Musings: On Embracing Change...

Like the calendar, life holds many seasons in store for you. Embrace each new chapter of life with the same enthusiasm and eagerness that you hold for those drastic changes in the weather.

Fall means fabulous new boots, cozy cashmere sweaters and espresso on the patio of a favorite cafe. All of these fall into the "my favorite things" category of life. Shouldn't life's changes also be met with the same affection?

Face your fears. Meet your adventured head on and smile at your future with the same warmth in your heart that you harbor for those black high heel leather booties. I assure you, good things are ahead of you on the path. Grab your leather jacket and go meet your future with a skip in your step and a grin on your face. You never know, you might just love it as much as autumn itself.   



Musings: On Refreshing Your Mindset by Refreshing Your Rituals...

Profound, deep personal change can be difficult to attempt. We are often mired in habits and thinking patterns that can be difficult to slough off. Many years ago I discovered a shortcut that continues to serve me well. TO change the inside, we must first make changes on the outside. Create new patterns in your daily routines. Establish new habits thus forcing the old ones out by sheer lack of time.  Rather than a mindset of limiting what you do and stripping off the old, I like to create new rituals and give myself a mental "spa week" to establish new daily routines. The result? Those old worn out ways are a thing of the past that have been scrubbed out by better ways of living. 

Need specifics? Of course you do. Let me share what I've been doing this for the past ten days... 

Feeling as though I'd gone stale in a few areas I decided to look at my days differently. Rather than feel wighted down by my responsibilities and schedule, I saw it through fresh eyes. I began by noticing what wasn't working. My mornings. Many a great leader and successful person will agree "win the morning, win the day." So if my mornings needed a fresh approach I was going to make that happen. 


I kid you not, Super Elixir has changed my life and so has going grain-free. By stirring some of this powdered miracle into filtered water and starting my day with a glass of alkalizing goodness, my energy levels have soared. I do still enjoy a morning coffee, but this simple change is giving me far more energy, replenishing my nutrients and giving me that healthy glow. 

What are you sipping first thing in the morning? Have you considered the benefits of hot lemon water or powdered greens? Perhaps just sip a bottle of water upon waking. Hydrate. Switch up that behavioral routine of what you physically consume upon waking to see new internal changes. 


For quite some time I was continuing my yoga practice at home. honestly, it was getting extremely stale. Those three-legged dogs were dragging. Switching up my pattern and going to hot yoga at the studio every day has not only changed my body in a very short time (yay!) it has drastically reduced my stress levels. Amazing what can change when you set your mind free for 75 minutes a day outside of your normal location. I needed this in a major way.

Again, by changing the outside, you can change the inside. What could you do in a new location that would help you? Could you move to the coffee shop for your freelance? Could you jog someplace new? Can you walk your dog at a different park? Could you drive to work via a new route? See new things. Feel new feelings. Think new thoughts. Change your surroundings to change what's happening inside.  


So not kidding on this one. Why not treat every day like a visit to a day spa? Mud mask before your day begins? I'm wearing one right now while I type. Tired feet? Apply a treatment before bed and bundle up in cozy socks. Wake up to renewed soles and a renewed soul. Face lacking that Gigi Hadid glow? An AHA is just what you need. Sleepwear is my latest secret weapon against lackluster skin. 

Fact: you have a nightly and morning beauty ritual. Why not boost it up for one week and reap the benefits of upgraded ingredients and treatments? Those that work while you sleep are especially rewarding as you'll awaken to a more marvelous appearance. On that note...


Sleeping beauty was on to something. SLEEP is the number one cure for many things. For a change in how I feel I like to drink generous amounts of filtered water all day, eat more fresh food and go to bed a bit earlier each night. By pretending I'm at a spa for a week I am naturally drawn to lighter fare (kale salads with grilled chicken & vinaigrette), inclined to drink more lemon water and more likely to enjoy blissful sleep.

Change what you do, you'll alter how you'll feel. Lighten up on grains, indulge in fresh fruits and greens. Drink in clean, fresh water and tea. The best part? You'll wake up more gorgeous every day which will motivate you to keep the pattern going. 


Keeping in touch my my closest friends is a high priority. But this week I've been making that circle of communication larger by texting & reaching out to a wider circle of friends and family. If your social circle is a bit status quo or dwindling because of a too busy schedule, hit send on a few more texts this week. Stir up conversation and pick up where friendships left off.

Use the holidays as an excuse if you must, but cast that net wider than normal. The rewards of this are new conversations, restored connections, and a more lively daily experience. Expect to see friendships renewed, bonds strengthened and personal thought patterns changed. By changing your social pattern you change your life. 


Tired of the negativity of new and your facebook feed? I cannot underestimate the power of the low-information diet. I was spending too much time flipping through meaningless articles at night, wasting precious time learning... nothing of value. Podcasts & audio books, however, are great ways to learn on-the-go. What do I listen to? Tim Ferriss is my favorite for deep diving interviews with unusual and thought provoking people. For longer format listening I'm turing to classics like Think and Grow Rich and my Behind the Wheel Italian lessons again. But if you need a full break from voices, consider changing the music you listen to for a week. Try a Hôtel Costes style channel on Spotify or Pandora. It will soothe you. 

