If you had invited me to a party a couple years ago, I’d have told you I had to wash my hair. Or my stomach hurt. Or my head exploded into a migraine. Or my face melted off. You name it, I’d use it as an excuse. Unless I knew everyone at said party, I wanted nothing to do with it. People I don’t know well make me…squirmy. I grew up in a tiny town and graduated high school with a whopping 20 other people – I never learned how to meet new friends because I never HAD to.
My lack of outgoing-ness doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends or that I don’t like to go out and have a good time (I can find a few bartenders to vouch for that), but the situation has to be “just so” before I’m down to do it. The problem with that, obviously, is that it’s not exactly conducive to making new friends or starting new relationships.
If any of this sounds sort of like you, and you want to do something about it, I have some good news for you: you can change. I made the decision to start pushing myself outside of my comfort zone a while ago; and while yes, it can still be pretty uncomfortable, the situations you force yourself into are usually nowhere near as bad as you imagine. So how can you put yourself out there more and start acting like a functioning, normal member of society? I’ll let you know how I did it.
Just Say Yes
Seriously, stop with the excuses. If someone invites you somewhere and you feel yourself fumbling for a way to say no--quit it. Say yes, dammit! If you have no other plans, there’s NO reason for you to not go to that party, networking event, girls' night out with some people you’ve never met, etc. You are not going to find a date or a new friend by sitting on your couch stuffing take-out pizza into your face. The more people you know, the stronger your social network is…and that can lead to all sorts of potential benefits. Force yourself to say yes, and follow through. It may feel weird and it may produce a little anxiety, but you can do it and you’ll most likely be glad you did.
Do Something New
A cooking class was offered to employees at my new job not too long ago. The old me would have thought, “I don’t really know many of my coworkers yet, I can’t even cook a Hot Pocket, who am I going to talk to? Will I end up standing in a corner alone hiding behind a skillet?”, etc. etc. The new me pushed those thoughts out of my head and focused on the fact that I’d be getting free food and wine--at the very least--and at the most, making some new connections. If your work offers group activities, sign up for a couple. If there’s a gym in your neighborhood, go take a class. If you’ve always been interested in sailing, take a lesson. Do not let that little voice in your head telling you to avoid new, potentially uncomfortable situations, win. This is about taking control of your fear/anxiety and forcing yourself to think about social situations differently. You have to put yourself out there or nothing is ever going to happen to you!
Let Down Your Guard.
When I go out with my girlfriends, at least one of them usually ends up talking to a guy. Me? Not so much. I’m the girl who’d rather go off and dance by myself than have some random dude in my face asking me what my sign is. I’m instantly on guard with guys and it only starts coming down when I’m familiar with someone. But how do you get familiar with a new person unless you…ya know, talk to him? So now I at least exchange a few sentences before I make an exit. You never know who you might meet unless you give them a chance, and if they’re a creep, there’s always that emergency, “Excuse me, I have to go to the restroom!” excuse.
When I was younger, I was told several times by people that when they first met me, they thought I didn’t like them. Or that I was probably a bitch. I would always feel a little stunned by this, but then it dawned on me. I never really smiled, I pretty much would just give short hellos at work and go about my business, I didn’t make a ton of eye contact; or if I did catch a glance, I’d usually look away. These things all communicate disinterest. It wasn’t because I was a mean person – I was just unsure of myself and let’s be honest, was a bit socially retarded. Once I was aware of how I was coming off, I made a conscious effort to look people in the eye and smile when I walked by them, to say hello to that random stranger in the elevator, to not walk around with my head down and to ask coworkers questions just to make conversation (anything involving weekend plans, i.e .“how was your weekend?” on Monday and “any plans for the weekend?” on Friday is a good start). Everyone is more attracted to a person who has a smile and a friendly “hello” ready.
