Friday, October 10, 2014

Style Matters

What Not to Wear

Lately I've been thinking about style and why it matters. 

One of my favorite shows, which sadly no longer airs, is What Not to Wear

If you're unfamiliar, Stacy and Clinton would approach a poorly dressed person who had been nominated by family and friends to be on the show and give them a complete makeover and offer them tips for how to best present themselves. Of course it's all done in an entertaining way and fits into an hour of TV. You may think this is shallow, stupid, and unimportant, but I TOTALLY disagree.

You see, most often the people picked out were people who didn't think they were good enough to look nice. People who saw no value in themselves. People who forgot to take care of themselves. People who had no confidence and a host of insecurities. The show took on men as well as women, but most often I saw women so insecure that they sought for attention by dressing like tacky strippers or mothers who got so lost taking care of others they forgot about themselves.

At the beginning of each show, contributors were often angry, hurt, and/or defiant. But because Stacy and Clinton do this to help rather than to embarrass, by the end, they were always happier, including the people who would, in the beginning, say things like "Well, I like how I dress, and if you don't I don't care." After they were forced to make a change, they realized they liked it. They felt stronger, empowered, and beautiful, and it changed them from the outside in, therefore changing and influencing the people around them for the better as well.

Confidence brings change

Yes, that's right. An outward physical change can bring joyful inner change. When you're actually happy with your look, you can suddenly take on the world. Your new-found confidence can change and influence not only you but the people around you. Especially those moms out there. Man, the influence you have on your children is unrivaled. Show them what it's like to have a confident, beautiful, sassy, and successful woman in their life. They NEED that.

Work with whatcha got

This show was not focused on changing your personality or your weight. Big bust? Big tummy? Big thighs? No curves? It's all good. Just look for clothes that fit and flatter your figure. Everyone can look good. Tons of people buy clothes that are way too large (because they can't stand people actually seeing them) or way too small (because they can't accept that they are a bigger size) or way too young (because they are desperately clinging to their youth) or way too weird (because they're afraid to come out from behind their chosen identity, e.g. "the crazy turtle lady"). 

So many people on the show said they didn't want to buy clothes until they lost weight. You are good enough to look good even if you're not at the weight you want to be! Style is not about changing your body; it's about making what you have look its best for a happier and better you.

Making an effort makes you attractive

But it's not just about clothes. Style includes hair and makeup too.

People are attracted to confidence and beauty. And that doesn't mean you have to look perfect, but someone who puts effort into their appearance is attractive. Take a look at this before and after of makeup/hair.
Obviously, this is one pretty lady before and after, but which of the two would you rather see every day? If you ran into the woman on the left, what are some quick assumptions you might make about her? What about the woman on the right? Guys, which girl would you rather date?

And now for a guy.

Which of the two would you rather see every day? If you ran into the man on the left, what are some quick assumptions you might make about him? What about the man on the right? Ladies, which guy would you rather date?

Just think about that for a moment, please. I'll give you white space for it.

Someone who knows how to enhance their own appearance and does is attractive. Guys and girls alike.

To the dudes

It is so refreshing when I see a guy putting effort into his appearance. Guys, you always want the attractive girl, right? But what are you doing to be more physically attractive yourself? I hope you realize that most girls spend a lot of time to look nice. Hair alone is pretty much the bane of our existence, but we do it, and it looks pretty amazing most of the time because we take the time. You appreciate that, don't you? Surprise! We appreciate it too. So I recommend taking the 2 minutes it takes to do your hair. It's worth it. (Bonus: if you're in a relationship, taking the time to look nice shows that you honor and respect your partner and want to look good for him/her.)

Don't know where to start when it comes to clothes or even hair? You have lots of online resources, especially Pinterest. Experiment with different looks. Be patient and take time in the store to buy things that work for younot just something that simply covers you. I know how you fellas are. You think shopping is the worst! But please, take the time. It's worth it. (Bonus tip: A well-tailored and modern suit is HECKA attractive.) 

