Friday Friendspiration is all about living a life you love, within the life you have been given.
Today’s Friday Friendspirer, Jolie Williams Augustine, does just that.
This is Jolie girl to me: the totally COOLEST girl ever. See, I met Jolie when I was in 5th grade, and she was dating my big brother, at the end of their senior year. When you’re 11 – well, let’s be honest – anyone older is cooler than you. So, when I moved out to LA in 2000, and discovered that Jolie lived out here, I was eager to see if her “coolness” had, well, kept.
I have been friends with Jolie for over 15 years now – going from a puppy-like girl, just wanting to impress her (as one of my big brother’s old girlfriends), to a fellow woman who admires this beautiful (editor’s note: Jolie would never refer to herself as “beautiful,” but I think it’s fine time she accepts the truth), fun, free-spirited, thoughtful, generous, music-loving, and, yes – COOL – woman, who lives in this same crazy world of Los Angeles that I do.
A teacher, she has taught me so much – not in a classroom – but through heartfelt conversations, musings over mimosas, and dozens of hours spent boogeying down to our favorite bands. That’s probably my favorite thing about Jolie: she’s always up to dance with you at a show, like all good Texan girls should be.
I’m so privileged to be on this journey together with her.
That’s Jolie girl in my words.
But, this is Jolie girl in her own words.
May her love of life, giving heart, spontaneous spirit – and perpetual willingness to dance – sing some music into your life, today.
The Friendspirer: Jolie Williams Augustine
Creating space. I live in Los Angeles, and have been teaching in public schools for 20 years, and recently took a two-year break for various reasons. I am very good at “keeping with the program” and life threw me some curve balls these past 2 years. The loss of my parents left a weirdly-shaped hole in my heart. I recently saw these words: “Instead of asking why they left, now ask, what beauty will I create in the space they no longer occupy?” Whoa. Parents take up a very significant space. So with them being gone and taking time off, life has felt a bit unnerving – and very peaceful – but also has made me ask myself “what do I want to do with this time – and, essentially – my life?” This answer is a work in progress, as we all are.
On the “glamour” of teaching. I have enjoyed the lifestyle teaching has given me, which includes: watching teenagers feel awkward, making them laugh…and listening to them, making music playlists (see link to her playlist gift to you at bottom), and playing music in class, read and discuss literature and most importantly, yes, time for travel and breaks. Working with teenagers is far from glamorous, and there is no room for ego or perfection. Parents and teachers know this and I have decided that working with young people, although humbling, is also a profound gift, and the rewards are subtle but many. One of these is pictured below. A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it’s nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!
On wanderlust: cool things will follow. I have bit of a wanderlust and thankfully, my husband of 17 years tolerates my wishes to go somewhere or come along and make it an adventure. Yes, I love hotels and massages but I would much rather go somewhere where I don’t know where to go, maybe the people don’t speak english and cool things will follow. It know that most people my age do have tremendous responsibilities but some have lost the willingness (and maybe have fear?) to try something new, go somewhere different or meet new people. Thankfully, I have a small group of friends who do enjoy going to music festivals. YES, the average age is 15 at these festivals, but there is something exciting for me in seeing new music OUTDOORS, walking around and watching all the people. Most people my age cringe at the thought. I guess my friends and I have found a way to keep it simple, be comfortable, stay hydrated! and still get our groove on.
Keeping creatively inspired & California love. I have found that meeting new people, going to new places, and getting out of my comfort zone has kept me creatively inspired. I find new restaurants, music, books and places that I may never have found before. I don’t get wrapped up in details of things (maybe, that’s not a good thing?) but I know that especially today, people have appreciated my commitment to having fun and getting things done. I tend to make music playlists for people I have just met and will take up an offer for a visit. I love showing people around the city and California. Visits to a Korean spa,hiking, eating our way to Joshua Tree, Boyle Heights, the beach and Idylwild are all on the itinerary. All the stressing and freaking out about the small things get you nowhere. Read any book by Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott, Jenny Lawson, Mary Karr, or Joan Didion and you will know this is true. Throw in David Sedaris, Sherman Alexie and Augusten Burroughs and you have my humorous life teachers.
Little sisters and homeboys. I spent the past year volunteering at Homeboy Industries, a gang rehabilitation organization, as a GED teacher and it reaffirmed my passion for teaching and connecting with people. I’ve lived in LA for 20 years and I have grown to really love and appreciate the good and bad of LA. It is very easy to separate oneself in LA based on neighborhoods and jobs but I have found the beauty being with people who make up a very significant part of LA and California and are generally overlooked. I have also been a part of the Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program for 7 years. I met my ‘little sis” when she was 11. It has been challenging at times to know how to help but sometimes I just need to know a visit to a bookstore, museum, a walk or getting ice-cream with someone can be just the thing needed.
Dear 15 Me. I know that when I was 15-years-old (see evidence above), I probably wouldn’t have listened to advice from my 44-year-old self. I was having too much fun thinking of boys and listening to Duran Duran. But I would share:
1. Be kind to the kids people make fun of.
2. Live in a a foreign country once in your life.
3. You’ll find a boyfriend. Don’t worry.
4. Salads are actually good. Put down the Doritos.
5. Keep having fun even when you get older.
Jolie’s gift to you. Our first friendspirer to offer a gift to our readers, Jolie wanted to share her “Feel It” Spotify playlist with you all, HERE. As someone who has been introduced to numerous bands and countless songs by this music aficionado, I can say that it truly is a gift…so OPEN IT UP !
Thanks for the friendspiration, Jolie. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.