Throw Some Glitter, Make it Rain

Some mornings are harder than others for me to get out of bed (okay, okay – most mornings). I love the idea of being a morning person, but it’s just not me. I’m much more of a second wind in the evening sort of gal, though that’s not necessarily the best schedule for everything I like to get done in a day. So on days like today when the alarm goes off and I hit snooze (three times if we’re being honest), I need a little extra help. And that’s easiest for me to find in my playlists.

Music is important to me. It has the power to transport me to another time in my life, make me feel connected to something bigger and most importantly for me, music makes me want to have fun. I love the songs where you can’t help but sing along and dance around while you’re getting ready for the day. I’ve been accused of having the musical taste of a tween and I’m okay with that. There’s something to the catchy pop beats, easy-to-sing lyrics and the raw emotions found in these songs. Sure, they’re mass produced and there probably hasn’t been a truly original song in the past couple decades, but I’ll take them just the same. I like other genres of music, too, but my 25 most played give me away. You’ll find Ke$ha, Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj, Miranda Lambert, Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and an embarrassing amount of Britney Spears (she’s got 8 of the top 25 slots). These songs all help me set a tone for the day and transition from my morning workout to breakfast to getting ready for the day. I love the inspiration to have fun, kick some ass and enjoy doing it all – what more can you ask for from a playlist?

Inside My Head Karen

Carefree Moments

UmbrellaIt was a rainy morning. I was in my car, approaching an elementary school. I saw something so full of life. My curiosity heightened. I had to pull over. And watch.

A little girl was walking through the open field, heading to school. She carried a bright pink umbrella. The winds were powerful. All of a sudden, its force grabbed the umbrella from her little hands.

The umbrella starts rolling and jumping across the field.

She chases it…


The wind became her playmate.

She ran to catch her umbrella. And the wind would twirl it in the air and bounce it across the grass. This continued until at last she captures her umbrella.

She tilts her head back, with a big smile on her face, as though she were saying “Oh Wind! You are so silly.

Her laughter made me laugh. I smiled. And drove away.

A little girl reminded me to never stop living whimsically – regardless of the storm.

There is wonderful adventure awaiting us at any moment. Remind yourself, again, that you love carefree moments.

What carefree moment have you experienced in the last seven days?

– Karen Thrall

Gabriel Inside My Head

Karate Choppin’ with Your Head Up

As this technological engagement continues, my passion for movies and television will become very apparent, starting now. I’ve been in sort of a rut lately about where I’m headed in this crazy thing we call life, but recently I was flipping through the channels on the tube and came across a favorite movie of mine. Before we get too far into this, I have to give a short history of my love for martial arts movies. High flying kicks, lightning fast fists, and tons of harnesses and cables couldn’t create a more beautiful picture. Who doesn’t want the strength to break stone slabs with an open hand?! I’ve always loved the greats like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan (a god amongst men). But this particular film stars the very talented Jet Li, who may be in a class of his own.

Jet Li’s Fearless tells the story of Huo Yuanjia, a martial artist who lost everything due to his aimless greed and ambition. But after this tragedy, he rises from his lowest point to become a peaceful, wise, and confident man. Through his hardships, he understands the fervor and confidence with which he fought his enemies is just what his country needed to save its identity from being washed out by British colonies. This simple moral truly spoke to me at the time. From watching one man’s journey, I learned that even in your worst moment it only takes that tiny spark of courage to pick yourself up and make a change. Hopefully you don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to realize that it only takes a bit a confidence to inspire millions or even pitch that idea you’ve been sitting on for two months. Telling yourself “just try it” can take you from zero to hero before you can turn around. With all that in mind, I hope you feel as if you can take on the world, level by level, one karate chop at a time. And remember inner strength is the strongest of all.

– Gabriel Oigbokie

Inside My Head

Beautiful Things

I did a bit of traveling last week – a few days in Austin for a meeting of leaders in the architectural community and then on to Salt Lake City for some quality friend time and the Sundance Film Festival. While this work and play seem unrelated on the surface, it was interesting to see the overlap and the similarities between architects and filmmakers who, in the most basic sense, want to leave the world better than they found it. Architects are interested in addressing client desires and challenges through practical, sustainable and beautiful design. Filmmakers are interested in sparking conversations through relatable, compelling and beautiful stories.

My favorite beautiful experience from the week had to be Dope, a comedy/crime drama/love letter to 90’s hip hop (yes, the music is as good as you’d imagine). The movie was funny and poignant, and you so badly want everything to work out for the trio of high school seniors who bring the story to life. What was more exciting than the story, however, was the energy in the small Park City theater. This was the world premiere and the writer/director, cast and their friends and family had all shown up for the debut. As the lights came down and the title screen showed up, there was cheering from the large reserved section in the back. That cheering and the loud, appreciative laughs for the first joke (the first of many well-executed and timely jokes), invited the rest of us to enjoy this experience as a group. It was an endearing and inspiring movie that took advantage of having the audience on its side to ask some big questions about race and our expectations of people in our society. Those big questions brought uncomfortable silence, cheers and a few tears. It was an incredible experience to share all that with everyone in the theater, including those who brought the story to life.

