Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One Dollar, One Idea and One Story at a Time

For my birthday this year I received a gift that literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.  The box arrived on the 29th.  I remember because I was headed out the door to get my make-up done for the Taylor Swift concert.  My excitement for the night's events almost stopped me from opening the package but something told me to open the box before I left.  I sat down on the doormat and I tore into the brown packaging.  Inside a framed map of Paris. 

One of the most meaningful gifts I've ever received.  Made even more meaningful because I know the sender had no idea what an impact their gift would have on me. 

This particular gift symbolized a dream that I know will one day come true.  It helped me to believe in myself. 

Last year I started talking about taking a trip to Paris but I quickly brushed the idea off.  I'm not the kind of girl that goes to Paris.  Paris is expensive.  Paris is so far.  Paris is for girls who are loved. 

It took the map for me to see that I am the kind of girl who goes to Paris.  Why wouldn't I be?  I don't know why but sometimes it takes having someone else believe in your dream before you can believe in it yourself.  I guess I needed validation.  Without question this trip seems overwhelming.  How will I pay for such an extravagant trip?  Dar and I have been known to take expensive vacations but I think I want to go this one alone.  This is my dream after all, not his.   

To help me not be paralyzed by negative thoughts and questions I've started saving one dollar at a time, or rather $40 at a time  It's a small amount but it easily goes unnoticed and over time will get me to Paris. 

Dreams get tossed aside because they feel too big, too overwhelming, unattainable.  We're so used to getting things we want right away that the idea of saving and working for something seems defeating.  I hate that.

Paris isn't my only dream...

If things go according to plan (which I've recently learned doesn't always happen) Dar and I will be retiring from our full time jobs in the next seven years.  He'll be 52, I'll be 45.  When financial freedom is finally upon us, I dream of running my own business. 

I've been an entrepreneur since I was five.  I've ran countless lemonade stands.  I packaged and sold mistletoe at Christmas.  I even owned and operated a neighborhood newspaper with a buddy.  Aren't we cute?

It's in my blood.  I have ideas.  I have plans. 

Right now though I have some pretty big responsibilities that I can't neglect.  For the next seven years I need to earn and save as much money as humanly possible so that our dream of retiring is a reality.  There is no freedom if this goal is not met. 

We're so close but sometimes the thought of waiting seven more years is infuriating.

In the meantime I try to satisfy that hunger by writing down every single idea that pops into my head.  Every business name.  Every service possibly imaginable.  For now this is how I keep this dream alive.

And ten there's the dream that's always been there.  The dream I think a lot of us bloggers share.  I want to write a book.  I want to write about my challenges and about how they've molded me.  More than anything though I want to write about how I'm learning to break the molds and become the person I'm meant to be. 

There are two things stopping me.

1. At 36 I'm still figuring it out.  I'm on the brink of something big right now.  A growth spurt of sorts.  I can feel it in the air and in my body.  I know whatever it is I'm about to learn will be pivotal.  This won't be my only growth spurt though.  How can I write a book on overcoming challenges and living an inspirational life if I haven't yet learned all there is to know?

2. I understand that there will have to be some back story but I really don't want to focus on the past.  I've worked incredibly hard to move away from it and only recently do I think I've finally broken free.   With that said, it might be too soon for me to write this book. 

My main objective is to inspire.  I want to prove that despite great challenges it is possible to be a whole person.  A happy person.  No matter what life has thrown at me I've always been able to learn and to grow and be an example and an inspiration to others.  That's a message that's worth sharing.

I think it's safe to say I've come a long way from the girl who wrote this more than a year ago.  Wish me well my friends.  All my love.  XO

Friday, October 16, 2015

I Just Can't Get Enough

I've been known to over-exaggerate but I assure you when I say I love, need, want a hundred different things a day that I mean that I love, need, want a hundred different things a day.  I'm a consumer and I'm easily excited what can I say. 

Insert clip of dog chasing it's tail here :)

Anyways, there are really truly special items/rituals that hold my attention.  That's how I know I love something.  When that happens I then have to tell everybody I know just how great such and such is.  This is the best blah, blah, blah in the entire world (see my zest for over-exaggeration). 

Today I wanted to share the things I just can't get enough of lately with you.

My Poppin pen.  How I only have one is beyond me. These pens write incredibly smooth and feel great in your hand.  I want all the colors.

