Monday, August 21, 2017

I was reminded this morning that I am an extremely fragile person

I like to consider myself tough. And I definitely have my moments where I kick butt and take names.

And then I have moments like this morning at 3:30am (give or take a few minutes). Those moments where the bathroom is flooding and I am the one left holding the mop.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is where you remember how fragile you are. Those moments are where you remember just how poorly you deal with stress sometimes.

I was mad, frustrated, angry, stressed, pointing fingers, wishing I could just go to bed and ignore it, spewing some words I'm not proud of, and eventually I cried.

This was not how I wanted to start my Monday morning (or any morning, for that matter). And this was also not how I wanted to be known for handling the unexpected.

And yet, I cleaned it up. 45 minutes, six towels, and half a bucket of water later, it was decently dry. Back to sleep for an hour or so and then up to get myself ready for work. I wanted to call in, but I resisted.

In the end, I guess I could say I am tough just for showing up to work on time and not using it as an excuse to take the morning off. But in that moment at 3:30am while I was holding a mop in my hand and sobbing, I remembered how fragile I can be.

These stressful moments are just tastes of what stress we could face if we lose a job, lose a loved one, or end up in a serious accident resulting in hospitalization. Those are the moments we aren't prepared for that will truly test our stress tolerance and our fragility. I am trying to look at stressful moments like the one this morning as preparation for what could happen in the future. No one wants to go through those scary, frustrating moments but they are bound to happen. Will I be prepared to handle them? What about you?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why I quit coloring my hair

My wedding day -- hair colored just a week before
and styled again that morning.
"If it makes you feel good, you should do it for you!"

I have been told that many times since I quit coloring my hair. There was definitely a little high  I would get after coloring my hair at home or especially after stepping out of the beauty salon and having a professional do my hair.

But eight weeks after giving birth, I got to the beauty salon with my daughter and spent over two hours getting my hair colored. It felt like an eternity. And I was about to go back to work full time.

More recent photo. Hair has not been
colored in almost 1.5 years!
I realized a couple of things. First, I didn't like spending that much time getting my hair done even before I had my baby. Sure, it felt good afterwards, but the time spent at the salon was just too long. Second, it costs money. I could get it done for about $100/visit which isn't bad but that comes out to $400/year. But honestly, the money was the smallest reason I wanted to give it up. The main reason I quit going was because of my daughter. I didn't want to have to spend time either away from her or have her go to the salon with me to wait. Since I work full time outside the home, I try to schedule very few activities where I cannot also bring my daughter. I already spend 50+ hours away from her each week so cutting out any unnecessary activities that separate me from her was and is a priority for me. Not to mention that if I was going to teach her that she is beautiful the way she is and she should love herself, I have to accept myself the way I am too.

It was not easy to break this nine year habit for me but now I am already a year and a half into the journey. In this second photo, I can clearly see "the line" where my hair has grown out. My natural hair color is a lot darker than I remember (although perhaps it has changed over time). My hair is also quite damaged from the color I have put on it. Since this second photo was taken I got a haircut which makes my hair look much healthier -- I keep clipping away at all the damaged hairs. But it is taking time to get my hair where I want it.

I don't plan to ever go back to coloring my hair, especially now that I know what a painful process it is to grow out my natural locks. There are a lot of women who color their hair and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I totally understand the reasons why. But for me and especially for this season of motherhood, it just isn't my top priority and in fact was getting in the way of my top priority: my family.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

10 easy ideas for when you need to challenge your routine

Sometimes our routines can feel so blah. We often get so bored after awhile, am I right? But then when we get out of routine for a week we are often happy to return to it. Is there a happy medium?

Trying new things to switch up your routine doesn't have to be difficult. You can add variety to your life without completely ignoring your obligations and normal schedule.