I’m so grateful to have been a part of that audience, at that theater in that moment in time, and I hope many more people will have the opportunity to experience Dope. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more beauty, however it may appear.

Dope director, Rick Famuyiwa, and lead actors
Karen New Friends

Introducing Karen Thrall

When Karen came into my life in 2012, it was as if she’d always been there. This was one of those rare relationships where I felt comfortable immediately and knew from the start I could trust her. And that’s Karen. She is a force. Karen’s interest and desire to know who she is talking to is so strong, you can’t help but be pulled in, and in sharing about yourself, you get to know her, too. She creates a safe space where it’s not only okay for you to be who you are, it’s genuinely what she wants – the authentic you. While this sounds like it can be intense – and it is – it’s intensity in the very best way. In getting to know you, Karen comes to want the best for you, but it’s not a best that’s imposed by someone else. She’s most interested in what’s best for you, and someone who is cheering for you in that way is an amazing gift. And while she’s getting to know you, she graciously shares her infectious enthusiasm, her amazing laugh, her wisdom and her let’s-give-it-a-try attitude. I always feel better after talking to her (even if I was feeling pretty good already), and I’m honored to call her a friend. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know her, too.

Karen and her pal, Mickey
Karen and her pal, Mickey

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

I am addicted to learning. Anywhere, anytime, anyone. There are stories unfolding everywhere I go. I am a student. And the world is my teacher.

Whether I’m buying my Earl Grey tea from a barista, walking the city streets of Vancouver, hitting a little white ball in the green hills of a golf course, cycling through the trails and streets of urban living, choosing the best scallops at the market, walking the seawall with friends, laughing with my children, captivated by the soul of great musicians, smitten by a movie, charmed by an author, whatever it may be – people and their stories surround me.

I have the wonderful privilege of working for an extraordinary luxury footwear company, John Fluevog Shoes, directing both Retail Sales and the Culture and Community of the people who are connected with the brand. I lead a team of 19 managers and direct the growth and success of 127 employees in both Canada and the United States. I report directly to the owner/designer John Fluevog. He is an inspiration to me. One of the most creative individuals I know.

I tend to learn, what people may view as, the hard way. Throw me into deep waters and I’ll figure out how to swim. My favourite part of business is not knowing. Not knowing is the exhilarating opportunity to learn, to grow, to explore, to figure it out. Embarking on the unknown and celebrating how far we’ve come – together – this is good for the soul. We high-five our victories and develop strength through our defeats.

Stories. Your story. They are invaluable and immeasurable. The greatest wisdom I’ve gleaned always comes through stories. They impact us, challenge us, confront us, empower us.

I’m thankful to be part of this writing team and look forward to joining this blogging adventure.

Gabriel New Friends

Introducing Gabriel Oigbokie

Gabriel Oigbokie came into my life a few years ago as I was setting up a new location for John Fluevog Shoes and I quickly became a fan. While Gabriel is younger enough than I am to officially be of a different generation, he’s a wonderfully old soul who has clearly put in the time to figure out what’s important to him and who he wants to be in life. Time and circumstances may change how we look at the world, and while Gabriel is flexible and open to new adventures, he remains solidly rooted in his values. One of the things I admire most about Gabriel is his genuine enjoyment of life. He is great about being in the moment and looking for what’s right about whatever is happening at that point in time. While we’ve never actually done improv together, Gabriel would be a partner I’d want. His positivity and ability to be in the moment means he’s all about the “yes, and…” He will hear an idea or concept and jump right in there with you to build on it and make it better, stronger or funnier. During an afternoon with one other person, we created a fictional company that specialized in security and Nicolas Cage. And while I don’t necessarily know what specializing in Nicolas Cage means, we knew it would be amazing. That’s the spirit of “yes, and…” and the spirit of Gabriel.

So without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to the wise and talented Gabriel Oigbokie.

Graduation celebration fun with Gabriel and his lovely lady, Brae

Blogging became an interest of mine that never really took any form of physical execution. Yet when my former colleague, Catherine, approached me with the opportunity, I jumped at it. There’s always been a small part of me that believed I could be a philosopher or psychiatrist, or at least use my love of words and chatting to help others. The way I see it, a little southern swagger can always be appreciated. Growing up in Memphis, TN, I had always been ahead of the curve. Well at least slightly more than most. This posed a pretty large problem for me because there was no one I could truly look to as an example of what I wanted to be or what I could eventually become. On top of the general self-loathing that stemmed solely from this dilemma, my polar opposite immigrant father and spunky southern mother were there to make it all the easier. Such a fruitful and cultivated experience brought me to this conclusion: know yourself.

