Reality Check: Time To Get In Formation

” Your winter is someone else’s summer.”

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That quote unleashes some very visceral emotions inside of me; things I’ve kept tucked away while I try to keep up with the day-to-day busyness of adulthood. But it’s high time I let them go because holding on is doing me absolutely no good. I’ve realized, while amidst the thick of the fuckery I’ve been through this year, that I have a high propensity for being a perfectionist. It’s so high, in fact, that it keeps me from going after the things that I want and need to do. I’ll set out to do something and, midstream, I’ll freeze because I think whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough and the follow through ends up being super wack.

I haven’t updated my blog, worked on my business models, or any of my interests because I’ve allowed my circumstances to get the best of me. This year has been pretty tough, definitely the coldest metaphoric winter I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been homeless, I was assaulted, I’ve been abandoned several times, heart broken more than once, and many other trials and tribulations have ensued. I’ve let those things mold me into someone I don’t recognize when I look into the mirror, and that terrifies me. I’ve allowed myself to become this person who, when standing face-to-face with obstacles, she gets emotional and has a pity party for herself long before she attacks them. And when I finally do, I’m exhausted from the roller coaster ride I put myself through. I’m at the point where I’m sick and tired of not being in control of my own destiny. I’m completely over just existing and I’m ready to start living again.

I’m not sure what point you’re at in your life as you’re reading this. Hell, you could be doing great in life, and if you are good for you. Do that shit! But if you’re stuck in the same old rut and you’re ready to get back to where you were before, or even transcend beyond that point (which is always a good idea), then I’ll offer you three pieces of advice that have jump-started my will to live life more abundantly again no matter what my circumstances are. You can Google the phrase “How to get your shit together” and easily find 1.3 million articles on how to do just that, each one offering fifty plus ways to turn the lemons life has hurled at your poor peanut shaped head into lemonade (all hail #QueenBey!). But I think three is a good place to start. There’s something about that number that resonates with me; I think it signifies harmony, and we could all use a little more of that. Plus, I think these three things open the door to many more good habits that can and will help push you into the right direction. So, let’s begin.

  1. Get objective feedback from a trustworthy source.

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Emphasis on trustworthy. So not that one coworker who’s always having money problems, or your cousin Ray Ray who can’t hold down a job for longer than sixty days, and definitely not your super “independent”  man hating aunt who hasn’t had a bae since ’86. This person should be close enough to you where they know exactly what you may be going through, but are far away enough to see the bigger picture, and wise enough to point you in the right direction. You could be focusing too much of your attention on a problem at work or a relationship that doesn’t serve you, and that person has the ability to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give you the perspective you would’ve taken longer to achieve on your own.

I have friends who keep me moving forward even when I can’t seem to pull it together sometimes. When I’m dealing with a tough situation in my personal life, or I’m entertaining something or someone that is challenging my self-worth (it really doesn’t matter what it is) one or all of them will individually or collectively say to me, “Bitch….no!” And they will proceed to snatch my wig to and fro until I get myself back into formation. They’re present enough to know the details of whatever the problem is but also able to take the emotion out of what I’m telling them in order to help me come up with solutions that will work to solve said problem. I am so grateful for them because I tend to be very dramatic all the time  sometimes and I have this annoying habit of making mountains out of molehills. Silly me.

2. Acknowledge what’s working

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You are incredible! You are a work of art, absolutely divine, and so so talented. Never allow yourself to lose sight of how special and unique you are. Focusing on the deeper reality of the spirit instead of where your ego is just may be all you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve fallen short, it’s really about your perspective. You could be bombing at one thing but blowing something else out of the water in another area of your life.

One of my biggest adulthood boo boos is not saving enough money. And by enough, I mean none at all; I’m the worst at that. I’ll have the best intentions when I’m planning out my bills but then I’ll get so anxious and overwhelmed about deadlines and such that saving goes completely out the window. I have really bad anxiety about being homeless again. It’s at the forefront of my mind when I think about and handle money. “Oh I can’t get those shoes, gotta save for rent. I can’t be homeless again” “Nah, I’ll just eat at home. I can’t be eating out, gotta pay my rent so I’ll have a roof over my head” “I gotta get it together man, I can’t go back to that shelter”

