Friday, January 31, 2014

Yesterday started like any other morning.  After waking up, well before the crack of dawn,  I made my way to the restroom where I conducted a quick mirror check.  This is an old habit developed years ago when I was plagued with, acne riddled skin.  Each morning I would look to see how many new breakouts were developing while checking on the status of the existing ones.

I'm happy to say that, for the past year or so, these mirror checks are now used for more pleasant things like assessing my eyelash growth.  This morning, however, I was startled to see two tiny little pimples beginning to form on my cheek just an inch away from my nose.  Building within me was an intense sense of fear and dread as I was immediately taken back to the old days of finding new blemishes each morning.

After I calmed down, I remembered my Emergency Action Plan for dealing with newly formed acne.  From there, I mosied over to the kitchen to warm some water for my lemon & bamboo tea.  Then I headed over to my products in search of a clay mask.  I'm completely out of Glam Glow so that wasn't an option.  Suddenly, I realized that I had an unopened jar of Moroccan Red Clay powder.  "Why not?" I thought "Now's as good of a time as any to give it a shot."  

According to the label, this purifying clay is perfect for sensitive skin. Normally, I wouldn't consider my skin as sensitive, but during winter months, I have to be careful about using products that are too drying because that's the fastest way to trigger my seborrheic dermatitis.  I bought the red clay for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to try a milder option for instances where I wanted absorption and detoxification without over stripping my skin or hair.   I messed around and did a bentonite clay mask on my hair last year and regret it to this day.  Red clay is also said to be rich in silica, magnesium, calcium and other minerals.
I don't know if I'm imagining things, but the red clay powder granules seemed finer than bentonite Normally when I mix apple cider vinegar with bentonite clay, the mixture bubbles up a little before settling down.  That didn't happen this time.  The mixture itself seemed more orange than red.  My biggest concern was that it would stain my hand & face.  But after washing it rinsed off easily with no hint of the orange hue remaining.  I don't know if the same could be said if I got it on my clothing.

After one use, I'm confident in saying that I like it.  Shortly, after removing the mask, my skin maintained a slight glow. A day later and I wake up to calm, perfectly clear skin. The remainder of my clay mixture kept it's consistency so I covered it and placed in the fridge for another mask this weekend.  I'm completely happy with my red clay but then I heard of rhassoul clay which is said to be a better version. One that many like for their hair and skin because it isn't overly stripping. I'd love to try that one day as a scalp detox. 

Has anyone ever tried rhassoul?  Which do you like better?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

 Today is an exciting day for me.  Months ago, I set an intention to share fitness and weight loss stories of inspiration on the blog.  And here we are with our very first fitness feature!  The moment I saw her before & after pic, I immediately wanted to learn more about her journey.  Miss Celiabug was gracious enough to tell us her inspiring story.  Let's learn from her.
Tell us about your relationship with your body growing up.
I've always been heavier than my friends growing up and it affected my self esteem a lot.  My family was also healthier and active and I tried to stay healthy by playing sports and exercising but I never really had much motivation and didn't understand why my friends could eat what they wanted but I couldn't without gaining wieght. It was frustrating.

What made you decide to start your fitness journey?  How long has it been?
When I moved out to go to college, I gained 30 lbs and it was affecting my social life as well as my physical health.  I could litterally feel myself becoming more and more unhealthy.  When I met up with an old friend from high school and she commented on my weight I realized I had to change. It's been 2 years since my highest weight.

What are your current goals?
My goal is 145 and I'm currently at 155 lbs.  My goal used to be 135lbs but then I came to the conclusion that 135 is too low for my height (5'7) and frame.

They say that creating a new body requires a new lifestyle. What has shifted in your life since your journey began?
No more late night eating!  That was my biggest issue. Also I'm an emotional eater and since starting my journey, I have started going to the gym when I'm having an emotional moment instead of pigging out.

How much weight have you shed so far?
Around 30 pounds.

Tell us about your daily/weekly workout and eating routine.
I try to go to the gym everyday for the least 45 min. I don't have much of a routine, I just try and work up a sweat. Three days out of the week I go in the weight room and I do squats, lunges, and leg lifts and that's about it.  I plan on working on coming up  with a better routine once I have more time.  As far as eating is concerned, I have a calorie counting app on my phone.  I've been counting calories so long that I pretty much know how many [calories] are in what I eat.  I'm not exact with it but I usually know the range of calories I eat. I try to stay at around 1500 a day.

What has been the greatest challenge so far?
My greatest challenge has been staying consistent with the gym. I have a busy schedule and sometimes don't make it to the gym everyday but I try to run around my neighborhood if I don't make it.

What has been the most rewarding?
Being able to fit into my clothes and to hear people tell me I look good. Having pants that used to fit tight now fit loose is really motivating to keep on pushing.

What do you do when you are tempted to eat junk for or skip your workouts?
When it comes to junk food, I have to buy it in small quantities and not keep it around the house otherwise I will eat the whole thing.  Sometimes I give a bag of candy to my roommate and tell them to only let me have one piece every once in a while. It helps.  And I force myself to go to the gym when I have a day when I don't want to. I put on my exercise outfits and it makes me much more likely to go than to stay home and be lazy.

How do you take care of you beautiful hair while working out and afterwards? Has this new lifestyle impacted your hair journey?
I keep my hair pulled back and co-wash frequently.  I think that a healthy lifestyle really helps with my hair.  I always notice that when I eat more protein, my hair seems healthier.

Based on your before & after pic, you seemed to tone up a lot in your midsection. What do you think contributed most to that result?
I think that my waist is mostly due to trying to eat clean.  I don't do much ab work in the gym but I think the running I do helps to it up enough.

