books · finance · reading list

Writers Wednesday – What I’m Reading

Happy Writers Wednesday! Today, I’m sharing the book that I’m reading for the next couple of weeks, and I’m already looking forward to giving you my review in the near future.

The book I’m currently reading is Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach. I’ve already praised David Bach on this blog (Smart Women Finish Rich was a gamechanger!) And it’s been a while since I did a deep-dive into Bach’s material, so it overdue for a read (and some rereads).

I’m looking forward to gleaning some tips that I can share over here, and finding ideas that I can incorporate into my own plan for financial freedom. While I’ve made some great choices over the past few years, I’m always refining and adjusting my plan to better suit my current and future circumstances.

In my opinion, your plans for financial freedom should be a living document (for lack of better verbiage). These should evolve, grow and adjust as you mature and discover things about yourself. So, learning what a later-executed plan looks like is a great idea, as even those that prepared well for older age may find that they need to pivot and make drastic changes at any point.

That’s it for today’s post. If you’re familiar with David Bach’s work, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Other than that, I look forward to chatting with you all tomorrow. Take care!

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*This post contains affiliate links*

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!

career · health

Fibro Friday – Real Talk About Telework

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m in the midst of updating my routine to reflect the inevitable season change that is right around the corner (and that I’m feeling already!) so I’ve been laying low. That being said, I created a video a while ago about telework. I’ve meant to write about telework over here before, but I never quite had the words . . . Then I realized that some stories are best told via video. So that’s what I did.

As someone who had fragile mental and physical conditions, I did feel a bit of discomfort sharing how vulnerable I felt during the worst of my fibro experience. But if my story can help someone else feel less ashamed of their journey, then I’m glad to share it.

That’s all for today. Continue taking care of yourselves, and enjoy your weekend!

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.

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!

health · relaxation · travel

Fibro Friday – How I Created a Flare

Happy Fibro Friday! After an emotionally intense few days (I didn’t mention it in previous posts, because I like to focus on joy and ease in this space), I’m feeling so much lighter and happier! As today is Fibro Friday, I wanted to share a story about how I created a fibro flare right before my travels in June.

The excitement and stress of preparing to travel created the first real “flare” that I’d experienced in a while. I’d had achy or uncomfortable days, but I hadn’t felt like I was in a true “flare” in quite some time. So I was surprised when I noticed I had all of my typical flare symptoms: achiness all over; pain in my neck, back, shoulders, wrists, and forearms; brain fog; exhaustion; queasiness; pins and needles in my hands and feet; skin sensitivity, sore throat and dizziness. It has been a LONG time since I had this many symptoms at once, and it was not fun at all!

After noting that my normal activity caused leg soreness, and seeing that the transition to warmer weather was making me more uncomfortable than I’d normally expect, I did a checklist of what may have been wrong. My first thought was COVID, but I knew that my chances of being exposed were minuscule. I had the realization that I was the reason behind my most recent flare – well, me and the stress of traveling, that is – when I rested a bit and some of the brain fog and exhaustion eased up. I allowed myself to get more stressed than normal because of all of the little things that were within and beyond my control: I was so worried about what travel looks like in a post-COVID world, how much tidying I needed to do before I left, checking and double-checking my travel plans, etc.,.

Stress is such a huge trigger, and it can be triggering us behind the scenes: I wasn’t actively feeling stressed but it still affected me. However, awareness and immediately implementing self care helped shorten the flare and made such a difference. Here is the video I made discussing my flare:

That’s it for today. Please continue to take care of yourselves, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

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.

beauty · style

Style Chat – How I’m Using The Four Essence System, Pt 1

It’s been a while since I discussed the Four Essence System developed by Rita (of Style Thoughts by Rita). To date, my post about the Four Essence System has been one of the most popular posts on this blog (which is really surprising, considering how this was never intended to be a blog about fashion!) A recent video posted by Rita discussed the four tools of the Four Essence System, and I thought it would be fun and beneficial to muse over what she mentioned in the video, and how it applies to me and my essence (Right Up). Here is the video discussing the tools:

The first tool Rita mentions is keywords. Keywords allow us to laser focus on the elements of the essence, without getting lost in minutia. These also function as a compass of sorts, constantly guiding users to the heart of the effect they are trying to create through style. The keywords for my essence are as follows:

For Right women: Dreamy, Radiant, Inspiring, Luminous, Refined, The Sun, The Ice Queen

For Up women: Intimidating, Effort, Extravagant, Persona, Glamorous, Mysterious

The words that resonate with me were Luminous, Refined, The Sun, Effort, Persona and (in my mind) Glamorous. I started comparing these words against some of the things that I own, and whatever doesn’t make the cut, was placed into a giveaway (charity) bag. It was a simple metric for seeing which items suited me, and which ones are not harmonious with my style vision.

There are a lot of great keywords mentioned in the video that can help calibrate your style approach, so you can make choices that resonate with your core style ID. I loved experimenting with the many ways that keywords show up in my style. It also exposed ways that I’m falling short of my style vision, too.

That’s all my friends! What keywords from the video suit your style?