Saturday, January 31, 2015

Faux Leather Drawstring Backpack
Once upon a time, I kept a bag in the back of my car.  The contents of the bag included a set of exercise clothes, lotion, a head wrap and a few other random items.  Not much thought was put into putting the items together but, just having the bag in trunk of my car kept me on consistent with my workouts. 

That bag meant that I was workout ready at anytime of day.  It didn't matter if it was after work or before, I could easily drive to the gym, get in a good workout, and leave.  It was as simple as that.  That was the time of my life when I was at my fittest.  That bag made it so easy for me to truly live a healthy lifestyle.  

Somehow, between all of my traveling and other life events, I completely forgot about the workout bag which was now buried under a myriad of other items hiding deep in my trunk.  I recently reunited with my old gym bag, looked at it, and immediately decided that it needed an upgrade.  Within days I stumbled upon a vegan leather version of the original while at Forever 21.  This one was much better because it included a large zipper compartment on the outside and a couple zippered pockets inside.
Then I asked myself, "what would I include in this new, upgraded version of this bag?"  Some of the essentials included these lovely little Dove Everyday Body Mists.  Perfect for freshening up after a workout.  
Also in my bag is a travel size bottle of Aveda's Botenical Kinetics Exfoliant.  Not only is the scent intoxicating, this toner does a pretty decent job of removing dirt and oil from the surface of the skin.  Great for a quick purifying-pre workout.  And of course, I'll keep a travel size bottle of Gleau and Aveda Damage Remedy to rehydrate my hair after a relaxing session in the sauna.
For the days when I stop into the gym after work, I'll have make up wipes in hand in the even that I have to remove any excess makeup.  I'm almost never without a bottle of water in hand.  This 11 oz water bottle pretty much fits in any purse/bag.  I'll keep one in my gym bag at all times.
Voss Plastic Water Bottle // Tom's All Natural Deodorant // Neutrogena Makeup Wipes
A gym bag would not be complete without a carryon size of coconut oil.  As you know, coconut oil serves every purpose known to man so it's absolutely essential to keep Capriclear on hand at all times.
Capriclear Coconut Oil
The last couple of things I'll include is the original Clarisonic facial brush which doesn't get as much use ever since the Clarisonic Pro came to town.  Add a set of workout clothes and a headscarf and I'm good to go.  Nothing like being gym ready at all times to keep you on track and consistent with working out.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Want strong hair and healthy growth?  One of your focuses besides  drinking loads of water, exercising & boosting your nutrition should be to maximize the health of your scalp.  We've talked in length about the actions needed to address scalp issues. But we've never went into detail about strengthening the scalp itself.
As you already know,  every day that passes contributes the the atrophy of our muscles if we aren't proactive.  Some of you are taking deliberate action to maintain muscle mass with resistance exercises.  The good news is that it's pretty easy to strengthen + tone our arms, legs and abs.  Unfortunately, some of our other muscles are a bit more obscure.  Rarely do we think about doing facial exercises and we never consider our scalp muscles.

Yes, that's right.  When was the last time you exercised your scalp?  What would happen if you could activate the muscles that are directly related to your hair growth?  I'll tell you what would happen.  Blood flow to that area would increase by nearly 10X.  That type of blood flow is real valuable.  Which is why I'm putting it on my bucket list to learn how to do scalp contraction exercises. Not only do these movements directly benefit hair growth but, as an added benefit, you'll also enjoy a firmer toned forehead and a lifted upper facial area.

The bad news is that moving our scalp muscles isn't all that easy.  If it were, we'd be doing them every day.  These muscles are underdeveloped and underutilized so finding them and working them takes a bit of practice.  I still don't quite know how to do it, but I'm confident that trying it every day will bring progress.  AND I know that by practicing, I'll stimulate my scalp which is always a good thing.

P.S. If you're one of those people who can do this on the first try. Congratulations, you have achieved unicorn status, consider yourself one of the chosen few.

People who are really good at it can move their entire scalp without the use of their hands.

Scalp Exercise Technique Website.

Scalp Exercise Technique Video:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hopefully, by now, I may have convinced you to consider playing around with coconut oil as a overnight skin moisturizer.  If you've never heard of this before, I invite you to check out:

+ Go to bed greasy |  How applying nourishing oils at night creates glowing radiant skin.
+ The Flight Attendant with Flawless Skin |  One woman's secret to moist skin even in the driest conditions.
+ The Actress who doesn't age |  The beauty secret shared by the beautiful actress who hasn't aged in 20 years.

If you are using coconut oil as an overnight beauty treatment, may I suggest a few more ways to take your night time ritual to the next level.

