Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Annoying people at the gym

This is not about generic annoying people at the gym. Not the people who sprint on the treadmill or don't wipe down the machines after using them. Those complaints can wait until another day. I just want to whine about some particular people tonight.

I get to the gym a little early before my yoga class, so I have to listen to the Zumba instructor screech at her minions. Then I notice a man not in gym clothes (what is more irritating than seeing someone in jeans at the gym?) who's waiting around, and later (after eavesdropping on his conversation) I learn he is the screecher's husband. He was waiting for her to finish her class because there was going to be a baby shower for her at the gym afterwards. See, pregnant women already bother me, but then add the Zumba maniacs saying things like, "Every baby is a miracle" (um, no, it's biology. Do you think every puppy or duckling is a miracle? Probably not. Therefore human offspring are not either.) and her hubby saying, "All she talks about is you guys!" (yeah, it's her job. If she were a lawyer she'd talk about her clients. People talk about their work 24/7: it takes up the majority of someone's time!). My yoga class hasn't even started yet, and now I'm going to have to work even harder to de-stress after listening to this rubbish.

Finally, I get settled into my yoga class. Then THREE people show up late. One, just the sound of them coming into the room jostles my concentration. But then there isn't enough space in the back of the room, so I have to move my mat several times in order to make space for these people who don't have the courtesy to be punctual. I'm trying to concentrate on my breathing, and instead I'm wriggling around trying to make other people comfortable. Yeah. You're welcome.

Clearly yoga didn't help me relax, as evidence of this blog rant.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Quote to ponder...

"It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to has power over you...if you allow it." -Leon Brown

Okay, I'm sure my readers are starting to tire of all of my blog posts focused on words of inspiration or deep thought. But I can't help it! Quotes like that speak to me, and since this is my blog, that's what you're gonna have to read about today. 

I am an over-thinker. I obsess over everything. I recently read an article on beliefnet.com that said perfectionists always think about the past or the future rather than living the present. That describes me to a T. I'm either thinking about what happened in the past and how I could have done it better, or I'm thinking about the future and where my life is taking me. And I will admit that these thoughts do consume me rather frequently: I can easily ponder for hours why X happened or if Y will ever happen to me or if Z person is ever going to come around, etc. (hence why I don't like spending time alone, because this is inevitably what's going to happen). So, yes, I do let my obsessing have power over me. 

But I am trying to work on it. Whenever thoughts about things I can't control (i.e. the past, future, time itself) enter my mind, I try to push them away with other thoughts of the present. What always brings me back is thinking how wonderful my life is right now, right at this moment. So much of my life is perfect: I have family and friends who are always there for me, I have a great apartment in an awesome city, I have my dream job...So if I'm worried about the future, I try to tell myself, "Don't think about what's going to happen, because you'll never know until the time comes. Think about how great things are now." And then I convince myself that because things are great now, they will be in the future, too. Not that I'm building up high expectations or anything...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pity Friendships

Does everyone have that one friend who they still talk to just because they've known each other forever? I have one friend whom I've known my entire life, but as the years have gone by, we really don't have anything in common anymore. We're at different stages in our lives, we have different interests...We wouldn't be friends if we had just met. But the past keeps us together, and obligates us to stay in touch. Well, obligates me to stay in touch. I believe my friend thinks we have a good friendship, and I assume she enjoys spending time together and talking with me (since she's always the one who initiates things). But the friendship certainly does more for her than for me. Talking on the phone with her or meeting her for lunch is like a chore more than anything else: something I need to check off my to-do list, but not something I look forward to. It's just the she does all the talking, I don't get a word in edgewise, and we talk about the same things every time anyway: her school, her family, her future. She'll ask me, "So how have you been?" out of politeness, but as soon as I say, "Fine" the conversation immediately turns back to her. If any other friend treated me this way, I'd simply cut him or her out of my life. My mantra for friends is, "If you don't make me feel like a f***ing ray of sunshine every time we're together, then I don't want to be friends with you." But I feel like she needs me. I'm her one normal friend who's moving forward in life; I bring stability to this friendship rather than chaos or dysfunction. I want to be there for her when she needs someone to talk to, but it's an unequal friendship. It's not like she's the person I go to when I need a shoulder to cry on or when I want to talk about a great date. I assume we will continue get together every couple of weeks out of the routine we've created, but I do wonder if I'm going to be in this "pity friendship" forever...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to tell your man might be gay...

