A hair above the rest

Growing up, I was cute but cuteness only went so far in school. I had my parent’s genetics to deal with. Some things you just can’t control, like crooked teeth or bad eyesight. I was born blind but my parents didn’t notice until I was in Kindergarten. I blame that on my smartness, I just faked it till I made it, or at least until I could no longer make it. Like when my mom asked me what time it was and I admitted that I couldn’t read the clock. Glasses it is!

Just looking at my dad, you could tell my teeth were doomed after seeing that I got his flat brown hair and poo-colored eyes. Braces were inevitable, but even metal mouth and extra large glasses were bearable compared to… my hair.

My hair was an oil pit. Especially once I entered middle school. It was that type of hair that literally would hit 24 hours after washing and turn into grease city. I’m talking did you pour a bottle of olive oil on your head and expect to make friends? Quite the opposite happened. I got made fun of all the time. To the point where my lazy 7th grader self was forced to wash my hair every day or suffer the consequences.

It was 50/50. And a part of me kept thinking maybe I could train my hair to last longer than 24 hours. Ain’t nobody got time to be washing and drying long stringy brown hair everyday. As I got older, I ended up caving in and washing as often as possible, sometimes twice a day. Throughout high school and college, I struggled to try and extend my hair life beyond the 24 hours it typically lasted. Even with advice from wiser women who would go DAYS, and I mean like 3-5 days without washing their hair, I still struggled. I finally discovered dry shampoo, but even that only gave me another day or two. At least I was improving, but it just wasn’t enough.

It likely didn’t help that I lived an active lifestyle full of jogging, martial arts, and other forms of torturous cardio/strength training activities. As recent as a few months ago, I was working out 5-6 times a week and still ended up washing my hair every 2-3 days. Still too often, and my hair still wasn’t at it’s prime since I was going through dry shampoo like water.

PicsArt_01-15-03.10.38.jpgThat’s when I discovered Monat. My friend gave me a bunch of samples and I put it to the test. From the first wash, my hair was beautiful for 4 days. On the 4th day, my lazy bum self used dry shampoo and made it to day 5. Not only did it look good, it felt and smelled even better. If I had a boyfriend, no doubt he would have his nose in my hair. But instead I just couldn’t stop touching my hair. I was beyond excited and actually looked forward to washing my hair again. Because of how long my hair went, the samples lasted me weeks. Which is unheard of. I was sold after going to a Monat hair washing and brunch event, where they transformed my hair in just one washing. While the shampoo isn’t the cheapest, it easily lasts 3-4 months if not longer. I purchased my first bottle back in November and have barely made a dent. I expect it to last yet another 3 months from now.PicsArt_01-15-03.16.08.jpg

And trust me, I’ve spent the same amount if not more on shampoo that lasted half that time. And normally I don’t spoil myself. Actually, I’m still sometimes in that college-kid mindset where the idea of spending any money on myself outside of food and gas is instantly rejected. But I will say that the dollars spent on Monat were well worth it. Every week, when I wash my hair once or maybe twice, I feel a change in my hair for the better. I get excited when I see other people’s hair improving as well. And the stories are endless. But don’t just take it from me, give it a shot. We all wash our hair anyways, why not try a sample and see if it’s for you?

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Never split the difference

As a step in improving myself, I recently read a book about negotiation and confrontation written by Chris Voss, FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator. At first you might think what does FBI negotiation have anything to do with life? Actually, it applies to so many situations it’s not even funny. For example, when negotiating your salary with your employer or interviewer. Actually, someone used this book to increase his salary from 150k to over 300k! Once I heard that, I sat down and read this book. If someone could double their salary just from reading this book, what else could be gained from it?

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From reading about different techniques to different types of negotiators, I learned that there’s a lot to learn about making a deal. And at the end of the day, the biggest lesson I pulled from this book is to listen to your counterpart and relate to them. Even if it’s as little as sharing that you went to the same school or have the same interest/hobby. I’ve always known that building rapport is important in sales and life, but this humanizes you within a negotiation. It helps you no longer look like a shark trying to take all their money.

I also learned key tactics to drop an extreme anchor and move towards your goal in decreasing increments. I.e. say you want to keep your rent the same despite an increase, or even decrease it slightly. You’re currently paying $1000 but your landlord wants to increase it to $1200 with the lease renewal. After doing your market research, you see that $1200 is on the high end of the rent range in your area. While you could find another place at $1000, you love your current place and would rather not move. After careful budgeting calculations, you find that you could afford $1050 a month tops. But you’d rather pay less.

