Would you agree we could use more Unity in our society today?
Would you agree that Self-Determination leads to creations, inventions?
Would you agree that Collective Work & Responsibility improves communities?
Would you agree that Cooperative Economics encourages prosperity?
Would you agree that having a Purpose is necessary to achieve goals?
Would you agree that Creativity is a positive force towards betterment?
Would you agree that Faith can move mountains?
If you answered “yes” to one or all of the above, then you just ascribed to the principles of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is a festive and meaningful holiday we celebrate each year in my household. Much to my chagrin, for most of my adult life, I never took the time to learn what Kwanzaa was, let alone celebrate it. I don’t have a good answer as to why I didn’t, other than just pure ignorance of how it related to me. That is why I now love sharing the basics of this holiday so others don’t have to remain in the dark as I was for so long.
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a week-long African American cultural celebration held in the United States from December 26 through January 1. The name is derived from matunda ya kwanza, a Swahili phrase that means “first fruits.”Based on traditional African harvest festivals, combining various cultural customs, this holiday, observed by over 18 million people, has reached its 50th anniversary of existence this year.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor does it replace Christmas. Instead, it was created during the black movement of the mid 1960s to combat the commercialism of Christmas by honoring our African heritage and culture with the seven basic principles, expressed in Swahili as nguzo saba. These principles are actually applicable to everyday life, not just at Christmastime.
How is Kwanzaa observed?
Together, the family observes daily rituals which include lighting candles, making Kwanzaa gifts, planning special theme meals, dressing in traditional garb and honoring ancestors and elders. A table remains set with an array of fresh fruits. In the center of the table is a kinara, a candleholder for seven candles.
In the kinara are three green candles on the right side, three red candles on the left side and one black candle in the center. Green stands for the fertile land of Africa. Red symbolizes the bloodshed spilled in the struggle for freedom. Black is for the color of the people. The family gathers around as one candle is lit each day, beginning with the outer most candles, working inward to the center. As the candle is lit, that day’s corresponding principle is spoken of.
A great gathering of food and guests is held on December 31. It is called the karamu. Celebrants donned in vibrantly-colored traditional African attire enjoy cultural dishes, typically using ingredients brought to the United States from the motherland, such as sesame seeds (benne), peanuts (groundnuts), sweet potatoes, collard greens and spicy sauces.
New Year’s Day is the final day of the Kwanzaa holiday. Traditionally, educational and cultural gifts are given to children on this final day of celebration.
7 Principles of Kwanzaa
Day 1: Umoja! (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. Whether in the home or the workplace, teamwork promotes unity. It is important to the ongoing success and longevity of the family unit or company, the community that family or company serves, and the state and country in which they reside.
Day 2: Kujichagulia! (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. Instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others. We must plug into our self-worth. We have to be determined and stay determined to make a positive difference in our life’s journey — whether a child or adult; male or female; working at a nine-to-five job or as a self-employed entity.
Day 3: Ujima! (oo–GEE–mah)
Means: Collective Work and Responsibility
To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together. We are all fingers on a hand in this journey called life. There are so many ways we can reach out and help others; doing so is simply easier when organized through group effort.
Day 4: Ujamaa! (oo–JAH–mah)
Means: Cooperative Economics
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. What better way to instill pride in something than through ownership? This is important for our global economy and so very empowering to ourselves.
Day 5: Nia! (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. If we don’t ever learn the truth about our history of our ancestors or kings and queens who ruled entire empires, how can we ever set clear, positive goals for our own lives that awaken the greatness within ourselves and the tremendous potential that lies therein? We then can set goals that benefit the whole community.
Day 6: Kuumba! (koo–OOM–bah)
To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. We must use our time, creativity, finances and resources to make our community out of just survival mode and into massive productivity.
Day 7: Imani! (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. We must believe that a better world can be created both now and in the future
7 Symbols of Kwanzaa
Kikombe cha umoja.
Means: the unity cup
Celebrants drink from this cup in honor of their African ancestors. Before drinking, each person says “harambee,” which means, “let’s pull together.”
Means: the candleholder that holds seven candles
This symbolizes stalks of corn that branch off to form new stalks, the same way the human family recreates and branches off.
Means: the seven candles that represent the seven principles
Three candles on the left are green; three on the right are red; and in the middle is a black candle. A different candle is lit each day.
Means: fruits, nuts and vegetables
This type of food reminds celebrants of the harvest fruits that nourished the people of Africa.
The mkeka, made of straw or African cloth, symbolizes the foundation upon which communities are built. The various symbols of Kwanzaa are arranged upon it.
Vibunzi. (plural, muhindi)
Means: ear of corn
Traditionally, one ear of corn for each child in the family is placed on the mkeka.
The gifts that are shared are traditionally only educational in nature and/or handmade.
What’s the Word?
So, there you have it — your crash course in Kwanzaa! One last thing … Kwanzaa participants throughout the week greet each other with this question: “Habari gani?” That is Swahili for “What’s the word?” When asked this question, you excitedly respond with one word: the Swahili principle for that day.
Now that you know, I challenge you to greet a new person each day starting December 26, with “Habari gani?” and let the good news begin!
