Wednesday, December 18, 2013

50. 401k Plans

Suze Orman,upon learning that I emptied my 401k years ago.

The official woman shall, upon the beginning of an employed scenario, immediately engage in a 401k plan - and vow to never empty it.
As soon as I started my post-grad school job, I got signed up for a 401k and felt soooo official.  Then I got the chance to move to Italy- and I emptied it.
"I need the caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash," I told myself.  So I quickly forgave it all and skipped across the big pond off to the adventure of a lifetime.
Fast forward a few years, and until this August, I'd been intimated to get started again.  The paperwork was too burdensome, I didn't want anything deducted from my check...blah, blah, blah.
Then my good friend Nichelle (a compensation expert for a huge corporate giant) looked at me cross-eyed when I told her my conundrum, and she made me ultra-accountable for getting signed up.  On Monday morning, I was in touch with HR, and by 10:05 a.m. I was signed up - portfolio preferences and all.
A kicker is that my company starts matching - but only after December 31st of my initial year of being enrolled.  If that's the same for your companies, stop leaving money on the table!  You've got some time  to get it lined up, lovebirds.  Let's go!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

49. Royal Gametime

The informed woman shall avoid phoning, texting, sexting, arranging dates, and/or planting seeds of argumentative discourse prior to, during, and immediately after major professional and/or college games of any sport.

We're fresh off the Louisville beat-down over Michigan in the NCAA finals, and I'm remembering a thoughtful Facebook reminder from my highly evolved gentleman friend Antoine in Raleigh.

During the game, he typed off the wise notion that ladies should avoid facilitating any deep, meaningful conversations (in person, via phone or text) during the hours of the televised game, as we'll be left bewildered and bemused at the one-sided conversation.

That's why I got a message first thing the next morning. Duh!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

48. Lovely Loungewear

The woman shall incorporate in her wardrobe key pieces that are suitable for grocery store visits, lounging with friends, and midnight clandestine visits to the coffee shop (or other covert locations).

There is no excuse for anyone - let alone the highly evolved woman - to leave her home in anything remotely similar to pajamas.  There shall be none of the Hello Kitty PJ pants or SpongeBob sweatshirts outside of the comfort of a woman's home.

My good friend Becky in Ottawa always disciplined us for wearing the stretchy pants in public - thanks for that!  The act of putting on yoga pants or sweats is no more easier than putting on a nicely fitting pair of jeans, and if you know what you have available, it take no more time to select them either.

If you're not going to a yoga session, don't wear yoga pants when you're out and about.

If you're not going to the gym, ditch the spandex and sweats.

If you're not going to bed....I can't even go there.

Have a reliable uniform for your emergency trips out - something you can count on to keep you looking polished and put-together with minimal effort. 

You never know who you're going to run into - and where y'all might end up! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

47. Morning Hair

The woman shall always do something to her hair (brush, wrap, pin, tie, slick down, or cover) before facing the scrutiny of the public eye. 

From simply looking at a woman's hair, one can tell when a woman has just rolled out of bed, weathered a windstorm, or is stressed out.  There is no excuse, ladies for us to look unkempt, disheveled, or lazy.

I had a 7:30 a.m. team meeting in NYC this past Thursday morning, and some of my lady colleagues looked a hot mess.  You could smell the sleep on them!  I'm the only Negrita on my team, and so our hair stories might read a bit differently.  Maybe it's just me, but it's so easy to run a comb/brush through your hair, and my Caucasian lovelies have it a bit easier here, it seems. 

No matter our texture, curl pattern, or courseness, our appearance is such a reflection of our attention to detail, our hygiene, and our professionalism.  We gotta get it together!

Start with a $100 hair cut.  It's so worth it!  Be sure to choose a stylist who knows your hair texture, has the wisdom to observe the shape and structure of your face, and can give you a cut that suits your lifestyle.  I abhor doing my hair in the morning (I've been a naturally curly girl since 1998, y'all!), but I take heed to honor the necessity of a well-suited hair cut.

Next, have your products and tools handy at all times.  Pop a brush in your bag.  Have some curl spritz handy to pump up a diminishing mane throughout the day.  Carry bobby pins in your wallet to pin down naughty tendrils.  Know your hair, and know what it takes to maintain a polished look throughout your day.

Grandmom always said that a woman's hair is her glory.   I don't use hot combs or coconut hair grease anymore, but the adage remains golden so many years later.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

46. Running Dates

The woman shall train for and participate in a running-based competition in her community (preferably a fund-raiser for a cause she cares a lot about).

Running is such an easy way to maintain great energy, keep your physique in check, and bond with other ladies in an encouraging way.  I've run in springtime 10K's before, but training in the winter is a relay of a different race!

For the past few months, I've been on a treadmill, but testing the pavement is so much more intense and challenging, especially on a brisk morning in New England.  To add, my good friend Meshie in Hartford - a certified runner who is training for an upcoming Ragnar Relay - tolerated my turtle's pace and kindly boosted my self-esteem on the last few steps of our uphill run. 

I've just joined the Hartford community of Black Girls Run, and I'm so excited to keep up with other Hartford lovelies who are Preserving the Sexy. I'll put a few of the Hartford Races on the calendar, and hopefully I'll be able to observe some progress over the coming months.

I'll commit to running outside for the next month, and Meshie has promised to not put me to too much shame when run the same route in 30 days.  

Hopefully, it won't take me quite as long :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

45. Winter Sports

The woman shall, during each winter and when reasonably affordable, indulge in a winter sport that tests her courage and inspires the thrill of her heart.

