Monday, July 28, 2014

Whatcha Wearing? Fashion Forward With Wearables

Just wearing clothes? So last century.

We all have our sense of style. Some pay close attention to what they wear, others go for practicality and comfort, and a few could care less. Whatever you wear and however you wear it, it's an extension of who you are and how you operate as a human, day in and out. Wearing a piece of clothing is one thing, but our new age society offers creative advancements which give us opportunities to extend out of the realm of fabric and jewelry into the digital world of constant technology access. 

We all wonder from time to time what someone has on or why they are walking around wearing it; i.e., cousin Vinny in his leather suit.  Technology wearables are no different. Wearables are one of the fastest growing merchandise out there. Sales have quadrupled in the last two years. Reports estimate this market will grow to over $5 billion by 2018 . So you know about Google Glass? That just scratches the surface. If you are unsure of what they are or what variety there is for you to choose from, wonder no more!

(Here are some famous quotes from My Cousin Vinny to get you interested.)

"Hey, relax, I'm gonna help you."

What is wearable technology?  It's all the rage this year, I'll tell you that. Moving beyond the famous definition of tracking devices, wearable technologies span across a spectrum of uses. Humans started way back with armor for battles and glasses for sight to hearing aids, watches, spacesuits, and so on. Now, we actually have more stylish and multiple use wearable technologies. These dynamic devices can be worn outside the body, or potentially inside the body. Let's take a look at five examples from a range of industries.

"It's either the leather jacket, which I know you hate, or this. 
So I wore this ridiculous thing..."

Fitness: This is probably the most commonly known wearable. Fitbit is the largest and most popular health tracking device out there right now. They track things from food, weight, activities and sleep.  These product syncs your stats to your phone and computer. It provides real time access to your progress and reminders to keep you motivated on your health and fitness goals.  I recently talked with Melanie Knopke, a local KC wardrobe stylist, regarding what she knew about  Fitbit and other wearbles. She mentioned that Tory Burch also just designed for Fitbit. Check these trendy pieces out by Tory.

What they look like.

Health: Speaking of staying fit to be healthy, what about the health industry? As I mentioned, some wearables can be consumed in the body. There is a new chip out there, "smaller than an ant" which allows biomonitoring.  The Freescale KL02 chip allows the doctor to monitor and/or diagnose diseases for their patients either through wifi or the patient's app.  Learn more about it and other impacts on the health industry by clicking here.

Don't think this is chewable, but maybe it comes in grape flavor?

Business: When it comes to increasing productivity, wearable technology is the hot topic. CNBC wrote a recent story including some situations where companies could potentially save $1 million. Technicians and other employees could utilize wearable camera glasses to be "hands free" while working on different issues and take pictures or communicate in real time for assistance with problems. While this sounds like a successful solution, I should share with you that one wants to avoid being called a "Glasshole". A new term which defines those, who while wearing their Google Glass, ignore the real world and constantly talk to their wearable glasses, "Glass, do this...". Think of talking to Siri on a whole new level. So, training on technical skills and manners is a necessity when introducing this new business strategy. Here are some tips from CNN on how to avoid being a glasshole.

Not everyone is impressed by Google Glass.

Fashion: I absolutely love to wear jewelry and I know I am not alone. Also, as a working mom who tries hard to use manners around others, I struggle with the whole question, "to leave or not to leave my phone out?" Well, Ringly takes care of this for you! You can be discreet and put your phone away. It will notify you if you have a message, call, reminder or email from people that matter most. Smart and stylish. You can download the associating app and customize which notifications you want and when, more importantly, from whom. Melanie Knopke also gave her nod of approval for Ringly by adding, "I think it's a sign of good, fashionable and functional things to come."
"Put your phone away and enjoy the moment."

Sports: Who doesn't love Grant Hill? As a retired NBA player, he now is testing out the biostrip currently being developed. He said wearing this device can give professional athletes a more competitive edge. This two inch strip,known as MC10,  will alert Grant if he is physically overexerting himself so he can avoid injury, it can determine a good night's sleep to maximize his performance, and give him the daily data he needs about his body. It can be placed anywhere on the body to give feedback on hydration levels, heart rate and more. Next up? Smart T-shirts with embedded sensors! Read more here
THIS is what second skin looks like.

