Melody Mitchell – Being Her Authentic Self

1DSC_3659 copyI first met Melody when she came to one of our photography walkabouts here in Kuwait. At the time, she stood out to me because of her warm friendly smile and open personality. In that moment, I had no idea of who she was, only that something inside me made me want to get to know her better. Fast forward a few years and this beautiful soul has truly left her mark on many woman in Kuwait and abroad, including myself.

groupShe is a true leader in her field and one of the most decent and inspiring individuals I have ever met.

Melody has been in the US military, specifically the air force, for 19 years already, and her heart has been in Middle East relations for most of that. As a woman in the air force she has had to fly against the wind (excuse the pun) for most of that journey trying to carve out her own path in a very male dominant industry. She has been remarkable in further supporting other women in military, both US and Kuwaiti. Melody started the Lean In initiative in Kuwait which has been literally life changing for women in business in the Middle East. It is a network of women who come together to uplift and support one another in a safe, open circle.

SH pilots
Image provided by Melody

Through her work with both the US and Kuwaiti women in service she has been able to debunk some preconceived ideas that many people have about woman in the region. She shines a light on how strong and respected women really are. Granted it hasn’t always been that way, but she highlights and builds on these positive changes in today’s society.

DSC_0659
Image provided by Melody

We had the most wonderful conversation around us as women learning how to be our true authentic selves and, more specifically, what it means. Men help each other out, they lift each other up automatically, and women need to do the same! Both Katie and I have this deep desire to do just that – lift one another up. And thankfully this blog has given us a platform to highlight remarkable women in business and in life, remarkable women like Melody!

Bridging the gap between men and women in business, her main piece of advice for women is, “don’t try to simulate the way a man would do business, we are not little men, we are women and we come with our own unique, highly valuable qualities and need to be appreciated for who we are. – Man I love this chick!

This incredibly strong, talented lady was asked to participate in the TEDx talk at AUK in Kuwait and I encourage you to take a listen to the link below. It’s so worth the time. Well done Melody and so well spoken too!

I’m excited to see where this amazing individual ends up next, the itsacolourfulworld team wishes her all the best – rise and shine!

1DSC_3695 copy

Cheers,

la

 

My friend. My hero – How Jiu-Jitsu gave her new life.

Image-1(1)
Mirella (right)

Today I couldn’t be prouder to bring you the story of one of my personal heroes:

Mirella Atallah.

IMG_4731
Myself (left) and Mirella (right)

I met Mirella back in 2007 when I first moved to Kuwait, we worked together. A kind, sweet, funny, spirited young lady who had already, even at that time, overcome so many challenges in life, with ultimate grace. I was always so impressed with the fighting spirit that lived inside her, clear to those who truly knew her, perhaps not even clear to her at the time.

IMG_4728
The first (and only) time I ever saw snow was in Lebanon with Mirella (left).
IMG_4729
Mirella (right), myself (middle), and our dear friend Jihane (left).

About 3 years into our friendship, Mirella moved to Canada and within a few short years, her life was turned inside out, and up side down and somewhere between Canada and Lebanon she has managed to land strongly on her feet, and in a way that very few people would be able to replicate.

Today she is but a shadow of her former self and for all the right reasons. I am so incredibly proud of this woman and I will be telling the story of her to my daughters in the years to come.

Below is a Q&A from Mirella in her own words, sharing her story with me in more detail and with our readers. Enjoy!

Image-1(3)

Q&A

Tell our readers a little bit about you? My name is Mirella Atallah I’m Lebanese, I immigrated to Canada a few years ago. I work at an IT company as an Internal Senior Designer and I am currently studying digital marketing and social media.

I am a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. This is a huge part of my life and an integral part of my journey to a good and healthy lifestyle.

Life has been hard, I’ve moved many countries, had to come face to face with a bad long term relationship and dealt with many health issues along the way.

What was your lowest moment and what was your highest? Lowest – 40 years old, broke, divorced, no kids and no clue what comes next. Highest – I would say the same moment because this was when I realised that I was free and the sky was my only limit, I packed my bags and left chasing my dreams.

