The Art of Muddling Through

charles lindblom, art of muddling through, s.c. rhyne, the reporter and the girl, stuck in a rut

So for all of my political science, political theory, and governance fans; the title of this post is from a very popular article written in 1959, by Professor Emeritus Charles Lindblom of Yale University. I had the pleasure of reading the work this week, which was one of the earliest pieces on the theory of incrementalism in policy.

Obviously, this theory brought a lot of criticism; I mean who would want to think of key decision-makers in our government not really having a “big-picture or goal”, but rather taking “baby steps” decisions when needed.

Hence, this title could also refer to decision-makers literally buried waste-deep in problems, issues, concerns, and ‘fires’ that the bright light at the end of the tunnel is nonexistent; and thus one is waddling through this deep mud, with only the thoughts of staying afloat and not stepping on any sharp objects or mines.

This sounds familiar.

Mr. Muddle, Muddling through, S.C. Rhyne, Charles Lindblom, incrementalism, starting over, goals

I had a goal to “change things” and perhaps jump-start my career by attending university and working in Europe. However, I’m starting to think that my “goal” was really the beginning of the mud patch and now I’m not sure if I can see the bright light. I just see a lot of muckiness in each and every direction and I’m not sure which way to waddle.

Yesterday marked one month since arriving at London-Heathrow, and although I have taken a lot of baby steps, I have repeatedly questioned whether I am working efficiently or taking the right steps to secure permanent employment and housing.  Or if I am effectively balancing my school and social life, because I may be falling into the same habits I had in New York.

I may have hoped to “glide through” some things, but now it seems that I am in for a long muddling; and while I hope to be strategic and insightful with each step I take, knowing me, this process will be more of an “art of spontaneous feelings” than a careful “scientific deduction of reason”. Thus, as the comic suggests, my mind and heart may be looking in separate directions, and therefore working in separate directions.

One of the pitfalls of “muddling through” that Lindblom fails to mention, is that one can easily get “stuck in a rut”.  Especially, when the effort to take these baby steps seem futile and the motivation to push forward dissipates. And this is certainly not where I (or most folks) want to end up.

So, have you ever been in a stage of your life where you felt like you were muddling through day-in and day-out?

Did you get through it, how? If you’re still muddling, how are you making it through?

Tell me on Facebook or tweet me @ReporterandGirl



How Luxury Brands are Changing Society’s Values

luxury brands; wardrobe; high end clothing; S.C. Rhyne; shoe closet;

Fashion expresses the spirit of the times. It has always been a reflection of social, economic, political and cultural change. Over the last 20 years, the focus has slowly but steadily shifted from what the product is (diamonds, well-crafted timepieces, high-end car brands, luxury totes) to what it represents. Luxury is no longer restricted to elite groups or the rich and famous and as a result, luxury lines have extended their products to reach a wider market of consumers.

Luxury brands help consumers feel dynamic and alive. They often reflect their consumers’ outlook on life. Consumers tend to use luxury as an expressive tool to show who they are (or crave to be). They will align purchases with newly discovered social values. Here are four social values that have shifted over the years and the luxury products that reflect this change.

Sustainable Luxury

Current luxury fashion consumers have become morally conscious in addition to being intelligent and socially aware, explains Uché Okonkwo in her book, “Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques.” It’s become status quo to expect ethical practices and social responsibility. Shoppers read labels on clothes and are concerned about the sources of materials and conditions under which they were manufactured.

Because of this, there has been a significant consumer response to eco-conscious luxury apparel. In 2005, Bono, Ali Hewson and fashion designer Rogan Gregory launched Edun — a socially conscious apparel brand based on the concept of African Fair Trade and employment, using only organic materials. Sustainability is posed to define the future of luxury, according to the BBC.

Androgynous Style

From Diane Keaton’s signature style of masculine suits and hats, to the debut of Ruby Rose’s coveted haircut made popular by Season 3 of “Orange is the New Black,” androgyny may not have always been “in” but it’s certainly been a popular look on the runways. Androgynous models like these beauties, featured on Vogue, make the look timeless.

The style is adaptable and can accommodate many variants along the blurs of masculine and feminine style. Pair a tough leather jacket with feminine ankle-length cigarette pants. Or pair baggy overalls with a cute crop top. A neutral crossbody bag takes the look of neither purse nor briefcase and is a perfect way to complete your boundary-pushing outfit.

Influence of Celebrities

A cultural shift away from traditional advertising has emerged to entice millennials, who are mostly influenced by family and friends. They are twice as likely as Gen-Xers to be influenced by celebrities and four times as likely as Baby Boomers, according to a 2013 Global Consumer Sentiment Survey by BCG Perspectives. While celebrities have been linked to brands for decades, celebrity endorsements do not begin and end with shooting and printing a photo for a fashion magazine anymore. Social value shifts have added depth and dimension to celebrity endorsement. In addition, the type of celebrity has expanded from Parisian princesses to sports stars, politicians, artists, musicians and even reality stars of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and genders.