"You were serious about that?"

Yep. And, these are only a few examples of what is out there. Know what is coming, how you can wear what you want to, and learn more about yourself. Whether you are "into" fashion or not, there is no denying wearable technologies are taking us into a world of evolving expression. Melanie Knopke predicts "this is just the beginning of a stylist, I think products like these are genius". She explains that is it important to maintain a look which can appeal to a lot of different people. Functionality is key as well.  

Coco Chanel once said, "Everyday is a fashion show and the world is your runway." Where will your runway take you? Find out in endless ways with wearables.

Might need to get cousin Vinny a wearable translator and maybe a stylist...Melanie?

Special thanks for Melanie Knopke for her expert fashion insight! Check out her blog:

Sources: all sources are linked through my blog post.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our Millennials: Don't Be Hatin', Be Hirin'

This generation has something new to offer.

Why the hype about the Millennials? Because our Millennials are important. The Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are defined to be born roughly between 1980-2000. As a Gen X girl, I've been a big fan of these kids for years. I taught them in elementary school and I have the opportunity to currently teach their generation in higher education.  They serve, they volunteer, they ask controversial questions, they challenge content and get inspired by new technology.  They have big hearts, big dreams, and even bigger personalities at times. All of which many of us enjoy. 

But recently, I have read blogs and articles connecting millennials to negativity. They are told to "lighten up", "work harder", and "get out of their parents basement!"  They have even been called the "ME" generation which includes labels such as "entitled", "selfish" and "lazy".  In my opinion, this is far from the truth.  On campus, I have listened to the Millennials talk more serving those in need, worrying less about spending money.  They do discuss how anxious are about choosing the perfect college or career, and finding a job after college to match their skills. They just want to do their own thing.   Why is that?  They have been told they should love their job, and to be somebody.  Many of them received much praise and pressure. Many of them grew up with helicopter parentsMore importantly, many of them have been told since they were little that they can be ANYTHING they want, do ANYTHING they want.  

I'm here to apologize for that. I'm sorry, but that's not entirely true.  You see, we all have dreams and most of us are working towards a greater goal.  The goal varies and changes between people and certainly generations. But, the bottom line is, it's hard work and sometimes you don't get to pick the road that leads you to that greater goal.

We have all worked in jobs we have not enjoyed.  We did it and/or are in them now because we need to have a job. Providing for ourselves, our families, it's our civil duty and blessing as a US citizen. Perhaps, we've led these Millennials astray by encouraging them to wait, wait for that perfect job. Well, it's not there.  What is out there are jobs. Period. Jobs you take because you need them and they have the potential to provide experiences and open doors to a career you may dream of. Past generations have learned that often times an interest, maybe even a hobby takes place of searching for that job you love.  If you are lucky, your hobby or passion forms into a job. But for right now, right here. take a job. There are no jobs? I beg to disagree. The Millennials need jobs and they need our help. 

Here a few recent quick facts about Millennials regarding the workforce and their finances:
  • 75% of them will make up the workforce by 2025.
  • 89% agreed they would rather buy from a company which supports social justice issues.
  • 87% disagreed with the statement  "money is the best measure of success", compared to 78% of other generations.
  • 64%  said they would rather work at job they enjoy which pays about $40K a year then making $100,000 at a job they think it boring. 
  • 43% shared they consider themselves conservative investors and 88% of them do their banking online.

There is a discrepancy between how they are perceived 
and who they are really are.
Click here for full view of infographic.

It is interesting to read about their overall views on working and what they intend to do with their money. It's even more refreshing to see a generation passionate about social justice issues. Those of us from the older generations need to support our upcoming youth and avoid making general judgments about who we think they are. For example, many of them are not as technology addicted as you may think and they are more loyal and hardworking then some people give them credit for. Get to know them. 

We all have had someone from the generation above us who reached out their hand instead of hatin'. These Millennials are going to make some significant changes. Changes which will have a direct affect on us all.  
Let's make sure these changes are positive ones.

