Is this Art?

I slayed as an Artist-in-Residence in Cape Town, South Africa—  and here’s how

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Table Mountain and the Woodstock Neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa

Who am I anyway that I can give you advice?

My name is Kieran Elise O’Brien. The thing you should know about me is that I moved from my hometown of Victoria, BC to Montreal, Quebec in 2011 to get back together with my ex-boyfriend, which was exactly as bad an idea as it seems. When we broke up a year later, I ran away to Japan. In Japan, I fell in love (again) and in fairly short order I moved to Da Nang, Vietnam to chase that love (good news: we lived happily ever after). I want you to know that I have made some impulsive travel decisions (why yes, I am a sagittarius) and as much fun as it is to fly blindly into adventures: I propose that an Artist Residency is the best way to travel.  

Why?

  • Break out of your routine: You perceive time differently on vacation. I think there is nothing more inspiring than traveling. If you feel creatively stifled, If you feel bored by your day-to-day routines, then I am talking to you, dude. You don’t need to plan a trip to another continent. You can look for artist residencies in or near your own town. Look for short-term artist residencies. This one in Banff is only eight days long: https://www.banffcentre.ca/programs/winter-writers-retreat/20170213
  • Make time: You have a great idea for a novel. You used to paint and you’ve always meant to pick it up again. Take your creative work off of the backburner! Enter into an exceptional space where you can prioritize your creative work- and perhaps most importantly, where you can set yourself a deadline.    
  • Get access to resources: The architect behind Side Street Studios, Elad Kirshenbaum, was extraordinarily helpful to me. He was my host, tour guide, patron, collaborator and friend during my time in Cape Town. Through him, I had access to resources and connections that I would never have been able to source on my own.
  • Get to know a place: By setting aside a week (or four) to visit just one city, you are allowing yourself to fall in love with that place. Go for the thrill of something new and stay long enough to become a regular at your local cafe, to learn the street names, to notice all the glorious little differences made by a rainy day.

How it all began…

I had it in my head from the very beginning that I wanted to travel and be a graduate student. I am writing about my mother’s immigration to Canada from South Africa, and I study African Literature, so given my research interests, Cape Town became my desired destination early on in my academic career. I might have applied to a conference there, or applied to be a visiting student, both are good options for graduate students. Instead, I applied to be an Artist-in-Residence on the recommendation of my friend Zola (who writes a naturalist newsletter and is an all-round magnificent human being). She sent me a link to the website resartis, a “worldwide network of Artist Residencies” with a database that you can search by country. Unfortunately, there were only three residencies in South Africa listed on their site and none of them was quite the right fit for me. I decided to broaden my search. I googled “Cape Town Artist Residency” and from there I found Side Street Studios. Yes, that’s the big secret to my success: I literally just googled it.

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The Rooftop Residency at Side Street Studios in Cape Town, South Africa

Warning: Plan your trip well in advance to access travel grants

I contacted Side Street Studios by email and I sent them a project proposal. After that, the trip came together quickly- so quickly that I was not able to apply for the travel grants available through my department and through the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. I also missed out on applying for funding through my city, province and country. For example, I might have been eligible for funding through the Ontario Arts Council, which offers a “National and International Residency Projects” grant of up to $10,000. Don’t make the same mistake I did! I suggest you plan your residency a year and a half in advance, keeping funding deadlines in mind, as well as the particulars of your destination. For example, it’s a good idea to plan around weather conditions and national holidays.

Although I was not able to apply for the grants I’ve mentioned above, I did run a successful gofundme campaign. Through my campaign, I was able to raise enough money to cover the residency fee. Some Artist Residencies have fees, some don’t. Even those that don’t will certainly have associated costs like travel to and from the residency. Although some residencies have financial aid or honorariums to help you with your expenses. While you’re considering a particular residency, I recommend making a budget and estimating potential costs before you apply. It will come in handy when you try to access funding.      

