FOODIE DIARIES: Take a trip to Paris with Pot Au Feu!

COVID-19 took a lot away from us this year, and the election is upon us (…in just two days 😱) But something Corona can’t take away from you is feeling like you’re taking a trip to Paris. Seriously, practice some French on DuoLingo. Read Sonia Choquette’s Waking Up In Paris: Overcoming Darkness in the City of Light or Age of Light by Whitney Scharer. You could even wear all black and watch Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.” Better yet, if you live in Rhode Island, or if you’re visiting Providence, head down to Pot Au Feu Bistro on Custom House Street!

This Halloween I took it upon myself to wear all black, paired with leopard print booties and took my mom to Pot au Feu in Providence. You go downstairs and you’re welcomed by Bob Burke, the owner, surrounded by an ambience as if you really are in Paris. My mom and I had a table in the corner with a rose perched perfectly in its vase. If tables are close to each other, there is a noiseless, practically silent and unnoticeable air purifier in between tables.

Can we please talk about what I ate, though? PLEASE!

Escargots a la Bourguignonne
Boeuf a la Bourguignon
Crème Brulee, of course!

Then to drink, you can never go wrong with a Pinot Noir! So, anyway, if you’re looking to escape your small town in Rhode Island, or wherever you may be and happen to be in Providence, check out Pot Au Feu. Did I also mention that some of the wait staff speaks French? And they’re extremely friendly!? It was a bon soir for sure! Thank you Pot Au Feu for making me feel like I am still walking on air the next day after a delicious five-star meal. 👍🏼✨

Starting Over Versus Trying Again With Experience | 4 Years Of This Blog

Four years… wow. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to complete a college or high school degree. For some of you, it could be a Ph.D program! But everyone goes through life differently, it has it’s twists and turns and rotaries (that’s round-abouts to you, those who aren’t from New England!) It took me a bit of time, but perhaps I already knew, who my target market was. And it’s been all of you reading this blog! It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school, college, grad school, or beyond. I mean, hey, I bought my first issue of Cosmo when I was in elementary school! It’s funnier because the issue happened to be the prom dress issue. I’ve accumulated probably thousands of magazines since I was eight years old. Nothing unusual to me, at least.

I tried to start this blog when I left The Odyssey Online in June 2016, but didn’t quite have the words to say, yet. It turns out that a writer isn’t a writer because they say they are. They write because they have something to say — something important to them. If someone else doesn’t like it, that person can “go pound sand,” as my mom would say. My personal experience with writing has been a tumultuous one, at best. However, I didn’t “start over” with writing. I tried again with more experience in the craft.

I posed the question on Instagram, “Do you start over or try again with more experience?” And all of the respondents said, “Experience Necessary.” The same thing goes for getting a job or an internship. People can leave a job for whatever reason. They don’t “start over” in their career, whatever their career may be, though they do have the option to try something different. There’s that word again: try.

You can begin essentially anywhere, but you have to keep trying. I remember trying to film my first YouTube video and I tweeted at Katy Bellotte (whom you all know I admire) “my YouTube video came out like 💩” and she actually took the time to respond to my tweet saying, “Keep trying!” I also remember trying to start a literary magazine. That was a bust. But I used the platform for that same lit mag to create a new one. Yes, I’m full of ideas. Yes, I want to build a magazine empire one day. And I think already did. (Follow @ reallemag on Instagram.)

Say it louder for the folx in the back: I TRIED AGAIN WITH EXPERIENCE! I didn’t necessarily start from scratch. With experience comes the inevitable failure, but you take that failure, forget about it, and you LEARN SOME MORE! For me, I chose a magazine and business track at my grad school. No, I will never give that up no matter what people will try to tell me. I started learning via BonBillo and I have to tell you, it’s an awesome platform to help start and grow your business.

You’re always going to be learning, even when you’re not in school. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true as hell. Think about it, when a poet, like I was in undergrad (and still am on the side), they start out with a rough draft — a really rough draft. Then, they take it to their professor and possibly a peer reviewer. It’s a team. As frustrating as the revisions and [constructive] criticisms are, you end up coming up with something fantastic that can be shared with anyone.