When sitting down with your landlord, be sure to say no without saying no. And start with saying how great the place is, how wonderful they are, and how you’ve always paid rent on time. After getting that out of the way, tell them that while you’d love to stay, the new rent doesn’t fit in your budget and is high for the market. While you could easily find another place for less, you’d rather not leave such a great building and location. Drop an extreme anchor: after thorough research and looking at your budget, you can only afford $900. Wait for a response. Usually they will say no way but counter with something, hopefully lower than $1200. If they come in at your goal of $1050, don’t get too excited. You could negotiate lower still. Say something that while that is a better price, it’s still putting you in a bind. You can even pull out some paper or your phone and say you’re figuring out just how much you can afford. Using exact amounts makes it seem like you really are counting every penny. Come back with I can afford exactly $985.35. Something very exact makes it seem like you really did calculate the amount. You may be able to negotiate your rent to be even lower than what you’re currently paying!

When negotiating salary, it’s best to let the employer make the initial offer. This way you know what range they’re thinking. A lot of us are too eager to give a range, but your employer may be thinking even higher than the amount you’re thinking. If they come in lower than what you’re thinking, you will have had done your research for the job. Usually Glassdoor and/or Google are good resources to see a range of what your position should pay. If you’re aiming for the top of the range, still give a range. Be sure to be ok with getting paid at the bottom of your range. I.e. you want to make a minimum of 150k, put your range as 150-175k or something similar.

I definitely plan on utilizing these skills in my life. I’m facing a situation in my job where I have to negotiate salary, becoming a permanent employee, and maternity leave all in one. Normally I’d be worried, but feel more confident and prepared thanks to this book. My journey’s no where near done, actually it’s just starting. But I love good books that push me further.

Do you have any books you’ve read and recommend?

Process of writing from the heart

Lately I’ve had so many compliments and questions in regards to my writings. A big question I received recently was how long have I been blogging? And my answer was that I’ve been writing almost my entire life. I even had a diary in elementary school! But to be completely honest, it took a long time to write from the heart. And ever since, my posts have become more relatable and easier to read.

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But the process of writing from the heart isn’t one I take lightly. I do thorough research before sharing just whatever’s on my mind. While it is enticing to just write what’s on my mind, I also want to make sure I don’t put my readers to sleep. So before sharing a particular post in regards to a certain topic, I do my research. I enjoy reading books, other blog posts, and articles that are related to the topic. This way I learn what works and what doesn’t work. Was what I read engaging and interesting? Or did it put me to sleep? Also, how many comments and shares is it getting?

Trending topics are easy to find and write about, but sometimes I like to push myself to write about a less-talked about topic. When doing so, I am sure to read a little more and take a little extra time to do my research. I’m old-school and will hit up my local library to check out books related to the topic. I also will do a few google searches to see if I can find blogs or news articles related to the topic, even if the articles are a few years old. When applying what I read and learn to my writings, I’m sure to update them to make the topics more current and interesting for my readers.

While writing from the heart may not be for everyone, I’ve found that it’s brought a lot more traffic to my personal blog than any other type of post. But I’m not here for the traffic. Instead, I’m here to share my stories and help others in need. At the end of the day, even if I only help one person I feel like my goal is being accomplished.

What’s your process when it comes to writing? I’m always looking to improve, so share away.

Dating and the reason I’m taking a break

“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
― Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City

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To channel Candace, I leaped head-first into the dating scene after the divorce in 2017 with the idea that I could find someone worthy and willing to be my boyfriend. See as it had been 7+ years since I was last in the dating scene, I was oh-so-wrong. The closest I got was a guy too emotionally devolved to ever come close to being in a healthy relationship let alone healthy enough being alone. After dealing with him for several months, I finally let go and decided to move on in early 2018.

But my luck in dating has been non-existent. While I’ve had fun, I can tell you that every guy I liked in 2018 ended up ghosting me or rejecting me. And the best date of the entire year? Let me tell you about it.

