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2018: New Year New Me?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why do we set goals at the very beginning of the New Year? What is it about January 1 that motivates everyone to aim high and challenge themselves to do better the next year? You start to see those "New Year New Me" posts, and how much everyone wants to make a change the next go around.

The New Year is symbolic of the beginning. A fresh start. You can officially say "last year" and give yourself a redo. But the one reason for why people tend to roll their eyes at the typical "I'm not going into the New Year doing this" is because most times it doesn't stick.

Most people fail to keep their New Year's Resolution before March rolls around. Whether it's starting a new diet to lose weight (a big one) or learning a new word from the dictionary each day. However big or small the goal may be, society gets so hyped up over a New Year's Resolution that they fail to create a plan to follow through with it.

I can't deny it. I've been one to do this. Life sets in and I've ended up pushing away from that goal. But ever since I became a wife and mom, setting goals and actually keeping them means much more to me now.

I am all onboard for the 2018 New Year New Me. But in order to get going, I had to set a realistic goal. One of my goals heading into next year is to transition into a vegetarian diet. I am well aware that for someone who has been eating meat all their life I can't just go cold turkey. I  understand that I have to give my body time to adjust to this change. So instead of saying by March I will no longer eat meat. I am going to give myself some wiggle room in sayng by March I will minimize my meat intake to once a week.

If I know myself well enough, I know that bacon and a pizza will tempt me. So instead of seting myself up for failure, I will allow myself a day where I can indulge until I no longer require it.

Now how do I plan to stick to this goal? This is the part where we normally drop the ball. I need an action plan to do this. Creating a plan of action eliminates the guess work. It doesn't give me room to create excuses or go astray from the plan.

To transition into a vegetarian diet I've made the game plan to meal prep each week. If I have my meals prepared for the week, I won't have to worry about what I'm eating or being tempted to order out. Each Sunday, I will go grocery shopping and plan out what I plan to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. If the food is there, I won't have to make up excuses for why I'm in the Chic-Fil-A drive thru.

Regardless of what your goal may be, understanding what you need to do to accomplish your goal is the key. 

I'm very excited about pursuing this goal and seeing the results. I've been back and forth on the idea of trying it, and I'm finally diving into it. Choosing to pick up a vegetarian diet isn't a trend for me. I've noticed that I don't enjoy how I feel after some meals, and I want to change that.

Giving myself a checkpoint to ensure I'm on track is just as important. Evaluating your progress a few months within the year will help to keep you in check with this goal. Have you been working on it? Did you have more than a few cheat days? Is it time to pick it up a notch if you've been doing well?

I feel pretty confident that if I stick to those few components, I will keep my New Year's Resolution.

  • Set a Realistic and Attainable Goal
  • Create a Plan To Work On This Goal
  • Evaluate Your Progress 

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Advantages of Being a Morning Person

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
backlit, clouds, dawn

I've always been a morning person. I love being the first one awake and getting an early start to my day. But my husband....not so much.

When we first started dating, I would be awake at 7 a.m. ready to get breakfast, ready to clean, and ready to go out and about. Him on the other hand, he had an alarm clock set for 11 a.m. It wasn't until we had our son that he finally jumped on the bandwagon and began his days early.

My body doesn't allow me to lay in bed past 8 a.m. If I do, it's most likely because I am not feeling well. I guess you can call it my personal alarm clock. I would lay in bed tossing and turning, seeing the sun get brighter and brighter, and would feel it's time to get up.

But I love being that morning person believe it or not. Yeah, I have days where I wish I could sleep in or I've wanted to lay in bed a bit longer due to lack of sleep the night prior. Even when I am not up and running before my usual time, I find myself upset that I didn't start early.

Why become a morning person? 

Early Bird Gets The Worm
You've heard this old saying. Well, it's true. When you start early you're more accessible to things that aren't available later throughout the day. Ever seen those holiday sales that seem to run out quickly before the afternoon even gets in.

Quiet Time
I love waking up before my husband and son because it's the only time of the day that I get to focus on just me. The sun is out. The house is quiet. I can drink my green tea in peace, and I have time to just simply focus on me.

You Have a Full Day
Starting your day early means having the rest of the day to do whatever it is you want. For me, I appreciate getting my errands completed by 11 a.m. because now I have the rest of the day to relax or just enjoy my free time. Most people are beginning to get their day started around late morning, and probably won't be finished until late afternoon.

You're On Top Of It
When you start your day early, you're most likely to be on top of anything thrown your way. There is no adjustment period or time required to "wake up" because you've been awake all this time already. Take it from me. Starting your day early can really be a load off.

20 Things I Learned In My 20s

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday to me.

I recently celebrated my 29th birthday. A bit late in posting, but I took sometime to really appreciate turning one year older.

My birthday was different from all of my other birthdays because the only thing I wanted to do was relax, and spend time with my husband and son. In my golden days it was important for me to go out with friends and party. But this year, I just wanted to appreciate the little things in my life.

I've matured and changed so much when I think back to the person I was in my early 20s. I've had a lot of growth and failures, and confusing moments in my life that I'm still working through. I can unashamedly admit that I am not where I thought I would be by 29, but I'm thankful for all that I have and all that I have learned.

Next year I will be 30 and even though I still have lots to learn, I can say that I'm glad I've gotten to grow from my experiences below.

1. Think Less, Do More
I overthink things. I would tear apart the finest of detail until there is nothing more, but dust remaining. Being this way often caused a lot of unnecessary worry and even ruined some fun I could have had. Get out of your head and just do it.

2. Screw a 5 Year Plan
I was constantly told that I needed to create a 5 year plan. I struggled with creating a vision for 5 years out when I couldn't even get my current year figured out. Don't stress it. Go at your own pace. Set goals according to what you can achieve.

3. Travel More
I would hear this a lot and didn't think it was a necessity. But now that I am older and my son occupies a chunk of my free time, I wish that I explored the world more. Trying to coordinate a trip between work and taking my care of my son is challenging. I wish I took advantage of the days where it was much simpler.