First of all, I want to start off by saying that I do not mean to offend anyone (homosexual or otherwise) with this post. These are just personal observations of my own. I have nothing against gay or lesbian people, and I completely support gay civil rights, including the right to marry. Since I am not a member of the LGBT community, I am open to discussion if you have any comments about anything I write! It's always good to look at a topic from different perspectives.

I removed the contents of this blog post because, even WITH the disclaimer above, I still received backlash about the post. I will apologize to anyone whom this blog post offended, but as you can see from the statements above, that was never my intention.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Silly traditions

Random thoughts for the day (oh, wait, that's all of my blog posts...):

You know how some athletes have a routine they do before they make a move? Like a tennis player bouncing a ball three times before tossing it for a serve? Or a baseball player swinging the bat a couple of times before settling in for a pitch? Well, I have little traditions like that for myself. I like to take in a deep breath (what I call a "cleansing breath") right before I close by eyes to go to sleep. For the last two years I've worn orange on my birthday (it's a happy color that draws lots of attention). I always wear light pink nail polish for important occasions (it looks best on my skin tone, whether I'm tan from the sun in the summer or pale in the middle of winter). And while I have teeny reasons for doing them, I can't help but continue to do these little things. "Humans are creatures of habit," and once we start doing something, we just settle in and repeat. Some of these habits are unhealthy (like smoking a pack a day), while others are so miniscule you wonder why you even do them over and over again.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must"

"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up."
-Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathonman

This quote came inside my Kona Kase* last month, and has been all over the news ever since the Boston Marathon bombing. I think these words were very pertinent to the tragedy: the victims, their families, the bystanders-made-heroes, etc. never gave up even in such a shocking, terrible situation. A mantra like this is important to carry with you all through life, and you pray that your hard times will never be as horrific as what all of those people in Boston (and in West, Texas for that matter) have had to face recently. But even if your troubles are small and petty compared to these situations, they still can affect you negatively, and you want to make sure you have an attitude that will allow you to pull through anything, no matter how big or small. Keep things in perspective, persevere, and you'll end up on top. 

*Read my blog post about Kona Kase here.

"Don't you worry, child."

"Don't you worry, don't you worry, child.
See heaven's got a plan for you.
Don't you worry, don't you worry now."
-Swedish House Mafia

Every time I hear this song, I immediately feel happier, no matter what my mood was beforehand. It's got a good beat and is fun to dance to. But more importantly, the lyrics above just give me a sigh of relief. I'm a worry-wart and over-think things ALL the time. And as a perfectionist, I'm always thinking about what I'm doing wrong, or what I'm not accomplishing, etc. But the idea of taking a step back, breathing deeply, and letting God take care of things is such a calming thought. Maybe it's lazy, thinking God is going to do all the work for you and making your life what it is. I believe in making your own destiny, but I also believe God is there all the time helping you make it happen. So make goals and work hard to achieve them, but have faith that God is watching over you and leading you right where you need to be. We don't have all of the answers, but He does. So don't worry: He's got a plan for you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Consignment Shops

I started writing this post and then forgot all about it! So here it is:

The summer after graduation, I started consigning a bunch of my clothes (and other stuff like jewelry, books, etc.) to make a little extra money (at the time I was a waitress/bartender/beer-cart girl at a local golf course, and though I made good tips, I wanted to save up a bit more). I was living with my parents at the time, so I used a local consignment store, Babies in Bloom. I first started with clothes that I didn't really like anymore, or that I liked but never actually wore. Then I helped my mother purge her closet, making her get rid of items that were too reminiscent of the 1980's or 1990's (sweaters with some sort of picture on the front, shirts with little cartoon animals on them, etc.). By the end of the summer, I had made over $200, and at the same time cleared out room for new clothes. And whatever wasn't sold by the end of the season was donated, which I thought was a really nice touch.

Since moving to the DC area, I have looked at consignment stores here, but have found them to be wanting. Current Boutique in Bethesda was the first one I've used, and I was very disappointed. For one, you only get 1/4 of what you paid for something. Let's say you want to consign a dress that was $100. You tell the store that's what you paid, they sell it for $50, and you get $25. Lame: you might as well take the time to sell it on Ebay. Plus, they are very choosy about what items they'll take. I had a Ralph Lauren shirt and a brand new pair of leather boots, and they wouldn't take them! But on the racks were these horribly ugly dresses that I know have been there for months since the store first opened. At least their new items (i.e. not consigned) are gorgeous, but good luck finding something that's less than $68 in that section.

