What's on Your Checklist?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Most of us have a checklist with the things we want to accomplish for the New Year and usually that list includes a new and improved weight loss regimen. However, I came across a list that includes some items that many of us may not think about putting on our list. (I love #36) Enjoy and Happy New Year!

In 2012, I believe all women should have or work toward having:

1. Peace of mind and if possible a piece of property.

2. A will.

3. Willpower.

4. A savings account in your own name.

5. A mammogram.

6. A manicure (not to mention a pedicure, a facial and a massage--all on the same day).

7. A set of matching luggage.

8. A ticket to some exotic place to unpack it.

9. A great hairdresser, manicurist and gynecologist.

10. A passionate, fiery, unforgettable love affair.

11. A little black dress that makes you look five pounds thinner.

12. A sense of humor, style and purpose.

13. A selfish streak.

14. A spiritual foundation that gets you through a very bad night without going crazy.

15. A facial foundation that gets you through a very long day without going ashy.

16. A good bra.

17. A good spa.

18. A library card (used often).

19. A credit card (used sparingly).

20. At least one person in your life who says: "You call, I come."

21. Good body language (multilingual!).

22. A broken heart and the knowledge you can survive it.

23. A cause (domestic violence, infant mortality, save the whales--your choice).

24. A personal relationship with God.

25. A personal trainer.

26. Selective amnesia ("What Saturday morning meeting?").

27. Gall.

28. A good skin-care regimen.

29. The ability to converse on any subject without benefit of concrete knowledge or access to facts.

30. A shocking secret.

31. A pair of silk pajamas.

32. A lifetime membership in at least one organization that uplifts women.

33. The phone number of someone who is good with their hands.

34. At least one drop-dead, don't-speak-to-me-because-you-know-you-don't-know-me gorgeous photo of yourself.

35. A friendship that has stood the test of time.

36. One last chance to tell the guy you were crazy about in your 20s who treated you like cigarette ashes on the floor what you were too dumb to know when he walked out with your heart in his hands: "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

37. A soul mate.

38. Faith, hope and a good fantasy.

39. A dream.

40. A plan to make it come true.

Parts of list taken from 1997 Ebony Magazine Johnson Publishing Co.

All I Want for Christmas.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is to:

~wake up next to the man I love.

~make a big Christmas breakfast for my family.

~watch my 14 year old open her gifts with the same excitement as she did when she was 5.

~wait for my hubby to pretend he didn't buy me anything and then "surprise" me at the last minute.

~get dressed up in my Christmas best and visit with family.

~eat, drink and be merry!

~never forever the reason for the season!

(oh yeah and an iPad!)

Merry Christmas my blogfriends!

Learning to Practice What I Preach

Friday, December 16, 2011

Remember in October when I posted Taking Care of the Girls? Well, after I had my yearly mammogram I received a phone call less than an hour later telling me that I needed to come back and retest one of my breasts because they saw "something". Something like what?, I asked the nurse. "A dense area that wasn't there last year", she replied. "It could be breast tissue but we just want to be sure", she added. Immediately panic set in. I could feel my heart racing. Then she said, "the next available appointment isn't until the 14th @1:30. Oh, that is 2 weeks away! I thought to myself. If they thought it was an emergency they would have made the appointment sooner. Right?

I called my hubby right after I hung up and he told me not to worry and reassured me that everything was going to be okay and maybe I should ask for an earlier appointment. But I didn't want an earlier appointment. Everything was going to be okay. Right?

Then I spoke to my bff who told me that same thing had happened to her a few years ago and it turned out to be nothing. Okay. Maybe I am panicking for nothing.

Then I spoke to another woman who said sometimes she thinks they call you back just for the insurance to pay for another mammogram. Really? I would hate to think that was true but it could be. Right?

By the time the week of the appointment came around I had completely talked myself out of going. I convinced myself that it was nothing to worry about and that I would eventually reschedule the appointment for a time that was more convenient for me. Sounds crazy I know.

So the morning of the appointment I got dressed for work and decided that I would call the office and cancel the appointment when I got in. However, on my way to work my hubby sent me a text and it read, "Are you taking a half-day?" I couldn't believe it... he never remembers ANYTHING. He didn't mentioned the appointment last night so I figured he'd forgotten the date. I innocently replied.."No. I am going to reschedule for another day so I don't have to take time from work." Before I even hit send I knew that was the most ridiculous excuse I had ever heard. I have taken days off to do nothing important and now all of a sudden I am Miss Workaholic! The truth is I was scared. Scared of possibly getting bad news. Scared of hearing that maybe everything WASN'T going to be alright.