I’ll get so caught up in what could go wrong if all the bad shit I cook up in my head happened simultaneously (which never does), that I rarely acknowledge all the things I’m doing right. For one, I actually care about paying things on time. That’s a win, because a lot of people really don’t give a shit. I’m responsible (did you hear that Mom and Dad?), or at least I try to be as much as I can. And as much as I panic about it, I do pay all my bills. I’m actually coming up with ways to say money that will have many long term benefits instead of short term ones; another step in the right direction. Doing that helps me focus on the future and gets my brain thinking about how I’m going to achieve my next set of goals. When I’m in this frame of mind I’m in problem solving mode instead of panic mode, which does wonders for my nerves. Instead of holding my face in my hands saying “Oh my God, oh my God. What do I do?” repeatedly I ask myself “What am I doing now that’s gotten me to this point?”, “What do I want to see happen in this area?”, and “What can I do to turn this shit around?” And then something amazing happens. I’ll remember that I’m pretty damn awesome and I can do anything I put my mind to. Perspective.

3. Meditate on gratitude and appreciation.

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It may sound super cheesy, but a little gratitude goes a long way. Frustration has a way of making everything seem really really shitty. Your boss may have been a total douche to do in front of some really important people, and you’re so pissed off that you sit there and stew over it all day, then some jerk cuts you off in traffic, and you’re so hell bent on getting home that you forgot to hit up that one place you love because they’re having a 25% off sale on your favorite wine. Then you finally get home, after all that, only to trip over an ant playing soccer on a cotton ball and you hit your pinky toe on that same corner of the coffee table that you have at least two hundred times minimum. Stupid boss, this all your fault.  You work tirelessly to be amazing at what you do and your boss never shows any appreciation at all. You come in early, you leave late, you blow the roof off the place, and you get nothing in return. Not even a nod. Your life is absolute shit and it’ll never get any better, plus you won’t have any more functional toes left because of that damn table. It’ll never get better, right? Wrong. Sometimes a brief moment of stepping out of a disheartening situation to an appreciation of something general, no matter how small, can take you forward a few steps to detaching from what isn’t working. And when you do that you create space that gives you room to shift towards a better view.

I get so bogged down about bills, and adulting, and how I should be so much further along in life than I am right now. I beat myself up about not writing enough, or not having the funding to start my businesses, or about how bad I am at remembering to do laundry that I forget to be grateful for all the things that I do have and have been blessed with. I have a great living space that’s warm, and inviting, and it’s my sanctuary. When my mind becomes cluttered and I can’t think straight, I’ll look around and see that the state of my thoughts have manifested themselves into my living space. So I’ll clean it up; wash dishes, do laundry, clean my bathroom, reorganize my closet, everything. And when I’m done I get this overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude; I’ll look around and say to myself “Wow, this is my place. This time last year I was staying with this person and that person, then I ended up living in a hotel, then a shelter, then somebody else’s place, then a place where the roof was leaking. Now I’m here, safe, warm, and back on track. Thank you Lord”.

That one moment gives way to many more that allow me to see just how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. I thank God for everything, and every time I do the Universe takes note of it and I attract more great things my way. When I spend money, on whatever, I always thank God and the Universe for allowing me to have it; and I say to myself “There’s more where that came from”. When I’m cleaning up and I find a dime or a penny I say thank you out loud. When I make some bomb fajitas, I say thank you (out loud), because God didn’t have to bless me with the resources to make that party in my mouth happen but He did and I’m grateful. Gratitude really does go a long way and soon you’ll begin to realize just how much you really have, which takes the focus off what you don’t have and that makes room for you to get what you want to have. See how that works?

Life can serve a pretty mean uppercut, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle with getting your ass kicked everyday (bob and weave my G). I promise if you do these three things every time you face a problem, you’ll get through it and with a level of style and grace that may surprise you. It’s 2:30 in the morning and, as I’m writing this, my problems seem to be much smaller than I thought they were before I started this post. There’s freedom in that, I feel lighter. And my goals seem much more attainable. The same can be true for you, all you have to do is apply what I mentioned above and you’ll be Gucci. So go knock it out the park, kiddo.

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No, You Cannot Touch My Hair

I cannot tell you how many times—on the CTA in Chicago, while waiting in line at the Walmart pharmacy, and on the street— I’ve had someone ask to touch my hair. Friends, classmates, church members, and complete strangers always seem so comfortable touching my hair, with our without permission. These interactions often leave me feeling violated, angry, and frustrated. You’re probably wondering what’s so special, so absolutely extraordinary about my hair that magically turns the average pair of mitts into magnets. To be perfectly honest, nothing at all. Just your typical head of Black hair.

