Our First Day in Porto

Porto train station 2

Me and my sister, Ivan, arrived in Porto on Saturday. Our host, Teresa, the loveliest, sweetest little Portuguese woman picked us up at the train station.

She was so warm and welcoming and full of energy. As soon as we met her, I knew Porto would be an amazing experience.

We stayed at Teresa’s beautiful home in Antjas, a quiet, lovely neighborhood.

We met Teresa’s soon-to-be husband, Jorge, and they took us out for a traditional Portuguese lunch, and a history lesson!

Remember all of the Portuguese explorers and discovers we learned about in middle-school?! Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco de Gama? It was alll coming together!

After lunch, Teresa took us home to rest, and we took a looong nap. Then we woke up, got ready, and Teresa and Jorge took us to one of their favorite, local restaurants for an amazing seafood dinner.

Teresa and Jorge at dinner

Dinner in Porto

We had fresh grilled fish and sardines, the traditional seafood of choice in Portugal.


And we had a fantastic bottle of vinho verde, also a traditional Portuguese drink. It would be our first of many bottles.

Vinho Verde in Porto

Sardines in Porto

After dinner, Tersea and Jorge took us for a ride to see the city by night.

Night ride in Porto

Ivan and I stopped off on our way home for a strawberry Sangria, and then called it an early night. (Even though we stood in the street for a while and debated on whether or not we would have FOMO if we went home.)

Strawberry Champagne

But we had a full day of exploring ahead of us and wanted to be well rested to take it all in.

Our first day in Porto was amazing–thanks to Teresa and Jorge’s warmth and hospitality–and it set the tone for the rest of our trip.


What Surfing Taught Me About Life

Three years ago, there’s no way you could have convinced me to strap on a wetsuit, and haul a surfboard into the unknown of the ocean. But that was the old Summer.

This is the new Summer.

You know. Always up for an adventure. Try anything once. Care-free, etc.

So when my adventurous, fun-loving friend, Tiffany, asked me if I wanted to take surfing lessons with The Surf Experience in southern Portugal, you know what I said…

tiffany on board laughing

HELL yeah!


Until I actually got there, put my suit on (struggle), picked up my board, (struggle), and headed towards the Atlantic ocean.

me looking out at ocean on board


surf boards

me from the back on board

When we set out to shore, and our cool-as-a-clam instructor, Rik, told us to hit the waves, I froze up like a statue.

No way. I’m outta here. BYE! (I thought to myself)

Tiffany didn’t know it, but I almost bailed.

Me on board looking out

It must have been obvious to Rik, because he walked over and asked me what was so I afraid of?

All I could think was, What if I fall? I was so afraid to fall, that it was holding me back from even trying the waves.

If you fall, you’ll get up, Rik said. It seemed like the simplest idea, but I knew he was right. I needed to hear it.

Me smiling on board

And so I made my way out there.

And right away, I fell. Again, and again and again. And each time, I got back up.

It wasn’t easy. It was exhausting and frustrating, and exciting. All at the same time.

Me and Tif with board

When I felt like I needed to take a break, rest and refocus, I did.

Me and Tif with board 2

When I wanted to quit and head back to shore, I told myself to give it one more try.

And when I was finally able to get up on my board, (even if was only for a fleeting moment), I realized, surfing is like so many things in life.

Sometimes, it’s scary. We try. We fail. We fall. We try again. But we gotta keep getting back up.

When we returned to our villa that evening, I noticed a poster on the wall that I thought summarized it all perfectly: “You can’t control the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”

Ain’t that the truth, y’all?

Me Tif and Nik

Special thanks to The Surf Experience for generously hosting us, AND shout out to Rik, who said I was the only student he ever had that attempted to surf towards the waves, and not away.

I guess I’ve always done my own thing.


What Portugal Taught Me About Innovation

When I’m not out living healthy (or trying to), I am writing about entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans. The past two weeks, I was traveling in Portugal–a place known for explorers and innovators. I was inspired by learning about them first-hand, and wanted to share it with you.

Cabo Sao Vicente for IDEAinsider

The Land of Explorers

This month, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Portugal on my summer break. While the prospect of traveling always excites me, I couldn’t have imagined that I would leave so inspired after my time there.

