career · life curation

Ready to Change Careers?

Today’s post will be super-quick, because things have been very busy on my end.

A few weeks ago, I came across a link to a website offering various job seeker services, including interview practice, resume rewrites, LinkedIn makeovers, etc.,. I want to share this website with you, just in case you have the qualifications but want to ensure that you present yourself in the best light possible. Career Business Bar is a great resource for anyone that want to break into a new career but just needs a little help with their presentation.

You should check them out, if you’re ready to change careers and want a little help with polishing your skills and application documents (like your resume). I haven’t used this company yet, but I think the services provided are reasonably priced and worth the investment.

That’s all for today: take care, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

life curation · writing

The Key to Living Well

(This is the first of several reposted essays from my previous blog. I’m not sure if the hyperlinks still work, but I’ve kept them so that the essay makes sense. Also, this entry was initially written to encourage Black women to enhance their lives in any way possible, but I anticipate that some of these points will resonate even if you’re not a Black woman. Enjoy!)

Recently, I was brainstorming over ways to get my degree done faster during my morning drive to work. Well, somehow I started thinking about other people’s blogs, then I started thinking about Evia’s blog specifically, and how she implored black women to “increase their value.  I started thinking: How does a woman increase her value? How does she go from average to above average to excellent? Why is it important to increase your value? As I continued driving, it occurred to me: I have the answer! Eureka!

This woman looks like she knows how to reach her goals!

The short answer is this: figure out what is important to you, then plan on how to excel in that area. There’s more, of course, to this, and I plan to go into it fully throughout my blog. “How to increase your value” is going to be the main theme here on this blog. That’s what I’ve always wanted my writing to be about: becoming a better version of ourselves. I’m going to give you a little teaser for what’s to come:

Why is it important to increase your value?

Value is both objective and subjective: value can be recognized in almost anything, but what is valuable to each person is an individual choice. Value is an awesome thing, in that it can be added and not easily taken away. We all want to be valued and to have valuable people in our most intimate circle. It’s easy to see why value is important.

However, increasing our value is a different thing, and can be very confusing. Black women, in particular, have an interesting history and shared culture when it comes to increasing our value: many of us come from communities that tell us to become more valuable in very specific ways: go to school, have a great career, and give generously to the church and community of origin. However, when we attain a certain amount of value markers, we can find ourselves feeling very lonesome. We hope and expect those in our circle of friends and family to be attaining greater value as well, but oftentimes this journey to higher value is a solo mission. In our community, there is a sad conditioning going on: this very community encourages Black women to be as valuable as we can, but to simultaneously lower our expectations and standards when interacting with others in the community.

We are encouraged to marry any ol’ man, even if he isn’t high quality, just for the sake of procreating and “building up the community”. We are expected to “upgrade” everyone that we meet, while never expected anyone to pour back into us (talk about non-reciprocity!). We are encouraged to live in dangerous physical settings around “our” people, because moving to a safer neighborhood makes us “snobs”. We discouraged from speaking intelligibly because we “sound White” when we do. We’re given the greenlight to have children even if we are woefully unprepared for them (religiosity is a huge factor in this) and we are criticized when we expect our coparents to contribute financially to the care of the children. We are encouraged to make spectacles of ourselves for the sake of “keeping it real”, and we are told that unhealthy eating habits are fine since being “thick” should be our goal (I have slim friends who were teased mercilessly for not having curves, despite being healthy and normal in all other aspects).

Confusing, huh? How can one expect a valuable person to keep their expectations and standards low? Unfortunately, some have fallen victim to this trap and did everything to become valuable yet squander their resources on a community that doesn’t not provide anything in return – not even safety and a measure of unity. (This comes to an important point: VALUE SHOULD NOT BE WASTED. Not on an individual, not on a community, not within a society. Even after becoming our most valuable, Black women should use their value where it is appreciated and can benefit them. More about this in an upcoming post.)