Those trips to yoga become language lessons and during the day I'm taking in new, profound information. Use N.E.T. time (No. Extra. Time.) to change your life. Listen to books or podcasts during your commute, or shower, or while you get ready to expand your knowledge and get your brain reactivated. Or... take a break form all current events, all news and all weighty information for a week. 


Change within can be discovered by changing what we do. ADD IN amazing habits and you'll find those old layers of skin and bad behaviors disappear. It's all about moving TOWARDS what you want and forging new paths. By altering what you do each day you'll capture more value from your allotted 24 hours. Your days will feel longer, your nights more restoring, your daily experience more rich. Try this "life exfoliation" for a week and see how you feel. I promise you will thank me for the nudge! 


Musings: On Harnessing the Power of Personal Organization...

{Photos via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{Photos via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Once upon a time I had a manager I adored. She led rather than managed, she empowered each of us, she handled challenges with grace and certainty and she served as great inspiration to me then and now. One evening as we were readying ourselves to leave she shared a bit of wisdom that changed my life. I'm not exaggerating. Unsolicited, she offered this bit of genius: 

"I'm not any more skilled than anyone else, I'm simply more organized."

And was she. Weekly manicured, consistently trimmed hair, flawless outfits, and she ran that boutique like a well oiled machine. I never once saw her tackle an obstacle with anything other than ease. It was a sense of calm and confidence that she exuded because she was, indeed, organized. From her personal body, wardrobe and routines to how she handled her business.

Lest you think she was tightly wound, rest assured she wasn't. Freed from the stress of disorganization she was perpetually at ease, laughed easily and radiated positive energy. The few times I saw her even slightly ruffled, it was akin to watching a camera lens focus on a subject. It was a purposeful response to a real life situation. She possessed an admirable fluidity to her being that was enviable and magnetic. Her simple yet profound personal observation about her "secret leadership weapon" left a lasting mark on my psyche.

Her humble statement still lingers in my mind like a soft guiding beam. offering a firm reminder to stay on top of life's loose ends. The mere existence of a to-do list can drum up feelings of anxiety and tension. Yet, left unattended or undone, our required tasks overwhelm us and govern our lives. We'e all no doubt lived to tell that decisions not made are typically made for you by external forces. Loose ends left untied always result in something becoming unraveled - often with unwanted ramifications. 

To me there are layers of chaos. There is the overflow of the physical: laundry, mail, closets, storage, paperwork. There are calendar items or tasks: meetings, reports, projects due, calls to make, parcels to mail, appointments to be made etc. Think of those as "must manage" layers. With those out of control you're doomed. Once you've whipped your physical and mental realm into shape you can then begin (successfully) achieving your goals, tackling your larger life objectives, fulfilling your personal destiny. 

Think of this as a parallel on Maslow's Hierarchy (remember that?) of needs. Handle your business starting from the physical layer and moving to the more abstract to succeed. Without a firm (and orderly) foundation you can't achieve greatness. It makes sense, doesn't it? I doubt great leaders and innovators of the world have piles of clutter and overflowing garages. Even if they personally aren't sorting files on the weekend, they've delegated that task to someone who knocks it out of the park. 

Knowing this, I've just finished going through every possession I own, piece by piece. Much was tossed, much is being sold, much is to be donated. By touching and making decisions on everything (and I do mean everything) I feel empowered, in control and completely freed. It's amazing how much mental energy your "things" pull from you when left unedited. With my physical world in order, my brain is functioning at a much higher level. I am not reacting to life's surprises, I'm responding. I am crushing my to-do list like a beast (level two of the "rise above" plan). I am filled with a surreal feeling of confidence and my creative output has skyrocketed. 

It's hard to believe that a few boxes of receipts, an overflowing closet (or two) and more than a few disorganized drawers could have held my productivity hostage. Yet they did. And I've now been freed to live a better more purpose filled life. I've learned a very powerful lesson and can only hope this post imparts some of the same wisdom and inspiration upon you. 

Organize your surroundings to organize your thoughts. Work from the outside in.  Frankly, it's easier this way. Perhaps lightening your inventory of shoes and sweaters will make you a corner office superhero. Be ruthless. Leave nothing untouched or undone. Take care of every single detail and edit, edit, edit. The resulting emotional, creative and mental freedom will astound you and energize you. You'll be on fire and unbelievably energized about life. I promise! 

Good luck! 


Musings: Love Above All Else...

Thank heaven for little girls. I'm feeling like a total boss as I achieve personal goals, but my sweet, sweet little girls are giving me the emotional rewards I've always craved. They are reminding me every moment of the day that it's all about love. I hope you're enjoying this sweet slide into the weekend and will embrace it with open arms. {image credits 1 // 2 // 3 // 4}


Musings: On Starting the Week off Right...

Sundays are a mix of ultra relaxing and anxious. It's that unique day that has us savoring the last juicy bits of our weekend while gearing up mentally for the busy days ahead. Yesterday, as I stopped by my favorite cafe for espresso I was smitten by how gorgeous it was outside. Immediately I opted to skip my normal hot yoga class in favour of a lakeside walk and time with my girls. So worth it. It wasn't the intense sweat session I've come to know and love, but in lieu of my strenuous vinyasa routine I was greeted with giggles from my daughters, beautiful views and pitch perfect weather.

