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2013 Or Bust: Getting Ready for the New Year

By November 27, 2012 Life
New Year

We make plans and God laughs… with that said  there are 5 weeks, give or take a few days, left in 2012 and it’s around this time every year that I start to think about my plans for the coming year. I take a snapshot of where I am in life and where I would like to be. It’s not as intense as it sounds, trust me, but I do get down and dirty into the stuff of goals, achievements and dreams.

To prepare for the new year I do a few things: meditation session to clear out old spirits, retiring journals and starting new ones. It’s all a big to do to get me pumped! Cue Rocky theme music and me in the gym hitting the punching bag. It’s me against 2013.

OK, dramatic much? Yes. But in all seriousness, it pays to be prepared, organized and ready to have a great year. And why wait until the ball drops to get a clear idea on what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. In the past few years I’ve done many of these things to get ready for a new year and while no one knows what the year will bring these are all tried and true traditions to get your mind right and your heart in the right place to take on 2013.

BUY A NEW PLANNER

New planners are a blank slate. You’re leaving behind all of the plans, appointments and to-dos of the last year and moving into the new year with a fresh start. My favorites are Moleskine, Anne Taintor.   I’m coveting a mega-planner from Erin Condren.

PLAN NEXT YEAR’S VACATION(S)

It’s never too early to plan a vacay, the sooner the better actually. If there’s a destination you’ve been dying to see now is the time to map out a plan to get there. Start your research, find cool boutique hotels, request time off and start your savings plans to make your vacation dreams come true. Wanderfly is a great travel wishlist and helps plan affordable vacations.

MAKE A VISION BOARD

Vision boards have exploded! They are having their moment in the cultural zeitgeist and with good reason. Having all of your dreams, goals and visions in front of you keeps them top of mind and studies have shown they help order your steps to be able to accomplish them. Plus creating vision boards is such a fun exercise. Invite a few friends over, pull out the old magazines and photos and collage your way to your dreams.

REDEFINE YOUR CAREER GOALS

Every year I outline where I would like to be, career-wise, by the end of the year. Am I fancying a promotion? What certifications do I want to have? How much freelance work can I handle? While some of your career plans are out of your control (hiring, raises, etc…) your plan for your career totally is. By having a plan you can make better career decisions to get you to your dream job.

REASSESS YOUR WARDROBE

September may be the start of the fashion new year, but every new year I take time to assess my style and what looks I need to retire and styles I’d like to try. This year I’ve been heavy on the black and bringing back the color (and the sexy) is high on my style priority list.  This is also a great time to retire old pieces that are not working. Donate them or give them away to friends. Let the clutter go!

CLEAN HOUSE. No Literally, CLEAN YOUR HOUSE

Spring cleaning has nothing on new year cleaning. Break out the Pledge and go to town on your baseboards, carpets and laundry. Start 2013 with a fresh feeling and scent. Growing up my mother always spent the first day of the New Year cooking black eyed peas and cleaning house.

START YOUR BLOG’S 2013 CALENDAR

With about a month left in 2012, it’s a good time to start working on your blog/site/business plans for 2013. Get ahead of monthly holidays, trends and map out your standard/evergreen content. Remember to create a cushion for breaking news and life events. No need to plan out a stringent plan but a loose layout will put you ahead of the game.

CONTEMPLATE A NEW HAIRSTYLE

Every year I say I’m going to cut my hair. And maybe 2013 will be the year I actually do it. Who knows? But it sure is fun to contemplate a new hairstyle, revamping my look and thinking about what life would be like with a pixie cut. Maybe this will the year you try bangs or go red!

These are just a few ways to get ready for the New Year’s arrival. Aside from decking your halls, stocking up on confetti and noisemakers, what other things are you doing to prepare for the new year? 

Do share!

Images (3, 6, 7, 8)

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Hi My Name is Windy: My Chicago Whirlwind

By November 20, 2012 Travel
Goodbye Chicago


Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

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I’ve heard a lot about Chicago; some great, some not so great. It’s the home of the Blues, the Cubs, Kanye West, high crime rates, R.Kelly and Obama! When I found out I would be visiting the City of Wind for a work conference, I had lots of interest in getting to know the it firsthand. Was it really as cold as people say? Would I run into Lupe Fiasco? What was all the fuss about that silver bean?