MAGIC. A very appropriate name for the superbly sexy merchandised marketplace recently held in Las Vegas. As a first time attendee, mesmerizing is also an adjective I would use to describe MAGIC 2016, a well-orchestrated tradeshow whose goal is to bring together great brands and retailers twice a year. Here in Las Vegas, it required miles of space in both the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center to showcase so many categories of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, as well as accessories, footwear and fashion-related seminars.During my visit, I chose to narrow my focus on the world of denim only, lest I never emerge to see daylight for the entire three-day affair. Even with that single-minded approach, I encountered a sea of blue jean vendors — more than my little legs could take me to.I visited some of the well-known brands that grace the pages of Zappos.com. Names such as Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Dockers, 7 For All Mankind, Paige, Tommy Bahama, Kenneth Cole, Buffalo and Joe’s Jeans have kept our customers both comfortable and trendy for years. I visited European brands, high-end brands, brands with funny names. One conclusion I came to regarding this oh-so-popular item of clothing: Blue jeans are actually their own kind of magic.Think about it. How can one article of clothing be worn so many times without washing and still maintain its freshness? Furthermore, how can it effortlessly transform from playtime attire to business casual and nightclub party scene with a few added accessories or a changing of the shoes? Magic.Magically popular, as well. In this ever-evolving — and somewhat fickle — fashion community, where trends are led by seasons and economics as much as by creativity, good ole blue jeans have remained in Americans’ closets since 1873 (before folks even had closets). They’ve enjoyed their share of trendiness throughout those years as well.
The vendors, with whom I spoke, enthusiastically informed me of the latest sought-after styles. They included designs like raw selvedge, cuffed, stretched, leggings, naturally died, destroyed, pure indigo, washed, frayed,distressed, baggy, skinny and the list goes on.As another successful fashion tradeshow drew to a close, I exited the convention center with deeper knowledge and greater respect for all the styles, types and shades of denim surrounding us every day. Funny, I just happened to be sporting denim myself that first day — a blue jean shift dress.Denim is all the craze! However, can it really be considered that if this so-called craze has lasted for almost 150 years? Magically, yes.
It’s almost football season! Yay! Came across this blog and thought I’d repurpose it. I wrote it earlier this year leading up to the Super Bowl, but the recipes shared in this blog are great for any food gathering. Now that tailgating season is fast approaching, why not make the recipes here? Add a little healthiness, but tastiness, to the party!
Although SuperBowl Sunday is not technically a holiday — and I cannot understand why it’s not — it is one of America’s most popular crowd-gathering days of the year. If you’ve been to any of these shindigs, you’d have to agree that more often than not, people host and attend Super Bowl parties as much for the camaraderie as for the game.
And what’s the most popular thing people do when they get together? You guessed it. Eat, eat and eat some more! Therefore, if you’re hosting a party on this big game day, your food must live up to the hype of Lady GaGa’s halftime performance!
So, go for the gusto and tackle a healthier spread of snacks without sacrificing the taste. Push the beef and chicken out of bounds, which contain toxins, parasites and cholesterol, and instead, sneak in some great vegan options and watch your guests rush to the table.
Make fans of your food from the first bite to the very last morsel. And when regulation time runs out, and overtime ensues, don’t break a sweat! There are enough vegan recipes across the internet to have you preparing meals for a lifetime.
Just like no one enjoys watching a boring, lopsided Super Bowl game, no one wants to relish the thought of ingesting boring, bland foods. In fact, bland vegan food is a major foul that could get you thrown out of the league of healthy eaters.
These recipes are sure to put you in the right field position for scoring extra points among your friends and family. Not only are they vegan, but they contain superfoods as well. Superfoods, a couple of notches above vegan on the hierarchy of eating styles, are nutrient-rich foods, primarily plant-based, that are considered to be especially beneficial for one’s overall health and well-being.
Without further delay, here are a few recipes to get you started and the traditional dishes they replace. So come on, man. It’s crunch time. Let’s get these dishes going and prepare for an all-out blitz!
BUFFALO ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Traditional Dish: Buffalo Wings
Nothing says football party like the taste, smell and slight burn on the tongue of buffalo sauce. Here’s how you can bench the unhealthy wings, and allow your guests to still get a kick out of this snack.
Here’s what you need:
15-ounce can garbanzo beans
• 1 tablespoon vegan butter
• ¼ cup hot sauce (Cholula, Frank’s RedHot, Sriracha, Tabasco, and Tapatío are all vegan brands!)
Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 450F.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional).
• Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Pat dry with a towel.
• Spread garbanzo beans onto a baking sheet.
• In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat melt the vegan butter.
• Add hot sauce and stir until combined.
• Pour the hot sauce mixture over the beans.
• Toss to coat evenly.
• Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until browned.
Garbanzo beans are rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants and are classified as a super food. Buffalo roasted chickpeas make a great addition to salads or eaten as a snack all on their own.
SPICY CASHEW CHEEZY SAUCE
Traditional Dish: Nacho Cheese Sauce
Watch the forward motion toward this delicious addition to every party, not just when watching sporting events.
Here’s what you need:
• 1 cup soaked cashews, drained
• 1 large red pepper
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
• 1 tablespoon crushed Thai chili pepper
• 4 cloves of fresh garlic
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
Here’s what you do:
• Set aside a few slivers of red bell pepper for garnish
• Add all ingredients to a Vita mix or high-speed blender
• Mix until perfectly smooth.
• Garnish with the bell pepper slivers.
Drizzle over organic blue corn chips or a salad. Use as a dip for veggies.
Traditional Dish: Ground Beef Tacos
Serving great tasting tacos is an easy way to defend your title of Most Valuable Party Planner. Now you can make the healthy way and watch the crowd cheer in your favor.
Here’s what you need:
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 white onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 cans of jackfruit
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1/2 tablespoon paprika
• 1/8 teaspoon red pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
• 8 small corn tortillas
Here’s what you do:
• Sauté onions and garlic using the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until they start to brown on the edges.
• While the onions cook, rinse and drain the jackfruit. Cut the core off the chunks. Shred it with a fork, removing the seedpods.
• Add the shredded jackfruit and all the spices to the pan with the vegetable broth or water. You want enough liquid so the spices evenly distribute throughout the jackfruit.
• Simmer (without burning) for about 10-15 minutes. Not so much that it turns into soup
• Heat the corn tortillas briefly in the oven. Tortillas can also be doubled up to help prevent them from breaking.