How do you Sunday? How does it set you up for success on Mondays?


Musings On: Connecting & Creating...

Have you ever stopped to consider what it is you do? Not how you spend your time, but what you DO with your focus and how you fulfill yourself. For me, creation is a huge part of who I am. I consider myself a mega-producer, creating things constantly. It's what makes me a great designer and fuels me. I love the act of creating something from nothing and ensuring it is beautiful. It is my passion. Like every other human on the planet, connecting with others is also an enormous emotional driver. Not just talking and filling time, but actually connecting with them more deeply. Also of key importance, connecting with nature and with myself. I do this typically through outdoor exercise, which I crave and can't really function without. It is integral to who I am. In fact, the connecting with nature, self and others is what fuels my ability to create beautiful spaces and things. What about you? What drives you? What fills you up? What recharges you? What propels you?

{images via my Instagram feed}


Musings: On The Importance of Thinking Big & Dreaming Bold Dreams...

{background image  via Anthropologie , list my own}

{background image via Anthropologie, list my own}

Do you take time to dream? I mean really, truly dream big. To think beyond your current situation and imagine a better reality. To dream in this way it the precursor to all achievement. You need to allow your imagination to run free. You need to give it permission to fearlessly come up with amazing things to achieve, terrific places to see, incredible experiences to enjoy, crazy moments to experience. This is dreaming big and the beginnings of living out bold dreams.  

Is this happening for you? If not, ask yourself ... How healthy is your appetite for life itself? Are you thirsting for more? Aching for a bigger bite of opportunity? The enemy of success isn't failure - it's apathy. Failure is awesome, as it means you DID something and put your heart into it. Failure means you can fall down and get back up. Failure is progress. Apathy? A silent killer. Killer of dreams. Killer of relationships. Killer of ideas and potential. 


By now you might be squirming in your seat. If this is you and you feel the dead stare of apathy looking back at you in the mirror, it's time to wake up & shake up. Let's do a little dreaming. Let's do a little dancing. Let's do a little growing.


Do you even have a bucket list? A real one. A list of extraordinary achievements or experiences you really need to do? Have you planned out your life with any intention? Do you have things you MUST cross off a list before you toss off this spinning rock we call Earth? I'm going to ask you to do this. Not for me... but for yourself. Are you ready? I mean really ready? This will change your life, friends. This one activity if you'll do it will alter your life.  I'll answer for you. YES. You're ready and willing. 


I highly suggest you read this post, as it sums up this task in a potent way. This will encourage you to block off some time and MAKE A LIST of MUSTS for your life. It's time to stop drifting and start driving. Tomorrow, sweet friends. But if you can map out a list of items you are genuinely thrilled about doing, experiencing, feeling and achieving then each day will be a gift. Each day will get you one step (or one trans-Atlantic flight) closer to living the life you dream to live. Do this for yourself. 

Although it suggests a digital app for notes, studies have proven that writing things down on physical paper has far more power to deliver results. Part of the exercise will involve shuffling those listed goals around, so for this one exercise it makes sense to begin digitally. But after this, commit to writing the edited lists in a fresh new notebook. Try this. I challenge you to carve out an hour or two of time this weekend (more if you have it) and perform this simple exercise. It will motivate you. Propel you. Focus  you. It will also likely surprise you. 

Butterfly Journal & Spiral "Notes" Notebook (Anthro has lovely ones as well!) // Parker "Jotter" ballpoint Pen (I require blue ink myself) // Fabulously Fagranced Candle (take this experience to the next level with a mood-elevating luxury candle to inspire you!)

One thing I know for sure: if YOU don't design your life, circumstances will. Others will. Your days will be driven by meaningless (read: not goal-oriented) tasks. Your years will blur together. You might end up with a pleasant life, but without identifying (and making plans to accomplish) those unique things that ONLY YOU hope to do in your lifetime - they simply won't come to pass. Your partner's goals are not your goals. Your children's passions are not your passions. Your family's accomplishments are not your accomplishments. It's important to honor your unique yearnings. 

What are some of mine? A small smattering, in no particular order:

  • See the Great Pyramids of Giza up close. Touch them. 
  • Experience an open-vehicle drive through the Sahara
  • Rent a flat in Paris and "live there" for a period of time
  • View the Amalfi coast by luxury boat, stopping periodically in those idyllic towns
  • Stay at Le Sireneuse in Positano
  • Experience the Hungarian flagship spa of Omorovicza 
  • Train with professional chefs to master knife skills and other specialty food preparations
  • Shop at (not browse, s-h-o-p) at the flagship Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon
  • Enjoy ridiculously fresh sashimi in Japan
  • Dine on a rooftop at night in Shanghai
  • Live overlooking the Pacific in a gorgeous house

There are many, many more. I hope you'll do this exercise. I hope you'll feel inspired. I hope you'll click this link to see the process to which I'm referring. Your life will change!

Musings: On Clearing Out the Unnecessary to Make Room for the Excellent...

