The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien

When it comes to getting what she wants out of life, Lauren Lien isn’t afraid to risk it all. This self-professed brazen brunette has fearlessly pursued her dreams, following her heart not just around the country but around the world. Despite encounters with her share of setbacks, Lauren has pushed forward and built up what she calls The Fab Life, a mantra for her persistence in living a life in which she refuses to settle for anything less than all she’s ever wanted.

I met Lauren in a high school Spanish class, and reconnected with her via social media when we were both in our twenties. When she began writing her blog, The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien, in 2011, I was curious and subscribed to it so that I could read her posts and see what she had to say. What I had expected was that I would appreciate the enthusiasm for life and positive energy that is the essence of Lauren, and I was not disappointed. What I hadn’t expected was to be so wholeheartedly inspired by this person who was willing to put her whole heart and soul into pursuing her passions, but that’s exactly what I found.

 

Lauren 1

Fearless and Fabulous

I reached out to Lauren, asking her if she would mind doing an interview with me for my blog, and she very sweetly said yes. So, in the midst of getting engaged and moving to a new home in a new country, Lauren very kindly answered my questions and made this post possible. Check out the interview below, as well as Lauren’s blog. I hope you will be as inspired by her as I am!

 

You have both a blog and a mantra, “The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien”. What inspired the inception of the Fab Life?

In college, my girlfriends and I used to sit around and watch VH1’s “The Fabulous Life” ; it became a silly habit to mock me and “The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien”. For what reason, I have no idea cause back then I had nothing except dorm bedding, a mini fridge and dreams…haha

The real Fab Life mantra is inspired by my personal belief that something magical will always happen to those who wait and those who work for it. It’s in that moment that you are assured of “The Fabulous Life”.

Could you give me an idea of where you are now in life, what you’re up to and how things are going?

On June 3rd of this year, I became engaged to my first love, Johny, where he proposed at the Dead Sea in Jordan. That day forever changed my life and direction I said “yes” on holy, historic waters to the love of my life through the most fairytale proposal imagined. That memory altered my outlook and my focus. I just was overwhelmed knowing there is so much in the world I have not seen and I don’t know…I wanted that to change.

In August I moved to the United Arab Emirates (unofficially, until you have a resident visa) and started my long search for a career here, since my fiancé works in the UAE. Never in a million years could you have told me I would be living in the Middle East. To visit here only sounded like a dream. However, that’s the magic of life and how you really need to be open to possibilities of the unimaginable and allow it to lead you to your destiny. Needless to say, I am going through all kinds of changes, which I can write a whole story in itself!!!

Lauren 2

A newly engaged, blissfully happy Lauren and Johny.

Did you always have such a positive outlook on your life, or were there events that led up to a change in perspective?

I am an eternal optimist. Always have and always be. Not sure why…my mother believes it has something to do with how badly she wanted to get pregnant and being the first born, how much love and affection was showered my way….not sure if its nature vs. nurture here. My faith is what keeps me strong and certain that everything will always work out, in time.

 

How have things changed for you since you adopted the Fab Life philosophy?

I had no idea that my blog would develop fans and actual readers…that has truly affected my leadership and being immaculate with my words.  I think my journey has gotten more interesting. Something’s better, something’s worse – but I always focus and share without malicious intent and maintain privacy while getting the point across.  Sometimes we get lost in the details and forget the message. That is what I try to avoid.

What advice would you give to people who want to embark on their own Fabulous Life Journey?

Rule #1, never give up. The hardest lesson in life to learn is when to go a different direction or when to keep pushing through when you experience road blocks. You must learn through experience and following your own gut. Rule #2, is to always stand up for yourself. Countless times people have let me down and didn’t have my back. That’s when you have to know your worth and stand up for yourself.  We call this self love.  Rule #3, be patient. Anything worth having in this world is worth fighting for AND waiting for. That’s a promise.

In life, we all have bad days, setbacks, and sometimes even tragedy. How are you able to keep a positive outlook when going through not-so-fun times?

I go through these times, in my opinion more than most cause of all the risks I take. However, I maintain optimism by constantly reading, listening and meeting other trailblazers, listening to their journey. I find that it literally refuels my inspiration tank. Most importantly staying close to my faith and grounded by my family and close friends always sets me back on track. A support system is critical.