Then the phone rang and before I could say hello I heard my hubby sternly yet lovingly say, "you have to go TODAY, I'll leave early and come with you if you want me to". "No, I will be fine". I said.

I knew he was right, I had to go.

And I did.

Before I walked into the doctor's office I sat in the parking lot and prayed through tears. The nurse showed me the x-ray and pointed out the small nodule-like image that was causing concern. Then she proceeded to take four quick and very uncomfortable pictures. While I sat in the waiting room while she took the pictures to the doctor to review I flipped through at least 2 People Magazines trying to think positive thoughts. About 10 minutes later I could hear her footsteps walking back to the waiting room. She walked in and sat down. "Good news," she said. "Your breast is healthy. The image was breast tissue that overlapped when the first mammogram was done. This happens sometimes....but we have to retake to be sure." And all I could say was, "Thank you Lord!"

As I drove home I thought about how this whole story could have ended differently but thankfully it didn't. I thought about how I almost didn't go and take care of myself because I was afraid. How ironic is it that I am always telling other women they have to put themselves first and there I was ignoring my health because of fear. Not really practicing loving myself unconditionally, huh? I guess sometimes it's not that easy to practice what you preach. But I am going to work on that.

I thank God for my hubby who gave me some tough love on the phone that day I think that is what I needed. Mostly, I thank God for hearing my cry and for always loving me unconditionally even when I am not loving myself.


Monday, December 5, 2011

One morning I stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get a very much needed latte. The woman in front of me ordered a coffee and then decided to also get a bow-tie doughnut. After she placed her order she turned to me, shrugged her shoulders and said..."sometimes we just have to treat ourselves, right?"

"Totally!", I replied.

As I drove to work I thought about her comment. I couldn't help thinking that she really didn't believe it. It was almost as if she felt guilty for having a doughnut and thought that I might have been judging her decision to indulge. But really who am I to judge? I think that we ALL do need to treat ourselves sometimes!

I know I do!

So please don't judge me if I:

~take a day off just to stay home and watch Lifetime Movies in my pj's all day! (I call it a mental health day)

~buy myself something that I really want for a change before I buy my daughters something they really want. (rarely happens but when it does I will not feel guilty!)

~get gel manicures every two to three weeks....religiously! (my nail lady gives the best shoulder massages while my nails are drying)

~wake up early on Saturday morning just to watch my shows on the DVR alone without anyone constantly reminding me that I can fast forward through the commercials! (ever think that maybe I want to watch the commercials?)

~have a glass of wine (or two) with my dinner on a week night.

~get excited when I am home alone. (I love my family but there is something about spending time with yourself that can definitely feel like a special treat!)

~order the Taco Nachos appetizer to share but secretly hope to eat it all by myself. (and I usually do!)

So ladies go ahead and have that bow-tie doughnut, pour that Wednesday night glass of wine or buy yourself something that you really want for a change. I won't judge you! We should treat ourselves whenever and however we want! Why not? Don't we all deserve it?

Tweaking Traditions

Monday, November 28, 2011

Every family no matter how big or small has its own holiday traditions that are followed throughout the years. Since we do not live in the same state as the rest of our family we usually do the traveling to make sure we continue the tradition of us spending the holidays together. This Thanksgiving we drove 55 miles to celebrate the holiday with our family and friends. We started out at around noon and made it to the first stop at 2:00. We ate, drank, had a few laughs until it was time to leave to go to the next family gathering. We arrived there at 7:00....right in time to eat...again. We stayed there for a few hours and then left to go visit yet two more family/friends gatherings. When our Thanksgiving night was done we finally went to bed at 4:00AM! It was a fun, yet extremely exhausting day! Although we love visiting family and friends...it can be so stressful to make sure we visit everyone and that we share an equal amount of time with all our loved ones.

