what entering my late 20's has taught me

27: you have been my favorite.

People say getting older sucks. And in a sense, I honestly do feel a little bummed out when I think back to how easy life was when I was 16-17, but this past year was different. This was truly a year of profound self-discovery, freedom, and growing up. 

I'm pretty cheesy and love doing little retrospectives during milestone moments in life; birthdays, a new year, etc. As I walk right into year 28 today with my head held high, I felt like it was time to take a look back and celebrate.

This was the year where I OFFICIALLY fell into the demographic of "late 20's." That blows my mind. Unfortunately, I think our society does a pretty bad job of preparing its youth to fend for themselves in the real world after 20+ years of living in such a structured environment where your next move is pretty cut out for you. So at this point, you definitely need to have your ish together, according to society, haha.

I think the liberating part for me is that I no longer feel that pressure to live up to the world's standards. I have something else driving me and that is the identity Jesus has given me. 

Going into this past year with that truth in tact, I think I had one of the most fulfilling years to date. In every regard. Read on past the jump for the 10 most valuable lessons revealed to me and the milestones that I'll be remembering forever. 

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A Retrospective at 27

& hopes for 28

Milestones: 

  • 2017 marked my first FULL calendar year at Naseem Events. I started my business officially in April of 2016 and do count that as my first season for sure, but this was like solidifying it in place :) I did 15 weddings at amazing venues all over the Bay Area + booked my first out of state destination wedding for 2018!
  • I did five styled shoots and all were published in various blogs that I had not yet been published in.
  • I got word that three of my real weddings will be published in big name blogs nation-wide in the coming months :) 
  • Weddings are already booked (and continuing to be booked) for 2018 and I'm getting more and more exposure and opportunities to go more in depth with design and creative direction when it comes to these events.
  • I was interviewed on The Real Female Entrepreneur Podcast and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and support from the topics I candidly discussed on the episode. 
  • My vision for Naseem Events has become so grounded in its place this year. The more clients I have the pleasure of working with, the more clear it becomes to me why I do what I do. On top of the fun of the actual planning, my goal is to be that breath of fresh air for my brides. I want to provide them peace, patience, and a listening ear to get through one of the most pivotal seasons of their lives. To me it's so much more than getting a menial task done but to leave a lasting impression. I believe we have all been called to create and it's an honor for me to use my talents and abilities to have established my own business that is thriving.
  • I started working simultaneously on staff at my church as our Communications/ Connection Ministry Team Lead which has been SO life giving. I now fully understand what it means to be working with purpose and on mission. How lucky am I to work two jobs, each of which have such a special spot in my heart? This role at Awakening Church has changed my life in such a personal way. I have seen God use a gift He's given me for connectivity and empowerment to encourage and activate those around me FOR His glory. 

Lessons:

  • Your early 20's suck. It gets better. 

    • Hold on tight to that truth (I promise, it's the truth). But save yourself the time, effort, and pain of riding the roller coaster of emotion and seek to figure out WHO you are. Not who your friends say you are, not who your job says you are, and definitely not what society says you are. Your identity is not correlated with your circumstances. Stop trying to do things to impress others or gain their acceptance. Be unapologetically you. I went through some of the darkest seasons until this became clear to me at age 26/27.
  • Comparison is not the thief of joy; the "triple E" is: 

    • Hear me out. The old adage above has always been my go-to mantra. I've struggled with the joy-depleting repercussions of comparison for so long, especially in my 20's. But then I dug into the root of this issue further and realized something. Comparison is not the root of the joy depletion; in fact comparison on a straight forward level is pretty objective. I can compare that my friend is a size 7 shoe, but I am a size 9.5. No real emotions stirred there. But when you dig into what comparison is rooted in is when you can tackle exactly WHAT is depleting your joy. I like to call it the "triple E" -- envy, expectations, and entitlement. 
    • When we become jealous of what someone else has and start coveting // when we let our expectations get the best of us and begin comparing (oh well I did X for my BFF's birthday but she only did Y) // when we let a sense of entitlement about what we DESERVE get in the way -- these are all the root of the joy loss that comparison brings. I think this was one of the biggest lessons I learned this year. I began checking myself each and every time the comparison reared its ugly head in my emotions and realized that every single time, the emotion was rooted in one of the 3 E's. The key lesson here is first identifying which E it is and then getting outside your own head and uprooting the pride that our flesh keeps us in. We can't do it on our own. I think this is where I might lose some of you, but that's ok because this is simply my revelation. So often self-help theories of thought teache us that it's all about within. Our mindset. The energy we take in. The type of person we choose to be, etc. It makes it ALL ABOUT US. That's a lot of pressure, right?
    •  Friends, it's not about us at all. It's about JESUS. In my own flesh, I am a mess. Simply put. Yet when I choose to actively pursue Him each and every day and look at the amazing grace He bestows on me with my new form and identity, I am amazed. I am liberated. I am free. When we choose to let Him take over, we surrender the crap that drags us in the mud. We surrender the entitlement, the pride, the envy, and the expectations. Because it's not about us. I've been challenged this year to think in an UPWARD / OUTWARD mindset, vs. inward and downward (focus on me and myself). I am reminded of two of my favorite verses in the Bible: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Cor.5:17) // and once we believe we are a new creation, what do we do? -- "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God's will for you; which is GOOD and PLEASING and PERFECT." (Rom.12:2). How freeing is this? I want to walk in this new perspective daily. 
  • Friendship is a verb not a noun:

