100 Day Challenge

With last week’s chipped front tooth incident, I’ve been thinking a lot about my health. It’s always the last thing running through my mind at the end of a long day. While I brush my teeth regularly, I can’t remember to take my vitamins daily and eat leafy green vegetables nor make time for an afternoon run and yoga stretch. Most of the time, I either forget to do something or I don’t make enough time in schedule for exercising. While challenging my mental capacity with an invigorating Ted talk yesterday, I was reminded that I only have this one body- I need to take care of it- NOW.

It was in seventh grade, during the Presidential Fitness Challenge when I accepted the sad fact that I couldn’t do a push-up and that I will probably never could. While I can beat just about anyone during leg day at the gym, my upper body strength is, well, pathetic. Sometimes, my arms buckle when lifting something that weighs a mere eight pounds. I started thinking about giving myself a 100-day challenge, one where I would focus on teaching myself how to do a proper push-up and build that upper body strength by doing 50 a day. 50 push ups a day sounds pretty easy- I can wake up first thing in the morning, position myself on the floor and crank out a solid 50 before hitting my a.m. shower. At the end of the 100 days, I can be proud that I can lift not only that heavy box in the corner of my office but that I actually stuck to something meaningful. Oh yes, this challenge is ACCEPTED!

One hundred days from today is August 7. With a bit of focus, I’m picturing all the new, good habits I can and maybe will pick up- 100 days running through the park (I can start marathon training)… 100 days spent eating in (I’ll be saving a bit of money and finally be teaching myself how to cook)… 100 days away from social media (I’ll be connecting with people face-to-face)… 100 night spent in reading or quilting (I have a lot on my summer reading list this year)… 100 days of constant busy-ness (I can get so much accomplished)… 100 days of living the best life I can live.

Dear reader, if you had one hundred days to do something good for yourself, what would you do?

Beauty and its Beast

Yesterday morning as I flossed, I rubbed too hard against my fake front tooth, causing the caps to come loose. For twenty minutes, I panicked in the bathroom, upset over the large hole in my smile. I’m a girl who likes to talk and laugh- what are people going to think when I open my mouth? I don’t look like I take proper care of teeth- that’s not cute. My boyfriend tells me how beautiful I am at least one million times a day- what he say about this smile he so often compliments?

I didn’t think I was pretty until my mid-twenties. In my house, my parents taught us to value our minds and our actions. Beauty wasn’t discussed in my dad’s house. When I lived with my mother, she let wear make-up and I spent mornings before class curling my hair. Talking about hair and skin was the norm- these were two women living together after all. But there were times in rage that have been apologized for when my mom told me that I was fat or I would look prettier if I cut my hair and wore it differently. So, I grew up thinking I looked disgusting. In college, I discovered that the world treats you better when you’re stereotypically beautifully (or funny, but that’s another story). Perhaps it was the town I went to college in, but unless you looked a certain way, wearing the right kind of clothes and shoes, people were not very nice. It got to the point where I stopped caring what I looked- I was ashamed of myself. I could never have the perfectly straight hair, size six hips, blinding white teeth, etc. My looks feed my depression.

Courtesy of r/jelliefish

Courtesy of r/jelliefish

I don’t know when I started feeling good about my appearance. I do feel like I just woke up one morning, feeling attractive- holy crap! I’m a babe! After that moment, I began to appreciate what my dad and my step-mother taught me. Yeah, it felt good to get hit on by a random stranger but my brain screamed, “Hey! This girl is actually really smart! You need to compliment that, too! She has a big heart- tell her something about her kindness and generosity!” Those traits- intelligence, compassion, empathy- those were the things to be proud about, the attributes that I wish that people could read off my face.

Our society puts too much values in appearance. We all put the blame on the media and the bull that they feed us but we should put the blame on it, too. From such things like verbal and mental teasing to purchasing the latest make-up trend at Sephora, we feed into this paradox- where we tells ourselves that looks don’t matter when really, they do. (Trust me, I’m not saint. I just spent a bunch of cash on a new mascara that is supposed to give me “doe-lashes.” I feed into, too, even though I should know better.) There was this great “New York Times” article a few years back that said if women want to be respected and trusted mroe in the workplace, they should wear more make-up. Why? Why do we put our trust into someone’s appearance rather than in their work ethic? Do we really look that tired without a little blush on. Why do we have to succumb to this idea of “beauty?” I read an post on Reddit a few days ago about a girl being verbally ripped apart because she won’t go out with this so-called “average” looking guy. Although I understood her opinion, I thought she should have given him a chance. He could have made her laugh.