Where do you think your fighting spirit has come from? Many people in your situation would have just given up on themselves and accepted that life has simply handed them a raw deal. I’m not sure were this spirit came from! I think of myself as a very stubborn person and I never accept failure as an outcome! I always manage to lift myself up after each fall! I’m not perfect, so many tears I’ve cried and felt like life is just closing its doors on me but something deep inside always says: no you have to try again, if you don’t try you won’t know! After each fall I stand up, dust off the dirt and keep going!

How has your past shaped you? It has made me tougher, definitely, but not angrier. I feel I still trust people and the world and feel there should be good out there, I just have to believe! Some people may think I’m silly but like I said I’m stubborn and I’m sure something good is hidden out there for me, I just have to keep digging.

What motivates you? Being able to inspire people! My main goal is to be a role model to my nieces and let them believe that they can be what ever they want to or go where ever they want they to go, they just have to work hard for it.

10 year challenge – what has been your biggest change in yourself within the last 10 years? I’m happy again.

What advice could you give someone going through similar struggles? Keep dreaming and believing, there are no age restrictions, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, NOW is the perfect time to start!

Image-1

How did you get into Jiu-Jitsu? I was a kick-boxer for around 4 years and got bored a bit and felt it was dangerous to compete not a fan of getting hit in the face and getting a concussion! I have always been curious about Jiu-Jitsu specially after I started watching UFC and watching JSP (he is Canadian) and he trains at the same gym where I did! I hesitated a lot for 4years because I was overweight and one day I decided to try it and I got hooked! Went through a lot of emotional and physical challenges but never stopped!

How has Jiu-Jitsu helped you? Jiu-Jitsu is my meditation, the only way I can find calm and clear my head believe it or not! It made me stronger! I Learned to be a problem solver and to think fast! Physically it made me ageless along with strong! I lost so much weight since that first class! I have never felt better.

What is your favourite thing about the sport? I love everything about it! I cant pick one thing! Even with my lowest moments and I think that I’m not improving and having a bad game day,  I still feel that I love everything about it! If I go on vacation the first thing I look for is a place to train! Jiu-Jitsu has a great community, you are always supported everywhere you go! We are a big family!

What are your goals for the future? My dream is to get my black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 4years from now! And get to a stage in my life were Im able to work and teach, specifically to women in the Middle East! I would like to create camps and teach self defence to women and kids.

Image-1(2)

If you find Mirella as inspiring as I do, follow her journey on Instagram at:

0.png

Thank you for sharing your story friend.

Cheers,

la

More Joy & Color

{screenshot of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk}

A sweet friend of mine posted a clip of this Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joy TED Talk on my FB page and I just had to share it. I mean, a talk on joy and color, what could be better?!

Ingrid is a designer, writer, and the founder of The Aesthetics of Joy website and community. As an expert in design and joy she took the stage to talk about our fundamental need and desire for, you guessed it, joy.

“On the most basic level the drive toward joy is the drive toward life.” 

In her research on joy she found that even though “the feeling of joy is mysterious and elusive, we can access it through tangible physical attributes, or what designers call aesthetics.” She began referring to these moments of joy in the world as the “aesthetics of joy.” Boy does that speak to my creative heart!

The aesthetics of color, patterns, multiplicity, and the shapes of objects in our world are definitely a few things that get me excited, I may even jump up and down. It’s true joy is mysterious, but wherever we find it we need to surround ourselves with it. As Ingrid notes, “each moment of joy is small, but over time they add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

I believe she is right, to live a joy-filled life we need focus our hearts and minds on the things that bring us that jump-up-and-down feeling. To pursue joy rather than happiness helps us find the richness and abundance in life we inherently crave.

Hopefully this talk and her website can inspire and encourage you to take the time to notice the aesthetics of joy around you and focus the things and moments in your life that lift you up. Maybe your joy will be contagious and inspire others to pursue more joy. You may even find a way to infuse joy into your sphere of influence through your skills, talents, and giftings. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Here’s to a joy-filled day!

kdg

Follow The Aesthetics of Joy on Instagram and Facebook

Scented IDentity

IACW_ID2632

Have you ever noticed how a smell can remind you a person, place, or moment in time? It has always intrigued me how memories can be triggered by our senses. Whenever I wear something my mom has worn it smells like her perfume and it makes me smile. One day while wearing one of her shirts my oldest said, “You smell like Mimi.” It made me want to find a scent that would be my own, so when an opportunity came up to take a workshop on perfume and create my own custom scent I was thrilled.