4. Your Circle Will Get Smaller
Insecure on HBO season 2 episode 2 hbo selfie GIF
I always thought those girls I knew in high school and college would be around forever, but the older I got the smaller my circle became. I outgrew a lot of people. It was initially hard to let go, but I had to accept that if I'm moving up I couldn't take everyone with me in my journey.

5. Invest in Retirement
No one taught me about a 401k in high school or college. I always knew how to save my money, but saving for retirement was something I didn't begin to do until recently. I was always told that I had plenty of time to begin. Which is true. I still have 30 some odd years before I even need to think about retirement. But I always think about what I could have had if I started when I got my first job.

6. Stop Explaining Yourself
I will admit that this is something I still struggle with, but I've learned that I don't have to ALWAYS explain my actions. I do what I want because I want to. I shouldn't have to clarify my actions or what I think in order to make others comfortable.

7. Trust Your Gut
If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. I've lost track of how many times I felt in my gut that something wasn't right, and I did it anyway. When things didn't work out as I expected, I would be kicking myself in the ass wishing I had just trusted my gut. So trust it.

8. Be Humble
I am so thankful for everything I have in my life because I don't even want to image what my life would be like if I didn't have it. I've had so many experiences knock me on my ass and it has truly humbled me to be appreciative of the little things in life.

9. You Can Quit
 real housewives rhoa real housewives of atlanta quit bravotv GIF

I once stayed at a job for over a year because I felt I had to. I would wake up each morning sick to my stomach knowing I had to force a smile on my face in order to make it through the day. Life is too short for all of that. You have time to figure it out. You can quit.

10. Stop Comparing Your Life To Others
I once used to think that because my closest friends and peers had the new car or amazing job that it signified where I should be in my life. But truth is, I learned that not everything is always as it is portrayed to be. You do not know the struggle that person had to endure to get the things they have. Therefore, stop comparing your life to others and assuming you should be where the next person is.

11. Speak Your Mind
I hated coming home and replaying an incident in my mind where I wish I said what I really wanted to say. I would be kicking myself in the ass replaying the conversation over and over again, thinking of how I should have said it. If you're going to do this you may as well get it off your chest.

12. College Is A Great Experience, But...
I was always told that getting my college degree would be my golden ticket to my future. But truthfully, it took all of seven years after receiving my degree that I finally figured out how to use that damn Mass Communications major. Finding a job after graduation was HARD and it wasn't a fun period trying to convince recruiters to hire me.

13. Be Proud Of Who You Are
I used to be ashamed that a Starbucks gift card and a trip to Barnes and Noble is exciting to me. I am probably the truest form of an introvert and I am OK with that. I don't like crowds. I need time to re-energize, and I think a lot. Don't allow anyone to make you feel that there is something wrong with you if that is who you are. Be proud of who you are.

14. Who is "They"
I hate it when someone says, "Well they said this" or "Well they said that". Who in the hell is "They"? "They" are a bunch of people passing along what is likely incorrect information. I used to reference "they" a lot and found that "they" was wrong a lot of the times. Research for yourself. Read a book. Investigate whatever it is that you need so that you aren't relying on "They" to keep you in check.

15. Live Alone For a Bit
 alone relax chill single relaxing GIF

Lord knows I love my family, and I can't imagine a day where I'm not waking up to my husband laying next to me. But I truly value that period of time where I lived in my own one bedroom apartment. It taught me to be independent. It taught me to understand money management. It taught me to know me.

16. You Will Fail At Something
It will suck when it happens, but in order to grow you will fail at something. The best part is getting back up to try again and learning from that failure. It may happen several times before you get it right, but you will learn from it.

17. Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
I may be an introvert. I made that quite clear in #13. But sometimes I've learned to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. You will be amazed at what you learn and what you gain when you take a different approach from what is your "normal".

18. Spend Smart
I know that in your 20s credit doesn't really seem like that much of a big deal. But my husband and I recently purchased our first home, and some of those old spending habits from way back when definitely came up. Credit may not seem important at the time, but eventually it will be. Spend smart.

19. It's OK To Need Help
I lived with my parents until I was 24. I needed their help to get on my feet. In your early 20s you want to believe that you're an adult so badly to the point that you'd rather struggle instead of asking for help. Don't be prideful. If you need help, ask for it.

20. Do Not Judge

I am a firm believer of judge and be judged. I have truly had my moments where I've judged someone without knowing the full extent of their situation. Months later, I find myself in a similar situation to that person I made assumptions of. You never know someone's story. You never know their history. You just NEVER KNOW. Plus, I refuse to judge someone knowing damn well that my story isn't all peaches and roses. Beware.

13 Signs You're Doing Much Better Than You Think

Friday, March 24, 2017

I know. Sometimes life hits you HARD. It feels like one thing happens after the other. It feels like you're constantly being knocked down. It feels like there is just no way to get back up. But I are doing better than you think.

We've all been there. We've all hit our rut at some point in time, and it was nearly impossible to see the sun shining through the cloudy skies. But for 2018, I've been learning to be more appreciative of the little things that reminds me I'm in way better position than it appears.

You woke up this morning

You have a job

You have a car

You have at least one good friend

You ate something today

You have a roof over your head

Someone loves you

You love someone too

You paid your bills this month

You have at least five outfits in your closet

You're healthy

You have time to enjoy a hobby

You can make decisions for yourself

Can you say that any of these apply to you? Trust're doing pretty good.

I Went a Day Without Talking and This Is What I Learned

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Verbal communication is by far my most expressed way of communicating. I have always been very vocal. If it's something I want, need, a question or thought, I had no issues with speaking up. However, I had a day where I couldn't speak and the lesson I learned from it was monumental.

I caught a really nasty sore throat that inhibited me from drinking, eating, and yes...talking. I couldn't even whisper. I was in so much pain that it didn't make sense to do the very thing that was making it worse. Having a one year old and my husband definitely made this challenging, but if I was going to feel any better it was a necessary step to take.

Obviously if I couldn't verbally say what I needed, I had to find other ways to communicate what was on my mind. But that's where the lesson comes in to play.

