beauty · life curation · style

Style Chat – How I’m Using The Four Essence System, Pt 3

More style chat! I’m still doing a deep dive into the Four Essence System as developed by Rita (of Style Thoughts by Rita).

The video I’m referencing for this post describes four tools within the system. These tools are used to clarify where individuals fall within the system, by interpreting who they are, how they look and their style process. The third tool of the system (tool 1 and tool 2 have their own posts) is style logic, which examines the style process itself. The logic portion of the video starts around 5:10.

Rita mentions style logic, specifically, how you think about style. So I decided to personalize this, and ask myself how I think about style.

This touches on my, “process for shopping, putting outfits together, and getting dressed”. This is all about how the effort involved with shopping and styling myself show up in the real world. If I enjoy complicated, almost ritualistic approaches to shopping and styling myself, then laid-back clothing is a fundamental mismatch. Likewise, if I prefer quick, uncomplicated, casual shopping and styling, then formal, effort-ful ensembles won’t match my energy.

According to Rita, Right Essence has “Inspiration from outside; a conceptual approach”. Meanwhile, the Up Essence highlights “Emphasis on external impact, and deliberate, lookbook approach”. The result of combining Right and Up is “Situation-focused, Conceptual, Deliberate”. As someone who has a Right-Up Essence, my style logic needs to have a good bit of effort, some ritual, and an intentional effect when completed. I’m fortunate: my style logic matches my clothing and styling approach (for the most part). Even my casual clothing tends to look like I’ve put a good deal of effort into it (because I have!) I select my clothing, makeup and hairstyle with care, and it shows, even when I’m dressed down a bit.

Alternatively, understanding my style logic can help me determine when I’m choosing clothing and styling options that do not match my essence. I’ve actually found myself hurriedly getting dressed, and realizing that my ensemble falls flat because it needs a little extra effort. So I’ll reach for an accessory or two, a more elegant pair of shoes, or even a striking coat, to give my outfit the polish it needs to look like I put more effort into it. If it looks like it took me only a few minutes to get ready, then that’s my cue that I need to do MORE, if I want to look like my Right Up self. When I do less, I noticed that no one comments on how good my casual-chic outfit looks (even if I took 45 minutes to tousle my hair or to look less formal and more chill), but when I look like put in just a bit more effort (even if it only took me 15 minutes, it should LOOK like it took me an hour or two), everyone I see will mention how great I look (go figure!)

Understanding your style logic goes a long way in determining whether you’re in harmony with your essence. I’m thankful for this great explanation of style logic – and the other tools – as used within the Four Essence System!

books · writing

Writers Wednesdays – September Writing Accomplishments

Hey everyone! Happy October to you all. It’s time for a writing update, because I haven’t been posting regularly on Wednesdays during this period of increased editing activities.

I’m happy to share that I’m still on target to reach my November publishing goal (as I explained in this post). I’ve finished all of my major edits, and I’m letting the book “sit” undisturbed while I tool around with making a cover and as I consider adding images within the body of the book. This is probably my favorite part of publishing, because it gives me a break from searching for the right word, and it causes me to turn my attention to the aesthetics of the book.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll give my book another once over, probably reading it aloud to see if the words flow easily, as well as add any additional thoughts that I think will help best convey my ideas. Until I resume editing, I’ll be considering my book marketing approach and seeing if I want to promote the book through traditional means, or opt for a more passive, organic approach. I’m not sure yet, but I’ll see where inspiration leads me and make my decision based on that. Following inspiration may seem like a silly way to go about determining how I want to sell this book, but I’ve found that TRUE inspiration has always led me to the right path. So I’ll go with that and let things unfold as they will.

That’s it for the September update: short and somewhat sweet. I’ll talk to you all soon!

life curation

I Did A Wheel Of Life – What I Learned

One of my favorite YouTubers-turned-podcasters, Francesca Amber (I told you all about her Law of Attraction Changed My Life podcast before, over on this post) mentioned in one of her podcast episodes that she did a wheel of life for assessing which areas of her life were strong, and which areas could use some improvement. For those that are unfamiliar, a wheel of life is basically a pie chart, with each slice of the pie representing different areas of your life (family, love, career, friendships, health, etc.,). It has been used in a variety of disciplines in order to determine overall life balance.