I have also consigned with Mustard Seed. Their prices are also a little high for me (especially their new merchandise), but I was able to sell some pants that I had ordered online that didn't fit, so at least I could make up some of the money I had spent on them. And while I have not consigned with Reddz Trading, I have bought things there. I got a super-sexy red dress (imagine something you would have worn to your high school homecoming dance) for $20. Now that's a deal! I've also seen fur coats there being sold for less than $100. I always see cute things when I go in there, and all in all I think the prices are reasonable (again, that's my view as a customer, not as a consigner).

I highly recommend consignment in general for young women who are living on a budget. Not only can you make a little money for yourself by selling your old stuff, but you can also get a new wardrobe without breaking the bank! Honestly, besides shoes, I can't remember that last time I spent more than $30 on a single item, new or consigned. And I'm still a fashionista!

"Ready for Love"

I apologize for another late post...

Tonight is the third episode of the new reality TV show, "Ready for Love." I randomly came across the premiere one night after yoga, and now I'm hooked. It's a train wreck you just can't look away from.

It's sort of the like "The Bachelor" except there are three men. Each of them starts with 12 women, hand-picked by three matchmakers (somehow Patti Stanger was overlooked), and each episode they have to send girl(s) home. There are the loathed group dates and then the individual "alone time" dates. And in the end, these men hope that each of them will find "The One." Out of 12 women. Yeah...Anyhoo, the show is pretty "normal" when it comes to dating reality TV shows. There are the hot tub make-out sessions, the petty cat fats between the girls, and women crying after two dates saying, "I loved him so much!" It's all so ridiculous and silly, but I am just so curious to see who "wins." I'll note that the show is pretty predictable as to who is sent home, so I figure I already know who's going to remain at the very end. It's just too easy to guess!

My main thought is: if these guys are so good-looking and rich, why are they still single? Something's gotta be wrong with them, but what? Maybe we'll learn about their baggage and dirty laundry as the season continues...

Watch on NBC at 9pm every Tuesday! And follow me on Twitter (@KEArion) for live tweets during the show!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"To the Wonder"

I saw the new Ben Affleck movie "To the Wonder" yesterday. What a waste of time! Granted, had a known ahead of time it was an artsy-fartsy film with little dialogue, at least I would have known what I was getting myself into. But instead I was thinking, "Hmm, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams: sounds like a nice love story!" Um, no. Not at all.

The plot is a romance story. Or, at least the main storyline has to do with a man and a woman. But the actual love part of it is difficult to see. Many of the scenes show a woman (either McAdams or Olga Kurylenko) dancing in a field with Affleck following close behind; occasionally you see Ben and one of these women rolling around together, be it in a bed or on the floor of a partially-furnished house. There is little talking between characters, just monologues in the background (mostly in French. Yay, subtitles!). But you figure between the crying and the fighting and the fact that Affleck's character flip-flops between women that this is a dysfunctional story from start to finish.

Let's just cut to the chase. There's no plot or storyline. Plus you go back and forth in time so even if there were an actual plot to follow you'd get confused anyway. All I know is that I left that movie wondering how Affleck's character falls in love with a French woman speaking very little French (i.e. none) himself, and why I spent $9 and 2+ hours watching what is essentially clips of nothingness.

The only positive of this experience is that the three main characters are well-respected, good looking actors. I saw the film in the first place because Affleck was in it; usually I enjoy seeing his face for 2 hours. Rachel McAdams is one of my favorite actresses, from "The Notebook" to "The Time Traveler's Wife"; she looks good no matter what hair color she has, and she has the perfect body. As does Kurylenko, who I never took note of before until this film, but she's gorgeous. So it's a pretty film, not just the actors but most the scenery, too (the cinematography has a big focus on nature, which is nice). So if you do want to see this movie, rent it from Red Box (or stream from Netflix; I'm sure it'll be there soon enough), put it on mute, and play it in the background as if it were a moving piece of artwork.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Playing house

I think it's fun having my own place and taking care of it. But I must say that there are times I am disappointed that some of my peers do not treat their living space as a home. Once you are no longer living with your mother (or legal guardian), this means it is your responsibility to clean up after yourself and to keep tidy the places that you call your own.

