‘Homa

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Over the weekend, I went to see Jamey Johnson at the Stockyards with my parents. They’re groupies, so to speak. Fanatical followers, country music lovers & tour bus frequenters. The band gives them free tickets. During the gospel portion of Jamey’s show, mom & dad were clapping & hootin’ & hollerin’ like it was the day of Pentecost. It was a great time, dancing & drinks & real country music.

I’m in Oklahoma all week – seeing friends & family, freelancin’ like crazy & even traveling to OKC for some feature writing, interviews & tours. I’ll try to post later this week, but not guarantees. The busyness of spring has already begun.

If you’re around OK or in OKC this week, holler at me:)

XO,
J.

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Keep Austin Weird: Barton Springs Bares All

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The only Oklahomies who ever visit us down here deep in the heart of Texas is my parents & our forever BFFS, Devon & Billy. Devon, Billy & I went to high school together. A few years post-graduation, those two became lovahs & now they live & go to school in Ada, OK. We all have such a good time together, and they spent a long weekend with us.

The boys went golfing on Friday while Devon & I drove down to Austin for a day of shopping. We hit up SOCO, I found a rose rock ring at Uncommon Objects (TO DIE FOR) & we wined & dined on the patio at Perla’s. I especially love Austin for all its artisans… local, handmade items are not only in abundance, but one-of-a-kind. Investing in rare goods & local artists feels like a fun adventure, and building a house or wardrobe to reflect all the places I’ve been & loved is pretty cool.

We jokingly talked about heading to Hippie Hollow, the nudie beach, for some afternoon sunbathing. But we headed to Barton Springs Pool instead. Dev & I didn’t even pack suits, we just wanted to shed some outer layers & lay in the grass. Barton Springs, in the heart of Zilker Park,  seemed like the perfect option.

To my knowledge, unless a beach was explicitly described as a nude beach, everyone would have some clothing on. Maybe not a lot of clothing, but the main attractions (or horrors, depending on your point of view) of the human anatomy would be reserved for more intimate, private affairs. Nay. We found a grassy spot among the other sun worshipers, leaned back & about that time I noticed that everyone else’s boobs were out. Out, out, out. Big ones, little ones, white ones, black ones, tattooed ones, perky ones, saggy ones, ones with babies attached….Tops off errwhere. At this point, I start to wonder if I’ve perhaps missed something… but no. Women everywhere were sunbathing in the nearly nude.

Listen. I’m a pretty liberal person and as a country girl who grew up out in the middle of nowhere, I’ve done my share of topless tanning within the privacy of my own, secluded back porch. I mean, my goodness, if Duchess Kate can tan topless so can the rest of us. But in front of strangers, young families, old dudes? Outside of my comfort zone.

However, the longer I lay there & people watched the more I realized that A) everyone surprisingly looks more alike naked than you’d think. Sure, some are smaller or taller or rounder than others, but generally…We all have two eyes, a belly button, etc. and B) Ironically the more naked people got, the less sexualized nudity seemed. Unsuspecting people walking by would, sure, do an initial double take or perhaps suppress a smirk or sneak a giggle but beyond that, no one seemed to care. Kids didn’t care. Old men didn’t care. Groups of tourists didn’t care. They walked on, found their spots, or continued to swim or whatever right next to completely naked strangers. They carried on their conversations, read their books.

I thought, okay Austin…You’re pretty weird, but I can handle this.

Then an elderly man laid his beach towel right in front of Devon & I & proceeded to strip down to a speedo thong. It was our cue to leave.

Naked misadventures aside, the weekend was full of fun, good food & laughs. I love when friends visit…It’s like being home though we are hundreds of miles away.

xo,

J.

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Warby Parker Home Try-On

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I first discovered Warby Parker when doing some work related research on interactive annual reports. This company’s annual report just about takes the cake: fun, funky and spirited. But as I surfed the site, I became really interested in the actual product they were selling: glasses that give back. In a “one-for-one” fashion similar to TOMS, WP helps people all over the world gain access to better vision.

