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I have a confession to make: I hate the gym. 

I know, I know....you're probably thinking: "Duhhh Lindsay, I hate the gym too! The elliptical is the devil, the treadmill should just be called a human hamster wheel, and the stench of un-deodorized armpits basically makes breathing while working out impossible. But, if you want to look good, you got to go to the gym. Right?"

WRONG.

Going to the gym is not the only way to get and stay fit. Heck, a few decades ago people didn't have Gold's Gym and/or Bally Fitness mini card thingys dangling on their key chains, and guess what: they were skinnier then than our "gym loving" generation is now! But let's get real for a hott second. The reason I stopped going to the gym a year or so ago had nothing to do with my physical health. I quit the gym for my mental health--for mental sanity.

You see, for me, going to the gym was not about battling my brain with a "you can do it, just one more mile" motivator. Instead, it was about battling my brain with an "it's okay, they aren't staring at you" calmer-downer of sorts. Now, to some degree, this is obviously an amalgamation of my "everyone is watching" imagination. No the gym is not like big brother where the fitness gods watch your every stairmaster step, however if you're like me and don't like it when people are all up in your business, then perhaps taking a non-gym approach to physical fitness is for you, too.

So, how does one stay fit sans gym membership? Here are four of my favorite "I hate the gym" tips and tricks...

-ONE-
Home is where the "health" is...? Whether it's taking a walk in your neighborhood, or climbing the kazillion steps in your apartment building's stairwell, you can easily find alternative ways to stay active while staying close to home.

-TWO-
Speaking of staying at home, fitness DVDs are a semi-entertaining, cardiotastic blessing. Whether you team up with Billy Blanks or a calming yogi, taking a fitness class at home is not only great because you can do so in your pajamas, but also because you can press pause whenever you need to take a water break. Win, win. 

-THREE-
When you get home from work and turn on the television, instead of just plopping down on the couch and staring into space during the commercials, try doing crunches, push-ups, stretching, etc. The second your favorite show cuts to commercial, get off the couch and start cranking out the crunches until the commercial break is over. Then, during the next commercial break, try doing push-ups (the girly kind do count). Keep alternating until the show you're watching is through. Either you'll build muscle or stop watching tv. Again--win, win.

-FOUR-

If all else fails, parade around in your workout gear. Perhaps you'll eventually be motivated to do the activity said clothing was intended for. If not, no worries. Workout clothes are the socially accepted form of adult sweatpants. Wear with "yes I look like I work out" pride.
 
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In the midst of back-to-back weekend company, I thought TLM’s home and décor ought to be about company survival guidelines. 

This past weekend one of my dearest friends came to visit. I was so excited to share with her my new home, area hot spots, and fun activities that I enjoy here in the sunshine state! So, below is my list of what you need to do to prepare for company to ensure a stress-free, pleasurable weekend for all!

1.     Make a list. I love lists. My dad taught me to make lists, and I am happy to say that my daughter, Lindsay, makes lists. The best part and the most satisfaction comes from crossing off what you have completed.  

Okay so what do you put on the list and how is the list created? Let’s begin 7 days prior to the arrival of your guest(s). Using your computer, I Pad, or a steno pad (a favorite of mine) divide up several pages with each day of the week. Under each day, list what you need to get done. An example might be: bake cake, buy flowers, get ironing done, clean house, vacuum, food shop, cook and freeze dinners, etc. Whatever your list may include, jot it down under each day where you think it is best to get these tasks accomplished pre-guest visitation along with your daily routine.  



2.     Baking and cooking items in advance (a month or so ahead of time) and then freezing them will not only reduce stress, but allow you to enjoy your time with your company rather than worry about what you’re going to make for the next meal. And, while not everything can be made in advance, the fact is it sure does help. Trust me when I tell you that, six weeks after I moved into my new home less than a year ago, I had 16 family and friends ascend on my husband and I for the week of Thanksgiving. It was a fabulous weekend but, without my preplanned meals, I have a feeling it might not have been as easy and fun. Speaking of easy, part of this idea of “cooking ahead” also includes “ordering ahead.” Knowing that our family is full of bread lovers, I made sure that, the week before Thanksgiving, I had ordered an array of breads from my local grocery store’s bakery. This way, I didn’t have to concern myself with whether or not the bakery would be out of the kinds of breads I like/needed. I might also add that, by pre-ordering, I was able to send my husband to pick up said bread orders without having to worry that he’d get the wrong thing. Sneaky success!



