Friday, January 28, 2011

Paying it Forward.

pay it forward Pay it forward..

I had a wonderful coffee meeting yesterday with a senior from University of Washington. Taylor and I both grew up in Olympia and went to the same high school. We are both Tridelts and communications majors at UW. So, needless to say, we had a lot to talk about. A few weeks ago she reached out to me for an informational interview. I have been meeting with lots and lots of people lately for informational interviews and networking myself as I work through my own career transition. I feel indebted to these wonderful people who are taking time out of their busy days to meet with me, guide me, inspire me. Yesterday I paid it forward and realized how good it feels to guide and inspire others. Taylor and I spent two hours together and it was so rewarding to me to pass along my experience to someone who reminds me a lot of myself at that age (and now?!) --  confident and ambitious but unsure of the future. 


1995 Porsche 911 Carrera

Several people throughout my career have challenged me to identify my personal passions and interests as a way to find meaningful, inspiring work. The best career advice I ever got was from my friend Suzanne, who I worked with at my first job at Children's Hospital. I had been there for six years and was ready for something new. Over beers one night she asked me the simple yet pointed questions: "What do you like? What are your interests?" At that time, she was not only working at Children's but on the side had started an international health NGO. So it was a bit embarrassing to admit I liked cars, shoes, clothes and coffee. Yes, in that order. Sounds shallow, huh? She didn't judge or discourage me. Rather she supported, encouraged and inspired me. That very conversation helped me focus my next career moves in high tech PR for a company working in the automotive space and then three years later I landed my dream job in corporate social responsibility communications at Starbucks. Maybe the fashion industry is next?!



Of course I shared this story and this same advice with Taylor yesterday. I encouraged her to identify her passions and interests, take some time off when she graduates in June, and work for a non-profit. I asked if she liked Nordstrom. She responded "I love Nordstrom!" I could just tell. She is tall, beautiful, smart and stylish and admitted she loves shopping and fashion. But like me felt a little embarrassed to admit it.  I passed along the same support and encouragement I received from Suzanne and many other friends and mentors over the years.


I found it interesting that Taylor and I are both in transitions. What she is doing is essentially the same work I am doing right now - in the middle of my career - to figure out what feeds my soul, or as a friend I saw yesterday who is also in a career transition put it: what lights you up!

Taylor is 21. (Aah, to be 21 again!) Our age difference is 18 years. She was three the year my husband and I met. Wow! But the gap did not feel that wide at all. It reminded me of how much we can all learn from and inspire each other no matter the age difference, or if we are younger or older. Taylor’s youthfulness and upbeat attitude inspired me, and it felt good for me to pay it forward to her.

Who inspires you?

What are your passions and interests?

If you haven't thought about these things in a long time, I encourage you to do so and find what lights you up! It's really the best way to live.
As I was searching online for images to accompany this post, I found several interesting images and blogs about the same topic. Actually there were more than 33 million search results. I’m paying it forward to by sharing a few of my favorites with you. Enjoy!

Image from Namesake Design via another great blog Brunch at Saks

Image from Yellow ...makes me happy! blog

Mark your calendars! April 28, 2011 is international Pay it Forward Day. Who knew?!

pay it forward
I think this site pretty much sums it up.
(Kind of sounds like karma to me!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


“Charm is a glow within a woman which casts
a most becoming light on others.”
-John Mason Brown

The bride and groom's first dance in the Sunset Club's exquisite ballroom.

Last night, my dear friend Tessa Gorman married her Prince Charming, Robert Jungerhans, in a beautiful candlelit ceremony at Villa Academy Chapel in Seattle. It was a very special celebration that brought together friends and family – from near and far - and a ceremony filled with messages of love, fidelity and lifelong commitment. Weddings are always such a wonderful reminder of the bonds between husbands and wives, friends and families. Before I get to the details and share some photos from the beautiful event, I want to share the story of “wedding charms” with you.

Wedding Charms
Last month, Tessa’s mom, Bev, and twin sisters, Lara and Jennie, hosted a lovely shower for the bride-to-be. I feel so fortunate to have known the “Gorman girls” for many years since we grew up together in Olympia. And I am honored to be considered a close friend of Tessa’s – as she is a close friend to so many!