Non-black people don’t seem to understand why these social dealings evoke such high emotions for Black women, so I’ll explain why. But first I’ll give you the somewhat complicated history between my hair and I. For as long as I can remember I’ve always hated my hair. Now I know this seems a little counterproductive with me being a proud natural woman, but it’s the honest truth. I hated how thick it is, the curliness, and it’s rebellious and unruly nature. I hated the childish ponytails I sported day in and day out, plaited down to the tips and secured with a barrette. I hated how unpleasant life became every time I got it wet. And attempting to detangle it after a shampoo? Yeah, right! I remember sitting in between my mom’s legs every night before bed while she got me ready for the next day thinking to myself, “You know what? This is some bull!’

Different cultures have their own ceremonies that become a defining moment in a youngster’s life.  Young Jewish boys celebrate their transition into manhood with a Bar Mitzvah, while girls in parts of Latin America mark their journey into womanhood with a Quinceañera. Adolescent Black girls get perms and this is a monumental occasion, a right of passage. For us it means that we finally get to look like what’s been considered “normal”; “normal” meaning having straight hair. At age eleven my entire world changed, and my mom finally allowed me to get one of these coveted perms. I had lost all feeling in my scalp but I’d finally made it to the Promised Land.

My decision to go natural was an organic one, and about a year after I did the movie Good Hair came out and it had Black people, primarily women, in a tizzy. In the Black community the term “good hair” always reserved for biracial kids or the ones who claimed to have “Indian in their family” (growing up, the number of times I heard someone claim to be part Cherokee were too many to count). Their hair was considered “almost white” but it had an edge to it, the edge being the frustratingly perfect curl pattern that I could never seem to achieve. And then there was this myth going around that relaxing your hair made you a sell-out, that it’s a Black woman’s subconscious attempt to adapt her appearance to look like a White girl. That’s unfair. Yes, the standard of beauty has mainly (and some might say solely) highlighted European features for some time, but wanting super straight hair does not mean you inherently want to look or be White, that’s crazy. And that’s not to say looking or being White is somehow evil, but for so long the ideal beauty has always had blonde hair and blue eyes. So my decision to say no to the creamy crack and abandon everything I’ve ever know to be true about my hair was a pretty big deal. And I’ll have to say it was one of the best decisions I ever made, because with that giant leap of faith came an outpouring of self-acceptance.

From that day on my hair struggles became a cakewalk. I was flyer than ever, my life became full of glamorous selfies, and the lack of lye led me to discover unicorn piss actually cures cramps. Okay, not really. Trying to figure out the best products and regime was pretty difficult. I had to do a lot of research in order to figure out what works for me, all naturals are not the same. It took me a while to get my hair to cooperate and do what I wanted it to, so for someone to come up to me and stick their hands in my hair really pissed me off. The things I have to do to finesse my fro—washing it, detangling it, styling it—all take a lot of time; so yeah, the hands of a stranger aren’t welcomed. My journey as a natural has been a beautiful experience, but every time I encounter someone that’s a little too touchy feely I feel like a Pomeranian puppy. Once I was at work and I was discussing hair with a coworker who is also natural, we were exchanging thoughts on different products we use, and another coworker (a Caucasian woman) jumped in. “Do y’all spend a lot of money on your hair?” We both looked at each other like “Girl! Did she just…?” Now I love this girl I really do, she’s very sweet, and I know she didn’t mean anything by it but I just couldn’t believe she said that out loud. I was about to go all the way in on her, but I realized non-Black individuals really don’t know much about Black hair. I said, “Do you spend a lot of money on your hair?” and that question was met with silence. Instead of that snarky remark I should’ve taken that opportunity to explain to her just how different our hair is from everyone else’s.

We, Black women, are very sensitive when it comes to our hair; we always seem to find ourselves defending it, even amongst Black men. If you wear your natural texture it’s nappy, if you get a relaxer you’re a sellout, and if you wear wigs or weaves you “want to look/be White”, there’s absolutely no middle ground at all. In many companies, wearing a fro is a dress code violation; I remember my best friend recalling an incident at a former job involving this. She worked at a rather large car washing company, and one day she was secret shopped by the higher ups at corporate. She did pretty well, they said she was very polite and knowledgeable when it came to company policy, but when it came to her appearance they said she looked “unkempt”; she was wearing her fro out that day. I think “unkempt” was a politically correct way to say her hair looked nappy.

