Why there is no such thing as "Getting Hot Again"

You are already hot. No makeover, diet, fitness regime, or debt-free existence will change a thing. No job, counseling, therapy, or spa package can make you hotter than you already believe that you are.

Your hotness, is a reflection of you, not the "you" you think you are, but the hot you, you ALREADY are.

Your hotness, is a reflection of you, not the "you" you think you are, but the hot you, you ALREADY are.

You can't get hot again, if you are already hot. But somewhere along the way, you forgot, you forgot that you are already hot. You have a story, about those guys who tricked you, by being your friend first, and then making a move on you. They knew you were hot. You have another story, about the time you lost the baby weight, on a budget, made yourself back into the hottest version of yourself ever as a mom, but there again...you were already hot to begin with. Or maybe it was being a supportive spouse, breadwinner, genius with an interview for the job placement of a lifetime, will timing work out? Trust me, it will, you are already hot, even though you feel stressed, exhausted, emotional and overwhelmed--you have a girlfriend out there who admires you and thinks you are the hottest chick around, she's the one writing this blog.

Reasons you feel "not-hot":

1. You're not getting along with your parents

2. You're experiencing a job change

3. You're moving in with your partner for the first time, that's an adjustment

4. You're downsizing

5. You have co-workers who's mere presence have a toxic way of feeling like the wind's been knocked out of your

6. You have comforted yourself with an extra glass of wine, beat yourself up over that, comfort foods, comfort snacks, and your pants are tight.

7. You work out, but it's just going through the motions.

8. You're tired, you don't know how to make the time to re-prioritize, you're stuck and overwhelmed and you feel incredibly lonely

9. You're scared, that at any moment, it's all going to fall apart

10. All of your relationships feel strained

11. Self-care, a mani/pedi, makes you feel guilty and unproductive, you seek restoration, and are left feeling less than after traditional "self-care" doesn't work

12. You feel like your story is too private to share, too much to burden anyone outside your precious heart

But your friends love you. They love your input, the way you lift them up, the way they ask you the right questions, the way your one friend is so awkward and open, it makes you incredibly uncomfortable on a regular basis, but she means well, she'll always be there for you, and in some ways, you find her slightly-autistic outbursts somewhat comforting.

You're brilliant, beautiful, wise-beyond your years. You are powerful, and you are more than your thoughts of who you have come to believe that "you are." What if you were SO hot right now, so attractive to others, that you actually had to strategize ways to "cool" yourself down?! What would you do, if your goal was the opposite of "getting hot again"?

You are already hot, because you're alive, breathing, and been given the miracle today to get another shot at life. Another day to try again, to make things right. To center yourself back into an abundant mindset because...our greatest depths, become our greatest inspirations. We're just in the middle of the chapter right now, we don't know the ending until it arrives, and when it does, we will know.

Dark moments take us deep, and its gift is that in those deep, dark moments our reward is finding the inspiration to create a more beautiful world.

Whether you're cooling down, or heating up, you're already hot, my work is done here.

Are you going through a difficult struggle? Looking for an anonymous place to get the support you need to get through your struggle and find the other end? Subscribe now, and let us know in the comments below, one thing you need support on this week.

How to make people care about your bright ideas.

Another meeting and another chance for me to listen to guy co-worker (or gal): "I have this great idea, why don't we..."

Wait...no, actually, DON'T be a control freak. Or do...Who knows :).

Wait...no, actually, DON'T be a control freak. Or do...Who knows :).

UGH!

That was MY idea.

How dare he or she steal it! We were JUST talking about that idea in the break room.

But he or she spoke up and vocalized the idea to the team and I didn't.

I remember this happening to me on many occasions from as early as high school up to present day throughout my startup jobs and corporate job.

On the one hand, ideas are like flowing bodies of water, and that there is always more where that came from.

On the other hand, someone who didn't have the creativity to put that idea together is getting credit and acclaim for it.

In high school, I was assigned to a group project in Advanced Standing English class. We were studying a book; I don't remember the book. It turns out to have been one of the first groups I was assigned to without a natural "leader." All other groups I had been assigned to, naturally had a leader rise up and assign out work, and everyone would simply show up with their assignment mostly-ready. Among the five parts of the project, one of pieces of work included writing a Socratic dialogue between two of the characters of the book.

The night before the project was due, I had to, meet with as many members as possible, assign out work, finish up loose ends, and then, making the very "leader-ly" decision to say to the group when our meeting time was up, "and I guess I'll write the Socratic Dialogue portion." After driving the last classmate in my group home, over a half an hour away from school, and another half an hour away from my home, I wrote the piece.

The next day, we presented our project and turned in our work. The teacher, who had never really noticed me and had nothing but average grades and comments to give me on my work exclaimed, "and WHO on the team wrote the Socratic dialogue? It completely captured the concept elegantly between the characters in the book!" Silence.

Finally, I raised my hand, "Oh, um, I did" at the same time my classmates pointed to me and said, "Liz did." My shyness or lack of pride, must have set her off a bit, in fact, I feared that maybe I had misunderstood the entire assignment at that point. She quickly remarked, "Oh? You did?" as she raised her eyebrows which intuitively made me believe that she was hiding an opinion that probably wasn't very constructive. See, even as a high schooler, a 16 year old teenager, I could read her like a book. She was saying one thing, but her body was telling me, "seriously? But I never thought that you wrote very well. This seems like work of a much higher caliber than you are capable of." Ultimately her body language was telling me her truth, that she didn't think that I was a good student, and that I didn't write very well.

Which may have been entirely true. But under the anonymous guise of a group project, where my name was lost and never included in the details, I produced a wonderful piece of work, under pressure, with ease. I suspected it was good when I printed it out that night I wrote it. It flowed from me beautifully, and I remember seeing the two characters talking write in front of me as I listened and wrote down what they said at the computer. It sounds like fantasy, and it probably was more of my creativity being expressed as a day-dream, but indeed, I saw these two characters speaking to each other as I wrote the piece. It was a beautiful lesson for me to learn and look back on. When the pressure was about producing quality work, and when I could create anonymously, and then see the impact of that work anonymously, I generally produced greater, more creative work.

And then years later, after watching only one or two excellent leaders "build consensus," I learned that: true "smarts" is realizing that you have the power to formulate beautiful ideas, solutions, and quality work, but a real leader knows how to socialize those ideas and solutions so that it appears to be everybody's good idea, a vision to stand behind.

But how do I get "credit"? How do I get "promoted" for my good ideas?

Well, in a word or two: you don't.

You get credit and promoted based on how well you respond to other people's demands on you and how well life has set you up to play the various games in jobs being played around you.

Now, that being said, there will be environments and jobs where you will be promoted because, it's a game you enjoy playing, it's a team you enjoy serving.

But if you don't care to play the game, at a job you only partially like, but you STILL have brilliant ideas? The best way, rather than unofficially "socialize" your ideas to others, is to make a plan of action to build consensus, and offer your ideas to the team as an exercise in building consensus.

What this means is that, you state the "problem" you'd like to solve to your management. You decide who needs to be apart of the solution, and then you schedule time in meetings and powerpoint decks to brainstorm and decide how to solve that problem. What's great about this idea is, other people, when they trust you, will want to offer their brilliant ideas too. Then your ideas can meld, mold, and shape a grander idea to benefit the company you work for.

What's the advantage? It makes work more interesting if you're somewhat disengaged. It's also great practice for what great leaders already do, they may have good ideas, but they know how to get the best ideas from a group of idea-makers. It'll make you more valuable in any job. It'll allow you to build on more of your work relationships with others.

The best piece of advice I learned from observing smart, excellent leaders? Your ideas ARE NOT YOU. They come from you, but we all have the capacity to create beautiful solutions if provoked. So seek to provoke your team to produce the best, creative ideas and solutions. Choose to remove your ego from the best solution. It isn't that your smart and therefore that you have brilliant ideas that everyone should jump on to execute. The best solutions are the solutions that have consensus built behind them and that are actually executed on.

This just happens to be a mindset that worked for me and lead to my piece on How to Build Consensus last week. However, I can only share what has worked for me.

Have other ways to make people care about your bright ideas? Share them with us in the comments below.

The Winning Recipe to Build Consensus on a Team

Being rich, wealthy, successful, healthy, and having it all is going to require other people. But what happens when all the folks who need to get along, can't get along? Consider the following corporate setting below in which the team must decide between three options offered by three opinionated, smart co-workers. How would you proceed?

Ok, ok, that's ONE way to build consensus, but read below for the alcohol-free version of this recipe!

Ok, ok, that's ONE way to build consensus, but read below for the alcohol-free version of this recipe!

Executive: "I see no other option, we need to go forward with THIS plan A!"

Manager: "We really need to move forward with plan C."

Individual Contributor: "Option B is what makes the most sense, option A frankly, sucks."

So what is it? A, B, or C?

Maybe one of those, none of those, a combination of those, an idea not yet mentioned/discovered/thought of, or a case of a deadline which needs to be pushed out!

If you decide which option to go with in isolation, you will piss somebody off, and you won't have all the information necessary to go forward efficiently. The wrong idea will waste time and money. But by building consensus, getting everyone on board with a common idea, leverages the combined intelligence of the team and then everyone can be equally attached to the success or failure (read: learning experience) of the decision. This great because this experience teaches teams how to make better decisions moving forward when done repeatedly.

Back to our example, a team must consider all three of the inputs, and choose the best to move forward. But how?

Start with pre-planning, set your ego aside and detach yourself from any option you "like" best, and decide to get all three co-workers together in the same room* (*this could be a virtual room as well) to collectively decide which option everyone agrees with as the go-forward option.

Consensus building is difficult, and if you're working for the government or a large corporation, you'll quickly find that it can be just as powerful to build consensus as it is to be "creative" with your "own contributions." Once you've practiced and perfected the art of consensus building, you will more easily leverage the expertise and intelligence of an entire team rather than re-inventing the wheel or carrying a much-too-heavy burden on your own shoulders.

Begin building consensus today by using these five easy ways of building consensus and prepare you and your team to toot your own horns for getting everyone to agree!

Step 1. Schedule the meeting one day or more before the deadline

Invite all important co-workers into the meeting. Take care of all coffee, bio-breaking, double check that all technology works, and that conference lines are clear. Technical difficulties or logistical problems are extremely distracting and time consuming.

Step 2. Collect your ingredients

Prior to the meeting, in poster boards or a powerpoint presentation, quickly outline the following: objective (what does "done" mean in three bullet points), deadline, timelines, and outline all of the options, featuring one board or powerpoint slide for each option A, B, and C. Extra points for more images, and less text. Mastery level: less text is more magic; large fonts are more courteous.

Step 2b. Pizza pie in the sky time!