How do you stay inspired to get going everyday?
Looking in the mirror and at my pictures motivates me. I also follow of a lot of weight loss and fitness Instagram pages and seeing those every day is encouraging.

What advice do you have for others who want to create their ideal body?
Don't get discouraged by setbacks. I've had many setbacks but you've got to get over them and forgive yourself and start again. Learn from then and keep it moving. Set short term goals for yourself. Also, put away the scale!  I try to weight myself once a month because it's easy to get caught up on a number when it's how you look to yourself in the mirror is what matters.

I love the statement you made about not getting stopped by setbacks.  Could you share a set back experience and how you came back from it?
One set back was right after my last break up. I gained 10lbs in a month and I didn't go to the gym the whole time. After the post breakup sadness, I got back out there and managed to lose all the weight and then some.

I absolutely love Celiabug's commitment to her fitness above all else. She identified her weakness (emotional eating) and turned it into a strength.  I also admire her discipline around eating clean ensuring that her food contributes to her goals (instead of working against them).  Most of all, I appreciate the words of encouragement around how to overcome a set back.

Thank you Celiabug, for being an inspiration to all of us.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

 I'm always scouring the internet looking for golden nuggets of wisdom from the beauty rituals of fabulous celebrities. So far we've learned the benefits of drinking a gallon of water a day from Gabrielle Union and how sauna session creates Sanaa Lathan's glow.  For the longest, I've secretly wondered what rituals Naomi Campbell practiced in order to maintain  her Super Model Status for two decades.

I'm happy to announce we've I've been given a glimpse in her daily ritual via a recent Harper's Bazaar article chronicling a day in her life.  My prayers have been answered. Finally,  a sneak peak into the world of how a stunning, world renown model takes care of herself on a daily basis.   Let's get started.

 Naomi starts off every morning by drinking a cup of lemon water & taking her probiotics. We've discussed the benefits of water and lemon water first thing in the morning. It's like a mini-cleanse that flushes away toxins.  While we're asleep, our bodies work tirelessly to restore and rejuvenate.  Early morning is the ideal time eliminate wastes and toxin.  I love the fact that she includes probiotics to her ritual first thing in the A.M on an empty stomach.  I may have to try that.

After her lemon water, Naomi reaches for a glass of tea.  Again, another cleansing and nourishing habit.  I've actually practiced drinking warm lemon bamboo tea first thing in the morning. It's like killing two birds with one stone.

What would a supermodel's routine be without physical activity.  A daily habit of practicing Yoga and/or pilates is Naomi's go to option for staying fit.  She probably doesn't have to do much strenuous exercise due to her ultra clean diet.  Having recently become a vegetarian, Naomi  focuses on eating a natural, unprocessed foods. She makes sure to have plenty of natural snacks on hand including dried fruit, nuts, tea bags, water and a packed lunch.  Several times a day, she enjoys fresh green juices. Occasionally, she does a mini-juice cleanse during the week as part of her clean eating and detox ritual.

After a long day of shooting and wearing designer heels, she likes to treat her self to therapeutic massages to bring her body back in balance.  Finally, Naomi ends every day in prayer and gets enough rest to start another busy day.

These are just some of the goodies she shared in the article. There's additional info including her favorite eye cream, her most loved designers and more.  Check out the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar to  take a sneak peak into her entire "day in the life."  One last tip not mentioned in this article was how she splashes her face with cold water to keep her pores tight and her skin taunt.  She shared that tip with rapper Pharrell and he's been applying it ever since.   For special treatments Naomi, along with most every other celeb, receive oxygen facial treatments which deliver nutrient rich serums deep below the skin's surface, creating a truly healthy glow.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm making sure to hold myself to the promise of taking better care of my nails.  One of the first steps I've taken recently was to treat them to a new color.   Whenever I'm standing in front of a nail color display, my hands instinctively want to reach for nudes.
 This time, however, I noticed subtle, sparkly nude.  It wasn't gold sparkles. But more of a champagne color.....and that matters.  This shade says "I'm rocking nude nails but with a little bit of pizzaz.
OPI's DS Classic gives glam and a classic, understated, look at the darn same time.  And that makes me completely happy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

We're moving right along in our Financial Success series.  Today's conversation is one very near and dear to my heart.  At the start of my financial journey, I took small steps based on my means at the current time.  This meant that I first began to save a portion of my income each paycheck.  Once I mastered saving, I strategized on how I can increase my work related income.  These moves seemed to be working well for me until my mind was rocked after reading this article on the 10 reasons why You should not get a job.  He actually had the nerve to call getting a job as a sole source of income, a stupid thing to do!

 The biggest flaw he saw in the job for money structure is how limited the income earning potential is.  Currently I work a ton of hours and I make a living of it.  But if they were to call me today letting me know that my position has been eliminated, the money stops coming in.  All of the hours and hours of work I've invested into the company for the last three years produces no more financial value for me once our working relationship ends.

 Trading money for time is an old fashioned model of earning income.  If you wish to create additional financial abundance in your life, consider investing your time in ways that generate income passively.  Ah yes, passive income.  I first learned of this term after listening to Robert Allen's book, Multiple Streams of Income.  That book was life changing for me.

Suddenly, I began to see my money very differently.

1. I realized that "active income," working for dollars was not ideal based on the risks involved.
2. I began to see my income from work as a tool to leverage in generating passive income.
3. I worked to set up additional income streams aside for my job.

