Archive | March, 2011

Shattering The Myth of The Independent Woman

31 Mar

You and Your…Ego

 

"They say I walk around like I got an 'S' on my chest..."

 

March was Women’s History Month so I’m just making the cut off for this post but I think it’s something we need to address. For all of the men and women who have fallen for the swindle, I sincerely apologize for what I’m about to say but it needs to be said: The Independent Woman does not exist. Yup, I said it. She’s a figment of your imagination. A mirage, if you will. In other words, she’s not real. Before you start quoting Destiny’s Child “Independent Women” or Neyo hear me out.

We need to get to the bottom of what it means to be independent. The phrase “independent woman” has gone the way of “hating” or “thick” – it’s been over and misused to the point of exhaustion where we can no longer recall the true meaning. Destiny’s Child dropped their girl power anthem in 2000 and if my memory serves me correctly I was 15 and a sophomore in HS. I was singing the mess outta this song and in my hormone driven teenage delusion I truly believed I was an independent woman. Never mind the facts that I couldn’t drive, vote or buy a pack of cigarettes; I was independent, dammit. The shoes on my feet? I bought it. I bought it with money I made working for summer youth but it was my money. I was goin for mine! Grinding all day, everyday, baby. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve worked for summer youth and I still couldn’t tell you what it means to be truly independent. Does it mean that I pay my own bills and am truly self-reliant in every sense of the word? Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

It just brings me to my next point: why is it so important  to be an independent woman?

The independent woman is a mythical being. She’s totally self sufficient, strong, sassy, financially well off, educated, a great cook,  philanthropist and in her spare time she fights fires and rescues people from burning buildings. She doesn’t take ish of anybody. You never see her cry. She never asks for help. She does it all. All she’s missing is the superhero cape and utility belt because she is straight out the pages of a comic book.

The Independent Woman Myth may temporarily satisfy our egos but it does little, if anything, for our personal growth. Its a very linear and one dimensional line of thinking that serves little purpose. If you think you can do any and everything absolutely on your own without any help from anyone else you are sadly mistaken. You’re selling yourself short and could be missing chances to connect with people who can help you grow into a better person. We all need help sometimes. Is there some prize in doing it all? A certificate for suffering in silence while you’re stressed and overwhelmed? Seriously, let me know where I can collect my martyr points and how I can cash them in.

"She do it ALL!" *rolls eyes*

I can’t express how grateful I am for the network of supportive family and friends that I have in my corner. If I was still drinking the Independent Woman koolaid lawd knows where I’d be now but I know one thing, I wouldnt be this far into my journey for personal growth. Nor would I have pulled together five of my favorite ladies to start this blog. To quote Cherie Redd, “Team work makes the dream work, Baby!”

So how do we move past the Independent Woman Myth? For starters we can take a good hard look at how detrimental it is because the Independent Woman Myth doesn’t allow us to be true to ourselves. If you’re so caught up in being strong and independent you will never be able to have genuine friendships and relationships with others. If people don’t see the real you they will never be able to get deeper than the surface. By allowing myself to be vunerable I’ve been able to strengthen the bonds with my friends and family. There is strength in letting others see what you may think is a weakness. Humbling yourself can be hard but it’s vital for our survival as women. The fact is that we need each other and the Independent Woman Myth robs us of the chance to enjoy the fruits of sisterhood.

Push that Independent Woman off a cliff because she’s holding you back. Open your heart and mind to a new school of thought and allow yourself to be a be defined by something other than being “independent”. Reclaim your power and thank me later 🙂

-Nikki B. Decadent

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Motivational Mondays: It Gets Better

7 Mar

 

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”

~Anonymous~

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

~Dale Carnegie~

Death of The Frenemy

7 Mar

You and Your…Friends

Don't worry, she's just playing. Tell them you're just playing *gasp* I can't breathe!

fren·e·my

noun \ˈfre-nə-mē\

plural fren·e·mies

Definition of FRENEMY :

one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy

When it comes to frenemies we’ve all had an experience with one: the girlfriend who’s quick to criticize your outfit when you look like a million bucks or the bestfriend who doesn’t hesitate to throw salt on your great relationship with your man. We’re quick to cut ties with a dead beat ex but what happens when you can’t sever ties with a bad friend? Many times we remain friends with people who have committed unspeakable acts of disrespect for no reason other than “we’ve been friends for so long!” Holding on to a dead end friend isn’t healthy and can prevent you from having healthy relationships with yourself and others.