Life is essentially poetry. It can be edited a billion times, you’re going to ask for help along the way, major changes happen, you may regret not thinking of the idea in the first place, but in the end, it’s something you’re proud of.

If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen.

I realized I never gave an update on graduate school, but I am here to tell you and be candid with you per usual, it has been hard, especially during these uncertain times. Yes, we are living in a pandemic, and I am still following Emerson’s hybrid education model. It is extremely difficult getting back and forth to Boston every Wednesday! Sometimes I wish I only took two classes instead of a whopping three, but that is just the overachiever in me. But everyday I wake up, and I am utterly thankful that I actually get to go to graduate school, that I actually have a laptop that works, even without a battery… long story. Plus, my caffeine-addicted butt gets to enjoy a sip, or a couple hundred, of some caramel or pumpkin spice every stop I get. 

I am not here to complain, but it does get stressful. I get home late, but when I am not in Boston, I am working at my local Dollar Store. As I thought about my move four years ago, I couldn’t help but think that every “leap year” has its ups and downs – for some, they may seem like they only have their downsides. October is the worst of it. You can read my blog post Spooky Season = Anxiety Season? But despite what the ghosts of October tell me, I am not going to quit just because it’s that time of month or whatever. 

During this time last year in October, I wanted to move to the city. That was a bust from the get-go. I didn’t have a job outside of work-study, I didn’t know how to pay bills (I still don’t), and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be a lawyer, like I had planned then. Publishing was always secretly in the back of my mind. I didn’t really have a steady plan, to begin with – just hopes and dreams that I prayed would become a reality. I remember waking my mom up in the middle of the night after having a revelation that I would go into publishing, not law. Days later I was accepted at Emerson, and I went against my own will and bought Shiraz. Again, only you have the power to make your dreams a reality. 

How exactly do you make your dreams a reality, you may ask? 

  1.  A planner does wonders for your organization habits. If your current planner doesn’t already do wonders for you, get a new one! Picking the right planner is like picking the right bra. 
  2.  Start every morning with a mantra. Avoid saying “I hope today is a good day,” and start saying “I know today is a good day.” 
  3.  If you do decide to move like I tried to, look up Fresh Start – The Moving Crew.

Fresh Start – The Moving Crew does residential moving in Worcester County, and the company originates out of cities like Providence, Hartford, and Springfield. Their headquarters extends out of larger regions such as Berkshires, Cape Cod, Long Island, Manhattan, New Jersey, and even the White Mountains! They do furniture moving, commercial moving, residential moving, and even packing! 

Fresh Start

Maybe I am just craving that fresh start to my already-fresh-start that is grad school. There were times where I have debated moving to Paris with very minimal French in my foreign language vocabulary. There were times where I have genuinely thought about dropping out of school, but that would mean losing everything I originally wanted to achieve. I didn’t come this far to give up my dreams of working in a big ol’ publishing company. Your dreams really do deserve to be achieved. Do I even need to include a gif of Shia LeBeouf? (If you know, you already know!) When I do make the move to the city in the near future, I will be sure to call up Fresh Start and book my moving appointment. 

Moral of the story: you can whine in your blog posts all you want. You can try to manifest your desires using water, or whatever. You can pray all you want, but the thing is: if you want something to happen, YOU have to put in the work. YOU have to put in the mass amount of effort it takes to move, start your own business, and get the grades you want. 

BEAUTY DIARIES: HollyHoux

(Los Angeles, CA.) – A new skincare brand has stepped upon the beauty scene and is sure to be rolling off of the tongues of beauty fans everywhere!  Who might you ask? Introducing HollyHoux, (pronounced “Holly-Who”), that’s who! 

The debut of this new luxe skincare line is something that every woman will want to have in their beauty cache and on their vanity tables!  Colorfully packaged to appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds (teens and adults from Main Street to Park Ave.), with many items in the collection meeting ‘better beauty’ standards of being Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten and Cruelty-free. ‘Sustainable Beauty’, offering you clean conscious skincare!   Retailing in as $25, HollyHoux brings to the beauty round table everything from scented masks, cleansers, toners, scintillating mists and their “out of the gate” best seller, the revolutionary “Cool Liquid Cushion”, flawless skin pact makeup setter!

