Category Archives: advice

How To Figure Out What You Want To Do With Your Life… Once And For All!

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One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I figure out what I want to do with my life?” It’s a big question, no doubt, and there is no magic bullet answer. But to avoid getting mired in analysis paralysis, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to get so much closer to figuring it out.

On Saturday, my friend Ellen — who is my Miracle Worker co-founder — and I hopped on Skype to talk for 10 minutes about what you can do if you don’t know where to start. If you’re reading this through your email, click through to the article for the embedded audio file!



Of course, now the key is to take our suggestions, write them down, and do some brainstorming!

If you’d like to join us for our second intake of Miracle Worker, click through for all the details! (P.S. Enter the code hellyes for $100 off!)

Much love,

Photo by Made U Look.

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Three Question Thursday: Comparison, Friendship Break-Ups, And Staying Positive

Three Question Thursday: Comparison, Friendship Break-Ups, And Staying Positive

Wow! I received so many questions from you all on my Facebook page that I decided to create a new feature: Three Question Thursday! The premise is simple: I take three questions you’ve asked me about life, love or happiness, and answer them in video format.

For the very first Three Question Thursday, I answered questions from Cynthia, JessieAnne, and Jess, who asked me about how to stop comparing yourself to others, coping with potential friend break-ups, and maintaining a positive outlook.

I recorded this beside the pool at The Standard Spa in Miami, where I was taking a break from New York’s never-ending snow, ice and slush. There are many birds chirping in the background, and I hope it brings a little digital sunshine to your day!

 

Once you’ve seen the video, I’d love it if you clicked through to Youtube and told us what you do to keep your happiness levels high!

Meow!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, dress is from ASOS, and I it!
P.P.S. If this post showed up in your email, just click here to see the video!

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5 Steps To Create A Fun, Eclectic, Colourful Living Room

5 Steps To Create A Fun, Eclectic, Colourful Living Room

Decorating your living room — when you’re (supposed to be) a full-blown adult — can be intimidating, to say the least. By now, you’re probably past the stage of simply “making do” with whatever is around (like leftovers from your boyfriend’s bachelor days, a couch you found on the street, and a table someone gave you). Perhaps now you’re really ready to fully commit to decorating: not just furnishing.

But it’s scary. Furniture is expensive, and much more difficult to return than, say, a dress that doesn’t fit. How do you know if it’s all going to go together once it arrives in your house? Trust me, I’ve been there!

Recently, I received this email from my friend. She asked,

“We want to put colour in the living room, but we’re both a little scared of it. What will go together, and how do we get that fine line between having a fun, eclectic colourful space without it looking like a clashing, crazy messy shit-show? We want to do what you did: buy everything together so it all fits the same theme, and works as a complete room, but we dont really know where to start. Curtains, coffee table, accessories, ARGH! We now have a very clean, white room but it needs some damn pop. HELP REQUIRED!”

Last summer, I started to beautify Darling HQ with the help of my genius decorator (and glitter guru) Tiffany Pratt. Here are some of the things I learned from watching her work her magic!

5 Steps To Create A Fun, Eclectic, Colourful Living Room

START SIMPLE, AND LAYER IN A COUPLE OF COLOURS

The foundational pieces in my living room are white, grey, or glass. That makes it really easy to add colour on top.

Having said this, while it can be tempting to pick one colour and just go for it, this makes things look a bit stiff, a bit one-dimensional. Let’s take my living room as an example. It was painted white — including the doors — with wood floors. The only colour I knew I wanted in my room was pink, but I didn’t want to go nuts because I do, after all, share my home with my husband!

The second colour, turquoise, came through very organically. At the flea market, we picked up a handful of whitewashed pieces, including an armoire which had a turquoise base coat. Then, at IKEA, I fell in love with a turquoise over-dyed patchwork rug. I love pink and turquoise together, so I was thrilled!

Think about the colours you really, really love. What combinations make you smile? I strongly believe that the colours in your home should make you feel instantly happy when you look at them!

5 Steps To Create A Fun, Eclectic, Colourful Living Room

VARY YOUR SOURCES

As great as IKEA is, you don’t want your home to look like an IKEA catalogue. The easiest way to make sure this doesn’t happen? Don’t make IKEA your first stop! Otherwise, the temptation to furnish your whole home with particle-board is overwhelming!

