Square Peg Stories. (#2)

Welcome to Friyay, and welcome to our second Square Peg Story. (Look for this feature twice a month on Fridays.)

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Today, you’re going to meet Lauren. I’ve known this lovely beacon of light for several years now and have always been impressed by her positivity, her smile, her talent, and her fashion sense, among other things. Everyone needs a Lauren in their life. Meet her below.

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Tell me how you feel you stand out from the norm.
LL3What is the norm?! LOL I ask myself that all the time. I will say I never felt I stood out from the norm because I don’t even feel normal.  As a black girl growing up in the Bronx, you automatically get labeled as this rough, tough heartless person before you even open your mouth or people get to know you. I have the same feelings/insecurities as any woman no matter where she’s from.  I keep things bottled up and the slightest thing (like my coat pocket getting stuck on the doorknob) can send me into a crying fit like a baby. I was always told I was sensitive and it always stuck to me as a negative trait, something not normal. However, being sensitive is actually a normal thing. It means I feel things deeply and have a strong desire to bring happiness to the ones who I love and not have them feel pain. So I stand out by being true to who I am as a sensitive, full of emotion type of woman with her own sense of style that fits her outspoken shy personality.  It took an artist like Kelis to really help me see that standing out from the norm as a black woman was super cool and dope. To this day I still embrace that feeling!

What’s a time you took your own path and chose the road not traveled?
Okay so this is going to sound funny but what I can think of is a situation when I was much younger.  My sense of style was always different than my sisters or anyone for that matter (so I thought). I showed them an outfit and my eldest sister said, “I mean, I LL2wouldn’t wear it but if you like it, then so be it.”  My mom said I looked dejected because I really wanted it and was on my way to put it back but she said, “Lauren, you love it! It doesn’t matter what other people think.  This is you, mixing patterns and colors that don’t go together.  Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about what you like and want”.  LET ME TELL YOU HOW PROLIFIC THAT WAS TO ME!!!  That spoke to me in so many ways that it stuck with me to this day.  Many of my friends now will say “Somehow what you have on Lauren doesn’t make sense to me , but it makes perfectly good sense on you!” or they see something and say, “That is so you, Lauren. I see you rocking this!”  I have changed the narrative of feeling dejected into feeling inspired. I don’t necessarily take a road not traveled but I do travel that road in a way that I like and makes me happy.
What would you tell your 15 year old self?
OH 15yr old Lauren……first let me give you hug.  Your life is going to get much worse before it can get better and that will be a lesson that will help you during your tough times as an adult.  You are beautiful, you are unique and not everyone will love it or like you but YOU will be proud of who you are.  Don’t let rejection bring you down.  People reject what they are not ready for in their life and my dear WHOA! what you have to offer in love, friendship, talent and heart will shake even the tallest mountain!  Your presence will be felt in a room and your smile, your smile will be the one thing that makes lions purrrr. Make sure to always smile bright wherever you go, whomever you’re around and whatever you are doing. It will make others feel special and loved.  Don’t let anyone tell you you are too strong; you have been through soooo much that others would’ve broke under the pressure and your endurance under this pressure has produced a beautiful rare pearl.  Wear it proudly but allow your heart to be loved. You are worthy of that although no one has ever shown you it.  Men will come and go but you stay true to yourself and one day SOMEONE will appreciate your beautiful rough pearl self.  Love you always even when you don’t!!
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Who are you?
I am Outspoken Shyness!! I am outspoken when I need to be but oh so shy at the same time.  I speak my mind but hide it behind a blushing smile LOL.  I am a lover of all things dance. I love to dance in supermarkets, in the streets, it just doesn’t matter where! I love to travel. I love, no, I am in love with all things Italian. I tell people I am Italian at times. I have a song for every situation in life, even if it’s not my situation and I will sing it for you lol. I am a woman who would love to be in love but until that happens, I will photograph the love I feel in my heart. I am an ambivert at heart.  I overthink everything and already know what you will say after reading this because I thought of it while I was typing all of this.  I am a city girl with a country heart and a love for the outdoors.  That’s who I am.  Lauren Layne…Just 2 LLs.
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Full of life and sincerity, no? Thank you, Lauren! Your kind words to your own self are reminders that, as women, we are our first fans, advocates, and true loves. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I take the following from your responses:  People reject what they are not ready for in their life and my dear WHOA! what you have to offer in love, friendship, talent and heart will shake even the tallest mountain! Please follow Lauren on the ‘Gram: @Just2LLs
Keep telling your own stories, dear reader, and share them if you can.