    • I've made some of the tightest friendships I've ever had in this past year. Some who had been in my life for over a decade and our bond just went to that deeper place this year. Others who I met earlier this year who now feel like life-long friends. I realize now the importance of having friends in your life who are intentional with you. Who challenge you. Who force you to look in the mirror and check yourself when you're walking in your flesh too much or you're letting distractions get in the way of the beauty around you. One life mantra that has become my M.O. = quality over quantity when it comes to friends. Being an extrovert and extremely relational, this has always been tough for me. But I felt like God taught me this year the difference between investing in people vs. investing yourself in too many people. 
    • Not everyone deserves your whole heart. No one can meet the needs and expectations you feel unmet inside. So don't place that burden on people.  BUT, friendship is a verb. It takes work, effort, and reciprocation on both ends. Value yourself to invest in the few who meet you in that sweet spot and show up for you. Let go of anyone bringing you down or not making you feel valued. And seasons change. Expect that reality (don't learn it the hard way and let it come as a shock to you. Been there!). 
    • I read this article that said, "There are friendships that belong in different places and at different times, with different versions of who we are. Because a friendship’s time has passed does not mean that it was not and is not important — still. Sometimes the only way to get to have a forever friendship is to let it go in the form that it was and allow it to take on the form that it needs to be — all the while holding it steady in your heart."
    • Above all, just LOVE selflessly. That's all I want to do when I meet people and when fostering the friendships already in my life. I love love; and I love hard. But with that, remember to protect your heart. I think for me, experiencing God's love on the daily more tangibly this past year is truly what's led to me being able to love expecting nothing return because it's just out of the overflow of my heart thanks to Him. 
  • You have NOTHING to prove. To anyone: 

    • I'm a work in progress. And one thing that's been/still being demolished is this complex of caring too much for people to affirm me/accept me/want me in their lives. It took a few really nasty experiences but I was able to come out shining bright. This was a year of the negative, forcefully being sucked out. Wow just writing that reminds me of the quote at the end of Mean Girls where Cady talks about sucking the venom out of her life.

I never thought I'd get deep with a Mean Girls reference, but there it is.

  • Often times we don't realize how much that venom is blocking us from living our best life. The venom can clothe itself with the glitz and glam of allure (i.e. being well-liked; on social media or real life), and it will suck the life out of you over time. Biggest turning point for me has been realizing my self-worth and learning to protect my heart. Remember, your story is valid and worth hearing. It's GOOD to be vulnerable. Do it for the right reasons though. Not for affirmation from others, but because you want to showcase who you are // apart from the filters social media places on us (or that we ourselves place!). Finally: You have been created uniquely and are loved by a God who DELIGHTS in blessing you. Believe that.  I realized the absolute biggest take away for me is choosing to DAILY walk in the freedom and security I have through Jesus. Those are the two concepts that will bring me full contentment and confidence through my life. "When our lives tell others that He is our greatest treasure, He begins to look as great and glorious as He truly is. He made us to show His glory and by showing us more of Himself he planned to make us the happiest people who have ever lived" 

When you trust in Him and who He has called you to be, you begin shedding the layers of societal expectations and living for others' approval.

 

xx, Nas

dana & jake's wedding 4/1/17

It's only the start of this wedding season and I already have a favorite that is so near to my heart. Dana and Jake are super special to me because they were my first official wedding where I had all the creative control from start to finish. I not only designed and styled this wedding but also helped them book a few of the vendors they were looking for. It's so awesome to have a team of creatives I am comfortable working with and believe in, so I was ecstatic to work with my friend Keegan of Petal Atelier on so much of the design elements of this wedding. It's not every day you'll find a florist who will deconstruct a MOH bouquet that isn't being used and create a breathtaking floral display on a naked cake (see below for more!). 

For this wedding, I started with really getting to know my clients and what they wanted. As Oakland natives, Dana works as a school teacher and Jake dabbles in graphic design. They decided to have their wedding at the Oakland Museum of CA. Perfect fit, right? Jake designed their invite suite too and with the usage of lines, I decided to go with a geometric theme for the wedding. I didn't want this to be too over the top so I just added subtle touches to the details here and there. My favorite piece was the hexagon ceremony backdrop I found on Instagram after hours of digging! (Courtesy of Petite Pomme Design). I also decided on doing cement hexagon tiles for each escort card (doubled as a favor for guests too!). The lovely Joy + Confetti  did all the calligraphy on those! 

