Holidays Not-So 101: Kids & Their Gifts December 10, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in children, Finances, Holidays, Holidays Not-So 101, How To, Shopping, Tips and Tricks.
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There was a year I participated in a charity event for Christmas. Underprivileged children wrote letters to Santa about what they wanted for Christmas, little did they know, we were Santa. We each received a letter or two and bought the children exactly what they wanted. We then dressed a co-worker up as Santa and as each of the children sat on his lap and took a picture, they received their specially ordered gift. It was one of the best moments of my life, I remember one girl looking right into my eyes and squealing “Oh my gosh! This is exactly what I wanted! How did he know!?”. While I learned many valuable lessons from this experience, there was one that really resonated – kids toys are not cheap!
I somehow remember having about 7 Barbies when I was a kid, more stuffed animals than I could count, and a constant rotation of crayons, pencils, markers, and clay-type art molds. It never crossed my mind that my parents were shelling out for these things. When it said “made in China” I assumed it was priced accordingly. Well, I learned pretty quickly that Barbies start at $20, and that’s never the one your kid is actual going to want. So, this brings me to my Holidays Not-So 101 dilemma, how the hell do you buy kids gifts they want without actually breaking your holiday budget? To be totally honest with you, I have no idea, ask a parent, but what I can tell you is the tricks I’ve used to get them something they want without spending 2 hours in the toy aisle.
Trick #1 – Ask their parents. If this is someone you’re relatively close to generally their parent’s will have some kind of gift list that either their kid made, or they themselves have been keeping. Most parents aren’t going to ask you to buy their child a bicycle or the latest doll, so whatever they tell you will definitely be under that $40 mark. If they don’t have anything specific, they can at least give you an idea of what their child might be into these days – Batman, American girl dolls, a specific movie character or board game, etc. This way you can get them something within that theme, without having to get them the actual toy/movie/game.
Trick #2 – Know your options. Remember yourself as a kid, you were excited by a happy meal toy that was lost under the couch in two weeks. Kids love big gifts, flashy lights and funny noises, but that doesn’t mean they require it. Evaluate price per square inch of this toy, maybe a three dollar bear that looks like it’s going to disintegrate isn’t the way to go, but a $25 my little pony the size of your hand isn’t either. There are lots of good deals out there if you’re in stores like Target, Kmart, Toys R Us, and so on. Matchbox cards often sell in a 5-pack for under $10, small toys with “dress-up” or “hair bow” type accessories will usually range between $10-$20. Check aisles thoroughly and weigh out the options, would you like this toy? Even if it doesn’t seem like much to adults, it may be the world to a child.
Trick #3 – Use your noggin. This isn’t so much a trick as a fair warning – for those of us who don’t have kids, we forget that some toys aren’t safe or favored by parents. Look at the age frame, every toy tells you “3+” or “ages 4-9”. Be accurate. Also, no matter what the toy says, pay attention to small parts as they can be a choking hazard, sharp edges or themes that parent’s might not be fond of. Anything that’s too violent, may not communicate an appropriate message, or might be too extravagant or very messy probably won’t be appreciated. If it’s questionable, don’t get it. No matter what you buy, include a gift receipt to give to the parents.
Trick #4 – Ask the parents. Yes, I’m saying it again. Unless it’s a situation where you’re expected to bring the kids a gift (like a family Christmas, or best friend/siblings child) make sure it’s okay with the ‘rents that you bring a little something. Ask ahead of time, or, if that’s not an option, mention is as you walk in, before you hand the gift off to the monster, I mean kid. A simple “Hey, I brought Johnny a little something, I hope that’s okay?”. They’ll either say it’s fine or they’ll say thank you and take it themselves. This might mean it’s not cool, but it might also mean that they don’t want their kid to get wound up, and will give it to him or her at another time. Don’t be offended, they’ll appreciate the gesture, they may just want to keep their kid calm for that moment.
So, while I may not have the most in-depth knowledge, these tricks have worked for me. And if you’re a non-parent, newly crowned aunt or uncle, or simply realize that most of your friends are starting to have miniature versions of themselves, this is a great starter guide for this holiday season.
Holidays Not-So 101: When the Holidays Come at You Like a Mack Truck on Roller Blades December 5, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Uncategorized.
