Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I like to watch reality competition shows.  Every so often, the contestants will be tasked with an interesting and unique challenge.  The game show announcer declares that the winner will receive $10,000 in cash!

Screams are heard from the hopeful contestants as they are filled with emotion at the possibility of earning $10,000.  Some jump up and down, others have tears in their eyes as they describe how their lives would change if they were to receive such a blessing.

I watch what unfolds with mixed feelings.

On one hand, I too would be excited if I received $10,000 for less than an hour of activity.  But, on the other hand, I never want to be in a situation where the only way to receive such an amount of money would be to win on a gameshow.  Yes, $10,000 is a lot of money, but at the same time... it isn't.

Years ago, I set the intension of saving $10,000 cash.  I picked that number because $10,000 was (and still is) a lot of money.  I wanted direct access to $10,000.  I never wanted to be in a situation where I never had five figures in the bank unless I won it on a gameshow.  I needed $10,000 to be normal and accessible.  T Harv Ekar talks about the financial thermostat in his book Secrets of a Millionaire Mind.  This is our self imposed financial comfort level.  The people who started crying at the thought of having $10,000 likely never had that amount of money.  But, on the other end of the financial spectrum are those who've made millions, lost it, and made it back again.  Once you reach a certain financial level, it becomes easy to replicate.

 My wish for every single person reading this post is that you have the opportunity to have at least $10,000 in your bank account.  Whenever an emergency situation comes up, you'll be ready.  If your family members need help, you can assist.  If you lose your job, you can continue to pay your bills. If an opportunity to invest comes your way, you can take advantage!  And if you were to lose the $10,000, you'd know how to get back to that level again.  Wouldn't you want that?

Good!  Let's talk about how to do it.

1. Create a system
When I first made the decision to become a deca-thousandaire, I went back to the basics.  The book that taught me was Automatic Millionaire.  I don't think I even finished reading the book before I set up automatic wealth deductions from my paycheck to my savings.   Saving automatically changed my life!   Reaching my goal was way easier than if I had to use discipline to get to the same outcome.

We receive 26 paychecks a year.  If we saved only $200 per paycheck, we'd easily have $10,000 in two years.

 "But Nadege.....two years is a long time."

Really?  If you would have started saving $200 a paycheck when North West was born. You'd have $10,000 by now.  That's how fast time goes by.   Even if you don't have and extra $200 to save each paycheck, start with $100 or $150.  As the years go by, you'll get raises and can increase your automatic deductions.  The point is to do it!   If you do nothing else in 2016.  Set an automatic deduction to a savings account and let it work for you.

2. Measure your results
The day I decided to save five figures, I opened up excel and created a spread sheet.  Each month I'd update my net worth tracker by listing my debts and the amount saved.  My favorite thing to do at the end of the month was to look at my numbers.  Chills went up my spine as I watched my net worth rise.  With every thousand dollars saved, I become even more excited about the day when my bank account would reach the magic number.  It was an obsession.

3. Enjoy saving. Hate Debt!
Let's face it, saving multiple thousands of dollars is easier when you don't have a ton of debt.  First and foremost you need to have a reduction plan in place.  At one point I had a car payment that needed addressing. So once I had a small amount saved, I threw all of my money at the stupid car payment until it was out of my life.  Every spare dime I had I allocated towards reducing the loan and I kept a log of how much interest saved as motivation to keep going.

Debt causes your money to leak. Perhaps you could have saved those $10,000 multiple times over if you hadn't been paying on so many credit cards.   Debt is the enemy of your wealth and you must treat it as such.  You can't get comfortable with it. You can't have it lingering around.  It must be dealt with using a high level of urgency.   For help on how to attack your debt, I suggest Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.

4. Stop thinking $10,000 is a lot of money. 
 One of the most powerful ways to manifest something in your life is to stop seeing yourself as separate from it.  When you're thinking "$10,000 is a lot of money" you might be falling into  the trap of viewing it as something that's unattainable.  Yes, $10,000 is a decent sum of money, but you've got to start getting comfortable with the idea of having a surplus of $10,000 cash.  It's a new mindset.

When I first began my financial transformation, the first thing I did was to stop flinching every time I saw a price tag of something that seemed expensive.  That doesn't mean I bought the item, it just meant that I couldn't overreact to the cost. This took a lot of work, because I was the cheapest person you know.  But once I stopped gasping for air every time I saw a $100 price tag, my mind and life began to shift.

You have to get comfortable with the notion of having that much money. If you don't, you'll do everything in your power, consciously and subconsciously, to keep yourself at your current financial level.

5.  Get to a milestone then replicate.
To save $10,000 in cash, all you have to do is create a system to save $1,000 in cash. Then replicate.  It's that simple.  If you can save $1,000, you can get to $10,000. It might take a little longer, but it's possible and it's worth it. Sure, things will pop up along the way which will cause you to dip into your savings.  But, you'll pay it quickly, then get right back on track towards your $10,000.  One thing I made sure to do was not get upset when a situation came up that required dipping into my savings, instead, I was grateful to have the money available.

 Having a cushion of $10,000 makes you feel so amazing.  You can walk into a store and get what you want. But chances are, you'll be wiser with your money because you'll want to maintain that $10,000 threshold.  When you've worked hard to build your savings, you won't be so quick to blow it.   I suspect the game show winners often spend their earnings as quickly as it comes in.

Why, because when you get a lump sum of money, the next thought that appears is: "how am I gonna spend it?"  But when you build up $10,000, the next thought is "how can I get this to $20,000....

And that's when the fun begins.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Each wash day, for years, I'd pull out my little bottle of Pure Protein and pour a small capful into a mixing bowl filled with conditioner.  As someone who loves moisturizing conditioners, I realized that I was neglecting to include adequate protein into my regimen.  But I wasn't really diggin' protein conditioners.  The solution to all my problems showed up in the form of Pure Protein.

