Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Not long ago, I post an article sharing the story of a friend of mine who lives a wonderful life of travel and new experiences.  In that post, I used the image above of a gorgeous young lady enjoying a fruity drink beachside.  A couple of comments came in about the amazingness of her skin.  I'd have to agree. It was her stunning skin tone that led me to utilize this pic.

Since I don't know her personally, and can't ask about her skin care secrets, we can do the next best thing.  We can study and learn from her.  After a few minutes of reflection, I identified some of the characteristics of her skin that most stand out.  And, most importantly, how we can replicate these traits so we too have amazing, glowing skin.

Hydration + Exfoliation
In order to get to her level, we must first start with the basics of healthy skin.  Don't skip these steps because they're crucial to creating ideal results.   Healthy skin, fundamentally, is hydrated and exfoliated.  Water is an absolute must.   Remember that water provides the body hydration but it provides our cells NUTRITION. We want to feed our skin cells with water.  Nourished cells are the cornerstone to beautiful skin so make sure you start there.  Become one of those people who drink tons of water.  You'll be happy you did.

Once the nourishment is in place, then it's time to slough off all the old dry skin cells sitting on the surface.  Please refer to my world famous post on creating a smooth even toned body.  Sweat and slough should be your motto for summer 2015.

Your skin is hydrated and exfoliated. Next on your list is to take your skin to the level of becoming reflective.  Take a look back at the pic above. Notice how her skin easily reflects light on high points such as her knees, shins, shoulders, nose, forehead and lips.  That's exactly what we want.  Proper hydration and heavy exfoliation will help you get there.  But if you need a little more help, there are dozens of products on the market that can help you to get your shine on.

You can go the natural route by using a little coconut oil or coco butter oil to make the skin stand out. If you want to further enhance your warm undertones, invest in some bronzing products to bring out your summer glow.  Some of my favorites are Gleam Body Radiance in deep gold (this stuff is perfection on the face or all over body).  For the face, my favorite glow enhancing products are Giellea's Eye Am Glam (which was reported to be created by Kim Kardashian's former make up artist), MAC's Mineral Skin Finish, (light subtle glow), and MACs Lustre Drops, if you are looking for something a little bolder.

Here's a tip, try blending liquid bronzing products like Lustre Drops/Gleam, with your foundation.  This will recreate that perfectly even toned skin and subtle glow like she has.  Another option for creating that even toned, warm skin is to fake tan.  Celebrities do it before red carpet event. Women of all shades enjoy ultra even toned, glowy skin from pre-event tanning sessions.  But if tanning isn't your thing, stick with regular exfoliation to fade dark spots.

 Lastly, take note of how her jet black hair contrasts with her chocolate brown skin.  If you really want to go all out, consider enhancing your hair color to create additional contrast, which will really make your skin stand out.  Jet black hair also reflects light which further adds to the over look.  Oh, an make sure you sport sunscreen daily to keep new dark spots from emerging.

Monday, April 27, 2015

We I'm working on transforming my mindset on how I view certain situations.  It all goes back a few years to when I attended a seminar that fostered personal growth.  As part of the seminar, attendees were encouraged to come to microphones, at the front of the room, to share their experiences and breakthroughs.  Every third person that came to the front, would start their sharing by saying something like this, "I'm really nervous right now"....  or "my heart is really pumping."

Each time words like these were uttered, the seminar leader would respond by reminding everyone that feeling your heart pumping was good...means you're still alive.  Then he say that the sensations we categorized as fear was just our internal blood & guts.  It's not actually fear but we label it as such. I felt like his explanation helped to remove some of the edge of talking in front of a large crowd of strangers.  But I've since upgraded my level of thinking to something even more powerful.

I'm of the firm belief that "fear sensations" which we typically view as a sign of impeding danger or an uncomfortable situation, is actually the exact opposite.  What if, the feelings of nervousness doesn't actually mean that we should avoid, what if that is a signal for us to pursue?  To conquer!

Once upon a time, my voice would practically crack whenever I spoke to a small group of people. My mind became flooded with sensations of fear and angst.  I shrunk whenever everyone turned their attention to me.  But instead of avoiding that experience, I decided to run directly towards it.  And when I say run, I mean run.  I chose projects that would require me to present solo in front a couple hundred or more attendees.  My philosophy was to completely annihilate the "fear feelings" so speaking in front of 500 people felt just as comfortable as having a 1 on 1 conversation.   There was a little more to my process of overcoming shyness which I may elaborate on next Monday.

The point I'd really like to you take away with you today is that situations which you are avoiding because of "fear feelings "(i.e blood and guts moving around), are holding you back from experiencing a world of potential.  Instead of limiting yoursel, interpret those feelings as a signal for you to move! To head directly into the direction of the "fear." 