The beauty of Portugal-its history, culture, and people is nothing less than marvelous. As a journalist, and someone who deeply values history and diversity, fewer things are more thrilling to me than being immersed in a new culture.

As I’m sure you know, Portugal is a country with rich and deep history (remember middle-school history class?) The native Portuguese call it the land of explorers. Some of the greatest innovators and discoverers of all time hailed from Portugal.

Think Vasco de Gama, the first European explorer to reach India by sea, connecting Europe and Asia for the first time by sea, Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to sail around the world and several other pioneers who are not as well-known, but whose efforts should be mentioned.

These grand adventurers lived during the 14th and 15th Century. This was long before any of the technology and luxuries that we have today, existed. My time in Portugal learning about these explorers got me thinking about entrepreneurship.

Porto boats for IDEAinsider

Navigating without a Roadmap

I once interviewed a New Orleans entrepreneur who told me that being a pioneer means you have no roadmap. I recalled that conversation while I was visiting the historic Cabo Sao Vicente, the point where up until the 15th century, people believed was the end of the earth. They thought that the world was flat. (sound familiar?)

Until Ferdinand Magellan had a crazy idea.

Magellan believed that earth was not actually flat, but that it was round. People thought he was out of his mind crazy. He was the first to set off to test his idea. How’s _that_ for not having a roadmap?

Now imagine for a moment that you were an entrepreneur in the 14th or 15th century: No roadmap. No guide. No GPS. There is no one before you to tell you how to navigate the world, quite literally. These explorers were the ultimate innovators.

Lisbon for IDEAinsider

Celebrating Past Innovators

Today, the world we live in is vastly different than the world of the early 14th and 15th centuries. But learning about these early age explorers, I couldn’t help but wonder..what if these innovators hadn’t pursued their ideas? When Magellan and Ferdinand approached their leaders at the time with their idea, people thought they were crazy. And when they’d asked for support and funding, they were turned down several times. But they kept on. What if they’d been discouraged and walked away? How different would the world look today? Where would we be?

After learning about these innovators first-hand, I was inspired and energized by their stories. And my travels came at the perfect time, just before we begin the next entrepreneurial season. It served as an inspiration for me, and the work we have ahead of us.

In entrepreneurship, we often talk about present day innovators who inspire us. Some of the most common examples I’m sure you know-Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson. And these innovators should be celebrated in their own right.

But what about past pioneers? The ones who risked it all for ideas they believed in, and who laid the groundwork for the world we live in today. As we look to the season ahead of us, let’s take a moment to celebrate the pioneers who came long before us, those both famous and unnamed, who lived for adventure and innovation.


Chobani Break You Make Project

When I first heard about the Chobani Break You Make project, I was so excited, because I’m all about working hard and taking breaks! At the office, I’m usually nagging reminding my colleagues to stand up and take a break with me. Whether it’s to stretch for a couple of minutes at our desks, take a ten minute walk outside, or my favorite kind of break…a dance break! I believe that taking breaks are an important part of living healthy.

And I just so happened to learn about the Break You Make project for Chobani Flips, while I was on summer break in Portugal with my friend and fellow blogger, Tiffany Mast, of The Together Traveler.

When I called Tiffany up at the last minute last month and asked her if she wanted to meet me in Portugal, she didn’t hesitate to say yes!

Tiffany on Bike

Before I knew it, she had an entire itinerary planned for us. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. I just showed up, and everything was taken care of. Sweeeet!

Me Tiffany and Rik

I arrived in Lisbon with my sister a day before Tiffany, and when she arrived after her overnight flight at 10 in the morning, she jumped right into our two hour walking tour, followed by a three hour bike tour of Belem with Lisbon Destination Hostel. With NO break. What a champ! Tiffany is a true travel lover, so she’s totally energized and inspired by traveling. And it didn’t stop there. The next day we set off for surfing lessons in the beautiful Algarve with The Surf Experience.

