You and Success

I had the pleasure of attending a training for Junior League of Riverside this afternoon where the illustrious Vicki Clark spoke to us about organization and how to see projects through to fruition. Although I learned a great deal that will lead to successful futures for League members, I found what she had to say about Leadership and Success to be extremely advantageous. She spoke about how to view success through alternate perspectives and touched on how media is training us to view success in certain ways – for instance, basing success on money and possessions.

So, what should we base our successes on? Is success really something that can be represented by the amount of money in a bank account? The designer labels we wear on our backs? Our shoes, purses, and what shopping bags we carry around when we are at the mall? Social media has opened up a new world for the younger generations and it has caused us to be hyper aware of our “successes.” There are countless studies about how people who post everything on social media are likely sociopaths. But, does this mean that everyone who posts on social media feels this?

Personally, I post random things on my social media. I don’t plan posts and I don’t post an overwhelming amount of selfies. However, when I have a great workout or I am spending an awesome day at Fashion Island, I like to post those things. In other words, I suppose I am saying that my social media profiles are more representative of what is contributing to my happiness or what I am doing while happy.

Bringing this back to the question of what is success… For me, success is the ability to do things. I feel successful when I can spend a day reading, at the mall, the beach or Disneyland. These things remind me of the quality of life I am working for. Although we all struggle from time to time, I am happy that I have generally been in a decent position for someone my age. Yes, I struggle with the repercussions of poor financial decisions in the youth,  but I have made sure that I have the means to continue to grow and become more successful.

So what is success? I suppose, I think of successes as the crossing of goals off my list. I would like to get back to Europe and see countries I have yet to visit. If I come to a place in my life where that would be feasible, that would be a success for me. Marriage, having children – those things would be successes as well. Growing in my professional career, completing my first text, publishing, making friends, all of those things would be successes for me. But keeping that in mind, I have to remember that certain success comes with time and experience. We can’t all be a Kardashian or a young pop star. Success usually comes from working hard and putting in the time to gain the experience and the knowledge that is necessary to grow within ourselves. This might even mean that our goals, and therefore, our eventual successes will adapt to our growth. And that, to me, is a success in of itself. That you can understand that you have grown and your desires have changed as well.

Yes, I wish I was rolling in money and could have everything I could possibly want and never have to think about whether I can afford to spend money. It would certainly make life easier not having to be concerned with bills and the cost of living. But, ultimately, where is the joy in that? If you can have everything you want, those things begin to lose their value. Success is ultimately a feeling. A feeling about how you are doing at this stage in your life. The people we follow on social media that help us to feel inadequate are just in a different stage of their lives, their careers, hobbies or values. We shouldn’t rely on other people, our bank accounts, cars or sneakers to determine whether or not we are successful. We should allow our personal feelings of success to guide us and help us to feel free enough to enjoy where we are currently. Focusing on how successful (or not) you will be in 5, 10, or 15 years inhibits you from enjoying any success you have attained now.

So, my advice: Be happy! Enjoy the ability to buy a latte today. The fact that you can go to dinner and a movie tonight. Not everyone has the ability to do the things we may take for granted. I can’t buy Gucci tennis shoes but I can buy Nikes. That is a success. And, if I do purchase Gucci tennis shoes someday, I will know that I worked hard and I attained many levels of success on my way to that. But the shoes won’t represent that success, the personal joy I had along the way doing the things I could do, will be representative of my success. 25_quotes_about_success_18

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The Retail Race

Let me be clear – I am a shopaholic. Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yes, that brilliant idea visited me in my sleep before it jumped the pond and landed in Sophie Kinsella’s brain to be developed into the Shopaholic franchise. (I will discuss this more when I review Big Magic… once I finish reading it) And to fuel this addiction, I spent many a year in specialty women’s retail (fancy name for LOFT & Chico’s) … mostly for the discounts.