Listen, if you’ve never been extroverted and it feels completely unnatural to you to chat up strangers all the time, you may never be considered a social butterfly… but you don’t need to be! Everyone is different. I still have my days where I revert to my more withdrawn self, but the important thing is that I put forth the effort to make little changes here and there. I’ve definitely made more friends and connections in the process, and people who’ve only known me for a year or two are always surprised when I tell them how painfully shy I used to be. It’s an ongoing work in progress, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
You get up in the morning and proceed to have an hour long prep session before you even start your day. You use enhancers, creams, and miracles on yourself before you feel ready to face the world. But what about when the day is over and you come home? Do you just crash? If your answer is yes then sister, we have a problem. We are all guilty of it; even me, I confess. But we can’t neglect ourselves at night and then look for a quick fix to combat our laziness (yes, I said laziness). I have learned that if I spend a little extra time simply practicing some self-love with my pre-bed beauty regimen, then I really have little need for extra products. Here are a few beauty tips for right before bed; I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 1: Always wash up.
I’m guilty of skipping this step -- and I’ve got to stop! Sweat, dirt, makeup, the day’s grime … all of that sits on our face at night, clogging our pores and aging our skin. So use a gentle facial cleanser and lukewarm water before going to bed, and follow up with a mild toner. And the last and most important step, don’t forget to moisturize your body and skin before bed. (I will too. Pinky promise.)
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 2: Never sleep with your hair in a ponytail.
No matter how exhausted you are, it’s important not to leave your hair elastics in, because they can cause breakage. If you want to avoid morning tangles, try sleeping on a satin pillowcase. It’s easier on both your hair and your face.
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 3: Brush and floss every night.
If you skip the dental care at night, you’re not just in for a huge lecture at your next dental cleaning; you might actually be making yourself look older too. Brushing removes stains between and around your teeth, and for healthy gums you’ve got to floss too. Poor gum care can cause your gums to recede, making your teeth look longer -- and you older!
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 4: Let your feet breathe.
Keeping your feet in socks may keep them feeling toasty, but it also creates a moist environment where foot fungus can breed. Yikes!
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 5: Keep a glass of water by your bedside. Not only will this help if you wake up in the middle of the night dying of thirst, but also you are supposed to have a glass of water pre-breakfast to dull hunger and rehydrate. Remember, glowing skin comes from water.
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 6: Don’t eat right before bed.
It is so important to eat within a reasonable time of your bedtime. When you eat right before bed, you don’t have a chance to burn off the calories. Certain foods and eating too much right before bed can lead to a restless night of sleep.
Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 7: Get your beauty sleep.
I know you really want to stay up late to watch your favorite show, talk on the phone, or peruse the internet, but beauty sleep is no myth. Your skin needs time to heal and restore. Plus, who wants under eye bags?
I hope you use these tips to re-energize your bedtime regimen. Instead of just crashing and waking up looking like a wreck, put in a little extra effort at the end of the day and stay looking young and healthy. Sweet dreams!
I’ve always lived my life on the run. As a former collegiate athlete, I would run from class to class and then to practice and back. Everything was go, go, go. When I finished school, I still hustled, but I noticed the people around me were so busy working and networking that they didn’t take time for themselves. After starting full-time work, many of them gained upwards of 20 pounds, felt sluggish or were faced with health concerns they never expected.
Some things in college tend to stay with you. For me, maintaining a balance between staying busy and staying fit has remained a priority. Others may struggle to find time to workout between an 11-hour workday, lunches, drinks and endless networking functions. Despite these constraints, there is a way to set and achieve manageable health and fitness goals. And, even if you don’t think finding time is necessary right now, consider this upstream prevention. You’re far less likely to face health concerns, like Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, if you take small steps now.
Here are a few suggestions to consider when setting and following through with your health and fitness goals.
It’s great to have lofty goals (i.e., losing 20 pounds, finishing a triathlon etc.). But sometimes these goals are too far off and can become overwhelming. Create benchmarks for yourself. If you note your progress along the way, it will make your end goal seem more achievable. The concept of dropping two sizes won’t feel so overwhelming and you can bask in the success of your positive day-to-day decisions. Plus, you’ll be more aware of what is and isn’t working in your routine. This will allow you to make changes.