Once, in light of my mother’s burning desire to have grand kids, I folded under the pressure and decided to give online dating a try. This really handsome White gentleman sent me a message expressing his interest, and soon we exchanged numbers. Upon texting him I was flooded with a bunch of stereotypical Black girl question. Among “Can you twerk?” and “Is your booty big?” he asked “Is that your real hair?” As if he hadn’t offended me enough. So because my hair is long and curly it automatically has to be weave? This is an everyday struggle for naturals. I can’t tell you exactly what I said to him, but just know it was littered with some very colorful language. Why the anger, you ask? I’ll tell you why, take a trip with me back to the 1800s. I’d like you to meet Saartije “Sarah” Baartman

Sarah was a South African woman who, after being sold into slavery by the Dutch, was trotted around Europe for exhibition. She was fooled into believing that she would find riches and fame, but instead was put on display in both England and France because her large buttocks, big hips, lips and elongated labia were curiosities that Europeans had never seen before. In 1810 she became a freak show attraction, given the name Hottentot Venus. Surely she couldn’t be human because she didn’t look like a White woman, so therefore she was considered inferior and made to dance for the entertainment of White people. She was poked and prodded, absolutely humiliated. After the circus no longer wanted her she became a prostitute and later died from disease in 1815, she’d only been in Europe for five years and was 25 when she died. Even after her death she wasn’t allowed dignity; when she died they cut out her vagina, her brain, and her skeleton, preserved them in jars, and placed them all on display along with a plaster of her actual body. For one hundred and sixty years people could walk into a museum, look at Sarah Baartman’s vagina, brain and skeleton and see what she looked like naked. In 1974 they took down the display, but still kept her remains. It wasn’t until 2002 that they were finally sent back to her home in South Africa and she was given the proper burial.

History records that Sarah was a highly intelligent woman with an excellent memory, she had a particular knack for remembering faces. In addition to her native tongue she spoke fluent Dutch, passable English, and a little French. Aside from her large breasts and buttocks she was described as having graceful shoulders, slender arms, and charming hands and feet. She was also very skilled at playing the Jew’s harp, could dance according to her country’s traditions, and had a lively personality. If reading about Sarah made you uncomfortable it should, and I’m glad it did because that means we’re getting somewhere. Every time you reach out to touch a Black woman’s hair or make an offensive remark about it, whether knowingly or unbeknownst to you, you awaken the hurt and pain that comes with Sarah’s story; we become Sarah Baartman and we have no say so in the matter. Please don’t mistake my desire to want you to know how we feel as an opportunity to point the finger at White or other non-Black people as if to say, “Look at what you did to us!” I just want this to resonate with you.

Curiosity about Black hair isn’t a bad thing, and I’m sure many well-meaning people don’t mean to offend me in these situations. But there is a fine line between interest and treating Black women like urban zoo animals. If you have questions about natural hair or the Black experience that’s great, ask away! You can approach a close Black friend or coworker but tread lightly, remember we’re sensitive creatures. If you don’t have any Black friends you should seriously think about diversifying your circle. But if you feel compelled to reach out and touch, just remember it’s best you keep your hands to yourself.

A DIY Nail Tutorial For Even The Most Uncoordinated Diva

I’m the type of woman who sees tons of DIY tutorials and wishes she could accomplish such greatness. I always come across the cutest nail tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest and curse the universe because I’d be hard pressed to achieve dashing designs for my digits with such grace. Have you ever heard of two left feet? Well, I have two left hands (and I’m right-handed). But the tides have somehow turned in my favor, I recently came across the most amazingly simple nail art tutorial, and it’s super cute too! So if you’re looking for a cute new design keep reading, this one’s a total cinch via the good people at Lulu’s. Enjoy!


This chic design is deceptively easy.

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How To Knock Out Negativity’s Two Front Teeth & Keep Your Sanity While You’re Doing It

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Dealing with negative people is a fact of life, you will never be able to escape it. Have you ever had a day where it seemed like everyone was barking at you or was in a bad mood? Or maybe you have a boss or coworker who always seems to be in a really negative space? When placed in those situations it’s hard to keep your spirits up, isn’t it? I totally know how you feel.