There was this guy, a regular at the gym where I was working. From the moment I saw him, I thought he was cute. Tall, muscular, and luscious hair. But it wasn’t until we talked and I learned that he was from a town most people wouldn’t know but that I was all too familiar with it that we connected. Several weeks later, I gather up the guts to finally ask for his digits. We agree to go out for coffee on a Saturday afternoon. We meet and talk for several hours, until the coffee shop closes and kicks us out. I head home to walk my dog, but can’t get him off my mind. I somehow convince him to meet up with me again, later on that night for a drink. We meet and have some margaritas, and then head back to his place which just so happens to be within walking distance. When we get there, he shows me around and puts a record on after showing me his collection. He’s an old soul and somehow his points increase.

His room-mate comes home and makes a joke about interrupting something sexual, and the guy laughs and closes the door. But then things get serious, and he tells me that he has to be honest with me. Despite having an amazing day, he’s not looking for anything serious or to even date right now. Despite this not being what I wanted to hear, I was glad for his honesty. And had no regrets, since it was by far one of the best days I had in a long while.

And at least he didn’t ghost me. We’re actually still friends. It’s pretty awesome actually. He’s pretty awesome, and I’m glad I met him. But I’m going to take it as a sign, 2018 wasn’t the year for me to find the right guy, and to start off 2019 I decided to take a break from the dating scene. Deleted all the dating apps (ok I was only on one) and successfully ignoring all the dingbats asking me out. What’s it about pregnant chicks and guys wanting to date them? Is that a thing?

Anyways, so far 2019 has been way better. Feels like a weight lifted off my chest. And I know when the timing’s right, the right guy for me will walk into my life. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my time spent with my real soulmates: my girlfriends. 🙂

Let your sweat shine!

Is it me or is this gym extra-shiny? Not sure if it’s the warmer than normal weather, or the new years resolution’s, but the gym has been pretty busy lately. With the extra bodies comes the extra sweat. Many of the regular gym-goers aren’t that happy to be waiting for equipment that ends up being a little stickier than usual. If this is your first time at the gym, or your first time in a long time, you may be embarrassed at just how much sweat is poring out of your pores. But don’t sweat it! Literally.

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Whenever we begin something new, we have to learn (or re-learn) how to become proficient at it. This applies to our bodies as well. Think of it this way, the first time you rode a bike were you doing wheelies? Likely not. Instead you were likely trying to stay balanced on 4 wheels (thankful for training wheels over here!) while also trying to actually move forward. Fast forward to now, you don’t even have to think when riding a bike. It’s second nature.

Our bodies are similar, but unfortunately unlike riding a bike we lose our conditioning when we put the activity away for awhile. Like a runner who stops running for a few years. They can’t just up and run a marathon out of the blue, they have to train and condition themselves to get back to 26.2 miles. And that doesn’t happen overnight. Our bodies are the same way when it comes to sweating. At first, when we’re out of shape and out of breath, we are sweating profusely. It’s our bodies way of regulating our temperature. And since we haven’t worked out in (XX) number of days, weeks, months or years, our bodies are just trying their best to stay alive. “For what reason do you torture me?” – Sincerely, your body.

But the more you exercise, the more adjusted your body becomes. And with that, the less you’ll sweat. So until then, shine on with your sweaty-ass self! And don’t be ashamed, since everyone starts somewhere. Sweaty and all.

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

I don’t know about you, but most of my life I’ve struggled with self esteem. Growing up with glasses that made my eyes ten times bigger and braces that helped my teeth shine just added to my introverted personality. Basically, I was an easy target. And until half way through High School, I was too nervous to even talk to a boy I liked. Fast forward to adulthood, and I still get flashbacks to those feelings.

Not everyday am I Wonder Woman. Although, I will say that every day I fight to feel like her, there are moments where I feel more like the bug underneath her shoe. That being said, I find certain songs very helpful to use as mantras to keep in mind that God’s on my side and that I am enough. Actually, I’m more than enough. I’m worth it. Enjoy this song and let me know what you think about it in the comments below!

The struggle to love unconditionally

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Love as the media shows it is not true love. It’s the love where you are happy and showered with all the feels, until it gets hard. Then it’s time to break up and move on to the next. This illusion of plenty of fish in the sea, and maybe the lie of that perfect person for us keeps us unsatisfied until we end up alone and grumpy wondering where we went wrong.

Most of my life, I have struggled to learn and apply unconditional love in all of my relationships. I’m talking family, friends and most importantly romantic relationships. And the biggest struggle I face is unconditionally loving people who can’t love me back.

Both historically (my exes) and currently, there are and have been people in my life that I have and still love wholeheartedly who don’t have the capacity love me back. I won’t drop names, but there is someone in my life right now where I have to sit and meditate, take several deep breaths, before composing myself to respond to him in the most loving way I can.