Serve tacos with stewed black beans, cashew queso and cilantro. Optional toppings include: cashew, nacho cheese, guacamole, black beans or vegetarian chili and pico de gallo
RAW CARAMEL SLICE
Traditional Dish: Candy Bars
A guest’s sweet tooth not conquered could easily sideline your ability to make a big hit with your party. Here’s how you can provide a delicious, healthy treat.
Here’s what you need:
• 1/2 cup Medjool dates
• 1 ½ cups almonds
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• 1/2 cup tahini
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
• Large pinch Himalayan salt
• 3-4 tablespoons raw cacao
• 1 teaspoon carob powder
• 3-4 tablespoons coconut sugar or agave syrup
• 1/2 cup coconut oil
Here’s what you do:
• Grind dates and almonds in a blender.
• Add vanilla until sticky and then press into a rectangular dish greased with coconut oil.
• Blend caramel ingredients together and pour over biscuit base.
• Set in the freezer for 20 minutes.
• While slice is setting, melt coconut oil for chocolate crunch topping.
• Add all other ingredients and stir well.
• Let cool for 5 minutes and then pour topping over slice.
• Place back in freezer to set again.
Cut into small squares to serve. Makes 15.
You certainly don’t want to create all these wonderful snacks then intercept their benefit by smothering them with unhealthy condiments. Here is a list of common toppings that contain no animal ingredients. Of course, specific ingredients vary depending on the brand, but these brands are usually safe for a plant-based diet.
A.1. Original Sauce
Hot sauce (Cholula, Frank’s RedHot, Sriracha, Tabasco, and Tapatío)
Now you see how easy it is for anyone to be an eligible receiver of tasty, healthy party dishes. At the end of the evening, as your peeps are heading home, they’ll high-five you as you delight in your great use of home field advantage. Your post-game activity? Tackling a mile high stack of empty dirty dishes.
By the way, can you pick out all the football terms and references that I used?
“Whether giving away 50 pairs of shoes or 50,000, there wouldn’t be enough to meet the demand in Haiti.” Very profound words by Samuel Darguin, Executive Director of Haitian American Caucus, a micro enterprising movement he began four years ago to improve the lives of Haitian Americans by providing them with education and essential business tools.
Darguin would know. He’s there on the frontline, along with their partnering company and one of our clothing brands, Soles4Souls. Since 2006, S4S has been fulfilling their mission to fight poverty globally by distributing shoes and clothes to the poor. To date, they’ve handled over 26 million pairs of shoes going to 127 countries and to all 50 states.
S4S sends a container of shoes to HACU in Haiti every 45 days. A container weighs 25,000 pounds, which equates to approx. 20,000 shoes. Haiti is labeled as the poorest country of the Americas. There are about 10.32 million people living within Haiti’s 10,714 square miles. In 2010, they suffered the worst earthquake in 200 years, felt the brunt of a major hurricane and dealt with a cholera outbreak that claimed many lives—all within that one year’s span. As one can imagine, the locals anxiously await those 20,000 pairs of shoes every 45 days.
All the more reason Zappos’ charitable group, Zappos for Good, felt humbled and grateful to be a part of S4S and HACU’s distributing efforts. This past January, after months of collecting donated shoes and clothing from our employees as well as our customers, four Zapponians accompanied our donations to Haiti to experience firsthand the impact of those distributions in the recipient coastal region of Montrouis.
Jeremy Kettle and Todd Martin from our Give Team (an integral extension of Zappos for Good), and Mikey Mineeraj and Sarah Weinbaum from our Audio Visual Team, along with S4S’s COO, David Graben, helped carry out the function of HACU’s grass roots program.
How does the program work?
Instead of donating the goods directly to those in need, the items are first distributed to women in the community who are involved in the micro enterprising program. These women have been trained to initiate and operate their own businesses and the donated goods become their inventory. These women are now able to build their own homes, put their children in schools and support their families and community with the profit from the sale of their goods. The people of the community are able to afford the donated goods which are sold to them by the women at a very low price. Everyone wins!
Jeremy and Todd shared with me their amazement over how the crowds of people waiting for those shoes blossomed from several dozen to a couple hundred within just minutes. Due to the language barrier, there wasn’t much interaction with the people gathering there. However, because huge smiles and elated expressions are universal, they knew those receiving the much awaited shoes and clothes were forever grateful.
So, go ahead, clean out your closet. Gather up those shoes you haven’t worn for two or more years. Whether you’re an employee, customer or a friend of Zappos go to http://www.zappos.com/zapposforgood/give and donate away! From this day forward, I have a whole new awakening regarding the items I donate. Won’t you join me?
When I slip into my shoes each morning, I’m usually not mindful of the rows of shoeboxes on the top closet shelves safely protecting my off-season ones from dust. Nor am I counting how many shoes are tucked into the shoe rack on the closet wall. A lot of blessings along our daily routine we tend to take for granted — shoes are clearly one of them.
They were for me until I began working at Zappos and would hear from customers, on a daily basis, in need of therapeutic shoes. I have a passion for helping people achieve a more balanced healthy lifestyle. Never did I factor shoes into that equation … until now.
At Zappos, we’re known for WOWing our customers with excellent, personalized customer service. In my beginning months, I was an Agent of WOW in the call center. What an honor it was to speak to and help so many people. From very basic shoes and clothes shopping issues to complex ones, the bottom line was I heard it all.
As a health conscious person, I do believe the universe directed a whole lot of those calls to me that specifically dealt with illnesses. Daily, I spoke with customers suffering from diabetes, bunions and planters fasciitis, just to name a few. When it comes to buying proper fitting, comfortable shoes after foot surgery or when dealing with an illness, it’s no walk in the park.
According to the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), there is an extensive list of medical conditions, such as certain metabolic, neurologic, chronic and peripheral vascular diseases resulting in a need for therapeutic shoes. Included in that list is even malnutrition! Wow. Who knew?
