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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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