Last night, I looked into the bathroom mirror once last time before I crawled into bed. I knew (and know) that I’m more than my face or the curves in my body. I know that I’m still a cute girl but now, I will be a cute girl with funky, jagged teeth. But in the end, I know that beauty is truly and only skin deep (I am NOT just my teeth). It is the other parts of my being that should be judged (I know that my appearance will still be picked through and judged so bring on the judgement. I can handle it). I went to bed smiling.

A Vegas State of Mind

Raise your hand if you knew that April is National Stress Awareness Month. Who knew! This month has been an impressively busy one for me, with stress being the king of my castle. I wake up; squeeze in a quick workout;  go to work; bike to class; go home to finish homework; eat dinner with friends; host a meeting planning a feminist march this autumn; write both a freelance piece and a blog post; then, enjoy a nightcap with the boyfriend- whew! By the end of the week, I’m exhausted and all I want to do is spend the weekend in bed, catching up on sleep. Sleeping all day isn’t the most realistic option but this girl needs to relax at the end of a hectic week.

Vegas.com recently asked me about my ‘Vegas State of Mind”- what do I do to relax and unwind. People go to Vegas to let loose (oh, how I remember the crazy tourists from my youth while living down in Las Vegas). I’m the kind of girl who lives for the weekend. I try my best to avoid my computer and now that the weather is gorgeous, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday outside with friends. Whether it’s spending all day reading the latest copy of “Vogue” on a sandy beach up at Lake Tahoe or riding my bike for a quick minute around the neighborhood, it’s the simple things that make me feel at ease. During normal weekdays, when I have a free moment, I kick off my shoes and catch up on “the Americans” and my favorite fashion blogs. When my body is begging to be active, I crank up Zedd and some Britney and have a solo dance party in my bedroom- dancing is my favorite way to keep my energy up and the endorphins kicking.

Even though I love my active life, I’m always planning my next vacation- whether it’s a quick road trip to San Francisco for a day or two or organizing a trip to New York City this Thanksgiving. Even though I don’t make it out to Vegas often, a piece of me wouldn’t mind lounging by the pool in a ritzy casino or spending a good chunk of my paycheck in some of the fabulous shops along the Strip (after all, a new pair of SJP slingbacks would look good my dancing feet as I boogie my stress away).

What do you do, dear reader, to unwind? With whatever you do, I hope this month (as well as this year) isn’t too stressful on you.

This post is written in part with Vegas.com. Thank you for reading and supporting 20Something’s posts! #LetLoose2014 

Equal Pay for EVERYONE

equal pay dayToday is Equal Pay Day. A woman would have to work every day ALL DAY (including weekends) for the next year in order to match the average man’s yearly salary. For Hispanic and Black women, the wage gap is worse, which means it takes even longer for their salaries to “equal” the salaries of their white male counterparts.

During the week of Equal Pay Day, a U.S. Senate vote is expected on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would give women additional and much-needed equal pay protection. At the state and local levels, mayors and governors across the nation are issuing Equal Pay Day proclamations.

Think about the women in your life- your wife, your mother, your sister, your daughter, your lover, your friend- and how everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly.

A Balancing Act

“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen and witness the talented AMAZA-GIRL- she can be pulled in a million and one directions!”

Wednesday morning around 2am, I woke up with an eye infection. When I get overly stressed out, my skin breaks out into a rash, usually around my left eye, the weakest spot on my body. Sometimes, the rash stretches into my eyelids, causing my eye to become inflamed and red, leaving me looking like Igor (thank God that didn’t happen this time around- knock on wood). I’ve been getting this infection since I was a kid and I’m pretty good about keeping it at bay. But there are certain times where it decides to pop up- mostly during my peak stress moments like finals at school, a big fight with someone I love, etc.