The theme of the shower was charms. I found this appropriate and "charming" for so many reasons. The quote above was inscribed on the invitation along with a request for each guest to bring a silver charm that reminded them of Tessa to be added to a new silver charm bracelet that would be the collective gift from her close friends. As she opened each tiny box, the friend who gave it explained why the charm reminded her of Tessa.  There were airplanes (2!) symbolizing travel and adventure, clogs for Robert’s Dutch heritage, a Turkish eye to ward off envious people, a locket to keep special pictures close by, and many more.  I chose a simple round disc engraved with her monogram ~ TGM.  It's classic and preppy just like her. Tessa and I share an appreciation for classic, preppy, traditional things (think Izod shirts, Tretorn tennis shoes, Hermes scarves and letter press stationary!).

I have always loved charm bracelets. My mom has a beautiful one filled with gold charms from around the world. My husband started one for me many years ago and we add to it from our travels and special occasions. My three-year-old daughter, Sofia, even has one that my mom gave her for her first birthday. She loves to wear it to parties and of course to Tessa’s wedding.

Charms carry memories of happy times and close friends. I know Tessa will always appreciate all of the charms she received that day. I saw her the day she picked up the bracelet from the jeweler (picture below). She was beaming! It’s the ultimate friendship bracelet (remember those, girls?!) and such a creative idea for a shower. Nice work Bev, Lara and Jenny! I was honored to be a part of it.

OK, now onto the wedding details you’ve been waiting for.

Tessa's three-year-old niece Eleanor (left) was the darling flower girl. Sofia was so excited to see her good buddy daintily tossing flower petals as she walked down the aisle.
The orange Dutch tulips, compliments of a relative of the groom, were simply breathtaking.

Tessa's wedding attendants were her twin sisters, Lara (left) and Jennie. They looked stunning in classic winter white dresses and fabulous up-dos! 

Tessa and Robert's get-away car was her classic 1987 Volvo (which boasts 300K miles!) decorated with orange and white balloons. Tessa and I share an appreciation (love?!) for our classic Volvos. Tessa's dad served as their driver for the evening.
It was truly charming! 

And the cake was simply gorgeous - and delicious, too!

But nothing compared to the gorgeous bride in her exquisite dress.
All night people were commenting on her glow!

It was fun to connect with old friends from Oly at Table 20 - woot woot!

We were honored to be seated with the bride and groom. (Sorry, Robert is cut off in this picture.) My friend Lynn commented that it felt like we were sitting with the King and Queen. I'm not sure how we got so lucky except that the Oly ties run deep!

Tessa's dad's speech and Robert's brother's toast were true highlights and
very charming indeed!

Congratulations Tessa and Robert. You are both so lovely and charming. And you truly "cast a most becoming light on others." I wish you all the best in your marriage and life together.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beyond Honored

Hi friends. Happy Monday! How was your weekend? On Friday, glassybaby featured my blog on their blog and, as a result, I was pretty much riding high in the clouds all weekend. It is the biggest compliment and I am beyond honored.
I spent some time yesterday taking pictures of my glassybaby collection with my new camera and I wanted to share some shots with you. I also wanted to share my glassybaby story, since not everyone understands my infatuation with these gorgeous little vessels (although a few kindred spirits can totally relate). So for the record, here is my glassybaby story!

I have been obsessed with glassybaby since the very first time I saw them at Cafe Lago (a favorite Italian restaurant in my neighborhood) many years ago. The late, great Gretchen Mathers – renowned caterer and local businesswoman who the glassybaby color Seattle Sunset (above, right) is in honor of - was a relative of mine through marriage and she gave me my first two glassybaby (above, left two), which started my collection. I think of her amazing spirit, success and stature (over 6-feet) every time I light them.
When I left Starbucks and started thinking about what kind of company I wanted to work for, I kept coming back to glassybaby as the company that embodies the things I care about: beautiful, colorful, decorative products; high-quality, affordable gifts; woman-owned with products geared mostly towards women; artistic and creative; community-oriented; local; small (and growing); great story, etc, etc. It just gets my juices flowing in so many ways!!  
I currently have 21 glassybaby – a modest amount compared to some collectors I know, but every single one has special significance to me and I like to have them all out all the time. My husband has given me many of them. Two years ago for our anniversary, he gave me four in the colors from our wedding.  So thoughtful.  I have received them as hostess gifts, birthday gifts and Christmas gifts.  My mom even gave Sofia one – pink, of course – when she was a baby. I love to give them too. And I think they are the perfect Seattle souvenir for out-of-towners. I have them all over my house, in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms. They are the perfect gift, because, as glassybaby’s tagline states: “flowers wilt, chocolates melt, glassybaby forever.”
I love glassybaby almost as much as I love fresh flowers. I often cut flowers down and display them in my glassybaby. Like flowers, glassybaby can lift my mood, and bring hope and light to my life, especially on a gray day in Seattle. And, if you haven’t noticed, the colors are STUNNING! I got to go “behind the scenes” at glassybaby’s Madrona shop last week and saw all of the freshly-made (by hand) glassybaby displayed on racks. It was truly a feast for my eyes.  