A few years ago my daughter asked if we could please celebrate just one holiday at home. How could we say no? So we decided to stay home on Christmas.....and we began our Christmas Eve tradition. On Christmas Eve we put on our Santa hats, pile up the gifts in the truck and drive those 55 miles to deliver gifts and some Christmas cheer. We usually start early and get home late but this way we get to visit family and friends on Christmas Eve AND we also get to enjoy our Christmas Day relaxing and at home savoring every moment of the blessed holiday. I think it's a win-win!

However, choosing to spending Christmas at home means that we are not be part of all the Christmas Day gatherings but I have learned that sometimes you have to find a balance in order to make the holidays less stressful. As the kids get older and families expand sometimes it is necessary for families to tweak their traditions in order to accommodate everyone’s lifestyle. At some point one generation may have to create new traditions with their own families. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So I'll be home for Christmas! What are some of your Holiday traditions? How do you find a balance to make the holidays less stressful?

Beware of the Comfort Zone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why can't I just be satisfied with my life the way it is? What is this constant desire to keep stepping out of my comfort zone? I know that change is hard! Growth can really hurt! I guess that's where the term "growing pains" comes from. Being complacent is safe. Isn't it? Yes, because there is no chance of failure when you are complacent.

Although I know all of this I am constantly still making moves to step out of my comfort zone. As I get older I realize that I am in constant competition with myself. What I want to know is where was this competitive spirit when I was younger and had more energy. I know so many people who are happy with their lives just like I am and no matter what they will never voluntarily move out of their comfort zone. Why can't this be me? Instead, when I stay in my comfort zone for too long I feel restricted as if I am slowly being intellectually suffocated. I have to keep changing, learning, growing. It's exhausting and at the same time exciting.

Complacency is just another excuse for fear and this is why many of us pretend to be content in our current situations whether it be in our personal or professional lives. We are afraid of change. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of failure. I know these feelings all to well. But there is something about moving beyond my fear that gives me a sense of freedom and reminds me that I am still growing. Growth represents life. And I still have a whole lot of life in me!

So ladies, really think about this one. What would you do if you could move past your comfort zone? What would you do if you weren't afraid of change?

I Love Myself Affirmation!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I posted this a few months ago but today I feel the need to post it again. I think sometimes we all need a reminder on how and why we should love ourselves unconditionally! I know I do! I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me!

Deep at the center of my being,
there is an infinite well of love.

I now allow this love to flow to the surface.
It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness,
my very being, and radiates out from me in all directions
and returns to me multiplied.
The more love I use and give, the more I have to give.
The supply is endless.
The use of love makes me feel good,
it is an expression of my inner joy.

I love myself;
therefore, I take loving care of my body.
I lovingly feed it nourishing foods and beverages,
I lovingly groom it and dress it, and my body lovingly
responds to me with vibrant health and energy.

I love myself; therefore provide for myself
a comfortable home, one that fills
all my needs and is a pleasure to be in.
I fill the rooms with the vibration of love
so that all who enter, myself included,
will feel this love and be nourished by it.

I love myself; therefore I work at a job I truly enjoy
doing, one that uses my creative talents and abilities,
working with and for people I love and who love me,
and earning a good income.

I love myself; therefore, I behave and think in a loving
way to all people for I know that that which I give out
returns to me multiplied.
I only attract loving people in my world,
for they are a mirror of what I am.

I love myself; therefore I forgive and totally release
the past and all past experiences and I am free.

I love myself; therefore I live totally in the now,
experiencing each moment as good and knowing that
my future is bright and joyous and secure,
for I am a beloved child of God
and God lovingly takes care of me
now and forever more.

And so it is.

If you pick at it ...it will bleed - A lesson on consequences

Monday, November 7, 2011

"If you keep picking at it, it will bleed!" These wise words came from my father many years ago. I was probably about 8 or 9 and I had a hangnail that I kept picking at. My father must have been watching me do this for a while because he said this without even looking up from his newspaper. I've always remembered this quote from him and until recently I never really knew why it stayed with me. You see it's all about consequences. Now I am not staying that my father meant this quote to become a life lesson; I am sure he just was telling me to quit picking at the hangnail! At the time I didn't think that this was going to be a teachable moment for me...but now 33 years I relate it to life's choices and consequences.