Plan your time and do as much research online as you can. It will save you so much grief! Tiffany and I were able to knock all our shopping out in three days because we were informed, yo!

Here’s how we broke it down.

We started at a flea market, where we picked up three tables, an awesome mirror with plenty of patina, and a huge whitewashed armoire. (It’s magical.) I was really surprised by how easy the whole experience was, and even had 90% of the stuff delivered that same day. Incredible!

Next, we visited ABC Home, which is basically interior pornography. This is where I pulled the trigger on my first “big girl” chair: a lipstick pink BEAUTY of epic proportions, and a fabulous cushion printed with a neon pink eye. I could not resist.

The next day, we went to IKEA to plug those essential gaps (“Oh, we don’t have a fill-in-the-blank yet — we’ll just get it at IKEA”). At IKEA, we scored my desk, the rug, and our coffee tables. (They’re temporary, but they do the trick for now. I’m still on the hunt for something I love!) We have a lot of IKEA in our home: bookcases, the kitchen table, our bed, dressers, etc. It works just fine.

Homegoods was our last stop, for — as Tiffany calls it — “frosting”. I got lots of wonderful little things there that made our house feel like a home, and it was the most fun place to visit (in my opinion). Once the big, kind of scary stuff was out of the way, it was time to play! We picked up lamps, tsotchkes, trays, big Buddha heads, palmistry statues, mirrors… You get the idea. Stores like Homegoods or TJ Maxx are the best for great, inexpensive things. In fact, just before Christmas, I went to TJ Maxx’s homewares department and scored big: Kate Spade placemats, Cynthia Rowley drawer pulls, a sparkly tablecloth, and trays for the top of my dresser.

Everything else was purchased online. Hallelujah! Our sofa is the Finn from West Elm, the sick Kartell lamp on my desk was sourced on eBay for a fraction of ABC Home’s price, and I picked up Jonathan Adler rainbow sequin pillows with a gift card from my mother. (See below.) They. Are. AMAZING!

Sequin rainbow pillows from Jonathan Adler

FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!

My experience with Tiffany was a little scary, I have to say. I had been to plenty of flea markets, but I had never gone there prepared to make any big purchases. This was very, very different. Within about 15 minutes of arriving at the Brooklyn Flea, we had already purchased an enormous armoire, an ornate mirror, a side table, and a huge folding panel!

It was a pretty drastic change of pace, and it required some ultra-fast processing on my part. Throwing down cash on clothing is one thing, and it’s something I’m pretty comfortable with, but when it came to furniture, I was freaked out! However, Tiffany reassured me that I was making good choices, and life went on. I’m glad she did — if she hadn’t, by the time I had gotten comfortable with the idea, the pieces I wanted would have definitely been snapped up.

What I learned from spending time with Tiffany is that if you like something, you have to pounce on it. Don’t let analysis paralysis get the best of you. You can um and ah over every single item in your house, but it’s best to take the BandAid approach: rip it off quickly, and let the chips fall where they may!

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ACCESSORIES MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Don’t forget to put signs of life into your home! After all, anyone can go out and buy this couch or that rug, but it’s the real, true expressions of your personality and interests that will make your home unique and different. In fact, when you look at photos of rooms you like, you’ll probably notice that what makes them really pop are the unusual or funny accent pieces.

So, ask yourself: what are the things that make you feel like you are really home?

Personally, I need candles burning, trays full of crystals, a rainbow maker stuck to at least window (they are truly magical), sequins, and plenty of weird art. I want fresh flowers and lots of mirrors with Instax photos stuck into the frames. I hang my clothes up like art.

Those are the things that make me feel glad to be home. Even though I love my couch, because damn, is it ever comfortable, it doesn’t add any soul to the room. My collections of weird stuff, though, do. They make the difference between a house and a home.

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DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY!

Shopping for homewares — just like shopping for shoes — should be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong! You’re choosing a rug, not doing your taxes, so lighten up a little. If you get something home and it absolutely does not work, you can always return it! Plus, remember, nothing stays the same forever. You will probably not love that couch until you’re 55 years old. It’s okay to buy something you love right now, and change it later.

In fact, I think buying pieces with the knowledge that you may not love it in 10 years is great. Who wants to furnish their home while thinking about what might please their senior self? Puh-LEASE! What a yawn.

