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Life Advice

Girl Interrupted: How to Cope When Life Gets in the Way

By October 24, 2012 Life, Life Advice

Life happens. To the best of us. Things change; we lose a job, move to another city, break up with a significant other, lose a loved one. And when life comes crashing down or sweeping in sometimes you have to take a step back to regain your footing. Being sidelined by life is never easy but it is natural and it’s imperative that you take time to get yourself back to 100%.

Case in point: Things have been a little slow around here lately. For this I do apologize. My recent move to New York and getting acquainted with myself in this new place has taken a bit of the gust out of my sails. Between packing, moving, commuting, working, commuting, reading and writing there hasn’t been much time in life for well life.

It beeeeeeezzzzzz like that sometimes.

So what do you do when life gets in the way of doing the things you love?

Freeze. Have a Seat. Reset

Freeze

Stopping can be the most beneficial thing you can do when  good or bad fortune befalls you. It may seem nullifying or like you’re stuck in quicksand but stopping can prevent you from spinning your wheels, messing things up due to lack of focus, even burning yourself out. When I moved I made the conscious decision to give myself some time to just stop. It felt horrible and I missed writing for you guys but doing a half-arsed job was not an option.

When life is happening and your focus shifts it’s okay to hit the pause button and tend to the things you have to do. Your work, personal health and well-being are your top priority.

Have a Seat

After you’ve come to terms with stopping (or considerably slowing down) have a seat. Not a literal seat, but a figurative seat. Get your bearings straight and try, TRY, as you might to keep your mind off of the world going on around you.

Sometimes taking a break can feel like you’re taking a step back or conceding defeat but don’t fall into the mind trap. When you have to get your bearings straight that’s the only thing that matters. And instead of worrying about what you’re missing our on or what other people are doing, focus on what you can do to restore yourself and get ready to return to your normal routine.

Read lots of books. Watch movies. Spend time with family and friends. Reconnect with yourself. Personally, I’m taking this time to focus on areas of my life that I’ve neglected like my health, finances and other creative endeavors.

Reset

Each stop is an opportunity to reset ourselves and prepare for the road ahead. By resetting your mind, body and spirit you are allowing the lessons to sink in and propel you forward.

But how will you know when it’s time to get on with your life as usual? You will know. The path will be clear and there will be space to do the things you need to do. You will be able to get back to your life and plans with more knowledge and a renewed spirit.

Sometimes we’re heading down a path and life comes in and interrupts our journey or puts us in an uncomfortable place. Don’t begrudge these changes, roll with them. Embrace them and let them teach and propel you to the next stop on your destination.

Have you ever been interrupted by life? How did you manage? Please share! We can benefit from each others’ stories!

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Terry’s Tweets: 25 Inspirational, Motivational Tweets from @MsTerryMcMillan

By July 24, 2012 Advice, Life, Life Advice
TERRY-MCMILLAN

In high school, my favorite author was Terry McMillan. Waiting to Exhale was one of my favorite books, I devoured Mama and Disappearing Acts and to this day Disappearing Acts is still one of my favorite screen adaptations. If you were a black girl in the 90s, Terry McMillan was your girl.

So imagine my delight when my writing inspiration came to life on social media. If you follow Ms. Terry, you know she is a no-nonsense, tell it like it is tweeter. She’s full of real life gems and straight from the horse’s mouth advice. There’s nothing woo-woo about her.

Inspiring, motivational and sometimes a smack in the head, I would retweet all of her tweets, if that weren’t consider swagger-jacking. Instead I’ll recount here 25 of my favorite tweets from Ms. McMillan.

25. When you feel overwhelmed or overworked, take a nap

24.  Bitterness weighs a ton. Forgiveness makes you feel weightless

23. If loving someone exhausts you, you’re loving the wrong person

22. Be leary of people who take credit for things they didn’t do

21. Sometimes, you don’t know who you live next to. And sometimes, who you’re even married to

20. Reading can make you smarter, more compassionate, and worldly

19. Have a thoroughly thoughtful and thankful Thursday everybody. Thrill or be thrilled

18. Whatever you do this week, I hope it’s positive. And, that you see progress. Smooches to all!

17. Nothing like a long hot shower with lots of suds. Wash your hair. Deep condition. Brush teeth. Lotion. Smell good. Chill. Dance. Read. Pray.

