💞 Gift-Giving with Heart: for Travelers, Intellectuals, Artists, and Wonderers

For Valentine’s Day, I have some bad and good news for you, some sad and yay! Papyrus and Paper Source have gone bankrupt 😔. I have really loved these stores and have gotten many wonderful things over the years. Especially during Covid-19, it has been hard to be a retailer specializing in supplies for the lost arts of journaling and letter writing. There still is a store near my home and I intend to support them as best as I can for now and hope they will stay open for business. During Covid-19, it has been a great source of comfort for many people around the world to turn to journaling and to send and receive letters in the mail. I hope that more people will continue to practice handwriting as gifts to themselves and others. I have been a journal and letter writer for over a decade and everyone who receives a handwritten note always loves it. This V-Day and beyond, let’s bring back the art of handwriting 💌!

Without further ado, in this blog post, the good news! I am sharing thoughtful and nontraditional gift ideas to inspire creative gift giving that will expand the recipient’s sense of adventure, wonder, and enjoyment of life. Along with some suggestions that can be found on Amazon and delivered to your doorstep via Prime, I am also suggesting some products from local and small businesses. Gift giving is an art and a skill that requires being perceptive and thoughtful. I hope you love gift giving as much as I do! The best gifts are heartfelt and generous.

This isn’t your typical Valentine’s day card but what I love about it is that the graphic art in the lettering for the “YOU” reminds me of what you can see through the airplane window. It is an uplifting and cheerful card that tells the recipient what a difference they make with the words inside: “Thank you for brightening so many of my days.” If you have been fortunate to have someone who has brightened your days during the Covid-19 lockdown, this is a thoughtful way of expressing your appreciation. This is the card for someone who brings on the sunshine.

If you haven’t heard of Robert Sabuda, you are in for a treat. He is a seasoned, talented artist who creates magnificent pop-up books that are intricate works of art that inspire you to keep the wonder and whimsy alive and well in your life no matter how far the years may take you. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a timeless classic that is made even more delightful with Robert Sabuda’s magic touch. Be a big romantic and write this quote in the card you give: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Do you have someone in your life who has taken to making their own homemade mayonnaise and mastering the art of sole meunière during the lockdowns? Julia Child is the woman who can give them plenty to do and keep them busy for a long time to come. If you would like to put the amateur turned pro home chef to work, pick up her memoir, My Life in France, which is also an epic endearing and enduring love story, and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking two-volume set. If you have a special friend who sticks with you through thick and thin that you can say anything to and share anything with, try gifting the letters between Julia Child and her pen pal Avis DeVoto.

Julia Child’s My Life in France

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Set

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

This is a high quality wood pop-up card for lovers with a trip to Europe in the cards. Add a note: “Meet me in Paris.”

The Five-Minute Journal is an excellent journal from independent publishing company Intelligent Change to build the habit of positive morning and evening rituals that ripple out into your life with lasting results of upliftment. Sean and I both have one, it is total #CoupleGoals and a gift that you should give away like Oprah Winfrey for any occasion, Valentine’s Day or otherwise. Tim Ferriss has been using Five-Minute Journal for many years.

There is a Five-Minute Journal for kids too!

If you would like to gift yourself or someone who is aiming to amass the biggest indoor jungle possible, this six-pack of baby plants is a great gift. If you select two or more, they will give you more variety. They will get bigger. I checked the company and product reviews, they do send good quality plants. I cannot predict demand, so I cannot say whether they will continue keeping this offering in stock. I recommend potting with Fox Farms soil.

If you would like to say it with flowers and send it to many people, the New York Botanical Gardens postcard set has 100 gorgeous high quality, heavy card stock illustration prints to send a pop of natural splendor and color to everyone you know. You may want to buy a set to keep for yourself and one to send. It is also fun to get photo frames and frame them as art. I really love them.

If you have a tea lover to please and you would like to treat them to the best, I highly recommend The Art of Tea. I first tried Art of Tea at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge and really loved it. This is the tea brand they serve for the Beverly Hills Hotel high tea. You can order online. They are currently donating 5% of all matcha sales to the Gift of Life marrow registry. BONUS: KCRW (Los Angeles public radio) members get a discount! 10% off premier, organic & specialty tea; use code KCRW. Fringe Benefits (for Greater Los Angeles) are AWESOME!