IACW_ID2635

I first learned about ID perfumes through a FB community post by a friend sharing about her collaboration with Idit the owner. The two tennis mates had created a beach inspired line of diffusers, combining Diane’s loves of the beach and collecting sea glass and Idit’s expertise. The diffusers have been a huge hit in our community!

IACW_ID2644

Idit started the workshop off by sharing a bit about her background. She used to work for a few big name cosmetic and body care companies, where she gained her knowledge of scents, marketing strategies, and theories about what people like. Hilariously, she  also learned that the most popular lines were actually her least favorites and it made her wonder if there were others out there who felt the same. While at an intense perfume and scents conference she was struck with inspiration: what about custom scents? She was so inspired and excited about the concept of customized scents that she decided to create her own personalized-perfume shop.

IACW_ID2631

Next, she shared a broad history of perfume to include the Egyptians and Napoleon’s affinity for carting around his custom scent as he attempted to conquer the world.  Idit also, educated us on the differences between eau de toilette, eau de perfume, and perfume, which essentially comes down to how concentrated the essential oils are in each (see what i did there ;-)). Then she tested our senses of smell with a few commonly used oils, only half of which I could identify. It was fascinating! I found myself making connections to what I know about the psychology of color, including the concept that they both trigger memories and feelings! I know, NERD ALERT!

When it was time to create our own scents we learned that perfume is two tiered, the top scent that fades after a couple hours and the base which remains well after.  To create the top tier of our scent Idit had put out several bottles of essential oils labeled with traits or characteristics. She instructed us to select a few traits that described ourselves and then smell them to see what three we were attracted to most. My final three were not surprising creative, innovative, and passion. The other girls selected oils ranging from sexy and romantic, to peaceful and calm. It was hilarious to see what we were all drawn too. Every single mixture was different.

Then we each filled out a personality surveys with questions about our favorite drinks and how we wear our hair. The survey would help Idit to guide us to a good base for our unique tastes. We then combined the three oils to our base selection to achieve our custom scents. It sort of felt like chemistry class with the beakers and measuring, but way more fun!

Idit challenged us to name our scents, which was a bit tough. I landed on Salty Redlines, because my scent ended up being a refreshing, laid back scent like the beach and redlines are a part of the creative process. Of course I was inspired and made a quick graphic just for because.

custom scent.jpg

The whole workshop was such a unique experience. Idit is lovely, down to earth, inspiring, and engaging. We got along so well that we are talking about collaborating on something in the near future. It is so fulfilling to work with and support other momepreneurs! Thank you again Idit for the fabulous time!

If you are in Israel, I highly recommend checking out her stylish studio and taking a workshop. You can also check out ID perfume on Etsy and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Cheers,

kdg

Jim Carrey- the painter

Not only was he one of my favourite actors when I was a child. He has now captured my love and respect as an adult in the form of an artist, more specifically, as a painter.

When I came across this article, I simply had to read more. And when I came across the title of his collection of paintings, I knew I had to share it with you all. The title:

“I needed color”

 

Much like Jim carry, I find myself painting – for myself, for no other reason except there is something in me that needs to come out. It’s incredibly therapeutic and yes sometimes even foreshadowing too. I find myself tucking artwork away, under beds, behind doors, in boxes in storage. Thank goodness we moved into a house with more storage! My poor husband. Hopefully my paintings will one day narrate a story for my children, one that words can simply not accurately enough portray.

For the full online article click here. It’s worth a read!

Cheers

la

For the Love of Israeli Food

Israel trip 2018 - cooking class - 2737

Last month, while my folks were visiting, we took them to all of our favorite restaurants and introduced them to some fantastic Israeli cuisine. My mom was overwhelmed by the combinations of spices and flavors, so much so, that she was determined we should take an Israeli cooking class. Now I love to eat, but cooking is definitely not my love language, that said any new experience I can photograph is a WIN for me.