Here's where it gets interesting.  Remember when I mentioned that sometimes I stroll through the wealthy areas of town gazing at the lavish homes? Back when I worked in an office, I would drive there on my lunch breaks. What did I see in the middle of the day? I saw joggers, people working in their yards, cars in the driveway, others dining at local cafes. That's when it hit me.  These people aren't working right now! They probably don't have to work right now like everyone else. They make their money differently from us.  

Robert Allen lists at least a dozen ways to make additional streams of income in his book.  I did put some of his ideas into practice. More importantly, I opened my mind to the idea of making money in more ways than just working.  Since then, I've continued to educate myself on the subject. They key is to focus your activity on avenues that continue to generate money with medium to little involvement, on your part after the initial investment.  Here are some examples.

1.  Investing in a stock.  (Back when the economy crashed, I invested in Apple, GE and other stocks. It was an action I took once but it continues to earn income passively, years later, without me doing anything else).
2. Enrolling in 401(k)
3. Writing a book or e-guide.
4. Generating income from a website or blog.
5. Creating and selling a physical product (easier than you think).
6.Creating and selling an E-course. (pretty much everyone reading this has knowledge that others are willing to pay for)
7. Income from rental property/real estate
8. Creating an Iphone App.
9. Network Marketing (MLM)
10. Promoting other's products (celebrities do this a lot with endorsements)

Passive income could take a lot of work up front before you see great results.  In most cases, the income from these sources may not be that big, but the idea is to create Multiple Streams of Income so money is coming from different places at all times (even while you sleep).  If you're thinking, that this seems out of your reach, start at the beginning.  Interest paid on your online savings account is a form of passive income.  Company match on a 401 (k) is another. You can set up those sources today.  Once you have two sources, you can start to think about others.  More importantly, when your paycheck gets deposited on Friday, instead of thinking of how you will spend the money, reflect on how you can invest a portion of it into creating a passive income stream.

I've been slowly building income streams for a few years now. I lost my focus the last year but I'm ready to get back on track.  The key thing to remember is that there are infinite ways to create passive income.  Don't get caught on the list above.  It's more important to fall in love with the idea of generating income passively.  YouTube partners are generating income today from videos they created long ago.  That idea wasn't even around when Robert Allen wrote his book.  Be grateful for the income you receive from working and, at the same time, see it as an opportunity to begin an investment into some greater...something longer lasting.

Please check out the Multiple Steams of Income book, he goes into great detail on why passive income is important, how it works, and how to do it!

Thanks to the anonymous poster who commented on how to create outside of work income. If anyone else has questions or would like me to talk about specific topic on financial abundance, let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

You might remember when I featured a military jacket in a previous "Love Her Look" post.  Ever since then, I've been on the lookout for a military green jacket versatile enough to wear all year.
I finally stumbled upon the perfect jacket during a recent trip to Macy's. I fell in love with the length of the coat and the adjustable sleeves.  Today I decided to take full advantage of the shortened sleeves by donning a white long sleeve button up blouse.  And for a bit of "pop," I opted to accessorize with my gold accented Louis Eva as a cross body.
wearing my favorite pair of chevron earrings
This jacket is ultra light which means I can experiment with spring looks with it as well.  Still working on getting fit so I can confidently rock a crop top like my inspiration did in her look.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ever since I wrote this post about the best pre-poo product on the market, my mind hasn't been able to escape the desire to one day try Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme for myself.
Finally, when I couldn't wait any longer, I reached out to the folks at Philip Kingsley to see if they would be willing to donate to the cause of a desperate blogger itching to get her hands on their beloved product.  Luckily for me, they granted my wish for a sample to experience.

A week later my package arrived.  On the box were some words that read:
"Intensive, super-moisturizing pre-shampoo treatment for over processed, porous hair types.  Adds elasticity, bounce and shine."
Once I opened the box, I held the 5 oz jar in my hands.  I recalled the time I used a full 16 oz bottle of Hello Hydration in one single pre-poo session and thought "this isn't much product at all.  Probably won't be enough for two full pre-poo treatments."  Little did I know how wrong I was....

After twisting off the top, I was able to visually assess the product. Virtually unscented.  Elasticizer extreme has a really thick consistency which kinda reminds me of moisturizing skin creams one would apply to their face before going to bed. Finally came the moment of truth.  I dipped my fingers lightly and began applying it to my dry hair.  Within a few moments, something magical began to happen.

The cream melted into my hair and turned into THEE BEST moisturizing pre-poo my hair ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  Whenever wash day arrives, I  normally ask myself one simple question. "Should I do a hydrating pre-poo or a strengthening one?"  If my hair is feeling extra dry, I opt of a hydrating pre-poo session. When my hair is breaking, I opt for coconut oil to help strengthen my hair.  Applying a moisturizing conditioner was my old strategy whenever I needed added moisture.  That method worked for a while but soon I wanted craved more.
Elasticizer Extreme is far superior to the old "rub conditioner into dry hair method."  Let me explain.  First, it has two types of oil high in it's ingredient list.  This means that my hair is getting both moisturizing and nourishing qualities.  Elasticizer is ultra moisturizing in my hair and, yet, it's really light and nourishing. Sometimes, I wonder if over saturating my hair with conditioner caused too much swelling in my hair strand.  This cream just melts into the hair unlike when I apply a conditioner as a pre-poo.  Because it's so easily absorbed, I can pre-poo early in the morning and go to the gym, run errands without having to hide the fact that my hair is saturated with conditioner or coconut oil.  I've actually been in public and had coconut oil run down my neck jheri curl style (sorry for the visual).

