Friday Friendspiration: Jolie Williams Augustine

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.

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

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.

It had.

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.

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

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.

The world according to Jolie

The world according to Jolie

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!

 

* 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!

* 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.

Jolie, getting her groove on

Jolie, getting her 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.

 

Jolie and her "little sis" from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

Jolie and her “little sis” from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

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. 

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn't have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn’t have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

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.

***Editor’s Note:
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 !

For you!! Jolie's "Feel It" playlist on Spotify

For you!! Jolie’s “Feel It” playlist on Spotify

Thanks for the friendspiration, Jolie. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.

Jolie and Rosie

Jolie and Rosie

xoxo,
Dawn

 

Make A Difference This Holiday Season: Donate to No Kid Hungry

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But, to me, it’s not because of the holiday decor, or the presents under the tree, or even all the free-flowing hot cocoa and sugar cookies. No, when the holiday season rolls around, I love to see the giving spirit that takes hold of everyone.

As someone who has made it my mission to leave a kinder, more generous footprint on the world, I am asked a lot how people can help make their own difference in their corner of the world.

Well, this holiday season, there is one simple way you can do just that, and make a profound difference in the world, and in the lives of children: donate to No Kid Hungry.

Right now, there are children in your community who are struggling with hunger, on a daily basis. These kids need someone they can count on. When you support No Kid Hungry today, that someone can be you.

In a country as wealthy as ours, there’s no reason even one child should go hungry. Yet there are millions of kids who are struggling right now. Rather than concentrating on the political question of why it’s happening, take action now, and ask one simple question, “HOW can I help?”

For every $10 dollars you donate, No Kid Hungry will provide up to 100 meals for a child who is still facing hunger. And you can help us raise enough to provide 10 million more meals for kids across America who need help.

Jeff Bridges, No Kid Hungry’s national spokesperson, says it best with this video, in which he shares a brief, powerful message about the lives of children in need, and the simple way that anyone can help.

 

As a No Kid Hungry ambassador, I took a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, last April, to visit the kids and staff at Owl Creek Elementary. I left forever changed, seeing – and hearing about, firsthand – the difference that No Kid Hungry is making in this school, and so many more, all over America.

With the kindergartners at Owl Creek Elementary. Their smiles and personality shined all during our breakfast together, thanks to No Kid Hungry

With the kindergartners at Owl Creek Elementary. Their smiles and personality shined all during our breakfast together, thanks to No Kid Hungry

Kristen Scott, principal of Owl Creek Elementary told me that the implementation of breakfast in the classroom, thanks to funding from No Kid Hungry, has led to a marked decrease in: 1) Kids going to the nurse’s office 2) Kids going to the sociaworker’s office because of hunger-related issues, and 3) Kids being sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary measures.

Often when we give, we aren’t able to see the tangible results that our donations make. But, through the efforts of No Kid Hungry, we will see the results, every time a kid a kid is able to focus while taking a test, thanks to breakfast in the classroom. We will see the results when kids graduate high school, because studies have shown that children who eat breakfast are more likely to do so. And, we will see results every time a kid goes to school, with completed homework in hand, because his/her belly was full, and was able to concentrate, while studying at home.

You can be the difference that produces such results.

Give from the heart this holiday season, and give what you can.

Give from the heart this holiday season, and give what you can.

Please give whatever you can this holiday season.

They’re counting on you.

xoxo,
Dawn

*For more info on how you can donatehost a bake sale, attend a No Kid Hungry fundraising culinary event, or get involved with No Kid Hungry, please visit the No Kid Hungry site.

Good News: I’m proud to announce that I’m the Official Spokesperson of Unite4Good

 

I'm so proud to announce that I am the new official spokesperson of u4g!! I feel like Glinda, as I now officially get to encourage people to live kinder lives.

I’m so proud to announce that I am the new official spokesperson of u4g!! I feel like Glinda, as I now officially get to encourage people to live kinder lives.

Today on this Giving Tuesday, as I prepare to attend the UNICEF Snowflake Ball here in New York tonight, I am proud & honored to announce that I have been asked to be the official spokesperson for Unite4Good.

