Are you an avid reader? What’s your favorite book? What have you read lately?
I asked this question on Instagram the other day and received some awesome recommendations–this was the first time I had heard of many of them! I decided to create a list and post it here so that I don’t forget to check them out and to share them with you as well. A few of my favorites are included too and a short summary follows each book title. I love that it’s such a diverse list–I think there’s something on here for everyone!
Here are my recommendations:
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A MOST UNTRADITIONAL LOVE STORY, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.
This Is No Ordinary Joy: How the Courage of Survivors Transformed My Life by Sarah Symons
When mom and TV music composer Sarah Symons discovered that human trafficking and slavery were destroying the lives of millions of young girls worldwide, she was compelled to take action. In this deeply personal and brutally honest memoir, she shares how she took on this enormous cause, personally and professionally, and how it changed her and her family’s lives forever.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.
The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Here are your recommendations:
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, recommended by @archnahpatel, seconded by @bycarriebchan
With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain, recommended by @carolannsplace_17
When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. The Dream Daughter is a rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, recommended by @madelinemadethis
An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
The Gold Letter by Lena Manta, recommended by @colorbk
A cherished heirloom reveals the destinies of three generations of women in a powerful saga of lost love. After years spent in Germany struggling to come to terms with a dispirited and abusive past, Fenia Karapanos has returned to her roots in Greece. Her estranged grandfather has bequeathed her his villa in Athens, a gesture she assumes is reparation for having disowned her late mother. After taking in a grateful Syrian refugee to help her restore the property—and her life—Fenia discovers a collection of love letters hidden under the floorboards, reaching back nearly a century. In each one, Fenia unfolds another piece of her broken family history. But it’s Fenia’s solicitous cousin, Melpo, who offers more to the story than Fenia can imagine. Melpo shares everything she knows—about Fenia’s grandmother and mother, their elusive and heartbreaking searches for happiness, and two families linked across decades by betrayal, secrets, abandonment, and forbidden love. It upends everything Fenia believed was true about her family. But it could also draw her closer to finding self-fulfillment—and a place to call home.
I Know This Much Is True: A Novel by Wally Lamb, recommended by @penelopedespain
Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his subdued life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation. Dominick is forced to care for his brother as well as confront dark secrets and pain he has buried deep within himself—a journey of the soul that takes him beyond his blue-collar New England town to Sicily’s Mount Etna, the birthplace of his grandfather and namesake. Coming to terms with his life and lineage, Dominick struggles to find forgiveness and finally rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his troubled twin. I Know This Much Is True is a masterfully told story of alienation and connection, power and abuse, devastation and renewal—an unforgettable masterpiece.
I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib, recommended by @madebytofu
I Was Their American Dream is at once a coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents’ ideals, learning to code-switch between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid. Malaka Gharib’s triumphant graphic memoir brings to life her teenage antics and illuminates earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised. Malaka’s story is a heartfelt tribute to the American immigrants who have invested their future in the promise of the American dream.
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, recommended by @madelinemadethis
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history – and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the lightbulb and holds the right to power the country?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, recommended by @archnahpatel
A thrilling tale of narrow escapes, romance in the midst of a revolution, and battlefield heroism, Victor Hugo’s sprawling 1862 novel focuses on the Parisian underworld. Ex-convict Jean Valjean, who served 19 years in prison for stealing bread, attempts to redeem his life by helping the downtrodden. But his every move is dogged by the implacable policeman, Inspector Javert, whose relentless pursuit of a reformed criminal reflects a morally empty state that values retribution rather than justice. One of the first modern novels, Les Misérables took the unprecedented step of featuring a working-class hero and examining society’s role in fostering crime and criminal behavior. Its portrait of altruism in the face of misery, poverty, and injustice is memorable for its vivid characterizations and its gripping plot, which unfolds in the manner of a detective story.
