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The Stories

  • Ladies, Don’t Settle For Just An “Okay” Career

    Ladies, Don’t Settle For an “Okay” Career

    As women, we often find ourselves unhappy in our jobs. Sometimes, it’s the desire to spend more time with the kids; other times, it’s the stress of earning less than our male contemporaries. The best piece of advice you can hear if you aren’t happy is to change your situation. Yes, it can be challenging, but it’s a hurdle that’s worth the effort and the ups and downs. Remember, you don’t have to settle --  you do have options.

    Here, we’ll look at three different paths you can take if you want to elevate yourself to reach better opportunities.

     

    Starting your own business

    The number of women-owned businesses popping up in the US is growing at breakneck speed. In other words, there has never been a better time to be both a woman and an entrepreneur. Launching your own brand or service takes loads of determination and even more hard work, but you’re up for it.

    SquareUp suggests that your first step is to do some research. Take a look at the market to make sure there is enough demand to sustain a profit. Refine your business idea, and get to work studying your competitors. Once you identify weaknesses in their system, you can take measures to ensure your business stands out. All of this information should be part of your business plan, which should also include how you’ll pay for equipment and other overhead. Before you open the door, make sure you have everything in place to service your customers, collect payments, and manage quality control.

    If you’ve never run a business before and want to take it slow, consider starting an e-commerce website, which will allow you to take advantage of tools and services to streamline operations. Social media, for example, is great for inexpensive advertising while drop shipping partnerships allow you to sell unique products without maintaining an inventory. To help boost your success, make sure your website is set up with your customers in mind and is easily accessible via mobile devices.

     

    Changing careers

    Changing careers altogether is another great option if you find yourself dissatisfied with your day-to-day existence. Dr. Randall J. Hansen explains to LiveCareer.com that this process begins by taking a close look at your likes and dislikes. It’s easier to note the things you hate about your job than it is to list what you love, but try to focus on the latter as much possible. This will give you considerably more direction when it’s time to decide where you want to be professionally.

    As you look over your likes list, try to figure out ways you can utilize your current skills as an asset to your desired industry or position. For example, if you enjoy music but can’t play an instrument, you might use your organizational talents and marketing skills as a band promoter. Even if something is outside of your comfort zone, remember that your skill set will bolster your ability to take on a new career. Of course, it may be necessary to obtain a new degree or seek certification for a new career. If a degree is what you want to pursue, take some time to research grants and scholarships for women that can help you cover some of your expenses.

     

    Seeking a promotion 

    If you’re happy at your company and are a smart worker with a proclivity for problem-solving, have an unquestionable work ethic, and are known for your abilities and professionalism, it’s time to let your ambition shine through. There’s no shame in asking for a promotion or making yourself stand out when it’s time for your boss to assign new titles. While you may not always get the recognition or pay increases you deserve, don’t be discouraged. Keep your other options in mind and know that there are plenty of places where you will be appreciated and given a chance to excel.

    As a modern woman, you don’t have to wait for anyone to give you permission to go after professional success, and you don’t have to settle for just okay. You have tools at your disposal to make your own way, it’s up to you to use them.

     

    A Post by  Gloria Martinez

  • Mama Wisdom By Actress Kristen Bell

    We had this inspiring conversation with actress Kristen Bell and wanted to share it in time for Mother's Day!

     

    Any other general advice or appreciation for all the other mammas out there?

    There is a lot of wonderful advice about motherhood and parenting out there. My e-mail is full of profound quotes that I've read or heard and e-mailed to myself in an attempt to remember them. Really, this just leads to a lot of anxiety about how many unread e-mails are piling up, but hey- I'm doing my best! Despite the goldmine of parental wisdom, there is something I feel is often missing from the conversation which is that mothers must build their village. Moms, these days, are juggling an unnatural amount of responsibility that used to be shared and parceled out over many people. Grandparents used to live down the street, our neighbors weren't strangers- they were friends who would pop over to add an extra pair of hands. We used to be much more connected and over time we've pushed aside a lot of our social animal instincts, which has led to mothers feeling isolated and overwhelmed. Building a community is the key!

     

    What is one of the values/memories/experiences you hope your child(ren) remembers when they’re older? 