40 days in Cape Town

With the help of family and friends, I made it to Cape Town. There in ‘the mother city,’ I met distant family members and I charted out a family tree that goes back six generations. I did as much sight-seeing as I could, and of course, I made art. I published a small zine that included the work of three local writers. I hosted a poetry reading and panel discussion with those same writers- and I designed a neon sign! It was my first foray into visual art. Looking back on my time in Cape Town, I am both proud of the work I did and grateful for the collaborative spirit of the many, many people who encouraged and inspired me to get creative. I hope that I can be one of those people for you. Go and get weird, my friend.

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home is no longer here. 2016. Neon sign. OneK collection. Cape Town.

P.S. Here are a couple of Artist Residencies that have caught my attention:

  • Cafe Tissardmine in Rissani, Morocco: The most important information we need is the reason you feel the desert is the right place for you to be.” 
  • The Kerouac Project in Orlando, Florida: Each residency consists of approximately a three month stay in the cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel Dharma Bums.”

Good Luck,

Kieran

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Kieran Elise O’Brien is a poet and a student at the University of Toronto where she is pursuing an MA in Creative Writing. She loves flowers, ice cream sandwiches and the pond in the courtyard at Massey College. She is currently working on a collection of poems about the adventures of her alter-ego Bad Cowgirl. You can find her on tumblr, twitter and instagram.

 

“Be Really Good at What You Do” and Other Advice From GirlBoss Sharon Lockwood

Writing this piece was really special for me. Sharon Lockwood is a Toronto-based designer, business woman extraordinaire, and –simply put — a creative genius. She is also my wonderful mum! Sharon has founded not just one but two businesses in her lifetime and we at If She Dreams have wanted to pick at her boss-lady brain for a long time now. I can easily say that my own entrepreneurial spirit was ignited by her example. Running my own business was never an impossibility and success was not off limits – she proved it. Interestingly, at around the same time that I took the plunge and started my own business(es), Sharon did the same for the second time! She expanded her graphic design firm Line of Sight Design with a new adventure in textiles called ZayZay,  an exotic brand of luxury linens. Read on as The Boss shares her insight and wisdom as an entrepreneur, a mother, and a woman of colour.

 So, tell us about your empire.

My first business was Line of Sight Design, a graphic design firm that I founded in 1985, which has been growing and creating ever since. Our expertise is in branding that includes marketing and promotional materials, websites, signage, multimedia exhibits, packaging, and event promotions. We even design wedding invitations!
In 2015, I launched ZayZay – a vibrant collection of luxury duvet covers and bed linens. We have 25 limited edition designs, all my original paintings and creations, printed onto the highest quality 100% Egyptian cotton. ZayZay linens transform a neutral space, the bedroom, into living art.

Why did you start ZayZay at this point in your career? You already had a super successful design firm going!

I have run Line of Sight for 30 years and have enjoyed every second of it. But I have been working primarily in the corporate realm all this time, which is consistent with revenue but a bit of a straight jacket in terms of creativity. Well, not always, though it is true that corporate graphic design is not generally very spontaneous or fun. What I longed for (and suppose what I got in small doses when I taught at Ryerson and OCAD) was an injection of spontaneity and joy from the creative aspects of design. I wanted to blend my business knowledge with something that would go back to my initial attraction to art college in the beginning: textiles. I spent several years thinking about how to leverage my experience and find an avenue to apply my creativity legitimately.

Eventually it came to me to create and design duvet covers – a duvet cover is essentially an 8-foot canvas for your bed! There is a lot of room for creativity there. From a business standpoint, I thought this would garner more revenue in a way that was very different from the billable hour model of graphic design.

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I put in about three years of intense research before launching ZayZay in October 2015. Skin health and the planet matter to me. Central to the philosophy of ZayZay is adherence and certified eco-integrity in the manufacturing, for example water recycling, no chemical additives, and fair and safe labour practices.

What have you learned on this new path from graphic design to textiles and retail?