After leaving Elasticizer Extreme in for about an hour, I jumped in the shower and clarified using Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo.  I also found a sample packet of a Kerastase shampoo that I also used.  Both products together were highly cleansing.  I figured that there would be no signs of the pre-poo after my wash.  Boy was I wrong.  After rinsing, my hair was still nourished and highly moisturized. Oh, I forgot to mention that since Elasticizer Extreme is so highly moisturizing, I actually used waaaay less product than I normally do.  I barely made a dent in the 5 oz jar even thought I saturated my entire head. That sealed the deal for me.  Elasticizer is now officially my most favorite pre-poo treatment.  It's perfect for this time of year when our hair is battling with drier air and harsh winter winds.  Elasticizer is more than a pre-poo it's a way of restoring the hair on weekly basis.  Your hair deserves this.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Castor Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Olive Husk Oil, Ethyhexyl Dimenthyl PABA, Amodimethicone, Polyquaternium-37. Silicone Quaternium-18, Propylen Glycol Dicaprylate, Trideceth-12, Diazolidinyl Urea, Thrideceth-6, Propylparaben, Sodium Benzoate, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Last week, I returned to my local grocer where I grab my "fresh from the farm" supplies.  This time, they were offering raw milk in half gallon mason jars.  Immediately upon laying my eyes on it, I decided on it's alternate purpose.

Once the milk was gone, I'd utilize the jar to store bamboo tea, a half gallon at a time.  Something about a mason jar makes me feel like I'm in a small country town where people make fresh lemonade.  So I decided to get all fancy with it and add a bit of lime, some mint, raspberries and cucumbers which add even more silica to this already silica filled beverage.

The mix was cool, refreshing and reminded me of a decadent spa experience.   Since we are on the subject of bamboo tea, I'd like to let everyone know that  YouTuber TressedforSuccess has started her very own 30 day Bamboo Tea Challenge.  How exciting!

 Best quote from this video:  "I steeped the first glass, added the honey.... I don't really know if I ever experienced love before in my life. I thought I had but then I tried this tea, but now I'm not sure.  The flavor is amazing!  It tastes like rainbows and love." 

I nodded my head slowly as I listened to her words. She spoke no lies.  Who's ready to join in the Bamboo Tea challenge?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sometimes I have conversations with myself.  One of my recent self inquiries involved which type of protein my hair preferred.  After a little deliberation, I came to the conclusion that my hair typically responded well to keratin protein and, most recently, collagen protein found in Baby Face.  I believe that conversation sparked a seed that may have led me to the most exciting discovery about protein that I've had in a long while.

My world was rocked recently when I stumbled upon this article.  In information provided in just the introduction alone was enough to get me excited.  Basically, they explained that most keratin proteins found in commercial hair products have gone through harsh processes into order to achieve that low molecular weight desirable for absorption into the hair strand.  Unfortunately, the chemical process alters the effectiveness of the protein making it ineffective less effective on our hair.  They introduce a new type of patented protein known as "functional keratin" which has the amazing ability permanently attach to the hair strand.  According to the article, these functional keratins are particularly relevant to those with damaged hair as a result of chemical processing.

Moisture Retention/Softness
Women who used conditioners with this functional keratin reported noticeably softer hair.  This is due to the increased moisture retention that occurred once the strand was repaired.   Since the natural structure of the hair is better protected, it's better able to retain moisture.
Paul Mitchell Awapuhi (Ginger Keratin)
For the study, they recruited African American women and relaxed their hair.  They measured the health of the hair prior, during and after relaxing. Hair treated with a functional keratin treatment after the relaxer rinse, and prior to neutralization, demonstrated the appearance similar to virgin hair versus the untreated strand.  I repeat HAIR STRANDS TREATED WITH THE KERATIN APPEARED MUCH MORE SIMILAR TO VIRGIN HAIR THAN THE UNTREATED STRANDS.    I'm just going to stop talking while you let that statement simmer with you for a little bit......

The reason, for the drastic change in the health of the hair is due to the interaction of the functional keratin with both the inside and outside layer of the hair strand.  Meaning, if applied to the hair right after the relaxer is rinsed, before neutralizing, the keratin is better able to penetrate while the strand is swollen post relaxer.  They also noted that the strand had the ability to stretch an additional 20% when treated with functional keratin.  Functional keratin also provided greater protection to color treated hair via UV ray sun protection.

After reading this, you know I was dying to get my hands on this functional keratin.  Turns out that there aren't many brands on the market that offer this technology to at home consumers like you and me.  I already have products with Keratin as an ingredient but after doing my research, I realize that all keratin is not created equal.  Functional keratin is the equivalent of getting the raw, natural form that can easily be utilized by the hair.  The other stuff,*cough* hydrolized keratin *cough*, is a mediocre substitute.

Here's the difference according to this article:
The difference between the two is the process by which it is extracted from its source and processed. Hydrolized keratin is extracted from the horns and hooves of animals, using acid and extreme heat. During this process, the proteins degrade and denaturalize. These proteins are so far removed in form from natural keratin that they do not offer any of the same benefits.Functional keratin, on the other hand, has been extracted from sheep's wool using patented technology that does not employ heat or acid. This technology allows the keratin proteins to remain in their original form and function as the natural keratin proteins do (hence the term 'functional keratin'). These keratin proteins can work in concert with your existing keratins to repair and rejuvenate hair and skin.
Ok, ok, enough talking. Let's get to the nitty gritty and discuss how you can nurture your hair with the most effective type of keratin available.  There's a salon quality product Keraplast Hair Rescue, but based on what I found so far, the product isn't available for purchase by non-professionals.  No worries, because our peeps at Paul Mitchell have included three types of keratins, including oxidized keratin, functional keratin and hydrolyzed keratin in their Awapuhi line of products.  Luckily for us, these products are readily available via a quick trip to Amazon.

