Sunday, July 22, 2018

I Like Life's Lemons...No, Really

by Sarah Smith Kujawski

Hi.  I’m Sarah and a self-proclaimed “desperate optimist.”  My favorite definition of the word “desperate” is something along the lines of having a strong, urgent need.  I have an urgent need to find a favorable side of things in life.  Perhaps I should redefine my stance as one who believes in “desperate gratitude.”  Much of my personal perspective comes from the faith I’ve chosen, but you don’t have to be religious to be thankful.

Here are some of my guidelines for being thankful in all things – even when life seems like a steamy, lemon-crusted pile of you-know-what.

Desperate gratitude doesn’t ignore the pain.  This isn’t a perpetual “I’m fine” while the world burns down around you.  It’s accepting the pain or hardship and acknowledging that IT’S HARD and then finding something about the situation that brings hope, inspiration, and motivation.

Gratitude can be big, small, or anything in between.  I believe in happy/thankful lists.  In writing down things in your day/life/existence that made you smile, feel joy, feel alive, feel closer to God/Universe/Life Force, feel positive, instilled hope or encouragement or made you just feel some love and warmth inside.  Maybe you don’t write it down.  You can just say it aloud.  For example – there’s a mountain of dishes or laundry or work to be done on your desk or the ex that’s throwing wrenches in your life just because and you are OVER IT.  I find something positive within whatever stresses me out –

  • I’m thankful that I have dishes because it means I have:  a kitchen, options for dining, family who is home to make them, running water…
  • I’m thankful for that to-do list because:  I have the capacity and capability to handle the tasks assigned to me; I have a job; I’m able to choose my career…
Desperate gratitude may feel silly or weird.  It may feel like you think I’m asking you to drink some magic Kool-Aid.  It may feel stiff.  It may feel very…surface.  If you make a list of “Today’s Good Things” it absolutely can be items like –
  • I saw a cute baby deer!
  • I didn’t kick anyone in the shin despite feeling all kinds of Hulk SMASH today.  I bit my tongue!
  • No calls from collectors.
  • I found a shiny penny!

Desperate gratitude is whatever shift in perspective that helps you keep going, keep pushing.
You’re beautiful and strong and mindful, my darling, and you can do it!

About the Author
Sarah is a people person, irrevocably in love, and mom of boys. She enjoys coffee, conversation, and shenanigans. You can reach her at

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Looking Like a Boss on a Budget: Jewelry

by Kate Wolfe Maxlow

Anyone who knows me knows that I love shiny things. Jewelry is no exception. I also love being able to afford food and shelter, however, so while I have some beautiful heirloom fine jewelry, the majority of what I wear is what I like to think of as "classy costume jewelry."

What is "costume jewelry?" It's not necessarily just what you wear when you play Lady MacBeth; it's basically anything that isn't fine jewelry (i.e., that stuff with precious and semi-precious gems). It can be a "statement piece," though to be honest, the older that I get, the more I prefer more subtle jewelry.

Though my fine pieces of jewelry never go out of style (diamonds are forever), there are definitely trends when it comes to costume jewelry, which means that I don't want to break the bank on it. BUT, I want it to have a certain amount of class. Therefore, I tend to look for great deals on my jewelry in some unexpected places.

1. Antique stores
I know. This seems crazy, right? It's true that antique stores do often have expensive precious and semi-precious gem jewelry, but they're also just as likely to have costume jewelry. Antique store owners often go to estate sales and buy the jewelry in lots, which means that they'll end up with a ton of vintage costume jewelry just to get that one precious or semi-precious piece. They'll then sell the costume jewelry (which is often really interesting, classy, and well-made) for pennies on the dollar compared to what you would pay anywhere else.

Check out some of these cool finds I got from antique stores:

I got this pearl necklace (and two others) for literally $1.50 each.

This black prism necklace came from an antique store in Boston. While I paid $20 for it, I'm sure I could have paid a lot more for something this nice anywhere else.

