Posted on November 5th, 2013
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.
Of course I say this every year but seriously, where did 2012 go? It feels like just yesterday I was writing an exhaustive list of resolutions for the long year ahead and here we are. In a couple blinks of my eyes, the year 2012 has come and gone. In all honesty, last year’s goals were lofty and most received little to no attention. I am proud to say a few persevered (a new job, discovered a great church, lots of travel, made it to Coachella (queen of American music festivals), nurtured friendships and such) and I am content with the fruits of that labor. Still at the risk of sounding cliché yet again, I’ll shout at the mountaintop, “This is my year!” It is at least markedly different than the last handful in a major way.
In 2013, I’ll focus on actionable goals to steer myself along a more deliberate and purposeful path in life.
If you follow me on Instagram and on Twitter you’ll see that there is no shortage of unforgettable moments. I lead a life full to the brim with laughter, love, a few shenanigans and serious wanderlust. I am passionate about people. I value my close friendships and family and I adore entertaining. In another life I’m pretty sure I was a Southern housewife and hostess whose front door was always open. I am also obsessed with travel; as curious about the local scene in Portland as I am about the wonders of the world, landmarks from D.C. to Paris. Here’s to taking risks and pushing the ol’ comfort zone more this year. The plan is to focus my efforts and seek out opportunities that excite me and pay off my interests in real ways. Just as much dreaming but a lot more doing.
The most exciting part is that I’ll spend a greater amount of time addressing what was the foundation and purpose of starting this blog — uncovering beautiful things, translating life’s richness and lessons to all yes everything. That means remaining faithful and confident about life, my decisions and abilities, my style and point of view and being a tried and true explorer. I will savor opportunity and experiences, that’s where the real art of living is. I’ll use this space as an outlet to document the pursuit of happiness mostly for myself and also for whoever’s paying attention
Expect to read about my journey towards career clarity, my love of food, baking and cleaner, healthier eating. I’m also defining my personal style: plotting a wardrobe intervention, preparing to decorate a new apartment and immersing myself in artsy things (jewelry-making, a little graphic design and floristry on the side). Let’s go back to entertaining. My fascination is likely my mother’s fault because when she invites anyone into her home, everything has to be perfect. So much love, thought and care goes into the experience of “the guest”. Composing magical moments for others, full of authenticity and heartfelt detail is the kind of thing that makes me melt like butter. I have a good feeling about 2013. Yes, yes, y’all. Here we go.
Note this is titled ‘Thoughts for…” not by. I am not an entrepreneur. I’m an ad exec. So let’s just say I have no expertise in the matter. I have never worked at a start up or early stage company and I have not yet taken on a role that has allowed me significant influence on the future of any company. Still, my roles at their core have meant placing all of my bets on my team’s idea and selling our value at every opportunity, organizing teams and resources to get the job done and retaining the trust and support (both emotionally and financially) of deeply invested clients.
I believe there is real overlap between the ad account manager and the entrepreneur. The most compelling one likely being the role of the catalyst – activating greatness in the people around you to achieve a common goal. However, the risk-taking and experimentation of the bold entrepreneur whose perceived livelihood depends on the course of her actions and decision-making is not often celebrated, undervalued and at times discouraged by clients. Someday, definitely. I hope to join a start up or established company in a capacity where much of what I had personally done would be to credit for its success but that is still many years away I’m sure. Until then, I am honing my instincts and always looking for an opportunity to express my passions, allow my strategic and creative point-of-view to have some amount of driving force in the business and provide an environment where my competitive spirit, curiosity, emotional intelligence and drive can truly sing. It is literally an everyday search and both an internal and external journey.