When I was younger my attitude was let me have fun now and reap the consequences later. Surprisingly, that never really worked out because some consequences have lasting effects. This is a lesson that I try to teach my daughters. The decisions they make now can directly affect their future, positively or negatively. So they must choose wisely! As they get older they both have started taking more control over the decisions they make...and reluctantly I have stepped back. As their mother I am there for guidance and support ALWAYS but I want them to know that ultimately they are in charge of their future.

"Parents can only give good advice or put their children on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." Anne Frank

Believe me, it's not easy especially when my 21 year old daughter asks me to make a decision for her. When I hear the indecisiveness in her voice I am almost ready to tell her what to do or worst do it for her. But then I remember she has to be responsible for her own choices. So I listen patiently as she weighs her pros and cons and eventually makes her decision with very little input from me. Do I always agree with her choice? Not always. But I have learned that it's her life and therefore, it's her choice to make. Although, Cookie who is only 14 still needs me to make some decisions for her she has begun to think about how the choices she does make will affect her life now and in the future.

So thanks daddy for that funny little piece of advice many years ago! Who knew it would help me become a better mother to my girls.

Me + This Blog =Therapy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friend of a friend: Are you still doing that blog?
Me: Yeah!
Friend of a friend: Are you getting paid for it?
Me: No....
Annoying Friend of a friend: So why do you still do it?

(Okay, let's pause this conversation here for a minute.)

I had to think about that question for a few seconds. But a few seconds is all I gave it. The truth is I love to write but by no means do I pretend to be a professional. Believe me, I am not expecting a literary award for this. I write about topics that I have experienced or care strongly about with the hopes that maybe someone can relate. It makes me happy to know that something that I wrote might make a reader smile, think, or be encouraged. When I sit down to write a post it is the equivalent of a therapy session for me. This blog has giving me an outlet that has allowed me to express myself. I have also gotten great advice from some amazing women and I am even able to vent freely when necessary! What more can you ask for from a good therapist??

So, no I am not doing it for fame or fortune. I blog for me and for the few who may be encouraged in some way. Because ladies....as I encourage you I am encouraging myself!

So now let's continue the conversation here:

Me: I do it for me! It's very therapeutic. You should really try it!

Cheers to the Freakin' Weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

As Rihanna says..."I'll drink to that"

The other day I was driving home from work and I happened to see my bff driving by. When we spotted each other we rolled down our windows, waved and then continued on our way to complete our after work activities. It was then I realized that "drive-by" wave was the first time in weeks that I have seen her. When did our lives get so busy lately that we don't even have time to spend time with each other on the weekends like we used to?

I must admit that lately my weekdays have been so hectic that on the weekends all I want to do is stay home and recuperate from the stressful week. Well...that's just boring. I almost forgot about my work hard, play hard motto! So this weekend I decided it’s time to let my hair down again (so to speak) and rededicate my Saturday and Sunday to a little bit of relaxing but also a lot of fun!

So ladies....enjoy every last minute of your two days off. Spend it with your kids, your significant other, your friends or just chill by yourself but whatever you do enjoy your freakin' weekend...you deserve it!

Dove Self-Esteem Weekend October 21st-23rd

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking for something to do this weekend? Well, how about joining a movement that will make a difference in the lives of young girls and women everywhere.

Educating, inspiring and empowering young girls to love themselves unconditionally is one of my biggest passions. I believe in the importance of empowering our girls and helping them build the strength needed to deal with the many challenges they will face in life. This summer I started the I Love Me, Unconditionally mentoring program for girls where the girls engaged in fun activities while building a strong sense of self-esteem and of course celebrating all that is beautiful about them!

According to recent Dove Global research, only 11% of girls worldwide are comfortable using the word “beautiful” to describe themselves. In fact, when girls feel bad about their looks, more than 70% (age 15-17) avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion. Dove believes that by helping girls build a positive relationship with beauty, they can help them reach their full potential – and that’s the goal of the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend.

Take a minute to think about the women in your life who may have inspired you. Now it's your turn to be an inspiration to your daughter, niece, student or any young girl in your life by just pledging to spend an hour with them this weekend.

Here are just a few activities ideas that you can do one-on-one with a girl in your life, or even in a group:

A Girl’s Guide to the Digital World (Ages 10 & Up)
The essential guide for the modern woman; utilize our guide to the digital world as you walk your child through the ways she can work to develop a healthy attitude towards networking with friends and peers online. Useful tips from Dove Ambassador Jess Weiner make this guide perfect as our girls embark on a new school year.

