Friday Favorites [Cheerios Edition]

by Monica McCarthy on March 13, 2015


“Farbstudie Quadrate (Color Study of Squares)” by Wassily Kandinsky
(aka resembles Cheerios, no?)

A few of my favorite findings from the week because: FRIDAY…

Confession: I skipped last Friday’s roundup because it was my birthday! In all honesty I was less than enthused super bummed to be turning another year older, and then my friend sent me this poem and I was like HELL YES. (Though I may have ended the night with good company and tequila rather than in solitude and drinking orange juice as described below.):



One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago

as I waited for my eggs and toast,

I opened the Tribune only to discover

that I was the same age as Cheerios.

Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios

for today, the newspaper announced,

was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios

whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.

Already I could hear them whispering

behind my stooped and threadbare back,

Why that dude’s older than Cheerios

the way they used to say

Why that’s as old as the hills,

only the hills are much older than Cheerios

or any American breakfast cereal,

and more noble and enduring are the hills,

I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.


So great, right? Ok, onwards…

Trying to figure out your life’s ‘purpose’? Try this.

Or maybe consider writing if you want to be happy.

Then again, if it’s therapy you need, here’s one of my favorite books on the topic of art as therapy featured on one of my favorite blogs.

Speaking of art, here’s a few thoughts on what Botticelli and Australia have in common. Just in time for Spring!

In other news, you haven’t seen a breakup quite like this before. Dancing it out FTW.

This one is for my fellow Thespians. (Or those who wonder why people are crazy enough to pursue the stage.)

Unrelated: Do you believe in spirit animals? I’m not sure, but multiple different tests have determined I’m a swan. Could be worse! What are you?  (h/t Jenny Blake)

Looking for something mind-blowing to read this weekend? How about All of Wait But Why in one place? (I’m interviewing the writer a week from today at our March Campfire Chat! I DIE.)

Tickets to the Campfire Chat are sold out, but we still have a few spots left in a class I’m co-teaching called Creativity As A Lifestyle. If you’re in NYC on March 28th, come join us!

Last but not least, THANK YOU for being here with me! I can’t wait to see what happens between now and the next birthday! If you’d like to be the first to receive the posts and updates,  come join the Cheshire Parlour gang! (Free, no spam allowed, etc etc)



Spring Awakening

by Monica McCarthy on March 5, 2015


Beauty is whatever gives joy. – Edna St. Vincent Millay


Yosemite. Mozart. Taj Mahal.

Sometimes places/people/art are popular for a good reason. Seemingly touched by an otherworldly hand, these experiments in Beauty transcend the normal realm and offer a new tableau of effervescence. They are not overrated in themselves, just over-saturated in our awareness of them. In other words, these experiences are still highly valuable, if we can get over our prejudice about their exposure en masse.

When I was 19, I studied humanities in Heidelberg, Germany. Many of my favorite memories of that time were spent in museums in neighboring countries, making the most of our long weekends. Having grown up in southern California, I wasn’t exposed to a vast array of visual art. I was a musical theater nerd through and through, but I wasn’t one for roaming gallery exhibitions. But during that summer in Europe,  I became smitten with studying the stories behind the images of famous paintings. Those initial butterflies grew into a deeper appreciation for the artists and the legacies they left to inspire future generations.

That appreciation turned to a full-blown love affair during a weekend trip to Florence. It was there I discovered the initial recipient of my amor hung in the expansive halls of the Uffizi; A painting my class had been studying from an analytical and historical perspective the week prior. But it wasn’t until I walked into the expansive gallery room and stood face to face with the behemoth work by Botticelli that I fully understood the significance of the transcendental nature of beauty on canvas. The Birth of Venus was, for me, a new lens in which to view the world.


The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1482-1485

I’m certainly no art historian, but I do enjoy frequent trips to museums and galleries here at home in NYC and in my travels. Though there are more obscure pieces I’m fond of, it is that first experience with Botticelli that stands out most in my mind.

The challenge is when other people ask me about my artistic preferences. It is then I begin to question my own aesthetic taste. Was my fondness for The Birth of Venus too plebeian? Should I turn my focus to the lesser known works to derive real value, or at the very least, to justify my choices?

Art isn’t the only place this subjectivity and fear of the saturated market comes to play, of course. Travel has increasingly become a filter through which we learn about ourselves and our preferences. Earlier this week I returned for the second time this year to one of the most popular destinations in the world: Sydney, Australia.  While I’d heard Sydney’s praises sung by many prior to my visit, it wasn’t until experiencing her first hand that I felt the connection.

Like The Birth of Venus, Sydney is no secret. If you’re willing to get on a long flight, there’s no real challenge to overcome to reach her shores. She is popular. And for good reason.

Though Sydney certainly isn’t my first foray onto foreign soil, for me, she is the physical experiencing of  The Birth of Venus: Massive, flowing, innocently seductive, with an ethereal beauty and an appearance as though floating.

Philosophers, artists, and poets have a long history of depicting the existence of physical beauty as a portal to experiencing the divine. The difference between how I felt staring out at Sydney Harbor versus how I currently feel staring out at the Siberian wasteland outside of my Brooklyn apartment, makes me believe this to be true.

How appropriate then that Botticelli’s Venus, the goddess of love, symbolizes the coming of spring as she approaches the shore.


All smiles in Sydney

On days like today, with a blizzard reminding us here on the east coast that winter is not going out without a fight, it can be challenging to keep spirits lifted, with minds and hearts focused on a more sublime existence.

But Botticelli reminds us that spring will come again.

Sydney proves that paradise on earth is real.

And beauty is never overrated.


Taking in the view



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Favorite Things Friday [Brrrr Edition]

by Monica McCarthy on February 20, 2015


A few of my favorite findings from the week because: FRIDAY…

In case you haven’t heard, it’s freezing here in NYC! I’m excited to head to warmth for a week, starting Monday. Until then these stunning photos of Greece from my friend Jodi will have to suffice.

If photos don’t cheer up the winter blues, there’s always therapy. Or meditation. Or philosophy. Or all three.

Sometimes the best medicine is a good cry. One of my favorite musicals is now in movie theaters. (Popcorn and tissue required.)

If that love story doesn’t get you going, perhaps my 2,000 words on the topic will? (No tissue required, but popcorn is always welcome.)

Enough about love, let’s talk about art. This interview has some wise words on the subject from child star turned writer.

Speaking of art, here’s a sneak peek into my new role as the host of Holstee’s Campfire Chat, a dialogue with inspiring folks.

On that note,  if you think men can’t be muses, think again.

Speaking of hot, did I mention I’m going somewhere warm? Hint: I’m making an encore:

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