Here are 10 ideas for switching up your routine that should be fairly easy to try out when you feel you are in a rut:

  1. Change up your physical fitness. For example, if you always go on a bike ride, try a hike. If you always go to spin class, try yoga. If you don't do any physical fitness, just take a short walk.
  2. Try a new restaurant. Get on Google Maps or Yelp and explore new eats in your area.
  3. Cook a new recipe. I tried making orange chicken last night and it turned out to be yummy and didn't make me feel sick like I often do after eating at a Chinese restaurant. I got to test my cooking skills and add variety for my pallet.
  4. Listen to new music. Put on a different Pandora station or explore what your friends are listening to on Spotify.
  5. Watch a random movie. Explore the sections of Netflix that you don't normally visit or rent a movie from RedBox that is out of your comfort zone.
  6. Listen to a new podcast. If you are like me and you listen to a specific podcast or two on the way to work, take a break from your normal show and try something new.
  7. Stop doing something you normally do. Try going a day without Facebook or maybe leave your cell phone at home one day. Not doing something you normally do can throw you off routine just enough to make things interesting.
  8. Meet someone new. Go to a local meet up, book club, or any local scene where you may meet someone new.
  9. Or hang out with someone you don't see often. Make a lunch date with a friend you don't see often. Catch up and find out what they have been up to.
  10. Rearrange your space. Move your furniture around. Hang up some art or a new picture. Change up the space in which you live to give it a fresh feeling.
Bonus idea: If you really feel like you need a full break from your routine, plan a last minute weekend getaway or start making plans for your next trip out of town. Even just having something on the calendar to look forward to might keep you motivated. 

What do you do to change up your routine when you get bored? 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Where you do have unlimited opportunity

Yesterday I wrote about how there is no such thing as unlimited opportunity when it comes to a pyramid shaped business model.

However, there is unlimited opportunity when you pursue your own business. There is no limit to the value you can bring to people. There is no one stopping you from bringing something new to the table, getting it into the right people's hands, and growing your company/product.

And guess what? You get to keep the profits instead of sharing them with several layers of upline.

Of course there is a limited number of people who may need your product. But who says you need to sell to everyone on the globe? And who says you can't make new products to sell to your following?

There is no one stopping or limited you.

This is so much easier said than done. But if you were considering doing something on the entrepreneurial side, just get started.

Sure, you could fail. You could lose money. For example, last year I published an ecourse. I believe I've made a whole $17 in revenue from the course (and it costs me $45 to buy a microphone). So technically, I have lost money on this venture. But that doesn't mean I am limited to just $17. The course is still relevant. If I wanted to revamp and update the course, advertise it, and pursue more customers, I could. And from there the sky is the limit.

I have also had the goal for years to publish an ebook. It doesn't have to be long, but yet I've never accomplished this goal. Having blogged for almost 90 days in a row now, daily writing is becoming a habit, so I have a good feeling I will be reaching this goal before long. The cost to write the ebook would be almost zero (minus the hours I put into it). I could hire someone to edit or create a cover if I wanted, or I could do those things on my own if I really wanted to keep costs low. It's a fairly inexpensive way to make a product, bring value to people, and possibly make some money. I may not get rich, but at least I could make some money (versus network marketing where I have a 99.7% chance of losing money).

What value could you bring the world? What is your niche? Build a product and try to sell it! What's stopping you?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

There is no such thing as an unlimited opportunity when it comes to pyramids

When it comes to a pyramid where your profits rely on creating more representatives under you, there is not such thing as an unlimited opportunity.

Multi-level marketing companies claim they are not pyramids. However, most of the money representatives hope to make is not really on the sale of their product but on the recruitment of their down line. They are taught that if they recruit a few people who recruit a few people who recruit a few people, they could grow their business almost infinitely.

The problem with this model is that there is a limited number of people in the world. And guess what? Not all of them want to be involved in the pyramid that is your MLM company.

Let's say your goal is to only recruit 10 people. Well, most of us could find 10 people to buy into our product and the business opportunity. If you ask each of those 10 to recruit 10 more and so on, then by the time you get to the ninth level, you would need 10 billion people. Like I said above, not everyone wants to be involved in your MLM. In addition, even if you were in one of the top few levels, eventually you would need those people at the bottom to sustain your income. There will always be the people at the bottom who are supporting the people at the top making those gangster dollars and driving their company paid-for vehicles.

