At the end of last month, I proposed five easy actions to take to elevate frequency and impact. Since much of this blog’s theme is “take your own damn advice,” here is an update on how I fared throughout November.
1. Spend time with a woman in your community who could use a friend.
I was prepared to reach out to a woman in my network, but two close friends actually reached out to me. So thanks to them for making this one easier. From both conversations, I realized how important it is for young women to have a strong sisterhood. We need to put forth the effort and help balance out the negative messaging young women receive on a daily basis. Giving someone advice is a big responsibility, especially if the person you’re supporting is a teenager or young adult. I try to stick to what I remember needing to hear at that age:
Listen to your intuition.
It’s OK to make mistakes.
Your parents aren’t perfect.
Love is never wrong.
You don’t have to have it all figured out.
These are statements everyone could stand to hear more often. The hoops of fire along our paths are plentiful. Young women especially need our support and mentorship, not our judgement.
2. Learn how to do your own hair and make up.
Since this area has been a particular focus of mine over the last six months, I’m sharing all of the significant changes I’ve made. I did all this to save time and money, not because I don’t love make up. My goal is to minimize the use of dirty products and limit my overall spending on cosmetics. Your mileage may vary!
• Hydrate. I found a water bottle I like and I take the damn thing everywhere. No product will ever replace proper hydration. Your hair, skin and nails will thank you.
• Minimize. Here is a list of the products I use on a regular basis.
- Salux Cloths – Get one. These awesome exfoliating cloths are $6 online (or less than half that at your local Asian market.) You can learn more about the various benefits of using Salux cloths on the Skin care Addiction sub-Reddit.
- Trader Joe’s Cleansing Oil, Oatmeal & Honey soap, and A Midsummer Night’s Cream – I remember right before I switched to these products, I purchased a $30 bar of soap from an online beauty brand. Thirty. Dollars. It was a wake-up call to say the least. Together, these products cost under $15 and last two to three months.
- OGX Shampoo and Conditioner – I chose this brand because they offer sulfate-free products at affordable prices. (Around $7 a bottle, depending on how many CVS coupons you’ve accumulated.) I’m still working through the offerings, but I think Shea Soft & Smooth is my favorite. Trader Joe’s also has great shampoos and conditioners, but OGX beats them on variety of scents.
In terms of make-up, I still have my stash for when I feel like getting dolled up. On the day-to-day, though, I’m usually just wearing my favorite mascara: Stila Huge. I want to move to a cleaner deodorant (I still use Dove) and organic toothpaste. That’s a thing, right? Send me your suggestions!
• Braid. Learning how to braid is a game changer, especially if you have curly hair. Don’t feel like styling? Braid. Going to the gym? Braid. PMS hair? You get the idea. (Bonus: Braiding your hair helps it grow!) I learned how to braid when I was young, but I’ve recently picked up French braiding my own hair, and I’m working on perfecting the Dutch braid. So far, meh.
• Dollar Shave Club. Shout out to my Arabs. You know we need our razors extra sharp and at the ready. I really love Dollar Shave Club. Their razors are surprisingly high quality – better than any I’ve purchased retail – and for $5 a month I can replace my blade every week.
3. Take a step in financial literacy.
My husband and I have been on YNAB for over a year, and it’s been life changing to really get to know our money. I’m still not perfect – or even good if we’re talking credit score – but at least I know the full extent of the damage. Once you know, you can begin to address. I also love the idea of having constant tabs on all of our accounts, simply because it’s an added level of fraud protection. Of all the action points, this is my biggest challenge. For women, it is arguably the most important. This month, I did a much better job at staying within my allocated spending budget and logging every transaction. Not a bad way to kick off the holiday season!
4. Volunteer in the Community.
This month, I spent my volunteer hours mentoring with Step Up. Step Up is a non-profit organization aimed at propelling girls living in or going to school in under-resourced communities. The organization offers after-school programs for girls throughout their four years of high school, as well as monthly events to mentor with professional women from the community. During this particular event, we spent the afternoon exploring financial aid options for graduating seniors. A representative from UC Santa Barbara’s Financial Aid Office answered questions, and teens and mentors shared anxieties and experiences surrounding paying for college.
I highly recommend Step Up for professional women who are looking to dedicate more volunteer hours to the community. This month, Coach will match your donation to Step Up dollar for dollar!
5. Speak up at work.
Those who work with me can attest that a greater challenge would be to stop speaking up at work. In terms of my progress in this particular area, I’m working on not jumping down people’s throats. As a woman, sometimes it’s impossible not to constantly feel on edge. (Not because of the recent flood of allegations, but because c’est la vie since forever.) The good Lord knows I’m trying.
For the final month of 2017, I have organized a fire seance with my sisters, I’ll be spending a few more hours with Step Up, and finally kicking back with my family until the new year. I hope you’re compelled to share your experience and suggestions with me, and stay tuned for a new episode of the podcast in December. I know you miss my voice!