I'm back from a fantastic weekend spent in Tamworth, NH, where 4 girlfriends and I took major risks on the slopes.  Well, technically, we never made it to the actual slopes (per the ski instructor's emphatic warnings).  Rather, we stayed on the Magic Carpet and at times, ventured onto the Rope Tow (we knew to stay in our lane!). My good friend Nakia in Boston orchestrated the getaway - cabin, food, wine, and all - thanks, lady!

It was a bit disheartening to watch toddlers swiftly loop and swerve around us, but we gave it our best. It was an incredible time, and topped off with an evening of tubing, we felt like we were kids again.  Next year, ladies, I'm gearing up for the lift!

44. Sunday Best

The woman shall, when attending a Christian church, dress accordingly to honor her environment, her faith, and the special meaning of Sunday service.

This is a special note, and it's a very personal one that not all readers will agree with, and that's okay.  Feel free to check out the next law:)

I'm just back from Easter service, and as a faithful southern church goer, I get excited about dressing up for church.  Back in the day, I can remember white patent leather shoes, frilly dresses and sometimes a white hat with a pastel ribbon - oh, and a purse to match!  Easter was a special time in my childhood, and it was the introduction to all things prim, proper, and ladylike.

We now live in an age where everything is casual.  There are casual Fridays, casual dating, casual dinner, etc.  Some people do prefer that - but every once in a while special events, dating someone special, and going somewhere special puts a twinkle in our eye.  For me, Sunday morning church service brings that twinkle.

I was really suprised during service today - Easter Sunday - to see so much casual attire on such a special day.  This seemed like a dressy church (you can always tell by the hats that the elder mothers of the church wear), and it was a bit disruptive to see fishnets, baseball caps, and lingerie -inspired dresses. 

I've picked up a few fashion rules from church divas, and here are a few to share:
  1. If you're wearing a short-ish skirt/dress, carry a cloth handkerchief or a scarf to cover your knees (thanks to Miss Chris from Charleston).
  2. Always cover your back.  Event if your dress is spare back there, carry a cardigan (thanks to Renee in NYC).
  3. If you're wearing closed toe pumps, wear hose.  To pick your color, check out this Law.  
I understand that people must wear what they have and that attire should never prohibit one from attending church - that's not what this law is about. Rather, this law is about preserving the special meaning of Sunday service. There was a time when you had your Sunday best, and that's what you gave to God on His special day - your best. Perhaps this law is also about missing a simpler, more reverent time. Maybe this lil' law is just for me. Well, it's for me and all the Carrie's of the world who wear gloves to service.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

43. Her Higher Learning

The woman shall immerse herself in projects, classes, and activities that enhance her intelligence, increase her intellectual curiosity, and provide access to an elevated level of thinking and decision-making. 

For me, school ended at the last degree almost 10 years ago.  After wrapping up grad school at Boston University, I was just tired of books, papers, assignments, tests, and the ever-endearing series of finals.  I've not been enrolled in a class (well, except the short-lived Italian course while I lived in Torino) since graduating, and I was pretty pleased to leave it at that.

My good friend Angela in DC has recently inspired an academic self-indulgence for me.  Even though she's miles away, Angela is making moves to earn her doctoral degree, and at the same time she's ignited a precious motivation within me to get my brain fired up again.  While I don't think I'm ready to be a full-timer again, I am collecting ideas on how to re-engage in learning in a fun and exciting way. 

Here are a few things I'm considering, looking forward to your thoughts!
  1. Language CD's.  I'd picked up some Italian, but I'm afraid it's become quite broken over the past few years.  With the next paycheck, I'll pick up some language CD's and groove to learning Italiano on my daily commute.
  2. Conference Groupie.  I love conferences, and I've got to make more investments in these knowledge exhanges.  I'll check around the Hartford and Boston areas for cool 2-3 day crash sessions.
  3. Certifications.  It's incredible to earn awards and accolades!  It marks an amazing accomplishment, and whether it's for Zumba or CPR, becoming certified in something new keeps your curiosity fresh and your intelligence sharp.
Keep the books open, ladies!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

42. Sexy Smoothies

The woman shall periodically experiment with the vegetable, fruit, and herbal blends that delight her smoothie palette.

For years, I've blended frozen fruit and orange juice every morning.  I love that it usually takes 2 minutes, due in part to my colorfully and nutritionally well-stocked refrigerator.  I've since experimented with new blends, and it's a fantastic way to get a good portion of nutritional value under my belt for the day. 

Also, I'm not huge on cooking full meals daily (it's tough for a single working gal!), but my smoothies ensure that I get my leafy green treats every day.

Here are a few ideas on smoothie prep - if you have any, send 'em my way!

1.  Switch up the juice base - I used to use orange juice, and then I saw how much sugar I was consuming!  I switched to using V8 blends (usually the Light version).  That always offers some variety in taste, and I feel less guilty.
2.  Adjust the color - Usually my smoothies are a pretty orange, but I 've decided to totally vegetize my smoothies lately.  I'm making blends of spinach, kale, pineapple, and mint (thanks to Jamie from Winnipeg!), which results in a dark green concoction.
3.  Freeze smoothie ingredients immediately - Fresh vegetables are always arranged for family-size consumption, and while I guess I could go through an entire bundle of kale in two days, chances are I won't.  So, as soon as I buy fresh greens, I wash, cut, and freeze half of the portion.  That way, they'll be smoothie-ready!  I also use fresh pineapple and papaya, and I do the exact same thing.  Sidebar - to prevent the chunks from sticking together in the freezer (like cement sometimes!!!!), I re-use freezer bags and pack the fruit so that the bags are very flat.  That makes the fruit much easier to separate when you're ready to make your smoothie.
4.  Don't go nuts on spending - I've got a $150 juicer sitting in the box; I'll use it someday - I promise!  I found that it was simply too complicated to use and clean daily. I use the $10 individual smoothie maker that I bought at a neighborhood drugstore.  It's perfect because it makes just what I need for my single smoothie, and I can remove it from its base and take it with me to enjoy during the morning commute.