3.     Remember that the best intended plan will generally necessitate improvisation. In other words, be ready for things to go wrong, and don’t get disappointed when things change. Instead, go with the flow and have backups. Whether you had planned to go out for a meal and ended up eating in, keep a few easy meals that can be quickly substituted and prepared. An example for a quick lunch or dinner could be either fresh tortellini, ravioli, and/or manicotti (that you throw in the freezer yourself) or just a box of pasta you have sitting in your pantry for emergency purposes. It’s also a good idea to keep a jar or two of good marinara on hand.  Add a tossed salad, some grated parmesan and bingo—a great, easy meal. 

Other planned events may get rearranged as well. Maybe you thought your company was going to go play miniature golf on Saturday afternoon since it was supposed to be sunny. But, if the weather just won’t cooperate, go to the movies or be prepared at home with scrabble, monopoly, a deck of cards and/or a few DVDs.



4.     The guest room is where your company retreats.  You want their space to be comfortable and nice. White sheets are lovely, look crisp, and best of all, can be bleached! Two sets of pillows are wonderful (down and down alternative). Likewise, a cotton blanket for the summer months and a down/down alternative blanket for the winter months is also a nice touch. Oh, and just like the sheets, white towels are also great because they too can be bleached. 

Should you want to add a few extra touches, here is what I would recommend: a few books on the night stand or a couple of magazines you are finished with so your guests have some reading material for down time, two bottles of water (at room temperature so you don’t get condensation rings on your furniture), and a few granola bars or other shelf stable snacks are a great thing to leave in their room. Sometimes your company feels awkward asking for food if it’s not mealtime, so leaving these things in their room takes away any awkward factor. 

Other tips? Try and keep the dresser doors and closet as empty as possible. There’s nothing worse than your company not having anywhere to store their clothes.  Besides, it is likely that any clothes stored in a guest room are items you have not worn in over a year. If this is the case, donate these items. Chances are you are not going to wear them and someone else could probably really use them. It’s a two for one. You feel great about cleaning out a closet and someone else will be happy to have clothes!



5.     The bathroom your guests will use should have a few items to lend a hand to forgotten items. Having these few items either in a basket or already in the drawers waiting for them will eliminate you digging through your linen closet at an improper time. Items to have in your basket include: two toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, a few bandages, razors for both men and women, shaving cream, travel size soap (I toss them after my guests leave), lotion, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner, a hairdryer, comb, tissues, extra toilet paper, Chap Stick and sunscreen. 



6.     The last bit of advice I have to offer today is something I not only use with company, but I use in general. Get a three ring binder, 8 ½ X 11 plastic pages as well as 8 ½ X 11 plastic business card holders.  Collect the menus and business cards from your favorite restaurants along with pamphlets of some local sightseeing attractions, shopping malls, close by nail salons and the like. I generally place the business cards in the front, menus in the middle, and then the pamphlets last. This is a great go to notebook you will pull out time and time again and perhaps use yourself next time you enjoy a day/night off.


Remember, your perfectly planned weekend might not (and usually doesn’t) turn out exactly how you might have planned. But, being prepared surely reduces the stress that having company can place on you, the host/hostess.  So, get prepared even if you aren’t expecting company…when the company calls and says, “we’re coming to visit” you will be ready, excited, and completely stress-free!


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It's official. For the next two months or so, the BF and I will be LDLs (i.e. long distance lovers). As someone who has been in a long distance relationship before, I can tell you that "distance does not always make the heart grow fonder." In fact, distance can make two people grow apart. That said, I believe the latter only takes place if the two people involved aren't truly committed to making it work. In other words, you and your LDL better be on the same page in regards to your plan for "project: we will make this work." Nevertheless, this is obviously much easier said than done. 

So, what's a girl to do when in need of some LDL guidance? Ask an expert. 

Enter my friend/confidant/and expert LDL-er: Jenna.



TLM: How long have you been in a long distance relationship?

J: Me and my hubster-to-be have been LDLs for over 2 years now. He lives in Chicago, and I live in DC.