The wedding was so special, especially because you could just see the couples' love for one another. High school sweethearts, Dana's class and simplicity exudes elegance, and Jake has such a genuine and down to earth spirit.  I loved working with these two and creating some magic!

All photos courtesy of Manali Anne Photography.  See full vendor list under the gallery.

Vendor Team:

Planning/Styling: Naseem Events

Floral Design: Petal Atelier

Photography: Manali Anne Photography

Calligraphy: Joy + Confetti

Hexagon Hoop Backdrop: Petite Pomme Design

Cake: JustBakeCause

 

elegant, outdoor winery wedding

On the blog this morning is one of my favorite weddings from this season. I had the honor of helping Shauna and John with their wedding this past September at one of my all-time favorite venues: the lovely Regale Winery in Los Gatos. The wedding was held the last week of September, yet the weather was well into the high 80's all the way through the ceremony and early evening cocktail hour. It was such a gorgeous day. The photos speak for themselves so I'll keep this short and sweet. Thanks to the talented Courtney of Photoflood Studio for capturing these images. See full vendor list below the photos! 

Photography: Photo Flood Studio

Florals: Petal Atelier

Venue: Regale Winery

Catering: Cafe Primavera

Planner: Naseem Events

fall inspo // styled shoot

While we in the Bay Area are currently stuck in the middle of Indian Summer at its finest, autumn is quickly upon us. When I think about color trends and inspiration for styling fall events and weddings, I really see shades of jade being prominent this year. There's just something so poignant about the color that makes everything pop. 

With this recent styled shoot I put together, my vision (that played out perfectly I might add!) was super boho, airy, and intimate. I love the freedom planners have with styled shoots because it's your chance to really showcase your own personal aesthetic and encapsulate your brand. 

Currently booking for fall weddings, photoshoot styling, holiday parties, and more. Please reach out. See below for all the amazing vendors I partnered with on this shoot. xx

the sun does come out eventually

 
 

I'm stoked to finally share one of the biggest changes going on in my world at the moment. You've probably already caught wind of it with the new domain name, but without further ado, I am pleased to announce that I'm embarking on a new venture of starting my own wedding and event planning business! 

I've been obsessed with planning & hosting events for as long as I can remember. That, paired with being a bridesmaid more times than I can count + my Type A overly-organized personality + watching The Wedding Planner at an age when I was easily influenced and there we have it! I can't think of a better way to expand my career than taking on this new path. Working at a tech start up was one of the most invaluable experiences I've ever had. And now I see the beauty in my last role which was so heavy on client communication and making sure my vendors were satisfied 247. I can't wait to translate that over to my love for weddings and events. Weddings especially are so dear to my heart: what the union means for the couple on a deeper level, for the extended family, and all the emotions that come with it. It's seriously such a pivotal moment in one's life and I'm stoked to be a part of that for my clients.

For those of you who have been so supportive of my lifestyle/travel blog, first off: THANK YOU. I can't tell you how much it means to hear from friends I don't see regularly but yet hear that they love reading my posts. Fear not: This blog is going no where. In fact, I'll be updating it regularly alongside this new business website so any potential clients have a better chance of getting to know the real me and what I'm all about :) 

On that note, I wanted to have a tiny soap box moment and encourage anyone out there who is in a transition period of their life. I can honestly say going through that in your mid-twenties and dealing with the up and downs of soul searching can be exhausting; both mentally and emotionally. However, I wouldn't take this time back for a second because of how much it's helped me grow both as a person and as a working professional. And the sun does eventually come out "tomorrow." I never thought I would be starting my own business, but during this down time, I've realized how much I want to break that mold that we're so forced to fit in: that you have to go down the tech path if you're in the Bay Area. That's great, but it's not for everyone. And especially for me, I want to spend this next part of my life making my own dreams come true vs. someone else's. Best of all, I love that I'll be able to give back to my clients and help remove the stress for them during a joyous season.

So bottom line, do you. I used to be so stuck on what people would say/ how so-and-so would react to what I'm doing. But now as I'm getting older and specifically in this season, I just see how much freedom there is in simply doing you. No second guessing. No over analyzing. You might have 20 people supporting you or only 1 in your corner. No matter what, if you feel at peace with what you're diving into then DO it. In my personal life, I've learned that God wants us to take that risky step first before He'll unveil the whole picture. So, here goes :)

#unwritten

2016's been exciting so far to say the least. As I'm writing this I'm waiting to board my plane en route to Switzerland. My mom and I are about to embark on a little European adventure, just us girls. I feel so blessed to have the time and the means to travel like this right now and take three weeks to literally get away and get soaked in an entirely different world. I've been wanting to immerse myself in Europe for such a long time now and to be able to do so for an extended period of time gets me so pumped. We'll be making a loop starting in Switzerland, passing through France, then to Germany, then closing out the trip in Austria and hopefully doing a few day trips to neighboring countries in between.