Hope these are helpful!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

41. Tip Drills

The woman shall know the correct tip appropriation for her drinks, dining, or treating a highly evolved gentleman to either of the two.

After wrapping up a great meal with a Prosecco, tiramisu, or coffee with Baileys, we know that great conversation will eventually conclude and the bill will be requested.  When we're rolling solo (or with a gentleman that we want to treat), boldly ask for the bill, and already have in your mind the correct percentage for the tip - and always leave a tip.  There's no bigger turn-off than lingering over the math calculations when the bill is presented - and it doesn't matter if you're a guy or gal.

My rule of thumb is that a tip should be the greater of $5 (which would cover a few beers) or 20% (a VERY quick calculation).

Say the bill is $20 at a favorite bar.  Leave a $5 tip for good measure - you'll probably come back!

For bigger bills, employ the 10% twice rule, and adjust accordingly.  Say you're at a fancy schmancy restaurant where your bill is $75- don't DARE pull out a tip card!  10% is $7.50.  Double that to 20%, which will bring you to a $15 tip.  The official woman will know how to do this math in her head.  If there is doubt, round up.

Do the math in your head and sign the check.  Boldly.  You're worth it.

Side note - If you're on a date where the gentleman treats, and the man asks you to calculate the tip, he probably wants you to acknowledge the cost of the meal.  In that case, tip twice as much.  The official man would never allow the bill to even come up in conversation with the official woman.  Plus, the official man knows the value of his own dollar.

This law comes courtesy of Renee (New York, NY).

Monday, February 4, 2013

40. Man Fasts

The woman shall, during periods of dating-life suffocation, interupt the season of romantic pursuits by engaging in a purpose-filled man-fast.

You'd think that after 16 years of practicing something, you'd be good at it right?  That's how long I, along with several highly regarded girlfriends, have been dating, and we haven't found the right stride in quite some time.

We've had some great relationships in our past, but dating in our 30's is very different from dating in our 20's, and sometimes this calls for an evaluation of what we want for our lives.  For the past year, I've buried myself in an extravaganza of failed attempts to make doomed relationships work, and I am sooooooooooo tired.  I feel like the dating life has beat me up - literally.  I've lost sleep, experienced ups and downs with my appetite, and observed lots of lows in the feel-good hormones section.

After my last encounter with a relationship renegade, my good girlfriends talked me into a month-long manfast.  For the next 24 days, I'll not pursue empty love, drool over secret cruches, or stalk former love interests on Facebook.  That's a waste of time. 

I've been engaged in the manfast for about a week now, and my energy has definitely shifted for the better.  Here are a few tips that I've jotted down to keep me (and my accountability partner) on track:

Rules of the manfast:
  1. We'll not advance commitments of time, energy, and space towards romantic possibilities.  We'll spend time if asked, but the suggestion cannot come from us.
  2. We'll not give any headspace to   If we catch ourselves daydreaming about a wedding, we'll do yoga.
  3. We'll not aggrandize genuine interest from highly evolved gentlemen.  Instead, we'll take it at face value and let the pace define itself. 
We'll let you know how the monthlong story goes.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

39. The Gym Hair(please!)Do

The woman shall align her hair care practices in a way that supports her participation in physical activities, promotes a consistent fitness regimen, and withstands the occasional rain shower (or dip in the ocean).

This particular law is a call to action (or a call to consideration, depending on where you are on the natural scale) especially for African American women.  It's not for every audience - but please accept it with the love and tenderness that I'm enclosing.

I came across an article in the Winston Salem Journal this week that emphasized how the hair care practices of black women prevent them from participating in physical excercise. I thought the article was incredibly one-sided, and it didn't represent the evolving priorities of ethnic women. Regardless of my personal reaction, an observation about OUR stuff is on the front page of a newspaper in North Carolina....which means maybe we should be taking an in-depth look, too.

When I think of my closest friends who are African American like me, concern about health and well-being (and a good shape!) are a huge priority.  My good friend Renee in NYC (who went natural last year) has always been a gym citizen.  My girl Nicole in Atlanta was the one who convinced me to join Clemson's rowing team years ago (she had braids and I rocked the big chop in 1998).  Both women are absolutely gorgeous, and they have always held health and fitness as huge priorities for years. Since I've known them, they've managed to maintain their hair around their lifestyles and not maintain their lifestyles around their hair. 

I've heard women mention that they don't want to get their hair wet or sweat out their perm (and I was in that camp during the days of my press and curl, believe me!), but I do want to gently suggest that we think about rearranging our priorities here and consider the well-being of our bodies and health as we make visits to the beauty salon. 

Our own health, fitness, and long-term well-being are being sacrificed to meet someone else's standard of beauty - is this where we really are?

America is counting our cases of obesity, diabetes.......and death - and while I know there's a huge constituency of women who work out like Flo Jo, there's also a group of us who have been ignoring gym memberships and 2K runs for sometime.

If you're in the sweat-a-lot category, good for you!  Work and keep beating your PB numbers. Take it a step further and bring a girlfriend with you, and keep nagging till she comes!  Encouragement is all she needs.

If you're considering adding a physical element to your life - go for it, lady!  You're already a step ahead of where you were before.  There are ways to look cute and work out (consider sweat headbands, braids, natural styles, etc.) - you owe it to yourself and your family.  They want you around for a while!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

38. Muscle Cars

The woman shall, at some point in her life, own/rent and periodically open up on the highway, the muscle car of her (and the highly evolved gentleman's) dreams.