I am not saying I am the perfect housekeeper. But I will admit that I am more of a neat freak now than I used to be; when something is yours, it feels more special and important! I like to think I haven't gone overboard though in my neatness. Here is my (rather) regular cleaning routine:

1. Vacuuming. I never liked vacuuming when I lived at home, so when I first got to college, I said, "No more!" My freshman year, I think my roommate and I vacuumed 3 times the entire year. Yep, we were pretty gross. But as the years went by I began to do it more often. Vacuuming is a chore that should be done once a week (once a DAY of you have hairy pets). Even though you can't see it, there is hair, dust, etc. caught in your carpet and resting on top of your other floor surfaces. Usually I vacuum when I know I will be having guests; luckily that happens about every week, so this is an easy one to remember to do.

2. Dusting. Also not my favorite. Again, this one tends to get ignored because, until dust builds up so much that you can write your name in it, you really don't notice it. But who wants to let it go that far? My grandma dusts her apartment once a week, but I'd say I do it about once a month. Though I know I should do it more often, it's still a chore that feels daunting. But once I see the TV screen begin to gather a layer of dust, it inspires me to dust the whole apartment. This means all surfaces, including window sills and floor molding. It would also include knick-knacks, but again, because I'm trying to keep a tidy home, I have few of those to worry about.

3. Cleaning the bathroom. This is definitely a chore that I have yet to master or do completely. I do regularly wash the bathmat inside of the bathtub because things can start to grow on it because of all the moisture (do all bathrooms inevitably grow mold or fungus somewhere in the room?). And I Windex the mirror and wipe down the sink anytime I think either of them begins to look grody. I occasionally Swiffer the floors, but not nearly as often as I should. And the only interaction I've had with my toilet (other than, ahem...you know...) is fixing its handle earlier this year (read all about it in a previous blog post). So this is a work in progress...

4. Cleaning the kitchen. Again, not my proudest achievement. I do sweep on average once a month (more often when a mirror broke in there...7 years of bad luck...). I wipe down the counters with an OCD-like passion (something I never cared about until I got my own place), but the microwave and stove-top frequently are neglected. So I'm working on this one, too, but at least I don't have dirty dishes everywhere (thank goodness for dish washers!).

5. Laundry. For this, another previous blog post. Just don't let it pile up and stink up the whole place...

So, in general, this list is not very long. It's just the basics, and even I have yet to perfect cleaning my apartment. But these couple of things should start off your journey to becoming a good housekeeper (important for everyone, but mostly for women, let's be honest. Just one more step closer to becoming a Stepford Wife!).

Is fashion art?

"Fashion is not art. Stores are not museums...You go to stores to buy clothes. You do no go to stores to look at clothes."
-Nina Garcia, judge on Project Runway

No offense, Nina, but I do think fashion is art.

But, we must make the distinction between fashion and clothes. There is a grey overlap, but there are some fashion pieces that are not clothes, and some clothes that cannot be considered fashion. A button-down shirt and a pair of slacks is not fashion; that is just fabric you wear to work because you cannot go to work naked. But there is nothing unique or fashionable about it. On the other hand, there are pieces of artwork that are made to frame a human body, but they are not really meant to be worn in day-to-day life. Take for example Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (click here for some images). These creations are beautiful pieces of art, but no one is actually going to buy one of them and wear it out and about.

And as for shopping, sometimes I do just go to stores to look. Since I'm living on a budget, I rarely go into a store like Escada or Gucci expecting to actually make a purchase. I just like looking at the gorgeous gowns and super-fancy handbags. I get pleasure out of looking at pretty things; I don't have to own them to enjoy them in some way.

I am very surprised that Nina, someone who is completely engulfed in the fashion world, would even think to say that fashion is not art. I believe any form of creativity can be described as art in some sense; when fashion designers create something new and different, whether it actually could be sold commercially or not, it is art.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Feeling like you belong

"When you prove to your peers that you're a winner, that's everything."
-Zac Posen, judge on Project Runway, Season 11

Feeling like you belong is very important for human happiness. Biologically, we are naturally social creatures who need others to help us survive. But this is just more than science. Human social structures are unlike those of any other animal, so complex and over-arching and just different. I'm sure there is scientific literature on this topic that I can reference, but this is a blog, not a research paper, so you'll have to find those on your own. 