This type of model is non sustainable and frankly it is immoral. If you're at the top, you make your money from those paying into the system. If you're at the bottom, you have no chance of success because this model has its limitations.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1 in 7 of American Households are Infiltrated

I have blogged briefly about this epidemic that is sweeping the nation. It is affecting our women in particular with 3 out of 4 involved being female. It is a cult-like machine that makes big promises but only delivers to about 1% of its followers.

I'm talking about multi-level marketing companies.

If you know anyone at all, if you have a Facebook, and especially if you are a woman or a mother, you have likely been solicited to join. They are hard to avoid, with one in seven American households involved. It also makes them hard to speak out against given the broad based participation -- you will offend someone you know.

I've bought the products, I've even hosted a couple of parties. And of course my mother grew three different MLM businesses in her lifetime. But I'm over it (and I'm pretty sure my mom is over it too). The odds are stacked against the reps. MLM companies have two customers: the people who buy the products and the representatives who not only buy the products but buy the business opportunity, the national conventions, etc). And the second customer is a lot more profitable than the first.

It's time we stopped the madness. There is no product that a network marketing company is selling that I cannot get on the market at probably a more affordable price. We don't need representatives who go into debt, spend their spouse's money, and annoy all of their friends and family to burn out within a year or two and give up, dejected.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stand for Something, or Not at All

When writing a book (or heck, even a blog post) or starting a business or taking an opinion, often we concern ourselves with trying to appeal to as many people as possible. We don't want to get too specific, step on toes, make anyone feel left out, or forget to mention the exceptions.

However, if you don't take a stand for something, you might as well not take a stand at all.

People want to feel heard. They want to believe that there is someone out there who gets them.

Making people feel heard will bring in your core group of followers -- your tribe.

Trying to please everyone will often mean pleasing the lowest common denominator. It will ultimately mean pleasing no one.

Take a stand. Make people feel heard. Those people will help you be successful.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Learning about my Body through Testing my Blood Sugar

During this pregnancy, I am opting out of the nasty orange sugar drink to test for gestational diabetes. Instead, I will be testing my blood sugar four times daily (once fasting and once after each meal) for two weeks. I will also be logging my daily food intake -- everything that I eat must be written down with the corresponding time.

Now, it would be a lot easier to just drink that orange drink and have my midwife test how my body handles that sugar dump. However, that test is often not super accurate with 24 out of 100 women who do not have gestational diabetes falsely testing positive resulting in more test required. Plus, that drink is just gross and bad for your body. I went with that method last time, but this time I wanted to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about my body and hopefully get a more accurate result.

By testing my blood sugar four times daily for two weeks I will learn a lot about how my body handles certain foods and how effectively my body handles sugar. Since I love eating bread, pasta, and desserts, this should be an eye opener. In addition, having to diligently write down everything I eat for two weeks should also be a wake up call in and of itself. I definitely plan to blog about the results.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Think You're Cut Out For Entrepreneurship? Take This Quiz

Answer yes or no to the following questions and tally up your results.

Are you willing and able to devote 110% of your passion and effort to your startup?

Is staying up at night to worry about logistics and money and advertising and hiring something you can live with?

Would you be able to survive on a diet of frozen meals, coffee, and ramen noodles for months on end?

Are you willing to lose friends and family because they don't see you for weeks at a time? And when they do see you all you can talk about is your business.

Would you do whatever it takes to be your own boss so that you don't have to answer to anyone else (except your customers, of course)?

Do you have something that you are passionate enough about that you are willing to pursue it at all costs?

Are you ready to get started right now?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, great. But what really matters are your actions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Paying with Cash

For the month of August, my husband and I decided to pay cash for our eating out. We thought this might help make the spending feel more real and painful and help us stick to our budget. We allocated a certain dollar amount for each of us to spend separately on snacks or lunches plus a dollar amount to when we eat out together.
Collectively, we are still eating out about the same, maybe slightly less. But actually taking out cash makes me realize just how expensive it is for two adults to go out to eat, leave a tip, etc.

