entertaining; you suddenly become the relationship councilor and everyone usually buys you drinks when you’re out (are they doing it out of pity? Oh well, DON’T CARE because it’s free). You will have to deal with your friends knowing the PERFECT guy for you that you just HAVE to meet. It’s obnoxious but it’s easy to laugh it off because it won’t take you long to realize that you really are fine by yourself. MOVE ON! That’s right, I said it. I know right now you can’t help but think of your last few days together, how you made this decision so suddenly and how you still ache to be around him constantly, but you have to let go. When your heart tells you that it’s time to move on, listen. Don’t hold yourself back with thoughts of the past. Cherish the time you had together, but put it behind you.

Lastly, I want to remind you how much you’ve accomplished. From landing a kick ass new job, to buying your own house, managing two dogs, and volunteering more than anyone I know, you are truly a force to be reckoned with. Being single pushes you out of every comfort zone, and it’s empowering as hell to love who you are and to take pride in yourself. This is an amazing time in your life, and I can’t wait to see how you grow from this. You already light up every room you enter, you’re graceful, intelligent, and, most importantly, you’re an independent woman, and you don’t need no man until he needs you! You’re doing great things, keep your head up and your heart light.

You are always enough.

I love you bitch, welcome to my life.

DIY: How To Throw A Blessing Bag Party

My friends are great at a lot of things but one thing they are really spectacular at, is throwing a party. I might not be the best party planner but I am really great at giving back to my community and dragging everyone who knows me along. Well we decided to combine our God given talents and the result was the best blessing bag bash you could imagine.

A blessing bag is a ziplock sized bag full of items that the homeless need or use. For some, giving money to the homeless is uncomfortable or conflicts with their moral views. I am sure we have all heard someone say “I am not giving the homeless money, they will just use it to buy booze or drugs.” To the people that say that, you’d be surprised but I respect your hesitation and instead, offer this option. If you see someone in need give them a blessing bag.

The reason to have a blessing bag party is because it is a fun way to get all of your friends together for a good time all while doing something good for those in need. Here is how to plan a blessing bag party:

Step 1

Don’t invite people by word of mouth, this party needs to be organized and planned. I like to send out an email to all of my friends letting them know the date and time of the party along with instructions on what to bring. Every person coming will need to bring one small item that the homeless can use in bulk. You will need to give your invitees examples of what they can bring and you’ll need to track what is being brought to ensure everyone isn’t bringing toothpaste. A few things I like to mention are: travel sized shampoo/conditioner/deodorant, gum, water bottles, crackers, granola bars, tissues, band-aids, soap, wet wipes or hand sanitizer. You also should tell your guests where to buy these items. For example: Target, Dollar Tree, Walmart and Walgreens. People can also go to local hotels and explain what they are doing and see if the hotel would like to donate travel sized items, many places will.

Step 2

It is your job as the host to ensure that you aren’t getting too much of one item and to provide the ziplock bags that the goods will be going in. Your goal is to have each guest leave at the end of the night with 3-5 bags of their own, fully packed. Once you have a head count, you can buy the appropriate amount of bags.

Step 3

Set up assembly areas. The easiest way to do this is to collect all the products when people arrive and start putting them in big bowls or on large trays. Lay the trays out like an assembly line so when you start making bags each guest can start at one end, put each item in their bag and end on the opposite side of the room. Think of a buffet style line. This is a good time for manfriend (or whomever is helping you) to entertain everyone, make cocktails and tell everyone to grab some food.

Step 4

Make the bags. Make as many blessing bags as you can and leave them in one area of the house. Spend the rest of your night eating, drinking and enjoying your company but remind everyone to take a few bags with them to keep in their backseat of their cars until they need them.

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Two things I like to do with my blessing bags are pray over them before everyone takes them and put inspirational messages in them. You can set up a station at your house with small pieces of paper and pens so if someone wants to add an encouraging message to their bags they can.

And that is it, that is a great blessing bag party. Enjoy yourself and your friends while doing something great for those in need, doesn’t get much better than that!