 I am learning so much, honestly. I realized I had been so ignorant to many things about this new world we live in terms of communication.  But I also realized that I would have had to learn it with Line of Sight as well, even if ZayZay didn’t come about. Communication has changed drastically. There has been a profound shift in the way people talk to each other. So design, marketing, must change, too.
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Why did you start your own business in the first place and what do you like about it?

I love the flexibility. When I say flexibility, it’s a little bit delusional, but when you say you are your own boss it means you don’t have to ask permission – to pick up something or delay your arrival if needed. Not to say you can do this too often because you can’t (if you do, you won’t have a business). But you have the choice. That totally changes your relationship with work. Could I ever work for anyone else now? No, never. It’s the sense of freedom on a moment by moment basis that keeps me going.
When you say you are your own boss it means you don’t have to ask permission
When I was working for someone else in my early days as a designer, I made a lot of money for other people. I realized I could be the one to benefit financially from my own hard work. This was a huge, huge incentive for me to go off on my own.
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Accommodating a family was also a big factor. Having my own business, I could be flexible as a mum – I could even have my kids in my office (and I did at times). I don’t believe I would have held a job having three children within the space of four years because I was perpetually pregnant that whole time. The downside to being a small business owner while a mother was not being able to take maternity leave. On the other hand, the ability to say “I’m taking my kids to the doctor” or “I’m looking after my sick child today” without asking permission of anyone was huge. Mind you, you do have clients. In this sense, instead of having one boss, you have several people to answer to!

What advice do you have to other entrepreneurial women?

Being really good at what you do, really really good, and knowing you are good is a necessity when you have your own business. And you also can’t underestimate getting experience working for someone else because, in the end, it can be very costly learning lessons on your own.
Managing people well is also enormously important; that’s going to make or break your business. You have to have a policy for how you want people to behave, how your business should function, have a set of rules in place before you start, even before you have a staff. Lay down the game rules, make a wish list of exactly what each role entails and who you’d like to hire. So that you know before you’re in a position of panic what type of person you can and want to work with.
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However, none of this I knew when I started. When I started off on my own with Line of Sight, it was out of fury and rage because someone told me I couldn’t and I was determined. When people tell me I can’t, that propels me.
With my second company [ZayZay], it started very differently. I am older now but I am not ready to stop working. I wanted to change how I worked and have reason to be out of the office, exercise my creativity, travel, and put my signature on something. Design is often very anonymous and you create something beautiful on behalf of someone else. But ZayZay is mine, it’s my project. And, of course, I want to get really rich and indulge myself (and my children). Make money first and then go for the bohemian lifestyle 😉
When people tell me I can’t, that propels me.
 Looking back, anything you’d do differently?
Would I change anything? No, I wouldn’t.  Not at all. Even the last 12 months which have been very challenging, I have learned so much. And I’m grateful for that.

Pssst….ZayZay is having a massive sale for Valentine’s Day! Check out http://www.zayzayshop.com to see the deals – 40% off until February 14th! If you want to feel and see these beauties in real life, check out their pop-up shop at 216 Ossington Ave (just south of Dundas) from February 10-12th!

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My meeting with the office floor

There’s not much buildup to this story.

I fell on my butt on the office floor. plain and simple.

You know that out-of-body feeling where you can almost see yourself falling, there’s nothing to grab or catch, your feet have completely left the ground, and you realize mid air that you’re going down?

Yeh, that happened. And yes, you can laugh.

Am I surprised that this happened? No. not really. And I don’t think me walking around hastily in heels was really the cause. If I am to be honest, I was particularly antsy that day. And I knew I shouldn’t have been, the stakes weren’t nearly as high as other situations I have been in at work, but I had put an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to perform in this instance.

We all know those “strengths” that we throw all over our resumes and recite in interviews. I see “performs well under pressure” as a sort of “aspirational strength”. The one you claim, but yet are always striving to achieve: Can I continue to do this well? Can I continue to think calmly and rationally in tense, time sensitive situations? Can I meet this deadline when work isn’t the only thing on my mind – when my thoughts are plagued by other issues outside the office that garner my attention? (see Rebecca’s post on Balance: Making Space)

What do you do when you need to get something done and your nerves are firing up?

