Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rewind: If It's Not Working, Create It!

Trina Turk Desk Calendar Re-Configured

A while ago I blogged about how sometimes you have to create what doesn't exist for you and this post is a rewind to remind you to always do and create what will allow you to live your best life.

As a creative, entrepreneur and blogger, my life doesn't fit into a nice little box.

I require different needs when it comes to how I stay organized or my life gets out of control pretty fast!

And when my life gets out of control, I miss appointments, project deadlines, details about clients, events, etc.

In other words, my livelihood literally depends on me keeping my life and work as organized, balanced and prioritized as possible.

That's where creating an executive notebook with parts from many different sources makes the most sense for me.

I searched for a "perfect" planner literally for years before getting so frustrated that I decided to create my own version of a perfect planner.

For this post, I am highlighting the part of my executive notebook that gives me the 5,000 foot view of my calendar based on which part of my life it correlates to.

My planner hack is to purchase desk calendars and fold them into my notebook. Not only are desk calendars (much) cheaper than regular calendars, they also give you a "layout" view of upcoming events, project deadlines, etc.

And I'd also suggest you train yourself to use a color coding system (color pens work brilliantly for this) that correlates to the life or work calendar item OR use highlighters to color code the calendar item.

So you could technically open your folded desk calendar and know within seconds whether you need to buckle down and get something done, whether you can attend an event, whether you are working more on a specific area of your life/work life (based on the color taking up the most of your calendar) and not enough on another area.

Again, don't be afraid to take a part that works for something else and translate it to a system that can help you live a life by design and instead of feeling like life is leading you, you are leading your life.  That's an empowering feeling that will keep you motivated, content and filled with joy.

It's Curva-Lish.

Trina Turk Desk Calendar from Target

Each Calendar Month Folded and Inserted

Easy to Reference Months to Plan Ahead

Learn how to live with passion at TonyRobbins.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cultural Inspirations: Japanese Kodawari

I'm obsessed with learning centuries old wisdom and customs of diverse cultures and today I learned a really amazing Japanese concept that I wanted to share with y'all.

I was reading an old issue (March, 2018) of Food&Wine and they had a fantastic feature on a the origins of Dashi, a deceptively simple rich broth of dried bonito and kelp that's the foundation of Japanese cooking that's also slowly disappearing.

Chef Shinobu' Namae is incorporating the broth into his cooking techniques, replacing the veal stock that he has traditionally cooked with from his Western cooking training.

The crazy thing is that technically, this broth is just two ingredients: seaweed and dried bonito "unami broth".

Just two ingredients? Yes, just two ingredients.

So what makes this broth so rich, culturally important and worthy of a feature in an illustrious publication like Food&Wine?

It has to do with the patient and committed preparation method for those two ingredients, which is where the Japanese term Kodawari comes in to this post.

Kodawari: an obsessive attention the the fine, subtle detail of one's craft that any artisan who takes pride in their work must have

The Two Ingredients
* Seaweed: summarizing the Food&Wine article, there are people who forage for kombu and gather it one strand at a time. Since the region only has two summer months, the kombu is dried for three days AND then "...moved indoors for three years to refine and concentrate its natural glutamates." Artisans talk about Kombu like wine.

* Katsuobushi: summarizing the Food&Wine article, the stages of smoking, fermenting and drying the fish is a three to six month process!

So collectively, this broth is fairly easy to make (Food&Wine: "...as easy as making tea"), but the preparations and patience required to be able to get to the "simple" stage is one where Kodawari is required.

Living Kodawari
Of course, all this fantastic breakdown to produce this centuries old cultural Japanese broth got me to thinking about how Kodawari fits into modern living.

Or does it?

As I mentioned above, Chef Namae featured Dashi because it's a method that is becoming extinct in place of convenience of powdered equivalents.

But what about the fine art of being an artisan of a craft and the life satisfaction that comes from the obsession of pride in work?

I'm not saying I by any means have the answer to this million dollar question but I even remember what it was like growing up with grandparents who had a valuable craft and the pride of earning a living from it.

And your Kodawari doesn't necessarily have to be your earned profession.

I once knew a man that was a busy sales executive and so in his down time, to maintain a sense of purpose in life and to alleviate the high stress, high pressure aspects of his job he had a wood shed where he made hand made furniture for his family, friends and neighbors. Although he was repeatedly encouraged to open up a shop or to monetize his passion, he never did.

