Category Archives: Life Lessons

7 Keys to “ Social ” Security

7keysToday’s teens have run rampant on the Internet with their shares and over shares through photos, mindless tweets and hormones. Oh…the hormones. But seeing what these teens share on their social networking sites is embarrassing to their older selves.

All I’m saying is I’m grateful that I joined the digital world in the early 2000s when the Internet was dial up, (“Mom, get off the phone I want to use the Internet!”) AOL AIM was the new cool way to communicate with your friends because your razor phone didn’t have texting, and Twitter just simply meant you were a “twit” x 2.

Unfortunately, teens don’t have the luxury of Facebook being exclusive to the college crowd with those legit .edu emails, but instead they have the freedom of expression when and wherever they feel the urge to share. YAY FREEDOM! But as former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “with great freedom comes great responsibility.” Responsibility…that pesky trait that is thrust upon us (most of the time) with age. When I was a teen, I was carefree and the only thing I was “responsible” for was completing my homework on time, acing that test, being a good friend, and the occasional laundry load. Now, at an earlier age, teens are responsible for their adult future the moment they create their first online profile.

Social networks make sharing a feeling, thought or angst too easy. Have a feeling? Type it out or snapshot it and put it out into the world. BAMZINGO. Easy Peasy. No second thoughts or maybe even first thoughts needed. It’s not like Facebook asks you, “are you sure you want to post this hateful message about Caroline to your timeline,” before you post said hateful message. Sure, for some period of time there’s a feeling of relief or a sense of pride and importance. Because today popularity is based on how many people “like” your selfie picture you just shared on Instagram, never mind the fact that many of your followers are trolls, bots or worse yet, sex offenders.

An article published in The Washington Post regarding how FLOTUS, Michele Obama, and how she is educating her daughters, Malia and Sasha, to navigate this Wild Wild Web era.

“I think they are [some] of the first kids in the White House growing up where everybody’s got a cell phone and everybody’s watching, Michele Obama said in a 2012 interview with women’s magazine, iVillage.

“We just have to have real conversations even now, it’s: ‘You can’t go off on somebody. You can’t act bratty. You may be having a moment but somebody could use that moment and try to define you forever.’”

The “forever” part is what many teens (and even college coeds) skip over. Even if that angsty tweet included every shade of profanity is deleted, it’s still there. The Library of Congress has it in their archives, seriously, (MWHAHA) and it can and will come back and rear its ugly truth when you’re interviewing for your dream job. Because just as you are defining who you are IRL (in real life), with every posting, comment, or “like” you’re defining who you are online—your persona.

With that, I give you 7 Keys to “Social” Security

1. Don’t follow for the sake of acquiring more followers.
Quality over quantity, people. 

2. Avoid posting random thoughts that no one, including you, will understand tomorrow.
That’s what a private journal is for after all, your private thoughts, complaints about friends, family, and boyfriend. 

3. Think. Think some more. Then Post.
As this becomes a more digital age, digital personas (whether true to your IRL persona)  will play a role in how you’re viewed offline:  Future employers, college admissions,  significant others, etc. will care how you behave (or don’t) online. 

4. Don’t post for the sake of posting.
Post because what you’re saying has a why! 

5. Don’t have usernames like “faggotbaby” and  “nookiecookies”.
Just don’t, be more creative (a.k.a. less profane), or if you’re not the creative type, simply go with your name or a version of it.

6. Refrain from posting, tweeting or retweeting images (even if you didn’t take them) that could land you in jail.
“Valentine’s day is coming up…” [insert photo of a heart-shaped candy box, but instead of chocolates it’s clumps of fresh weed…]
Seriously, I found that in a teens feed! 

7. Sharing is caring.
Tell a friend that they’re tweets about so-and-so “being a hoe” is not only online bullying, but also will show up again and again when they’re application is sitting in the admissions office of their dream college or when they’re on an interview for that dream job. 

Online, the future is now!

How are you protecting yourself, your siblings, friends, or for you parents out there, your children.


