March For Our Lives NYC 2018

I was lucky to be able to participate in the March For Our Lives in Manhattan this morning. Here are some photos and videos from my view.

Advertisements

Money doesn’t buy happiness….but it sure helps

Okay, so remember when you were younger and your parents or any adult for that matter said “money doesn’t grow on trees”?  Well, once you enter into adulthood, that expression makes a whole lot of sense.

In today’s day and time, it can be hard to make ends meet.  With stagnant salaries and ever increasing costs of living, especially in big cities such as New York and San Francisco, along with school loans, kids, etc., your pockets might take a hit each paycheck.  Sometimes, we don’t even notice when we get paid because it is all accounted for already.

I asked my friends what they do to save a little extra and thought I might share them with you.  A couple of them are also my own and have made a difference in how much I spend each paycheck.  Please feel free to comment with any suggestions you have found to be helpful as well.

  1. Pack your lunch

This one is something that I started doing within the past six months and let me tell you, it makes a big difference.  Sometimes, when we take on a new expense, we have to make sacrifices in other areas.  Once I took on a car note, which came along with a slightly higher insurance quote, I took this suggestion seriously.  Buying lunch can cost anywhere from $5 to $15, however, working within NYC, it will probably be on the higher end.  When my office orders, which was several times per week, I was spending $10 to $12 on Thai, Panera, Chipotle, etc.  Multiply that by 3-4 times a week times two weeks and you are looking at 80 bucks a check.  Between the meal, tax and tip, it can be steep.  I haven’t ordered out in a long time at work and it actually feels pretty good.  I bring leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or I make a sandwich.  I go grocery shopping every Sunday at the supermarket, so I make sure to buy enough cold cuts for both me and my son.  I also stock up each week on some easy, microwaveable foods for the days when I perhaps didn’t have enough for leftovers or am not in the mood for a sandwich.  I bought pre-packaged sweet potatoes that can be microwaved in the container it’s sold in.  They come four in a pack.  I brought that along with some butter from home and voila, a very filling plate.  They sell rice packets that you just squeeze when you are ready to make and then microwave for several minutes. They come in a variety of choices, including quinoa.  Skipping on ordering out does not have mean Cup of Noodles.  I buy vegetables and make a big bowl consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon, salt and pepper and divide it into several containers.  Then treat yourself to take out on the weekend!

2.  Make coffee at home

This is another personal suggestion.  I make my coffee every morning.  Two cups.  If I don’t have time to drink both, I take one in a travel mug.  There is no need to spend $5 every day or twice a day at Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks when you can make it at home yourself.  In the summer, have fun with it and make iced coffee.  You can make your regularly brewed coffee, then put in a cup with ice.  Add sugar and even spice it up with a Hazelnut or French Vanilla creamer.  Then put some whipped cream on top and you’ve got your very own iced coffee.  Trust me, you can do it!

3.  Use Groupon/Amazon

I have to be honest.  I have not used Groupon more than once, although, many people have told me that I should jump on the bandwagon.  I think sometimes it just slips my mind to check Groupon before buying something or going somewhere.  I did use it once, to buy a Barnes and Nobles gift card. They happened to e mail me with the offer right before I was about to buy one at the bookstore (the internet does have a creepy way of knowing your next move 😉  Anyhoo, I bought a $20 gift card for $10!  Who can say no to an offer like that.  I know people that have went for massages and facials off of Groupon deals.  It is definitely worth exploring. Amazon is also a great place to shop for a good price online. They offer many items that you would purchase in store but for much cheaper.