One of our lovely Israeli friends, Shani, offered to look into an instructor for us and came up with the best solution ever…her husband, Shai.

Shai is an amazing chef with several years of experience in the restaurant industry, however he had only done cooking classes for his close friends before our group. We were honored that he was willing to plan and execute such an amazing event! For three hours he awed us with his skillZ in the kitchen. Seriously, in three hours he prepared 16 different menu items to serve 8-10 people! Ah-mazing!

Israel trip 2018 - cooking class - 2728

He had purchased all the groceries at his favorite local markets and shops, each item was fresh including fish, beef, lamb, fruit, veggies, and spices. Shai even said he could offer classes at the markets and teach people how to shop the markets, especially for spices.

Israel trip 2018 - cooking class - 2754

Speaking of spices, Shai had prepared a packet describing each spice we would be using. The biggest surprise for me was sumac, this beautiful garnet colored spice can be sprinkled on anything from meat to focaccia bread. Shani told us her boys request it on everything, ha!

We learned a lot about food, Israeli culture, and where they intersect. When we all sat down to eat it was quiet with the exception of the sound of “mmmmms” from around the table. It was truly a perfect and memorable day.

Israel trip 2018 - cooking class - 2892

Of course, the entrepeur in me couldn’t help but suggest Shai do this more often. I know the expat community is literally hungry (pun intended) for great experiences like this. He agreed to think about it, so if you are in the Tel Aviv area and you’d be interested let me know!

L’chaim {cheers in Hebrew},

kdg

Special thanks to Shai for teaching & feeding us, to Shani for setting it up, to Vienna for hosting, and to my clever momma for the fabulous idea!!


PS – Don’t forget to join us for the L O V E Photo Challenge this month!

#IACWLOVE2018 – Shot 4 – Pink or Red….RED, of course!

Israel trip 2018 - cooking class - 2768

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

IACW_2955.jpg

Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

IACW_8966

Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

IACW_2947.jpg

There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

IACW_2942.jpg

Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

IACW_2944.jpg

After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

IACW_2951.jpg

A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg

Do schools kill creativity?

When I was in high school, I was being lovingly guided by two parents who both wanted what was best for me. My dad decided that computers were the future and that I needed to learn computer programming, become some IT guru and end up with heaps of money and a thriving career. My mom saw that my interests and strengths lay in the arts so in support of me pursuing my dream, my dad had me take computers in my final year as a backup.

Art won.

The art school I attended after grade 12 brought me to a great career that I loved and enabled me to earn a good living. Luckily for me it worked out. With my own children entering school I keep a close eye on their own developing interests and strengths and do my best to let them grow into the wonderful humans that they have been designed to be, and not put them in a bubble that I have crafted for them from my imagination. When a dear friend sent me this video, I gave it a standing ovation. There’s a reason this is the most viewed TED talk to date.

Cheers to the creatives getting the same respect as scientists.

la

Manifesto 13

1DSC_9534

Having an art brain child, I always wondered how best to nurture her interest and whether I was enough to guide her and help her grow in this field. I was so happy and relieved when I came across Manifesto 13. This is a beautiful art studio, here in Kuwait, that offers long term courses with in depth hands on tutoring of styles and subjects through fine art. It’s more than just an environment where someone gets to practise their hobby. It’s truly an art education for kids (and adults), a safe place where a self expression and critical thinking coming together.

To hear my 7yr old come home and talk about Piet Modrian with the same level of interest that I had when I was 17, is so exciting. I feel so thankful that I found this school for her.  Each course runs over a few weeks, usually similar in length to a school term, and at the end, we as parents get invited to an art exhibition where we get to ‘oooooo’ and ‘aaaahhh’ over art created by our precious little pumpkins.  And I love it.

1DSC_9574

If you too have an art brain child and are within the desert walls of Kuwait, then I highly recommend Manifesto 13.

For more information – Tel: (+965) 226-50335 – Mob: (+965) 656-52524 info@manifesto13.com

Cheers,

la