Pure Protein was an instant staple. And I thought I'd use it for the rest of my life.  That is until I randomly stumbled on a testimonial for another protein reconstructor.  The words she used to describe her results after using this product would forever be seared into my brain.

"I use DRC-28. When I use it, honestly my hair DOES NOT BREAK. My old stylist used it on me and my hair was unstoppable......DRC really fortifies my hair with continuous use."

I think I re-read her words like five times.  How could one be so bold as to make such a statement?  A woman with relaxed hair proclaiming to have zero breakage is unheard of!  She went on to say that a stylist once used a rat tail comb on her wet hair which made her highly upset. The stylist tried to appease her by saying that although she had fine hair...."it didn't break."

So I went searching for others who've tried this magical elixir to see what they had to say.  One DRC-28 user stated that "it works wonders on hair and stops breakage like no other."  Another boasted: "I purchased this 3 weeks ago and used it last week.  It left my hair shiny and I have less breakage in a week."

Here's another testimony:  "I used DRC-28 yesterday and got exactly the results I was looking for: strong hair that does not break.  It didn't stink (like Aphogee) and it did not make my hair hard (like Aphogee). My hair feels really good now.  This product works!"

When two random people (three, if you count the incompetent stylist) proclaim that their chemically treated hair doesn't break, we must take heed.  Is there any doubt in your mind that you MUST have this product with you on your hair journey?

Allow me to take you back in time to three weeks ago.  I was wandering down the aisles of a local beauty supply store.  I made up my mind to either pick up a wearable wig or I'd try to make my own.  My hair was being super disrespectful to me and I had enough.  I asked the lady to show me textured human hair.  The wig example she showed me was gorgeous. Thick, healthy, and beautiful. I ran my hands through the virgin hair and almost started to cry. It was similar in length and thickness to my real hair, only this hair was so healthy. The cuticle layer was perfectly intact.  I thought to myself, if only I could get my hair to this level of greatness.

This thought echoed in my mind for several weeks before I stumbled on these DRC-28 testimonies. It was like I attracted this product into my life.  Yes, the price is high, but compared to what I pay for a small bottle of Pure Protein, I'm actually saving money.  I should also mention that DRC-28 has several types of protein compared to Pure Protein which only has one.  Even though DRC-28 has a pretty steep price tag, keep in mind that the bottle is 16 oz which means you have about a year's worth of deep protein treatment in one bottle (if you use about an ounce a month).
Here's a little more about the product description for those of you who aren't familiar:

"Dudley's DRC 28 is a deep-penetrating advanced hair treatment and fortifier that is concentrated with most of the hair's own natural protein and amino acids.  This rich formula works from the inside out - nourishing, restoring and repairing severely damaged or weakened hair to a stronger, healthier state."
Notable ingredients include:  Hydrolyzed Animal Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein, Biotin, Panthenol (vitamin B5), and Hydrolized Glycosanminoglycans (shown to promote hair growth in in clinical tests).

DRC arrived and hours later I took it for a spin using the directions provided on the bottle.  First I cleansed, then applied the brown liquid to my lightly dampened hair before sitting under the dryer.  The product hardened on my hair as I read digital magazines while sitting under the dryer.  Minutes later, I rinsed and conditioned using KeraCare's Humecto.

The thing I feared most was stiffness and dryness from protein overload.  But honestly, I experienced none of that.  Breakage reduced drastically and I felt very comfortable moving to the second phase of my experiment.

Phase II
This time, I would see if DRC-28 could take the place of Pure Protein as a routine protein treatment.  Instead of saturating my hair with the product, I'd blend it with my favorite conditioners as a fortifier.  Because DRC-28 is such a generous size bottle, I added the equivalent of about 3 capfuls.  Maybe I went a little overboard.  The liquid blended easily with my other conditioners which allowed for easy application.

Since I did a protein treatment just a week prior, I decided to head under the steamer for intense moisture instead of using dry heat.  It's now a day later and I'm elated at how wonderfully healthy my hair feels.  Breakage is darn near non-existent, but better yet, my hair reminds me of that awesome wig I touched just weeks ago.  Well, not exactly, but, it's in a way healthier state than before.  My cuticles are sealed and feel so smooth.  I never expected a protein treatment to give me results like this.

Gosh, I'm hoping that with continued use, I may be able to blow dry again without fear of ruining my hair.  Heck, maybe even one day I could be one of those lucky people who can declare that my hair does not break! * Folds hands together and looks up to heaven.*
Update: Since publishing this article, I've learned that the infamous Dudley's DRC is now discontinued.  :(  

But I bring some good news.  Dudley's has another hair strengthening product that looks of it, might be even better.  Dudley's Hair Rebuilder is the staple hair breakage treatment producing in their line up.  Here's how it stacks up to DRC 28:

// Hair Builder is much more affordable than it's counterpart.  
// Hair Rebuilder's key ingredients are similar to DRC. It also contains panthenol (b5), biotin, an Amino Acid complex and keratin.  

The one difference  I noticed between the two products is that the Hair Rebuilder actually leaves the hair feeling softer and more elastic.  It seems that DRC was a straight protein treatment while Hair Rebuilder is more of a conditioning repair treatment.  This means you can strengthen and condition your hair in one simple step.   Since it's a milder version of the DRC 28, you don't have to worry about using excessive levels protein which could do more harm than good.  

  In my humble opinion, using a product like Hair Rebuilder on a consistent basis ( a couple of times a month depending on your hair) is a great way to keep your hair strong so you don't find yourself in a do-or-die situation where breakage to your hair has become excessive.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Welcome to the very last Monday of 2015.  And thank you for joining me for this special Monday Motivation post.