{This photo is property of & taken by yours truly,  Franki Durbin }

{This photo is property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

This topic isn't new on this blog, but I hear feedback from many of you on this topic: how do you make room or time in your life for XYZ. The answer is simple. Say no thank you to more things. And by things I might mean a so-so black dress or a calendar commitment you'd rather not keep. Time is far too precious to spend it unwisely. Guard it jealously and selfishly. You will NEVER get today back. This moment is *poof* gone and the next one is here. Time, as a concept, is marching on whether we invest it or waste it. So let's talk about conserving our most precious resource. How exactly do you do it? 

  • RESPECT: Respect your time AND the time of others. Don't offer a half-hearted yes to someone unless you're passionate about them or the reason for getting together.
  • PAUSE: Wait half a beat before adding another activity to your schedule. Are you filling time, killing time or seizing the moment to do something terrific? Evaluate each new piece of your life to be certain you're really excited about it. For each class, each group, each project, each date, each outing you are making an exchange. You are giving away a parcel of your time and attention to be present. Be positive it's driving you towards your goal OR pays dividends in other ways. 
  • STRATEGIZE: You know what's coming. Plain old pen & paper. No digital to-do list will ever sway me from the bliss of scratching off my "done" items on a physical list. It WORKS. Run the day or it runs you is so true. So map out a simple plan and stick to you. You'll be surprised how much more "free" time you have when you knock out all of your essential tasks right away. 
  • UPSIDE DOWN: On the above note: schedule your day upside down. Most intimidating task first. That dreaded call, the important email, the overly long form, the overdue project - just do it. Knock it out and move on down the line. The endorphin lift you'll get from knocking down your biggest challenge first will throttle you through your other tasks with ease. Test this approach and I promise it works. Hardest & most intimidating task FIRST. All other to-do's after. By lunch you'll be singing my praises. 

The bottom line is this... simplify. Life isn't meant to be so complicated. Simplify where you can and learn to value yourself, your loved ones, your friends and your time. Attack your uphill marches in the morning like a marine and enjoy the downhill cruise the rest of the day. Say yes to what inspires you and be comfortable saying no to those things which don't stir the fire within. Days are precious and so is your limited attention. Manage them wisely.  

Musings: On Being Proud of Yourself...

Love this. Motivation to keep going. To keep pushing. To keep reaching. Motivation to outdo yourself, to strive for YOUR best. Encouragement to push beyond your (imagined) boundaries to see what talent lives within. You, dear friend, are more powerful than you will ever know. Why not tap into a little of that magic today? Yesterday's limits are gone. Today is a fresh start. A new moment. A new opportunity to see what your personal best is all about. Don't stop until you're proud! 

Musings: On Rediscovering Your Flow...

Do you ever have those "off" weeks? Or months? As a self professed "flow" lover, I realized in December I was off my game and feeling (for the first time in a very long while) like I was adrift and without my internal compass. Following my own advice (thank you, archives!), I decided to sort this out the fastest way I know how. Movement. 

In my experience the most effective and efficient way to get out of your head and back into your life-groove is through a steady diet of heart-pumping, balance-challenging, boundary-pushing workouts. And no matter how much I might enjoy a practice at home, it is always through a brilliantly taught class that I'm able to get to that head-clearing space. An amazing instructor that plays killer music and peppers the workout with inspiring words of wisdom is always a welcome discovery. 

Back at the yoga studio, deeply invested in 60 and 75 minute hot yoga sessions I am finally able to clear my head, realign my priorities and identify areas of my life that needed work. Honestly, nothing works for my body, soul and spirit like vinyasa yoga. The dim room, challenging workout and self-discovery of the workout is the ideal antidote to the tension formed by my very tightly wound type-A personality.

Not one to pause during my day for meditation, I find that vinyasa flow is ideally suited to a sort of moving meditation. My mind is quieted. My anxieties are soothed. Anything causing me stress is individually examined over the course of the class and I'm able to pair creative solutions with life's little problems. No matter how crowded the room, there are blissful oassages of time where it's just you, God and your inner most self. Pure bliss. 

All of this occurs while I'm simultaneously getting the most intense workout. I finish class renewed, restored, and a much more chill, centered version of myself.  My I can only hope that each of you have a form of exercise that allows you to enjoy moving meditation and mindfulness. If not, lace up and take a hike in nature. I swear this works wonders on a girl! 


No matter how shy you are, after about 10 minutes of intense movement and 90 degree plus temps you're ready to strip down to your skivvies. My solution? Layers. Thin cropped leggings and a fabulous bra top to keep "the girls" secured for the journey ahead. 


A great mat is key. And I find that the more intense the class, the more I value a well-designed mat. I'll be upgrading to this textured beauty with a carry strap soon. My mind isn't all that needs enlightenment, those pesky shadows under my eyes in the morning are open to a bit of illumination as well! To keep my face looking fresh I'm not too proud to tell you I dab a bit of this magical concealer & hydrating lip balm before heading to the studio. 


Immediately after class I take Super Elixir powdered greens with filtered water. My body is eager for the flow of nutrients and alkalizing elements in this (my absolute favorite!) green drink. While at the gym I like to take a quick shower to refresh my body before heading home.  Since I'm not inclined to pack a large back filled with my facial cleanser & specialty hair products, I have a few on-the-go goodies to handle those needs. These facial wipes do a great job of removing grime while leaving my skin hydrated. My hair benefits from a quick burst of air from the hair dryer and this lovely hair perfume.