And I'm sure if you're really lost, you have a stylish friend or two who would be absolutely delighted to help.

Your dress tells people how to treat you

When I was in high school my mom told me that when she went into the school office, she was treated differently depending on what she was wearing. Frumpy clothes = she wasn't treated well. A nice dress = she was acknowledged promptly and with respect. People make subconscious assumptions all the time, so people treat you differently depending on what you wear. And I know that we all like to think this isn't the case and that it shouldn't be the case, but the fact remains that it is. If you want to be treated well, dress well.

A great article is like a beautiful person

Since I'm an editor, I'm totally making this connection. It's happening.

I liken personal style to grammatical style. You can write a fantastic article with an interesting perspective and great points linked together perfectly, but if you have grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, your article loses its power and its art for something that could have been fixed fairly easily with a little extra time and attention to detail. (It makes me so sad!) It's the same with style. You can be a gorgeous, wonderful, magnificent person on the inside, but if you dress like a box, it will take a lot of time and effort for someone to see that. Make yourself look good and you'll make yourself and other people realize that you're worth it!

Want to enhance your style? Find great tips from What Not to Wear here! There are also hilarious clips over there.

Style is about looking your best so you can take on the world confidently. And so, it matters!!! Go forth and style yourselves!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lucy Scholl | Blue Eyes

I discovered this country-esque song a few months ago thanks to my friend Steve. It's pretty much amazing; I would love to hear it on the radio sometime. :-)

Love it!

How to Know if a Guy Likes You

This is for all my lady friends out there who are constantly wondering, "Does he like me?"

Would you like the simple answer? Okay, the answer is "No, he doesn't. Sorry."

Okay, need more explanation? Alright, here goes.

If the average guy likes you, you just know. Especially if you're confident and observant. I say confident because there are girls who don't realize how desirable they are, and they truly don't believe it when a guy is interested in them—I've totally been there. And I say observant because sometimes the important things are a bit subtle, and if you're not good at reading into words and body language, this could be tough.

But basically, he'll make an effort to spend time with you or catch your attention. He'll do some or all of the following:

  • Invite you to things (movie night, game night, party, church activity, etc) OR simply go for it and ask you out
  • Eagerly accept your invitations to things (Oh, you're going to get frozen yogurt? Of course I'm in. Mango tart is my fave!)
  • Talk to you (Oh hey, we're both on Facebook. Let's chat.)
  • Sit by you (Is this seat taken by chance?) and sit close to you (oh yeah, arms touching and everything!)
  • Get on your friends' or family's good sides (Let me help with the dishes!)
  • Smile around you—a lot (Like, a lot.)
  • Be very agreeable (Oh yeah, I totally love T.J.Maxx too!)
  • Do things he wouldn't normally want to do (I would LOVE to watch a chick flick during my favorite team's football game.)

If he's doing those things, he definitely likes you. If he's not doing those things—and I say this pretty generally but also pretty confidently—he's just not that into you. There's no need to waste away your days wondering. That doesn't mean he couldn't like you at a future date. I've seen it before, but I wouldn't lounge around waiting for it, and I wouldn't waste my time trying to get him to like me either, because there's nothing more unattractive than a fake, especially one who won't take a hint.

And yes, I've written this for girls to know if guys like them, but guess what? It's pretty much the same the other way around.

Happy dating!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hiding Place

Earlier this year I started reading again, and one of the first books I picked up was The Hiding Place, recommended to me by my friend Meisha. I had no idea what it was about when I started, but I quickly learned that it was something magnificent. When I finished the book, I felt so inspired to be a better person. Everything that Corrie ten Boom went through, everything she did, everything she saw, everything she survived, everything she risked, everyone she helpedit's incredible. Definitely my new favorite book.

Read it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You Girls Know What I'm Talking About

(Wrote this a bit ago. Just getting around to publishing it.)