As far as my own personal food budget, I find that I am spending less at the vending machine or out to breakfast on my way to work. I am making sure I pack snacks for work and eat before I leave because I don't want to spend my cash and I want to make sure I can make it last the whole month.

If you're struggling to cut back in a certain budget expenditure, try switching to cash and see if you cut back. Having to hand over cash and watch your reserve go down helps make the spending much more real.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why choosing a baby name is so difficult

Why is choosing a name for your child so difficult?

If one spouse does not have much opinion on the subject, it can be quite easy. But if both partners have strong feelings about the name of their child, this simple task of choosing a name becomes nearly impossible.

Working together is probably what makes picking out a baby name so hard. Two people have to agree on one or two names for their child out of the tens of thousands of options.

But maybe the act of mutually deciding on a name is just an exercise in working together since raising a child is definitely a two person job. Of course there are single parents who do an incredible job raising their child(ren) primarily on their own, but I am sure they would agree that an extra set of hands could help them out sometimes.

Two people working together to narrow down a name for their child. It really is just the start of many difficult decisions they will have to make as parents. But the satisfaction of coming to a conclusion on this one subject also makes the couple happy -- they found something they both love and think will be a great gift to their baby.

And so it begins...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why I continue to blog daily

Today is my 81st consecutive day to blog. My goal is to make it to 100 days.

However, the page views on my posts are not as high as they used to be. I find myself not writing as high-quality of a post as I used to. I feel like my posts have been like a bell curve. I started out rusty so they weren't that great, then they got better for a stretch and hit my stride and pumped out some awesome posts, and now I am on this downward slope where my inspiration and "freshness" has started to grow thin.

But I continue to blog every day anyway for two main reasons.

The first is because I'm stubborn and I want to make it to 100 days, simple as that.

The other is because I am still finding it to be a valuable exercise. Daily blogging forces me to practice discipline and creativity in the same breath every single day.

I have a few major goals I want to accomplish in the next year. These require discipline and daily work if I am going to make progress. I feel like blogging daily has been a great way to push myself and prove to myself that I can do something every single day that requires at least a little bit of work.

I started out 81 days ago with my first blog post in over a year. I wasn't sure I was even going to blog again the next day, much less the day after that. Here I am, 80 days later, still writing.

Here's to 19+ more days.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What would your reacation be to a pink slip?

As I've blogged about in the past, most Americans would not survive more than 3 weeks without their income. They would be forced to take on debt in order to pay bills or just let them pile up.

I would be almost in that boat. I would last a bit longer than 3 weeks, but not much.

Wow. That's hard to admit.

What does that do to people's morale? We show up to work day after day knowing that if we don't or if something happens to us or our job, we're in deep water.

If you were to be handed a pink slip, would you go home with a drink and stare blankly into your unknown future?

Or would you have a side-gig that you've been working on for a year or two and were considering taking full time anyway?

Would you curse your employer on the way out the door?

Or would you thank them for nudging you into that other project you were working on?

Having a job gives us a false sense of security. Nothing is secure -- nothing is guaranteed -- nothing is handed to us.

I'm not where I want to be as it relates to income earning and "job security", but at least I am awake to the reality of my situation.

What about you?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Big Frog or Little Frog First?

When I was in seventh grade, my mom took my older sister and me to a leadership conference where I learned an important concept: swallow the big frog first. This simply means that when you write out your list of priorities and tasks, start with the most time-consuming and/or the one you are dreading the most. The idea is that if you get the biggest, most dreadful thing done ("swallowed") first, the rest will be easy. If you start by eating the little frog first and move to progressively larger frogs, you get worn out.

This concept has saved me many times over the years. If there was a research paper I was dreading or a particular project I didn't want to get started, I knew that was the exact thing I needed to work on.