Throw caution to the wind! If you want a sparkly bead curtain, by all means, buy one! If you can’t resist a really odd painting, go get it, tiger! Purchase things that make you feel something. Do it with joy!

Tiffany Pratt

Of course, I had to go direct to my glitter guru for her thoughts on the matter. I am an amateur, while she does this 24/7! I mean, have you seen The Glitter Suite?! I love her advice.

TIFFANY SAYS…

“Adding color to your home should be like putting on great music. Colour is a symphony and in design we let one of the colors be the conductor. You do not need to limit the use of color by selecting number— start yourself with a great neutral base to add to slowly. This way whatever you add will be a noncommittal accessory which you can add to or take away. What color you are feeling will be the ones that you introduce by way of pillows, occasional chairs, wallpaper, accessories and throws. In the case of Gala’s space, we let pink prevail–but placed it in an all white-room background and hit it with turquoise, black and a few rainbows for texture. Consider the big things in your room the base line foundation pieces–they will always look chic in a neutral. Then you frost it with the fun color–so you can grow and change with your hot damn pops of color and your wild collections of interest. Have fun. Don’t stress. Enjoy the ride.”

Perfection.

Kisses,

Image sources: Tiffany Pratt, Zilverblawu, Dallas Shaw, Ryan Korban.

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Q&A: Surviving A Job You Hate, Dealing With Gossip, Staying Motivated, And More!

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Tonight, Shauna and I fly out to Sydney, but not before spending the day in Los Angeles! I’m amped about eating fresh salads, drinking green juice, and doing a bit of shopping before we drag our tired cabooses onto the plane. It’s such a fun city!

Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago, I put out an open call on Facebook for questions I could answer on my blog. Below you’ll see a nice variety of topics, ranging from work to entrepreneurship to gossip to creativity. I love doing these posts!

“How do you make a job you hate but can’t afford to leave (for the time being anyway) suck just a little bit less?” — Alison Benbough

Keep your eye on the prize. Remind yourself regularly why you are staying there: is it so you can save enough money to launch your own business? Are you working to become debt-free? Knowing why you’re doing something is essential to staying motivated and keeping your spirits up. There’s nothing worse than feeling hopeless or doing something that feels pointless.

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, generally, spend time trying new things. Experiment, play, volunteer. I firmly believe that we discover our passions by doing, not by thinking.

Work to develop your life outside of your job. Your 9-5 might be a shitfest, but you can still enjoy your life. Have weekly dinner dates with your friends, work on your blog, paint before you go to bed, work your way through everything your favourite author has ever written. Don’t let your job — and your lack of love for it — consume you.

Make your workspace feel special. Decorate your cubicle with things that make you smile. Ask if you can work from home one day a week. Figure out how to have fun with your workmates.

Be grateful that you have work, a roof over your head, enough food on the table. That is an enormous blessing.

Know when you want to leave. Set yourself a deadline, and start getting your ducks in a row. You deserve to be doing work that you enjoy. We all do!

“How do you go from blogging as a hobby to blogging professionally (making it your job). I know for you it was a case of fuck it I’m doing this but how would you suggest going from one to another without losing an income?” — Amy Bambrick

KEEP YOUR DAY JOB. I would never suggest anyone do what I did, which was start a blog with no back-up plan. I am a born risk-taker and have done many foolish things. I was extremely fortunate that this worked for me, but other people may not be so lucky. Keep working at your day job while you blog in your spare time, and continue doing so until you are making enough money from your blog to match your salary. And check out Blogcademy Home School for plenty of short videos on how to make some blog money, honey!

“How do you deal with BS gossip from others in the most lady-like fashion to prove it is not true what they say?” — Mani C. Price

Gotta go with A Course In Miracles on this one. Lesson 153: In my defenselessness my safety lies. When we’re attacked by gossip, we feel that to stay quiet is weakness, and to hit back is strength. Actually, the opposite is true. When you attempt to defend yourself, you’re showing others that you’ve been hurt and that you are vulnerable. When we refuse to defend ourselves, we find freedom from fear. We don’t feed the cycle. And we demonstrate, both to ourselves and others, that we don’t need to defend ourselves — because we’re innocent. See those attacks as calls for love, and respond with love. (Here’s more info on Lesson 153.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will never change most people’s minds, simply because the majority of us are all so stubborn and full of pride that we will never admit we could have been wrong. The best thing to do is go on and live your life, and forget all about them. Living well is the best revenge!