I happen to be very close to someone who is starting a business after helping to take one from barely more than an idea to a successful, well-known company. That fact alone is humbling because this person is just a year older than I am. They are braving the journey again – from the driver’s seat this time with an idea all their own – and I get the pleasure of watching and hopefully supporting in some tangible way. It can be difficult to know what the right thing to say is or whether to say anything at all. I’ve had to navigate my own insecurities about my accomplishments to date and work through feelings that I had no worthwhile advice to give. I confronted my own goals and became pretty hard on myself when I realized I’d wandered away from long-held dreams. Hello existential quarter-life crisis, thanks for stopping by! The self doubt rendered me tongue-tied and inarticulate and so I chose to reserve all opinions, never addressing that the journey would absolutely affect them in ways that I would notice and therefore affect me. Shouldering any collateral confusion, excitement or disappointment is part of deeply committing to another human experience. Truthfully, it’s been a pretty inspiring and motivating thing to witness. I’m applying a lot of the learnings to my own life; I can’t help but have some musings that are a direct result. Actually, this may be a thinly veiled ‘Note to Self’ such to disguise the fact that I have written a post that’s mostly meant to make sense of the things I’ve grown to believe in just a few short months. Still, here are my hopes for entrepreneurs, him, me.
Start by envisioning a world you were less annoyed with, target some specific problem or unusual satisfaction that has touched you or those you’ve cared about in a way you genuinely want to change or share with others. It may be a significant change, one that disrupts an industry or it can be seemingly superficial. Create something that leads you to the lifestyle that would make you happiest, ideate on the things that you couldn’t stop talking about or thinking about if you tried. That thing that you are the most passionate about right now is the only thing so stop avoiding it. Be aware of yourself in that way and don’t be scared to act on it no matter the obstacles. Like Sister Mary Clarence once said, “If you wake up in the morning, and you can’t think anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl.”
This is partially because I’m a marketing gal but mostly because I’m a normal person and not an engineering wunderkind. I believe the company should have an interesting story worth telling. Sure, that pitch that’s going to get you venture capital is cool and all but you’re still going to need all the results and tech jargon translated into everyone else’s vocabulary. Your story should complement the basic human experience, align with the target market’s personal narrative and create infinite value. Whatever the mission of each product, a lot of average people should feel personally inspired, empowered and moved by it. Know that story from the very beginning. Stay inspired and inspire others.
It’s become clear to me that much of starting a business is time spent learning – it is constant self development – brushing up on old skills and learning completely new ones, navigating business basics, picking a lot of other smarter people’s brains (I abhor that expression but you know what I mean), reading up on what has passed and what is present, keeping abreast of the competition, knowing the most about your partners ahead of time to ensure meaningful conversations turn into valuable connections… the list goes on. It is okay to trust your instincts even when they aren’t backed up by years of specific experience or education but you can never stop learning. Put in the extra work to truly understand your craft.
Yes it’s that time again. The monthly Instagram haul recapping some moments from the last month. Goodbye September. Hello October.
One of my favorite things to do is have a meal with good friends. This is probably why brunch is pretty much a holiday for me. I brunch hard and often. This weekend I proposed a visit to one of my favorite couples’ new place. I hosted Matt and Lauren and a few others for dinner at my boyfriend’s some weeks ago so this time we were going to be treated to Matt’s morning specialty, chilaquiles! I snapped a quick pic and tweeted before I dug in just to capture the moment. I hate sounding so surprised that one of my male friends could actually cook something so good but I was literally speechless. Everything was incredible! Matt also invited his sister and another one of our mutual friends, Rajiv, to join us. We enjoyed the company of an adorable dog named Lola they were pet-sitting. She pretty much stole the show. I can’t ever get enough of good face-to-face conversation and was so grateful for the warm weather as we sat around the table in their beautiful garden courtyard. I really do think they just snagged the best apartment I’ve seen in this city so far.
Really reminiscing on the beauty of CA Hwy 1 today. Taking a drive down the winding road through Marin Country to your destination of Big Sur, is an absolutely stunning contrast to SF city living and while the beaches are cold, the lush stretch of coastline provides an alluring ‘staycation’ spot. Having driven in the passenger seat from San Francisco, there were countless breathtaking vistas and at one point, I excitedly opened the car door before we’d even stopped moving. Never be the designated driver on this journey if you can avoid it. The views are so worth your full attention. The last picture I took was something like a postcard. It was impossible to take a bad shot. The sights and sounds were marvelous and a great reminder of the beauty found in our natural environment and how much it inspires me!