A former sun-lover, I now cling to my precious bottle of Clarins SPF as if it were liquid gold. This invisible shield beneath my moisturizer of choice keeps my skin dewy and protected. A quick swipe of Charlotte Tilbury's lip/cheek tint serves to enhance that natural post-yoga glow with a subtle yet necessary rosy glow. Now I'm rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to take on the day. 

Back to the topic of flow. I'm not quite there yet. I'm pruning the rose bushes of my mind one by one and discovering a few blooms that need to be nipped and others that need careful nurturing. It's a process, right? The formula for repair for me is quite simple. Work the outside to change the inside. Push through challenging (and endorphin-raising) workouts. Get out in the sun early and often. Develop healthy and positive routines that serve you. Be consistent. Be good to yourself. REALLY good to yourself, because no one will ever care for your whole person with quite the same intensity as you. 

The new year is about to begin. What better time to draw a line in the proverbial sand and dedicate time each day for bettering yourself, caring for your mind & body and giving your mind a window to be still, quiet and reflective. 

Happy New Year to you all. Much more positive messages to come in 2016! 

Musings: On Overcoming Holiday Sale Fatigue...

{ via }


Another day, another avalanche of "best deal of the holiday season" emails. Oy! Frankly, you become numb to it after a while. The thing is: some of these truly are great opportunities to save, but you can only recognize them if you've been paying attention to patterns for long periods of time. My solution for those of you exclusively shopping online? Rely on your list and your strategy. Wait... you don't have a list or a strategy? Let's work on that right now. 


First, stop and take a breath. Ask yourself: do I need anything or am I just caught up in the moment? Yes, I author a site about living your best life, but I'm also keen on scrutinizing potential new acquisitions. It's not about who has the most, it's about enjoying life and feeling grateful in each moment. Your things can indeed bring you joy, but happiness comes from within. Make sense?


Okay, so back to the question at hand: are you in need of doing some shopping? If so, for whom? Children? Partner? Friends? Make a list. Yes, an actual list of the people to shop for right now. This will focus your attention and allow your brain to begin doing some organizing around those individuals. Want to add some essentials (or indulgences) to your closet? Write those down. Yes, WRITE THEM DOWN. I kid you not, the physical list has power few understand. Make one and live by it. It will astound you. 


At this point, I go open up all the tabs on my browser for my usual haunts. Saks, One Kings Lane, Neimans, Bergdorf, Cusp, Net-a-PorterNordstrom, Shopbop, WHBM, Anthropologie, Scoop NYC, Brooks Brothers, Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma etc. Notice, I don't go wandering around the web. I stick to my known reliable sources. Look for significantly better savings AND free shipping. Is gift wrap an option? Why not mix that in for added peace of mind? If the offers aren't impressive I close the tab and move on. Minimize your shopping options and allow yourself to dive deep on the sites that have killer savings OR exactly what you want. I am adamant about not shopping for the sake of shopping. You should be ruthless in your quest to invest only in meaningful items that are best in class. 


Great gift givers are critical thinkers. They ask themselves better questions. Try this exercise: What does he love to do in his free time? How can I find an item that will improve his daily life? What does she dream of doing? What can I give her that will inspire her to keep pursuing that goal?  For yourself... what have I been holding out on buying? 


You're armed with a list, a rough idea of what will inspire each gift and an idea of who has a big sale happening. Time to marry that info together and make some magic happen. Focus on locating high quality, big impact pieces - OR spectacular and fanciful finds that will bring joy for years to come. You're shopping early enough that shipping times won't matter much, but don't be oblivious to mention of backorder or low quantities on hand. Made solid, informed decisions and invest in items you'll be proud to give (or receive yourself) and feel good about your choices. 


At a certain point, you have to get on with your life. A month obsessing over percentages and delivery dates isn't healthy. Don't be a retail marketing victim and torture yourself over those "last chance!" emails that will hammer you all month. Place your orders early and move on. Consider it done and move on with your life. What I love doing is pinning down my big acquisitions online early. Then the remainder of the month I get out with friends and family, enjoy the lights, walk down pretty streets with boutiques - leaving myself open to finding pretty stocking stuffers or one-of-a-kind finds that require in person discovery to appreciate. Or... just to enjoy life! Knock out your big wins today if you can, then call it a day. Stop obsessing. Just put it to rest and find ways to be in the moment for the rest of the year. Life goes on with or without you... be certain you are a part of it! 



SaksOne Kings LaneNeimansBergdorfCusp
Net-a-PorterNordstromShopbopWHBMAnthropologieScoop NYC
Brooks BrothersSur la Table



Musings: On Simplicity as Elegance Embodied...

{image via  Pinterest  //   1  //  2  //  3  //  4 }

{image via Pinterest //  1 // 2 // 3 // 4}

One secret I've learned in life again and again. Keep it simple. This doesn't mean your life will be plain plain or ordinary. Far from it. Imagine the Tiffany solitaire diamond. Simple in design. Exacting in execution. Breath taking in person. Most of the world's most lovely creations are made with painstaking precision and simplicity. Simple, you see, isn't always easy. (Ask anyone doing the 300 kettlebell swings a day workout how something so straightforward could prove such a challenge.) But keeping your look, your life, your choices, your relationships, your schedule - your very life experience - simple and not complex is one genius way of retaining your joy. 