Last week, I spent a little time reflecting and I've come to the conclusion that it's time to tweak Mondays just a bit.  For the most part, Mondays will still consist of motivational type blog posts. But, I want to elevate the Monday experience and turn it into the best day of the week!

A year and a half ago, I absolutely dreaded Mondays.  In fact, I'd purposeful stay up late on Sunday nights in order to avoid going to sleep and waking up Monday morning.  There would be bunch of reports due and lots of phone calls to return.  Mondays were the kick off to another stressful week.
Now, I want to give Mondays a new meaning.  I want Mondays to truly be a day of motivation.  Think about it, if we can kick off the week with a nice, strong start, we'll be setting ourselves up for killer week.  And when we start stacking those amazing weeks, back to back, we essentially alter the course of our lives.

So what will the new Monday Motivation look like?

One thing I never do on Mondays is get in full alignment with my intentions.  Mondays should be the day when we fill ourselves with intention.  We should get reconnected with what we want to create for the week.  The first day of the work week the time to review your vision board and visualize your success.  Setting aside a little time to reconnect with your heart's desires should happen every single Monday morning.  Once that's done, you then break out your agenda and schedule your intention-based actions for the week.

Instead of dreading Mondays, you can start to love them.  You do this by infusing Mondays with inspiration.  Fill your morning with things you love before leaving for work.  Last year, my biggest source of inspiration came from reading about, or listening to the stories of people who accomplished what I desired.  For you inspiration can come from writing, listening to great music or painting.  Whatever your heart loves, schedule a little time for it before heading into work.  The entire week will comprise of you getting things done for others.  It only makes sense for you do something for yourself at the start of the week.

Your environment has a direct and immediate impact on how you feel. How you feel has a direct and immediate impact on your actions.  Therefore, we need to always be doing the work of elevating our environment.

I recall the time when I felt like my workdays were frantic and stressful.  Immediately, I began to do what was necessary to alter my immediate environment. I started buying meditation music CDs to play in my office. I also made sure my desk was clear of EVERYTHING except what I was working on the very moment.  Those two small tweaks increased my productivity and brought my stress levels way down.  Whenever you are feeling uninspired, take a look around and ask yourself, "is my environment contributing to my current results (or emotions).  If so, then move quickly to alter the situation.

I know we've talked about Fearless Friday in the past, but I'm thinking of incorporating elements of Fearlessness at the start of the week.  There's a project that's been on my to-do list for way too long. I suspect that has to do a lot with resistance.  So I've decided to get started on anything that I've been avoiding by implementing several micro-actions until the project is complete.  The theory I'm testing out is by starting the week with the most feared action on my to-do list, I'll plow throw everything else on the list with no problem.  We all know how good it feels to finally do something that's been weighing heavy on our minds.  Can you imagine how powerful it will be to have the sense of victory on the first day of each week?

Last, and most importantly, my intention is to inject elements of my future (or desired) reality into each Monday.  Sure, I'll still make a bunch of routine phone calls, and complete mundane activities. But I also intend to unorthodox things like get a facial, test drive my dream car, or go house hunting.

When I had a full time job, I would leave the office for lunch and drive to the nice part of town, sit at the cafes with my laptop pretend like I was an entrepreneur working on my latest project.  This was reality creation at it's finest. Other times, I'd eat lunch in my car while I read a copy of the 4 Hour Work Week or listened to various audiobooks.

For some people visualizing what they was works just as well.  I'm not that good at forming clear mental pictures so I prefer to recreate the vision in real life.  This has been a really powerful method for me and it's something I'd like to implement every Monday.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ok, we only have a few days in the year.  Time to get to work.

Let's set ourselves up to have one of our best years ever in 2016!  Lately, my mind has filled with thoughts and ideas about how to reinvent my environment.  I feel like this desire burns deep inside and won't quiet down until I execute it to the fullest!

Yesterday, I was watching an episode of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.  Josh Altman, a real estate broker is showing homes to a successful tech entrepreneur.  His client isn't too happy with the first option shown. Then Josh says this,"Rob is like a lot of my clients.....A guy like that is a successful businessman, he's gotta feel good." 
Interesting choice of words. Instead of saying, "he's gotta love the house, or he's gotta find something in his price range."  No, instead Josh shares one of the little known secrets to success that I'm going exploit in 2016.

We've touched on the topic of having a feel good routine in the past.  This year, I realized that everything seemed to flow whenever I made a deliberate effort to make myself feel really good.  Sometimes it was easy to do, sometimes not so much.  But one thing I'm certain of is that if my environment right, it has a direct and immediate impact on how I feel.

In 2016, one of my intentions is to create an environment that keeps me in a state of bliss.  

Specifically, I'll be creating a living space that sparks creativity, aliveness and inspiration.  I believe this will have a direct impact on my other intentions for 2016. I know it'll definitely boost my productivity.  Imagine how much easier it'll be to focus in a well maintained space.

Over the next several days, my primary objective will be to take massive action towards transforming my environment.
First and foremost is the cleaning and decluttering.  I attended a personal development class once where the facilitator kept repeating one sentiment over and over:

"One can create any possibility they desire.  But, possibility can only be created from nothing. If we want something new to happen in our lives, we have to create the space for it."

A lot of my possessions is representative of my past.  Since the future I'm creating will look different from my past, I'm releasing as many items from my past as possible.   These items are just there.....taking up space.  So they have to go.

The work of decluttering has already begun and the new energy I feel when walking around the house is undeniable.   The longer I work from home, the more I realize how critical it is to dwell in an environment that gives you life!

Cleaning and decluttering was is first step.   Create space!