I'll be blogging photos and memories from each city we stop in so feel free to follow along on my journey with me. As the year unfolds (can you believe it's mid February already?), I've been thinking a lot about this blog and what my hopes are for it personally as well as for you the reader. I'm currently working on a revamp, hence the new domain (officially all mine!) as well as the new look and feel. My main goal is to inspire you and myself. I think that term is thrown around so loosely that we tend to roll our eyes and often forget what inspiration even really means.

That brings me back to why my blog is called "undefined & unrestrained." I want to inspire myself and you who might have happened to stumble on my blog to BE you and DO you. Every. Day. One thing that really makes me tick when it comes to social media and this new phase of technology advancement that we're in is the amount of comparison that brings along with it. Most notably for women but definitely for men too. For myself personally, seeing others' coming and goings, endeavors, and various life milestones has been a wonderful thing thanks to social media. However, let's not to ourselves. I think we can all recall a time where it's made you stop and think. "Should I be doing this too?" "Am I not on the right timeline?" "Am I supposed to be going down this career path to fit in with the rest of my demographic?". These questions can be suffocating. They can cause anxiety and ultimately steal your joy. One thing I yearn to encourage you with (and myself since this is much easier said than done on a daily basis) is to embrace the undefined. To live a life that's beautifully unrestrained. To allow the adventures and fleeting moments of passion that you are seeking to fully engulf you. Not what you see on Instagram that makes you get down on yourself for not having X amount of likes or followers.

In this next chapter of my life which is one that is TRULY undefined since I have no clue what's next I am doing just that in embracing the unknown. I have this newfound excitement for what is to come and a new patience, if you will, for taking each day as it comes and finding the small pleasures that each day brings; instead of trying to skip steps and follow this established timeline that the media or our peers have set before us.

I encourage you to tear up that timeline you have written down, physically or in your mind. Find the joy in being yourself and doing what makes you happy. You might be the only one doing X but that's what you're passionate about, do it. For instance, there were times when I thought at my age it's too late to think about taking an extended trip. What about my timeline? Job? What about what my life is "supposed" to look like right now? And then it just hit me. Throw those questions out the window. Take a deep breath and look outside. We're so surrounded by a beautfiul world that is begging to be discovered. Whether that looks like taking time off to travel or quitting your job to pursue a hobby that's become a passion... if that's what drives you, do it. Because at the end of the day, all of us simply want contentment. I've realized even the richest people in the world can be the most depressed. Yeah, we've all heard this but really let it sink in.

And maybe you haven't figured it out yet. Those passions, that calling. Trust me, I haven't. But instead of stressing out (my usual M.O.) I'm finally learning to roll with it and embrace the undefined. Not to end on the cheesiest of all notes but as Natasha Bedingfield so perfectly puts it, "The rest is still unwritten..." -- I'm finally grasping the beauty in that lyric. As someone who has thrived on living a life where my next step/ direction was always sort of laid out before me, I'm starting to slowly get it now and accept the beauty in the unknown. 

With that, I hope some sort of spark has been lit for you. Thanks for following along my journey as I chase what's next. 

#bestoftheyear

It seemed only fitting to follow up my goodbye to 2014 post with a look back at some of my favorite memories of the last year. So much has happened in one year that it feels like January was forever ago, but then on the other hand it's all flown by so fast that I am shocked we're at another NYE. As I'm sitting here by the fire, cozying up with my Anthropologie candle, I couldn't be more content. I'm loving that I get to spend my evening blogging about my fondest memories instead of worrying about getting dolled up and having high expectations for some night out. Call it getting older or what you will, not sure what it is — but this year I feel so at peace just staying in, baking cookies, and reflecting on how awesome the year was. So without further ado, here is my top 8 (in no particular order, except maybe the top two, haha).

1) Moving to SF

This was definitely the biggest highlight of the year as I'm sure many of you know by now with the past blog posts and whatnot. It was always a dream of mine to experience life in a city, on my own -- being free to explore and truly find myself amidst the hustle and bustle of a city that's not too big and not too small. It's been one of the best decisions I ever made. I have learned things about myself and the world around me by choosing to step outside my bubble and what I've always known. I can't wait to begin year 2 in the city and go on even more adventures.

2) An impromptu trip to Vegas & partying with the Backstreet Boys

This was also a blog post in itself so I won't get into the amazing twist of fate that is this epic tale. But I will note again that this one's up there in my top memories of the year. My friend and I decided almost 48 hours before that we were heading on this spontaneous adventure together. What happened later was epic and will always be one of my top memories in life. Read the entire story here.