16.  Live to your own beat.

15. It’s healthy to slow down long enough to see what you’re really doing. So you have time to change lanes or make a U-Turn.

14. Try to be encouraging. And you, too, will be encouraged.

13. We are all stronger than we think we are. Look back on difficult times. You made it through to now.

12. More often than not, some things you just need to let go. Or be drained by it.

11. People who do wrong, know they’re doing wrong. Which is a sign that something is wrong. With them

10. If you think something is impossible. Then it’s impossible

9. Have a sip of something that soothes you. Then chase it with the same thing

8. Some people tell the same lie over and over and over until dumb people believe it. Smart people only need to hear it once to see through it

7. I do not apologize for how I feel or what I think. Especially on Twitter

6. I’m not just interested in when your new CD is dropping or where you’re going to be appearing next. If you’ve got power, use it for others.

5. Sometimes, you need to snap your fingers to your own beat and not worry about what other folks think.

4.  Some people give bad advice. Know who not to take it from. One way to tell: look at their life.

3. If every time you drink, you get drunk: you’ve got a drinking problem.

2.  I don’t like the idea that other people can change you. I subscribe to the idea that when you change yourself, that’s called growth.

1. Some things are worth remembering. Some things are worth forgetting. One lightens your spirit and the other weighs a ton. Your call.

Such jewels and flat out advice. If you’re not following @MsTerryMcMillan, do so right now and get ya some of Terry’s thoughtful tweets.

Do you follow Terry on twitter? Who’s your favorite follow?

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How to Deal with Burnout

By July 19, 2012 Career, Career Advice, Life Advice
How to Deal with Burnout

“To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.” ~ Mother Teresa

You’re spent. You have nothing left. You’ve been working feverishly at your side business, new job or project. Sleepless doesn’t begin to describe you and frankly you’ve had enough. You’re in the troughs of burnout and if you don’t do something fast, it’s not going to be pretty.

Burnout is a real and serious condition. You’re exhausted and the thing you once had such gusto for, is a distant thought. Early last year, I was on the receiving end of a serious case of burnout. I was working full-time, doing WordPress design and setup on the side and my roster was filling up, quick! I probably did something like 15 websites in the span of 6 months. Ker-azy!

I’d stopped working out, was lucky if I got 4 hours of sleep each night and was a general ball of emotions. I managed to finish what I promised people but after it was all said and done, I didn’t want to look at another piece of html code or set up another website.

I restructured my time and cut a lot off of my plate. I worked regular exercise back into my daily activity and started eating healthier again. I’m much more careful about what I commit to and saying no has come much easier. If you’re dealing with burnout or tethering on the edge here are a few tips to help you come off the ledge and restore your health and sanity.

1. Tie Up Loose Ends

If you’re working on a project and going full throttle, it’s not easy to just give up. If you have commitments, try your best to honor them and get things finished and off your plate. The sooner you complete things, the sooner you can worry about yourself.

2. Take a Week (or Two) Off

Do absolutely nothing. I mean go to work and stuff. But if you’re burnt out on writing, then don’t write. If you can’t look at another oil painting, then stop. Do sleep, get lots of sleep! Veg out, relax and don’t feel guilty. It’s your sanity or work. Always choose yourself.

3. If you can, Get Away

Preferably somewhere with a beach and serene water. You want to get away from obligations and responsibility. This is your time to restore yourself and I can’t think of a better way than with sand between my toes and the hum of the ocean in my ear.

4. Get Back to Health (& your other interests)

When I was overworking myself I let my love of fitness fall by the waist-side. I stopped working out and eating right. Once I took time, I made a commitment to get back in the gym and eat better. I vowed that I would never neglect these areas again. Whatever brought you joy and keeps you balanced, get back to it.

5. Learn to Say No

Burnout typically comes from over promising and over committing ourselves. Learn your limits. Burnout has a funny way of showing you your limits. Reevaluate your priorities and your goals and make sure what you’re doing is aligned with them. Say No, a lot!