I just think Posen's quote is so true. When you're a kid in school, all you want is to be liked and to have friends. As you get older, maybe you hope you're the "leader" of your clique, or that you're a role model for other people. Even though your mom has always told you, "It doesn't matter what other people think," it really does. How you perceive yourself is vastly based on how others see you (again, I myself can't prove this, but I'm sure there are studies out there that can). I can say for a fact that I view myself as a strong, independent woman because that is how my friends see me. I'm the one they can come to for advice; I'm the one who stands by her beliefs no matter what anyone else thinks; I don't need a man to make me feel good about myself. Of course these traits may just be inherent (for example, I'm stubborn by nature, so of course I'm going to stick to my opinions no matter what), but I feel like I stick to this image because it's how people see me. For example, I would never take back a man who did me wrong: I wouldn't do this because I wouldn't want to be with a man who didn't want me, but I also wouldn't do it because I'd wonder how my friends' views about me would change. Would they think I was now a doormat for men to stomp all over? Would they no longer admire me as a strong woman because I didn't stick up to a man who hurt me?

And it's the same for the opposite situation. Let's say you were up for a promotion at work: of course you'd want to get promoted for yourself, but wouldn't you be proud that your co-workers thought highly of you to give you the opportunity? And wouldn't it feel good for your friends outside of work to think you're super-duper awesome?

I'm not saying to make decisions based on what your friends think and to not have a mind of your own. But be aware that how your peers see you has a huge impact on who you are as a person. If your peers think you're a winner, a go-getter, the kind of person who gets things done, most likely you ARE that kind of person. So make up your own mind, but listen to those around you (even when they don't actually say anything).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"As long as we have our inspiration..."

"As long as we have our inspiration, we can get ourselves out of dark places and get to where there is light...The next step is to heal, and regroup, and rejuvenate, and get that inspiration to move forward."
-Michelle Lesniak Franklin from Project Runway, Season 11

I relate strongly to these words. I had never faced adversity until my senior spring of college. I was heartbroken, unemployed, and moved back home with my parents after graduation; all three were huge disappointments for me. The summer after graduation, I finally understood what depression was. I had friends who had gone through depression, and before this, I had always thought, "Why don't they just get over it? Move on a be happy!" But that is so much easier said than done. I probably cried almost every day that summer, wishing I would fall asleep and never wake up so my heart wouldn't hurt anymore, so I wouldn't bring shame to my family. Things got slightly better when I moved to New York City for a change in scenery. I started dating again, and even though I was still living with family (my grandma lives in Queens), being in a city felt like I was moving forward with my life somehow. But I still had times when I prayed so hard for God to answer my prayers and allow me to get a job so I would have something to work on again. 

And I eventually did! Then I had to go through that healing process of pulling myself back together again. My confidence had been so shattered completely that I had to find myself; it was an odd feeling for someone who had walked the straight-and-narrow path for so long. But by surrounding myself with people I love (and who love me), focusing on my body (exercising ~5 days a week and practicing yoga) and mind (LOTS of self-reflection and prayer), and focusing on my professional work like I did my schoolwork in the past, I now am in a much better place. Yes, there are still days that I wonder if there will ever be a day that I don't think about the men who have hurt me. Yes, there are times that I think, "Is this what I'm meant to be doing with my life?" or "Where am I going next?" But all in all, I feel like I'm back on track. I have a great job, I'm living in a cool city, I'm having fun both when I'm with friends and when I'm on my own...I really could not ask for anything more. 

As long as you have something out there that is bigger than yourself to push you through your hard times, you will smile again. This could be your family, friends, faith, job, anything that inspires you to keep going because you know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. You can get through it. And you will be stronger because of it.

Stay tuned for more blog posts with quotes from this one episode of Project Runway (Season 11, Episode 12). A lot of them touched me, or somehow made an impact on me. So my next few posts will have some sort of recurring theme!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Read inspiring articles

Whenever I'm feeling down or just lost (ugh, such an angsty feeling), I like to cheer myself up with inspiring articles. The topics vary. I read: religious articles, talking about how God has a plan for all of us and therefore we are NOT lost; girl-power articles which state that educated women CAN achieve their goals; funny articles, which inspire me to laugh at myself and/or my situation that I have blown out of proportion. Reading articles about your place in life, your age group, gender, etc. can be enlightening and make you feel like there is support out there. Chances are that if you're feeling something, someone else at some point has felt the same way, too. So you are not alone!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Appreciate your parents!

So, like many people, I didn't really start to appreciate everything my parents did/do for me until I went off to college and wasn't with them anymore. Suddenly it hit me that they were paying for my education, they weren't cooking my meals anymore, and I only ever got to see them every three months. While I certainly enjoyed my freedom in college and wasn't really "homesick," over time I was thinking about how close I was to adulthood and how my role models for success are my parents. And they did a pretty good job of raising me into a successful adult (at least I like to think so!). They gave me a life that set me up for achieving all of my goals, from my education to helping me find my apartment to slowly easing me into paying for grown-up things like my cell phone bill. Even this weekend they bought me a brand new laptop for my birthday. How nice is that?!