2. Thrift stores
I'm sure that it comes as no surprise that I love to get jewelry at thrift stores. Thrift stores can afford to sell jewelry at a deep discount because people usually donate their things for free. Oftentimes, people will clean out closets and just dump all the costume jewelry in a big. You can find some great things, again for pennies on the dollar.

Mind you, you might need to spend some time discerning which thrift stores have the best jewelry selection, of course. Some will be better than others when it comes to this. I always suggest finding a thrift store near a well-to-do, older neighborhood.

I have too many thrift store necklaces to show them all, but this is one of my current favorites. I love blush colored pearls, so it was well worth the $1.96.

3. Jewelry Swaps
Getting tired of the same old jewelry but don't want to spend any money? Arrange a get-together with other like-minded ladies and everyone bring at least one piece of jewelry that no longer floats your boat but is still stylish. Get some wine or sparkling grape juice and do a jewelry swap. Bonus points if you add scarves, belts, or purses. It's a great way to get your new and sparkly fix while on a budget.

This gorgeous necklace came from a clothing/jewelry swap with friends. Pricetag? $0.

Yes, it's possible that you, too, can have a wide selection of great jewelry for less than the cost of one trip to Jared or Kay's Jewelers. What are you waiting for? Start checking out those antique and thrift stores, or call up some friends and let the swapping start!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Finding Time to Read Even When You're Super Busy

by Veronica Curieux

I’m an avid reader, and as a busy mom and business owner, people seem to wonder how I do it, so let me share a few of my tricks and tips.

1. Erase the idea that you don’t have time to read

You might think that reading is a recreational activity that you are too busy for, or you might think that reading is boring and homework-esque and procrastinate. Either way, there are ways to fit reading into your week. You are an adult so no one is making you read – so if you want to, you can find some time to do it! Think about wait times, and weekend time and bedtime. There are ways to fit a few pages in. Also, change your perspective on reading – you don’t have to have complete silence or the right conditions to do it. Your desk doesn’t need to be cleaned off. Think of reading as a short “brain break” that you can take, then go back to your tasks more refreshed.

2. The right material – at the right time

One way to stand out in your profession is to read about what’s happening in the field. You can subscribe to some industry newsletters, get on the mailing lists for some publications and get the hot books. But, these will do you no good if you don’t actually sit down to read them.

On the other hand, you may feel left out of the ladies’ book club if you haven’t read the latest thriller or thinkpiece. The concept of “beach reads” is also fairly pervasive and I’ll admit there’s nothing like a great romance novel to be mildly absorbing while you enjoy the salt air.

Here’s the thing: know when you need each kind of material. Don’t spend precious work time reading as an escape (unless that’s a strategy that you have for taking a mental break) and don’t haul your pile of work reading to the beach.) Designate different time slots for each type. Know yourself – do you need to settle in with a cup of tea or do you need short bursts of 15-20 minutes to get through a trade magazine?

3. Multi-media is your friend

The Kindle has changed my life…I have the app on my phone, as well as a Kindle Paperwhite reader. It tracks where I am in the book, and syncs between devices. So I can get a few pages in at the waiting room at the chiropractor, and a few more on the recumbent bike at the gym – and stay on track when I read at bedtime. (Big tip: the Paperwhite version of the Kindle means I can have an illuminated screen that doesn’t keep my early-to-bed husband awake with too much light. Totally worth it.)

4. Listen instead

Now with Audible, I also can listen to books while I’m driving. Sometimes I buy the audio version of the book on Amazon and switch in between. But listening to a book still counts as reading it – you are absorbing the information. Many people may find this a much better way to read more – whether it’s getting immersed in a fantasy fiction novel or listening to the author talk about ways to save money. Libraries often have audiobooks available – try a few different kinds to see what works for you, and consider what you might like to listen to during your commute versus a longer road trip. Also, don’t forget that you can listen anytime your hands are busy -- chopping veggies for dinner, putting on nail polish or sorting recycling.