The positive reviews of Awapuhi are strong on Amazon so you know I've already placed my order.  Please come back and see me when I post my review of their Deep conditioning treatment.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I've been thinking non-stop about my goals for the year.  Obviously, I would like 2014 to be an amazing year with regards to my hair goals.  One of my intentions is to avoid set backs as much as humanly possible.  "A setback is a setup for a comeback!"  Those words are normally spoken to add a bit of inspiration to a dire situation.  Honestly, I would rather avoid a setback all together.  In the world of the hair journey, ever single inch gained counts.
Last year I suffered a pretty bad set back that required a mini chop. I'm determined to avoid a repeat of this if at all possible.  Hence the idea to create an "avoiding setbacks" series where we discuss tips and tricks to keep our progress going in the right direction.

Setbacks can occur for a multitude of reasons. For today's session, we will discuss the most obvious.  I too fell victim to this enemy last year and my hair paid dearly for it.  I'm referring to lack of action, or laziness.  Knowing that you should do something but not doing it.  In my case, I had a firm habit of deep conditioning weekly but, somehow, time seemed scarce and I thought it would be ok to skip a few sessions here and there.  I'd keep my hair in a top knot too long and, next thing you know, I'm batting serious tangles come wash day.  Little did I know how much my acts of neglect were adding up until I visited the salon and came to the realization that  a major trim would be the only method of salvation.

I've learned my lesson, since then I've been committed to consistency.  Even though wash days take even longer now then before (since adding my conditioning iron to the process).  I firmly believe that if I'm committed to executing flawless wash day rituals each week, the likelihood of experiencing a set back is slim.

 So rule #1 to avoiding a setback is:  Avoid skipping wash days and always, always deep condition when you wash.

If we give our hair 52 deep conditioning nourishing treatments a year, we can rest assured that we are promoting progress, while keeping set backs at bay.  If there was a healthy hair pyramid, deep conditioning treatments would be at the bottom supporting the entire structure.  This year, I'm making a promise to stay on course.  Another thing I'm vowing to do is utilize my steamer on the regular instead of saving it for when my hair is in need of a deep repair treatment.

Very simple, I will be following rule #1 week by week in the name of progress. Stay tuned for more tips on avoiding setbacks in future posts.

Monday, January 20, 2014

We're moving right along in our Financial Abundance Series.  I'm grateful that some of your are benefiting from this conversation. When we last talked, we discussed some strategies on how to increase your current wages.  If you are committed to stretching outside of your current comfort zone, set up a conversation with your supervisor about your intention to grow in the company so he/she can help direct your development.  If they don't, pay attention to who else can help you in moving and build relationships with them as part of your strategy.

I believe that everyone who wishes to impact their abundance will have to do some internal work.  Think about someone who wins the lottery. Suddenly, they are blessed with a financial reward beyond measure. But somehow, that person finds themselves broke years later.  How does that happen?  The person wasn't ready to be a good stewart of financial increase.  S/he was operating under the old mindset and the old ways of doing things.  That doesn't work.  THE OLD WAY THAT YOU THINK OF & DEAL WITH MONEY WILL NOT ALLOW FOR ABUNDANCE TO GROW IN YOUR CURRENT SITUATION.  I'm not saying that you won't get raises or receive decent size checks.  Those things will happen.They happen to everyone.  I'm saying that in order to receive the level abundance you desire, things in your life must be different than they are currently.

One mindset shift that I'm made a while back is how I look at money.  Before, when I got paid, I would spend my entire check.  Then, as my mindset elevated, I began to save some of what I made.  Now as I continue to grow, I am now seeming money as a tool to generate more money.  It started with putting my money into a high interested bearing savings account and being rewarded for my actions.  That was a good start but I was looking for other ways to "make money on my money."  The next best option was to enroll in 401k.  If you work for a company that offers & matches your  401k contribution, sign up for it today!  If you don't, you are leaving money on the table which is a travesty.  Wealthy people never leave money on the table (ever).

Once you have money going in a savings account and you have a 401(k) account, you are headed in the right direction.   At this point, you may find yourself with a little less disposable cash.  You've got two options:

1. Live below your means
2. Increase your "non-work related income."

Which one do you pick?  Both!  Living below your means is pretty straightforward. Track your spending in a way that allows you to have a surplus by your next paycheck.  Your goal, every paycheck, is to have a little extra remaining by the time the next one comes.  Do this enough times and you will find yourself with additional funds with which to create even more. I want you to start the practice of spending your check before you receive it.  Meaning, planning out how you will allocate your money in a way that leaves you a little extra (even after you save).  Lastly, enroll in a 401(k), even if you are only saving 1% of your income.

I mentioned one mindset shift I made to better manage my earnings and using my paycheck income as a way to generate more. But I knew that this was the tip of the iceberg in the game we call "achieving greater level of abundance."  From time to time, my husband and I drive to the other part of town and walk around the wealthier neighborhoods. I remember looking at those amazing homes and thinking to myself "these people probably don't have 9 to 5 jobs."  If that's the case, what are they doing, how did they make their income?  What are they doing that I'm not?  Sure, I know some of them are probably high paying execs but probably only a portion.  The others made their money in other ways. I'm guessing those people fell under category #2 (increase your know work related income).  I know you are probably curious to learn more about option 2.  Let's talk more about it next week.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I experienced a bit of an epiphany yesterday I thought would be important to share.  After reflecting on how to manage all of the things I try to fit into my busy schedule, I realized that I was doing everything wrong.  Before dawn, I try to fit in as many activities as I can including blogging, personal development, filling orders, etc. By the time the evening comes, I'm pretty much exhausted.

