Lilly at Target: One Wild Ride

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Oh my word. I had no idea what I was in for. When I woke up Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m., I checked activity on social media surrounding the Lilly Pulitzer for Target event on. I jumped out of bed, hopped in the shower and got ready. I donned a Lilly outfit from head to toe (of course) and woke up my Dad. (Very key component. This needed a team.)

The week before I went online and took screen shots of the items I wanted, arranged them by category (women’s clothing, outdoor entertaining, accessories, etc.) and printed them out.

Target was set to open at 8 a.m. and we arrived at 7:20 a.m. to find two people already in line. I was third. Whew! The fourth woman arrived and we all began to talk about our love for Lilly. In all honestly, it was a really fun bonding moment. Twenty minutes later, 15-20 people arrived. The four of us in the front decided we needed a plan and before I knew it, someone suggested an alliance. “Like Survivor!” I exclaimed. We all agreed and before I knew it, we formed an alliance. Here was the plan-Go in and grab as much as you can, all that you want and then some. Then, after you’ve collected, meet in the men’s department (set aside and away from the crowds) and go over our items. Anything we didn’t want, or clothes that didn’t fit, we committed to giving or trading to one another.

I handed my dad his shopping list and I had mine. We went over the prioritized items. Eight o’clock came and the doors flew open and suddenly I was running. Why? Because everyone behind me was running and I was not about to let them beat me. I grabbed a bag from accessories and darted to the women’s clothing section. There were two racks. Two racks! That’s it! It was complete mayhem. I remember seeing a darling button-up that was on my list and there were less than 10 of them on the rack and several women just ran and grabbed at them until only an XXL was left. I looked around and just grabbed everything in my size. My shopping list went out the window. Adrenaline was running high. I went into the dressing room and tried on my items. Score! They fit! I came out of the dressing room to find the ladies in my alliance gathering in the men’s section. As I walked over, I spotted my dad strolling down the aisle, calm as day with…a basket overflowing with home items! MVP of the sale ladies and gents goes to my amazing daddy!

The ladies in my alliance and I gathered and went over our items. Anything we didn’t want we offered to the group or placed in an extra basket up for grabs to alliance members. One woman so generously gave me a set of printed drinking glasses so I could have a set of eight.

In addition to my alliance, my other strategy was to wait outside of the dressing room to get first dibs on go-backs. That’s how I scored my maxi dress. A girl walked out with it over her arm, telling her mom it didn’t fit her. I asked about the size and asked if I could have it and she graciously said yes! Confession: I was so happy I asked if I could hug her and she obliged. I thankfully got most of what I wanted and then some, but it really did take a strategy and a polite yet  determined attitude.

A Lilly Lady is kind, gracious, patient, poised and is always a class-act. This is why I was so sad to see some truly rude behavior at the sale. One woman in my alliance said that while she turned to look at something else, another shopper stole something out of her cart! Not OK. I thankfully made it out unharmed and didn’t have any items taken.

Here are some of my favorite pieces I came out with.

Cloth napkins

Cloth napkins

Throw pillow

Throw pillow

Lunch plates

Lunch plates

Strapless maxi

Strapless maxi

Drink stirrers

Drink stirrers

Resort pants

Resort pants

Printed glasses

Printed glasses

Did you go to the sale? What was your strategy?

Thoughts On Courage

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I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. Sometimes I envision courage as something heros have, like soldiers or emergency first responders, not something that I could ever have, but I think I’m wrong. While the people I mentioned certainly do have courage, I think we all have it in us too.

We all have courage and the capacity to overcome incredible obstacles. In the last four years of living with chronic pain, I’ve learned a lot about suffering. Most of the time, courage is simply getting up and being willing to start a new day. Because of this season of my life, I have a heightened awareness of myself, my weaknesses, my strengths and also what I’m capable of. What I’ve learned is that I’m capable of far more than I could have ever imagined. In fact, I believe we all are.

We are all more brave, more courageous and more resilient than we think we are.

I see that our 20s are certainly a time of figuring this out. We start careers, we get married, have children, learn to raise children, we change jobs, we move, we lose friends and we gain new ones. It’s a time of testing and a time of incredible growth, all while trying to figure out who we are and what we want in life.