As I said, on this particular day, I didn’t think my nerves were warranted – it was a simple project in comparison to others I have done. But there I was, still nervous.

So because hindsight is 20/20, I’m taking the moment now to reflect on how I ended up on the office floor. I’m working on developing my strategies for figuring out how to keep those nerves at bay in truly stressful situations at work. Because it’s easy to say to yourself “don’t be nervous” – but what’s your next step when you still are?

As annoying and embarrassing as it was to fall crashing onto the office floor. It forced me to look at, and re-frame the situation. I wasn’t anywhere closer to where I needed to be, and it was clear to me my nerves were getting in the way, when the product needed to get out the door that day. I was less productive, and less careful.

It’s quite difficult to coach yourself in the middle of those situations, especially if you’re trying to meet a deadline – because you just “don’t have the time”. But after my meeting with the floor, I realized that I was doing myself and my work a disservice.

So I took a few minutes to breathe and to pray. Just a few. Some may opt to meditate, take a few deep breaths or maybe just take a quick walk down the office hall. The point is to take a moment to re-focus – however you’re best able to. I found those few minutes did a lot to allow me to calm myself.

And with that little bit of calm I gained from those few moments, I could look at the situation with fresh eyes. I was still antsy, and the work still needed to be done. But I could also distinguish a bit more between the pressures of the situation, and the pressures I put on myself. The pressure I put on myself was only compounding the pressure of the situation. I needed to focus more on all the steps I could take to meet the deadline, as opposed to telling myself – I just need to meet the deadline.

The difference between those two trains of thought is quite surprising.

All of a sudden accepting my limitations allowed me to focus on developing tangible steps within the parameters of my situation. I was now finding solutions geared towards the situation, as opposed to setting a forced benchmark for myself, with no framework, and no foundation.

I think this is the switch we have to have to figure out how to flick in each of those “hot” situations where the pressures in the work environment kick in. Somehow in that moment we need to focus on the problem, and less about the ideal that the outcome of the problem is sole validation of our strengths and our abilities. I think, with that, the angst can subside, and we can focus more on getting the task at hand done.

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16 Affordable Ways to Feel Like a Boss

1. Rosé – on a Sunday with sliced strawberries

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2. Develop a signature walk

3. White Sneakers (Sane Moyo’s guest post schooled us first on white sneakers. Read more of her fashion tips here: 5 Outfits to be Fierce, Comfortable, and Professional in the Office ) Next level your boss style by rocking an all-one-colour outfit. Black or white preferred, but for the boldest among you, step out in head-to-toe royal blue.

 

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4. Use Armani in a sentence. Any sentence. Chanel works too.

5. Have tea in the lobby of a five-star hotel. Tip included ($12). Wear the white sneakers.

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Photo Cred: Jeff Musolino

6. Run up a flight of stairs like Rocky. Throw some serious air punches.

7. Rooftops

8. Pay just to use the steam room and/or whirlpool at an expensive spa ($20 – $40).

9. Peel and quarter fruit (mango recommended). Sprinkle sugar and squeeze lemon juice on top. Eat with a little spoon.

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10. Don workout gear and go outside in time for the sunrise. Exercise optional.

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Own the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Come up with an alter ego. Hint: Sasha Fierce.

12. Pinstripes

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13. Vintage handkerchiefs

14. Eat only the icing in a minimum of 3 Oreos. Discard rest of cookie like a boss. 

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15.  Beyoncé – Flawless. Add Beyoncé and/or Rick Ross tracks as needed. Gyrating required.

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16. Create something. Anything.

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P.S… For immediate results use Jay Z – Dirt off Your Shoulder on repeat

5 Outfits to be Fierce, Comfortable, and Professional in the Office

Guest Post by Saneliso Moyo*

As a lover of fashion waking up every morning and figuring out what to wear is often the best and worst part of my day. How do I maintain a professional appearance while channelling my inner-Solange Knowles? Are matching sets workplace appropriate? What suit says “please hire me” but won’t make me sweat bullets when it’s 31 degrees outside?

