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Stephanie-Johnson,-Joshua-t

For this week’s post, I’ve decided upon a bit of a departure from the travel and style guide blogs that are a mainstay on SJ’s Style Compass.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve been reconnecting with old friends through a series of inspiring, intimate dinners, and I’ve begun to realize that nearly everyone around me appears to be in a MAJOR state of change.  As a result, I’ve also been inspired to turn inward, to think about ways that I can challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone, and to make positive changes in my own life.  Whenever I think about change, I always come back to the subject of fear, as I believe fear is (and has been, in my own life) often one of the biggest impediments to enacting truly positive change.

I’ve always been a believer in facing your fears and am a subscriber to the thought that the thing you fear most is exactly the thing you should be doing.  There was a time where my absolute fear of public speaking caused paralysis and when I was asked to be a guest speaker on entrepreneurship at USC I politely declined.  I thought I could avoid fear by walking around it and saying no to any offer to speak in front of a group.  Shortly after the USC invitation, The Learning Annex asked me to teach a three hour class on how to start an accessory company.  I was smart enough to see that the universe was giving me opportunities to face my fears and move beyond them.  I said yes.  Hours before the class, which I had painstakingly prepared for including creating an A-Z manual on ‘how-to’ as well as listing valuable resources (for free!), I lost my voice.  My panic was so extreme that it was manifesting itself physically. The show must go on and rather than cancel I looked fear in the face and taught a great class that was deeply satisfying.  I taught classes for The Learning Annex in New York, L.A., San Francisco and San Diego for several years and selfishly looked at each class as an opportunity to face down the fear and hone a new skill all the while sharing the knowledge I had about starting a company from nothing.  In recent years, I’ve continued to face down the anxiety with a handful of television appearances.

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I have discovered that being prepared goes a long way to helping with my anxiety, but more importantly that the love and support I feel from friends and family is what really buoyed me when I thought I might sink.  And recently I’ve noted that in almost every conversation I’ve been having I’ve heard women tell me some amazing story about how they are ‘in transition’ or are ‘reinventing’ and how many of them have connected with communities that are inspiring them to make change and do the impossible with their businesses and personal lives.  They are throwing fear out the window and realizing how it doesn’t serve them.  If change is the only constant, I am seeing it everywhere I look now.  People moving, getting out of relationships, moving into new partnerships, downsizing, having children, losing parents, getting sick, getting healthy, changing careers, selling it all and seeing the world, moving to another country, creating and inventing new businesses and new ways of doing business, leaving the known for the unknown in everything and embracing it.

I’m inspired to stop talking about it already and start a salon at home where friends share experiences, ask questions, motivate, inspire and support.  It seems I’m not alone in this movement and I’m excited to embrace the change that is inevitable, and to surround myself with like-minded people who have an equal desire to improve the quality of their lives and relationships.  Below are some of the resources I’m currently tapping in my quest for inspiration and everything good.

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Read:  The 4-Hour Work Week.  If this book doesn’t kick you in the ass and make you laugh while doing it I don’t know what will.

Do:  Juicing.  I received a juicer for Christmas and ever since, I have been obsessed and amazed at how much healthy I can put in my body in thirty seconds or less.

Listen:  Daft Punk.  The grooves on Random Access Memories inspire me to get moving and keep creating.

Role Model:  Gwyneth Paltrow is ‘the person whom I most admire’ at the moment.  Rather than talking about reinventing, she is enhancing the rich life she already has by adding author, fitness guru, and app designer to her already impressive resume as actor and mother.  Say what you want, but there is no denying that this is one woman who is going for it.

Do:  Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  If you’re unfamiliar, here it is in a nutshell:  a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public.  Customers purchase a share and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.  It’s a great way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Do:  JumpLife.  A super fun trampoline workout that feels more like playtime than anything else.

My Hero:  Erela.  My (nearly six-year-old!) daughter inspires me every day.

What inspires you to forgo your fears and embrace change in your own life?  I’d love to hear your comments below!

