Reflections: 2012 in Review


Alas, ladies and gentlemen. 2013 is only a few nights away and at this moment I am reflecting on how much I have learned and grown this year.  I've had some hits, some misses, and made some moves in which I still await a verdict.  All in all, I can say that 2012 has been very good to me.  As a way of charting my progress and preparing myself for the upcoming year, I decided to do Rosetta Thurman's Annual Review (courtesy of Happy Black Woman).  It has been very helpful to me, so I would like to share my review with you guys in hopes that you will do this review for yourselves also.  I will warn you in advance-- it's a lengthy read so bear with me!

What I Want to Remember About 2012

What was the most valuable lesson you learned this year?  Spread love as much as you can and as often as you can.  I don't always have the means to give as much as I would like to financially, but as long as I'm breathing, I always have the ability to love. Being able to show love to another is such an underrated experience.  In turn, I don't know what I would do without the love I've received from my closest friends, family, and even complete strangers.  Love is what really keeps us alive.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) were you most proud of this year? I am most proud that I now have a sponsor here! Stay tuned as I will share more about this next month.

What was your favorite family/friends moment from 2012?  My favorite family/friends moment from 2012 was definitely my grandfather's birthday party.  My grandfather is a warm, loving, wise, and highly respected man in the community and it warmed my heart to see so many people come out to celebrate his life.  The conversations, hugs, and pleasantries shared among family and friends combined with good eating and music made for an awesome day.  My grandma even smiled long enough to take pictures :)  It was a beautiful thing to know our family was able to come together and share love for my grandfather in a big way, as he is getting up in age.  And he was overwhelmed with joy!

What was the best book/blog/song/movie/restaurant/city/country/etc. you discovered this year?

Book:  the first that comes to mind is Farther Than I Meant To Go, Longer Than I Meant To Stay by Tiffany Warren. It's a book I read via the FWB Book Club.  I learned so much about being patient, waiting on the Lord, and consulting Him in all areas of my life from this read. 

Blog: I have fallen in love with Christa all because of her blog, Inspired by Beatrice Clay.  When I joined Bloggers Like Me, her blog is one of the first I came across.  Her words were so inspiring, her thoughts were so insightful, and her challenges always motivated me to do better. Please be sure to check out the blog and tell her I sent ya over there! 

Song: To ask me to choose one song for the year is like offering me one chip from an entire can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. This is a difficult task!  The ratchet side of me wants to say Cashin' Out by Cash Out because it has played a million times in my car this year lol.  And the romantic side of me wants to say Adorn by  Miguel for the same reason. But if I had to choose a theme song for the year I would have to say Stand Up by Jessie J.

Movie:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of my favorite movies of the year. Note I did not say Avengers (mainly because I've raved about it so much this year already!). Please check it out if you haven't already. 



What I Want to Leave Behind As I Enter 2013

Which personal development area(s) did you make the LEAST progress on this year: health, finances, education, relationships, family, work and/or lifestyle?  I have made the least progress in my health goals this year.  I need to start going to the doctor more often.  The belief that I can concoct something at home that can make me feel brand new is not as true as I once thought.  I've never had high blood pressure before this year, so that is the first indicator that I need to take better care of my health.  I also need to take my physical fitness goals more seriously.  (Anyone in the area in need of a workout partner?  I am so serious!)

What promises (to yourself or others) did you break in 2012? In 2012, I vowed to spend more time with my friends and put more effort into making more connections. Needless to say, I didn't do as much of either as I would have liked.  I have a tendency to retreat to my own personal space when I'm going through things.  Instead of seeking comfort and solace from friends, I tend to push them away and keep to myself.  From now on (starting tonight and not waiting until 2013) I will make more of an effort to nurture my friendships, reach out to my friends, and be there for them when they need me.  I'm for real this time.  I will also step out of my comfort zone and try my hardest to meet new people in my area by attending more events and accepting more invitations.  

What arguments/gossip/hurtful comments, if any, did you participate in or make this year that you wish you could take back and/or apologize for? I haven't had any heated arguments with anyone that I can recall (as I tend to avoid conflict as much as possible), but I have had issues with individuals that took place back in 2011 that as of tonight have still been unresolved.  Sometimes, I wish the whole ordeal would have never taken place, but when I look back at everything I realize it was inevitable.  The only thing that bothers me about the situation is it has affected relationships with my family and it has affected by ability to trust others.  I wish I knew how to resolve it, but for now I don't.  

What opportunities, if any, did you miss out on in 2012 because of fear or procrastination? Fear has placed so many roadblocks in my life. So much so, that I may have to address that at another time in another way. This year it has prevented me from sharing my true feelings with others, taking chances, and making changes I know are necessary for my growth.  With God's help, I know I can move past the fear though. Keep me in your prayers, guys.



