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Lucky Girls

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls.

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls. (Screencapture Google Image Search)

When I was a bright-eyed college student, one of my roommates always bought Lucky magazine.

I’d read hers, and eventually I was hooked myself.

In the beginning, during the college years, I would marvel at all of the great clothes, shoes and handbags I couldn’t afford.

But what seemed to get me the most were the women they featured. Not the celebrities, but the “regular” women they called “Lucky girls.”  They really inspired me. Especially the ones who were editors and writers and gadget queens.

*Sidebar, I don’t know what the hell happened over at Lucky, but they have really stepped it up in terms of diversity. There are way more women of color in there now and I’m loving that they are doing features with plus sized and regular sized women with curves. They have made me fall in love with them all over in a very real way.

They weren’t much older than me, but they wore the awesome clothes, shoes and handbags and they had great jobs…IN NEW YORK and other ridiculously expensive places.

I wanted nothing more than to one day be able to attain enough professional success, and effortless, classic style so I could land in Lucky’s pages.

I’m 30, and I look at those pages in a different way. I’ve managed to work my way up from grinding as an editorial intern, a metro desk reporter, to a web editor, and I guess you could say, hey throw on an outfit and Lucky, where’s my close up?

But, I look in the pages and now I see these uber fabulous women who are younger than me. I’m jealous again. But knowing fabulous women personally, and being one myself, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s frustrating and difficult. The expectations fabulous women place on themselves are enough to cause permanent scoliosis. There is pressure, there is wanting to stay ahead of the curve and the fear of falling behind and never being able to catch up. There is keeping up the appearances. Making others happy, staying sane, proving you deserve everything you’ve got and everything else you’re trying to get. They are duty bound to their loved ones, they are leaders in what they do.

I take nothing from the gals who grace those pages. I’m certain they had to work very hard, but as I reflect on my career, and my closet (which doesn’t have that many luxury brands, but is still friggin fab) , I’m wondering, am I a Lucky girl?

Did I do enough? There are some over 30’s in the magazine, don’t get me wrong. But seeing 27-year-old powerhouses who still have early 20’s bodies and dream jobs, luxury apartments, etc. it makes me feel some kind of way.

When you feel like you’ve hit a rut, even the most supportive people in the world like me tend to lose it when they see people who are too fabulous to be true. A friend emailed me an amazing article in Apartment Therapy about this stunning woman who had an insanely awesome apartment in a chic area of Northern Virginia. Something about it kind of sent me in a funk.

Then, one of my best friends, who was in a funk, just whisked herself away to a resort out of the country for the last 7 days.

I am jealous of these people. I just am. Keep in mind, in comparison to other people I know, I’m blessed beyond ridiculous belief. I can afford to live on my own, and even though I had to suffer a pay cut last year, I’m still able to pay my bills comfortably– something I could not do two years ago, for sure. I’ve rebuilt my credit. I actually have a credit card again and I know how to use it properly now.

I don’t have to take care of any children or anything like that.

I know with more money or with more anything, one has even more stresses and responsibilities, but there are days where being the Lucky girl seems so far away.

On the flip side, the current economic climate isn’t a joke. I’m well aware, which makes my bellyaching sound so self-indulgent and insensitive to the millions of people who are unemployed and working very hard to really get their lives going. There are so many young people coming out of colleges and universities to a very bleak situation. I have friends with multiple degrees, struggling.

Ask any of them, and I’m sure they’d slap me for this woe-filled post of rambling.

Bi*&^, you are a Lucky Girl. Shut up.

I am a Lucky girl. I don’t need a fancy title or to be a 20-something with a multimillion dollar startup and $500 pumps.

I am where I am right now. And that needs to be ok. It’s fine to keep dreaming and to keep striving, but to keep beating myself up, because I drive a 13-year-old car, I rent an apartment in an area that is increasingly annoying me (the smell of weed wafted into my place last night), or going nuts over and over about my current job. It’s exhausting.

And the college girl who looked at those magazines and dreamed would probably be in awe of the 30-year-old writing this post right now. She’d probably be thrilled that we actually made it this far and not figuring out which relative to ask for money this month because she asked so-and-so last month.

I’ve come a long way, and for that and nothing else,

I am a Lucky girl.