With all of that on my plate, something usually gets placed on the back burner. Most often it's exercise that suffers.  Then I try to make up for it by fitting in workouts when it's convenient, like on the weekends.  There's something inherently wrong with that way of thinking.
Here's what I realized. The stuff I was putting as a priority instead of working out could have been batched and done all at once.  Where as exercise & meditation requires action consistently throughout the week (if not every day) to achieve the most benefit. I can't miss a full week of exercise and hope to make up for it on the weekend.  It doesn't work that way.

So now I'm committed to doing things differently.  Everything I do in the mornings which can be done ahead of time (without consequence)  will be shifted to evenings and weekends.  This will free up space for the most essential daily rituals.  No longer will I have to worry about trying to do everything while allowing my fitness fall by the wayside.

This new way of thinking will allow me to remain consistent and ultimately reach my fitness goals.  No more running to the gym to make up for days (or weeks) of inactivity.  Now I will manage my time in a way that will allow me to be fully ready for summer instead trying to "get ready" like I've done in previous years.

Now. Right now, is the time to plant the seed that will create the future you want 3-4 months from now.  How do you want your body to look by summer?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The other day I shared this pic on my Facebook page as a testament to the versatility of a full sew-in weave install.  Like everyone else, I was in awe of how natural install looks.  Once over the initial shock, I fell completely in love with the look.

"Looks simple enough" I thought to myself as I pondered on recreating the style.  It wasn't until I looked more closely that I realized the difference in the braiding technique.  In fact, it wasn't a braid at all.  More like the technique one uses to create a fishtail braid.

The moment uncertainty crept in, I immediately leapt into action in the form of a simple Google search. A few clicks later and I came across a video which demonstrates a clear technique to create something similar to what we see above.  I'll be experimenting with this look within the next couple of weeks.

You can check out the video here if you'd like to know how this look was done.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I have shifted the way I shop for clothes.  Years ago I would visit stores and wander around aimlessly looking for something to catch my eye.  It works for some, eventually, I realized that I work better with a more focused approach to shopping.

So instead of blindly walking into a store hoping I find something I love, I know identify pieces I'd like to add to my wardrobe before I even walk into a store.  This way, when I walk into a store, I already have a goal in mind.  If I happen to run into something else, great!  But at least I have an intention of something I want to build my wardrobe.
Just added to my closet wish list are a pair of white slacks similar to the ones Vanessa Hudgens is wearing.  Her white on white look is perfection.  It's perfect for spring.  I know that finding the right pair may take several trips but at least I have an objective.  I've always had a hesitation towards buying white shoes so I love the fact that she paired this all white look with a pair of skinny nude heels.  The white pants are a priority but I am also looking for an amazing white top to see if I can pull the entire look off. Wish me luck.

During the holidays, I had the opportunity to enjoy regular visits to the gym.  Within days of going back to my old routine, I noticed skin improvement thanks to the post workout sauna sessions.

Now that I'm back to my full work and travel schedule, I won't have the luxury to hit the sauna as much as I'd like.  Plan B is to get my hands on a high quality at home facial steamer.  Years ago, I bought an entry level facial steam like this one.   It did it's job but, I really wish it was a bit more powerful.  The steaming action just wasn't strong enough to produce that amazing glow I was looking for. Plus I didn't like the fact that I had to put my face into the steamer in order to experience it's full functionality.

A quick trip to Amazon solved my dilemma.  I landed upon a couple facial steamers immediately caught my attention.

The first one is the Panasonic Pink Nano-e Facial Steamer.  It's a simple, well designed product but, more importantly, it produces ample amounts of steam.  A while back, the steam reservoir of my Conair & Caruso curlers stopped working.  My solution was so use my facial steamer to warm up my curlers.  This plan worked brilliantly.  The shape of the Pink Nano-e steamer,  will allow me to use it dual purposely as a facial steamer and as a base to warm up my sponge rollers.  I really like how much "reach" the steam has.  This means I can have the steamer going while I'm on the computer or doing my nails.  You can check out a video of it in action here.

My next crave is also from Panasonic. It's the grand deluxe version of the at home personal facial steamer.  The Panasonic NanoCare comes with additional options including a cool steam blast.  From a couple reviews, the cool blast is really cold.  I would love to do a roller steam set on my hair with cold water particles.  I'm wondering if that would seal the cuticles as it sets my curls.  Another added feature of this deluxe model is  it's ability to produce smaller size (nano) particles.  Having used a MicroMist hair steamer that also uses tiny water molecules, I know  and appreciate the difference. Tinier particles means you can steam longer without having water droplets burn your skin as well as deeper penetration.  Yes, this model is pricier than other personal steamers but you get much more for your money. This video shows the NanoCare model in action. Sorry it's in Japanese so you won't understand a word they're saying.

Just typing up this post has pretty much made up my mind on taking the plunge.  I think back to when I would do at home facials 1-3 times a week.  It was the only thing that helped me deal with breakouts and clear the congestion below my skin.  I need to get back to doing that. The strongest urge to purchase is driven by my curiosity of setting my hair using the nano water molecules.  My thought is that it would deeply moisturize my hair as I style it.    I could steam my skin and set/moisturize my hair in one sitting. How amazing would that be?  When I do decide to get one, I'll share a full review.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A few years ago I took on a temporary work assignment that required me to wear my hair in a bun on a daily basis.  "Great!" I thought.."this is going to help my hair journey so much!"  You see, prior to that, I wasn't much for protective styling although I was well aware of the potential benefits.  This eight week assignment was the perfect scenerio for me to experience the wonders of daily protective styling for myself.