 

Speaking of Photoshoots…

Facebook reminded me that this was my cover photo four years ago today. Some facts about this shot:

1. It was part of a professional photoshoot we did while on our amazing girls’ trip to Paris.

2. That trip was four years ago in February.

3. It was freezing cold.

4. I’m not exaggerating.

5. I look at our smiles, our mid-struts, and our shiny, effortless melanin and I remember, despite the frigid weather, how much fun we had.

6. I miss my friends, traveling, and just living life the way we lived pre-quarantine.

But, all things considered, staying at home during this time means staying safe and doing my little part in not making life harder for folks like my two friends in that photo above, both of whom are on the frontlines and work in healthcare. So, I can reminisce and gaze at photos and make plans for the future—all while staying within the confines of my home.

If you’re interested in reading more about our Paris trip, start here and keep on reading.

Where would you like travel to after restrictions are lifted? Share in the comments, if you like.

Image: GIPHY

Square Peg Stories. (#1)

Welcome to a brand new feature on TSP.

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By now, I’m sure you’ve captured the following about this little corner of the Internets:

  1. Women’s empowerment means the world to me.
  2. Every woman has a journey and a story, and I’m significantly interested in both.
  3. It’s not just about me.

All that said, we have a new feature here on TSP: sharing the inspiring/empowering/personal journeys of other women. I’m blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of women/sister friends whose individual paths in life can be mirrors of inspiration for others, and it’s my privilege to share these with you. Today, we’re sharing the first Square Peg Story. Meet Tiara.

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Tell me how you feel you stand out from the norm.
Is it weird that I don’t think I stand out from the norm? There was a time that I felt that I did, but in a negative way. I always felt that I was the only one with body and self esteem issues, the only one with mommy and daddy issues. I thought that I was the only one who felt I was undeserving of happiness and love because I just wasn’t good enough. It was a very lonely feeling. However, once I started sharing my story and opening up to people I realized that I was not alone. There are so many other people, or women out there that deal with the same things I do.  That’s why I say I’m not that different.

What’s a time you took your own path and chose the road not traveled?Tiara2
Hmmm. I think for me that was probably when I decided to pack up and move to Charlotte, NC. It was a year after I graduated from college. I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to go. The odd thing about it was that moving there would be the first time I was going somewhere with no family and no contacts. I just–I was looking for a reason to believe in myself, and to believe that I could thrive and survive on my own. I knew what I wanted for myself and I was starting to refocus on my life spiritually. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get that spiritual growth if I stayed where I was. So despite the concerns of those closest to me, I made the leap. It was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I met amazing people, accomplished some spiritual goals, including getting baptized. It was great!

What would you tell your 15 year old self?
A LOT! Lol. I’d tell my 15 year old self to be vulnerable. There were times that I was told i was a cry baby and punished for crying so I learned to hide my feelings. Which has made expressing my feelings a challenge now that I am an adult. I’d also tell myself that it is okay to make mistakes, just don’t let them define you. Don’t be afraid to fail. The way people, family, parents and friends treat you is not a reflection of you, it’s them that need to do or be better. Ignore the negative voices around you. Never change your heart. Give the best of yourself and your love to YOU FIRST, then pour into others!

Who are you?
Wow! Good question. I’m still learning how to answer that. I shock myself every day.Tiara1 But I guess I’d say that I’m a person that loves love even though it hasn’t always been kind to me. I’m a hopeless romantic. Sometimes too hopeless. Lol. I’m a dancer, and a music junkie. I’m an over thinker, and a perfectionist. I’m a person that loves to laugh until I cry. I’m an introvert, a writer. A blogger, and now I am a self love junkie!

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Thank you, Tiara! Your willingness to share your journey is a breath of fresh air. TSP wishes you well on your continuing journey, and I take the following from your transparent responses: Give the best of yourself and your love to YOU FIRST, then pour into others! Please follow Tiara at her lovely blog here.

Keep telling your own stories, dear reader, and share them if you can.

Magnolia Marvel.

The Silos. (All images shown in this post are mine.)

If you’ll follow the link here, you’ll see that visiting Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market at the Silos was a definite destination goal of mine. Well, a million years later, a good friend and I made the nearly 2-hour trek to Waco, TX earlier this week. Needless to say, we had a fantastic time.