My Maid Of Honor Speech

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of being the maid of honor to my crazy, wonderful and oldest best friend. This was my first taste of MOH life and while I was preparing for my speech during the reception, I poked around online for some tips and tricks for writing a great speech.  Most articles I read listed the basics of don’t give your speech wasted and don’t tell any x-rated stories but couldn’t find anyone’s actual speech. Instead of reading pointers and tips, I wanted to read the real words that someone said and get a feel for how one delivers such a special and important message to the new bride and groom. I came up empty handed but figured I would share my own words so if there are any virgin MOH’s out there looking as I did, they can take a look at mine.

Hi everyone. Hope you are enjoying the evening so far, my name is Rachel and I am Christina’s maid of honor. Christina and I have been friends for many, many years. I first met Christina in 7th grade P.E. We both weren’t very girly (and let me just paint this picture for you real quick: Christina had the tightest pony tail in the world that was slicked back, hard as a rock with a pound of hair spray and perfectly circular, round glasses. I was equally gorgeous, I had horribly frizzy hair, it looked like I had been struck by a lightning bolt and had a huge gap in-between my front teeth), we didn’t care about much (clearly) besides being the best basketball duo hickory middle school PE had ever seen (and we were). We were competitive 11 year olds and we connected instantly. We both had (and still do) the same sense of humor and the same zest for life, love and a little bit of rebellion. We went from young girls to women together. We have spent the majority of the last 15 years laughing about absolutely nothing, getting in trouble and finding our way through life.

Now we are here, 26 years old. Christina has left the hair spray and the Harry Potter glasses in the past. I got braces and bought a curling iron, thank God. We have been through ups and downs; we have stayed friends over thousands of miles and many state lines. We have memories piled on memories. We have gone our separate ways in search of who we are when we aren’t a pair and all of those dips and curves have brought us here, together, on this beautiful night, celebrating love, celebrating Christina and Travis.

You know, looking back, Christina has made a lot of wild card decisions in her life. If you would have told a younger version of me that the girl I used to give hack job haircuts to with dollar tree scissors and who allowed me to permanently dye her hair red when I was only 11 would grow into being a great hairstylist and teacher, I would have called you crazy. It is also important to note that Christina’s mom was NOT happy with the red hair, at all. Many times over the past 15 years Christina has told me some plan or thought for her personal life or love life and I have actually told her she might be insane. But, when she told me that she was serious about Travis, when I saw Christina and Travis together, I knew Travis was a really, really good decision.

Simply put, they are just a very good team together. I believe the love between them is strong, kind and gangster at the same time. It might be overwhelming one night and quiet the next but it seems to always be steady and constant. They are both funny and thoughtful. They have a foundation of a phenomenal friendship and it shows. You can tell these two are best friends. They truly love each other’s company and while life is full of tough decisions, deciding on each other, on life together was an easy choice for them both.

So, congratulations you two, may the coming years be fun, may you always have each other’s backs, may you forgive quickly and laugh daily. May the ups be higher than the downs are low and may you always turn inward, toward each other in the face of conflict. May the road ahead, however curvy, be long and beautiful. Congratulations and Cheers.

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A Letter To My Past Mistakes

You haunt me like ghosts. With this letter, I hope my soul can be free from your memories. Some of you go back so many years. You’re old and outdated and the details of you have been lost on me but shame in my decisions have somehow muddled on through the years and lived on in my mind. Some of you are more recent and some of you fall in between.

My childhood isn’t overcome with you, mistakes. Not because you weren’t there, but because I was a kid, and for some reason I am able to give myself a pass for this time in my life. I didn’t really know the ways of the world, I didn’t realize the impact that my mistakes made, and at a younger age I was able to forgive myself easier, love myself stronger.