That philosophy, combined with the super affordable $95 price point, made a buyer out of me.

I ordered a Warby Parker Home Try-On. For FREE, you can choose 5 frames to try and WP will ship them to your house for you to keep  for the next 5 days. Try ’em on, wear ’em around, share on social media and garner feedback from your followers.

These were my home try-on picks:

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I was mostly looking forward to Griffin. I loved the keyhole and the summery color, but these frames are meant for bigger heads (and noses). They slid right off my face, every time. WP does this really awesome thing where if your frames don’t fit perfectly, you can go get them adjusted by any professional, send WP the receipt and they’ll reimburse you. Well played, WP.

I posted the top picks to Instagram & Facebook, and people were really surprisingly interested/invested in which to pick! My people are just cool like that. The top two picks were Griffin & Reilly. It was an even split down the middle. Ah!

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Ultimately, it came down to fit. The Reilly frame fit like a glove, and there was something chic about the oversized, dark frames that I loved. I just wasn’t sure the Griffin’s could be fitted to perfection as the Reilly’s were. Besides, I have a cheap pair of round sunnies that I LOVE, so choosing a different shape this time offered some diversity.

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I’m excited to have big girl sunnies! Up until this point, I bought $10 cheap frames from gas stations. I know, I’m grown’ up.

Have you tried Warby Parker yet? Where do you usually shop for frames? What are your favorite brands? Tell me in the comments!

XO

J.

Friends in New Places

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Making friends as a new adult is hard. You don’t fit in the college church youth group and you don’t fit it at Mommy’s Day Out, either (or whatever that’s called). The gym is happenin’ place for young professionals, but who really wants to make sweaty introductions in-between reps? Plus, what about the complete awkwardness of introducing yourself at random…What do you say?

“Hey, you don’t seem like a serial killer…Wanna be friends?”

Cory and I were having dinner with other young professionals, friends from my college days, when one guest began her awkward – albeit hilarious – tale of making a new friend in a new town. She, like us and so many other post grads, are transplants to towns we were never familiar with until we landed jobs. Everything she said was so relatable…Making a new acquaintance, then the awkwardness of “Do I text her first? I text twice & she hasn’t responded…Definitely not interested in friendship….OMG SHE JUST TEXT BACK! She invited me to her wedding shower…Should I go? Or was it like a, hey-I-just-met-you-here’s-a-courtesy-invite-but-please-don’t-for-real-show-up kind of thing?”

The awkwardness of making new, adult friends is real. And sometimes, real funny. That’s the risk of putting yourself out there…you may say or do something really weird, embarrass yourself, or mistake someone’s pantry for the exit IN FRONT OF EVERYONE (don’t judge me). In short, blind dates with new friends could be a disaster.

Or, you may get lucky and find people who are the laugh-with-you-not-at-you kind. And then kindly inform you that the pantry door is, indeed, NOT the exit.

Here’s the thing: making new friends in a new place is a long process. After a year in College Station, TX, Cory & I have finally found our groove. Yes, it took a whole year to start to feel like we belong. Looking back on the past 12ish months, we agreed on a few tried-and-true tactics for making friends in new places. 

1. Get curious. I asked Cory how he made so many friends at work, and developed such camaraderie with subordinates and upper level managers. He said “I ask a lot of questions…About their families, wives, husbands, kids, where they went to school…Everyone loves to tell their own story.” 

2. Get creepy. I mean this in the most legal, socially acceptable way. Please do not dress in an ankle length trench coat & proceed to stalk strangers down the street. I mean, get creepy on social media. When I moved to College Station, I started following all the movers & shakers: reporters, bloggers, volunteers, community advocates & leaders. When one local blogger tweeted about a current read, I initiated a conversation, she DM’d me an invite to her book club, I actually go, & BOOM. Now I meet monthly with a bunch of really cool women I can call friends.  Social media is meant to be, ya know, social. If we can find jobs, take classes or meet our soul mates online, we can meet our friends online, too. Get involved in the online community, initiate conversation and then take those relationships into the real world.

