Ice Milk Aprons

I discovered this girl in a little story featured about her in Oprah magazine.
She's built a business designing aprons that will really make you feel like you're Queen of the Kitchen even if you don't know how to make anything beyond ramen noodle soup and scrambled eggs!  Up to this point, I've disliked wearing aprons, but these are cute enough to make me convert.  ;)  So, if you see me wearing on of these at the cafe, you know where I got it from.

So neat - she packs each apron up in a homey, mason jar.  How did she start?  By simply doing what she loved - sewing.  And then turning that into a entrepreneurial venture.  You go, girl.  You go.
Check her and her company out at:
Ice Milk Aprons

"About Sonia's Travels"

Language learner, entrepreneur, traveler Sonia Gil goes off around the world searching for what makes places and people tick. While tourists come and go, Sonia wants to rouse the inner traveler in each of us. And because there is more than enough talk of miles, package deals, and airplane seats, she tries to recapture the small moments that add up to the art of travel.
Plot Outline
Each trip turns into a series of shows in which Sonia offers a small idea or tip about a place and the people who live there.

"Paris: Food, Feet and Romance on the Seine"

I am going to start putting up posts like this of people who are taking responsibility for creating the kind of life they want to live.  As Chris Guillebeau says, "You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to."  Pay attention to the stories around you of people writing their own life scripts.  Too many people think and behave as if there is only one way to do things, one way to experience life, one road to success.  There's more to the story than just going to school, getting good grades, and getting a good job.  I want to help people open their minds steal the words of Seth Godin here...start projects, make a ruckus, take risks!

The above vid is one of many created by a girl I've just discovered on youtube.  Check her out here: Sonia's Travels.  And think:  What do you want to do with your life?  What do you want to create?  What value do you want to bring to people's lives?

OWL Workshop at Tu Re Cafe. Deep Thinking.

The Virtue of Struggling

There is a lot of merit in struggling.  In standing for something and fighting for it, working for it, overcoming our weaknesses for it, and dying to self for it.  Life is always going to be a struggle; the key is to be struggling forward - moving towards something that will make the struggle worth it.  When this is the case, your struggles can be positive and exhilarating.  Your life is getting better for it.  Like an athlete going for a work out - the exertion gets painful, but it's a positive pain - the kind of pain that he knows is making him a stronger person, a better athlete.  Compare this pain and struggle with the pain and struggle of someone dealing with the consequences of poor health choices, poor financial choices, poor relationship choices.  Is the pain in your life positive or negative?  Is the struggle in your life taking you up or down?  Don't be afraid of struggling.  Don't be afraid of pain.  Just make sure your struggles and pains are coming from positive choices that are making you a better person instead of negative choices that are taking you no where good.

The University of Your Shelf

I think the world and our education system has gravely underestimated the value of self-education.  The prevalent mentality among people seems to be that significant learning is something you do at a desk in front of a chalkboard with a teacher in a room (preferable air-conditioned) at specific times of the day with people of a specific age.  It is as if somehow the learning you do on your own does not count.  It does not qualify or quantify.  Now, I think this attitude is changing as people become more savvy about where and how to get information, but nobody wants to open their mouths and say it out loud.  So I'll be the brave one and say it: 

"You no longer have to go to a specific school to learn things now that we have the internet." - Seth Godin

Okay, Seth Godin said it first - but hey, proof that I believe in being a good student.  Before you go crazy on me, know that I am not against going to college or having teachers or getting a degree.  I'm doing all those things...I'm just a little bit more creative about how I do it.  I want people to know that the way we go about acquiring our education is changing...for the better.

Just compare the attitudes.  This doesn't apply to everyone but it is a reality that the average person who graduates from college never goes on to read another book.  What does this say about the education system?  We have isolated the act of learning so much so that students have mentally placed education in a box - it is something that happens in an institution and not without the aid of someone "qualified" to teach us.