Hydrating, refreshing and cool to the touch, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” is ideal for every skin type and with “one tap”, women will instantly see a reduction in the appearance of pore size and the elimination of that greasy shine on their first application!  Through the use of an innovative “water powder” and the combination of 16 types of herbs, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” does exactly what its name implies; it’s cool to the touch, soothes as it’s applied and provides a soft thin layer of protection giving you the appearance of flawless skin without and that heavy, powdery feel, basically you don’t feel like your face has been caked with product — which is always a good sign!

Founder and owner, Jennie Kim, a seasoned veteran of the fashion industry, says. “The Cool Liquid Cushion concept was born out of my search for a ‘makeup setter’ that would simultaneously conceal and moisturize my skin, living in sun kissed California.”

I live in New England, which is the complete opposite of the west coast. But we like to keep our skin moist, too, especially during the harsh winters.

Formulated with key ingredients extracts such as Borago Officinalis, Anthemis Nobilis flower, Rosehip oil, Menthol, Peppermint and Chamomilla Recutita extract, it took over a year of research and testing before she found the exact outcome she’d been looking for!

HollyHoux also has product sets that every beauty savvy customers will want to get their hands on just in time for the holidays with their cute assorted (and refillable) “Refresher Mist” set!

How Airbnb and Travelers are Redefining Travel in 2021

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on travel in 2020. As we look to 2021, these impacts will continue to be felt in a number of ways. Firstly, continued remote working, and in some cases remote schooling, will upend traditional vacation seasons and blur the lines between working and traveling. Secondly, safety and cleanliness will continue to be top of mind for travelers, driving a preference for private, entire homes over crowded hotels. Thirdly, international travel, especially long haul, will continue to be impacted and finally, having been isolated for much of 2020, people will want to use travel to reconnect with friends and family in safe and controlled ways.

In 2021, travel will continue to be less about tourism and more about living, working and connecting safely away from home. Airbnb is ideally suited to meet these changing needs, whether providing an entire home to take a break from the city, to reconnect with loved ones or to try out a new neighborhood to move to. And its platform allows anyone with space to share to tap into these trends and earn some extra needed income.

 Based on commissioned survey data of US travelers and an analysis of search and booking data for next year, Airbnb is revealing the top three trends redefining travel in 2021:

 Live Anywhere – Taking Life on the Road

In 2021, work from home could become work from any home as remote working continues to be a reality for many people. In the survey commissioned by Airbnb*:

 ●           83 percent of respondents are in favor of relocating as part of remote working.

●        A quarter believe they will be able to ‘live where they want to and work remotely’.

●        One in five of those surveyed have relocated their living situation during the pandemic either temporarily or permanently.

●        60 percent of parents are very or somewhat likely to consider working remotely and traveling with their children if schools continue to be disrupted.

●        Unsurprisingly, Gen Z’ers and young millennial are most likely to believe they can move to a new location to work or study remotely.

One of the ways travelers are taking advantage of this trend is trying before they buy–turning to Airbnb to test new neighborhoods and cities before making a long-term commitment. From July to September this year, there has been a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning “relocation”, “relocate”, “remote work” and “trying a new neighborhood” in comparison to the same time frame last year.

 Of folks who have relocated since the pandemic was declared, 24 percent of them say they moved to a suburb and 21 percent to a rural area, both greater percentages than those who say they moved to cities.* And on Airbnb,  people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (2+ week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to immersive natural surroundings and wide open spaces, including these trending destinations below. 

●        Park City, Utah

●        Truckee, California

●        Steamboat Springs, Colorado

●        Durham, North Carolina

●        Santa Fe, New Mexico

●        Boise, Idaho

●        Richmond, Virginia

●        Greenville, South Carolina

●        Indianapolis, Indiana

●        Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Redefining the Staycation

As uncertainty persists, domestic travel will continue to be a key trend in 2021, with 62 percent of people interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of home.* Looking back at September 2019 for trip planning in 2020, for US guests, cities like Paris, London and Rome were all top destinations. Next year, a range of domestic locations in national parks, winter ski and beach towns are becoming the most popular, perhaps showing a departure from regular seasonal travel, and a preference for traditional vacation getaway destinations year-round. Some of the top spots include:

●        Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

●        Breckenridge, Colorado

●        Davenport, Florida

●        Palm Springs, California

●        Tulum, Mexico

 Although most travel will remain closer to home in 2021, that doesn’t mean travelers aren’t having new, exciting adventures where they’re staying. Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays on Airbnb. The top trending space types among US travelers next year include a variety of spaces known for using less energy and producing less waste, including:

●        Treehouses

●        Yurts

●        Barns

●        Cycladic houses

●        Domes

The shift to more remote and socially-distanced stays is also reflected in some of the top booked space types. Entire homes have officially replaced apartments as the top space type among guests in 2021, providing controlled, private space for everyone. More off the beaten path stays like cabins and cottages crack the top five space types for 2021 trips, replacing villas and townhouses from 2020.

The Rise of Pod Travel

2020 has made the craving for fundamental human connection very real, and this resonates in how people are thinking about travel in 2021. In fact, relocating permanently or temporarily to live close to family is favored by 85 percent of survey respondents.* And, families are increasingly turning to Airbnb as a way to safely reconnect: over the summer, there were three times more wish lists including family in the title than last summer, and that trend has continued to increase with more than 2.5 times the inclusions this September compared to last year. 

 Whether it means traveling to be close to family members, or reuniting to quarantine with a group of friends, “pod” travel is here to stay for those who want to safely be together while reducing risks associated with socializing with others. For those who have voluntarily relocated this year, 37 percent say it was to be close to family or friends – the most common reason given.* This has become increasingly popular with younger generations, with 61 percent of under-50-year-olds interested in permanently moving and 47 percent interested in temporarily moving to be closer to loved ones.* And on Airbnb, over half of trips searched for next year include three or more people, showing how people are traveling together.

For those who are not hitting the open road, they can still connect with loved ones while apart through Online Experiences. And groups are already finding unique ways to share special moments together, from preparing home-cooked authentic meals, to putting their minds together in virtual scavenger hunts, to sparking their curiosity and creativity through drawing. Some of the most popular Online Experiences groups are taking together from October to the end of 2020 include: 

●        Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game (Austin, Texas)

●        True vs False’ Funny Historical Game (Athens, Greece)

●        Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef (Mexico City, Mexico)

●        Drawn from Within with a New York Artist (New York City, New York)

●        Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson (Chiyoda City, Japan)

Planning for the Future

While travel might look a little different in 2021, future adventures are keeping travelers inspired, with 36 percent of respondents saying they daydream about travel daily or more, increasing to 47 percent amongst people who work from home.* Our research also shows that despite the uncertainty that continues to pervade people’s lives, the more they stay at home, the more the thought of getting out gives them confidence in the future. When asked how planning for a future trip makes them feel, the most selected answer by respondents was simply: hopeful.*

Though travel restrictions are still in place, US travelers are still dreaming of their next far flung adventure, as reflected in the top trending destinations by search for trips in 2021. When the pandemic is over and travel restrictions begin to lift, travelers may be heading to vibrant cultural hubs, idyllic island clusters, and ethereal natural wonders first.

 With Copa América postponed to 2021, soccer fans are eyeing Bogotá, a sophisticated urban metropolis also playing host to one of the final games of the tournament. On the heels of having the top awarded film of the year and the meteoric rise of K-pop, Seoul, South Korea is inspiring US guests to one day experience this dynamic cultural capital themselves. Having to push its 200th birthday celebrations back a year, the state of Maine’s bicentennial events and cozy, quaint vibes are inspiring potential trips in 2021. And after months of spending a lot of time indoors, it’s clear island vacations and escapes to wide open spaces are keeping travelers daydreaming. From the white sand beaches of Maafushi in the Maldives, to the enchanting red peaked landscape of Taos, to the striking Italian island town of Ischia (known for its thermal spas), US guests’ worldly travel aspirations are alive and well:

●        Bogotá, Colombia

●        Seoul, South Korea

●        Hampton, London

●        Tisbury, Massachusetts

●        Maafushi, Maldives

●        Maine, US

●        Salon-de-Provence, France

●        Taos County, New Mexico

●        La Misión, México

●        Ischia, Italy

*Based on a survey commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by ClearPath Strategies from September 15-19, 2020 of 1,010 US adults.