I want you to know that as I write this, it is 4 o'clock in the morning. If you know me, you know I am NEVER EVER awake at this time. However, I simply can't sleep, so I figure I may as well write about why.

I am in a lot of pain; I'm on my period.

I know some of you fellas might not want to know about this, but the thing is, you really ought to. It may provide a little understanding toward the fairer sex, and as I hope you know by this point, women like to be understood and validated. (Everyone does, really.) I'm really not sure why periods have been so taboo, even now, when we seem to talk openly about pretty much everything. It's really quite silly since almost every female between the ages of 12 and 55 goes through this about every month. It's a normal and natural thing, so if you think it's gross, you just have to get over it at some point or another. It may as well be now.

So. Women have this approximately monthly thing called a period. Basically what happens each month is a nice nutrient-rich lining is created in the woman's uterus so that, should impregnation occur, there is a healthy/comfy spot for a fetus to begin growing. If it doesn't occur, then this lining is released during the menstrual cycle. Biologically, this sounds like a great plan! However, in practice, I think most women would attest that it's extremely sucky. What it feels like is that my body is throwing a giant temper tantrum because I didn't get pregnant. It hurts. Sometimes when it's happening, I try to think of ways to describe it. "It feels like someone is taking a sledgehammer to my insides." "It feels like someone is taking my organs and squishing them in their fist." Here are some other fabulous attempts at explaining the feeling of menstrual cramps.

Periods are a real pain. And each of us women seem to experience periods differently. Some of us don't have them to begin with. Those who train very hard athletically or those who are underweight don't have periods. For those that do, some feel more pain than others. Some breeze through it while others seem to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. A girl once told me that she threw up during her period every. single. time. I can't even imagine.

The period lasts about 4-5 days, and the pain, in my opinion, is unpredictable. It's kind of off and on for a couple of days at the start. This pain is normal but rather inconvenient. During those couple of days, athletic endeavors (for me) are avoided. Sometimes it makes it really hard to concentrate on things or do work! Honestly, sometimes I just want to say heck with it and take a sick day. Occasionally I do. Sometimes cramps really cramp our style. Some women use birth control to regulate their periods and this sometimes also alleviates pain. We can also take drugs like Midol, but trust me, we can still feel what's happening.

And then there's the emotional side of the menstrual cycle. Some women don't experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Others do. I find my emotions are very near the surface sometimes, and when I take the time to think it through, I can usually link it to my period. In the past, occasionally I felt like I was going crazy! Like, really. It's not fun to feel emotionally out of control. Luckily, as the years have gone on, I've learned more about how to manage these physical and emotional disturbances.

So anyway, I don't really want to go into any more details there. Just know that periods are painful and just

and sometimes that battle is with Aunt Flo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gel Nails

I'm a girl, and I like to look pretty. That's why I like to paint my nails. But man, using regular nail polish is a big pain in the neck. It chips within two days, and it's hard to get it all off cleanly. It always ends up looking tacky, and you have to reapply, remove, reapply, remove, reapply. UGH.

But around Christmas I bought myself everything I needed to start doing gel nails, and I'm so happy about it! Seriously, one of the best purchases ever.

Reasons gel nails ROCK
  • They last about 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS, people. You might get a tiny bubble or a chip before then, but it's still waaaay better than regular nail polish
  • Your nails are smoother. The nail polish just dries perfectly and all smooth-like. It feels great.
  • It comes off easier. When it's time to put on a new color, it's really easy to get off the whole thing without using any remover. Should I take the polish off without remover? Someone at a salon would probably say no, but I don't care.
  • My nails are stronger. Somehow the gel is pretty tough, and my nails don't bend or break like they do when they're bare.
  • My nails are longer. Because they are stronger with gel polish, they actually grow! Yay!
  • It doesn't rub or scratch off. When I used regular nail polish, I would find little streaks on my papers occasionally from my nail polish. That doesn't happen with gel nails.
  • I don't have to reapply all the time, which saves me time and patience. Forty minutes every two weeks? I can do that! Forty minutes every five or six weeks for my toes? Psh! Done!
  • It dries immediately. Once you're done, you're done. I know it's hard to believe, but you don't have to worry about smudging and you don't have to worry about doing anything with your hands. They're good to go. It's amazing!
The only drawback is the cost. You do have to get a lamp/dryer thing, but those are a one-time purchase and you can find them on Amazon for $25. (Those dryers are hard to travel with though.) The nail polishes are also about 3x more expensive than regular polish. You can get a base and top coat for about $25 as well, and then each color is between $9 and $15. I think it still comes out to be cheaper since you use it less often.)

