Alyssa J Freitas

April 24, 2019

Mindset Shift To Increase Positivity

I just got together with Kajal this past week and we realized it had been months since we'd seen one another. We launched into our life updates. How's your work/schooling? How's your health? How're your friends and family? There's always a few areas that we're working on or that we're currently challenged by, and we share those with one another and ask for advice. These catch up conversations, in addition to texting and phone calls, happen with all of my friends and can be so helpful!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! This adjustment in how I interact with friends helped me to dramatically increase my positivity. Learn more here
However (you knew that was coming, didn't you?), this also means I have to bring up the things that aren't perfect in my life over and over again with each friend. And because my friends are wonderful, they'll follow up and ask for updates and find out if there's anything else I need to talk through...which leads to me having to relive it all again.

I wasn't really aware of how this "reliving" was making me feel until I read this article from The Everygirl (I'm also pretty sure I read something similar on A Cup of Jo, but I can't find the article now). The author describes how she used to vent her daily frustrations and thought that it was a great release, but realized that the rehashing of every day wasn't really necessary and actually made her keep her negativity around for longer.

While I don't vent about my day on a regular basis, I do find myself updating each friend and brining up negative emotions when I really don't need to. What on the surface was my intention to keep everyone on the same page in actuality was me getting myself worked up again without even realizing it.

Now that I am aware of this, I've been much more intentional about how many people I talk to about issues on a regular basis, and when I am doing a longer catch up with a friend I focus more on the present and future. 

Did you read my post about missing the past? This shift in what I talk about has been a great way to address those feelings. It's a bit like that song "Turn it Off" from Book of Mormon where it talks about not feeling your feelings. I'm not suggesting that you ignore things that are bothering you, rather I'm saying that we should acknowledge and talk about it with a limited number of people, address it, and move forward with all future conversations. I've found that this is a great way to be positive and to get your friend's perspective on what is really important - what's happening in the future/what you're working towards!

How do you decide what to talk about with friends? Would love to hear how you have positive conversations and keep your mindset on track. 

-AJF

April 17, 2019

Back In Time (Bonus!): Forney In Europe

This week should be an etiquette post. Instead, it's your lucky day and I'm doing a bonus Back In Time post instead! Last week we talked about the Centennial Exhibition in Philly in 1876. I mentioned that John Weiss Forney went to Europe for two years to get people pumped for the exhibition and how I thought there must be some good stories there.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! This week's post is a bonus Back In Time follow up from last week. Find out about what our friend Forney was up to in Europe when he was promoting the Centennial Exhibition
When I was writing the other post, I did my research and wasn't able to find any information about what went on during his time in Europe. I told Joe, and he proceeded to go hunting for a primary source and found that there was a book called A Centennial Commissioner in Europe that is a collection of Forney's letters from 1874-1876. Jackpot.

There is not a digital copy of the book (nor experts from what we could find), however, they had it at the New York Public Library! Using Joe's card, I requested to view it and this weekend we went to the research section of the library and I got to explore what was going on with Forney during his mission. The book itself was falling apart and they had it tied up (you can see in the picture the string around it), and I really felt like I was going back in time.

First of all, let me give you a quick background on Forney so you can understand just how big of a deal he was and why it's even more amazing that he put his life in the U.S. on hold to go promote the exhibition in Europe. Forney served as both the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and as the Secretary of the United States Senate. At 16 years old he started working in newspapers and at 20 he bought his own publication. He was instrumental in helping James Buchanan get the presidential nomination and ran his successful campaign for president. Forney later became a republican and ran a daily newspaper throughout the years of the Civil War.

Ok, now on to what I found in the book. It was over 300 pages long and I only had a few hours, so my method of research was to look at the table of contents and flip to parts that appeared to be the most interesting. Since the other blog post started with a painting, I thought it only appropriate to begin with a painting here as well. In 1874 Forney visited Paris and spoke with Imogene Robinson Morrell who was a painter who wanted to contribute her work to the exhibition. Below is Provision Train, showing Washington and his troops.

Forney spent less than $15 per week while in Paris, but he was very concerned about getting ripped off. He tells a story where he and his friend were taking a cab and the driver was going very slow and they thought he was trying to rip them off. They had agreed the ride would take a certain amount of time and when it took longer they tried to get out of the car and start walking. The cab driver flipped out and since neither of the two men spoke French very well, they got back in and paid the extra fare.

Forney also spent time in England, where he observed that the food was not nearly as good as in America, comparing it against Augustin's in Philly and Delmonico's in New York. While in England he stayed with Lord North, Minister of George III and there was casually a Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington in the bedroom he stayed in.