Now, set time in your calendar for an hour to really consider the provided options. Was any other option not considered? What, if any, are options which are too "outlandish or political to mention, but should be mentioned because it meets the objective and deadline? You're never limited to just one, two, or three options in most cases. Consider this part of the process as though you're building your own pizza! On top of your doughy foundation, add on toppings featuring a little bit of one option and a little or a lot of other options and leave off what doesn't taste good. In this case, we'll call your pizza "Option D," and include it as a planted slide at the end of your materials. Option D will be an excellent "jumping off point" in your meeting to make your team think more creatively to arrive at an Option everyone agrees on.

Step 3. T-1

A day before your meeting, send an update with your agenda included, powerpoint/materials attached, and ask for feedback prior (like this: specifically ask for what you want to have happen: a. please review all materials, b. do I have the options listed correctly, let me know where to omit/edit/add, c. looking forward to having you all on the call tomorrow). This creates urgency, authority, and keeps everyone on the same page, which means essentially, no secrets, no politics, and a tremendous amount of focus which ends up using time more efficiently.

Step 3b. Rinse and Repeat

Repeat Step 3 as you receive feedback. Mention that you've received additional feedback and that you have provided the updated materials accordingly. This reinforces that you validate the contributions and thoughts of each of your co-workers. Long-term, this builds more trust in you as someone your team can rely on to share ideas with, judgement free, and that you respect their ideas enough to include them into the discussion including the most important details.

Step 4. Go-Time

Once everyone has joined the meeting, welcome everyone and remind them of your sent prep materials (by the way, assume no one looked at the materials beforehand, but don't say that, say this: "I'm sure you've all been really busy so I really appreciate the folks that took a look at the prep materials. For those who haven't yet had a chance, we'll quickly review to open up the meeting/call.") Long term, this is a subtle nudge to indicate that you mean what you say, and in future, this statement should generate more hearty responses and adherence to your instructions.

Step 4b. Addressing MIAs

When someone doesn't show up? Still work this recipe to build consensus, but plan to defend the missing party's point of view. Plan to work all five steps, but shorten the call by 50% as you'll only want to move forward with everyone in agreement. You will reschedule another call, and then repeat Steps 1-5, but open this second meeting by summarizing the first call, and making this second meeting up to 50% shorter as well.

Step 5. Final Countdown

Review the powerpoint slides with the team starting with the Objective, Deadlines, and Timelines. Real-time, on the call, update this shared slide presentation with any new edits or information. Mark down any other folks you need to verify these updates with. Make sure everyone decides on one option. Build this new option, in this case, Option E, on a blank powerpoint slide or poster chart page during the live discussion by copy/pasting, or drawing. Continually ask clarifying questions to each team mate by asking, "Did you see what I added on the screen? I took what you said to mean x, y, and z. From what you see, do I have the right?" Keep pushing the team to consider what hasn't been said yet, if there is anything we can add that we're politically too scared to add, but should, or if anything else is missing.

At the end of the call: Here is your exact script:

By the end of the call, you should have drawn out a good idea of a fully agreed upon single plan. Confirm this with the team by stating the following: "Team, we've decided on this option from a host of excellent suggestions. This is the best go-forward plan because it considers all stakeholders and viewpoints, meets the business objectives, and the deadline. Executive, do you agree?" Make sure the executive says yes on the call, and continue down the line of meeting attendees until everyone says yes on the call.

It obviously won't always work out perfectly as you're learning, but what I've noticed is that...busy people say often "yes" too frequently, while others automatically will say "no" which in many cases they don't have the authority to say "no" or flat out shouldn't say "no," and almost always the busiest people require someone to keep them on track to make a decision in a timely fashion to meet business objectives.

In time by following this recipe you will find that:

1. Keeping records in various powerpoint drafts to access later and cover any discrepancies (save with dates in the titles of the document) makes information easy to access as the same types of questions will arise throughout the process.

2. Keeping records in Outlook or a mail/calendar program of all agendas and notes keeps everyone honest and ensures that all of the important details are included.

3. In order to keep the team focused before and after the decision is made, utilizing in-person and/or virtual tools creates a "single source of truth" (the powerpoint and the email reply-alls) which establishes a single plan that is agreed upon, saved, and easy to reference.

What are your top two tips to build consensus in groups? Tell us below in the comments section and be sure to subscribe to GetHotAgain for more tips winning recipes for success!

You can have it all! The 3 ways to have it all!

I'm here to tell you that...you CAN have it all.

Only, do really want it all??

Do you want children while you're advancing in your career?

Do you want a debilitating mortgage or student loan debt that ties you to your crummy, thankless job?

Career women, single, hoping for children? What about volunteering to mentor a child and have that experience without all of the guilt every single professional woman you know feels about balancing career with children.

What about the emotions that come with burn out, taking care of aging parents, over-spending, and on and on and on? Because, that's part of the "all" too, all the crazy that comes with that crazy-making!

What if instead, everything you have, is exactly the "all" that you want? Then our story and experience changes. And it's a beautiful thing.

What if all of the "all" that you want in your life, is already IN your life. All of the "other stuff" that you wish you had, simply becomes, other stuff that has yet to arrive in your life. All of the "other stuff" that you have, and wish you didn't have, simply becomes, outdated and naturally falls away from your experience.

Imagine that?

Wouldn't that take the stress out of "having it all," if you already, had...it...all?

You can have it all, because you already do have it all -- in fact, thinking you want anything more than you have is fantasy. Wanting more, achieving more, attracting more, that's all well and good, but wanting what you have, what a true, wealthy way to look at the world you.

But what if I'm in an emotionally rocky relationship? What if I hate my job? What if my thyroid condition makes it impossible to lose weight?

I was there too, at least, in the rocky relationship. I would have naturally resolved my emotional roller coaster situation sooner, if I had allowed myself to feel what I truly know now about that rocky relationship, which is this: "You're being treated this way, because deep down, you don't feel worthy for the kind of love you've imagined since you were a little girl. It's not a "prince charming" or "fairy tale" kind of love, but the love that appreciates you and your gifts and is reciprocal. You do deserve that. Your current relationship won't get better because it's based on a lie which is: you don't deserve a relationship that 'feels good,' you have a hard relationship because relationships are supposed to be hard."

Those are lies. Because my relationship, felt so awful. I woke up dreading my relationship. I would often cry myself to sleep about it. I would complain on the phone and in person with friends for hours about it instead of enjoying my life. I would put my key in the door and think "I really wish I would turn around and run away right now." Regardless of how it "appeared," my relationship felt awful to me, and I didn't have to stay.

If I had stopped lying to myself that relationships are hard, and that it would eventually "get better" (whatever that means), and that I deserve to be yelled at, called 100s of times a week, and stalked until I "relented" for the cycle to start itself up all over again, I would have realized that...I'm free, I have everything I need, and want, and I am happy. Believing that my new story, that true story, that I, in fact DID deserve a different experience, an experience that felt good for me, then I probably would have released my "grip" on this toxic relationship sooner, and it would have probably dissolved less painfully.

Or not.

It ended the way it had to end and it became a part of my story. It encouraged me to keep holding on tight to that truth of how I knew I always wanted to "feel" in a relationship rather than any stories about how a relationship should "look" like. I'd like to think that I suffered for the betterment of others; for others to know that I went down a path and realized that...it can get better, and it does, but only if you believe the story that you are enough, you have it all, and focus on those aspects of your life that result in you truly believing that you "have it all." I found something that made me feel good in self-help and development and...I became obsessed with my apartment, I dressed it up, invested in it, it was the perfect escape. I was a (finally) single lady with the best apartment, fixed up on a budget, and I had tons of friends over for parties and socializing. It was always "there" already. From there, I could heal, and from there, I found love. And only after I found love, as a single women with a mission to enjoy everything that she had, I ended up in a healthy relationship.

Do I have it all? Some days yes, some days no. But I admire many women who I feel "have it all," and I've observed what they do in their lives to continue to impress me with their lives which I feel exemplify "having it all." So if I were to break down the three steps to "having it all," here's how it would look:

1. Get honest about how your reality "feels"

Whatever it is that you hate about your life, or love about your life, ask yourself: does this feel good? Do this privately, journal, sing it out, dance it out, talk out loud to yourself, channel your inner Oprah and interview yourself about what feels good and bad. Trust me, I grew up in a conservative, religious household where lying and keeping up appearances was more important than feeling good and being happy, you have to have this conversation by yourself and know that it will slowly change over time too. It takes time and persistence to really understand your emotions from some of us who have never been encouraged or allowed to embrace how we truly feel about our lives. Feeling good, makes you a better servant to your higher power. Feeling good, being in touch with what makes you feel good, allows you to better serve humanity because, hurt people, hurt people. We need to feel good, in order to understand how to hurt less, and therefore, hurt fewer people.

2. Is it healthy too?

Once you've decided what feel "good" and what feels "bad" to you, not what you "think," and not what others "think," but deep down how something makes YOU FEEL, do more of what makes you feel good. If it does not feel good, do not focus any attention on it. If it does feel good, focus all of your attention on it. This is not "hedonism" or an addiction, obviously heroine, from what I'm told "feels good," but I'm talking about the "healthy" kinds of feeling good. Take, dancing in the rain, that feels good, so focus on it and keep doing it. Taking a walk at lunch instead of moaning about work feels good, so focus on it and do more of it. Relationship sucks? Decide to no longer invest in it. Don't water it, don't nurture it, instead, nurture what feels good, spend time with friends, and spend time with your higher power instead in the case that either feels good. Your higher, decision-making will flow from feeling good.

3. Have a little faith

Have a little faith that, that your life gets better. That doesn't mean your relationship will get better, or that your job will get better, but that YOUR LIFE WILL GET BETTER. This is the hardest part, having faith that, given the extreme and sucky situations life gives us...and having faith that it will get better, meaning, we will have more of what makes us feel good and is healthy in our life, only if we have faith that it will.

Conclusion

How do I know? Why would you end up on a blog, read it up until this point, if you weren't looking for ways to "have it all"? By looking for ways to have it all, it inherently tells me that, you feel you're lacking in life.

Love bug, you do have it all, so do the three steps, and keep them in your emotional toolbox, assessing your feel good and feel bad life circumstances all the days of your life.

Want to know more about my story about the female hero's journey? Sign up for my mailing list to receive a free copy of My Story now!

 

How I handle "weight gain"

Life gives us women cycles, from our very first period, to child birthing, and more.

Our hormones give us a constant wave in life to ride.

As such, things like "weight gain" will also come and go for all women. This is different then for men, who's hormones change throughout their life, but in a single, one, general testosterone arc. Our hormones have an "average" arc over our lifetimes from puberty to menopause, but monthly cycles and changes over each decade of our adult lives.

Weight gain and weight loss is not only hormonal, but also situational. Stress, job changes, life transitions, happiness, sadness, depression, and motivation can impact our weight, how we look and feel in our clothes, and more.

So what does this all mean? Weight gain happens.

If you ask my boyfriend, the way I deal with sudden, seemingly "unexplained" weight gain is less than elegant.