4.  Shop at the dollar store.

You would be amazed at what you could get at the dollar store.  I have bought Tylenol at the dollar store. The catch with buying medicine there is that it expires sooner than a drug you would buy at a CVS.  Hence, why it is cheaper.  But if you need Tylenol and you are okay with it expiring within the next year as opposed to two years, then why not?  The dollar store also has many holiday and birthday decorations.  The dollar store has helium balloons.  They have gift bags, gift wrap and tissue paper.  I can’t even remember the last time I bought a gift bag at a regularly priced store. Why spend $4.00 on a gift bag when you can get the same size at the dollar store or a discount store?  There are discount stores such as Five Below where everything is…..you guessed it, under $5.00.  I bought half of my son’s school supply list there.  I had originally went to Staples and then realized that each binder was 10 bucks, and he needed like four binders.  Not to mention the other 19 items on the list.  I actually ended up leaving and going to Five Below, where I got binders, looseleaf paper, pens, pencils, etc for half the price.  When I lived upstate, I used to go to National Wholesale Liquidators for school supplies.

4.  Look at and re-evaluate your bills

My co-worker told me that every year, she calls her credit cards and asks them to lower her balance or interest rate and they do this.  Sometimes you have to be patient and speak to multiple agents to get this done.  Some agents will tell you no without discussion.  You can then hang up and call back and have better luck with the next agent.  Switching companies on car insurance and cable can get you new customer offers and prices.  Cable companies offer different packages depending on what you like to watch.  Do you really need 2000 channels?  Have you looked at your package to see if you could downgrade to less channels?  Let’s be honest, we don’t watch half of the channels on cable, right?  Many people nowadays have cut cable completely. With so many streaming options available, cable isn’t really a need anymore. Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix are ways of viewing tv shows and movies. Sometimes you can’t view the episode until a few hours later or the next day, however, Hulu has teamed with multiple networks to provide real time viewing. As far as car insurance, make sure to take the five hour defensive driving course.  This will save you an automatic 10% on your bill.  Once they mail you the certificate of completion, you send to your car insurance company and get the discount! Call different insurance companies to ask for a quote to ensure you are getting the best rate.

5.  Try using only cash/debit.

If you didn’t have your credit card on you, would you buy that mocha choco-latte with the unicorn glitter and that blueberry muffin to go with it?  Do you have the money to buy it but you just figure it would be better to charge it so that you have an extra five bucks in your account?  If so, don’t buy it or use your debit card to pay for it.  Obviously, there are bigger items like vacations and electronics that you would need credit for, but I am talking about small, everyday, non necessity purchases.

6.  Save a little each time.

I am the first person to tell someone that suggests saving money each paycheck, “how can I save money when I have hardly any money left after paying bills!”  But honestly, most of us probably have $5 that we can toss in the empty coffee can.  If we have an extra $5 for gum or coffees or Slurpeers, then certainly we have that $5 to put to the side.  If you have 10 to spare, then go ahead witcho’ bad self!

7.  Give up something or decrease the amount of times you pay for something that regularly costs you money.

I gave up getting my nails done.  I was getting my gel tips filled in every two weeks.  This is $31-33 after tip.  Combine that with the times I had to take my son with me and then he asks for a pedicure because he likes the foot massager and mini bubble bath.  That’s now $50.  I just stopped cold turkey, took off my tips and now polish my own nails.  I do buy Essie nail polish which is a little pricey compared to other polishes ($10). however, that $10 lasts for months.  Buy several different colors and you can change it up every week.  Essie is very good quality.  I actually like polishing my natural nails better now as the tips break, get caught and one time my pinky nail tip got struck by something that feel in my house and the tip bent off, taking my ENTIRE natural nail with it.  ( I can’t even explain how bad it hurt to have my whole, real nail ripped off and it took forever to grow back).  Anyway, I am getting off topic.  Point is, there is probably an expense (otherwise known as a luxury to others), that you can do without or at least decrease the frequency in which you do it.