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

Ladies and Gentlemen, let the leather goody fun begin! Portland Leather Goods has a mystery package of EIGHT HANDCRAFTED LEATHER GOODS available for $158, a retail value of $400 😲. You can get a tote, leather dopp bag for the gents, leather travel tags, and all kinds of high quality leather surprises. I absolutely love this company and can’t recommend them enough. Whatever you get is gonna be good. I almost can’t believe this is available. I bought myself a tote for Christmas already but if I would’ve known… maybe I can get myself another tote.

Lather is a company I discovered from a hotel stay at the Avila La Fonda in San Luis Obispo. They are based in Pasadena, CA, and make a FULL LINE of skin and haircare products that incorporate natural, high quality ingredients. Their yuzu bergamot shampoo and rinse are out of this world. I love everything. My favorite aloe vera and macadamia nut oil shampoo that I used for yeeeaars is no longer available because the company bankrupted 😭. I have a lot of sensitive skin issues and can’t even use Aveda, Aveeno, or Burt’s Bees. Often, there is greasy, heavy residue and I get painful rashes and sores on my scalp and hairline. I get scared to try new things. This company was the answer to my concerns about finding a new shampoo and rinse product. Sean and I have sampled many of their products for face, body, hair, and even for muscle aches, and we’ve loved them all. Plus, everything smells amazing. Here’s an introductory sample kit of Lather products for you to try for yourself or gift:

Have you heard of the $75 cashmere sweater? Put down the knitting needles and get $20 off on your first order of $200+, which covers matching ultra-soft, sustainably produced, 100% Mongolian cashmere sweaters or jumpers, if that’s your lingo. Plus, there’s pajamas, hoodies, sweaters / jumpers for the pooch, and more! Here’s to you adorable matchy-matchy couples and dog parents!

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

If you would like to spoil your sweaters silly, tuck them into a reusable mesh laundry bag (I get mine from Daiso, the Japanese dollar store) and wash them with The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo on handwash cycle, then air dry.

Interested in a splurge for your feet that will give you years of pleasure to come? Oregon-based company Nootkas elevates the humble house slipper by crafting New Zealand wool fleece to hug your feet. Wool is naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial. You can throw them in the wash in a mesh laundry bag on hand wash cycle and hang to dry. This is one of my favorite partnerships! PNW + NZ = WIN!

Photo by Temo Berishvili on Pexels.com

How about a trip to Milan? Eataly’s A Trip to Milano is a box of indulgent bounty for the foodies. Don’t forget the foodies!

If London is calling and the traveler yearns to take off as soon as flight restrictions are lifted, give a copy of Eat Like a Local: London Edition. Sadly, they don’t have a guide to Manchester, but you can’t miss out nonetheless! If you do have plans to fly out to the UK as soon as possible, you must include Manchester in your plans. If anyone is still hanging on to the old nonsense about British food being bad, they aren’t in the know. The last time I was there, the great British food revival was on full steam. I enjoyed food trucks in the park and had a great time.

Here are some other gift ideas:

I hope I have sparked a lot of good ideas for thoughtful gifting. Thanks for reading!

Some links in this post are affiliate.

Pro travel tip: What you should always check before checking in

The number one thing you should not skip checking before you check into a hotel room is THE BEDS. When you look up hotels and comb through the review, see if you can search reviews to filter for a specific result. You can do this with Google Reviews, for example.

If a bed is uncomfortable to the point of not being able to sleep, it won’t matter how great the views or the amenities are. You won’t want to stay there. The bed can make or break your stay. When a hotel hits the sweet spot of comfortable beds, great interior and exterior, location, service, everything that you are looking for, you will definitely love to stay a while. Don’t check into a hotel room without checking for bed comfortableness. Just do a quick search for “bed,” you won’t want to find out when you get there.

The Joy of the Find: Is Consignment Shopping Worth it?

Living in New York City got me in touch with the joy of the find. I found a beautiful hunter green duffel bag with leather trim that I carried around for so many years. New Yorkers love their fashion and they are not particularly snobby about where they get their fashion from. Labels are great at all and from time to time, there are trends, but real New Yorkers are very savvy about finding unique statements that are true to their personality. They elevate it to an art. I remember one of the first fashion impressions that New York City made on me was a woman in a bright 1950s lipstick red A-line skirt. It was a flash of exuberance in a crowd full of people wearing black.

I find things in thrift stores that have people coming up to me to talk to me about what I am wearing. Some people have a stately poodle or an adorable cocker spaniel. I have leopard print pants, a linen embroidered skirt that I found for less than $20 and saw at an upscale vintage store for $84, a silk floral patterned Brooks Brothers shirt that I got for $16 and things that I pull out of my closet that people can’t believe how much I paid for. There is a reason why New Yorkers will dive into bins and fight over an Alexander McQueen blouse.

