All By Myself

Boyfriend has a potential job offer coming up which would require him to be out of town for three weeks and away from his loving girlfriend. Part of me is totally sad, natch. Don’t even get me started thinking about all the nights apart and how cold my feet will be. The other part of me is already planning an itinerary of all the independent-womanly stuff I’ll be doing. And then I got to thinking…”What will I ACTUALLY  be doing while I have time to myself?” It’s incredibly, INCREDIBLY rare that I’m ever all by my onesies so I’m fo sho not used to hangin’ solo. And furthermore, “What would my life be like if I lived alone and didn’t have a live-in boyfriend,  two other roommates and a cat?” Whilst I’d like to think I’d be uber productive and creative all the time, I have a feeling… this is what things would actually look like:

My bedroom would look like this:

Or even worse, this:

My dinner every night would be this:

Instead of doing my work reading at night, I’d be doing this:

Outdoor leisure time would be spent doing this:

This would be me every night in bed:

There would be a lot of this going on:

And this:

And instead of going out with friends, I’d probably just do this:

As much as all of this doesn’t seem productive or mature or whatever else that is boring, I have to say, once and a while, it sounds pretty amazing.

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Motivational Tips from Mr. Motivation

My dad's favorite poster of all time.

We’ve all been there. You eat a big, deliciously fattening dinner. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind that doesn’t beat around the bush. First, there’s bread and butter…and then a little more bread and butter. This is followed by a couple apps shared with friends. Next, you say, “Hmm, a little red meat is good for my skin, so I read once in some women’s magazine from 1950.” After the bloody steak you decide another cocktail won’t hurt anyone. Right?? Finally, the dessert menu has magically landed in front of you and you make some banter with your friends about how we only live once and we deserve to pamper ourselves and blah, blah, blah, blah. Two shared desserts and a cappuccino later and the bill arrives with a giant side of bloated guilt. “What have I just done to my body?” you think. This thought is immediately followed with, “Oh well, I’ll just work out extra hard tomorrow and the rest of this week.” Cut to the next day when your alarm clock goes off and you’re just so super tired and can’t possibly get out of bed so you tell yourself, “Oh well, I’ll work out hard the REST of the week.”

Any of this sounding familiar?

We all have fantasies about reaching our ideal bodies and the back of our subconscious is constantly thinking about this. Unfortunately, this desire is often outweighed by our lack of motivation and general laziness. It feels impossible at times to get into a solid exercise habit. I keep trying lately but am finding myself battling my own motivational slump. Luckily, I happen to have the world’s most motivated human being as a father (who is also a trainer), so I can turn to him for advice when I’m in a rut. I asked my dad for tips, tricks and basically magical powers he could provide in order to help me get my dream body. Sadly, what I found was that what motivation mostly comes down to wasn’t magic or tricks, but the ability to SUCK.IT.UP. This is how he answered my questions:

What do you find is the best way to talk yourself into working out even when you’re tired, hungry or it’s late in the day?

–   People need to realize the benefits the workout will provide besides getting your body into shape. The workout will help de-stress you, it raises your metabolism, it releases endorphins and dopamine which keeps you pepped for 2-5 hours after your workout. And it will also boost your mental state and make you happier. Lastly, just remember how good you will feel when you’re done and how bad you will feel if you don’t do it.

Do you have any tricks or tips you use to motivate yourself?

–     No tricks really. I just suggest putting the workout into your daily schedule and sticking with it. A personal trainer and/or a workout partner will help push you to sticking to the schedule. Otherwise, find a sport you enjoy and join an amateur team or play with friends. You could also just keep the following in your head as reminders why you’re doing this: You will have more energy and endurance at work. You will look better physically (the biggest motivator), it helps prevent injuries and it boosts your sex life (5th grade Jina: “DAD!!!!”).

Why do you think Americans (or people in general) have such a hard time staying motivated?

–  Unfortunately, we’re a lazy population in general but also because a lot of people work two jobs or at least long hours with their one job and it’s hard to find the time. People are overworked, too busy and too tired. Also, as a society, we want to have fun and work isn’t fun (Sad stat: Only 10% of the population works out on their own consistently).