5. Take the pressure off

With practice, you can get more reading done with less effort. Don’t feel like you need to read every word – it’s okay to skim the headlines of the paper, or a magazine. Come back to the parts you want to read more in-depth, or tear the pages out for when you have more time. Put “reading time” on your calendar at a time of day when you have less energy, and set a goal to just get through one piece. Give yourself permission to give up on a book after the first chapter or an article after a few paragraphs.

Reading anything can help you be better informed – just start the habit and work on it. (Big tip: remember that reading things online all the time can lead to digital fatigue, and that picking up one magazine and reading it all the way through may be more satisfying than reading 5 articles on your phone.)

Monday, July 2, 2018

What to Do When People Disagree with You...In Public

by Kate Wolfe Maxlow

I used to train teachers on teacher evaluation. Guess how teachers generally feel about that topic? Then I moved on and started training teachers on lesson planning. You can guess their feelings on that, too.

You can probably imagine therefore, that I ran into any number of people who were willing voice their doubts about whatever I was saying, quite publicly, and sometimes quite loudly. Whether you're training 100 people, addressing the PTA, attending your child's IEP conference, or leading a Town Hall meeting, sometimes you just can't avoid talking about controversial subjects to a group.

Luckily, there are some ways to make it less painful for both you and everyone else. Here are some tips that I learned the hard way.

1. Own it.
The urge to pass the buck--to not be the bad guy--is HUGE. When I was presenting on teacher evaluation, the WORST thing I could do was say, "Well, the state says we have to, so...." If I did that, I immediately lost all authority and turned everyone off to everything that I said after that. Don't play the blame game. That way lies a gripe fest that's going to be unproductive and leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

"You're right. Teacher evaluation is a hard thing to discuss, which is why I'm glad that I have an opportunity to open this dialogue here today in order to ensure that this system works for you" is so much stronger than, "I've been told we have to discuss."

2. Remember that if people are arguing WITH you, they're less likely to be undercutting you behind your back.
People argue when they care about a topic, and usually when they see you as enough of an authority to share their opinion with you. Otherwise, they just tune out and then do whatever they want anyway. When someone disagrees with you, thank them, honestly. "I appreciate that you feel comfortable enough to tell me that. I also expect that you're voicing a concern that other people here have, which means you've given us a chance to address it, so thank you."

Trust me, the worst audiences are the ones who don't pay attention to a word you say, even if they're polite about it. It's a waste of time for everyone.

3. Remember that if people are arguing with you, they must care enough to do so. Figure out and uphold their values.
Try to listen for the values that people AREN'T expressing, but are driving their comments. For instance, when I presented on new lesson planning procedures and someone said, "When exactly do you expect teachers to have time to do this?" I knew what I was really hearing was: "I'm worried I won't have time to prepare for teaching if I'm so busy filling out lesson plans. I'm worried I won't have time to stay after school with kids who need extra help. I'm worried I'm going to miss time with my own family. I'm worried I might burn out." Often, the sharpness of the tone correlates with the amount the person cares.

The answer, therefore, shouldn't be, "Well, you're going to do what I say because that's the way that it is" (they won't listen to a word you say after that), but "That's a really valid concern. Let's talk for a minute about how we can make sure we're doing this in a way that honors both your needs and the needs of [whatever you're discussing]."

4. Get ahead of controversial topics.
If you know that the topic you're presenting is controversial, be the one to lead the conversation around it. For instance, when I presented on teacher evaluation to teachers, I usually started with an activity in which I posted pictures of various common amusement park attractions (a roller coaster, a ferris wheel, bumper cars, and a balloon dart game), and I asked people to think about their emotions when it came to teacher evaluation. How did the concept make them FEEL? Then I asked them to pick one of the four amusement park attractions that BEST represented their feelings and stand next to it. They would talk together as a group to synthesize one or two answers that best explained why they picked that particular attraction.