Fortunately, with the advent of online shopping, you don’t have to do that. In this blog post, I will share recent online consignment finds from ThredUp and tips and tricks on how to zero in on what you want. If you would like to dive in, I have a promo code for both of us to have some fun! $10 for you, $10 for me.*

In the pictures above, I have finds from Eileen Fisher, Gap, Anne Taylor, H&M, and Free People. I like to be comfortable. Some of my criteria are: natural materials, lightweight, breathable, softness, interesting patterns, and packable for travel. The thing that is awesome about women’s wear is that it can often be much more lightweight and packable than menswear. I am a petite size, 5 ft nothing and wear a size zero, extra small, 24 waist, size 36 shoes. What is fantastic about that is I can pack more in a smaller luggage piece while my partner gets grumpy that I seem to be more prepared than him.

A while back, I sent a message to the Thred Up team asking them to make the searches filterable by material. So now, if you look up all clothing and look to the left hand side of the web page, you can check the boxes and look for just cashmere, linen, or cotton. In addition to this, select your sizes, the colors that you are interested in, the brands, price range, and the condition of the clothing. I usually select all colors except for black and gray because I believe in expressing yourself more confidently than that.

Always select “new with tags” or “nearly new.” You don’t want to get something that you throw in the wash and it falls apart. Don’t be afraid of dry clean only, just get a mesh laundry bag that you can zip up and throw the piece of clothing into the washer on hand wash and line dry afterward. If you really want to extend the life of your clothing, get yourself a fabric shaver, sweater comb, unscented and sensitive laundry soap or garment shampoo, and a steamer. If you have the money to drop, get yourself a dry cleaning locker. I think you can get them from LG (Styler) or Samsung (AirDresser). Asians are really crazy about taking care of their clothes and they are light years ahead of us Westerners. I actually found out what a dry cleaning locker was from an Asian supermarket near my partner’s mom’s house. It is really fun when you find a cashmere sweater for $20 or $30 or you find a smashing dress that turns everyone’s heads. There are also some European fashions that land into this online consignment store, so sometimes it helps not to search by certain brands that you know of. There are clothes from Italy, Germany, England, and France that you could miss out on.

All of my finds except for the crazy snakeskin viscose pajama set thing from H&M were brand new with tags still attached. I took the tags off of the Eileen Fisher cotton pants (Sean calls them my karate pants but I really don’t care) and the Gap modal shirt. Sometimes, there are materials that you can’t filter by. For this, I have saved searches for materials that I’ve researched and like to look for every now and then. These are: cupro, ramie, tencel, modal, and lyocell. All of these are derived from natural products and are more breathable.

This piece was a splurge that I really wanted to try. Tag still attached, with an extra button. Retail value $148, found for $76.50. This was the most I have ever paid for a consignment piece.

There can be a risk of getting something that doesn’t fit you well. Most of the clothes that I buy more often are from old familiars like Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, Anne Taylor, Eileen Fisher, Anthropologie, and Free People. There is a restocking fee and you do have to pay for shipping. A way to offset the restocking fee is to buy a bunch of clothes that you’re sure you would like to try and get points for them, then return the ones you aren’t sold on all at once. It will always be the case that something looks good online but when you try it you’re not feeling it. You can cash in the points to waive the restocking fee (see photo below). The shipping cost is feasible when you really are getting the best bang for your buck.

The first time that I used Thred Up, I had a first time user coupon code and really needed clothes for a new job that I had just landed. I loaded up on just about $1,000 worth of clothes that I got for less than $200. If you are building a professional wardrobe, I recommend trying Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J-Crew, Theory, Eileen Fisher, Tahari, Joie, and French Connection. Look to Claire Underwood’s classic high-class wardrobe, on House of Cards, Olivia Pope’s wardrobe on Scandal, or Joan Watson’s smashing ensembles worn on the set for Elementaryare great sources for inspiration. Bravo to the costume crews. You can also find a killer fashion mood board here (courtesy of moi).

Overall, I feel that it is good to mix it up and have some consignment finds along with other new clothes that you love at first sight. The joy of consignment shopping is finding something unique that you won’t be able to find elsewhere or to stock up on good quality classic basics that sharpen your look.

Voila! you don’t have to fight with a New Yorker for something you like. That easy! Never be disheartened that you don’t find something that sparks joy, as Marie kondo puts it, or that you didn’t score a find. There is always going to be something in the fashion world for you to be jazzed about. You have an entire lifetime a fashion finds out there and the world will never run out of options. They are currently having a January sale with 35% off that ends at midnight but don’t worry if you miss it. There will be more sales. You will not be left alone with a sowing machine and old linens to patch your own clothes together. The fashion world will keep producing more clothes.