6. Make a Vow to Yourself

Learn from your exhaustion. Take heed when you feel yourself floundering or being overwhelmed. Make a promise to take better care of yourself and treat yourself with care. Your light is too bright to burn out.

(Image Source)

Have you ever experienced burnout? How did you restore yourself back to greatness?

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One-Size Does Not Fit All: Can Women “Have it All”?

By July 17, 2012 Empowerment, Life, Life Advice, Opinion
Having it All

In our ambitious world, more and more young women are wondering, “can we have it all?” The question isn’t can we but what exactly does have it all mean to you.

When I was a young girl I imagined that my life would go something like this: I would be a Nobel Prize winning author, a professor at a prestigious college, have a fabulous husband and be a mother to twins, a boy and a girl, so that I could get two kids for the time and effort of one. Ah what a delightful picture that was.

Fast forward some odd 15 years, and while I’ve received no calls about my Nobel Prize, I do have a great and fascinating career, an amazing circle of friends who support and love me, a fabulous family and….. well the jury is still out on the fabulous husband and 2 kids.

In our driven society, it seems that the idea of women having it all is still a pretty pervasive one. A recent article in The Atlantic titled “Why Women Can’t Have it All” has once-again brought the idea to the forefront.

In the piece writer Anne-Marie Slaughter writes how she left her position as first woman director of policy planning at the State Department to go home to New Jersey to be closer to of her husband and teenage sons. Fine choice Mrs. Slaughter. She writes that “having it all” is a myth and that feminists have sold young women a fantasy.

My thoughts:

While “having it all” in its basic idea may be a fantasy, let’s back up a bit. What does “having it all” really mean? I guess by normal standards it means having a successful career, a great love life and a family. In our post-feminist world, it astounds me that we’re still relegating having it all to one thing in particular. What about women who don’t want kids? Or women who want to be stay at home moms? Sorry ladies, you’ve missed your chance at having it all.

We see these illusions of celebrities and otherwise rich women (cough cough Beyonce), having the wildly successful career, husband, baby and “getting back to bizness” and we feel bad for not being able to secure the same sorted fairy tale version of having it all.

I’m young, tirelessly working toward my dreams and watching them unfold before my very eyes. Should I feel bad because I don’t have a husband and an infant hanging from my tit yet? No. But the having it all mentality wants to make me feel that way.

To me, having it all means going after what you want, whether that be a high powered career with a cushy corner office or a play date with the other moms in your neighborhood or both. The idea of having it all should really be re-framed as “have whatever the hell you want.”

If I had a dollar for every women I knew who has juggled kids, marriage and career, I’d be rich. Has it been easy for them? Heck no! And for every woman who juggles, there are women for whom juggling is not ideal. The one size fits all idea of happiness is a lie and the sooner we take hold of what happiness looks like for each of us, the better off we’ll be.

What are your thoughts on “having it all”? What does having it all look like for you?

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10 Things To Stop Worrying About Today!

By July 17, 2012 Life, Life Advice
Diane Keaton by Annie Leibovitz

We’ve all been there. We make a mistake and spend hours, days and sometimes weeks worrying about our snafu. We spend precious time sweating over things we can’t control and for what?!

According to famed life guru Wayne Dyer, “It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them and why worry about things you control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.”

In addition to keeping us stuck, constant worrying is linked to higher levels of stress, anxiety and serious health problems like heart attack.

Now while worrying about the big things in life like bills and money may not vanish at the drop of a blog post, there are a few minor things we can officially stop worrying about. Here are ten of those things.

1. Your Follower Count

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever social media site you’re obsessed with today. In the grand scheme of life, how many followers you have matters as much as whether Kim K and Beyonce become friends. It’s a non-mfing factor.

2. Other People’s Business

We are a society obsessed with each other. It’s part of the reason social media has become so popular. We love knowing what the next person is doing, wearing and buying. But honestly, these things rarely have any bearing on our own lives and worrying or dedicating your time to others is something you can stop today.

3. Who your Trashy Ex-Boyfriend is dating

He’s your ex-boyfriend for a reason. And if he mistreated you, should you really care who the next chick is?  If you must, get a good look at her and then move on. Chances are he hasn’t changed and you’ve got bigger and better things to worry about: namely yourself!