What I do know, though, is that I’m ever so grateful and humbled by the opportunity to help people gain control over their foot situation and achieve a little comfort. I could hear their sense of relief, and even their smile, through the phone when they finally found what would liberate them from the pain in their feet.
I’ve been even more humbled since broadening my horizons at Zappos, working in different areas, and volunteering for certain charitable events. For instance, there’s Prom Closet, where we give prom outfits, shoes and accessories to high school senior girls and boys in need. Then there’s our Thanksgiving dinner and shoes giveaway, where we serve a hot traditional turkey meal to about 1,000 homeless men, women and children, and fit them each with a new pair of shoes and socks.
So many of our vendors readily give back to their communities and other countries in this same manner. We love partnering with them in their ongoing efforts, as well as with various charitable organizations that help us extend our benevolent reach.
Statistics indicate most people share two major fears in life: the fear of dying and the fear of public speaking.
Some people even go as far as saying they’d rather die than have to speak in front of a large crowd. While chances are a person is certainly exaggerating any time they use the phrase, “I’d rather die than…” we must, nonetheless, believe their fear IS real!
What could be the source of this profound and widely shared fear of public speaking? In my unscientific estimation, it can be summed up in one word: validation. Or, rather lack thereof.
Somewhere along our life’s journey, we’ve adopted the notion of waiting for validation from others. You know, that constructive criticism from some self-appointed judge that urges us to either continue on our path or to sit on down. So before even getting started, we stifle our gifts, our goals and our voice out of dread for the negative things “they” may say or think.
If we do find the courage to step on out, we became conditioned (perhaps by one or many who have no vision) to believe our vision shouldn’t be too big or too far out there. After all, what if it never comes to fruition? Then you’ve just gone and embarrassed yourself, right? Don’t you dare share publicly your goals, visions or your gifts. Remember, everyone’s watching YOU. Because we don’t have enough to do in our own daily lives, we’ll follow your life every step of the way, watching and waiting to tell you when you’ve messed up.
Never mind the fact that by sharing, you just may find like-minded people who could help you fulfill your goals. Never mind the fact that by sharing, you may encourage someone else to accept a bigger vision to one day accomplish great things. That you just may set someone free of internal, as well as external, inhibitions with your encouragement, insight, gifts, skills and talent.
Enter the art of journaling onto the scene!
Journaling is a great antidote to fear. Something magical happens during this transfer of feelings from heart to paper, without your subconscious doubts interrupting the process. Journaling allows your inner voice to be heard in an uninhibited fashion. It needs no validation or constructive criticism.
Years ago, when I began hosting journaling workshops, I sought the opinion of several successful people to get their take on this form of expressive writing. I wanted to help novice journal enthusiasts and non-journalers alike understand it’s not hokey-pokey stuff but rather a very beneficial process.
I asked Sandra Yancy, an award-winning international entrepreneur, author, movie producer, speaker, as well as founder and CEO of a five-plus million membership networking organization called eWomenNetwork Inc. Here’s what she had to say about journaling:
Terri, I have been journaling for many years. It has served as a valuable vehicle to share gratitude, express disappointment, capture dreams, and ‘own’ who I am at any other particular moment in my life. By doing so, I can look back through my pages and see how I’ve overcome obstacles and recorded important learnings. Journaling has served as an internal pathway that has led to many improvements and successes. When I reflect on the gifts I have bestowed on my children, the gift of journaling is certainly one of my best! I applaud you for hosting a workshop of this kind so that others, too, can reap the rewards that such a practice provides.
I reached out to world-renowned motivational speaker and author, Les Brown, as well. He’s the recipient of the National Speakers Association’s highest honor: The Council of Peers Award of Excellence, and one of “America’s Top Five Speakers” voted by Toastmasters International. Here are his comments:
I commend you, Terri, for conducting this workshop to help individuals step into their greatness! Too often people find their lives stuck in neutral, going nowhere fast. It’s like the mechanism is there to drive their dreams forward; they just need instruction on how to use it. Self-reflection, through writing, is one such mechanism that can empower you with courage and resiliency to make it against all odds.
While I did not have the great fortune to speak directly to movie producer, director, actor and playwright, Tyler Perry, I read a magazine article about his practice of journaling. This is what he shared with the interviewer about why he journals:
Psalm 119:105 ‘The word is a lamp unto my feet and a light into my pathway.’… I have always walked by faith. Sometimes there was only a little light, a little hope that kept me moving. There were so many times that I didn’t know how I was going to make it. So many times I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, if my hope would be realized or if my dreams would come true. But no matter how dark it got, I kept moving. That is one of the keys to making your dreams come true. JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD! … At the top of every year, I stop and go away to reflect. I will usually take out my journal and read over some of the past years and look at all the things God brought me through, no matter how dark the times. What rereading my journal taught me is that there was always a lamp at my feet. I think if you look at your life, you’ll see a lamp too.
With journaling, you’re writing to yourself about yourself, setting yourself free in the process. Journaling works well that way. The great news is that you don’t have to wait to do it. Start right now! As you allow journaling to become a habit, you’ll begin validating yourself. One day, that validation becomes all you need to publicly share your writings and your story without fear.
There you have it: The joy of journaling! It will make public speaking less of a fear for you. Kick your fears to the curb, get unstuck, reap rewards and keep that lamp burning bright for all to see!
Love & RAWspect,
Terri Liggins is a Writer/Editor/Blogger, seasoned Ghostwriter, Entrepreneur and Book Publisher.Over the past 18 years, she has ghostwritten for numerous authors and public figures, including a world-renown motivational speaker and a U.S. Senator.
In honor of the National Parks Service Centennial, it’s time to boogie on over to your favorite national park site. August 25 is the actual date set aside to recognize this 100th birthday, but celebrations across America have been in full force all year long. Some very cool commemorative park apparel has been trending this year as well.
