Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Curiosity Leads Your Journey

Last week, I had an opportunity to attend a talk by Vivian Schiller, the president of NPR. Her talk was extremely inspiring to me, but it was something that she had said in a previous interview that struck me, "Curiosity has led me through journey." Her journey has led her behind the "iron wall" serving as an interpreter in the former Soviet Union to CNN to New York Times and now to NPR. What struck me was how she mentioned that she never had any set goals in mind--she just allowed her curiosity to guide her. Now, that's what I am talking about!
I, myself have gone on a journey. I started my own company at 27 years old. I've moved from the comforts of my hometown to a new city, and I have explored my career--willing to learn more than I did when I was in my 20s.

My latest ambition is being a children's book writer. I've always loved children's books--the stories, the lessons and even the illustrations. I've even gone ahead and written my first draft--my inspiration is my dog, Nikki.

So, how did this inspiration come about-it? About eight years ago I found myself walking through the children's section of Barnes & Nobles looking for a book for my niece, Sapna. I came across this lovely book called Angelina Ballerina. The story was simple. It was a about a little mouse with ambitions to become a ballerina. The story and the illustrations brought the book to life for me.

But, unfortunately, life took over and I put my book on the back burner until now. Needing some inspiration, I decided to e-mail the author of Angelina Ballerina, Katherine Holabird. Just this a.m., I received the most thoughtful e-mail from her. Her e-mail has given me so much hope to pursue my dreams. Like anything else, a career in writing can be both exciting and upsetting especially if rejected. But, don't be discouraged!
  • Take a risk. Submitting my first article was the most difficult thing I ever did, but I did. Though, I sent it to many magazines, I ended up selling it to an Asian American woman magazine in Los Angeles called Audrey Magazine. I had not been published, but that didn't stop me from trying.
  • If you're rejected, pick yourself up and go for it again. I remember submitting an article about my fears of the outdoors. The article was about a trip I took to Puerto Rico and how I had overcome my fears of adventure by kayaking at night in a lagoon and hiking in a rain forest. The first publication I pitched the article too rejected me with the editor basically calling me a freak (not kidding!). I sent it to a second online publication called and within five minutes I had a response from the editor saying that they would run the article. They later published four my stories!

  • Take your time: It has taken me over a year to write the copy for A Dog Named Nikki, feedback from friends, and lots of rewrites until I became satisfied. Now, I am excited about seeing it come to life!

What risks have you taken? Who has inspired you? And, if you do have ambitions, what's stopping you from fulfilling them?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taking a Step Outside My Comfort Zone

Last Saturday, I attended my first belly dancing lessons class. I decided to sign up for belly dancing lessons because I wanted to do something fun and different that took me out of my comfort zone--and it did!

I have two left feet. I am not coordinated, and I have no rhythm. But that didn't stop me. While it took me awhile to grasp the steps and the assistance of the instructor (literally holding my hand and dancing with me acros the floor)--it didn't matter. At the end of the class I felt like I had accomplished something. And, when I thanked my instructor, she told me "You've got it. You looked great out there." Two years ago I would have never even considered doing something that I didn't feel comfortable with, but things have changed since then.

My first year in Washington D.C. was extremely difficult. Between an unsatisfying job, two car accidents and unrented home in Charleston, I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life, but I didn't. Change (even in a place that you feel like you know so well) can be extremely hard. even if you want it so badily, but you learn to adjust, surround yourself with people who care, and find things that you enjoy to get through the days:

  • Try something that you have never done before. The first risk I ever took was to try something different. I literally did by trying a Mexican delicacy-grasshoppers in cheese sauce. They weren't as bad as I thought they would be, but will I ever eat them again? Probably not.
  • Try something you've tried before, but with a different attitude. A few weeks ago, I saw a special with a local belly dancing studio. It was a crash course in belly dancing. I had taken a four week class in Charleston, but I quit by the third class. But, this time, I came out of the class with the desire to learn more. And, I find myself practicing the movements, remembering my in instructors tips like "say the steps out loud."

So, for me 2009 has definitely been a year of "getting to know myself." I have learned a lot of myself thanks to the risks that I have taken over the last year. The steps that I am taking are having an impact on my confidence, the quality of my work and a change of attitude.