Lately I have been giving a semi-serious effort to eat smarter and healthier. I started with one simple but very important move: cooking and eating meals at home. The Bay Area has totally changed my relationship with food. Easily accessible and mostly unpretentious food choices are just around any block. This is not an exception in a trendy neighborhood, it is the rule in most of them and I’ve found real happiness eating out for almost every meal. Noticing a perfectly controllable liquidation happening in my bank account, I decided to take a stab at the problem at its root, bringing my food consumption and costs in and making food more personal. I do weekly grocery shopping trips to the Whole Foods two blocks away. I told ya! My situation is a true blessing (and curse!). I even try planning my meals by selecting recipes on the weekends and choosing which days I’ll make what. Sure, I fail. Often. But this tiny bit of structure has helped a lot. I’ve been whittling my portions down, slowly but surely, with hopes to readjust my appetite. And, documenting my good eats has helped. I’ve always gotten a lot of likes when posting quick snaps at my favorite restaurants to Instagram but I’ve also been getting support from my friends after posting dishes I’ve made myself and that really does make a difference.
Deeply craving the comfort of pasta and with limited ingredients at home, I decided on good old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. It’s rich and hearty and so easy to make. Someone must have taught me how at some point, but I can’t remember or imagine any need for it. The process just makes sense. Mixing the meat and forming the round shapes in your hands is also pretty therapeutic. You can use whatever ground meat you’d like. I’ve been on a non-beef shtick for a little while so I used turkey. I’d even go for ground chicken or you can try pork. Really, anything goes. The only thing I sorely missed was fresh basil and parsley. Normally I’d load up both the meat and sauce with those two herbs. I love the flavor they give. The only ingredients I used were eggs, meat, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and some garlic. Of course, there is also black pepper and a little salt. I am my mother’s child so I sprinkled a bunch of other unnecessary seasonings I had in my cupboard in there too. Mixed it all with a wooden spoon and rolled them up into neat little balls. Heated up some olive oil in a skillet and threw the meatballs in. Cooked them for a couple of minutes, turning them to cook lightly and brown on all sides before I put them to the side. Usually, I’d add a bit of browning sauce because turkey doesn’t really get dark like beef does.
I used the same pot over medium heat, threw in onions and garlic, stirred while they cooked for a minute. The most laborious part was making a sauce from scratch since I had none of the usual Bertolli. I did have a small can of crushed tomatoes and three small tomatoes I chopped up and added to the mix with a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. (That parsley and basil I was talking about before would’ve also been a good touch here.) Cooked the sauce for about 15 minutes before I placed the meatball back in, stirring them into the sauce. From there, I just let the concoction simmer for another 20-30 minutes. That’s it. Oh, and there was some spaghetti that got cooked in the meantime. Piled a good helping on a plate, topped with the sauce when it was done and some freshly grated parmesan for good measure. Love.
A little sad I wasn’t able to travel to New York for Labor Day this year. It’s been something of a tradition since I moved to San Francisco three years ago to take a trip back home to visit family and friends at the end of summer. Labor Day weekend has always been anchored by celebrations around The West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood and the culminating parade down Eastern Parkway. Carnival symbolizes many different things in each Caribbean country. The celebration reflects the melting pot found in the area featuring traditional food, music and costume and attended by immigrants from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, Grenada, Haiti… everyone carries their country’s flag to wave in the air. I jump and wave my Barbados flag to represent my parents’ birthplace. The festivities really mark the end of summer for me and all the fetes and backyard barbecues provide a worthy goodbye spiritual to the my favorite season in New York. Last year I spent the whole afternoon watching the floats, bands and dancers passing by then went to a dinner party at a childhood friend’s home where a big group of us hung out in the backyard until the wee morning hours.
These two lovebirds are getting married in a few short weeks. I took this and a bunch of equally adorable shots at the joint shower. I can’t get over how many happy couples have made the leap this year and will continue to in 2013! I have passed on a huge number of ceremonies because the travel and other expenses were impossible and still made it to a handful of celebrations locally. Weddings are so much darn fun. While marriage isn’t on my radar at all, I can’t help but contemplate what that might feel like one day. Love!