And once you're complete, you can begin to incorporate elements of the things you love.  If your environment lifts your mood, you won't have to rely as much on internal motivation.  One thing I've noticed about me is that my environment is a direct reflection of my mental state of mind.

Whenever I mediate regularly, listen to motivational audio and get lots of things done on my to do list, I also invest more time cleaning and organizing around the house.  But when I'm lacking motivation, my house usually looks messy as reflection of what's going on inside.
After binge watching multiple seasons of Million Dollar Listing, I noticed a very clear pattern. All of the multi-million dollar homes were highly organized, had a lot of space, and incorporated elements of nature (like live plants, candles or water features).  The simplicity in the interior design really elevates the look and feel of the home.   Josh Altman even said it himself, "when there's stuff all over the house, I can't think clearly."  

It's no wonder that millionaires are attracted to spacious homes with meticulously designed interiors.  But even without a multi-million dollar home, there are things you can start doing to immediately transform your home into one that makes you feel fully inspired.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In a world filled with bodycon dresses and tiny, tight skirts, you can imagine how refreshing it was to stumble on an online store filled with endless feminine silhouettes.

Here's a little snippet of Reformation's Mission:

Reformation's design mission is to make effortless silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure. The design process starts with us thinking about what we really want to wear. A sketch becomes a dress in less than a month, so we're designing and making what you want to wear now. (Most fashion is designed 12-18 months in advance). We make our clothes from three different types of materials: 1) new sustainable fabrics, 2) repurposed vintage clothing and 3) rescued deadstock fabric from fashion houses that over-ordered.

We believe the perfect fit is the most important part of our clothes. We spend hours fitting on different bodies and have a meticulous approach to our fits. Our main range is fit on multiple women that are between 5'6 and 5'10. We also have a petite collection which is designed for ladies 5'4 and under. These capsules based on body types are just the first steps in our quest to make sure women of all shapes and sizes can wear Ref (and look damn good doing it).
Reformation Pollock Dress
 Bodycon dresses are cool and all, but there's something endearing about a dress that compliments one's entire body, not just the curves on display.
Cosmo Dress
As I scrolled through the various looks in Reformation's catalogue,  the number of dresses I desired to add to my shopping bag kept adding up.  These aren't what I consider budget friendly prices so I had to be selective and find that one perfect dress.
Westwood Dress
Unfortunately, many of the dresses I wanted were sold out.  If, this Westwood Dress was still available, I just might have splurged.  Short dresses with sleeves are my one weakness. And this one made my heart flutter the moment my eyes landed on it.
Lara Dress
I've visited Reformation several times since first discovering it.  One thing I've noticed is their dresses move fast.  Several items I've lusted after were sold out within days of my last visit.  If you're looking for a show stopping, classic dress to wear to your next holiday party, maybe give Reformation a look.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The other day, I bumped into someone I haven't seen in years.  He and I worked together long ago and lost contact after I changed employers.  Luckily for me, because of where we crossed paths, I looked somewhat presentable. Although I wasn't looking my best, I was grateful for the timing.

If we had met again at the grocery store or a local take out, I would have been kicking myself for not taking a few minutes to get myself together before leaving the house.  The only reason why I care is because he and I would always talk about our desires to leave corporate america and one day work for ourselves.  Now that I'm living this reality, I wouldn't want to give off the impression that this new life is too much for me to handle.  Like, I'm so stressed out that I couldn't be bothered to run a comb through my hair or put on some gloss.

So, I've decided to recommit to looking presentable at all times.  A fun fact about me is that I met my husband of 10 years at the grocery store.  I, of all people, should know that you leave the house, you're likely to run into someone from your past, or maybe even your future.

The challenge for me is that leaving the house to complete errands feels like an interruption to my day.  So I just want to leave and return quickly.  I really don't want to invest time in my appearance when I don't plan on being out long.  But, looking polished should be a non-negotiable.

If you're like me and don't want to put a ton of effort, but still want to look your best on the everyday,  use the "piece de resistance" technique.

People who look 100% put together have their hair, skin, makeup, body and outfit on point at all times.  But, you can still look your best if you pick 1 or 2 of these areas to focus on and master.

For example, when my skin was constantly breaking out, I had to make sure I covered it with makeup before leaving the house, because it was always a distraction (to myself and others).  But, on the other hand,  when I used to get Dominican blowouts,  I appeared put together even with a bare face and basic clothing items.

By picking 1-2 focal points, it becomes easy to get presentable before quickly heading out the door. Here are some examples to illustrate:
If you have been investing a ton of energy to perfecting your glow, congratulations!  You've earned the honor of being able to walk out of the house and look amazing.  Rarely, do I see someone in real life who has well cared for skin.  When I used to travel frequently, I'd sometimes come across a woman with noteworthy skin.  Glowing skin makes you look healthy and thriving.  Even with a simple bun and a pair of jeans, you look great.  My skin isn't anywhere near that level yet, so I created a simple routine where I apply Murad's Blurring Sunscreen, then finish off by dusting my skin with MACs Mineral Skin Finish.   MSK gives the most gently every day glow for those occasions where you don't want to wear highlighter but still want skin that subtly reflects light.

If you prefer a more detailed look, may I suggest you master your signature face.  Basically this is your best makeup look that can be done in 10-15 minutes and highlights your best features.  Beauty Guru's call this your "Every Day Make Up Look." It looks like you've put in a ton of effort, but in reality, you can recreate it with your eyes closed.  
The easiest way to look put together is to wear something nice.  When you're dressed well, your hair can be simple.  I love how the model dressed down her amazing dress by wearing casual footwear and two simple braids.