Space-conscious and eco-friendly cars are certainly on trend, and understandably so.  They are a part of the solution to long-standing global environmental challenges, they save on gas consumption, and they are easy to manage, house, park, and maintain.

I've always driven cars that fit my lifestyle needs.  During my freshman year at Clemson, I drove a 4-door Kia (to which I creatively attached a bike rack in the silly effort to make the car appear longer), and afterwards followed a series of small SUV-ish type cars that suited my needs (I moved around A LOT and was always transporting large items).

I had to rent a car on a trip to Ottawa, and the guy at the rental spot told me he could rent me a Chevrolet Camaro for $100 less than the SUV that I had an eye on.  Being one to exercise financial responsibility, I took him up on his offer.  The way that it drove, the panel inside and the vvvvroooom that made my liver quiver was sufficiently convincing.  Four months later, I bought one in white.

I've slid into my 30's, and the vehicle purchase that I've made really suits my current lifestyle.  I roll with my two Bichons (Winne and Oui Oui), and they don't need much space - they're not even in the car that often.  My grocery bags aren't that plentiful, and I don't make trips to Home Depot these days. Sooooooooooooo, the Camaro is perfect for me, my life, and my road trips:)

A tip for ya - I've learned that muscle cars aren't the best for backseat passengers - they are purposely suited to fulfill the driver.  Also, muscle cars require a good bit of maintenance.  I used to let oil changes slip past the due date, but the muscle ride will let you know when she needs attenion.  Also, you've got to keep a good car looking shiny and new.  My white Cam was all 50 shades of gray this week, but luckily I found the best car washing business in town.

Every woman needs to step out of a car that makes her feel confident, gorgeous, and ready for the day ahead. It helps if your ride draws great comments from cute guys, too!  Before family days set in and you need the mini-van, jeep, SUV, or station wagons (do car companies still make those?), get yourself a muscle car and roll out on dubs, music on full blast.

If a different car isn't in the budget for the next few years, rent a muscle ride - matter of fact, do it this weekend!  It'll change your life. Promise.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

37. Desktop Chocolates

The woman shall, in her workplace environment, offer on a desk or table a bowl that remains constantly full of assorted chocolates.

Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what your're gonna get.  But you do know that it'll be sweet:)

Many moons ago, a beloved supervisor offered a glass bowl full of miniature chocholates on a desk in her office.  The bowl was symbolic of generosity, kindness, and very good taste.  The bowl, which always stayed full of the tastiest in sweet delectable fare, soothed tense meetings, brought great fundraising agreements to a close, and invited non-visitors to her office just to chat.

I've picked up the same practice over the career years.  I have a gorgeous bowl that I keep full of Lindor Chocolates (which have gorgeous wrappers!), and it brings about so much great conversation - especially with unexpected visitors! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

36. Dinner Parties

The woman shall periodically host dinner (or dessert, or perhaps even wine) parties to enjoy the company of her great friends, embrace the opportunity to meet new people, and to become familiar with the best culinary joints in her town.

Work has me moving every 2-3 months or so, and it's really tough to meet good folks in that short amount of time. advance building my social life (and to maintain my sanity!), I've gotten hip to organizing the kind of events that I'd like to attend.  These low maintenance get-togethers at area restaurants are always casual, and they are designed with the intention of bringing new folks into the fold.

Our first get-together back in November was at a local wine bar, and right after, we had an awesome dinner (to which we invited progressive and highly evolved gentemen). Depending on what's going on, we'll organize them once or maybe twice a month.  Each time, friends bring friends, and we get to connect with new and interesting people. 

Here are some incredibly helpful tools that we use to plan our monthly dinners:
  1. - Best website to help you find the ideal cuisine (and cost!) in your town. 
  2. - I love these templates!  They make planning dinner parties sooooo easy.  All you do is design the invite, load in some e-mail addys, and make reservations at a favorite restaurant. Done!
  3. - This is a great way to meet ladies in your town who have similar interests.  Lots of times, Meet-up groups will convene around dinner, drinks, or coffee.  Take a look at what you can find.
Quick tip - Try to organize your dinner parties on Tuesdays or Thursdays.  That gives folks something to look forward to on otherwise commonly open evenings.  Also, I send a Save-The-Date a few weeks ahead just so it's on the calendar.

Forget cocktail hour - give me good food and good friends anytime!

Friday, January 25, 2013

35. Cleaning Ladies

The woman shall impart tokens of gratitude to other women in the industries of hospitality and facility services who make her life easier and her environs more beautiful.

This law carries special meaning because at a few points in my adult life, I was the cleaning lady, and it meant so much when clients tipped well, shared moments of humour, and sprinkles of encouragement.   

Now that the Residence Inn has become more of a homebase than a weeklong stay, I'm sure to leave great tips - giftcards to Target, a bowl of Lindor chocolates, and a personal thank you note.

This law is inspired by Miss Sandy, one of the facilities managers at work, who always gives the best advice around men, Thanksgiving dinner, and dressing for winters in North Carolina.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

34. Gentleman Friends

The woman shall enjoy, indulge in, and learn from her genuinely platonic friendships with gentleman counterparts.

We love our girlfriends!  However, there is an undeniable value of having male friends that can offer a completely different point of view, insight into priorities that aren't even on our feminine radar, and participation in masculine activities that we'd otherwise prefer not to encourage.

Prime example - I've never been into the techie part of choosing TV's.  Matter of fact, I don't even own a TV (I live in hotels, and that's a totally separate post).  However, spending time with two of the coolest cats I know this past weekend showed me the universe that I've been ignoring.  We watched one of the Transformers movies (was it 2 or 3?), and the 3D imaging on that huge screen was astounding! 