There has been a lot of change in my life- new job, new boyfriend, more social invites now that the weather is getting nice. With my new job, I’m determine to be the best I can be, pouring out most of my energy into my work. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. I haven’t worked a full-time, 9-to-5 job in a while so I’m not used to this schedule. Add to the mix my social circles, the freelance writing I do and school. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time balancing everything. Friends call to ask if I want to hang out and I cancel- all I want to do is fall asleep to an old episode of “Buffy.” I hate to disappoint them (it’s true- I’ve been pissing a lot of people off) with my lack of company). Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been disappointing everyone – especially myself.

The thing that as been suffering the most is my school work. I tend to put my homework on the back burner. although I’m doing well this semester in my Spanish composition class, I could be doing better if I was dedicating at least an hour a day to my Spanish studies (how else will I become fluent?). Plus, I haven’t been spending enough time with me. I can’t remember the last time I worked on my sewing or read for pleasure. I have a forty personal emails that still need to be answered and I owe friends in NYC and LA some snail mail.

I’ve always admired my parents for the massive load they all carry- working full-time, raising four girls and expanding their education with taking night classes. They’ve shown me that there is a way to balance this crazy mess of a life. I’ve been researching different ways on balancing out this hustle:bslance

1) Set attainable goals. When a goal seems big and daunting, one of the smartest places to start is to break it into the different pieces that will build toward the goal. When you break it into smaller bits, each bit is more manageable.

2) Make a schedule and set a time-table. Goodness, I love my planner (okay, I’m OBSESSED with it). If I don’t have it on me, I’m truly lost. Try sitting down with your schedule to get a handle on how much time you actually have. Look for the pockets of time between your professional and family obligations and see where you can plan in the time you need for, say, homework and dinner with your boyfriend. (And make time to schedule in sleep- that is important!). Gotta stay organized!

3) Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t expect perfection. This is something that I need to remind myself of often. Remember that as much as you may want things to go exactly according to plan, life often has a way of changing those plans for us. Perhaps you don’t cross off every single item on your daily to-do list. Do what you can do, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Tomorrow is a new day. You can’t please everyone- it’s about yourself and your happiness. At the end of the day, if people can’t accept that you’re busy and live one hell of life, maybe they shouldn’t be in it.

I hope that you, dear reader, carry a light load and stay light on your feet and light in your head and your heart. Now, if you can excuse me- I have some homework to finish before a breakfast date with an old friend.

Lessons Learned this March

March, where the heck did you go?

Between my 28th birthday, leaving an old job for a new one, my incredible new boyfriend, school, volunteering and checking out different events, and my friends/ social life, it’s no surprise that the month flew by. While doing all this running around, playing this balancing act between the many happenings in my life (more about that later in my next post), I took a moment this morning while showering to think about what happened to me this month and what I learned during March 2014. Some of the things that I thought about were reminders, such as being kind to myself and keeping an open mind but here are some others:

1) I need to take better care of my body. I’m always thinking about happiness and keeping my emotions in check but rarely do I consider my body. Bad idea. A few weeks ago, I came home from class and passed out, sleeping for 11 hours. I am busy, remarkably busy but I need to remember to get some sleep or I will not function. Also, I need to get more cardio in (even though I thought I was in great shape). I was in an incredible amount of pain biking up the Seventh Street hills during ScalleyCat this past weekend. I need to treat my legs to some more biking and running (mental note: make time in your daily schedule for some exercise).

2) It’s okay to open and to be honest with what you’re feeling. It’s okay to ask for what you want. “No” really isn’t the worst thing you can hear. Hearing “no” from my former employer caused me to look at the things I truly value in life (i.e. finishing up school) and allowed me to create my own destiny. After my first date with Steve, I thought he didn’t like me. If I didn’t ask him about what he was feeling the next day, we wouldn’t have woken up next to each other this morning.

3) If you don’t clean your bedroom for two weeks, I guarantee you’ll find a cobweb hiding in the corner.

How was your month, dear reader? I hope you are seeing fresh flowers bloom in the garden and are breathing in the sweet springtime air. Happy April, everyone!