Remember the ‘Why’
Make sure that you’re invested in your goals; you’ve created them for a reason. Maybe you wanted to lose weight, train for a half marathon or simply lead a healthier lifestyle. There’s an emotional weight behind accomplishing each of those tasks. No one wants to run a half marathon just to do it; they’re proving something about their physical and emotional capacity. Remembering why you picked this goal will help when your “self-motivation” starts to wane - that moment when don’t know why you’re waking up at 5 a.m. or why you’re passing on that slice of strawberry cheesecake. Having a goal that you’re connected to will help you answer the why. And, before long, your choices will become habit.
I work out 6 days a week. Some of my friends claim that they can’t find the time. Curiously, they find time to watch The Good Wife or Game of Thrones. Let’s be honest, we make time for what we want to make time for. When it comes to creating health/fitness goals, time management is a must. I find time to watch my favorite shows but I’m never just watching TV. While I watch, I’m doing abs, push-ups or an interval workout on the treadmill. No one says that you have to workout for 4 hours every day. If you take a serious look at how you spend your time and what those activities add to the essentials in your life, I promise you’ll find time for your health.
Birds of a Feather…
Flock together, yes. Look, it’s much easier to maintain goals if you are surrounded by people with the same values. I’m not saying to totally switch out your friends, but I am saying that it could be helpful to join a gym, a recreational league or bribe a friend to join you on your health quest. Your support system will help you stay accountable. If you’re already having a hard time staying motivated, there’s nothing worse than being surrounded by people who encourage you to veer off track. The little devil on your shoulder will give you plenty of reasons ‘why not’ to work out or skip McDonalds.
Don’t forget who you’re kickboxing or cutting back on milkshakes for. It’s YOU. You are the most important element in setting your fitness goals. Don’t set goals or hold back pursuing this change based on what others think, want or need. Invest in yourself! YOU are important, YOUR health is important and YOU are in control of your body.
Good health is essential to a happy life. If you want to increase your chances at functioning longevity, you’ll need to make your health a priority. This means eating healthy and staying active despite the pressures and time constraints of life. You can do it! Step by step you will reach your goals.
With neon as the hottest trend for the Spring/Summer 2012 season, fashion these days has become blindingly bright. This look from the 80’s has been revitalized in 2012. While everyone has taken on this look--on television, at fashion week, celebrities and maybe even on the office fashionista—it’s not always the easiest to rock. What goes with neon purple?? No need to worry, here are a few ideas to have you looking fabulous in neon...without looking like a box of crayons.
The easiest way to wear neon is to add a bright accent piece to your outfit. Try adding a neon belt, bag, shoes or jewelry to spruce up your look. When adding neon accents, your outfit should stay pretty neutral in color to allow the eye-catching color to take center stage. Adding a pop of neon to a simple silhouette can take you from average to over the top, effortlessly.
Mix and Match
If you’re not a fashion risk-taker and don’t feel comfortable wearing an outfit of head-to-toe neon, pick top or bottom. You can wear a pair of neon jeans with a neutral top or rock a classic blazer in bold neon to add some pizazz to your look. With only one key piece in your outfit being bold, it will stand out in a good way.
Going All In!
If you’re a fashionista that likes to take risks, try wearing a neon top and bottom. You can wear neon in a solid color as a dress or jumper, or you can try color blocking. Keep your silhouette and pieces simple because you are wearing all neon--you don’t want to overdo it with over thetop pieces. The important thing to remember when wearing a full neon outfit is that you need to add neutral pieces to tone down your bright look. Try adding neutral, classic pieces for your jewelry and bag with natural makeup and nails to finish your look.
Color Overload: Oh, No!
Bold neon colors were hot in the 80’s but you don’t want to look you stepped back in time. Remember: don’t overdo it with clashing neon from head to toe. Avoid looking like a fashion disaster by add a few more muted pieces to your look to balance out the vibrant neon colors. Here are some examples of when neon goes wrong:
When wearing neon, don’t be afraid to play with different looks and styles. For example, you can be masculine, casual or ultra-feminine. Remember when wearing neon is it very easy to look shall we say...cray, so moderation and balance are key elements when trying out this trend.