New Moves & Grooves (All Ages)

Get physical! Choose a new activity, or pick one you both love. Anything from hula hooping to rock climbing, to dancing, bowling, roller-skating, hiking, swimming and more can be healthy for your body, mind and relationship.

Girls in the Lead (Ages 10 & Up)

Let the girl in your life teach you a new skill. Try doing a project together like jewelry making or pottery, or ask her to show you how to do something you normally wouldn’t, like play video games or learn to text.

Real Beauty Spa Day (Ages 12 & Up)
Spend an entire day with just the two of you and enjoy pampering yourselves. Turn a room into your very own at-home spa where you can do manicures and pedicures, mud masks, massages, have a healthy lunch and sip smoothies. Relax and watch an uplifting movie together. Use the opportunity to spark a meaningful discussion-ask her how she feels when she takes care of her appearance, which are her favorite or most unique features and what she likes best about herself. Teach her that looking her best and taking the time to treat herself is an important part of feeling good.

My daughter and I will having our Real Beauty Spa Day this weekend!!! Check back soon to hear all about our day and if you decide to join in the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend I would love to hear about it!

Check out www.dovemovement.com for more ideas and conversation starters. Let's continue to inspire and motivate our girls to reach their full potential.

Mood Swings

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emotional, moody and temperamental. On any given day I can experience any one of these emotions. Sometimes all at once. Usually, I have valid reasons for my mood swings and a glass of wine with a long hot bath is usually the cure. Other days, I have no reason for my mood swings and the only thing that helps is a good hard cry. Could it be hormonal or am I just cranky? The truth is sometimes I am just cranky. Other days? Yes, it is hormonal and it is completely normal to be in a funk when you are in PMS Mode. Once I was watching the show Ghost Whisperer and I started to sob uncontrollably when a man returned from the dead and danced with his wife. My husband thought I had lost my mind. Turns out I was just in PMS mode. Go figure.

According to Dr. Roshinin Raj, MD author of the book "What the Yuck!? The Freaky and Fabulous Truth about Your Body (Love this book!) "as long as your cranky mood isn't causing problems at home or at work, or interfering with your ability to get through your daily activities, it's probably not depression. We all know that life is full of ups and downs but when the downs keep you down for a long time it can lead to depression. Depression is a real disease that many women suffer from. So if you think you many be suffering from depression you do not have to suffer alone. There are many good treatment options that can help you cope with depression so make an appointment with a mental health professional.

Here are some tips from Dr. Raj to help you figure out if your PMS moods are normal or not:

Feeling cranky a day or two before your period.
NOT NORMAL: Feeling out of control cranky for 10 solid days

Not being able to sleep for a night or so before your period.
NOT NORMAL: Tossing and turning every night for two weeks or longer.

Feeling a little sluggish a few days before your period starts.
NOT NORMAL: Not being able to get out of bed for a week before your period starts.

NORMAL: Feeling irritated about everyday annoyances (getting cut off in traffic, your husband not taking the garbage out.
NOT NORMAL: Getting in a yelling, screaming, throwing-things rage over your husband not taking out the garbage.

Tearing up while watching sappy made-for-ts movies. (Like Ghost Whisperer)
NOT NORMAL: Repeatedly bursting into tears and not knowing why.

Make Friends With Your Hair with Dove® (Review and Giveaway)

Friday, October 14, 2011

We women struggle on a daily basis with our hair. I know that I don't feel totally put together unless my hair looks good. I recently shared mine hair story and now it's my daughter's turn. My youngest daughter Cookie has beautiful yet very unpredictable hair....it truly does have a mind of it's own. It can go from straight and shiny to dry and frizzy in a matter of hours. Every morning I watch her walk to the school bus with a hood on her head to try to prevent the morning humidity from releasing the frizz.

So when I got the opportunity to try the Dove® Nourishing Oil Care™, a collection that transforms your hair from frizzy to fabulous, I knew that Cookie would be a perfect candidate. And she was.

First, she took the hair quiz on the Dove website. After answering 5 easy questions we found out that her hair personality is Jaclyn-Hyde a "two-faced fiend is a fickle friend. She'll keep you guessing to the bitter end. The only way to cure her curse, is to use Dove® Hair before it gets worse." So that's what we did. We used the collection and the results were amazing!! No more expensive salon visits for her because we finally found a hair care collection that has tamed her unpredictable hair. Not only did the Dove® Nourishing Oil Care™ collection help to control her hair's split personality but it makes her hair smells terrific too!