The good news? Once a person is valuable, the individual can escape whatever toxic or nonreciprocal environment she is in. The most important point is: VALUE IS FREEDOM. Valuable individuals can leave harmful situations and select/create healthier environments. Valuable individuals are welcome additions in most communities: it won’t be hard for a valuable person to be welcomed into a social construct, so long as the person holds value for those within that construct. Increased value is increased freedom: the ability to choose from more environments and more favorable circumstances. That is why increasing one’s value is so important.

food

International Goodies: Shopping at New Grand Mart

In my hometown, there is an international grocer named New Grand Mart. New Grand has a couple of locations, and, prior to me visiting one of the stores, I usually got my international foods from a different seller in town. However, that seller tended to focus solely on East Asian foods (specifically Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese items). New Grand, however, is a truly international store, with foods hailing from East Asia, India, the Middle East and even Mexico and Central America!

My latest trip to the store resulted in me getting lots of tasty items, but these four were my favorites.

Vegetarian ramen noodles

I love ramen noodles, especially since it’s easy to add additional ingredients and make a a hearty meal. These noodles are the perfect base for my ramen creations.

Frozen sticky rice with mango

I have a review that I’m planning for this frozen sticky rice with mango, so stay tuned for that!

Vegetable mushroom buns (please ignore my nutrition supplements in the background!)

I am a HUGE fan of Chinese buns, and these are by far the tastiest that I’ve ever gotten from a grocery store. So yummy.

Strawberry KitKat candy

I love KitKat candy, especially the limited edition specialty flavors. Strawberry flavored KitKats were available stateside for a short time, but they are very difficult to find. Imagine my excitement when I saw that these are regularly offered at New Grand Mart! I’m delighted that I will always be able to get the strawberry flavored ones, so long as New Grand carries them.

Those are my favorite international goodies! Do you have any favorite items that you like to purchase from international grocers? Let me know all about it in the comments!

life curation

Are You Ambitious?

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a safe and fun weekend.

Today’s post is courtesy of a fantastic free workbook that I downloaded from the Tory Burch Foundation website. As a newbie female entrepreneur, I’m constantly on the lookout for information that can help me to successfully grow my businesses. I’m fascinated by how many individual “parts” need to sync in order to create business success. So I read a lot of guides and do any of the associated exercises to ensure that I’m testing the theories and learning – for myself – what works and what doesn’t.

The Tory Burch Foundation’s Ambition Guidebook is a wonderful resource for anyone beginning on the entrepreneur path. The exercises in the booklet lead you through self-discovery, and if you do the exercises, you’ll eventually reveal to yourself the strengths that you possess, potential roadblocks on your path, and actionable steps that you can take to achieve your goals.

That leads me to the title of this post: are you ambitious? Many of us have been taught to shy away from this personality trait, out of fear of offending others. Women, particularly, may have gotten the messaging that ambition is a “masculine” trait and thus undesirable in any authentically “feminine” woman. For those that are still a bit nervous about the word “ambitious”, you can easily substitute the words “passionate” or even “enthusiastic”. When substituting different words, it’s clear that ambition is a good thing: one could even say that ambition is the spice of life!

Yes, so many of the things that we enjoy are the products of extreme ambition. Strong desire is what inspires us to create new things, even in a world where it seems like “everything” has already been created! One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen what someone that no longer had any ambition: a lack of desire leaves a person feeling lost and disinterested in life. Most of us have had brief periods when we don’t feel very ambitious, but that’s not an energy that we want to linger in. We want to always find something to “light us up” and inspire us to do/have/be MORE.

So, I’m going through the exercises in the guidebook and enjoying it so far. I love how user-friendly this is, and the fact that it’s free is definitely a good thing! If you have a few friends that are interested in finding their life’s purposes or rekindling their passions, this booklet would be great for you all to download and complete together as a group. If you decide to download it, let me know how you enjoy it!

health

Fibro Fridays: Aquatic Therapy

Happy Friday! We’ve been enjoying lots of hot, sunny days in central Virginia and, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve loved every minute of it!

Today is Fibro Friday, and I wanted to move away from discussing the pain and frustration of the condition, and move towards talking about ways to reduce pain and improve our quality of life. So I’ll spend a few weeks talking about treatments that work.