My favorite story involved Captain Boyton (go check out his Wikipedia page), an adventurer and waterman. In 1875 he performed his famous English Channel stunt, swimming across in 24 hours. After a night's rest, Forney went to see Boyton who proudly showed Forney the Centennial banner hanging outside his window. He told Forney that he wore it tied to his back during the crossing because he was so excited about the upcoming occasion.

Along Forney's way, he visited with Lafayette's grandson and with the Belgians, who were so psyched for the Centennial that they formed their own commission to prepare.

Two other little interesting facts. Around this time the U.S. was having great success in exporting folding chairs - American ingenuity at its finest. In 1875 Forney heard about the England National Cat Show that was put on at the Crystal Palace. I don't know if he went, but cat shows used to be a big thing in London.

Like I said, I wish I would have had more time with the book to read cover to cover, but I was so glad to get even a little bit more information about what went on in the two years that Forney was in Europe. It never ceases to fascinate me how people (of any day and age) can get an idea in their head, drop everything, and go after it.

-AJF

April 10, 2019

Back In Time: The Centennial Exhibition

I feel in love with a painting at The Met when I went with Hansel a few weekends ago. It’s called The Ameya and was painted by Robert Frederick Blum in 1893. Blum went to Japan to illustrate a series of articles for Schribner’s Magazine, and this painting shows a candy blower surrounded by passersby who stopped to take a look.

Blum went to Japan in 1890 to attend the Third National Industrial Exhibition, which ended up being a domestic event that only drew 246 visitors from abroad. As you can imagine, this event isn’t too interesting to talk about, but the event that inspired Blum to go to Japan and attend the Third National Industrial Exhibition is far more fun to dive into. Get ready to learn about the Centennial Exhibition – the first official World’s Fair!

If you’ve read The Devil in the White City, you’re familiar with both a serial killer and with the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. Both tales have a lot of drama and make me long for the days of large-scale celebrations of countries, a la Epcot. As you can imagine, if the World’s Columbian Exhibition had drama, then the Centennial Exhibition has to have its own host of interesting stories.

Let’s first go over the basic facts. It’s 1870. The centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is coming up in six years. John L. Campbell, a professor of mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy tells his friend, the mayor of Philadelphia, Morton McMichael that he has a great idea for how we can celebrate. John suggests an exhibition and Morton is in.
Mayor Morton McMichael

In order to hold what would be a massive event, the city of Philadelphia needed the support of the U.S. Congress. Congressman William Kelley (a friend of Abraham Lincoln and founder of the Republican party) spoke for the city and state, and Daniel Morrell (general manager of the Cambria Iron Company, the greatest manufacturer of iron and steel in the U.S. … until the Johnstown Flood literally wiped the plant out and killed more than two thousand people. It’s crazy, look it up) was the one who actually introduced the bill. The big selling point was that Congress would not be on the hook for any expenses, so unsurprisingly, they gave the go ahead to Philadelphia to have their exhibition.
Daniel Morrell

Unfortunately, while the people of Philadelphia were able to raise a good amount of money, they were still a bit short and ended up getting $1.5 million from the federal government. There was a “misunderstanding” and the exhibition committee (made up of members from every state) thought it was a gift, while the federal government meant it as a loan. The federal government ended up having to sue the committee after the fact and the Supreme Court told the committee they had to repay the loan.

I could go on and on about other interesting facts concerning money (like the fact that they actually chartered a bank, The Centennial National Bank, which is now regarded as one of the best pieces of architecture in West Philadelphia. Big praise. And how they built a hospital and tons of housing in preparation for the influx of people) and promoting the event (John Forney went to Europe for two years and not a single nation that received an invitation turned it down. I bet there are some good stories there), but I think it’s high time we get into what was actually at the exhibition and what Robert Frederick Blum saw there that got him so jazzed up about Japan and attending the Third National Industrial Exhibition.

The official name of the Centennial Exhibition was International Exhibition of Arts, Manufacturers and Products of Soil and Mine. There was a main exhibition building, an agricultural hall, a horticultural hall, a machinery hall, an art hall (the largest in the country when it opened), a women’s pavilion, and a number of other buildings. Just to make sure I tie things back to Ben Franklin (as you know we have to have a founding father in every post), there was a Women’s Centennial Executive Committee, headed by Elizabeth Duane Gillespie who was a descendant of Ben Franklin, and they pushed to have representation of women and women’s contributions; hence the women’s pavilion. 

The most exciting sights at the exhibition ranged from vendors selling bananas (considered a delicacy at the time) to the Corliss Steam Engine. Heinz ketchup made its debut, Alexander Graham Bell showed off his telephone for the first time, and the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch were on display while Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was working on the rest of it.