I woke up that morning and whispered to my husband that there was no way I could go to work that day. He asked what I needed and I couldn't respond. I placed my hand over my throat to sign that I'm not going to say another word. Not going to lie. It was a challenge. My husband would ask me a question and I'd be pointing and jumping up and down trying to emphasize what I really wanted to say. If others were to see me they would think we were playing a game of charades.

My husband would stand in front me guessing each gesture. "You want water? No. You're hungry?" I found myself frustrated by not being to able articulate what was so easy to just come out and say. I had moments where I'd endure the pain and just say it. Then, I would be upset that I made my throat worse. Eventually I got lazy with trying to find a way to say what I wanted and I just stopped trying.

So what did I gain from going a full day without speaking?

I had to really think about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I had to ask myself is this even important for you to take the time to master a way of communicating this. Is this even something that needs to be said?

Not speaking gave me the entire day to just observe. To do nothing. I then realized that I talk a lot. I can laugh at this now, but in that very moment I learned that I'm that chick. There were so many things I wanted to say. So many things I wanted to interrupt. I had an opinion on just about everything. There were things I felt were so urgent that I wanted to say right then and there. But my sore throat stopped me from all of that.

I learned to take a moment and think about what I wanted to say. I learned to take a moment and see how things will pan out without my assistance. I learned to take a moment and step down. I learned that some things aren't as important as it may initially seem.

I learned to take a step back and trust in my husband more. I learned to just adore my husband in that moment without feeling this urge to interject. Seriously. Each time I thought of something I wanted to say I just wanted to tell myself to shush.

Going a full day without speaking was definitely eye opening and forced me to take a moment to slow down and take a look into myself. I am more appreciative and understanding of the power of the tongue and going forward will do my best to work on it.

Why We Skipped The Wedding

Monday, March 20, 2017

My husband and I got married shortly after we discovered that I was pregnant with our son. In our defense, we were already engaged. We were already planning the wedding.  It was a no-brainer for us to go ahead and tie the knot. But...we didn't have a wedding.

We found a notary and got married under a gazebo just outside of their office. We took photos at a nearby park, and then we went out to eat at Red Lobster. It was very simple and straight to the point. Only six people were there to witness our union, which included family and a close friend. If I had the option to, I would do it all over again without any hesitation.

So why didn't we have a wedding? Well, we initially planned on it.

We had plans of having this mid-sized wedding with our closest family and friends. Teal and silver were going to be our wedding colors, and we had already checked out a few locations to host our wedding and reception. I had a Pinterest board filled with decoration ideas. We created a guest list. We even decided who we wanted to be in our wedding party.

I remember watching episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" to get ideas of what I'd like. I would think in my mind about the day I'd choose my perfect dress. I imagined my mother and sisters coming with me to try on gowns, and critiquing each one carefully. I had in my mind that I would get a mermaid gown with a long train, and a beautiful veil. I was going to walk down the aisle to Jessie Powell's "You". A classic 90's throwback.

We were beyond excited about the entire experience of having a wedding, but seeing those two lines on that pregnancy test made us rethink our priorities. We considered what we needed to do in preparation for our growing family. The more we thought about it the more we felt skipping the wedding was the right call. On average, most couples spend over $20,000 just to host a wedding. We knew if we were going to plan the kind of wedding we truly wanted we'd have to kick out some big bucks.

Kicking out that kind of money for a wedding didn't seem right to us under our circumstances, especially when we were trying to calculate expenses to raise our little one. We felt it would have been best to invest money into our family instead of having the grand wedding. The pennies we were saving for a wedding, we applied as a down payment for our first home.

So no church. No maid of honor. No groomsmen. No lavish wedding. Just me and my hubby.

I remember the day we told others that we were married. We held off for as long as we could before we finally announced it. Not necessarily out of embarrassment. We just knew not everyone would understand the decision we made. I figured most people would assume we only did it because I was pregnant. I can admit. The younger me often made the same assumption. Whenever I saw a couple get married after noticing a small baby bump, my mind would immediately wonder if the baby was the reason why.

So it came to no surprise when we displayed ourselves as husband and wife on Facebook that quite a few people were in shock with our announcement. We were asked if we eloped. We were asked what happened to the wedding. We were asked if we still planned on having something to celebrate our union. I felt a little overwhelmed by the questioning at first. I was hoping to just get a simple "Congrats on your union". But in hindsight, I can see how our decision came as a surprise to our friends. We didn't go the "traditional" route, and it left a lot of people raising their eyebrows.

Sometimes I do look back and I wonder what our big day would have been like had we went through with a wedding. Would it have been everything we pictured it to be or would something have gone wrong? How much money would we have spent to have the wedding we truly wanted? But even when I consider all of the planning and preparation it takes to have one, I'm totally fine with the decision we made.

Not knocking those that have had weddings. Weddings are beautiful. I love going to them and seeing the look on the groom's face when he finally meets his bride for the first time that day. But for us, we didn't have a wedding. And, we're perfectly fine with that. I love knowing that we're still husband and wife regardless if we had that mid-sized wedding.

The wedding doesn't define the marriage. So I'm glad we took the route that we did.

A Center Piece For You

Friday, March 17, 2017
Fruit Center Piece

Recently, I've been really drawn to unique centerpieces. Simple, yet eye catching enough to make a statement. I decided to create my own that would bring just a dash of color to any table.

Fruits used are mangoes, strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries. My bowl comes from the one and only Dollar Tree, and the decorative flower pieces are from the Dollar Tree as well.

Fruit Center Piece

An Amazing Watermelon Basket

Thursday, March 16, 2017
I decided to create a watermelon basket filled with goodies.

An Amazing Watermelon Basket

Nothing says Summer, like a good old watermelon. I felt to give it some pizazz I would include some strawberries, blueberries, and of course...watermelon chunks.

With a watermelon basket, you can always jazz it up so many different ways. You can create melon balls if you like to give it a unique look filling it with canteloupe or honeydew. I have also seen some baskets with grapes includes. The options are endless.

I felt sitting it on a bed of fresh kale give it that garden fresh appearance.