Our minds gives us the desire to follow our dreams, then it produces strange sensations in our body whenever we think about taking action.  Once we feel the sensations, we stop.  But what if our body is saying "Go!" " This is where we need to go!"  What if we've been wrong about how to act in the face of fear?  I ask you to examine the areas of your life where you are stagnant. Ask yourself, should I really avoid this because it will cause harm to myself or my family? Or am I avoiding it because I want to play small?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 Time for another round up of random new things that have found their way into my life.  We begin with a cute little trio I picked up while at Sephora.  After being encouraged to incorporate a moisturizer into my regimen, I began the hunt.  Basically, I desired a moisturizer that could also deal with residual acne scarring.  The friendly girl at Sephora promised an added benefit of a wonderful glow from the vitamin C content if I tried Ole Henriksen so I thought, "why not?"  She grabbed a gift box off the shelf that contained small sizes of the serum, hydrating cream and eye cream for around the price  of a full sized moisturizer.  I was sold. Used it a couple times and so far so good.
 A couple of years ago, I went on this rampant handbag purchase spree.  Once I got it all out of my system, I vowed to turn my energies elsewhere.  I did a great job managing my urges until I came across this nifty cross body.  This handbag is exactly what I needed in my collection.  It's as if my Never Full and the Eva Clutch merged and produced the perfect blend of the two!  A large cross body bag with zippers is exactly what was missing from the current line up. This bag can fit pretty much anything but, unlike the Never Full, I've got compartments and I can zip it close, which makes me very happy.
 Probably my favorite acquisition on this list are these awesome little massagers I picked up at Brookstone.The original purpose for walking into the store was for a ultra quite indoor fan.  But I saw these and stopped dead in my tracks.  The vibrating action is pretty intense.  And the material allows the massager to feel really comfortable on the skin.  They're ergonomically well designed to glide easily from one place on the body to another.  I've been using it mainly for head and facial massages.  Yes, it gives great scalp massages but it also helps to relieve tension that builds up in the neck and head area.  Another great use for these massagers is for the back of the thigh area to promote blood flow and reduce cellulite.  Glad I bought two.
 While at Sephora, I caught a glimpse of myself in one of their many mirrors and noticed just how oily my skin was.  After summoning one of the many sales associates, one shared her recommendation for bosica's black charcoal blotting linens.  The package was about the size of a pack of gum and came with a 100 charcoal infused sheets (made  from abaca leaf fiber).  I thought the idea of adding charcoal was a novel idea that made perfect sense. We all know that charcoal can absorb impurities in a major way.  After testing a sheet and seeing how easily it absorbed the visible oil from my skin, I tossed into my basket.
 Yeah, I know, I have absolutely no business buying another lip pencil.  But I'm really glad I took the plunge and got Black Radiance's Perfect Tone Lip Definer in Chocolate.  Uh, I love this pencil so much.  It's a bit chunkier in size than all of the pencils in my collection.  The absolute best part is that it super hydrating and easy to apply (contains castor oil).  Actually, it feels like lipstick.  The color is perfect and the pencil is dual sided. One size a bit thinner (for lining the lip), and the other is the perfect size for easily filling in the lip.  Both sizes are creamy and smooth. I'm going to by a couple more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If you recall correctly, one of my intentions is to travel to new and exciting places.  My last job required me to travel so often, that whenever I had free time, I just wanted to spend it at home.  But I have this friend who I would categorize as an International Woman of Mystery.  Whenever we connect, I usually begin our conversation with "what country are you in right now?  Or "where are you planning to travel next?"
This young lady has traveled to many countries including Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, France, Puerto Rico (multiple times), Columbia, Canada, and has a trip planned to the Dominican Republic in a few weeks.  We're not taking into account the countless weekend road trips.  I've known the girl since college and I've never once asked her about how she manages to travel so frequently.  I always had this perception that visiting other countries would be a strain financially.  But I also know that she's is pretty cost conscious.  So I invited her to lunch for an interview on any tips she has for us who wish to become world travelers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Today, I'd like to share a simple analogy. Let's say you're sitting at home one night and hunger starts to set in. You decide to call a restaurant, across town, and place an order for pick up. You reach for your phone and speak with a friendly person on the other line who gladly receives your order. She even repeats back your specific requests for sauce on the side and extra rolls. She gives you last minute instructions about when the meal would be ready for pick up and who to ask for when you arrive. You say your goodbyes and disconnect. After the phone call, you kill a little time then decide to get ready to head out.

 You put on something presentable, apply gloss and take a few moments to do your hair. You think ahead about the traffic ahead and quicken your pace so your food doesn't get cold awaiting your arrival. You throw your wallet in a bag that goes with your outfit and head out. Sure the restaurant is a little further out but the food makes it all worth it. By the time you arrive, 40 minutes after your conversation, your food is piping hot and waiting for you. After signing the receipt you head home to enjoy your meal. It's a simple transaction that I'm sure everyone reading this has experienced before. 

I'd like you to use this example as an analogy for manifestation and goal achievement. What if, when we state our intentions, the preparation process begins. Now it's up to you to move in the direction towards receiving it. You've got to get ready, leave the house, burn gas, drive across town, give them your money, and drive back home, in order to have what you want. But the whole time, the meal is being prepared for you. It's waiting for you to take the actions necessary to receive it.
 The intentions you have are awaiting you. But instead of getting ready and moving towards it, you do nothing. I have certain intentions in which I take little to no action. These I like to categorize as wishes, not intentions. Wishes are when I think "you know what would be nice?... or when I say "I'd love to do that someday."  But I take no steps to work in that direction.   I don't behave as if what I want is already being prepared for me. Chances are, I'll never experience those wishes unless I take action to move towards it.  Once I place the order for it (so to speak), I have to start preparing to receive it.  Otherwise, I'm like the prank caller who places the order without having any intentions to pick it up. It becomes a joke.