So go do that thing you don’t think you’re brave enough to do.

You can do it. You can do anything. You’ve got what it takes.

Be brave.

Here’s the tricky part: You might step out and do something you’ve always wanted and you might fail. Here’s where courage comes in. In my experience, courage is doing something brave even though you know you might fail. If you have an opportunity for bravery and don’t act on it, you’ll never know. You may not think that you can move to a new country, but you can! You may be questioning if you’ll be able to be a good mother to that kicking baby inside you, you can! You may be wondering how you can go for that dream job, but you can! Our 20s are a time of great change and success amidst change requires courage.

Take a deep breath, center yourself and be courageous.

You CAN do it.

Someday Shoes

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Kate Spade Charm Heel

Kate Spade Charm Heel

Symbols of hope are different for everyone and different for every circumstance. Contrary to popular culture, my dream job is to someday be a wife and mother. Let me tell you, being single in 2015 is tough!

My parents and I were in Seattle this weekend visiting some family friends and they, like my parents, are in their 50s and they were all remarking on how millennials don’t even know how to properly date. You’re tellin’ me! This old-fashioned girl has not found dating easy.

While in Seattle I did a little shopping at a Kate Spade store (and thoroughly enjoyed the 25% off sale this past weekend!) While in the store, my dad picked up a pair of shoes and said, “These are cute and look like something you’d wear.” “Dad, those are my someday shoes. Those are the shoes I will someday wear under my wedding dress.”

I first saw these shoes several years ago and when I saw them I thought about falling in love, walking down the aisle at my wedding, rocking my children, cooking dinner barefoot in my kitchen and swinging on my front porch swing with my husband.

Yes, I got all that from shoes. What can I say, I’m a dreamer.

I’ve learned in my twenties that life does not always happen the way you think it will. That’s OK by me. I know I’ve got high standards and I’m willing to wait.

Waiting and dreaming…of wearing those shoes.

 

How-To Succeed With Informational Interviews

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*Image from bestfriendsforfrosting.com

*Image from bestfriendsforfrosting.com

If you’re in college, now is the time to be doing informational interviews. Why? Because while there is not a job on the table during informational interviews, it’s not uncommon for one to be presented shortly thereafter (and graduation is just around the corner.)

At a minimum, a good professional has a network that he or she can rely on for support and recourses. You have to start somewhere and a great place to do that is with an informational interview.

If you are beyond college, but have never done an informational interview, I highly recommend that you do, even if you’re currently employed and love your job. You never know what will happen in the next six months.

For tips on informational interviews, check out my series on the topic.

Informational Interviews: What and why

Informational Interviews: Preparation is key

Informational Interviews: What to wear

Informational Interviews: What to ask

How-To Write a Thank You Note

 

 

 

5 Tips for Living and Working Abroad

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Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a dear friend of mine, Alicia. She is a bright young professional and after spending time working in DC after she graduated college, she and her husband made the leap across the pond to London. It’s been quite an adventure for both of them and a huge learning curve.

It’s one thing to dream about living oversees and quite another thing to do it. She has already learned so much and I’m excited she’s our guest blogger today to share her journey so far.

Alicia with her husband in London.

Alicia with her husband Andrew in London.

The expat way of life is becoming more common, with no signs of slowing down. Whether it is for work, family or pure adventure, individuals all over the globe are experiencing life abroad.

My husband and I moved from Washington, DC to London, a city home to 250,000 Americans. Our nine months in the UK have been an incredible time full of growth, challenge and enjoyment in our marriage, our careers and our community.