Recently, though, I began thinking about how sometimes there is also value in starting with the little frogs -- the low hanging fruit. Starting with a bunch of little frogs can sometimes get you in the zone and motivate you to keep moving. For example, when trying to pay off debts, it can be exciting to pay off a few little debts quickly and then start putting that money toward larger debts.

Ultimately, no matter what size "frog" you start with, the important thing is to get started.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The hardest part is getting started

Going from 10 squats to 100 squats in 10 days

I used to love exercise. I've done basketball, swim team, and walking/jogging throughout my childhood. I went one summer where I would walk at a 3-4 mile pace for at least an hour a day. One year I did a squats challenge where I built up to doing something like 250 consecutive squats.

The last few years, however, exercise has not been my top priority.

With my current pregnancy, I am gaining weight faster than I did in my first pregnancy even though I feel like I am eating less junk food this time around. But I have only been exercising about once a week. So at my last appointment, my midwife told me I should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week.

I've started to work back up to that. And what's amazing is just how quickly I have made progress. My body remembers all those times I went walking and jogging and swimming. It really only took a few days of purposeful exercise to start to feel like it was more fun than work. I didn't realize that only exercising once a week was miserable because my body had too much time to "forget" in between. Exercising every day means my body remembers and it starts to snap into action.

I am also doing some squats every day. I started barely able to pump out 10 squats. Within 10 days, I am up to 100 consecutive squats. My legs feel a bit jelly immediately afterward, but overall it gives me energy and gets me excited about the possibilities.

The hardest part really was just getting started.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Obesity = a chronic illness?

I was YouTube browsing the other day and got on a string of TED talks. As often happens on YouTube, you start on one type of video and soon end up in a totally different area of the internet. I finally got to a TED talk that was titled How to Lose 50 Pounds and Keep Them Off. Intrigued, I clicked.

You see, I have lost 50 pounds. I've lost more than 50 pounds at least three times in my adult life. It takes me maybe 5-6 months to make such progress. But keeping those pounds off, that's a whole different story.

The talk wasn't revolutionary or anything. He did not reveal any magic way to keep weight off. But it did give me something to consider. Essentially, the speaker said the way we view obesity has to change. Instead of looking at weight as something you just lose once through diet, he says you have to treat obesity like a chronic illness. Once you have it, it never just "goes away".

If a person has a chronic illness, they are constantly going to be monitored for the rest of their life regarding that illness. Even if they are able to get their numbers stabilized or minimize the side-effects, they live their life knowing they having asthma, arthritis, hypertension, etc. Obese people should behave the same way even if they lose the weight and therefore get their obesity "under control".

It will never be under control the same way it will be for someone who never put the weight on. The sooner an obese or previously obese person can accept that, the sooner they can start to take steps to treat it that way. Labeling obesity a chronic illness does not mean the person is doomed to live a life trapped in their overweight and unhealthy body. But it does mean they have to be on their toes for the rest of their life -- treating their condition like they would if they had epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. Having a false sense of security that obesity was "conquered" could quickly mean a relapse. Obesity is "long-lasting and difficult to eradicate... persisting for a long time or constantly recurring" as the definition for chronic suggests.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Raising a Little Human

Raising a little human is amazing. You well up with pride when they reach milestones. You love hearing that most beautiful noise in the world -- a child's giggle. Your child's giggle. You get to see them trip over their own toes but get right back up. You get to hug and snuggle and kiss (and headbutt). You never knew you could love a person so much or that you could be so unconditionally loved.

Raising a little human is terrifying. You have to make sure this tiny body is fed, rested, changed, and healthy. You worry about stepping away, even for a second, when they are taking a bath or eating food (What if they DIE?). You have to try to reprimand them if they are throwing a tantrum in public but really you just totally get it because it has been a hard day.

Raising a little human is expensive. You need more space, clothes, food, diapers, car seats, bed, and sometimes childcare. Thankfully friends and family often help out with some of these expenses which is immensely helpful! But even just the medical bill to bring the tiny human into the world is no small number.