What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year? In 2013, I believe I deserve more love.  I will allow more love and happiness to pour into my life. I deserve less disappointment, dishonesty, and negativity.

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach this year in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?  This upcoming year, I wish to spend more quality time with my husband and children, visit the doctor and exercise more often, make better financial choices that will better benefit my children, add another skill set/diploma/certificate and degree to my resume', and spend more time connecting with others.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself this year? I would love to have a functioning work from home business, get started with my freelance MUA efforts, and to assist my daughter with her ambitions of starting a jewelry line.

What do you want to learn in 2013? I want to learn to sew!

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013? I want to cross visiting Las Vegas and meeting three of my blogger besties in my head off my bucket list in 2013.



What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?   I want to pay more attention to my family life in 2013.  Of course, I have professional and personal goals for myself, but I want to put more effort into building and strengthening my family. 

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013? I want to spend more time with my friends in 2013.  I hate that my closest friends live so far away, as our time spent together is quite limited.  But I have no problem hopping on a plane so I can look in their faces more often this year!  I also have special people in my life that live less than an hour's drive from me that I hope to make more great memories with next year as well. 

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they are no longer in alignment with your values?   As I mentioned before, I have a habit of retreating to self.  I spend more time alone than I probably should.  And this is something that has only started happening within the last two years.  I would love to be more social and less introverted, so I have to stop this behavior.

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?  I want to spend more time enjoying my city this year.  I've been living here for a few years now, and have only recently started enjoying all that the city has to offer.  I also would like to visit other landmarks besides the beach.  Perhaps I could plan another trip to the mountains soon!  All in all, I want to see some new stuff!



Have you taken the time to reflect on all that has taken place, all you have accomplished, and things that didn't go as you liked in 2012?  

What to Wear: Winter Holiday Edition


Alas, the holidays are approaching. Many of us (probably everyone except me) have decorated our Christmas trees, adorned our living quarters with tinsel, and have decked the halls with boughs of holly.  The spirit of Christmas has began falling upon us.  And while we create those Christmas shopping lists and pull out those Christmas classic albums from our CD cases, many of us also begin to consider what we'll be wearing.  Just the thought of gathering with friends and loved ones has me scrolling my mental wardrobe notes, wondering what I have to wear that will express how excited I am to be celebrating the holiday season once more.  So in my excitement, I turned up my Boyz II Men Christmas tunes and created three cute outfit choices via Polyvore.  Check them out below:


Holiday Look 1
I created this look with heavy traveling and good eating in mind. My family and I do a bit of traveling during the holidays, in hopes to visit all parts our blended families. I wanted to still bring the glam factor with the shimmery Michael Kors sweater, yet feel comfortable. This is pulled off effortlessly with the jeans and Ash Bowie sneaker wedges (you guys know how much I love these!). The Kiss necklace adds a personal touch to accessorizing, while the gold studs and neutral Elliot Lucca satchel keep things simple. My look will more than likely lean towards something styled like this option.


Holiday Look 2
If I decide to step my game up just a little, this would be the look to go for. The sheer leopard print top and rider leggings are cute and trendy, but are paired with nude pumps and bag to give it a more chic look. If the shirt appears too short to be paired with leggings to you, the Vivienne Westwood knitted collar coat covers the curves nicely. And it just wouldn't be me if I didn't add some NARS lipstick and an O.P.I. manicure (with polishes from the James Bond Collection) to the mix. In this look I spy an item from my Christmas wishlist. Can you guess which item it is?

Holiday Look 3
Now with this look, I went all out. This is the option for the annual Christmas party or maybe even that New Year's Eve extravaganza you're planning to show up to fashionably late. Remember, you can't go wrong with leopard prints, tights, and plum lipstick! And again, I spy an item from my Christmas wishlist in this look. I bet you know which item it is by now!

WHAT WILL YOU BE WEARING THIS HOLIDAY?

My Updated Hair Care Regimen


I can't believe it's been almost a year since I've shared anything about my hair journey on the blog!  I looked in my hair journal this morning and saw that I've switched a few things up since my last share, so I decided to share an updated regimen.  Also I'm taking part in Traycee's 2013 KISS Boot Camp Challenge so making note of these changes on the blog helps me stay on task and remain accountable.  Check out the details below.

Daily: Moisturize and seal.  
Nightly, I moisturize my hair and seal it with oil. Then I wrap or pin my hair, covering it with a silk scarf.  2-3 times a week I do scalp massages, using a fusion of coconut oil, castor oil, and peppermint oil (which stimulates the scalp).

Moisturizers I Use:
Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship 
Elasta QP Olive Oil & Mango Butter Moisturizer (alternate with the above)
Wave Nouveau Moisturizing Lotion (during long stretches)

Various Oils I Use:
Castor Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Peppermint Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil



Weekly: Washing/Co-Washing, Deep Conditioning
On Sunday, I clean my hair by co-washing (washing with conditioner) or shampooing with a moisturizing shampoo such as Nexxus Therappe.
On Wednesday, I clean my hair by co-washing again. After co-washing, I deep condition my hair, rinse, apply leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place in a protective style (usually a bun).
I always air-dry unless I’m away from home.