 Speaking of dressing down, when you can't be bothered to wear a dress, put on a full face of makeup or do your hair, then reach for your accessories.  When you wear the right accessories with a simple outfit, you're telling the world that you still put thought and energy into how you look. When I work from home, if I throw on a couple of rings and a bracelet, I tend to be more productive.  Something about adding a couple of adornments immediately lifts my mood.  It's that same feeling we get after doing our nails.

No more excuse for leaving the house looking like we don't care about life.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Years ago, I worked with a young lady who casually told me that she jogs every morning before work.  She also would bring salads for lunch and lived a relatively healthy lifestyle.  If I had to describe her in a couple of words, I'd say she was active and super fit.  Then, one day, another coworker revealed to me that our ultra-fit colleague once weighed around 300 lbs.

Shocked, was the only word that could describe my reaction.  At the time, I would listen to personal development audiobooks in my office. But here was a living example of transformation right before my eyes.  Immediately I called her into my office, asked her to take a seat, then I inquired about what made her change her life.  She wasn't too detailed. I suspect it was because she didn't want to revisit that time in her life again. But essentially, she told me that she was severely overweight and had terrible habits.  Then she made a new years resolution to change her body.  And she did......

In less than 2 weeks, we'll be entering a new year.  Lots of us will be making resolutions, much like she did. But many of our resolutions won't stick.  Why is that? What did she do differently and how can we learn to transform our lives the way she did?

Before we can answer those questions, we have to make a distinction.  The distinction is this. My coworker made a decision.  She didn't make an "I need to" or "I want to." There's a difference.  Saying "I want to lose weight" is not making a decision.  Getting up to jog regularly is.

Imagine someone is standing in front of you holding two ice cream cones.  One is chocolate ice cream, the other vanilla.  After a little consideration, you opt for the chocolate ice cream.  You've made your decision.

Too often, we think we're making a choice when in actuality, we are still in the decision making process.  "I need to" and "I want to" are still part of the process.  You're still deciding what flavor to choose.  No real decision was actually made.

Because once you decide, that's when things start to shift.  That's when life starts to look different.  Once my coworker decided to alter her health, her actions aligned.  She shifted from taking actions that created her 300 lb body, to actions the made her fit and toned.   Years after she made her decision, she took action to create her reality on a daily basis.  Her decision was firm.

She didn't choose chocolate ice cream but reach out for vanilla.  I know I'm guilty of doing that.  Saying I want something but then my actions directly contradict the words I spoke.  No, my friend aligned her actions fully aligned with what she wanted.  Another thing I'm guilty of doing is holding the chocolate ice cream in my hands, while still trying to take a lick of the vanilla.  My coworker did the exact opposite.  Once she lost her excess weight, she didn't dabble in the actions of her past.  That explains why she rarely choose to indulge in the high fat office snacks.  Once you choose chocolate, you are also making the choice not to have vanilla.  Accept that and move on.

So, here we are at the end of the year.  Looking back, I'm sure many of us are making plans to alter  our results in 2016.  The first place start is in making a real decision.  Then immediately choose the actions that correlate with your decision.  Once that's done, you align your actions daily.  And, before you know it, you get to enjoy the delicious goodness of your ultimate choice.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cleansing oils have been all the rage ever since people got hip to the benefits of massaging the skin with plant oils.  Our worst fears were that these oils would clog our pores and leave our skin greasy...but instead, we experienced the exact opposite.

In actuality, the oils helped remove dirt while leaving the skin hydrated and moisturized.  Once the big companies got wind of oil cleansing, a bunch of commercial products hit the marketplace.  Oil cleansing became a legit thing.
via Instagram
But then, brands decided to take things to the next level by expanding the oil cleansing experience to our hair.  Yes.  In case you weren't aware, there's such a thing as cleansing oil shampoo. Shu Uemura leads the pack with its Gentle Radiance Cleansing Oil Shampoo.  Ouidad also has a cleansing oil on the market.

My first thought was this, "I NEED a cleansing oil shampoo in my regimen!"  My hair adores oil and can't get enough of it.  If I were to incorporate an oil rich cleanser, this could mean less tangles on wash day and reduce manipulation related breakage during the conditioner application.  And perhaps, adding a little oil would somehow minimize the swelling that occurs when hair is saturated with water. My impatience wouldn't allow me to wait days for a product to arrive so I immediately sought to create my own oil cleansing shampoo.

This is the easiest DIY ever!  Basically, I grabbed a bottle of avocado oil from my product stash and set it aside. Then I put some Keracare Moisturizing Shampoo in my hand as I normally would.  But instead of applying the shampoo directly to my wet hair, I mixed in a little avocado oil.  I tried to avoid using too much oil and kept the ratio of shampoo to oil to about 70/30.

When I rubbed the shampoo/oil mixture in my hair, I couldn't detect any "greasiness."  In fact, the shampoo process went as normal.  Actually, there were a couple of differences.  First, my hair seemed to tangle way less. Secondly, after rinsing, my hair already felt highly conditioned.  This process is definitely a keeper.

My only regret is that I didn't use enough oil.  I have very thick, very course hair and I could probably get away with a 60/40 shampoo to oil mix.  I say this because, once rinsed, there was no trace of oil whatsoever.  Some people would prefer this but I wouldn't mind having a hint of oil remaining on the strand.

Oil cleansing on wash day is a must try if your hair responds well to oil.  Oh, as a follow up, I have to mention how I'm loving my DIY conditioning ACV rinse.  If you haven't tried this yet, you're falling behind. Time to catch up.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I was wandering around in the comment section of Youtube one day and stumbled upon a little gem.  A couple of the commenters recommended how the Sephora Collection Mud Mask is a perfect substitute for Glam Glow.

Then, my eyes landed on a 20% off coupon Sephora sent just weeks earlier.  Of course, I had to try it for myself.  If Sephora's brand was indeed a suitable substitute, this could mean lots of extra dollars in my pocket.