Tiffany with camera

And that’s why I’m nominating her for the Break You Make project with Chobani Flips. While traveling is so exciting, it can also be exhausting. Constantly being on the move from flights to planes to trains to buses can wear you down. So, I do my best to take rest breaks when I can. It helps me to stay healthy and strong when I travel. So, Tiffany, this break is for you! I nominate you for the Chobani Break You Make Project. Almond Coco Loco? Salted Caramel Crunch? Break, please!

Me and Tiffany at Cabo Sao Vicente

You can see more of our trip to Portugal at The Together Traveler and follow all of Tiffany’s travel adventures on Instagram and Twitter @tiffanymast.

And don’t forget to take a break! Let me know how you #BreakYouMake in the comments below!


Why I Left My Dream Job at CNN to Come Home to New Orleans

The Big Idea

Hi there. It’s been wayyy too long. Forgive me.

I’ve been working away on something big.

This year, March Madness took on a whole new meaning in my life. And I’m not talking basketball.

We had this BIG thing happen called New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW-pronounced NO-WEE). It’s a festival for entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans. Think the Mardi Gras of entrepreneurship.

NOEW was insanely exhausting and amazing.

And now, it’s time for me to get back to #HealthySummer. ‘Cause God knows, it’s been a while. But first, I wanted to to share this story with you. It’s an Op-Ed that I recently wrote for #IDEAinsider. But if you’re reading this, you may have heard this story before :)


A little over two years ago, my life was completely different. I was working with the international division of CNN in Atlanta–what I considered my dream job. It was an exciting time to be a budding journalist. We were just coming off of the news high of the Egypt uprising. As a young journalist, I had the opportunity to be a part of the live coverage. In essence, I witnessed history unfold. At the time, there were rumblings of an Egypt-like revolution beginning to simmer in Syria. The network had a great need for Arabic speakers. My career was about to take off.

But that suddenly changed when my health plummeted in October of 2011. After several hospital stays and countless doctor visits, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. It forced me to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. After months of deliberating, I decided to step away from my career at CNN. In the beginning of 2013, I returned home to New Orleans to recover.

Coming Home

My plan was to come home, rest, regroup and return to CNN. In my mind, New Orleans was a place where I could relax and live a little. It wasn’t a place that I considered viable for my career or future.

During that time, I dedicated all of my efforts and focused on improving my health. And in less than a year, I am so grateful to say that I made what my doctor called a remarkable recovery. My health had been completely transformed. I had accomplished what I set out to do, and I was ready to get back to my life, to my career.

But something else happened.

As I recovered, I spent many of my days becoming reacquainted with the city I’d left over seven years ago. While I fell in love with all of the things that people fall in love with New Orleans for-—its’ charm, mystery, its warmth and culture, there was something else.

There was a stirring energy in the city, and you could feel it. There was an unspoken excitement in the air. This was not the same city I’d known as a young girl growing up.

As I contemplated my next step, I interviewed for jobs in New York, Atlanta, and London. I toyed with the idea of moving to San Francisco (the only other city I’ve ever visited and seriously considered not leaving). Logically, it seemed that I should return to Atlanta, where I’d established roots and made friends who were the second closest thing I have to family.

But I couldn’t ignore that feeling that was tugging at me. I remember calling my sister in New York, who’s lived in half a dozen cities all over the world since first leaving New Orleans in the late 1990s.

Something special is happening here, I told her. It seemed as though all the signs were leading me back home.

So, I listened. And in the summer of 2014, I decided to stay in New Orleans.

Connecting the Dots

Later that summer, I joined The Idea Village to launch this blog. I’d first been introduced to The Idea Village when I wrote a story about the flourishing entrepreneurial community in New Orleans post-Katrina. At the time, I’d interviewed Tim Williamson, the co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village and he told me about his desire to bring New Orleans’ kids, like myself, back home. I had a strange feeling when we first met that I would somehow be back there. I just didn’t know how.

Fast forward to today. Here I am. And that brings me to New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Last month, I had the opportunity to be a part of what has been the most exciting thing to happen in my career since over one million people filled Tahrir square in Cairo demanding change. March was one of the most exhausting and exhilarating experiences of my life.

For the first time since I decided to take a leap of faith and return to New Orleans, I felt assured that I’d made the right choice. In my role, I have the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and leaders who are committed to the future of New Orleans. I get to listen and learn about their experiences. It’s my job to tell their stories. Yet people have often asked me why I would leave CNN and come back to New Orleans.