 And that's just the recent stuff! What about the actual act of raising a child, like spoon-feeding me and taking me to Disney World and dealing with my teenage attitude in high school? The stuff that we only vaguely remember?

Of course it really hit home for me when I graduated from college and didn't have a job. First of all, my parents let me move back in with them. Parents are not obligated to do this! And when I was upset about my state of unemployment (which was every day pretty much), they kept telling me how smart and beautiful I was and how everything was going to work out. And it did!

My parents have always taken such good care of me, and are always there when I need them. So even when you think they're being annoying, your parents have done a lot for you!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dover, DE

Dover, Delaware is one of those cities I always go to when I visit my parents on Delmarva. It's not flashy or fancy or classy or special. BUT it has all of those stores that I need but can't get to easily where I live; plus there's no sales tax in Delaware. So I hit up Sam's Club (mainly for a huge bag of walnuts that will last me for months, and if it's lunchtime you get free samples!), Michael's (I don't do too many arts-and-crafts, but every once in a while I need something for a project), T.J. Maxx (name brands for less!), and the local mall (which I really only go to for Victoria's Secret). But if you want to go as a tourist, you can gamble at Dover Downs, or see a Nascar race at the Dover International Speedway; I have done neither, but they might be kinda fun! And I highly recommend going to the Delaware State Fair in the summer. I have gone almost every year, and I love playing all of the games, seeing the different farm animals (especially baby ones), and going to amazing concerts (Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Travis Tritt, etc.). I don't really think of Dover as a vacation spot, but if you happen to be in the area, you could always stop by.

Pastries for breakfast

I'll admit that I've eaten cake, donuts, and pastries for breakfast during my lifetime. I'm torn as to whether I recommend this or not. On the one hand, if they're already in your house, they're gonna go bad if you don't eat them. Plus, they're delicious. But on the other hand, they have no nutritional value (simply lots of calories), and are honestly foods that you should never eat because of that. I would never eat these foods if other people did not buy them; the most unhealthy breakfasts I eat are at my parents' house because they keep sweets like this in the house. "Everything in moderation," so if you only eat pastries like these (these happen to be from Panera Bread) every once in a while, I guess it's okay. But in general, you're not doing anyone any favors by eating foods like this (especially yourself).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting Outdoors

I have removed this post due to some conflict between my personal and professional life. This post regarded some of my work and my employer, as well as some of our partner organizations. I realize that this was unprofessional for me to speak about my personal experiences with these groups on a particular project. I never meant to offend anyone: I was only hoping to raise awareness for all parties involved and talk about the great work we all do. That was my single intention with this post. All readers: please accept this apology.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Staying fresh in HOT weather

It was in the 90s this week in DC. In April! We went from snow in late March to summer in 3.5 seconds. There's global warming for ya...

Needless to say, I kind of felt like I was melting when I walked outside on those hot days. Not to say that I didn't like it, because I much prefer hot weather to cold, and I will NEVER complain about a sunny day. But the heat can be a teensy bit uncomfortable when you're not used to it. So here are some ways to feel fresher in the heat:

1. Bring your deodorant everywhere. Carry it in your purse or leave a stick in your desk at work, wherever you can access it during the day. Because while it's fun to spend your lunch break out in the sunshine, after about 30 minutes you might feel a little, well, you know (No word sounds polite or ladylike here. Sweaty, damp, smelly...they're all gross, but you know the feeling I'm talking about).

2. Wash your face mid-day. After said lunch break, your face might also feel grimy. I always like to use Clearasil face wipes,which remove the oils and dirt from your skin. In the winter your skin is drier and therefore isn't as oily, but in the summer it's nice to have something with you to remove the shine from your "T-zone."

3. Only wear eyeliner and mascara on your top lid/lashes. Your make-up can start to melt away in the heat, and then you are left with a dark residue of where the make-up was and where it has now migrated to. So to keep from looking like you have dark bags under your eyes in the middle of the day, don't use mascara on your bottom lashes or line your lower lash line.

Be prepared for the warmer weather to come in the next few months (or next week, who knows)!