FASHION DIARIES EXCLUSIVE: 3 Fashion Gifts That Give Back

This holiday season will feel different than years past, with many looking to give back or shop ethically in lieu of traditional gifts. For those who are still looking to find fashionable gifts and accessories, purchasing from the World Vision Gift Catalog is a great place to start – offering a selection of beautiful, artisan gifts for every style of fashionista on your list.

In addition to fighting hunger, injustice and poverty, World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that supports, mostly women, artisans who are fairly compensated for their work, empowering them to seek better lives for their families.

This selection of fashion and jewelry accessories was designed by three female celebrity ambassadors who are joining together to support World Vision’s critical mission; actress Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle), TV personality Sadie Robertson Huff (Duck Dynasty and DWTS) and singer and author Wé McDonald (The Voice).

“Unity” Tassel Necklace by Patricia Heaton

  • This necklace, handmade by artisans in India, features a 24″ chain, 1.25″ x .75″ gray druzy stone, 2″ silk tassel, and starburst charm. Each stone is unique and varies slightly.

“Bonded Together” Tote by Wé McDonald

  • The income from embroidering these fair trade, bonded faux suede and cotton totes helps Vietnamese women artisans with disabilities gain independence. Zipper closure; 16″ x 8″; 9″ drop.

“Circle of Hope” Wraparound Ring by Sadie Robertson Huff

  • This adjustable gold-tone brass ring, made by women artisans in India, provides food, education, and more for the artisans’ families.

THE FASHION DIARIES EXCLUSIVE: Supima Design Lab 2020 is Going Virtual, Oct. 8

Supima presents the 3rd annual Supima Design Lab in its very first all-digital format, which will take place on Thursday, October 8th and be streamed live on Supima’s Instagram along with Fashion Network. Once again Supima brings together a select group of up and coming and leading designers from around the world.  This year’s Supima Design Lab will showcase exclusive collections designed using American-grown Supima cotton featuring designs by the winner and finalists of the 2020 Supima Design Competition, the selection of the 2020 Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival and by leading International designers. 

Created exclusively for the Supima Design Lab, each design showcases the endless possibilities of fabrics made with Supima cotton. Stemming from a commitment to design, sustainable innovation and superior quality, Supima is unwavering in its ongoing programs that create platforms for designers to express themselves despite the challenges of Covid-19. 

This Year’s Digital Runway show will be presenting “Made with Supima” Exclusive Designs by… 

The Winner and Finalists of the 13th Annual Supima Design Competition :

Amanda Forastieri, Drexel University – This Year’s Winner 

Sakura Mizutani, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising 

Jenny Feng, Fashion Institute of Technology 

Jennie Nguyen, Kent State University 

Terrence Zhou, Parsons School of Design 

Kyra Buenviaje, Rhode Island School of Design 

Finalists of 35th International Festival of Fashion, Fashion Photography and Accessories of Hyères :

Katarzyna Agnieszka (France)Andrea Grossi (Italy) 

Aline Boubert (France)Marvin M’Toumo (France) 

Xavier Brisoux (France)Maximilian Rittler (Belgium) 

Emma Bruschi (France)Céline Shen (France) 

Timour Desdemoustier (Belgium)Tom van der Borght (Belgium) 

Selected Leading Designers  :

Thierry Colson 

Lutz Huelle 

Dice Kayek 

Jean Paul Knott 

On Aura Tout Vu 

As a special addition to this year’s Supima Design Lab, there will be a round table orchestrated by Benjamin Simmenauer, Permanent Professor at Institut Français de la Mode, Fashion Expert & Brand Strategist. The round table includes a select panel of industry leaders for an in-depth discussion of the Supima Design Lab – From the Fields to the Runway.  This year’s panelists include : 

Jean-Pierre Blanc, Founder, International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories of Hyères  

Godfrey Deeny, International Editor-in-Chief, FashionNetwork 

Marc Lewkowitz, President & CEO, Supima 

Buxton Midyette, VP Marketing & Promotions, Supima 

We are truly honored to continue working with our SDC Partner School finalists, the selection from the Festival de Hyères and our Leading Designer group.  During the pandemic, we knew it was more important than ever to stay nimble and shift the Supima Design Lab into a virtual format to support these emerging designers achieve success in the fashion industry ” — Buxton Midyette, VP Marketing & Promotions, Supima 

Supima Design Lab 2020

About Supima : 

Supima is America’s premium cotton. Founded in 1954, the Supima brand, short for “Superior Pima,” designates an elite variety of pima cotton sustainably grown only in the West and the Southwestern U.S. It is prized the world over by designers and discerning consumers who value its resilient strength, lasting color and indulgent softness. 