I got into Chicago late Wednesday evening, checked into The James Hotel, which is a very nice hotel in the Magnificent Mile neighborhood and near the Razorfish Chicago office. I grabbed late-night sushi and sake with coworkers and got ready for the next day’s activities.

~ Obligatory Mirror Pic ~ 

Before the sightseeing adventures could begin work had to be attended to. The reason for the visit was a Social Media Summit to discuss the latest and greatest in the practice.

Razorfish Chicago is a pretty outstanding office, my favorite one so far (sorry New York & Philly). Neon walls, bright lights, lots of glass conference rooms. And did I mention… beer on tap. I’m not the biggest beer drinker but you have to admit that’s pretty awesome.

~ Whoop, there it is!  ~ 

Over the next two days there was a ton of exchange, idea sharing and thought leadership. Did I mention I love my job? Well I do. After long days in meetings, it was time for a little Chicago style food sharing. Deep dish pizza, anyone? I now fully understand why Chicagoans are wild about their pie!

~ Delizioso! ~ 

After more meetings, Friday finally winded down and the weekend was set to start. We transferred hotels to the sex-ay W Hotel Lakeshore!  How sparkly is this sign? Very posh!

We headed out on the town and hit up Wicker Park area for scrumptious tacos at Big Star and evening cocktails at Violet Hour, which is a clandestine undercover spot that doesn’t allow cell phone use and has hilarious house rules like: “No O-Bombs. No Jager-Bombs. No bombs of any kind.” and “Please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday dinner.”  I love it!

With three cold Chicago nights under our belts, Saturday was officially dubbed the CHICAGO CRAM!

With one full day to sightsee, we decided to see as much of Chicago as we possibly could. I think we accomplished that and more. There must be some sort of award for the most frenzied, yet controlled tourism ever! We’d certainly win.

Dressing for city walking and cold temps is no easy feat. I think I managed well with dark skinnies, black & white striped shirt, leopard blazer (unpictured), bright green scarf, my Shelli Segal coat and comfortable suede boots.

First stop was brunch at the absolutely delectable Yolk, a top rated brunch in the city. It was jumping good!

~ Jaimie loves Yolk! ~ 

Next stop, the TOP of the WORLD! Well the top of Chicago at least! We hit up the John Hancock building and got a view of Chicago from the 96th floor. Insider tip, hit up the ladies’ restroom in lieu of going to the observatory. Backdoor tricks FTW! (Thanks Deanna) 

It was so surreal to see all of the immaculate buildings from so high up. Chicago truly has beautiful architecture and many throwbacks to a classier, jazzier age.

We came down from our high and decided to take an old school horse & carriage ride to get a quicker view of the Chi. Chicago has lots of luxury shopping, traditional hotels, cathedrals and amazing signage. Every storefront has its own unique flair. There was even a cow on the front of a building!

~ Say Cheese ~ 

Next we shot across town to Millennium Park. I didn’t know what to expect of the giant Cloud Gate sculpture except that it seemed pretty cool. Cool is an understatement! Millennium Park is beautiful, has so many different sections, great sculptures and lots of energy. There were about 3 different wedding parties taking pictures!

You’d think we’d be exhausted at this point but we kept the party going and headed to do an Architecture Boat Tour on Lake Michigan. As we rushed through throngs of people (the annual Lighting Parade coincided with our trip – what fate!) we prayed we wouldn’t miss our boat.

And guess what…. WE DID!  Bye Bye Boat.

All was not lost. With the lighting parade came a fireworks display and a later boat ride that ended with seeing the fireworks. On. The. Water. SCORE!

For me, the boat tour was the highlight of the trip. Coasting on Lake Michigan, learning all about the buildings, the companies that inhabit them and the history of the city. Chicago is truly lovely at night.

We parked on the lake and watched the fireworks. It was the cherry on the Chicago sundae. Dinner at the famous Ditka’s (the food was superb) for Jaimie’s birthday dinner and eventually the night ended at the legendary Wiener Circle. I couldn’t get good video because I was laughing entirely too much at the crazy characters behind the counter! But this clip from Conan will show you what WC is all about.

I played a hilarious game and won a T-shirt. Wiener Circle is truly hilarious place and a must visit when you’re in Chicago.

Exhausted from a long day, I conked out ready to head home.