Orly Nail Defense.  My nails were in really bad shape after 6 months of gel polish applications.  Gel is phenomenal for it's longevity but your nails really do take a beating over time.  I apply gel from November through the holidays and normally wrap up after our anniversary in April.  Sadly it usually takes the next 6 months to get my nails back in good condition.  This year however Orly Nail Defense had my nails stronger than ever in no time.  I can't recommend this product enough. sticker book.  I only bought my first planner in August so I'm very new to the planning world but I'm absolutely loving it so far.  My sticker book has made little things like haircuts and visits to the coffee shop so much more special!  This weekend is offering 20% off.  If you use a planner you should definitely pick this little book up, it's been so much fun. 

Sebastian Penetrate Shampoo and ConditionerI used Total Hair Care for years but thought it was time for a change.  After trying a few different shampoo and conditioner combos from Redkin I decided to give Sebastian a try.  I love this shit!!!  The volume after using these products is amazing.  My hair feels clean and smells great.  Bonus points for being able to air dry my hair and have it look fabulous.  This product is amazing and I can't recommend it enough.  

Free People booties.  The color, the leather, the comfort.  I can't get enough of these bad boys.  What more is there to say.

Aside from over cooking everything my second greatest downfall is the kitchen is not knowing how to season food.  Spices can make or break a dish.  I've been using Scotts Food Products Santa Maria and Lemon Pepper seasoning on everything from chicken to eggs to potatoes to roasted veggies and they've all turned out great. 

William Sonoma Oven Mitts.  Yep, I've got oven mitts on the list.  Dar and I had the same mitts for 11 years and I figured it was time to replace them.  These feel so fresh and the padding inside is incredibly cushy.  It's amazing how luxurious an oven mitt can feel when you've been using the same set for over a decade.

This only started three weeks ago but it's a habit I am so happy I've gotten myself into.  Dar and I work slightly different schedules and since I'm no longer driving, he drops me at work before he heads in.  I don't start until 8:00 so I have more than an hour to kill.  Until a few weeks ago I was a total nut and had been coming into the office and putting in an extra hour of work.  A lights can on and recently and I realized that my time would be much better spent at my favorite coffee shop either reading, working on Brass Honey or just relaxing.  It's been amazing and is the best way to start the day.

OBSESSED.  I picked up my Lettuce Be Friends tee in July and have worn it once a week ever since.  Same goes for the T-Swift concert tee I picked up in August.  New to the rotation is my Live A Great Story tee c/o.  I'm dying to get my grubby little hands on the green sleeved version.  The messaging inspires me and has ever since last November when I spotted this really awesome street art mere blocks from my office.  All three of these tees are incredibly comfortable, great quality and very me.  Dar teases that I only wear clothes with saying on them now.  What can I say, I love what I love.     

Free People bandeau!  I bought this in early August and am shocked as hell that I don't own it in every color.  I hate strapless bras.  I've tried them all and have NEVER found one that I don't have to pull up every 15 minutes.  This bandeau may not provide loads of support but when you're a B cup you don't really need it.  I constantly reach for this bandeau over a regular bra.  It's just so comfortable and the lace back is sexy as all get out.

I've never gotten more bang for my buck.  I wear these $27 shoes at least 3 days a week and have ever since I bought them in August.  They are so comfortable (minor break in period), look super cute and rocker chic and go with everything from a tee and jeans to a pencil skirt and sweater.  I LOVE THEM! 

What a crazy mash up of items right.  Everything from spices to shampoo and undergarments.  What are you loving lately?  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a happy weekend my friends.  XO.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Playing Well With Others, At Work

It's Saturday and I'm sure the VERY last thing you want to think about right now is work.  Shit, some of you may even have a long weekend ahead of you.  The thing is, if I don't get this post out today I'm going to have to rewrite the opening sentence.  A sentence I wrote on Monday.  I don't want to do that so here we go, we're thinking about work on a Saturday morning.  You're welcome!
Last week I took one of those cheesy two-day communications seminars, "Communicating With Tact, Diplomacy and Professionalism". 
I know, I know, like that entire opening paragraph was necessary for the above sentence.  What can I say it was a matter of principal!
Anyways in case you don't know this about me, I earned my degree in Communication Studies.  A long time ago.  Long before I had any actual experience working with people in a professional capacity.  Long before I had real life situations I could apply what I learned to.  Long before I even really cared about communicating. 

The honest to goodness truth is that in the eleventh hour I changed my major for the eight time so that I could finally graduate.  I actually use to brag because I graduated with so many more credits than what was required.  Crazy!

The point I'm trying to get to here is that a lot of the material covered in last week's seminar wasn't exactly new to me.  More than a decade after earning my degree though it served as a great reminder that there are things I can do to better communicate with people I've struggled to have good working relationships with in the past.
Which brings me to one last bit before we actually dive in. 