4. Whether your bra & panties match

On “special occasions” yes matching lingerie is preferable but on an everyday not so much. I know women who obsess over this and in a perfect world, my unmentionables would match every day, but sometimes it doesn’t really work out that way. Making sure they’re clean is about all I worry about.

5. That Typo in your last blog post/work email/etc…

We’ve all been there. We craft a great email, post, tweet and press send only to find out it has a glaring typo. Doh! Before you get your unmatched panties in a bunch, realize one thing: the message is already sent. Unless its something like your client’s name spelled wrong, move on. If it happens to be a big blunder; correct, apologize and move on.

6. What *Insert Reality TV Star* is wearing/dating/basically anything they’re doing

This goes hand in hand with #2 but a level deeper. Reality stars are the new influencers but waiting on their every move is ridiculous. Stop worrying about what the latest TV star is doing, wearing, sleeping with because tomorrow there will be another show to focus on. It’s a conveyor belt that we should get off.

7. The Oh So Distant Future

Caring about your future is important, obsessing over it is not. Make plans, put in work and let God do the rest. That’s pretty much all you can do.

8. The Far Away Past

Your past doesn’t have to be your present, unless you make it that way. Leave the past in the past.Take time to examine and learn from your mistakes. Take strides to avoid making the same mistakes and close the door, matter of fact slam that sucka shut, never to reopen!

9. The Moves Others are Making

It’s easy to get caught up in the successes of others. Avoid lamenting others wins and becoming green with envy. Instead turn inward and see how you can accomplish your own goals.

10. How You Look to Others

Caring about your appearance and how you present yourself is great. But don’t let that care dictate who you are and what you do. Worrying too much about what others think of you is detrimental to your autonomy and individuality.

How do you deal with worrying? What advice would you give to stop worrying?

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Take Back Your Summer: How to Enjoy Summer While Working a 9 to 5

By June 28, 2012 Career, Career Advice, Life, Life Advice
Summer Fridays

While adulthood has its merits, there are a few things you miss once you become a full-fledged “grown up”. One thing high on the list is summer vacation. Gone is the freedom between June and August, no school or homework worries. As a working professional summer is spent in doors 9-5, staring out the window, dreaming of the beach. Oh wait, maybe it’s just me that does that. 

But summer doesn’t have to be a glass case of emotion. You can take back your summer and enjoy the warm weather, cool cocktails and summer fun just like you did when you were a kid. Maybe a little more now that you can afford all of the summer fun. 

Check out these ways to enjoy summer even if most of it is spent indoors. 

Go on Lunch

This seems like pretty obvious advice, non? Well us working ladies sometimes have to pull ourselves away from the screen. Break up your day by going outside for lunch. Dine al fresco and enjoy the glorious weather, if only for an hour.

Happy Hours Anyone

Summers were made for happy hours and most bars & lounges in your city have free flowing summer HHs. Take advantage and hit a spot you’ve been meaning to try. Set up a monthly meet up with your other overworked girlfriends and find a roof top to take in the sun after work. Your local City Paper should have info on upcoming events and specials. 

Take Your Vacation Days

Vacation days, PTO, whatever you call them, they are a blessing! And you should appreciate all your blessings :) Even if you don’t have a destination to hop to, you can take your vacation to lounge around the house, go on a road trip or simply do nothing in your own backyard. Having no obligations, makes summer that much sweeter and apparently taking vacation is good for your health

Pro Tip: Stockpile your vacation days in the winter and then take them in the summer. Check with your company’s HR department to make sure this is acceptable or not, of course! 

Bookend your Holidays

Another good use of your vacation days is to sandwich your holiday time and extend your time off. Most companies give time off for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Use your vacation to take the days around the holiday off and BAM! long weekend here you come! Stay at the shore a little longer or take advantage of holiday travel deals. 

Take Advantage of Summer Fridays

Many museums, Piers and art galleries have summer events that cater to working professionals. Museum of Fine Arts Boston hosts a Summer Friday series (open courtyard, flowing wine) and Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing has a Screening Under the Stars movie series (every Thursday). Seek out these events (usually happening from 5:30 – until) to take the edge off after a long day at work. 