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So, it’s getting cool out, you put your summer shorts and tank tops away. You’ve spied your first Pumpkin Spice Latte and have been contemplating taking your A/C out and then BAM! HAPPY Hanukkah! Thanksgiving has come and gone and before you could burp from all the turkey it’s Christmas and you’re totally overwhelmed with everything that the holidays entail.
Relax…when we were all kids it seemed like it took an entire year to get those 28ish days from Thanksgiving to Santa Day, it was the inevitable feat, and now the holidays have come and gone before you could even send out a Christmas card. It’s not you, it’s the entire planet. Once you grow-up, get a job, find a family and start paying bill after bill after bill, you realize that the holidays become a lot less about parties and presents and much more about time, money and commitments. This kind of attitude can ruin your entire holiday season, but without a small dose of reality you’re going to get lost in the land of Sugar Plums. Without any true specialization in the matter, here’s how to navigate the holidays coming at you like a mack truck, from personal experience.
First and foremost, you’ve got to plan. It’s great to go spontaneous holiday shopping, but to be honest, it’s never going to happen. You’ll have to work, or be tired, or not have money that week. Something will always come up so you’ve got to plan, for your schedule, your sanity, and your bank account. Mark it on your calendar, Saturday December insert-number-here is your holiday shopping day. Make a list so you know what you’re getting for whom, it’ll help with shopping and with wrapping. If you’re not one for malls and crowds (we hear ya’!) the internet is always a fine option, but there’s planning involved there too. Packages need to arrive on time, in one piece, and without hundreds of dollars in shipping costs. Companies like UPS and FedEx are slammed this time of year, so even if you think you’ll have enough time for all your gifts to come in, expect the unexpected and order early. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you get everything bought within the first two weeks you’ll be able to relax the rest of the month!
Now, planning isn’t just about when you’re doing your holiday gift purchases, it’s about parties, decorating and drinking. There are those holiday parties you have to go to – your mom’s best friend, your boss, the neighbors, but then there are those parties that, no matter how awesome, may not make the cut. Learn how to say no or you’ll drive yourself insane. If you’re going to a party Saturday, Tuesday night, and then Friday evening, you’ve got to say no to whatever is happening the following Saturday or you won’t make it. There is such a thing as too much spiked-egg nogg. When people have festive parties they know that other’s are having them, but they conveniently forget when it comes time for the invites to go out. Make sure people aren’t insulted, but that they understand it’s a busy three-four weeks and you can’t do it all, you’re not the man in red!
Now, for those us (Like SK), who can’t get through the holidays without every festive activity possible, the holidays don’t begin two weeks into December, they began the morning before Thanksgiving Thursday. Personalized holiday cards have got to make it to people before the big day, order them the second week of November; Buying and decorating a tree so that it’s up for most of the season is top priority, so do it within the first week. Want new stockings? a wreath? a new CD of carols by Michael Buble? That stuff is going to be long gone by the time December 15th hits, so unless you’re ok with a wreath that says “Be my Valentine” make sure to stock up right at the top of December so you know your home is going to be beautiful until that new year hits.
In short, there is nothing wrong with being a crazy Christmas tycoon or a Happy Hanukkah lover, but it’s important to remember that holidays require a lot of time, commitment and, most of all, effort. The effort can contribute to the holiday season, or ruin it. Keep yourself organized, and stress-free, so you can enjoy every jingle, giggle, and gift of this holiday season!
Intro To…Owning Your Own Business December 1, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Around NYC, Education, Finances, Food/Dining, How To, Intro To, Jobs and Work, Real World.
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Starting your own business can be both the most exciting and the most stressful endeavor many people will ever pursue. Most will find themselves working longer hours than they had ever imagined. This is something that should not be taken lightly, and considering the great investment, be it time and/or money, required,, should be fully thought through before making the leap.
The first step is to make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. It will not be uncommon to work 16+ hour days so if you’re miserable from the start…you can expect a short-lived endeavor. At the same time, the satisfaction you’ll feel at the end of the week knowing all the work you put into growing your own business. This will become your child. It will supplant many relationships. It will have you tearing your hair out. You will ride the highs of landing the big contract. You will suffer the lows of balancing your bills until invoices come due. But succeed or fail, you will learn more about business, and more about yourself, than in any other undertaking you will attempt.