Yes, we need teachers, but we do not need to confine our positive experience of them to grade school or college.  Because of the internet, they are all around us, 24/7.  I can go on youtube and watch video after video of talks by Fulton J. Sheen or the Pope or anybody practically.  I can look up talks on TED of people who are leaders in a myriad of fields.  I can read the insights of entrepreneurs who are freely giving their advice about exactly what I am interested in...exactly what I need to know.  I can go on Oxford University's website and take their online course on Bronte Literature and communicate with teachers and fellow students via chatrooms and email as I sit at my desk drinking coffee on an island far, far away from campus.

The fact is that we are not teaching our kids the deepest, biggest, greatest and most profound lesson that they can possibly learn.  A lesson that has the power to serve them in every facet of their lives for the rest of their lives.  And that is that they have the power to teach themselves.  They have the power to create.  They have the power to be the Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, or Mozart at whatever they want to do.  Why don't we do this?  Maybe we are too busy and consumed with teaching facts.  In an interview I listened to recently, Seth Godin, a popular author who writes about the post-industrial revolution, stripped this problem down to the hard core issue when he spoke of how we are making kids memorize all these facts when we should really be teaching them how to look them up.  Dare we teach in a way that puts the power in the hands of the student?

Once upon a time, mental knowledge of facts and mass conformity was a valuable asset.  However, that was during the Industrial Age.  The world has changed...but our education system has not.  It is beginning to, yes, but few are the schools and colleges adapting to meet the needs of students today.  Because of the internet and technology, the world and the way it works is changing at lightening speed and the new economy that is rising is in need of people who are brave enough to take risks, make mistakes, find answers, initiate, be creative, innovate, learn multiple skills, take responsibility for themselves and understand the value of life-long learning and self-education.  Is the education we are giving our kids effectively preparing them for such a world? 

At the moment, the learning that I am receiving from the books on my shelf, my experience in the marketplace, my roaming on the internet is giving me eons more in value than what I am learning from my textbooks which are still bent on a student's capacity to memorize facts and follow the rules.  And maybe that is the way it should be.

Challenge Accepted

"Opposition is a natural part of life.  Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming adversity - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity."  - Stephan Covey

The Elephant Rope

The Elephant Rope 

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.

Back to Basics

Steve Jobs said that he was most proud of what Apple chose not to do.  Jobs' uncanny ability to focus is what made Apple so remarkable and ridiculously successful.

When Jobs came back on board with Apple (he was fired for a time from his own company!), one of the first things he did was cut 70 percent of the number of products Apple was selling.  The company was producing and adapting products to meet the myriad of requests from their retailers...and they were losing money.  Jobs cut the number of products down to simply four items and BOOM - Apple's identity and profits started soaring.

Apple's success is not a result of doing more - rather, it's a result of doing the essential things really, really well.

It takes courage to realize that alot of the stuff we do is not important.  Sure it can seem urgent in the moment, but its impact in the long run (and on your bottom line) is pretty much non-existent.

Think about it.  Have you ever heard someone say, "Let's go to X Sandwich Place because they have 100 sandwiches to choose from."?  No, more likely you've heard (or said yourself), "This place makes the best bread.  Let's go there."

So what does this mean for YOU?  You're never going to have enough time to do everything you need to do (or think you need to do rather) every day.  But you always have enough time to do the most important things. The essential things.  What are those essential things for you?

See?  You don't need to be a superman at everything to achieve your goals.  You just need to muster up the courage to admit that most of what you are doing with your time and effort does not matter.  Then you can focus on mastering the few significant things that, when compounded over time, will really give you the results you want.

OWL Assignment: Be a student of life

If you haven't done this already, go out and buy yourself a journal.  Buy a journal that you'll really enjoy writing in and don't make a fuss over price've got million dollar ideas and revelations waiting to go in that nice, smooth, leather-bound journal!


If you are serious about self-improvement/personal development, then you've got to get serious about keeping a journal.  Journals aren't for people who have nothing better to do...they're for people who are brave enough to face what is really going on in their lives so that they can keep moving onto the next level.  It's a vital part of taking 100% responsibility for your life.

Life is the classroom and you are the student...are you taking notes?  Get out that journal!
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