Dove® has teamed up with actress Rashida Jones for the “Make Friends with Your Hair” campaign. Rashida where she filmed a humorous series of videos dramatizing the hair issues many women struggle with on a daily basis. As part of the campaign, Dove® is inviting women everywhere to share their most unpredictable hair stories to help them end their frustration with unmanageable hair that has a mind of its own. Women can enter the campaign by creating a video up to 90 seconds in length sharing how their hair has an alter ego, by telling a story, acting out a humorous scene or even singing an original song. Three finalists will win a VIP trip to New York, a hair transformation from Dove® Celebrity Stylist Mark Townsend, and one winner will star in a Dove® Hair TV ad in December. For full details on the Dove® “Make Friends with Your Hair” contest, you can visit the official site here. Cookie is not 18 yet but if she was she seriously would be entering this contest!

If you also want to make friends with your hair I am giving away the Dove Nourishing Oil Care Shampoo and Conditioner to one lucky reader.

Simply just do one of the following!
(1) Follow Loving Me Unconditionally via Google Friends Connect.
(2) "Like" Loving Me, Unconditionally on Facebook and share this giveaway.
(3) Follow Loving Me, Unconditionally on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. Make sure to @NikkiLovingMe.

Sorry this contest is limited to U.S. and Canadian participants only.

Disclosure: I received products from the Dove® Nourishing Oil Care™ collection for this review however all opinions expressed here are my own(and Cookie's of course!)

Strirrups, Speculums and Smears....oh my!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It always starts with the same question. When was the date of your last period? Why didn't I remember to write that down, since I know they always ask? As I sit there in my gown, I try to remember when was the last week my life was inconvenienced. Oh yeah, two weeks ago when it came in the middle of teaching social studies and I couldn't find a teacher to watch my class so I could go to the bathroom. Yup, that was it.

Unfortunately, the invasion of privacy does not end there. Method of contraceptives? Number of pregnancies? Vaginal or c-section births? However, I answer all questions asked almost without thinking since I have been doing this routine for many years. Then with a reassuring smile she puts on the gloves, tells me to lay down, place my feet in the stirrups and scooch down to the end of the examination table. And the rest shall we say is her-story!

But hey? How many of us exactly ask our GYN those questions that we know we need to ask. Remember that silence can be deadly. Even the most embarrassing symptoms can lead to a serious health condition. Believe me, your doctor has heard and probably seen it all so write down your questions before your next pap smear and when your gyno is finished questioning then ask some questions of your own.

Here is some advice from Dr. Roshinin Raj, MD author of the book "What the Yuck!? The Freaky and Fabulous Truth about Your Body (Love this book!)

"Ask for the smallest speculum for you body size. A 28-year old who hasn't had a child won't need the same speculum as a 50 year-old with five kids, A right size tool will make your cervical exam much more comfortable." (another useful piece of information I could have used years ago)

"Wondering what your gyno is up to down there? Go ahead and ask. You'll feel less anxious if you understand exactly what your doctor is checking, and talking throughout the exam will prevent you from holding your breath, which helps cuts the pain level of the exam."

"Before you leave your doc's office find out when and how you'll get test results. Each doctor's office has a different policy, so don't assume that no news is good news."

A Hair Story

Monday, September 26, 2011

Once upon a time there was a woman who moved from the big city to a small suburban town. This town had everything she needed good schools, great neighbors and beautiful homes on tree-lined streets. It had everything a girl needed except....a good hairdresser.

Although she loved her new suburban life the one thing she missed was her hairdresser because she had really known how to take care of her hair. She knew her style and didn't need have to give her too many directions; and the woman was satisfied every time she left the shop. The woman loved the hairdresser so much that for a year after moving she still traveled to the city to get her hair done. But with gas prices the way they are it got to be too much so then she began the hunt to find the perfect local hairdresser.

First, her neighbor recommended a hairdresser in town; she was an older lady who seemed to be very knowledgeable about hair. The woman gave the hairdresser specific instructions on how she liked to wear her hair and the hairdresser seemed to really understand. When she was done, the woman's hair looked good......for someone 25 years older than her. So she put on a hat and went home.