Then I had them share out their reasons, acknowledging that this was a topic fraught with concerns and it was my job to help work through those concerns with them so that the system could work for them and their students. I told the audience that I wouldn't necessarily address everything at that moment, but I would address each concern as it made sense during the course of the presentation (this kept the activity from dragging on and also gave me time to think if they brought up a concern I'd never heard before).

Then, most importantly, I DID that. I addressed their concerns. We talked about it as a group or I would go up to an individual who expressed something. Don't ignore the worries...that only makes them grow.

If you know that your topic is going to be controversial, go ahead and put yourself in the perspective of the people who will be arguing with you and draft some possible comments they might make and some graceful, compassionate responses.

5. When worst comes to worst, give the topic a raincheck.
Sometimes, someone cares enough that you probably aren't going to be able to solve their worry expeditiously. In that case, you need to be honest about it. For instance, I've had multiple teachers start to express concerns about standardized testing and its effects on students in training sessions that weren't actually about standardized testing, and a few teachers cared enough that they wanted to keep that conversation going right then and there despite my subtle efforts to get them back on track.

When that happens, I will (not subtly) say, "It's obvious how much you care about this, and I really do, too. I so very much want to have this conversation with you, but I'm also watching our time and I know we don't have much time left to accomplish the goals of this session, so I have to move on with our next topic right now. I really hope you'll come find me after we're done to finish this discussion, though, because this is a conversation that more of us need to be having." Then, most importantly, I DO go look for that person afterward and see if they still want to talk.

In other words, remember that when people disagree with you in a public forum, they're actually saying, "I care about this topic." The key is not to argue back, or shut them down, but to acknowledge them as people and their concerns as valid.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Mastering the 4 Inch Heel

By Kate Wolfe Maxlow

First of all, four inch heels aren’t for everyone and they’re not necessary to be polished and poised. They have the potential to wreak some serious consequences on your feet, especially if you’re wearing ill-fitting shoes or wearing them too often.

All that being said, many women (myself included) still want to master the high heel as the crowning accessory for that perfect outfit. I commonly hear the misconception, “Oh, I just can’t walk in heels.” Unless you have a physical reason that you can’t, you probably just have to train yourself. No one is born knowing how to walk in four inch heels, and even runway models had to learn at some point. It’s a skill like any other, and can be mastered if you have the time and will.

That being said, there are some ways to make the transition to the high heel safer and easier:

1. Master 1 inch at a time.
If you’ve never worn heels before, you’re not going to magically be able to walk in 4 inch heels tomorrow. If you try, you’re likely to look like you’re clomping up a mountain, or worse, you might break your ankle. You have to learn to walk differently when you wear heels; you’ll swing your hips a bit more and your foot and ankle have to get used to landing and rotating differently. It takes time.

When I went from teaching (where everyone wore flats) to working in central office (where everyone wore heels), I started off with a pair of one-inch heels. The heels were pretty thick in circumference (they might have even been wedges, come to think of it), and I wore those for the first couple of months. After that, I went up to two inch heels, then three inch, and finally the four inch. It was a several-month process. Don’t be in a rush.

2. Buy new heels after you’ve been on your feet all day.
I bought my most comfortable pair of heels on a work trip. I had been presenting and standing on my feet all day in cheap Target heels and thought I might die of blisters and foot cramps. On the way back to my hotel, I stopped at a Dillards in a nearby mall. I hobbled inside and tried on some Alex Marie black patent leather peep-toe 3.75 inch heels. I immediately felt like my swollen, aching feet were embraced in soft cloud-blankets. It was love-at-first-wear.

Because I bought them when my feet were already swollen and sore, I knew they would hold up when I had to stand on my feet for 8-hours on cement slabs to do presentations. They did, and I wore them for the next three years until they were finally so worn that I had to lay them to rest. I will love them forever.