Rihanna & Ciara: are they really friends? Methinks, NOT!

Identify whether this person is a good friend or not. The best way to properly assess this is to think about how you feel while you’re in the company of this person. Healthy friendships should leave you energized and feeling like you can take over the world. If you are hanging out with this person and feeling nothing but stress and misery then maybe it’s time you cut ties with them.  You’re not doing yourself any favors by sticking it out with someone who doesn’t value your friendship. A good friend is supportive of your goals, dreams and hobbies even if they don’t personally have an interest in them.  If the only time your friend can be there for you is when it’s beneficial to them then you might have a problem. Selfishness is a huge red flag. A lot of times women will try to overcompensate for a selfish friend by being a doormat but letting someone run over you to keep the peace does little for the friendship or for your self-esteem. Healthy friendships have boundaries and are built on mutual respect.  If your friend is overly critical of you, competitive, gives you back handed compliments or generally makes you feel self conscious then it may be time to move on.

A perfect example of this is the recent short lived “beef” between recording artists Rihanna and Ciara. Ciara made a comment  to Joan Rivers on E!’s Fashion Police in regards to a recent run-in with Rihanna. All she said was she (Rihanna) wasn’t nice to her. It wasn’t long before Rihanna took it to the e-streets and got confrontational on Twitter.

Well….alright.  15 minutes later…

I dunno about yall but that has got to be the fakest apology I’ve ever read! Maybe I’m looking too much into it but I definitely feel it’s laced with sarcasm. I could be wrong and totally off the mark but  this is a classic frenemy tactic. Ciara, I hope you didn’t fall for that mess. Which brings me to my next point…

Be honest with yourself. Why are you still friends with this person? Often times the length of the friendship can cloud your judgment. Sure, every friendship has its good and bad days but keep it real. Do a cost/benefit analysis of the friendship and list every negative transgression and good deed that you can remember. This is not the time to get soft; you need to face the facts! If the costs outweigh the benefits but you’re still on the fence about what to do it’s time to get a third party involved. Talk to someone who doesn’t know your friend and ask them for their honest opinion – would they continue to be friends with a person whose done x, y and z? Sometimes an outside view can open our eyes to things that we’ve been blind to for so long.

Nene Leakes & Kim Zolciak of the Real Housewives of Atlanta have had a rocky friendship which ended before the season finale

Is this person your friend? You might find that the person who you thought was your friend doesn’t even like you! I mean, what else can explain the string of passive aggressive, disrespectful or outright nasty behavior this person has shown towards you? You’re going to have to take responsibility for what happened. This person only treated you like crap because, on some level, you allowed it. You might be experiencing a range of emotions right now: sadness, embarrassment, anger, and while it’s normal to be emotional but don’t dwell on your feelings. Being bitter about the situation is not going to help you move on.  Forgive them, let it go and whatever you do don’t publicly bash your ex friend. It makes you look bad and it gives the impression that you aren’t over it. There is power in silence and now is the time to take the high road and exercise that power.

Make a decision. Personally, I don’t believe in closure but if you want to talk to this person to give them one last chance to redeem themselves understand that you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Don’t expect this person to apologize for mistreating you. Remember: the worse they treated you the less likely they are to give a damn. Do yourself a favor and move on with dignity. Delete their number and defriend them on Facebook if you like but do something to mark the end of the friendship if you truly want to move on. Leaving the door open for reconciliation is pointless and a bit desperate. By living in what is instead of what used to be or what could be you are allowing yourself to heal. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel once things are over. Almost instantly you will be able to appreciate the great things that will start to happen in your life. It won’t happen overnight but your confidence will start to grow and once it does you won’t second guess your decision.  You owe it to yourself to let go of negative people and situations: life is sweeter without a frenemy.

-Nikki B. Decadent

4 things to do with your income tax

2 Mar

You and Your….Money

4 things to do with your income tax…before you spend it all on nonsense.