Unite4Good is an organization that encourages all people, brands, businesses and celebrities to do good, thus leaving a kinder footprint on the earth, due to their passions, actions and efforts.

So much exciting news ahead with these guys, but for now, I just have to say, that my dream of becoming Glinda the good witch has finally come true in a way, as I now get to officially encourage people to be kind, and reward them for doing so! 🙌 🙌

I’m so excited to take this journey of kindness and goodness with you all!

#unite4good

Yours kindly,
Dawn

Honored To Attend: The 2015 No Kid Hungry Heroes Dinner in Beverly Hills

Never prouder than when I get to stand as an ambassador with my No Kid Hungry family.

Never prouder than when I get to stand up against childhood hunger, as an ambassador for No Kid Hungry

Never prouder than when I get to stand up against childhood hunger, as an ambassador for No Kid Hungry

Tonight, I got the honor of getting to taste many a fancy food from many a fancy LA restaurant at the fancy Four Seasons in the fancy city of Beverly Hills, being seated next to many fancy people.

But the real honor was getting to join No Kid Hungry in Arkansas in April, where I had the opportunity to learn all about the efficacy & impact of breakfast in schools. I learned that when breakfast is served in schools in the classroom, visits to the nurse’s office, visits from social welfare and absences are reduced by 75%. SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT!! 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry, I can’t even function, let alone learn what I’m being told to learn and be civil. Thank you, No Kid Hungry for keeping our kids fed so that they can be fueled so that they can flourish. Love & appreciate you, Shore family & Share Our Strength.

I’m doing this for my father, who grew up in a home with teen parents in Eagletown, Oklahoma, who often went to school with his belly empty, and was helped to get that belly and mind full, by many a kind stranger, so that he could later go on to graduate high school and college, armed with a dream, to become a success story in Dallas, Texas.

Breakfast – and kind souls – makes dreams dreams come true.

Period.

Be that kind soul.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Photo ℅ David Livingston/Getty Images

Photo ℅ David Livingston/Getty Images

 

xoxo,
Dawn

Stars for breakfast..while feeling like a star

Stars for breakfast, with a side helping of feeling like a star, thanks to the ladies of the Dress For Success Going Places Network.

Stars for breakfast, with a side helping of feeling like a star, thanks to the ladies of the Dress For Success Going Places Network.

Stars for breakfast!

I gotta admit – I was feeling like a star myself this morning as I was multi-tasking to the extreme – sneaking bites of star toast in between working on a piece about accomplishing your goals, rolling calls and finalizing details for an interview with one of my life icons, tomorrow.

Then, I looked to the right of my laptop, and there were the kind & inspiring words from my @DFSwest ladies – and stars, themselves – yesterday. It was almost too much for this l’il heart of mine to take!

At each of my smaller speaking engagements, I create a “Feel Good Wall,” with the name of each guest on the top of a sheet of paper. Their fellow guests write below each name their positive first impressions of the person, glowing attributes of the person that they think they should know, and any positive thoughts of that person that come to mind.

It’s all about giving each guest a tangible piece of love, kindness and confidence that they can take home with them, and look at when they need it most. 💗🌟

xoxo,
Dawn

 

On The Board: Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni Association

At the LA Kappas Kickoff Brunch with my fellow board members, co-president, Mikey (right) and treasurer, Nuphar.

Ok, confession: I was not the most active sorority girl.

Just ask my Kappa house roommates.

While a Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Texas at Austin, I was actively pursing an acting career, withdrew in the middle of my junior semester (with my dean’s approval & much to my parents’ chagrin) to be a “Player’s Wife” in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, was dating a producer 7 years older, was appearing in commercials you never saw, and even took 25 hours of classes to graduate in 3 1/2 years (which had to happen or my professor parents would have KILLED me for leaving that one semester).

So, to perhaps make up for my lackluster college participation, I was honored to be asked to be on the board of the LA Kappas Alumni Association, as Philanthropy Chair.

I’m looking forward to encouraging as many women as possible to get involved with the charities I work with currently, and many more.

If you work with a charity and would like to partner with Kappa, send me a message, and if you’re a Kappa living in LA, and would like to join the Kappa alum fun, hit me up.