3. Find a stylish comfort brand and then shop deals.
I mentioned in above that I fell in love with Dillards’ brand, Alex Marie. Their shoes seem to fit my feet perfectly and they’re made to be stylish AND comfortable. They cost about $90+ bucks a pop, however, so I can’t afford to fill my closet with them. And, because I tend to put my feet through a lot, they don’t last forever. What I’ve learned to do is go to the store, try on their latest styles, then wait for those styles to go on sale on the website. It happens about once a year. My greatest haul ever was getting three pairs for $20 each. Ah, magical day.

While I recommend Alex Marie to everyone, you may not have a Dillards near you, or Alex Marie may not fit your foot just right. No problem! Go to a place like DSW or Off-Broadway shoes, take an hour and try on all the various stylish comfort brands, such as Clarks, Hush Puppies, LifeStride, Naturalizer, Aerosole, etc.. Find the brands that seem to fit your foot the best. Buy something if you really love it, but don’t feel like you have to. When we feel pressed for time, we often make fashion choices that we later regret! Better to think of it as a fitting rather than a buying event. Take note of the brands and styles that work best for you, then shop the deals online.

4. Find a heel with a platform.
Do not buy high heels if there isn’t a platform under the toes. That platform helps decrease the amount of arch needed when you stand on your feet, which makes it easier to walk and decreases the potential for foot-cramps. The more expensive brands usually have this platform (because they know what a difference it makes).

5. Wear new heels around your house first.
Even if you go shoe shopping when your feet are sore and swollen (again...this it the BEST time to shoe shop), it can be hard to know if shoes will rub your skin wrong hours into wearing them. This is why I usually wear new shoes around the house for a couple of hours. I’ve had multiple pairs that wore away at my skin and caused blisters after an hour or two of light standing and walking, so you KNOW those babies were going to do a number on me if I wore them to work all day. Because I wore them around the house and on carpet, they didn’t get all scuffed, and I could return them. Usually an hour is enough to tell if they’re going to drive you crazy.

6. Watch yourself walk in heels.
For serious, practice walking while watching yourself in a mirror, or better yet, film yourself walking. If you’re new to wearing heels, you’ll probably have a natural tendency to hunch yourself over and put your foot down flat to maintain your balance. The point of heels, of course, is to help you look more elegant, not like you’re climbing a mountain while wearing a 50-pound pack. When you first start walking in heels, you’ll need to concentrate on standing up straight and keeping your shoulders back. Resist the urge to put your foot down flat when you take a step and continue to walk heel first like you would in a normal pair of shoes. It’s going to feel very, very strange at first and will take some getting used to.

It can also help to watch women who have mastered walking in heels. I’m not talking about runway models (you’ll get some serious side-eye if you sashay down the hallway at work), but actresses, Kate Middleton, or Michelle Obama. My favorite are old Hollywood starlets who somehow manage to look like they’re gliding on air even with those giant heels strapped to their feet. Take note of how they position their bodies. Compare yourself in your mirror or video and make adjustments. Keep in mind that it’s a process. The goal is to get a little better every day.

7. Keep a spare pair (heels or flats) close by just in case.
I have a long walk across a very gravelly parking lot to get into my office, and the gravel eats my shoes. I’ve had heels break or the rubber tips come off multiple times, so I always have a spare pair of decent heels at work. When I travel for work, I always keep a collapsible-but-dressy pair of flats in my purse or laptop bag so that if I really had to, I could throw them on. No one wants to run through an airport in four inch heels, trust.

8. Don’t wear heels unless you have to.
I try not to wear heels to work more than a few days a week, and I try not to wear them at all when I’m not at work. This gives my feet time to rest. There are lots of fun flats out there that also look very stylish, especially with a nice ankle trouser (Hint: if you can find a pointy toe flat, it looks much dressier than a rounded toe). Also, try to go barefoot as much as you can when you’re at home; this helps to strengthen your foot muscles.