The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith, recommended by @penelopedespain
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden, recommended by @archnahpatel
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha. In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner, recommended by @lettersbystarlight
Do we change or does the world change us? Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise. Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life. But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily-ever-after? In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, recommended by @lbloveorganics
Two star-crossed magicians engage in a deadly game of cunning in The Night Circus. Behind the scenes of Le Cirque des Rêves, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James, recommended by @madebytofu
Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling novel. Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary. Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, recommended by @madebytofu
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, Southern Black community and running away at age 16, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her Black daughter in the same Southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
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I’ve been reading The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, a collection of daily reflections for all 365 days of the year.
The book was recommended by Oprah back in 2011 and that’s about the time that I got it. I had meant to start reading it on January 1st because it sounded like an amazing way to kick off the new year. Then every January came and every January went lol. But as I have been trying to re-read the books I own, I saw this on the shelf and decided it was time to crack it open! It doesn’t matter at all what day I start reading it and I need to let that go–it’s more important that I just start!
Every morning, while I eat breakfast, I will pick up where I left off and see what wisdom is in store for me for the day. It’s crazy how relevant some of the entries are to what I am currently experiencing or feeling! The universe has a way of providing us what we need, when we need it and as I type this I wonder if maybe it was all just meant to be for me to read this book now during this season of my life.
Each daily reflection starts with a short quote, poem, or saying. I’ve decided that while I am reading this book, I’ll use Mondays to letter the start of the entry for that day. I was inspired by today’s words:
Random is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground.
This sentence refers to “the mystery of unbridled passion, to the lift that results from total immersion and surrender. In our age, however, random means without design, method or purpose.”
The lift from total immersion and surrender is such a beautiful concept, coupled by the image of a horse, running wild and free with all four hooves floating in the air. I’m going to try to remember this version of what random means from now on.
PS: I am really liking the look of the pencil in Procreate!
This morning I took some photos of this month’s free downloads and got some help from Valentine. I use the term “help” very loosely–more like hogging the camera and stepping on the PDFs 😂 It also shows how I typically take product photos! Here’s a little bit more about that if you’re curious :)
The location changes depending on the light, what the weather is like, and time of day. The floor was a good spot for today, especially with the size and weight of my flatlay. You’ll see in the pics above that I use white foam core boards for my background and to reflect the light.
Arranging the photos always takes time but it’s my favorite part! Sometimes I go for a very organized look, other times movement, and I also try to remember to take close up shots and different angles. Today I used my iPhone to snap the photos and the ColorStory app and Photoshop to do some light editing. My goal is to always to get the picture as close to what I want naturally so I don’t have to spend too much time editing! The pics I took will be used my newsletter, website, and social media. The above were before photos and here’s a look at the after:
I hope you enjoyed that little behind the scenes look :) And if you’d like to grab this month’s Book Lovers PDF freebies shown above and get access to Atiliay’s PDF Library, sign up below to join my newsletter and get instant access!
1. VICENTE BLUFFS RESERVE HIKE | PALOS VERDES
Last Saturday morning, Valentine and I met Archna for a hike! There are several beautiful trails in Palos Verdes and we settled on the Vicente Bluffs Reserve Hike. It sounded good based on the description on Hikespeak–it had me at “easy family-friendly trail” lol and leashed dogs are welcome too!
We decided that driving separately to do an outdoor activity together was safe, especially with masks on and practicing social distancing when possible. I’m so glad we went because I really needed a change of scenery and it was such a gorgeous day (see photos below)!
We arrived at 7:30AM (and it’s quite a drive for both of us but worth the early weekend wake up) and I think that was key–there were people on the trail but it wasn’t crowded. By the time we left a little before 9AM, it was pretty crowded but everyone had masks and were respectful of one another’s space. Val did end up getting tired towards the end so I carried her back to our cars lol, also pictured below.
If you are interested in checking out some of the trails, here is a complete list along with PDFs of each spot including trail details, maps, and safety and etiquette: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy – Trails & Hiking.