With 58 national parks and hundreds of recreational areas and monuments to choose from, the goal of the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation is to encourage people to embrace the opportunities to explore, learn, be inspired by, or simply have fun at these spectacular wonderments — many of them amazingly crafted by nature, some even deemed geological mysteries.
Families and solo travelers should view the celebration as a great way to connect again, or for the first time, with their favorite park, statue or public land. There’s also no shortage of learning a new thing or two. For instance, did you know that Wyoming is home to the very first national park: Yellowstone? “Hey, hey, Boo-Boo!” If you already knew that fun fact then you are smarter than the average bear.
I’ve never been to Yellowstone, but I surprised myself realizing just how many national sites and monuments I have visited in my lifetime. They are:National SeashoresPoint Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes, California
South Padre Island, off the southern shores of TexasNational MonumentsMuir Woods National Monument, Marin County, California
Pullman National Monument, Southside of Chicago, Illinois
St Paul’s Cathedral, New York, New York
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Washington Memorial, Washington, DC
National Parks and Recreation Areas
Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco, California
Grand Canyon National Park, near Flagstaff, Arizona
Like me, you’ve probably been to more than you think once you start writing them down. Not sure which places are deemed national historical spots? You can find a list of them at findyourpark.com. Which of America’s national parks have you visited?
Each of these landmarks I’ve seen has left an indelible mark on my life. One of the most memorable is the Grand Canyon. This spectacular formation of rock that’s 18 miles across, 277 miles long and more than one-mile deep is so incredibly massive that it can be seen from space! What struck me as fascinating was that in all its vastness and depth, at some spots I was standing dangerously close to the edge (but not crazy close), and there were no guardrails! Even though that visit was years ago, I clearly remember the breathtaking sensation knowing I was standing in the midst of over a billion tons of rock that had been six miles below sea level billions of years prior. Let that sink in.
Wow. That’s gotten me excited to go exploring again! This time, I think I’ll head over to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, at the border of Nevada and Arizona, to catch this celebratory wave. There’s still time for you, too, to catch it! In fact, we would love to see photos of your visit in capturing America’s best from your perspective.
Because some of these parks get pretty chilly with all their trees and foliage, be sure to pack your trusty windbreaker. Columbia® has teamed up with the National Park Service to create a collection of apparel that helps celebrate the splendor of nature, like this smart looking Columbia Flashback™ Park Edition Windbreaker.
When I think Kate Spade, I think colorful prints and playful sophistication.
From handbags and clothing to jewelry, fashion accessories, fragrance, eyewear, shoes, and more, their high-quality radiant splash of charm exudes.
In 1993, Kate Brosnahan Spade, a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle, fulfilled her desire to design the “perfect” handbag. Starting with just six silhouettes, she forged ahead using palettes in a way rarely explored before: a sleek, practical look with lots of colors. Her first shop quickly followed in 1996, as fashion magazine editors and female consumers gravitated to this fresh, modern style.
By 2007, it became Kate Spade & Company. Under the direction of new officers, the company launched a full clothing and jewelry collection, later followed by bedding, legwear and fragrances. Today, the parent company designs and sells under two global lifestyle brands: Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade. All these additions have proven successful. As Kate herself said, “The bar is high. If it were low, we’d only trip over it.”
By January 2015, Kate Spade employed 3,500 employees within 93 U.S. specialty retail stores, 32 foreign specialty retail stores, 57 U.S. outlet stores, and 14 foreign outlet stores. They manufacture in conjunction with approximately 151 suppliers in 15 countries. Their presence graces every continent and every time zone.
In their factories, all employees are encouraged to speak up when there are internal grievances. Their procedures give workers the opportunity to report their concerns in confidence, even directly to Kate herself.
In 2014, Kate Spade developed On Purpose, a program designed to empower women through trade. This program brought together community artisans within the town of Masoro, in the West African nation of Rwanda. This partnership would help in the crafting of handmade goods supplied to both Kate Spade and Jack Spade brands.
In addition to crafting, the women were taught how to build profitable for-profit businesses. The organization’s goal is for the women’s economic stability to positively transform the entire community of more than 20,000 people. Giving back doesn’t end with Masoro. Kate Spade plans on continuing this trend in other communities.
Today, Kate Spade has grown into a highly-respected global name. Their goal is to continue inspiring colorful living through their timeless and durable, yet stylish and witty merchandise. They are impressively reaching that goal.
Do you know what else is impressive? That I have a Kate Spade purse bought back in 1997, which remains a favorite of mine. Yes, 20 years later, it’s holding up and still adding an exuberant splash of color to my wardrobe.
National Sunglasses Day is June 27! What a fantastic way to highlight how necessary and important it is to wear sunglasses or other UV-protective eyewear every day for long-term eye health. That’s right, looking cool behind the shades is not just for the laidback beach bum or the big-time movie star hiding from the paparazzi. Assuming you’re not in either of those two camps, you may need some help and be reminded to wear sunglasses on a regular basis.
So I’m using this great opportunity to shed some light (yes, pun intended) on how to properly purchase sunglasses. Studies show 70% of Americans are concerned about the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damage, yet only about 30% of us wear sunglasses each time we head out the door. Hand raised, guilty as charged, I’m among that 70% not practicing safe eye protection. Why? Because I just haven’t mastered the skill of purchasing the right ones.
My Sunglass Trauma
I know this isn’t a legit excuse for not protecting my eyes, but I absolutely dread buying sunglasses — and yes, it ranks right up there with going to the dentist. I don’t know how I’ve come to despise such an innocent task. (Wait, is there that much disdain that the word “despise” has to be used? Yes, I guess there is.)
I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I’ve lost so many of my favorite pairs of sunglasses over the decades. Some were quite expensive, too, relative to my budget. So I’ve developed an aversion to buying “good” sunglasses.