Anything related to self-development and lifestyle balance is right up my alley, and it has been a long time since I completed a wheel. So, naturally, I decided I should do a wheel of life, too. I got my wheel of life template from Positive Psychology, and I liked that the “pie” has concentric circles, so that each slice has ten bars in it, representing, on a scale of one to ten, how well a particular area of your life is going. I find that quantifying my satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) is beneficial in exercises such as these.

I completed my pie, and I’m really happy to tell you all my results! My strongest areas are personal growth and learning, career and work, and spirituality. My weakest areas are partner and love, health and fitness, and community. It was helpful to have pictorial that demonstrates where I need to focus and improve. I’ve been focused on meeting people and growing my network, which took a major hit when I stopped commuting to DC and socializing as I used to. Health is always an area for improvement, given my chronic illness. But I’m really happy that even the lowest areas are still higher than they were a few years ago. Yay for progress!

Have you done a Wheel of Life before? What did it teach you?

culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · relaxation · travel · wine

My Time in Spain Part 1 – My Time In Malaga

Hi friends! After spending a few days in Portugal (including taking in incredible sights around Lisboa, touring Sintra National Palace, time at Rock in Rio Lisboa, dinner at Hotel do Chiado’s rooftop bar, Entretanto, and an unexpected viewing of Sarah Ferreira’s art, I was off to my next stop. I flew TAP Air Portugal from Lisbon to Malaga, Spain, to embark on the next leg of my adventure.

I arrived in Malaga and was taken by private car to the town of Benalmadena, a beachy stretch a little less than two hours from Granada. I stayed at Hotel Best Siroco, a darling resort that offered all-inclusive packages as well as standard lodging. The hotel was beautiful, and the weather was divine!

My hotel was a short walk away from the beach and some fantastic local eateries. There was also some fantastic art and gorgeous flowers everywhere I went.

One beer, a good tan, some sangria, and many tapas later, I can confirm that Malaga is a must-see for people who love good food and lots of sun.

This one little town in Spain is such a jewel, and I can’t wait to return!

life curation · reading list

Archetypes Is Here!

One of my favorites, Meghan Markle, has finally launched her podcast, Archetypes. Her special brand of intelligence, charm and courage will now be available to us an hour-long podcast episode each week.

Pardon me while I squeal!

Photo released by Archetypes

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex unveiled Archewell Foundation, and its main vehicle for connection, Archewell Audio, I was thrilled. In fact, I wrote about my excitement over this development in a blog post. Now, little more than a year later, Archetypes with Meghan is here, and it promises to discuss the labels that women experience and how these terms – and the perception of these labels – can hold women back. Spotify describes this as a, “refreshing and dynamic” podcast, and I completely agree.

This is exactly the kind of content I was expecting from Archewell Audio. Mature discussions, exploration of concepts that are commonly disregarded, and a glance into the warmth and brilliance possessed by both Harry and Meghan. The first episode features none other than the great tennis player Serena Williams, who recently announced her transition into the next chapter of her professional career. The conversation was a refreshing telling of Serena’s story in her own words, and her own complex relationship with the term “ambition”. The discussion was lively, full of wisdom, and gave me an even deeper appreciation for what “ambition” looks like and why we should want to have it.

Some key takeaways from this first episode of Archetypes are:

  • Don’t put your fears on your children. Serena commented on how her fear of heights and open water aren’t fears of her daughter, Olympia. Serena stated that she didn’t want her personal limits to impact how her daughter interacted with the world, and I loved hearing her perspective on this. It was unexpected to hear Serena, a powerhouse on the tennis court, admit to feeling fear. This was a crucial turning point in further humanizing her, in a world that has happily denied her humanity throughout her career.
  • You get your biggest wins when you are your most authentic self. Serena went on to describe how certain points of her career made her feel the pressure to be like others and show up inauthentically. Then she circled back to what it feels like when she shows up as herself and how that is a truer indicator of success. Aside from how she shows up professionally, I find her most incredible when she’s just being herself: sweet, a little shy, but self assured and clear on where she’s going.
  • You don’t have to “retire” – you can choose to evolve instead. The word “retirement” is loaded: it generally implies a ceasing of any pursuits aside from domestic tasks, family time, and (if you’re lucky) travel. But using the word “evolve” indicates that the energy is shifted from one area to another area of equal intellectual intensity. It doesn’t indicate that Serena plans to stop, but to wander to her next destination, on her own terms. “Evolve” has a more empowered connotation than “retire”, and love that for her.