Build a business plan. I cannot stress enough the importance of a business plan. Your business plan is your bible. It tells you what demographics to target in your marketing. It gives your mission. It outlines your vision. It is the guide you reference to make sure you are staying true to the company. A basic business plan has an executive summary, company description, market analysis, management and organizational structure, product or service, marketing and sales plan, funding request, financial projections, and an appendix with financial statements, yelp reviews, whatever. If you want to start to get fancy with it, you can do a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis, investor exit strategy, and milestones. This business plan should, in essence, detail exactly how the company is going to conduct business. It should describe your product or service, what resources are needed to make business function, what your expenses will be through the first 3-5 years, how your staff will be made up, who your main demographic is that you’ll be targeting, what advertising mediums you’ll use. You should know how much revenue you’ll need every week/month/year to pay your expenses and keep the doors open. To complete your business plan, you must answer all of these questions and more. You can hire a professional to help you out (a quick google search returned one that starts at $395, but remember that you get what you pay for), or you can go at it yourself. There are tons of free resources online that you can use, and most cities have free private and government resources you can access as well. I would say this is especially important for the financial section. If you don’t have experience with financial statements, projections, etc., it can prove to be a quite daunting task. Luckily, however, a cheap option can be just reaching out to people at a local university that are in the finance program. While their model likely won’t be as comprehensive as a CPA’s or an Investment Banker’s, it will likely do the job for what you need it.
I’m a big fan of shows like Kitchen Nightmares, or Bar Rescue, and it kills me when I see an owner that has no clue what his expenses are. I studied finance in college so I might be a bit biased, but I view it as the base of every company. If you don’t know what your expenses are, how can you track your trends, see if you’re spending too much this month? How do you know if you’re actually making money? How to you plan for the future? As soon as you start working on a business, you need to start tracking your money. You should know where every last penny went. The easiest way to do this is to hire an accountant/bookkeeper, but we’re going to assume you’re like me and can’t afford one at first. The next best option is to purchase a program like Quickbooks or Peachtree Accounting. While I believe Peachtree is the better software, Quickbooks is the more popular one so it will be easier to get help when you have issues. There will be more message boards, more references, etc. But either way, these softwares are made with small business owners in mind. They are very intuitive and really make your life easier. Then, at the end of the year, your accountant has a well-organized presentation to work off. You will also be able to generate charts and reports that can help you maximize your profit. I would suggest taking a couple of classes if numbers, and more specifically bookkeeping/accounting, are foreign to you, but the hardest part tends to be putting things in the right accounts. Just fight through this process, and in the future, when you can afford someone on staff, you will be able to look over their work with a knowledgeable eye.
If you’re opening a business it should be because you have a talent that you can leverage as the owner. Maybe you knit well, are a chef, studied music, managed retail stores, read a lot and want to sell books, love being outside and want to landscape, or have any other skill that you think can turn into a business. No matter your skill, it is important to realize your limitations. If you are a great cook at home and want to start a restaurant, fine, but realize that your lack of experience will likely end in ruin if you don’t plan accordingly. Hire people around you that fill in the spaces you’re lacking. Hire a co-chef who has substantial experience under his belt. Bring in an experienced manager for you jewelry shop who has retail experience and can understand the daily workings of a shop. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you need to run everything. Do what you do best, and allow everyone else to do their jobs as well. You will, ultimately, have to oversee everything, but if you hire quality employees you can at least know they have the experience to carry over their previous business practices that proved efficient in the past.
Trekking out on your own can be a scary experience, especially for someone who has worked for other people their whole life, but it can be one of the most rewarding as well. There is no shortcut to success in this world, it takes hard work, careful planning, and a little bit of luck, but anyone can do it. If you’re really interested, make sure to do your research and get ready for the ride.
So, how do I know all this? Well, some of it was part of my major, B.A. in Business Administration – Finance from Morehouse College, but most was a learning experience. I’ve worked with multiple start-ups and early stage companies in sectors ranging from financial services to international luxury goods. Today, I stand before you as a Senior Consultant for Philippe Consulting, a boutique small business consulting firm, and a partner in Seasoned Vegan, the first full-service vegan restaurant in Harlem, NY. Look out for both, on DLIH and the business stage of the world!