 

Your blog, The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien, has had almost 7,000 hits since its inception in 2011. What inspired you to start the blog, and what has been your favorite part of writing it?

I started the blog as a writing exercise. It is my dream to one day author published work (screenplays, books, maybe even have my own column) so it was no intention to achieve a status in the blogging world. Now that it has some clout, I do look to see what opportunities are there and how I can evolve my idea into something more…

 

What’s next in the Fab Life for you?

After I get settled in the United Arab Emirates, I plan to travel and explore the world as much as possible since this area is an interesting jumping off point. I would love to transform “The Fabulous Life of Lauren Lien” into an online magazine or shared multimedia blog with my better half, Johny. Where we educate others through our travels and provide other inspiring elements…still in the brainstorming phase, but we will see where life takes us!


Uncomplimentary

A few years ago, I had a coworker that everyone thought was the nicest person. And indeed, she was bubbly, upbeat, and social. Despite those things, I couldn’t stand her. Nearly every time I saw her, she’d exclaim, “You just don’t look old enough to be working here! You look like you’re twelve!”

Hearing over and over that I looked like I was twelve years old was NOT what I wanted to hear when I was actually in my mid-twenties, and I was offended every single time she said it. Every time I had to hear her gush over the fact that I looked like a middle-school aged child, I would think to myself, “Well, you look so old, I can’t believe YOU still work here! They let you leave the assisted living facility every day to go to the office?”  (She actually didn’t look especially haggard or anything, I just thought those things because I was feeling snarky.) I never said any of it out loud. Instead I went home and stared at my reflection in the mirror and cursed genetics for giving me a baby face and little boobs. It seemed extremely unfair that at a time in my life when I wanted desperately to be perceived as a beautiful, successful woman, that all people saw when they looked at me was a kid.

I have no doubt that the woman who said those things to me thought that she was somehow being complimentary, or at the very least, didn’t realize that what she was saying was harmful. But what she said was burned into my brain, and it did horrible things to my self-image. It baffled me that it was okay to tell a young woman that she still resembles a child, all while knowing that if I had retorted that SHE looked like she had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, that it would have been horrific and unacceptable. Polite people don’t generally walk up to a woman and say to her, “Wow, you look SO old!” And yet telling me I look like a pre-teen doesn’t shock or horrify anyone.

Well, anyone but me.

Over time, the self-consciousness I felt after repeatedly being told I looked like I was twelve subsided, especially after I moved away and more or less forgot about that thoughtless coworker. In fact, I hadn’t thought of her in years, until last week when a friend jokingly called me a ‘skinny bitch’. That person was teasing, and we have a relationship where we CAN joke like that without either of us getting offended. But it got me thinking about how it’s seemingly acceptable to call someone ‘skinny’, but by contrast it’s rude to call someone fat.

Personally, I hate being called skinny, because I am not and I do not strive to BE skinny. The word ‘skinny’ in this context means “very lean or thin, emaciated”. Well, I am none of those things, and have no desire to be. I know people that really and truly are skinny, and they hate it. Now, before you think to yourself, damn, wish I had THAT problem!, remind  yourself that these people struggle with their weight just as much as heavier people do. Whether you are fighting to lose unwanted weight or gain pounds you only wish you had, it sucks to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. The difference is, somehow ‘skinny’ is perceived as something to be coveted, and therefore it’s okay to call someone skinny. And I think that’s also why it was okay for my former coworker to tell me how young I looked, but it would not be okay for me to tell her she looked old. Looking young is something that some women strive for, so maybe in her head, I was lucky.

Perhaps because I never told my coworker that she was hurting my feelings by telling me how young I looked, I did myself a disservice and suffered needlessly. It’s not that I’ve ever been shy about telling people what I think, but I could never figure out a way to bring it up or call her on it without sounding like a royal bitch. When it comes to being called skinny,  I’ve just said something along the lines of, “Ugh, I hate being called that!” That stops people short. They think ‘skinny’ is a compliment. But the nice thing is, more often than not, they ask me why I hate it and I explain, and then they stop. A few think they’re comedians and they continue to do it, and now I just avoid them or shoot them mean fuck-you looks.

I guess my point is that we all have our insecurities, and commenting on someone’s size or age just never seems like a good idea to me. Even if you mean for a comment on one of those subjects as a compliment, it may not be taken that way, and it could do more harm than good. If you want to pay someone a compliment, there are better ways to go about it. My rule of thumb is that I save compliments for when I genuinely mean what I’m saying, and I try to steer away from things that might point out an insecurity and stick to the staples like, “You look amazing today”. At Zumba, I continually find myself amazed at how fit some of my friends are, and I’ll tell them so.