3) Soul Cycle

I tried Soul Cycle for the first time this March and it's honestly changed the way I view fitness and working out completely. I have never really been into exercise, it's more of an after thought. I only get into it like a month before a big trip and I'm feeling fat, haha. But this year after trying Soul Cycle for the first time I was mind blown. Not only did I learn so much about how much exercise can change our moods, our perspective, and stress levels — but I also just feel so much more comfortable in my own skin after being active. Every time I attend one of these classes, I leave feeling I just went out dancing in a club and came out of a therapy session at the same time. It's that cathartic. That's not to say I'm a weekly attendee (ain't nobody got money for that unfortunately, haha) but those experiences have actually led to me being more aware and conscious about how important it is to stay active and fit. I finally joined a gym and looking forward to continuing to keep at it in the year to come.

4) One of my best friend's weddings in Hawaii

This summer I was so honored and blessed to celebrate the marriage of two of my oldest and closest friends in HAWAII. The summer was spent prepping for the big day with tons of dress fittings, a girls trip to Napa, a bridal shower, and resting for a week in paradise leading up to the big day. I've attended close to 10 weddings in the last two years so I know how chaotic and stressful of a time it can be. For some reason this one holds such a special place in my heart. Maybe it's because of how close of a bond I share with both the bride and groom. As well as how much humility and character I saw in the precious bride from day 1 til the end of the wedding. It was also such a honor to be up there with her with such an intimate group of us bridesmaids, only 5 of us including sisters from each side of the family. It so awesome praying together, sending email threads of devotionals before the big day, dying of laughter together at the bachelorette, and witnessing one of the most powerful ceremonies. In Hawaii of all spots! True paradise.

5) Turning 25

This one was huge. I didn't think I would feel any different because I honestly never do when I initially have a birthday. But for some reason this one was much different. I went into it not having any expectations (a first for me) and it ended up being the best birthday I've had to date I think! Not only was I overwhelmed with love and affection on the day of, but the entire week was so special to me. I heard from so many people I hadn't even seen in so long and I was able to celebrate with those nearest and dearest to me. On top of all that, I really felt like this time, turning one year older made a lasting impact on me. I genuinely feel a year older and I feel the weight of being at that season where I am a quarter-century. It's just been such a defining time. I'm making more life changing decisions and choosing what/whom I want to invest in even more. I've let go of so many old mindsets and I just feel such a wave of contentment. It's such a good feeling. I can't wait for the year to unfold.

6) Ten year elementary school reunion

This day was so awesome. I had gone to school with the same ~40 people from first to eighth grade. From age 6 to 14! It's insane. Flash forward ten years later and I decided: we. must. reunite. Although we didn't get as big of a turn out as I wished, it was such a precious time. With only 10-12 of us, we had an intimate lunch and just spent time catching up and reflecting on old memories. It's insane how you can feel distant with certain friends that you do life with daily. And then with others, you can not see one another for close to 10 years and when you do it's as if NOTHING has changed. That's how it felt with this group. It's also something that no one will ever understand, you know? That bond. We did close to nine years of life together. Every day. The bond we share.. having legitimately grown up together.. is one that's unshakeable. I'm so glad we reunited and just the fact that I have stayed in touch with a few of these friends over the course of more than half my life is a feat in itself.

7) Brunching

I'm sure by now most of you know how much I love food. Like an insane amount. Sometimes I worry it's an obsession but I deny it. Oh well. Anyways. SF is known for having one of the finest food scenes in the nation so as soon as I moved up, I've had a bucket list of all the places I've wanted to dine at, specifically brunch (my favorite meal, of course). It's been so amazing to try so many incredible dishes. I know I am truly lucky to live in a city where I can take advantage of that on the weekends. Being an avid Yelper, it's been the best feeling to mark off so many of these legendary places with more than thousands of reviews off my bucket list. It might seem so random to some, but amazing food hands down makes my list of top memories for this year :)

8) Spontaneous nights out with my co-workers

I couldn't think of just one memory for this one because there are so many nights that stick out to me when I think of this past year. One of the best parts of being a part of a start up like the one I work for is that everyone is relatively in the same age range and that everyone is always down for the most spontaneous things. I can think of numerous nights were we all decided to go out and karaoke after work, or hit up my favorite 90's night and dance until the club kicked us out. What else? Hot dogs from a hole in the wall at 1am, epic concerts where we were front row singing along.. the list goes on! We're so fortunate to have a company who values team morale and community so much that we're always doing something on the weekly. Even if it means staying in the office playing video games until midnight.. we always manage to have a great time together. These memories made my year so much more exciting and full of life.

Happy New Year, everyone! <3

#BeYourself

beyou

Be You. One of the shortest sentences one can form. Yet one of the most powerful assertions. So what does it mean to be you? What if you don't know who YOU are? Today at work we had a mini offsite for our team that was meant for some team bonding and brainstorming. With only 10 of us, we all went through the book Strengths Finder 2.0 to see what our top five strengths are (or "themes" as they call them). It was so beneficial to go through this with them because when you're working so closely with a team, often times you're left disappointed, confused, or just plain annoyed because you don't know how to deal with them. Maybe you're wondering why they react certain ways to specific situations -- or why they don't react at all. It was so eye-opening to share our results with one another because now I know exactly why they operate the way they do. And most of all, where their top strengths lie. This way we now know how each member of the team can best utilize these strengths to contribute to the team. 