Even professional writers occasionally struggle with writing press releases. That’s because they’re not like anything else we write. A press release may seem similar to a blog article, but it’s really in a category of its own. It has its own set of rules. Don’t get discouraged if you’re tasked with writing one, though. These 10 guidelines should get you started, and everything beyond that just comes with practice.
Press releases are typically a tool to send to media professionals to generate publicity.
If you’re still struggling, a good place to start is to browse some examples on PRWeb. You’ll quickly realize getting the word out is not as complicated as it seems. Good luck!
So you just graduated! Yay! You have your cap and gown...and a mountain of student loan debt!! Wait. OK, so there is more to this whole graduating thing than you expected. But you can simplify your loans and pay them off more rapidly. Here’s how:
When dealing with debt, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about your options. Do your research and then work on paying your student loans down step by step. Soon you’ll be able to pay them off and focus on the bright future ahead of you.
Brittney Castro is not affiliated with MadeWomenMag.com. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the last time you said “let's talk about sex, baby,” to someone else, with a smile on your face, it was because Salt -N-Pepa was blaring in the background and you were a few cocktails in with your girlfriends. There was probably a dance floor involved.
Not a very long limb, eh? That's because for the majority of women (myself included), those are five words that--unless accompanied by the above circumstances--are closely related to the most awkward of conversations we can imagine having with a significant other. And unfortunately, there are more uncomfortable phrases where that came from. “What are we?” and anything with the word “money” can (and will, if you're anything like me) make you squirm right out of your mind just imagining the agonizing directions these conversations can go.
Enter Made Woman. We make no promises, but we strive to make you feel just a bit more secure as you conduct these conversations. Because, let's face it, unless you have “the talk,” there will surely be an expiration date on your relationship.
Sex… The Safe Kind
I've known many confident, beautiful women who crumble at the mere thought of this conversation for all the wrong, but very common, reasons: They feel embarrassed or ashamed, a loss of empowerment, or they worry about the other person leaving them.
What would happen if you entered the conversation with this mindset: This is my body, and I'll be the one who has to live with it even if he decides to leave. I am not my parents, or my grandparents, whose biggest risk to having unsafe sex was the possibility of pregnancy. I can’t hide my head in the sand in the age of genital warts, cervical cancer (a happy byproduct of HPV), HIV and AIDS. I have the power to protect myself against all of these, and he has the choice to work with me or hit the road. When all is said and done, if the conversation goes horribly wrong, it's in your power to eliminate the idiot who can’t see past a good time in bed. It’s not just about the act of sex, it’s about your health. Your wellbeing is not something to be timid about.
So yes, be empowered! But for God's sake, don't go into the talk anticipating that World War III lays ahead. And also, make sure you talk about this before any belts unbuckle -- bringing it up in the heat of the moment is bound to make it awkward and will definitely kill the mood. Start it off as casually as you can, during a relaxed moment between the two of you. Maybe tell him that you care about him, as well as both of you as a unit and that you want there to be a mutual understanding in your relationship. Then let the rest flow, as naturally as you can. You know your boundaries, what you're comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. Guess what? He may have been waiting for you to break the ice. Talk and listen with an open mind.
Who knows, you may find that talking about it actually turns you on, and once each person’s expectations are out in the open, you’ll be comfortable enough to finally have a good time. Safely. ;-)
Defining the Relationship
Let's start by not calling it the “Defining Our Relationship” talk in the first place. I'm not even a guy and my chest got tight just typing those words out. What about having a “Sell The Relationship” talk instead? You've got something that he will only get should he choose to become exclusive with you, right? (If you don't, I'll get to you in a second). What is it? Is it sex (or having it more often)? Is it your promise to stop giving your number to other guys who come your way during a girl's night out? Is it more sleepovers? Is it the opportunity to spend more quality time with wonderful you? These are all benefits to being with you. Use these bargaining chips to your advantage. Negotiate. Present him with the benefits, instead of putting him on the defense.