This morning I finally had the opportunity to try the Sephora brand for the first time and thought I'd share my first impressions via a head to head show down.

The first and most obvious difference between the two is the price.  Sephora offers nearly double the amount of product for $19.00 (2.03 oz) versus GlamGlow at $69.00 (1.2 oz).  I grabbed two jars of Sephora's brand and still managed to spend save $30.00! That's enough to treat myself to a meal at my favorite restaurant, a pedicure or try a new deep conditioner.

Both products are wet clay masks that require no preparation.  I'm one of those people that actually enjoy whipping up a DIY version of a clay mask but, sometimes, you want something quick to use before work or after a gym session.

Visually, there's a difference is in the color.  Sephora's brand is a bit bluer in tint while Glam Glow is a bit grayer.  Glam glow has wetter consistency. Both formulas have tiny little texture beads but the Sephora's beads seem a little more gentle. I actually prefer Glam Glow's beads 'cause I like to give myself an exfoliating treatment during the final rinse.

Another thing to note is the scent.  Sephora's is heavily scented with a fragrance that I did not like (at all).  Even with the scent, I'll still continue to use, but I would prefer an unscented version.

The huge difference in price could be attributed to the varied ingredients.  Here's a break down of the their ingredients:

Water, Kaolin, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sodium Hydroxide, Eucalyptus Globulus, Mandelic Acid, Charcoal, Parfum [Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool], Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Pyruvic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Maltodextrin, Iron Oxides, Peppermint Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Glycerin, Chamoilla Recutita Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Hendera Helix Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Tartaric Acid.

Kaolin, Water, Glycerin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Powder, Capryloyl Glycine, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), Phenoxyethanol, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate.

What I really, really like about GlamGlow are the stimulating and exfoliating ingredients.  It has quite an array of acids which exfoliate and create brighter skin .  GlamGlow also contains charcoal which has super, duper purifying power.

Honestly, I wouldn't consider Sephora a dupe in the true sense of the word because of how different the ingredients are.  Essentially, they are two separate clay mask formulas.  Both are decent, but in my opinion GlamGlow has more potential to impact the skin.

With that said, I still think Sephora is a decent product and one you should pick up.  If you have really troubled skin, consider upgrading to GlamGlow (or putting it on your Christmas list).  Someone with fairly normal skin could get away with using Sephora with decent results, but if you are on a mission to transform your skin, GlamGlow might give the slight edge.

Your third option, would be to make a true GlamGlow dupe at home.  I whipped up a batch, a while back, with many of the same active ingredients for a small fraction of the cost.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The dreaded day has arrived when my beloved steam rollers are no longer bringing the value they once had.  Once upon a time, my steam rollers were the gem of my styling tools collection.  Anytime my hair needed a little boost, I could simply whip out the Caruso rollers and, minutes later, my hair would be soft, bouncy and hydrated.

But, unfortunately,  my current hair texture won't allow my steam curl results to be great.  When the damp roller comes in contact with my hair, the reversion process begins.  And, when I finally remove the rollers, I'm thoroughly disappointed with the results.

Deep down, I still want a quick easy option for last minute styling whenever the need arises.  At the top of my options are hot rollers.  They're like the cousin of steam rollers only without the added moisture.

One reason why I've never inquired about hot rollers in the past is because I categorized it as heat styling.  I didn't want to damage the hair with overuse.  But, that was a long time ago. My hair is much thicker and more resilient.  Hot rollers are a "safer" option than using direct heater plates (curling/flat iron).  In most of the videos I've watched, the Youtuber could lightly touch the roller with their hands. The same can't be said for a flat or curling iron.

And, just like any other heated tool, I understand that it's not meant for daily use.  My intention is to toggle back and forth between hot rollers and flexi rods.  Not to mention that I'm a little more savvy now when it comes to protecting the hair from heat damage.  I've learned the virtues of using a dry heat protectant and using heat activated products that fortify the hair.

Actually,  a water based heat protectant might work well in the case of using hot rollers.  Since the roller won't reach ultra high temperatures, perhaps my hair could absorb some of that moisture.  Speaking of moisture, I know that using heated rollers will call for higher levels of moisture. Which means no more skipping on steamer sessions on wash day and making sure I moisturize daily (especially prior to setting).

I'll probably pick up a set of rollers really soon.  If anyone has some hot rollers that you love, feel free to leave a recommendation in the comments.

Monday, December 14, 2015

This year, I've taken on a different belief with my goals than I've had in the past.  Before, I would have this grand vision, relish it, then allow tons of time to go by before I started taking any action.
This week, as I was taking a walk, I started visualizing an outcome that I wanted to experience.
In the vision, I was enjoying some time off in a warm, tropical destination.  The images in my mind were of a slightly different version of me.  I was more toned & fit in the vision.  My hair, slightly healthier.  Skin glowing in the sun.

Once I snapped out of it, the first thing I did was start to plan the actions required to turn this daydream into a reality.  It was as if I was absolutely certain that I'd end up on this beach at a future date.  My job was to ensure that I took actions that align current reality to the vision.  I had work to do and it felt great.

I realized this was a different approach to my goals than I had in the past.  Before, I was stay in the vision stage way too long.  Instead of trying to quickly merge the two worlds, I'd keep them separate. I'd live in reality, then go (mentally) escape to my intentions from time to time.

Lately, I've had the desire to bring my vision into reality at a much faster rate than ever before.  The reason why this is happening is very simple.  I attribute this new mindset to shift in belief.  Instead of just indulging in my desires, I actually start to believe in their possibility.  And, the greater the belief, the faster I move into action.  What did I do to grow my belief?

