Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chapter One

I've often thought of my life as a book. I think this way because I am trained in literature, and I'm not just talking about college. I really feel that my upbringing was a training in storytelling and listening. My parents and grandparents read to me constantly and told me their own stories, and for that I cannot thank them enough.

The first chapter is usually at the beginning of a story. But when I got this gift from Rita  the other day, it got me thinking. Maybe the first chapter is not at the beginning of our lives. Maybe it comes later on -- a rebirth of sorts. I had been applying all this pressure on myself for so long because I felt that I was in my 28th chapter, because my book was closer to ending than beginning. But maybe I got it all wrong. Maybe this is the beginning; maybe there's a lot of book left. I feel like there are so many more stories to tell.

Right now I am reading (slowly) Joan Didion's "We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live." It's a compilation of ALL of her essays. I love the title, and I love reading through her life. I had a sad thought many days ago when I wondered if I was telling myself stories in order to get by. Fictions like "I will publish another book" or "I will make it as a writer" or "I will own a home and pay off all my debts." But Rita's gift reminded me ever so gently that there is time. It is one of my sincerest most deepest beliefs that the good Lord would never pull me from this earth too soon.

I love the soldered heart and that "Oxford" is under Chapter 1. It got me thinking about where the story all begins, and subsequently, where we come from. I think a whole new part of my life began when I went to school in England. And I think it began all over again when I started my job in publishing (where I was able to meet Rita and Jenny). And I have started anew now, with this current job, commute, and some other changes I feel are coming on in the near future (which I will post about as they come).

Jenny and I went out for celebratory drinks a week or so ago. The place we went to was Chapter One, in Santa Ana. As Jenny said recently, "Chapter 1. The best place for Manhattans in Santa Ana. And the best part of new stories."She has a point. While some endings are very satisfying and well written, the end of the book is never as good as the beginning. Because if you really love the story, you don't want it to end; you want to start all over.

Looking forward to the next few chapters ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch/Launch

This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend a beautiful fall lunch at Lidy's home. I insist you check out Lidy's blog, but really nothing can do her home justice. It is just exquisite! And boy did she decorate for fall. I loved every inch of her home. Above are only a few snaps I got, as we got carried away with talking.

Joining us were Jenny, Deb, Tara, and CherylSharon is the one who brought us all together. This was in fact not a regular lunch date, it was a launch date. We gathered together to really inspire one another when it comes to our stories, experiences, and creativity. We will all be speaking at the next Launch Your Creativity event in April.

To be honest (as I always am here), I wasn't really sure what to speak about at the event since I had just left my job in the crafting industry. I wasn't even sure if I really belonged on this panel anymore. But within minutes of being with these women, I was given a great idea for a speaking topic. And I love it because it will be very me; from the heart and the head; very real.

My lunch friends kept mentioning their affinity for "being real." I thought this was fascinating, because a lot of what happens in publishing is in fact not real. Editors cut words, designers crop photos, stylists arrange. I think a lot of times people say they want something real, but the truth is that they can't take it. And so we all fall back on the pretty, the staged, the polished.

This conversation got me thinking about what "keeping it real" meant to me. And I landed on a very raw conclusion. The reality is that the polish I infuse in all facets of my life is not always my real self. When I am working out or in my pajamas writing I feel my best, but I never look polished doing so. I've said time and time again that I believe in hard work. And hard work is my reality, it is at the core of everything I do. It means staying up late to write this blog post, when in reality I should have fallen asleep half an hour ago. I use lots of concealer to hide those black circles that are really under my eyes daily. It means commuting an hour and a half each way in traffic to get to work at a fabulous magazine. And those nice clothes and designer shoes -- they took me a really long time to earn them and pay for them (in fact, I am still paying for them). So, I hope I have not mislead you with this blog. It is not all pretty instagrams and magazine covers in real life. Oh no. In fact, I usually consider my days to be pretty bland, it's just that I love unearthing those moments that shine, so that is what I try to share with you. I will touch on more of this in my talk come April.

And it's intentional that I have been using the word "polish" a lot, since my new gig in the nail industry is in fact about hard work and art just as much as the craft industry is. Be sure to check out Nails Magazine on Pinterest for more "unreal" photos.

My special thanks to Sharon and Lidy and the rest of these extraordinary women for being honest, poignant, warm, and wonderful listeners. I hope you'll join us and the other speakers this spring at Launch Your Creativity held at Paris in a Cup in Orange, California. See you there!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Choices We Make

I must confess that today seemed like a rude awakening. I will be going back to work soon and I can't help but wonder if I have made the right the choices in this life. The point at which I am at has me wondering if how I arrived here is nothing short of a miracle or maybe it was real honest to God hard work. Today everything hit me very suddenly, as I missed my first Glitterfest this past weekend. The time has come to roll the dice and be prepared to gamble everything away.

Of course, I have prepared myself for this moment way in advance. For me, all this change is worth the necessary risk. But it is so tempting to think about what might have been. I feel like so many of us have those "sliding doors" kinds of moments where we picture for a second going down a different path.