But, because I have spent many years in retail, I understand the game they play with us. I understand the trickle down effect fashion has on the retail industry. Point in case, Fashion Week shows us the newest and hottest trends about a year in advance. By the time our local stores get on the trends, it is almost a year later. What’s worse, their marketing campaigns serve to make women feel as if they need a brand new wardrobe every season! I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot afford that (although I shop as if I can).

I follow A LOT of fashion bloggers on Instagram because I admire their style and their fearless fashion sense. But I also believe that many of them are sporting sponsored duds. I cannot believe anyone purchases new clothing that much and then just wears it to take pictures. I mean, why buy something if you don’t intend to wear it numerous times? Why spend the time to find items you truly love?

But as I write that, I am reminded that I spent a great deal of money in high school and my early years of college purchasing items because I loved them in the moment but then never actually wore them, or wore them only once. I understand and again – I don’t do this anymore. Instead, I have developed a returning issue. Meaning, I return probably 10% of what I purchase on a regular basis. Usually 15-45 days after I purchased it. Hey! I really liked it! I just realized I don’t a) have the proper additional items to pull of the look b) hadn’t eaten any food when I purchased it and now, after eating breakfast, it looks terrible on me or c) it no longer speaks to me.

This is the part that probably truly betrays the depth of my addiction to shopping and clothing… the items speak to me! They say to me “Buy me,” “I will make you happy,” or “I will emphasise all those squats you have been doing.” And I fall into it every time! However, I have found a compromise for myself. I only buy items I love, I don’t rush out and wear them right away, and I utilize the Cluise app, (no this isn’t sponsored, I actually really use the app). Basically the app is a digital closet. It can assemble outfits for you based on weather and event, but I rarely use this feature. Instead, I take pics of everything I purchase, (and am slowly adding everything I currently own), and add them to my digital closet. Then I construct outfits with what I have. Honestly, I don’t generally stick to these outfits, (because I am not an outfit girl, I am a separates girl), but it really helps me see what I have and how the new pieces with incorporate into my current wardrobe. Bonus: I can “see” my closet when I am in a store debating whether or not to buy that super trendy piece. And that is my coping secret.

I have also made an effort to limit my shopping at places like Forever 21, Hollister Co. and Tilly’s. I have realized that I purchase the items at seemingly cheaper prices, just to find the items don’t last and really don’t look good after you wear them once. Of course, it is quick fashion and is meant to only satisfy the season’s trends. And that is great for many women. However, I have found that I can find better fitting and higher quality pieces on sale for the same or less than the items sold by stores such as Forever 21. Such retailers? Madewell – they don’t always have a sale, but they do sometimes. And when they do, (such as an additional percentage off sale items), I shop heavy. I also use my student ID because they offer 15% off for teachers and students all the time, on everything, (don’t quote me, they may exclude third party merchandise). So, top was $68, marked down to $50, additional 50% off that AND THEN an additional 15%? That top is now about $21… And the top at Forever 21? $28.80? No return and may self destruct after first wear? No thank you!

Being a more full-figured woman, (a healthy 12/14, L/XL), fit and quality really matters to me. But I am also basically skating by financially so I really don’t have the room to purchase things at full price. So I try and do my due diligence and follow sales. For instance, Ann Taylor LOFT, (whom I worked for in the past), allows for price adjusting. When I began building my professional wardrobe, I did purchase some items at full or near full price. (Caveat, if you do shop there regularly, you really should have the credit card. Rewards system is fan-freaking-tastic!) So, I watched for when the items went on 40%. Sure enough, they did.I went and price adjusted. (My sister and her boyfriend went with me and had a cow… It was a process) In the end, I ended picking up double what I purchased initially AND I walked out with $1.25 in my pocket! I had a $300 budget and I ended up with nearly 1k in merchandise at ticket value. I should say, I used Cash Cards as well, and that helped quite a bit. But moral of the story, if you do your due diligence, you can really win and make out like a bandit.