The assignment lasted a little longer than eight weeks and, once it was over, daily bunning had turned into a habit.  It's been over two years and I'm just now realizing that bunning may not have helped my hair journey the way I imagined it would.
Action shot taken while at a work function wearing my daily bun
The realization came to me, the other day, as I was taking my bun down to refresh it for the day ahead.  Prior to that, I was on vacation for a couple weeks and hadn't worn a bun at all.  Overall my hair was doing well. I just dusted my ends and deep conditioned a few days before.  All was right with the world.  Then, after wearing a simple bun all day, I noticed a few broken strands as I was getting ready to moisturize and seal.  Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Have I been experiencing this type of breakage regularly for the last few years?  Why is my hair breaking when I hadn't even touched it all day? Mind you, it wasn't a ton of breakage, but it was enough to cause alarm as I thought about the long term impact if it continued to happen on a daily basis.

Immediately, my mind started racing with ideas of what may have caused the damage not just from the night before, but over the past couple of years.  First thought that came to me was about how neglectful I became when bunning.  The section where my hair is struggling the most is the back/middle part of my hair.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I barely focus on that area when I bun.  Sometimes, when I was feeling really lazy or if days became exceptionally long, I would do the bare minimum to keep the hair moisturized. The basic bun hid a multitude of sins (or so I thought).

I also think the way I tucked my hair away wasn't the best technique.  Looking back, I probably should have worn a looser bun. I would create a ponytail, then  grab the remaining hair and would twist it around, kinda like a cinnamon roll.  This, I believe, caused way too much tension on my ends which contributed to breakage.  I also experienced breakage when my top knot was too tight or if I wore my hair up for a couple of days without taking it down.

On the day of my epiphany, I decided to wear my hair in a loose side braid instead of a bun.  I made sure my braid was well lubricated with Gleau oil blend and went about my day. My braid was a bit frayed from rubbing against my sweater, but when I took the braid down at the end of the day, there were no broken pieces of hair.  At that point, I decided to break out of my daily bunning habit and try other styles to see how my hair responds.

Here all the things I did "wrong" when I was bunning. Maybe I can save someone from making all the mistakes I made.

+Not being consistent with moisturizing/sealing while wearing buns.
+Not alternating the direction of the twist.
+Sleeping in buns
+Not moving the bun around (wearing it in the same place day after day).
+Twisting the hair too tightly.
+Not alternating styles. Wearing buns too frequently.

Don't get me wrong, some people are able to do buns right and experience a world of retention.  For me, unfortunately, it wasn't as effective.....most of it was my fault.  I don't think buns are inherently wrong, I just was a bit negligent at times. So what I'm going to do differently is wear different styles on a daily basis.  If I need to wear my hair up, I will leverage the use of my Good Hair Day pins and my Modern Updo Pin mentioned in a previous post.  Over time, I think my hair will thrive again.  With all the lessons I've been learning from my Happy Endings series, I feel more confident wearing my hair down then continuing with daily buns.  When I do wear buns consistently again, it will be very different from the way I've been doing it before.

Do you have some tips for me on creating healthy buns?  Please share.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

After learning that split end repair is actually possible, I immediately sought out to get my hands on this magical ingredient.  The first purchase I made was a conditioner and leave-in from the Nexxus Pro Mend Series.
Check out the product's claims according to the Leave-In cream packaging:
"Transition split ends into healthy-looking hair with Nexxus ProMend.  The first product line to focus on true split end repair. It binds split ends back together in one use.  ProMend Leave-In Creme provides daily repair for split end problem areas. Use after each shower to bind up to 92% of split ends back together before styling, so ends look beautifully healthy and strong." 
There's also a nifty illustration on the box of a hair strand with several splits throughout the shaft, then one with the ProMend Technology wrapped around the follicle, and a third image of a perfectly healthy hair strand after treatment.

You all know I can get excited about stuff but I don't think I've ever been as excited to try a product as I was with ProMend.  So far, I've used it twice, and let me tell you, ProMend will be part of my regimen for LIFE!  I can't say for sure if I actually have hairs that were once split but now fully healed.  But I can tell you that my hair has felt amazingly smooth and healthy after each wash. I feel confident in saying that my cuticle layer is much smoother now than before ProMend came along.

On wash day, I mixed the conditioner in a small bowl with my Kanechom Shea Butter, Biolage Conditioning Balm, Baby Face Pure Protein and silk amino acids.  Everything comes together to make an amazing hair treatment.  Once applied, I steamed my hair and used my conditioning iron. After rinsing, I finish off with the ProMend leave in treatment and proceed to roller set.  Based on the short video, I showed in my previous post, it appears that the technology is best used when heat is involved.  I'm only saying this because the video showed the hair being repaired as it someone dried it using a blow dryer. When I'm rolling the hair, I don't notice anything different. But when I take down my rollers, man oh man!

My hair is smooth and silky.  Before I would experience some post rollerset breakage as I ran my hands through it.  Not no more!  The most obvious change to my hair, besides the smoothness, is how soft it is.  Not sure why that is but my hair seems softer, less stiff, than before ProMend came along.  Breakage has certainly reduced. I have way more confidence now when I'm man handling my hair. Since I already know that my hair loves ProMend, my next objective would be to pick up the overnight treatment.   Everyone within the sound of my voice should go out and get this.  You probably don't have anything in your possession that claims to heal the hair the way ProMend does.

