Month

June 2016

Serving #Lemonade For Summer (mini post)

 

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[Photo credit: Shot by Kelley]

It’s officially summer now. And guess what that means? Bright pops of color to spice up your wardrobe!

Here I’m wearing a yellow two-piece (top and skirt combo) from New York and Company. I love how the pieces can independently and collectively go from workday to evening out. And who can resist yellow with a punch to brighten up any mood or room?! 🙂

What’s your favorite color for summer? Feel free to comment below.

Uber: The Mobile Classroom

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(Image from https://pixabay.com)

I went to Atlanta last week for a little early summer fun. Note: In Atlanta it’s actually summer already compared to the June Gloom low 70s weather situation that’s been going on at home here in LA. 🙁 (sigh) Making the most of the nice weather, I was able to get out and enjoy some fun tourist attractions and visit friends. I usually prefer booking a rental car when I’m away for multiple days at a time. There’s just something about maintaining independence while out of town. Though this time around I decided to go the Uber route for a couple reasons. 1) I just wanted to ride around enjoying the scenery and not the traffic (everyone kept talking about how bad the Atlanta traffic is)…2) I’m typically good with directions but the mere thought of getting lost somewhere in the back woods of Georgia frightens me! (*Cue in the big-eyed embarrassment emoji face.*)

I met a diverse group of Uber drivers that inspired me in unique ways. The car rides during my trips were like unconventional classrooms. Consider it a two-for-one if you will: life lessons plus I was transported to where I needed to go. Uber School of Hardknocks Meets Driving Ms. Daisy 🙂

On to the lessons…

1) You never know who you are talking to. Your next move may depend on it.

This particular driver was pretty quiet at first. I typically like to strike up conversations with folks in these intimate settings. The idea of the 2 of us sitting quietly for a car ride seems a bit eerie to me. Despite my initial efforts to strike up conversation, he appeared to be a bit closed off. He was an older gentleman (not to mention I look like a teenager) so I figured he may have assumed we had nothing in common. Or perhaps he was consumed in the grueling traffic that the ATLiens (Outkast reference) spoke about so frequently.

Well somewhere between disengagement and the rush hour traffic, the silence broke. He pointed out a Muhammad Ali tribute marquee and somehow we went from the boxing champ to careers and beyond!

I mentioned that I’ve been blogging and exploring more creative writing projects. He then told me about a friend of his that does marketing and social media related projects as a contractor for some amazing companies. My Uber driver turned social buddy suggested I reach out to his friend via Linked In to see what career advice he can give me.

As we continued to chat, he shared that he volunteers teaching job search skills to unemployed members of the community through his church. I told him that inspired me to come home and look into a similar opportunity. From there we got into the deep world of testimonies and walking by faith. One might say it was a case of 2 strangers with enough in common to carry on a conversation. But the underlying messages in the conversation were no coincidence. It really spoke to me on a variety of levels – a timely message indeed. And to think, the car was silent for the first 15 minutes of the drive!

2) Learn from the mistakes of others.

This next driver tickled me. First he was playing a gospel station while T-Pain’s voice gave out navigation steps on his phone (in place of Siri). No really it was T-pain’s voice – no kidding! Then his phone rang while mounted on the wind shield. He was receiving a call from “My Wifey”. He went from the Uber driver to the biggest (metaphoric) teddy bear in the state of Georgia. It was too cute. During our ride he shared how he just got married last year on his birthday. (More cuteness points.) He went on to tell me that this is his second marriage. His first union was for the wrong reasons (too long for this post – plus I don’t want to put all the man’s business out there). He was passionate about getting it right this time.

I could tell that he was committed to sharing his testimony to help others. I’m sure it takes great courage to share relationship triumphs and tragedies with a complete stranger. It was no mistaking there was a greater call within him.

3) Be willing to take a leap of faith.

Now this conversation/lesson was my favorite. The timing of it was pretty interesting as it occurred on my trip to the airport headed home. My final lesson of the trip. I was putting my luggage in the driver’s car and happened to look at her license plate frame which was from a local dealer in my hometown. I hopped in the car. As soon as I confirmed the airport as my destination, my following words were “Are you from California?”. She laughed awkwardly and looked at me like I was a potential stalker and said nervously “Yeah…how did you know?”. I replied “the license plate frame”. She let out a laugh of relief and said “Oh yeah. I forgot about that!”.

Come to find out the neighborhood she’s from is about 5 minutes from mine. She shared how she moved to Atlanta a few months ago and was finally getting settled in. We went on to have a long talk about taking risks and leaving comfort zones. What amazed me was that she’s 7 years younger than me. Just goes to show life lessons can come from someone of any age.

In interviewer mode (unintentionally) I asked her “So how did you feel the moment you stepped off the plane? When you knew this wasn’t just a vacation…”. She laughed but looked so intrigued to be asked the question. In her eyes it looked like she was taking herself back to that moment. She said “I was thinking to myself: ‘Wow! I really did it. I really just up and moved!’ But I kinda felt like I was losing my mind at the same time. It took my mind awhile to adjust”.

It was so inspiring to hear her story. Especially with her being from my hometown; it hit so close to home (no pun intended). Side note: my guess is that her “losing [her] mind” and having to adjust had something to do with that West Coast to East Coast time difference. It still has me feeling a little “cray” (Kanye voice) myself!