 Since the coconut oil is handy perhaps you might want to do some oil pulling before heading off to bed.  What's oil pulling?  Well it's a simple act of swishing oil around in your mouth for a few minutes.  Benefits of this unusual practice include detoxification, clearer skin and whiter teeth.  Who doesn't want that?  If this is the first you're hearing about oil pulling, I suggest you learn more about the process and benefits by watching  a few videos on youtube.

P.s. make sure you keep a separate container of coconut oil for oil pulling that you don't put your fingers into.

I will never forget the day when I was strolling online looking into the benefits of applying coconut oil on lashes when I stumbled upon a women who proclaimed "I apply coconut oil to my lashes every night and they are magnificent!"  Her proclamation was all the convincing I need.  Whenever I apply coconut oil on my skin,  I apply some of the excess to my lashes as a conditioning treatment before bed.

Chances are you rub a little coconut oil on your hands and feet before bed.  Next time, pay a little attention to the cuticles.  Rubbing oil into the cuticles help bring blood flow to the nail bed, promoting strong, healthy growth.  And you know how important it is to have healthy, well maintained nails so don't skip this step.

Consider placing a little coconut oil in a small jar that you can blend with an exfoliant, such as sugar, to  create a lip scrub.  Feel free to leave a little oil on the lip, post scrub as an all natural lip balm.

One other thing you can do with your coconut oil at night is to consume it.  Turns out that a study was done that demonstrates how 40 female participants experienced a reduction in belly fat after consuming 1 ounce of coconut oil or soybean a day, follow their normal diet, and walk 50 minutes a day.  The group of women who ingested coconut oil as part of their regimen experienced a noticeable reduction in their waistline while increasing their good cholesterol compared to the group who consumed soybean oil.  While coconut oil is still a fat, it operates differently than other forms of fat thereby improving metabolism and even helping you feel fuller.

Perhaps, the last thing you should consider when conducting your nightly coconut oil ritual is to quickly apply some oil to your ends.  That way your hair enjoys a light treatment while you sleep.  As we know, coconut oil penetrates the strand, allowing its nourishing qualities to enter the hair strand.  You can actually strengthen your strands as you sleep.  Be mindful when applying coconut oil to the hair over and over again to thwart off any potential protein overload issues.  Try it and see how your hair responds.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I've received emails from a few readers inquiring about a (somewhat)new product on the market by the name Olaplex. What's amazing about this product is that it's a one ingredient formula that works to reconnect the hair's disulfide bonds.  That's right, it works on the structure of the hair, basically repairing damage, bringing it to a healthy state once again.  
Apparently, the Olaplex protects the hair during/after chemical processes, preventing the damage one would normally experience when the bonds are broken.  The result?  Hair feels, smooth, silky and is pretty much free of damage + breakage.   Olaplex is a professional product gaining it's popularity in salons.  Blondes everywhere are raving about how silky and perfect their hair looks and feels thanks for Olaplex.

As you know, bleaching the hair and relaxing produces similar results (with regards to dryness, breakage, split ends) so Olaplex is very promising for those of us who want to mitigate the damage from chemical treatments.  The good news is that Olaplex can also be used post relaxer or as a stand alone treatment to address damaged hair.

The entire system consists of three steps.  Bottle No. 1 is the Bond Multiplier, which is typically mixed in the chemical product to lighten hair.  In the back of my mind, I'm wondering if the bond multiplier can be mixed in with a chemical relaxer.  Curiosity got the best of me so I did a little more digging and found this conversation on their Facebook page.

  • Anita Johnson How do you use it with relaxer, lightener and color combinations? Yes I push the envelope 
    • Olaplex Ok if you are one to push the envelope then do it carefully and wisely. We love the envelope pushed but experiment first and know the product Olaplex well. You can mix 15% bond multiplier with 85% water in applicator bottle. After you neutralize rents and saturate hair with Olaplex mixture leave on 7.5 minutes if you have the time saturate hair again and will leave on another 7.5 minutes. Rinse, shampoo, condition you do not need to wait the 48 hours before you shampoo.

Interestingly enough, when I contacted Olaplex directly to inquire as to whether I can include the bond multiplier into my relaxer, the response I received was to try it out and let them know my experience.  (I just might take them up on that challenge).

  Bottle No. 2 is the Bond Perfector which is applied post treatment.  According to their website, as a stand alone treatment, you'd use Bottle No. 1 (Bond Multiplier), then add a generous amount of Bottle #2, leave in for 10 minutes (or more), then rinse, shampoo, condition.