TLM: How did you and your hubster-to-be {I'm calling him your HTB} wind up in a long distance relationship?

J: It's definitely been a learning curve. We started out at Northwestern together, graduated, and then he got a job in Chicago while I got my dream job on the hill. As much as I wanted to be near my bf, I also knew that I'd regret not pursuing my career. Thankfully, the hubster-to-be was 100% supportive. 


TLM: Clearly you've made this whole long distance thing work seeing how you two are engaged. How do you do it?

J: It's definitely been a learning curve. As you mentioned though, you and your significant other need to make a plan, and then both try your hardest to stick to that plan. That way no one feels as though they have been forgotten about.


TLM: Can you give us your top 5 "this is how to make a long distance relationship work" pointers?

J: Well, it's different for every couple, but this is what I would tell anyone entering into LDL land...

1. Respect each others' work lives and schedules. Just because you call your bf doesn't mean that he can answer the phone and chat your ear off for hours. It also doesn't mean that he doesn't want to chat with you. He does. He just can't...because he is WORKING!
   
2. It is important to plan out your phone/skype/gchat/email time. It's crucial that you do this because this way you both know when exactly you get to speak to each other next. Trust me when I tell you that counting down the minutes until you talk to your honey bunny on the phone is a lot easier emotionally then just waiting for a random phone call or whatever other form of communication you prefer. 
   
3. Other than planning time to talk, it's also important to surprise one another with unexpected texts, emails, and all of the above. While these surprises should not be looked at as a replacement for the planned time, they should be looked at as loving gestures that take the place of what would otherwise be an in-person unexpected kiss, surprise dinner out, or whatever you two usually do for each other.
   
4. You may prefer email over snail mail, but sending a card, letter, and/or package to your significan other never goes unnoticed. It's an unexpected way to show your love for your out-of-town lover.
   
5. Make sure you express your love for each other--verbally! You might be used to showing your love in ways other than your words, but when you aren't seeing each other on a daily basis, you have to resort to showing your love in a way that you know will 100% be received. Personally, I know that if I didn't hear the HTB say "I love you" to me every night before I go to bed, I wouldn't feel as secure as I do in our relationship.

Are you and your bf LDLs? Tell TLM how you two make it work by emailing us at Lindsay@TheLifeMuse.com
Your suggestions might just end up on a future TLM LOVE + RELATIONSHIPS post.

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We've all heard of the standard "two drink limit" rule. You know, the one that suggests that those 21 and older only indulge in, at most, two alcoholic beverages in one sitting as a means of  maintaining some sort of self-composure. Well, I'm here to tell you that, sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. No, I'm not saying you should go out and get plastered (seriously though, that's not attractive!). Instead, I am telling you to learn to drink within your own "I can't walk in a straight line, let alone walk at all" limits.

Personally speaking, I am the world's lightest lightweight. Basically I just look at beer and I am hammered. NOT EVEN KIDDING. Back in my "I go to college so I have to party" days, I used to try and chug beers and take shots like the rest of my friends, but in the back of my mind, I knew I didn't like it. I knew that that one extra shot that Becca was pressuring me to down was going to lead to me being one drunk chick, in one sweaty bar, with one thought: do not puke

INSERT: message for all college girls... There are enough drunk chicks who are willing to down a dozen shots and act like a bimbo in order to "impress" the hott jock standing by the bar. Don't be that girl. You will only regret it in the morning when you wake up with a pounding headache, makeup smeared across your face, your pantyhose jumbled in a knot by your feet, and absolutely no recollection of your night. Just because your BFF Michelle says you can handle it, doesn't mean you really can...or that you should.

Nevertheless, drinking is a part of our social culture and a perk of adult life that can (and should) be enjoyed. That said, as a woman and as someone who likes to remain a mentally functioning human being come the next morning, I have learned that, while I can go out and have a margarita with dinner, I can't participate in day drinking activities that will leave me dizzy, dazed, and disturbingly confused. So, what's a lightweight lady such as myself (and perhaps yourself) to do? Live, learn, and abide by the LLR (also known as the liquid limit rule).

How LLR works:

1.) Set a liquid limit. 
The next few times you go out, try to remain cognizant of how you feel after every sip of every drink. I mean it. I can have one drink and be okay, but one drink and two sips, and I'm pretty much out. 