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Stephanie-Johnson-Summer-Re

It’s that time of year again.  It’s still cool enough for me to leave the windows open and get a cool cross breeze in my living room while I curl up with a book waiting for the sun to go down or for the thunder and rain to stop.  And I have so many books on this summer’s list that I’m not quite sure how I will get through them all!  I love how books can take me back to the time and place where I read them – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in a cafe in Israel over coffee and shakshuka; The Kite Runner cover to cover in 36 hours on a chaise in Maui; Memoirs of a Geisha by candlelight in a grass covered hut in Colombia. . .

This summer’s travels will take me to Napa, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Greece, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport.  Here is what will be traveling with me on my iPad.

1.  I finished reading Wolf Hall and decided to jump right into Hilary Mantel’s follow up, Bring up The Bodies.  I never tire of reading about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn and the chaos one woman can create.

2.  I picked up a hard copy of The 4- Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and I’ve been scribbling in the margins and taking copious notes (I am quite sure this is NOT recommended) about how to simplify and run a more efficient life operation.  It took me so long to pick this book up I know, but after a friend shared some of Ferriss’ tips for streamlining I was intrigued.  Thus far I haven’t been disappointed.

3.  I spent 13 years in South Florida including a stint in Key West where I was crowned Miss Old Island Days and got to bless the shrimp fleet.  So naturally I’m a big fan of Carl Hiaasen and I can’t wait to see what hi-jinks he has in store with Bad Monkey.

4.  I’ve been slightly obsessed with food, juicing and cleanses and I’ve got Alejandro Junger’s Clean in rotation.  Alejandro used to live next door to me in Venice Beach and I would watch him walk barefoot to Abbot Kinney and wonder what the hell he was thinking.  Connecting his feet with the energy of the earth, no doubt.  There may be a 21 day cleanse in my future.

5.  The Dirty Life:  On Farming, Food and Love is new on my downloads since I went all Green Acres, joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and spent some time on a friend’s farm planting potatoes.  I’m looking forward to reading about one couple’s transition from city dwellers to farming to support their entire community.

6.  I’ve always been a creature of habit and these past years I’ve purposely tried to shake things up, thinking change is good for my brain.  I’m interested to see what The Power of Habit has to say on the matter.

7.  Crazy Rich Asians.   Enough said.

8.  O.k., Lean In should have been a spring break read but truthfully I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it.  We’ll see.

9.  I never saw the movie with Elizabeth Taylor and otherwise know nothing about this woman with the great eye make-up.  Should be a fascinating read. . . Cleopatra:  A Life.

What’s on your summer reading list?

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 2011 marked my entrance into the blogosphere with SJ’s Style Compass, and one of the most exciting things about my first foray into blogging is all the inventive, inspiring and creative blogs I’ve run across.  There are far too many to list here, but I thought I would highlight a few that may be new to you as well as a few that have been good to us.  I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing community and hope to share more of my great finds with you in the months ahead.  Happy reading this holiday season!

FASHION

Le Catch From the uber best-dressed Marlien Rentmeester, West Coast editor for Lucky Mag(!), comes Le Catch.  My go-to for fast fashion on a budget, and it even tells me what to wear with it.  J’adore.

What is James Wearing? James Andrew chronicles his life in fashion of the day.  Decked in Tom Ford, Gucci, Etro and the like, he shares his serious stare (why no smiles James?) while musing at the Frick, perusing at Christie’s, and shmoozing at the Ocean Club.   Wouldn’t dream of starting my day without seeing what’s on his style radar.

Blueprint for Style I love image curator Monica Barnett’s enthusiastic passion for fashion, and the blog’s great resources like its alphabetized style dictionary.  I was fortunate enough to be featured here in a designer profile in October.

 

Stripes & Sequins Blogger Grace Atwood is unabashedly girly in her love of all things sparkly, and her bright and bubbly persona shines just as much as the pretty, glittery things she adores.  Added bonus:  the DIY Archives section of her blog is a-mazing, with step-by-step instructions to walk you through tons of super cool projects (love the aptly-named striped, sequined sneakers!)

Closet Vanity Samantha Fodrowski brings you the best of what’s in your closet and on your vanity, and always manages to find and feature beautiful pieces that are so not everywhere.  My favorite reads include her Closet Confidential profiles of up-and-coming and established designers (I was delighted to be featured here Nov. 2), and her Thankful Thursday posts (because gratitude is always in style!).