As soon as we arrived, we saw the line to head into the Bakery. This was fine. Popularity breeds lines. We came with our patience intact. And quite honestly, after parking (you can park for free if you’re visiting the Silos, but since these areas were packed, we headed a bit further down and found a space), we took our time and explored the area while walking toward the Bakery. The rustic charm around us didn’t disappoint.

Once we got to the main area, we snapped some pics and just took in the people, sights, and asked a few questions of the folks working in the area. Then we got right in line for that bakery. (Naturally.) While waiting, a staff member came by with pencils and menus to complete. You choose the baked goods you want to buy; by the time you get inside, a cashier takes the form and fills your order. Pretty seamless, Chip and Joanna. I’m a lover of organization and ingenuity amid a bit of chaos.

After the bakery, we walked around a bit more and decided against getting into another line for the seed store. Especially because I saw a line for a trolley tour and I wanted all parts of that trolley tour. (Trolleys while traveling: an excellent way to learn about a new place and ride all at the same time. I recommend a trolley wherever you go. My favorite trolley tours have been in San Diego, CA, Newport, RI, and basically wherever I’ve been that has one available.)

We learned interesting tidbits about Waco during the tour, for sure. We also learned that reservations are key if you want a table at Magnolia Table, the Gaines’ restaurant. Note to self for the next time. Thankfully, there was a food truck extravaganza right there by the silos so we definitely made use of those amenities. Delish.

We had a marvelous time.

It’s been rough with my job and not having a ton of vacation time to travel. Nevertheless, after three years here in the Lone Star State, I’m still very much a tourist. Taking advantage of the local color was splendid, and I intend on doing more of that.

What are some of your favorite local travel spots?

Fabu Fashion Sunday: Saturday Bloom

Hey, y’all.

So a good friend of mine threw a beautiful get-together yesterday with a lovely theme: Bloom Where You Are Planted. It was a company of women sharing their favorite quotes or scriptures, dressed or accessorized in a floral theme, ready to swap $3 gifts, and overall gathering together to encourage, uplift, and upbuild. So moving and beautiful. I decided to wear something casually floral and went with a floral blouse, duster, jeans, and booties. Below.

Deets: Duster and blouse from my boyfriend Ross (the store, not um, an actual person); jeggings from Walmart (don’t sleep; I like paying $9-$12 for pants and I’m not ashamed to admit it); booties from Old Navy.

Can I say that I loved my ‘fit? For me, it was the right mix of fun and feminine; chic and casual. I was quite happy with it.

So makeup: I’ve been really focusing on my eyes lately. Eyeliner has become my bestie, basically. I like playing with the natural shape and clearly I like a dark, smoky look.

Eyes: Revlon Liner; Clapback lipstick by Fenty Beauty used as a shadow

Foundation: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation (loving this new find); I believe my Lupita is one of their brand ambassadors

Cheeks: Black Radiance blush; Mariah Carey highlighter

Lippie: Smashbox Matte Lipstick, shade: Girl Gang

That’s the lewk. It was a lovely event and a beautiful day.

Oh: here is the quote I chose for the event.

Enough said.

How was your Saturday?

Blogtober #12: Flashback Friday to Summer.

No, this post isn’t necessarily about fall, although the last day of my trip occurred in September. But we’re flashbacking today, so it’s all good. Anywho, this past Labor Day weekend, I left on a jet plane to visit a good friend of mine who lives in Orange County, CA. Despite the fact that it was a short trip/brief vacation, it was also the respite I needed and thoroughly welcomed. We haven’t had an in depth discussion of my enduring love of California, have we? Well, if I had all the dollar dollar bills in the world, your Square Peg would hightail it to San Diego faster than you could say high cost of living. (Which is why I chose Texas instead of my beloved blue sky San Diego.) See below for a slide show of my fun trip.

Happy Fall Friday, y’all. See ya on the weekend.

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Monday Allergies and Bons Weekends.

I’m seriously considering seeking out an allergist. I can’t handle the first day of the week, y’all. Like I seriously cannot. I fidget. I have mental hives. I nearly itch. I literally lay in bed and rally against waking up, as if Monday is standing beside my bed with her arms crossed and an annoyed, impatient expression on her face. Ugh.