I'm largely raving like a lunatic when I'm trying to pull a pair of much too tight jeans over my thighs and hips. I'll pout, moan, and maybe even cry, all at some early hour in the morning and usually while I'm running late for work - there is no time to change, recalibrate or relax, there is only grabbing an elastic hair band to modify the button on my jeans and alleviate some of the tightness. Shoot, I'll even blame him, my job, my parents, and anyone giving me the silent treatment in life at that moment. After the freak out, or weeks of repeated freak outs, I think I've finally put together a plan to better manage the emotions related to weight gain.

I can see why my boyfriend's perplexed at my reactions; my boyfriend honestly thinks that I'm beautiful, and he might even think I'm the most beautiful women in the world! Strikingly though, I have moments still where I gain weight and I feel so...fat!  I've come across a few tips that help, and I'd like to share those with you now.

How to handle weight gain

1. Choose to wash and dry your clothes more gently

Choose cooler water temperatures, wash less frequently (you can freeze your jeans to keep them fresher!), and skip drying entirely for air-dried methods. The point here is that, less treatments, temperature, and heat will keep your clothes "stretched" out and more comfortable. Remember, this is a short-term step to be as comfortable as possible.

2. No matter what, consider ditching the "big clothes"

As you attain your "ideal" medium weight, the weight you gain ten or lose ten from regularly, decide to remove all your "fat clothes" out of your wardrobe. It's good to let your clothes let you know when you've put on a few pounds. This way, you can implement your own steps to adjust your lifestyle back down a few pounds.

3. Breath

I usually need to decrease my caffeine intake or take a series of yoga classes focused on breathing just to even make any deep breathing progress. Breathing helps because as we gain weight, we hold our tummies in, and then we have shallower breaths. Deep breathing helps us decrease cortisol levels, which makes losing weight easier than when we're stressed and our bodies are holding onto every gram of sugar, carb, and fat.

4. Drink water

Sometimes, it's just bloat, alcohol, or salt in the diet that makes us "feel" fatter. You can never go wrong by increasing your water intake to balance out some dietary foibles or fun cheat days.

5. Exercise is a group sport

I need competition, so I bought my boyfriend and I "fitbits." We can be friends and see each other's progress. This is the best way for me increase my simple physical activity throughout my day. I don't know what it is, but competition works for me, and I'm not alone, it's a normal trait in achieving goals for all humans. Another more amicable choice is to make sure you have a "work out buddy," it really does help to have someone around that you commit to work out with, even if it's just a walk. Or...get a dog. Dog walking is a huge help and comes with a four-legged buddy :).

6. Dress Up

No seriously. If you feel fatter than usual, while you're breathing and drinking more water and getting more steps into your day, take a bath, do your nails/toe nails, blow dry your hair, and put on your nicer clothes and maybe some flair like jewelry. You won't regret dressing up a little nicer than usual, and it will allow you to carry yourself in a more attractive manner getting you the physical attraction you may crave and let off some of the pressure that you put on your weight and that number on the scale. This is difficult and takes awareness because, the more you feel "fatter," the more likely you will increasingly wear your "fat clothes," including yoga pants, oversized sweatpants, hoodies, etc. These actually work to make you feel more comfortable in the short term, but long term, make you feel less attractive and therefore, less motivated.

7. Do it for health and longevity

Instead of working out and eating right to "look" a certain way. Work out and eat right because it makes you "feel" a certain way. When you work out and eat right, you feel healthier and lighter and as a natural side-effect, usually look better too. Also, working out is a cheaper hobby than most and eating healthier tends to be more affordable than over-indulging as well. What's ironic is that mental and emotional stress is often the reason we give up motion and healthy eating. So what helps us feel less stressed? No matter the mental and emotional situations life is handing you right now, there are few cases where exercise and healthy eating can't or won't help! Exercise and healthy eating are the best medicines available for lowering stress levels, no matter the life situation because it manages cortisol which is the stress hormone that makes your body want to hold onto every last ounce of fat, interrupts sleep, and causes long term damage to your body and systems.

8. You are in a body, you are not your body

You're value on this planet is far greater than you realize. Do not cheapen your value solely on your physical appearance. For me, remembering that we all grow old and growing old means that we all will be 80 one day should we be so lucky. Look at 80 year olds, we will all eventually look the same at age 80 and beyond. You can't take back those years you didn't feel good. You will regret those years you felt "fat" and let that hold you back from improving your health. Consider this analogy: your car. Your car treats you good, when you treat it good. Regular washes, oil changes, maintenance, and battery replacements. Your body is the same way. We drive around in our meat-suit-of-a-body day in and day out. Sure, we can't necessarily "park" our car in this analogy and leave it in the lot while we walk through life, but our "souls" and our essence is not our body. Our souls receive our bodies as a transportation gift. Treat it well and it will help you out. Our bodies are nothing more than vehicles, it's our essence to be loving, helpful, grateful that is our true valuable selves.

9. Treat yourself to something luxurious and non-food

Get a babysitter to take a nap. Get a pedicure. Sign up for that painting class. Do something to spoil yourself that doesn't involve junk food or sitting around watching TV. If you don't usually watch TV, then by all means, put your slippers on, turn your phone off, and let yourself go to the pull of Netflix!

Weight gain happens and all we can do is feel good. Ironically, the proven things in life that help us "feel good" and "less fat" are the things that naturally help us maintain our ideal weight including relaxing, breathing, eating healthy, and working out.

I'm not going to serve you a bunch of bull honky here, it's tough. It's really tough to step out of a life experience that makes us feel so...out of control! Help, I'm gaining weight and don't know how to reverse it! Truthfully, it may be more than likely that we feel fat, we feel less energetic, we're stressed out because we feel "so far away" from feeling good again, all that work to lose that 10 pounds, again...that we stress ourselves out further.

Start easy, go for walks, go for longer walks, talk it out with a friend, cry, but keep walking. And then, maybe jog, maybe take a class, maybe wear a pedometer. All we can do is take life as it comes to us today.

What do you do to handle weight gain? Let us know in the comments below!

#ModCloth

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The season of BBQs, vacations, and outdoor festivities is upon us, and ModCloth wants you to share your summer memories with them! Include the hashtag #ModSummer when you’re posting your adventures and you could be featured on one of their social networks. Join in on the community fun, find some outfit inspiration in their Style Gallery, and get ready for the best summer ever!
 

Stylishly yours,

GetHotAgain

I've never been asked out

Fancy that....the get hot again chick has never been asked out.

Allow me to elaborate, I've been asked out, plenty of times. I've been asked out awkwardly by strangers, co-workers, I've been asked out twice at a mall by two guys using the exact same pick up lines (there was a PUA, pick-up artist, convention going on in the meeting space in this mall--that was a funny day). I've been "asked out" in a way that wasn't a date, unless it went well, in which case it could turn into a date, but wouldn't be "tilted" as a relationship, for some reason, blah, blah, blah.

But for some reason, my best, longest, most nurturing and fulfilling relationships which if they ended, ended amicable, were ALL with men that I asked out or with whom I initiated a romantic relationship. It actually just hit me that this fact is true in my life while I was brainstorming new blog posts this afternoon. 30 years of comfortably, successfully asking guys out, that's pretty neat.

I asked this guy over to my place to hang with a gal pal and I after the first night we met. It'll be one year on June 14th since our first date!

I asked this guy over to my place to hang with a gal pal and I after the first night we met. It'll be one year on June 14th since our first date!

So how come no one gave me advice on how to ask out a guy? How come there is no sympathy for the woman who has the initiative to ask out the men she's interested in? Because there is rejection, but it's a good rejection, you didn't want to date those guys anyways. But for me, I never really liked to be asked out on a date because, I never really got to choose what we did or if I even liked the guy. And also, I've been out on dates where I wasn't even asked a single question about me or my life; nice guy, but it was like listening to a monologue, a sole player on the stage performing in front of me. Dating felt too much like job interviews on those dates. I felt like I was trying to be impressed, which isn't important to me. I'm not impressed by your fancy car, unless it's 100% paid off and you paid cash for it up front. Or maybe you got it for free in a contest--that's interesting to me. And you are able to continue to afford it because you live inconspicuously below your means. Hey, I'm frugal, I like a guy that brings a coupon to our mini golf date...that impresses me, but sadly has never actually happened. A guy once offered to use a Groupon for dinner, but ended up forgetting it at home. I was smittened by his intentions :).

But none of my dating life really bothered me, it doesn't matter the reasons why guys asked me out, I liked some of those guys too, and it doesn't matter the reasons why I asked guys out. But for me, let me repeat that, for me, I prefer to ask guys out because asking guys out worked out for me in terms of great, longer lasting relationships. Well, if my boyfriend is reading, I preferred to ask guys out, you know, while I was single.

The problem is that, the media, older female family members, some guy friends (although only some, not all) and other girl friends of mine, didn't like women asking men out. They didn't like women asking men out so much so that they had nothing good to say about it; they had no clue how to advise me in dating. There were hardly any good stories of love working out when the woman was the one to initiate a romantic connection with a man. This resulted in years of bad dating advice and a lack of sympathy. If I was heartbroken, people very subtly would assume that I asked him out, so, rejection was my fault, right? He didn't call because I was too assertive? Well, good he knows I guess, I am assertive. Cue: other female's "eyes roll" while I try to console myself, quickly recover, and move on to my next thought and impulse in life.

Shocking! Then how come I have so many good stories about it? In fact, very funny stories! I remember G, a guy I met out in Palo Alto when I was 21. I was a recent college grad who had just moved back to California. I had a full time job and I was planning to move to the big bad city, SF, very soon. I was also a Gold's Gym member, I was working out and feeling confident; I loved the gym! And you know what? When I saw G out one night and started chatting him up, I placed my hand on his forearm during our conversation and instantly blurted out, "Wow! Do you work out?" Because he was so built.

When I recounted this story about 8 months after meeting G during a double date dinner we were invited to, it struck me that, I was totally "picking up" on G the first time we met. I used a cheesy guy-line ("do you work out?" wink, apologies for the stereotype here) on a guy in order to pick him up. But the weird thing was, it didn't feel like a pick up line at all. It was a completely natural conversation, and since I had been working out more at this time in my life, it makes sense that working out is what I wanted to talk about with someone I had just met randomly if, in fact, they also share that passion. And he did, G liked to work out too. G and I dated for 11 glorious months and one not so good month during which neither one of us was ready to break up with one another even though we were better off as friends because we were young and in different phases of our life. I wanted to be single and party in the big, bad city, and I did. He finished his MBA and wanted to settle down, and he did.

What does this have to do with Hotness? Personal Finance? Fitness?

Nothing much on the surface.

But what it does mean is that, putting yourself out there is part of dating--and it's part of life. You will know if you prefer to be asked out or if you prefer to do the asking. Note that: rejection comes to us both, whether you provoked a romantic connection or not. And you know what? Maybe instead of fawning over that "hot guy" across the room, you go up and talk to him and see if you two have anything in common. If the conversation goes well, try putting your hand on his arm and asking him if he works out. It's worth a try! Or not, just talk about things interesting or better yet, just ask him some questions about him. If you end up having nothing in common, you don't have to date. Maybe you know another girlfriend you can introduce him to who he'd have more in common with, be more attracted too, etc. There are plenty of positive outcomes and possibilities.