I participated heavily in what I call "mini-manifestations."  Basically, I try to manifest small things on a very consistent basis.  When I say manifest, I don't mean it in a magical or mystical. I mean, wanted something to get done and doing it. Wanting something small to happen and doing everything in your power to cause it to happen.   The smaller the better. The more consistently, the better.  The reason why I kept the intentions small is to increase my success rate.

The most critical aspect of mini-manifesting is making sure you acknowledge everything you've done.  Let's say you tell yourself "alright, I'm going to the gym today."  At this point, you've officially set an intention.  If you go through with it, you've manifested your intention.  If not, you've not honored your word.  By not honoring your word, you chip away at your self-trust.  Next time you say you'll do it, your subconscious may not believe you.

To reach your intentions quickly, you should operate as a mini-manifestation machine.  Tell yourself that you'll do something (small) then do it!  If this becomes a habit for you, then your subconscious has no reason to doubt you when you wish to manifest something greater.  You'll start to develop the mindset that visions can easily become real and your actions will correlate with this new belief.

This week, take on the challenge of setting small intentions and following through.  Each time you do it, make a big deal about what you've accomplished (and how easy it was).  Manifest with ease then start to move towards those bigger visions that you've always been afraid of.  Go ahead....your destination is waiting for you.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

As we get closer to 2016, my mind is constantly racing with ideas of what I can do to help usher in a fresh, new year.  You see, I have a strong believe in certain year end rituals to signify the new beginning.  One of the most powerful ways to create the right environment for the new year is to start with your home office.
Why?  Because the home office is where we create.  We'll write our best selling book, launch a new business and establish our destiny in our home office.  It's the space where we overcome resistance. The place where we express creativity.   The place where an idea transforms into reality.
But, in order to get the most out of our time in the office, we must first set the environment that sparks the highest level of creativity.

Steve Jobs was said to prefer working in an all white space in order to avoid visual distractions. Creation can easily flow where there is space for it to do so.  Think about it, if I gave you a canvas that was already covered with various colors, you'd have a difficult time imagining a new picture.  But, if I were to give you a blank white canvas, the possibilities of what you could create would be endless.  Without a doubt, I operate with a higher level of focus and productivity when my office area is clear of clutter.

Once you have that blank canvas, you can start to layer in pieces that nurture your imagination.  Truthfully, one can only create freely when they are in a happy, relaxed state.  We get in this state by incorporating a few items in your space that spark joy.
Perhaps you light a gorgeous candle with an intoxicating scent.  Or maybe you've incorporated inspiring images that depict the future lifestyle you want to live.  I like to keep my favorite fragrance nearby to mist lightly anytime I wish to elevate my mood.  Lastly, you can consider adding some fresh flowers or motivating quotes to keep you inspired.  I keep a list of my goals and corresponding rewards nearby along with a log of the accomplishments achieved so far.  I like balancing my drive for results by looking back and expressing gratitude for progress made thus far.

Whatever you decide....have fun with it. Turn your office into a space where you don't mind waking early to go and build your vision.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

As far as facial cleansers go, I really didn't pay them much attention.  Once I was able to manage my dermatitis with the help of coconut cider vinegar, I shifted my focus towards cleaners that also address discoloration.

Unfortunately, those cleansers typically strip the skin as they attempt to lighten blemishes.  I've since realized that the cleansing step may not be the most effective time to fade acne.  Instead of stripping, what if I could actually nourish the skin while cleansing?

Skin is at it's happiest when it's pH balanced.  Studies show that if your skin's pH isn't within the ideal range, you are more likely to experience breakouts.  A few years ago, I cleansed my skin using acid water that I was able to pick up from a local alkaline water store in town.  I vividly remember how well my skin and hair responded to the low pH water.  After the shop closed down, I seriously contemplated picking up an alkalizing machine at home.  But until then, it's nice to know there's a cleanser that can give comparable benefits.

The one word I'll use to describe this cleanser is "gentle."  No matter how hard I tried to create a little sudsing, it just wouldn't happen.  Massaging into my skin had a similar feel to oil cleansing.  I felt like I was adding to the skin, not taking away.

The instructions say massage onto wet skin for a minute before rinsing.  And, for deeper exfoliation, the cleanser can be converted to a mask by applying it to clean, dry skin and leaving on for 3-5 minutes.  So basically, you have a skin healthy cleanser and an exfoliating mask in one amazing product.

As of now, I've use Phace Bioative cleanser twice.  It arrived yesterday afternoon after I already cleansed my skin for the day.  That morning I cleansed with Alba's Brightening gel cleanser.  Immediately, after washing, I practically ran into the room to grab my toner because of how tight and dry my skin felt.  With Phace Bioacive, my skin felt toned post wash.

The one word I'll use to describe my skin after cleansing with Phace is soft.  Incredibly, soft.  It's I-can't-stop-touching-my-face-soft.  This is a great cleanser.  After applying serums, my skin feels even better!  Sure, this isn't the most budget friendly cleanser around, but a little goes a long way, and the way your skin feels afterwards is unlike any other cleanser you currently own.

At the very least, this should be everyone's winter cleanser because it leaves the skin feeling so hydrated and nourished.   Ashley mentioned that this cleanser could possibly ward off wrinkles down the road.  I'm guessing because pH balanced skin helps maintain moisture better than traditional cleansers.

A cleanser that can prevent acne causing bacteria, doubles as an exfoliating mask, all while keeping the skin soft and nourished.  Does it get any better than that?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

If I were to pile all of my lip balm products together, I'd probably have a couple of dozen brands.  Why?  Probably because I'm still in search of thee perfect lip balm.  That's when I realized that the perfect lip product is one that not only protects with petroleum/beeswax, but one truly hydrates.

So I went searching and I actually found a few lip balm products that incorporate hydrating ingredients like, water, aloe vera, and coconut water.