Examples of luxury celebrity endorsements are plenty. Versace has used Madonna, Demi Moore and Halle Berry. United Colors of Benetton features transgender models Lea T and Alek Wek. Child model Romeo Beckham often works on Burberry campaigns. Missy Elliot entertains at Alexander Wang after parties.

A Shift Toward Health & Wellness

Health and wellness have become important parts of the luxury lifestyle and luxury brands have taken notice. With boutique fitness classes and expensive sportswear becoming the norm for not only lady bosses but suburban moms, we are seeing a major shift in status symbol products. People who don’t even frequent the gym are choosing to dress like they do.

Activewear has become the trending daywear and weekend wear. Brands that are jumping on the train and creating luxury activewear include Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, Chanel, Juicy Couture, Free People and SoulCycle. People are allowed to brag about their fitness lifestyle, and what better way than to drink green juice while wearing Lululemon yoga pants and a Stella McCartney hoodie.

It’s no longer only about function but emotion and social values that can be derived from owning luxury products.

Lost in Translation

UK to USA dictionary, British vs. American English, Moving to UK, English dictionary, S.C. Rhyne

So I just bought this two-way dictionary, because apparently I do not speak English. So, I do not want to offend anyone and I also don’t want to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous shop-keepers.

Well, look on the bright side, I can always add it to my resume/CV as another foreign language that I can converse in.

This past week, I have been integrating into campus life and meeting my PhD supervisors. They seem less cold in person, but maybe that has to do with the “freezing 45F/6C weather” than me. I’m sure things will warm up soon.

Overall, trying to stay positive and thanks to the advice of many good folks who have been following along, I managed to get great tips and stay on top of all things that I need to navigate the system in the UK. It hasn’t been terribly hard, as the government here likes to post things in plain English, rather than Legalese.

mumbo jumbo, legalese, legal term, no comprehension, S.C. Rhyne

The number one question from friends and family from NYC: have you met any hot guys yet?

Oh yeah, London is full of sophisticated blokes in top hats and carrying handkerchiefs who just can’t wait to take me to the museum. I’ve just been tripping over them the last two and half weeks since I landed here!

But seriously, no.

During the winter time, Londoners and Brits in general seem to want to go into hibernation and sit in their living rooms with the curtains drawn up.  Especially on a grey day like this with subfreezing temperatures of 55F/13C. Just look how nasty it was on my morning run as I discovered a quaint little town called Mill Hill.

Mill Hill, London neighborhoods, job, miles, exercise, S.C. Rhyne, the reporter and the girl,
This was actually beautiful!

Meanwhile, New Yorkers who are facing a state of an emergency #WinterStormJonas who dumped well over 12 inches of snow reacted by buying every last loaf of bread in the city and proceeded to throw chunks of bread at Sanitation workers.

A Snow Day

Oh well, will be interesting to see how Brits react when the storm comes visits us next.

Lol, soon things will brighten up on both sides of the pond. But until then, cheerios!

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the british museum, syrian refugees, migrant crisis, eurropean migrants, cross, s.c. rhyne,

My eleventh day has passed in London, and I am not “counting the days” but nearing the end of my initial adjustment.

I know how to walk home from the two nearest “high streets” (what we would call main streets). I can ride the tubes and buses myself and understand the station stops or how to detour if there is service disruption, like what happened yesterday during my trip to the National British Museum:

Jubilee Line, Service Disruption, London Tube, S.C Rhyne, The Reporter and The Girl
No train home today!

I now know to check the website for weekend disruptions.

I wake up earlier in the mornings and jog most mornings on the high street or to a nearby park. Then I settle in and read or do more paperwork or research for permanent apartment, job, etc…I still feel like some of these things are happening waaayyy too slowly though.

My bank appointment is tomorrow, which was like the only appointment available in the London area of all January! So hopefully I can open an account, can’t believe it took so long!

I also finally figured out the difference between NI and NHS. I thought they were the same thing and have been going around telling folks that I paid for an NI number online and a card should be coming in the mail to me.

surprised horse, S.C Rhyne, The reporter and The girl
You paid how much?
OMG, isn’t that illegal?
You poor migrant!

These photos are a courtesy of

But then I actually called for it last week and applied for it, silly me.

Well, until my first seminar starts on Thursday, I decided to let my hair down just a little, and visit the British Museum. I have tons of photos that I will post separately, but wanted to share the featured image with you all first.

The makeshift wooden cross was the first piece I saw when I entered the museum. It was made from scraps of a boat that carried some Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean. Being a dangerous journey, its easy to see why someone would want a religious icon that would hopefully bring comfort and peace in the rough seas.

Even though I had a more comfortable trip to the U.K with “proper documents”; I’m reminded how lucky I am to be here and able to do this. I certainly did not choose my birthright and could have easily been born on an island in the Caribbean, if my parents weren’t fortunate or determine enough to come to the United States when immigration laws were different. My blue passport is the difference between waiting a couple of weeks for a visa, versus a couple of months, or maybe even a year.