We're told all of these ways to operate in life, especially us women. We're told conflicting messages too: if you "do" you're a slut, if you don't, you're a tease/prude, well then, what the heck? What the heck are we supposed to do then, sit and wait in limbo for permission? Bad advice carries into sex, life, love, careers, and money. If you want to be financially successful, go for it, you can do it, ask for it. If you want to be physically fit, let's get you there - let's do it! I would like to and will help you get there. If you want to ask a guy out because you've been pursued your whole life and would rather do the choosing, then choose to do the choosing and ask him out.

Everyone has an opinion, but you hot lady over there, my dear reader, what works for you?

Let me know some other contradictions and "stories" we're taught and told in the comments below!

I'm not feeling hot again...

I'm bloated, tired, and I want a nap. I just ate two halves of those yummy Specialty's cookies. Go ahead, take a look at the calories in one those puppies.

I swear it's decaf ;)

I swear it's decaf ;)

I didn't wake up refreshed, and I'm struggling through my day. I gave up caffeine last month, so aside from low doses from decaf and herbal choices, I miss the jolt - caffeine is a beautiful perk-you-upper.

My jeans are tight, they don't fit like they did two years ago, and they're incredibly faded too. I'm in that weird "weight spot" where you're clothes are almost too tight, but you want to lose 5+ lbs before you go out and buy a whole new set of jeans to replace the faded, tight ones. Truthfully, my whole outfit just feels "off."

My day job is blah. You know, when it feels so uninspiring. I get passionate just to hit more dead ends on projects that are inconsequential. Yes, I like learning as much as the next Type-A gal, but it seems strange to have such a distant connection with the budgets and the customers blocked by mountains of process and paperwork and email-reply-alls.

 

But,

 

I did carpool in to work today with a co-worker, doing my part to consume less energy and not have to drive in 45 minutes of traffic alone.

I will meet with www.theantimba.com book club group tonight; I love those entrepreneurs!

I brought my lunch, healthy leftovers, so I saved some cash and ate healthier.

I showed up, on time, ready to work, and have been knocking out tasks; I'm doing the work.

I procrastinated very little today, seamlessly transitioning between projects and conference calls.

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping and stocked up with veggies, healthy food to cook at home for me and my boyfriend for this week and on into this month.

 

I won't always have "hot" days. I'm going through some interesting self-indulgent existential angst and experiences right now. There are bigger questions that wrinkle my brow right now too: what's my next work "assignment" the universe wants me to work on, where is my relationship going with my boyfriend, how can I fit in more exercise, why did I go out drinking (and drank too much--oh fuzzy head) with my friend who's in town on a Sunday night, will I ever get along with my Mom in the way I functionally envision, what were the details of that yoga retreat I heard about again?

I'm also aware that I'm getting older, and as a female in tech, in an extremely "bro-friendly" and youth-obsessed and agist culture. It's fun to be "hot" in the media sense, the new marketing chick on the block in a technology company, getting head turns because folks 'round here haven't seen a lady in a long time, but it's such a shallow way to be initially perceived--on many days, it's downright annoying in fact. Thankfully, as I age, and may I continue to have the fortitude to do so gracefully, I can increasingly detach from the importance of my blouse and tight jeans and attach to my core strengths to impact the world around me for good.

Looks, youth, money, career, there are so many ways we can count our hotness on, but for today, this one day, I will at the very least decide to detach my definitions of "hotness" from these items. Today, it's me, healing my "modern-bloat" from poor food and beverage choices, not to anesthetize my experience, but to feel my experience, to be in communion with my fellow men and women, and to be present, powerful, and a vehicle for the universe's discretion.

In detaching "looks" and "daily job satisfaction" as a requirement to meet in order for me to "feel hot," I let myself off the hook and I relax, I breath better. Funny though, relaxed and energetic breath is a natural, free way to feel hot again too - what a beautiful cycle.

#YesAllWomen

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ZenHabits.net, a father's take

I was 13 years old with my parents at dinner when two men in their mid to late 20s offered to buy me a drink via the waiter. They were seated across the room from me. I declined and I was embarrassed.

My hope is that these girls never have to face discrimination because of their sex. I pray they never experience violence by men. I hope they have enriching, nurturing, and fun friendships and romantic relationships with men, or women if that is their choice. I wish that on their pursuit of happiness, they will be loved for their contributions and not treated differently because of their sex.

My hope is that these girls never have to face discrimination because of their sex. I pray they never experience violence by men. I hope they have enriching, nurturing, and fun friendships and romantic relationships with men, or women if that is their choice. I wish that on their pursuit of happiness, they will be loved for their contributions and not treated differently because of their sex.

After repeated requests to be left alone, I was stalked for six months by an ex. I would hide in my shower from 7am until 8am waiting for him to leave as he knocked on the door to my apartment in which I lived by myself. When he would show up to my work unannounced and try to meet and speak with me at the train station on my way home from work, I was told by my work's security manager: why don't I just drive to work then? Silly me, I thought I had the right to take public transportation in peace just like every other human being and man.

I've had at least one co-worker follow me to my hotel room expecting physical advances on a work trip. He's happily married. I politely thanked him for making sure I got to my floor safely, but that I could take it from here and good night.

I've had three men slap me on my backside, privately, on the same boating trip. I was dating one of them, and met the other two on that first trip. I battled feeling "flattered" as my female friend advised and disgusted because no one else had to encounter getting slapped on the backside. It didn't feel good to me.

I've been doubted at work on a consistent basis surrounded by 90% male colleagues in my industry. I suspect that I've been denied for work roles even though there was no better candidate because I am female.

I remember being pushed onto a bed at a party with a guy on top of me forcing me to "make out" with him. I didn't want to, but he did everything in his power to talk me out of it while physically restraining me before he finally relented and I pushed passed him and walked out of the room in haste.

Or that time a guy felt it was appropriate to grab at my underwear and pull in an upward direction from behind while I was putting food in the oven for a party. It was the first time I met him, and I turned around and slapped him across his chest fuming and asking him what he would think if a stranger did that to his mom, sisters, etc. Again, I was advised to feel flattered. I felt gross, violated. I don't pull on other people's underwear, it doesn't cross my mind.

Random gropes, grabs, all unwarranted, all unwanted, all inappropriate from concerts to busy lines. Ugh, yuck.

Rage, anger, intensity, confusion.

In lieu of recent events, I'm so encouraged by the outpour of support for women. Violence is not a solution or a right to exercise power against women. Why is it that women in other parts of the world can walk around freely without any clothing covering their torsos, tops, or bodies with no one to turn an eye. No one is acting out violently because these women in local environments around the world are dressed in a way "asking for it." Why is it different in our culture?

My favorite commentary on the entire event is brought to you by a wonderful YouTube.com contributor Laci Green. Please support her and her message if you agree.

ModCloth: Make the Cut Contest!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

ModCloth is launching its second Make the Cut Contest of the year! Not familiar with Make the Cut? Well, it's a fashion design contest, and in this edition, they're giving contestants a template on which to create a print pattern for a scarf. The talented winner will have their design produced by and sold on ModCloth, plus they'll receive a $500 prize! But first, the top 10 submissions will be hosted on the Be the Buyer page, where the community will vote for their faves. Design submissions will be accepted now until Friday, 5/30, and the voting begins on Monday, 6/9. Official contest rules can be found here. Good luck!
 

As we approach the end of May (how did that already happen?!), we want to help your readers ‘Sale’ into summer time. Starting this Friday, 5/23, we’re offering a curated a mix of some of our seasonal favorites at up to 30% off! This will also be a redline sale, so your readers can use our Free Express Shipping coupon to stock up on summertime stunners. They’ll want to shop the sun-sational styles early, because they won’t stick around for long!

That time I dropped an F-bomb in an interview

My dad referred me for a position for a company just acquired by Microsoft. My dad, has his bachelors in Music from a CSU. He paid his way through his schooling. He didn't get into technology until 15 years into his life and career working in music at a church. Hopefully I'm setting the stage in explaining that, we hardly had a legacy in our families for technology work and this referral was a unique opportunity.

I was 2.5 years in my post-undergrad career and I was bored and angry to spend 8 hours a day in a sweatshop start up office that employed me when I only worked about 2 hours each day and had no signs for promotion. I agreed to the recruiter introduction knowing ultimately that I wasn't sure I was in the right space in the first place.

It's surprising really, I always had romantic dreams in high school about what life would be like for this californian native attending a private university on the east coast. I had visions of well-pressed khakis and Lacoste polos with Ralph Lauren cable knit sweaters draped over my shoulders. I had visions of man I'd meet, Jackson Montgomery, nicknamed Jax, affectionately.

I imagined cheers-ing with fantastically old vintage wine discussing the state of our current political atmosphere at dinner parties with diplomats and their family. And you know what? On the whole, my college experience was exactly that and so many more visions that I could never have anticipated.

But easily getting my first job in San Francisco, after graduating a semester early, finishing my last final on my 21st birthday, it all seemed, so easy. Now, now I told myself, I would start the rest of my life. Now I'm an adult, I have a job, from 7am to 5pm with a real 45 minute commute both ways, everyday. And instantly it felt, not right. I cried a lot that first year everyday after work. I lamented losing a summer for the first time in my entire life, even though I had worked for so many summers full-time, this time, seemed different, this time, it felt that I signed up for career that had no end. At least with a full time job in the summer time there would always be another school year, another semester to transition into soon, eventually.

Compound that with the fact that all of my friends were still in college and would be for the better part of the next 1-3 years. And that first job I "nailed"--I sucked at, or at least, I was average, I wasn't recognized. I was the first female on the sales team, and I felt lonely. If there is one way I can describe my ultimate experience of feeling "grown up" it's lonely.

So I found another job, the same job I opened with in this blog entry, the sweatshop start-up. I knew that I wanted to work, I loved to work, I'd been working since I was 15 officially and 11 unofficially. I loved to work, when I could see the results of my work. Blindly following anything without understanding how to learn or to see the impact though--that I had issue with.

First job: "great, so I sell to people over the phone, and I 'close' the deal, now what?" "oh I see, I manage the account too." "but my customer has a problem." "all the things you told me as benefits to our products while I was selling and 'closing the deal' aren't actually true." "my customer wants to cancel."

Second job: "great, so you want me to make you money on these websites." "so I made you money on these websites." "the needles hasn't moved in a while, I think the market has shifted." "I just added a million new keywords." "I just won a team competition."

So you can imagine my surprise when a seemingly flawless interview went so well at this company to be acquired by Microsoft invited me in. Except a day went by and I didn't hear back. Finally, I reached out to the recruiter. She told me I didn't get the job, and I asked why. She said I sworn in the interview. It was so weird, I imagine this might be how someone with tourettes might feel after swearing during some intense moment. I didn't remember swearing at all, in fact, I didn't feel that the interview went that awful, but it did.