How do I maintain a professional appearance while channelling my inner-Solange Knowles?

Beyond the superficial concerns about sweat and honoring my fashion idols, some very real anxieties about being a young, black woman in a very white and very male profession inform some of my decisions about what to wear each day. I always want to stay true to myself and my personal sense of style. However, I am also painfully aware of how my style choices can impact the way I am perceived by my colleagues, clients and prospective employers. But unpacking all of the ways my gender, race, class (or perceived class) and fashion choices work together to inform other people’s perceptions of me is perhaps a deeper discussion better left for a different day (or post)!

Being a self-proclaimed fashion girl and a new lawyer presents many a fashion related dilemmas. However, I do my best to find balance between being comfortable, fierce and professional whether it’s a day in the office, or a day in court. Check out the outfits below for a run-down of some of my favourite fashion-girl pieces, that can transform into office appropriate piece too!

  1. White Sneakers

Full disclosure, my office is probably among the more casual law offices out there. While jeans aren’t necessarily the norm, I can get away with a nice pair of sneakers paired with some fancy pants and a classic button up.

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How to pair white sneakers for work
  1. The Solange Suit

Suits don’t have to be boring! A bright suit colour may not always be courtroom or client-meeting friendly in all settings. However, it can be the perfect pop of excitement to break up the black, grey and navy suit rut we so often run into.

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Ditch the black and grey suit! Be bold!
  1. Bold Prints

Bold colours and bold prints are my favourite ways to make a statement in an otherwise ordinary piece. Try a conservative silhouette in a bold print paired with a classic shoe to mix things up a bit!

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  1. Jumpsuits

By far, my favourite article of clothing in this world is a jumpsuit/romper. I love them for everyday wear, special occasions AND work! For the summer months, try a  sleeveless jumpsuit with wide legs and some nude pumps or pointed toe flats.

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Jumpsuits for the office
  1. Chambray Button Up 2.0

A chambray top is a great piece for your work or casual wardrobe. A chambray top with beads (or any other unique detail) is even better! Pair it with slacks, or some white jeans (on casual Fridays) and a statement pump (think red or an animal print) for a fresh look.

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Chambray, chambray, chambray!

These are just a few outfits that let me live out my fashion girl dreams while pursuing my lawyer girl goals! I hope they inspire you to channel your inner [insert your fashion icon here] when you wake up for work tomorrow! 

 

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Photo: Martin Ejidra

*Saneliso is a lawyer by day, stylist by night. Known amongst her peers and friends as the most fashionable lawyer in the game, she never fails to impress. Saneliso is launching her own professional fashion blog soon – stay tuned for details! Follow Saneliso and her sartorial feats on Instagram: @saneliso_

I Choose Happiness

 

“What’s it like to be a lawyer?” That’s a question I asked myself and a question I am now asked as a lawyer time and time again. When I was accepted to law school I did what I do with most of the deep questions I have in life – I turned to Google. “Should I go to law school?”

The first result was entitled, “why law school is the worst decision you’ll make” – Ha! I read through it. The negatives included graduating with enormous debt, a lack of job opportunities and intense work hours. And like any bold-faced 23-year-old I thought, “pffffft – I can do anything I put my mind to.” I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve this coveted title. I also wanted to help people at a higher-level than I could as a front-line worker in the non-profit sector. So, I accepted the golden ticket and off I went.

I had some cool experiences in school but for the most part it was a lot of work and stress. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing since work and stress are integral to chasing any worthwhile goal. I had the opportunity to compete in several moots including the Jessup International Law Moot Competition and the International Criminal Court Trial Competition. Travelling to places like New York and the Netherlands to represent my school and country was thrilling to say the least and created memories that I look back on fondly.