That’s my impression of the jewel that is Archetypes! I’m looking forward to more episodes, and sharing powerful takeaways as I listen to each episode.

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – Why It Takes Me Forever To Publish A Book

Happy Writers Wednesday! Today’s topic is was a question that I posed to myself recently, after feeling frustrated about the timelines for my works in progress (you can see my writing goals from now to December in this post). I find myself with a great idea, which I develop – sometimes to the point of completion – then there is this extraordinary “dead period” that happens once the work is done.

I had to ask myself, “Why does it take me forever to publish a book?” This isn’t referring to my children’s books, which are fairly simple and can be completed once I have enough photos that aren’t protected by copyrights. This is talking about my original works, which I’ve already finished writing and that seem to take FOREVER to get to the point of publishing. These should be ready to publish quickly, but they always appear to be stuck in the queue for longer than I think they should be.

As I asked myself about why it takes so long, it hit me: I’m stuck in analysis paralysis when it comes to publishing. I am constantly running various scenarios in my mind, and, as a result, very little tangible progress is made. I often find it much easier to blog, since these are short little glimpses into my daily life and passing thoughts. But book writing and publishing? I overanalyze to the point of ineffectiveness.

I would normally put forth a challenge to myself at this point, but, realistically, I’ll likely feel paralyzed every time I publish, regardless of how illogical it is to feel that. All I will vow to do is to try and remember to come back to this post the next time the analysis paralysis hits me. Maybe if I remember this post, I’ll be able to summon enough courage and reasonableness to move past my overthinking and to just leap into publishing. Only time will tell if I take my own advice, right?

art · culture · international · life curation · luxury · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 5 – Spotlight on Sarah Ferreira

This is my last Portugal post (I’m sorry to see this series end, but I’ll be sharing multiple posts about Spain next!) First, I wrote about my overall impression of Portugal. Then, I shared the fun I had at Rock in Rio Lisboa. Next, I talked about the beauty that is Sintra National Palace. And last week, I shared my experience at Hotel do Chiado and their rooftop bar restaurant, Entretanto.

At Hotel do Chiado, I visited the rooftop bar, and I was blown away by the beautiful artwork lining the corridors leading to the restaurant. It took me back to my fabulous time at Ibis Styles hotel in Nairobi, and the fabulous pieces created by Kenyan artist Tom Mboya. As I looked around, I found an artist bio posted in Portuguese (cue my rudimentary translation skills). The corridor was lined with art by Paris-born, Portugal-based artist Sarah Ferreira.

Upon further research, I determined that Ferreira doesn’t have a website (there is another Sarah Ferreira that creates art, but she is US-born and based). It appears that she has intentionally maintained a low-profile online. I love that she isn’t hyper-visible, yet her work is still being found by people all over the world (like me).

Here are some of the paintings/drawings done by Ferreira, which are on display in the hall leading to Entretanto. Enjoy!

Some of the depictions were fascinating re-imaginings of famous works (like the Mona Lisa), while others were renderings of famous faces (such as Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Audrey Hepburn). I love how Ferreira don’t try to create depth with subtle shading, but indicates a break in depth and saturation through the use of solid but fluid black lines. This striking visual effect makes her work have a bit of a mosaic effect, but you never forget that you’re looking at blocks of color that have been shaped to simulate human faces. Brilliant!