In short, remember that it’s a process. Your feet will take you far in life, so treat them right and take your time.

5 Things I Won't Buy at a Thrift Store

By Kate Wolfe Maxlow

It’s not secret that even more than I love shopping, I love a bargain. Anyone can go out and get high quality clothes for tons of money; finding high quality clothes for pennies takes talent. When I find the perfect Brooks Brothers dress-with pockets--for $5 (original: $90)--that’s the kind of thrill you’ll never get at a shopping mall.

That being said, there are some things that I never or rarely buy at thrift stores.

NEVER: Undergarments
This one probably goes without saying. It’s partly the skeeviness of wearing something that has been that close to someone else, but also, quite simply that you’re unlikely to get a good fit buying either your top or your bottom undergarments secondhand. Given how often your undergarments can make or break and entire outfit I’d much rather shell out the money for quality when it comes to these articles of clothing, even if it means I have a small quantity of items.

When I was 10 and on a trip in Germany, I tried on some hats in a store and took home a glorious case of headlice for my trouble. No thanks. If you’re daring enough to buy a secondhand hat, I recommend NOT trying it on in the store, taking it home, and putting it in a plastic bag for a week or so until you’re positive that all adults and nits have died. (Okay, a week is probably overkill. But gah...lice.)

Here’s the thing about shoes: people don’t “outgrow” them often. The majority of quality clothes that end up in thrift or consignment stores get there because someone gained or lost weight and the clothes don’t fit anymore. Gaining or losing even ten pounds can size you out of your beloved, rarely worn clothes. But you have to gain or lose a substantial amount of weight to no longer fit in your shoes...which means that people usually wear their comfortable shoes into the ground. The shoes that do get donated are usually either out of style or shabby from lots of wear. If you DO find a pair of immaculate, stylish shoes, it’s a 99% guarantee that someone donated them because they’re uncomfortable as all get out.

Therefore, I rarely ever look at shoes in a thrift or consignment store. Instead, I just look for good deals on my favorite, high quality brands, through the stores themselves.

RARELY: Blazers
I love a good blazer, and I have found some nice ones at thrift stores. Like with shoes, though, people can often get more wear out of a blazer even if they gain or lose 10 pounds, depending on whether they decide to button it.  Moreover, not as many people wear blazers as other articles of clothing, so there just isn’t as great a supply. Therefore, the blazers that I find are often severely out of date or incredibly worn/faded. I still check anyway, because you never know. You’ll often have more luck in an upscale consignment store than a bargain basement thrift store with blazers, though. And keep in mind that even if you find a nice blazer, you still might need to get it tailored to fit you properly, which is going to up the cost even with your thrift/consignment discount.

This one is probably just me, and I expect most people don’t have nearly the problem that I do with thrift store pants. I’m 5’8”, which means that I’m just tall enough that most average sized pants are too short on me. If I do find a pair of pants that are just slightly too small, I check to see how much hem there is at the bottom, and sometimes I can get up to another ¾ of an inch by having a tailor lengthen the pants.

Just look for “tall” pants, you say? Finding a pair of tall pants at the thrift or consignment store is like finding a needle in a haystack. Also, 5’8” is that awkward height at which tall pants are also often too long. Usually I end up scouring quality clothing websites for sales, buying size tall when I find them, and having them shortened the appropriate amount.

Note that if you’re shorter than about 5’5”, you’re probably going to be able to find pants, but you’re going to have to get them shortened as well.

Do you like to thrift store shop? Tell us about your favorite deal in the comments!

Three Step Guide to Saying "No" When You Hate Conflict

by Kate Wolfe Maxlow

Maybe you've been asked to chair the PTA, or to work on the weekend when you already had plans to go out of town, or babysit your nephew for free for the 10th time this month. You're at the point where you're creeping around corners or avoiding looking at texts in fear of The Ask, because you know that you know you won't be able to say "no."