Holidays Not-So 101: Holidays with the Other Family November 27, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Cooking, Dating, Family, Food/Dining, Holidays, Holidays Not-So 101, How To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Relationships.
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We all, at some point in our lives, reach the inevitable point where we stop having holiday dinner with our family…and start having dinner with our significant other’s family. On one hand, congratulations on the great achievement and milestone in your relationship, on the other hand…shit. Your own family is hard enough, Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with another family is like a minefield times ten! Even if you, or your significant other, have the best relationship with his or her parents, holidays are like a permanent marker, one false move and it’s branded on your for life, all because it was Thanksgiving. How do you navigate the field of “oops” bombs?
To begin, do your homework. There’s nothing wrong with being a little prepared. What are the general traditions for this meal or holiday? Will you be expected to say what you’re thankful for at the dinner table? Will it be a formal evening or should you be prepared to hang out in sweatpants? Does everyone help out in the kitchen or stay put in front of the TV for the game? So on and so forth. Also, communicate your traditions to your man/woman. People always want you to feel welcome and will often do something that is important to you, like make your favorite dish, or a special tradition like having mimosa’s as a cocktail. Every family is different and when you start celebrating holidays with a significant other, those traditions start to combine.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. For the most part, you’ll be expected to show up, say thank you twelve zillion times, and not insult anyone. However, it’s always good to make a nice impression. Bring flowers, a dessert, or a small gift like a holiday themed candle to show your appreciate for the invite. Volunteer for things you wouldn’t normally do if your mom were slaving away in the kitchen like loading the dishwasher, helping cook, or uncorking the wine. 9 out of 10 times they’ll say thanks but no thanks. It’s awesome to be comfortable, but remember that you’re a guest here so even if this is the eighteenth holiday with the in-laws, you should still be on your best behavior.
Don’t be a weirdo. Spending a holiday with the boyfriend/girlfriend’s family is lots of fun, but it can also be a stressful situation. No one wants to feel awkward, so don’t make it that way! “Just be yourself” is perhaps the most annoying but also truest phrase in the book. If someone tells a joke and you’re a loud laugher, just laugh. Trying to stifle a laugh or make the joke better by being inappropriate won’t give people a good impression of you and a false idea of who you are. It’s better to be who you are and maybe end up a little embarrassed instead of feeling stupid for doing something out of character and then trying to rectify it. If you’re a relatively quiet person, don’t try to be outgoing; if you’re a lively character, make sure you’re stepping in at the right times.
Gifts can potentially be the biggest stressors of the holidays. Really, what do you get your not-so-soon to be sister-in-law whose husband just bought her the world? Or the nephew that you met once when he had the flu? Or the mom that’s still trying to figure you out? Something with the best intention but the smallest commitment. Unless you know there is something specific they want, a more generic gift will let them know you thought about them this holiday season. A nice candle with their favorite store’s gift card, a zip-up sweater and a scarf from Gap or Express, a moderately price doll and one of her cool accessories, or a Tonka truck and a git certificate to Lego Land. Always include gift receipts and let them know it’s “just a little something”. Don’t go overboard, or pay too much, just keep it simple and classic.
While the holidays make everyone anxious it’s important to remember why you’re going through all this. You’ve met someone awesome and they like you enough to bring you home for the holidays. Bonus points all around! So remember to have a great time, and treat it like what it is, a holiday.
The Real Institution of Marriage November 23, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Dating, GoodGuys File, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Men, Relationships, Women.
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The GoodGuys File
The girl who wrote this article is very much like me. Maybe even exactly like me. Maybe her parents only dated a year before getting married. Maybe all her friends want big, diamond rings set in platinum, maybe they want a grade-A DJ, smoke, and colored lights at their wedding, or giant ice sculptures and center pieces so elaborate three of them cost the same as a down-payment for a car. Maybe all her friends are sizing up the right ring instead of the right guy and all the while she’s feeling like she’s kind of abnormal for not wanting those things.