2. SUMMERSALT FACE COVERINGS | MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS + GIVE BACK
My masks from Summersalt arrived and I had to snap a pic because I loved the ombré bag it came in! I ordered these because I wanted to get some with loops that slipped over the ears and I liked that these were adjustable. They fit great, the material is really comfortable, and I love the designs it comes in! But the best part is that they are made from recycled materials and for every set sold, they will donate a mask!
PS: The fabric mask I wore hiking pictured below is from Reformation if you are looking for affordable ones with ties. The material is really thick and I have had no problems with the ties staying in place. The only downside is that you can’t quickly put it on but otherwise, those are the ones I have been using. You can buy singles or a pack of 5 is $25.
3. SWEET PEA COLLECTIVE X ATILIAY COLLABORATION | WORLD CHANGER TOTE
Our totes are here! The feeling of seeing my lettering in tangible form will never get old :) I am so excited for this collab with Sweet Pea Collective and being able to give back together! SPC’s World Changer collection has helped fund scholarships for local students and I will also be donating 10 meals to The Ebongalethu Educare Center for every tote that is purchased.
The black cotton totes are 15.5″ x 14″ and have “World Changer” printed on them in white. Grab yours by heading to the Sweet Pea Collective Shop!
4. TRUST YOUR CREATIVITY
That’s the phrase for this year’s Better Letters In 15 Challenge which kicked off last Sunday! I chose this phrase because I think it serves as an important reminder. How often do we question our creativity? Stifle it? Think that what we create isn’t good enough? Or even that we aren’t creative enough or creative at all? Whenever these thoughts creep into our minds, I hope we remember this phrase, let it all go, and trust the creativity that lives in all of us.
Happy Friday! May your weekend be filled with blue skies, creative ideas, and positive vibes.
This weekly Friday series is a simple way of documenting and sharing. To learn more about how it came to be, read the the very first post. To see all Friday posts, click here. I hope you like it! :)
The last time I posted on Instagram was on June 26th–it’s been a little over a month and I think I’m ready to go back on social media. Although I have been on a few times just to check DMs, I’ve pretty much stayed off of Atiliay’s IG account–no scrolling, no stories, nothing. I did go on my personal account from time to time, but the more I spent off of it, the easier it was to stay off.
I think I needed this time to just step back and reassess what, why, and how I wanted to use Instagram. To be honest, I am still a bit hesitant. I went on for a few seconds and the first two posts that popped up instantly made me feel like everyone is doing so much and I am doing so little! I know this is not true but I still felt that way and it scared me that this was one of my first interactions after deciding to come back! But my next interactions which were DMs with some awesome friends I have connected with on the platform made me really happy! It reminded me of what I do miss.
I decided to revisit the post I wrote when I decided to take this hiatus. Did I feel any differently now? What has changed? I’m back to share a few things I learned and the reasons why my social media hiatus is coming to an end!
WHICH PARTS OF MY BUSINESS CAN BE SUPPORTED BY SOCIAL MEDIA? WHAT DO I HAVE TO OFFER?
When I started Atiliay, I didn’t even know what Instagram was but as I began to use it, it became such a big focal point, something that I felt like I had to have in order to have a “successful” business (whatever that even means!) Then I realized that “truth” was just something I made up in my own head and it wasn’t really true at all!
Taking time off of social media was an experiment to see if I saw a change in my business. It was also a good way for me to think about how Instagram can support my business, instead of being that main focal point.
As far as sales go, I don’t think it affected much. The majority of traffic to my Etsy shop comes from Pinterest, Etsy ads, and Etsy searches. But this break did make me realize that Instagram was a good tool in helping me share my newsletter, free downloads, and lettering challenges.
I just launched year 2 of The Better Letters in 15 Challenge and it reminded me of how Instagram played a big role in it the first time around–it was so much fun to see people posting their worksheets and having an easy way to share them. This played a pretty big part in my decision to come back. I do feel like I have something useful and fun to share and want to make it available to the wonderful community of letterers on IG.