I work at a very dysfunctional chiropractic clinic, and it is very draining—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually—the said dysfunction is internal and external, so I get it from the front and back end. The doctor I work for is always in a terrible mood, and I know you’re probably thinking, “Come on Shaniece, nobody can be in a bad mood all the time”. Oh, but they can be. And I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, but it really is too much to deal with. He’s rude to management, he’s rude to patients, and last week he became belligerent and aggressive towards me. This horribly timed blow-up came at the worst possible moment, my grandfather just passed and I’m not coping with it too well. My boss knew this but that didn’t stop him from acting like a complete donkey. So saying that I’m emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually drained would be more than fair.

On top of the normal day-to-day hardships of working with people (I love my patients, they’re the absolute best) and they’re different personalities, quirks and sometimes inflated egos, I have to deal with a middle-aged man that behaves like a two year old. What gives, man?! How could I possibly deal with all of that, the death of my grandpa, searching feverishly for a new place, and other unnecessary negativity? Firstly, I decided to take back control of my energy and my emotions; a person, group of people, or situation cannot take you out of your element without your permission. Then I implemented the following, and you can do the same:


1. Arm yourself with positives.

Load up with whatever positives you can before you tackle a new week. Watch funny movies or Youtube clips, read an inspirational article or two, have a chill day with your friends and put your phone in Airplane Mode, do whatever you need to do in order to get into a positive place. Enrich your life with as much positivity as you can, because everyday is an opportunity for you to be robbed of it. Your job, unexpected emergencies, family hardships and drama, traffic and morning breath from that one coworker who cannot seem to grasp the concept of personal space can all take a toll on you if you’re not prepared.

I like to pray  before I go to work (if that’s not your thing fine, but we’re #TeamJesus over here). “Lord, please allow me to have a great and productive day, allow me to get what needs to be done taken care of in a timely manner, give me the strength to do it, joy to keep me pushing forward…and please don’t allow me to go to jail for choking someone. Amen” I’m just being real but, on a more serious note, I find writing to be so therapeutic; I like to listen to music while I write, I’m actually doing that right now. Classical music has always allowed me to keep a calm demeanor and I focus way more when I’m listening to it. Find whatever positive thing you can and engage in it when you encounter negativity, it’ll become your lifeline.


2. Choose not to mirror others.

Vibes are contagious, and sometimes others’ negative vibes subconsciously influence us. If someone’s rude to you, your defenses go up, and you dish out what’s been served to you. It’s not your fault, you’re human. We all unknowingly become trapped and mirror the negative energy thrown at us to a tee. If someone’s being negative toward you, and you notice it’s influencing for the worst, make a conscious effort to get back in control.

Instead of mirroring their energy, try to help them mirror yours. If they raise their voice, speak calmly. If they’re rude, be and stay polite. That’s how you play it, never react to their negative behavior. Maintain your energy, and stay the course no matter what. You’ll know you’ve got them when they start matching your tone. I once had a patient that, once I said something that he didn’t want to hear, started yelling and hurling obscenities at me. I paused the conversation, told him whatever he had to say could be relayed without yelling, and that I was being respectful to him and I expected him to do the same for me. He immediately changed his tone and apologized for his behavior. After that he was able to express his frustrations in a calmer way and I was able to help him. Problem solved. Always remember your tone has everything to do what message you’re trying to relay, try to keep it as neutral as possible.


3. Allow others to talk your ear off without ruffling your feathers.

Let me offer you this disclaimer before I make my next point: It is not healthy to always listen to someone vent. You have to set boundaries, because letting people treat you like a punching bag is not the move; but when you’re dealing with customers or clients, you can’t exactly ignore them. In those cases just let them vent their frustrations without taking it personally, most of the time it’s the situation that’s making them angry and not you individually. If they are angry with you  (perhaps you unknowingly made an error) put your ego to the side, be honest about it, apologize, and move forward. Create the least amount of friction as possible by shifting the negativity away from you. The same can be done for non-customer interactions, like for someone you actually know. I can honestly say when I sit and let someone vent about why they’re angry I find out exactly what the issue is; this isn’t always easy (because I can be a prideful moth…person sometimes) but it’s definitely doable. Knowing what caused the miscommunication is the most logical and unbelievably simple way to solve it. This is where thick skin becomes a valuable commodity, so develop some.