That’s all for my post about Sarah Ferreira. I certainly hope that she exhibits somewhere near me in the future. Or, maybe a future exhibit in Portugal will be just the motivation I need to book my next trip!

goals · life curation · luxury · style

Curation Without Culling Is Chaos

Hello friends! I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, and as I prepare for the cooler months (when staying inside more is inevitable for me), I’ve been thinking of ways to improve my environment. While doing some of my normal cleaning, I noticed that I had far more things that needed to be maintained, and not enough “blank space” around me.

I realized I’d become fully immersed in my identity as a curator (never a hoarder: I hate having stuff “engulf” me, nor do I purchase or collect items for any reason other than appreciation of art in various forms). However, I’d been slacking on my culling. To cull is to go a step beyond curating: it involves eliminating things that may be suitable but aren’t the best. It’s part of the selective behavior that creates s well-cultivated sense of personal taste that has a healthy dose of discrimination and exclusivity. I prefer to look at this as culling (focusing on what I choose to keep) as opposed to purging (focusing on the things that I’m removing).

For instance, I have books – lots of books. While I may enjoy all of my books, I need to go through these books and figure out which ones I love and which ones I like, and promptly rid myself of any books that don’t meet the “love” category. The same thing goes for clothes, accessories, and even cookware: I’m culling all of it, and only leaving behind the items that make my heart sing.

Culling allows the things you love the space they need to shine.

Curating without culling creates chaos, both within the mind as well as within the physical environment. So I’ve started taking the steps to eliminate this chaos externally so that I can cultivate more internal peace and order. With the most difficult seasons for me (late fall stretching into early winter) ahead, I want to ensure that I have as little disorder and as few energetic “leaks” as possible.

What kind of culling activities have you found beneficial? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

art · culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · travel · wine

My Time In Portugal, Part 4 – Hotel do Chiado and Entretanto

This is the penultimate post on Portugal, and I feel just as sad writing it as I did when I left Lisbon for the next stop on my trip!

The night before we left, we stopped by an elegant hotel and decided to dine there. The hotel we chose was Hotel do Chiado, and we dined at Entretanto, the hotel’s exquisite rooftop bar and restaurant. The meal options were just enough: there was a little something for everyone. I enjoyed my cocktail – the Pink Affair – and my entree, tortellini with cheese and spinach. We also tried some exquisite port and Madeira. We ended our meal with apple pie and a twirl around the rooftop. Here are some pics from my time at Entretanto:

I’m so glad we got to enjoy a meal at Entretanto. I would love to return and try the 5 o’clock tea meal next time.

The next – and final – Portugal post will have some incredible photos from within Hotel do Chiado, because, as it turns out, the corridor leading to the restaurant had an art collection from a Portuguese-based artist. I’m so excited to share those pictures soon! Until then, take care.

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesday – Four Months, Four Goals

Happy Wednesday! As the month of August is already past the halfway mark (really, where does the time go?), I figured now would be a good time to look forward to the last four months of the year, and consider what I want to accomplish related to my writing.

In September, I intend to finish my edits for the book that I’m publishing in November. I want to complete the edits no later than September 15, so I can give the book some “space” before publishing. I always enjoy coming back to a book and refining it more before I release it to the world. In order to give it space, I have to finish the book several weeks before I do the last publishing steps. I’ll also share the book with my beta readers and hope for some fantastic feedback to incorporate when I do my final refinement of the book.

For October, I will continue September’s work: somewhere in the middle of the month, I’ll be doing the final review of my book and put the finishing touches on it. But, before I get to the middle of October, I’ll work on the cover, and begin doing a big marketing/social media push for the book. I’m focused on bringing eyes to my book and connecting with my ideal readers.

Usually, November is my time to participate in NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure if I will participate this year, but *if* I do, it’ll be a secondary (or maybe even tertiary) goal. My primary goal is working on book sales. This also works along with getting testimonials and growing my network, as these are crucial to sustaining the success of my book launch and sales.

Finally, December is all about closing out open projects and clearing my slate for the upcoming year. I am trying to sync up my activity with the seasons, and heading into the winter is the perfect time to wind down and prepare for the incubation that comes with the winter months. I’m looking forward to resting, enjoying a few months of decreased activity, and savoring the fruits of my labor from the previous months.

Those are my four goals for the next four months. What goals do you all have?