Summer is meant to enjoyed and your employer understands that. Take advantage of what time you can take off and remember to get work priorities completed before shutting down!

How do you keep up the summer fun while working a 9 to 5?

(Image Source)

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Let Go, Let Flow: 20 Tips for 20-Something Women

By June 26, 2012 Advice, Empowerment, Life, Life Advice
Rihanna

Christine Hassler/ Jill Esplin

Life is an obstacle course and sometimes we get over hurdles gracefully and other times we wipe out. It’s par for the course. But navigating life doesn’t have to be land of the unknown. There are so many resources (your parents, mentors, teachers, bosses) who would be more than willing to give you great advice. 

And Christine Hassler may the perfect resource. An inspirational speaker and life coach, Christine’s specialty is dealing with 20-somethings and the issues we face. Graduation, new jobs, burgeoning relationships, self-love, you name it, she’s helped someone through it and with the Today Show, CNN and two books to her credit she knows a thing or two about 20-something life.

We recently spoke with Jill Esplin (a 20-something herself and life coach under Christine’s tutelage) about 20-something women, advice on living and navigating life with style.

1. Be Present: “The key to enjoying life is to be in the moment; in the joy and the upset. Everything happens there”

2. Don’t be Afraid to Make Mistakes: Jill says that playing safe is the surest way to not live. Don’t be so worried about making an epic mistake. Our 20’s our the time to experiment, fall on our faces and get back up.

3. Get Off the Internet: (after you read Stylish Thought of course): Jill says with passion, “You don’t find your passion online. You find it by doing it. So many 20-somethings think they can Google their way to a dream life. You have to go and explore”

4. Forget about Work/Life Balance: “I don’t believe in balance. Instead of trying to achieve balance, strive to be present.”

5. Stop caring about what other people think: Other people’s opinions are none of your business.

6. “Choose Me Before We”: Jill urges young women to put themselves ahead of finding “the perfect partner” Take 40 days to focus solely on yourself and see how more in tune with your needs you become.

7. Understand that Soulmates are Everywhere: “Soulmates are anyone your soul learns a lesson from”, says Jill.

8. Take the plunge: In our twenties, hopefully we’re not burdened with houses, mortgages and kids, so deciding to start a business or move across country is a simple decision. Ask yourself, what do you want?

9. Follow your passions; wherever they lead: You don’t have to quit your job but take small steps like starting a blog or a creative project and before you know you’ll be living your dream.

10. Don’t tolerate nonsense: “When your self-love increases, you can walk away from situations and people who not self-serving.”

11. Change your self-talk: So often we speak negatively about ourselves. Jill says in order to make positive changes in our lives we have to change our self talk and affirm our strengths instead of beating ourselves up

12. Take time to yourself: 20 minutes a day to chill, relax, breathe and stop the stress you may feel over life.

13. Understand, no one has it figured out: This is very affirming to hear from a life coach. Take the pressure off of yourself to figure life out and start enjoying life.

14. Get help, when necessary: Therapy may seem scary, but if you’re experiencing more struggle than you think normal or going through a quarter-life crisis, talking with a life coach or therapist may be just what you need.

15. Walk your Talk: This is harder said than done, but Jill advises that if you want happiness you have to choose happiness. Simplistic but  true.

16. Assess how you’re living: Are you in a lackluster job, an unhealthy relationship? Examine what’s going on in your day to day experiences and take time to envision where you would like your life to go and set a plan.

17. Bookend Your Day: Start your day with silence and solitude. End your day with the same.

18. Embrace your Friendships: Friendships in our twenties hopefully build into long-lasting relationships. Cherish your friendships and embrace and nurture your girlfriends.

19. Make tough decisions: In a world of limitless choices, Jill tells young women to listen to their hearts and make a choice. Keep yourself moving, by making a decision and don’t get caught up in worrying about whether it was the right one or not.

20. Know that you can’t mess up your destiny! Or as Bethenny Frankel says, “All roads lead to Rome” What you do in between is your journey, embrace your journey!