How am I living this truth? Here's how I do it: 

  1. Make better choices. Consider what you are saying yes to - be they things, people, opportunities, activities, experiences, conversations. Pause half a breath and decide if this investment in time and energy is the best use of those resources. You will never, ever regain your time, so guard it carefully. 
  2. Edit, edit and edit again. If it doesn't make you happy or serve you dutifully, let it go. This means emptying closets, drawers and cabinets of anything you don't absolutely love or need. I do this with great frequency and am getting better and better at it. The absence of the "weight" of things that aren't fabulous is freeing. Sell it, donate it, let it go and discover that you yourself are the one who has been set free from the cage. 
  3. Before tackling a project, ask yourself: is there a better way to do this? Perhaps you are overthinking a challenge or adding degrees of complexity that can be eliminated. If you want to climb a hill, climb a hill. Often the task is far more simple to complete than previously thought. On that note...
  4. Make a list. Not a typical to-do list filled with "buy tissue, buy eggs..." nonsense. No. You're too smart for that. Make a TO ACHIEVE list and structure your days around those larger life goals. For me this means dedicating time to making things and coming up with new ideas for products and projects. For you it might mean finally signing up for that advanced conversational French class so you can fulfill your dream of moving abroad. The lesson? Don't let the minutiae keep you from achieving your dreams. 

The overall lesson is this: Don't major in minor things. Eliminate the distractions in life to better allow you to focus your energies on what matters. Love matters, your dreams matter, your time matters, your life matters. Shake off the excess and let the diamonds in your life shine bright like the stars in the sky. Simplicity is truly elegance embodied. 

Musings On: The Comfort of a Routine...

{Photo via yours truly,  Franki Durbin }

{Photo via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Those type-A leanings often result in me "rebelling" against my organized nature, only to quickly return to the comfort of my beloved routine(s). There's a peace and a grounding in predictable schedules and almost guaranteed output.

Quite simply, when I follow my naturally structured leanings I'm a powerhouse of productivity. True productivity. When I deviate from the path I'm busy, stressed and not getting anything of meaning done. I like routine. I crave it. I don't tire of it. It brings me comfort - and who doesn't love comfort? 

What does this mean? It means I love (and I do mean LOVE) a list. It's two-sided, with a vertical line down the center of the page. One one side there are client/professional must-achieve goals. On the other, I list out personal must-do's for the day. Pens must be ballpoint and blue (preferably those old classic Papermate pens!) and each item is promptly scratched off the list once achieved. Each day I rewrite a fresh list carrying over any remaining goals/to-do's that are still relevant. 

It's important to note here that goals and "to-do" items are not the same. Dreaming is a form of planning, and good dreaming will surely help you define your goals. Goals 9to be achieved) should be broken down into actionable tasks. "Win 9 new clients" is a goal. "Call XYZ" is a task. Know the difference and make your goals achievable by mapping out simple (read: non-intimidating and easy to complete) to-do items that help you achieve one goal after another. 

Another note: avoid filling up your "to-do" list with random things that will only make you busy. 



What one thing, if done well, makes all of my other tasks easier or irrelevant?  


Tip: If you've been avoiding it or dreading it, it's probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing on your list. Tackle it first and let the sense of accomplishment and calm wash over you. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Yes, those responsibilities you're ducking are the things keeping you up and night. Handle them during the day TODAY and sleep in peace tonight. 

So... who's ready for a little daily planning session? Whip out your journal, notebook or agenda and write down that ONE thing you know you need to handle. Then, drink your coffee, put on your game face and handle it. 

Living an optimized life means developing reliable, self-serving routines. It means handling your business and making decisions/taking action when necessary and when possible. It means getting a grip and getting a handle on yourself and your life. Master yourself, develop  good habits and see your sense of confidence improve drastically. See your productivity explode. See your life take a drastic turn for the better. 

Whatever it eating you this week: handle it. Step up, step out, handle it. I believe in you!  


Musings: On Setting Goals That Inspire You To Take Action...

In a slump? Uninspired? Dragging through your days? I have great news and unpleasant news: the bad is that you are to blame for your lack of enthusiasm.  The great news? All of that can change rapidly with a small commitment from you

If you're in a dull season of life it means you're not setting ambitious goals for yourself. You've given yourself nothing fun to look forward to each day. It means you're coasting along, not steering the vehicle of life. It means you haven't filled your cells with energy that makes you leap out of bed to chase your dreams.

What dreams you say? Ahhh. Now we've hit the root of the issue. Without vision, without growth, without expansion and personal improvement you'll give yourself very few reasons to bound out of bed and get moving. Perhaps this is where you are right now. If so, let's fix that - today. 

Longtime readers know what's coming next: you need to do three things today. Here's the lowdown: 

  1. First, you need to carve out alone time. I prefer to do this while working out. It could be a big walk on a shaded trail, a stroll (or run) along the beach, perhaps a hike or a bike ride. Even a yoga class can count as "alone" time if you're able to get alone with your thoughts and finally hear yourself think. 