How often should people actually be working out a week in general?

–  3-5 times a week for 60 minutes.

What do you suggest as a realistic workout goal/routine for the average person?

–  At least 3 times a week of cardio and 2 times a week of weight training. They can be done in the same day.

Any suggestions you have for rewarding yourself after hitting a goal?

– Buys some new clothes or plan a relaxing weekend or do something fun but DO NOT reward yourself with food because that contradicts the work you’ve done.

Thanks Dad! Lastly, here are a couple of my own tips that I posted last year! JINA TIPS!

Photo found via Pinterest

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At The Heart of It All

The big, chocolate-covered day is almost here! Let us not forget that Valentine’s Day is more about creating an experience than giving and receiving gifts. I don’t care if you’re young, old, gay, straight, single or married for fifty years. Whether you’re a Hallmark hater or a dreamer who will never give up on true love, please try and remember what Valentine’s Day is truly about: Sex & Candy. Insert that song from the 90’s! I hope you all have a disgustingly romantic day tomorrow!🙂

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How to Have a Traditional Valentine’s Day

When it comes to holidays, I’m always fascinated with their histories and how everything came together to be what they are today. Who was the first person to put strands of popcorn in pine trees for Christmas? When did Halloween go from being a crop burning bonfire to a day where small children dress in costume and beg for candy? When did the Irish holiday of St. Patrick’s Day become widely adopted in the United States?

Valentine’s Day often gets a bad rap for being the most “made up” of the holidays and people assume it was invented by the big wigs over at Hallmark so they could sell all their pretty cards. Not the case, my friends. This mid-February holiday actually has a long history and has changed a lot over the years. One thing it has always come down to though is baby making. I looked up some of the former ways to celebrate and if you’re one of those people who just can’t handle eating ONE MORE CONVERSATION HEART, then I have some ideas for how you can mix it up this year. First I will list the history, and then the way to pay homage to it.

History:

“One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.” – History Channel

Celebration idea:

Get certified to marry people and then volunteer to marry all your friends who are engaged! If they think you’re crazy, just marry some of your stuffed animals! Apply HERE. An alternate is to simply set up some friends on a date. Play matchmaker!

History:

“Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.” – History Channel

Celebration idea:

Send a Valentine to a prisoner. Make it super creepy looking.

History:

“While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.” – History Channel

Celebration idea:

Walk around the street and slap women with strips of beef jerky and congratulate them on now being fertile.

Celebration idea #2:

Have a party with your friends where your names go in a bucket and the men get to pick which girl goes on a date with them by drawing names.

Celebration idea #3:

Volunteer at an animal shelter and play with a dog or a goat, but don’t sacrifice them for your crop fields, please.

History:

“During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.” – History Channel

Celebration idea:

Go bird watching and hope that you get to see them mating.

Fun, fun! If this is all too weird for you, then hearts, chocolate and kisses it is!

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Morning Glory

I have never been a morning person. If I could sleep a day away, or even just lie in bed daydreaming in my comfy blankets all day, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, life does not often leave room for such a frivolous activity and the large stack of bills every month require what the kids like to call a “day job.” So…off to work I go Monday through Friday, which means I have to wake up early, whether I’m crabby about it or not.

I prefer to not be crabby. Therefore, I had to come up with a few ways to put some pep in my step and increase my overall tolerance for the morning routine. When I was in high school, Little Sister and I solved this problem by sharing a can of Coke before school and jamming out to Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, B.I.G. aaaaaand Hanson. Whatever works, right?! Well now I’m incredibly sophisticated and mature so even though Hanson hasn’t totally been replaced (I can’t change who I am!), the Coke had to go. But what can we do instead????

Below are a list of some of the ways I’ve learned to bring more happiness to the dreaded workday mornings:

1)  Workout video – assuming I’ve gotten the proper amount of sleep (because the most important thing for a fresh start is enough sleep), I like to wake up a little early and get in a 30-60 minute workout video before jumping in the shower to get energized and be done with exercise for the day. Some of my favorites are instructed by Jillian Michaels, Brooklyn Decker, Tracey Anderson or even Wii  Dance Party!