Charlottesville, VA

I went to Charlottesville for the first time this week, and it was such a cute town! We only walked around the mall area, which is a wide street with lovely shops and unique restaurants along down both sides and tables and chairs running down the middle (with large trees providing shade). It is the perfect place to walk around on a sunny afternoon with your girlfriends. There is also the Free Speech Monument at the end of the mall, which is essentially two large chalkboards where people can write/draw whatever they want. It's not the most beautiful monument (especially compared to those in DC), but I like the idea that it's always changing, and that there can be a dialogue between the sculpture and the viewer.

There is A LOT more to say about Charlottesville, but I've only ever been there once and therefore cannot do it justice. I know that the art and music scenes there are both pretty large, with gallery showings and concerts and festivals happening all the time.

I think Charlottesville is best known for Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson), the University of Virginia, and wineries around the area. So check it out sometime this summer! It's beautiful down there!

Monday, April 8, 2013

If it has a hole in it, throw it away!

Now I like to consider myself a pretty frugal person, and as such I try to make wise use of everything I have. I hate throwing away food, and I take good care of my clothes so I can wear them for years (I even have some skirts that I've had since middle school. And yes, they still fit, thank you very much!). But eventually things wear out. Like everyone else, I too have had a fun polka-dot pair of socks that have eventually grown a hole in the toe. But as much as we like silly, sentimental things like this, it's best to just throw them away. It's unsightly to wear clothing that has holes in it (okay, other than the arm and head holes of a shirt. Let's not get crazy now...). This is a lesson that men learn more slowly than women. You should NOT wear clothes with holes: they are now rags, not items of clothing. Now if you're going to go on saying how some people cannot afford better clothes, I'm going to rebut that with this: If you're reading this blog (i.e. the audience for which this blog is meant), you most likely own a computer or a smartphone, and if you own either of those things, then you can afford to get a new pair of socks. There's no reason to look like a ragga-muffin when you aren't one. So in the trash they go!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's no fun being sick!

Since I've been sick this weekend, I figured I should write a blog post about it. But rather than get into the gross details (vomiting, liquid diarrhea, etc.), I'll just talk about what you should do when you're sick.

1. Get plenty of sleep! I have laid in bed all weekend. Your body is telling you it needs rest so it can focus all of its energy on fighting off whatever bug you have! So even if you feel super-lazy (for someone who is very task-oriented and always likes to being doing something, laying around for 48 hours is very difficult), it's okay to take a day or two off from your life and not think about anything except getting better. And if you're having a hard time falling asleep because you're feeling so sick or achy, I recommend taking an anti-histamine. One of their side effects is drowsiness, so taking Benadryl or Hydroxizine should help; I was out like a light!

2. Make sure to hydrate! My personal preference is ginger ale (although I bet water is better for you). Of course when you're feeling sick you may not want to eat or drink anything because you are afraid you'll just throw it right back up. But even taking little sips is better than nothing. I would allow myself three sips every 20 minutes. This would get some liquid in me without putting too much in my stomach.

3. Take it easy! Even after you're feeling a little (or a lot) better, still take things slow. It can take a little while for your body to recuperate fully, so you don't want to push it too soon. So still lay low at home, hang out mostly in bed, no physical activity, etc. The more time you give your body to recover, the faster the process will be. 

The #1 rule is to listen to your body! If you're hot, strip down, even using a cold wet washcloth on any parts of your body that feel overheated. If you're cold, put on more layers and snuggle with a big blanket. Whatever your body is telling you, do what it says!

Party Pooper

I apologize for another late post, but I have been sick all weekend and have only just been able to feel well enough to sit at my computer.

Friday night I went out for a girls' night with some friends. A couple of us met at my place for a couple of drinks, and then we headed out into the city. Another friend joined us once we got there (she had already been out with other friends). We have another drink, then head out to go dancing. We're having a great time, and then all of a sudden one of the girls goes missing. She texts us saying she's outside the club. I'm having too much of a good time to go get her; I figure if she wants to go home, she can. But she incessantly keeps texting one of the other girls to come outside with her and leave. So this girl cuts another girl's night of fun short just because she's ready to go home.

Now I'll admit that I myself have been the party pooper a couple of times in my life. If I'm with a group and they want to go to Six Flags or go bowling (two things I just really hate), I will purposefully find an excuse not to go. But at least I don't keep someone else from going who would have enjoyed the activity. If you're going to be a party pooper, make sure it doesn't affect anyone else's fun but your own.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"I Hope You Dance"

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance...
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
-Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, performed by Lee Ann Womack

I heard this song on the radio recently, and every time I hear it, I am inspired. This song is all about not being afraid to go after your goals (or what you want). When an opportunity arises, either a new job opening or a chance to meet someone new, take it. Of course you may have regrets because of some of the things you've done, but these lyrics are saying that's better than regretting something because you DIDN'T do it when given the chance. It's reminiscent of the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken."

