May is that time of year when our newsfeeds are filled with wonderful graduation photos and clips of various commencement speeches. I always love a good inspirational commencement address, and this year it was Will Ferrell’s words to the USC graduates that left an impression.
Along with his undeniable humor (and a stellar version of a Whitney Houston song!), he included a strong reminder “to enjoy the journey – and worry less about the outcome”. He also touched on a theme my husband and I find ourselves discussing often these days: the definition of success. Even with all of Will Ferrell’s outward accomplishments and accolades, he considers his biggest successes to be personal –
• His 16 year marriage to his wife, Viveca
• Their three sons
• The service work he holds dear
As parents, we’ve hit that point when our kids and their friends have graduated from college, and many conversations with the twenty-somethings and the parent-somethings revolve around the ideas of ‘success’. It seems that the idea of success is frequently focused around a certain job/which falls into a few certain industries/commanding a certain salary/after obtaining certain types of degrees/from certain types of institutions … yes, certainly a few very narrow parameters – that many ‘kids’ don’t fit into.
Over the past few years my husband and I have spoken about this frequently, as we have come to realize that the biggest – and undoubtedly most significant – success in our lives has been our relationship with each other and the raising of the two human beings who are our sons. There is not much talk today in this younger generation (or, quite honestly, by some of our contemporaries) about how to be successful in relationships – the significance of finding people to share your life, and how to create a partnership with another person. There is limited focus on the importance of connections, kinship, and community – with modern emphasis placed on the best grades, high test scores, and getting into ‘good’ schools – followed by a similar narrow mindset as our kids step out of college and into the workforce. We wonder what this will mean to a generation raised to value achievements over kindness, getting good grades over being good people, IQ over EQ – how do we teach care and responsibility in relationships?
Now that our kids are out of school and working adults, we hope they received the message: being a good person, finding a loving life partner, and being of service in the world is ALSO what success is all about. We will continue to instill these values. My husband and I would not have found half of the success in the other endeavors in our lives if we didn’t share a strong foundational relationship. We have supported one another through business endeavors, charity and community work, and – of course – on the parenting journey. If I could send a message to anyone discussing the concept of success it is this: don’t forget what makes the world go ‘round. Whether you are a parent who is still guiding an adult child, or a child who is striving to be successful, remember when you look back on your life (even when you are only halfway there, like I am) you will measure your successes based on the people who surround you and love you and have been on the journey with you. It is not always an easy path, and you will want to have good people by your side to share your triumphs – and the inevitable bumps – along the way. Let’s widen our definition of success for these kids who are stepping into the real world and allow it to include, among other things, the value of creating a life that includes relationships, family, and meaning – for these are the truest riches that life has to offer. Congratulations to the class of 2017.
Karen Hill has been a go-to friend for fashion advice and knowledge, so I was thrilled about the launch of her new venture – a Stylist business combining her experience in the industry with innate great taste and her ongoing love affair with style – Passion for Fashion. Her recently debuted Personal Styling Services specialize in closet edits, personal shopping, and styling updates. Karen’s years of hands-on retail experience help her organize what you already own (and create new looks from those pieces hanging in the closet), navigate stores to best fit your aesthetic and budget … and to help create a wardrobe reflecting who you are today, bringing out your best and most confident self.
If you are ready to streamline your closet, reimagine your look, find a perfect special occasion outfit or gift, Passion for Fashion has you covered. Karen has a fashion girl’s eye, with a mother’s practicality – creating an effortlessly stylish wardrobe for the busy modern woman.
A few of her favorite Spring trends?
Try some feminine ruffles, the bell sleeve, “cold shoulder” tops and dresses- all flirty with movement. Add a chunky heeled sandal or cute wedge…finish off with a cuff bracelet and fun tassel earrings!
Connect with Karen: email@example.com
Good advice is a gift — what is the best advice you’ve been given?
‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated’ and ‘What goes around comes around’ — two pieces of advice that are often intertwined!
What is on the top of your bucket list?
I’d love to travel to Europe with my family, and visit my roots in Poland. As a shopping aficionado, I would love to see Kraków’s Cloth Hall, the 14th century trading hall that solidified Kraków’s importance as an east-west trading post, beginning with textiles and fabrics. Fashion is everywhere!
Who would you invite to your ideal Girl’s Night?
My mom and my sisters, besties from California and Chicago…and how about Oprah and Ellen – guaranteed to be an evening filled with love and laughter.
What is your go-to piece of clothing?
Can I admit this as a Personal Stylist? Lululemon leggings. (Comfort is important!) And I never tire of a great pair of jeans with a beautiful top – boots in the winter, and sandals every other season.
What do you sing when you are alone in your car?
Bruno Mars and any R & B – my car is basically Soul Train.
What was the best compliment you have received?
To be told that I am thoughtful, friendly, and always smiling. I love showing people how much I care about them!
How has your life been different than you imagined?
Chicago girl moves to California, and has now lived here almost as many years as I was in Chicago. I love being a California girl – though it’s very true: you can take the girl out of the Mid-West, but you can’t take the Mid-West out of the girl. I’m a happy hybrid.
What is your most-used word? (And what word do you wish everyone would stop using?)
‘Dear’! I find myself using it a lot now that it’s just the two of us at home, “Dear, what would you like for dinner?”, etc! I DISlike the word ‘ like’ …can’t wait for that phase to end!
Who is your celebrity crush?
Hmmmm…must I choose just one? I choose David Beckham, Josh Duhamel, and Blake Shelton! (rule of three!)
How would you spend your perfect day?
A sunny morning with some exercise (wearing my lulus!)