If you are curious to follow the global journey of cotton being picked in Texas and turned into a t-shirt, being bought at a store and donated for consignment, and finding its way to a used-clothing bazaar in Africa, read Pietra Rivoli’s book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy*. It is a fascinating read that will forever change what you think of what you wear.

*I use affiliate programs and links mindfully. I share what I actually find valuable and relevant. Like, for instance, you won’t find me suddenly sharing fast food promotions or anything from a company or product I have not done my own research on. I do encourage supporting independent businesses like book retailers but am also not above shopping Target and Amazon from time to time.

The Amazingly Easy All-Natural Method for a Thriving Garden

Special thanks goes to Brandon, our local worm and horticultural expert at Armstrong Garden Center in Tustin, California. It’s thanks to Brandon that I found out what I am about to share with you!

Worms. Pick ’em up and drop ’em in. That easy. BUT! There’s something magic that happens. Brandon explains it more like the horticultural expert that he is, but I will tell it to you like the dabbling hobbyist gardener that I am.

These are red worms, which stay closer to the surface. Earthworms tend to dig deeper.

They poop 💩. They excrete stuff that is beneficial for the plants in two ways—nutrition and help with pest control. There are enzymes in their digestive tract that is harmful and unpalatable for the bad bugs that gets passed along with the nutrients that the plants take up. Plus, all their digging and activity makes the soil super light and fluffy, which is called aeration. This helps minimize compaction of roots and helps plants grow a healthier root system that is better able at absorbing nutrients and water. It is a mutually beneficial relationship! Plant matter getting broken down feeds the worms, worms feed and safeguard the plants.

You can use worm castings to shoo potential bad bugs away, they will think that there are worms and vamoose. Does it work? I have a 20 gallon gardenia pot that is full of worms, deeply watered once a week, and sometimes neglected, and I have not seen any issues with bugs or the plant looking anything other than deep green and lively, even during the summer when heat spiked to triple digits.

Did you know that you can feed them? Brandon highly recommends this stuff:

Down to Earth fertilizers can be found at most major garden centers

Whether for outdoor, indoor, raised bed, and container gardening, you can drop some worms into some holes you dig into the dirt or pots and sprinkle this stuff on top. They eat it and turn it into even better fertilizer for your plants.

I don’t know how, but there were some in my indoor bird of paradise and outdoor gardenia pots. Which is how I got to asking Brandon at the garden center about worms and (pun 🧀 cheesily intended) opened up a whole can of worms about worms. I am telling you, this guy needs his own show. He’s like Bob Ross, Neil Degrassi Tyson, and Bill Nye for plants.

I popped some in my fuchsia, rose, begonia boliviensis, abutilon, and camellia pots. Here’s my lovely yuletide camellia:

The water pan has some dirt and stuff that comes through when I water. The jizo statue is from Portland Japanese Gardens, I just placed him in along with patches of cotton candy fern, selaginella, an alpine strawberry sprout, and a pansy.

Did you know that hummingbirds are interested in camellias? I’ve had a few visitors and am just loving it. Currently, I am living in Southern California. It’s supposed to be winter, which is when camellias like to bloom but we are having a temporary hot spell. Still, the camellia seems unfazed! The hardiness zone here is 10. I will introduce Jizo to you and show you the Portland Japanese Garden in another post. Thanks for reading my blog!

You can contact your local garden centers to check to see if they have good bugs and to ask questions to learn more. If you are in Orange County, California, here are some places where you can find good bugs for the garden:

  • Green Thumb Nursery (multiple locations)
  • Armstrong Gardens
  • Roger’s Gardens
  • Plant Depot San Juan Capistrano

Keeping It Simple

Hello! Aloha! Kia ora! Allô! Ciao! So many wonderful ways to say hello, the newest of which I have learned is ‘Kia ora,’ a beautiful Māori greeting acknowledging the mana, the life energy of all who are greeted. If you haven’t met me yet, my name is Emma. You may have noticed some changes. We’re in the process not reworking just about… everything. I have scaled a lot back and reduced everything down to keep it all much more manageable.

The beauty of keeping it simple is not only manageability, but scalability and sustainability, two things which are often noted as important in matters of business but have proven to be very important for life itself. When I began working towards the creative independence Albert Camus wrote of in his book, Create Dangerously, I had tremendous expectations. Most everyone is aware of the socioeconomic, geopolitical, cultural, and technological challenges of today’s world. Along with these, I’ve also faced the challenges of a traumatic brain injury, the traumatic effects of domestic violence, and chronic neuromuscular conditions which have damaged my nerves, cervical spine, and right shoulder considerably.