My teen years are riddled with you. You are around every corner and sewn into my memories. I will be driving to work in the morning, drinking coffee and thinking about how grateful I am for the opportunities life has gifted me with and in the same second I am reminded of you. As my mind takes me back to the day and time when I made you, the familiar scene plays out easily, like a movie reel. A mistake I made 10 years ago will pop into my mind and my heart heaves with shame and regret as if it just happened. I feel unworthy of where I am today, considering where I was on that day. Lying, cheating, or hurting others, maybe all three at once. I ponder the same question over and over: Have I paid enough? Have I spent enough hours wallowing in regret and guilt that 10 years later, that mistake can be erased from my mind? The answer is always no.

On one hand I feel as though I have righted enough wrongs that somehow I must have evened the score by now. On the other hand, I feel I should wear my mistakes like ornaments on a tree, nestled right next to my accomplishments. I might not be proud of them, but the same decision making skills that brought me success in life also brought me shame. I have hurt others along the way and I feel I owe these bad decisions the same glory as the good ones. This is why I will probably never let you go.

Even worse, are the mistakes I have made in adulthood. Haven’t I learned by now? Such small decisions with such horrible, awful consequences. This morning while brushing my teeth I was reminded of the worst mistake of my life. At some point, during each day I go back to it. I think about how I could have taken a different path. I think about how easily it would have been to not make this particular mistake. And I cringe. Driving, brushing my teeth, having dinner with friends, at the movies, it doesn’t matter. The shame comes over me and I turn my head at some point each day and just for a moment I cringe with guilt and regret before turning back, unnoticed, and continue my day.

Especially painful are the mistakes I have made that hurt others. Past boyfriends, past and current friends, bosses, coworkers, my family, maybe even strangers– at some point I have made a mistake that has hurt them in one way or another. They forgive me, they have probably long since forgot about whatever I had done, but for me there is no forgetting.

People constantly tell me I am too hard on myself. I agree, but I struggle to stop. I feel the more I remind myself of these times, the less likely I am to mess up in the future. I know I am not rational in this thinking and I guess this is one more attempt to set myself free.

You, mistakes, have lived too long in my heart. You’ve taken too many hours and moments when I could be living my life instead of visiting my regret. I have learned from you and in some sick way, I love you for molding me. For sculpting my life to what it is, for making me strong, compassionate and for giving me the often uncontrollable will to be better. Today I leave you where you belong, in the past. This is your stop, your time to exit, and I am moving on to a new page, a new chapter, a new day without you.

8 Things To Do This Month: September Addition

I love roundups of different things to do that coincide with the month and season. Therefore, the first series of my site is born. September means fall is beginning and I am embracing it with open arms.  So, it is a few days late, but here are 8 things you should look into this month!

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Read: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: I can barely put into words how beautiful this book is. From the moment I read the first page I knew that the end would come far too soon. Set in France during WWII, The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters fighting to survive the war in their own ways. Kristin Hannah’s style of writing is descriptive and heart wrenching. This is the perfect book to take to the beach after a long day of work and curl up on the sand with before the weather gets too cold. (Am I the only one who does that? Where are my beach book nerds at?!)

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Listen To Serial: If you haven’t heard about the podcast Serial yet you need to come along and join us in 2015. This podcast was riveting and season 2 is starting soon. Although the exact date is unknown (stated as “sometime this fall”) you should get ready for a guaranteed mind-blowing season by listening to season 1. Each season is different and will follow one true story, week by week, as told by host Sarah Keoing.

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Go To A Beer/Wine Festival: I am not sure where you live but here in Virginia Beach, life revolves around craft beer and nothing says fall quite like the local breweries coming out with rich fall flavored beers. Personally, I am more of a wine-fest-type-gal but luckily, VB doesn’t discriminate.  Grab your friends, a cute pair of sunnies and head to one of September’s beer or wine festivals where you can sample and learn about local beers, wines, breweries and vineyards.

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Buy All The Candles: Maybe you aren’t ready to dive right into pumpkin flavored everything yet (read: you are so ready) and that is OK. Most of us are suffering a small case of the summer blues (read: bye summer, you hot B) and would prefer to ease into fall. Start with the absolutely amazing-smelling candles from Bath & Body Works. Y’all, these candles smell so good you won’t want to burn them for fear they will burn down too quickly. Luckily, they are currently on sale for only $12 and you need them all. Some of my personal favorites are: Leaves (clever name B&BW), Marshmellow Fireside and Pumpkin Pecan Waffles.