This may be why some successful people like to review their goals each day.  They keep their goals in front of them to ensure they are moving in the direction of their desired outcome.  I read in a book that most people have a hard time picturing the future version of themselves.  The younger you are, the harder it becomes to identify with "future you."  This is quite dangerous because, technically, you should be "working" for future you.  The  things you say you want are meant to be enjoyed by future you.  But, if that person isn't that real to you,  your actions will correlate with this way of thinking.

This is why I've been practicing aligning my actions towards ensuring the future me gets to enjoy the experiences that I/she wants.  It could be something simple as decluttering a room so that future me gets to work in a peaceful environment.  Going to the gym so future me reaps the benefits.  And so on.  There are so many things I get to enjoy today because of the steps I took in the past to make it happen.  I don't mind working hard because I'll be rewarded for all my efforts.  Most people don't think of all the work involved in picking up a meal from your favorite restaurant across town.  Why?  Because (future) you will enjoy a delicious dinner as a result.

Yes, you work for a company, but you also work for yourself.  You have a very important job that should be taken very seriously.  It is up to you to put in the work.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I stopped by Bravo's website the other day to check out snippets for upcoming episodes.  When I landed on the show page for Blood, Sweat and Tears, my eyes immediately landed on a video thumbnail of Melyssa Ford sharing her work out tips.  I clicked right away hoping to learn a little about Melyssa's work out regimen.  Unfortunately, the link led me to show workout video in sight.

There was disappointment, but I was determined find some fitness inspiration. So I did what came naturally, I marched right on over to her instagram to see what's up.  I've been out of the gym for a few weeks and luckily, a new location opened up a few miles away.  This means no excuses.  Sometimes a little motivation is all it takes.   I've rounded up a few short vids demonstrating Melyssa's work ethic and drive at the gym.  It's no wonder she still looks amazing after all of these years.
A video posted by Melyssa Ford (@themelyssaford) on

Edited to add:  Yay, I found it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Friday!  I wanna share a little story of an interaction that occurred a few weeks back.  It was on a Friday, not unlike this one. I stopped into a business to buy some supplies. While waiting for the credit card receipt to print, the friendly guy at the register asks "got any special plans this weekend?"  I reflected for a moment and responded, "I guess I haven't thought about it."  I hesitated for a moment before I went on to say "I like the idea of having freedom over my time so I don't have to wait until the weekend to do what I want to do."

At that moment, I noticed a small shift in his face.  I'd describe the look as a mix between excitement and disappointment. He proceeded to tell me how he would love to do his own thing and not work for anyone.   I could tell that he wanted to escape his 9-5 so badly but felt hopelessly trapped.  He mentioned having the responsibility of having two children and so on.  I understand where he's coming from.  I mean, leaving the "security" of a regular paycheck can seem like a scary thing.

BUT, at the same time, I could tell he wanted to experience a different reality.  And I know a lot of you want to as well.  My last post on financial abundance struck a chord with many of you.  I received a ton of emails where many of you shared your desire to change your current situation.  But it seemed like the biggest challenge was knowing where & how to start.
Before I broke free, studied dozens of stories of those who left their job to pursue the life they wanted.  Although all the stories are different, there were some commonalities that we can all learn from.  For the purposes of this post, we are discuss both time and financial freedom. Not just making more money at your job (I can write a post on this topic too if you guys are interested).  But first, I'd like you to take a moment and remind yourself that there are millions of people who are living financially successful lives without having to work for a someone. What you are doing now is an option. It's not mandatory.  It doesn't have to be this way.

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, let's move on. Basically,  there seem to be two different paths to freedom.
PATH [1]:  Person A works full time and starts business on the side that eventually becomes a full time income source.

PATH [2]:  Person B is unexpectedly laid off from their job and, starts a business that eventually creates their financial success.

In both of these scenarios, there are two factors involved:  TIME + MONEY.  Time and money are your keys to creating the life you seek.

In scenario 1, person A has a limited amount of time but has access to money (via her paycheck).

 In scenario 2, person B has limited amount of money but has complete access to use her time to create income streams.

I fell under the first scenario.  My time was extremely limited and I received a check every two weeks.  Team, I worked 50-70+ a week.  It was not uncommon for me to be on conference calls at 11:00 pm.  Once we were on a call that ran into the next morning.  Not to mention the times when I'd wake up at 2:30 am, work on my side projects before leaving the house at 4:00 am to catch a 5:30 flight.  I pretty much worked through every weekend and operated on very little sleep.  It was insane.  But, I'm grateful for all of that because it helped me get up every day and work with great intensity to change the situation.  If I had a job where I was home every night by 6:00 pm, I may not have felt the burning desire to keep pushing forward.  Your time is VERY valuable. You have to realize it's value and redirect how you spend your time.  I know a few people who tell me they want to create freedom but they don't utilize any of their free time to changing their situation.

Here's how I feel about using my time to create my future.  When I wanted to start my career, I spent hours in classes to get a degree so I could get the job.  Why wouldn't I allocate my time to create my new "career?"  The harder you work now, the harder you get to play later.  Yes, there were years when I couldn't really "enjoy" free time, but yesterday I went for a 90 minute massage at 9:30 am when most people are starting their work day.