The weekend was fabulous, my friends. On Friday (which I claim as a weekend day), I joined some of my mom friends for a trip with their tween/teen daughters to Deep Ellum, an artsy, delightful area in downtown Dallas. It was my first time there, still being on tourist status after a year and five months, and I loved it something awful. There was a rustic flair everywhere; lovely murals; great venues and restaurants. My artistic heart was booming quite happily. Pictorials below, y’all.

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Friday evening was warm and lovely. On Saturday, Texas displayed its crazy weather and drowned us in thunderstorms and rain. So I hung out on my couch that evening and watched a bit of telly and tooled around on the iPad.

On Sunday, me and a friend decided to check out the Dallas Jazz Age Sunday Social after brunch. They had me at jazz age. Folks were dressed up in their flappery best; even the menfolk got into it, giving it their Robert Redford The Great Gastby best. There was music playing; classic cars driving down the avenues (I love classic cars from bygone eras), museums showing doctor’s offices and general stores from that time. So much fun! Really spoke to my vintage everything heart, and it was a great addition to seeing the local color/being a tourist in my own backyard initiative. See photos below.

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Fun and laughter were had. (Can I mention that I’ve been really enjoying taking pictures lately? Not of myself–although, hey, it’s a thing I enjoy–but of objects and nature and other people. We’ll chat about this growing love later this week.)

How was your weekend, my little cabbage? 

Fabu Fashion Monday: Wedding Fro/Flow

Hey y’all. I had the pleasure of attending the nuptials of two dear friends this past weekend and wanted to share what I wore, what I did with Her (my hair, as you know), and other tings. Let’s, shall we?

What I wore: So I suffer from this problem I’d like to call “forgets that she has clothes in her closet.” I think it’s genetic, because my mother has shown symptoms of the same issue. Anyway, when it’s time for a special event, something happens to me. My brain

freeze
except when I have to find clothes…

freezes, I come down with a case of hardcore amnesia, and I hit the stores for new outfits as if I don’t already have a closet full of lovely frocks and ensembles that could easily be worn. Happened this time, too. A wedding?! Oh, no! What’ll I wear? Panic ensues. And then the day before the wedding, I was gazing in my closet and I saw that blue number hanging there, side eyeing me like, “I was here the whole time, princess.” (Yes, I totally called my own self princess. Please do the same.) I tried it on and was like, uh, yeah, wearing this. The other dress I bought is lovely in its own right, but I wasn’t truly feeling it. This dress made me happy. I combined it with a simple cardigan I had grabbed from Macy’s, my Jessica Simpson pink high heels, and it was a wrap. You know me: I stick with feminine, simple, and understated chic. I think this ensemble achieved all three.

Accessories: Peep the gold bracelet and the cute ring. (More about my earrings further below.) On the other wrist were more bracelets. Did you know that I’m a lover of bracelets like nobody’s business? Plus, as the years go by, the desire to pull everything off has certainly diminished. Thank the heavens.

HER, Face, and Them Earrings Though: First, don’t you love those earrings?? So lovely and unique. Snagged them from Target.

Face: Let’s bullet everything:

  • Primer: Fenty. Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer.
  • Foundation: Fenty. Pro Filt’r Foundation in 450. (Soft matte and longwear, and the latter is not an exaggeration. After dancing my bad knees off all night, my makeup still looked intact. All hail.)
  • Concealer (used under my eyes and above my eyebrows, bridge of nose, and chin): Fenty Match Stix Stinstick in Suede.
  • Eyeshadow: Morphe 350 Eyeshadow Palette in a variety of colors.
  • Blush: Black Radiance in Warm Raspberry
  • Highlighter: MARIAH CAREY collection MY MIMI extra dimension skinfinish
  • Lips: My beloved Ruby Woo with MAC lip liner in Currant
  • Eyeliner and Mascara: Maybelline

Whew, right? But it took me less than 10 minutes to put everything on!

HER: She’s been in an interesting mood. After several months of protective styling and braids and such, she came back a bit temperamental and needing lots of love and extra care. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to style her for the wedding, but deep down,

GibsonGirl
Gibson Girls

I knew I’d go with a frompadour. And that’s what I did. Moisturizer, 1,000 pins, a few hair combs, and a quick prayer that she wouldn’t rebel against my fingers. My colleague described it as a Gibson Girl look and with my love for all things vintage-y, especially hair: mission accomplished.

A fun day was had. Bottom line: so happy for my friends who symbolized their love with an elegant, lovely, fabulous wedding day.