Loyally, Dawn 🔺

‘Tails: Dress: @Forever21 (coachella 2014, baby! @jennifercchan @rocuriel)

Hair: @beautybyninfa

xoxo,
Dawn

Mistaken Adventures Are The Best Kind Of Adventures…

Sometimes mistaken adventures are the best kind of adventures...

Sometimes mistaken adventures are the best kind of adventures…

I have many a golden Lindsey memory that shine in my mind: late night parties with giant stuffed teddy bears and an impromptu Bill Withers dance party at the Lyric Theatre on a weeknight rank high.

But, this was the first one where we set off on a mistaken adventure and ended up bathed in golden light at sunset in a pumpkin patch on a farm.

Bathed in the harvest glow.

Bathed in the harvest glow.

 

Yes, I got the date wrong (SO wrong) on the charity dinner for my beloved Max Love Project, so my dear friend, Lindsey Vaerst and I drove all the way to Tanaka Farms in Irvine, only to find out that it’s…wait for it…in OCTOBER!! Ahhh. Didn’t even get the day right! (It’s October 24th NOT September 26th and tickets can be bought HERE for $150/person.)

Some might be frustrated or feel that a 3-hour round trip down the 405 is wasted time. Not us. We laughed. Oh, how we laughed! And then we took a picture, bathed in that gorgeous dusk light, to mark the moment – as though we could ever forget!

#MercuryRetrogradeIsReal #HonestLovesMax

Friday Favorites: High-Fiving My Dream Team, Good Carma Studio

Celebrating a High-Five circle with the best team ever (Good Carma Studio) at The District in LA, after the No Kid Hungry Influencers Brunch I hosted.

Celebrating a High-Five circle with my dream team – and the best team ever (Chrissy and Melissa of Good Carma Studio) – at The District in LA, after the No Kid Hungry Influencers Brunch I hosted.

Today’s fave? A picture that was captured as I was high-fiving my dream team, also known as Good Carma Studio, after our No Kid Hungry Influencers Brunch on Wednesday. (*Please Note: Blog post to come)

While it was a truly stunningly beautiful affair, I am even more proud that it was an event – full of heart – that accomplished what we set out to do: get out the word about childhood hunger and breakfast in our schools.

I am so thankful to have a team that works as hard as I do. Trust is EVERYTHING to me and I trust these women implicitly.

Chrissy Kling & Melissa Wallace, you are gifts—and you produce the best events to boot!!!

Again, special thanks to our sponsors Tyson Foods, Kellog’s and Citi for all you do to help eradicate childhood hunger in America.

xoxo,
Dawn

Make It Count Monday: Wear A Shirt To Spin Class & Help Out A Charity

Partied with Walk With Sally Saturday night, and advocated today.

Helping out a charity can be as simple as buying a shirt or hat, and wearing it to your spin class…like I did here with my Walk With Sally tank at SoulCycle

Helping out a charity can be as simple as buying a shirt or hat, and wearing it to your spin class…like I did here with my Walk With Sally tank at SoulCycle

And, all I had to do was throw on a shirt. Did you know that you can help a nonprofit simply by taking an Instagram picture of you wearing one of their apparel pieces? This afternoon, I hit @SoulCycle Beverly Hills (to try to balance out some of that shrimp’n’grits & biscuits I had earlier today at @HandtheH, AND the pasta dinner I had last night), and sported my new #WalkWithSally tank I picked up yesterday for $25. See, doing good, giving back and paying it forward doesn’t have to be just about volunteering or giving money, it can be about increasing awareness, too. Nonprofits depend on it. 3 new people found out about WWS today, thanks to this tank. So spend a few bucks, look sporty for your spin class, and get the word out about your favorite non-profit. Done and done. #DreamItDoItDone – See more at: http://iconosquare.com/viewer.php#/detail/1058274151935095772_29991131

Stepping Up: The 12th Annual Step Up Inspiration Awards at the Beverly Hilton

Dawn McCoy  (ummm…me) at the 12th Annual  Step Up Inspiration Awards at the Beverly Hilton

Dawn McCoy (ummm…me) at the 12th Annual Step Up Inspiration Awards at the Beverly Hilton

Have I mentioned how much I love Step Up? I know, I know. I have – and have again.