Look, I abhor conflict, too. I want to shrink into my nonexistent shell and stay in there forever. Then I went through some personal life stuff and took over some job responsibilities where I suddenly had to say "no" in a way that was firm AND preserved relationships.

Of course, I didn't think it was possible at first: telling someone "no" without them hating me forever. Nevertheless, I had to do it, so through some research and trial and error, I figured out some basic tenets to make the entire process less painful for everyone involved.

1. Say "no" quickly and remember that you are not the only person in the world who can do things.

If you put off saying "no" because you fear the conflict, you're actually doing the person asking two disservices: you're saying "no" AND you're giving them less time to find an alternative.

You are most likely NOT the person's only hope...but if you want them to have that hope, give them as much time as possible to figure out another plan.

If you put off and put off getting back to the person, and then you ALSO tell them "no," you're a lot more likely to cause some hard feelings.

2. Cite your values--both what you appreciate about the request AND the conflicting value that prevents you from doing it.

This is probably the best thing you can do to maintain the relationship while not being a doormat. For instance:

"Oh, I wish I could make those cupcakes for teacher appreciation week, but I've promised my kids I would take them to the amusement park this weekend and I need to honor that promise."

"This conference in Cancun looks amazing! As you know, our organization has made a pledge to fiscal responsibility this year, and therefore we are only able to fund certain business trips that align with our organization's initiatives. Therefore, as wonderful as this conference looks, we are unfortunately not able to fund your request at this time."

"Honey, I've made a promise to this family to get myself in shape so that I can be with you and the kids for years to come. For that reason, instead of going out with your friends after work tonight, I need you to come home and watch the kids like we discussed."

"I think going out this weekend for a girls night would be great. It's been a tough week at work and I know myself and know I need some introverted hermit time if I'm going to be any fun the next time we go out, so I'm going to have to skip this one."

3. Offer an alternative--but only if you really mean it and won't resent the person for taking you up on it. Give specifics so you don't feel like you're on the hook for something else you don't want to do.

"I'd be happy to kick in some ingredient money to help whoever can make the cupcakes. Just let me know where to PayPal my $20!"

"Let me know if you're interested in a list of local conferences that we feel can help further our organization's initiatives, and I'll be happy to pass them along."

"I do know how important it is for you to see your friends, though, so when I get home from the gym and the kids are in bed, let's set up a time for you to do that."

"I hope you all have a great time tonight! My big project at work will be done at the end of the month. Want to plan something for the first weekend next month? That should give you time to recover from whatever shenanigans you all get into tonight :) "

In conclusion...

Most likely, your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances are resourceful, intelligent people who can figure out solutions. Say "yes" when you can, when it makes sense, when you're able, but you don't have to shy away from standing up for yourself, either. In the end, the world will keep turning, and everyone will feel better for you not having made commitments that you end up resenting down the road.


by Kate Wolfe Maxlow

You're busy. I'm busy. That doesn't mean that we can't feel our best, though, or that we deserve any less.

Think about your best self. What does she look like? What does she act like? How does she feel?

This blog, La Femme Brillante (or, if you like English, The Brilliant Woman) is full of easy tips to get you closer to that you. It's based on simple hacks that help you feel, look, and live like today is the best day of your life. Each blog is one simple tip, gleaned from a tribe of beautiful, busy, brilliant woman who've learned how to get ahead without killing themselves to do it.

We keep it short, because we know you have plenty of other things in your life to be doing. And honestly, so do we. Since I started writing this post, I've dealt with a temper tantrum (I turned off Elmo), got someone a bowl of jello, cleaned up the spilled jello, turned the dryer on because I forgot about the load of laundry I started yesterday, and mentally planned that consulting project that's due in a few days. I'm going to guess you've done at least that many things since you started reading.

So what do you say? Are you ready to get started?

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