But he already rejected me months ago, and even without that I know he doesn’t have the ability to love me back. At least, not the way I love him. And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where I just feel like crying. But each day gets better, because God gives me the strength to continue loving him the way Jesus loves me. And I pray that one day, he too will know and understand that type of love. The one where there are no limits. Without conditions. The way love is supposed to be.

Top benefits of massage and giveaway

Do you like massages?

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and integrative medicine. It’s usually offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found the massage is helpful for:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Headaches

Even more interesting, massage helps expectant mothers deal with many side effects of pregnancy. Prenatal Massage has indicated in studies that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains,  and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. The massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage. –Americanpregnancy.org

Giveaway!

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I’m excited to announce that my company, Holistic Theory, is giving away free 30 minute massages in and around Chicago. This includes suburbs of Chicago. If you’re not local to Chicago, I apologize but we will be coming to a major city near you in the future.

Sign up here!

Resources for expectant mothers

After being the only expectant mother who showed up alone for the hospital tour, I realized that it would be beneficial to share resources for others going through the same or similar situation as me. This whole single parent thing isn’t easy, but these resources have helped me cope and prepare for what’s to come.

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Obama Care/Medicare

Without insurance, having a baby can easily cost at least 10k. And as a single mom, that can be detrimental. But insurance can also get pricey. Thankfully, there are programs out there that cut the cost for insurance. Don’t get me wrong, though. Those medical bills will still pile up, but at least they won’t amount to $10,000!

Aid for Women

I already wrote an entire post about this amazing resource in Chicago. If you’re not in Chicago, I would urge you to find something similar. I entered in free pregnancy test clinic near me in google to find this place.

Free Breast Pump

With insurance, a breast pump costs $0. And after doing some research and talking to some other mom’s, I found the best of the best breast pump to get. Medela pump is the way to go is what I found.

Community Support

I’ve found an amazing supportive community at my local church Free Church. I attend church services, small groups, and church events. I also am part of the host team which is basically the greeting team that welcomes newcomers to the church. Outside of church, I’m also a part of the wonderful running community in Oak Park. Whatever works for you, I would recommend finding some local group to support you. I have heard great things in regards to local mom groups as well that I plan on joining once baby is here.

Meditation

While finances are definitely tight, stress can easily increase. Getting your mind and spirit right is important. Your baby can feel what you feel. So having positive thoughts and a calm mind is ideal. I found a local Buddhist center where they welcome newcomers and drop ins on a weekly basis to sit in and learn meditation techniques and to meditate. My recommendation here is to find a place you feel welcomed and comfortable at. Doesn’t have to be associated with any religion if you’re not into that.

What resources have you used as a single parent?

 

 

Radiating love and kindness

So today I’m supposed to write about someone who has helped me and influenced my life. It’s hard to think about anyone else other than my mother. Both of my parents have influenced me and helped me so much. My father is a close second, but today I feel like reminiscing about my mom.

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My mom was one of those people who could talk to anyone. She always had a story to share but also an ear to listen to those with their own stories. Where-ever she went, she had a smile on her face and a kindness unmatched. But she was even better with those she loved and cared for. Not only was she there for her immediate family, my brother and I, but also her siblings, parents, uncles, aunts and in-laws. She was that person who would give the shirt off her back to help out someone in need.

Countless times she would help out her brother who was struggling financially. Even going so far as giving him a car. When her mom was sick, she was there for her as much as possible. Trying to make her as comfortable as possible. And later on, same thing for her dad. She was always there for my brother and me growing up, even at our lowest of our lows and highest of our highs. She was the glue that kept our family together. What did that look like? Daily dinners where all four of us sat down and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal. But more than that, she kept her extended families in touch. With her willingness and love for talking, she would keep up frequent communication with her family members. We would see our cousins, aunts and uncles more than just the holidays. And family was always a big part of our lives growing up.

But more than that, she was my best friend. Of course, she was also my parent so she laid the ground rules and enforced them when needed. But growing up, she was always there to lend me her time, love and encouragement. And even when I messed up, she still loved me. She was one of those people who demonstrated unconditional love to me. And I’m very blessed, since most people don’t get to experience this type of love first-hand. I grew up with faith and religion, and was taught about the love that Jesus and God has for me. But to experience it in person, from my own parent, was magical. And I am oh so glad for it.