2)  Speakal iPig 2.1 Stereo iPod Docking Station with 5 Speakers – These adorable pig speakers (which also comes in Panda!) have truly brightened my mornings. You just insert your iPod, put on your playlist and tap the little ears to make it louder or softer. Aaaand it’s also adorable. I put on my music (Hanson and the like) and my bath/dressing/makeup/hair routine has instantly gotten more fun!

3)  Grapefruit oil – Nothing wrong with a little aroma therapy! Citrus flavors are known to wake up our brains, so I dab a little essential oil behind my ears and on my wrists and I instantly feel more awake!

4)  Hamilton Beach personal blender – I’m always running out the door in a hurry, so sitting down for a big breakfast is never really an option. The perfect solution is a personal blender. It was incredibly cheap and takes about five minutes total for a delicious smoothie. The only prep is cutting stems off strawberries or peeling a banana. Throw in your favorite fruits, some milk and a few ice cubes and hit the button and go! The blender is even portable so you can take it on the road! It’s also easy to clean. So perfect for the person on the move!

5)  Keurig coffee maker – I don’t have one of these at home but we have one at work and it’s genius. Throw in any flavor you want and push a button and five seconds later, you have your own single cup of coffee. This one is a life saver in the mornings.

Forgive the product placement, I was not paid to show these labels, I just love them this much! Hope these recommendations make all your mornings a little brighter.

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Life Heroes

We all have people in our lives whom we look up to, ranging from family members, public figures and even to favorite bloggers. But have you ever come across someone and thought, “Wow, I’d really like to model my life to be just like theirs?” I have. Just within the past few years, I’ve come across some ladies so friggin’ impressive that I’ve now categorized them as my “Life Heroes.” They all inspire me to follow my dreams and reading about them not only brings on a sense of motivation but also extreme envy at times. These feelings go beyond the Girl Crushes of the past. These girls are my heroes because of how they use their brains and talents, not just their beauty. My new goal is to stop being envious and to start acting more like those who inspire me. In order to do so, let me first list the reasons I look up to my top four heroes:

Elizabeth Meriwether

Um, super adorable, right? Well, it gets better. She also graduated from Yale, produced and wrote on the film No Strings Attached and is Showrunner/CREA-TOR of my new favorite TV show New Girl on Fox. Oh, and did I mention she’s only 30? It’s not fair! I want to wear super cute nerd glasses and study at an Ivy League school! I went to the University of South Dakota! Is that even a real place, you might ask? Well, technically yes but it isn’t nearly as cool to say as Yale. Liz (as they call her) somehow got mad successful, mad-fast and it makes me so crazy, I want to scream! She even has her own little logo at the end of the credits AND IT’S PINK! Liz, you are my number one inspiration.

Mindy Kaling

You might recognize Mindy as the incredibly perky and hilarious side character named Kelly Kapoor on The Office. What you may not realize is that she’s also a producer and writer for the show, having joined the writers’ room at the age of 24 as the only female staff member. Since then, she’s gone on to direct the show and was Emmy nominated for writing the Jim and Pam wedding episode. Before that however, she was another smarty pants, graduating from Dartmouth and first hit the spotlight starring as Ben Affleck in the stage-play she also co-wrote “Matt & Ben.” This year, she released her first book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” which hit the New York Times Bestseller list. I mean…what’s not to love about this girl? She’s the ultimate definition of “girly” but yet super badass and funny at the same time. If there is one girl on this list I would most like to hang out with for a day, Mindy definitely takes the cake.

Zooey Deschanel

I know, super unoriginal girl crush, but it would be disingenuous not to include her. This chick just makes me smile. I spent a good ten minutes simply deciding which photo I wanted to use for her. SHE’S JUST SO PRETTY! But she is also so funny she brings me to tears every week in her previously mentioned show New Girl. Not to mention, her singing voice is like an angel mixed with cookie dough. I listened to the She & Him Christmas album post-Christmas, which is usually against my holiday rules but I loved singing along to her chocolate milk voice so much, I couldn’t resist. Plus, she is friends with not only the ever-so-adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt but my other hero Liz Meriwether. And don’t even get me started on my favorite new blog that she co-created and frequently posts on, Hello Giggles! Talk about a time suck! In a good way. Last but not least…her style. If there was ever anyone who could take on Rachel Berry from Glee in a gladiator-style, bloody dress-off, it would most definitely be the one and only Zooey.