3. Say yes. Okay, I know by all appearances I am an extrovert. But I actually test much more “middle ground” than you’d probably imagine…and that results in a strong, introverted desire to spend every night in various states of undress while watching Netflix in lieu of participating in social functions. Cue Cory, stage left. On an average Thursday or Friday night he comes roaring in, informs me that he has already committed us to a social engagement and that I have 30 minutes to put on a bra, pants and some makeup and get my skinny butt out the door. Cory is a YES man, and thank God, because it’s lead us to a lot of great new friendships and new social circles.

When you move to a new place, do everything you can in the first 12 months to say yes to invites…Mixers, tweet ups, a night out at a new pub, a bar crawl, joining a professional association…whatever comes your way. See what fits, sift through what doesn’t and enjoy the excitement of meeting new people and taking chances.

All in all, we are really happy here. And confident that we can make life work & work well, no matter where we land. That’s the best thing about new, big, scary experiences: they give you the chance to prove to yourself that you can do anything, anywhere.

(Still not wearing maroon, btw.)

Go Pokes,

J.

photo credit: uBookworm via photopin cc

Shop Local

IMG_7193 Big city livin’ is not something I take for granted. I can find a place to eat any hour of the night (with drive-thrus!), we can partake in just about any form of entertainment imaginable, and we are just an hour’s drive from some of the coolest & happenin’-est cities for young people in the country, like Austin.

But when it comes to shopping, Southern Oklahoma is still my favorite spot. Local boutiques like the Lucky Rose, the Pink Pistol and Bliss are some of the most unique and impressively curated shops I’ve ever been to. Whenever I’m wearing pieces from any of those boutiques, I always get asked a million “Where’d ya get that?” questions…My finds range from funky to rare. Whenever I am in town, I go crazy shopping and browsing all my favorite places.

This weekend, I got to enjoy wine at the Lucky Rose Spring Fling event. It was an after-hours shopping extravaganza. The place was packed with ladies shopping, sharing, sipping and laughing.  It felt so cool, so forward, so exciting to be a part of –  as a guest and as a hired designer. Lisa Rose, the shop owner, is always pushing the envelope and blowing me away with new, fun and innovative ideas for her business and for Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

Evites I designed for the Lucky Rose's Spring Fling event

Evites I designed for the Lucky Rose’s Spring Fling event

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Infinity scarf from Murray on Main in Tishomingo, OK

Midi rings and chambray top from Bliss Boutique in Durant, OK

Midi rings and chambray top from Bliss Boutique in Durant, OK

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The ultimate underdog, Teddy

When I wasn’t shopping, I was eating with my parents, watching movies with friends, golfing and attending baby showers. It was a great weekend.

J.

Women’s History Month

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March is Women’s History Month! I am always curious about the lives of other women and what makes them beautiful, successful, endearing, unforgettable, powerful. I would definitely say that I come from a matriarchal family…a dip chewing great grandmother, a bull riding aunt, a mother who believed in raising smart girls. My mother taught me how to read, to draw, to imagine…Everything.

Where would we be without the women in our lives?

I wanted to share with you my favorite internet inspirations & all things woman. Enjoy!

Crazy successful woman // Designer Jessica Walsh

The Lean In Movement // leanin.org

What Being Woman Looks Like // stock images portraying the new age of womanhood 

The most beautiful speech on being beautiful // Lupita Nyong’o acceptance speech at the Black Women of Hollywood Luncheon

A post on infertility & keeping the faith // post by Rachel Shingleton of Pencil Shavings Studio

LPGA HSBC Women’s Championship // Paula Creamer sinks putt 

What you haven’t read since middle school but should probably revisit // Sojourner Truth December 1851 speech on women’s rights 

All my favorite gal inspirations on this Pinterest board

Zoey Deschanel drops the F bomb: feminism // Interview

And on that note, country singers loooove singing about reproductive rights. Here’s a couple of my favorite, sassy & outspoken tunes, from the classic Loretta Lynn to rockin’ Ashley Monroe.