“Hi Gala – I’m feeling really creative just now and want to do something but everytime I sit down to do something, my mind goes blank have you got any ideas for getting inspiration please? What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut and get fed up?” — Chloe McKay

I think our creativity is easily stifled by our need for perfection. When we place unrealistically high expectations on ourselves, there’s no sense of fun or play. That really sucks the joy out of it, and perpetuates that feeling of being blocked and uninspired.

My recommendation is to put aside your expectations, and instead, embrace discovery, making a mess, and see art as something relaxing that you do for fun. Hopefully that will help open up your creative impulses! I also recommend Radical Self Love Bible School: it’s a fantastic way to loosen up around your art, and also create something beautiful which has meaning.

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“I’ve been sick and physically unable to do much the last few weeks, what are some good tips to bounce back after having to take a break from your business?” — Mary Rose

I have to defer to Grace Quantock for this one! She is an amazing, powerful witch babe from Wales, who is also a trail-blazing wellness provocateur. I asked her if she had a post on this very subject, and she wrote it just for you! Check out Chronic Illness Q & A: 7 Steps To Your Business Comeback.

“I need help eating healthy and working out while I work at my job. What do you eat and what do you do to work out?” — Dawn Dubriel

They say that abs are made in the kitchen, and it’s true. Even if you’re working out like mad, if you eat a lot of rubbish, you’ll never see the results you’re looking for. So it all starts with eating the right food.

I eat in an extremely regimented, routine manner. Oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs, grilled salmon or chicken, dark green salads, green apples with almond butter, vegetables, and soup are my everyday fuel. I like eating to a schedule, and I don’t mind eating the same thing over and over again. But I also don’t believe in living a horrible life, so I treat myself, too. One of my favourite things right now is an Earl Grey Creme Latte from Teavana. OMG.

I eat in this regimented way because when I’m not organised and my pantry and fridge are empty, I go completely nuts and end up eating half a container of Ben & Jerry’s every night. (This is not an exaggeration.) Having a good breakfast inspires me to have a healthy lunch, and a good dinner. I’m a sugar fiend, but the less I eat of it, the less I want it… I try not to go too crazy on sweet things in general. (It doesn’t always work.)

I work out 5 times a week: 2 sessions of Pilates and 3 sessions of weight-training. I love it (and I love my trainers) but it ain’t cheap. If you want to try something inexpensive, Kayla Itsines has crazy good workout guides that gives amazing results. Same goes for Tone It Up (I adore Karena and Katrina). The Nike Training Club app is free! I also have a subscription to Yogaglo and I do a couple of sessions a week at home. Nothing crazy, just good stretching and hip-opening stuff. Very satisfying (and $19 a month, I think).

The key is to figure out what motivates you. I am motivated — unfortunately — by having someone waiting for me at the gym and knowing that if I cancel, I still have to pay for the session. Nothing else really sticks. You also have to find something that is fun for you. I love the bad-assery of weight-training and the graceful challenge that I get from Pilates. But I also love dancing around my house. So, find something you really like! As I said earlier, we find what we enjoy by doing, not thinking, so take some classes and see what you like!

“What advice do you have about writing the about section on a product business website?” — Angel London

Check out this Blogcademy Home School video on writing about pages! I got you covered, girl!

“I can tell you are someone who is motivated and driven. How do you keep your long term goals in sight and stay on track? How do you keep yourself from saving things for the last minute?” — Surabhi Jain

You might be surprised to hear this, but I often leave things until the last minute! This is just human nature. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Put differently, the length of time you give yourself to complete a task is the length of time it will take. BOOM! Mind blown!

If you can’t remember your goals, you have too many. Narrow them down. Get rid of half. Focus on the stuff that really thrills you. I keep myself organised with my Filofax, and make daily to-do lists. The top 3 items on the list are the most important, aka, if I only complete these 3 things today, it will be a good day, productivity-wise. Everything else is a “would be nice to complete”.

It’s okay to leave things to the last minute as long as they get done and you feel proud of the end result. But you can trick yourself into doing things earlier by cutting your deadlines in half, making yourself publicly accountable, or giving yourself rewards. That having been said, if there’s something on your list that you keep putting off, it’s time to ask yourself why and reappraise the situation. If it doesn’t light you up anymore, move on to something that does!