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Don't take the easy path just because it's what you know. You've only got one life to live (unless you believe in reincarnation...but then chances are you're not coming back as a human anyway, right?), and you don't want to think in the end, "Was this all I did with my life? What else could I have accomplished if I had done X or Y?" Granted, asking "What if" forever won't do you any good. So don't give yourself to ask that question. Do after what you want, listen to your gut, shoot for the stars, stand by what you believe in...If you do all of that, I don't think you can have any regrets.

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making friends after college

When I moved to DC, I was very lucky to already have a great group of friends in the city. However, while I hang out with at least one sorority sister every week, I have been trying to branch out. I think a huge part of being a young professional in a city is meeting new people. And this doesn't have to just mean dates! I have really tried to meet other women who I get along with, and so far I'm very pleased with my progress! For one, I've met some great girls through work. Some are co-workers, others work for the same company but in a different office, and a couple have been volunteers. While I still work with these women in a professional manner, I also see them outside of the office for after-work drinks or weekend luncheons. Through networking in the "green" field in DC, I've also met some women with whom I grab drinks or hang out with in a friendly capacity. I've even struck up conversations on the metro and walking down the sidewalk! And while I haven't known any of these "new" girls for very long, I have very high hopes that we will continue to get to know one another and soon become close friends like those I made in college. Meeting new people and making these new connections is one of the most fun things about growing up; I'm not sure you can even call yourself a grown up if all of your friends are still the same people who you've been hanging out with for the last 4+ years of your life. I don't want to relive my college experience: I'm ready to make new memories with new people! So get out there and meet new people!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Yes, this is another plug for work. But oysters are really important! Oysters are natural water filters (i.e. they help with the pollution problem), and oyster reefs provide habitat and food for other species. But due to over harvesting and disease, their populations are only about 1% of what they used to be historically. So, right now The Nature Conservancy is working on the largest oyster restoration project not only in the Chesapeake Bay, but on the entire East Coast of the US! It's over 350 acres, which is comparable to the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC! And of course the Conservancy couldn't do it alone: along with the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) and state and federal organizations, we hope to rebuild the reef in Harris Creek (a tributary of the Bay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland) over the next couple of years. And what's great is that this is just the first of 10 similar restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay!

Learn more here: www.nature.org/oneforthebay to show your support!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Big Salads

Big salads are really only something woman can appreciate. And, okay, I realize the salad in this picture is not that big. I guess what I mean by "big" salad is that it has lots of toppings that  make it interesting. A salad that's just lettuce and dressing is pretty boring. Tomatoes and cucumber definitely help, but even those are kind of staples when it comes to the ingredients of a salad. But add some dried cranberries and walnuts and BAM! You have yourself a very tasty salad. You could also take it a step further and add a hard-boiled egg, cheese, and tiny meat slices, but while those do provide protein for this meal, they are also extra calories, so keep these toppings to a minimum (I personally never add those things to a salad. But I will add plenty of carrots. Who can feel guilty after eating more carrots?). Ladies: enjoy your yummy salads while you can before you're married. Because once you have a man living at your home, he will NOT be satisfied with a "big salad" for dinner. Ever.

P.S. Yes, I was eating dinner in front of my computer. I don't always do that, but sometimes I just want to veg and watch a Netflix movie at my desk.


Can I assume that I am not the only person who is dissatisfied with the movies that Netflix has to choose from for streaming? Of course you can get almost EVERY movie on DVD, but if you only get streaming, then you have to choose from the worst D-list movies, from unknown pathetic comedies to racy foreign films. I know that a lot of people prefer to stream television shows, and I will admit that Netflix does seem to have a wide variety of those. However, I prefer to watch movies to TV shows (if I'm going to watch something that's scripted, I'd rather see an entire film than a 30-minute sound bite). And it seems to take FOREVER for new movies to eventually make their way onto Netflix: sure, I can watch some of my favorite movies that were made in the 80's and 90's, but if I want to see something that left theaters just a few months ago, I feel like I have to wait AGES for Netflix streaming to finally pick it up. So now I watch movies on Netflix mainly because I'm bored; I assume I will not actually enjoy the entertainment. Who else agrees with me?