8.  Use coupons and smart phone apps

I have to be honest when I say that I do not clip coupons each week for grocery shopping.  I do, however, use coupons to fast food restaurants that come in the Marketeer every week.  I used to throw away the Marketeer.  That annoying plastic bag filled with papers that gets thrown on your lawn every week or stuffed in your fence.  Then one day my co-worker gave me Dunkin Donuts coupons.  At this time, I was going to Dunkin Donuts regularly and she knew I would use them.  She told me she got them in the Marketeer.  I didn’t even know that the Marketeer contained coupons, I though it was just supermarket and pharmacy circulars.  Needless, to say, I now take in the Marketeer every week.  It isn’t always a hit, sometimes they have coupons to places I don’t go, such as Tim Hortons.  Many times, however, they have coupons to Subways which my son is slightly addicted to.  You can get a 6 inch for $3.49 or sometimes they have coupons in which you buy a footlong and get one free.  Why wouldn’t you take up an offer to get one of your sandwiches free?

Then there are apps.  Almost every store has an app.  McDonalds app gives you deals every day, including buy one get one McCafe free (even if you are just getting for yourself, get the other one free and heat it up the next morning).  They offer $3 off $10 purchases.  Sometimes they offer free fries or soda.  Regal Cinemas has an app that allows you to upgrade to the next size soda or popcorn.  Make sure to let them scan your Regal app every time you purchase a ticket or concession.  7-11 has their own app in which you scan the phone barcode every time you buy a coffee, tea or slushie.  Every 7th cup is free and at random times it is free coffee day (any size) for anyone with the app.  T-Mobile has an app in which you can claim rewards every Tuesday.  I got a free Redbox movie twice in the last two weeks which is great because I always rent from Redbox.  They offer free pretzels from Auntie Ann’s and then there are some offers to places that do not exist in my area but might exist in yours!

Human nature

If someone really wants to be with you, they will. No one is ever too busy or “dealing with a lot” when they are genuinely interested in you. Those are easy excuses for someone that either is just not that into you or is too lazy to put in any effort.

Do not make excuses or try to rationalize this in your mind. It is what it is. As women, we try to be “understanding”. We don’t want to come off as too pushy or impatient. And you shouldn’t be. I am not saying to chase this person or to settle for their non-chalant attitude towards you. I am saying to leave it alone. It is ok to ask where the relationship is going or how the other person feels about you. But if their actions don’t match their words, you have to make a move.

It is a known fact that when a man is interested in a woman, he will pursue her. He will not be lazy about it because he doesn’t want another man to get to her. Men are territorial by nature and they go after what they want.

All you need to do is look at the animal kingdom for proof of this. Watch any National Geographic show or Planet Earth on Netflix and you will see what I mean. In almost any species of animal, the man pursues his female conquest and he goes hard for her. He might do a dance for her. He might fight another male competitor for her. He makes all sorts of noises to express his interest.

I watched Planet Earth the other day and saw Kimono Dragons fighting for a female dragon. I saw a male bird return to an island to meet up with his female counterpart that he meets every year in the same place to mate. He sat there alone and focused and sat patiently waiting for her to show up. I saw a sloth climb through trees and swim across a river when he heard a female on a neighboring island. A pack of male flamingos were literally marching in formation to impress a woman. Don’t believe me? Look at this vid below

Females in nature do not pick a male that does not pursue her. She picks the male who fights for her attention. The man who shows he will stop at nothing to have her. She knows she is the object of his desire and knows that he has to win her love. I never saw a female animal say “maybe he’s just busy” or “maybe it’s something I did”.

I’m not saying that the next man you are interested in should tap dance for you or get in a fist fight for you , but I am saying that you should recognize your worth and don’t feel guilty about making someone put effort into wooing you.

20’s V. 30’s

It’s amazing how much things can change in ten years. I often laugh at how different I am now in comparison to ten years ago. What used to be considered “fun” is no longer desirable. What used to be important now seems so trivial.

Here is a little list that I’m sure many can relate to and maybe you’ll get a good laugh from it. Feel free to add any other items you can think of or if you are older, let me know how this list will change once again.

Enjoy!

