TURNING PASSION INTO PURPOSE

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Thrilled to say I’m partnering again with American Cancer Society; they’re sponsoring the blog today!

What are your plans this summer?? I have an idea! Whatever you may already be doing, add a “good cause” component to it. Turn a passion into purpose! I was honored to work with non-profit health organization American Cancer Society earlier this year talking about cancer prevention. More importantly, it seems many of you also appreciated the topic, which meant a lot to me. I’m all about doing what we can to prevent getting sick, but the truth is that sometimes cancer is unavoidable. #RaiseYourWay is ACS’s summer campaign; we are both summoning YOU for help, read on, please!

Even though #CancerSucks, I want this post to be positive! I’m sharing a recent story of success in our lives. One of Hayden’s precious friends spent the 2nd year of her life battling cancer. Her family was turned upside down, weeks upon weeks in the hospital. Her mother, my friend, is a superwoman. Sweet thing is now almost done with the laborious treatments and cancer free….what a success story. There are many stories like that. But, there should be more. And with our help raising funds for researching treatments, recovery methods and supporting initiatives that provide care during the cancer journey, more and more families will be a living testimony of inspiration. It’s heartbreaking to think of any other outcome. Although I pray for another child, I’m beyond grateful for the healthy ones I have. I cannot imagine how hard it is to go through treatment with your child.

I mentioned my personal scare in this post here. The older I get, a couple of times a year, I hear about someone in my life getting a dreaded diagnosis. I feel paralyzed, somewhat helpless. But a few friends have lead the way to encouraging me to turn that helpless sadness into a purpose. Many of you know my mama on Bold and the Beautiful, the inspiring Katherine Kelly Lang. She has turned her passion into purpose for cancer. I have joined her in the past to raise money, and will most likely -fingers crossed- be joining her on her summer fundraising adventure (she tours the Bold and Beautiful locations around Los Angeles and 100% of the proceeds go toward the cancer organization of her choice).

And my girlfriend that I mentioned above (her toddler is a now a cancer survivor) recently put together a awesome cycling class and donated all the money to cancer research. The American Cancer Society is a national health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer, and their Raise Your Way platform lets you turn any passion into a fundraiser.

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My sons and I want to host a summer beach safety soiree for kiddos (sun-safety outdoors), so here in these photos I’m down at the beach checking out the space to do this. I’m gonna send out an invitation to join us and donate the entire day to ACS. Hayden scoped out Back On the Beach Cafe at The Annenberg Beach House (an awesome spot to go if you’re near Santa Monica/Malibu, btw. Crowded on the weekend if you don’t have reservations.) I’m hoping to raise awareness about prevention, but the goal will be to have everyone #RaiseYourWay and donate a suggested price of $25 to attend through Crowdrise.com/AmericanCancerSociety.

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It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It could be your own backyard BBQ!! So…Hayden and I are proposing you try and have one yourself! I’ll even make easy and lay the ground work! wink-wink.

Here are some other ideas I’ve been thinking about:

From a recent girls’ event;)

From a recent girls’ event;)

  1. GIRLFRIENDS. Wine/chees/movie night (or a bachelor night)….and DONATE! (MEAN GIRLS came out 15 years ago. I never saw it. My dearest Lacey Chabert is one of the stars. Sounds like a perfect set up for a girls’ night, amiright? lol)

  2. SUMMER BIRTHDAY…no gifts, but please donate. I just went to my girlfriend Ali Fedotowsky Manno’s house for her son Riley’s first birthday. She asked everyone to donate to the charity of her choice in lieu of gifts. I did- many of us did! Loved that idea.

  3. YOGA/SPIN/RUN day. Ask your local yoga studio if they would donate proceeds from one class! That adds up. Send out an email letting your friends know that your fundraising event is happening and you’d love them to join. And if they can’t make it, they can always drop a few dollars;)

These are just my personal ideas… but the point is, anything could work. And it turns a normal get together into a special purpose! I believe people love doing good work. So, given the opportunity, they will give what they can. We all know every $1 adds up. Let them know that you are dedicating the day to raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. And also… It feeds our soul to DO GOOD for others.