While I'm usually uplifted by a new shade of coral in the OPI nail color line, spending some time bonding with my male buddies (and enjoying the awesome surround sound, too!) showed me a world that's quite different from my own.  Also, since we're not romantically tied, there was no nervousness, flirtation, or unreal expectations - just straight up kickin' it. I think we need more of that in our world.

Thanks for being my buddies, Antoine (soon to be Raleigh, NC) and Peter (Charlotte, NC).

33. Foreign Language Expression

The woman shall master the appropriate pronunciation, execution, and delivery of a cultural term in a foreign language.

While "oy vey" and "Dios mio" have become part of the English vernacular in the US, offering a less recognizable term can add excitement and mystery to any conversation.

Whether your term is adopted from a movie (like the memorable Bomboclat! warned by maid Odessa Montero, played by Gabourey Sidibe in Tower Heist) or taken from your own experience in a foreign country (like how I picked up vaffanculo in Italy - NOT so ladylike!), keep an ear to the ground for ways to express your frustration, jubilation, and thrill in an expression that's not so common.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

32. Perfect Buns

The woman shall master the version of a bun-inspired hair style that suits her taste and activities for the day (or night!).

Prima ballerinas and librarians aren't the only divas who can rock a bun-inspired hairstyle, and no matter your texture,you can rock it in any way you'd like. 

If you're on the shorter side of the height stick, buns can actually add height, and so bun-styles are my go-to for days when I'm rocking flat shoes (or lots of fabric).  That way, my person isn't too overwhelmed by what I'm wearing.

Also, if you're African American like me, buns can be a great style to express your hair texture and natural curl pattern in a really chic way.  Whether your sides have baby curls or are slick like Rick, the sloppy, classy, or edgy bun is a great go-to style.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

31. Major National Celebrations

The woman shall exercise every opportunity to participate in at least one major national occasion or celebratory event in her life.

It's Inauguration 2013 Eve, and I am incredibly excited!!!  Early tomorrow morning, I'll be in the Yellow Section to witness the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama.  I was there in 2009, and although I'm not looking forward to the weather, I'll withstand it proudly for POTUS and FLOTUS!

I was wondering whether or not to go, but a few thoughts were shared gently with me:
  1. This is mindblowing US history!  How can I tell my future children that Mommy wasn't on site at a historical event because she was too lazy.cold.tired.a loser? 
  2. There are millions of people who labored, campaigned, and worked to get President Obama in office.  This inauguration is like a great big present for the USA!  How can I not be there to receive it?  Thanks, y'all!!!!!!!
  3. When POTUS looks out as he's being sworn in, he won't see me, but he'll see the millions like me who are grateful for his continued leadership. Glad to be part of the crowd!

Big thanks to Angela (Washington, DC), Deontée (Birmingham, AL), and Terry and Gillian (both of Hilton Head Island, SC) for your awesome commitment.

30. Colonics/Colon Hydrotherapy

The woman shall perform periodic cleanses of her body to ensure proper digestion, frequent bowel movements, unparallelled comfort, and an overall good mood. 

Ladies, we've gotta be frank here and talk openly about our health with each other.  I've battled constipation for years, and I'm a healthy, active 32-year old who guards what goes into her mouth religiously (although I do slip up with smoked mozzererlla and Häagen-Dazs occasionally!). 

A few years ago, a great friend of mine told me how revolutionary a colonic treatment had been for her.  She described her condition before the colonic - difficulty with doing #2 on a frequent basis, small and hard nuggets when she did go, and a slightly swollen tummy. After the treatment, she said she felt so much better, so I gave it a shot and have been a solid supporter ever since.

A tip for the timid - be sure to ask if a woman or man will be working with you. In every clinic, I've been treated by a woman, and so I was surprised when I discovered a man would be handling my recent colonic. My gynecologist is a guy, so I figured I should go for it. I did, and it was just great. 

I now try to get colonics monthly.  Whenever there are deals on LivingSocial or Groupon, I scoop them up!  Also, I try to buy them in packages (they're a lot cheaper:)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

29. Signature Fragrance

The woman shall know her signature fragrance and make it known to friends who engage in gift-exchange practices.

Knowing the fragrance notes that work with your natural oils (and moods!) is a great way to complete your already fabulous package.

Head to Sephora to get 3-4 samples of perfumes that could be flattering for you.  I love having a fragrance for day and night, and some ladies also prefer some perfumes during certain seasons.  The right perfume is a pleasant way to enter a room and an unforgettable way to make your exit.

Heading to a new address, for now

Hi lovelies!

I've been taking a break from the Wonderland to create a related blog with a slightly different intention.

Take a look at when you get the chance.  I hope you like it!

Ciao y'all,

28. Traveling Abroad

The woman shall begin travelling, studying, or working abroad as soon as possible;  if she is no longer of college age, she shall research chaperone opportunities to travel with and mentor college-age women.

I was a freshman at Clemson University...majoring in Spanish language & International trade, and I had the good fortune to learn about the numerous programs that were set up through the Clemson University Study Abroad office (if your college/university doesn't have one, I bet they have a partnership with another school in your state that does). 

For the summer after my freshman year, I went to Spain;  after my sophomore year, to Uganda, and after the junior year, to Mexico. 

If you're interested in working or studying abroad soon, it'd be great to plan out how that can happen. 