2.) Learn how to handle your biffle who should really be known as "Danielle the drink pressuring devil."
We all have those friends who, more than most, love to drink. While how much they drink is totally up to them, how much you drink is totally up to you! Don't let a friend pressure you into drinking more than you believe to be your ideal amount. 

3.) Make fun of yourself.
So, everyone around you is ordering a drink, but you would rather sip on a jack and coke minus the jack. How do you say no? Make them laugh. While self-deprecating humor is not exactly "healthy," using self-deprecating humor to get out of binge drinking is. I will even let you use my "I get drunk when I look at beer" line. I'm telling you, it works like a [sober] charm.

So, what have we learned? It's okay to not want to drink. Downing shots will NOT make that hottie with a body like you. It's important to know your "liquid limit." It's even more important to stay within said limit. Oh, and if all else fails,  just ask yourself: what would Lindsay do? Kidding...kinda.


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Going away for Memorial Day weekend isn't anything special. Going away for Memorial Day weekend with the BF to his parents' place however, is. Now, for the record, I've met the BF's parents a couple times, so nothing to really "worry" about in that regard. What I am worried about, other than the fact that I will probably have to pee several if not hundreds of times on the drive up to the concrete jungle (small bladder + I heart coffee syndrome), is my weekend wardrobe. It's one thing to dress up all cute in your regular life, but when it comes to fine tuning your wardrobe for potential in-law involved outings, the fashion rules must change. It is for this reason that today's post will discuss "PILAC," also known as "Potential In-Law Approved Clothing."
Rule #1: Avoid clothing that is susceptible to wardrobe malfunctions...

Yes that pink top you got at Fred Segal last week is the cutest thing in the world, and yes your boyfriend loves when you wear it because your tatas look phenomenal when adorned in barely-there silk, but when it comes to parentals (both his and yours), wearing a top that requires constant boob adjusting, shifting, and/or handling should be off limits. It's bad enough your boyfriend can't touch "the twins" all weekend, so don't lead them on with your own gentle, let me fix this stupid strapless bra, caresse. 


Rule #2: If something doesn't fit you right, don't wear it--at least not around the potential in-laws...

Truthfully, this rule is as simple as this: wearing ill-fitted clothing can make his parents think that your an ill-fitted girlfriend. Now, we all know you're the best one for your lover boy, but don't give his parents the chance to acquate your way too tight jeans with you being a way too inappropriate girlfriend.


Rule #3: The cardigan (i.e. "cardi") is your best friend. Bring multiples...

Now this fashion law from the land of TLM should not come as a surprise. It's important that you give your man's parents the impression that you are one classy son-of-a-bitch. Correction, daughter-of-a-bitch (minus the fact that your mother is not a bitch. She's quite a delight, actually). It is for this reason that, no matter what you choose to wear, you should always top the outfit off with a "look my shoulders are covered" cardigan. Black or grey will do, but extra points for wearing a colorful or printed cardi. It says to his parents: "I look swell, dress well, and am still fun to be around, if you couldn't tell." Glorious.

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We all know that, as women, we live for the day when our significant other gets down on one knee and pops the question. Yes it will be great to be wed till death do you part, but let's get real, it's the finger candy we females are after. Can you say, BLING! What?...every girl loves sparkles! 

Sparkle, sparkle. 

But what if I told you that your ring finger shouldn't be the only "region" to get some jewelry. What if I told you that your Queen Victoria needs a sparkle band, too. No, I'm not telling you to get ur cooch vajazzled. C'mon girls, you know less is more! Instead, I'm saying that when you go ring shopping, you should really go, ahem,ring shopping...as in, birth control ring. Yup, I went there.

Now, I know you're probably thinking, "ummm Lindsay, isn't this supposed to be a TLM Health post? What are you doing talking about diamonds, rings, and hoo-hahs?" Well, let's just say that I've taken it upon myself to become your virtual gyno for the day. Correction, your "virtual pharmacist." I just give facts, not prescriptions. Speaking of which, researchers from the Dominican Republic, Chile, Edinburgh, and the United States are all collaborating on studies for a new type of, wait for it, estrogen-free vaginal ring! 