Nonetheless, I feel some homesickness for the things I miss:

  • My YMCA back home, where I worked out everyday.
  • My normal sized car that always gave me a heart attack when the check engine light comes on.
  • My softball mitt.
  • My own bed. My own kitchen where I know where everything is, and can whip up a 5 course meal easy.

But then I remember why I decided to move abroad

  • Stuck in a rut with my job and career, I didn’t want to make a lateral move
  • I moved back home (’nuff said)
  • I needed something different, I have a routine there but nothing really keeping me here
  • No one keeping me here
  • I kept romanticizing the European lifestyle, I just had to see if I can come and live it out.

So in essence, we all come and go because of a dream or to live a better life. And by remembering these decisions, as well as the opportunity I have, it makes me feel determined again.

At least until I read the syllabus last night that contained 96 items that we are expected to read in the short 10 weeks of term.


I’m still fortunate.

Thank you to my readers and followers for sharing your ideas for places to visit and things to do, including solutions for jet lag!

So, have you ever been away from home for an extended period of time? How have you dealt with homesickness? Or even with friends and family members reaching out excessively or “upset” that you left?

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl

or tell me on Facebook or G+





How to Create a Timeless, Affordable Wardrobe


Style means something different to every woman (and man). However, there are a few standby pieces we should all have in our wardrobes. Here are a few examples of the essentials.

The Perfect-Fitting Bra

What we wear under our clothes is just as important. However, according to a study conducted by a Swiss lingerie company, more than 64 percent of us are wearing the wrong bra size. This can lead to discomfort, and badly-fitting undergarments can ruin our days, as reported by the fashion experts at WWD, leaving us tugging and pulling at our bra straps and bands. Every woman should have at least two great-fitting bras, one for everyday, such as a smooth T-shirt bra, and something a little sexy, like a lace or push-up bra. Remember, the lifetime of a bra is only six months if you’re wearing it regularly, so you’ll need to replace your undergarments accordingly. Plus, many bras come with special care instructions, so be sure to follow them precisely to keep your bras in good shape.

A Timepiece to Last the Ages

Many pieces of jewelry and watches are lifetime investments. Rather than buying trendy costume jewelry, consider investing in gold or sterling pieces, as these items will stand the test of time and one day become heirlooms that you will be able to pass down to your daughters. Watchmakers like Michele offer quality Swiss-made timepieces with handset diamonds for extra sparkle. These beautiful watches are made from stainless steel and have a sapphire crystal face, meaning they are incredibly scratch resistant. Michele also specializes in leather and special fabric watch bands that can easily be swapped with the stainless steel bracelet band, allowing you to switch up the look of your watch from season to season without investing in an entirely new piece.

Practical, Everyday Flats

While most women swoon over the highest heels, it’s wise to invest in a few pairs of dependable flats. Flat-soled shoes can be worn to work or on the weekend, and if you buy the right pair, they’ll last you for years without going out of style like some of the heels you see coming and going out of fashion. From day to night, and whatever the occasion, Tieks has got you covered. Made from 100 percent Italian leather, or vegan textiles, non-skid rubber soles and comfortable cushioning, Tieks are a must-have for your wardrobe. With a wide selection of ballet flats, from bold colors to sparkling styles, Tieks by Gavrieli pair perfectly with any outfit.

A Carryall for Everything

The French luxury handbag company Longchamp offers exactly what practical fashionistas need: style and functionality at an affordable price. Whether you’re in school and you need a tote to carry your books, you’re traveling and need a durable carry on for your flight, or you’re toting around your work essentials to and from the office, the Longchamp Le Pliage tote can carry everything you need and more. The lightweight handbag is made from durable nylon and is available in a range of sizes and colors to meet your needs. Plus, when it’s not in use, you can fold it up like origami to save on space or pack it inside of a suitcase with ease.

5 Miles

red double decker

So I’m jet-lagged, irregular, and anxious. On my second night, I kept thinking about how I was going to find a job. Apparently this country operates on a system: bank account first, then cell phone, then an NI number, then…etc.

I guess I may be jumping the gun, as I have been here 4 full days, and sleep ten to twelve hours a day. This is not like me, but everyone keeps saying its the jet-lag…and I need to rest first.

So, I do the only thing I know how to do; I run.

I ran down the nearest “high street” and I kept running until I didn’t see any lights and the rain came down too hard to run. So I stopped under a lighted bus shelter (very neat by the way, in New York we’re lucky if our bus stops have the bus signs on them) and waited for it to die down before running back.

I snapped this photo before I turned on my little road going home. If you’re ever driving in London, these things are scary when they are coming right at you! After all, they are driving on the wrong side of the road.

Have you been to London? Or live here? Or do you just plain travel a lot? What are your tips for beating jet lag, or the best places to eat, shop, drink or even rent a flat?

Send me your tips:

twitter: @ReporterandGirl


Or email me ReporterandTheGirl (at) gmail (dot) com