As always, my platter is from the Dollar Tree.

An Amazing Watermelon Basket
An Amazing Watermelon Basket

I Am a Full Time Working Mom

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Being a full-time working mom has its challenges. There are days that I rather stay home with my little guy, and days where I look forward to diving into a load of emails. I always knew I'd be a full-time working mom. Not exactly by choice, but financially my husband and I maintain on two incomes. Therefore, I mentally prepared myself for the day I had to head back into my office after maternity leave.

Being a full-time working mom means long days and even longer nights. It means never quite getting enough of sleep, and fighting through the exhaustion to focus on my responsibilities at work. It means scrolling through the pictures on my phone because I wonder what my little guy is up to, and missing him throughout the day.

It means taking a day off of work to get him to his appointments or because my sitter is busy one day. Sometimes I worry that my coworkers may grow tired of my constant requests for a flexible schedule, while they pull the normal schedule.

Sorry, I can't do a team lunch today. I need it to go through bank statements, pay bills, make doctor's appointments, and create a weekly calendar to sync to my husband's schedule. Either I do it now or it may not get done until much later. It means a lot of rescheduling, canceling, and moving dates around just to fit everything in. Often times at my own neglect.

There are days that I wonder if I'll miss when he learns to crawl or take his first steps. I can't be with him during his most active times of the day, and I miss out on his amazing laughter. It means getting to work early, and leaving earlier than everyone else so I can pick him up.

I spend the bulk of my evenings trying to play catch up with my son, but he's beginning to wind down for the day. Therefore, the amount of time I have to play with him is limited before I prep him for bed. I love giving him his bath, reading a book, and watching him fall asleep. I get to hold him in my arms for the first time all day. But now that he's asleep, I have to prep for the next day so that it'll be a load off for the morning.

It means eating like crap because I'm just too tired to fix an appropriate dinner most nights. And the nights that I do make dinner, I can't guarantee that it's my best. Being a working mom means multi-tasking, learning to utilize my down time effectively, and even relying on my son's favorite TV shows to entertain him so that I can wash the dishes.

It means not wanting to do anything on the weekends, because it's the only time I get to spend with him all day. I don't want to run errands. I don't want to meet up for lunch. I have to value this time with him because on Sunday evening, I have to prepare to do it all over again.

Don't get me wrong. I love being a working mom. I love having responsibilities outside of my home, and challenging myself each day to tasks outside of changing diapers. But sometimes I miss my kid. Sometimes I'm tired of juggling those two worlds.

But I do what I do to take care of home. I do what I do to make sure he gets everything he needs and then some. I love it when I am picking him up and the way he stops what he's doing to greet me with the biggest smile ever! Almost to say he's missed me too.

The sacrifices. The exhaustion. The juggling. It's all for him and it's so worth it.

Fruit Platter: A Simple Arrangement

Fruit Platter: A Simple Arrangement

Today, I'm excited to share a fruit platter I created. Now that it's Summer, you can expect there to be several social gatherings, events, and parties. When you're looking for something to bring, this fruit platter is the perfect delight. It's a very simple arrangement that takes little to no time creating.

Fruit Platter: A Simple Arrangement

Fruits used in this platter are strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, oranges, and kiwi. The platter was purchased from Dollar Tree. This simple arrangement can serve approximately 10-15 guests for a small gathering.

Fruit Basket: The Perfect Present

Monday, March 13, 2017
For Mother's Day this year, I made my mother a fruit basket.

Fruit Basket: The Perfect Present

She absolutey loves personalized presents. Knowing that my mother is a fruit lover, I decided to make a classic arrangement for her using an old basket that I found around the house.

Fruits used are: watermelon half, red seedless grapes, bananas, apples, and strawberries. You can utilize any wooden basket. Most craft and hobby stores sell them.

5 Huge Financial Mistakes You May Be Making

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let's be honest. Money is a huge part of living in this day and age. Making sense of the best way to manage your finances is critical to staying on top. But, you could be making some huge financial mistakes that you may not be aware of.

Not Having a Savings Account
It's easy to get caught in the flow of your day to day life. You earn your dollars, pay your bills, and the cycle continues. However, not having a savings account is very big mistake. A savings account is utilized to cover those "just in case" or "in case of emergency" funds. Because let's be honest, it happens. Being able to pull from a separate account that doesn't interfere with your funds for bills is a necessity.

Not Investing In Retirement
I can admit that I am guilty of not investing in retirement when I was much younger. I had the mindset that I have years before really needing to focus on my life after retiring. But I've learned, the earlier the better. Ensuring that you're able to maintain your expenses once you retire is important. Just because you've stopped working doesn't mean your bills will too.

Not Keeping Track of Your Bills
How are you supposed to understand your finances when you don't know what's being spent? You should keep track of all of your bills. Especially if it's set to autodraft. I've once had a bill that took their payment twice in a month. I was able to catch hold of it and notified them that I was double charged because I kept track of my monthly bills.

Not Living Within Your Means
When you owe much more in bills than your earned income, you are not living within your means. This is very dangerous as it can lead to serious financial issues such as repossessions or bad credit. Understanding how much you make and what you can afford will defeat spending more than you are able to put out.

Not Paying Off Debt
I know. Student loans have been the worst, but I can't ignore it. It's still a debt that has to be paid. Not creating a plan to eliminate your debt will keep you in a place where you're constantly oweing money, and also ruining your credit. Keep in mind that the less debt you have, the more money you'll be able to have later.

3 Lessons To Take When You Don't Get The Job You Want

Monday, March 6, 2017
A woman working at a laptop near a half-open window

You filled out the job application. You submitted your resume. Weeks go by, and you haven't heard anything. Then, you get the email you've been waiting on...but it's a rejection. 

Ouch! I've been there. 

There's nothing worse than waiting to hear from a company only to realize that you weren't selected for the job offer, especially if it was a job you really wanted. It hurts, and it can really take a shot to your confidence. After a while, rejection after rejection can begin to take a toll on you. But, instead of seeing these rejections as a negative, try seeing the bigger picture instead.