As a shopper, I feel like that is the name of the game. I am prepared to compare, to weigh, to analyze, to look at options side by side. It is the consumer's responsibility to weigh the outcomes and decide on the best decision. We make these choices when shopping at the grocery store, when getting dressed in the morning, when ordering on a menu. We discern, we execute and we hope to God we chose correctly. In real life there are no sliding doors. There is only fact and fiction; the imaginable and the tangible. I take comfort in knowing that things are as they should be because there is a God behind all of this; at the root of everything. That is my faith at work.

I work so hard that sometimes I forget there is a choice. I am so grateful that all my hard work of applying for job after job did not go unnoticed. I sincerely believe that these choices will lead me down the path to a better me rather than down that road of comfortable and familiar, of all things static. We need change to make us better. We need to make choices to prove we have learned and are worthy to move on. There might be some choices we go over and over again in our head, but we need to have the confidence that we have ended up where we need to be. That we are doing the right thing to ensure happiness for all. We need to be our best selves, and that comes down to more than the talk we talk, the resumes, the interviews, it comes down to the walk we walk, to being genuine.

Hoping you have a genuinely good week.

Above: Trench coat & cocktail ring by Juicy Couture; Dress by Jill Stuart; Shoes by Jimmy Choo; Necklaces by Nordstrom & Forever 21

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Promise is a Promise

In pursuing a new job I wondered if some of the friends I had made at my previous one would still want to be connected. But then last week Tracy Schultz called me and made plans to hang out right away. And she didn't break them. In fact, she had Cynthia Shaffer join in. I'm not saying I expected her to break our plans, but rather, I so appreciate it when people keep their word. Cynthia and Tracy have always done this, which is why I have loved working with them. My personal mission statement in all the work I do (and will do) is to keep my word; to do what I say. This has proved to be the cardinal rule of good business, in my experience. And when it comes to friends, the same rules can apply: don't make promises unless you plan on keeping them.

When I was a teenager, I so desperately wanted a promise ring from my high school boyfriend. I wanted something that looked like a diamond that proved we would get married one day. My boyfriend ended up giving me such a ring. But over the years we both found that that promise was hard to keep. I remember my ring falling off my hand one day at the beach. It was swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean and I didn't even shed one single tear over it.

When Kathy  gave me her version of a French promise ring, I loved the jumble of baubles. There is so much going on in that ring that it just goes together. I was happy to wear this ring to lunch in Orange yesterday to meet with people who share the same values I do. Looking at the ring also reminded me of the promise I made myself recently. I promised that if I took some time off prior to my new job that I would spend it writing. So here I am, blogging, writing, proving that I am bent on keeping my word. Because sometimes the promises that are hardest to keep are the ones we make to ourselves.

Thank you Kathy, Tracy and Cynthia for reminding me of the sweet rewards that come when you do what you say.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Long Time Coming

This is the post that has been percolating in my head for a while. It all comes down to this:

Four and a half years ago, I was unsure of the course my life had taken. I was working in education and ready to pursue my master's/teaching credential in the fall. Before beginning though, I looked for other work, as I could not shake the uncertainty I was feeling about my career path. I always wanted to write and I wasn't sure if teaching others how to write was the best course of action. I interviewed with Jenny Doh and ended up accepting a position as Assistant Editor at Stampington & Company. When I interviewed, I had a good feeling about the job because Jenny and I just hit it off. When I accepted formally, I remember crying with happiness. I felt like I was moving in the right direction and promptly withdrew from the teaching program.

Months later I moved to Orange County and started my life over. I didn't know anyone when I moved out here. I didn't know where anything was, not even the nearest Starbucks. I remember spending my lunch breaks at my desk because I didn't know where to go and had no one to eat lunch with. But the longer I stayed at work, the more people I met. Eventually I made some of the best friends I have ever had by meeting them at the office. I reinvented myself in a way, and I am so glad I did. I can't picture my life without having lived in Laguna and meeting the people I have met and come to love as my second family. Even as I am writing this, there is still confetti at my desk from my 25th birthday, when my friends decorated my office with pink streamers.

As an editor I have learned to seek out the best and chisel away until the strongest points are left standing. Whether whittling down a wardrobe or writing a sentence, it is the duty of an editor to make sure only the best is being presented. I like to think that in my four years at Stampington I did nothing short of putting my best work and shoed feet forward. No matter what.

I have met so many strong women in this industry who have inspired me to persevere. So that even when I felt like kicking my shoes off and relaxing, I kept moving forward. I want to name them all, but there are too many. If you look through my blog archives, you will undoubtedly know who I am talking about. To the many great women who lent me a shoulder, an ear, an apron, a kind word, I wouldn't have been able to keep going had it not been for you. To those wonderful women who gifted me with art, know that it filled my office and kept me happy while I typed articles about artwear, or maybe even posts on this blog.

The decision to quit my job came at the right time. For years I have yearned to do what many of the women I read about in our magazines do, and quit my day job and follow the dream of pursuing my art. While I am not able to quit to write full-time just yet, I will be taking a nice break from work to write a while, to reflect, to think, to just be. These last few days have felt like a marathon. I am so tired, so drained. I remember explaining to Jenny once, that I am a runner. I love running. I love pushing myself to the near impossible, to only discover there are no limits. I feel like I have been running for a long time, and at long last will be able to catch my breath.