Follow Supima on Social: 

Instagram: @Supima 

Facebook: @Supima 

Twitter: @Supima 

PROFILE DIARIES: A Q&A with writer and life coach, Victoria Greenwald

Something you may know about me, other than the fact I tend to publicize my life on social media, is that I am a HUGE people person, and I love to write feature stories. I’ve done one for my rockstar fashion designing friend, Maria Del Carmen Mercado, but this time I chose someone from my hometown (Medfield, MA) who is killing it as a writer and a life coach. That someone is no other than Victoria Greenwald!

A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

V: I went to Wheaton College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Illinois, and I studied psychology, English, and journalism! I loved my experience there, from the classes to the intentional community. 

A: Describe your writing career.

V: I’ve been wanting to be a professional writer as long as I can remember! One of my earliest memories is writing a short story on an old typewriter in my basement (it was about 4 superhero middle schoolers. Very cool). I decided to major in psychology in college because it felt a little more practical, but throughout my 4 years I ended up adding 2 writing degrees to my studies and all of my extracurriculars and career pursuits ended up in the writing realm. I graduated college with a full-time job writing at The Everygirl, and eventually launched my own blog after switching jobs. Now, I use writing as a huge part of my coaching!

A: What made you decide to pursue coaching?

V: I went to college thinking I’d be a counselor, as working with people through transitions has always been something I’ve been gifted at. I learned early on, however, that my strong desire to give direction and advice wouldn’t really fit into that job (which is great!), so I shifted career paths. Fast-forward a few years when I left my first writing job to work in full-time ministry, I started a blog to keep up the writing. I realized I liked writing about career tips, so I thought I’d offer a resume writing service, which I hated. It was a terrible move on my part — BUT I learned that for the 15 minutes that I got to talk with my clients about their dreams I absolutely loved. I learned that what I wanted to do was coaching, so I found a certification program that specifically helped me learn how to coach people through a Gospel-centered lens and I’ve been off to the races since then! 

A: What are you working on now?

V: Currently, I’m building out my business. I work with clients 1:1 in tailored programs, and I’m working on a self-paced course that’s all about purpose and vision. 

A: What do you have to say to those who are working on their spiritual growth?

V: Spiritual growth is a life-long process, and that’s really beautiful. We have an innate desire to be known and loved, and to know and love in return — God is the only being that satisfies in both directions. Pursue Him with eagerness and curiosity, that obedience will never be returned void! 

A: What do you have to say to those who are in the writing profession?

V: Pursue excellence. Everyone can call themselves a writer these days, so make sure that what you’re contributing to the written world is of great value. Lots of us writers know that we have a million things to say, so I encourage you to use discernment in saying what needs to be said, not just what can be said (and said well, you wordsmith you). If you’re just looking to get into writing as a profession — practice! Write the kinds of stuff you want to write in the future, even if no one is paying you for it. Interview your friends. Write an op-ed on a political issue. Start a blog! There are many avenues for you to grow and learn. Learn to be self-motivated and pursue being great at your craft.

A: What was your goal, prior to your current vocation?

V: Such a great question — I wanted to be the Editor in Chief at Elle magazine! That was the goal. It’s so funny to see how I’ve shifted from writing for my own glory to writing as service to other women.

A: What has influenced your spiritual lifestyle?

V: I give a lot of credit for my early experiences with Christ to my parents. They love Him and they wanted me to know and love Him, too, so I got lots of exposure to Bible stories and life transformation from them and from my church when I was younger. Once I was off to college, it really became my responsibility to keep following Christ on my own, and He has impacted my life in such incredible ways that I had to keep following Him. He is the reason for my hope, for my joy, for my purpose! 

A: What would you say to those who are trying to be as confident and successful as you? Or growing their own brand, like yourself?