The good folks at Olaplex also have Bottle No 3. (Hair Perfector) which helps maintain health of the hair post treatment.  Since our hair's bonds are constantly being compromised due to manipulation, heat styling, etc, this product helps to "maintain the strength, structure, integrity and softness of the hair until the next service at the salon."

It took me a while to get hip to this amazing product but I'm not putting it off any longer.  After doing a little searching, I was able to locate Olaplex for sale on Ebay.  I picked up a package containing all three treatments which I should be receiving within the next week or so.  Review coming soon.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hi, I'm Nadege, your new anti-aging eternal youth consultant.   I'm here to engage you in a series of conversations that revolve around feeling and looking as youthful as possible for the rest of your glorious days.

The topic of anti-aging truly interests me and I plan on sharing as much as possible as I learn more about it.  Basically, my methodology to eternal youth is this:  learn what the body is missing as it ages and add whatever's missing back in.  Pretty simple right?  Our body is in constant transition from birth until death.  The early days of the transition, our body goes through the building phase. Then somewhere in our thirties, it enters the decline. Things change.  Perhaps if we reincorporate some of "what's missing" back into your bodies/lives, then we can promote youthful vitality once again.

Since it's Fit Friday.  I'll start with the physical.  Typically, when I share images of amazingly fit women, I'm encouraging you to think of your goal to have the body you desire by summer.  But today, I'd like you to have a longer term vision in mind.  Think about the type of person you want to become as you age.  If you lose your breath when climbing a few flight of stairs now, imagine how hard it will be for your to move around as you get older.

I don't know about you, but I want to be physically able to do anything I want at any age so I'm ready to put in the work now.  When I think about a youthful body, two things immediately come to mind--  MUSCLE TONE + FLEXIBILITY.   In fact, those were the first two changes I noticed in my body once I entered my thirties.  Fat just seemed to creep in where I once maintained muscle.  And suddenly, I could feel slight tension my back when I bent over to pick things up.  I'm not saying that I'm old, but I am very aware that these changes were a peek into what my future holds if I don't do anything about it.

As your eternal youth consultant, I advise you to incorporate movement in your daily life that improves muscle tone and flexibility.  Daily exercise is more important than you realize. It goes beyond fitting into the perfect pair of skinny jeans.  Exercise keeps muscle on your body.  You need muscle tone for energy, strength, and a youthful appearance.  If you do nothing about it, you will loose 50% of your muscle tone between the ages of 20 and 90.  If you're a woman over the age of 40, you might be losing 1% of your muscle mass each year.  Lack of physical activity only accelerates the loss of muscle.  When you give up any form of physical exercise, you're practically allowing the inevitable loss of muscle to take place.  Even if you're in your twenties, I want you  to think about how to stay active.  By the time you're 30, regular exercise is a habit and you would have prevented some of the muscle loss before it occurs.
Next let's talk about your flexibility.  As I child my body could do pretty much anything.  Backbends, splits, weird contortions.  Nowadays, I feel a slight bit of strain when I bend over to pick something up. What happened?!  The level of flexibility I once had is now fleeing.  Stiffness leads to pain and injuries.  We lead stressful lives, the stress builds in our muscles making the stiffness even worse.  That's why I'm going back to the simple practice of doing yoga stretches each morning.  Once upon a time, I did these daily.  My flexibility went from non-existent to pretty darn good.  In fact, I even took a 1 hour yoga class at the gym and was able to keep up with the class.  I made the decision one day after feeling stiff from just getting out of the bed. I went straight to the computer and searched yoga stretching videos on Youtube.  Weeks later, my body adapted and much of the lost flexibility returned to me.  Stiffness takes away your mobility. Don't let that happen to you. Try comfortably bending to grab your ankles, touch our toes or even the floor. Do you feel strain in your back, shoulders or the back of your thighs?  You can change that.

I'll end our conversation here.  I just want to leave you with two focuses to incorporate in your routine.  If you add ways to improve your muscle tone and flexibility into your daily life, you are well on your way to eternal youth.  Think about how children are in a constant state of movement and compare that to the elderly who live a sedentary life.  Are you more like the child who's always running around or the older person that sits in the same place for most of the day?

Chose who you want to be.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ever since the post of Sundy Carter's regimen for flawless skin, I decided to get serious about my at home facial routine.  The first step in the process to learning how to do a professional level facial at home was to reflect on all the spa experiences I've had in the past.  Once I had taken note, I then moved to some online research.

I checked out some of the offerings of various skin care spas to see what their process was.  In the end, I felt pretty comfortable putting together a DIY facial that not only cleansed/treated the skin but ultimately gave me that glow that can only be experienced through a professional session.
The first step of any facial always begins with a cleanse.  In my version, I pre-cleanse by giving myself a deep facial massage using carrier oil like jojoba or coconut.  This preps the skin by brining blood flow to the area. For me, an oil massage/cleanse helps loosen any blockage hiding beneath the surface of the skin.  I take my time with the massage because it's one of those features that are a part of any decent professional facial.    