Containing ullipristal acetate, the same drug found in the emergency contraceptive ella, this new ring is not only meant to prevent ovulation (i.e. future bambinos), but is also said to have other pleasant benefits such as lowered menstrual bleeding as well as zero estrogen-related side effects that we women have learned to "live with" (i.e. headaches, breast tenderness, etc). And, while this jewel of a scientific discovery is still in the early stages of development, I must say that, from the released facts, this new ring sounds like the makings of a birth control miracle. 

So happy the period gods heard my prayers. Amen.

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With this Memorial Day Weekend upon us, TLM’s Home and Décor is going outdoors. It’s time for getting that deck, patio, balcony, or lanai (if you live in Florida) geared up, cleaned up, and prepped for some summer fun and barbeques! 

Have you looked out your back door lately and “admired” that pathetic deck or patio of yours that is in desperate need of a facelift? The one you looked at last year and said “nah, it looks good enough to last one more year.” Okay, so this is the year! It is time to make your Home Depot list (or where ever you do your home fix-up shopping). 

Do you need a new barbeque? Is the cleanup project expanding into an outdoor kitchen, or covered area with a pergola or gazebo? While the majority of the east coast has hot and humid summers—and other areas are just so damn HOT—we still crave the outdoors, and why not. Most of us have just spent the last season dealing with snow, sleet, and cold miserable days…I said “most of us.” Me, I’ve just enjoyed a beautiful Florida winter with the sun shining…sorry!

So, what do you need to buy, rent, or tune up? First off, a power washer is a must have if you want your outdoor area to both look and be clean! The variety of quality in these machines is huge so here is the breakdown. PSI means pounds per square inch—this is for dirt removal. GPM is the gallons per minute—how fast the dirt gets washed away. CU is the cleaning units—what you get when you multiply the GPM by the PSI. Remember once the PSI has done its job, it’s the GPM that washes the dirt and grime away. All of this determines how long the job is going to take. Now that doesn’t mean you should buy or rent the most powerful machine because too powerful will wind up damaging the wood or siding you are planning to clean. Use this guideline taken from consumer reports as a comparison when you go shopping: 
  
Your garden hose has an average PSI of 40. Use a PSI of 1,000-1,600 for deck furniture; use 1,400-1,900 for a patio or small deck; 2,000-3,000 for a large deck; and 2,800-4,000 PSI for stained concrete. 
  
If you own a power washer and it’s not powerful enough to do the “heavy job” look into renting one. It might be the better option.

Okay so the foundation is clean, what’s next? How about the Barbeque…does it look “cooked?” If so, it may be time to get new guts and repaint with a heat resistant paint. Or, maybe just maybe you need a new one. If that’s the case, then there are lots of choices to be made. That said, if you go shopping today, many stores deliver and assemble your new grill by Saturday. Perfect timing! Now, if you are deciding between clean up or buying a new grill let me suggest that you add up the cost to refurbish your old grill, as well as take into consideration the age of said grill. When too many years have gone by, it’s time to say “bye-bye” and go buy-buy a new one. The choice is yours. 

So, what to look for? The options are expansive: propane, gas hook up, charcoal, free standing, built in…you see where this is going. Once you’ve picked a basic model, then you can peruse the bells and whistles: built-in smokers, side sear burners, fryers, and so forth. (Warning: you can get a little crazy with all of the options. Stay focused on what you yourself will actually be using the grill for. For example, there is no need to “beef up” the grill with a fancy smoker if you don’t like the taste of smoked meat. Get it? Got it. Good!) 

As a designer, I have to say that Wolf and Subzero are my first choices in terms of best grill/fridge brands. Heck, I recommend them exclusively indoors and out to my clients because I believe in the product, its high quality, and master workmanship. However, if you’re not up for Wolf and Subzero (or you just gasped at the prices when you went to their website) then we still have a sh*t load of choices we can sift through. It seems that there are about fifteen or more brands of grills for all of you gas, charcoal, and smoker lovers out there. Weber has been around for what seems like forever and they offer an array of grilling choices. I have cooked many burgers, hotdogs, and chicken breasts on Weber grills and have been quite satisfied with their longevity and quality. Just remember, when shopping for any type of gas grill, you want to look at the BTU output. For those of you who are confused by the term BTU, let me tell you that it literally means “British Thermal Unit” and refers to the amount of heat a device, and in this case a grill, produces. The best way to determine that the grill you are looking at will put out the level of heat you want is to go with this rule of thumb: for each square inch of cooking (grilling) surface, the BTU’s should be 100. So if the grill had say 500 square inches of cooking surface then the BTU’s should be 50,000. Calculating this before you buy will mean a hotter grill, with a great heat output, and better tasting food! 