And as always, remember: if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

A Call, A Seal, and Pink

Today I’m absolutely exhausted, but it’s worth a Monday of being tired because I had an amazing Sunday! It started with my first-ever Skype session with my wonderful friend Marcie, who moved from the US to Ecuador about the time that I moved from California to Washington. Although we’ve exchanged Facebook messages, there’s just nothing like being able to talk to one another. I was very excited to get to talk to her, and to hear about her stories of building a life in a new country! Thus far in life my international travel has been very limited, but I am definitely adding Ecuador to the list of my must-see places.

For lunch, I met my friend Jamie at Anthony’s Homeport in Everett. I’ve mentioned Anthony’s on my blog before, because it is one of my very favorite places to eat. I’d never been there at lunchtime on a Sunday before, and Jamie and I were happy to find that they were serving Sunday brunch. We enjoyed fresh fruit and coffee cake, and of course wonderful fish! After we ate, we took a walk down on the dock of the guest moorage. It was a rather gray day, but the air was fresh and had that wonderful saltwater scent (one of my favorite smells in the whole world!). For both of us, being there was just one of many affirmations that we are living in our happy place. I love that Jamie loves being in the Northwest as much as I do! We reached the end of the dock and turned around to go back, just in time to see a seal swimming along next to the dock. Jamie was quicker than me and was able to snap some photos of our new friend before he disappeared under the water.

 

Seal

 

The evening was just as good as the day, because Paul and I got to see my favorite singing artist, Pink, perform at the Key Arena! I’ve loved Pink’s music since I was in high school. As I got older, I could relate more and more to her lyrics, and also to her as a person. When I read her June 2010 interview for Cosmo magazine, I was blown away not just by how she rose to success, but also the candid way she talked about her relationship strengths and weaknesses, and how she had improved herself as a person. She inspired me so much. And last night, I became inspired by her in a whole new way as she performed skilled acrobatics while singing her songs. Seeing how talented she was, and how athletic, really impressed me. I am soooo happy that we got to go to the show!

Zumba 50’s Night!

Last weekend a group of Zumba friends and I got together for a 50’s-themed benefit. My instructor and friend Nancy is heading to the Philippines next year on a medical missions trip, and proceeds from the benefit will be used to help her get there and to provide supplies for the trip. What could be better than a fun night out to benefit a worthy cause?

I cannot express how much I love my Zumba family. Not only do we work out together two nights a week, but we are truly close friends that take care of each other – and love to have fun together!

Zumba 50s night

The Zumba gang on 50’s night!

Dressed in our best 50’s attire, a large group of us gathered at a Chinese restaurant in Everett for pictures, dinner, and karaoke. I got to know a couple of other women from class better and was psyched to have some new friends. I also brought my friend Jamie with me. She’s new in town and attended her first Zumba class last week, and everyone welcomed her into the group and chatted with her as if they’d known her for ages!

50s girls

Me, Nancy, and Jamie having a blast

Karaoke with my Zumba friends is both fun and a workout, because – not surprisingly – we all love to dance! So we like to choose songs to sing that the group can dance to. My friend Carla and I sang our hearts out to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, which we chose because we’re learning a Zumba routine for it in class. We may not have been the best singers of the night, but I don’t care because we enjoyed every second!

It’s been three years since I went to my first Zumba class, and I think that the experience has been one of the best parts of moving to the Northwest. I love Nancy, I love all my friends at Zumba, and I love that I can bring friends to the class and they are accepted right away into our Zumba family!

Want to join me at Zumba? Visit www.zumbachangeslives.com for more information on dates, times, and class locations!

Highlights of September

Happy October!. Here in Washington, the weather literally jumped from warm summer weather to rainy autumn weather over a weekend. I’m now trading my sandals for boots and my iced lattes for extra hot ones.  I can’t believe September, and summer, have already passed us by. Since September was an especially busy month for me, it’s no surprise that it seemed to go by in a blur. Here are some of my highlights from the month:

I Got to See Family

In September I got to enjoy lots of visits with family, which is always special to me since my closest relatives live about three hours away. Right after Labor Day, Paul’s parents drove up from Southern California to visit with us for a week. We had lots of fun adventures, including going to a Mariners game and visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit at Seattle Center. We also ate far too much good food!