I don’t have a clue how so many of them got lost either. Possibly left in the bathroom stall at some restaurant or event? Perhaps abandoned on an amusement park bench, while resting in between roller coaster rides? I’m sure I’ve laid them down on a department store shelf a time or two while sifting through stacks of clothing, then walked away without another thought of them until too late.
Such a sunglass-losing streak led me to buy cheap $5 pairs. That way, losing them wouldn’t hurt. But guess what? Those are the ones that never get lost! I have a couple of them. Right now in my car’s glove compartment is a pair I bought at a pharmacy four years ago. They’ll probably remain there until I sell the car one day.
I think I’m ready again, though. Ready to take on the grown-up responsibility of buying a real pair of sunglasses. Some that are designed to actually protect my eyes from those fierce UV rays. Time to separate me from that 70% statistic.
Let’s first take a look at lenses. Seems like a logical place to start when considering how to protect your eyes against UV rays. There are three types of UV lenses: UVA, UVB and UVC. With sunlight as the obvious source, radioactive light rays are located a bit past the violet section of its visible spectrum. Do note that UV rays can go right through clouds, so eye protection is important even if it’s a cloudy day. Ensure your lenses block at least 99% of rays and contain a UV400 rating. Each of those UV rays affects us differently:
UVA rays: longer wavelengths that pass through glass easily. UVB rays: dangerous to vision, but can’t pass through glass. UVC rays: do not reach Earth because our atmosphere blocks them
Polarization is a term you hear a lot in relation to the sunglass lens. It means the lenses are treated with a coating that dims incoming light rays. They also reduce bright glares that bounce off reflective surfaces like water or other vehicles. There is an extra cost for this, especially useful feature.
There are many misconceptions about which lens color is the “safest”; however, color is a personal choice and has no effect on eye safety. One thing about color is that it can affect the perception of existing light sources (e.g. traffic lights). Gray, black, and brown are all good choices as they distort colors the least.
Now that I have the type of lens all figured out, I’m anxious to start shopping for the latest and greatest brands. But wait! I forgot. I need to address another reason for my sunglass-buying phobia. In the past, finding the right frames that complement my face was such a long and arduous task. However, I’m learning now that I should determine my desired frame shape first before even deciding on particular styles. This will save a lot of time. So, let’s have at it.
Round face? Square face? Oval face? Heart-shaped face? So much to think about. How can one really tell which shape is theirs? I soon realized finding the answer to that question was super important if I was ever going to overcome this feeling of contempt and purchase that perfect, high-quality pair of sunnies.
Below is a sunglass buying guide to help us determine what type of frames work best with our face. There are actually up to seven different types of facial structures; I’m only covering those four most dominant face shapes here.
First, there are two easy ways to measure your official face shape. One way is to trace your face shape on your bathroom mirror using lipstick, a bar of soap, chalk, a dry-erase marker or some other non-permanent marking item. The second way is to use a tape measure and record the dimensions of your face as follows …
Forehead: Measure from highest point of one eyebrow’s arch to the opposite side of the other eyebrow. Cheekbones: Measure across your upper cheeks, starting and ending at the bump below the outer corner of each eye. Jawline: Measure the tip of your chin to the point below your ear where your jaw angles upward. Multiply that by two. Face length: Measure from the center of your hairline to the tip of your chin.
If your face is round, your cheekbones and face length will be about the same measurement. They will be larger than your forehead and jawline, and the angle of your jaw will typically be soft. If your face is heart-shaped, your jawline is usually long and pointed. Your chin will be the smallest point on your face. All of your measurements will be about the same and your jaw angle sharp if your face is considered square. Finally, for an oval shape, your face length will be larger than the width of your cheekbones, your forehead will be larger than your jawline and the angle of your jaw rounded.
Based on that, my face is heart shaped. Did you find your shape?
Now that we know the shape of our face, the sunglass experts are showing us what frames go best with that shape. Check it out here:
Styles of sunglasses are actually categorized for better functionality. You’ll want to consider what activity you’ll be performing while wearing your sunglasses to ensure you’ll get the most proficient use out of your choice. The categories are either casual, sport or glacier.
Time to Buy!
Whew! Finally! I am now empowered to purchase a real pair of sunglasses. Just remember that the information given in these guidelines are only suggestions. At the end of the day, you’ve got to go with your gut and pick what lens, style, and brand you like.
Also, at the end of the day is the start of a new day. (How’s that for logic?) So get out there and seize it! Be adventurous but be smart. Protect your eyes at all times. Look like a smart adult sportin’ your stunna shades.
Love & RAWspect,
Photo courtesy: AnimalOnline.com and Zappos, Inc.
Face chart courtesy: stylesofman.com/blog/sunglasses-guide
These days, I’m an editor and blogger for Zappos, Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada. My blogs appear on a regular basis along with those written by fellow co-workers within our Newsroom Circle.
I recently wrote a blog highlighting some of the niceties we enjoy at Zappos. Then a pretty cool observation occurred.
I was scrolling through some old blogs on my personal blog site and came upon one I wrote in 2014. At that time, I was not yet working at Zappos. In fact, I was barely familiar with this billion dollar, an online retailer with the funny name, other than the one experience where my daughter purchased boots from them and then received a nice, handwritten note from the Customer Service Rep who helped her.
So, while writing about that company (whose name is Mahalo) it’s possible I put some vibes out in the universe about how cool it’d be to work there (even though I was then and still am loving the freedom of my own business as well). One year later, a cool job like that manifested for me and here I am at Zappos. Keep speaking your affirmations!