Now, once the grill situation is under control, it’s time to shift your thoughts to other outdoor cooking areas (i.e. an outdoor kitchen). An outdoor kitchen adds value to your home and is a great feature for your back yard. Many manufacturers these days actually sell premade outdoor kitchen units complete with a counter, faux stone walls, and a place for a refrigerator and the grill you just selected. PRESTO, you have an outdoor kitchen! This premade option is a really easy way to get the built in look…fast! And, if you lack a “handy husband” and you’ve been dreaming of an outdoor kitchen, this might just be the way to go. 

And now for the fun stuff: new cushions, throw pillows, an outdoor rug, lanterns with candles, plastic dinnerware, and assorted drinking glasses (and I don’t mean the ones that come in a box on the paper plate aisle in the grocery store. Let’s try to get away from the throw away kind and become more green. In the end you will save money and your kids will be happy that you are thinking about their future planet). Shopping for these fun and colorful accouterments always adds a splash of color and pizzazz. There are a multitude of stores that offer readymade, great quality outdoor cushions and such. Make sure the cushions and pillows are made of Sunbrella fabric. There are other fabric companies that produce fabric with the same chemical compound to give you the same results but on a retail store shopping scale your best bet and what you will find the most would be to look for the Sunbrella name. While you will have to spend a few extra bucks upfront, trust me when I tell you that it’s worth it as Sunbrella will provide years of wear…with no tear. Remember though, I do always suggest that you take in the when the forecast predicts a down pour. The same holds true at the end of the season. This helps to prolong the beauty of the fabrics.

Okay, now get out there and get ready for your Memorial Day Holiday. Catch the spirit and get cracking on your yard and deck to-do list(s) so you can relax and enjoy your new outdoor space come Monday. Fix up that backyard and get some burgers and dogs on the grill. Oh yeah, and save a medium-rare burger with cheddar for me!


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Have you ever felt like you tried your best, but no matter what you did, no matter what tactic of action you took, nothing could change the way a love-interest felt about you? Have you ever felt rejection? Ha…yeah, me too!

BALLZ! Yes, balls (as in "this kind of feeling sucks balls…").

Why does this suck so bad? It's because, for the most part, we as women tend to self-depreciate when it comes to male rejection. We compare ourselves to the other woman (and sometimes even other women…as in, multiple) that our "I-wish-you-would-love-me-back-guy" rejected us for. We think: 

How come I wasn't pretty enough?…accomplished enough?…skinny enough? Omg, wait! That gives me an idea. "Skinny enough," that's something I' can change. Being skinny. I'm going to start dieting this week and then he will see my Facebook pictures and want me back and, like, oh my Goshhh!! He will think "wtf am I missing out on!?!?" And of course, we'll obviously be bf/gf soon enough, bc I know what he wants in a woman, now... What he wants in me... 

Okay, whoa! PUMP THE BREAKS. First of all, break ups happen because people change. Take a minute to reflect. Who were you one year from today? Ask yourself these questions:

What did I do? 
Where did I live? 
Who did I surround myself with? 
How did I keep busy? 
Why did I act the way I did? 

Alright, good. Now look back five years, and ask yourself the same questions as listed above... Did you do it? Did you really answer all the questions above? If your answer is "yes," then I hope you were able to grasp the big picture and get it through that cute noggin of yours that: YOU have changed.

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As a recent 2012 college grad, I'm going to say that dealing with this type of stuff is practically f***ing impossible. But we know that no break up is easy (were those words even neccessary for me to type?!). In my opinion, break ups are generally an outlet to self-deprecate because of rejection. And because of rejection, self-deprecation becomes more excessive and, in turn, we women become more insecure. Newsflash: it should not be this way! 