To learn more about Christine and her individual coaching visit http://www.christinehassler.com and L.A. ladies check out her latest Women’s Retreat

My ladies, what are some things you would tell your 20-something selves? 20-somethings, what advice is helping you navigate life?

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10 Things I’d Tell my Daughter about Love, Relationships, Men & Sex

By June 13, 2012 Life Advice, Love Advice, Relationships
Nsync

I am by no means a relationship expert (I just play one on the Internet) but at 28ish years of age, I’ve had my fair share of great relationships, bad ones, boo-tay calls and the like. Recently, I was going through a ton of old high school journals that my mother saved for me. Most of it was standard teenage rhetoric; boredom, self-loathing, hating high school and of course boys, love and sex.

My Teenage Dreams!

Image Source

As I flipped through the entries, I realized that as I wrote about not having time for a serious boyfriend, there was still a want there. And as most young girls won’t tell you, they care about boys, A LOT. If my journals are any indication, I was a teenage girl infatuated and confused by boys, being in love and having sex. Yikes. Looking back from my now vantage point, I’ve learned a bit (and am still learning) about love, men and relationships. 

Inspired by a post on the hilarious relationship blog Very Smart Brothas of the same title, I thought what if I could sit with my imaginary daughter (or teenage self).

What would I tell her? What lessons about love, relationships and men could I share. Here’s what I came up with. Hopefully, she’ll have a journal one day to look back on. 

1. Boys are not the Entire Universe

As young girls we’re taught to believe that the world revolves around boys. As we mature we realize that men are only a part of life and not the main aim or motivation for living. I would tell my young daughter that boys are not the end all be all and life will be much fuller and richer if she learns to do things for herself instead of winning the charms of some guy. 

2. You Will Experience Heartbreak. It will Make you Wiser, Stronger & Better

Heartbreak is inevitable. Show me someone who’s never had their heart broken and I’ll show you someone who never stepped out on a limb or truly loved. Heartbreak can feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. I would hope my daughter would realize that while you may get hurt in love, you will always be OK.

3. Your High School Sweetheart will not make it all the way

There are exceptions to every rule but in my eyes serious relationships are for adults not young kids. I would tell her not to get too attached to any one boyfriend and to know that just because you start together doesn’t mean you’ll end up together.

4. Books Before Boys. Trust Me

School comes first. Smart girls are the best girls. And if a boy doesn’t like you because he says you’re a nerd, kick him in the nuts. 

5. If it’s not working, break up!

Echoing #3, serious relationships are not for young people. I think being young is for getting to know yourself and what you want out of life. If a relationship is causing you unnecessary stress, keep it moving.

6. Keep Your Cookies in a Jar

Sex is great between two consenting adults. But sex changes things and having it too early or with certain expectations can be a recipe for mis-communication and hurt feelings. Plus I would want to make sure she has a strong grasp on having safe sex, her body and being comfortable enough with her sexuality to ask for what she wants. 

7. Respect is the Minimum

Respect is a non-negotiable. If he doesn’t respect women at a very base level, stay away. And remember he has to work to win you, not the other way around. 

8. Friends before Boys

In life, there will be plenty of moments when your girlfriends will be more instrumental than any man. Remember to not disregard your friends for a guy.  And please don’t let me catch you fighting with your best friend over a boy. That will be your tail. You shouldn’t even be thinking about boys! 

9. There’s always another guy

He broke up with you and it feels like the end of world. Trust me it’s not. School will still be in session tomorrow, your homework will still be due and there will be another guy around the bend. This is at the very foundation of what I hope to teach my kids, but especially my daughter, who society will try to brainwash every chance it gets to settle for less than she deserves. 

10. Trust your Instincts & Expect the Best

Don’t demand, simply expect. Expect the best treatment, the best friendship, the best that he has to offer and don’t be afraid to walk away. Give your best and remember nobody’s perfect but trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

These are just a few of the things I hope to teach my daughter one day about love, men, relationships and sex. I would also like to teach her to not to sweat the small stuff, order pitiful salads on dates or trust men who don’t open doors, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. 

Stylish Thinkers, what lessons would you tell your daughter (real or imagined) about love, relationships, sex and men?

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