Through pain and tiredness, how does one attempt to not only be an artist, but a free agent who works for no one but their selves?

I’ve been working steadily and consistently towards this aim from September, 2017, and have found that my own mana, my life’s energy, vitality, and essence, has grown alongside the increases in my creative potential and personal power. It has become a mutual, almost symbiotic aim, the will to heal and the will to succeed, one inspiring and supporting the other. As success increases in holistic ways, both personally and professionally rewarding, I am able to invest more into lifestyle choices which bring more and more beauty, healthy foods, fabulous experiences, breakthrough insights, and therapeutic treatments into my life.

I found that I could not and would not fail. It meant everything. My life, my health, my personhood. Winning was not simply a matter of conceit but sine qua non, an absolutely essential and necessary condition.

More work does not necessarily yield greater results. Working smarter, not harder, can create great leverage and advantages. It is challenging to learn but it has been done and can be done, especially if one holds the steadfast commitment to mastery.

Today, I have won. Every day, I win. With every choice I make, my personal power grows. Yet, I do not base my self-worth nor the measure of my value, on what I am capable of doing or a quantity of hours worked, dollars earned, social media engagements, or any such metric. I have worked for so many corporations lost to metrics that they have lost vision, originality, and creativity, I have learned from their mistakes. Additionally, people lose insight and inspiration when they feel as if they are observed—social media has become a boon and a suppressor of human potential.

I am unable to work at a computer for very long and do much of everything the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper, and I call people on the telephone rather than text or email them if I really wish to speak to them. Face to face interaction is very valuable. It is okay to have limitations if you learn how to work with them to the best of your ability.

Oprah Winfrey’s famous quote, “You can have it all, just not at once,” does not mean that you cannot have all the elements of a happily well-lived life all at once, which I strongly feel I do in every given moment. I have a loving relationship with an emotionally available and intelligent partner who sees me and accepts me for who I am, we have a beautiful home, I have a beautiful life, and I feel highly inspired and creatively fulfilled. Yet, when it comes to having so many big ideas that I can’t possibly handle all at once, I cannot afford to overwhelm and inundate myself to the point of burnout—I’ve been there done that! Recently, in fact. I had no idea until we had a holiday in New Zealand for two weeks that I was so burned out that the littlest thing took the greatest effort.

Always take one thing at a time. I have worked with project managing incredibly large digital multimedia operations and know how it all works, well enough to know that I alone cannot take on the work of hundreds of brilliant people. For this reason, I am scaling back on everything I was formerly trying to take on all at once, including writing and publishing, branding, marketing, email newsletters, social media, networking, etc. It was too much and very foolhardy to attempt to take on. I am going to trust the universe and will gradually scale and collaborate as needed.

Below, I have included a photograph I took at Flaxmere Gardens in New Zealand. I was looking through stock photos and found that none could match the beauty of this garden. We had a wonderful time visiting New Zealand recently and I would love to go back as soon as possible. Maybe even live there! It is such a great place to feel inspired.

If you love my writing and enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation pitch into my pool to support my thriving and creative independence. Thank you!

Sean on the bridge, Flaxmere Gardens 128 Westenras Road, Masons Flat 7385, New Zealand

The Joy and Punishment of Braces

Simple enough as retrofitted plastic pieces which fit over your teeth, Invisalign is an incredible advancement from the days of head gear and metal braces. I may have nothing to complain about to someone who has experience those and I did meet such a person in a restroom once. It is grand to have the option but it’s psychologically wacky to have the unnerving battles with public restrooms, trash bins, and binge-eating. You are never going to be guaranteed a clean, sanitary, and fresh looking restroom to clean your braces and teeth. You are also never going to be guaranteed that there won’t be people banging at the door telling you to get the hell out already. Everyone who has Invisalign braces will experience accidentally tossing out their braces wrapped in a napkin at the restaurant once, twice, or maybe even three times and will have to publicly go through the trash like a raccoon. If you’re a lifelong grazer like me, you may find yourself ravenously finding anything to stuff your face with before you get cut off by putting the braces back in (you’re supposed to have them in for about 20 hours daily).