For him, his Kodawari did not require income (nor marketing, nor business plans). He was completely satisfied with a pride of work of making furniture that his family and friends passed down to generations.

Master Dashi Recipe
And with the upcoming colder weather and holidays, I thought you'd love this Dashi recipe Food&Wine also shared...may it remind you to incorporate Kodawari in your lifestyle.  You deserve to know what a pride in work as an artisan of a craft feels like...it's irreplaceable.

2 qt. room-temperature water
1 oz. kombu
1 oz. katsuobushi

Pour 2 quarts water into a medium sauce pan and add kombu. Let stand until kombu doubles in size, about 30 minutes. Cook over medium-low until water is steaming and tiny bubbles collect on surface of kombu. Adjust heat to maintain water temperature below a simmer, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add katsuobushi.  Allow katsuobushi to settle at the bottom of pot, about 2 minutes.

Pour liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl. Discard solids.

And here are some of my favorite recipes using Dashi as a base broth...enjoy!

Dashi with Crab and Tofu (© Fredrika Stj√§rne)

Root Vegetables in Dashi (Eric Wolfinger)

Warm Soba Noodles with Pork, Shrimp & Cabbage  (© Tina Rupp)

Shop MM.Lafleur

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tabletop Level Up with Boxed Gifts

Picture Credit Meghan Hess (Instagram)
I have found that one of the most easiest and impactful ways to increase the overall aesthetic of your tabletop decor is using the power of a boxed gift.

I was inspired to write the post after seeing another Instagram post in which this easy tabletop secret was used for a lunch launch by the event planners and organizers for Megan Hess, famed fashion illustrator.

And this doesn't just work for launches.

This works just as well for mom midday meetups while the kids are at school and you need some adult time.

This works just as well for a nonprofit committee meetup in which you want to give a simple thank you gift to your hard working committee members or board.

This works just as well for a few busy friends meeting up to celebrate life and you want to make them feel special for their loyalty and friendship.

And you don't have to have a Chanel budget to achieve the same aesthetic.

Here are some gift ideas to make this easy for you and I purposefully selected ones that had gorgeous packaging or comes in classy boxes so that all you have to do is place at each place setting or my most preferred way: put a bow or tie a ribbon around it!

No Ka' Oi Quilted Pouches Made in Italy (only $32+) 

NEST Gift Boxes Available from Votive to Large Candles

S'well Gold Calcutta Traveler

Fortnum Teas Are the Best in the World

Sugarfina Corona Bento Box

Marble Mortar and Pestle

Friday, September 14, 2018

Bringing on Fall with Lips to Envy

As a blogger I bump into many beauty brands but one lipstick I keep coming back to is Estee Lauder's lipstick envy.

It has the duality of being moisturizing while also long lasting considering I talk a lot as apart of my job as a curator and influencer.

I though y'all might like to know that you literally can't go wrong with this brand and the color above is my favorite for fall.

The color shown is called Stronger and is a matte sculpting lipstick in a perfect berry with a hint of brown.

My skin tone is a medium dark brown and I wear this color from work to an evening out because being in the creative space, it helps me to present myself as someone who is not boring and who brings a bit of fun to everything I do!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mime Awards: Community Good and Performance Style

Commentating on the Mime Awards Red Carpet

One of my favorite things to do is to write about the many different ways in which people live their lives based on the projects and activities that are the most important to them.

Community and doing good being one of them.

I recently had the pleasure of being the red carpet fashion highlighter of the Mime Awards in Dallas, Texas which brought people from all over the United States to celebrate the best of this artistic form of dance.

Master Mime Host Earl D. Thomas

This was the 3rd Annual Mime Awards show and was hosted by Master Mime Earl D. Thomas. The program is the featured initiative of the Belinda Thomas Foundation with the aim to expose others on how mime can be a form of expression that enhances the community.

The mission of the Belinda Thomas Foundation is to educate, enlighten and empower the youth of DFW by teaching life skills and college readiness using the art of mime as a platform.

The awards show is the annual fundraiser that supports the I AM MIME Experience scholarship to graduating high school seniors in the DFW metroplex.

If you're not familiar with what Mime is, here's a snippet of a performance that I recorded that brought the audience to its feet: https://youtu.be/0qD13X0hELs

From the Mime performers to the gala attendees, the fashion was spirited and a real reflection of the heart and soul of the people gathered.