Sunday with only a few hours to spare, we trekked to the Navy Pier, the top tourist attraction in Chicago. The Navy Pier has a giant Ferris Wheel and lots of arcade games.

~ We’re Mad for Chicago ~ 

All in all, Chicago is a pretty spectacular city. It’s like a modern day Pleasantville: clean streets, beautiful buildings and lots to do. Seeing the glorious facade of Chicago makes me want to delve deeper into the parts unseen. 

~ It’s safe to say I’m smitten with the Windy City ~

x Until next time, Summertime Chi!

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Girl Interrupted: How to Cope When Life Gets in the Way

By October 24, 2012 Life, Life Advice
Me

Life happens. To the best of us. Things change; we lose a job, move to another city, break up with a significant other, lose a loved one. And when life comes crashing down or sweeping in sometimes you have to take a step back to regain your footing. Being sidelined by life is never easy but it is natural and it’s imperative that you take time to get yourself back to 100%.

Case in point: Things have been a little slow around here lately. For this I do apologize. My recent move to New York and getting acquainted with myself in this new place has taken a bit of the gust out of my sails. Between packing, moving, commuting, working, commuting, reading and writing there hasn’t been much time in life for well life.

It beeeeeeezzzzzz like that sometimes.

So what do you do when life gets in the way of doing the things you love?

Freeze. Have a Seat. Reset

Freeze

Stopping can be the most beneficial thing you can do when  good or bad fortune befalls you. It may seem nullifying or like you’re stuck in quicksand but stopping can prevent you from spinning your wheels, messing things up due to lack of focus, even burning yourself out. When I moved I made the conscious decision to give myself some time to just stop. It felt horrible and I missed writing for you guys but doing a half-arsed job was not an option.

When life is happening and your focus shifts it’s okay to hit the pause button and tend to the things you have to do. Your work, personal health and well-being are your top priority.

Have a Seat

After you’ve come to terms with stopping (or considerably slowing down) have a seat. Not a literal seat, but a figurative seat. Get your bearings straight and try, TRY, as you might to keep your mind off of the world going on around you.

Sometimes taking a break can feel like you’re taking a step back or conceding defeat but don’t fall into the mind trap. When you have to get your bearings straight that’s the only thing that matters. And instead of worrying about what you’re missing our on or what other people are doing, focus on what you can do to restore yourself and get ready to return to your normal routine.

Read lots of books. Watch movies. Spend time with family and friends. Reconnect with yourself. Personally, I’m taking this time to focus on areas of my life that I’ve neglected like my health, finances and other creative endeavors.

Reset

Each stop is an opportunity to reset ourselves and prepare for the road ahead. By resetting your mind, body and spirit you are allowing the lessons to sink in and propel you forward.

But how will you know when it’s time to get on with your life as usual? You will know. The path will be clear and there will be space to do the things you need to do. You will be able to get back to your life and plans with more knowledge and a renewed spirit.

Sometimes we’re heading down a path and life comes in and interrupts our journey or puts us in an uncomfortable place. Don’t begrudge these changes, roll with them. Embrace them and let them teach and propel you to the next stop on your destination.

Have you ever been interrupted by life? How did you manage? Please share! We can benefit from each others’ stories!

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New Beginnings: In Style and Life

By October 3, 2012 Fashion, Life, Stylish Thoughts

“Just around the corner in every woman’s mind – is a lovely dress, a wonderful suit, or entire costume which will make an enchanting new creature of her.”
— Wilhela Cushman

Source

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Fall is an effervescent time, when renewal is fresh in the air. The September issues have hit the stands and have since been discarded. New trends are already lining the racks in your favorite clothing stores. The world is abuzz with newness.

Fresh on our minds is transformation. “Who will I be this season?” “What do I want to portray to the world?” From school age kids to middle aged housewives, buying new clothes is as much about looking good as it is about creating a newer, better you.

I can recall, going off to college, plowing through fashion magazines, circling hot items, dog earring pages, tearing sheets and concocting a vision of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to look like. What would my fall look be? Tweeds and smart trousers! Grown-up blouses to be taken seriously. Skirts, skirts and more skirts! Durable yet stylish tote bags.