Actually, let me clarify, even though I worked like a madwoman, I still did things like go out to brunch, visit the mall, etc. But when I was home, I was always working.  If I'm watching online t.v, I opened a second window to work at the same time.

Because the amount of time I could contribute to my projects was limited, I adjusted my budget to save a good sized portion of every paycheck.  It may seem like I spend all my money on hair products and beauty tools, but believe me, I saved way more than I spent.  Without money in the bank, there's no confidence to finally make that decision to venture out.  I also invested some of the money into building my entrepreneurial skill set (invested in coaches, courses, etc).

There was a lot work I needed to do on my mindset.  For instance, I built a successful career that paid well.  I had a company car, expense account, enjoyed wonderful dinners, free trips, stock options, you name it.  I essentially had on a pair of golden handcuffs.   Leaving that type of environment is scary to say the least. So I had to let go of the belief that this job was the only way I could enjoy that type of lifestyle.  The new belief I took on was that I could earn even more through my businesses.  Even if I didn't earn more money, the time freedom would make up for the difference. Working for someone else is optional. I also had the option to create freedom.

When I first ventured on this journey to financial and time freedom, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I know a lot of you are in a similar situation.  Because I didn't know exactly what I'd be doing, I focused more on the lifestyle I wanted to live.  I fantasized on what I would do with my free time.  And I kept repeating a mantra that I've had for years.  I've always told people that earning money from a business (or online) is superior to working because the growth potential is so much greater.

Towards the end of my work life, I'd laugh silently to myself when my supervisor  informed me of my 3% annual increase.  The revenue I generated online, on the other hand, was growing exponentially.  Although I wasn't making anywhere near what I earned at work, I knew that it could easily over take it based on:
(1) how fast it was growing,
(2) there was no limit on how much I could earn.

It's like being given the option of $100,000.00 now or  one penny doubled every day.  Having a fixed income is like choosing the $100,000.00 up front.  But a penny doubled every day will grow to over $500,000.00 in 30 days.

Again, I go back to my initial advice for your to earn your first $1.00 outside of your job.  That dollar has so much power in it. That measly little dollar can turn into millions if you keep getting better at what you do.  Again, you have time and money at your disposal.  Use them both.  If you don't know what to do next, find someone who is doing what you want and model their path.  If you'd like to connect with me for more insight, drop me a note.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'd like to be honest with you.  I've struggled a little with presenting the best version of myself to the world.  Working from home isn't helping this situation at all. So I devoted a little time to reflect on what could be the root cause of why I'm not putting the level of effort I'd like into dressing well. Finally,  I think I've had a breakthrough.

My theory is that I don't put much effort when I'm out and about because I don't put much effort in how I look when I'm lounging around the house.  Comfy lounge clothes are the norm for me and, if I'm headed to the store, or to run errands, I pretty much grab my handbag and go.  But what if I did a small series of rituals that allowed me to be both comfortable and presentable while I'm spending time at home? Then, if I had to quickly run out to complete a few tasks, I wouldn't have to invest much time in getting prepared.  Or, better yet, I could step out and still look pulled together.  Since I tend to wear a lot of basics around the house, I came to the conclusion one of the most effective actions I can do daily, is to accessorize well.  It's such a simple gesture that offers a great level of return.

Jennifer Lopez has executed this flawlessly as she heads out from ice cream.  A pair of jeans, a black top, and flip flops, comprise her entire outfit.  That's something not unlike what one would wear around the house.

But when you add a pair of diamond earrings, a chunky cuff bracelet and the perfect pair of shades, the entire look is pulled together flawlessly.  Honorable mention goes to her manicured nails and statement pinky ring.  To me, this is how one does "dressed down." And it doesn't hurt that her hair is in a neat top knot and her figure is enviable.  Another thing to note is how perfect skin serves a great purpose in mastering being fabulous while dressing down.  She does a great job of highlighting her skin by keeping the makeup ultra simple.  Great skin will make you look amazing no matter what you're wearing.  Don't forget to pamper your skin.

I'm now letting go of the idea that my accessories should only be worn when I'm going somewhere "special,"  Instead, I'll invest in simple pieces that I can enjoy even if I'm not stepping foot outside. The right accessory can make a simple tank top look sexy and polished.
necklace | necklace
Simple + perfectly styled accessories can have us looking our best no matter what we're wearing.  No more excuses.

There will be more posts in this series as I share inspiration on looking great while dressing down.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shampoo is one of those things that I never paid too much attention to.  For me, it was all about the conditioners.  Then I stumbled on WEN cleansing conditioners and, for the first time, my "shampoo" cost more than the conditioners I used.  Recently, I ran out of WEN which occurred at around the same time that I found out about hair loss concerns that might be related to product build up.

So I thought, "what the heck, why not try a really good quality shampoo?" Since I picked up a 5lb tub of Humecto, I figured I'd pick up their sulfate free shampoo. The reviews were solid so I felt good about picking up the liter size bottle.  On wash day I prepooed with coconut oil overnight then jumped in the shower for my first experience with this shampoo.

The texture is slightly watery, creamy and has that pearlized appearance.  The scent made me happy.  Some of the features of this product is it's pH of 6.0.  Every once in a while I would break out a neutralizing shampoo on wash day but it's nice to know that the good folks at Keracare paid attention to details like pH.  The shampoo also has wheat protein down on it's short ingredient list.  I like the idea of having a little strengthening power in my shampoo to protect the hair from the manipulation of washing.