Here are a few ideas that could be helpful:

  1. Look in not-so-obvious places.  For the summer stint in Uganda, I participated in a research fellowship that was sponsored and funded by CUNY (City University of New York).  As it turns out, a professor at Clemson U.  helped to organize the program, and he submitted my application.  He was a professor in engineering (very far away from my language department!), but another professor who knew about my travel addiction put us in touch.....and Voila!
  2. Research scholarships.  There is sooooooo much funding available for studying abroad, particularly in concentrations like language and architecture, etc. whose subject matter deals with material that is located in different parts of the world.  Perhaps you could write it off as professional development. 
  3. Keep an eye out for conferences. 
  4.  Attending a conference abroad might not substantiate the cost in your supervisor's eyes, but what if you were invited to participate in a conference in say, Brazil!?!?!!??!   Research conferences, submit presentation ideas, and see what happens.  Many organizations that coordinate conferences offer to support a portion (if not all!) of participants' travel and accommodation fees. Start looking!

27. Community Networks

The woman shall be familiar with the organizations and popular clubs supported by other women in her community of dwelling. 

The good life is right in front of you - or perhaps across the street. There are so many community organizations (YWCA, churches, crews, etc.) that offer kinship with other women who share your interests, priorities, and tastes. 

Surrounding yourself with new female energy is a great way to feed new inspiration and color into your life. Closely research the organizations and establishments that aren't on your typical radar.

For example, take a look at ClubCore.  The country clubs are not just for the boys anymore.  I just joined the one in Winston-Salem, NC, and although the meetings, events, and monthly complimentary dinners are well worth the month-to-month fee, the friendships with like-minded women are priceless.

26. Career Touchdown

The woman shall develop a sound sense of a career that she is proud of, and she shall allow flexibility for it to evolve.

I've been working in my field since I left grad school.....that makes this my eighth anniversary... AWESOMENESS! 

I've had quite a few gigs over the years in my field (which is best summed up as building community, promoting philanthropy and fundraising), and I've had my fair share of gaps of occasional unemployment - we've been in a recession, ya'll! 

The track has been anything but routine, but sticking with my priorities over the years kept the career grounded, and it maintains a sense of excitement and enthusiasm within professional evolution.

A few lessons collected from colleagues to keep a high score in career points:

  1. Ask for what you know you deserve. If you've performed well for your company/firm/shop/employer, request the salary that reflects that.  Ladies, do not be humble here. You won't lose anything by adequately presenting your request and the background info to support it.  Earn what you know you're worth.
  2. Shop your resume.  A j.o.b. is short for Just Over Broke (thanks, Missy from Charleston, SC!).  In these days of lay-offs and shut downs, no job is ever certain.  If you're not a member of the executive staff or holder of all the IT secrets, keep your resume in constant circulation.
  3. Keep your eye on the prize.  Additionally, know that the prize will evolve. In my twenties, working internationally in the non-profit sector was really important to me.  After excercising my passport quite a bit, leadership is emerging as a priority.  I'm figuring that out day by day, but staying focused on the overall goal keeps me sharper, more curious, and more inspired with every click of the keyboard.

25. Pretty Refrigerators

The woman shall maintain a beautifully stocked refrigerator full of her favorite items from the lean and green food groups.

Our work, demands of the home, and unexpected to-do's don't make healthy eating very easy.  Whether you live alone or share a household, it's really important to make healthy foods available to yourself at all times.  You'll eat healthier if healthier food options are readily available.

Eating well can be more manageable once you equip yourself (and your fridge) with purposeful intent. If calculating the nutritional value of foods is too mind boggling (like it is for me!), focus on making your refrigerator as pretty and colorful as possible with natural foods.  Seriously - feng shui your fridge!

A few tips towards that end:
  1. Shop the periphery of the grocery store.  This keeps you in the sections full of fruits and veggies, meats, poultry, and all things natural (and good for you!). Shop for boxed products only when you absolutely must.
  2. Keep healthy snacks both at home and at work.  Almonds, raisins, and yogurt are some of my favorites.
  3. Commit to grocery shopping on a specific day of the week, and on a full stomach.

24. Traveling with a Gentleman Friend

The woman shall determine, prior to departure for a trip with a kind gentleman, what her relationship is with him, and her financial commitment to the trip shall reflect that level of interaction.

This one you must look at on a case by case basis, friends. 

If you know you and a guy you're traveling with are absolutely friends, be sure to split everything - cabs, bar tabs, hotel (if you're sharing a room), etc. - down the middle.  That way, you can feel confident that you're not setting up any false expectations.  Not that your guy friend (if he is indeed a genuine friend) would expect anything by covering more than you, but splitting all bills will give you the assurance that at the very least, he shouldn't.

If you and the guy are more than friends, work out with said more-than-friend what the fee structure will be before you make reservations for that Tier 2 hotel.  A guy once suggested a trip to me.  He said "I wanna take you to {insert desirable resort town}" and he asked me to make reservations...using my credit card. 

When I got the guts to ask him how we'd be handling the hotel bill (perhaps two weeks before the trip), he was more wishy-washy than Tide Ultraclean.  Needless to say, I canceled the reservations- and my further investment in a relationship with him.

23. The Untouchable $1,000

The woman shall have at least $1,000 in cash at her disposal at all times.

Borrowing a tip from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace, earmark some of your income to create a $1,000 emergency fund - as a first step.  I'm a sucker for a sale (and outlet malls!) and so this has always been tough for me.

For a good while, I saved up $1,000 just to have at my disposal in case of anything.  After a solid 4 months, I fell off the wagon, and now I'm back to saving.  I can say, though, that during my $1,000 run, I felt more confident when I paid bills, more reluctant to make unnecesary purchases, and more faithful in my ability to build an impressive savings account.

Having money in the bank is less of a financial affair - it's more related to mental well-being. Find your way to both and sock that grand away ASAP.