I have witnessed many women who forget how beautiful they are as a person and feel victimized because of the way a man treated them in a relationship. And after the relationship has ended, they then put themselves down because another woman "took their role" as "girlfriend." I have one word for all of you women out there reading this and nodding your heads: NO! No, no, no, no, no. You (as in YOU) were his girlfriend for a moment in time, and that was great until you both evolved and developed into different people. In other words, it's not about physicalities or personalities. Truth is, it's about how your ex-significant other's goals and self-desires have changed. His brain is not on the same wave length as yours…anymore. Oh, and I promise you that if a guy broke up with you had thought you looked bad physically or had a bad personality, then he wouldn't have dated you in the first place. THAT is real sh*t.

Sadly, I think most women forget that and lure themselves into the land of negativity and "I'm not good enough." Even more unfortunate is the fact that because of all this we women experience sadness, depression, and/or anger, all of which are bad emotions that hold us back from what we aim to do in life. But if you eliminate the hurt of "being left" or not "being with the person who you love, who doesn't love you back", you open so many more doors. I know it's easier said than done, but if you brush off the "this sucks, why doesn't he love me, I'm not good enough" self-talk, then you will open yourself up to new opportunities…or a new man. This is because opening yourself up is freeing; you grow as an individual, eventually able to find yourself …and trust me, the closer you get to finding yourself, the closer you get to finding true, ever-lasting, meant to be love.

"Follow your heart and your gaze shall follow." - #NOTMYQUOTE 

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Open my Cynthia Rowley, cheetah print purse and you will find: my iPhone, keys, Calvin Klein wallet, ridiculous amounts of hand sanitizer, some mints, a pen, mini notepad, an assortment of band-aids, Burt's Bees lip balm, a random bobby pin or two, and an extra large tube of Cortizone cream (oh the joys of being allergic to almost every and anything). 

Now, for any girl reading this, I'm sure you're thinking that, other than the rash cream, this all seems pretty normal. Nothing out of the ordinary and probably very much inline with what you yourself tote around in your handbag.But what if I told you that, in total, my purse full of crap was worth $621.87. Don't believe me? Well I was shocked too when I first saw that number flash across my calculator's screen...especially since I got my purse for half off at TJMaxx! Come on, that at least saved me 200 bucks or so. At least!

Nevertheless, a recent article I read on the Fiscal Times website, and then again on Jezebel, cites our generation as not only material object whores, but broke-a$$ ones at that! And from my little purse experiment, I guess I have to say they're right. Seriously though, if you asked me to shell out $622 on a purse and all the bag-tastic sh*t that goes in it, I'd not only turn around and walk away, but I'd laugh in your face in the process. 

Now, I'm lucky enough to not have any debt or student loans that need paying back, but let's face it: at only 23 years old, my first priority should not be spending all my cash on a designer handbag and the accoutrements that go along with it. Instead I should be saving for my future; for a house, non-Ikea furniture, and all the expenses that come with having a family. Actually, come to think of it, I guess you could say that it's not future purchases I should be saving money for...it's the lifestyle that comes along with it. 

You see, the majority of us "millennials," as we have been so graciously labeled, were lucky enough to grow up with parents who, as expected, were able to "out-do" their parents. In other words, our parents were lucky enough to grow up in an era that allowed them to flourish and become the financially successful beings that they are today. Now, that's not to say that this economy hasn't hurt this situation (I know it hasn't helped), but all in all, during our respective childhoods, our parents were in good financial standing. In fact, it is because of said good standing that we as children grew up to be, for lack of a better word, spoiled! Really, we were. We didn't just have one or two dolls when we were little kids, we had a Tamagachi, ten different nintendo games, and 109 beanie babies. We didn't just come home after school and play in the street with friends, we had piano, ballet, and soccer practice to attend. And, when we were a little bit older, we didn't just have a single phone that lived in the kitchen, we had our own cell phones and laptop computers that were transportable, too.

Now, with all of that said, it seems to me as if our parents, our lovely parents who worked so hard to give us a better life, set us up to be spoiled "I want this" children--and now adults. I get that part of the growing up experience is working for your own fortune (something I try to do on a daily basis), but let's be honest: we never had "rough" lives. Everything we ever wanted was given to us on a silver platter...or on a platinum American Express card for that matter. This is not to say that we as a generation have not faced other facets of trauma, hardship, and the like. All I am saying is that there is an overt difference in the "I earned this" attitude towards materialistic objects of the past, versus our "I want this, I deserve it, give it to me now" mentality of the present. Most of our parents did not grow up with "stuff." They worked hard so they could get said stuff (and then give it to us) but they didn't need it. We, however, need it...not in the "if we don't have it we're going to die" sense, rather we need (i.e. want) stuff because living a life surrounded by stuff is the only way we know how! We were taught to enjoy materialism, not how to acquire it. 

