“Here’s to the ones that we gotMemories – Maroon 5
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through”
It is the last day of 2019, the last year of the aughts. Tonight many will celebrate, others will head to bed early, and some will simply be glad to be alive. I remember feeling the later going into the year. If I recall correctly, I watched the NYC countdown and slept on the couch since my furbabies didn’t like the loud noises that come with the celebrations. I was so ready to move on to 2019 and through my post, Thank You, Next, I wrote about my life learnings in 2018 and gratitude for those that helped me survive the year.
As hard as it is to believe, I was a little uninspired. It happens. I knew I needed to make some changes. So as I thought of the new year, I chose to focus on…
- NYC–If I wanted to be in New York, I needed to purposefully work toward it.
- My passion–I needed to be courageous in what sets my heart on fire.
- My happiness–I wanted to smile more.
I immediately did a few things. I reached out to friends and asked them through the month of January, when something stopped them in their tracks with inspiration, to send a photo of it to me. I was in desperate need of an inspiration infusion and I wasn’t feeling it on my own. To move closer to NYC, I changed my number to a 917 area code. I needed to focus on me: reading, yoga, and I thought I’d give Keto a whirl. I had a bad case of wanderlust. Travel feeds my sanity and I made a vow to travel as often as I could make it happen.
I started with the reading and the gift card given to me my dear friend, Lori. I started with purchasing, another journal/calendar, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, and On the Shortness of Life by Senecca. These were the perfect kickstarters to living the life I wanted to live this in 2019. I ate up each word…so much so that I went on to purchase, Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and to feed my NYC fix, Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson. I was also given the book, Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell by one of my Macy’s clients, whom I’ve built a relationship after helping put together her son’s groomsmen’s outfits for the wedding.
Friends and family hated eating with me because I took Keto to heart. Each and every day, I started with yoga (Yoga with Adrienne is FABULOUS), slowly incorporating Madfit and then running, yes, running (I know hard to believe because I hate it so).
A friend offered a travel voucher that was to expire in May and another offered a couch anytime I visited NYC (he didn’t know what he was offering to woman that would find any excuse to visit her soul town). Around that same time, I was asked to show in LA Fashion Week and invited by the Tory Burch Foundation to attend a women’s entrepreneurial event in NYC. As anxious as I was, I made them both work within 24 hours of each other. At the time I was being recruited by Macy’s for my current role. I tell people it is everything I loved about the boutique and my work in community relations but with the corporate support and throughout the interview process, I asked, “Is there a path to NYC with this role” and time-and-time again was assured there is.
As with every year, I have learned many lessons and grown. This year was no different. Here are my key learnings.
“You think you’re all bad or what?”
When we choose to do something outside of the social norms, this is the common response, or maybe it is if you grow up in the north valley/Alameda or are a woman pursuing her dream. There was a post my dear friend, Kristen, shared. It said something to the affect, and I’m paraphrasing, we celebrate when women are engaged or have a baby but what about celebrating their achievements or accomplishments?
One night in April, I had this conversation. Growing up where I did, pursuing something outside of the norm of getting married, settling for a mainstream M-F role, and having kids, you were chastised. People in and many in my family didn’t understand wanting more. Many times I felt like an outsider because of it. Believe me when I say this, “I don’t believe I am above anyone else. I believe we all deserve to self-actualize. I will help you in anyway I can to help you reach your dreams, but I can’t be around people that make fun or trivialize what I want to do.”
What I FINALLY learned is not to play small. I was recruited by an executive recruiter with Macy’s. I asked for what I was worth for the first time in my 20+ year career. I didn’t undersell myself. It wasn’t because of pride but because of the value and the hard work I would bring to the organization…the passion I bring to my work.
Play is so important to growth
in December 2018, the mermaid resurfaced. As I wrote, It’s the Year of the Mermaid, I was transported back to when I first got this tattoo and how the philosophy of independence, having a voice and having fun/being youthful and how important that is all to me. I think this is more important to me year after year. I think that is why I decided that I needed to get my next tattoo, “La Vita e un Dono” in NYC and serendipitously found the perfect studio along a path I had crossed before when I visited in December, as I wrote about my trip in Escape Mechanisms.
May your faith be stronger than your fear
I was invited to do LAFW in February. That was an easy, “yes”. Fees were waived. I had a voucher for airfare. I had one of my BFF’s offer her place to stay and she and her husband (but most importantly her pup) were okay with me coming in the wee hours of the night. I had my beautiful friends and models say yes to coming out and easily found other beautiful women say they would walk for me. I had a shoe designer offer to provide shoes for the show and a jewelry company provide accessories. London Fashion Week was different. I’d have to get a passport. I’d be traveling to a foreign country on my own. I’d have to pay thousands of dollars to help produce the show. I’d have to find models with no budget. Yet, “when you really want something the universe conspires to help you get it” (paraphrased from the Alchemist, by Paulo Coleho…read it again this year). I had friends and family come out in full force to help. I found it cheaper to fly into NYC then into London. I had that offer with couch during my stay. I owe so many for their support and still I was anxious. I decided after a night of wine and booking a flight that I would continue onto Paris, just for a day. I did so much pleading to the only person I knew could converse in French for me to join me, but he wasn’t available so I decided to suck it up and figure it out. I took my mini retablos of the Virgin Mary and St. Jude (my patron saint–the patron saint of hopeless causes) I travel. And on the night in NYC before I was taking my international flight, I woke up freezing. It wasn’t because the air conditioner was on or that I was catching a cold. I believe I was breaking my fear.