Team at Entrepalooza
This is why.

Because something special is happening here. During New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, I witnessed people from all across the country (New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia to name a few) connect, share their journeys, and express their deep loyalty and love for New Orleans. Entrepreneurs from across the country told us why they are choosing to build their lives and futures in New Orleans.

Last month, I got to witness magic happen. I saw a community support each other in a way that no other city in the world does better than New Orleans. All year long, I have had the privilege of working with an incredible team that works tirelessly to make it happen. This team hustles.

Facing Doubts

My decision to stay in New Orleans has not come without its doubts, and my own struggles. Just before New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, I read a story about the lack of readership on coverage of the civil war in Syria, and I was so disheartened by it. It stayed with me like many of the stories I’ve covered in the past. Did I turn my back on journalism–a career that I’d long felt was a calling, a responsibility?

Big stories break, and at times I feel that urge that journalists feel to be a part of it. I see news happen, and I know that my colleagues whom are some of my closest friends, are working day and night to tell those stories. Yes, at times, I do miss it. And I do sometimes wonder how my life would have been different. But I don’t believe in living in the past. I believe in embracing the present, and looking towards the future. Will I return to CNN someday? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

What I do know is that something great is happening here in New Orleans. And every day I get to be a part of it. I get to tell the stories of people who are relentlessly pursuing a greater city. I get to be a part of the story. We are making our own history in New Orleans. And that opportunity does not come around twice.

So, for now, I know that I am right where I belong.


Post Mardi Gras Health Giveaway

Mardi Gras Shoes

Mardi Gras has come and gone. Just like that, almost as if it never happened.

It’s as though the streets were never lined with glittery floats, colorful beads, and beaming faces.

It’s all been swept away.

Now that it’s over, and we’ve had a week to recover, (because it turns out this city needs a whole week to recover from Mardi Gras) it’s time to get back to living healthy.

I’ll admit, I strayed away from my healthy habits. I ate some things I shouldn’t have. I had more drinks than my doctor would recommend. But I am not one to dwell on my unhealthy choices. I move on quickly.

With that being said, I think we could all use a little post-Mardi Gras boost.

I am super excited to host my first ever post-Mardi Gras giveaway, brought to you by City Greens and Remedy Room, two of my favorite local health businesses.

Have you had City Greens? Their salads are delightfully fresh and yummy.

And Remedy Room? Dr. Mignonne Mary offers IV therapy treatment– the fastest way to feel better, when you’re under the weather.

Perfect if you’ve caught the post-Mardi Gras bug that seems to be going around. Who wants to feel bad with all those Mardi Gras blues??

Not me! Enter to win my giveaway for a $100 gift card to Remedy Room and a $25 gift card to City Greens.

Let’s get back on track, now that Mardi Gras is gone. And Jazz Fest is just around the corner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


14 Lessons I Learned from Losing My Health


 For my team.

I used to be the youngest person on my team at CNN. And while there were endless discussions about the work ethic of millennials with my older, more seasoned colleagues, I considered it a great privilege to work with journalists who had years of experience covering some of the biggest stories in history.

The Gulf War. Bosnia. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Katrina.

Every day, I was immersed in a world of stories. And each day was a brilliant learning experience. My colleagues were generous with their time and their knowledge. Some of them were what we called “CNN originals.” They started with the company, when 24 hour news was just Ted Turner’s crazy idea. As a young journalist, I was hungry to learn. What was journalism like back then? What was CNN like in the old days? What advice could you share? I had questions, and I didn’t hesitate to ask.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately, as the dynamics of my career have changed. While I am lucky enough to work in another place brimming with energy and passion, I’m no longer the youngest on my team. I work with an amazing team, many of which are younger than me. They’re vibrant and full of energy. They work tirelessly. They demand to be heard. They think before they speak. They stir things up. They are creative, and resourceful. They energize me, inspire me.

Although I’m just a few years older than many of them, I’ve found myself in a new place, where for the first time in my career, I’m the one being asked for advice. And because I’ve been so fortunate to have had others graciously guide me along the way, I fell both obliged and humbled to share what little experience I have.