My top 5 tips for expats living and working abroad:

  1. Invest in a community. Our transition to life in London was a breeze. Okay, maybe that’s overstating it, but generally speaking, we found the adjustment quite easy. I can confidently say that this primarily has to do with our immediate investment in a community. In DC, we were used to being comfortable. We had our circle of friends and rarely put ourselves in situations where we knew no one. Well, that all changed when we moved to London. We had to say “yes” to everything. Together, we saw that being uncomfortable is okay, and moreover, it’s healthy. It brought us to some of our closest friends and made us feel a little more at home in a city of 8.3 million.
  2. Pay attention to the details. If you don’t have a Type A personality, then I hope your spouse does. If he/she doesn’t, then I suggest you become Type A, if only temporarily. From the visa process, which leads to various levels of headaches depending on where you’re moving, to filing taxes abroad and in the United States (yes, you still have to pay US taxes when living abroad), navigating the “admin” of working abroad is no walk in the park. As an expat, don’t try and take on the immigration or tax systems yourself. Hire a professional, even if it means shelling out the big bucks. It’s worth it.
  3. Stay committed to relationships back home. You have moved abroad and it is your duty to maintain relationships back home. With today’s technology this should not be too troublesome. From Viber to What’s App, and from Skype to Google Hangout, be intentional about keeping your family and friends close. Also, be sure to maintain your professional relationships. Remember that you likely will return someday, and when that comes, you will want to have family and friends close, and have a job!
  4. Don’t look back. We still do pinch ourselves, but on the whole we are past the honeymoon phase of our move. We have been very conscious about letting our time in Washington, DC remain in the past. We spent five or so years there, single at first and then married for the last two. We have some incredible memories, as I’m sure you do about seasons of life which are now over. It’s important to let them just that – over. Take the lessons learned, challenges overcome, and moments of joy – and treasure them always – but do know that you must move on and live into the season you are now in.
  5. Tread lightly in the beginning. The weight of expectations and assimilation when starting a new job is even greater when you’re working abroad. You may have a language barrier, or you may simply need time to understand their culture. Whatever it is, I would encourage one to tread lightly the first few months. Obviously you want to excel and prove results to your boss, but you also must attempt to learn and understand the way of life and common courtesies of the local culture. Americans do have a reputation as a people who think they know all and that everyone around the world should care about what he or she thinks. Whether you think this true or not, it’s the reality. And as such, we must listen that much longer before responding and be that much more courteous of those around us.

Catching Up

*Image from southernpiphi.tumblr.com

*Image from southernpiphi.tumblr.com

Why have I been MIA for the last month? I had a medical procedure the first week of February and the recovery was significantly more extensive than I expected. It was rough. Real rough. I didn’t leave my house for two weeks and I didn’t even think about it. If I wasn’t a clean freak I probably wouldn’t have showered during that time either. All I wanted was my pillow and pain meds.

I’m happy to report that I’m officially back in the land of the living and my does it feel good. I’ve been doing very exciting things. I want you all to know that. Driving, going to work and eating in a restaurant. Big stuff.

While I was cooped up in the house I watched a ton of TV. (Why do all my friends have jobs during the day? Man, you know you’re a grown-up when…) I had to find some way to pass the time. I watched Mad Men, Friends, Downton Abbey, Grantchester, Nashville and The Good Wife. Movies I watched included Baby Mama, Boyhood, Jerry Maguire and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Thank goodness for Netflix and my iPad.

I went back to work this week and although it proved challenging at times, I managed and it felt good to be out in the world doing something for society.

While I realize I’m talking a lot about TV, have you guys started watching House of Cards yet?! I started last night and watched a little this morning. Oh man! I’m super surprised, but I’m loving it. Not where I thought the show would/could go.

The weather here in Portland is so glorious! Feels like it’s spring. While the sunshine is nice and the warm weather is fun, I personally like a good cold winter. Last year this month we had snow! Went for a walk this morning and can admit that the sun felt so good on my face.

Glad to be making progress and even in the last two days, legitimate strides.

Stay tuned to the blog because next week I have a dear friend who will be guest writing and she will be sharing her tips for how to live and work abroad. She has some great insight into this area and I look forward to sharing her thoughts with you.

Happy weekending dear readers!

27 Things

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Today is my birthday. Well actually, it’s my golden birthday. I’m 27th on the 27th. For golden birthdays, the tradition is to do things in the set of the number of your golden birthday. For instance, if you’re turning 10 on the 10th, you play 10 games, or eat 10 mini cupcakes. Well, the problem is that 27 is a lot of anything! So, I’ve decided to do something different. I’ve made a list of 27 things that I will do in my 27th year.