The stars of Step Up with star, Lea Michele. Their lights all shine equally bright!

The stars of Step Up with star, Lea Michele. Their lights all shine equally bright!

The Step Up logo is more than just a logo…it's a mantra.

The Step Up logo is more than just a logo…it’s a mantra.

But it’s just because that’s how deeply it lives in my heart, and impacts my everyday life. I was introduced to Step Up by my best friend, actress Sarah Jane Morris 3 years ago, and I quickly became a member, changing my life  – and my heart – for the better.

My best friend, Sarah Jane Morris, & I at the 12th annual Step Up Inspiration Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, June 5th, 2015.

My best friend, Sarah Jane Morris, & I at the 12th annual Step Up Inspiration Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, June 5th, 2015.

This past Friday, June 5th, 2015 was my second year to attend the Step Up Inspiration Awards – and their 12th year of hosting this awards luncheon, so full of heart.

But this year, I didn’t just attend as a guest, I was also honored to be the announcer of the show – or as they call it – their “Voice of God.”

Are you there, God? It's me, Dawn.

Are you there, God? It’s me, Dawn.

And yes, you can call me that from now on. I’m kidding. Kinda.

Behind the scenes action at the Inspiration Awards. Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Behind the scenes action at the Inspiration Awards. Generated by IJG JPEG Library

No, it really was a dream come true, and not just because it was the first time I had been the announcer at an awards show.

That's me. Always straddling the line between talent and press. Literally.

Being interviewed on the red carpet. That’s me. Always straddling the line between talent and press. Literally. I mean, we took down the rope so we could do interviews for #Dear15Me.

As I sat there with 850 others in the room, feeling my own dream come to life, I got to hear the stories of dreams coming true for so many others, including Julie Bowen…

The ridiculously impressive - and kind - Julie Bowen. Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

The ridiculously impressive – and kind – Julie Bowen. Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Cristela Alonzo…

Our charming emcee - and my fellow Texan (holla!) , Cristela Alonzo.

Our charming emcee – and my fellow Texan (holla!) , Cristela Alonzo.

Lea Michele…

The lovely Lea Michele at the Step Up Inspiration Awards. Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

The lovely Lea Michele at the Step Up Inspiration Awards. Generated by IJG JPEG Library

honoree Peter Kim of Hudson Jeans…

Honoree, Peter Kim, CEO of Hudson Jeans, as photographed by Amy Tierney

Honoree, Peter Kim, CEO of Hudson Jeans, as photographed by Amy Tierney

and honoree, actress & director, Elizabeth Banks.

Honoree, Elizabeth Banks, as photographed by Felix Salzman

Honoree, Elizabeth Banks, as photographed by Felix Salzman

But, I also got to see the girls of Step Up, whose dreams are coming true – like honoree Maria – simply by being able to graduate high school and attend college, thanks to Step Up, so that they can pursue their dreams.

Step Up Honoree, senior Maria Soto. This girl is everything we wish we were at that age!

Step Up Honoree, senior Maria Soto. This girl is everything we wish we were at that age!

 

Step Up believes all girls should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, and the Inspiration Awards raises 55% of the funds Step Up needs to serve its Los Angeles community for one year. Know how much we raised this year? Over $400,000!! We went well past our goal of $75,000!

Speaking of raising money, I have never seen anyone in entertainment work so hard (while being SO adorable and full of heart) as Modern Family’s Julie Bowen did, while trying to raise that money. I wish I could say every celebrity put this much heart into their work with charities!

I've always really, really liked Julie Bowen, but after seeing her work her heart out? I can honestly say that I LOVE this woman!!

I’ve always really, really liked Julie Bowen, but after seeing her work her heart out? I can honestly say that I LOVE this woman!!

It was a day that I will always will remember, not just because I was surrounded by the most talented people with the most generous of hearts, but because for the first time, I actually could count myself as one of them. Thank you for letting me be a very small part of the magic, Step Up.

So incredibly honored to be in this company. Wow.

So incredibly honored to be in this company. Wow.

Memories like those never die.

 

xoxo,
Dawn