I actually felt so ashamed and so confused. That shame and confusion probably built up and made it even more difficult to move forward at that moment in my life. Instead of laughing it off, I took it really personally. I took it to heart, am I swear-er? How did this happen? I've never had a problem with this type of situation before. No one would describe me a swear-er. What...the heck...happened?

I don't really know, and I'm not sure I have an explanation besides exhaustion and nerves. Having 7 years distance from this event reminds that, it all had to happen the way it happened. I can look back today and usually have a good laugh too because I'm thriving where I am now; my f-bomb wasn't a set back whatsoever. In fact, I still left the start up and I explored many jobs and side hustles. I had enough side hustles to be self-employed for two years. It was fantastic. I had the opportunity to go for long bike rides on Friday mornings and do my errands during the week when most of the foot-traffic folks were at their office 9-5. I was my own boss.

And so it all worked out, and I'm glad that few people knew about this story at the time. I kept my angst private. I work in corporate now, and I think if I had moved into corporate 7 years ago I would have very quickly denied so many qualities I cherish about myself (unique, original, pioneering, fearless) in order to fit in and enjoy my plush salary and benefits while I "played the game" to marginally get ahead. Or I would have quickly realized that I had a made a huge mistake. I'd passed a test, nailed the interview, to be granted entry into subjugating work climbing a ladder I might never care to see the top of.

I council many friends on getting jobs, reviewing resumes, preparing for interviews, it's something I absolutely enjoy and have always enjoyed. I always tell them this story about the time I dropped an F-bomb (and more S-bombs I'm sure) in an interview. I tell them that, even in the worst case scenario, things usually turn out just fine. It becomes a story defining your character rather than one defining a failure.

Wouldn't it be great if...

wouldn't it be great if...there was a place to go to for support and love.

Imagine your last break up? Who did you call first? Did you get what you needed from that conversation? Was it hard? Did you cry? What did you do next?

What about when you quit your job, got laid-off, or were fired. What did you do then? Who did you call? Who did you want to talk to?

Those dark moments, what did you do? Did you know what to do?

What about that time two years ago when your mother was ill, before she passed, didn't you struggle desperately that one time to find a babysitter? Who did you call? Do you wish there was an easier way?

How did you handle your last major transition? Did it take days, weeks, months, or years...decades?

What if there was a place to go, for you and women just like you who know their worth. Even if you don't know what that means just yet, you belong there. It's online, it's in person, it's supportive, a hug, an active listening ear, judgement free, relaxing, and engaging.

This place doesn't exist yet. The media, judgmental influences, our own self-doubt, hold us back from celebrating ourselves. Celebrate ourselves and introduce our friends to our new community friends who have open jobs their looking to fill by your other friends. It's a place to exchange recipes (yum, and they better be cheap and easy!) and learn about money (ugh, yes, it can be fun to learn about money!).

It's a place to find a babysitter, house keeper, dinner group, and a girl's night out, from trusted women, just like you.

This place can exist, in our hearts and our minds first, please dream with me to bring this forward.

If you're interested in joining just such a community, email me now or leave a comment below and let the inspired dialogue fly!

Wouldn't it be great if...there was a place to go to for support and love.

Get Hot Again on a Budget, Tip #2

Get Hot Again on a Budget: Tip #2 - Get organized.

The cheapest, easiest way to get hot again.

Never again struggle to find your keys, purse, laptop, paycheck stubs, jacket, shoe, shoes, lipgloss and more.

Organized rocks, inspirational!

Organized rocks, inspirational!

You will find the easiest way to get organized is: to have less stuff. To buy less stuff, and own less stuff. On many levels, you already understand this and it's incredibly budget-friendly to buy and own less stuff too.

Ugh, but HOW? You're already busy and stressed from you job, which is two hours of commuting away each day. You can hardly keep your head above water as it is!

Or, getting organized may be easy for me while I write my blog, but I don't have two precious kids running around and carpool!

Or how about, I just need to go through this pile of papers first, or take the trash out, or fix dinner, or do every other chore possible except getting organized.

You probably instead just want to go snowboarding...on the board that's dusty, because you haven't been in three years, and you still own it, and store it, when you could have sold it, and then bought or rented another for the one day of snowboarding you'll go ahead and do next year, sometime, maybe. The same is true of your art projects, crafts, and all hobbies; there just isn't enough time to have unfinished projects lying around.

Maybe it's a vocabulary issue.

Organized: "having one's affairs in order so as to deal with them efficiently."

That means, having a place for each item that you own, which is systematic, and that means that you never waste another moment wondering where something is. You can easily recall everything you own and where it is. You don't have to move tons of piles to access things. You can simply recall the item, go to the location of the item, pick it up, and use the item and then put the item back when you are done.

Therefore, the fewer items you have, the easier it is to get organized and stay organized.

It's also a process, so don't beat yourself up. Allow me to share a story:

I had been dating G for about six months. We usually spent the night at his place which was astonishingly sparse and clean and neat and organized. His calendar on his Palm Phone (lol, 2005!) was even color coded. We had gone out to some bar, but all those nights had already seemed to blend into one another, same bar, different night. We came back to my urban apartment, and...dun dun DUN! My walk in closet had to opened to put my clothes away. I stashed them in a two foot high heap which had continued to grow.

I'm a busy lady! I don't have time to do my laundry. Between work and a boyfriend who lived and went to business school 35 miles away, I barely have time to do that. But he saw the heap, and I felt ashamed. It's like my emotional walls had collapsed. I've always been a "neat" person, but this time, I knew I wasn't prioritizing my life at all. Not only that, I never felt put together, and always desired to buy more instead of doing my own laundry; not every time, but sometimes.

How was he able to manage it all, and why was I in the relationship struggling to "get it all done"? We had a heart to heart. We talked it out. We eventually stopped dating after a full year together because, I felt I was giving too much, and he wasn't getting enough in the relationship. Ironic really, that my messy, dis-organized closet, easily hidden behind a simple door, most likely was hiding that secret. That secret I knew but didn't want to admit to myself: that this wasn't a relationship that was working for me.

There were other things in my life that weren't working for me either. At the same time this relationship ended, I had found a new job, and quit my current job, and things mellowed out. I got organized, and I exercised more. Simple things, huge rewards in terms of my own happiness.

As women, we spend so much time on our appearance and in our closets. What's hiding in yours? Have a junk drawer? Is there an area in your life that is dis-organized? Consider what it could mean for you, to clean out, declutter, and organize that space. What would you be allowing in if you did? Are you brave enough to open up that space? You'll never know until you do. Now THAT'S hot!

2014, April : in with injury prevention, out with spending $

For 2014, inspired by many habit-enthusiasts online and in my life, I narrowed down a list of "in with" habits and "out with" habits for each month this year. That's 12 habits to introduce and 12 habits to remove. Most of the habits involve free, easy ways to question my own habits of consumption and negativity as well as free, easy ways to add in more healthful options that are fun, and that I can stick with long-term for positive results.

Here's a recap so far for 2014 "in with, out with" habits:

Start

January

February

March

Now for this month - 2014, April: in with injury prevention, out with spending $

April was significantly better in terms of adherence than any other month. And it was my easiest month so far. It was a relief especially since as I write this post in May, my new "in with, out with" is causing me severe headaches, which I'll go into at the end of this post, and since March was so terribly challenging.

Add in an injury prevention workout once each week

Before: I am relatively sedentary in my current professional lifestyle with some walks scattered throughout my week. I'd like to get back into more aggressive and consistent physical activity without injuries and soreness preventing me from "sticking to" any new routine. You know that feeling, right? Where you go to the gym for three days in a row and feel so sore by day four that you take a "day off to recover" and never quite get back into the routine? I know because I have a strong history of being extremely active, but over the past 4-5 years, I have progressively decreased the amount of activity in my day and increased the amount of sitting in my day.

I took a note from Tim Ferris' Four Hour Body, which I absolutely enjoyed reading cover to cover, to add in a weekly routine of stretching to prevent injuries. My recommendation is to treat this routine as "play" giving yourself unlimited hours on a random Saturday to just enjoy reading and learning the moves before you introduce this routine into your schedule. Additionally, I find that Tim emphasizes this workout is especially geared for people who go from sitting all day to becoming more active rapidly.

After: The body does work based on its most recent memories! After sitting so often in my week, adding in stretching reminded me of being a kind, rolling around on the floor, and allowed me to feel more movement in my limbs. It was difficult to make sure I added in the workout, but each time I did, only once per week, I instantly felt better and slept better. I used an iPhone timer to help time my moves. I will certainly keep this item in my weekly schedule. In fact, I did go to the gym ONCE this month to do sprints on a treadmill, and with this routine, even though I worked my body pretty aggressively without any "build up," I didn't experience any soreness, zero, zilch, nada.

Take out spending on anything new

Before: I've gone an entire year without spending more than $100 on new items. This is especially helpful for people with clutter or spending problems to see how they can decrease their spending and increase their creative uses for their current items. This was by far the easiest goal I've had all year.

After: I travelled to surprise and celebrate my best friend from childhood for her 30th birthday. I was bummed at first that I would be making her card from scratch. I took an hour to scan about a dozen photos from our childhood and teenage years and quickly put a card together to print out. I wish I had better paper to print it out on, but she did think it was special even though I wished to have Hallmark make a bigger impact. I learned to keep better paper on hand, and got into a groove on how to quickly make cards on my laptop. Lastly, I cheated once by buying a financial calculator for a class I'm taking. I don't regret this purchase at all, and the "used" financial calculators were all the same price, so I opted for the new item. If that's the only thing in 30 days, a $25 financial calculator for class, then I'm not too torn up over it.

Conclusion

Overall, I'm quite pleased. It's been such an adventure and surprising to see which habits have been easier and which habits have been more difficult. I will keep the injury prevention work out in my week, ideally, I'll be adding in 5-7 various routines to alternate throughout my weeks and have 5 days of movement introduced and enjoyable without a gym and without spending any money. I won't continue "out with spending" but I will continue to keep my spending in check. I think an annual "monthly detox from spending" money will be part of my life going forward because it's good practice to exercise the creativity in using what you have, borrowing from others, or going without.

I've also had marginal success keeping up with ten pushups each day and ten squats each day. I continue to struggle with caffeine and alcohol abstinence, but neither are out of control and average about 1-2 per day. Ironically, I haven't noticed much in the way of "complaining" lately, and I have decidedly taken more action on achieving my goals. When I'm not experiencing a stressful situation, I try to "tune out" and make sure that stressful situations only impact me in the moment and not through reliving a past situation or future-tripping for an imagined future situation. From everything I've been reading and listening to through my media consumption, meditation is one habit that I haven't really stuck with that I'd really prefer if I did.

Coming up in May: in with yoga once per week, out with caffeine

While coffee and tea and the rare Cherry Coke Zero are the only forms of caffeine I consume, I'm choosing to give up all caffeine. I gave up just coffee in January which is a challenge, but not impossible with tea available and the holiday break to sleep off any withdrawal lethargy. So six days into May and already, I'm exhausted, achy, sniffly, and desperately miss caffeine. Let's hope for a better review by the end of the month :)!