Don't Take It Personal

season 2 smile GIF by Insecure on HBO
Just because you didn't get the job you wanted doesn't mean you're not a solid candidate. Recruiters can be pretty fickle about what they're looking for when it comes to a job offer. Therefore, it may not be about you. Remember that a rejection isn't a shot at you. Internalizing the rejection will only create bitterness that carries over into your next job interview. 

What's For You Is Meant For You

basketball wives agree GIF by VH1
I'm a strong believer that if it was really in the cards, it would happen. Learn to accept that if you didn't get this job it may have been for the better. Not getting the job could have been the push you needed to search for something better. Move forward knowing that what's for you is still out there.

Learn From Your Mistakes

im learning GIF by Chelsea Handler
Take a look at your resume and cover letter. Is there something there that could use some tweaking to make you stand out more? Take a step back to reassess if there's anything that possibly hindered you from getting a foot in the door. Are your skills clearly stated? Did you emphasize your career accomplishments in your cover letter?

5 Life Skills Every Woman Should Have

Friday, March 3, 2017

1. How to sew on a button 
I remember working for Ann Taylor Outlet store during college. One day we had a customer try on a pair of pants, and the button had popped off. My Store Manager said, "Oh man, a perfectly good pair of pants. Guess we should write a damage ticket for it." I grabbed those pair of pants, and I sewed the button back on. My Store Manager was so impressed that I fixed it, and even admitted that she didn't think to sew it back on. Although a small skill, one that came in handy at that moment.

2. How to prepare at least one signature dish
I'm not a top chef, but I do have a signature dish I can go to whenever I want to really impress some people. I make a pretty mean Garlic Lemon Alfredo. In fact, it was the first meal I prepared for my husband when we were just dating.

3. How to check your tire pressure and put air in it
I can admit that anything car related is beyond me. If ever I had an issue with my car my father or my hubby is the person I call to. But learning to do small things for yourself like check your tire pressure is handy. My husband explained to me what I should be looking for if ever my tires a little low on air. That way, I know what to do next time around.

4. How to properly send a professional email
This skill is pretty universal, but knowing how to properly send a professional email speaks volumes for the boss chick. It shows that you understand how to properly address someone. It shows that you understand how to communicate, and articulate what you need. It shows that you know how to get ish done.

5. How to manage your finances
Done are the days of depending on anyone to take care of your finances. Understanding where you stand financially is HUGE. Knowing how money moves in and out of your home is something you should definitely master. Create a budget that will keep you on track with your expenses. That way, you won't need to rely on anyone else to do it for you.

4 Steps To Prepare For Unexpected Expenses

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
A woman’s hand with a ring and a polished nail holding an iphone towards a laptop on a desk with a distant flash drive.

Let's be honest with ourselves. The unexpected happens and as always, it can happen at the worst time.Your car breaks down. A pipe bursts under your kitchen sink. The refrigerator stops working. A government shutdown is issued.

Or, you have those yearly expenses that seem to creep up on you every year. Christmas, taxes, and birthdays. It feels like it's out of your control and is the pure definition of unexpected. So what do you do?

Well, you prepare for the unexpected.

It's kind of challenging to prepare for unexpected expenses when you don't know what those expenses may include. But doing the following beforehand will surely give you a leg up for when it happens.

Identify Those Unexpected Expenses
As I mentioned above, sometimes those yearly expenses creeps up on you. Before you know it, it's time to buy Christmas presents again. Do yourself a favor and stash a little aside each month for it. That way, when that time comes around again you aren't struggling to maneuver this expense around your regular bills.

Emergency Fund
Have an emergency fund handy. You never know when your tire may blowout on you and you need to buy a new tire. Or, when you'll need to hire a plumber. Having a separate stash already saved for those specific emergencies will alleviate the stress of trying to take care of it all at the last minute.

Move Funds Around
So maybe you planned to spend the money you had on a new pair of shoes. Well, for an unexpected expense you may have to give that up. Move some of your funds around to accommodate this need. It may not be fun to do, but at least you have the money available and on hand.

Credit Cards
I'm not pretty big on piling up credit to cards, but if an expenses hits you and there's no way of paying for it, use your credit card. It is smart to have in "in case of emergency" credit card that you use rarely. Just remember to pay that balance back.

How To Disagree With Your Boss and Not Get Fired

Friday, February 24, 2017

Let's face it, you're bound to disagree with a colleague at some point in your career. You won't always agree with the choices and decisions in the workplace. But when that person is your boss, it can get a bit tricky. How do you disagree with your boss without being condescending, disrespectful, and getting fired? Well, there's definitely a way.

The first thing to point out is that there's nothing wrong with having a disagreement with your boss. Just because they are your boss, it doesn't mean that they have the right answers to everything. That's why they have a team. You may not know it, but bosses rely on their team to keep them in check. They need you to let them know if something doesn't make sense or if they are overlooking a key ingredient that you have more insight to.

Your boss will appreciate knowing that you aren't a "Yes" person, and that you're capable of professionally vocalizing your opinion.

So how do you disagree with your boss and not get fired? 

Schedule a Meeting
Blurting out in front of several others that you don't agree with your boss' decision is a huge no no. Take a moment to schedule a meeting where you can speak directly with your supervisor.

Start Positive
It may not be wise to go straight in blabbing off the negatives. Start on a positive note. Take time to point out the positives before immediately diving into what you feel is wrong. Once you've describe the positives, you can smoothly segue into how whatever you're disagreeing on could be an issue.

Ask Questions
Maybe you disagree because there are some components that weren't made very clear. But by asking questions, it shows that you truly care and take a genuine interest in wanting to understand. This may help ease your discomfort and you may no longer disagree.

Explain Why You Disagree
You can't disagree without having hard reasoning for why. Provide a clear explanation for why you disagree. Be careful, however, that you aren't speaking down to your supervisor. Remove your personal feelings from the situation, and provide evidence that your disagreeing is coming from a good place.

Provide Alternatives
Naturally, if you're going to disagree you will need to provide an alternative action. There's nothing worse than telling your boss you disagree and having nothing in response when asked, "So what do you think we should do instead?" Be prepared and have a follow up to this question.