I highly suggest reading this book and taking the assessment (within a team at work, with your significant other, or just for fun between your family or group of friends). As soon as I finished I wanted to share my results with those around me and curious to hear the results of my good friends. 

Just for my own reference so I never forget these (and because I'm sure you readers are dying to know all about me!) ... lol, I'll be sharing my top 5, as well as the tidbits from each that stood out most to me. It's interesting because we actually had to read this book for a course I took in high school and I still have it at home. I was comparing my results to the ones I got today (almost 7 years later) and 3 of my 5 strengths have remained the same. The other two are completely new! And in a new order too. Here it goes: 

1) Empathy

People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

What stood out most: Chances are good that you are attuned to the full gamut of human feelings. Whenever your own or someone else’s life becomes emotionally barren, you search for people and activities to fill the void. You bring people together. Because of your strengths, you frequently detect impending conflict sooner than most people do. Your keen awareness allows you to sense what others are thinking and feeling. Simply put: You have a gift for helping people find common ground. By nature, you pay attention to what others think. You make them feel valued. Typically people sense that you appreciate what they say. This probably explains why many people enjoy spending time with you.

2) Harmony

People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

What stood out the most: You realize everyone sees opportunities, problems, solutions, and events differently. While you have opinions, you refrain from imposing them on others. You are good-natured — that is,you have a pleasant, cheerful, and cooperative disposition. Chances are good that you accomplish everything that others are counting on you to do. This is one reason why people admire you. 

3) Connectedness

People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

What stood out the most: Driven by your talents, you sense that everything in life is somehow interrelated and interdependent. This idea fortifies you to calmly face most of life’s challenges and difficulties. ... By nature, you naturally build bonds that unite different types of people who have separate and often clashing agendas. You naturally identify with someone’s situation. You have a gift for helping people discover what they have in common. 

4) Consistency

People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.

What stood out the most: You might worry that chaos will reign when regulations or standard operating procedures are not uniformly enforced. Because of your strengths, you may have a reputation for straightening up certain types of things such as your desk, home, and personal items. Perhaps you have a detailed plan or schedule for cleaning, organizing, and maintaining your physical environment. By nature, you like creating familiar patterns of behavior. (dead on!) 

5) Communication 

People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

What stood out the most: Instinctively, you very much enjoy the animated give-and-take of a lively discussion. You yearn to spend time with your friends. Their absence saddens you. It’s very likely that you are sometimes open and honest about who you are, what you have done, what you can do, and what you cannot do. Maybe your straightforward explanations and stories help listeners see you as you see yourself.

Perhaps your words and examples move them to action. Because of your strengths, you like to
amuse people with your stories. Your stories probably provide people with pleasant distractions from their daily routines and worries. Chances are good that you select the right combination
of words to convey your ideas or feelings. You probably express yourself with ease and grace.

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That's me! Reading these strengths and diving deep into discovering them is one step closer into figuring out who I am and now the challenge is to BE me with no hesitation, fear, or care about who will accept and and who wont. It's liberating. 

#citylife

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Today marks day 20 of me moving to San Francisco. Yes, I am a slacker, I have no excuse for being so late on a life update, but hey better late than never. I still cannot even begin to process the fact that I live here now. It has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Best of all, it's been such a breath of fresh air to get away from the bubble I've grown up in my whole life and venture out to see the rest the world (ironically, looks like sometimes you only need to get an hour away and you'll still feel the change of pace). SF couldn't be more different than what I'm used to. Some nights I remember taking the train home from work and getting to my driveway back home and being in total suburbia ..... and just needing to take a moment to soak it all in because it's those moments where I feel like I have two different lives going on.

It's been so much more convenient moving here and I feel like with every aspect of life I have more of a sync and balance. Who knew knocking of 3 hours of commuting a day would have such an effect. I've been walking to work every day, admiring the gorgeous Civic Center buildings on my walk over and just admiring the city's livelihood, no matter what the hour.

Even with work I feel so much more stimulated now. I still have those long hours but I almost don't even mind it anymore since my commute has shortened so much and I'm lucky enough to work with people I love so it's a fun time regardless.

I feel like the adventures are just beginning. There have been so many wish-list places on my endless SF exploration list, but I've experienced so many of them so far. Some of the best foods, fancy dinners, hole in the walls -- the list goes on. I think my favorite part though has been the proximity to my friends. I'm like smack in the middle of 4-5 really close friends so the best part has been walking to their place for a movie night or just having people to hang out with anytime you want.

I'm going to keep this one short since I'm still soaking in so much from this experience, but to sum it all up, it's been absolutely perfect thus far. I'm so happy about using this time to grow both in my work and personally... and I know this move and change in independence is going to play a huge role in the growth process. The best is yet to come.