V: Confidence comes when you’ve defined success correctly. For me, success is serving my God and the people in my life every day — and the means for me to do that (coaching, prayer, friendship, working at my church) bring me SO much joy. I know that I am a part of God’s incredible plan for the whole world, and that takes a ton of pressure off of my shoulders to be the hero. For the gal who is reading this wanting to grow a brand: remember to only be pursuing things that serve your actual goal. What do you want? Know the answers to that before you start taking action steps. 

Big thanks to Victoria for the pictures, as well as the extremely thoughtful and candid answers! You can read Victoria’s blog and view her coaching services here.

“This Is Not Going To Be Perfect. It’s Going To Be Powerful.”

Investing in yourself is not only important, but it can also be insanely expensive. This is the second paycheck I’ve gone through (almost completely) to follow my dreams. Yes, I actually have a job that’s not writing-related that actually pays me. No, I do not get paid to write, though I wish I did. I bet that was a shock to you folx.

Moreover, one of the things I invested in, ($179 a month to be exact) is a book-writing class. After getting out of our weekly ZOOM session today, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about the archangel of anxiety: perfection. I preached in a previous blog post, EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow? , more or less that perfection isn’t worth losing yourself over.

I can’t help but wonder, why am I so afraid of judgment if I don’t strive to be perfect? The simple answer is: I get judged either way. I shouldn’t say “I,” I should say “we [get judged.]”

I’m the only one in that book writing class who’s still in her twenties. In fact, my twenties are just getting started with me venturing into grad school. What’s funny about that, is public transportation is completely foreign to me, as are some parts of Boston. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, as you all know, but my carefree years took place in small towns. I was completely oblivious to looking both ways before crossing the street. (My kindergarten teacher would not be proud.) In a similar way, I’ve become oblivious to having a plan set out for my book. I confessed today that the “sandwiching” doesn’t work for me. Again, as you all know, I’m like an ocean — choppy and free-flowing… and with a whole lot of depths to my story. So there.

There’s that string of poetry in Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” those who mind don’t matter/those who matter don’t mind. I’ve lived by those lyrics since my senior year of high school. Those same lyrics apply to those who I am trying to help with my book. Essentially what I mean by that, is (and this goes for all of you future authors out there) your soon-to-be biggest fans/readers are not going to care if you’re some sort of grammar wizard. What they care about, is that you helped them. Take Danielle Bernstein for example. I saw many publishing errors throughout her book, but I still loved her story about how she became a household name in the fashion industry, and among influencers. Her book helped me build “The April Diaries'” baby sister, Candidly Worn. (Yes, I threw in a little self-promo.)

What we concluded with today was this phrase: “This [your story] is not going to be perfect. It’s going to be powerful.”

Every story is different, and you have one to tell!

EMPOWER NOT TOWER: Stop judging and observe.

I remember when I first got a Facebook account, I put Britney Spears’ “Circus” lyrics in my bio: “There’s only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain and ones that observe.” At the time I put that as my bio at the time not because I was a “budding performer,” but I was constantly feeling “watched.” No, I was not paranoid. However, the unwonted attention actually fed my ego. I wrote it off as jealousy.

I was talking to my manicurist today, and she was telling me how her sweet daughter (though I haven’t met her, she seems like a true gift from God) was bullied for being both smart and athletic. This young woman earned MVP in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. Impressive right? The parents of other kids were so green with envy to the point where one parent called her a “stupid bitch” on the sidelines. My initial reaction was not just “that’s horrible!” but I did mention how in my old town in Massachusetts, the parents talked more smack about the kids than the kids actually did. And I’m NOT the first person to say that, which is the funny part. But nonetheless, what right does someone have to say such a thing about someone else’s kid?

This made me wonder: why do we live in a world where we constantly judge/are being judged. Why can’t we just simply observe?

Seriously. Let people go on about their daily business. It’s easy to be so quick to judge, but it’s a habit that you can break with ease. I learned how to do it within an hour after watching this video by Isabel Palacios. Like I said in my last post, you are entitled to your opinion without being an a-hole. There’s a huge difference.

Observe because you don’t know what that person is going through internally. Don’t judge because you’re only hurting that person’s self-image and self-love. Don’t say that’s “their problem.” You may feel entitled to judge, but that judgment is fueled by your own insecurities.