Even since I was itty, bitty, I had my wedding planned out to the T, over the years certain ideas have changed, or morphed, but for the most part I’ve known what I wanted. More recently, I’ve started looking around for the kind of ring I want. I hate the 21st century jewelry style, I believe one, Diddy, once coined it “bling”? More so, I’ve been watching those Say Yes to the Dress type shows since I was a baby, judging every move the bride makes and critiquing the highs and lows, wondering how some people could wear such ugly dresses. I’m wedding obsessed.
You can be obsessed with a lot of things; pineapples, puppies, sports teams, crafting, dinosaurs, shopping. It seems like the entire planet has their choice of obsessions but all of us chose the same one. Yet, the author of this article is correct, we’re not obsessed with getting married, we’re not obsessed with love, we’re not obsessed with finding someone we want to spend the rest of your life with. We’re obsessed with having the photographs of the best day, with the best ring, all made-up, in the best dress. I’ve been saying this for years, I’ve been blaming the wedding industry, reality TV, parents spoiling their children, and social media fueling this overexaggerated bubble that is weddings. When people told me the institution of marriage was a fraud, I told them that the industry was to blame. People get married because they want to be special, they want a wedding, not because they’re in love…and definitely not because they’ve sat down and discussed if being together, forever, is really what they want, or what they believe they are capable of, together. People get divorced because they should have never gotten married in the first place.
So, I know all this, and I’ve been preaching it for years. So how come after I read this article I burst into a thousand tears, to which my boyfriend stared at me wondering what the hell was wrong. After reading this article, I was angry with myself, I realized that I, too, was being sucked into this “I’m in a relationship so I should start planning my wedding, yesterday!” phenomenon. At the core of it, I don’t want to get married, not now anyway, I’m not ready to be someone’s wife (a role I take very seriously). People don’t get it, people think that since we’ve been together a couple of years we’re just days away from getting engaged. People make us feel like the abnormality, most people don’t stop to consider that perhaps we feel like we’ve found the right person, so rather than rushing to put a ring on it, we’re taking our time figure out other parts of our lives, together. Our finances, our careers, taking care of our families, we know that the other isn’t going anywhere. There are a lot of our friends out there who aren’t as secure as we are, once they meet the person they’re with, they want to lock it down, make sure it can’t get away, ensure that they’ve found the right person and make it permanent, but the reality is that marriage isn’t permanent, even though it’s supposed to be.
After my meltdown I realized I wasn’t the only person feeling sucked into the mold and I also wasn’t the only girl out there who didn’t want to get married right away. What did I decide to do? I decide to throw away my ambitions of getting a ring, wondering about the moment, when it will be, and picking out flowers for my wedding, and just work on being together. There are a lot of things we need to work on before we get married, or engaged, and ever since I read this article, everything got easier, everything became clear. Tulle, and champagne, and shiny things really cloud your perception of love. In today’s world, love is not a synonym for wedding, and it should be. Celebrate what you have today, instead of worrying about how you’re going to celebrate tomorrow.
“Love what you do and do what you love.” November 18, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Finances, How To, Jobs and Work, Life Lessons/Growing Up.
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“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” Ray Bradbury
There is a saying I heard once, a man told his son, “First, find something you love to do. Then, find a way to make money doing it. This is the key to being happy.” When I heard this, I thought it was a genius piece of advice, not because it was true, or to the point, but because the best advice is the kind that isn’t always the easiest to apply or achieve. Finding something you love is hard enough, finding a way to make money doing it seems next to impossible.
After years and years of hard work, dedication and making good choices (good, not always being fun, or the most convenient), I have found a way to make money, and be comfortable, doing something I love. Sure, a lot of it was fate, but most of it was relentless work, never giving up, and always being positive, telling myself there was always a way, one day, that I was going to make this happen. Finding a way to make money doing something you love isn’t always knowing exactly where you want to be in life, but more so, it’s about trying many different things to see what clicks or what feels right. Your journey may take you in directions that seem like the opposite of your goal, but in the long run, everything we do is like a stepping stone to what we want to do.
Age is also misleading, for many of us twenty-somethings there is either plenty of time or barely any time. When we’re in our early twenties, we don’t focus as hard on finding a way to make money doing what we love, because we feel like we’ll get to that eventually, in the inevitable future. When we’re in our mid-twenties we realize that now’s the time to start worrying about our careers, then by the time we’re in our late twenties we scold our former selves for not taking life more seriously when we were 22. However, there’s no way around that, it’s the path of life and even if we feel like we’re running out of time to make our dreams come true, dreams are something that take time and the more we stress about them, the less we’ll accomplish.