    I have a truly atrocious memory so if they were born in my likeness, they don't have a shot at remembering anything. And that's okay with me! I don't need them to remember birthday parties or vacations. Those are fleeting moments. Though I do think we've given them something permanent that is worth retaining - the feeling of comfort and security. Life has a lot of variables, so it is important that my children to know there are two people in the world who are constants. I hope they always carry that with them as they move through life.

     

    What inspired you to launch Hello Bello?

    We launched Hello Bello because we didn't think it was fair for people to chose between what's good for their baby and what's good for their budget. It's premium ingredients and an affordable price point so that everyone has access to the best. We like to say Hello Bello is Mom's ingredients and Dad's prices! 

     

    Kristen is rocking looks from our Mother's Day Collection!

    • Jessica Honegger; When Courage Simply Means Going Scared

      Courage is a word that I used to identify with “fearless” people. Heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, or firefighters who bravely put their lives on the line. I assumed they had something that I didn’t have. But along this wild and twisting journey, what I’ve learned is that courage is something that is available to me, to you and to us all. I’ve come to recognize that courage isn’t about being fearless—it’s about feeling your fears and simply going scared

       

      My “going scared” moments, as I call them, began to occur more and more often when I decided that life outside my comfort zone held the key to what I was really made to do. One month a few years ago, I was standing at the edge of that comfort zone, peering into the unknown but exhilarating realm of possibility. My husband Joe and I had decided to grow our family through international adoption, but the 2008 market crash had devastated our small real-estate business and left us desperate to raise the funds we needed to bring our son Jack home from Rwanda.

       

      Courage has a way of cornering us, and that’s what Jack’s adoption did for me. That little boy with his big brown eyes filled me with a determination that I had never known before. Joe and I would bring our son home, and no market crash was going to stop us. Whatever courage I possessed, imperfect though it was, would have to do. It was then that I remembered my conversation I had a few months prior and an offer to start a business—an offer that I had laughed away. 

       

      Joe and I had traveled to visit Uganda to begin researching the adoption process, and while there a friend of mine had told me about Jalia and Daniel, a local couple who were also rallying their courage for the sake of their family. They were talented jewelry-makers, but had no marketplace where they could sell their products—and they were struggling to care for their two kids. Would I be interested, my friend wondered, in selling Jalia and Daniel’s handmade styles in my community to help fundraise for my adoption?

       

      At the time, I had blown off the offer. My plate was full. You know the kind of plate I am talking about? The two kids under five, already running a side hustle kind of plate. Starting a new gig— one that involved selling jewelry— was not even a consideration. Sure, I had always loved digging through my grandma’s jewelry box, but starting an entire business with artisans counting on me made the stakes feel just so high.

       

      But now, a few months later, here I was with the conversation echoing in my heart. I knew it was time to focus less on the cost and more on the gain. So that’s how I found myself standing in my living room surrounded by boxes of paper bead jewelry (along with my grandma’s china and anything else sell-able I could get my hands on), with a beating heart and every voice at the middle school lunch table in my head telling me that this was a dumb idea, I decided I would risk. I would risk no one showing up and I would risk looking desperate. I would risk failure and this actually being a dumb idea, and I would stand there in the messy middle of a vulnerable and uncertain outcome. I would do it anyway. 

       

      Courage felt out of reach that night—but ultimately, it was love for a little boy half a world away that catalyzed me to push through my fears and go scared. And am I ever glad I did. Because you know what happened? Women showed up for me that night. They came, and they marveled over the handmade products, and they rallied around our family. As it turned out, my friends and neighbors loved the story and style of Jalia and Daniel’s products, and soon I was taking additional orders for items that had already sold out. At the end of the night, I stood in that same living room feeling grateful. “Maybe,” I found myself thinking, “this isn’t a fundraiser. Maybe this is a business.”

       

      Fast-forward to today, and Noonday Collection is the world’s largest fair trade accessories brand. We create dignified work not just for Jalia and Daniel, but for 4,500 other Artisans in 13 countries across the globe. Over 2,000 women are growing their own Noonday businesses as Ambassadors who hold Trunk Shows in their own communities—just like I did in my living room 10 years ago. And that little boy with the big brown eyes? Today Jack is home, and kicking a soccer ball like it’s nobody’s business. 

       

      I often think about that night that I unknowingly held the first Noonday Collection Trunk Show, and how close I came to missing out on this incredible journey. If I had waited around until I felt completely prepared, or completely confident, or completely courageous, I never would have gone at all. I’ve come to realize that it’s not in finding fearlessness that we soar—it’s in standing up, taking a deep breath, and simply going scared.