I need to make a confession: I’m your stereotypical tax refund fiend. I can’t wait to see how much I’m owed by Uncle Sam and, like other child-free and unmarried twenty somethings, I usually get shafted every single year. According to Uncle Sam, the real money is in having kids. It kinda sucks because the cost of living is rising everywhere, major cities and small towns alike, we could all use the extra money. Why isn’t there an everyday working people tax credit? A paying your bills on time kickback? I could use a free Metrocard or something every once in a while, but I digress.

At times my eyes get bigger than my stomach, and I’ve had more than my fair share of post tax season buyers remorse. The excited anticipation of waiting by the mailbox or online bank screen for your check to arrive and the rush of dreaming new and elaborate ways to spend the money.  Before you run out to the outlets for the newest top of the line cappuccino maker or late night infomercial workout equipment (Shake Weights included) consider all of the options before you swipe your debit card.

Take a Vacation

Let’s face it: most of us do not take as much time off from work as we should.  No matter your profession we can all benefit from a vacation. Even if it’s to a neighboring city or state for a few days. Getting away from your everyday environment can be a nice way to psyche yourself into a better mood. When you come home from a getaway you’ll feel refreshed and happy. If you don’t already have one get your passport. It costs around $130 and the process takes about 4-5 weeks.  Check out bookit.com and kayak.com for amazing deals on hotels, airfare and vacation packages. If you’re like me, a 25-year-old non driver, go for your driver’s license. I’m actually looking forward to the freedom of being able to drive. Can you say ‘road trip’ this summer?!

Pay Off a Credit Card

If you don’t have a credit card you can give yourself a financial edge in other ways by paying your rent a month in advance or making a double payment on a utility bill or student loan. Putting money towards ‘constants’ (expenses that need to be paid every month) gives you a little cushion for months where you might overspend. By paying in advance you’re giving yourself a little wiggle room in your budget. While you’re putting a little more to your bills think about opening a new savings account to stash extra cash. ING is an online bank that offers great interest rates. Check bankrate.com for other banking options. If you have no credit (no credit can be just as annoying as bad credit) take out a credit card if you need to build your score. A department store credit card can be easier than a regular card. Just read the fine print and be mindful of the interest rates.

Stock Up On the Basics

You can never be too prepared. Again, take stock of your ‘constants.’ You know you have certain things that you need on a daily basis: favorite foods, clothing, beauty aids, etc. Why not take a chunk of your change and spend it on things that you need? Check out half.com for gently used and new books at crazy low prices, drugstore.com for beauty supplies and if you have roommates see if you can chip in for a membership to a wholesale club like Costco’s, Sam’s Club or BJ’s. Buying household items in bulk can cut down on your day to day expenses and save time on unnecessary trips to the store.

A girl needs to have her tools!

Revamp Your Living Space

You don’t have to do a total renovation but changing a few things in your apartment or bedroom can do wonders for lifting your mood and brightening your spirits. Just by changing the curtains you can change the way you feel when you step into a room. If you’re crafty and are feeling up to task try a new paint color. Websites like Apartment Therapy and The Nest are great sources of design inspiration.

Overall you want to invest in purchases that will boost your quality of life. A hair steamer could be a nice treat if you’ve been dedicated to taking care of your own hair (shout outs to my DIYers out there). I have had my eye on a candy colored Kitchenaid mixer and I just purchased a Jack Lalanne power juicer (it’s worth every penny and it puts my old Black & Decker mini juicer to shame). Be honest with yourself about your level of commitment to the purchase. If you think that buying an expensive treadmill or cross training machine is going to motivate you to workout more than you can kiss that dream goodbye. Owning a piece of fancy equipment doesn’t make you any more a fitness junkie than having a grand piano makes you a pianist. If you have worked out in months treat yourself to some new workout duds and recommit yourself to your health. Theres nothing wrong with wanting luxury items but there’s no use wasting money on something you’ll use once or twice then abandon in a corner. While yesterdays fad is collecting dust and finding a second life as a coat rack you’re out of good money that would’ve been spent on more practical uses.