Anyways, the point of all this. I think retailers put too much pressure on women to buy new things and to buy them immediately. Obviously, they have sales goals every single day that compound into month, quarterly and annual goals – I get that. But so do we. We have school, new tires, kid’s baseball fees, whatever it may be that we need to prepare for as well. And, I will admit that seeing women with their brand new Chanel, Louis Vuittons and Hermes bags on Instagram sometimes makes me feel inadequate. But, that is okay! I am so thrilled that those bloggers have reached that level of success. But I have reached my own level of success and you have to! So be proud of it and rock your new and old wardrobe staples and show the world that you are feeling good in your duds! And please, be smart about your shopping. The retailers give you the tools, you just need to use them!

In case you are curious, or follow my Instagram, I frequent Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People (generally sale online), Banana Republic (by far the best credit rewards system I have seen) and JJill. 

Human Traffiking

Human Trafficking is a huge topic amongst countries and world leaders as well as police and regulatory organizations. On the surface, it is common sentiment that trafficking of men, women and children is inherently bad. But when the topic is broken down, it becomes clear that there lacks a common moral ground on every social level.

I had the pleasure of hearing a speech on the topic by Jeremy Vallerand, CEO and President of Rescue: Freedom International. The goal of the non-profit is to “empower the rescue and restoration of those suffering in sexual slavery.” This is an excellent goal, however, it is also quite broad. In his speech, he discussed a multitude of facets including pornography. It is here that I would like to focus this post on.

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. Yes, I could throw some numbers at you in order to incorporate that shock factor so many of these presentations incorporate. But I find I tire of context-less numbers thrown at me. I want to know the nitty gritty, I want to understand on a personal level. That doesn’t mean I need to experience it, but I do want to be able to grasp the ideas and magnitude of the issue.

On the other hand. I also want to make a difference. But there are thousands of people trafficked every single day. It seems like a loosing battle to fight, but I have to believe there is a way to insight change – to save women, children and men from becoming trafficked across the globe.

Dreaming out Loud

I recently came across a travel blog written by a flight attendant, or whatever the politically correct terminology is now… She catalogs all of her travels, where she goes, what she does, what she eats and what she thinks of those places she travels to.

I thought this was an intriguing career path and one that I, with a serious case of wanderlust, would be interested in. However, just this past year I was a passenger on an airplane to Philadelphia, PA that experienced extreme turbulence. As a result, (and after hearing the flight attendants yelping), I quickly decided that a that career path was not for me.

I traveled to Pennsylvania for a journalism conference and I have greatly enjoyed it. This particular conference was made up predominantly of professionals in writing, publishing, design, and management. This was an interesting group for a group of university students to be immersed in. I was thrilled at how receptive the attendees were and how willing they were to sit and talk with us about our future aspirations and how we believed their businesses could be a part of our journey.

 

 

And Now, I am Back Again

For any of you who have possibly tried writing a blog before, it is hard. While I didn’t intend to leave my blog alone in cyberspace, untended and collecting dust, I did. I could blame inspiration, but I can’t blame something intangible. Inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Big Magic”) would call it your genius, comes in waves, huge gusts,knocking you off your feet and pulling you in. And I, ever powerless to resist creativity, goes with it. But inspiration doesn’t stick with you. Oh no, inspiration leads a fleeting existence, constantly leaving the poor soul behind that it fulfilled for an instance.

Unfortunately, I am often caught up in the hurricane that is inspiration and I start things, like this blog, the many short stories I have written but not completed, and the extraordinary theories we have – but keep to ourselves.

This time will be different though. For I am not, at this time, infiltrated by inspiration. Instead, I am full of longing and need to put my words, thoughts and ideas to (theoretical) paper. I want to share my ideas with the world. Maybe somebody will find them worth reading – and if that is the case I feel truly blessed.

Then, perhaps, when inspiration has deemed me worthy, it will come to me for an extended period of time. Then maybe, just maybe, my words will inspire someone else to do something they have always wanted to do as well.

Thanks,

Jenn