I change the colors on my mantel seasonally. Right now I'm in a green-blue phase.

Two of my favorite things - gerberas and glassybaby - displayed in my master bathroom.

And even on my front porch, with a huge heart wreath my sister made me
for my birthday.

I was at a friend’s house last week and found my next color – luxury (above, right), and after that, maybe cashmere.

Thanks for indulging my glassybaby obsession once again.

What is your glassybaby story?

Related posts:

The Power of Flowers
Joy, Joy, Joy!
Great Gifts Doing Good

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mission Possible

Wow, I am inspired!

This morning I attended a professional women's networking breakfast hosted by the Women's Business Exchange. It is a wonderful, supportive and awe-inspiring group of women whose mission is to create a community of compassionate leaders. I always leave with a few new contacts, a few good ideas and lots of positive energy. It is a very helpful part of the soul-searching endeavor I'm on right now.

And, I just got off the phone with a dear friend who does "save the world" work. Actually she advises celebrities on their philanthropy and community investment strategies. Pretty cool job, huh?

Yesterday I had a call with a friend who is the founder and CEO of a company that makes natural skincare products for children. Her personal mission statement is: "To help people find true beauty everywhere and in everything, especially in the mirror. We all have gifts... and when we share them with each other we can move mountains." Wow, I love this!

During what I am dubbing "my mini sabbatical" since I left Starbucks, I have been reading books such as The Happiness Project (love it, look for another blog post on the topic soon), Callings - Finding and Following an Authentic Life, 10-10-10, the Complete Writings of Florence Scovel Sinn for Women (her ageless wisdom for today) and 5 - Where will you be in five years from today? And this week while at the library with Sofia I picked up Throw Out 50 Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life (I'm really excited about this one. Look for a blog post on my de-cluttering project soon).

I have also been writing lists of my passions and interests, establishing my priorities, assessing my strengths, networking with all kinds of interesting people, learning about cool companies, making time for regular walks outside (this is actually where I get my best thinking done) and even seeing a coach. I also love reading Whole Living magazine, InStyle and occasionally US Weekly (my guilty pleasure!). And, yes, spending lots of time with my wonderful three-year-old, the best and hardest job I've ever had!

One of the exercises in 5 is to write your own personal mission statement. At first this seemed like a daunting asssignment, but since I was already doing all of this reflection and work on myself, it actually came quite naturally and seemingly out of nowhere. It was easy. It flowed. It felt just right. So here it is:

My mission is to live a beautiful and balanced life - inside and out -
inspired by color and creativity.

I have several more exercises to do and I will use this as my guidepost, along with my personal values and priorities, to find what I'm looking for out of life and work.

Next step? A personal tagline? Maybe. I have a personal mission statement and a mark I am using for my personal brand (see below), so why not?! I read an interesting article in Whole Living that provides three easy steps to creating your own tagline. It sounds kind of fun, but harder than a mission statement for some reason. I'll let you know if I come up with something catchy and authentic.

In the meantime, I leave you with this quote from the back cover of 5:

"What is life for? It is for you." - Abraham Maslow

And to that I say: "Make it matter!"

After I posted this, my mom suggested "Make it matter" should be my tagline. I like it. What do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Big 4-0!

No, not mine - yet!