Raising a little human changes you. You start to understand why your parents responded the way they did to certain situations. You suddenly have to think about someone other than yourself and your SO. You think a little longer-term than just a year or two out. You change your priorities and behavior in order to do the best you can for your child. Some people say having a little human limits you. In some sense, it can and it does. But you can't imagine life without them and in many ways you can't even remember life before them.

Friday, August 4, 2017


I have been asking myself for quite sometime what will make me happy. Will xyz make me happy? Or perhaps abc?
We live in a culture that has a major fear of missing out (or FOMO for short). I certainly experience this.
We ask ourselves questions like:
  • If I'm at this job, am I missing out on a better career opportunity?
  • If I am living in this city, am I missing out on better vibe somewhere else?
  • If I am at this university, am I getting everything this other university has for me?
  • If I'm with this significant other, am I missing out on what someone else could do for me?
  • If I eat at this restaurant, will I miss out on a better meal?
Consequently, our fear of missing out also sometimes paralyzes us from committing to something. I don't want to commit to these Saturday plans because what if something better comes up?

One of the reasons I am limiting my Facebook time is because I have been experiencing some fear of missing out. Seeing what other people's lives are like can sometimes make you question whether you are doing the right thing.

I don't have the answer to what will make me happy. But I know comparing myself to others who are in completely different situations is probably not a healthy thing for me to be doing on a daily basis. Of course it is good to be exposed to other possibilities and know that there are options out there. But too much exposure can force us to become bitter at our own lives instead of enjoying what is right in front of us.

How do you deal with a fear of missing out?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Coming back to routine

As much as people love to complain about their normal day-to-day routine, we sometimes miss it when we are away. It can be wonderful to get away and take a break longer than just the weekend. But when we do that and then come back from a sick day or a vacation week we often come back with a new gratitude for our regular routine.

If you do take a break from the regular routine and come back even more bitter and upset than before you left, it may be time to find a new routine. However, if you find yourself refreshed and happy to be back, then you may just be in the right place.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Working toward a goal for the sake of the goal

I've been keeping my head down recently working toward a specific goal. I want to get this goal done, accomplished, and out of the way. But today I began to wonder why this goal is even important to me.

Sometimes we start to work so hard toward a goal that we lose sight of the end game. Why are we doing this? Why are we working so hard? Why are we putting in the hours?

It can be helpful to take a step back and remember the why(s). This can help you determine whether you will keep working toward to end game, change your method/pace, change the goal, or perhaps abandon the goal. Life changes and what we need to accomplish changes so we must reevaluate regularly.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Limiting Facebook time = less clutter in my mind

If you've been reading you know I'm all about decluttering. You also know I have a lot of goals I am working toward. In an attempt to get more stuff done, I did something some would consider drastic.

I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone.

It's not that I am going to stay completely off of Facebook for several weeks or months at a time as I have done in the past. But I am limiting my log ins to maybe once or twice a day most days and those will be on my computer at home only. So far in this experiment I have gone several days in a row without logging in. I plan to take it day by day.

Instead of checking Facebook for 5-10 minutes a day (sometimes much longer) every hour or so, I have only be checking for maybe 5-10 minutes once a day. No specific rules -- just the goal of limiting my time on Facebook to a minute part of my day.

This definitely saves me some time. I was so used to doing quick facebook checks constantly throughout the day that those few minutes here and there add up.

But more than that, it helps to keep my mind uncluttered.

I read and see a lot of fun stuff on Facebook -- updates on friend's lives and their adventures mostly. But I also see a lot of depressing articles, not-so-funny memes, and other useless-to-me information from people I barely know or don't know at all. Sometimes I am thinking about these things long after I close the Facebook app. When I avoid exposing myself to all this useless information in the first place, my mind is more focussed on what I am trying to accomplish.

Now, when I sit down to open my Facebook app and remember it is not there, I either find something else to do that gets me closer to my goals, I focus on my family/the people around me, or I open my Bible app and read a chapter out of the Good Book.

What would you do without the Facebook app?