So, what’s the upside? Before “Snaggletooth Tom” and “Canine Dion” could be recognized and respected for who they were, they had some dentistry work of their own to get through. The world is judgy. Appearances matter. And malocclusion, crooked teeth, can be harder to clean and keep healthy. My partner’s mum threw her Invisalign braces away and called it quits on her dentist. It was way too annoying for her to deal with anymore. It was my partner who gifted me with the surprise of setting me up with his dentist to get started with Invisalign last Christmas because he believed I needed the chance to be able to open up and smile. When I find myself nervously smashing leftover Halloween candy in my face before putting them back in, I try to remind myself of this.

Imitation Can be a Form of the Sincerest Appreciation

“You copied me!”

Nuh-Uuh

Yeah huh.”

As kids, this can be a back-and-forth which leads to either a tousle of words or an actual physical tousle. As grown up creatives, this can become something confusing and disconcerting. It almost seems as an affront to being original. I have seen some people on social media outlets arguing about other people ripping off of their ideas, copying them, or even stealing from their audiences.

The idea of choosing this photograph of birds as a feature photo for this blog post was inspired by interior design magazines, wallpaper designs, and textile patterns I absolutely adore. I had an art teacher in New York who was a former Pratt Institute graduate who taught at the Fashion Institute of New York. Her specialty was textiles. This is something she imparted on me, which grew over the years.

On on social media I have seen people copying the ways I express myself through graphics and stories I tell on my stories or posts. For me personally this is a signal that I was a source of inspiration much like my teacher Carol and countless scores of highly gifted, aesthetic-savvy cosmopolitans were for me. In this regard, I find imitation to be the sincerest form of appreciation and inspiration as a way of cooperative dreaming.

If you are a gifted creative or entrepreneur, or even both, you are bound to be imitated in some way or another. There is a boundary between appreciative imitation and infringement of intellectual property, however. This is a line you have every right to draw and enforce through professional legal advocacy when you need. If it does not cross this line, consider yourself appreciated as a source of inspiration.

The bottom line is this—you can aspire to the style of Iris van Apfel, but you cannot be Iris, you can admire the vocal range of Mariah Carey, but you cannot be Mariah, you can admire the writing genius of Malcolm Gladwell, but you cannot be Malcom. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to assume and manifest our own greatness. We cannot realize the greatness of others, only our own.

Power Flexin’: Dress to Impress No One but Yourself

Embodying the natural look you already have and accentuating it is the way to exude an attitude of empowerment. From everything I’ve learned of fashion from childhood when I first stumbled upon a New York Times article on Yves St. Laurent, I have yet to see an actual formula to dress for a position of power. It is actually following a mainstream formula which ends up showing that you care too much what others think.

The IT guy has a uniform of plaids and khakis. The corporate executive guy has a uniform of button-up shirts, jeans, and oxfords. The start-up sloth arrives in flip flops and shirts stained with yesterday’s mustard. The attorney working his last days at a company going down under smirks in a unicorn onesie. Corporate-employed women often show up trying too hard in their rounded flats and polyester secretary dresses, a dead giveaway that you don’t have a clue. Even savvy designers sometimes teeter into the trap of trying too hard to come off as ‘cool designer.’

Everyone who is true to who they are and represent their authentic selves should have an inimitable look. No one can be you. You won’t have to try too hard. You try hard when you’re trying to be something else. It’s automatic when you are unabashedly, proudly who you know you are. This does not mean that you pile on the shapeless neutrals. It means that you know the body you’re in and you flaunt what you’ve got because you’re damn well familiar and embrace it all. True confidence to flaunt what you’ve got, the authentic moxie to show up, comes from radical levels of self-respect and self-honesty. There’s no way around it — this is your ultimate style weapon.

Your style and makeup are your modern war armor and war paint. Case in point, Nancy Pelosi’s pink power suit was a gamechanger. Every day you’re out there in the world networking, conducting business, sitting in a coffee shop, you are navigating the sociopolitical, economic intricacies of today’s modern global civil society. If you’re not going to play to your innate power, you’re going to be one more squirmer in the chum bucket for shark bait. As long as anyone and anything out there makes you feel scared to be authentically who you are, you are being disempowered.

Find things to do and ways to be which make you feel more and more unafraid, unabashed, and unadulterated in embodying the full and whole truth of who you are. Dress to impress no one but yourself. This does not mean being a pompous, arrogant ass. True power belongs to those who have a high degree of humility because they have such a widely encompassing perspective of all that is truly bigger than they are and their part in it. They become allied with the power which humbles them, they identify and fold into it. They find that they are one with it. Therefore, they embody their own essence.