Here are my Best Dressed Selections (Performers and Non-Performers):

* all photos credit to J McClure Photography



I left the awards show with such a sense of hope that no matter what's going on in our world, especially those things outside of our control, missions like this nonprofit is always a grounding experience that creates a lifestyle filled with knowing there's always a new day.

I can't wait until next year!

And for more information on The Belinda Thomas Foundation, you and go HERE.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Handbag Chic to Uplevel Your Athleisure Game

The Whitney 

Most people who know me will assume hell has frozen over because I used the word Athleisure in this blog post.

For the record: I hate Athleisure.

Just sayin.

Buuuuut, it turns out that Athleisure doesn't only have to be women wearing see through, cheap leggings.

None other than Michael Kors has a new and gorgeous Fall handbag, the Whitney, that can uplevel your Athleisure look for Fall without resorting to nonstop leggings (available now for preorder; ships 9/2/18).

Here are a couple of looks inspired by the Whitney that is uncompromisingly chic, comfortable and dare I say a bit badass!?!?

You're welcome.

Knowing Your Depletion Point

I had a fantastic dinner meet up with a friend who is in their early 50s and we both were reminiscing about our past corporate lives that included much volunteering, serving on boards and being "on the scene".

Since this is one of my newer friends, I appreciated the similarities in telling our stories of mental exhaustion, long work days, keeping teams motivated and moving forward while somehow also striving to balance our relationships with family and friends and serving our communitues.

He was surprised to hear how much I used to do and he kept saying, "Que, how did you do it?"

My response: "Well, technically I didn't do it."

After seeing his puzzled look I explained how sure, it worked for a while because of my youth and sheer inner drive. But make no mistake, the warning signs of it all being too much started appearing: from hair loss to stomach ulcers to always being in a constant state of anxiety to worrying what people thought about me or whether I'd miss some major event that had the potential to change my life...and etc, etc, etc!

It was neverending.

And if you add to that the loss of both my parents in a very short period of time and other responsibilities, it is a wonder I was sane.

He then asked me how did I "come to the light"?

My response: "I reached my depletion point when I was on the highway leavinget my corporate job at midnight one night and I almost crashed my car from sheer exhaustion. After i kept falling aslerp at the wheel that night it took everything in me to will myself to the side of the road after hearing my tires repeatedly screeching from swerving at a high speed.

And you may wonder how exhausted was I?

So exhausted that I woke up at about 5am that next morning still in my seat belt in that car on the side of the highway and the car was still running (but was in park)."

I continued to tell my friend how I sat there in my car and cried.

I also told myself: no more.

I had reached my depletion point.

Making Life Changes
After that incident, it took me two and a half years but I slowly unraveled my commitments from my corporate job, my many volunteer assignments  (which was especially hard because I had been volunteering since I was 14 years old), board commitments, one sided relationships, and unhealthy activities.

I now know that for some people, like me, unraveling a life of expectations is one of the hardest things you'll ever do.


You'll hurt some people due to their expectations not being met of who they think you should be and what they think you should do.

You'll cry.

You'll be in a steady state of confusion.

Your ego will suffer.

You'll feel like you're losing.

You won't know if your life has purpose anymore.

People will judge you as if you are just too weak to handle "success".

I could go on but you get the idea.

And these all may sound like the most horrible things you can imagine and no lie, at times it will as you're unraveling.

But let me warn you: People who aren't aware of when they're  getting to their depletion point do drugs (legal and illegal), commit suicide, do horrible things to others in anger, greed or in the name of self preservation and so many other awful things.

Remember, you alone are the designer of your life. Meaning, what you do, how you do it, when you do it and where you do it.

And I pray that you don't let your ego of what others think keep you from making the decisions and taking the actions you need to take to be okay.

Your highest self is waiting...

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Get the Look: Al Fresco Dining (Jo Malone London)

Summer nights are the perfect occasions to gather friends, clients, team members, patrons and committees for pre-holiday dining before year end fundraisers, holidsy shopping, galas, year end projects and giving campaigns go into over drive.

This Jo Malone al fresco dinner with perfect place settings and richly textured fresh flowers will guarantee you a super inspiring time of cammadarie before the holiday season!