I have never shared things just for the sake of posting, but I do feel now that I have a more clear idea of what I have to offer and what can be beneficial and valuable to others.
CUTTING TIES WITH VANITY NUMBERS
We’ve heard it so many times before that vanity numbers don’t matter but there they are, just staring at you every time you log on!
Prior to the hiatus I tried very hard to not look at or know what my numbers were so that they wouldn’t affect me as much. But let tell you, going on a hiatus was a true test of whether I could let go of these numbers or not! The second I posted about it, followers dropped left and right. I don’t know how many exactly but I remember seeing the count go down and feeling uneasy and unsure–which only reaffirmed to me that I had to get off! Because that was exactly the feeling I was trying not to feel!
I don’t know how many followers I have right now and I just remind myself that that’s the way this works–we gain followers, we lose followers, it’s just how it is and it shouldn’t make us question our worth. And it’s OK if someone decides my content isn’t for them anymore–it’s better that they leave if that is the case. I don’t want to be the reason for more noise in their feed and they should see things they want to see! I will always do my best to share valuable content with the people who are there, who want to be there, and who enjoy being there!
Another thing I’ve thought about is how truly amazing it is to have any followers at all! I think sometimes we can get caught up with wanting to get thousands of followers or that 10K to unlock IG perks. But to even have 1,000 or 100 people who like your work and want to stay in touch is really awesome! Let’s not forget that there was a time when we all started with 1 follower and it was someone we knew lol.
At times I feel that people forget there’s a real human behind each account but on the flip side, that’s a real human behind each follow and connecting with them is what it should really be about!
FOCUSING ON MY NEWSLETTER AND BLOG
When I wasn’t posting on IG, I was focusing on my newsletter and blog instead. I actually felt super inspired to reconnect with those methods of writing and sharing.
Although I know it’s a slow burn and an IG post typically will get more eyes on them than my newsletter or blog will, there’s something about creating content that lives in a more permanent space and knowing that the people who read it are actually taking the time to be there that makes it worth the wait. It makes creating those things very satisfying and really motivates me!
I was also able to get more of a structure and schedule going for both and set myself up for success!
FREQUENCY IN POSTING / TIME SPENT ON THE APP / BALANCE
Although I’ve decided to start posting again, I want to be mindful of the time I spend on posting and on the app. I’m going to strive for consistency but not for daily posts. I think the key is finding that happy medium which can be tricky but I feel like I have a better idea of what that is for me now. Everyone is different and I hope you find the right balance and pace that works best for you!
The number one thing I miss FOR SURE is interacting with friends and the community on IG! I’ve been able to keep in touch with fellow business owners and creatives, workshop attendees, letterers, and so many interesting, talented, funny, and kind people through this platform! Whether it’s a silly DM or LOLing at a meme someone posted in their stories, I definitely did miss that–a lot. This part of social media is a huge positive, especially during these pandemic times, and I am excited to have that back in my life.
KNOWING WHERE I STAND
Taking a step back allowed me to realize that for me, social media is too fast paced and filled with too much noise. I need time to process things–I think we all do! I feel like there’s this demand on social media to immediately post, comment, etc. but I’ve realized now where I stand on this. I am always going to take time to research, form my own thoughts, post only when I am ready, and not feel bad about it. It’s my version of the think before you speak rule for IG. I won’t let others, especially people who don’t know me, make me feel pressured or shamed into doing anything–at the end of the day, it’s my account, it’s my platform. I know who I am, what I support, what I believe in, and so do the people who know me and are closest to me.
Same as when I started the hiatus, I don’t really have any concrete rules on returning to Instagram. But I do feel like I have more clarity and that will help me be more balanced! Will I still feel pressure or negativity towards social media? I am sure I will but I think I know how to better deal with it. Will there be more breaks in the future? Maybe, if that’s what I feel I need. For now, I will start with one post, take it day by day, and go from there :)
1. “TOGETHER, YOU CAN REDEEM THE SOUL OF OUR NATION” – JOHN LEWIS
This powerful and inspiring final essay by civil rights leader John Lewis is a MUST READ. You can find it here, in The New York Times.