So, what does this mean? Are we millennials screwed because our parents spoiled us? Not necessarily. In fact, it might have done the opposite.

Growing up, I had a very nice life (as in, I think my only complaint would be that my mom didn't buy me enough stickers on a regular basis--again, "want, want, want" mentality). That said, because I never had to worry as a kid, so to speak, my adult self has learned that I too want my children to never worry. And, while I never needed to work for el dinero as a kid, I know that if I want that "close to worry-free" lifestyle to be my future, I need to bust my a$$--now! That said, I also know that life is short. After almost dying at the age of seventeen, I have learned that there is no promise of a tomorrow. Yes it's smart to plan for your future, but it's also important to enjoy your present. So, if that means we millennials choose to live at home with our parents for an extra year or work an unpaid internship after college in order to afford some nice "stuff," then so be it. Sure we might not be following the "I'm a perfect child" life path (National Merit Scholar; Northwestern for undergrad, summa cum laude; Harvard Law; marry a doctor; have 2.5 children; yada, yada, yada...), but I have total faith that we as a generation will figure it out--on our own terms, and in our own time.

PHOTO SOURCE: Photo 1


 
 
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We've all been there. You finally find a hairdresser that you love and then, BAM! You ask for your usual highlights and trim and you wind up with purple hair that's three inches shorter than it was an hour ago. What, this hasn't happened to you? If that's the case, consider yourself lucky...very, very, lucky! But, for those of you who have been in the "hair color/cut gone wrong" boat before, well then, you can commiserate with me and my hair woes of the past.

I started getting highlights when I was 13. I was a clever lil one and purposefully asked for highlights for my 13th birthday knowing that, once I started getting highlights, my mom would have to agree to let me keep getting them. I mean seriously, what mother let's her daughter walk around with Britney Spears roots?! Not mine (thank god). That said, for you girls out there who are part of the blonde bombshell club, you all know that, if over time you don't get lowlights with your highlights, your hair will become BLONDE...as in, platinum, playboy bunny blonde! Now it's one thing if you're super tan to have super blonde hair (summer goddess status) but, I am beyond pale and the whole almost white-blonde hair on a white-a$$ chica likemyself was not exactly, ahem, cute

So, after going to the same hairdresser for two years, let's call her Carrie, I figured asking for some lowlights would be no biggie. I was wrong. An hour later, when Carrie went to take the towel turban off my head it was not golden locks that framed my face. My hair was purple...as in, PURPLE! Carrie said she "grabbed the wrong bottle," but I'm pretty sure my reaction involved some form of waterworks followed by my saying (i.e. screaming) "grabbed the wrong bottle my a$$!" Yeah, I had yet to learn the beauty that is civil communication at this point. Anywho, Carrie proceded to try and calm me down and then proceded to try and  "re-highlight" my hair. Let's just say that, if at all possible, when the towel turban came off for the second time, it was worse! I swear, I looked like a skunk. A purple and white striped skunk! And, seeing how no new color could be applied to my hair for a few more days for fear that it would then all fall out (talk about looking like Britney Spears!), I pretty much lived in a baseball cap for the next week. 

Luckily my skunk head of hair was finally fixed when, a week later, I went to a new hairstylist who specialized in correcting bad hair color. But let's be honest, a week with purple hair is pretty much a death sentence for any style obsessed teenager. No bueno, to the extreme! These days I'm hair color free (what up natural hair color that I hadn't seen in a decade, literally), only venturing into a random hair salon every so often to have my split-ends removed. My conclusions: my hair is finally semi- low maintenance, I no longer hear dumb blonde jokes, and my IQ is up 60 points. Cheers to that. 

So, tell me: what's your hair horror story? If it's worse than my skunk story, you could be featured in next week's "Beauty + Style" post.


PHOTO SOURCE: Photo 1