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Tired But Inspired: A Quick Conference Wrap Up

Apple’s Eyes Studio/freedigitalphotos.net

So I went to a fabulous leadership conference held at Columbia University by an excellent group of NY-based go-getters called Rising Affluent.

There were a number of speakers and panel presentations that were geared toward inspiring folks to step their game up either in their current profession, or if they want to completely change directions and do something else.

No matter what you were there for, there were a number of recurring themes that popped up throughout the day that stuck with me and was totally worth the price of admission, and then some.

I met wonderful people who were highly intelligent, driven and just downright interesting, from a variety of backgrounds. It was repeated throughout the day that it takes a special kind of person to get up early and spend an entire Saturday talking business and self-improvement. So the folks who showed up did have something special about them and we all had a common goal.

Even the wildly successful people leading the panels and keynote speakers were personable, fun, and brutally honest about their challenges and setbacks.

So, I’m going to quickly breakdown some of the most valuable themes that I’ve still been thinking about in terms of my career and small business. My brain has been going full throttle, and I’ve been scribbling new ideas all weekend long. It’s time for some new vision boards. It’s going to take me no time at all to fill them up after getting so much info and inspiration this weekend.

Honesty: You shouldn’t be fudging your credentials or your skill set. Pump up what you know, learn more about what you don’t know, or have people on your team who know what you don’t know well to help propel you, your project, business or mission forward.

Connection to community: How is what you are doing connecting to the greater good? What are you doing to help others either through your professional life, or in your personal life just to feed your soul and serve others? Derek Fleming, who is the director of business development for the Marcus Samuelsson Group  said keeping the community, culture and residents of Harlem in mind at all times was crucial as he and his partners brought fine dining restaurant Red Rooster into the rapidly evolving (i.e. gentrifying) neighborhood.

Networking: This one was huge, well because it was a networking event. Don’t look to gain something from everyone you meet, what do YOU have to offer them?

Sponsors: This one was a funny one, because the joke was to find a powerful, older, white man (the folks who are usually in power) to align yourself with and mentor you. But it doesn’t always have to be an older, powerful, white man. You just have to align yourself with people who are where you want to be and get them to like you so much, that they want to bring you along for the ride to the top.

Support: You need a support system of like-minded people who will say, “yes you can do this and how can I help you?” These people can be family, friends and mentors. Some of these people may even help you raise funds for your endeavors and you shouldn’t overlook that even if you want to do everything on your own. Author and global spokesperson for LinkedIn, Lindsey Pollak said “It takes a village to be successful.” And sometimes that village has to include a life/career coach and or therapist. Get the support you need professionally, mentally, spiritually and for your health and fitness.

Hard work: You can smooze all you want to and make friends with the big boys, but you have to be a hard worker, you have to be knowledgeable, prepared and confident in order for everything to truly come together. Fleming said if you’ve put in the time, the hard work, the research and you are over prepared, no one can deny you when your opportunities do arrive.

Patience: It’s not all going to happen right away. I was particularly impressed with panelist Tricia Lee Riley, the owner of Polish Bar. She was grinding for years with makeup giant MAC, and then it still took her six years to get from business plan to opening her first Polish Bar store. That entire time, she was grinding, planning and saving and sacrificing to make her dream happen.

Risk: Sometimes you have to leave a comfortable situation to go for whatever it is that is pulling and tugging at your heart. Demetria L. Lucas of the Belle in Brooklyn blog/book fame walked away from a full-time glamorous gig with Essence Magazine to write her own destiny as a writer, t.v. personality, advice columnist and life coach. Riley probably could have stayed with MAC, continuing to build their brand and make it better, but she knew it was time to do her own thing and she did it.

The last that really resonated with me is to take my side hustle seriously and not to apologize for it. It hit me like a ton of bricks with Pollak gave this advice to a person asking her a question.

She said to stop saying, “I do this but I do this too. Say I do this and this.”

I was totally doing that all the time. I was downplaying my small business because it hasn’t officially launched yet, and well because it’s scary. It’s time to own it, after all I’m putting so much time and effort into it. Why not?

So I’m retraining myself to say AND!

I’m a journalist AND tee-shirt designer launching a website devoted to women’s empowerment. Whoo hoo!

Love it.

Now, I need a nap.

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