I thrived. I found beautiful models whom were from England, another who jumped of a plane and took an uber from the airport to the venue, from the US, Russia and Spain. I explored and found “my sunshine” two doors down and was reminded that I was in the right place. I arrived in Paris and fell in ABSOLUTE LOVE with the the city and found happiness discovering life on my own. You can read about my Ms. Adventures on this trip in Crazy Beautiful Life.
Profound Grief will ALWAYS be adjacent
I lost my mom, June 22, 1996. I was in NYC and at the Mermaid Parade June 22, 2019 and as much fun as it was, I was still reeling because I didn’t get up early enough to go and pray at mass and as much fun as I was having she never left my thoughts. On the night of the anniversary before Jennifer died, I was writing about her and the past 365 Days, and reaching out to friends all over the country and asking where was the most beautiful place they traveled to and why….AND WHY because I wanted to be reminded that in my immense grief, that I knew I would succumb to in the next day that there was still beauty in this world. And on her birthday, I received a text message from her daughter asking to create a dress for her for an upcoming special event. Talk about making me smile with tears streaming down my face. YOU CAN NOT FEEL LOSS IF YOU HAVEN’T FELT LOVE. I’m sorry that’s just the way it is. And, whether it is one year or 23 years, it will always be adjacent to your happiness as if a little bit of something is missing.
You are the KEY to your own happiness
While I hope you find there are so many people in your life that add to your happiness. Your happiness is dependent upon you ALONE…no one should have that power over you.
As I discovered through, Sichuan Soup (if you really want to read this one, you’ll need to ask for the password and I’ll share it, it’s just not public), happiness is yours and yours alone. Smile often. I love when I’m walking through Macy’s and someone tells me they love my smile (however, I get a little weirded out when someone tells me, “You’re gorgeous”…and I realize I’m wearing my name tag).
Remember you make your own happiness. No one can do that for you and it’s not fair for you to put that on them, Ricky Bobby!!
Have the courage to be imperfect
“Anything you lost by being honest, you never really had”, that was a HARD lesson for me this year. I had lost my share of fans. I lost a marriage of 20 years but I was shocked to my core when I lost a friendship of 30+ years by being vulnerable and honest in questioning a few things that didn’t feel right. While a good lesson, it was UBER painful. A big growth period for me was learning to ask questions when something wasn’t right instead of assuming I was thinking too much about something. And what I think I learned most about this lesson was to listen to what the other person was saying and try to understand or empathize in their struggle. I wrote about vulnerability and courage and what real friendship means in the Policy of Truth. What one of my favorite Social Researchers, Storytellers, Writers–Brene Brown highlighted for me was the fact that there is some major courage found in being vulnerable because you are going into a situation where there aren’t any guarantees about the outcome.
Take the photo whether or not you smile like Chandler
I have always been one to shy away from photos. When I was at Cardinal Health, I would always use the excuse that I was the one behind the camera. When I was at Runway Apparel it was encouraged that I needed be in front of the camera. I’m not going to lie. The camera doesn’t love me. I have major Chandler smile…it takes several photos, cropping and sometimes filters for me to get the right photo. When Jennifer died, I realized the last photo I had of the two of us together was 3 years old and it hit me. I want photos of and with people I love. I know take tons of photos. I may not post them, but I have them near and dear to me. Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
And because I can’t do anything without music, here is my photo slide show. Thank you for being a part of my life in 2019:
So what I gained in 2019:
- to love with my whole heart EVEN when there is no guarantee
- that I have added London Fashion Week and Elle UK and NO cigarettes in my hair from Paris to my portfolio (and working on SS21 Paris Fashion Week)
- to take every opportunity presented to you, but don’t undersell yourself, “yes, you are all bad y todo”
- that life is a gift and that was engraved in NYC this year
What I lost:
- 30 lbs even after the holidays (yay Keto)
- something that wasn’t mine afterall
- Fear (FINALLY….I don’t know what took me so long but it did)
I spent NYE with friends at a fabulous event hosted by the Hyatt and designed my friend, George. At one of the speakeasys, I sat for a Tarot Card reading. I pulled three cards:
The Donkey for my past
The Journey for my present
The Passion for my future
I was told the donkey symbolized some mistakes I made in my past (totally resonated as I am stubborn and sometimes jumping into things without fully thinking through). The journey is the path I am currently on and as long as I don’t get fixated on the unimportant things or people/situations that I have no control over (which I know I do and end up getting me off course), I will definitely my true passion. It gave me chills as it was all things I already knew in my heart but when someone tells you bluntly to your face, you tend to listen a little more intently. I am not going into 2020 with PERFECT VISION. I know I will have a lot to learn but instead, I will be roaring into the year and enjoying it 1 day at a time for each of 365 days. I am also carrying J’adore with me this year. Love for myself, those I come in contact with, and in what I do.
With light and much LOVE,
Dara Sophia Romero
(I guess I better learn French)