After I articled I started my own practice. Starting a practice at a young age has been very challenging and rewarding. It is something many of my peers are interested in and seems to be the route young lawyers are choosing more often. I plan to provide seminars on this and other topics to support law students and new calls (stay tuned!).

So to answer my initial question, being a lawyer is a very subjective experience because it depends on who you are as a person. Some realities remain the same: you graduate with enormous debt, there are fewer job opportunities and hire-backs and the work hours are intense. Google was right. So, for those reasons being a new lawyer is very challenging.

The thing about actually practicing law is that you can help people solve their problems. However, you learn on the job since law school DOES NOT teach you how to practice as a lawyer. This is why senior lawyers say the first few years of practice are the most challenging because you are learning how to deliver services to clients, how to address the court, how to file applications and actions, etc.

When you begin practicing, you are also finishing the licensing process and law school, which leaves you a little more exhausted, knowledgeable, humble and risk-averse. Why? Because you spend three years studying case law with people who seem and may be a lot smarter than you. Case law, in part, is about punishing the poor buggar who wasn’t reasonable enough to prevent the incident that led to the car accident, or the death, or the unfinished contract, etc.

For example, if you produce a bottle of ginger beer and a worm somehow makes its way into the bottle and into your customer’s mouth, you’re probably getting sued. Decision? You’re likely paying damages to the plaintiff. Other ginger beer producers then hear about your punishment and think, “whoa – we are setting up policies that make it near impossible for worms to get into the bottles.” These decisions lead to better standards that punish negligent people/companies and make our society just a bit more harmonious.

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Winning First Runner-Up at the Hague at the International Criminal Court Trial Competition (2013)
So, as a law student, you spend three years studying the worst-case scenario. Your knack to spot trouble before it occurs is so acute that you can’t turn it off. Selling something to a friend? Don’t make any guarantees. Supplying something to a business? Make good on every precise condition and warranty in the contract. Thinking of starting a business? Here is a list of all the things that could go wrong.

While being familiar with risk is useful, it inadvertently makes you a bit more cynical about the world. That was tough for me to deal with when I began practicing. By nature, I’m an optimistic, risk-taking person and I am starting to see that while practicing law is a wonderful opportunity, I am currently not completely fulfilled by my work.

I had a heart-to-heart with a senior lawyer and I told this person, “3 years of law school, the bar exam and articling are exhausting enough – but to realize at the end of it all that you start from the bottom when you begin practicing law and have to overcome yet another learning curve with the added stress of debt and long work hours – that’s a tough pill to swallow.” The lawyer agreed, informing me that it takes about 10 years to build up enough experience to be really good at what you do. In 10 years I’ll be almost 40 and there’s a lot more I want to do with my life before then.

As a result, I am currently going through an internal conflict. My legal/rational brain tells me “Make more money!! You need to buy a house!! You need to have kids!! You need to build your practice!! How could you think of taking a risk on anything other than the stable growth of your practice?!” My heart tells me, “So you’re a lawyer now – but you’re only young once, baby – try acting, singing and dancing, explore comedy, start another cool business with your spicy man. Take more risks!”

This #SummerSixteen I am focused on following my heart through youtube videos, stand-up comedy, acting, and more. While I continue to practice law, I’m going to see where these artsy endeavors take me. Maybe I’ll get it out of my system and continue on the path of being an awesome lawyer or maybe they’ll change my trajectory completely. All I know is that while I am committed to excellent service for my clients, I am also committed to my happiness.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a lawyer, know that the path to become one is rocky and take some time to talk to or shadow different lawyers whose shoes you want to be in in a few years. If you really want to pursue this career, you’ll do it no matter what anyone says.

If you’re a lawyer and are not happy with your work or are considering starting again in a new field, do it. Don’t sit at your desk and work the rest of your life away. My friend Jean says, “you owe it to the world to share your talent.” She’s right. Live your best life, even if that means risking it all.

I am grateful to have made it this far and have the ability to help people solve their legal problems. I’ve proven to myself that I have what it takes to be a great lawyer and have worked with people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit, with entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, and other inspiring clients. But I’m young and life is short so I’m going to have some fun.