At first, I was on the fence about the watery texture since I was so used to the thickness of WEN.  But, during application, I quickly fell in love with the texture.  It's fluid nature made it so easy to apply directly to the scalp (even though I had ample amounts of new growth).  Once applied, the shampoo began to lather as I rubbed the solution into my scalp  The lather was powerful enough to cleanse the scalp but not strong enough to strip the hair.  

As a matter of fact, I went a little crazy with the cleansing as I imagined myself removing excess buildup on the scalp.  I found that the "slippery" nature of the shampoo acted almost like a lubricant as I gave myself a scalp massage in the shower.  Felt good.  Sure, it did a great job of cleansing.  But what about the claims that it detangles and hydrates?

Regarding it's claim of hydrating the hair, I would have to agree.  Even though I went a little overboard with all the cleansing, massaging, and scrubbing, my hair never felt stripped.  In fact, each time I rinsed, my hair still felt soft and hydrate.  So yes, this is a true hydrating shampoo.  And a good one.  Is this a great detangling shampoo?  Hmmm, let me think.  First off, I don't detangle in the shower like some people are able to do.  But, if I did, the Keracare shampoo would be a great option. The level of slip this shampoo provides rivals that of a decent conditioner.  So yes, I would think it can do a great job of detangling.

At the end of the experience, my scalp and hair was thoroughly cleansed, hydrated, and I only lost a couple of shed hairs in the process.  I was beyond happy.  It felt good to step out of the shower with clean, unstripped hair.  Next time, I may experiment with adding a couple of drops of essential oil for scalp stimulation. Or perhaps a few grains of sugar for scalp exfoliation.  We'll see how that goes.  What I like best about this sulfate free shampoo is that I think it will work perfectly into my new, frequent washing lifestyle.  Currently, I don't wash as frequently as I'd like but, if necessary, I'll dilute the shampoo with a little water to prevent possible over stripping.  This is a great shampoo for those of you who work out and have to wash regularly.

Basically, I love this shampoo intensely.  It's really effective and more versatile than my old cleansing conditioner.  If your shampoo doesn't "wow" you, take a moment to check out Keracare's Sulfate Free shampoo.  It's good stuff.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I used to work for an organization that required everyone to operate with extremely high standards. The Owner/CEO was never comfortable with our level of results even though the company had outperformed itself year after year.  Working in that type of environment was extremely eye opening.  I learned about how much we can expand as individuals.  No matter how high the standards that were set for us, we adjusted accordingly and constantly stepped up to meet the challenge.

We operate with a certain  standard around everything in our lives.  We've defined standards for our health, finances, friends, our environment.  Maybe not directly, but somewhere along the way, we've developed a standard for ourselves.  Sure, we may say we want more and better.  But it looks very different from what we say we are willing to accept.

Acceptance is what really defines our standards.  If we do nothing to change it, we accept it.  If we accept it, we have set the standard.  It's really about our level of comfort.  For instance, you are comfortable with your home environment the way it is.  But, what if tomorrow, you suddenly notice an influx of roaches entering your home.  Undoubtably, you'll do something right away to bring the situation back to your standard.  You're not just gonna accept it. Same thing if you wake up tomorrow and you're 15 lbs heavier.  I'm sure you'll take action right away to get you back to your weight, pre 15 lbs.

Back when I suffered from massive breakouts, I set a new, higher standard for my self of having clear skin.  I invested my financial resources, created new routines, and even changed my diet in order to get the results I wanted.   Then, the pimples went away and I got complacent.  I no longer continued to raise my standard and my actions aligned accordingly.  The thing about standards is that if you allow one area to slip, chances are, other areas are not far behind.

 Reflecting my current actions, I can see where my standards have fallen (or I have failed to maintain certain standards).  So it's time to raise them again.  And I'm not talking about that thing where I say I want the situation to be different.  I'm talking about adjusting my actions to align with the standards that have been set.  At my previous employer, we didn't judge a persons standards by what they said, we could easily identify a person's standards by their operations.  It was really easy to identify with a person with high expectations for their business.

It's time to do a little reset.  To identify what I'm truly willing to accept in my life and adjust my actions accordingly.  Am I willing to accept what is or am I ready to raise my standards.  One thing I remember is that people who worked under a manager with high standards seemed happier.  Sure,  maybe didn't appreciate having to pay attention to all the tiny details, but when they transferred to manager with low standards, they immediately became uncomfortable with  the new environment. We used to have a saying where we challenged ourselves to "be uncomfortable being comfortable."  Our current standards define our level of comfort.  But it also hinders more than it serves us.  I challenge you to leave this area of comfort and raise your standards to allow you to experience a new, elevated life.   And, once the new standards are set, get into action to make those standards the new normal.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's been a while since I compiled a roundup of my current craves.  I really enjoy these posts because they act as sort of a vision board for me to declare the things I'd like to experience in my life.

So here we go:
It seems a bit more challenging to keep up with everything I'd like to accomplish in a day.  Ideally, I should be using one agenda to capture notes, to-dos, and projects instead of using a bunch of different time management tools co-mingled into one.