J.

Braid: Personal Branding

Ya’ll know how spring goes: in like a lion, out like a lamb. At least, hopefully the last part is true. Around here, the madness of March began a little early. And the cherry on top of my chocolate covered crazy was this little factiod: Over the past month, this blog has been raking in anywhere from 1-2 thousand visitors….a day.

Discovering that my blog was, well, discovered was the internet equivalent of the curtain dropping and me standing there butt nekked. I felt ill prepared for it all…Unsure if that feeling was simply my own insecurity surfacing or rooted in a deeper need to hone in on my own personal brand, creative boundaries and vision for myself as a creative/communications professional, writer and blogger.

Cue Braid Creative & Consulting, stage left. By now you know I have a slight obsession/wannabe lesbian love affair with Kathleen Shannon. In addition to following along on her personal blog, I am always over at Braid Creative – the space where she & the Braid team consults creatives on how to better capture, shape and share who they are and what they do. The best thing about Braid is the ability to soak up their knowledge and expertise in a variety of layers …From exclusive (and free!) weekly emails on things like how to manage your morning routine, to blog posts about how to sell yourself or even one-on-one coaching for your small photography/design/handmade goods business.

After my semi-viral experience, I was feeling a little professionally and creatively lost. So I registered for one of the three available Ecourses Braid offered.

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Click here to find out more or sign up for any of the three available Ecourses. You can take it for a discounted $50 (yay, discounts!) by entering the code BRAIDECOURSE50 

 

What it is: This Ecourse is all uncovering who you are – as a person and a professional – and learning how to better bring your expertise to the home office or the corporate conference table. With videos & downloadble worksheets, this 3-part lesson helps you peel back the layers of confusion and get down to what makes you a uniquely creative powerhouse.

Who it’s for: The Braid ladies sell this course for creative entrepreneurs…the fearless self-employeed designers, photographers and writers. In my last job, the entire creative office was comprised of 9-5’ers who were also freelancers on the side. In my experience, this is common for the creative hearts out there: we like the paycheck and corporate hustle of a 9-5 gig but also crave the freedom and creative challenge of operating a freelance business. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, this course works. I think it’s also great for young post-grads who need to uncover and better define their unique voice, and learn to better sell that to a potential employer.

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What I liked: It’s a navigable, digestible 3-part lesson that’s easily consumed in tiny bits or one big chunk at a time. Overall, it takes about 4 hours to complete and it’s open and accessible for a week. It’s  not an overwhelming amount of content, but totally effective.

What I loved: The “Dinner Party” exercise. If I paid just for this worksheet alone, it would have been well worth the $75. When I registered for this course, I was feeling confused and conflicted about who I was and what I had to say. I felt the tension between different aspects of my personality…am I the pantsuit wearing, professional powerhouse or the wild haired, impassioned activist? Am I the doer or the the thinker? Am I the writer or the designer?

This exercise helped me define those pieces of myself as if they were real, whole people I’d go out to dinner with. What would they look like/wear? What would they talk about? After defining those personalities, I went back over my notes and highlighted the common themes. These themes formed the foundation – the common ground – of who I am in the office, out with friends, or on this blog. Big picture thinker. Believer and promoter of good and good people. Decisive leader. Clutch player. Curious student. Lives to bring people together in words, beliefs and actions. These are personal passions and professional strengths.

I learned, with Braid’s help, that the aspects of my personality don’t have to be North or South ends of magnets, repelling each other with force or clumsily avoiding each other. Instead, my personality aspects are a puzzle pieces, fitting together to form the unique, valuable professional package that is me.

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Man, that’s some good stuff. I only wish I had taken this class sooner – it provided the perfect structure and space for narrowing in on what I do best.

You can sign up for the Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do ECourse here. Take it for $50 by using the discount code BRAIDECOURSE50. 

 If you take it, let me know…What was your favorite part? What do you wish you’d known sooner? What blew you away? Tell me in the comments!

j.