6 Compliments We Should Stop Giving

We’re all guilty of ‘em, the compliment that has a side of snark, jealousy all joined by their friend, insecurity. Say “hi” to insecurity (hiiii insecurity). Backhanded compliments are also known as not compliments, or uncomplementing compliments and can be word vomit that spews everywhere, either intentionally or not, to bring someone down (again intentionally or not) and typically they’re focused around how someone looks or acts, compared to societal norms.

6compliments1. The “Just Kidding”
You met who you think is your Prince Charming at the grocery store (obviously) you had a debate in the pickle aisle in which case, bread and butter pickles are always better. But you exchange numbers and agree to go out for coffee the next morning before work. Waking up extra early to shower, style your hair and wiggle your way into your chartreuse pencil skirt, you know the one that hasn’t had a night in the town…err morning coffee appearance since college business class presentations. “What do you think about this outfit?” you ask your roommate who’s standing in the kitchen slathering butter on her burnt toast, “You’re going out like that?…just kidding…you look great!” Cue downtrodden gaze and an immediate scamper up the stairs for another look in the full length mirror, then back to the closet, then back to your reflection.

“Just Kidding” is really just code for the first statement your roommate said, she meant it, but since she’s your roommate and friend, and friends are supposed to be supportive. So, to avoid soiling your feelings and confidence she just tied up her truth with a neat “just kidding” bow. Friends don’t let friends get upset. But friends also don’t let friends go out in public wearing this either. So let’s just all be honest as Abe (which we heard is pretty gosh darn honest).

2. “You have lost a lot of weight!”
About a year ago, you decide to decide to make a change in your life that revolved around nutrition and making Jim the gym your new religion. You practiced everyday multiple hours of the day, sweating so much that you thought about bottling it up and selling it, except no one wants your salty sweat juice. You’ve given up milk because squats are the only thing doing this body good and you’re pretty sure you’ve become a rabbit because of the amount of greens you’ve been ingesting. Thank goodness no cottontail has sprouted…yet. Then feeling all sassypants(less) you sport that new black dress and heels (to obvs show off your calf muscles) for a fun night on the town with some old college friends who you haven’t seen in months. “You have lost a lot of weight” comes out of Barbara. “Nope, Babs, I haven’t noticed.”

3. “You look really skinny today!”
You get out of the car at your family reunion when your sweet Nana looks you over, as she does, and says, “Sweetie, you look really skinny today,” you look at her and want to rebuke, “if I’m skinny today, does that mean that yesterday I wasn’t?” but you quickly pump the “oh no you didn’t just” breaks and realize since she’s lived to be 90 that she gets a free pass to, without consequences, say and do anything she wants. Ah, the Circle of Life (and it moves us all). Sure you have “skinny” days when you stand a bit taller, clothes feel better and your mood is just on the uppity up! And then there are the blech, bloated days when you admittedly feel like sitting on the couch sans pants watching 10 Things I Hate About You and 27 Dresses back-to-back with a bucket full of dark chocolate drops (which you eat, because popcorn just won’t do! So instead of offering Nana a sarcastic comeback that your mother would no doubt hear from across the room and would say your name in that motherly tone of disappointment and warning, you crack a half smile before eying the onion dip that’s got your name written alllll over it. See ya Nan.

4. “I could never wear that.”
For brunch you decide to throw on your never-worn faux fur vest with your dapper fedora hat with sequin trim because it’s Sunday and you’re feeling fancy. And day sequins are always appropriate. Until, dun dun dun “I could never wear that” comes from a lady friend across the table slowly chewing on the end of her beverage straw. “You sure can! It was only $19.99 at Khol’s and with your Khol’s cash its even less! Who doesn’t love a bargain?,” you respond, knowing that she didn’t mean the price. You continue with your budda-like explanation that fashion is subjective and you can and should wear whatever makes you feel happy, confident and you!

5. “You’re so lucky you get to live with your parents.”
Sure you’re financially fortunate that your parents, upon returning from college, didn’t demand giving you the heave ho’ up outta their humble abode. However, you’re smart because you have a truckload savings and you’ve been able to travel a bit too. Magellan would be proud and so would those extreme couponers. But being in the suburbs when the majority of friends are in the city, you’re social life and dating life have received a firm junk punch, and no hill of money can make up for those missed relationships. So yup, you’re unfortunately fortunate.