TRAVEL

Firestone Sisters These twins (o.k., they are not twins), have a passion and love for travel that I can appreciate.  They share a peek into their rooms (for the voyeur in you), recipes for the season (thanks for Paula Deen’s Monster Christmas cookies!), and their thoughts on what to wear.  Daily posts include other posts you may like as well as an interview with yours truly. . . thank you!

In-Flight Insider With over 20 years of experience in commercial and corporate aviation, travel guru Carolyn Paddock offers not only an abundance of practical (and spot-on!) tips, but she makes it her mission to source the most useful and luxurious products to make your frequent flying more comfortable and more elegant.  As someone who logs a lot of time at 30,000 feet, I appreciate her in-flight (as well as pre-flight and post-flight) insight!

BEAUTY

the glossarie O.K., so I’m a little biased as I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with the delightful Lara Ramos at Lucky Magazine’s FABB conference last September (see the pic of us mugging in the J.Brand booth)!  That being said, her blog is as perfectly pretty as the treasure trove of beauty products she features.  Because a beauty blog should be beautiful, and hers is!

Karla Sugar The next best thing to going shopping yourself, indeed!  Your best friend at the beauty counter, the affable Karla Sugar tests out top brands in easy-to-see swatches (on her own skin!) of makeup and nail polish, so that you can accurately get a sense of color before you buy.  Incredibly useful and practical, there’s no other beauty blog like hers out there.

Beauty 411 Nancy Houlmont has her finger on the pulse of all things beauty, skincare and fragrance and I love her no-nonsense product reviews and makeup tips.  A true encyclopedia of beauty knowledge!

FOOD & ENTERTAINING

What Katie Ate From down under comes Katie Quinn Davies’ photographic food essay and love letter to all things culinary.  Foodies and photogs alike will go gaga for her recipe share.  I only wish she posted more, but alas this blog is done in her spare time which very understandably she has little of.

Anatomy of a Dinner Party Atlanta-based hostess with the mostest and modern day Miss Manners, Patti Davis serves up Southern hospitality with a smile.  I love her down-to-earth musings about food, fun and fetes.  Having been fortunate enough to attend one of her famous dinner parties (held in my honor!), I can certify that she knows how to throw a truly superb soiree!

Lulu Powers LuLu’s blog is clean and direct just like I like them.  Sharing everything from before and after party tables, to party tips (ribbon candy placeholders anyone?), to the perfect hostess gift (personalized enamel bracelets!), she covers your party planning A-Z.  Leaves me wanting more. . . xo 

HOME

Coco+Kelley My hat’s off to designer Cassandra LaValle for this truly gorgeous blog!  From fresh color palettes to fab fashion finds, Coco + Kelley does it all well, but where this blog really shines is its focus on stunning interiors.  My faves are the Room of the Week and Interiors to Inspire series!

Happiness is a Pink Foo Dog Hillary Thomas might be the happiest gal I know.  She’s finally taken her happy design out of the house and onto the web where she shares her secrets and takes you shopping.  Travel with her to Round Top to go antique-ing or to Palm Beach where she gives you the insider view of shopping for her One Kings Lane container sale.  Did I say she’s chic personified?  Oh yeah, that too.

Good Bones Great Pieces Mother/Daughter team Suzanne and Lauren McGrath are so gifted at finding amazing and unique accents for your home.  While they feature their fair share of pricey pieces, I’m endlessly inspired by the treasures they’re able to unearth at flea markets, consignment stores and estate sales.

LIFESTYLE

Very Good Looking A tribute to her late mother, Very Good Looking is just that.  Sally Horchow vlogs about everything from giving, mania, neatness and style, giving them her VGL stamp of approval.  Whip smart, I love her unique posts on everything from how to hang a salon-style wall at home, to how to buy a bra ( a favorite of my 3 year old).  Very Good Looking indeed.

Design Love Fest Inspiration abounds on uber-creative graphic designer Bri Emery’s blog.  Whether she’s featuring fashion finds, home decor, or a peek inside one of her fab Blogshop workshops, you can count on her posts to be fresh, fun, and (a tad) quirky.

 

 

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