22. Beating your PB

The woman shall know her PB and measure her progress by beating it.

Knowing your PB  (personal best in the sense of working out) gives you a great benchmark, and can help you set goals for your commitment to physical well-being.

It's tough to work out with gal pals who have been commited to Insanity or those who are P90X pros when the only thing running for the past six months in your world has been your refrigerator. An idea could be to ask a dear friend to work out with you one day and give you the personal motivation to do your best.

Record all your times, calorie counts, pace, and incline and try to do better each time you work out. Try to develop a schedule that's manageable for you - the worst workouts are the ones you skip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

20. Shapewear Selection

The woman shall invest in appropriate foundation pieces that compliment her frame and form.

Many of us have all have those dresses that need a little....restructuring of our form.  From girdles to SPANX, shapewear for the modern woman has evolved. 

Love your body, but know what it'll take to be ultimately confident.  For me, tummy troubles used to restrict me to loose fitting dresses.  I invested in a few pieces (both in nude and black) to streamline my physique, and they really work for me when the occasion arises. The most important thing is that your shapewear flatter you- and not make you short of breath.

Of course this is a temporary fix....still waiting for my time in the gym to show me what it's worth.

19. Cosmetic Consultation

The woman shall own cosmetic products (and application knowledge) that best suit her unique features.

In these, the days of Nicki Minaj-type masks and tattooed mascara, so many ladies hide themselves under pounds of concealer, miles of false eyelashes, and lipstick so oily that I'm sure it requires EPA approval.

Mastering make-up is an evolving skill.  Your skin will change, as will the way you want to appear.  Take advantage of the cosmetic expertise at your local department store and book an appointment.  Don't be suckered into buying everything they recommend, but be prepared to snatch up the cosmetics that you know will work for you.

A couple pointers that seem to work really well:
  1. Bronzer can double as an awesome blush.
  2. Once you find the shade of red lipstick that works for you (mine is Dubonet by MAC - and there's a perfect shade for every woman), get loads of it at the Company Cosmetic Store (an outlet store).
  3. Define your lips or define your eyes.  Choose one, as accentuating both adds years, folks tell me.

18. Commitments to a Cause

The woman shall know and support the do-good efforts that make her heart skip a beat.

Balancing community life is hard - believe me!  But making an honest effort - even if it's simply learning more about the cause that you care about - will make your life really fulfilling (and interesting!).

Whatever you care about, find a way to volunteer, donate, serve on a board, or perhaps even consult pro-bono.  Put your assets to great use. 

17. Favorite Sports Teams

The woman shall know the current stats of a favorite team and attempt to talk smack in the presence of rival fans.

The athletic culture is a global phenomenon, and it's a language that most men speak.  It's amazing that a man can talk sports to any other man, and they automatically have a common bond.

I've never been around a crew that heavily talks about, engages in, or participates in tail-gating, game-watching, or talking smack about rival teams. 

This changed a few months ago once I made the decision to become more familiar with the universe of sports - and the Philadelphia Eagles.

I'd recommend picking your favorite city and your favorite sport, and then make an honest effort to follow that that team.  Take a look at the hot players and keep an eye on the game schedule.  You never know who might have mutual team taste.

16. Bra fittings

The woman shall present twin peaks that are comfortably seated.

Know your bra size - and know that it will likely fluctuate (even within a year!).  I've got about 3 different bra sizes represented in my collection - bras fit differently, and that's ok.

It is very helpful to go get a bra fitting.  I promise Victoria will keep your secret. 

15. Home cooked meals

The woman shall know how to prepare a meal fit for a queen.

By no means am I aiming to send us back 50 years, but every woman should master at least one meal and be able to present it well - even if it's a fancy salad. 

Not for anyone else - simply for yourself. 

14. Professional Looking Photos

The woman shall be proud of her marketing outreach opportunities.

This isn't limited to just women - every person who holds a job (or a LinkedIn account) should have a professionally-taken photo at her/his disposal.

It doesn't have to be standard - it can be artsy, creative, and inspirational (like this stunning photo of Judith Jamison).

For ladies, it's imperative - you never know when you'll be honored by an organization (and have to submit a flattering photo for the printed program) or be featured in the newspaper (and have your image viewed by thousands in your community). 

You can't submit that picture that your gal pal took of you looking tipsy at the Rosa Mexicana nor that GlamorShot from 5 years ago. 
You simply can't. 

13. Signature Drinks

The woman shall not be stuck at the bar without a clue.

If you're out and about with the girls, on a date with that special gentleman, or at a company function (where you've ensured that your colleagues and supervisor have already ordered tasty spirits), know what you like and how to order it.

Don't just ask for a glass of white wine.

Don't mispronounce Cabernet.

Don't have what he's having.

Do your homework, and order something that's tasty,and try to order something more original than a cosmo, too!  For me, St. Germaine's with a splash of Smirnoff's and club soda does the trick everytime!

12. Your DreamTeam

The woman shall have the appropriate support team in place. 

Depending on your lifestyle, location, and priorities, your DreamTeam may be drastically different from that of your gal pals.  But, if you have a great team in place, feel free to make recommendations to those ladies who just might need it.

Some team member ideas:
  1. The hair stylist who knows your curl pattern, age, and face structure
  2. The perfect local spa
  3. The inexpensive nail spot that can do a quick mani/pedi for like $35
  4. The tailor that knows curves well and how to drape fabric fantastically
  5. The 24-hour pharmacy

11. Prenuptial Agreements

The woman shall know the financially measurable value of her investment in a marriage.