Here we go!


  • Offers SPF 15 protection
  • Includes water & aloe vera in the list of hydrating ingredients.
  • Leaves a light and soft feeling on your lips.
  • Also contains shea butter, castor oil, and glycerin to seal in moisture. 


  • Cult Product in the beauty industry.
  • 99% natural with  shea butter, vitamin C &E
  • Moisturizes with olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and water.  
  • OES coconut milk actually contains water as an ingredient while their other OES varieties do not.  


  • 100% vegetarian formula.
  • Coconut oil is first ingredient!  Great for those who don't like petroleum based lip products.  
  • Also has aloe leaf extract, rosemary extract, vitamin E.
  • Smells like yummy coconut. 

        SHISEIDO WATER IN LIP (the name itself says it all)
  • Asian Beauty product available in the U.S.
  • Contains squalene which is a moisturizer and emollient.
  • Has water and vitamin E
  • Contains lemon for its astringent properties.

These are a few options for you to start with.  Maybe a lip balm with real hydrating ingredients is just what you've been missing.  I can't wait to pick up a few of these.  Since I switch out handbags pretty regularly, I like to keep a lip balm in each one that way I'm never without.  Anytime I leave the house without a handbag, the only two products I truly miss is my lotion on lip balm.  

Anytime we reach for a lip balm, it's 'cause our lips are dry.  Does it make sense to slather your dry lips with petroleum? Maybe, but why not hydrate, moisturize and protect?  

But always remember that true lip hydration only comes when you are consuming adequate amounts of water.  So, take a huge swig of water, moisturize your lip with one of these babies, and feel fabulous.  

//Shop Hydrating Lip Balms//

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

If you and I were to bump into each other this past summer, there's a high likelihood that I would be wearing a button down dress that stopped somewhere around the knee.  Button down dresses have become somewhat of a uniform because wearing dresses are the absolute easiest thing on earth. It requires no thought of outfit coordination.  Sometimes trying to match a shirt and top just takes more effort than I'm willing to give.
Summer uniform: Buttoned Down Military Style Dress
Which is why I adore dresses. In just a few moments, you look completely pulled together without having to invest much effort.  Almost every dress purchase I made this summer had one thing in common, the single column of buttons dividing one half of the dress from the other.  The only exception to that were the few maxi dresses added to my collection.
via SongofStyle

But none of my traditional maxi dresses were as classy as the button down.  Most often, maxi dresses give off the laid back, casual vibe reminiscent of a tropical vacation getaway.  But we sometimes forget the more grown up, feminine version.  The one that can be worn to dinner or a social event. The one that makes you stand out from a sea of others wearing distressed skinny jeans.  There's something inherently alluring about the woman in a full length dress with just a hint of skin showing.

Best of all, this type of dress will never go out of style because it's not a trend. It's a staple the every woman should have in their closet.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

via phHUE instagram
It's been a while since I stumbled on a hair product that I immediately needed.  But when I somehow found this ACV conditioning rinse by the brand dpHUE, I was intrigued.  You probably never heard of  them.  That's because they're an L.A. based salon/colorBAR.  Basically, they preform professional color services for the busy woman who doesn't have all day to spend in a salon.

That's great and all, but what really makes them interesting is that they also developed a line of hair products for their clients to use at home.  One of their products in particular, their apple cider vinegar hair rinse, really caught my attention.  Having never heard of this brand before, I immediately sought out customer reviews.

I decided to try this product on a whim and I LOVE it! I have been trying to find a product that I can use after my workouts, so I am not washing my hair twice a day with shampoo and conditioner. This product is amazing! Creates great shine and I can feel the stuff in my hair rinse right out instantly. I would definitely recommend this product!  
Other than the DP Hue Oil, which is absolutely the single best, most versatile and stunningly fragrant beauty product I have ever used in my life, the Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse is next in line! It is fresh, invigorating, cleansing and leaves hair shiny and clean. Simple to use in the shower, you just know you have done something great for you scalp and hair. One of the best hair products on the planet!!!
I seriously use this every other day. Living in NYC you get so much build-up from the subway stations and environmental factors that sometimes shampoo just doesn't cut it for me. This gently cleanses my hair without stripping my hair of the natural oils. I'll use it alone or with a little bit of conditioner after for extra softness and style as usual. 
Over and over again, women were proclaiming the wonders of how soft their hair felt after using dpHUE.   I also read several articles by beauty editors who shared the same sentiments as these die hard fans.  This product looks like the real deal.  That's because their ACV rinse has combined all the elements that our hair loves.  First, the apple cider vinegar which promotes proper hair & scalp pH.  Then they include conditioning ingredients and oils.  So basically, it's an ACV conditioner.

Today is probably wash day for some of you.  Why not experiment with your own DIY version of a conditioning rinse and create your own wow moment.  From the looks of it, dpHue ACV rinse is comprised of mainly water, ACV, conditioners and oils.  So if I were to try to recreate, I mix conditioner and a little oil together in a bowl and let sit.  Then I'd take my applicator bottle and combine water with ACV.  Maybe 50/50 for those of you with troubled scalp and 60% water,  40% ACV (or less) for normal scalp. Then I'd add, the conditioner and shake vigorously to mix. The amount of conditioner you add it is up to you.  No need to go overboard with the conditioner, you can always deep condition afterwards.

This conditioning rinse could work extremely well for those of you who find ACV to be a bit too drying.  Anyone who cowashes regularly should seriously consider grabbing dpHue or experiment with their own version.  Even though I'm really eager to try this at home version, I still think it makes sense to purchase dpHue to check out the consistency and make sure our at home version is decent remake.   I'll probably pick up a bottle soon. When when I do, maybe I'll write a DIY vs. original post.

Who's ready to try this?

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