At 24, I was busy making big plans for my future with CNN. Most of my life, I’d dreamt of working there, and when I made it there, I had no plans to slow down.

But that all changed when my health took a turn for the worst in 2011. After months of hospital stays, dozens of doctor visits, and countless days confined to illness, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder.

It turned my world upside down.

And yet today, it has become both the best and worst experience of my life. It’s taught me a lot about many different areas of my life. If I had to boil it all down, this is what I’d share with my team.

1. Know your worth.

You know the value that you bring to any relationship (both professional and personal), but sometimes others don’t always recognize it. You know your strengths and talents better than anyone. Don’t stay in a relationship in which you are not valued. It takes courage to walk away from those situations. You have to be your greatest advocate. The next few years of your life will be a critical time for you to figure out what you want in a career and in your significant other. But don’t ever lose sight of your own value along the way.

2. Learn to Listen.

As a journalist, I listen to people for a living. I’ve always been a listener by nature. As the youngest of four siblings, I realized very early on that I could learn so much more by listening and observing. I listened to conversations (some I wish I hadn’t heard). Some of my best story ideas and have come from days spent in coffee shops just listening. As you continue your careers, you will find that most people talk a lot more than they listen. They are eager to be heard, but not always eager to listen. Every time I do an interview, I learn something new. I’m always in awe of the way people open up and share their thoughts, fears, and experiences with me. It is a constant learning experience. Master the skill of listening, and you will learn so much about the world.

3. Never say no to traveling.

Rarely will you hear yourself say, “I shouldn’t have taken that trip.” Traveling opens up your eyes and your mind to different ways of living and being. It shifts your perspective. It makes loss feel more manageable. It allows you to see that great things came before you. Traveling is healing. There’s nothing like a spectacular view of a foreign land to help heal a broken heart. You won’t regret it. The time when you were lost, and didn’t speak a lick of the native language. The time when you were exhausted and all the hotels were booked. The time when you were way too hungry and couldn’t find an open restaurant. Even the trips with unpleasant experiences become great memories. When I left CNN, I used the money that I’d saved while I was working to travel, and it was worth every dollar. If you have the opportunity to travel, do it. You will not regret it.

4. Learn to practice gratitude.

I lived most of my life with an undiagnosed disease and battled recurring, excruciating episodes of pain every month. I’ve had more hospital stays than I can count. One thing that got me through some of my darkest, lowest moments was gratitude. I always believed my situation could have been worse. I was grateful that I had family and friends to take care of me, grateful that I had access to the medical care that I needed, grateful that I had an extended family at CNN who fully supported me. There is always something to be grateful for. A friend of mine, whose mother lives with MS once told this is the greatest lesson he learned from her: Find the good in everything. I try to shape my life around those words.

5. Honor your health.

Health is like so many other things in life– you never appreciate it until it’s gone. I didn’t value my health, until I was fighting to get it back. It’s easier to maintain the health you have, rather than to lose it and try to restore it. Don’t wait to make your health a priority until you’re forced to.  With a lot of work, I regained my health. But some people never do. Take time to honor your health. Walk, run, play, be active. Nourish your body. Eat well. Rest properly. Drink moderately. Nothing is more important than your health. You can’t do all the things you enjoy if you are not healthy. Take care of it.

6. Work through the tough issues.

We all have life experiences that shape who we are, and who we become. Our parents, siblings, relationships, and childhood experiences influence who we are. And so, inevitably, we all have our own issues and insecurities. And that’s okay. Sometimes we carry those issues into our careers, our relationships, our lives. Life moves fast, and before you know it, for many people, they’ve graduated (or not), have a job (or started a company), get married, and have kids. We don’t always have the time or opportunity to delve into those deep issues that keep us from living fully. But I think one of the greatest things you can do for yourself as a young adult is get therapy or counseling, especially if you’ve experienced some difficult or life-altering experience. Counseling can help foster self-awareness and give you a better understanding of who you are. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling to unravel the knots, or work through the tough issues in your life.