In the dating world of the fabulous, it's abolutely imperative that you know where you stand on these papers.  I was on a first date with a really great guy (a tad older, and with many accomplishments, mind you!) and he posed the question around how I felt about prenups.  I was stunned! 

Be serious about your future - and protecting yourself and your family. 

For me, I hate thinking about divorce before marriage is even in the picture.  However, I do want to be secure, and I'd want my husband to feel secure, too.

So my stance is this: 

If we get a divorce, I get half.
If we get a divorce and you're caught cheating, I get half plus $1M in emotional damages.

10. Marriage Manifesto

The woman shall have a confident response to the question "Are you married?"

(For married ladies, skip this post.)

For single ladies, this can be a potentially tumultuous moment reminding us of our singlehood.  I know you can't stand it when you hear, "But you're so {insert complimentary word}.  Why aren't you married?"

It's not a fault/flaw that we're not married, nor is it fully under our control - it's just a circumstance. 

Instead of the typical response of "I just haven't met him yet," craft something that will put a nice bowtie ending to the conversation.

My response is something colorful like, "Well, I'm very eccentric, and once my equally eccentric guy and I meet, we'll get married be very happy."

If you want to really end the coversation, answer the question "Why aren't you married?" with a response like "Because I don't want a divorce."                          *Awkward!

9. Floral Patterns

The woman shall know her limits with Vera Bradley-esque lifestyle products.  

I'm known to visit the VB Outlet in Orlando to pick up a healthy stash of pretty pens, but too many patterns can be a headache! 

I've just gotten my order from Thirty-One, and I'm really excited about how easy they make my life.  Here again, know your limits.

Shout out to Diana (Memphis, TN) and Jeff (Gainesville, FL) on this one.

8. Another Woman's Nude

The woman shall identify her skin tone in nude hosiery, and stock up on aforementioned products.

Nude for me is NOT nude for Angelina Jolie, and more hosiery manufacturers are becoming aware of the vast array of skin colors and tones. 

Once you find the perfect shade of your nude, stock up on those like it's the Depresssion!  Your skin tone may change come summer, but you won't be wearing hosiery that often anyway.

7. Issues Affecting Women

The woman shall be informed about major current issues and legislation affecting women in her country and around the world.

Many women have battled and argued for us to have the abundant lives that we enjoy here in the Free World, and we owe it to women around the world and our own future generations to be informed about how the world is treating our tender gender.

Here's a quick overview of some articles that reflect events, topics, and trends affecting women:
  1. Doctor: Young woman gang-raped in India dies
  2. Equal Pay for Equal Work:  Not Even College Helps Women
  3. Prenups:  What Every Bride Should Know
What're you reading today?

6. Cracked Nail Polish

The woman shall repair cracked nail polish immediately or remove it altogether.

I type really hard really fast, leaving me open to cracked nails, especially on my ring fingers.  The solution - I keep nail polish remover, files, and a bottle of OPI in my desk at all times. 

If you're in the business where you're signing checks, contracts, or reviewing paperwork with clients and prospects, they'll notice your nails.  Make sure your nails can speak for themselves, k?

5. The Woman List

The woman shall know what she expects of herself at all times.
Ladies, at some point in our lives, we've developed the overflowing (and sometimes impractical) Man List.  When it comes to relationships, let's start creating lists about ourselves- this will keep us a bit more grounded in building a more delightful, attractive, and life-loving self, and it will also help keep us focused on becoming better women all-around.

4. Efforts to Compromise - or Not

The woman shall know how flexible she should - or should not be - in specific issues that surface in relationships of a romantic nature.

Every relationship is different, and heck - even YOU'RE different in every relationship that you have. 

So as not to lose yourself (and your mind!) when dealing with gentleman friends, develop a list of 3-5 items that you will not be willing to compromise.  This helps you to remain 100% authentically you in the course of your relationship.  If he's the right guy for you, he'll respect you for it. Plus, it'll stop you from wasting time.

My quick list of Noncompromisables:
  1. If he's drowning in debt, been unemployed for 1 year+, or is being sought after for defaulted child support payments, it's a no go.
  2. No boinking before monogamy.
  3. If he doesn't care about, talk about, or plan anything around a healthy lifestyle, it won't be good for us.  I want him around for a while.
Mine isn't very long - I'm aiming to be more flexible about the small stuff, so I'll purposely keep this list short.  Don't want to miss the love of my life!

3. Label Whores Galore

The woman shall know what clothing flatters her, and she shall stay in this lane.

We love all things colorful, fun, uplifting, and well-fitting.  No matter your preference - Abercrombie, Liz Claiborne, Michal Kors, Ralph Lauren, or any of the eye-catching tags - just know what's appropriate for you, your environment, and your event.

I won't venture to say that some labels are age-specific (although we all know they have certain demographics that they serve), but get a sense from your gal pals about what should make an immediate exit - stage left! - from your closet.

And no track suits at the company picnic, ladies.

2. Fat Booty Pics

The woman shall retain all compromising photos of herself for only private viewing under her supervision.

Posting pictures of your booty (or any suggestive image of yourself) on Facebook or any other social media outlet is a poor reflection of who you are, the lady you're aiming to be, and the woman that employers and would-be boyfriends will inevitably Google. 

Get a life and some self respect. 

If you have a friend who posts such disgusting images of herself, defriend her immediately and tell her why.

This one is courtesy of Jami in Atlanta, GA.

1. Know that you're already enough

The woman shall maintain a high level of confidence, self-love, and growth.

With so many magazines, TV shows, and Yahoo! ads telling us gals that we need to look younger, skinnier, and sexier every hour of the day, we've got to pull the plug on all of these social expectations of who we should try to be.

As long as you're aiming to be a better you, keep up the great work.

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