But what about the Japanese contribution to the Centennial Exhibition that so impressed our friend Blum? Well, just as the U.S. was trying to show that world that it was a force to be reckoned with post-Civil War, Japan wanted to be just as well respected and show how far they had come in their efforts to modernize and attract trading partners. The Japanese kept their exhibit simple and demonstrated their eye for design and quality craftsmanship that impressed many of the exhibition-goers.

With over 10 million visitors, thirty-seven country participants, and seven months of operation, the first ever World’s Fair set the bar for international celebrations and showed how proud and ready the Americans were to celebrate 100 years of freedom and come back from the devastation of the Civil War.

-AJF
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April 3, 2019

March 2019 Monthly Recap

After an action packed February, I was glad to have a more relaxed March. At the start of the month Chrystalla, James, Joe and I went to Break in Astoria, which is a very fun bar that has tons of games. Let the record show, when Joe and I faced off in ping pong I won. It's very important to make note of this publicly because we've had an on-going ping pong battle since college and it's awesome to be the current leader.

I went to two different work/industry related events this month. The Wall Street Journal hosted a panel in Bryant Park and I went to a fraud summit this month as well. Each time I attend an event I always end up learning something new, whether it's about a client or another vendor or an emerging industry trend. While it is sometimes awkward to go on your own, I try to put myself in a mindset that everyone is there to learn, and just focus on being friendly to those I encounter. Even for outgoing people it can be tough to feel confident when you don't know anyone, but pushing through is always worth it.

I did have to travel to Philly for work this month, so I got to see Casey! We went out for dinner and I got to see her apartment, which is right near Addison Street. It's exciting to get to visit friends in different cities and I've been very lucky that IBM has sent me to quite a few destinations (Denver, San Diego, Boston) where I get to see friends.

My mother does an "Invention Convention" each year at her school, and when I attended I got to see one of IBM's original PCs!

Random, but this month we celebrated my birthday and Mama made cupcakes. Although my birthday is in January, I had so much travel going on that I asked her to wait to make them until I'd be home for an extended period of time and would get to enjoy it.

This month I spoke on a panel through the Women's Bond Club. We went to an all girls school in the city to discuss college applications, actually being in college, and post-grad careers. It was great to be able to pass on what we had learned and the girls are at such an exciting moment in their lives (which I lamented being past in my last post).

The last weekend of the month, my friend Hansel was visiting the city. You may remember Hansel from my trip to Rome and my visit with him in his city of San Diego (although you haven't actually seen him because he prefers to be behind the camera). We went to the Met and to Hudson Yards, as well as made a Shake Shack stop, naturally.

What were you up in March?


-AJF
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March 27, 2019

Missing The Past

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that it’s easier to do nothing than to actually try and work on your to do list? That’s been me for a few weeks now. I was at the peak of overwhelm right when I came back from my Disney trip and went into a week of back to back client meetings, then things kind-of-sort-of calmed down (but work from my other remote job picked up). This past weekend I took a nap. A NAP. Needless to say, I have not been feeling like myself.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Today I'm musing about my longing for the past and how it's impacting the present
This is one of the only times (maybe it’s happened once or twice before?) I’ve not published a blog post at my normally scheduled time. I knew this was going to happen. I actively made the choice not to work on a post this weekend. And now here I am on Wednesday, writing a post and not feeling all that bad about it.

Sometimes we have to recognize that we’re taking on too much. Sometimes we have to take a step back and take a nap (ew). Because, as my mother told me, sometimes our bodies are sending us signals that our brains are apt to ignore.

I was with Casey last night (in person!) because I was traveling to Philly for work. It was so great to see her and we talked about the fact that we met nearly 6 years ago now. We talked about life after college and she is so good at looking forward and enjoying her post grad life. Me? Not so much…

I haven’t really talked about this on the blog, but the truth is I miss college. A lot. I had a handle on what I was doing and working towards and I was doing something pretty much every day that I found fun (whether that was an exercise class or a campus event or a meal with a friend). Now, days go by without having a full conversation with friends that aren't just texts to make sure the other person knows you're missing them. And while work is challenging and I'm learning, I can't always say that it's "fun."

This has caused me to feel pretty down and I spend more time than is good for me imagining myself back in my dorm or the library. The smell of the paper, the feeling of the chair I used to sit on, every detail. And while it was an amazing experience, I'm 100% romanticizing the past and using it as a way to make the present pale in comparison.

The truth of the matter is that each season has its pros and cons and while we can have preferences, it doesn't serve us (read: me) to look down on the present in favor of the past. A cycle of negativity can be hard to break, but recognizing it is the first step, right? Right.

I'll report back when I've figured out a good way (and have some nice, bulleted steps to go through) to love where you are in the moment. However, I just wanted to actually talk to you in the moment and acknowledge that this is where your girl is today. 

How do you keep yourself loving the present? 


-AJF
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