20’s: Party all night then go straight to work

30’s: Party then needs to call out sick from work

20’s: Doesn’t get to club until midnight

30’s: Prefers daytime activities so they can be in bed by midnight

20’s: Loves being in big crowds and is tolerant of being bumped by random ppl

30’s: Gets anxiety attack and flips after being bumped more than once

20’s: Likes going to clubs and house parties

30’s: Likes dinners, shows or paint and sip

20’s: Drinks one too many cranberry vodkas even though history shows the night will end leaning over a toilet

30’s: Drinks one glass of alcohol and can’t keep their eyes open

20’s: Go to work/school then come home and get ready for your night out while listening to party music to get you pumped up

30’s: Go to work then come home and get straight into pajamas and watch your DVR recordings

20’s: Gets pissed if plans get cancelled

30’s: Prays that plans get cancelled

20’s: Enjoys hearing all the latest gossip

30’s: Too tired and concerned with paying my bills to worry about other people’s drama

20’s: Thinks life will end if relationship doesn’t work out

30’s: Looks back on past relationships and thinks “thank goodness that didn’t work out!”

20’s: Self conscious about being naked in front of a partner and critiques every “flaw” she has

30’s: Looks at her body and thinks “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly!”

20‘s: I can’t wait to get home and talk on the phone for hours

30‘s: “Eh, we’ll talk when I see you”

20‘s: I can’t wait to live on my own and work and pay bills and be independent

30‘s: “OMG it’s like I’m working just to pay bills!”

Beware: Proceed with Caution

Have you ever dealt with a toxic person? I think most of us have come across this person at some point in our lives. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky and if you have, I think you will be able to relate to this post.

There will always be people we don’t necessarily click with, people who don’t share the same interests as us. However, some people are just plain toxic. You can interact with these people, but interactions have to be kept at a minimum to prevent the negative vibes from having an effect on you. Keep your distance from people who are never happy for the next person. People who have a hard time congratulating someone on their accomplishments. People who feel the need to constantly one up on others. In today’s society, we refer to them as “haters“. These people are very toxic and the root of their toxicity is low self esteem and a fragile ego. They have low feelings of self worth and therefore, can never be happy for the next person. How can someone who is not happy with themselves be happy for others? They can’t.

These people will never admit to being unhappy. They constantly brag about their accomplishments, their money and everything else that they have that is desirable to mask their feelings of inferiority. People like this are dangerous because they can never be a genuine friend. A friend is someone who is happy for you when something good happens, someone who listens and wants the best for you. Someone who tries to lift you up when you are feeling down. Toxic people do not display these traits. It is okay to be acquaintances with these people but maintain a safe distance as they always have ulterior motives.

Someone who feels the need to compare and to put other people down are in a constant state of self Judgement. They will never feel completely fulfilled because there are always people around them who they have to do better than. Their sense of worth and validation comes from proving that they are better than the next person. This person struggles with low self esteem and low confidence and the only way to lift these levels up is through somehow convincing themselves that they are better than you. This person only talks about their life, their hardships and their struggles. They probably do not really know anything about you because they have never cared to ask. Even if they have asked, it is just to find something new to one up you on. This person will even buy things that you have or copy your hair style, your nails, etc to prove that they do it better or look better. These people will talk badly about others because they are secretly envious of something they have, whether material or non-material. They talk badly about their “friends” when they’re not around yet smile in their face. If their friend accomplished something or is happy about something, the toxic person will smile and say congratulations but inside, they are waiting for you to mess up. Have a relationship that you are happy in? They secretly hope it fails. Boyfriend proposed to you? They wish it was their boyfriend who proposed. Got a new hair style? They will now go out and get a haircut. Going to Florida? They will now go to Europe. They are in a constant state of competition and enveloped in a never ending cycle of envy and hate. Sometimes, people envy the non material things you have, such as love, admiration, confidence etc. They are threatened by your confidence. Your independence. It kills them that you are happy.

My advice is to keep these people at bay and only disclose generic information to them as they don’t even really care and will just try to add it to their list of things to compete with you on and to talk about. Toxicity and negativity are contagious and you know what they say, “misery loves company”.