For many people, money is the reason they can’t do what they love. Everyone loves something; painting, beer, the internet, buying jewelry, traveling, playing sports. Finding something you love doesn’t mean becoming a professional artist or dropping everything about your life and trying to become a buyer for Kay Jewelers. It means finding a path that will get you to into a world that is about what you love to do. Much of the time these “worlds” or “jobs” have to be hobbies for a while because they don’t pay enough to sustain life. For many people this means devoting extra time to something that’s not necessarily giving much back, besides emotional satisfaction. This may also mean sacrificing time from other things, or people, because it’s important to you.
Then there’s the issue of simply not knowing what you love. People decide they want to make custom frames and open a store on Etsy, but it turns out to not be something they want to do fulltime. Other’s may want to coach kids soccer, but find that the time commitment doesn’t really equal the financial needs. Perhaps you’re the type of person that falls in love too quickly with an idea, or invention, and then a couple of months down the line realize it’s really not what you want to be doing. These things happen, to more people than not. It’s better to try and possibly change your mind, then not try at all. How will you find what you love if you never take the risk to figure it out?
The road to finding a way to make money doing something you love is a long one for most, for some, it’s very easy. There is no blueprint for how it should work. There is a decision you can make to make it work, and not give up on it just because you get sidetracked for a year, a month, or simply a while. To do something you love as a career, you have to be brave, and you have to accept the challenges, and at times, defeat. The reward will be the feeling of achievement and having the opportunity to do what you love, for the rest of your life…even if it takes you 40 years to get there.
Run, Like Your Bank Account Depends on It! November 13, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Cross Training for Life, Friendships, Health and Fitness, How To.
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I haven’t touched on the subject of Cross-Training For Life lately. Mostly because moving doesn’t leave much time for working out and posting, but also because I was trying to figure out an age-old problem: laziness.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Give a busy person something to do, and it will get done.”? I feel like there’s a general consensus that the less we do, the less we want to do, and the busiest we are, the more out of place we feel when we’re suddenly not busy. I like to think of it as momentum, the more I have going on the more I am capable of doing, because I’m in a momentum that’s simply throwing me into my next task. It comes natural to go to the gym after a full day of work, but very brutal to do it on a Saturday, when I got out of bed at 11 and didn’t even leave my apartment until 3. This seems to be everyone’s issue, it’s not about wanting to workout, needing to workout, or even having the money to workout, it’s just about doing it.
When I joined my new gym, they had a special going on; If I came 36 times, in three months (3 times a week), I would receive my initiation fee back. For me, that was $90 I would be getting credited back to me if I accomplished that goal. At first, it was easy, but then it got hard to keep up, if I missed a week, I had to go four times the next three weeks to make up for it. There was a week where I thought I’d just call it a wash, but as much as I wanted to quit, I wasn’t able to. I still wanted to try to get my money back, but it was also more than that, I didn’t want to admit, or accept, defeat. This got me thinking, if we can hold ourselves accountable for what we DON’T do, if we can actually make ourselves feel bad about it, maybe it will propel us to do what we want to do.
Now, not every gym offers this and not every person belongs to a gym, so I got to thinking about other ways that this idea would work. I know I’m the type of person who always needs something – a new coat, shoes, a bookcase, wall decor. I’m also not the kind of person who likes cheap looking things, or the kind who’s just rolling around in money. So, I thought saving up, by working out was one way to do it. Have a workout jar, or a gym box. Every time you go to the gym, put a dollar in it. Don’t count the money until a specific date that you set, let’s say it’s Christmas (any day will do!). Make a goal: “I want to buy a blender, the one I want costs $100. I will go to the gym, 100 times, by my birthday, 6 months from today” make goals realistic, but don’t make them easy. I think going to the gym 3 times a week is super realistic, but it can also be tough. When you reach that date, or almost that date, count the money and see how far you’ve gotten. If you didn’t get there, it should motivate you to try harder!