Here’s my article I recently wrote in my writer role at Zappos…
Employee benefits are perhaps more valuable than a high salary. That’s a pretty bold statement, but is it true? Well, according to MetLife’s 10th annual study on the topic of job perks, a lot of value is being placed on the personalized benefits a company offers nowadays. Most leading organizations have chosen this route for the sake of employee morale, engagement, and retention. Zappos is one such organization. Looking at what I believe to be our top 10 perks, I’d say we have just about something for everyone!A Major Hookup for MillenialsThe young single person with no spouse or children couldn’t ask for a better hookup. Why waste money and time grocery shopping when you can come to work and devour as much free cereal, bagels, and fruit in the morning as your belly desires (or any time of the day for that matter)? Seventeen fully stocked kitchenettes, uniformly placed throughout our 10-story building, help with that.Of course, everyone has to eat. So the young, old, married, single, grocery shoppers or not, love our free salad bar, free soups, free grilled cheese sandwiches, free beverages and those oh so moderately priced made-to-order entrees in our bistro. Mmmm. This private, on-campus restaurant serves us seven days a week, 12 hours a day.Too lazy or busy to walk to the bistro? Within our building are free prepackaged salads and sandwiches in our ZCafé. Grab them and go 24/7, or nibble on them on the café’s open-air patio with super comfy seating. From 8 a.m.-5 p.m., it’s Starbucks-like service — at about half the price, Zappos style!
Based on a recent Goldman Sachs study conducted with Teen Vogue readers, 22% of all Millennials are health conscious. Much more than Generation Xers or Baby Boomers. So, bingo! Not only does Zappos boast a free, 24/7, fully equipped gym with state of the art machines, we have numerous recreational areas throughout the campus, as well.
A Ping-Pong table, foosball machine, miniature golf course or our brand new outdoor basketball court can assist with team building gatherings. Certified trainers also come on campus to teach free classes for yoga, kickboxing, and cardio.
A Real Gem for Gen Xers
For the Gen X workaholic who spends more hours at the office than at home, power perks are a match made in heaven. Go ahead, drop off your dry cleaning and car keys at our front desk when you arrive at work in the morning. By the time you’re ready to go home, your oil will have been changed and your car detailed to a “T!”
While there in the main lobby, visit Flonzo, our top-rate resident shoe shiner! He’s been diligently puttin’ on that $5 spit shine for the past several years. As he’s shinning, you can read one of the many free-for-the-taking motivational or self-help books from our employee library.
Bennies Done Right for Boomers
The majority of the 76 million American boomers are still in the workforce, even though they’re now empty nesters heading toward retirement. Many have been displaced from jobs once thought secure. As a boomer myself, I can attest that Zappos’ free health insurance is a particularly appreciated perk! Having a massage chair and a stress-releasing napping pod to rejuvenate from head to toe is nothing to sneeze at either.
With this demographic group being top U.S. consumers, our very own shipping department catering to our personal shipping needs is simply heavenly! Speaking of shopping, Zappos has its very own currency, called … wait for it … Zollars! Offered in varying values, with CEO Tony Hsieh’s face on some of them, this program incentivizes goodwill tasks by employees offering cool company apparel and gadgets in exchange.
Here again are just 10 of the many power perks that keep us loving Zappos:
Private on-campus bistro and 17 kitchenettes throughout our 10-story building
Café and outdoor patio
24/7 access to fully-equipped gym
Recreational activities: basketball, foosball, mini golf, trainer-led classes
Concierge services: shoe shining, car wash, oil change, and dry cleaner pickup
Employee library with current and top-selling books
Free individual health insurance and reduced premiums for families
A badass massage chair and nap room with sleep pods
On-site shipping department
While not all perks float every employee’s boat, it’s safe to say there’s something for all. From our young and restless to our mature adults, from our geeky reserved introverts to our totally outgoing weirdos, we can all get perked. Now that’s a powerful thing!
Terri Liggins / June 01, 2016
Now, below is the article I wrote in 2014, never suspecting I’d be working at one of these cool companies myself a year later! I’m even able to keep my home-based business going on the side while working this job. Very grateful on many levels, for sure!
These Perks Rock Big Time:
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6pm with a personal trainer. Tae Kwon Do
Twice every week. Stay in shape mentally and physically. Meals
Company chef prepares breakfast and lunch every day. Snacks
Freshly cut fruit bowls are brought to your desk twice every day. Cars
Every car in the lot gets washed every six weeks. Laundry
Bring your laundry and it will be washed and folded while you work.
Believe it or not, those are real perks offered by a real company in California (figures, right?). By now, you’re probably saying, “Now, if I could have benefits like that, I would be happy about going to work.”
Demand Those Perks for yourself!
Everyone who contributes every day towards making this country the great place that it is deserves to have those same perks–especially baby boomers! I am a baby boomer so I’m very partial to this group of people and their welfare.
We are the biggest generation in the history of our country; so talk about contributing to the workforce–that’s us! We are products of post-World War II, so we entered at a time of great struggle and rebuild. We are made up of industrial titans. We morphed into dedicated nine to fivers and wore the badge of “corporate lifers” with pride.
THEN STUFF HAPPENED TO US…
Failing economy; recession; company shutdowns and bailouts; layoffs and early retirement packages; high unemployment rates and hiring freezes; sandwiched between our children’s needs and that of aging parents; and the list goes on.
I know first hand, it’s not so easy finding another comparable position in Corporate America after being laid off from that so-called secure job. The job search itself can prove rather grueling when stacked up against younger competitors willing to accept less money than you require or deserve. Never mind he’s still very green around the gills and you have all the polished skill set and intuitiveness needed to get the job done more efficiently. Those hiring employers just aren’t looking our way.
So how could we possibly demand amazing perks like that California company offers (and so many other companies in the Silicon Valley) when we’re hanging on for dear life at whatever old job we could find? One sentence…
BE YOUR OWN BOSS.
There has never been a better time for baby boomers to take heed of this alternative. According to a 2012 report by the Ewing Kauffman Foundation, in their study of entrepreneurship, they found that baby boomers between the ages of 55 and 64 made up 23.4 percent of all entrepreneurs in the U.S. That increase from 14.3 percent in 1996 is the largest growth rate among all the age groups. So, some of us got the memo.