“Do you have a favorite beverage? (Alcoholic or otherwise.)” — Meredith Schneider

If ginger beer is on the menu, I will always order it. My second choice would be ginger ale. (I’m a fan of ginger, clearly.) I’m obsessed with hot chocolate (the thicker and chocolatier the better) chai, and hibiscus iced tea. As for alcohol, the only thing I really enjoy drinking is cider. But I probably have between 10 and 15 alcoholic drinks a year. It’s just not my thing!

“What are the most important things when it comes to your writing? What is your writing process? Do you work strictly on the computer or do you work off paper as well? How do you convince yourself that what you are writing is going to “connect” with your readers? Where do you get your ideas for your products?” — Ashley Elizabeth Brooke Peek

That’s a lot of questions! The most important thing when it comes to my writing is that it excites me. When I don’t feel it, my readers don’t either, and why waste our (collective) time? (I wrote about my process here!)

I do all of my actual writing on my computer. I make notes and plan out ideas or products on paper. I also keep a paper editorial calendar. It’s more satisfying that way, and I like to keep it in front of me.

As for connecting with my readers, after eight years of writing every day, I have a pretty clear picture of you in my head. Plus, I feel very connected to you guys; I feel like we’re always talking. Writing for you has become second nature.

My product ideas come from the feedback you give me. When I notice a lot of you struggling with the same thing, I create things that will help you with that problem. It’s really the only way to do it — reverse-engineer what you’re making. There’s no point in creating something that no one needs!

“Where would your second choice be to live anywhere in the world and why?” — Denise Wine

Oh, good question! Somewhere in California, near the ocean. I can’t get enough of the glorious weather or the incredible fresh food. I adore the vibrancy of NYC, but I don’t think I’ll live there forever.

Love always,


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SYDNEY BABES! Don’t forget that the Radical End-Of-Year Party is this week! I’ll be on stage with lovely ladies, and we’ll be showing you how to appreciate and release 2014, and how to manifest magic in 2015. Plus, we get to hang out, take photos, and be ridiculous together! Talk about an amazing way to end the year. I can’t wait to see you there! Click here for the details!

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Ten Questions About Life, Answered Rapid-Fire Style!

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Before we launched the new site, I spent many an hour going back through my old posts and tagging them. It wasn’t the most thrilling task, but it had its advantages: re-reading seven years worth of material was like going back through an old journal. I had forgotten how many advice posts I used to write, especially back in the beginning. I was really inspired by that, so I took it to Facebook.

I said, “I’m gonna do a blog post answering your questions about anything — love, careers, travel, magic, blogging, style, beauty — rapid-fire style. So, what’s on your mind?!”

Below are a handful of questions, answered with as much brevity as I could muster!

QUESTION
I want to know how you stay organised with all your fantastic stuff in a small apartment! (Brittany Norma)

ANSWER
The most important thing for me is making sure everything has its place. I organise my drawers (both my desk drawers and chest of drawers) meticulously, I keep all my jewellery in one particular area, etc. My biggest storage hurdle is beauty products, but I use shoebox-sized containers for different types of make-up (one box for eye-shadow, one box for foundation, etc.), and I stack them on top of one another.

Ultimately, though, the secret to my success is that I also maintain a 5×10 storage container which is essentially my off-season closet! It has a huge double rolling rack, two pink storage trunks, and dozens of shoe boxes. It has been described by a few of my friends as “the best vintage shop in New York”. If I tried to squeeze all of that stuff into our apartment, it would be like living in an episode of Hoarders!

I try to tame my sartorial obsession as much as I can. Over the last year or so, I have started to institute a policy of cleaning out my closet before I go out and get anything new. I take clothes to Buffalo Exchange often, which means I a) have more space in my wardrobe, and b) get credit to buy new items. Win/win!

QUESTION
I’m a professional artist. How can I maximize my income from home? (Julie Rivera Saltzberg)

ANSWER
Start thinking of yourself as a business owner rather than an artist. Andy Warhol said that making money was the best art, so channel him and consider how you could shift from paint to profits!

Learning how to extract an income from the thing you love can be tricky, but my advice would be to look at other successful artists you know and learn from their triumphs and mistakes. Molly Crabapple is a superb example of a smart, savvy artist who works extremely hard but also manages to generate a good living.