GROUNDWORK:

1) Get creative: come up with an idea

2) Here is a very easy, tax deductible way to set up your event.

3) GO to crowdrise.com/americancancersociety

4) Set up an account or use facebook

5) Follow the prompts (it is sooo easy, I just did it) to create an event and goal.

6) Share your event before and after! Spread the word on your social pages with your friends.

So feed your soul…and tag me on social media when you do. I’m looking foward to reposting/retweeting/commenting on your adventures. And let’s inspire each other… what ideas do you have that others might implement?  Comment below and let’s get this (fundraising) party started!

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Step Up 2018 INSPIRATION AWARDS

Those of you that have been visiting this blog and know me are aware of Step Up Women's Network. Last year, I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the generosity of many of you for your donations on my birthday! I still can't believe it.  

(quick sidenote: I'm reading the comments below. Thank you to those sharing your own experiences!)

Needless to say, it was great to be hosting another Inspiration Awards. Lacey Chabert and I have joined forces and gathered our friends in hopes of spreading the word about what Step Up does.  It was a beautiful day. 

Beverley Mitchell, Kimberly brown, briana cuoco, kaley cuoco, lacey chabert, katilin vilasuso

Beverley Mitchell, Kimberly brown, briana cuoco, kaley cuoco, lacey chabert, katilin vilasuso

Highlights:

Every year, one girl is chosen to share her moving, inspirational "testimony." About 20-30 girls walked out on stage and reported where they will be attending college next year. The majority of these girls are first generation high school graduates. Another group of alumnae (it looks like I misspelled that, but I looked up the plural form of female graduates!) came out and shared where they already graduated and where they will be working. It's such a honor to listen to them talk about their successes. I loved watching my friend Kaitlin Vilasuso's reaction to hearing about Step Up for the first time.

I loved that the high school girls of Step Up that want to be journalists were in the press line asking questions. I was asked what I would tell my younger self 20 years ago. Such a good question for us to all ask ourselves!! I said, "Oh, hope you do not worry so much. It's all gonna work itself out. Focus on the present and be your best YOU today." Now, if I can only take my own advice. Oh, and then I added to enjoy your youth! 

Regina Hall was honored. My favorite line she said to the Step Up girls: pursue excellence, not likes. In a world of social media, this is so important. 

Finally, and selfishly, I love this day because I get to see many friends all in one place. They inspire me. 

This year, I am vowing to do more in the mentorship department. Every little helps, whether we are giving our time or a little donation, or a big one. Programs like Step Up make it very feasible for us to make a difference in someone's life.

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The picture above with Lacey Chabert and journalist and activist Lisa Ling was also taken two years ago when we were all pregnant. We promised each other to get the littles together for a playdate soon.

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Since I do talk about fashion here.... here are a few details on the clothes/my dress. I liked wearing this dress- at $65, you can't really go wrong. Perfect for year round parties, summer weddings, etc. It comes in five colors, so check it out. I am wearing a size us 4 and it was very fitted. I actually had to clasp the back before I zipped it up, but it holds you in really well. I love the cobalt blue and just ordered a 6 to see the difference. Nordstrom is so easy to return if it doesn't work. I also found it on Topshop's site HERE in a deeper blood red!! On both sites, they are selling fast, FYI.

And I have about worn out my nude heels-- right now they are on sale under $50. These elongate your legs (close toed or open strappy). Since the bow and the red color were the focus of my dress, I kept the jewelry to a minimum. I did my own makeup which sometimes works for me and sometimes doesn't. Ha! I like this great highlighter to even out my skin and make my shoulders and cheekbones shine a bit (use sparingly) on top of my lotion. I attempted to use a self tanner the night before, but it didn't work that well overnight, so I mixed Sally Hansen's spray on tan (they also make a body makeup) with baby lotion!