       

       

      Jessica Honegger
      Founder And Co-CEO, Noonday Collection
    • Ryan Cummins, Founder & CEO Of Omaze On The Power Of Gratitude

      Can you remember a time in your life that where you were overcome with gratitude? 

      Absolutely, it was the birth of our child. My wife is a remarkable woman, and I’m beyond fortunate to have her as a best friend and true partner in life. We weren’t initially certain we could have kids so getting pregnant was a welcome joy. While we were discussing the delivery plan she agreed to let me co-deliver with our doctor at Cedar Sinai. This basically meant that Dr. Lee (massive shout out to another incredible woman) set the birth course for success, before stepping aside to allow me to finish the job of catching our son Alden and passing him into Lisa’s waiting arms. Taking part in that process, witnessing birth and being afforded the opportunity to hold our son as he first came into this world, well that’s as close as I’ve ever come to experiencing a miracle. Beautiful and surreal. We have an audio recording of the experience, and every so often Lisa and I pause whatever we’re doing just to remember the moment. It was a special time in our lives when we were both filled with gratitude, a feeling we enjoy reliving time and time again. 

      (Additional notes of gratitude: I’d be remiss if I did not thank our dear friend, Clark, for tipping us off to the fact that being able to co-deliver a baby is even a thing that’s allowed. Also, to Desiree and all the rest of the unbelievably kind and talented Cedar Sinai maternity ward staff. Thank you!)


        What are some practices we can use to nurture our capacity for gratitude?

        There’s a practice that I call “Wins, Wisdom, Gratitude” which I do everyone morning for 30 minutes. It’s very simple. First, spend 10 minutes writing down a few wins from the previous day. Next, spend 10 minutes reading something inspiring. (This can be select passages from a book, motivational articles, inspiring poetry, whatever does it for you.) Finally, I have a shortlist of people who are closest in my life. My immediate family and friends. I’ll take that last 10 minutes and select one or two of them to send a short text of gratitude to. I try and be specific around something I appreciate about them, and send it off with zero expectation of anything back. 

        There’s a lovely saying that anxiety and gratitude can’t share the same space. I’ve found that this practice of gratitude definitely help me reduce anxiety. Just the act itself inspires joy.

      • Dr. Zelana Montminy On Motherhood

        Can you tell us what inspired you to write your book 21 Days to Resilience?

        I started in my career as a happiness researcher and early on realized that our obsession with always wanting to be happy is making people miserable.  Groundbreaking research shows that happiness is in fact much easier to attain if we stop focusing on it so much. So I started looking at what the most content, successful people have in common and it’s resilience, our ability not only to overcome adversity but to also thrive because of it.  The good news is that it’s not something we’re born with or without - it’s a skill we learn. There’s a lot out there talking about why it’s important but not much about how to actually build the skill. I wanted to create a toolkit on how to become resilient, and that’s how the book was born!

         

        Your book is all about resilience – what role does it play in motherhood?

        Motherhood and resilience go hand in hand!  But just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you’re actually resilient since I define resilience as flourishing, not just surviving.  People often think of resilience as bouncing back, but we all know people who bounce back and are ultimately miserable.  That’s important to remember especially when it comes to motherhood. Resilience isn’t just about going through the motions and trying to get by – it’s about enjoying the ride, and growing from our challenges.

         

        Who’s a mom that inspires you?

        I can’t choose one! So many moms inspire me every day, from my mom and my sister to my friends and also the random mom who I don’t know passing me on the street juggling four kids, one melting down…and she still keeps her cool somehow!  The kind of mom who truly inspires me has created a life of meaning and purpose, who gracefully guides her children while also nurturing herself and her relationships.

         

        What are some practical ways you think moms can support each other?

        Create a list of key moms in your life and set a time, even an alarm, that once a week or once a month, you’ll check in with those people ideally in person or by phone, but also by text or email can work too.  Instead of asking if you can help, ask how you can help.  Offer to pick up your neighbor’s child to take them to soccer practice even if you think she doesn’t need the assistance.  Having a group of moms you regularly talk to about issues that are occurring is emotionally satisfying and so helpful, but we also need to rely on each other for logistics more than we currently do in our culture.  Even if some people have hired help, there’s a different sense of connection and intimacy that’s created when a friend offers to have your child over for a playdate so you can have a moment of peace to yourself.  