6. “You’ll fit in well there.”
You just got a new gig at the top PR agency in the industry and you’re walking confidently (as you usually do) down the hallway to hand in your two-weeks notice. Now, there’s been some buzz circulating the watercooler about you landing that big fat juicy burger salary and a colleague, who you thought was your friend, suddenly stops you in your clickity-clack sashay and says, “you’ll fit in well there.” You stare blankly at her and say “thanks,” no “congratulations,” “we’ll miss you,” nothing.

What are some other examples of compliments of the backhanded variety that we should stop giving? Better yet, what are some examples of genuine compliments we can share with people to uplift their spirit! Quick, tell me in the comments!

Hooked, Line and Sinker

I was MIA last week because I was busy playing hooky from life, which everyone should do!

Collage of some of my favorite photos from Life Hooky! Thanks to minxes in the top left photo sporting their LBD's for this experience!

Collage of some of my favorite photos from Life Hooky! Big thanks to the two minxes in the top left photo, sporting their LBDs, for this experience!

I went to Costa Rica and met 19 “hookers” that quickly became life long friends, travel buddies, and business brainstormers. “Life Hookers” is what we affectionately called ourselves through the five-day trip of luxury, culture and risk taking with a side of business.

The excursion was concerted by the saucy minxes over at The Middle Finger Project in the form of Ash Ambirge, her partner in crime Jess Manuszak and their comrade Carlos. (Luckily, no arrests were made on this inaugural trip, though the bail money was ready.) I had the privilege of meeting Jess last May in Vegas at Bloggers in Sin City and she told me about TMF’s new venture, Life Hooky. Baller name, smart business women, fun adventure, all inclusive. Where do I sign up?!

When I initially registered, I’m not sure I knew exactly what I was in for. “If Jess digs it and is apart of orchestrating it, it’s gotta be good,” I thought. SOLD! Also Ash is a biznass genius, so there’s that. I love to travel and since I’m of the only-child origin it was nice to go somewhere by myself (especially a different country) where people were on the other side waiting for my arrival.

Many of the “hookers” connected before the trip through a Facebook group where there wasn’t a shortage of banter, humor and fuzzy mustached selfies. But the trip wasn’t about the mustached selfies, ziplining, plunging 80 feet into the pacific from a catamaran, volunteering at a local school, salsa dancing, cooking in a local’s backyard, or even lounging by the pool with a rum and fresh pineapple juice cocktail taking in the sultry sunsets night after night—it was about the people.

These “hookers” were all open-minded, ready for adventure, ready to talk business, ready to take life by the gonads, ready to crack inappropriate jokes, ready to LIVE.

The craziest part? We’re from different countries all around the world (seriously…France England, Australia, Canada were all represented), at different stages of our lives, but we  jelled. It’s a bit unexplainable and many of us during the last evening all together had trouble articulating just what it was that made us all cohesive. They all inspired me.  And I’m not quite sure Ash & Jess know exactly what they created.

But it’s safe to say… I’m hooked, line and sinker.

Check out this little ditty of a highlight reel! PURA VIDA!

A Letter to My (future) Daughter

Last week I shared with you a letter a father wrote his daughter about the pressures of growing up in this “better be perfect looking or else” culture we live in today when “perfection” is just a wave of the mascara wand away.

I gave myself the challenge to write a letter to my future 13-year-old daughter on how to relish life, though I’m not even close to knowing “it all.” Here we go!

daughterDear (future) daughter of mine,
Hey Lovely, in life there will be challenges and difficulties (like puberty), celebrations and triumphs (like acing that math test), but all of those lessons learned and victories won are moments that shape your You. A life puzzle… of sorts.

Here are my top 5 (so far) things you should know:

ONE: Become a Thunkie
Or a thinking junkie. Your brain is beautiful, use it! Show your personality, communicate your dreams. Soak up all the knowledge from not only the classroom, but also life’s experiences. Pick up a book, a real one…smell the pages, have your eyes scroll across the serif text, learn something of value. Because in the end your brain is your most valuable tool, though sometimes you’ll wish it would shut up so you can follow your heart.