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Go See The Visit: This movie looks scary AF. I don’t particularly love scary movies but I am pretty excited about Halloween and with so many horrible scary movies out there, I kind of want to torture myself and see a really good one. This movie is about two sweet kids who travel alone to rural Pennsylvania to meet their creepy ass grandparents for the first time. You can see where this is going. Make sure you don’t see this one alone!

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Try This Bottle Of Chianti: Chianti is my very favorite wine. In Italy, it is their table wine and Italians serve it with each meal. I am in love with it. I picked up this bottle recently and the flavor is fantastic. The taste isn’t too powerful or bold. It has a woodsy-berry taste and pairs perfectly with a nice steak. Most people don’t drink Chianti so try something new this month and have a little taste of my homeland with your next meal.

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Try Bareminerals Moxie Lipstick: PSA: I have a new lipstick line addiction and it is bareMinerals Moxie Lipstick. Cooler temperatures mean drier skin for most of us and matte lipstick on chapped lips is not a pretty sight. I am always on the hunt for a creamy lipstick that won’t dry out my lips but that also doesn’t easily wipe off. This is it. These lipsticks are so pigmented, creamy and moist that I have already bought three. I suggest trying this line out in the perfect berry fall shade and then praising me later for directing you to it.

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Check Out ABC’s New Series- Quantico: Excuse me while I join all the other basic girls in the world and admit to loving crime dramas (Team Olivia Benson forever). I recently saw the trailer for this new series on ABC and it looks fantastic. The show follows a group of FBI recruits through training and the trailer alludes to there being a terrorist within the group, but who is it? Cozy up on the couch on Sunday, September 27th at 10pm and check out the premiere!

There you have it, 8 ideas for September. Do you have anything fun planned already? Comment below with your suggestions for me!

 

 

Welcome

After a couple months of poking around on the internet, looking for a place to write, to work with other writers and to share my love of words, I felt defeated. I had joined a few sites that operate on a “pitch to me” or “write about one of these pitches” basis and I found it discouraging. It seems like anymore, if you’d like to write for a site with a lot of traffic you have to mold your style into another. If I wanted to write about feminism, I should probably pitch a listicle to get it picked up. “5 Feminist Thoughts I Have On the Daily” just doesn’t satisfy me like a personal essay would. On another site that pays per post (yay!) I am given prompts like “I secretly hate my kids” or “Cheating is fun.” I can’t write about these topics and even if I could I wouldn’t.

If I wanted to write about books, I can’t because it is a topic that’s overdone. If I want to write about love, I have to bare intimate details that would make readers gasp or else it’s too vanilla. Anymore, the content doesn’t seem to matter much. Every idea is turned into a list, narratives are passed over and thought provoking essays’ aren’t accepted unless you’re talking about something that will cause controversial comments.

And I have learned that I don’t fit in that box. What good is a platform to write on if you aren’t writing what you feel and instead are tailoring your words to appeal to an editor that is more worried about clicks than content?

So, here we are. Somewhere in Siena was born and the scary and daunting task of starting my own site was thought of and running in the same day. This site will not be a diary, I will not be sharing with you the events of my week or what I thought of last weeks episode of Game of Thrones (well, maybe once in a while). My vision for this site is content rich essays mixed with fashion, travel, books and lipstick. I want to talk about wine with you, traveling with you, reading with you and everything in between.

Who knows where this will go. The end doesn’t interest me much. I care about the journey and I hope there isn’t an end. I would love if this site turned into a place for other writers to come and share their stories, where friends are made and important topics are discussed. But for now, I look forward to writing. Writing for myself, most importantly, for those that enjoy my writing secondly, and for anyone else that stumbles through the interweb and lands somewhere in Siena.

Arrivederci-

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