The Art of Saying “no”

So often in life, women find themselves in situations that they don’t necessarily want to be in, however, time and time again, comply and go along with it. In this particular post, I am referring to romantic/ intimate situations. My thoughts are based off of personal experiences and experiences that I have known friends and acquaintances to have found themselves in as well.

There are women out there who are strong-minded, strong willed and do not hesitate to say no. However, there are also many women that do not have that strength. How often do we hear about women who went along with an uncomfortable and undesirable sexual/intimate situation with a man when inside, that was the last place they wanted to be? Verbally, they say yes or maybe nothing at all. Inside, they are regretting putting themselves in that situation and just want it to be over.

I know I have been in that boat before and I’m sure there are plenty of women that can relate. I struggled with the fear of speaking my mind or “ruining” the mood. Fear of losing the interest and desire of the other person. Fear of looking boring or “prudish“. Fear of looking like a tease because if I didn’t want to do anything, I shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Fear of losing the interest of this other person who I wanted so badly to like me. Thinking that this will give me some higher standing in this other person’s life. Or sometimes, going along with it “just because”.

The older you become, the more wiser and confident you become as well. At least for most people. Some women even in their older age are still trying to please other people even if it is at the expense of their dignity and pride. I am happy to say that I am not that woman anymore. I haven’t been for a few years now and I have never been more confident and comfortable with myself. In fact, the more you do what you genuinely want to do and the more you turn away undesirable situations, the easier it becomes. It is very stressful worrying about what other people think. It is very stressful doing things that don’t make you happy. Once you learn the art of saying no with no additional explanation, a huge weight is lifted off of your shoulders and it is very empowering.

Many women feel the need to explain away their reasons for saying no. Many women are uncomfortable with saying no. The first time I said “no” it was a little awkward to be honest, because I don’t like to make other people feel rejected. This other person most certainly felt rejected and it was written all over his face. He persisted and asked several more times and I flat out said “no“. When he asked why, I said “because I don’t want to“. I ended my statement there. He got out of my car and I went home and to be honest, I felt good. I kept my dignity and my pride and I didn’t have to worry about feelings of resentment or shame later on. Once you know what it feels like to put yourself first and to love and respect yourself, you will never turn back. This confidence spills over into all aspects of your life and it is amazing how good it feels. Men will say “you’re mean” or “you have an attitude” but that is okay. That is a normal reaction to being rejected. I’m okay with “being mean” if it means I can walk away with peace of mind.

You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.

The recent media coverage of Aziz Ansari has evoked many writings and posts and articles about women going along with similar, uncomfortable situations and I hope that we, as a society, can figure out a way to empower women and give them the confidence to know that it isn’t okay to just go along with it. To have the confidence to realize that if saying no makes you less desirable in someone’s eyes, then they are not the right person for you. To know that their pride and integrity is worth more than gaining the affection of a man for one night. To know that it is okay to reject someone and not feel guilty about it because at the end of the day, if you don’t, someone will still end up feeling bad, except it will be you.

Happy New Year’s!

Happy New Year’s everyone! The New Year begins on a Monday. What better day to start a new beginning? I am not a big fan of making resolutions but I don’t think it hurts to say that you should continue to grow and evolve and be a better version of yourself. This will mean different things for different people depending where you are in life. Leave negativity behind or do your best to avoid it. You will always encounter unpleasant people and situations but we often have the choice to entertain the negativity or to walk away from it. A major part of making yourself happy is changing the way you react to situations. Some situations require no action at all. Surround yourself with positive people, successful people, people who are happy to see you grow and who want to grow with you. Follow your gut and listen to your heart.

Happy 2018!

A Mother’s Love

It wasn’t until I became a mom that I learned what unconditional love is. I always THOUGHT I knew what it meant to love someone unconditionally but now that I’m a mother, I realize that I didn’t.