What about you? What actions have you taken to step out of your comfort zone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Watch Chef Mark Salter on WUSA on May 13

On Wednesday, May 13, Chef Mark Salter will make an appearance on WUSA's 9 a.m. News here in Washington. Just in time for summer, Chef Salter will share some great picnic ideas, creating fabulous dishes for everyone in the family to enjoy!

Salter will present a variety of dishes using his signature Pub Sauce "Ketchup for Big Kids"-from chips and dips to a great baster for shrimp. You'll have to watch the segment to get a real taste of how Pub Sauce can add a bit of pizazz to your food!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Simple Solution for a Gourmet Dinner

I am really excited about one of my latest projects. In addition to the fabulous work that I've been doing for Share Our Strength, I've received another opportunity, with a chef that I am honored to be working with-Chef Mark Salter of the Inn at Perry Cabin (an amazing inn in St. Michaels, Maryland).

Like many of us, Chef Salter is ready to come home to relax and spend time with his family so after a long day at work, he wants to enjoy delicious meals with them, but not spending too much in the time creating them-of course.

In 2004, Chef Salter and his wife launched a line of gourmet dressings and products called Chesapeake Gourmet. His inspiration came from not being able to find dressings and marinades that suited his palate so he created his own (naturally, what else can a chef do!).

Well, in the next few weeks (once I get some samples), I'll be creating fabulous dishes with them. In the meantime, you can check out

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring in D.C.-Cherry Blossoms Bring Out the Best of Everything!

Spring in Washington, D.C. It's my favorite time in the nation's capital. Why? The misery of winter has faded away along with the gray skies, snow, sleet, rain and wind (well, the wind is still around) ...replaced with longer days, warmer temperatures and cherry blossoms! When the cherry blossoms bloom so does the city. There is a sense of excitement in the air and you can see it and feel it everywhere. Scarfs, winter coats, and unhappy people have been replaced by smiling faces in bright colors-happy to be outside.

Restaurants create menus around the festivities. Bakeries create commemorative cherry blossom cupcakes in honor of the festival (check out Hello Cupcake) and local mixologists concoct unique cocktails around them.

But, it's the cherry blossoms themselves that always steal the spotlight. Thousands of people from across the nation and abroad always find themselves in awe as they walk through groves of cherry blossoms, search for the perfect spots to have picnics and click hundreds of photos, hoping to get the perfect one.

This was my fourth time to experience the cherry blossom festival in D.C. The first time I had ever seen these delicate flowers was in Okinawa, Japan, in February. I was only a teenager then and don't think I appreciated them the way I do now. As we meandered through the tidal basin to the Jefferson Memorial, our final destination, I found myself experiencing so many emotions--happiness, peace, excitement. I don't know if it was the pink that tickled me or simply knowing that spring had finally arrived, but I can tell you this-it's my favorite time of year in this amazing city!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hello Cupcake! Does Something Sweet to Help End Childhood Hunger

One of the nation capital's top cupcakery's is doing its part to help end childhood hunger in America. Hello Cupcake located in the ever-hip Dupont Circle will be hosting its very own Great American Bake Sale for Share Our Strength. Between May 11-16, Hello Cupcake will be donating 100 percent of its proceeds from its original flavors to Great American Bake Sale. So,if you're having a sweet craving for a delicious chocolate or vanilla cupcake then seriously consider stopping by Hello Cupcake! You won't need to feel guilty for this indulgence because your treat will help feed a child.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Charleston? Stop by Cupcake for a treat and help end childhood hunger

This week, be sure to stop by Cupcake in the Belle Hall Shopping Center for a treat that will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but also help a very worthy cause--helping end childhood hunger in our community. Cupcake, one of the Lowcountry's favorite cupcakeries, has created a commemorative cupcake for Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale to raise awareness and funds of an issue that affects children in our community and across the nation.
According to recent studies, the poverty rate among children under the age of 18 is above the national poverty rate. Twenty-one percent of children live below the poverty line in South Carolina compared to 18% nationally.

Childhood hunger is problem is a problem in our community, but you can make a huge difference. So, this week, please be sure to stop by Cupcake because the funds raised through this promotion will help feed kids in our community.
And, if you're planning to attend this year's Family Circle Cup, be sure to stop by the Family Circle Magazine Bake Sale. A number of favorite shops have donated delicious baked goods, including Charleston Cooks!, Cupcake, Whole Foods Market and Ashley Bakery.