Lunch with a friend (Perfect jeans and a favorite top!)
Cozy dinner at home with my husband watching our favorite show, sports or a movie (Yep, back in my lulus!)
What is your favorite museum?
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago – there is something for everyone. I grew up visiting the Field Museum, and was so excited to share the experience with my husband and kids! It’s a must-do when you are in Chicago.
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
I notice their smile … and definitely if they look me in the eye!
Last week, with Easter approaching, I was inspired to create a pretty floral arrangement for the entry of our home. My husband and sons were traveling in Asia on business, and planning to return the night before Easter – a few special touches would welcome them back for a very simple holiday. A favorite arrangement I love recreating every year adds color, whimsy, and tradition – several bunches of multicolored tulips surrounded with plastic Easter eggs placed in the water around the stems. It’s a fun presentation and I admit I was pretty proud of the result. (When you grow up with a mother who is a floral designer, you don’t have to learn to do many of these arrangements yourself.) So, in my “proud as a peacock” moment I snapped a photo and posted it to Instagram and Facebook. As the likes started coming in, I looked a little more closely at my Easter arrangement.
Oh no! There isn’t a pink egg showing on this side to match the pink tulip!
Shoot! There are two purple eggs on that side!
Whatttt was I thinking!? How could I have posted this? Why didn’t I move the votives out of the shot? Does that gold mirror clash? Why didn’t I look more carefully? Why didn’t I style it? Should I have used a filter? Should I take it down and fix it and post it again? Will anyone notice if I do that?! Blah blah blah blah blah…STOP!!!! Breathe…..
I calmed myself down, realizing that so much of what we see these days is so “filtered” and “overstyled” that I was actually questioning something really ridiculous. I became curious about how often I might shift into this mindset – the need to over style or over edit things to be perfect. I once posted a picture of one of the most beautiful people I know, and they were disappointed that I hadn’t used the Facetune app. (believe me, they looked amazing) I’m not dissing Facetune or filters or editing tools – and using enhancements can be fun once in a while – but I realized how much this notion of needing our photos and lives “styled” and “perfect” can seep into our consciousness even at the most elementary level … A flower arrangement! Really, Jane?
I left the picture where it was. I stopped worrying about it, instead of entering the crazy-making obsession of perfection. I now look at the photo and love its authenticity – and that it was a snapshot of my happy labor of love. Just the fact that I got it done was a miracle to celebrate! And the reality is my mismatched tulip-and-Easter-egg arrangement got the most important likes of all when my family came home.
I was recently introduced, by my friend Kim, to another new obsession! It’s cold, crunchy and addictive. We were serving Mai Tais at a party and had an overwhelming craving for crushed ice to take the cocktails to the next level (holla, Trader Vic’s fans!) – and Kim said: We Need Sonic Ice! How have I lived so long without those little ice nuggets? Originating at the Sonic Drive-In – yes, you can actually pull up to the drive-through window and shout “I’ll have a burger, fries, and a bag of your addictive ice, please” – and bring this terrifically textured ice home to use in Mai Tais…or whatever you crave. The Sonic Ice craze has also inspired at-home copycat machines to create this magic ice in your own kitchen. You may not be surprised to hear that I am considering a countertop machine at my house…cocktails, anyone?
Amika Mighty Mini Dryer
I have always loved anything miniature (ponies, dollhouses, cupcakes), so this cute-as-a-button hairdryer immediately caught my eye. The travel-size dryer is quiet, powerful, and perfect for travel, and the stylish Pucci-esque packaging makes me smile. Amika also makes a tiny straightening iron – get your cuteness on!
Spring clean your inbox! I recently learned about this amazing technology tool (thanks, Alex Franzen), making it easy to declutter your mailbox. A cleaner inbox and a better way to manage email subscriptions? Sign me up! Unsubscribe from unwanted emails, and consolidate the rest into a convenient daily digest called the Rollup. A great way to edit your online life.
Unroll yourself here
Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake
If you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may remember Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake. Always a birthday party favorite, I’ve longed for this childhood favorite since Blum’s closed. The original Blum’s Bakeshop/Soda Fountain was located across from Union Square, and was a favorite lunch destination with my mother and grandmother. I recently learned there are a few bakeries in the city (Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop and Lotta’s Bakery) that sell the Original Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake. I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up one evening at my investment club group dinner; the delicious taste and textures (spongy, silky, crunchy) took me right back to the sweet memories I had long forgotten. You know what I’ll be serving for special occasions at my house this year!
If you are into DIY baking the recipe is also online!
Smith & Cult Nail Polish
Jeanne Chavez, a friend from high school, has been a rockstar in the beauty industry. Co-creator of Hard Candy, which revolutionized nail color, she now brings us Smith & Cult – each eye-catching shade is inspired by a fictional character. I have been obsessed with these polishes since they first arrived on the beauty scene (my current favorite colors are 1972, Regret the Moon, and Sugarette).
Check out the beautiful polishes for yourself here
I’ve been waiting for this one to become available in my area for a long time…the blowdry specialist who comes to your home. There are several apps like this out there in various markets and I’m happy to report San Francisco has STYLEBEE. Skip the salon and take advantage of a hair or makeup beauty pro who comes to you! (Now I need to find the carwash version…)
Sign up here now
Colorize Your Keyboard
Thanks to following some clever gals on Instagram, I spotted a fun way to jazz up my work space! When it comes to color, you had me at blue – and a rainbow keyboard cover was something I just couldn’t resist. An easy way to bring a touch of spring into your every day. All of the iBenzer products (in a multitude of colors) can be found on Amazon for next day delivery.