    What exactly do you want? What does your ideal life look like? What's bugging you? What issues are you avoiding? What keeps you up at night or holds you back all day? What "should have's" can we move over to your "musts" and "doing" lists? What, my dear friends, is the life you know you should be living but you aren't? Identify that during your alone time. Hear yourself. Uncover the idea you bury under being "too busy" to address.

    For me, this always happens while exercising. For you it might be different, but motion equals emotion and all of my good, positive moments occur while engaged in fitness activities or in water. So I honor that. 
  2. Next: WRITE IT DOWN. Get a notebook (a real one) and an ink pen (remember those) and start pouring it out. Whatever "it" is. Somewhere in this ink-filled visual flow of words you'll begin to formulate ideas. It might begin as a messy deluge of nonsensical words or finally revealed buried emotions. Maybe not. Maybe you can get right to the heart of the matter. Regardless, don't judge yourself. Just put pend to pad and set your heart free to author the story of your dreams. 

    Begin writing out what it is you DO want. Who do you want to be? What do you know you need to be doing? What does that new version of you or your life look like? Okay, now how do we make that happen? Get detailed. The more details the better. Is You 2.0 an avid gardener? Okay... what needs to happen to make that happen? Work backwards from the goal to identify those steps. Is this new improved you an innovator with their creation showcased on Kickstarter? Fantastic. What can you do to get that process going and what steps need to happen to take your product to the open market. 

    Define where you are. Establish exactly where you want to be. Connect the dots in between to see what steps to take. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

    The key here is to set goals so truly inspiring that you are almost bursting with enthusiasm. Dream so big it scares you just a little bit. Make it outrageous. Make it worth the paper and the time. Make it set your soul on fire. 
  3. Step three is the most courageous and the most important. Do SOMETHING bold that makes those amazing plans more real. Privately wish you had a successful baking business? Stop dreaming of cupcakes and start plotting exactly where that patisserie should reside. Look online NOW or go for a quick drive and find the ideal corner location. Take it even further: See what the lease would cost you. Map out the menu. Sketch a quick logo idea. Call a friend and gush about your vision. TELL someone your ludicrous idea and hear yourself sharing your passion. MOVE In the direction of that dream REGARDLESS of whether or not you know how those macaron filled dreams might become reality. It sounds wild, right? It isn't. 

    If your dream is do learn ballroom dancing, do some research and find a few nearby studios. GO one step further and order a pair of dancing shoes. Put them on your dresser as a daily reminder of your goal. Download a few great movies (I recommend Shall We Dance with Richard Gere & Jennifer Lopez). Be BOLD and don't let yourself or this burning desire go slack. If this is important to you, NO ONE else is going to have the passion for your dreams with the same intensity that you harbor. Supporters are good. But the best goal supporter is you. Remember that. 

So let's review the steps: 1. Get alone & get clarity. Clear your head of "fluff" and let that truth rise to the forefront of your mind. 2. Start writing down in detail what those goals are and work backwards to determine the steps required to make them happen. 3. Demonstrate commitment by doing something TODAY towards the realization of that goal. Do not skip the third step. 

That new house you dream of? Go to Lowes and purchase a front door mat. That pastry chef dream? Call a real estate agent and set up dates to see potential locations. The dancer in you needs new shoes. Try a few on. Buy a pair that are so lovely and inspiring you can't wait to wear them. Download a few songs too and get that Samba, Salsa, Tango vibe pumping through your body and your house.

Set yourself free to dream. PUT yourself in motion and start creating energy around your new plans. Free yourself from judgement. Let go of "what if I can't do it?" fears and set your heart free to dream. I've learned (again and again) that when I dream HUGE and get excited about those big ridiculous ideas that things begin to move into place. The pieces begin to come together. It's as if the whole universe or God himself has been waiting for me to get off my chair and start moving in this direction. There's something to be said for boldly moving in the direction of your dreams without looking back. It's momentum, it's energy (real energy) and it has tremendous power. 

Set a course in motion TODAY towards a goal so outrageous, so amazing, so inspiring that you can't WAIT to get up every day and get closer to its realization. Do it. And be amazed. I promise it will be a small price to pay for a huge payoff. Love yourself enough to do this. 



Musings: On Stretching...

Hello, everyone! Happy Monday to you. Yes, HAPPY Monday. While a 72 hour Sunday sounds dreamy, the official start of the "business" part of the week gives each of us an opportunity for growth and reinvention. Are you learning anything new? If so, why not? It's not just for kids, you know. And it doesn't require going back to school. Grab any number of mind-stretching books, learn how to retrain your brain for a happier life, expand upon your formal education at no cost (yes, free) or cough up a small fee for an opportunity to develop mastery over specific skill sets

So... now that we've cast aside any excuses, what is it you want to learn or improve upon? Is photography your prized skill? Do you long for the ability to whip up a fantastic culinary experience for your friends & family? Williams-Sonoma offers free classes on the weekends for everyone. Whatever your yearning, there's surely a book out there poised to take you to new heights. And - let's face it - you have Google. There's an expert out there blogging his or her heart out daily offering you every bit of wisdom you could hope for. Take it.  

My point? Get going. Get growing. LEARN something new and expand your mind. No, you won't be the same afterwards. And that's a very good thing. 


Musings: On Creating Your Own Joy...