7. Take time off.

It’s hard to figure out what you really want out of life when you’re busy studying, working, or committed to some big thing in your life. School and work will take up so much of your time and energy. Take time off to read, travel, take a class, join a group, give your time. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Do something you’ve never done. When you take time to really live, you will find what makes you come alive. A brilliant producer at CNN once told me that you have to find work that makes you feel like every day is Friday. You will spend most of your life working. It’s worth the investment to take some time off to figure out exactly what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Find something that makes you feel like you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else.

8. Pay attention to that little voice inside of you.

Intuition is something that is inherent in all of us, but we don’t always pay attention to it. When I think back to big decisions that I’ve made in my life, including the one to step back from my career, I realize that I was internally guided. Despite how much I contemplated leaving CNN, and regardless of how many people’s advice I sought, deep in my core, I knew the answer. Pay attention to that voice inside of you. As one of my dearest friends and mentors told me, listen to that little voice, it will become louder and louder. Which brings me to my next lesson.

9. Don’t be afraid to be who you really are.

It takes time to figure out who you are, what you believe in and value, and which of those things can’t be compromised. It’s not always easy. I’m still learning. Sometimes your beliefs and values will be at odds with others, even those who you are closest to. You have to dig deep to find the courage to be who you really are. The people who matter in your life will celebrate you for who you are. Don’t be afraid to be who you really are.

“It takes great courage to grow up and become who you really are.” –E.E Cummings

10. Cultivate mindfulness.

Life moves fast. Especially nowadays with so many different things vying for our attention. Sometimes, the busyness of life can put us into auto-pilot. Losing my health forced me to slow down everything. It made me reevaluate my priorities. After I was diagnosed, I started practicing meditation, and it changed my health and my life. Creating time to be still each day has given me a sense of clarity and peace of mind that I haven’t found anywhere else. It has helped me to develop mindfulness in a way that makes even the most ordinary, mundane things seem spectacular. Meditation comes in different forms for people. Some people run, walk, practice yoga, play music, cook.  It helps me recognize and appreciate the moments, both big and small. It helps me see the beauty in simple things: A walk, a smile from a stranger, a home-cooked meal, a friendly grocery store clerk. My life has so much more color because of it. Whatever it is for you, find something that creates space and stillness in your life, and watch your world open up because of it.

11. Find faith.

At the peak of my illness, there were some nights where prayer was the only thing that brought me comfort. I’ve always believed that we are guided by something greater than us. Some people are born into a religion, deeply convicted in it, carrying faith throughout their entire lives. But it doesn’t always work out that way for everyone. I was born Muslim, educated Catholic, studied and practiced Christianity. Next on my list is Buddhism, then Judaism. The more I learn about faith, the more empowered I feel by it. It is my personal belief that we are guided by something greater than us, but it took me a long time to find a place where I felt at home with my faith. Read, ask questions, explore and learn about faith. Keep searching until you find what feels right to you. You will know. You gotta believe in something. Even if it’s yourself.

12. Ask questions.

As a journalist, it is my job to ask questions. How do things work?  Why do things work the way they do? What makes people feel and react the way they do? Who says you can’t do things differently? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. That goes for both professional and personal life. You will never know what is possible unless you ask. My oldest sister gave me this advice when I first started my career: Ask for what you want, because the worst that can happen is the answer no. And if you don’t ask, the answer is already no. Although it takes time and some experience, learn to ask for what you want. And question the way things are.


13. Take pride in your work.

My first job with CNN was a video journalist. Part of that included getting water, coffee and scripts for our news anchors during live television broadcasts. Many of my peers often griped about this task, and I never quite understood it. That was our role in the show, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. I observed, and listened and memorized how each anchor liked their coffee. I would happily ask them each day if there was anything I could do to help them. As far as I was concerned, that was my job, and I wanted to do it to the best of my ability. In turn, those anchors took me under their wings, taught me how to write and story-tell, shared their expertise with me, and recommended me for other jobs. I still keep in touch with many of them. One of my all time favorite quotes is by Martin Luther King Jr.

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry… ” –-Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s something I have guided my life principles by. You will have jobs throughout your career that may not be your dream job. But whatever it may be, do your best work, and people will value you for that, and want to help you. It’s all a part of the grand journey that will ultimately get you where you want to be.