Then, she heard of another hairdresser a few towns over so she decided to give her a try. She did a good job taking care of her hair and was a wizard with a highlights! She understood the woman's style and so she thought this was it...she had finally found her! Until the woman decided to cut her hair short and found out that her new hairdresser doesn't cut short hair very well.

Next, a friend told her about a hairdresser a little further anyway who was great at cutting short hair so she decided it was worth the trip! Although she was very pleased with her new short and chic look, the hair dresser's chair-side manner left a lot to be desired; she was not very friendly and she pushed and pulled the woman's head in all directions and even accused her of not knowing how to keep her head still while getting her hair cut. (THE NERVE) She left there four and a half hours later (yes, you read right 4 1/2 hours) with a fab haircut but instead of having that pampered feeling she felt slightly abused. But she loved her cut so much she did give her one more try a few months later with the hopes that she might have just been having a bad day...but there was no change. So the woman decided that even though she loved her hair she wasn't driving all that way to be ill-treated.

Finally, one day as she was passing by a hair salon less than 5 minutes away from her house she saw a young woman doing hair and decided to go talk to her....what the heck it was worth a shot! They chatted for a while about hair experiences and personal style and then made an appointment. She seemed very knowledgeable about hair, said she was able to do a variety of styles and hair types and very friendly! From the minute the woman sat in her chair she felt like she had known her for years. As they chatted and laughed the woman thought to herself this may just be the beginning of a long hair/client relationship! When she was done and she spun her chair for the woman to look in the mirror she knew that my her search was over.

Moral of this story....Never give up your search for the perfect hairdresser. I mean a girl's hair has to look good, right?

The End!!

I Had the Time of My Life!

Friday, September 23, 2011

So today is the first day of fall and if I had to choose one word to describe Summer 2011 it would be..... AMAZING! Let's see where should I begin?

Well, I planted my very first flower garden. It was suppose to be a vegetable garden but it didn't quite work out that way. I enjoyed taking care of it though.

I hosted my first GDO( Girl's Day Out). My bff and I invited few phenomenal women to have a day out with the kids or men. As we talked, laughed, ate and drank I couldn't help but think about how diverse the every day lives of these women were. Married, divorced, single, separated and dating. The ages ranged from 20 something to almost 60 and each one of us had something in common. The conversations were fun, candid and enlightening. We are already planning our next Girl's get-together! Stay tuned!

Then it was the debut of my week girls summer camp! I Love Me! Summer Workshop for girls. It was an amazing week! Not only did the girls learn how to trust and believe in their dreams this week.... so did I! By the end of the week the girls had shared their feelings, recognized their strengths and weaknesses and learned that the way they feel about themselves is more important than how others feel about them. They bonded with each other in ways I couldn't even imagine and they made life-long friends.

Since it was the Summer of Us...meaning us girls of course! I wanted to also make sure that I made plans with women that I don't usually spend time with. You know when you say "we really have to get together" or "let's meet for lunch sometime". Well, I actually took them up on their offer and made it happen. So through coffee dates, lunch dates and plain ole hangout on the patio with margaritas dates I got to know some fabulous women even better!

Then it was the cruise. WOW! If you have never been on a cruise let me tell you it was the best experience. My family and I went on a 7 day cruise to the southern Caribbean. Our vacation started with flying to Puerto Rico where we spent one night.

The next morning we headed to the port to board the Carnival Victory and with the threat of hurricane Irene coming to PR our boat left early leaving close to 300 people. But it was all good because Carnival flew them all to Barbados, our first stop, to meet us there.

Here is a picture walk through our unforgettable vacation!

Beautiful Barbados! I am a little bias since this is where my family is from and I got to spend the day visiting them!

St. Kitts

St. Thomas

St. Lucia

Back to Puerto Rico for 3 more days of paradise!

So all and all Summer 2011 was extraordinary!!! Now it's back to reality. Work. Lesson plans. PTA meetings. *sigh* Well, at least we have the holidays to look forward to and then in 9 short months we will be saying hello to Summer 2012. So thanks for the memories Summer 2011. I had the time of my life!