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5 Slay Tips from a Neurochemist, Writer, Friendship Expert, Executive, and Student

What does it mean to slay?

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I’ll admit—I’m still figuring it out.

But, I know this single mom with three kids, who survived a tsunami of bankruptcy, divorce, and welfare. Eighteen months later, she was an executive of a software company: Sarah Centrella.

I also know this Professor Emerita of neurochemistry at California State University. She rewires the brain for happiness. Dr. Loretta Breuning.

There’s this other boss-woman, she’s a friendship expert and the founder and CEO of GirfriendCircles.com who’ll chime in. Shasta Nelson.

Last, but never least, there’s Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love” and “Big Magic.” She knows a thing or two about pretty much everything.

These women live on my bookshelves and I know them inasmuch as I know their labored revelations, that which has been peeled from their minds and souls, and deposited into the pages of their books.

From each of them, I’ve sourced 1 tip that will help you learn how to slay. To these 4 tips, I’ve added 1 of my own, as a woman and student still figuring things out.

Tip 1.The Writer Tip: Make Room for Fear

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“Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?” -Jack Gilbert

A woman who slays is doubtlessly a courageous woman. And, talk of courage always comes back to fear – banishing it, mastering it, overcoming it.

Elizabeth Gilbert takes a different approach to fear in her book, “Big Magic”. She welcomes fear as the “conjoined twin” of creativity. Gilbert believes “Fear and creativity shared a womb,” and their familial lifeline means there’s fear you need, and that you should make space for it, “heaps of space”.

She calls for us to talk back to our fear not with anger, but cordially, because if you “can relax, fear relaxes, too.” Gilbert shows us by talking to her fear directly, and to me, emulating this is step 1 of learning how to Slay.

She says to Fear:

“Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused… You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to vote. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio.”

So we have our first slay lesson from one of the Greats: Invite fear along. Be kind to it. But as Gilbert warns, never ever let fear “drive the car.”

Tip 2.The Executive Tip: Say it & Slay it

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“I believe you can speak things into existence.” -Jay Z

Sarah Centrella charts an 8-step plan to success in her book “Hustle Believe Receive.”

These are the steps: Dream it. Think it. Say it. Write it. See it. Do it. Believe it. Live it.

Of the zillion gems in her book, for lesson 2, I’ve chosen this one for you: Say it. Sarah reminds us that owning your dream begins with verbalizing it.

She says, “Instead of saying If I become X, you say WHEN I become X. It’s really that simple… You talk about it in detail as if it’s a GIVEN. You know it’s coming. Not if, but WHEN.”

For Sarah, hers was a big dream to speak into being. She first vocalized her dreams on a bad date. She told him she was going to be on TV, meet Oprah, write a book, and change the world—all of which she did and is still doing.

To me, that’s a woman that slays.

Follow her footsteps by replacing “IF” with “WHEN” in your own life. Then find someone to share your biggest dream with. Don’t be realistic when you tell them about your dream. Be brave. Say it & Slay it.

Tip 3. The Friendship Expert Tip: It Takes a Village

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“The love in me calls out to the love in others and can never be extinguished.”-Shasta Nelson

It’s easy to let the word slay become a synonym for success. They evoke the same images: pantsuits, award ceremonies, ethereal gowns, finger-snapping.

But, my definition of slay is girded with community and friendship. It is through others, with others, and for others—it takes a village to find happiness and to stand in it, or in other words, to truly slay.

And, that’s why the friendship expert, Shasta Nelson, makes an appearance here. Shasta has written a book entitled, “Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness.” Shasta’s book teaches readers how to be a better friend, and by extension, a better person.

Stay tuned to Part II of this blog, launching Sunday June 26th, for one of Shasta’s core lessons and our third slay tip.

In Blog II: We’ll also learn from Dr. Breuning’s book, “Habits of a Happy Brain”. 

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And, you’ll finally hear my very own slay tip. 🙂

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