(Tip: if you do this, mix it well. Use more lotion that spray. I stand over an old towel because it can get little bits of makeup on the floor. I quickly take the blow dryer and go over my body to set it once it looks even enough. THEN BEFORE I PUT ON THE DRESS, I take the old towel and gently rub over my legs and arms to make sure the makeup doesn't rub off on the dress. This sounds like a lot of work, and it IS! But, for certain events, it's worth it and once I got the hang of it, I can do it very fast. This was how we evened out my skin in all those swamp scenes on True Blood. On Bold and Beautiful or other soaps, we have BODY MAKEUP artists that come and make your skin even and tan and glow. No joke! Many actresses like to spray tan regularly so they don't have to wear so much body makeup.)

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taking a quick selfie with Lisa Ling

taking a quick selfie with Lisa Ling

Finally, I have to mention a few of the other gorgeous dresses my friends wore. I am VERY into polka dots and fun prints. Amy Davidson wore the cute dress with a cut out back- darling summer frock. And Beverley Mitchell wore the pretty floral print. My girlfriend Kaitlin Vilasuso wore the stunning white Ted Baker dress. 

Thanks for visiting!! 

Have a great week....

xoxo AAJ

reflecting on 2017, MY THANK YOU TO YOU.

As I reflect back on 2017, I realize how grateful I am to YOU.

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THANK YOU FOR VISITING THIS SITE and generously contributing ideas. I'm especially grateful for your recent comments some of you left on this post HERE: you really inspired me to want to write more on the blog. You also sparked great ideas for the column in Soap Opera Digest for 2018. Thank you! I hope to make this a fun endeavor for all of us. 

THANK YOU FOR ENGAGING ON SOCIAL MEDIA. I enjoyed live tweeting with you all during my first day back on General Hospital, the Lifetime movie, and the Christmas movie. It’s fun to get to go back and forth with you all during an air show. I consider this a privilege to get to be on your screens at home.  Hoping 2018 brings more opportunities to engage and (hopefully) entertain you.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENTHUSIASM with the line of soaps I’m hoping to continue. I appreciate your comments in the post HERE and DMs! 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY. YOU all are inspiring. Getting to chat with some of you who called in to donate to the Red Cross for Houston was an honor. I sat next to Maurice Barnard for part of that time and we were overwhelmed by the response. As many of you know, my hometown of Houston was flooded beyond anything anyone could imagine. My grandparents’ house was ruined. My uncle’s house is gone… aunt and uncle’s dental business had to be rebuilt from ground up. I could go on and on about extended family and friends. It makes you reevaluate what really is important.  

Then, Los Angeles felt your support and prayers during the recent fires. I am only discussing tragedies that affected me personally…. the hardships of 2017 around the country and the world are too vast and deep for me to attempt to discuss them all.  How heartwarming it is to see people rally around each other… to those of you that are still recovering from 2017 hardships, may 2018 be a year of renewal and prosperity. 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR WISHES. When we moved into our first home as a family earlier this year, your well wishes were appreciated. Nothing makes me feel happier and more accomplished than when my husband and kids seem happy in our new home, but it takes a long time to get settled! And your wishes when our children celebrated their 1st and 5th birthdays. When I met my stepson Huck, he was just a little bigger than Hayden. Now, he’s a backpack wearing, money counting, video playing smart little kindergartener. And Hayden… he learns a new word everyday. He takes things apart and figures out how to put them back together (he is his father’s son). He got his passport in 2017, too! And THANK YOU to those of you that tirelessly coordinated the greatest birthday gift for me: donating an incredibly generous amount to Step Up Women's Network, an organization near and dear to me. I'm still speechless! 

Looking ahead, I’m making some spiritual, personal and professional goals right now. Do you all make lists of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year? If you feel like sharing, I think it’s a great way to hold ourselves accountable. I’ll be posting some of mine in the next few days. Still finishing up the list;) Maybe you’ll be inspired to share with me? God Bless. And Happiest of Years ahead.