Watch this 2 minute video to help understand the myths and learn tips about working with Millennials.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Losing My Religion? Spirituality vs Religion

Is spirituality a frame of mind?
This blog post is one I have wanted to write for some time. I have been reading, researching, discussing and reflecting about this question of: what is spirituality and how is it different from religion? We've heard the lines before, "Oh she's so spiritual" and "he's really religious." But what do people mean when they say that? What does it mean to be so spiritual or really religious? I've always thought of myself more spiritual than religious. For me, converting from a Baptist to a Catholic was not a choice I made because I felt Catholicism was a better religion, it was more about how the Catholic religion made me feel, the connection between the teachings and how they moved me. We all are on our own journey to improving ourselves as we look into our souls searching for that inner inspiration. I often think, it is spirituality which inspires me or my religion?

I, by no means am an expert on this subject. Rather, I am a humble friend sharing some insightful information to perhaps help you on your spiritual journey.  Last week, I sat down with my priest to discuss spirituality. Father Pat Rush, who is the pastor at Visitation Parish.  Visitation Parish is known for it's faith formation programs, open door reputation in the community and commitment to support those who want to grow and be of service to others. He shared that people of different faiths can feel a different spiritual experience. Is that based on faith or just interests and experiences? What creates this feeling? It’s different for everyone. In a society where people are questioning their feelings more, it is very timely topic.

Georgetown University discusses the big debate regarding spirituality vs religion.

Spirituality defined:
a quality that goes beyond religious affiliation, that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning and purpose, even in those who do not believe in God. The spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, strives for answers about the infinite, and comes essentially into focus in times of emotional stress, physical (and mental) illness, loss, bereavement and death” (Murray and Zentner 1989:259)

“…the search for transcendent meaning” – can be expressed in religious practice or …expressed ”exclusively in their relationship to nature, music, the arts, a set of philosophical beliefs, or relationships with friends and family” (Astrow et al. 2001).

Religion defined:
“an organized system of practices and beliefs in which people engage … a platform for the expression of spirituality…” (Mohr 2006).

religious beliefs – “formed within the context of practices and rituals shared by a group to provide a framework for connectedness to God” (Davies, Brenner, Orloff, Sumner, and Worden 2002).

Here's what I've got for ya:

The Big Debate: 
Much debate surrounds the definition of both terms. As Anandarajah and Hight (2001) explain, “spirituality encompasses such realms as the cognitive or philosophic, the experiential and emotional, and the behavioral”. The wide spectrum of spirituality and religion along with a lack of clarity and agreement on definitions further complicates efforts to clearly define both terms. They further discuss that “sometimes both terms are used interchangeably;  some see religion as the manifestation of ones spirituality, yet a person can be spiritual without being religious.” Basically, a  person can also be outwardly “religious” in performing certain actions, and yet not focus on the underlying principles of spirituality.

Wake Up: 
Spirituality vs religion... how are they different? Father Rush shared there are spiritual awakenings that happen to us whether we are in church or not. However, we need community experiences, socializing an individual to be a spiritual person into society, which we receive from being part of a church.  Our vision that our community provides is God given. Religion can give us a sense of direction and an opportunity to feel spiritual. People who decide not to be a part of a religious organization still tend to be a disciples of someone’s vision. But there are other experiences which can be spiritual for us for a variety of reasons. Perhaps yoga, nature, meditating, drugs, extreme sports, or just being alone is spiritual for you.
 We can feel something during church, maybe it’s the socializing with other members, maybe the music, maybe the message being taught. It’s different for everyone. 

It's About You:

One point Father Rush made was we all go through phases. There are times in our lives, our relationships, our careers and work where we are completely connected to our feelings and positive beliefs about what we are doing. There are times in our lives when we may be disconnected, and that is just life. What brings us back to our faith? He explained there are memories we hold which bring us back to being connected with our faith, our religious beliefs. The Bible discusses in many passages about the "desert experience." This refers to a time where one feels disconnected, walking through a empty wide space. These desert experiences make the connected times feel more real.  They give us a high when we get back to where we need to be, perhaps a more spiritual meaning to how feel towards our faith or relationship.