Okay, so what if you have already given up all your relationship goal before securing a title? Fine, it happens, we can lose our minds once in a while as we fall head over heels. There can still be a positive outcome for you if you realize two things: It will be harder, and you will need self-control. Tell him you have a desire for you both to be exclusive to each other, you're falling hard, and you wish to enhance your connection by becoming singular. a committed couple. Tell him you'd be hurt if you knew he was doing the same things with other people that he is doing with you. Remain calm as you tell him you understand if he's not on the same page, but you'll have to distance yourself from him should he not be. If his answer is not the one you're looking for, hold true to your statement and back the hell away. This is where the self-control comes in. Have respect for yourself –no one wants to be, or look like a lost puppy. Attractiveness goes hand in hand with confidence, and once he sees that you have the confidence to move on, the confidence to stick by your word and not call or text him... he might just remember it was that confidence that attracted him to you in the first place and come back around. Should he not? Like my mama always said: There's always, always more fish in the sea. Never settle for less than what you're asking for.
What's Mine is... Mine.
I've read it's estimated that money leads to 90% of divorces. This number does not seem out of control to me. Money means different things to different people: power, love, security, control, etc. What does it mean to you? What does it mean to him? You need to find out before walking down the aisle, as I'm sure you don't want to be the couple who adds any more decimals to that percentage of divorcees. As with the two subjects above, find a calm moment to broach the subject. Don't be afraid to kick the conversation off yourself by offering your own opinions about a financial issue. Maybe use an example of something you saw in the news, on TV, or in a friend's relationship and go on to say what you would have done in that same circumstance.
Then begin to share more personal experiences about money issues. You might start with how you were raised to thinking about it, how your own family dealt with it, and how it's been dealt with in past relationships –and whether those memories are positive or negative for you. Be honest with yourself –If you earn more than your partner, would you feel resentment if he skimmed some of your funds for himself? Do you feel more secure with two separate accounts should you get married, or would you prefer one shared? How do you feel about debt? How do you feel about him taking care of you financially? (In this age of the independent woman, more and more have differing feelings on this issue). In money discussions, a game-changing moment where you both realize you are not on the same page with an issue could arise. Work to come to an agreement, but remember, just as in our “Selling The Relationship” talk –never, ever settle for something that makes you discontent.
If you are married (please, please be married before doing this) and decide to merge your accounts into one, make sure you each retain a credit card that is detached from everything else. Should divorce, death, or anything else unexpected and tragic occur, it will be extremely difficult for you to get a mortgage or loan without it.
Personally, my game-changer is credit card debt. I will never, every marry someone who has it (or who can't seem to pay it off before walking down the aisle), and I would never bring it into a marriage. No way around it. It's something I was raised believing and it's something I continue to believe now as an independent woman. What's your game-changer? Whether it's an issue of sex, what a relationship means to you, or money, figure it out before the time comes to sit down and talk about it. Don't let anyone take that away from you, and know that if you can’t reach an agreement with your man, there is someone else out there (we're not being corny, we're being honest here!) who will see eye-to-eye with you.
Ah, spring. The flowers, the sunshine, the cute shoes. But wait – springtime also conjures up a dreadful childhood memory: Spring cleaning. Fear not – you are a Made Woman! Not only does that mean you’re smart, independent and stylish, it means you know to keep your space clean. Well, hopefully. ;-)
Now I know cleaning is not first on everyone’s list of fave weekend activities, but let’s get real. Who wants to come home to or entertain in a place that isn’t tidy? Roll up your sleeves girls, because you have some cleaning to do.
Here is our fab five list of spring cleaning tips to get you started:
Bonus Tip: Before you invest 100 bucks in cleaning supplies, do a Google search on cleaning with vinegar. White vinegar is an old trick that the home-and-garden folk swear by. It gets things uber clean and it’s really cheap.