Once the massage is complete, I cleanse the skin using a the Clarisonic Pro.  Next I move to steaming using my beloved Panasonic facial steamer.  I've had a bunch of facial steamers in my day.   Their steaming action was never enough for me.  Especially after experiencing more intense steamers at the spa.  After a few upgrades, I finally landed on the Panasonic.  This thing is pretty powerful.  The amount of steam it produces is unreal. Plus I love the fact that I don't have to stick my face in it which allows me to steam while I'm working on the computer, thumbing through a magazine, doing my nails, whatever.  The part where the steam comes out can be adjusted up or down so I point it directly to my face no matter how I'm positioned.
Glam Glow // fresh clay mask
Once the steam session is complete, I apply a clay mask to my damp skin while the pores are still open.  This allows for an even deeper purifying.  The clay mask bar from fresh is very convenient while not being too drying.  If my skin is acting up, I go for the heavy hitters.  If you still haven't experience GlamGlow masks, please treat yourself and see what all the fuss is about.

The last step is what's going to elevate this experience to a spa level facial.  It transforms your skin from nice looking to "glowing."  Without a high level exfoliation, your facial won't produce the results you want.  By now exfoliation should be part of your normal routine. But on facial day, you want to incorporate products that actually make a difference to your skin.  For me, this means applying a mandelic acid peel, a glycolic acid peel, or a fruit enzyme peel.  They eat away at the old layers that act as a barrier between you and the skin you've always wanted.  Acne scars fade and your skin takes on a reflective property, giving it the appearance of a healthy glow.
Riiviva Diamond Tip Microderm Abrasion // Mandelic Acid Serum //  Alpha Beta Peel 
If you need something a little more aggressive to deal with stubborn acne scarring, might I suggest you incorporate microdermabrassion into the facial.  The best tool for the job, in my opinion, is Riiviva which was designed to give the same level of intensity at home as a certified spa facial. If you'd like to check out a more cost effective alternative, there's the PMD which does a decent job.  I still recommend the Riiviva because the tip looks exactly professional quality. They even have tips designed to eliminate cellulite & stretch marks.

Even though the chemical peels works wonderfully, the additional benefit of using physical exfoliation (with suction) is the stimulation of additional collagen.  For this reason, I'm choosing to rotate between the chemical peels and the physical removal of dead skin.

I've given myself a facial using the steps above a couple of times. Each instance, my face looked pretty amazing.  I'm saving a ton of money in the long run by not having to drop over $100 each time I want to experience bright, healthy skin.  With all that said, I still did enjoy the hydra facial and I would like to invest in a few more sessions.  That is until someone develops an at home version of the process.

The only step I feel I need to improve is adding an addition step after exfoliation to infuse my skin with nutrients.  Since I've removed the dead layer of skin, adding a fancy serum or cream with skin nourishing properties would be icing on the cake.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

 I loved these Aldo Harrup heels so dearly that I had to take advantage of the sale and purchase in the lighter color.  They're like this perfect shade of soft grey that kinda reminds me of freshly laid concrete.  These heels enough to go well neutrals and may even pass of as white when styled correctly.  I've always wanted a white pair of shoes but sometimes white shoes are too white, if you know what I mean.   And after wearing my black pair comfortably all day, I knew I had to invest in a second pair.
 On my wish list was a quality black cross body as an everyday bag.  I stumbled on this beauty at a boutique and fell in love with the monochromatic look. The gunmetal hardware and the rugged finish is reminiscent of my Balenciaga City Bag and, when the sales lady demonstrated how this Botkier bag can also double as a clutch by simply removing the long strap, I was sold.  After arriving home, I freed the strap and hooked it on to the Balenciaga.  In an instant, the Balenciaga transformed to a cross body.  I was elated. For a while, I'd silently repeat to myself how much I wish the City Bag was a cross body. Now I finally have my wish.
Newly added to my collections of brown nude lip liners is Covergirl's Sublime lip perfection pencil.  Not only do I adore the color, but the soft, non-drying texture is perfect for lining the entire lip.  Really love this lip pencil.
A few posts back, I mentioned a moto jacket as one of my craves.  I'm happy to report that I stumbled on a perfect fit from cute online shop called the Lookbook Store.   The price was right so I took a chance.  Turns out the quality was great and the jacket fit like a glove so I'm happy.