         

        Who are you going to give your Giving Key to? 

        My mom!

      • Respect & Empathy Without Judgement

        A Conversation With Karla Tafra on Empathy

        We had a quick conversation with one of our favorite Yoga Teachers, Karla Tafra, to find inspiration for our Pay It Forward theme of the week- Empathy.

         

        Question: How would you define empathy?

        Empathy to me is being respectful of other people's lives, without any judgement..you never know what another person is going through. 

         

        Question: How does empathy help move you forward in life? 

        It helps us move forward in life as we bring no judgment into our world, and we create and maintain better relationships with people.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
        Karla Tafra
        Yoga Teacher and Nutritionist | @KarlaTafra
      • Lauren Gallo Giving Back With Empathy

        Hi, I'm Lauren Gallo. I lead talent partnerships and originals marketing at SnapChat. 

         

        How would you describe empathy?
        I would describe empathy as recognizing and understanding someone else's feelings. It's really being able to be in somebody else's shoes and understanding their perspective. I think having empathy is important because it brings you closer to others. You're able to bond in a deeper way and understand where someone is coming from.  
         
        Can you tell me a situation or a story that symbolize empathy to you? 

        I have a mentor, her name is Angela Ahrendts. I used to work with her at Apple. She is the definition of an empathetic leader. She's pretty incredible and she's one the most compelling leaders I've ever worked with in my life. Apple is a huge organization and it can be challenging to get everybody to really rally behind a certain initiative or strategy. She was so understanding with everybody that she was speaking to and so patient in getting educated on what everyone was working on. That practice helped her know how to best approach what they were working on to take it to the next level. She's incredible at relating to people. 

        Has that changed the way you work? 

        Yes, absolutely. Seeing Angela connect with up to 60,000 people on the team was very inspiring. She was dedicated to doing a weekly video to talk to the retail employees keeping them in the loop and having them feel closely connecting to the corporate offices. Seeing her impact in moving culture there was so impactful. 

        Can you tell us about a time that you had empathy for someone and what impact it had on them?

        A few years ago when I was working for Nike, we were going through a reorg and a lot of things were changing in the company as far as priorities. That's pretty normal when you are reflecting on the year and where you want to go. There were going to be some changes within the team. I was thinking about how my team was going to feel knowing the changes that were coming. The changes weren't necessarily bad but I just wanted to make sure that they didn't feel abrupt and confusing. So, I was very transparent with my team and taking the time to meet with them knowing that they knew something was going to change and that something was coming. I felt that being transparent with them on the journey was going to help them feel better when the changes actually happened. 

        What would be the larger impact on our culture if more people practiced empathy? 

        Empathy is critical to understanding how to give back to the world. Once you discover things beyond yourself you're able to appreciate and unite people in a really special way. 

        How can we develop our capacity to be empathetic?
        In my experience with empathy, I learned it through mentors of mine and family members. To truly acquire empathy, I needed to understand myself and understand why I'm feeling the way that I'm feeling and be comfortable with it. This opened up my ability to understand how others are feeling. There are different forms of how empathy comes in to play. One is just being there for someone, you may not have been through the same things as them you still can feel their pain or their excitement or whatever they might be going through. When you relate to someone on that level it really unlocks a relationship that is super genuine and extremely authentic. 

        I think there's a lot of ways you can nurture your capacity for empathy. First, I would actually think about yourself and how you can sit with your feelings and be ok with that. And then, you have your relationships and what do those look like? Are you able to be patient with people, really listen to them and not just automatically react? By having control over your emotions internally helps you to be more empathetic. 

        How do you think empathy can be leveraged in the workplace?
        You can't be a robotic person, you break the ice when you show vulnerability with people. Rather than presenting an idea in a way that's just focused on the task at hand with no feeling in it, consider how you can present it in a way that taps into people's motivation. If you are excited about it, you can make it a tough project for something people are excited to work on. 
      • Lauren Mayhew on The Power of Forgiveness

        F O R G I V E N E S S. It’s so important. Not holding on to grudges or anger in your heart. But maybe the hardest person to forgive is YOURSELF.