This is just a shortlist to get you started. There are more obvious cleaning items like cleaning blinds, cabinets, refrigerators, windows and the yard or garage, too, so make a list that works for your home and lifestyle. Turn on some tunes and get cleaning!
What other spring cleaning tips are there? Tell us in the comments below! Sharing is caring…
You have worked hard to establish a great career--no small feat during an economic recession--and now you are ready to put your money to work for you. But where to begin? Should you hire a financial broker, or become an independent investor? Play it safe with bonds, or play the stock market? Before you resort to stuffing cash under a mattress, take these five steps toward investing…straight to the bank.
1. Get Financially Literate. Some investment terms you should know include:
Stock/ Equities - If you own a stock, you own part of the company. A stock is evidenced by a paper certificate.
Securities - Includes stocks, bonds, and bank deposits.
Bond - A bond is a debt investment in which an investor loans money to a corporate or government entity that borrows the money for a defined period of time at a fixed interest rate. The main categories of bonds are corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and U.S. Treasury bonds.
Market Capitalization - Also known as “market cap.” It is calculated by multiplying the current price per share of a stock with the number of shares outstanding.
Mutual Fund - An investment company that combines the money from a large group of investors to buy stocks and other investments.
Dividends - A portion of a company's profits that is paid out to shareholders on a quarterly or annual basis.
These are the most commonly used terms in investment and knowing what they mean will help you understand stock roundups in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and Dow Jones. When I first tried to calculate a company’s market cap it took me two hours, simply because I didn’t know what it meant. Now that I know the lingo, I can look at an analyst report and easily follow the progress of a stock. I’m no expert, but I know enough to play the game.
After brushing up on your fiscal vocabulary, read Lois P. Frankel’s Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money. I love the advice she offers women about diving into investment and not waiting on “Prince Charming” to take care of their finances. Use the workbooks and self-evaluations in the book to establish and monitor your progress toward financial goals.
Another great read is Douglas R. Andrew’s Millionaire by Thirty: The Quickest Path to Early Financial Independence. Andrew claims that young professionals can achieve financial independence at an early age by investing. He suggests alternatives to the traditional 401k to make the dream of early retirement a reality.
The Richest Man in Babylon uses parables and layman terms to deliver investment basics and emphasize the importance of growing your money. My dad gave it to me when I was only seven and I often revisit the principals outlined in this book. The common sense advice helps keep me in check when I’m tempted to splurge during a sale at H&M.
2. Do Your Research. Before you invest in anything, do your homework. Publicly traded companies want your money, so they make it easy to find pertinent information. Check out their websites to find earnings reports, mergers and acquisitions news and stock quotes. Knowing everything you can about a potential investment is crucial to making a wise decision. Supplement your research with facts from Hoover's Company Profiles. This is an invaluable web resource that offers additional material about company management and executive profiles.
3. Stay Connected. Once you have done your research and decided which companies you want to invest in, it is smart to stay in touch with an online financial community. Social media is a great tool for networking with investment pros and getting the inside scoop on smart buys. Try Stocktwit, a social networking platform where you can “share ideas and learn from passionate investors and traders.”
4. Don’t Invest What You Should be Saving. Investments should be a part of your overall financial strategy; however, it is important to establish good saving habits first. Create an emergency fund, open a retirement savings account and pay off outstanding credit card debt before playing the stock market. Pay yourself first and you should have extra money to invest in no time.
5. Diversify Your Portfolio. Once you have savings and understand your investment options, it is important not to place all your eggs in one basket. Diversification is the practice of spreading money among different investments to reduce risk. A well balanced portfolio of investments is more likely to withstand fluctuations in the volatile financial market. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers great advice on steps you can take to diversify your investments for maximum returns.
Investing is key to financial independence. You want the freedom to travel, buy a home or retire early, but savings alone won’t get you there. The average annual percentage gain for a high-yield savings account is one percent. Compare this to the average 10 percent earned on stocks. When you save, your money doesn’t work for you and you will only have as much money as you set aside from your salary. When you invest, your money grows by earning interest. So, determine your financial goals, study up and take your first steps toward a wealthy future.