My goal is to invest in accessories and statement pieces. I intend to keep my clothing choices pretty basic and style them in different ways with unique jewelry, interesting bags, the right pair of shoes. That way I can keep my closet small and my wardrobe simple.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When my scalp behaves, I seem to neglect it.  Ever since I began the micro trimming project, all of my attention has be focused mainly on creating healthy ends.  But I want to change all of that.  Since my scalp is doing fine, I want to care for it even more to make it as healthy as possible.

So I'm going back to my roots (pun intended).  Looking back to when my scalp was at its worse, I think back to the actions I took to stop shedding, flaking, dryness.  Instead of waiting until things fall apart again, I'm brining some of my best strategies into my current regimen to see I can transform my "normal" scalp into the healthiest version of my scalp possible.

The Applicator Bottle - A must on wash day.  This inexpensive bottle has the ability to provide direct access to the scalp.  Perfect for when I want to tone my scalp with Coconut or Apple Cider Vinegar which is a much healthier option of scalp cleansing then using shampoos that over strip.

Essential Oils- I was completely inspired with June Ambrose shared that she enjoys a stimulating essential oil massage before her wash.  I love treating my scalp to a eucalyptus oil massage but sometimes the scent is a bit overwhelming.  That's why I love the idea of applying before the wash allowing the oils to work their magic, then rinsing.  If you recall, eucalyptus oil can actually help increase the ceramide content of our new growth.  Plus I absolutely love how it stimulates that scalp, driving healthy blood flow to the area.  My greatest scalp concern, at the moment, is proper exfoliation and removal of dead skin.  Although I'm not certain about this, I do believe that vinegars and essential oils can help address that concern.

Normally, I spray essential oil (EO) directly to my scalp but I also like the option of mixing it with oil and applying via a dropper.  This way the EO is diluted making easier on the scalp and diminishing the scent.  This way you can apply the essential oil/plant oil blend more frequently than just on wash days.

Mister- The newest member of my healthy scalp team is my little aluminum mister.  After finding myself repeatedly using my Evian Facial Spray on my scalp, I figured I had to get a bottle just for that purpose.  But with the refillable mister, I had the freedom to incorporate other ingredients such as MSM which has wonderful, healthy hair properties.  Next, I may include a few drops of Coconut Vinegar to drop the pH.  I'd also like to experiment with adding a little pink salt to see that works out.  Stay tuned.

Scalp Massager- Then, of course, there's my wonderful little scalp massagers.  I've loved these things for years.  Simple to use and highly targeted.  Perfect for providing a much needed massage after a long week of travel.  I've since tried various other scalp massagers but I keep going back to these because of ease of use.

Last but certainly not least, a healthy scalp needs to be adequately hydrated in order to be healthy.  When I was diligent in drinking almost a gallon of water a day, my scalp was at it's happiest.  Without adequate hydration, we fall into the cycle of reacting to scalp concerns rather than being proactive.  If my scalp is well hydrated all the other strategies I employ as part of my scalp essentials kit will only further promote my end goal of having the healthiest hair possible.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Monday everyone!  Today we're here to discuss the topic of COMPLETION.  This is a continuation of last's week's motivation post so make sure you check out the previous lesson.

Completion is something I struggle with mightily which is why I need to write about it.  If you recall from our last conversation, in order to bring something into reality, you go through the various stages including Inception (via thought), Verbalization of our desires, then ACTION and finally COMPLETION.  Most others talk about taking action without realizing that Action is only part of it.  Without completion, your action may not necessarily produce the results you aim for.

Incompletion can take on many, many forms.  Let me point out a few for you.

+ Multitasking- Taking on a task, then jumping to another (and other) before completing the first task.

+ Messy Environment- Using every day items then not completing the task by putting the item away, cleaning up the area, etc.

+ Ideas, ideas, ideas- Coming up with lots of amazing ideas and failing to take any significant action of them.

+ Abandoned Projects-  Starting a bunch of exciting endeavors without finishing.

+ Broken Promises- Saying you're going to do something for yourself and others but not following through.

+ Goals Unmet- Working hard on your goals, making progress, giving up just before reaching the goals.

+ Things unsaid- Putting off important conversations that need to take place.

+Allowance - Repeatedly giving yourself the permission to not finish what you started.

These are just some examples.  I'm sure you see one or more listed that you can relate to.  The consequences of leaving things incomplete is severe.  There's a quote that speaks perfectly to this
topic of completion:
When we leave something as incomplete, we try to fool ourselves into believing that, by ignoring it, that it'll somehow disappear.  On the contrary, the EXACT opposite occurs.  Leaving things/conversation/actions incomplete provides the environment for it to become worse.  I've experienced it myself and I've seen it happen to others.  A few extra pounds left unattended can transform for 50 lbs before you know it.  Not putting things away, day after day, leads to a cluttered house that overwhelms you.  Not telling someone how you feel about what happened causes you to harbor dangerous feelings for years.  Not taking consistent action toward completion of your goals + dreams leads to lifelong regret.