How to Get Hot Again? On a budget.

How to Get Hot Again? I'd like to share with you the guide...on a budget.

I write about women and personal finance. But as with most things in life, rarely is a financial "issue" about money. Many people admit, "if I had a million dollars..." that they would never stress again, they'd be in great shape, they'd be happier, and on and on and on. If that were true, then why do so many lottery winners end up filing for bankruptcy (it's about 1 in 3 to 1 in 5, so 33%-55% depending on your source.

Additionally, what I've found is that for me and my friends and family, usually, more money won't solve a money problem. So what that means is, if you're in debt, a raise may help you pay off your debt, or the habits that got you into debt in the first place may allow you to spend more money with your new raise, get used to spending more money, and never actually make a difference in paying off you debt. But by all means ladies: ALWAYS ask for the raise, ALWAYS learn and practice how to negotiate on behalf of yourself and your dependents.

I attribute my own "hotness," which for me became more about deciding for myself what "I need to feel beautiful," to listening to my own "inner parent." Instead of the inner child we hear so often about, the inner parent is the voice inside you guiding you in the directions you need to go in throughout your life to share your true essence with the world--how beautiful is that? The inner parent guides, it does not command, demand, or ever mention the word "should." Your inner parent is comforting and soft, she tells you gently when you need to sleep more, move your hot body more, and give or receive more hugs.

How to Get Hot Again Tip #1: Smile

It's 100% free, and make sure to give a genuine smile. Sunny day? Smile. And if there is absolutely nothing to smile about in your life, smile at yourself in the mirror. Look into your eyes and simply smile, genuinely. In fact, I haven't yet found the reference but studies show that women who have undergone plastic surgery type treatments which result in more pronounced "smiley" faces (i.e. face lifts or botox) actually report feeling happier. I'm only pushing for women to smile more.

As a woman with a professional career in her background, I can say that I've also read that smiling in interviews or smiling "too much" at work can lead to others in the workplace taking you less seriously. But I've been taken too seriously, less seriously, laughed at, talked negatively about, sized out of a role, and flat out ignored in addition to being judged about my appearance for dressing too boring, too sultry, too girlie, and too manly. Is it because of my smile? Not sure, it could be a whole slew of reasons frankly.

This first tip to "smile" isn't about being this buxom blond or whatever "ideal" of beauty we have in our heads and the perceptions that come with it. These tips, the first of which is to SMILE, is to feel hot again. To, in essence, feel happier with what we've got: our body, our life circumstances, everything about the present moment.

When it comes to Getting Hot Again, what topics are you dear hot readers interested in learning more about? What do you do to get hot again? Let us know in the comments below!

Hiring a financial planner...when you're in debt

I have a lot of people asking me for money advice. And it's fine and good because, I LOVE to talk about money. I could talk about money all day long.

I'm reminded of a story when I was about 4 years old. I came back from church Sunday school one Sunday morning after "toddler's first tithing lesson," which explained to young Christians, to put away 10% of our money for the church, for God, essentially, for do-gooding besides your own needs. I felt called and inspired! The first chance I had, I went to my bedroom, stood next to my dresser, pulled out each drawer, and climbed up to the top of the dresser in order to reach my glass, full of coin, piggy bank. I was so close to my dream: giving my money away as a tithe to the church. If 10% is good, I feel moved to give 50%! Or in little toddler's head: more!

At the same time, my mom had left to go grocery shopping and left my dad, now promptly asleep on the couch downstairs snoring away, to "watch" my older brother and me. I knew in order to open the piggy bank, which was vacant of any manual way to open, would require...surgery of sorts. I was going to have to break it open, and my wooden medical hammer just wouldn't suffice. So after taking my piggy bank down from the top of my dresser, I quietly went downstairs, tiptoed so as not to wake my hard working dad, went into the garage, and found the hammer. Re-traced my steps back up to my room, hammer in hand.

I knelled down on the carpet, and proceeded to gently, yet firmly, go to town on this piggy bank. CRASH! I opened/smashed the glass piggy bank open, finally! Coins everywhere! So I grabbed my best, largest, white, long-strapped patent leather purse and fished out from the shards of glass all of my coins and put them into the purse. I did my best to clean up all of the glass and shards from the carpet and put those pieces into the garbage can. Being the responsible child I was, I quietly returned the hammer.

Two reactions:

My Mom: instantly screaming when she came to my room and I explained to her what I'd done. Before I had a chance to explain my intent and motivation, she continued to yell through the house and confront my father with her opinions about his "babysitting/parenting" skills while multi-tasking in his sleep during the day time. I felt ashamed, I must have done something incredibly awful to trigger this yelling.

I basically grounded myself to my bed. The house was tense, I wasn't sure what went so wrong in my master plan to give more money as my tithe next week in church.

My Dad: what felt like hours later, approached me kindly after asking if he could "come in" to which I nodded my approval. He sat next to me on my bed and gently asked me a few questions. Allowing me explain my motivation, I think it turned out that he was equal parts touched and impressed that his daughter had such noble intent and calling. After a long, reverent, period of silence he says, "next time Elizabeth, make sure you wrap the piggy bank with a towel first."

Ah ha! Now THAT'S parenting!

See, what my Dad recognized was, it's not about being critical of the person I'm growing up to be and my unique, natural motivations to randomly bust open a glass piggy bank, for him, parenting was about guiding me to make better decisions in my life moving forward, starting from exactly where we find ourselves: in the present.

In a word, I've always loved helping people and I've always loved money. Putting the two together is my personal heaven, my personal salvation - and it's incredibly fun for me! It's just such a fascinating concept these little pieces of linen ("cash") that we exchange our time in order to acquire and have other people's goods.

But in being a money coach, I have to build value. If you do not see your net worth increase, or have the information you need to improve your income and reduce your spending, YOU WON'T HIRE ME AGAIN! I'm only interested in helping women build wealth, security, and freedom. I want them to think about their life "goals" and with me as their coach, think: "to-do list item #4: manage money (check! hired Elizabeth)" and it's done, they no longer have to fret, worry, or have over-whelming thoughts about how to manage their income, spending, and net worth. Retirement ready? Bring it! And let's cheers our lattes to that. I never want a women to feel "stuck" or "fearful" around her money ever again. I don't want a women to ever feel separated from her dreams because she's scared of money.

But what happens when people approach me who are in debt?

I take my Dad's approach. I can advise anyone in debt for a free session meeting you exactly where we are, right in the present moment! At the end of our open and honest discussion, we can still put a plan together on your next steps, get you on the road to your dreams, on your way to pay off all of your debt, and then you'll be more than ready to hire me as your money coach to help you build and maximize your wealth and net worth at that time.

Why?

Because I want to help everyone! But it's unethical to preach personal finance and responsible money management if I decided to charge people for my services when I know every extra penny of theirs should go toward paying off their debt. I'm more than happy to help so...when do we get started?

Contact me now to join in one of my two coaching spots available now.

A HOUSE is not a HOME

Question from my co-worker, who is very smart and charismatic, and someone I've come to admire:

"Should my wife and I buy a house?"

The facts:

1. We all live in the Bay Area outside of currently one of the most expensive city in the US, San Francisco.

2. He's in a very stable marriage.

3. They live off of one income and save the rest into a quickly accessible, but low-interest earning savings accounts.

4. He puts the max amount of money into his employee sponsored 401k ($17,500 this year).

5. They pay $2400 per month in rent currently.

My checklist for buying a home generally looks like this:

-Pay for renter's insurance first while you rent

-Calculate your housing costs (mortgage, property taxes, housing maintenance, moving costs, etc)

-Take that amount, and subtract your current rent.

-Put that remainder amount into a savings account automatically (that you don't spend on other stuff! If you've never saved before, withdrawing for vacation and crap will be oh so tempting!) on the first each month; this acts like a "simulated" housing expense that you'd experience once you own your home. This account can be your down payment account too. This is an extremely good idea.

-Do not accumulate more stuff like clothes, furniture, and pots/pans. Do not "buy for your home" before you purchase and move in. You'll just have to pay to move it all and experience more discomfort before you move in a tiny cramped rental. Besides, most people buy all new stuff to better "fit" their new digs. Consider borrowing (store and use furniture for friends who are traveling without charging a storage fee), pick up freecycle.org goods, be creative or just do without. Need a shelf? How about tossing those items that you need the shelf for. Need drawer organizers? Try using tupperwares and shoe boxes. This way, you get to see what you use and like before you upgrade anyways.

-Commit to own less in general, have a garage sale, donate to charity (the year you buy, so you can use the tax deduction for these donation receipts--be sure to get the receipts).

-Make sure you're maxing out all of your retirement benefits, accounts, and consider an IRA or RothIRA to max out. A house is a great "savings account", but if you end up needing that money one day, you get it simply by: selling your house. Keep savings and retirement in mind another tool in your financial toolbox to make sure you're setting your future up the best way possible.

-Make sure your first property is for personal use, not for renting out.

-Do you want to live and take care of your primary residence?

The Answer?

They meet all of the requirements on my check list but, I told them not to buy a home right now.

Turns out, my friend and his wife love to travel. They want to live more flexibly than taking care of their property when they save currently and have a landlord for those items.

If this couple didn't save for retirement, and they were asking "should I buy a home OR save for retirement," I'd recommend: DO BOTH.

But really, I'd say invest in your retirement because, it's a savings habit first and foremost. Once you've maxed out your retirement, you can then move more savings and funds into an account for a home, one day, when you can afford it, and your lifestyle is ready for buying a home.

I know there is a lot of hysteria to buy a home, but consider this: it's the #1 best decision to procrastinate because while you save cash you can be ready for a real estate bubble burst and buy property at a better value. Until then, you're retirement funds are building, and you're building a savings habit which will put you in an incredibly strong position to buy a home when prices are right and your lifestyle is ready.

Happy living...a house is not a home. A home is where you stay dry and warm and hug your loved ones. That is all; ownership or renting are not required for this kind of home in a real sense.

What would you tell this friend? Rent or Buy?

Lies we're told about Money

I write about women and personal finance, and by all accounts, financially, I'm above average for savings, investing, and income for my demographics in the US (white, female, college educated, technology sector, etc). Not bad for someone who has quit jobs without backups plans, was completely broke about seven years ago, and who loves to spend on what she loves to spend on!

Don't tell me lies, you dummy! This guy is a life-sized figurine, not an actual human being ;)!

Don't tell me lies, you dummy! This guy is a life-sized figurine, not an actual human being ;)!

Seven years after fully diving into personal finance and teaching myself how to build wealth, I find that a lot of money advice isn't new, complicated, or different. In fact, the largest source of money "advice" we receive on a regular basis isn't even advice at all. Most of the information we receive about money and wealth are all based on LIES. These lies are fed to us through entertainment, the media, and advertising. I should know, I worked in online marketing for a long time. We advertising and marketing professionals do our best to direct your attention and spending dollars to what we are selling.