Respect The Final Call
At the end of the day, it's your boss. So all final decisions are left to them. Whatever the decision may be, whether you agree or not, you have to respect it. Feel pleased to know that you at least stated your concerns and presented them professionally. In the future, it may leave your supervisor to feel comfortable with seeking your advice on a tough call.

How To Get Over An Argument With Your Partner

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

You and your partner are going to get into arguments. There. I said it. There really isn't any way around that fact. It is very rare for two individuals to come together and not disagree on something at some point of their joint lives. But the biggest hurdle, is learning how to get over whatever you're arguing about.

I confess. I have had my moments where I held onto an argument for far longer than I should have. I would walk around thinking I'm teaching my husband a lesson because he got the silent treatment. In the end, it caused much more frustration stomping around all angry days later than necessary.

When you hold onto an argument, you're letting the issue fester. It grows, and it begins to spiral into something new that wasn't there to begin with. So here's what you should try:

Give Each Other Space
Take a breather. Give one another a few minutes to collect yourself and try again. Sometimes it helps to calm yourself down before diving into an argument hot. Once you've calmed down, you find that you're able to hear your parner better and understand their perspective.

Hold Hands
I know this one sounds weird, but it works. The idea of touching your partner when you're angry may sound as if you're adding fuel to the fire, but making yourself see past the argument to hold hands forces you to calm yourself down.

Take Turns
When you argue, you tend to talk over one another. In the end, neither of you are hearing what the other is saying. Take turns speaking. That gives you the opportunity to clear the air, explain your side of the situation without any interruptions or yelling.

This can be a hard one. It's hard to apologize if you don't see where you contributed to the argument. But either way, you hurt your partner and that's something to be apologetic about. Be the bigger person and accept that you played a role into the disagreement as well and apologize.

Once you've apologized, forgive your partner. Agree that you are able to accept that there was a misunderstanding and that you're ready to move past it. This is a joint effort and both of you has to agree that all is forgiven once you've understood what created the argument from the beginning.

Why Working Customer Service Sets You Apart

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sometimes, working in customer service tends to get a bad rep. All people can think about is the simple fact that the primary role of your job is to serve others. All they see are the angry, rude, and irate customers. All they see are the hard to please and the "I would like to speak to your manager" customers. But I have worked in customer service for a very large portion of my working career, and I can tell you that working in a field that is customer driven isn't all bad.

My first job was a cashier at Publix. I've worked several retail clothing stores. I've worked in call centers, and even my current full time role is at a museum. I have had my fair share of customers, and I can admit that some can be like mentioned above. I would be lying if I said that working customer service is always a breeze.

But truth is, being able to say that you have customer service skills or that you've worked in a role that is customer facing really sets you apart. Here's why:

Customers aren't always easy to deal with.

Sometimes you get those customers that feel "the customer is always right." Sometimes you get those customers that have no clue what they want or how you can help them. Sometimes you get those customers that seem impossible to make happy.

But working in this field shows that you have the patience needed to oversee the behavior of that customer and still serve. Not everyone possesses this quality. It takes a lot out to get a verbal beating from someone that you're simply trying to help.

In my early 20's, I used to work for a call center that serviced self-publishing books. I once had a customer that was so angry that her published book didn't turn out as she felt it should have. Of course, she calls into our call center demanding that the problem be fixed. The issue was not on our end. It was an error that the customer misentered. But despite who's at fault, it was very hard for me to calm this customer down so that I could help her.

Well, needless to say she lit into my ass. I was called everything in the book except a child of God. And despite how badly I wanted to curse her back out, I had to find an alternative way to deescalate the situation. No. I wasn't able to refund her purchase on the several books she had already ordered. But, I was able to cut a deal for her next order to correct it.

Customers need someone that can explain things to them clearly.

Nine times out of ten if you're in a position that's customer focused, your role requires a fair amount of product knowledge. Any customer should be able to come to you seeking answers with expectations that you can deliver. Even if you don't know the answer personally, you know where to get it. 

Learning the ins and outs to obtain the appropriate product knowledge shows that you're not only able to retain a ton of information, but you're able to provide answers that is relevant to their needs.

Happy Customers Always Return

Providing exceptional service means that happy customers will always come back. While I worked in retail clothing stores, I always had customers seek me out specifically because they knew I provided the service they needed and wanted. Although it may seem small, this resonates with supervisers. To see that you're able to make such a huge impact means that not only will customers return, but business will steadily grow with you on their team. 

How To Curb Impulsive Spending

Monday, February 13, 2017

Impulsive spending is a desire to make a purchase, no matter how big or small, in the heat of the moment. Whether it's spontaneously placing a few purchases on that credit card or grabbing a few things in the checkout line. There wasn't much thought to the process, you just simply made the purchase because you wanted it.

Nothing wrong with occasionally making an impulsive buy. We all do it at some point. But when it begins to consume your finances, and becomes uncontrollable you may find yourself depleting your funds.

I've always been pretty good with controlling my spending habits. I usually make grand purchases if I am treating myself, but I have made an impulsive buy only to observe my purchase later wondering why the hell did I buy it. Or, I will look back and ask myself how did I blow through my extra funds so quickly.

"Setting a Budget" seems like the easiest fix, but understanding in what instances are you diving into the cookie jar too much is what really matters. Is it online shopping? Is it stopping to that shoe store that you pass on your way home?

Limit Your Access To Spend

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Ever heard the old saying that your pockets are burning? Well, for some, when they have a good bit of money to work with, they tend to feel this desire to spend it. Limit how much you're able to have each month by giving yourself an allowance. Even if it means transferring the bulk of your money into an account that you cannot withdraw from, it helps. When you know how much you're working with, it can help to minimize the excessive spending. This will also help to manage your money so that a little can go a long way.

Get Rid of The Credit Cards

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The thrill of having a credit card is amazing. You have immediate access to funds and it's so easy to just swipe and sign. However, you have to pay that debt back. If you realize that you lose control with the convenience of making credit card purchases, it could be time to get rid of them to fight that urge. I personally like to have no more than two credit cards, and use them only in emergency cases. However, it takes some discipline to set this in stone.