Also, take some time to set some goals and decide what your definition of success actually is. This will prevent you from getting discouraged six months down the road!

QUESTION
I would like to know about your writing/blogging rituals. Are you a day writer, night writer? Computer, pencil? Coffee, tea? What makes you tick as a writer? (Amelia Earhart)

ANSWER
I have a couple of mental windows during my day when the ideas flow thick and fast: at the crack o’ dawn and in the evening. They last a few hours each. I always take advantage of the first window, and do the bulk of my writing between 7am and noon. As for the second, I really only write at night if my husband isn’t around. When I lived by myself, I definitely wrote more!

I do all my writing using my computer, which is a MacBook Air, and mostly I do it in my office, but when I need a change of scenery I pack it (along with a pair of headphones) into my Blogcademy tote bag and go to a nearby coffee shop.

Do I have rituals? Yes. I like to drink yerba mate tea with almond milk while I write, pausing to swirl the milk while I think. I often burn candles. Sometimes I spritz the air with an essential oil spray of peppermint and sweet orange to help me focus. I always listen to music, usually instrumental hip-hop or ambient downbeat stuff. I use StayFocusd to block Gmail and social media for almost the entire morning. Sometimes I sit cross-legged. I swear by BrainON supplements, and I always feel more lucid and laser-sharp when I wear lipstick.

Having said that, as an international playgirl who spends a massive amount of time in hotel rooms, strange apartments and on planes, I have learned not to be precious about it, and to write wherever and whenever I can. I see it as a gift, actually: being in an unfamiliar environment invigorates and inspires me like mad.

QUESTION
How do you decide what you want to do with your life? It might be a silly question but I’m currently struggling with this. (Maria Barrales)

ANSWER
Maria, this is such a huge question, and you could easily spend your entire lifetime trying to answer it. In fact, many people do, and I think we get hung up on the idea of trying to find our purpose, rather than simply living life and enjoying it.

I believe you will never find your life purpose if you’re not having fun or filling your life up with love. It’s common to think that your purpose will be something grand and groundbreaking, but it may not be. Maybe the reason you’re here is to be a really wonderful friend, maybe it’s to express yourself through dance, and perhaps it’s to inspire others. You don’t have to cure cancer to live a rich and fulfilling life.

My friend Gabby did a fantastic video on this very subject; check it out! (Her incredible new book, Miracles Now, came out today, too! It’s genius, I insist you go and have a squizz.)

QUESTION
What do you pack in your carry-on when traveling? (Kirstie Fitzgerald)

ANSWER
First things first: the bag in question. The more I travel, the smarter a backpack seemed. I always take my backpack now, and it has saved my shoulders (and posture)!

Inside it, you will always find: my MacBook Air (a total godsend) and charger, noise-cancelling headphones (either Bose or Beats By Dre), KIND bars, tissues, Treat lip balm (it is seriously the best lip balm on the planet), sunglasses, my wallet, iPhone, and a scarf.

If I’m flying long-haul, I also carry make-up remover wipes, moisturiser and serums to keep my skin hydrated while I sleep, an eye-mask, even more snacks, melatonin tablets to help me sleep, a pen and a notebook. I find that I don’t need much more than these essentials. Keeping it simple also keeps you sane!

I always wear a big sweater, too. I find planes are usually freezing, and if they’re not, the sweater makes a great impromptu blanket. I like to cover my head with it, too, to sleep. It looks weird but it works a treat!

QUESTION
I’m pretty envious of the awesome lady posse you’ve got going on with Shauna and Kat – as someone who has relatively few female friends I’d love to know, how do you find such awesome women to hang with? (Anastasia Sproull)

ANSWER
I get asked this question a lot, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I have met absolutely every single of my best girlfriends via the internet!

Now, a caveat: I’m so blessed to have incredible girlfriends but most of my BFFs live somewhere other than New York, which means travelling to see them is super-fun but they are not necessarily on-hand for an emergency cookie-baking session or last-minute dinner. This is the blessing and the curse of having an international playgirl friendship circle!

I have a handful of female friends in NYC who I adore, and we see each other as much as we can. When it comes to casual weekend hang-out sessions, you’ll usually find me doing something with my husband, or with some of our coupled-up friends.