14. Determine Your Own Destiny.

After I was diagnosed, I was forced to face who I was in a way that I never imagined. No matter how much I wanted to, this disease was quite literally a part of who I was. You can’t change your DNA. And a part of healing was accepting that. But what I wouldn’t accept was that this disease would dictate my life. So I did everything in my power to live healthier. .  I read, learned, and practiced everything I could about managing my illness. I changed my lifestyle. I took time off to fully commit all of my energy and efforts to living healthier and happier. And I’ve never felt more full of life. You will find that in life, so often, there are things that are out of our control. But we always have the will to choose how we respond to those things. Don’t wait for a big thing to happen in your life to live. Don’t wait for a new year. Every single day you get to decide what you want to your life to look like. Determine your own destiny.

“….I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” –William Ernest Henley


Healthy and happy this holiday

This holiday, I am filled with gratitude for so many things.

I am grateful for an exciting, new job that allows me to write, story-tell, and be part of the great changes happening in New Orleans right now.

I am grateful for the brilliant team that I work with and the community that I’ve found in them.

I am grateful for my family who love me, flaws and all.

I’m grateful for having the chance to spend quality time with my closest friends this holiday…friends who have been by my side through it all.

But more than anything, I am grateful for my health. With health, I am able to enjoy all the goodness in my life.

What are you most excited about this holiday? Whatever it may be, I hope you enjoy it in good health.

2015 Holiday card


New Orleans Holiday Gift Guide

IDEAinsider Holiday gift guide

Are you scrambling for last minute gift ideas for the holidays? Don’t worry, so are we! That’s why we’ve rounded up this holiday gift guide for you on #IDEAinsider (that other blog.) That’s right,

Skip the mall this year (and that awful parking situation) and get down with the local businesses!

Here’s four of our favorite picks.

Where Y’Art

With a guide for great gets under $100, Where Y’Art is a sure win for gifts for the art lovers in your life. They feature a collection of work from local New Orleans artists and designers, so we know you’ll spread a little holiday cheer with any one of these pieces.

Where Y'Art

Locally Preserved

We are loving Locally Preserved’s fresh, locally packed and produced (hence the name) goodies. All of the ingredients they use to make their sweet syrups and jams are sourced from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

locally preserved 2 crop
KREWE du optic

Treat your main squeeze to a hip and funky gift this year with sunnies from KREWE du optic. They come in all sorts of different fun, locally inspired designs. Can you pick us up a pair, while you’re at it? We promise we’ve been nice!


Porter Lyons

Want to bedazzle one of your besties for the holidays? Check out these fabulous fine jewelry by Porter Lyons. We especially love “these”:http://porterlyons.com/product/dagger-pendant-gold/ gold dagger pendants. Hint, hint.




Wishing you a wonderful, healthy  holiday! Happy shopping!

This post was first published on #IDEAinsider at www.ideavillage.org.


10 Quotes from Women Who Paved Their Own Way

This past Wednesday, we celebrated #WomensEntrepreneurshipDay at The Idea Village and highlighted some of our own “women entrepreneurs in New Orleans”:http://ideavillage.org/ideainsider/detail/99/five-women-entrepreneurs-rocking-the-new-orleans-startup-scene.

Today, we are rounding out the week celebrating different voices of women entrepreneurs in a Week in Words.

We recognize that entrepreneurship can be extremely difficult, and women in business often face their own unique challenges. A study published in _American Political Science Review_ found that in collaborative group settings, “The time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation–amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.”

But there is great power in communicating your ideas and vision to others, so, today, we are celebrating the voices of women entrepreneurs, past and present.

1. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

–Audre Lorde, author

2. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt, American diplomat and activist

3. “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

–Mary Anne Radmacher, artist

4. “Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.”

–Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop

5.”A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”

–Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation

6. “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

–Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female entrepreneur millionaire

7. “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

–Anais Nin, author

8. “Don’t just stand for the success of other women– insist on it.”

–Gail Blanke, President and CEO, Lifedesigns

9. “Nothing will work unless you do.”

–Maya Angelou, author and activist

10. “Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the troublemaking individual.”

–Natalie Clifford Barney, author

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