Chihuly Glass Garden

Visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit in Seattle

The weekend after Paul’s parents left, I flew to Las Vegas to meet up with my parents and my cousin Melanie and her family for Melanie’s birthday. We had a great time! Mom, Dad, and I stayed at the Silverton Hotel. I remember going to the Silverton as a kid (they had a nice campground, and since we usually had a motorhome to stay in when we went to Vegas, it was a lot more convenient to camp than it was to get a hotel room), and I remembered the hotel as being slightly outdated and a little dingy. However, it’s gone through an overhaul and is now a really nice place to stay! The room was big and comfortable, the casino was updated and didn’t smell smokey at all (one of my biggest gripes in a casino is that I hate when the smell of cigarettes hangs in the air), and the hotel boasted a very nice cafe and buffet. If you’re okay with staying off the strip, I’d definitely recommend the Silverton.

 

Vegas with Family

With my parents and cousin on Fremont Street

The weekend in Vegas was great. I hadn’t seen my parents since July, so it was really great to have a whole weekend with them! And we had a great time hanging out with my cousins. We all went to see Raiding the Rock Vault, which is a show at the Las Vegas Hilton, hung by the pool, and checked out Fremont Street (it’s cool, but a little bit too loud and crazy for me hehe). The whole weekend, the weather was blissfully sunny and warm – it was a little bit of a shock when my plane touched down in Bellingham and I stepped out of the airport terminal into the windy, cold, rainy weather!

I Had a Blonde Moment

Okay, I know, it seems like I just posted a rave review about getting my hair colored red. And yet, I just wasn’t feeling it. Sigh. The look on my poor stylist’s face when I plunked down in her chair and announced that I wanted my blonde hair back was one of pain. But she put a smile on her face, resisted any urge she might have had to kick me (I wouldn’t really have blamed her if she had), and set to work foiling my hair so that she could get me back to blonde without first turning my hair orange. As usual, she did a fabulous job, and I’d like to give a heartfelt shoutout to Savvy Hair Studio in Marysville for always doing an amazing job. I will continue to go there until they wise up and refuse me for being such an indecisive pain in the ass when it comes to my hair! (And a quick PS: if you’re going to put your stylist through coloring/cutting/styling hell, tip them generously. I always do.)

I Found New Products I Love

I don’t think I’ve actually ever mentioned it in my blog before, but I am a makeup fiend. I love trying new products and I literally have three makeup bags stuffed full of different stuff. Now, that said, I’m desperately cheap, so most of my stuff is either drugstore fare or something discounted that I found online.

For my face, I picked up a bottle of Lorac Oil-Free Neutralizer for the very reasonable price of $10. The description of the product says that you can mix it with your foundation to reduce redness, but what compelled me to make the purchase was a review I read on Anything You Can Buy I Can Buy Cheaper stating that the product also did great things to refine the writer’s pores. So I gave it a shot, and was not disappointed in the great finished look that the neutralizer gives to my skin. The product description says to mix it with your foundation, but I just put it on first and then apply foundation over it, which seems to be working out fine so far.

The other product I fell in love with in September was actually also a face product, and I got it on the recommendation from Paul’s mom. I had run out of facial cleanser, and she told me she swears by Neutrogena’s Pore Refining Facial Cleanser. My requirements were simple: I wanted something that didn’t cost a bunch of money (I got this at Target for $7.50) and would help keep my face clear and free of breakouts (so far, so good!). I love, love, love this product and will definitely buy it again!

I Scored Some Great Deals

When it comes to my clothes, I am willing to pay more for higher quality. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love a good deal though! I’ve never really had much luck in thrift stores when I tried to buy things secondhand, and had resigned myself to paying store prices. However, I recently discovered a website called Poshmark, which is basically an online marketplace where you can list and sell items from your own closet (dresses, shoes, bags, etc.) and buy items out of the closets of others. The thing that I have grown to love about this site is that I can find name-brand items that have been very well taken care of for bargain prices. I’ve scored a couple of really cute dresses for under $20 apiece, and a great Coach bag for $30 that came to me in like-new condition. I’ve also gotten three pairs of shorts for our upcoming trip to Hawaii in January, for a super low price of $5 each!

Yes, September was a good month!