I am no Claire Huxtable!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I love the character Claire Huxtable on the Cosby Show. She seemed to have it all together. She always looked beautiful, had a successful career, house always looked perfect, and all she had to do was give her kids a look and they knew she meant business. She just made it all seem so effortless and most of all she hardly ever complained. Ah...the life of a television mom!

Everyone who knows me knows that I put my all into everything I do. I am not perfect and I make many mistakes however, it isn't because I haven't tried my best to do whatever it is efficiently. I typically don't complain. I know what my responsibilities are as a wife, mother and educator and just like many of you I try with all my might to be the best woman I can be. Period. But that can be exhausting.

When the ability to do your best without complaining or without much help at all becomes a burden, this is what I call the Curse of the Efficient. Now being efficient can be both a blessing and a curse. When people know that they can count on you it makes you feel great to know that you are considered a competent person. You can feel a sense of pride to know that you are thought of so highly. For example, let's say you are that go-to person at work who your boss depends on because they know that 1. you will do a great job. 2. you do it without complaining. At first that can make you feel like a valuable asset in your company. However, after a while this can also become a burden especially when you are constantly being relied on. This can lead to extreme BURN OUT.

The curse of the efficient can make you just want to start screwing everything up on purpose. Maybe I "forget" to do the laundry, cook and clean for a few weeks. Maybe I "forget" to buy the gift for the birthday party you have to go to in an hour. Maybe I "forget" to make my lessons fun and engaging this week. Maybe I don't always say "yeah, no problem" when asked to do one more thing on my already demanding list of things to do! How about that?

The truth is that I am no Claire Huxtable but I am also no screw up. Sometimes we have so many people depending on us that we don't think we have time to slow down. It's all about finding that balance. Maybe I don't join one more committee at work. Maybe I delegate more responsibilities at home to my very capable teenage daughter. Maybe I continue doing everything to the best of my ability and stop being so hard on myself when I can't meet everyone's expectations. Yeah, I am going to give this a try. I'll let you know how it goes!

Celebrating 42 All Weekend Long!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

As exciting as starting a new school can be it also comes with a great level of stress and anxiety! But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Thursday was my birthday and I had plans to celebrate all weekend and I mean ALL weekend!

The celebration began on Thursday when my bff and her family came over and surprised me with a bouquet of flowers, a delicious home-made dinner and a strawberry shortcake....my favorite!

As I sat at the table and saw all she had done I couldn't help but think about how blessed I am to have such an amazing friend. As busy as her life is especially on a school night she found the time to make sure my night was extra special! It was the perfect way to celebrate after a long and stressful day at work!

The celebration continued on Friday night when friends invited us over for dinner and drinks. We love hanging out with this fun couple! Drinks, good food and great conversation. What else can you ask for? You know when you are in good company when you don't even realize how late it is. We left their house at 3 in the morning and I can honestly say a good time was had by all.

Saturday was the day I was waiting for all week.....MY SPA DAY! Massage and facial was just what this 42 year old girl needed!
When I got to the Spa at Forrestal I could almost feel the stress starting to leave my body. I don't know if it was the relaxing music, the aromatherapy candles or the way everyone speaks to you in a soft whisper-like voice. When I first met Ken, my masseuse I was hoping he wasn't afraid to give a real deep tissue massage because when it comes to my massages... I'm no wimp! I was not disappointed! When he was finished I felt like a new woman. All of the tension in my shoulders (or speed bumps as he called them) were gone. It was the best massage I have every had and I have had many. To quote Ken "A bad massage is worst than bad sex!" I agree since I have to pay for massages!

Next up was the facial and I got some good news....I do not have the skin of a 42 year old! Apparently, I have amazingly healthy skin that shows no signs of aging. Wow, I didn't think that I was supposed to be ready for a face lift.

Saturday night ended with a romantic night on the town with my handsome hubby. He took me to a restaurant called The Frog and the Peach. I meant to take a picture of the restaurant and my meal but I was so wrapped up in the moment of spending time with the man that I love that I forgot.

The weekend festivities ended with Sunday brunch with the family at City Streets Cafe. It was a wonderful way to end my birthday weekend!

Sometimes it's good to just take a break from the everyday stresses of life and enjoy all that is fabulous about being alive! It really makes you appreciate life and all it has to offer. So here's to you year 42, I am ready to embrace you and all the fabulous things you have in store for me! Let's start making some memories!