4. Kindly compliment others whom you dislike. 

Key word kindly: meaning without malice, sarcasm or shade. When you do find yourself disagreeing with someone, make your best effort to find a point they came up with that you actually agree with. Then genuinely take the time to compliment them for their idea. Craziest thing to do during a disagreement but I promise it works. Doing this subconsciously creates a small bond, and it sets a foundation that you can build on for a better relationship in the future. I know it sounds sickeningly Kumbaya, but it’s always better to leave a conversation on a good note rather than leaving behind seeds of negativity.


5. Treat yourself when you feel the negativity getting to you.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a new pair of shoes or jewelry, treating yourself could be something as simple as your favorite food or a great book your friend keeps raving about and a glass of wine. Whatever you choose will be the perfect distraction to help shift your mindset and lift your spirits when you’re down. I just treated myself to an enchilada, a taco, and a quick run through my iTunes and I feel a lot better. You should reward yourself, even a small one, at the end of the day or week. This gives you something mentally positive to hold onto and it’ll help you get through a tough time.


Your positive actions make you a leader, not a follower.

Negative people exist, you can’t really change that; and even positive people can succumb to negativity on a bad day. But you can definitely change how you deal with their behavior, you just have to allow yourself to. You have to change how you react. Is it easy? That my dear is solely up to you, you control how difficult or how smoothly this transition goes (and no one else, remember that).  At the very core of it’s existence, negativity is how you perceive it. You can choose to stay positive no matter what negative people throw your way, and you could even change their moods in the process. In the end, it all benefits you and gets you one step closer to being a more whole and grounded person. Take control of your life, lead it where you want it to go. Don’t let others dictate how you should feel, who made them the boss of you anyway?

(Nobody)

Exactly.

Stay beautiful loves ❤

Foodie Diaries: Bacon-Wrapped Pesto Chicken

I love bacon, in fact, I love it so much I feel like it should be it’s own group on the food pyramid. Chicken is my BFF (sorry, Mercedes), I eat literally every other day. So a dish featuring two of my all-time favorites? I’m so down. I got hip to this dish after a guy that I was supposed to go on a date with (I decided to go in a different direction) suggested to make it together. The date, once it finally happened, was a disaster but I got this awesome recipe so I’ll take that as a win. This recipe is super simple and it is the personification of happiness, so you should definitely try it.


Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (pounded flat)
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons of prepared basil pesto
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Basil pesto:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions for pesto:

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth and season the mixture with salt and pepper. If you’re using it immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

Directions for chicken:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lay the chicken breast flat and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Spread the pesto over the chicken breast, and roll the chicken breast in a slice of bacon securing the roll with toothpicks. Lay the rolled chicken breast in a 9×9-inch baking dish. Pour the vegetable oil over the chicken breasts.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink inside and the bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Take the baking dish out and let it cool for five to six minutes. Garnish, plate, and enjoy!

PMS? No Problem: How To Stop It In It’s Tracks

PMS is the devil. Bloating, uncontrollable food cravings, fits of emotional instability, cramps, mood swings—what’s to like about it? The mood swings are the worst ever, I’m dealing with them right now. This morning I woke up in a funk, and it was so hard to get out of bed. I’m on a cleanse and, usually, I wake up with tons of energy but today was different. I walked into work grumpy, even after I had my medium hazelnut iced coffee and that usually shakes me out of the Monday Morning Blues. I was so confused, but then I checked my calendar and noticed I’m right smack dab in the middle of a full blown PMS party (complete with extra bloating and cramps). Fun.

Premenstrual syndrome describes a collection of more than 150 symptoms that strike a week to two weeks before your period makes its monthly debut; this is caused by an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels. As a result you may suffer from stress, insufficient sleep, horrible eating habits, and an overall feeling like poo. PMS sucks but don’t be so quick to raid your medicine cabinet so fast—no matter what your symptoms are, you may be able to fix them with these alternative therapies.


Supplements

Vitamin E and essential fatty acids are PMS rock stars, a study in Reproductive Health noted women who took these supplements twice a day for six months saw major PMS symptom improvements. These nutrients interact with prostaglandin receptors (those little hellians believed to be responsible for cramps). A daily multivitamin should have all the vitamin E you need, I take One A Day Women’s and it has 30 IU which converts to about 22 milligrams. You can take a daily fish oil capsule to get your fatty acids as well, but a calcium rich diet helps control PMS symptoms tremendously too. Make sure it includes leafy greens, almonds, and yougurt and aim for about 1,300 milligrams per day.