So what's a person a to do?

Great question!  My recommendation is that you take a moment to reflect on everything that is incomplete in your life that has been weighing on you.  You know exactly what that is.  Revive those open items and put them on your completion list and get to work.  I promise you that when you start the work of completion, you will find yourself with a newfound sense of energy and purpose.  Weight will lift from your shoulder. Sleep will be easier, life will taste sweeter.

Become the type of person that follows through until something is complete. Work on one task at a time, push until you reach your goal. And, when you fail to reach completion, go back and tie up the loose ends.  Some of us feel that if we didn't reach a goal, we should give up and never look back.  Sometimes that's appropriate but you first have to determine if you gave up after giving it all you had or if you'd given up for less nobler reasons.  If it's the latter, I invite you to challenge yourself to reignite one of those goals and completing it.  If you leave something incomplete, don't think that it simply disappears. It's like if you're on the highway and your car breaks down. Sure, you may call someone and get a ride home, but the truth is, your car is still sitting on the highway.  You still need to go back and get it.   Same goes for your goals, just because you abandoned it, doesn't mean you can't go back, fix it, and drive it to your destination.

The more you practice "completion" in your every day life, the more you master it.  When you master it (my dear friend), you become the type of person who can create at astonishing levels.  It becomes like second nature.

| If you'd like to connect with me for life coaching on a 1on1 basis, send me a note via my contact form. |

Friday, January 16, 2015

Inspiration found on my Pinterest Boards
It's been colder than normal lately.  How has that impacted your fitness goals?  Are you still as determined as you were on January 1, 2015?  We all know this cold weather won't be around for that much longer.  In two months spring will be upon us.  You have the power make an unbelievable amount of  progress in two months.  But it requires a bit of steadfastness. It's about wanting to enjoy the future you've envisioned more so than the present promise of comfort.   If a toned, fit body is something you desire, you owe it to yourself to achieve that.

Stay committed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

                        EARCUFF | COAT | RED LIP | HEELS | NAILS
A friend of mine tells the story of how she entered the world of marketing and brand development.  While working at a local sign company, a customer walked in that immediately drew her attention.  The woman was dressed impeccably from head to toe.  Her modern style was unlike others she seen around town.  The mystery woman had an air of confidence that caused others to want to know more.  
Not wanting to miss this opportunity, my friend had to ask this woman "where are you from? You don't look like you are from here." "New York", the mystery woman answered, then she went on to talk about relocating to the city to build her advertising firm.  Long story short, the two exchanged numbers which ultimately led my friend to an new opportunity in the world of advertising.  

Remember the post on attractive people dressing well?  The mystery woman I spoke to talked about the multitude of opportunities came her way as a result of caring about how she presented herself to the world.  She reminded us that international women of mystery present the version of themselves as a celebration of life. Perhaps we're not ready to dress like this 24 hours a day, but I believe that we should all have essentials that can quickly elevate us from girlhood into womanhood in a moment's notice.
An international woman of mystery immediately captures the attention of others in any environment she enters.  This woman is not afraid of the attention nor is she impressed by it.  She understands that it's human nature for others to be drawn to anyone or anything that is beautifully presented.  She also understands that this level of attraction creates new opportunities.  And she's ready for it. As we voyage into womanhood there are certain things every girl should aspire to.  Your signature scent should not only attract the interest of others but should also elevate your mood each time it enters your nostrils.

Before I invested quality bags, I first made the decision to purchase a designer wallet.  My previous wallet was low quality, worn and falling apart.  It wasn't until I was told by a friend that "the place where I keep my money should represent abundance" that I decided to upgrade.  First to a nicer wallet, then eventually to a designer brand.  Things have never been same.  It didn't stop there.  A well constructed wallet is just the beginning.  Let's not forget that a quality handbag is part of the international woman of mystery's uniform.  If you don't yet have a handbag in your possession that makes you smile every time you look at it, then you yet haven't reached mystery woman status.