Amanda Hocking

This is the ultimate fantasy, in more ways than one. Amanda is a 27 year old, self-published young-adult author who has made millions from selling her books online and never even had to leave the Midwest! I first read about Amanda when she was featured in the New York Times where they described her writing as “part quirky girl-like-Hocking characters, part breakneck pacing, part Hollywood-style action and part bodice-ripping romance – they are literature as candy, a mash-up of creativity and commerce.” She has numerous teen fantasy novel series that are deliciously page-turning and has become a millionaire all on her own. And the geek in me can’t help be envious of her shelves filled with figurines, comic characters and books and the walls in her Minnesota home which are painted purple, turquoise and magenta. I would love to live inside her mind and not just by reading the books. How awesome would it be to create such characters as the ones in the Trylle Trilogy, which has already been optioned to be made into a film? Take about an entrepreneur…

Now that I’ve listed why I admire them, I just need to figure out how I can create my own self into someone just as inspiring. At least I now have a blueprint.

Who are your Life Heroes?

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How to Update Your Resume

Life. Life is a funny thing, sometimes. One minute you’re flying high in the winds of employment bliss and there’s nothing that could possibly bring you down. The next minute the winds change and you’re left feeling unstable, unsure and tumbling to the ground without a net.

Even if you aren’t finding yourself net-less, it is always a good idea to be ready for such an occasion. That’s why it is ever so important to keep your resume up to date in case of unexpected layoffs. With this thought in mind, I decided it was time to give my own resume a little refresher and did some research to find out the best tips. These are the ones I found most helpful:

  1. Keep it to one page – We all want to brag about all the awesome experience we have to prove we are awesome people, but unless you’ve been in your industry for 30+ years, no one wants to hear about it. No one cares about that little internship you did for that blogger that will lead to nowhere. No one also cares about your high school job as a dishwasher. One page = a must.
  2. Keep it crazy simple – Employers will most likely skim your resume for information they need, so let your experience do the talking. No need for fancy formatting, colors, pictures, etc. This might not apply to graphic design people, but for the majority of other jobs, just make your point by listing your experience and skills.
  3. Keep it chronological – This is debatable because you might be trying to showcase what’s pertinent to the job you’re applying for. Just keep in mind that if you list things out of order, employers might see this as you trying to hide something from your past. Listing things in order is always best.
  4. Keep it honest – Most H.R. departments do background checks, so even the smallest white lie could ruin your credibility.
  5. Keep it short – Use bullet points, but limit them to one or two lines, tops. Full sentences are not necessary, so only include the key phrases you want your potential employer to remember. DO NOT write paragraphs.
  6. Keep it relevant – Try to use keywords you know they will be looking for. Adjust job titles, achievements and duties to reflect what they need (without lying, of course).
  7. Keep it smart – You don’t need to include things like, “References Upon Request” or “Available for Interview” or ANYTHING that would cause the employer to roll their eyes and think “Yeah, no shit.”
  8. Keep it professional – It’s illegal for companies to discriminate so unless you are an actress or model, do not include anything personal about your age, gender, etc. and again, no pictures or personal blogs, Twitters, Facebook, blah blah. Also, do not list your hobbies. Your future boss does not care that you snowboard.
  9. Keep it full of action – This means using action verbs to prove you’re a star. You “managed,” “planned,” directed.” These are all very boss sounding words.
  10. Keep it full of names – If you work in an industry where people know people, drop the shit out of the names you’ve worked with. List the CEOs, presidents and heads of divisions you’ve worked under if you know the name means something in the industry. Instead of “Assistant to the President,” you can be “Assistant to John Doe, President.” Boom.

Now, let’s all get to work (pun-intended) on these resumes and be ready for what the future brings!

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