These are a few of my favorite things…

Last semester, I read the book “14,000 thing to be Happy About” by Barbara Ann Kipfer. She lists both big and small details of her life which make her gratuitous. Inspired by her dedication to optimism, I decided to create my own list. Although it is 50 things and not 14,000, creating this post reminded me that happiness emerges from the compilation of small joys.

Falling asleep under my star light projector

Sitting in the living room doing homework with my roommates 

Weekly coffee dates on campus with my dad

Grocery store trips with my mom 

Candy-flavored coffee creamer 

Beading my shoelaces 

Homemade fondue 

Wednesday coffee dates with Hannah 

Reviewing your notes after reading a book 

The color purple 

Putting on my five rings, two necklaces, and four earrings in the morning 

My brother’s college admission success 

Rekindling old friendships 

Daily tarot card readings 

Sean’s Bacon Cheddar Burgers from Al’s Burger Shack 

Sweatpants with pockets 

Bachelor Monday’s with my apartment 

Facetiming my grandparents 

Saying yes to last minute plans and having a great time 

Meeting influential people in your life through unexpected circumstances 

Pairing matching socks after doing laundry 

Having a vending machine in my apartment  

Doing work in a room with natural light 

Establishing new traditions 

Learning skills in class that apply to your jobs 

Tik Tok 

Creating a crystal collection 

Having friends who you feel 100% yourself around 

Taking the high road

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

My 1SE Video 

Burning through four candles since the beginning of spring semester 

 When others take your advice 

Finally creating a blog after envisioning it for years 

Creating community through TEDxUNC

Spending the day at the beach 

Nature Twist Sugar Free Lemonade 

Sticking my head and/or body out the window when I ride in the passenger seat 

Having so much fun you forget to take pictures 

Watching Youtubers you have grown up with

Accidentally matching your friends 

Hanging homemade art on my apartment’s walls 

Singing karaoke on my bluetooth microphone 

Colorful eye makeup 

Dance workout videos 

Purchasing clothing dupes and people believing they are real 

Watching concert movies 

Achieving long term goals 

Sleeping with my body pillow 

Living in the present

If you had one month left to live, what would you do?

During Gary Kayye’s #BrandingofMe class, he taught us about the value of stream of consciousness writing. At the end of our class, Gary provided us a few instructions: write for five straight minutes and record exactly what comes to mind. 

The prompt: If you had one month left to live, what would you do?

Now before I go on, I highly suggest you do this exercise yourself. Open up a document or grab a pencil and paper. Set a timer for five minutes and seclude yourself in a space where you feel comfortable and inspired. Play some music while you’re at it. Here’s a playlist that gets me inspired.

When your five minutes are up, meet me back here. 

Ok…I’m going to read you mine and then if you want, you can share your’s with me in the contact section on my website, www.oliviaccohen.com.

Here is mine: 

“If I had one month to live, I would drop out of UNC. However, I would bring together all of my family and friends and try and spend one last meaningful day with each of them. I would end with my immediate family on the last day. Each day, I would do something that I haven’t done before that would bring me closer with the people I love. I would also write everyone a handwritten note telling them what they mean to me and give it to them at the end of our last day together. I would quit my jobs and make sure to spend lots of time outside and in the sunshine. I would go to the beach and go to the mountains one last time. I would also want to write as much as possible because this is what ignites me inside. I would eat a lot of junk food because even though I know its bad for you thats what I enjoy doing. I would try and spend as little time on my electronics as possible and be as present as possible. I wouldn’t try to initiate any new relationships, just focus on the ones I already have and tell the people how much I care about them. I would try not to be sad and rather appreciate the time and people that I do have left. I would listen to a lot of music and also buy a drum set and put it in my apartment because I wouldn’t have to worry about a noise violation because what is the point. I would also like to confront people who have hurt me in the past and stand up for myself.” 

It’s daunting to see your final wishes written down in such a casual way. It wasn’t until Gary revealed why we were doing this activity that I understood its’ purpose. 

“These are your passions. If you had one month left to live, you would only focus on the things that you truly care about.”

I sat is disbelief and felt an indescribable wave of bittersweet emotion consume me. Was I routinely doing enough on my list? If something terrible were to happen, would I feel like I did enough? Going forward, these questions are something I want to consider in my everyday actions.

Thank you, Gary, for opening my eyes to what really matters. If you haven’t already, I suggest you reflect on your day-to-day actions. Not their outcome, but rather why you do them.

“La La Land” Moments

La La Land” is my favorite movie. It is a musical about two lovers, Mia and Sebastian, who help each other achieve their dreams of stardom. They both fulfill their personal goals, yet don’t end up as a couple. 

The first time I saw this movie, I was 16 on New Years Eve. When the credits started rolling, I sat for a long time after and stared at the screen in disbelief. 

Being an eternal optimist is difficult. I try my hardest to give people and situations the benefit of the doubt. I used to assume that if you want something bad enough, it will work out the way you want it to. However, this movie was the first time that I saw my idealistic mindset shatter before my eyes.

Setting unwavering expectations has been the hardest mental roadblock I have grappled with since beginning college. While in theory it is easy to “live in the moment” or “see things objectively,” it is difficult to overcome your emotions in certain situations. 

With it almost being one year since UNC-CH shut down in-person, this time has led to a series of “La La Land” moments. 

A “La La Land” moment is what I describe as a complete shattering of your expectations. For some reason, the thing you wanted so bad doesn’t work out. Just like Mia and Sebastian didn’t end up together, you didn’t fulfill your goal in the manner you expected. 

What I have come to realize is that although it’s unfortunate, shattered expectations lead to positive growth. Some of the “worst things” that have happened to me in the moment ended up serving as my biggest blessings. 

I feel lucky that not everything has worked out the way I wanted. There is a lot of beauty that comes as a result of pain. This year has taught me to celebrate “La La Land” moments. They often lead to beautiful and fulfilling new journeys. 

On this note, I ask that you take a listen to “Epilogue” from the movie’s soundtrack. The emotion conveyed through this song is similar to the highs and lows one feels during a healing journey. If you ever want to talk about “La La Land” with me, please contact me through my portfolio website. 

With gratitude,

Olivia

Welcome to Livithroughthelens

When I was in sixth grade, my mom and I got into a big argument about Instagram. As any validation-seeking tween would do, I created my account with the desire to gain attention from my peers during our prepubescent years. So what was the argument about? My Instagram handle. I decided to use my full name in my username, despite her explicitly saying this was not allowed. Sure enough, she caught on quickly and forced me to shut down my account. After one more Instagram-less year, I was allowed to rebrand my persona as long as I followed her one rule. It was then and there that “Livithroughthelens” was born.

Livithroughthelens is a nickname that has followed me ever since. Many of my friends call me that and even refer to it as “my brand.” I used to hate it, but now it holds a special place in my heart. Along with purple eyeliner and my “One Second of the Day Video,” this nickname is one of the defining traits that identifies me during a time of massive transition. 

When considering names for this blog, I consulted my friends and they all came to the same conclusion: “Livithroughthelens” is the perfect name. Here I am, patting my 6th grade self on the back, as I continue to use the branding knowledge I somehow possessed as a 12-year-old.

Welcome to Livithroughthelens. 

This semester, I will be taking you on a journey through my lens. While this blog doesn’t have one defined topic, I will be delving into various aspects of my life which make me who I am. One of those aspects is TEDxUNC. While I am at it, I want to shoutout our first event, “Intersections,” on February 4th at 8pm .

I hope you enjoy learning a bit about me and please feel free to reach out. 

With gratitude,

Olivia