It isn't that we truly believe that we can get wealthy by being a celebrity that we see on TV and in the media or on an advertisement, but we're force fed so many messages on where to spend our money. As women, we want the prestige and recognition, so we buy the labels and try to live lifestyles and learn to speak in the same vocabulary as Kim Kardashian without understanding the facts from the fictions. For instance, many celebrities fully own the fact that they do not buy designer clothing, they are GIVEN designer clothing. They wear their free clothing using their bodies as walking billboards. Which isn't a "lie" or "wrong," but if you, the viewer, aren't aware that this is happening, you can be passively persuaded to continue to spend money on an image that frankly, isn't real, and never was real.

Lie: If I buy the best, most expensive wardrobe, I will also be successful and admired.

Fact: The successful people are successful for other reasons than their wardrobes; they themselves are successful precisely because they do NOT buy the best, most expensive wardrobe, but they "do something successful" and in exchange are given those clothes for free.

What can we do about it: Define what "looks beautiful" on our bodies independent of the media and television. We can take care on what we choose to wear, how much we're willing to spend on clothes, how we treat our fine garments, and how we take care of our bodies that we adorn with each piece of clothing we own and wear. We can buy for value, not too much, wash and maintain and love what we do have in our closets, and keep our focus on improving the health bodies rather than expensive labels.

Now, it does depend on what you consider "success" to be, but financially, I do believe as long as Kim Kardashian is happy and has managed her money properly, she does not have to work ever again. And if she does work it is because she chooses to do so. And she is just one example. For a more high brow example, think Oprah Winfrey and her "favorite things," which she did not buy at full price in order to give away to hundreds of fans in her audiences on her TV show, most likely, she received a significant price cut on those items in exchange for promoting her "fandom" of each favorite item.

Lie: The more money we make, the happier we will be!

Fact: After about $70,000 per year, per household (!), general satisfaction of American adults sees slim to no change for every dollar earned annually above that amount. In fact, in certain cases of windfalls (making a huge amount of money from an inheritance, lottery, etc) can actually result in a decrease of happiness by about 50%. So 1 in 2 folks that receive all of the wealth they could ever dream of or imagine? That's right, they end up broker than they started with collapsed marriages and slew of other problems. I myself can say, as my income has increased, my happiness level...has largely remained the exact same. Going into trying to reach my financial goals seven years ago, I thought that I would actually "be happier" and "feel happier" once I became wealthier, but what I found was that, on this side of my financial problems, it's a complete lie.

What we can do instead: Define what really makes "us" happy. This means shutting off the Real Housewives on the TV once in awhile, it means having a little "emo" journal night alone instead of bar hopping for a hot man to "save us," and it may also mean asking ourselves the really sucky, scary, questions about life and seeing what naturally comes up for us (What happens if I don't meet "Mr. Right," like...ever? What if I'm single forever? What if, no matter what, my parents will never be satisfied with my choices?). Generally it also means that, if "money" is the answer to any of our problems, then we're not solving that problem correctly. There is always a better answer than "I can't afford that" or "I just don't make enough money to..."

Lie: I have to learn about the stock market, day trading, and investing to become rich.

Fact: There are very few successful day traders, the stock market itself is no more complex than a casino (remember, the house always wins...always), and most rich people become rich by working hard and persisting again and again after failure or are simply, born into money.

What we can do about it: You know what the first step to become an investor is? Save up a boat load of cash. If you do not know how to save up ANY cash then, don't ever worry about what "investing" or "stock market" mean. So...don't worry about investing ever again! THERE IS SOME FREEDOM IN THAT! Give up the idea of investing, just for now, don't put that dumb pressure on yourself! Let...it...go. Just start saving some cash and watch that cash grow. I have 1000's of tips how to do this, but it will be different for every single person. What I can say helped me the most? I committed to tracking everything I spent money on, and had money automatically taken from me into a hard to get at account. I was too lazy to move these funds and spend them. At the same time, I worked tirelessly on making more money, and instead of spending the more money? I increased the amount that was "taken" from me into this secret savings account. I just don't touch this money, and as far as I'm aware, it doesn't really exist because I've already "spent it" on my retirement, my future house, and whatever else I am saving for.

Lie: I can't save money because I like to buy lattes and designer jeans.

Fact: I buy designer coffees and designer jeans. But after buying two of each in one day, I realized that I would probably never fall off the deep end and end up in irreversible debt and then have to sign myself up for a Spenders-Anonymous program. Lattes and jeans aren't the reason why you can't save money. You can't save money because either...you don't want to, or your don't know how.

What we can do about it: Learn how to save from...people who are good savers. Develop some of their habits that end up working for you. Frankly, earning more is also an excellent way to "save more," but won't really make a difference if you have a spending problem in the first place. If you want to learn how to save, start hanging out with your frugal Aunt so-and-so, and pick up some her habits.

Lie: Save for retirement? I don't even have enough room in my budget NOW to save!

Fact: Um, if you're in your teens, 20s, 30s, or 40s, those are your most productive years to EARN MONEY. If you can't afford to save for retirement, then you will never be able to afford to retire.

What we can do about it: How do I even know this is a lie? Because I told myself the same thing when I was making pretty decent money at age 22. Now I realize that it was that I couldn't AFFORD to save for retirement. It was that my LIFESTYLE was more important for me to spend on than saving for my retirement. That being said, start with $1.00 per month. Can you save $1.00 per month? Can you open a RothIRA today? Can you set up an automatic payment for $1.00 per month? Then fact: you CAN save for retirement. One...dollar...at a time. Remember this, the number one thing people over the age of 40 advise younger people on is to save for retirement, aggressively, and early, the earlier the better, and there is no such thing as "too early."

Lie: I'm just going to save up some money, quit my job, and travel. It will change my life!

Fact: Committing to saving for any goal, executing it, and introducing a change as significant as quitting a job without another job lined up is risky, and it will change your life, but not for the reasons you think. True, other cultures will open your mind, expose you to new realities and beautiful ways to look at humanity, but the reasons why it changes peoples' lives is it focuses an individually on a savings goal and how to creatively make changes to reach that goal. Future "travel" expenses become more important that current "desired" expenses. This shift itself is enough to change your life, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper to save for travel than it is to actually travel.

What we can do about it: Travel, save up and do it. You won't regret it. However, remember that you bring yourself with you along with your baggage - physical and emotional. If you think people are out to "get you" in the US, you'll think the same abroad until proven otherwise. If you meet a guy and pine over his lack of "calling you back," you generally take that with you too unless you get carried away with the "this only happens in Cabo mindset," which is the "you" you want to actually get to know when you travel a la the "what would you do if..." mentality. Because what you really want is probably to "feel free from daily expectations of what to do, who gets to tell you how to do it, and worry whether you're doing it right." So, figure out ways to introduce these feelings into your life TODAY. Free style dance is an excellent way to be free of expectations, no one can tell you how to do it, and when done in private, no one except yourself can tell you that you're doing it right or wrong, frankly it's free style so...even in public no one can tell you what's right from wrong or good from bad, but they make gawk, point, and stare--hopefully they join in though ;). Or how about taking the "long way home," take a different way home on your commute, disregard the typical "rush hour" for a "relax hour and a half." Take your time, try to get lost finding a short cut. How about taking a hike nearby at lunch. Or what about going to concert you'd never consider usually.

What does this mean? There is no magic pill to getting rich. Just like there is no magic pill to losing weight. But in weight, money, and in all areas of life, what holds us back isn't "food" or "money" itself, just the REAL HABITS to get to where we'd like to be.

Because, as James Altucher would like to recommend that I say about investment advice, frankly I DON'T KNOW. I don't know how to make you rich. I don't know what will help you save more money. But what do I actually know? I know a few good tried and true habits on how I did it and how others did it too. We're NO DIFFERENT than you. I promise, we're no different than you. Our incomes now were just mere "wouldn't it be cool if...we made over $100k a year," outlandish and FUN dreams just a few years back...until those dreams became reality. And most of that reality doesn't include glamour, the stock market, or other fancy ideas from the media and entertainment industry.

Parting notes on the stock market: I think women especially, and maybe plenty of men too, glamorize the stock market and Wall Street and corresponding media outlets on the financial industry. Movies like American Psycho and the Wolf on Wall Street do nothing but confirm this glamorization of investing and the stock market. But it isn't really that glamourous...I should know, I'm an expert because I've dated an investment banker before and spent time with his friends in the investing community. Ok, maybe this doesn't quite qualify me as an expert, but in my defense, all of the investment bankers that I got to know throughout my dating experience turned out to be incredibly over-worked, rarely saw their friends and family, and often had crazy rituals (or in some cases: addictions) just to make it through each grueling 17+ hour work day, commute, and getting pooped on by upper management for year after year of their career along with other investment bankers, all vying for the exact same management position only one of the group of them would ever actually "win" and be promoted into.

So why do we glamorize the stock market and investing? Why don't we glamorize the retired couple, he a teacher, she a hair dresser, who saved their whole lives, at careers they actually loved and enjoyed, raised their kids, paid off their house, live in the midwest and now get to play bridge, volunteer for city government, and golf everyday when they're not spending time with their grandkids? I largely suspect it is simply because....those retirees aren't trying to sell us anything!

Now dear readers, what lies about money have you come across? Please share in the comments below!

When s*** gets real...catastrophes and hitting rock bottom.

You know, being a blogger about women and personal finance often reminds me of why I attempt to write "compelling, persuasive content to encourage women to better manage their money, easily." Why is that last part so important? That work easily and ultimately EASY? It's because money management, like any other life habit or behavior is hard to start, but incredibly easy once you get started. However, like putting rocks in a stream to divert water in another direction, it's difficult to begin, but once you get started, it naturally gets loads easier over time.

Gracefully borrowed from: http://mastermanifesting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/rockbottom-300x195.jpg

Gracefully borrowed from: http://mastermanifesting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/rockbottom-300x195.jpg

How do I even know? Honestly, I had to bottom out. I had put my own dramatic "catastrophes" in front of me that I had to face with little money, humbled ego, and completely unaware of the "how." I had to go totally broke before I ever started to make any progress financially. I had a college degree, a fantastic urban lifestyle, and a loving boyfriend. I had to lose it all, and frankly I lost it all BY CHOICE, and go into debt, and grab myself a minimum wage job, and just...start-over from there. That's how my "fortune" began. It's not glamorous; it doesn't feel cool. Consider this: to have your friends and former co-workers who now make substantial money with tremendous responsibilities from three companies ago see you working at Banana Republic and you can still have your wits, your smile, and an explanation (not that you need one) to make sense of the whole situation!