New York City women have largely been a perennial part of my style inspiration. They have been some of the most brazen, outspoken, and absolutely sophisticated, classy women I’ve ever seen. They dive into consignment finds, unique vintage pieces, statement and dainty jewelry, color, patterns, and dress with an uncontested authentic ferocity. I’ve also seen some incredible femmes in Los Angeles, London, Berlin, Tokyo, and Seoul. If you’d like to dive in for some great consignment pieces online, try Thred Up, there is a $10 credit with the referral link. I’ve found great pieces from Eileen Fisher, Banana Republic, French Connection, and Alexander McQueen.

These are some of my style inspirations:

Iris Apfel

Marissa Webb

Daylight Saving Cluster Headaches

Daylight Saving is a doozy. The number of traffic incidents increases. People get cantankerous. It’s harder to wake up and get going in the morning. And it f****s with your circadian rhythm. The effects of this can last for a very long time. It is like a form of jet lag, only you haven’t traveled anywhere, you’ve just had a societally imposed time changed forced onto you. However, most people don’t have the luxury of taking a day or a few days off to allow for their bodies to adjust to the changes in both time and the body’s circadian rhythm. I had gotten into a very good self-care groove before daylight saving hit. Afterward, I began having a series of terrible headaches even though I knew I had been making consistent efforts to meditate, stay hydrated, and eat well. Some people would talk to me about how my day was going or how I was feeling and I didn’t have a whole lot of good things to say about my well-being. Some people looked at me quizzically when I told them, “It’s just my circadian rhythm.” Your body’s circadian rhythm regulates your hormones, metabolism, blood flow, neurochemicals, and essentially the rhythms of your body’s ecosystem.

So, if you can’t take a day or few days off, what can you do to offset the effects of daylight saving? You may need to employ a few tactics that feel a little bit odd. You may need to take a break from work and spend 15 minutes napping in your car or book a conference room where you can have the blinds down to take time for yourself. You may need to take a sick day if you are prone to migraines, tension headaches, and develop cluster headaches. I took a day off after staving it off for a while thinking I could fight through it, only finding that it was getting increasingly worse. Employ all of the self-care practices in your arsenal. Meditate. Drink plenty of water, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and food that makes you happy. Laugh plenty. Give yourself a blue light power-down before bed and do not allow yourself to be exposed to blue light from devices or screens for at least 30 minutes after you wake up. Take naps whenever possible. Take supplements like CBD, astaxanthin, and coenzyme 10 if you are prone to migraines and headaches. Take a Himalayan salt bath. Key thing to do is simply chill. Be kind to yourself.

Resources:
Can daylight savings give you a headache?
Daylight saving time ending can trigger severe headaches
5 Weird Effects of Daylight Saving Time


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The Business of Thriving

One of the most pleasant surprises this year has been meeting Miguel Montoya, a Life Transformation Specialist from Sedona, Arizona. Isn’t it great that he gets to pick his own job title? We discussed how we each had mentors who pushed us out of the bald eagle’s nest precariously perched off of cliffside precipices to encourage us to soar. Not so majestically as out-of-the-box entrepreneurs, feeling more like nervous infrequent fliers losing a few feathers to the stress and excitement of it all. If you can imagine, a cartoonish scene of a person plummeting while their yelling voices trail with, “Are yoouu kiiiiiidddddddddiiiiiiiiiinnnnggg…

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All in good fun and spirits!

We have another thing in common—a few solid years of corporate experience which gave us a foundation to run and operate a business. I’ve worked as jack of all trades in corporate settings, working the whole gamut with front end and back end development, product and project management, SEO, advertising, content monetization, account executive management, and operational support. One realization which has been dawning on me has been that there is an interrelatedness to it all. Whether you’re in business for yourself or for others, if you’re working with a corporation or self-employed, there are ubiquitously applicable principles. As Miguel, my partner, and I discussed together, even if one is a life coach, yoga teacher, molecular biologist, or lawyer, these principles can give a significant edge to any person’s career.

Outsourcing

Take working with outsourcing for example. Yes, Tim Ferriss speaks of it in his 4-Hour Workweek book. This isn’t just a get-rich guru’s call to action. Businesses of all shapes and sizes and people from all differing walks of life utilize the art of delegating to other persons and organizations to get things done. Have you ever taken your clothing to a dry-cleaner? You outsourced the cleaning of your clothing. Have you ever gone to the doctor’s office for a physical? You placed the care of your health in the hands of a qualified medical professional. Do you read books? You are relying on someone else’s work for knowledge and entertainment. Do you buy food from the groceries or are you foraging and hunting in your backyard? You get the general picture.