Knowing yourself is the first step to greatness. Think about this: how can you sell anything to anyone if you don’t know the product? Figuring out what you know and are capable of can only make you more valuable. And who says I’m getting it right? No one. But I know myself, what I can do, and what I want to do. For me, that’s good start.

And finally, after all the introspective mumbo jumbo, it’s time you all come to know me. I don’t even know if this was even supposed to be in this post. But hey, when I’m in the mood, there’s no stopping it. Now back to the good stuff. I’m a recent college graduate (Go GW Colonials!) whose passion for writing and people come across almost instantaneously should we ever become acquainted. I’m not as interesting as Libby just yet, with her living in Switzerland and whatnot. But I definitely have something to offer and maybe a little bit more. I thank Catherine for the platform to be heard and you all especially for listening.

Libby New Friends

Introducing Libby Bingham, MBA, CAE

It’s been a quiet week here in the Creative Community, but that’s because we’ve been busy behind the scenes. I’m thrilled to announce that a few new folks will be sharing their worlds with you. Over the next couple weeks, you’ll be meeting some of my favorite people and getting a chance to find out what inspires them. They’ll be sharing here regularly as well, and I know you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

The first newcomer is Libby Bingham. I’ve known Libby for about a decade or so, and simply knowing her makes my life better. One of the first things people comment on is Libby’s sense of humor. She is wickedly funny and can get a laugh from even the crankiest of cranks. And while I do admire her wit, she’s so much more than just the funny girl. She is creative, loyal, smart, determined and has the world’s most generous heart (seriously, you can Google it…). Everyone I’ve asked to be a part of this project has a unique perspective on the world, and Libby adapts easily to almost any situation because she is genuinely interested in learning about those around her. She asks lots of questions and is quick to share her experience and find common ground. I’m incredibly lucky to call her a friend and colleague, and I’m grateful to her for sharing her time and talents here. And with that, I’ll let her tell you a little about herself.

Libby Bingham, MBA, CAE, Fun at Sea

When Catherine asked me to blog for her, I was shocked…I mean, really, what could I possibly do or say that would be of interest to other people?  I’m a middle-aged married mom of one kid, and I work part-time from home.  I was also very intimidated because, well, it’s hard to put yourself out there.  However, we discussed and I realized that there are probably a lot of people who share similar circumstances, and maybe, because I’ve just been given a platform, I could also give voice to some of similar day-to-day experiences or spark them to articulate things which are important to them.  That is cool…and important.  So I’m in.  If you don’t like what I say, that’s okay – everyone’s perspective is different and shaped by their experiences and personal histories.  Just be kind…I promise to do the same.

All that being said, I have done a few interesting things in my life:  I’ve lived in Switzerland, France and Saudi Arabia, as well as visited other countries. My professional life has included directing a coalition of businesses dedicated to building infrastructure and knowledge capacity all over the world; executive director for an association focused on providing an unbiased forum to discuss issues of international trade; working with teenagers interested in living and learning abroad; catering, waitressing and shoe-salesmanship!  At present, I am focused on developing educational programming for ASAE, both as a program manager and instructional designer.  One of my favorite parts is collaborating with our members and speakers – it allows for variety and creative approaches. I’m an avid reader (expect many book reports from me!), part-time gym goer, lazy gardener and hockey mom.  I look forward to getting to know you!

Inside My Head

Push It Real Good

You know who’s bringing their advertising game? GEICO Insurance. I’ll admit that I find these commercials funnier than I probably should, but they’re just so damn good. I love Ickey Woods and his cold cuts celebration and I’m quite frankly surprised it took a company as long as it did to work Salt and Pepper telling people to push it real good into an ad (or maybe the price was finally just right).

I love Ickey’s cold cut dance because I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives. Why shouldn’t we celebrate when our number is called? Your wait is over, friend – whoop it up! There’s no reason not to high-five your spouse when all your bills are paid for the month – your streak of being responsible adults is still intact! Your meeting ended a full 7 minutes early? Fist-bump for some newly found time! And why shouldn’t you enjoy some 80s nostalgia when practicing your Lamaze breathing? Oo, baby, baby…push it real good! Sure, we all need some sort of insurance (it’s the responsible adult thing to do, after all), but can’t we have a little fun while we do the right thing?

“I’m pushing it real good!”

Full disclosure: I’m a State Farm customer, so perhaps we can talk about effectiveness and the main goal of advertising another time. For now, I’m just going to enjoy GEICO’s ads, thanks very much.