My next adventure will be an entirely different one. I am so excited to do something I never would have imagined doing previously. That is what my whole life has been about these past 28 years, doing the unthinkable; surprising myself; starting over. I no longer am afraid to start over. I welcome change with fresh eyes. I want to use my talents to build another magazine from the ground up, hopefully, and make great contributions to another community, to meet more people who will inspire my life's journey, and maybe even new, close friends. I am sorry to tell you that I am not a crafter. I have always felt slightly guilty of this, as I have worked in the crafting industry. I don't craft anything short of writing and outfits and I feel it best to move on to an industry that is a bit more up my alley. But I am a doer. I have never been one to just say something. I do it. Actions speak louder than the best writing. I like to imagine that my writing and actions deliver upon the promises I make and the most genuine of intent. As I start my new job at Nails Magazine, I am unsure of how much blogging there will be for me in the future. A new job is a big step, and I look forward to giving it my all, which will require hard work and focus. A lot of the future seems unclear right now as I have a few things to figure out. But I am ready. I love that my life has not yet nor has ever been, so planned out.

I leave behind two magazines I founded, apronology and Jewelry Affaire. These are especially hard to leave behind, as I lost sleep, argued, and stayed late to make sure these books become everything I knew they could be. I feel like I am abandoning two very important chapters of my life. The love people have for the apron is unlike any other I have experienced, and I am so grateful to have been clued in to that warmth. The jewelry community has always welcomed me with open arms, and I consider so many of these visionaries my friends. Altered Couture has been nothing but a labor of love for me, as I sought to reinvent and push the bindings of its pages, to make it a must-read and relevant to the fashion and DIY industry. Haute Handbags and Somerset Home were both tasks that I took over from my friend Amanda, and have always tried to show them the same love, care and grace she showed other people. I hope that I have left an artful legacy. I did my best, and I feel that these chapters have been written and are at long last, done. They have ended on what I felt were good notes, capturing the visions I have had of them for years in the making.

The most important lesson of all in doing good work and doing a good job is kindness. It is the single most essential, most unifying ingredient. Treat all others with kindness; respect their work and their feelings; be honest. I have tried to stand my ground while achieving only the best. If I have done so, then I have done so by hopefully remaining kind towards others. I look forward to taking this and the many lessons learned with me to my new place of work. The people there have already shown me a great deal of generosity and it makes me all the more willing and happy to move on.

And here's the thing with moving on: change is inevitable. It is life. This life is short, unpredictable, and forever evolving. Sometimes we feel change does not treat us justly, but when we roll with it and are not afraid to start over, we build new muscle. When we are determined to be strong, no amount of change will ever permanently disable you. Then there are those changes that we are ready for, they are expected, they are even welcome. And with them there is a sigh of relief and lots of hope. My friend Virginia gave me this picture years ago that says, "The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are." I have had this hanging in my office for over 2 years, and every time I looked at it, I was reminded that I knew I had somewhere else to go.

I have produced 41 issues for Stampington & Company. The magazine industry, while changing as we speak, has been a great fit for me. There were days where I sat at my desk and wondered what would have happened had I taught high school English, but it has been a privilege to sit at my computer and write words for others to read. I will continue my work with Romantic Homes magazine  and Made Woman Magazine. You can find me there, and hopefully here, along with some other upcoming projects (fingers crossed), and now at Nails Magazine. If you found this blog because of my work at Stampington, I thank you for reading. I thank you for deciding to come here and read words typed out over coffee from an office in Laguna Hills, surrounded by amazing handmade art, written by a girl who used to want to be a teacher, but took a chance on becoming a real writer.

Onward & Upward,


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Many Faces of Rhinestone

I just bought this super cool statement necklace from Nordstrom and I have been living in it. I love the orange, pink and yellow neon coloring. I also love the different shaped jewels. It reminds me of a Dannijo or a Tom Binns piece. Except, this necklace was much more affordable at just $24. But of course, my favorite thing about this necklace is the possibilities it holds. It is perfect for layering. While it is already a layered look, I love wearing lots and lots on top of lots of jewelry. Especially when my outfit consists of a simple T-shirt. So on Friday I did just that and stacked my vintage rhinestone necklace on top of my pink neon H&M piece on top of my Nordstrom find. I love how expensive and unique this look is. Some other variations on my necklace layering are above: hot pink H&M plus mint necklace from Forever 21; hot pink H&M with vintage necklace.

Needless to say, colored rhinestones are in. It's a trend I love. But if you're like me and will always love the classic clear look of a good rhinestone, layering is the way to go. And if you want to create your own color scheme for this trend, it is super easy. Simply pick up a cheapie rhinestone necklace and use Sharpies, nail polish, or spray paint to create your own color effects as in the DIYs above from State of Unique and Bonnin Designs. And again, if clear stones are more your thing, try layering classic strands on top of each other like Maegan did (this tutorial is also featured in the premier issue of Jewelry Affaire). 

Happy Jewelry Wearing!