We all employ outsourcing to certain degrees. It is a method of allocating resources, time, and energy, and enabling us to get on with life in the best ways possible. As an entrepreneur, a bit of a nerve-racking yet necessary aspect of outsourcing is beginning to shell out bigger bucks to support your increasingly growing responsibilities and expanded needs for thriving, and vetting people of integrity to work alongside you.

Knowledgeability and Adaptability

My partner and I have worked with this dynamic and are familiar with the pros and cons. One thing we’ve seen in recent years has been a rising rate of turnover across all industries and corporate buyouts or business shutdowns. Due to this, we have had some difficulty in working with loss of information to transitions and have had to buffer this with out own willingness to research, carefully observe how other people work, and retain as much holistic knowledge as possible about the people and institutions we work with. It doesn’t matter if it’s not our job or our department. Advertising, Finance, Operations, Information Security, Legal and Governance, you name it.

I’ve had to work with NGO’s, with HIPPA compliance, and I’ve had to jump in on legally terminating a business partnership involving suspect activity in Colombia. This Colombian company was financially delinquent and the finance department demanded legal action though the CEO of the company had left and nearly two-thirds of the entire company had been laid off. Though I was no legal clerk, I dove into the legal archives and worked with the last remaining lawyer in the office. I met this lawyer at a company Halloween lunch in a unicorn onesie with mustard dribbled down the front. Whatever it takes! Pick people’s brains, read, connect the dots, show up at panels, conventions, and events. Crane your head over to see what a stranger at the local cafe is reading and engage them a.s.a.p. if you see them reading Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Pinker, Joseph Campbell, Gay Hendricks, or Alice Miller. If I see them reading a romance novel with a long-haired half-naked guy and a horse in the background… I usually mind my own business.

Just as willing as you are to learn and be knowledgeable, you must also be willing to unlearn and be proven wrong so you can get things right. And be okay with the fact that you can’t know everything.

Impartiality

The best way to remain centered and derive joy in every possible moment of life is to remain impartial about the day-to-day and stay focused on the essentials which in turn take care of the majority of the details. Things are always going to come up. Let them come and go. If you try to catch absolutely everything all the time and everything is something to take personally, you are really going to exhaust yourself. Most people are going to think most everything is a big freaking deal until the next big freaking deal. If you watch closely, there are people who crowd into the big-freaking-deal-train and go along for each ride, and those who’d rather not. I took ballet lessons once and learned of something called a chaîné (sounds like sheh-nay) turn, where you fix your gaze on a focal point and spin around on both feet, picking each foot up to help you keep pivoting and spinning. You’re supposed to not get so dizzy by focusing, which never worked for me, but the concept I’m trying to explain is the same difference. Choose your focal points wisely and try not to get so dizzy with all the everyday ongoings.

“Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.”
― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Leverage

One of the things I emphasize time and time again during my coaching and mentoring sessions is to disengage your focus on all the things outside of your control as much as possible so that you can leverage what is within your control. Oftentimes, identifying your leverages will be like finding the video game cheat codes to overcome the boss levels. Working harder is not always smarter. It can be deceptively simply to find that one small thing you can do and hit it with all you’ve got; it can be like a small little focal point in a big wall in front of you which will crack the entire wall once you hit it just right, bringing it all down. People can lose a great deal of energy sweating profusely over the size of the wall, how hard it looks to surmount, and can get easily locked into analysis paralysis over what to do about it or what’ll happen if you f*** up. You will always, always surmount and get through every moment of your life just as you have in every moment which has led up to this one. The one time when you won’t will be the time you breathe your very last breath and your time as a traveller to planet earth incarnated as a human being is up. In the grand scope of your entire, gorgeous life, would you rather get your boy or girl panties up constantly in a bunch or would you like to max out the fullness of your glorious experience? Do what you gotta do to choose the latter, over and over again.

Thrive & Let Thrive

“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

The business of being in business, whether as an entrepreneur or employee, comes down to how we all engage our gifts, talents, and abilities to thrive and assist others to do so as well. Yes, some of us out here in this world are working to survive. Watching and hearing the news used to be something I was very aversive to, until I realized that being aware of the world didn’t have to mean that I had to emotionally drown in all of its problems. It is not discompassionate to be aware that cutting ourselves off from thriving does not save humanity from all its woes. The absolute most effective way to make this world a better place is to leverage your actualization for maximal impact during your lifetime. The more conscientious badass human beings power up the grid of global human life, the better our world will be. We can keep a soft, compassionate heart and still thrive and let thrive. This is the way of the love warrior.