And so, my hunt for the perfect agenda has begun.  Although I still have a Covey planner from a few years ago, I would love to have something a bit more stylish.  Which is why I'm craving a Louis Vuitton agenda.  Preferably in the damier ebene print.  I adore the design so much that I think it'll inspire me to use it very consistently.  And, from past experience, I can make a ton of progress on my goals when I plan my days and weeks using a structured system.

Seasons are changing and I'm craving a new fragrance.  I've heard great things about Byredo fragrances which have a pretty decent sized cult following.  Unfortunately for me, there aren't any stores that carry Byredo anywhere near me so I'm a bit bummed that I can't even sample their scents.
Hopefully, I can find a shop that carriers them when I visit California later this month.

I treated myself to a spa facial at an Aveda salon.  At the end of the session, the young lady attempted to sell me their brightening lotion which cost around $50.00.  For that price, I'd rather try Clinique's Even Better Moisturizer.  For around the same price, you get to enjoy (1) hydration, (2) dark spot correction (3) sunscreen.  I need a moisturizer in my routine and I'm no longer satisfied with the idea of applying a moisturizer that doesn't have additional benefits.  I guess the whole BB Cream movement spoiled me.  Now I want all of my products to have multi level benefits.  If any of you have any recommendations for an amazing brightening moisturizer, please share, I'm all ears.
My next crave is something that I just recently discovered.  As you already know, I have an affinity for facial tools.  Somehow I stumbled upon a facial tool kit which can also have healthy hair benefits.  I'm referring to a high frequency facial machine kit.  Basically, it's a set of interchangable facial vibrational wands, each with a different purpose.  A few weeks ago, I bought a small handheld facial wand, (which I love).  Then, I learned of this kit with includes a wide tooth comb attachment.

Honestly, I do not need another scalp massager..........but I need this one.  I can only imagine how stimulating a vibrating massaging comb experience is like.  And, by the looks of it, the comb seems very hair friendly.  Obviously, if I owned this kit, I wouldn't be combing through my hair with it. But I would apply the comb near the roots to stimulate blood flow.  I'm specifically thinking about my edges and nape which are easily accessible.  One girl tied her hair in a bunch of sections

Here's a quick video of it in action.

 I sometimes use my small facial wand  on my scalp while my hair is tied under a scarf.  I really enjoy the experience with the small wand and would love to use this comb to cover more ground in less time.

I'll do a review if I do decide to get it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Years ago, cleansing conditioners came into my world and things were never the same. The idea that I can apply a conditioner-like "shampoo" to cleanse my hair seemed too good to be true.  Cleansing conditioners were an amazing addition to my regimen.  No more stripped, dry hair.  Hair One was the first cleansing conditioner that I fell in love with.  Then everything rose to a new level once I bit the bullet and invested in WEN.

WEN was more that I could ask for.  Honey Fig's moisturizing qualities rivaled that of some of my favorite conditioners.  Everything seemed perfect.  That is until, I received the results of a hair analysis that revealed the excessive product build up on the strands.  The recommendation was that I cleanse subject my hair to deeper cleaning via shampoo.  I didn't resist the advice because deep down, I knew that clarifying only benefited the hair.  Looking back, I'm really grateful for the reminder because it may have prevented the unfortunate side effect of excessive product build up.

It seems that a percentage of WEN users have experienced our worst nightmare.  Hair loss.  There's even a class action suit against WEN from all of the unhappy customers who've lost their hair.   Although the root cause of the hair loss isn't clearly determined, we can learn from their experience and try to avoid the negative effects of a no-poo regimen.

What if some of the hair loss could be attributed to excess build up on the hair and scalp?  I think back to a post I did years ago where I linked to images of the harmful effects of excessive scalp build up.  Basically, when the scalp gets overloaded with gunk, it puts too much stress on the follicles causing shedding and breakage.

Looking back, I've had a lot of issues with excessive shedding and tangles.  I have crazy scalp issues any way (seborrheic dermatitis).  Allowing dirt, oil and excess product to build up on the scalp only makes things worse.   The scalp likes to be clean. A clean scalp is a healthy scalp.   If we allow the sebum to build up, we promote the possibility of yeast growth, infection and hair fall.

If you're someone who washes once a week, like I did, only used cleansing conditioner, week after week, the possibility of product build up is pretty certain.  If the build up continued, hair loss would be highly probable.  Nowadays, I clarify my scalp with Neutrogena Anti Residue.  I've run out of WEN and have replaced it with Keracare's Sulfate Free Detangling Shampoo for now.  I'm not giving up WEN for good, but I'll be more conscious of how I use cleansing conditioners from this day forward.

Since the weather is warming up, it's extremely important to keep the scalp clean.  We're sweating more than ever. Skin cell turnover is increasing and sebum production rises in the summer months.  So deeper cleansing is a must.  Too keep moisture levels in check, I vow to commit to steam sessions each wash day.  I made the mistake of not steam conditioning last wash and the difference in my hair was really obvious.  It's been a couple weeks since I've reimplemented shampoo to my routine and already noticed a reduction in shed hairs.

Everyone, please head my words and focus on a clean, happy scalp.  Although ACV is a good addition to your wash routine, it won't rid the scalp of build up like shampoo can.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This year, I'm determined to improve my manifestation skills.  Meaning, I'd like to increase the likelihood of my intentions coming into reality and reduce the amount of time it takes to do so.  The the gurus tell you to make sure you feel good about the intentions in order to bring about your desires.  Feeling good is the fuel that powers the manifestation process.  It's like the key that unlocks the door that leads you to the life you want.  Positive feelings also increase your belief that it'll occur which motivate you into taking the right actions.