If you think you might want to give it a go, I've found that while I preferred OPI regular nail polish, I much prefer the Artistic brand over OPI when it comes to gel nails.

Best of luck!

Monday, August 25, 2014

8 Things I've Learned Since Being on a Diet

I've never been on a diet before. Not until 3 weeks ago when my doctor insisted that I do this very strict cleansing 4-week diet. And even though I was unhappy and overwhelmed by it, I decided that I wanted to get better, even if that meant changing my eating habits, as torturous as that is.

For someone who so often just grabs snack items because cooking is too time-consuming, especially when you're cooking for one, I was not happy to make changes. However, I think I've changed my tune. Here are some things I've learned since 3 weeks ago:

It's super hard at first. Mostly because you don't know what to eat when you're so limited! And anything besides a handful of carrots requires time and effort. But Pinterest and Google are your friends. With a little effort, you can find recipes that you like and that fit your diet. And with a willingness to take some time to cook and prepare and try new recipes, you're sure to find what works for you.

My go-tos?
  • Giant chicken salads (with boiled eggs, avocado, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, corn, and/or sunflower seeds)
  • Omelets (eggs, bell peppers, and turkey)
  • Paleo pancakes (banana, eggs, and cinnamon)
  • Fruit (especially peaches right now OMG)
  • Nuts (mainly cashews)
  • Yam fries (I don't know why everyone calls them sweet potatoes. They're yams.).
You know that feeling you get when you eat a big ol' greasy burger and fries along with a soda? That nasty heavy feeling? You don't feel that eating these things.

It's kind of expensive. I think I've spent a lot more on groceries than usual since I started this thing. Fresh produce, almond milk, and chicken can be kind of costly, but I'm sure I'll get better at preparing more things and shopping the deals better with time.

People are supportive. My friends have been understanding and not tried to tempt me. Thank you to everyone who did not invite me to The Pie. Or Chocolat. Or Bruges. Or any other delicious place.

It's easier to say no when you are motivated and have a set outline for what you can and cannot eat. When you are simply trying to "eat healthier" it's hard to stick with it because there are no real boundaries. And it's hard to say no to friends. The kind of diet that I am on is kind of nice because I can eat as much as I want, but only certain kinds of foods. I don't have to decide if it's worth the calories or not. If it's on the list, I'll eat it. If it's not, I won't.

You're less likely to overeat. When you go out to a restaurant, they give you a giant mound of food. Our societal eating habits are just bad. When you eat only what you prepare, you eat to satisfy. Plus, when you can only eat so many things, you just eat less because there are fewer options and temptations.

Lots of protein keeps you satisfied. I have paleo pancakes or omelets for breakfast every morning. I don't have to eat that much to feel satisfied and I don't feel starving an hour later like I do when I eat cereal. Cereal is so yummy, but it doesn't have much substance.

You can lose weightfast. I've dropped 10 pounds in 3 weeks. That's almost 1 pound every 2 days. That is really fast. Of course, I've been working out a lot as well, but I was doing that before this diet. 

And lastly...

I have a huge sweet tooth. I've never wanted cookies so badly in my life. This is one thing about the diet that is totally unsustainable. I will probably have a cookie at the exact 4-week mark. Even though it's nice in the short term to have black & white rules, I think healthiness and weight management is about balance. It's okay to have some sweets or a burger sometimes, but it should be a small part of your diet.