        Young ‘me’ built up so many expectations for myself. Some which I have accomplished, some which I have not. I was pretty mean to myself. But now I like ‘me’ a lot more, and I am proud of who I have become nowadays.

        Dear ME, I forgive you. And I like you. ♥️

        • Lauren Mayhew, Influencer @lolomayhew
      • Wendy Gladney: 10 Steps to Forgiveness

        I was born in 1961 during a time when our country was in an internal war around race relations and segregation.  I am the byproduct of a white mother and a black father who were caught in a tug of war of the times.  My father was a charismatic entertainer and my mother was a wide-eyed young woman infatuated by his charm.  When she became pregnant with me my paternal grandmother told my father, “Son you laid down with that girl, you are going to stand up with her and marry her.”  My parents married and I was born.

         

        Their marriage was short lived and one day my mother took me to a friend of hers to babysit me and she never returned.  I was somewhere around the age of three.  My life was never the same.  From that day on I lived with my father and my paternal grandmother.  I was tossed back and forth between living with my father and staying with my grandmother at her home.  My father was very unstable at the time.  He was caught up in a life of riotous living.  He turned in his instrument as a drummer in a band, to dice in his hand.  He became a gambler; a petty hustler of all types and I was caught in the middle of his ways and I eventually became a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of my father with no mother to protect me.  By the age of six, I was abandoned by my mother and sexually abused by my father.

         

        As far back as I can remember my grandmother, also known as Mother Dear, taught me the importance of family, community, and church.  She made sure that I respected my family and my elders, and was involved in the community and attended church. My grandmother was born around 1900 and migrated West from the South. She didn’t know how to deal with the lifestyle of my father and the only way she knew how to protect me was to keep me as busy as possible.  I began to see church and community as my haven.  I enjoyed the love and support I received from being involved in the church and the community that I did not get from parents.  I felt like I found my safety net.  One of the things my grandmother emphasized to me as a child was to pray for my parents.  She would tell me that the bible tells us to honor our parents and it doesn’t say to do so only if they act right.  This was my first step towards forgiveness. 

         

        When I was a junior in high school my father had a heart attack.  I remember clear as day when my grandmother told me that he was in the hospital and that I should go and see him. Honestly, I didn’t know how to feel at the time.  I loved my father even despite what he did to me, but I wasn’t upset that he was knocked flat on his back.  Truth be told, they weren’t even sure if he would live and I was numb about that statement. My father was in the hospital for quite some time and when he was released, he came to live at my grandmother’s house to recover.  This was strange because now my father was living in the house where I felt safe, but it was also the house where he was raised.  His journey to recovery was more than just a physical journey, it was also an emotional and spiritual healing for him. 

         

        Over the years people who knew my mother would often say to me that I looked just like her.  I found this fascinating because I didn’t really know what my mother looked like and I didn’t even have a photograph of her as a reference.  This piqued my curiosity and I wanted to know who my mother was and where she lived.  When I was in college, I began my journey to find my mother to hopefully reconnect and get to know her.  What was interesting is when I found my mother, she lived less than thirty miles from where I grew up my entire life.  This truly represented the saying, so close yet so far.  When we met there was such a gap in her emotions, I didn’t know whether to call her Mom or Karen.  It would take another 12 years before we would come together.

         

        I met my mother when I was 18 years old, when I was 30 I received a call from her telling me her husband had passed away and she had nowhere to go and she wanted to know if I would help her.  I told her 'yes' and she came to live with me.  Remember, my grandmother told me I had to respect my parents. She would be part of my life for the next 11 years. I took care of her until she passed away.  During this time my father was going through a metamorphosis in his life.  The same Christian foundation that my grandmother put into my life she also put into my father’s life and he returned to his roots.  This time he answered a call to ministry and eventually became a pastor of a local church.  My mother was living with me at the time and she began going to church with me and my family and she eventually accepted Christ at his church.  Her first husband, my father.

         

        Remembering the foundation that was placed in me by my grandmother as a child and experiencing the life struggles with my parents, I was motivated to start an organization called Forgiving For Living (www.forgivingforliving.org)  to provide tools to help people forgive and hopefully live a better life.  From this process, I developed what is known as, “Healing Without Hate:  How to Forgive to Live.”  10 Steps to Forgiveness.

         

        1.     Prayer or Meditation – When you are praying for someone it is difficult to hate them. When hate is not in your heart it helps you on your path to forgiveness.