Sometimes, I find it a little difficult to generate feelings of "already having", especially when it hasn't appeared yet.  When that happens, I just do things that make me feel good overall.  I'm a Cancer. We are described as emotional. For me, this means that small things can make me feel bad even when it's not that serious.  To keep my feelings in check, I have a system of actions that I know will work 100% of the time to positively affect my feelings.  For the past month or so, I've experimented with identifying what makes me feel good.  Once identified, it's my job to make sure I carry out those feel good actions regularly to keep my vibrations at a high level.  I've jotted down some of  the feel good actions which seem to have the most impact.

Clean + Organized Environment
The fastest method, I've found, to positively impact my mood is to elevate my environment.  Keeping the space around me clear and clutter free is absolutely essential.  Any time I walk into a clear, organized space, I receive a surge of feel good energy.  It's like my battery is getting recharged.  The only problem is, that if I'm not conscious, I default to creating a mess.  Which is why, I created a system where I set my phone time for 15-20 minutes and invest that time to focused cleaning/decluttering.

You'll be amazed at how much can be accomplished in 15 minutes.  When the environment is clear, it's like I can think again. There's no more of that feeling of anxiety and overwhelm.  Nothing feels better than that.

Eating Natural Foods
Last week, I replaced my normal dinners of rice and beans with salads. Or I had a small bowl of rice and a large salad. Not only were the salads tasty, but I had this amazing feeling afterwards.  It felt great.  Like my body was thanking me by sending endorphins to my brain.  Best of all, there wasn't any of that sluggishness one has while waiting for a large meal to digest.  It was absolutely wonderful.

Each day last week, I made sure to enjoy a long walk at a nearby park.  Some days I didn't feel like doing it, but I did it anyway.  And each time I did, I felt amazing.  Not only did I get the benefit of having my brain pump feel good chemicals into my body, but I also enjoyed another feel good moment when I slipped into a skirt that almost split at the seam the last time I attempted to wear it.

Personal Appearance
The one area where I've been slacking is in making sure that I get fully dressed everyday.  Now that I work fully from home, it's easy to let the day zip by without putting any effort in how I look.  This is a huge mistake because I'm missing out on critical opportunities to experience "feel good" moments each time I look into a mirror.  Instead, I hear that small voice that says something like "you need to put yourself together."  That probably sends a subconscious message that will negatively impact my mood, my confidence. I've been doing the bare minimum, like making sure my nails are neat and painted, but that ain't enough!  I can't let that continue to happen, especially since my appearance is completely in my control.  This week, I'm committed to look my best, even if no one else sees me.

Side note:  I've been watching episodes of this show where OCD cleaners go clean houses of hoarders living in filthy conditions.  One observation I made was that the OCD people seemed to be better put together with regards to their appearance.  The "messy people" also looked messy.  Perhaps there's a correlation between how one takes care of themselves and their environment.

Gratitude Reflection
I feel amazing when I reflect on all that I currently have which were once intentions.  First I focus on the feeling of having a physical object (or experience) and then I think about the things I want and how they too will become a part of my reality.  This exercise is excellent for keeping the feelings of lack away.  Works like a charm.

Life Moments 
As part of my experiment, I'm infusing small, feel good moments, into my week whenever possible.  Two weeks ago, I treated myself to a massage.  Maybe this week, I enjoy a movie in the middle of the day (something I said I would do once I had freedom over my time).  Whenever I carry out one of those feel good moments, I really exaggerate the essence of the moment. I take in all the sensations and get the most out of the experience.  Again, I use those moments to think about what I want to experience in the future and use the feelings to help further the excitement about what is to come.

Visual Stimulation
One thing that worked really well for me in the past that I'll be incorporating again, is visual stimulation.  Basically, I'd save images that resonated with what I wanted to experience/achieve.  Then I'd play back those images as a slide show to music on my Ipad.  This was pretty much a daily ritual.  And it worked extremely well.  I'm gonna round up a bunch of images from my Pinterest Boards and add to my vision board collection and do it again.

When my primary concern is making sure I do the things that make me feel good, everything else just flows so easily.  Manifesting feels effortless and natural.  Another wonderful side effect is that I don't seem as impacted when small inconveniences pop their ugly head.  I just do what I know works and everything works itself out.

Friday, April 3, 2015

If you're on Instagram for any length of time, you may have come across young ladies wearing waist trainers in an attempt to shrink their waistline.  A tiny waistline is the desire of almost all women because it enhances the hips/thighs, giving us a more curvaceous figure.  Clothes fit better when our waistline is toned, and it boosts our confidence like nothing else.

From what I hear, those waist trainers actually do work. But, you've got to wear one pretty much all the time.  Nothing wrong with that. Some people are able to do that. But, what if you can activate your inner corset, pulling your tummy inwards in a natural way?  Years ago, I knocked out a couple of hundred sit ups every night in hopes of achieving a flatter stomach.  In the end, my stomach was stronger, firmer, but not necessarily flatter.  I remember a classmate playfully punching me in the belly and being surprised by the firmness of my tummy.  I want to pull everything inwards, not make it extra hard.  If you have a short torso like I do, rock hard abs make your midsection look wider which doesn't accentuate curves. So I had to give up sit ups altogether and try something different.