Best for: Mood swings, sore breasts, cramps, headaches and acne


Acupuncture

The thought of having needles hanging from your body might may you a little uneasy, but acupuncture can be very beneficial to combating PMS. I read a study that showed this method stifled symptoms in 78 percent of women, that’s huge! Western doctors aren’t really sure how it works, but it’s believed it may increase circulation and elevate endorphins, which enhances your mood and alleviates pain. Most women experienced PMS symptom relief within 24 hours after a session. Depending on how you react to it, you might get treated once a month in the week before your period throws your life in shambles  comes.

Best for: Cramps, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and nausea


Progesterone Cream

Researchers believe most premenstrual troubles arise from out-of-balance estrogen and progesterone levels, so many treatments aim towards leveling out the playing field; this is why the pill is often recommended. Using a natural progesterone cream will have the same effect, there are a few forms that are available OTC and be applied to your inner thighs or lower abdomen before your period.

Best for: Mood swings, cramps, anxiety and insomnia


Herbs

There’s a lot of controversy over whether or not herbs can solve health issues (I personally believe they can), but science suggests they can help lighten the burden of PMS symptoms. Chaste berry (cool name!) may stimulate your endocrine system which may help relieve achy boobs, and those are never fun. Evening primrose (another cool name, it sounds so fancy) may help alleviate anxiety and cramps, valerian root may work as a muscle relaxer which is perfect for cramps, while dandelion root helps reduce bloating. You should definitely consult your doctor before you start a herbal regimen, they can direct you towards how much you need and which ones can work best for you.

Best for: Mood swings, sore breasts, anxiety, cramps and bloating


Sweating and Stretching

Mild exercising can reduce the worst PMS symptoms! I know the thought of moving around more than you’d like to is uncomfortable, but I promise it helps. Working out not only releases endorphins (or “plain slayers”) but it also triggers dopeamine (your natural source of pleasure and satisfaction) and serotonin (a major depression and anxiety fighter). Doing hip and back stretches can increase blood flow to contracted urine, abdominal, and lower-back tension and this eases the tension that leads to cramps.

Best for: Mood swings, cramps, anxiety, and headaches.


Natural Diuretics

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Fluid retention, a hallmark of PMS, builds up as a result of those fluctuating hormones I keep rambling on about and it can make you feel like an overstuffed sausage link. For centuries Eastern doctors have believed that nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B and C act as natural diuretics. Western doctors have finally caught the wave and have been advising patients to snack on bananas, fennel, tomatoes, watercress, and citrus fruits before their periods. And think twice before you rely on your cup of joe or Diet Coke to get things, for lack of a better word, moving. While caffeine might be able to cut down fluid retention, it can also lead to anxiety, so sip with caution.

Best for: Bloating,


DIY Massage

While it may not be as indulgent as the real thing, self-massage can definitely reduce your pre-period woes (#Drake). A rubdown of any kind increases blood flow and eases muscle and mental tension *ahhhh* The essential oils used in massage really make a difference, I live for lavender! It’s a wonderful muscle relaxer, and geranium is a natural estrogen balancer which is much needed during this perilous time we’re all going through. Use several drops of one type of oil in a handful of massage lotion and, starting on your right side above your groin, massage up your waist in a clockwise motion. Once done, move to your left side and work down to your groin again. Doing this for five minutes twice a day during peak PMS time is a surefire way to nix the stressors of premenstrual poopiness. Make sure to use moderate to deep pressure.

Best for: Cramps, headaches and bloating


Clean Up Your Diet

Your diet affects everything—your skin, your mood, your sleeping cycle AND your period. I know it’ll be tough, but you must put down the Cheetos! Refined flour, sugar and processed food have to go! Caffeine needs to be given the heave-ho, stop drinking alcohol (no “buts” please), gluten is officially a no-fly zone, and don’t eat within three hours of bedtime. I know I sound like a diet Nazi but it’s for your own good. Another great tip I learned is to eat evenly throughout the day; skipping meals is NEVER the answer, and it can be harmful to your body. Eating organically as much as humanity permits is the right idea. This tip should be followed religiously for animal products; this helps you avoid ingesting environmental estrogens from pesticides. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but six different steroidal hormones are approved by the FDA for use in “food animals.” They are estradiol, progesterone (those bastards!), testosterone, and the synthetic hormones trenbolone acetate, progestin melengestrol acetate, and zeranol, all of which make animals grow faster and/or produce leaner meat for food. Dairy cattle are often treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production. Hormones are banned for use in poultry in the US, but that doesn’t stop chicken producers from marketing their birds as “hormone free”; nor does it stop them from using them. Antibiotics are also routinely administered to animals raised for food, as well. 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the US is used on livestock. That is disgusting!