Should you follow your spirituality, or your religious beliefs? There is an expectation of faithfulness to the church teachings. However, it’s not a bad thing when you go through periods of feeling disconnected.  Mother Teresa shocked the world in her autobiography when she discussed how she went through a period where she did not feel God. The goal is to get through those days and it will come back based on the positive experiences you have had prior. The memories will bring you back and can actually make you stronger in your faith.

Whatever you feel or seek to feel, take time to reflect on your life, your beliefs and what makes you happy. You can have a spiritual awakening without losing your religion.

R.E.M. sings about it...


Anandarajah, G. and Hight, E. (2001). Spirituality and Medical Practice: Using the HOPE Questions as a Practical Tool for Spiritual AssessmentAmerican Family Physician. 63:81-89.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#hashtag:The Power of the Pound Sign

How good are you at the #hashtag game?

What's with all the pound signs? Whether you know what a hashtag is or not, they are not going anywhere.We see them on social media websites, text messages, signs, clothing, and people are even getting them tattooed on their bodies. They are the modern day symbol and they are convincing. In a recent study, 68% of college students reported using social media conversations to influence their enrollment decision. People of all ages are using them to search products, market their business, have a good laugh, make new friends and experience new things. According to Google, hashtag is defined as, "a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.

Look and see what this tic-tac-toe board is about...

#TrendingNow: The main reason anyone uses a hashtag is to be trendy, let's be honest. Here are the rules for writing a hashtag. Spaces between words or phrases are an absolute miss. Keep all the letters and words together. Grammar goes out the window here.  If you want to differentiate and make a point between the words, by all means captialize the first letter of the new word. Doing so, will not at all alter your hashtag search. Meaning, whether you type #HashtagsRule, or #HASHTAGSRULE, or #hashtagsrule, it will all post the same when you search for results. Numbers are allowed, punctuation rules are not. No exclamation points, commas, special characters. Again, grammar...out the window.  When you search for your posted hashtag or someone else's, you simply type in the word grouping with the pound sign in front and you're off! Do you want to know which hashtags are the most popular? Check out this website for the latest trending hashtags and track your own:

#KeepItInteresting: Since there are some pretty common hashtags floating around now (i.e. #tbt, #fashion, #food, #selfie, #cash, #business), you want to make sure your hashtag is somewhat unique to draw attention to it. A tweet or post with just hashtags is boring, make it creative. Always use some humor and voice.  Journalist Rebecca Hiscott shares these examples: 

  • Wearing socks with Crocs is so stylish #kidding.
  • The movie #Gravity is beautiful but so terrifying! #nevergoingtospace.

Be sure to give context, she adds. If you write #BreakingBad is #awesome, you really aren't taking the conversation anywhere.

#Twitter #Instagram #Facebook #Googleplus: all these commonly used media sites support hastags. Here is a quick summary of how they are used, by Mashable

#BoostYourBusiness: Toilet paper seems pretty boring, right? I mean, it's a neccesity for the majority of us, but no one is really excited about it. Wrong. Charmin has found a way to put some fun and life into their business. With their hashtag #tweetfromtheseat,  users are now generating and inventing 100s of tweets about Charmin from different social media platforms each day. 

If a toilet paper company can generate this amount of buzz you can too. If you don't have a hashtag strategy for the company own or work for, get on it! Invent one and be creative, you will be surprised and how quickly you will have a following. Find popular users on Twitter and Instagram to follow you and use your hashtags, encourage your friends, employees and clients to retweet or share your posts from your social media platforms. Here are five steps to making a big sale through social media. #goforit!

Now you can see inventing, searching, posting, and tweeting hastags are as easy as playing a game of tic-tac-toe.  
Just be mindful of where you put the X's and where you put the O's.

For those of you who still think hastags are annoying, you'll love this video:

Sources for more info:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Freedom To Act "Like A Girl"

Thumbs up to all those amazing American girls out there!
"You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow"

In the past week, two thought provoking videos have gone viral; one from Proctor & Gamble and the other from Verizon. They both send out a powerful message to our society, the negative generalizations we have about girls.

Let’s start with this one. What do you think when someone says, “You act like a girl!”  Now watch:

1. What are you saying?
I think for many, it causes reflection. We sit back and wonder, “Have I projected this type of thinking? How can I support a more positive image for our growing girls?”  This is a great place to be in our society. Awareness. Awareness can bring positive change. We have the freedom to change, to make better choices when it comes to having conversations with girls.