Of all of the treatments I’ve employed in my fibromyalgia journey, aquatic therapy was, hands down, one of the most effective. I spent two days per week in a heated pool, where I did careful stretching and conditioning exercises. The exercises were designed to stretch the muscles gently and to begin restoring flexibility and strength to previously stiff and achy body parts.

Water is a healer

After spending time in the pool, I noticed that my range of motion was better, and my pain was decreased. I won’t lie: those aquatic exercises EXHAUSTED me. I slept so well after each visit. But that was a good thing; as someone that experiences awful bouts of insomnia, a good nights’ sleep is a dream come true.

Along with the physical benefits of stretching in a warm pool, there were other unexpected positive side effects. I find that water stokes my creativity, so my mind felt clearer and rejuvenated after each visit. I also found my confidence in my body’s abilities growing with each session. You see, fibro made me quite unsure of what my body can do, since the condition significantly impaired my energy levels and range of motion. But the weightlessness I experienced in the pool reminded me of what I was like before fibro took its toll.

I haven’t gone to aquatic therapy since last year. My pain levels are far more manageable now so I don’t need this particular treatment any more. However, at the time, this worked extremely well for my pain, and I recommend it for anyone that is experiencing muscle discomfort or chronic pain.

That’s it for today! I hope you all continue to remain safe and take care of yourselves. Have a great weekend!

beauty

Beauty Review: Kandi Koated Cosmetics Glaze Illuminating Lip Shine

When I first got my Kandi Koated products, I was excited to try them and let you all know how they work. I’ve always been a fan of a good beauty review, and these products don’t have eearly enough reviews online, so I knew I had to add my voice to the mix and make sure that I discussed Kandi Koated.

As promised. here is my review of the Kandi Koated Glaze Illuminating Lip Shine. I purchased it at the same time that I purchased the concealer. The packaging is the same gorgeous rose gold hue, and the applicator features a doe-foot tip. I purchased the lip shine in the color Corset (I don’t think this shade is currently available).

According to the Kandi Koated website, the lip shine is described as, “Ultra-rich lip gloss that can be worn alone or layered over your favorite lipstick for added color and gloss! Delivers a bright and beautiful shine.” The description is correct: the lip gloss is shiny and adds a brilliant tint to your lips. This product has a lovely iridescence that looks both pink and purple at the same time.

Swatch of “Corset” by Kandi Koated Cosmetics

I love that the product is non-sticky and unflavored, so it can be easily layered with other lip products, but it’s lovely enough to wear on its own. This product is lightweight and VERY wearable.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! It’s reasonably priced and performs well. I’ll certainly purchase it in additional shades in the months to come (I have to use up some other products before I can justify buying more makeup!).

life curation · writing

Revising and Republishing My Essays

I think I’ve mentioned it previously, but in case I haven’t, I used to write on my (now defunct) personal blog several years ago. I discussed a variety of topics, but my main focus was life improvement. In short, that blog was a bit of a precursor to this one.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked to to one of my good friends of several years. She specifically mentioned some of my writing and how she wishes that she could view those essays again. As a special favor to her (and because I think that some of those essays have aged VERY well), I will be revising and republishing my essays over here.

I’m excited to revisit the topics that used to interest me, and I’m eager to share those discussions over here! What will really be fun is reflecting on the actions that I planned to take back then and comparing those intentions to the things that I’m currently experiencing. I can comfortably say that I followed a lot of my own advice and those decisions have paid off for me.

Look out for those revised essays starting next week. Also, if you have any topics that you would like to see discussed on this blog, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

art · life curation

For The Love of Letters

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a touching appeal posted by Victorian Senior Care, requesting letters to be sent to their elderly residents. I have a soft spot for the elderly, and writing letters has always been something that I wanted to do more often, so I quickly decided to participate. I mean, why wouldn’t I spend some time connecting with someone older that could use a little conversation?