TWO: Don’t Believe Everything You Read (and watch)
The 10 Ways to Get Every Man to Want You”
“5 Days to Flawless Skin”
“The Get Toned by Tuesday Workout.”
All of the above could have (and no doubt have) been headlines for the women teen magazine, Cosmopolitan. Don’t believe the hype, I admittedly tried the 10 ways… didn’t work. Flawless skin? I’ll keep my laugh lines, thank you. And you can never get toned by Tuesday, ever. Also those models and celebs on the cover, they’re photoshopped to have beaming sun-kissed skin and the perfect hourglass shape.
In life many things are based around appearance, influenced by marketers. In today’s (2014) culture there’s a high value on appearance. For women we’re told to be younger, thinner, and more natural by caking on make-up.
Today, were even lacking in powerful female characters in TV/movies and even in real life. In the off chance a woman of power like former secretary of state for the Obama administration Hillary Clinton,  is in the news she’s labeled as a “bitch” or “bossy” and often critiqued more on her appearance than her work. Bet you didn’t’ know you were getting a culture history lesson, did ya?
Lovely, if people call you “bossy,” shoot them a warm smile and reply “thanks,” you’ll catch them completely off guard leaving you to bask in your Thunkie glory.

THREE: Always Believe Your Mother
I know, I know you’re like “mommmmm, seriously?” Dead. Deal with it. As you grow and mature you’ll be thanking me one day, as I did my own mother (yup, tastes like vinegar). However, I’m not going to silver platter these “told you sos,” some you’ll have the privilege of learning on your own. Like, social media. Just know what happens on social media is being collected by the Library of Congress and will no doubt come back to spook you during that important job interview. Which is why you shouldn’t put up a fight when I say you have to be in college before your granted the responsibility of running your own reputation on the wild, wild web.

FOUR: You Only Live Once
This has been my life motto since I was 12, until Drake went and ruined it with his overplayed tune. Even my screen name was “ulive1” on AIM (which was basically text messaging via the Internet). Anywho! Please remember that this life is precious. You only get one shot to make the most of it. Everyday is a blessing. Don’t drink and drive. Do travel. Don’t speed. Do work hard because it will pay off. Don’t worry too much. Do dance around your room and Do and ask your mother to join you.

FIVE: Be Vibrant, Be You
Be strong, be steadfast, be giving. Take responsibility of your happiness. Dismiss those who prove toxic on your well-being leaving room for others that paint your world in positivity and love. Positive thinking is powerful and how you view yourself affects how others, in all aspects of your life, view you. So make the promise to yourself—you deserve it—because you are beautiful, because you are you

Be the best You, you deserve it and so does the world!

With all the XOs,

What are some life lessons you would share in a letter to your future child or current sister, cousin, friend? Share in the comments!




Seduction is Exclusive

So as you know, I’m a fan of Beyonce and last night I was lucky enough to attend her Mrs. Carter show at the Verizon Center here in D.C. and first, let me start by saying WHAT a SHOW. Holy moly. She played all her hits and a new song on her new and ever-popular visual album and she did it all with energy and eternal gratitude for the fans that came out in droves for the show on a WEDNESDAY. She’s a performer, a feminist and a damn powerful singer.

Picture I took at the Mrs. Carter Show. Please note this ever fab purple jumpsuit Beyonce is sporting.

Picture I took at the Mrs. Carter Show. Please note this ever fab purple jumpsuit Beyonce is sporting.

In between sets she took the time to change her wardrobe from one leotard to another then to the purple jumpsuit clad in sequins, an outfit that even Elton John would be envy. While her quick changes were happening behind the scenes she put together video introductions of the next song/set coming up.

My favorite quote of the evening (p.s. Ms. Bey a poet) introduced “Naughty Girl.”

Here it goes:
“Seduction is much more than beauty. It is generous. It is intelligent. It’s mysterious. It’s exclusive.”-Beyonce

This is right on and I think it embodies Beyonce’s multiple performance personalities. She’s the fierce female, the confident hustler, Houston dirty with a touch of southern hospitality and ballad belle.