Another popular one, that I take no credit for, is having short term goals about why you’re working out. An acquaintance of mine did this for her wedding, now she’s doing it for her upcoming vacation on New Years. Instead of just going to the gym, she would say “I’m going to work on my Florida Body” Each workout session was motivating because she was trying to visualize her specific, short term, goal.
Finally, team up! If you can’t hold yourself accountable, find people who can. Set goals with other people such as “my time in the 5K will be better than yours” or “I can lose five pounds before you can”. It can be as simple as, “If I go to the gym more times than you this month, you owe me dinner at a restaurant of my choice”. No one wants to a be loser! You guys can even go together and have mini-challenges, see who can reach 5 miles first on the stationary bikes, or who can be the first to advance from the beginner kettle bell class to the intermediate.
At the end of the day, this is about health and fun! So whatever you do, make sure you’re being safe and you’re being smart. Working out isn’t about killing yourself, hurting yourself, or hurting other people’s feelings. Keep it light-hearted and humorous, but take your workouts seriously.
The Funny Story of Beastie Boys, Iowa, and Other People November 7, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around Chicago, Around NYC, Family, Real World.
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The greatest part of life is the experiences you see, find and make. Even cooler than that, are the experiences and people who are intertwined together, never to meet or occur again, but they leave a permanent scar, an imprint, on your life. The times we will always tell stories about, and never forget, because they were that cool.
I believe that experiences that amazing are worth telling about, so in a non-intentional attempt to veer from the DLIH norm, I’m going to tell you a story about one of the coolest, weirdest, funniest things that’s ever happened to me.
Last year, my cousin came to visit me for a one night lay-over in New York. We grew up together but rarely get to see each other. This was the first time we ever hung out as adults and we were super excited. Rewind about fifteen years — little known fact about SK, I grew up in Iowa and even though I left when I was ten, it holds an extremely special place in my heart and I will defend it to the death. So, here we are, two Iowans in Brooklyn and my cousin tells me she’s brought me a gift. It was a shirt with the Beastie Boys song lyrics written across it, with an outline of Iowa and a star indicating a Brooklyn, Iowa. Apparently, there are Brooklyn’s everywhere. So, instantly I thought this was the coolest shirt I’d ever seen and didn’t care if other people didn’t get it, because I got it and it meant something to me.
Everywhere I wore the shirt, it was kind of hit, I got asked about it every single time. One night, I was watching an MSU game at an Upper West Side bar and the bartender kept smiling at me. I was there with my boyfriend, so it was really uncomfortable. Finally, when I went to get another beer, he smiled at me and while getting my drink said “I love your shirt! I’ve been trying to get your attention all night! That’s basically my favorite song ever, and my wife and I just named our baby girl Brooklyn!” The creeper bartender was actually the coolest person ever! Later on, my boyfriend ordered me a brownie, the bartender asked “What, is it her birthday or something?” he said, “No…she just really loves ice cream”. That night went down as one of the most famous, for many reason, all revolving around the shirt.
In August, I moved to Chicago. Well, so much for the shirt, people either won’t get it, they won’t think it’s cool cause I’m not longer in NY, or they’ll just think I’m some Iowan trying to be special. Until about the third day I lived here. I was in the local Starbucks, minding my own Pumpkin Spice Latte business and the cashier wouldn’t stop looking over at me. When I finally got up to order, I began “Can I please have a…” But she interrupted, “Oh my God! I love, love, love your shirt! I’m from New York and I lived in Brooklyn!…oh wait…Ohhhh my gosh, I’m so confused, it says Brooklyn, but that’s not Brooklyn..I’m so confused?” I explained, that it IS Brooklyn, and the lyrics are ABOUT Brooklyn, but the outline is Iowa, a Brooklyn, IA. I explained my story, not to the amusement of the people in line behind me, and she went about ringing me up and making my drink. The coolest part? This, the drink she made me.
Yes, I thought about getting it encased in a plexi box and keeping it forever, for sheer coolness, and the memory, but alas, a photo will have to do.
So what’s next? All this cool stuff happened when I least expected, so planning would ruin all the fun, but I will tell you this: My cousin and I are making a trip to Brooklyn, Iowa. If nothing else, I will visit the namesake of my great shirt, and all the great stories it has brought me. Live life like you’ve got a lucky t-shirt, never know where you’ll end up.