Although I am beyond pleased with ProMend, my insatiable appetite won't let me rest until I've tried the Joico Split End Mender.  Since it's a professional level product, I'm curious to see if it's even better than ProMend. The Joico is on it's way to me as we speak so look out for a follow up review in the future.

*p.s. Nexxus also has a ProMend Curl Defining Creme as well for those who rock curly hair.*

Monday, January 13, 2014

We're continuing our conversation on the creating Financial Abundance Series.  Since last week, I hope you have taken the first step by creating an automatic draft into your savings account.  I took my own advice and set up another draft so my savings can continue grow automatically.  When I first began my financial journey, I was earning under $10.00 an hour.  Since my income was so low, the only way I new to create abundance was to save.  It began with a savings account at my local bank but once I learned of online accounts, it was on.  Back then, interest rates were higher so when I set up an account with an online bank, I earned nearly 5% on my savings.  It was incredible to see them deposit money into my savings account every month without me having to do anything to earn it.  At the end of the year, I was elated to find out that I earned extra money for free!

Although I enjoyed watching my savings grow, I realized that I also needed to increase my personal income.  $9.75 an hour wasn't going to cut it.  At the time, I was working an entry level job in my career of choice.  While I was still in school,  I would look at higher  paying job postings in my field and fantasize about earning that amount one day.  A few reading the book "Write it down, make it happen," I grabbed a note card and wrote down a lofty goal to double my income.

When my supervisor left her position and I immediately stepped out of my comfort zone by taking on more responsibility.  They eventually filled the position but the new supervisor recognized how much work I was doing beyond my scope and immediately gave me a small raise.  I was one step closer to my goal.  Even when my new supervisor was in place, I still took on as much additional work as I could.  My intention was to outgrow my position as quickly as possible.  A year later, an opportunity came up for a manager level position.  At the time, there were two of us who could have filled the role.  The other candidate was a more experienced employee in anther department. who worked for the company much longer than I had.  The difference between us was the goals we had for ourselves.  I was on a mission to double my income.  She, wanted to work in a different department.  I applied for the manager opportunity and got it!  She took an a lateral move by backfilling my position.

The new position didn't double my income like I had hoped.  But, less than a year later, I was promoted again with another raise. Within two years I joined another company who offered me a raise of $12, 000 more than what I was currently making.  Two years later, another job offer and another nice bump in pay.   I've been tracking my salary on paper for the past 7 years and, looking back, this year my salary will be double what I earned in 2007.  I believe my result is due to several factors:

+ I had a clear written income goal.
+I realized that, in the workplace, financial growth is obtained through promotions (or large incentives, or both).  Promotions happen when we outgrow our current role so I am always willing to take on additional responsibility even if I don't get  immediately rewarded for it.  The experience is invaluable.
+I consistently stepped out of my comfort zone to take on bigger roles.
+ I changed companies a couple of times for the intention of adding greater salary increases.  If one stays in the same position at the same company, chances are you are get smaller increases.  It's not worth it to work so hard and only receive a 4% increase at the end of the year.  Not at all.

When I first doubled my income I felt pretty proud of myself.  My goal was accomplished. Then, while at a Personal Development meeting, the speaker challenged me to do it again!  I flinched hard.  My heart rate went up as doubt flooded my mind.  I kept thinking, "there's no way." It was "easy to do" when I was earning an hourly wage, but at my current salary it seemed impossible.  I think my disbelief has slowed down my progress.  Now that I realize what I've been doing, I'm ready to recreate my intention to double my income once again.  Not sure how it's gonna happen.  But I'm ready for the experience. My strategy to make this happen is to work on who I am, as well as what I do.  Can we talk more about this in the next post?

Don't for get to read the first part of this series.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Almost a week has gone by since I've seen the sun shine.  This morning I awoke to yet another gloomy day.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and bring along my own sunshine.

While most others rocked fall, muted colors, I reached for the brightest article of clothing  in my closet.  When I first tried on this bright yellow blouse, I had my doubts.  I remember standing in the dressing room wondering if it would attract too much attention.  Years ago, almost every item of clothing I owned was black as I tried desperately to blend seamlessly into a crowd.  

I intentionally purchased this blouse in protest to my former self.  No longer would I purposefully try to go unnoticed.   As I strolled through the streets of downtown, I noticed the looks from others  from the corner of my eye.  But this time, I held my head up high, knowing that I brought a little bit of sunshine to their day.
Blouse// H&M// Similar
Jeans// Mossimo
Heals//Michael Kors

Friday, January 10, 2014

There's something exhilarating about catching a glimpse of your fingertips and seeing strong, well polished, lengthy nails. I confess that I've neglected the health of my nails though I've made declarations in the past about nurturing them.

Without fail, whenever I've been consistent in my vitamin and water intake, my nails flourish. A fresh coat of the perfect shade of polish is enough to make  even the worst day just a little bit better. With this in mind, I'm ready to make my first beauty resolution for the New Year.

Even if I'm wearing the most casual of outfits, if my nails are taken care of, I feel complete.  They are an amazing accessory that I have neglected for too long. 
So now I'm going back to the routine that gave me glorious nails.  It was simple really, making sure I keep snags at bay by keeping a crystal nail file handy at all times.  I vow to provide constant nutrition to support their health by regularly taking my hair, skin, and nails vitamins. Last but not least, I will promote their growth by providing them routine stimulation to increase blood flow.  I had the best nails of my life when I was "nail rubbing" daily and when I massaged my cuticles on a regular basis using a nourisher to keep them hydrated.

Well, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to give myself a mini manicure.

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