However, before I could write my letters, I saw that Victorian Senior Care was inundated with letters from other well-meaning folks like myself. This got me to thinking, maybe there are other senior facilities looking for pen pals. And, as it turns out, a simple search of “letter writing to seniors” on Facebook pulls up several different senior facilities that have letter writing campaigns currently. However, you don’t have to go to Facebook: you can always reach out to a local nursing home if you want to connect with isolated seniors.

I’m mailing a bundle of letters this week. I’m looking forward to writing to elders that aren’t able to connect with people outside of the facility. Letter writing, as an art, is dying and I am glad that COVID and the subsequent quarantines have brought to light this precious form of communication and how it can connect unlikely groups of people.

In this age of social media, who would have thought that letter writing would bring us together? I could have never seen it coming, but I’m glad that it’s happening. I hope you all join me in writing to the elderly.

reading list

My Current Reading List

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend and are feeling ready for the week ahead.

I’m ready for reading!

A few months ago, I mentioned that I would be doing exercises outlined in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. However, I decided to put those exercises on hold for a while, since I have other major projects that need my attention. “The Artist’s Way” is a great complement to any routine that you may have, but I personally didn’t feel that it suited me well right now. I am looking forward to picking up these exercises in the near future, but for now, no “Artist’s Way” exercises for me right now.

Despite the fact that I’ve delayed my “Artist’s Way” exercises, I still want to do some reading! I really want to catch up on some of the many books I’ve been meaning to read, and since I’m not committed to any writing/reading exercises, now seemed like a perfect time to dive into the rest of my reading list.

One of my books for this month: Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

My goal is to read three more books before the end of the month, and then move onto 3 or more books next month. My three books for this month are “Death Comes As The End” by Agatha Christie, “Infants of the Spring” by Wallace Thurman, and “More of This World or Maybe Another” by Barb Johnson. These books were the three that I picked up first, so there was no rhyme or reason to my selection, other than the fact that these had been on my reading list.

I’ve been eager to read this one: Infants of the Spring by Wallace Thurman

As I read these books, I’ll be adding them to my bookshelf in my entertainment room. I committed myself to only displaying books that I’ve actually read, so my bookshelf isn’t empty but I’m really looking forward to filling the shelves over the months to come. Let’s see if I can fill the shelves completely before the end of the year (I have my work cut out for me!)

Do you have any books that you’re enjoying currently, or that you recommend that I read? Let me know in the comments below!

*Post contains affiliate links

health

Herbalism: My Favorite Tools

As a baby herbalist, I feel fortunate to have so many tools at my disposal. Plant identification apps, online herbalist courses, and countless hours of discussion on YouTube have really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the herbalism world.

Today, I’ll be sharing a few tools that I’ve found invaluable in my growing herbal practice. If you’re interested in taking your wellness back into your own hands, I implore you to research safe and effective plants that you can incorporate into your wellness plan, and then venture out into preparing those plants in different ways: as infusions (teas), tonics, tinctures, poultices, and more. The more that you experiment, the more that your knowledge grows. I hope this little list of tools helps you. Enjoy!

One of my first major investments into my herbal practice is my drying rack. I love using this when preparing herbs that I harvested myself, or when I purchase a bundle of fresh herbs at the store. This one by Adwaita is large, and can accommodate a lot of plant material. I use this almost every day, as I frequently find myself eager to preserve my fresh herbs.

After trying to crumble herbs by hand a few times, I knew that I needed a mortar and pestle. This one has a really nice weight and ergonomic design. I love that it doesn’t shift around when I use it: the weighted base keeps the bowl firmly in place. It also has a sleek look that I enjoy.

I regularly prep my herbs on this cutting board. It’s a large and attractive workspace: using it is always a pleasure. I sometimes use it to take photos of some of my herbs as I’m trying different blends. I love this work surface!

Eventually, I’ll be standardizing some of my preparations, so an inexpensive digital scale was a must. I purchased this last week but I haven’t used it yet: I’m looking forward to eventually offering my herbal mixtures and I fully intend to be consistent in my formulations.

These are my favorite herbal tools at this point, and I’m slowing growing my collection to include all of the tools that I need to create the herbal products that I enjoy using. That’s all for today: let me know if you use anything like the items that I mentioned above!