This process of defining who we are through fashion has become a crucial first step into who we hope to become in life. What we wear is our first defense. Before we open our mouths, our clothes do the talking and what they say can be as varied and diverse and the person who inhabits them. Clothes are not a substitute for substance, but they are the window dressing for the soul.

Even to this day, I use my clothing and style as a barometer. My clothes don’t define me but they are a key part in my expression. I doodle new styles I’m loving, what patterns I’m obsessed with (I have plaid on the brain) and what my style point of view will be.

In life’s changes; starting a new job, going away to school, moving to a new city, we must outfit ourselves for who we are and also who we hope to become. New clothing like new beginnings are less about the transition and more about coming into your own.

How are you renewing your wardrobe? Your life?

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Inspiration Nation: A Few of My Favorite TED Talks

By September 20, 2012 Empowerment
Ted Talks

I am voracious when it comes to inspiration and motivation. I read every Daily Love email, stalk Oprah and Iylana “Call A Thing a Thing” Vanzant and read my Quran and daily devotion books. One of my favorite places to visit for inspiration is Ted.com. TED is a nonproft dedicated to spreading ideas. They host several conferences with thought leaders, philanthropists, bloggers, artists and anyone who has a message.

Ted.com houses all of the TED talks as well as other inspirational speeches and presentations. When I need to hear a good message, be inspired or think about things in a new way I visit TED. Here are a few of my favorite TED talks and inspirational videos.

1. Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius

2. Courtney Martin on Reinventing Feminism

3. Derek Sivers on Keeping Your Goals to Yourself

4. John Wooden on the Difference between Winning and Success

5. Derek Sivers on How to Start a Movement

6. J.K. Rowling on the Fringe Benefits of Failure

Watch these awe-inspiring talks and let me know what you think!

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Motivated Tuesday: Letting Go

By September 4, 2012 Empowerment
Champion Maneuvers

Today’s Motivated Monday post comes on Tuesday. Motivation doesn’t take a day off! 

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Champion Maneuvers

There will come in time in each of our lives when we will have to let go. Let go of a relationship, of a friendship, of a job or worse, of a dream.

Loosening your grasp on something you once held so dear is not easy. And at times it can feel like you’ve had your hopes and dreams ripped from you. But letting go and knowing when to let go is probably our minds (and bodies) best defense.

The things we want are not always the things we need. Learning and understanding this is one of life’s biggest lesson and a part of “growing up.”

Personally, I’ve had to let go of plenty of things. It never gets easier to let go but it does begin to make more sense. Letting go of the things that are not working or making us happy, leaves an open pathway. And having  faith that that pathway will be filled with goodness is our only job.

Let’s not lament the things we have to leave behind. Instead let’s look forward to the things that will come in their place.

Stylish Thinkers, what have you had to let go of recently? How did you manage? Please share.

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My New Favorite Tool: Evernote

By August 30, 2012 Career, Life
Evernote

I am a huge note taker. I carry a journal with my everywhere and love to be able to jot ideas, snippets, photos, anything down. So when I first discovered Evernote my world was changed. Evernote is a mobile and web application that allows you to sync information across multiple devices.

You have one log-in and whatever you enter into your Evernote on your phone automatically syncs to your computer, iPad or tablet. You can jot down notes, save photos, clip articles or save links to your Evernote.

It’s so handy because while surfing the net, I can save full webpages or articles to read later on the train. And while doing my morning commute I can jot down ideas or work on articles and get to them later on the computer.

They have a free model as well as premium access. Evernote has really changed the way I store information and I highly recommend it to all my on the go ladies looking for an easy and efficient way to store your ideas. :)

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Motivated Monday: New Beginnings

By August 27, 2012 Empowerment, Life
fj-2

“Don’t despise small beginnings.”

Each day is a fresh start, a new beginning and a chance to do over. I woke up this morning happy about putting a period on the end of last year and moving into what awaits me.

Today is my birthday and what better way to start new with a new age and new understanding?

I love birthdays, not for the parties, cake and friends (though that is all great) but for the freshness and opportunity to start anew.

Each year on our special day, we all get a chance to celebrate ourselves and the things we’ve accomplished, to thank our friends for being there for us and to look forward to another year with loads of experiences under our belt.

I’m looking forward to this new year of fun, lots of love, new relationships, a new location and plenty more Stylish Thoughts!

Thanks for celebrating with me! Have a great Monday!

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