Here are my Jo Malone recommendations to recreate the place setting looks. And FYI, the black ribbon comes with any Jo Malone gift box, fine fragrance or candle purchase.

Jo Malone London Discovery Collection

Jo Malone London Travel Candle Collection

Jo Malone London Wood Sage and Sea Salt Fragrance Combining

Jo Malone London Intense Men's Collection

Monday, July 30, 2018

Meditating Love and Happiness

I've recently joined a meditation and wellness group that meets up during lunch time on the 30th floor of a skyscraper downtown.

It's so high up that you hear none of the hustle and bustle going on during the lunch hour of the downtown business district.

I'm a novice at meditation and I'm in no hurry to learn quickly. Meditation naturally brings you to a level of awareness that causes you to be much more gentler with yourself than normal.

What I loved about this particular session is we participated in a Love and Kindness guided meditation.

It was especially welcome given the current level of divisiveness and misunderstandings going on in our world right now.

The Love and Kindness guided meditation was after we spent several minutes getting centered and shutting out what I am sure is the craziness of the business day for each of us.

This pre-centering was important because I learned it helps you be in a calm state to be the most receptive to the love and kindness visualisations.

The Love and Kindness guided meditation started out with us selecting a person that we had absolute trust and little/no complexities within our relationship...I thought of my sister.

So we were first asked to visualize these things for our chosen person :

I hope you feel safe.

I hope you feel a profound sense of peace and trust.

I hope you live free.

Then we transitioned to us with the person and made same affirmations as "we".

We lastly visualized then that it was just us and repeated the Love and Kindness affirmations.

What's interesting is that after we were done the instructor asked us how we felt or "what came up for us" during the Love and Kindness guided meditation.

My response was that I realized that if he had started it with just me, I wouldn't have "received" the affirmations as openly. But wholeheartedly hoping it for my sister allowed her to be a gateway for me to then receive the prayer affirmations with no hesitation.

Y'all, I was told by a therapist that I had a hard time with worthiness and it showed up again in this meditation session!

And one of the major takeaways for me from this session was when the instructor says that one of the main reasons to meditate and pause is so that you switch from DOING time to BEING time so that BEING in time will inform how you DO time.

In other words, getting centered will help you be more mindful and intentional with what you do with your time and life priorities, as opposed to anxiously living life like it's a blur of activity that you're not in control of...I think that's really powerful!

I'm starting on this journey of meditation and am looking forward to it being a tool towards more self care and more self awareness in my life.

I'll keep you updated as I learn!

The Slingshot and Conquering Your Giants

My Urban Lifestyle

I find the most interesting things while riding trains and trolleys as my daily routine. 

And I find them in random spots whereas there isn’t even a lost and found that I can turn it into!

Today I found a wooden sling shot. If you’re familiar with the bible then you’ll know that a slingshot was used by David to kill the Giant in his life.

Maybe we can all take inspiration from this random find and be empowered to conquer a giant that has had a foot hold in our lives that’s preventing us from our level up.

Whether that’s your own inner negative self talk, an unhealthy relationship or a brave Ask that you need to make. 

No matter what it is, think of this pic you bumped into of a sling shot and go slay this week!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cruelty Free and Gorgeous for National Lipstick Day

It used to be that to achieve a well pigmented beauty look that was also cruelty free (meaning, no animal testing), you had to find a hard to find online or local only brand.

Due to a higher demand for more clean beauty options, the market for cruelty free beauty is better than ever!

To celebrate National Lipstick Day, here are a few of my favorite cruelty free lipstick brand partners:

Fenty Beauty

Pat McGrath Labs

Marc Jacobs Beauty

Kat Von D Beauty


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Iridescent Beauty

Kat Von D Beauty: Metal Crush Highlighter

Most new beauty that comes out can start looking like same-ness.

But then there is Kat von D Beauty.

Kat von D Beauty is one of the most unique beauty brands on the market but what makes her coloring and unique palettes even more attractive is that her brand is vegan, cruelty free and not tested on animals.

Gone are clean beauty brands with boring, neutral and basic palettes.

Kat von D Beauty offers fun, whimsy and fearlessness in cruelty free beauty whose pigments can even show up well on olive and darker skin tones.

That makes me a happy girl!

@iamcharityleigh (Instagram): KVD Lashley Liner

@iamleah  (Instagram): KVD Lash Liner