Change doesn’t have to be hard, it can be quite simple.  You can support the girls in your lives to try new things, to feel empowered, build their self-confidence by letting them fall down and pick themselves back up. Show them through hugs and high fives that it’s important for them to be who they want to be, without any type of restraint of just "being a girl".

2. What about the girly girls?
Which brings me to my second point; girls should still be allowed to be girly.  I have to believe there is still a majority of us who want to be feel respected, have a gentleman open a door for us, look feminine, and be powerful. THIS, I think is more challenging. There seems to be this underlying message also being sent to girls that they need to be so tough and maybe "act like a boy". We need to stop this. There has to be a balance. More so than boys, there is an image factor to being a girl. We all come in different shapes and sizes and I feel we are trying to figure out how to be more accepting and less judgmental. As parents and caregivers, we have the responsibility of raising our girls and boys with respect for each other. Girls should be girls, whatever that means for their own self: learning style, talents, skills and thoughts, and the way they express themselves.  If a girl wants to drenched in pink or head-to-toe tomboy, let them! I love to wear heels, cute dresses, fun jewelry, and wear some makeup (even though I have no idea how to put it on). I have friends that live in flats or tennies, jeans or workout clothes, and low key t-shirts who could care less about applying blush. It never crosses our minds to say to each other, “You’re wearing that?!” Don’t get me wrong, I have had others, mainly through my career experiences, give me a look when I enter a room full of black or navy business attire in my pink or orange dress with heels on. I’ve learned that you can’t worry about what others think of what you wear or how you ‘come across’. More importantly, you stick to your guns and share your talents, show through your actions that you are a smart, driven, insightful girl who is going to fail but also comprehends that is all part of growing and becoming a better girl. Yes, girl, I am a girl, not just a person. There is a difference.

3. Where the girls at?
We've come a long way. In the past, it was frowned upon for girls to “act like boys”. Now we understand that there are all types of girls out there. But, what I do still observe over and over is the lack of interest girls have in technology and science. While there's a science to everything, there are still obstacles when it comes to girls being interested in the area of science and technology. We know that so we need to expand that thinking out to fashion, painting, weaving, designing, all girly areas that require much thought and intelligence to be successful in a digital world.

"Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know"

In the last few years since STEM/STEAM initiatives have been on the rise, the number of girls going  into these fields has been on the decline. How is this possible? Well, because these fields have catered to boys. Duh. It doesn't take a brainiac to acknowledge from first glance at the curriculum that it was developed by males and / or by females who didn't seem to be a fan of girly interests. Now watch this. Maybe this has an impact as well? You decide:

As far as the areas of STEM, not all girls are going to be interested, but how do we know if they don’t try? Just like sports, clubs, etc. There needs to be an attraction and until recently the attraction was male driven.  Made with Code is a new program which actually looks girly. Thank you Google!  Check it out and share it withsomeone who can start an after school club or a program during the day at your local school. I am.

Girls still have choices. There is also another program for girls who are interested in the more mainstreamed look of coding through the Hour of Code resources. We now have programs which meet the wide spectrum of girls out there. We are getting there, it’s taken some time, but I am positive that it will just keep getting better.

This week we celebrate our freedom. Our freedom to make choices. Let’s make a choice to be accepting and supportive all the amazing girls out there. Acting like a girl means many positive things. Let’s not make them negative.

"Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, "Aah, aah, aah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe"

There's nothing wrong with girls wanting to wear pink, or blue. Wanting to shop or shoot a nerf gun. You know what's wrong: judging our girls based on their looks and interests instead of supporting them and encouraging them to share their unique talents to build a brighter tomorrow. Let girls have the freedom to make choices about what they want; to do, be a part of, to fail at and then get back up and try again. We just need to offer them opportunities for these experiences so they have more choices. It may take them awhile, so let them have the freedom to experience what life has to offer them. More freedom to act like the girl they are...and want to be. 

"You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July
'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth"

God bless you and yours this 4th of July and all those that keep our freedom alive!

Sing it Katy!