Ready for the list? Here it is!

  1. Cut more than 5 inches off my hair.
  2. Get a facial.
  3. Make a major life change.
  4. Eat a new type of meat for the first time.
  5. Move out of my parents house.
  6. Host a dinner party by myself.
  7. Read “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World,” by Michael Hyatt.
  8. Read “Millionaire Teacher,” by Andrew Hallam.
  9. Learn how-to become a retirement saving queen.
  10. Go to a Blazer game.
  11. Visit The South.
  12. Eat a crawfish.
  13. Go on a road trip with the Bestie.
  14. Learn to play a song on the ukelele.
  15. Go see The Decemberists in concert.
  16. Start using my commute time in the evenings to listen to a podcast.
  17. Try whiskey.
  18. Take a stranger out for a meal.
  19. Do a random act of kindness for a stranger.
  20. Run a 5k.
  21. Meditate at least twice a week.
  22. Wear only dresses for an entire month.
  23. Go on a date with a guy who is not “my type.”
  24. Go to the Oregon Coast.
  25. Go to The Ace Hotel in Portland with a friend and take pictures in their photo booth.
  26. Become more knowledgeable about a historical figure.
  27. Go to a Duck Football away game.

Stay tuned!

As I check each one off my list, I’ll keep you all updated. Here’s to a great year!

Take Care of Yourself

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Victoria (at right) with her mother on a hike.

By Victoria Barrett (My Bestie!!)

For me, self-care is analogous with self-discovery. In the past few years, I’ve served abroad in an orphanage, completed grad school while working at a community mental health center, and now serve as a foster care counselor. While these experiences fulfill me at the core of who I am, it is easy to feel drained emotionally and physically, necessitating the need to care for myself.

Let’s first establish why self-care is important. For many of us, it seems as though we are drawn into our careers because it prods and pokes at a special place within us. In the mental health field, professional clinicians notoriously fail at self-care. Often compelled to a helping profession because of personal suffering or walking alongside another’s pain, clinicians may find it easier to care for someone else than to focus on their own problems.

It is beautiful and even necessary that our callings are sparked by personal passions and significant experiences that shaped us. This makes us good at what we do; but it becomes dangerous when the very thing that brought us into our careers is neglected. It results in ineffective results. When a baker loses sight of their joy to create, their baked goods may become mediocre. When the electrician’s concern for broken systems dwindles, his repairs may be insufficient. When my compassion and desire to help is not renewed by self-care, I lose desire or motivation to nurture my core passion to bring healing to others.

Self-care is important because it honors my unique gifts, it revives my sense of purpose and productivity and it provides me with fuel to make a difference. It seems that is may apply to any professional, as we all have unique gifts and an ability to produce positive change – but what does this actually look like?

Here are a few thoughts and tips I’ve learned along the way.

  • Know your worth. Give up control. Ask yourself if you really believe in the need to care for yourself and honor your personhood. Do you believe you are worthy of care? Are you willing to release control enough to rest and enjoy life? If not, it’s pointless to consider what self-care looks like for you.
  • Know yourself. Grow in your ability to know yourself and what you need. Feelings and emotions are wonderful gifts that notify us of our deficits and show us what is working and what makes us tick. Listen with curiosity to emotions and your body. When you feel exhausted, ponder what energizes you. When you feel unexpectedly emotional, what kind of space do you need? When you can’t focus on anything, what is your core saying you’re not giving enough attention to?
  • Know your friends. Relational connections care for our soul like nothing else because we are relational beings. Know who you can go to when you need someone who just gets you. What friend loves going out and will enjoy that tasty drink with you when you need to be rejuvenated by fun and exploration? What friend can you listen to and serve to experience the life-giving joy of being a helper?
  • Know the source of your hope. We need self-care because we cannot control what drags us down. Ultimately, we cannot let go, we cannot rest, and we cannot find ourselves valuable unless we know what or who we can hand control over to, who can give us rest and who defines our value that motivates us to care for ourselves in the first place.

Victoria Barrett lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she works as a foster care counselor. She graduated from Wheaton College with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. 

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