And you know what? I know that I'm lucky because, I was even able to find myself a job that I actually enjoyed. Minimum wage in retail actually really, truly did make me happier even though my finances became extremely tight, extremely quickly from my previous salaries. And then I was able to start a business, and then, because I was already used to living on very little, I could make cool, interesting choices like starting that business creatively and make money from Day 1. I was creative and innovative enough to start a business that was profitable from the very first day, and doubled revenue year after year. Let me say that again: profitable from day 1--my first "client proposal" turned out to be paid for, worth 10 hours of work at $45/hour back in 2007. That means that every dollar I made self-employed, added to my minimum wage lifestyle, which I was already happy with. Every hour in my business, turned into $45 and on up to invest in my retirement, buy healthier organic foods, put money into my savings, and travel more.

There is something about bottoming out, hitting rock bottom, and experiencing catastrophes that makes habit change...easier.

You can see how this fact makes it tough for anyone to be an "expert" in anything, it requires work, and maybe even some pain. It requires dramatic shifts and changes, but value neutral, thankfully, the act of "letting go" can help tremendously in this process.

But it doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't have to be difficult to introduce changes into your life: from improving finances, health, and your relationships.

In fact, we've all seen it before if you've ever heard of, read of, or encountered an "addict" or someone suffering from addiction in your life. There is a moment, when an addict, hits rock bottom. That's when aggressive change can happen quickly, because it HAS too happen or else, potentially death. I've read about these "rock bottom" moments in personal finance here, here, and here too. As for other references to "rock bottom" moments, look here, here, and here.

Moreover, besides sudden death, or a long, slow, tortuous death from poor habits or environmental factors, or even simply, a failure to thrive in life and merely just survive M-F, 9a-5p at a crummy job, bottoming out, or hitting "rock bottom" is actually a treasured gift, and the most ideal situation short of making, sensible, small moves directing you towards your goals.

I love this humor-based story to better outline what this looks like:

There was an old man sitting on his porch watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into the house. 

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came and the people on board said, "You can't stay here you have to come with us." 

The old man replied, "No, God will save me." So the boat left. A little while later the water was up to the second floor, and another rescue boat came, and again told the old man he had to come with them. 


The old man again replied, "God will save me." So the boat left him again. 

An hour later the water was up to the roof and a third rescue boat approached the old man, and tried to get him to come with them. 

Again the old man refused to leave stating that, "God will save him." So the boat left him again. 

Soon after, the man drowns and goes to heaven, and when he sees God he asks him, "Why didn't you save me?" 

God replied, "You dummy! I tried. I sent three boats after you!!"

What are you being "dumb" about in your life? I can't tell you. You can probably pay a professional to tell you. But ultimately, you already know the answer. It's those tough conversations you don't want to have with someone in your life or at work. It's that retirement account you never started to fund. It's that consumer debt you racked up when you were at that crummy job. It's the bags of news clothes hidden in the back of your closet from your spouse. It's that secret snacking you conspire in when no one is looking, making you feel like a complete fraud in your public, weight loss efforts. It's your commitment to once again, quit your job, and yet, taking no related action, and staying there day...after day...after day.

But it doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't have to be difficult to introduce changes into your life: from improving finances, health, and your relationships.

Don't wait a minute longer. Take action now. But make it small, meaningful, and fun. Just one small action, and do it repeatedly--not because you want to see results, but because you want to move slightly in a better direction. But not because I told you so, but because YOU TOLD YOURSELF SO.

So let's together, choose to reframe "ROCK bottom." Let's choose our rock bottom moments, by placing an actual rock in that river! Let's start with one rock in the right direction for our lives. On our divine journeys, let's divert the streams in our life that are flooding our health, bank accounts, and humble existence. Let's allow for our streams to move inch by inch, in the correct directions for our wholeness and light to shine.

I'm going to say this: you deserve "it", whatever that "it" is for you. You're worth it, and you're life will shine as it already does even if you can't "see that yet." But "getting there" will just be another stepping stone on your journey, not the end of it. You won't suddenly "be happy" when you get "it" or by "getting there."

You will achieve something, and then you will decide, what's next to reach for, so be sure to enjoy your journey and get there and achieve it. Jump in that first boat that you're sent. I'm no different than you. I've felt and continue to feel all of the same insecurities as anyone else. I've regretted things I could have said but didn't, I've regretted things I've over-shared and said and probably could have gone without saying, I feel like a fraud at at least one point in each day, and I do wonder if anyone will finally "figure out" how much I don't yet know.

I sometimes wait in suspense for "this F moment," but you know what - it's rarely ever come to fruition. No one has pointed me out with a scarlet "F" (for failure or fraud") on my chest and called me out as such except...for my very own self-criticism. But then on the good days and better days I look back and say with extreme happiness and clarity and remark, "oh, so that's why things had to happen that way. That's why I did what I did there in that moment. Thank goodness I acted as I had." If you keep moving forward, and hop in those miracle boats, and keep moving forward, you realize that, even though it's scary and uncertain while you move forward, you do get somewhere, and with enough time, that somewhere makes sense and makes you happier and in turn, that happiness is more easily shared to the world around you.

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 
― 
Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

Share with us in the comments below what small, tiny change you commit to invest in your life?

What to do when you get robbed: Top 8 Tips

What does getting robbed have to do with personal finance? There are some catastrophes in life you cannot prepare for, but usually, good, simple, easy best practices and insurance offerings help for peace of mind and financial coverage. Being aware and prepared helps, but no amount of awareness and preparation can keep you protected from the feeling of violation that being robbed can have on a person. I can only hope this advice helps others who may encounter being robbed from their vehicle or home.

When I was robbed, while on a hike which was maybe 1 mile away from the scene of the crime, my car was broken into and all the contents were stolen including my hidden purse and it's contents: my camera, my wallet, my keys, a library book (which was literally a history book about the exact geographical area I was hiking at, at that very moment, in my sub-urban town--which felt the most violating to lose for some reason), and plenty more items. In addition to the broken window, and countless hours calling the police, my credit card companies, replacing keys, and missing work, I have to say the emotional damage felt the worst. Someone targeted me, at 7:00am, while I was in a very peaceful parking area for a very popular, peaceful hiking trail to go for a jog with a co-worker and friend.

One person had the ability to completely rock my day, the following days after, and my general sense of security. All in the $1000 of stolen items and repairs just didn't really bother me because...money and things are generally replaceable. Having a sense of security, especially as a single female who was living by herself for the first time, is something that isn't as easily replaceable. It seems as though no one is immune either. I'm writing this blog post today because recently, my boyfriend's business had one of their vans broken into and $1,000's of equipment and tools were stolen and the van itself was damaged. Both in my experience and my boyfriend's business experience, insurance deductibles just weren't enough to cover our losses, we just had to "eat" the losses ourselves.

So I wanted to put together a list of creative ways to help insure ourselves from the losses which are somewhere between insurance deductibles and a general pain in the ass/totally ruin any sense of security we have. It's not an exhaustive list, and it's more of a brainstorm, so keep your ideas in mind too and make sure to include them in the comments below. Since I don't believe that any human can ever feel 100% "secure", it's always great to have some peace of mind that our actions may discourage attacks against our property or at least give us some semblance of "offense", and the chance to defend our stolen property.

1. Renter's Insurance (Homeowner's insurance if you own a home). When I got my renter's insurance, at $1,000 deductible (that means I pay the first $1,000 in losses and then they start to pay for the rest after that of the value of my losses), it costs less than $10 per month. Additionally, it lowered my auto insurance because i used the same provider and...it actually turned out to be less expensive for me to combine both policies than to just have auto insurance. SAY WHAT?! Seriously, it was cheaper for me to have both policies. It gives me some peace of mind, and renter's insurance, check with your agent and policy first, generally covers theft of items from your personal vehicle too.

2. Own Less Crap When I lost my items, I never ended up replacing my camera and now only use my iPhone. I also threw away or cancelled old loyalty cards, credit cards, etc. Not only that, when you have less stuff, you become less of a target for theft, be it in your car, purse, or home.

3. Carry Less Crap I probably struggle the most with this item, but carrying less stuff in your car, purse, or backpack, and even wallet, means that you have less to lose if you were robbed or even if you accidentally misplaced any items. It builds resilience and security from be able to go out of the house and run errands with fewer items, not more. Cut up old insurance cards and old credit cards and regularly purge your wallets, backpacks, etc. It means you carry less (win!) and you have less to lose (win!).

4. Keep a List Somewhere in your life, and in my case, I use a Google Spreadsheet, keep a list of all of your cards, insurance numbers, those URLs, the contact phone numbers, perhaps the name of your account executive you work with, and the usernames. Totally optional whether you put the passwords, and since nothing is safe or sacred online, I encourage you consider anything you save online (and Google Spreadsheets are saved and live "online"). This way, be sure to just bookmark your Google spreadsheet and update it as you receive new cards, new accounts, and change your usernames, etc. Some experts prefer to "print" these document lists out and place into a binder that remains, at home at all times! But the act of updating a file, printing, and placing into a binder is a HUGE barrier for me, so I that's why I choose a google spreadsheet that I can access from any browser and any of my devices with internet.

5. Never Carry Keys I accomplish this by using a combination lockbox on my door handle that contains my key. This way, my keys are less likely to be "lost" from my purse or "stolen." I find it incredibly convenient when I have guests at my home, a responsible house sitter while I'm away, and convenient housekeeping and other household services. In addition, at my apartment, I have a carport spot to park my car. This spot has extra storage protected by another combination lock. I keep an extra full set of keys to my home and car here (separately), hidden in this locker.

6. Immediately Cancel All Cards Once you have a single place for all of your logins, URLs, and accounts, it becomes incredibly easy to call each number and cancel your cards. In my case, I had to go home, miss a half day of work, and search through all of my files and do online searches for all of my banks in order to call and cancel all of my accounts while also working with the local Deputy Sheriff to track down the robber after each failed charge on my Amex that we leaving a "trail." Acting quick is CRITICAL when you've been robbed and having a place to start increases your chance at responding quickly.

7. Afterwards, Process the Lesson For me, I learned...all of the advice here! I had a pity party, and was in a whirlwind of replacing items like my driver's license and emergency credit cards since I would need both to rent a car for a wedding all the way on the other side of the country that I was attending three days after being robbed. After a few weeks had passed, I went into a full assault and implemented all of the processes and items you see here. I learned especially to carry less, and pack items in my trunk before I ever arrive at a location, even "safe" areas. I share this information because, on a rainy day, it's an easy activity, and it'll be way better to know you have these steps in place before you ever get robbed.

8. More Safety, What's Next Do whatever you need to do to FEEL safer. For me this meant, packing my car with extras like food/water/spare tire stuff/filling my spare tire/insurance cards, stocking my kitchen with a fire extinguisher, ensuring my fire and carbon monoxide alarms worked, installing a hotel-style indoor only extra deadbolt on my door, installing extra windows locks as a deterrent, making sure my more valuable items were not visible from my windows, and in general, constantly taken inventory on what I don't need/don't use and getting rid of those items. If you would like pepper spray or to take a personal defense course, do that too. Never step considering ways to better protect yourself.

Those are the top 8 tips I cannot stress enough to anyone who's been robbed or would like to know how to better protect themselves.

What are your best tips to recover from being robbed?