        2.     Counsel – Don’t be afraid to seek the help and counsel you need to heal and forgive.

        3.     Confront – It is important to be willing to confront the truth.  Know when to look in the mirror and see if you are at fault on an issue and know when to look through the window and see when it is someone else.

        4.     Release – In life there are times when we must learn to just release and let some things go.  There will be times when we will never understand why certain things happen.

        5.     Forgive – When you say you forgive someone do you “parole” them or “pardon” them?  When we parole someone there are strings attached which means they still control you.  When you pardon them, you release them from the bondage of having a hold on your life.  This does not mean what they did to you is okay, it just means they can no longer control you, what you do and how you feel.

        6.     Attitude – It is important for us to always embrace an attitude of gratitude no matter what we’ve been through in life.  The fact that we are still here means we have another chance to have a better life and help others.

        7.     Joy – When I was a little girl growing up in church, I was taught that joy is about what is inside of us that no one could take away.  We must all learn to find that core inside of us that is our center and balances us through it all.

        8.     Goals – When working on forgiveness or getting over something it helps to have something to look forward to.  Goals give us hope for a better future.  Set goals that you can see and measure your progress.

        9.     Give – I always tell people we all have something to give to others.  When we take our eyes off our own problems or off ourselves, we find joy through giving.  Whether it is our time, money, resources or the gift of helping someone get through something we overcame, remember we all have something to give.

        10.  Live – Finally, I encourage people to try and live each day to the fullest.  Tomorrow isn’t promised and we must embrace life today and just do our best.  Our best is often what others need to see to be encouraged to get through whatever they may be facing. 

         

        Healing Without Hate:  It’s a Choice, It’s a Lifestyle, Pass it On!  Forgiveness is a decision and a choice we make every day. Are you willing to go there to have a better and happier life?

         

        Blessings,

         

        Wendy Gladney

      • Candy Washington On The Power Of Forgiveness

        I’m Candy Washington – I’m a content creator, author, actress and at my core, I’m a storyteller.

         

        The most powerful story of forgiveness that I’m a part of would probably be with my father.  He wasn’t really present in my life and I had to learn how to accept that and see him as a person, not as an ideal and forgive myself for thinking that I was less than without him.

         

        To me, forgiveness means having compassionate accountability for yourself and for others. That really creates a space to let go in a way that removes guilt, blame and shame.

         

        I think forgiveness is challenging because it makes it seem as though you are agreeing that what the person did was ok or that somehow that you were hurt by isn’t justified. So I think sometimes it’s difficult to forgive because you that you are giving away your power but the truth is that it’s the opposite, you are actually empowering yourself with the ability to move on and to let go and to take that negative energy and turning it into something positive that you can use and move forward with.

         

        I think it’s easier to forgive people because if you feel that you have to be forgiven you have to admit that you did something wrong. I think sometimes when you have to admit that you did something wrong it can bruise the ego because the ego wants to stay in the state of  ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ So to be forgiven means you have to acknowledge that you made a mistake, that you did something wrong and that your actions hurt someone else and that you have to be accountable for those decisions. Sometimes people ask for forgiveness but you can tell it’s very surface like 'Oh yeah I’m sorry' or 'I’m sorry you felt that way' - being kind of dismissive, I think it takes a bigger person to say, 'Please forgive me for what I did.'

         

        For me, being able to ask for forgiveness has really come from a place of self-reflection and self-awareness and acknowledging that you don’t have to have judgment around what happens to you or what you do. We’re all humans and by design we make mistakes. Being forgiven and asking for forgiveness is just a part of our human experience. When you don’t personalize it like, 'I am wrong,' 'I am bad' or 'I am awful' and you kind of allow yourself to have a healthy distance from where you did something wrong and I made a mistake but I am not that mistake and that doesn’t make me wrong, the event and the act is wrong. When you can separate your person from the action it’s much easier to say please forgive me for what I did because you know who I am.