As a mother, we put our children’s needs before our own. It doesn’t matter if you’re upset or tired, having a bad day or just not in the mood. We keep going and we put our best foot forward and do our best to be strong for our children. We drive between recreational activities, sports practices, dance rehearsals etc. because we want our children to get the most out of life and to be happy in spite of whatever fatigue or emotions we are feeling. It makes us happy seeing our children happy. We want our children to be better than we were, to have more opportunities and experiences than we did. To realize that they can truly be anything that they want to be. We wait up at night for them to come home. We get worried when we don’t hear from them. It breaks our heart to see them sad or hurt. We do what sometimes feels like the impossible to keep a smile on their face.

Being a mom encompasses many different roles. We are counselors, chefs, drivers, cheerleaders, homework helpers, coaches, alarm clocks, nurses. Just to name a few. We are our children’s backbone and strength. We are their protector and their guidance. We are there to motivate and instill our morals and values upon them, while at the same time allowing them to explore themselves as an individuals separate from ourselves, in hopes that they will become a responsible and respectful member of society.

We look past their flaws and mistakes. We hug and kiss them good night and good morning even when they drove us crazy. We see their full potential and sometimes we even sacrifice our dreams so that they can reach theirs. We put our needs second to theirs because we love them unconditionally.

Miscommunication leads to complication

The title of this post is a line from Lauryn Hill’s ‘Lost Ones’.

I have never really been good at confronting situations that bother me. This includes everyday, typical misunderstandings. Often in the heat of the moment, I get so blinded by my emotions and so caught up in the feeling of rejection or resentment that I have a hard time putting my feelings out there and simply telling the person how what they did made me feel. I have often avoided opportunities to seek clarification on something that might not have been a big deal but because it wasn’t addressed at the time it happened, ended up snowballing into something more serious, sometimes even resulting in loss of friendship.

I think most of us have been in this situation. We assume the motives behind someone’s actions and then don’t talk to them again. Or we keep it inside and tell ourselves that we will just let it go, but then when we see the person involved in what made us upset, we have an attitude or a look on our face because the thoughts are rolling through our head. So many times someone has done something that bothered me and the next time I see them I have a look on my face that shows I am upset. The person will then ask “what’s the matter” and I reply “nothing”. When really I could have just expressed what bothered me and ended it right then and there.

I think with age and maturity comes self confidence and the less we seek approval from others. I am learning, although not completely there yet, to be more open with my feelings and not worry about how it will make me look or worry that I will offend somebody. This doesn’t always mean that it will result in a happy ending. Some people might get defensive that you confronted them. Some people might not talk to you again after that. But that’s okay. It is better than pretending that you are okay everytime you see this person or holding in something that is really pulling at you. I do think, though, that more often than not, it will result better than not saying anything at all. Sometimes the other person didn’t realize how what they said or did offended you or hurt you. Sometimes there was no malicious intent from the other person and confronting them helps you to realize it was actually very innocent.

When we don’t seek clarification, we assume and our assumptions, in turn, affect how we act towards the other party.

Recently at my job, maybe about a month ago, a woman at my job told me that something I said offended her. She has a heavy Brooklyn, Italian accent. She paged someone over the intercom. I then called her at her desk and mimicked her accent and said she reminds me of Marisa Tomei. When I saw her later that day, she told me that I hurt her feelings. She said that it is her pet peeve when people comment on her accent and she is tired of hearing the same comment from different people. I told her that I was only joking and I have a Brooklyn Italian accent as well which many people point out to me. Although it does not offend me when people point out my accent, it did offend her. She told me that she is letting me know it bothered her because we are friendly with each other and she didn’t want to keep it inside and give me an attitude. I apologized for offending her and I will not comment on her accent again. After that, everything resumed as normal between us.

So next time something bothers you, say something. You would be surprised how much better you feel after getting that weight off of your shoulders. You would also be surprised how more often than not, people are understanding of your point of view and want to clarify the misunderstanding. If they are your friend, they will listen and respect your feelings and explain. If they take offense at you confronting them or get defensive and act differently towards you afterwards, than it is more a reflection of them than it is of you.