Wants vs. Needs

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There's a very fine line between what you want and what you need. But understanding this helps tremendously with impulsive spending. Do I really need this? Will I not be able to make it without this between now and later? Seriously ask yourself why you're considering the purchase. If you realize that there is no dire reason for its purchase, it's simply a want over a need.

Think On It

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Give yourself some time to really think about if it's worth the purchase. Walk away from it. Allow a day or two to pass and sit on whether or not you really want it. In most moments, you see something you want only because it's in front of you. But if you never saw it, would you have wanted it? If you find yourself still thinking about it after those days have passed, go for it.

What to Do When You're Bored with Your Job

Friday, February 10, 2017
accounting, apps, bookkeeper

When you've been employed with a company for at least three years, you find yourself in a place where you're familiar with the day to day responsibilities. You already know what happens on a bad day. You already know what happens on a slow day. You already know what happens when things are up in the air. It becomes routine, tedious, and boring.

Where's the excitement? Where's the rush you once felt when you first started working there? Well, it happens when you've been employed with the same company for some time.

I'm willing to bet when you were first hired, there was so much to learn that you were always on your toes. There was a plethora of information to consume, and it kept you occupied. But just with anything new, the shine begins to dull. You're up to speed on all there is to know, and now it just feels like you're going through the motions.

Eventually, your responsibilities can feel mundane. You don't feel challenged, and you want to find something that will stimulate your brain for eight hours a day. For some millenials, you begin to think this is a sign to move on. You get that itch to begin looking for a new job so you can feel that excitement once more. But I can tell you now, that the job hunt is real and hard. Before you start submitting resumes, consider this.

Learn Something New
Can you say that you understand EVERYTHING there is to know about your job? Do you know what Billy three cubicles away works on? Do you know what Jan in accounting does? If you can't answer that with a yes, you do not know everything.

Take this time to learn a new skill or task on your job. Inquire about possibly shadowing others in the company to gain a thorough understanding of how your company functions. Cross training is an essential step that shows a genuine interest in the company. It could also potentially place you as runner-up if ever a position or promotion were to become available.

Take a look at your work station. When's the last time you've given it a good cleaning? I recently checked out my work space and realized I had documents and old emails from when I first started. Giving those old documents a good purge could present new tasks you can look into that may have been problematic in the past.

Create a Networking Group
Creating a small community within your workplace will open the doors for many other opportunities. You can establish a relationship with coworkers that could potentially come in handy later down the line. You'd be amazed to see what goals your colleagues may have, and how you may be able to contribute to them and vice versa.

Make a Pitch
This can vary depending on the field you work in, but a lot of careers can come about when you create them. What does your company need? What is missing? What is something that can be implemented into your role? Making a pitch for a new role could bring about a brand new position. One that you can make your own and can start fresh without having to leave your company.

What To Do When You Are Bored With Your Job

Finding Positivity in Negative Circumstances

Thursday, February 9, 2017
cheerful, close-up, coffee

Last month, I got into my first ever fender bender. I consider myself a very careful driver. So, I was extremely disappointed about getting into this small hiccup. I was big mad. I was so mad that I was letting it consume me.

How could you be so careless? How could you not see the other car? Look what you've done!

Yes, I was very hard on myself because my car is still new to me. You know how you are with new things. You're extra careful. You take special care of it. I just purchased my vehicle five months prior to my collision. It still has that new car smell. I still park away from other vehicles. I'm not ashamed to say that I took care of my car and was upset when I hadn't been extra careful.

The incident happened one day after work. I stopped into a Walgreens before picking up my son. I got back into my vehicle, place my car in reverse, checked behind me, proceeded to back out of my parking space, and BAM.

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I put my car into park, stepped out of my vehicle to find a dent in my bumper.

Damnit, my new baby!

I couldn't think about anything else accept the eye sore on the back end of my car. I was furious with myself, and obsessed over the little details leading to that point. I kept replaying the incident to figure out what I could have done differently. But then I heard a small voice come to me to say, "Be thankful that you're OK."

Getting into any accident whether big or small can shake you up a bit. But I was overlooking the part that I walked away more than OK. As a society, we tend to fixate on trivial and materialistic things. Here I was kicking myself in the ass for a fender bender when I should be giving praise that I walked away without so much as a scratch to my body.

I had to find the positives in the circumstances to get over it.

My car isn't completely totalled. The damage can be fixed. It is still in great running condition. I was able to drive away from the situation. And the biggest part I had to acknowledge...I thanked God that my son wasn't in the car with me.

Sure, the situation itself sucks. But the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. I promised myself going forward that I won't dwell too much on the very things that seem so horrible in that moment. If I can name at least 5 great things to take away from the situation, well then I'm still winning.

Finding Positivity In Negative Circumstances

How To Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

So you filled out the application, submitted your resume, and got the call to schedule a phone interview. Great! That means your one step closer to getting your dream job. Some may think it's just a phone interview, nothing to it. However, phone interviews should be looked at as a screening before a company would even bother to meet with you face to face. That phone interview is absolutely important.

What exactly is a phone interview? Well, it's pretty self explanatory. Usually,  a recruiter scans your resume and if they feel your qualifications match what they are seeking, you will receive a phone call to screen a bit further if you'd be a great match.

A phone interview is usually before meeting your potential employer or, depending on the location, it could very well be the actual interview if the position is remote. Either way, a phone interview should not be taken lightly because it's not in person.

How to ace a phone interview?

Do your research
You always want to research the company that you will be potentially working for. Know your stuff and understand what the role would entail. Gain an understanding of what the company stands for, their morals, and future goals. Usually, the company will list on their website its mission statement. But if not there, you can always pull from their social media sites to get a feel of what the company represents.

Schedule a Time and Place Where It's Quiet
It can be a bit distracting to have construction noise going off during your interview. Schedule a time in which you're free and a place where it's typically quiet. This will help the recruiter hear you and will avoid any distractions on your end as well.