         

        I think it’s imperative that we think about forgiveness not just in our individual lives but also when it comes to the collective consciousness of the world and what’s happening locally, nationally and internationally. I think we need to forgive people who we think are going against what we believe, what we think is right, what we think we should be doing. Once you’re able to forgive past actions and past transgressions then you open up a space for healthy dialogue and you can say this is what I believe, this is what I think, let me actually hear and listen to your perspective. As long as you’re defending your position, you’re not listening and your're not open to learning about a different perspective or someone else’s experience. I can have my opinion and you can have your opinion and they both can coexist without one person being bad and one person being good.  As long as we think I’m always right, you’re not growing and you’re not moving forward. I think a lot of our leaders are stuck on 'this is the way we’ve always done it,' this is the way we’re always going to do it that they’re not actually thinking about what’s best and most beneficial now that will create a better world moving forward.

         

        I use forgiveness to move myself forward primarily through self-forgiveness. I tend to be really hard on myself – I always want to get the A+, I want the gold star. I have a lot of inner critic chatter that I have to check so the way I do that is through self-forgiveness. The tool I use is really simple, two words, ‘so what’? I didn’t book that gig I really wanted, so what? I’m still here, I’m still alive, I’m still moving forward, I still have my friends, I still have my family. The world is still spinning. When I’m at peace and happy with myself then I’m showing up for my friends and my family and my audience. I’m showing up in a full way because I’m full first.

         

        The way I nurture my capacity for self-forgiveness is through journaling. I like to write down things like how am I feeling right now? What are the reoccurring thoughts I’m thinking? What are patterns are showing up and looking at them in a loving way and not a critical way? I also meditate – I’ll light a candle and count down and get really still and centered. These are things you can try out this week and see how they work for you!

      • Go There. Be There.

        It’s PAY IT FORWARD MONTH!!!!
         
        This is one of our favorite times of year here at The Giving Keys. In celebration of International Pay It Forward Day on April 28th, we are making it really easy for you to Pay It Forward to people in your world with our all-new classic key sets featuring a key for yourself and one for FREE to give away. In 2017 and 2018 we generated more than 3,000 pay it forward moments each year (yes, that’s for real!) and, with your help, in 2017 we spread 26,000 letters of kindness and encouragement all over Los Angeles. This is the third year we’re celebrating with a month-long campaign this time called “Go There. Be There.” and we are inviting you to join us in Paying It Forward with our vintage-inspired Patina Classic Key necklace distressed in black, white and turquoise and featuring four words that just might change your life.
         
        There are internal and external boundaries that hold us back from unlocking the full potential we have to make a difference in the lives of everyone from those close to us, to people from our past, to the strangers we encounter. “Go There. Be There.” takes us on the path to realizing the things inside of us that impact the relationships around us. The themes we are inviting you into this April are Forgiveness, Empathy, Gratitude, and Courage, and The Giving Keys’ challenge is to go there – to that person or that part of yourself that you have put on the backburner, that person or that part that is going to transform you and be there – show up for yourself or someone else, stay there, see it all the way through! This could be a reset with the ones you might be estranged from or challenging yourself to understand the difficult situations of others to expand your ability to love or communicating gratitude for someone who has loved you and finally – it may be the courageous journey of finally tackling your fears.
         
        We will be sharing inspiring stories from founders, actors, executives, mamas, creatives, students, philanthropists, and thought leaders to give you real-world ideas on how to receive and give all four of these qualities in your life. We will offer insights and suggestions on ways to strengthen our shared human connections in our emails, on our social channels and through our website. Start the journey with us now by watching the video below to see how are themes resonate with some of our favorite people.  Then get your own 2-for-1 Patina Classic Key set in your theme, pay it forward and join the conversation by sharing your stories with us by using #GoThereBeThere.
         
        The Giving Keys invites you to take on the challenge and join our campaign to create another 3,000 Pay It Forward moments this April. We invite you to Go There AND Be There!

         

      • Raquelle Stevens x The Giving Keys

        I chose the word joy because I believe that joy is essential to living a fulfilled life.


        I have learned that joy is not always based on circumstances, but rather a choice to spread happiness no matter what I am going through which in return brings me joy.


        One of my favorite quotes by Pope Francis is “joy springs from a grateful heart.” I try to incorporate finding moments in each day that I am thankful for giving myself a chance to practice gratitude. This moment instantaneously fills me with joy.


        Lastly, I chose the word joy because it is contagious and simple like a smile. I believe we are all capable of spreading joy and I have found that the more joyI spread, the more I receive.


        Life is always better when we are giving and I have found my life to be more meaningful through spreading as much joy as possible to the people in my life.


        • Raquelle Stevens, Influencer (@raquellestevens)

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