#BrBa - Series Finale: Felina

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20130930-092217.jpg It's over. 62 episodes later and we've finally come full circle. Last night was the epic series finale of Breaking Bad and I was beyond pleased with this hour of television. So freaking good. I'm still giddy as I write it because I can't believe how epic it was, as well as how well Vince Gilligan was able to tie up so many lose ends. The photos above are from my finale party last night because there honestly was no other way to finish this show than going all out to celebrate.

It's truly a talent to be able to do so within an hour time limit. I've finished so many series over the years and at the end kept asking, "But what about ____ or this detail.." And you're kind of left hanging. Honestly, I have no lingering questions after watching last night's finale. I think the only thing I might still remotely have questions about (which is something I've been wondering about all throughout season 5), has been Jesse's parents and brother. I found it a bit weird that they were introduced and then completely disappeared, but hey. I can't complain. That's only a slight issue that doesn't even matter in the long run.

Anyways, tangent. Back to "Felina" -- wow. It's so funny because I was so prepared to be depressed after the episode. I was ready for a shocking ending and a time of reflecting on how crazy things got and how everything fell apart. Not so in this finale. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie the whole time. My favorite part of all of it was seeing how good Walt's spirits were throughout the whole thing.

I had gotten used to seeing this defeatist Walt the last two- three episodes and I was beginning to lose hope. It wasn't until the last 2 minutes of Granite State last week that I was like ok wow thank God -- he's back.

I think me along with everyone else assumed that after seeing Elliot and Gretchen on Charlie Rose that he was on his way to kill them. Which I was actually a fan of the idea last week. It wasn't until seeing the route Vince went that I was like wow -- even better. What better way to make sure that Walt Jr. gets the money. It's genius. It saddens me a lot that he'll never know it was from his dad but I loved that at that point you actually see that Walt's ego and pride aren't in the forefront anymore. It's quite humble actually. He's allowing his son to go along thinking that his ex-partners (whom he probably hates) are the ones giving him a lifetime trust fund.

And that's honestly the theme I found throughout this entire episode... Walt trying to redeem himself. Or at least die with some dignity. The scene with Skyler and him was so so so great. I was so happy she let him in and allowed him 5 minutes to talk. And FINALLY we get some honesty out of Walt. That reveal was like a breath of fresh air for me. He did it for himself. He was good at it. It felt good. And then to give Skyler the coordinates to the bodies... I think that will give Marie the closure she needs to continue her life as well.

Side note -- I was also really happy that Walt told her exactly what happened with the nazi gang killing Hank. I know at the end of the day it was Walt's fault that Hank died, but I didn't want his family to go on thinking that Walt was the one who physically killed him. After all, he was BEGGING Jack to spare his life! Not like that will help at this point but I really wanted some closure in that aspect and I'm so happy he revealed it to Skyler.

The one scene I actually teared up at was watching Walt with Holly. First off, the grace that Skyler has to have for a man who has ruined her family's life and then to let him see her.... Wow. It was so deep. And watching him look at her for the very last time. He knew it. It was all to say a proper goodbye. And then watching Walt Jr. through the glass windows... Gut wrenching. I think it's safe to conclude 100% that this man's love for his family was indeed genuine. He just let his ego and selfish desire get in the way and completely tear them apart.

Another thing I loved about this episode was the two flashbacks we got. It really brought the series full circle for me. That short snippet of how it all began -- with a simple joke from Hank inviting Walt over for a ride-along: "You need some excitement in your life" -- ha! Oh how things turned out. Then cut to Walt standing alone in his deserted home. Perfection.

In regards to Walt's plan of action with Lydia and the neo-nazi gang... It was amazing to say the least. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie. The ricin in the Stevia was genius (which is funny because that was the theory I was rooting for all along) and then that machine gun contraption... HOLY MOLY. Yes. That was CRAZY.

Ok I've calmed down now. That whole scene in the clubhouse with Jack and his crew was gold. I was standing on my feet the entire scene with my heart literally pounding.

I think the best part of all of it was that Walt had originally gone in with the mindset of killing all of them -- and even more raging because at this point he's under the impression that Jesse is cooking with Jack as well. [Side note, the Badger/ Skinny Pete cameo was the perfect way to pay homage to these two before the end]. Anyways, I think Walt at that point was so angry to hear this that his one mission was to wipe them all out.

That reveal with Jack bringing Jesse in -- and caring SO much to prove to Walt that he would never partner with a "rat" was perfect.

I think for me the final 5-10 minutes were the best part. Of course. First off, the look in Walt's eyes when he sees how they've treated Jesse for the last 5-6 months. You can totally see the look of a concerned, compassionate father-fugure. The act of literally jumping in front of a bullet for him and tackling him to the ground to save his life was the ultimate act of redemption for Walt in my opinion. It was so poetic. And then Jesse getting the chance to kill Todd. YES. Thank you Vince for giving Jesse at least that. He deserved that.