The trick to buying big-ticket items is research and delayed gratification. Think ahead: summer will be here before you know it and you’ll be wishing you put a little money on the side for that stainless steel grill you saw on the food network. We just want you to show you how a little forethought can help you work smarter not harder to enjoy your money guilt-free.

-Nikki B. Decadent

Late Bloomer Beauty: Eyeshadow

2 Mar

Up until 5 years ago makeup was a foreign language to me. I had no idea where my waterline was nor could I tell a crease brush from a contour brush and at 20 my first eyeshadow purchase was a Wet n Wild brown eyes eyeshadow trio. I cringe at how I used to apply my shadow (all the way to my eyebrows) and how harsh my makeup looked until I discovered the wonders blending. I didn’t come from a family where the women wore a lot of makeup; the most my mom wore was lipstick and the occasional mascara when she was being jazzy. In highschool my friends didn’t wear anything but lipgloss. So, being the nerd that I am I did what any other beauty hungry bookworm would do – I googled it.

I have pored over hundreds of websites and have watched thousands of hours of youtube videos. Spektra.net was one of the first beauty forums I came across as well as makeupalley.com. From the forums I was introduced the world of youtube tutorials and was instantly intrigued. It was on Youtube that I discovered makeup goddess Queen of Blending. The online beauty community as a whole just made it so much easier for me to find products that worked for me. It was better than going to Sephora or MAC and asking for recommendations. You were getting consumer research of the highest degree. One search for ‘mascara reviews’ garnered hundreds of videos from people all over the world with an opinion on any brand of mascara you could name. It was like I had stumbled into a huge powder room and was eavesdropping on conversations between girlfriends. I was a teenager all over again; spending hours in the mirror trying new looks and slowly building the confidence to wear them outdoors.

 

I wont lie, it took me a while to gain the guts to wear makeup to work. I just knew the color would be off and I’d come off looking chalky, fake and amateurish. Everything but the look I was going for. I’m sure some people held their tongues when I came out looking a hot mess but who hasn’t looked crazy while they were learning something new? I didn’t want to let my fear of looking stupid stop me from doing learning something I really wanted to do. Today, when I’m get ready for a night out with the girls or a day at the office I’m proud of my lil skills and I’m happy I didn’t throw in the towel over my first failed attempts at beating my face. I’m no where near the level of a professional but I’ve learned a few thangs over the years and I can finally walk the cosmetics aisle of Walgreens without panicking.

My experimenting started with drugstore brands like Wet n Wild, NYX,  Revlon and Covergirl while trying Avon and Mark’s cosmetic lines. I currently only have 2 MAC eyeshadows and its not that I dont want to buy them all, I just didnt want to spend a lot of money on products if I wast going to take the time to learn to use them. Its easy to go overboard in the beginning so I took my time in buying and trying different brands. Some of my tried and true basics are:

 

Eyeshadow primer – My primer of choice is TooFaced Shadow Insurance. Urban Decay Primer Potion is another option but I find UDPP too thick for my liking.

Black pencil – I’m not brand loyal so any black eyeliner pencil is fine for me. I use it to gently fill in my brows and line my eyes, a 2-for-1 deal.

Mascara – My go-to product is Covergirl LashBlast Length. I love the wand and I never have problems with clumpy lashes

Brushes – I substitute art store brushes for expensive mac/professional brushes. I went to Pearl Paint but you can go to any craft store like Michaels or AC Moore for the same brushes. One brush that I did invest in this stippling brush from Sephora for my foundation. Brushes do make a difference in your application.

To start my collection I chose colors that were close to my skin tone and I slowly learned how to apply it for a natural look. Some manufacturers had in-depth interactive websites that allowed you to play virtual dressup. Covergirl.com was really helpful and one of my favorites in showing color combos for different skin tones. One of my favorite eyeshadow palettes is a purple quad from Covergirl that I use for a smoky plum eye look. I’ve purchased it 3 times already and I’m running low so you know it’s definitely a staple.

Long story short, I love eyeshadows and I love the challenge of learning new techniques. A few of my favorite glamour gurus are:

Queen of Blending

Coloured Beautiful

Scandalous Beauty

Beautybyjj

Michelle Phan

DestinyGodley 

Go forth and be beautiful!

-Nikki B. Decadent