I don't like everyone I work with and I know that not everyone I work with likes me.  Shocking right?  The thing is, we have to work with people we don't like.  There's really no way around it.  

For me, the interactions I have with the people I know don't like me or that I don't like are always the hardest.  I really do think the tips I about to share will a great help though.  I've already put them to use and am quickly seeing results.  So here goes:

1.  Seek first to understand and then be understood.  People are a lot more likely to listen to you if they feel like they've been listened to.  Sounds simple enough right?  This is tricky though isn't it?  I mean how often do you raise your voice and immediately start talking so that you can get your points across?  Like being the loudest and first to talk is the only way to be heard.  Think about any heated argument you see on reality t.v.  I mean can't you picture all the housewives screaming and talking at once during a reunion show.  Nothing's actually be accomplished. 

2.  Explain yourself not because you have to but because it helps people who don't trust you understand your reasoning.  Basically get over yourself!  I've struggled with this one for a long time.  Right off the bat this internal dialogue starts to take place when someone questions me.  "I don't need to tell you why I made the decision I made.  God, what is wrong with you!  You should trust that I made the best decision possible because I am an ethical and considerate person."  I don't know about you but following that internal dialogue I become incredibly defensive which I'm certain is part of the reason the person in question doesn't like or trust me in the first place.  Vicious cycle.
3.  If you don't address and correct inappropriateness than you're saying it's ok.  AKA, what you permit you promote.  I'm actually ashamed by the amount of inappropriateness I've let slide, particularly when it comes to how I've let people talk to me and my team.  The next time a situation like this occurs I'm going to turn it around and ask whomever it is if there's something I've done to offend them.  Often times when someone does something inappropriate we freeze up and are unable to respond because whatever just transpired is typically so out of line.  Having this little gem in my back pocket will absolutely be helpful.  With that said you have to be prepared to ask the same person the question "is there something I've done to offend you" multiple times.  Changes are the person you're asking will be thrown off guard by the fact that instead of freezing up you actually had a response.      
4.  Keep your mind and words positive!  Side note: we become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.  Are you spending time with positive people?  I'm trying to kick butt in this department J.  I want to know what the most positive thing is to have happened to you today.  To share my greatest success for the week.  How cool is it to catch someone doing something right and praise them for it instead of focusing on all the people messing up? 
5.  Understanding what people value and fear will help you adjust the way you communicate with them.  The last hour of the seminar we took a short quiz to determine our communication styles.  I’ve taken dozens of these types of quizzes but found this one helpful none the less.  If you’re interested I'd be more than happy to email you a copy? 
The gist is this:
Imagine a large square divided in quarters.  Inside each quarter of the square is a different communication style (relater, initiator, thinker, director).  The location of your communication style (which is determined by selecting the characteristics that best describe you) in relation to the other styles determines how well you typically work together.  For instance the style diagonal to your style is supposed to be the style that you have the most difficult time communicating with.
I already knew my communication style but what was helpful was the list we were given of the qualities and traits valued by each style.  We were also given a list of the things that each style feared the most.  Right off the bat just having these lists helped me to better understand why I struggle when working with a particular style of communicator. 
Let's just say you're someone who's focused on getting the job done now aka. let's cut to the chase but you're working with someone who really values feelings and rapport.  These are two very different styles of communicators and they're bound to be issues!  It won't kill the person who's all business all the time to take a minute or two to build a relationship ("how are your kids", "what a great vacation photo" etc.) with the person who values people above checking the box.  Over time they'll begin to look at the person as less direct and "controlling" "rash" etc.  It's a win-win and a very small concession to make.  
6.  Last but definitely not least, some people are just assholes!  You can do everything in your power to be the best possible communicator and some people are still going to act like pricks.  Don't be discouraged when you run into these people and don't let them stop you from trying to improve communication with them.  You can't control how others will behave but you don't have to let their bad attitudes control you either. 
There are two people that for years now I have said hello to, opened doors for etc. and have received not a single hello or thank you in return.  One day, on a bad day I let that get to me and while holding the door open for one of them I finally snapped and said "you're welcome" as they walked through the door.  Still there was silence and all it managed to do was make me feel bad for sinking to their level.  I hated that I let myself go there but decided to ditch my ego and go on with the hellos and so on. 
Some people are just creeps.  That's all there is to say about that. 
I'm  really proud of this post and I truly hope you'll get some good use out of some of these ideas.  I'd love to hear if you have any experience with any of the above or if you have some tips of your own.  Have a fantastic day my friends.