When I incorporated the transverse abdominal regimen into my routine, everything changed. Suddenly, I could see a natural cinching of the waist.  My tummy flattened naturally.  Best of all, it was pretty easy to achieve.

Basically, my routine looked something like this:

1.  Reduce overall body fat % by incorporating long walks (3 miles)  3-4 days a week.  Or 1 hour on treadmill doing inclined intervals (3-4 days a week).
2. Increase frequency of eating healthy salads, drinking water, eating fruit. (Eating for a small waist)
3. Build lower body with squats, lunges, etc.
4. Incorporate transverse exercises into daily routine.

That's all it took. The results were pretty spectacular.  For the first time in my life, I had a tiny waist.

Let's talk more about which inner corset exercise were more effective.  I was most consistent with the stomach vacuum.  They say the body builders in the 70's would incorporate transverse exercises like the stomach vacuum into their routines which created their caved in waistline.  But, some modern bodybuilders have lost the tradition and are sporting larger, more extended abs as a result.
 Although stomach vacuums don't feel like you're doing a work out, they are actually pretty effective.  Almost like how kegals give you results simply by contracting the muscles inwards.  I learned a few variations of transverse exercises but it was always so easy to do a few stomach vacuum exercises in front of the mirror while getting dressed.  Strengthening my inner core also encouraged me to engage my core at all times.  While on those long walks, I would engage my core. I kept my stomach tight while on the treadmill.  I did stomach vacuums if I worked on the computer while standing.  Suddenly, I could do ab exercises at any time, anywhere, and I took full advantage.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't do any more crunches. I believe every muscle should be worked, but those days of doing hundreds of sit ups for flat abs are over for me.

Along with transverse workouts, I sought to tone the external ab muscles as well. That's when I incorporated the "waist whittler" stretch which lengthened and toned my midsection.  Again, this was easy to do so I stayed consistent.  Finally, I targeted those hard to reach areas with specific workouts meant to target the lower back fat.  Everything worked together to create my ideal results.  If you are interested in getting a waist trainer, I'm not gonna stop you.  Pairing these exercises with your trainer might even accelerate your result.  It's all about having options.

Stomach Vacuum (How To):

Transverse Abdominal Workout

The Waist Whittler (Trimmer) Exercise


Thursday, April 2, 2015

In my Mastering the At Home Facial post, I mentioned that I was on the market for a high nutrient serum for post-facial application.  In the comments, one of my readers raved about Snail Bee High Content Essence.  I didn't grab it right away because I rediscovered a bottle of Hyaluronic/Glycolic Acid serum stashed away on my dresser.  While, I was loving the results, deep down I still yearned for another product with unique nurturing qualities with the power to transform my skin.

Some time later, the Snail Essence serum popped up in my mind.  The next course of action was to see what others were saying and find out why I would want to put snail secretions on my face.  From what I read, snail slime can work wonders to fight acne.  The slime itself is composed of proteins, glycolic acid and elastin.  It acts as a barrier to protect the delicate snail from damage and infection. Not only can the serum de snail protect the skin from inflammation, it also said to have extraordinary healing qualities.  According to this article, Chilean snail farmers experienced the benefits first hand. Constant contact with the snail serum healed their skin, leaving behind no scars.
Garden snails leaving their slime all over my snail slime serum.
Benton's ingredient list was pretty amazing.  Seeing snail essence as the first ingredient was a bit of a shocker.  I mean, how often does that happen? This pretty much lets us know how potent this product is.  Another ingredient that made me raise my eyebrow is the bee venom.  Yes, bee venom, the poison that bees emit to protect themselves and attack their enemies.  Although I've never been stung by a bee, I can imagine the venom having redeeming qualities in small doses.  Blood rushes to the infected area to try to heal the sting.  And we all know that increased blood flow to the skin can be a really good thing as it can promote regeneration.  But, a word of warning, those of you who are allergic to bee venom will have to get your snail essence elsewhere.

Benton's Snail Essence serum is also loaded with botanical extracts which makes it a pretty attractive beauty serum.  Not to mention that it's under $20.00.  I had to try it for myself.  Thankfully, my skin no longer breaks out like it use to, but warmer weather has aggravated my skin, causing some mild inflammation below the skin surface.  My hope is this serum can squash all that.  The product itself is clear, unscented and absorbs in moments.  I consider it a "dry serum" because it leaves no greasy residue unlike the slimy trails left behind from our tiny snail friends.  It's a very easy product to fit into your current skin care routine.

So far, I like it.  What I'm really looking forward to is a reduction in discoloration and acne scarring. And, hopefully, the snail essence can actually prevent any potential breakouts that might rear their ugly head.  Maybe this stuff will actually transform my skin like the others who rave about it so much.  If you have acne prone skin and can benefit from the healing qualities that snail slime offers, check out this nifty little serum.

Snail Secretion Filtrate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Arbutin, Human Ogliopeptide-1, Bee Venom, Plantago Asiatica Extract, Laminana Digita Extract, Dios Pyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Ulmus Campestris (Elm) Extract, Bacilus Ferment, Azelaic Acid, Althaea Rosea Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Beta-Glucan, Betaine, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross Polymer, Adenosine, Panthenol, Allantoin, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Arginine

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