The driver’s story not only inspired me but challenged me as well. Four days back in California and I’m still thinking about her story frequently. It translates to the bravery involved in taking leaps of faith from as complex as moving across the country to as less complex as trying a new type of food. Stepping out of your comfort zone takes guts but always results in a new level of confidence amongst much more.

 

Great Reads for Great Women

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(Image from https://pixabay.com/)

I have come to the conclusion that 2016 has been the year of the book worm for me. With only 6 months into the year, I’ve set a record for myself. Though I was an English major in undergrad, I’ve never considered myself to be a big leisure reader. (I know…shocking! Call my former English professors!) I’d say I typically read about 4-5 books a year…in a good year. So much to my surprise, lately I’ve been making more trips to Barnes and Noble than the mall. (Another shock!)

I plan to share more reviews on the books I’ve been reading in the months to come. Though for this post, I want to share 3 amazing books for women of various ages and backgrounds.

Beautiful Uncertainty (by Mandy Hale)

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This is a great book for single and seriously dating women trying to find their way in love, careers and life in general. The author’s perspective comes from that of a Christian woman. Though I believe her story and valuable wisdom has the power to reach women from different faiths and backgrounds.

Hale transparently shares the struggles she faced ending a significant romantic relationship as well as the lonely moments experienced as a result. I especially enjoyed her vulnerable accounts of acting on her faith. One in particular was when God led her on the road to tour, via an RV acting as the tour bus, with her friend to host a young women’s multi-city ministry tour. Her friend, a singer, paired talents with Hale’s position as an established author. (Hale has authored 2 books prior to Beautiful Uncertainty.) Her adventures on the road were quite amusing yet the complete experience was so inspiring to read about.

If you find yourself in a “when will it be my time?!” season in life, I highly recommend this book. Perhaps you find yourself asking (or shouting for some) that question in regards to getting married, achieving career goals or just in between periods of getting settled in life. This book is great reassurance that, as cliché as it may sound, you are exactly where you need to be right now and the rest will work out in time. Hale has shared her testimony of how God has shaken up a few situations in her life to illustrate this point.

Again, this book caters more toward women pre-marriage. So married women interested in reading may not be able to relate in the moment to her journey in singlehood but perhaps can connect with the lessons learned in past dating experiences. If nothing else, her unwavering faith and courage is inspirational for women of many life seasons.

#Girlboss (by Sophia Amoruso)

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(Image from Pinterest)

I wasn’t sure of what to expect from this book when I first picked it up. To be honest, I feared that it would be overrated. To my pleasant surprise it was amazingly insightful yet humorous. Amoruso is the owner and creator of the extremely successful online fashion retailer Nasty Gal. Though she is a successful entrepreneur, she does not force her brand nor does she drill the reader with business advice in a “know-it-all” manner. She admits from the beginning of the book that it is not a guide for how to be an entrepreneur. Though the transparent details of her journey, insight on her business decisions and tips for young professionals certainly provides valuable wisdom to any woman (and even men) looking to achieve continuous career success. She admits that the first item she sold online was a stolen book. However, she later turned a vintage clothing eBay shop into a $100 million (and counting) online fashion retailer. Talk about a story of redemption!

I especially enjoy how she notes the humble beginnings she came from. Having departed from her parent’s home at a young age, she had to learn how to make it on her own. Despite her poor choices along the way, from multiple shop lifting stints to hitch-hiking, she managed to land on her feet. I also find it interesting how she shares the financial beginnings of her company. She explains that she started with her own (limited) funds because no one would give her a business loan.

Now how many people does that fact alone inspire?! To think, what if you don’t need to save thousands of dollars or take out a gigantic bank loan to start your business after all! Yes, this can vary upon many factors and may not be the case for everyone. Amoruso’s attestation goes to show just how powerful drive and determination can be. In her case, so powerful that the money came as a result.

Year of Yes (by Shonda Rhimes)

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(Image from Pinterest)

This book is empowering, motivational and inspiring yet funny and refreshing at the same time. I would highly recommend purchasing the audio book read by the author, Shonda Rhimes, herself. Many are well aware of the terrific writer she is based on her “ShondaLand” series of hit television shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. She is also an amazing speaker and has an incredible sense of humor which is captured so well via audio. Another perk to the audio version is that it includes sound bites from some of her most notable speaking engagements (within the time period covered in the book) such as her Dartmouth College commencement speech of 2014.

One of the most powerful takeaways of the book was that Rhimes always found herself saying “no” to invitations and opportunities out of fear and at times unresolved insecurities. In the “Year of Yes” she challenged herself to say “yes” to more opportunities. As a result, she gained a greater confidence, established more business opportunities and found herself to be happier overall.

Rhimes also gives examples of how we often create our own barriers. She speaks of her fear leading up to delivering the Dartmouth 2014 commencement speech. She shares how fearful she was upon walking out on stage until she recognized the same fear on the graduates faces. Rhimes saw herself in that fear and gained confidence as a result.

She also discusses how insecurity can be a significant barrier. Rhimes tells of her high school obsession with trying to get her hair to be perfect like Whitney Houston’s. She spent hours with a curling iron and multiple accounts of tears trying to achieve the look. Years later she would learn that Whitney Houston’s highly adored hairstyle was in fact…a wig. The takeaway I got from this particular story within Year of Yes was that it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be yourself.

 

Have you read any of these titles? If so, I’m excited to hear your reviews below. J Also, let me know if you plan to pick any of them up after reading this review post!