Last night I was honored to be included in an intimate 40th birthday celebration for my good friend Heidi. Her husband perfectly planned and executed a surprise dinner at one of her favorite restaurants -  Zoe in downtown Seattle. I had not been there before but have been dying to try it for years. The food was exotic and interesting (or what I affectionately call "froo froo!"). Heidi played it safe (as usual) and ordered chicken and a non-alcoholic cocktail aptly named Clear Conscience while others ventured out and ordered the whole hog, sturgeon and braised beef. I thoroughly enjoyed the winter squash risotto and Rose Cremant bubbly. We all shared lemon yumminess and pear panna cotta for dessert, with a birthday candle for Heidi of course.

As friends and former job share partners at Starbucks, Heidi and I have been talking about this milestone for at least a couple of years. As communicators, we were constantly writing "nearly 40 years ago" in anticipation of the coffee giant's 40th anniversary this year. While we were proud to share 1971 with Starbucks, we weren't totally excited about turning 40 ourselves. We both have come around to the idea (at least I have and I think Heidi has too) and we think 40 will be great. I have had several friends tell me 40 is fabulous and better than 30. They all seem to have a renewed confidence and healthy glow. It’s a new club that I’m almost ready to join!

For me it is a time of reflection and eager anticipation of the next chapters. Of course, I have almost a year to truly embrace it but I know that Heidi and I will support each other through the ups and downs, as we always have. I also have some time to figure out the perfect celebration - European excursion with my hubby? Mexico, New York or Las Vegas with friends? Big bash, small gathering? (BTW, I am taking any and all suggestions from you 40-somethings!)

Heidi and I are celebrating again tomorrow with brunch at my favorite neighborhood restaurant – Volunteer Park CafĂ©. After all, she is the one who coined “birthday season.” And this one seems to deserve lots of celebration.
Happy Birthday Heidi!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Power of Flowers

For as long as I can remember from my childhood my mom loved flowers. In fact, yesterday she sent me an email with the subject line "Sun and flowers - two of my favorite things!" Well, the sun is not shining in Seattle today, so I bought myself flowers for a little pick-me-up. It is so simple, but flowers truly have all kinds of power – the power to lift my spirits, to heal, to show gratitude, to connect generations, to brighten dark, cold winter days.

Growing up, every time we went to the grocery store my mom bought flowers. And she drug us to the garden store often. I didn't get it until I had my own home and suddenly I fell in love with flowers in my home and in my garden.  I almost always have them on my kitchen counter. Today I bought pure white gerberas ~ to me a symbol of renewal, which I always feel and relish this time of year. They immediately lifted my spirits.

But having them in my bedroom or bathroom is even better ~ it's simple decadence. A couple of weeks ago, Sofia and I went grocery shopping, a rather mundane task that I usually dread, especially with an independent three-year-old who refuses to ride in the cart. But that day was different. The first thing she did was ask to pick out flowers for her bedroom. When she was a baby I would sometimes have fresh flowers in her room, but this request came out of the blue. I, of course, indulged her and she picked out hot pink (her favorite color) gerberas. I love, love, love having flowers in my room, too, so it made my day that she wanted them for her room. That same day, Sofia asked “Do you love flowers mama? How much? Very very much? I like flowers super much!” She’s asked for flowers in her room every week since. Today she picked out red tulips. Pretty good for a girl who loves everything pink! Aah, the simple power of flowers to brighten your day!

In addition to – or because of - their beauty, flowers have the power to heal ~  if not physically, at least emotionally. Recently I learned about an amazing gesture of flowers that a terminally ill relative of ours is receiving.  Her 94-year-old father-in-law arranged to have flowers delivered to her every week because he thought it would make her happy. Just knowing about this gesture makes me happy and hopeful for her. They probably won’t save her life, but they will brighten her days.  (The peonies in the photo above gave me comfort when I was on bedrest before I had Sofia.)

My sister is an uber creative florist in Portland. She is an artist and flowers are her medium. I am in awe of her creations and her amazing natural talents. She is passionate about her work and is in high demand for weddings, private parties and other special events. She sent me the above arrangement the day she found out I was going on bedrest when I was pregnant with Sofia. I proudly displayed them on my bathroom counter. Maybe Sofia will grow up to be a talented florist like my sister. At least I know she will love beautiful flowers like me, my sister and her grandma!  As I said, flowers have the power to connect generations.

What power do flowers have for you?