Happiness really is a choice. Every minute of every day. But happiness itself is a mood and joy is a more profound feeling of deeper enthusiasm for life. So if you can choose your mood, choose to be as happy as possible each moment... and eventually you'll train your mind to experience the joy of life. It might seem silly at first if you are forcing it, but with repeated efforts and a reconditioned mind you'll soon discover that moments of silliness were totally worth it. Now... go find reasons to smile! 


Musings: On Leaping Before You Look...

{image via  Vogue Italy }

{image via Vogue Italy}

They say that fortune favors the bold. In my experience, this is so very true. It is also said that she who hesitates is lost. Another truth in my world. I prefer to say I'm decisive rather than impulsive, as I do draw upon my experiences before action. But the other side of that rapid-fire decision making coin is instinct. I trust mine implicitly to guide me through daily life. When I'm in a good state (read: sleeping well, eating right and exercising) that inner voice speaks to me loud and clear shouting "do this" and "don't do that" commands on seemingly everything. 

This article really spoke to me when it dropped wisdom on what "impulsive" people experience in life. We are quick to tackle the bigger forks in the road of life, but when it comes to tiny details we obsess. Yes. I have to give a fist bump to whoever pegged us on that issue. Absolutely true. Buying shoes? I fuss over every detail. New foundation? I try every ption available and test them all repeatedly before bellying up to the counter to purchase a bottle.

Quick trip to Sicily? I say yes in an instant and don't think twice. Why? Because I trust my gut and I don't like to waste a moment of this precious existence deliberating on nonsense. Italy = good. New foundation = risky. It might seem like a strange logic to you but this is the reality of the decisive thinker. 

What about you? Are you a leap before you look kind of person? Are you hesitant? I'm sure life either way has its pluses and minuses. I'd love to hear your side of the coin! 


Musings: On Being Inspired...

I've spent a few days focusing on cleaning out my inbox. Thousands of deleted emails later I'm feeling relieved, liberated and convinced that creative inspiration is often the result of unblocking things in your way. All that negative static created by spam, unread notes, unseen opportunities and client emails steals your energy. Perhaps a good digital cleanse is all you need to unleash your imagination and open your eyes to the world of possibilities around you. 

Need help getting to the fairytale state of "Inbox Zero"...? Here's what I do: 

  • Start by sorting by "from" 
    This method of seeing all emails from one sender at a time allows me to delete huge blocks of emails all at once. It also identified repeat offenders and demonstrates to you instantly whose emails you never open. 
  • Unsubscribe
    As often as possible (and when it's clearly not spam) take half a second to unsubscribe from emails, even if it's from stores and sources I love. Trust me, you won't forget Shopbop exists or that there's an Airbnb available in Del Mar. Absence might even make the heart grow stronger. 
  • Mix it up
    When I get bored (or feel overwhelmed) during this process, I switch up my "sort" method. Try viewing all "unread" emails first and tackle those or take a (scary) look at oldest emails first. 
  • Don't delay
    Stop the madness by replying RIGHT AWAY to any and all emails you can. Stop the vicious cycle of waiting to reply until later. Tackle messages & assignments, tasks, next steps as they occur. 
  • Use "no extra" time wisely
    I like to do this while sipping coffee or eating breakfast. It sets me on a clear and focused path for the day and eliminates considerable mental clutter.

Have a great Sunday! 


Musings: On Another Year, Another Chance to Live Fully...

It's time close the chapter on one of my years on this pretty globe. Is it okay to admit I'm slamming the book shut and jumping all over it? In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn't my most enjoyable year and I cannot WAIT to start fresh, beginning today. I'm so grateful for the many things that are right and amazing in my life - and they are generous in number. It makes the few challenging areas easier to handle and helps me have perspective on them.

As I pause on my birthday to reflect upon the past year I feel incredibly blessed, grateful and - wow - have I GROWN. If pressure creates diamonds, I am one sparkly girl! And frankly, I've accomplished more in this single year than many would guess or attempt to accomplish on their own. If there is one quality I enjoy about myself it is tenacity, an unshakable, unquenchable thirst for progress and moving forward. 

What about you? You may not be a June 3 birthday girl or guy, but what about your past year? How have you grown? What will you do differently moving forward? Ask yourself this: what ONE thing that if done and done well makes all of your other goals irrelevant or easier? What is one goal or area of life you can focus on that - if achieved or improved upon - makes all other areas of life better? Think about that. Think hard, because the answer is like a golden arrow pointing you towards success and your best version of yourself. 

So what am I going to focus on this year? The answer is in the question. FOCUS. Since I'm an "all in" kind of girl, I will actively refine what I'm investing my time and attention on. I will journal more and will most certainly put myself through my "Improve Your Life in Just One Week" process. (Note: If you're not familiar, expect me to repost it here soon). This year will be about embracing all that is good in life and making time FIRST for those things that are most sacred to me. It is also about being open to the inevitable changes life brings you. After all, the shifting of the sands is what makes the desert landscape so beautiful. 

So for today and each day after, I wish for you to feel the feeling of flourishing, growing stronger, becoming more beautiful and blooming into the stunning flower you are meant to become. Let those pressures of life transform you into a glistening, gleaming rarified creature of incredible worth. Shine bright, darlings. Shine bright and sparkle on!