2. 20TH-CENTURY SLAVERY WAS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
I came across this article in Smithsonian Magazine today and it was a reminder to me of how important it is that we know who made our clothes and where they come from. There are more and more ethical brands we can purchase from and many ways we can help make sure we aren’t contributing to the modern day slavery that occurs in the fashion industry. If you want to learn more, read the linked article and check out the documentary The True Cost. This was the movie that made me vow never to purchase from fast fashion again and be as conscious as possible about the supply chain and transparency of not just fashion companies but all companies and brands that I purchase from.
3. TWO PHOTOS FROM THE WEEK
Sitting at a park bench writing letters, enjoying the shade of the trees, and listening to the sound of birds.
Freshly groomed puppy paws <3
4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESSICA!
Three of my closest friends had birthdays this month and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate each of these special people I am incredibly grateful to have in my life! I don’t know where I would be without their support, the conversations we have had, and their friendship. I can’t thank them enough for always having my back, wanting the best for me, and for experiencing this life with me.
Jessica is one of my oldest friends–we met in the middle of 4th grade when I transferred to Carr Elementary after my family moved to Torrance. She came up to me and introduced herself. Looking back, I don’t know if I realized how lucky I was to so easily find a friend the first day at a new school and someone to eat lunch from that day on! I’m so glad our friendship has lasted throughout the years, even after she moved and neither of us could drive and social media didn’t exist–actually, I don’t even think cell phones really existed back then! Some of my most happiest memories involve doing something with her from watching Mighty Ducks 2 at sleepovers to going to our very first Color Run to Backstreet Boys concerts :) She is super caring and thoughtful and puts so much into each of her relationships–as a daughter, sister, friend, significant other, aunt, teacher, co-worker just to name a few. I really admire her for all of her wonderful qualities–as well as the fact that she manages to have an empty email inbox!! (But seriously, how!?) I can’t wait to continue our lifelong friendship and celebrate more birthdays together–hopefully in person next time!
5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BAO!
Bao is my only friend I met during college at FIDM. At a commuting school, it felt harder to make connections but luckily our paths crossed and we had a few classes together–that was all that we needed to solidify our friendship! I always have so much fun when I am with Bao–she’s super laid back, has a great sense of fashion, creative, is an amazing dancer, and great partner in crime. It’s because of her that I crowd surfed and know about post secret and jumping photos (when you jump and take a photo mid-air lol–they are my favorite). In our younger days we had plenty of dance parties and drinks together, went to tons of concerts and obsessed over Jack Johnson, had a ton of fun running around LA doing scavenger hunts, and so much more! It has been amazing watching her become a mom to her son Elijah and then to her daughter Brooklyn and raising awesome human beings! Although we live in different states and have such busy lives, I know we will always be there if the other needs them. And I hope in the future we can see each other in real life again!
6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ARCHNA!
Although I don’t work in the fashion industry anymore, one of the best things I have gotten from it is my friend Archna! We both worked at PacSun (or Pacific Sunwear for those of you who remember those stores at the malls!) and I remember loving her style and all the cool dresses that she wore to work :) Although we were in different departments, we worked together a tiny bit, and kept in touch after we both left. I joined her in creating a children’s clothing line and we experienced so many firsts together like traveling to New York for our very first trade show! I look back and am super proud of all that we did. Throughout the years we’ve also tried lots of delicious vegan restaurants together, participated in 4 years of Dressember, and probably exchanged millions of texts! She has great taste in music, has a lovely singing voice, and pulls off short pixie-style hair SO well! We are actually seeing each other tomorrow for a safe, socially distanced, and masked hike and I am really looking forward to it!
Wishing all of these beautiful ladies a year ahead filled with love, laughter, and joy.
This weekly Friday series is a simple way of documenting and sharing. To learn more about how it came to be, read the the very first post. To see all Friday posts, click here. I hope you like it! :)