Something we have as women is seduction (no hair fan required, also can I have one of those following me around everywhere… please?) and the ability to feel and be sexy, but that sexy comes in many different forms and Beyonce captures it perfectly in her poetic nuances.

As females we are givers and caring individuals just by nature, because science. So when we are in seduction mode and being all “heeeeyyyyyyy how you doin’?” we are giving the men (or women!) our attention not because we think we can sack ‘em per se, but because we chose them for x, y, z reason. We shouldn’t be giving away our hearts or our bodies for free. We are sacred.

We must first learn to love and respect ourselves if we expect love and respect in return from others.

and if others don’t love and respect you, they don’t deserve you proceed to tell them to get gone… to the left, to the left!




Dance Like No One’s Watching, Except Someone Always Is

I was teaching Wednesday night at the dance studio when spotted this inspirational and oh-so-true quote posted up on the white board in one of the classrooms:

“If you ever feel like giving up, just remember there’s a little girl watching who wants to be just like you. Don’t disappoint her.”

BallerinaQuoteI realized the reality of this quote was right in front of me as the four classes gathered in the big studio to “share” their pieces as well as practice being a good audience.

When the “big girls” stood up to perform their contemporary pointe piece the pre-ballet girls, who are around seven-years-old, sat up a little taller, crossed their ankles and looked on wide-eyed. These “big girls” are their role models. It was true when I was growing up at the studio and it was true when I was a “big girl” and it still holds true today even as a dance teacher. And heck(!!) this quote is even true in the professional world. There is always someone looking on, admiring you from a far for numerous reasons. (that sounded creepy, but you know what I mean.)

"big girls" running their pointe pieces as pre-ballet girls watch on.

“big girls” running their pointe pieces as pre-ballet girls watch on.

The annual recitals are this weekend and I’ve been reflecting back on what the studio taught me growing up that prepared me for success in the Real World*. I am now a part-time teacher (in addition to my full-time gig) at my “second home,” where a lot of my teachers are now my co-workers and role models.
Here are the Top 5 life lessons from my time at the dance studio from age 3-18 that I hope to pass on to my dance kiddos:

  1. Be prompt—I am always on time for everything (actually most of the time I’m early) because in dance, time is of the essence and if you’re late for rehearsals or miss your cue on stage people that are counting on you are not happy with you. Same goes for Real World interviews, meetings and deadlines. Your time is valuable and so is everyone else’s, honor that.
  2. Be respectful—Three Forms:
    a.     To Teachers: Teachers are there to educate dancers on the discipline and tenacity needed to accomplish the art form. Teachers are there to inform dancers on the rules of the dance class and how to reach their goals. Sure, there will be challenges, maybe you don’t like the choreography, but you have to respect the teacher/choreographer’s passion for the work, because guess what? reality states you’re going to do things that you don’t want to do and you’re going to have to do it with a beaming smile.
    b.    To Peers: The always challenging peer-to-peer relationships, which as you can imagine is often fueled through competition (more so than ever in recent years). This competitive spirit trains dancers for multiple real world scenarios: setting goals, disappointments, pain, failure, triumph, and confidence. However, it’s important that through these challenges that mutual respect for one another is created. This is not to say, “Hey let’s be BFFs and ever,” but realizing that if you do decide to dance professionally, it’s a small industry, you may be standing next to that person during a piece where they may have to lift you up over their head…they could drop you. Just sayin’. Be kind to each other people!
    c.     To Yourself : You (proper noun, big Y-o-u) is often the hardest person to respect, but at the end of the day You are all you have. So what the heck, be nice would ya!?! At the studio, just like the real world, we are afraid of failure but the truth is you have to fail in order to improve. Can’t get your leg in a 6:00 tilt, no problem. Stretch more. Figuring out how the heck you’re going to give up sugar for 5 days during this detox? Breathe, it’s just an experiment just plan your meals ahead of time and you’ll be good! It’s all about self-love.
  3. Be organized—When you’re shimmying off your sequins in the dark on the side of the stage and have two minutes to change tights, hair, costumes and shoes knowing that the show waits for no one, you tend to be organized. Just like in life, juggling multiple things at one time and on a tight deadline you are expected to execute the project(s) on time and with the highest quality.
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