This woman doesn't need to follow the latest trends. Instead, she's invested in classic pieces that maintain their quality through the years.  She has a high sense of self worth so she invests time and money in herself knowing that her investment will bring a hefty return.  It's all about standards. The woman of mystery sets high standards for herself and works hard to maintain them.  She eats well. She speaks her mind. She's attracted to anything that's visually stunning.  She enjoys buying herself flowers for no reason at all. She constantly draws new people and experiences into her life.
You may be thinking, "I'm nothing like this woman you describe."  But remember, this woman has created her international life of mystery, one decision at a time.  You too can draw elements of this woman into your every day routine.   Start small then work your way into becoming the woman that everyone wants to know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Without fail, whenever I walk into a retail store, my first stop is always the accessories to can gaze upon the display of fashion jewelry.  Most of the time, I find that perfect piece that catches my eye and has to come home with me.

Ironically, I worked for a company that frowned upon any display of individualism via outward accessories.  Wearing anything other than a wedding ring was deemed out of the ordinary. This only made me long for the weekend when I was granted the freedom to adorn myself as I pleased.

Gorgeous jewelry is such a mood changer, taking an every day look to glam level.  When the accessories are right, your outfit can be simple and understated.  There's no need to stack loads of pieces, just a few unique items will do.  If you don't have at least a couple of pieces in your collection that  consistently draw compliments and questions, I encourage you not to stop looking until you find the them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

At the start of the new year, I made the decision to buy a quality mini trampoline.  I heard a couple of celebrities who used theirs on a daily basis including former supermodel Linda Evangelista and actress Sanaa Lathan.  Then I went and did my research.  The more I learned of the benefits, the more I wanted one.

My aunt has a full size trampoline in her back yard, purchased for her now growing children who aren't as smitten with it as they used to be.  Whenever I paid her a visit, I'd always make it a point to play on it.  No crazy backflips or anything, I just enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness as I jumped up and down.  But when I heard that people were buying smaller versions of a trampoline for health benefits, I had to learn more.

The claims are that bouncing on a mini trampoline is one of the best workouts one can do.  Why, because the act of jumping up and down on the trampoline surface ignites & strengthens EVERY CELL in the body.  Rather than pushing against gravity, as with typical weight bearing exercise, you increase the weight of gravity on every cell and muscle in the body.  This comes from being weightless at the top of the bounce and experiencing G-force, when you land on the trampoline.  But unlike jumping up and down on a flat surface, the G-force pressure is not concentrated on the ankles and knees (as discovered in a NASA study).  With a trampoline, the weighted pressure is equally distributed in the ankles all the way to the forehead (meaning your facial muscles are also being exercised & toned).
Bellicon Mini Trampoline
Not only are you engaging in a resistance workout, you also stimulate your lymphatic system in a major way.  Unlike our circulatory system, which moves things along through the pumping action of our heart, the lymphatic system needs our help to eliminate toxins.  That's why we are encouraged to dry brush, drink a lot of water, and do lymphatic massage.  When or lymphatic system is sluggish we experience a buildup of toxins that would otherwise be eliminated.  Rebounding (jumping on a mini trampoline) is especially effective at jumpstarting the lymphatic system due to the up and down rhythmic jumping action that cause the lymph's system to open and close, increasing lymph flow.

Word on the street is that rebounding is exceptional for eliminating cellulite because of how well it stimulates the lymph.  They say that rebounding is pretty much a total body exercise that even has the ability to improve eye health.  How?  They claim the EVERY cell is stimulated via rebounding--even those in our eyes.  No other exercise claims to impact every area in the body like rebounding does.  Shoot, I'm hoping to positively impact my scalp muscles as well.  Which may not be too far fetched considering how NASA was able to measure activity in the forehead through rebounding.  I read on a men's hair regrowth forum to do scalp massages after rebounding since blood flow was already increased.  I may have to try that.

I made the purchase for so many reasons.  For one, they claim that jumping on this trampoline is a full body exercise.  They say that 10 minutes on the trampoline is like running for 30 minutes. This is perfect for when I don't have time to go to the gym.  So far I've tried it a couple of times and really noticed a sensation in the back of my thighs and in my glutes.  Hopefully, that's a sign that I'll have ultra smooth, firm thighs before summer hits.  Not only do I feel the burn, I also get a feeling of euphoria from jumping up and down so it doesn't feel like I'm working out.

I'll have to do an update post after 30 days but so far I'm loving my trampoline. Before making my purchase I researched different brands from some that cost under $50.00 to higher end brands.  I decided to invest in a quality rebounder because I didn't want to have to buy another one later down the road and I intended to use it daily.  I also learned that quality rebounders may help in preventing injury from repeated use.

Every time I get on that thing, I feel like a kid again. Plus, my entire body is being stimulated.  I've always wanted to get full body massages on a weekly basis to help stimulate my lymph and keep cellulite at bay. This may be the next best thing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Today's lesson is one that I've reflected a lot on in the past week.  It relates directly to our conversation last week on scheduling your goals.  Today we are discussing "following through with our promises" or "honoring our word."