Have Your Answers Ready
Sometimes it's difficult to know what questions you'll be asked for sure. But you can nearly bet that you will be asked the same usual questions
*Tell me about yourself
*Why do you want this role
*Why do you feel you'd be a great match for this position
The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to stumble.

Get Dressed Up
This may raise the question in mind...why? Would you go to a face to face interview in your pajamas? I wouldn't recommend doing it for a phone interview either. Getting dressed up will prevent you from being too lax during your interview. You don't have to wear a full suit. But at least take the time to make yourself presentable. You wouldn't want to convey that you were binge watching your favorite show on Netflix before jumping on for the interview.

Know Who's Making The Call
Some recruiters may give instructions for you to call in to a specific number, and some may call you. Gain an understanding of who will be making the first contact so that you're ready.

Give Yourself Time 
If your interview is scheduled for 1 PM, I'd recommend giving yourself 10 minutes before your phone interview. This not only gives you a moment to get to your quiet place, but it also gives you time to ensure your phone is fully charged and in great reception to receive the call. It will also show the interviewer that you were expecting their call, and not preoccupied with other things.

Have Your Questions Ready
You'd want to make sure you have a list of your own questions ready. Some recruiters may be limited to any questions that digs a bit further into the role once hired. You can reserve these questions for the manager. But, you can utilize this time to learn more about the hiring process and what's to expect next.

Thank Them
Don't forget to thank the recruiter for taking time out of their day to chat with you. This shows how appreciative you are for the opportunity and that you're truly looking forward to progressing in the process. You can send them an email or write a thank you note. Either will show the effort made and will stand out.

Great Questions To Ask During An Interview

Monday, February 6, 2017

Do you have any questions for me?

These are the infamous words you hear after EVERY interview. And yes...the interviewer is absolutely expecting you to have questions.

It took a bit of trial and error to gather the right set of questions I like to ask during an interviewer. My questions are based from personal experiences in the workplace and a few keynotes that are important to me in choosing an employer. Don't be timid or afraid to ask questions. Just as they're interviewing you, you're interviewing them as well.

You want to be sure that taking the position will be win/win. So go ahead. Ask those questions.

Here are my favorite questions to ask:

Can you describe what a typical day in this role looks like?
I like to ask this question because it gives an idea of what your day at work would look like. Will you start off with a team meeting each morning? Do you have multiple things to sign off on before diving into your own work? Are you hitting the floor running as soon as you get into work?

Can you describe how one is brought up to speed in this position?
This may not be a big one for some, but it is for me. I am particular about my training because I am very particular about my performance. I like to know what their expectations are when it comes to making sure I am acclimated to the company and the demands of the position. Am I going to be thrown to the wolves or will I be studying Powerpoint presentations?

What are the expected hours?
This can be meshed with question #1 as well. However, this opens the conversation for how often one may be expected to work overtime or if there are any flexibility in the hours.

What are some challenges the company/department are currently facing?
I've been in the position where I got hired during one of the most challenging times for a company. They were undergoing reconstruction which meant a lot of people were being either fired, demoted, or transferred into doing something else. I like to ask this question so I'm not caught off upon walking through the doors.

What are the next steps proceeding the interview?
It's nice to have a general timeline of when the employer anticipates making a decision for the position. They may have a heaping of other candidates to get through or if selected, you may have to interview with the CEO before being hired. This questions lets you know what their process is for hiring.

Did I miss any? What are your favorite questions to ask?

Marriage Begins When

Friday, February 3, 2017

I bet you finished that statement with after you say I do. Or, after you sign your marriage documents. Some may believe it’s once you’ve made that vow before God that you’ll take this person for better or worse until death do part. But here’s how I’d finish that statement.

Marriage begins when you look over to that person and it is no longer a fairytale. The moment reality sets in is when marriage begins. I say that because society has painted this beautiful image that marriage is all rose petals and birds chirping for the rest of your life. And although there are moments where the union of husband and wife is that beautiful image, there are also moments where it isn't always beautiful.

When my husband and I first got married we were excited to call each other husband and wife. We enjoyed coming home to see one another. We enjoyed falling asleep at the same time. We enjoyed doing the simple things for one another. There was not a thing he could do wrong that would bother me. But once we got some time under our belts and that new fuzzy feeling became routine, that’s when I really understood that marriage isn’t the way romantic comedies portray it.

Truth is, sometimes I hardly see him because of his work schedule. Sometimes I’m already in bed if he gets off late. Sometimes he gets on my nerves. Sometimes I get on his nerves. It’s normal. It happens.

I remember looking at my parents and older couples. I always admired their love at an older age. They'd say they've been together for 40+ years, and that their love is just as strong as it was in the beginning if not stronger.

I would think that's what marriage is. That's what it should be like. Two people living their lives and still smitten with one another like it was day one. But it's only a screenshot on the several years they've been together. What does the other screenshots show? What has that couple experienced every other day to lead to this one perfect screenshot?

Were they always happy? Did they have moments when they wanted to quit? How did they get through certain obstacles? Well...that's a part of getting into marriage.

Marriage is experiencing your day to day everyday. Marriage is seeing the good, bad, and ugly. Marriage is having disagreements and sometimes not liking each other. Marriage is ups and downs, and on some days everything in between. Marriage is learning and growing together. Marriage is going through changes and adapting together when they do.

Marriage is teamwork. Marriage is communication. Marriage is unity. Marriage is compromising even when you don't want to. Marriage is accepting everything that comes with that person. Literally! Everything. That. Comes. With. That. Person.

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Marriage is stopping to the store on your way home for bread and milk. Marriage is checking the mail and remembering to take the trash out. Marriage is life and having a partner to experience it with you.

Marriage isn't always birds chirping and the sweet sounds of Al Green. But when it is...marriage is magical. It's staring at that person and thinking how blessed I am to be here. It's missing their hugs, kisses, and touch. It's wanting to hear their voice. It's missing their smell.

But it's important to understand the reality of marriage, and all that comes with it. You can't pick and choose what parts of marriage you want to deal with. Because the moment it becomes, it is now your life.