A Guide to Living with Humans November 4, 2013Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Apartment Life, Dating, Family, Friendships, How To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Relationships, Tips and Tricks.
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Whether it’s living with your best friend, your boyfriend, or someone you just met, living with humans is no easy feat. For the last ten years I’ve lived with 10+ people, different friendships, families, and roommate situations and the entire time, I always felt like I was missing something valuable. It wasn’t until I started living with my boyfriend that things finally felt right and I could look back and analyze all the mistakes I had made when it came to living with others. I could also understand their mistakes and how they contributed to our living togetherness ending, and possibly even our friendships ending.
A couple of days ago a close friend called me, near tears, and told be about her recent experience of living with another human. In light of this event, and my own experiences, I felt it was time for DLIH to expose the truths of what living with others means. She has allowed me to share her story, knowing that she’s not the only one out there who’s gone through this.
My friend moved in with her best bud about seven months ago. They had been very close in college and rekindled their friendship when she moved back to the city last year. They were thrilled to be living together. When she first moved in, they laid some groundwork that would prevent any friendship-breakups or arguments. Some of the things they discussed included that each person would pitch-in with cleaning and buying cleaning supplies, dates or boyfriends were allowed over but not for long stints, if someone was unhappy with how something was in the shared spaces they would have to sit down and discuss it before changing everything. You know, the basic stuff all roommates discuss. Well, for the first couple of months it was fine, however, slowly dishes seemed to take up the sink 24/7, her roommate’s boyfriend seemed to have become a third roommate, minus the rent part, and one day she came home to find the entire living room redecorated with all of her belongings, that previously lived in the common space, lying on her bedroom floor. When my friend addressed the various issues, her roommate would either apologize by take no action, or get very defensive finding excuses such as “well you were at work, I couldn’t ask you” or “my boyfriend is in a fight with his brother, so he needs to crash here”. Long story short their friendship ended and eventually my friend found a new place and moved out two weeks ago, they haven’t spoken since.
The reason we shared this scenario isn’t because it’s unusual, it’s because it’s the most common experience amount people who live together. Maybe it’s not your roommate, perhaps it’s your mother who has spent three weeks too many crashing with you while “looking for her new place”; maybe you and your partner just moved in and you’re realizing that you can’t live together, what does that mean for your future? Living with a human is just that: living with a human. Humans are selfish, arrogant, rude and dirty…or they are OCD about cleaning, always perky, want to help out with everything and ask you constantly how you are. Either way, you’re never going to have the perfect person to live with, even when you’re married with babies! So here are the things you can do to learn to make living with humans a little bit easier.
- Make your space your own. shared spaces can be tough. I’ve had multiple roommates that wanted things the way they wanted them and didn’t care about my input. So my bedroom was my space, it was exactly how I liked it and my sanctuary when I needed space.
- Don’t be a hypocrite. If there is something they do that bothers you, make sure you’re not doing it too. If your human friend never cleans the stove, make sure you do when it gets dirty. This way, if you need to address it, they can’t say the mess is yours.
- Establish a verbal contract. Where does mail go? Where can you find the spare set of keys? Who is in charge of bills and when are they paid? This will reduce the amount of monthly or weekly tension. It also creates a common ground, if you come home and there are envelopes sprawled across your bed you can say “Hey, roomie, didn’t we agree the mail goes in the kitchen?”
- Don’t be defensive, but don’t be combative. Sometimes people will accuse you of things you didn’t do. “You left the TV on all night”. Instead of making a point to fight, just say “Oh…I wasn’t home, so that’s strange, maybe our TV is possessed! Either way, I’ll make a point to always make sure I turn it off”. Likewise, when you need to address something, don’t come off judgmental “Those dishes have been in the sink for weeks!”, try “Hey, I’m planning on cooking a big meal tonight and will need the sink, would you mind just washing those dishes really quick?”. Now see – “don’t be a hypocrite”.
- Learn how to let things roll off your back. No matter how many times you ask, beg, or talk about things that need to change, sometimes they won’t. Unless these things are bringing rats into your apartment or creating fires, learn to just accept that this human you live with is flawed (as are you!) and count backwards from ten when they’ve left toothpaste all over the sink again. You won’t have to live with them forever.