In any given week, you will make countless commitments (promises).  You commit to arriving to work on time, to calling people back, to turning work in when expected.  And most of the time, you do a decent job of honoring those commitments.

But then, there are the promises we make to ourselves.  We say that this year will be different, this year we vowed to.......
If you calendar your goals this week into your schedule, you are in essence creating a written promise to yourself that these actions will occur.  But what happens if you're like me and don't complete what you've written down?  Usually nothing right?

There are no real consequences for not hitting my 10,000 steps that day like I wanted.  And, because no real consequences occur, I hold little value to the promises I make to myself.  I treat it as if I have a choice as to whether I want to do it or not.  But what I'm really doing is devaluing my word.  I'm weakening my word every time I break a promise to myself (and others) until I become someone who has no power.   I become the person that always talking about what I'll do differently but nothing ever manifests.  At work, when I say something will be completed by a certain time, I do it.  I do it to avoid the consequences.  Choice is not involved in this type of decision.  Because to my employer, I chose "yes" to all my obligations simply by showing up to work.  But in my own life, I'm saying "maybe" to my personal commitments.
The truth is that the consequences for not doing what I say are VERY REAL.  But they aren't immediate.  That's why we think we can get away with it.  For instance, last week, I identified, and wrote down some actions that would positively impact my business.  Some were completed, some weren't.  In the end, the business maintained a positive momentum even though I missed my obligations.  No (immediate) consequences for my inaction.  This week, I will create another weekly agenda of actions to take.  But, subconsciously, I might allow "reasons and excuses" to serve as ammunition for me to repeat last week's behavior.  Instead of creating my calendar with the intention of 100% completion of everything on my list, I write it out and think that I'd be happy if I got more than 50% of it done.

Can you imagine how "powerful" you would be if you fully committed to doing 100% of what you promise this week?  By the way, when I use the word power, I'm not talking about position or status, I'm referring to personal power.  The power to create in life.  God, who is all powerful, creates through HIS WORD.  We, who have limited power, are constantly devaluing our word.  We say, "I want to lose 15 lbs, but the minute someone brings a birthday cake to the office, we're enjoying a slice.  Our word has no power.

Words are the beginning of creation. First we think it, then we SPEAK it, then we ACT UPON IT, and finally, WE COMPLETE IT.

The topic of completion is a whole 'nother post we need to delve into next week.  But in the mean time, I invite you to practice honoring your word this week.  Make it a priority to follow through with what you committed to yourself and others.  Make your word the most important thing to you and work diligently to honor it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Today I'm providing an update on an item I purchased nearly five years ago.  After receiving a comment on my Instagram page about it, I thought it's to do a full on update.  Years ago, one of the biggest contributors to my dry, lifeless hair was the hard water spewing out of my faucets.  At the time, purchasing a whole house water softener wasn't an option. Honestly, I didn't care if my dishes were washed with soft water, I only cared if my skin and hair benefited.

So I invested a little of time and stumbled upon a feasible solution.  The Water Stick.  After a little thought I took the plunge.  The unit was fairly easy to install and I noticed a difference after the very first use.  Things went well, then time passed.  The only "challenge" I encountered was keeping up with "refreshing" the unit.  Honestly, refreshing it is the easiest thing in the world.  I simple fill an empty 1 liter water bottle with water mixed with table salt.  I no longer measure the salt, I just wing it.  Once I've added the salt water to the unit, I wait about an hour or so before using and I'm good to go.

When the comment came across my Instagram timeline, I decided to see if refreshing this unit would reproduce the same results as it did five years ago when I first purchased.  Previously, I was using sea salt (or something similar) to refresh the unit, this time I just bought good old fashioned store brand table salt for around a dollar.  Honestly, the results were even better than using the higher quality salt.  I think it responds better to the smaller grains.
I had to take full advantage of the recharged unit by doing a co-wash.  What soft water does is amplify the level of slip of any conditioner you use.  So basically, you are increasing the value of your current conditioners.  They just work so much better.  Can you imagine the long term benefits of your hair being hyper-conditioned week after week?  Same goes for your body soap.  You're left with a felling slip, moisture and softness all over.  That, combined with air drying, left me with skin that required no lotion.  It was great.

In the end, this water stick was pretty much one the best purchases I've ever made.  I think I mulled over the price for a little bit before buying but, in all honesty, this is worth every cent.  If you're still not ready to take the plunge, you can take some measures to keep the hard water deposits from ruining your hair and skin.  One option is to finish your wash with an apple cider/coconut cider vinegar rinse.   There are also some hard water combating shampoos  and conditioners out there that claim to help remove the buildup from your hair.

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