To properly address your question: finding friends isn’t difficult (yay, the internet!), but growing close and maintaining a friendship can be. You have to prioritise your babes, make yourself available and continue to reach out. Celebrate their successes loudly and give them your unconditional love and support. I think treating all your friends as if they’re your best friend is a really good practice.

QUESTION
What would be your “top ten wardrobe staples every woman should own?” I’m sick of reading the same list over and over complete with “white button down shirts” and “LBD”s. (Claire Taylor)

ANSWER
I generally find those sartorial prescriptions quite obnoxious and extremely presumptuous. I don’t have any room in my life for a white button-down! Eff all that. Wear colours that make your eyes pop, underwear which flatters your figure, and shoes that a) you can walk in and b) make you feel like a badass. Beyond that, don’t get locked into one look forever. Experimentation is the spice of life!

QUESTION
Where do you keep all your creative notes and ideas… Are there tons of journals laying about filled with content and inspiration you haven’t yet gotten to? Or do you live in the moment and write spontaneously? (Catherine Du Bois)

ANSWER
I used to fill multiple journals with scribbles, notes, and doodles, but as you may have guessed, that’s a recipe for disaster. You can never find anything!

These days, I keep it simple. I use a wonderful text editing program called TextWrangler which enables me to have multiple documents open at once, and I am constantly toggling between them. They are categorised by project (galadarling.com, Carousel links, Things I Love Thursday, Radical Self Love Letters, etc.), and I add to them whenever I have an idea.

For organisation and to-do lists, I have a day planner which I keep on my desk, and I use it to write down (and more satisfyingly, cross off) tasks.

Finally, I have a big black sketchbook which I use as my Radical Self Love Bible, and I add to it constantly. It’s a more free-form space where I can explore ideas and get my craft on. It’s also a really good excuse to bust out the washi tape (my new obsession!). If you’d like to learn how to create your own Radical Self Love Bible, join me in Bible School!

QUESTION
What advice would you give people who are stuck in a low-paying dead end job and don’t have the $ to go back to school? (Megan Harris)

ANSWER
Firstly, let’s count our blessings. This is a temporary situation, and if you want to change it, you can. There are also some advantages to a job you don’t care about: for example, when the day is over, you can leave it behind. (When your work is your passion, you think about it all the time.) Secondly, school can only do so much, and getting a degree doesn’t guarantee anything in this world. You’d probably learn more — and go further — by finding a mentor, volunteering, and learning in your own time.

I worked low-paying dead-end jobs for years, and while I didn’t relish my time spent in the office, I did what I could outside of work to make my life more pleasant. I went dancing on the weekends, I saw my friends as much as I could, and I wrote all the time. I wrote in a notebook on the way to work, I wrote on my laptop in bed every night, I wrote letters to my friends and posted journal entries online. I could not be stopped!

Now, I don’t know what it is you really want to do with your life, so I have to answer in generalities. Fill your life with the things you love to do. Look around at the people you admire and read their back-story to see how they got from here to there. Keep trying new things, and look out for opportunities to do something different. But ultimately, if you want to do something momentous, there is no “advice” that will help you. There is no failsafe 3 point process. You just have to jump in with both feet and go for it!

QUESTION
How do you balance between the hustle of making your dreams come true and keeping the dream alive and fresh and exciting? (Cristina Emily Vigil)

ANSWER
Lou Holtz said, “If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.” I would take it a step further and say that if you’re waking up every day and thinking, ‘Oh God, time to go work on my “dream” again…’, then it’s time to shift your focus to something else.

If your dream is beginning to make you yawn, ask yourself whether it’s really a challenge. A goal should be constantly shifting and readjusting in order to accommodate the new things you’ve learned, and the small successes you’ve achieved.

Truthfully, we all have moments of burn-out and exhaustion, even when we’re working on something we really love. But if your one-time love is feeling lacklustre, and you’ve gone months without being able to drum up any enthusiasm, it’s time to heave-ho. It’s important to know when it’s time to move on and try something else.

No matter what your dream is, it won’t come to fruition just by wriggling your nose (unfortunately). Achieving a goal is difficult; if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be a goal, it would simply be another item on your to-do list. All good things involve hustle, hard work, perspiration and the occasional swear word. That’s what makes it oh-so rewarding when it all comes together!

 

Ever,

Photo by Made U Look.

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