How was your weekend? Tell me ’bout it below…

 

Oprah.

What an introduction. Let’s get right to it: when Her Excellency was was still on the air with her daily talk show, I won tickets to be part of her audience.

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Back in 2011, I remember going on the official website for the show and noticing one of the upcoming episodes. The theme of the impending show was going to be all about best friends. (Title: An Oprah & Gayle Kind of Friendship) Made sense, given the longtime friendship between Madame O and her bestie, Gayle King. The requirement to be part of the audience was to write and send in an essay about your best friend and why he/she was wonderful. That was a no-brainer. I’ve discussed my bestie on TSP more than once. She.Is.Everything. And so I got to writing. Looking back, I submitted the essay with only a small twinge of excitement, being that 1) I was probably 1 of a million people doing the same thing, and 2) I didn’t want that level of disappointment if I didn’t get chosen.

Then I received an email on March 23, 2011. Yes, I searched my inbox for that date. And yes, I’m giddy that the email still exists. Bottom line, the main idea of the email: my bestie and I were invited to join the audience during a taping of the themed episode.

I reacted a bit like this:

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So at this point, dear reader, my bestie didn’t know I had done any of this. I kept it all to myself in case we didn’t get chosen. Welp, that didn’t happen. After receiving that email, I called her and engaged in the following conversation:

Me: Hey, are you free on April 11?
Her: Let me check…yes, I’m free. What’s up?
Me: We’re flying to Chicago that day to be part of the audience of the Oprah show.
Her: *crickets*
Me: Are you there?
Her (whispers): This better not be a prank.
Me: It’s not! I wrote an essay and they picked it and it was about you and me and our friendship and we’re going to see Oprahhhhhhhhhh!

Her reactions, from 1-3:

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Needless to say, by the time we got to three, we were both primal screaming on the phone. Flight plans to Chicago were made; outfits were discussed (we had been asked by Queen O’s team to wear colorful clothes that would show well on TV); mild disappointment was expressed because a giant rule was that no pictures were allowed inside the Harpo studios; and finally, more primal screams were shared. You guys, it was one of the best experiences of this life. And you know how Empress Oprah’s audience would go mad? I admired her, yes, but I just couldn’t understand the mania oprah6these women showed on national TV. Well, I can easily say that on that morning in April, as Oprah was introduced and walked out and waved at us and smiled: I. Get. It. I truly do.

Her presence: dynamic. Her personality: open and charming. Her overall nature: amazing. In the minutes between her walking out and sitting down before the cameras turned on, there was no change. She was the same onscreen and off-screen. She was also just fun. During commercial breaks, she joked and laughed and told us about her painful high heels…it was surreal. My bestie and I spent the entire time just like holding each other in disbelief and Oprah-generated joy. And yeah, we got some gifts, too. And food. It was incredible. I’ll say it again, and in French: incroyable.

But the best part of that whole thrilling experience, dear reader? It involved a years-long, amazing friendship with one amazing lady, that being my bestie, and it involved another love of my life: my writing. My bestie kept saying the following throughout the day. “You are a writer. It was your words that got us here. You are a writer.” It was definitely a boost in confidence with the mighty pen. Nevertheless, the topic at hand, why this woman was such an indescribable presence in my life, made it easy. I didn’t hesitate. The benefits of a worthy subject.

Got any thrilling moments with your bestie that you’d like to share with me? Don’t fret because Oprah isn’t involved in any of them. The comments await you below…

Blogvember #12 and #13: Le Weekend.

#12: That quote to the left about sums it up. Our sense of humor. Our laughter. Our love. (Because, yeah, I’d traipse through a fire and/or super humid room for her, fro or no.) Those times when la bestie utters words that change my life. My goals to always be there for her. 

She arrived on Friday night and will be leaving in a few hours. She brought a burst of light and much-needed familiarity into this new place and environment that I’m adjusting to, both emotionally and otherwise. I don’t think I’ll be able to communicate just how I needed that. 

I snapped a few photos, but she’ll hurt me if I post them. So just call your bestie and tell him/her that you love them. 

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#13: I bought a couch!

While furniture shopping yesterday, one of the employees showing us around the monster of the store we were in took me the very couch that I saw and saved from their website. If that isn’t kismet I don’t know what is. Delivery is next Sunday and you shall see it then. 

Happy Sunday, dear reader…