There are tons of ways to deal with the my-period’s-almost-here blues, and I hope this shed a little light on how you can get the relief you need and deserve (it’s your birthright). One major point I that I feel is absolutely necessary for you guys to keep in mind is that you have to (like have to-have to) deal with your stress! (in a healthy way, so no punching out the kid at McDonald’s for not giving you barbecue sauce for your nuggets….you shouldn’t even be there missy *gives you a stern look*). Stress causes heart disease, trouble sleeping, digestive problems, a drop in overall sexual desire (we definitely don’t want or need that!), and a lot of other problems. Stress leads to worse PMS symptoms and, given the content of this post, that would be a little counterproductive. Lighting candles, trying some deep breathing exercises, and journaling are all great ways to stamp out stress. What are some ways you beat PMS predicaments? Comment down below and let me know.

Stay beautiful my dears ❤

American Apparel Desperately Attempts To Get Its Life Together

After years of blatant overly sexualized advertising under former CEO Dov Charney, American Apparel is now turning the other cheek (pun intended). This change in direction has occurred in an attempt to attract millennials and recast the brand in a “positive, inclusive, and socially conscious light.” The label outlined its plan to take the brand from “chaotic to iconic” in a new presentation filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The move includes distancing the brand away from its racy ads of the past and towards a more inspiring, comprehensive strategy. This new move comes about during the legal battle between the former CEO and American Apparel Inc. On June 12th Charney sued the retailer and board member David Danziger alleging both parties defamed him in an attempt to keep him from winning the necessary votes to regain control of the company.

Last June American Apparel dethroned Charney as chairman and suspended him as chief executive, citing evidence of misuse of company funds and inappropriate behavior with employees. Charney has reportedly been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by employees, and its believed that the behavior went on for a while before the board decided to act. We live in a culture that excuses bad behavior by creative individuals. Artists, musicians and even business leaders with larger-than-life personalities garner respect for their ability to push the boundaries in their specific genres. However, there is a wide belief that people who push boundaries in one area of their lives often have a harder time respecting boundaries in other aspects of their lives. This belief can be used to justify harassment, assault and other harmful behaviors expressed by celebrities and other industry players. It’s one thing to shake our heads at someone else’s wild lifestyle, but turning a blind eye to behavior that crosses the line into non-consensual talk and action is a completely different animal that needs to be put down. Drama aside, this brand definitely needed a new look and I’m glad it’s finally happening. I can’t help but wonder if Dov Charney’s lack of boundaries had anything to do with the company’s super sexual advertising strategy. Hmmm. Let’s look at the label’s worst advertising blunders.


 

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If there was a textbook example of the word “fail”, American Apparel’s advertising strategy would be it. Dov Charney has proven to be a sick son of a….*ahem*. Trouble just seems to follow him everywhere he goes and these troubles are mainly of a sexual nature. In 2011 Irene Morales, a former employee, accused him of making her his sex slave. She filed a lawsuit that sought $260 million dollars, but it was later thrown out in court because it was reported that Morales had allegedly sent dozens of nude photos of herself to Charney after she stopped working for American Apparel. The label’s board did find him guilty of allowing an employee to post nude photos of Morales that was supposedly authored by her. The blog harassed and defamed Morales, but more importantly ran in conflict with certain California laws that strictly forbid falsely impersonating others online. I just find it bizarre that someone would write a blog and post pictures of themselves and say crazy things like that….about themselves. You can read more about the whole debacle here. This scumbag has also reportedly been cited for masterbating in front of a Jane magazine reporter during an interview! He’s also been accused by ex employees of conducting business meetings in the nude.  A video surfaced online of the former CEO dancing nude in the presence of two alleged female employees. American Apparel is one of those brands, like Urban Outfitters, that seemed to be so effortlessly chic and edgy to me but now it just makes me want to gag. This “new direction” is definitely a good idea, but it certainly won’t erase the damage Don Charney has done.