I am glad I took that alternate route and started an online marketing business where I simply offer other individuals online products, marketing strategies, and wealth-building training to help secure their future of many amazing perks!
Of course, the amount of passion and dedication you bring to ANY home-based business will determine your bottom line profit. In other words, nothing is guaranteed to you until you do the work. But that’s nothing new. What is new is having the ability to earn income through commissions, bonuses, and residuals that in just several years or in several months can net you a monthly income more than what some people earn all year.
Go ahead and take your children or grandchildren to the park during your lunch break. Take every Friday off throughout the entire year. How cool is that? I can now enjoy fresh fruit at my desk throughout the day. I can now go to my yoga class during the day when it’s less crowded instead of having to squeeze into the evening or weekend classes. I can travel to visit my children whenever needed.
Yes, I deserve those types of perks for the hard work I put in. Now, I’m getting them. For myself; from myself. That means there’s no cap on how many I can have. WooHoo! I like that possibility!
Oh, and about that laundry being done for us while we work our home-based business? With as much total commitment and hard work given to OUR OWN businesses, as we have given to our corporate bosses, hiring a maid to do our laundry while we work will become a cost-effective reality!
So, what do you say? How long are you going to sit on the fence at the ballpark without getting in the game?
By the way, the name of that California company offering those perks to its employees? Mahalo in Santa Monica.
Join my team online and put yourself on the pathway to your own Mahalo!
Love & RAWspect,
Working smarter not harder
When you keep focused on your passion, you begin getting paid to do that which you love doing. As a ghostwriter for the past 16 years, I’ve come to know that to be true.
I’m now blogging and conducting journaling workshops for my day job, Zappos, after being there only one year.
I guess the significance of the assignment’s magnitude didn’t really hit me until speaking with a friend recently and she looked me square in the eyes and said, “YOU are blogging for a billion dollar company! How cool is that?” Wow. That IS pretty cool. I’d never looked at it that way. I had to let that statement sink in for its full-blown gratitude to blossom.
Also, offering my co-workers these journaling workshop sessions is major cool as well. I am sooo very humbled by it all. Here’s my promo video for the journaling workshops:
When my friend said that to me that day, it reminded me of something. Just as important as having goals and aspirations, we must not forget to then watch for the manifestation of those goals. Sometimes blessings are right in front of us, waiting on our acknowledgment of them, while we’re searching over the horizon for more.
I am eternally thankful for that which I have today. I give honor and gratitude to my Almighty Creator, whose omnipotence and omnipresence I rely on daily.
Who knew these five little words could either conjure up feelings of extreme elation or anxiety and apprehension. When it comes to dressing for your meet-up, major decisions command the stage. You’re excited when “you got this” and you’re nervous when you don’t have a clue what to wear.
I’ve experienced both of those sentiments, and the latter ain’t no joke. It’s a horrible feeling. You want to make a good impression whether it’s a first-time blind date or the 100th with your spouse. Over the years, what I’ve found to be most true is the more you overthink your outfit, the worse off you’ll be.
For example, when I’d experiment with mixing and matching various outfits, or would give a second chance to some shoes that were in the far reaches of the closet, I generally ended up regretting it. I either spent the majority of the date tugging at my dress, being horrified at the odd color combination of my pants, blouse and vest (which I can assure you looked better under different lighting in my home), or praying for relief from the tight straps on those forgotten shoes.
The truth of the matter is; comfort is the name of the game when dressing for a date. Being comfortable in your clothes will put you at overall ease — especially if it’s a first or blind date where there are a bazillion other things to be concerned with.
Because of the comfort factor, this may not be the best time to wear something brand new. If you must buy an outfit specifically for a date, purchase it far enough in advance so you have time to wear it first, even if it’s just around the house that day. If your clothes don’t feel right, you won’t feel right. So if the outfit isn’t you, return it immediately. Exchange it for something else.
If your outfit is too fancy or too casual, the same thing applies: You won’t feel right. You could be setting the bar too high, or setting it too low. Why risk it?
Here’s the bottom line: To avoid a faux pas, your best bet is to simply pick out that shirt, jacket, dress, pants, skirt or shoes you love to wear. You know, the garments that make you feel 100% comfortable and confident in your skin. In doing so, the outfit will automatically reflect your style. And you certainly don’t want to hide that when out with someone you care about — or hope to eventually.
Now, if you need help discovering your perfect style, here’s a brief guide to assure your personality shines through no matter what the occasion or venue. My apologies to the men; this list primarily pertains to women (I’ll do better by you next time!)
8 Tips For Every Glorious Gal
1.) Black always wins as the primary color to pull an outfit together.
2.) Adding tie-dye, paisley, floral or suzani (embroidery) to the black gives a small flash to make a huge splash.
3.) If you’re feeling a little whimsical and love-child-like, printed maxi dresses give that cool boho-chic look. In the summer, it’s the quickest thing to toss on for a date.
4.) Skinny jeans, flared jeans, shredded jeans, denim cut-offs and denim skirts. Any and all jeans rule. Period. Well, maybe with one exception: mom jeans.
5.) Vests and short jackets — whether beaded, fringed, shawl-like or hooded — not only pull an outfit together, but they brilliantly camouflage bulges you may be battling with around the midsection.
6.) Forget diamonds (that’s only a figure of speech, mind you), shoes, boots and sandals are a girl’s best friend! From slip-ons to gladiator sandals to thigh-high boots, they add such character and keep people looking at you from head to toe.
7.) Accessories, scarves and hats can smartly pull it all together or tragically overpower a clean, crisp look. Choose wisely and again, only you know if you can pull off feather earrings.
8.) Purses should never be a careless afterthought. They have every right to be a part of the color scheme as much as any other article you’re wearing. Be it a fringe crossbody or small clutch, live a little! Have fun with it and make it bold.
There you have it. Now you have all the keys to dress just right for your next date night. Have fun, and above all, be yourself!
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