We all know Jesse isn't a killer. He has too much of his morality in tact (which we see even from his inability to kill Walt for the second time around). But with Todd, it was necessary. This guy who has tortured him for months on end and killed Drew Sharpe (which made a huge impact on Jesse) -- he had to go.

Another point I loved was Walt's final interactions with Jack. The fact that he didn't even flinch to think twice about questioning where his money was. No, at that point Walt didn't even give a crap about it. The money ruined his life. The money fueled his selfish Heisenberg- ego. He was there to kill Jack and he did it. Mission complete.

In my head, I was hoping for a reconciliation between Walt and Jesse. I was expecting Jesse to thank him for saving his life or just some more dialogue between them. But honestly, Jesse is forever changed because of Walt. He's been so mentally messed up even in the months being a slave for Todd that I think it was asking too much. I was satisfied though with the head nod exchange between the two. That gave me the closure I needed. After all, the last time they spoke was when Walt gave him up to Jack's crew & told him about watching Jane die. So we really can't expect a big finale hug and them riding off into the wind together (although I wish). Haha.

That was perfect though. Jesse got his freedom. Walt saved his life and ultimately was able to die with some redeeming quality, as well as with the closure in knowing his family would be forever safe and that he killed everyone who needed to be killed. It was perfect. It reminded me of a Shakespearian tragedy to be honest. Such an amazing hour of television.

And wow -- that final scene. The master left alone with his "art." Seeing Walt die in the lab, reminiscing about his cooking days with that song playing in the background was perfect. Not only that but I loved how it wasn't a "crazy" death like his cancer eating away at him or some insane shoot out, but it was simply 1 bullet wound that slowly took his life. He knew it was coming and he was able to spend his last moments exactly how he wanted.

And who knows, I think his reputation stayed in tact as well because the cops found him in that lab. So maybe he will always be known as Heisenberg. Which is where his pride and joy was because he WAS truly an artist with his cooking.

And in the end, it was the only way to complete the show with Walt dying. It was perfect. I couldn't be happier and I thank you Vince Gilligan for closing every lingering story line and not leaving anything up for interpretation. It was so crisp & clear. So full circle. My life is honestly forever changed by this show. I feel lucky to have been able to catch it while it was airing live.

Thanks for a wild ride, BrBa. I love you forever <3

#speakup

I think it's good to sometimes take a breather from the day to day and focus on the little things that make us happy. I've been thinking a lot lately about how consumerism has had such a hand in changing the socioeconomic status of our present day and age. There seems to be no work/life balance at the office — instead, it's looked down upon if you want to leave work early to go spend time your family. We're forced into this bubble of conforming to what's considered the "norm" and we stay silent and simply, "go with the flow." Why? It weirds me out that we're so often too timid to question the societal norms that are already in place. We justify it by seeing that everyone else is going along with it and no one's complaining so hey, looks like we're all on board. When in reality how many people are actually feeling the same way I do inside but no one's bold enough to voice it? Not sure where I'm going with this but woke up this morning with a deep frustration for the intimidation/ fear traps we box ourselves into.

Cool segway into the new music I'm listening to because ironically enough, the album I'm most excited about this fall is M.I.A.'s "Mathangi." Call her what you will (and I do admit she can go way over the top sometimes), but one reason I respect this artist SO much is that she isn't afraid to speak her mind. In the midst of a media culture that's entrapped in the "twerking culture" and hoping to get 5 min of fame by performing like a stripper at an awards show (Miley, here's looking at you), this girl is standing firm for what she believes in and calling out society for exactly what it is. It's funny because when I started listening to her back in 2005 I was a freshman in high school. I can't begin to say how much she's opened my eyes to since then. It's funny because for some all it takes is something small to do so. And for me, it was the amazing music of this talented artist who not only mixed some of the most unique sounds -- but also sang about something ACTUALLY important.

Sometimes it's only 1 line from her songs that challenges me for an entire day to stop and think:

"Your shoes could feed a village; you should think about that."

I feel bad for people who even waste their time sucked into the music on the radio these days because the value of the lyrics they're listening to is quite frankly, garbage. [And hey, guilty as charged, I'm the last to talk because I'm sucked into it daily as well -- it's literally like a web you can't get out of. And half the time we're completely dazed as to how/why we even got there in the first place].

Of course, in no way am I saying we should buy into every conspiracy theory out there or become an anarchist by any means; those are way too extreme. What I AM saying is we should be challenged to do our own research daily and call things out when they need to be. Not sure where you stand politically? Do your research. Not sure if you agree with a certain war or why we're forming alliances w/ said nation -- research. Don't just go with the flow of what the media tells you is appropriate to believe. After all, the media is at the top of the hierarchical pyramid of institutions that are more censored and more biased than you would EVER think.

Not sure why I got on this rant and it's random of me to even go this deep into it on a random Wednesday morning, but hey, gotta keep it true. Once I start writing it just flows out like floodgates.

Happy hump day. Oh, and look for MIA's album released in early November :) meanwhile, half the track list has been leaked via soundcloud so take a listen.