Conditioners Used for Co-Washing:
Hair One Hair Cleanser and Conditioner with Tea Tree Oil
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner

Conditioners Used for Deep Conditioning:
Nexxus Humectress infused with Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and Peppermint Oil
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration infused with Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, and Peppermint Oil

Bi-Monthly: Hot Oil Treatment 
I do this more often in the Winter months, as my scalp and hair are more prone to dryness in the Winter.  This hot-oil treatment is usually a mix of Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil,  Castor Oil, and Peppermint Oil.  

Monthly: Clarifying Wash, and Protein Deep Conditioning
Once monthly, I do a clarifying wash with ORS Aloe Shampoo. I also deep condition with a light protein conditioner such as ORS Replenishing Conditioner infused with Castor Oil and Peppermint Oil. Afterwards, I apply leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place in a protective style.


4 x Annually: Relaxer and Protective Style
I relax by using Motions No-Lye Relaxer. Before applying neutralizer, I rinse relaxer from hair and apply a light protein to the hair such as Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor. This replenishes the protein I lost from the relaxing process. I let it stay on for 5 minutes, then continue with the neutralizing and deep conditioning process. Afterwards, I apply a leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place hair in a protective style.

Use as needed: Hair Spritzer
To keep my hair moisturized, especially during stretches, I spritz my hair with a mix of aloe vera juice, rosewater and vegetable glycerine.  It helps with detangling also.  Find out more about the mix here.


**My Hair Essentials**
silk scarf/bonnet (to protect my hair from moisture-stripping cotton)
plastic caps (for deep conditioning)
one a day women's multi-vitamin (self-explanatory)
biotin (growth aid I've been using on and off -but mostly on)
plastic applicator bottles and spray bottles (to apply products to hair)


**About My Hair**
Relaxed
Between Shoulder Length and Armpit Length
Type: 4A

**Protective Styling**
Sew-Ins
Half-Wigs
Buns

**Hair Goals**
Thicker, healthier hair
Middle Back Length (MBL)

What is your current hair care regimen? 

Three Ways to Wear Red Lips


When it comes to a polished, classic makeup look, there's nothing that compares to a bold red lip.  Red lips demand attention and add a silent sexiness to an otherwise average look.  And contrary to popular belief, a beautiful red lip can be achieved by every woman--women of ALL shades.  Whether you prefer to wear a moisturizing, creamy formula of lipstick, a high-shine gloss, or a retro matte lipstick, you too can rock a powerful red lippie.  Here are my three favorite ways to achieve a red puckered pout:


The Sultry, Satin Way  
To achieve this lip look, I used Avon Ultra Color Rich Lipstick in Berry Berry Nice which retails for $7 on the Avon website. This lipstick's formula is creamy and moisturizing, all while providing opaque color. This is what makes it the easiest and most versatile way to rock the red lip.

For other creamy red lipstick options, check out Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hot, Burn, or Flame (depending on which red suits you best) or Milani Color Perfect Lipstick in Red Label or Red Velvet.  Cover Girl and Milani Lipsticks can be purchased at Ulta Beauty and various drugstores.


venomous villains

The High-Shine Gloss Way 
With this look, I used MAC Lipglass in Wicked Ways from the Venomous Villains collection.  It retailed for $14.50 at the time of purchase and was a limited edition lip gloss. Choosing to rock your red lips in gloss form is a great way to try a red lip without committing to using a lipstick.  Lip gloss is more buildable, as  you can apply just a bit or slather on as much as you like to achieve the intensity of color that you desire.

For other red lip gloss options, check out NYX Round Lip Gloss in True Red or Revlon ColorBurst Lip Gloss in Fire. Both can be purchased at Ulta Beauty and various drugstores.



The Classic Matte Way 
Of the three ways to rock a fierce red lip, this one is my favorite.  The matte red lip just exudes retro glam.  And it just wouldn't be right if I didn't rock my darling favorite matte lippie, MAC Ruby Woo, to sell you on wearing red lipstick.  MAC Ruby Woo Lipstick retails for $15 on the MAC website and is one of MAC's bestsellers for obvious reasons.  Just wearing this lipstick makes me feel like a supermodel or a socialite or some other sexy beast, I tell ya!

For other matte red lipstick options, check out Wet n Wild Mega Last in Stoplight Red, Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red, or NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl. Wet n Wild and Revlon lipsticks can be purchased at various drugstores while the NARS lip pencil is available at Sephora and the NARS website.

Warning: Don't Forget the Liner
To keep these lip looks in their truest red form, I've lined my lips with Avon Ultra Luxury Lipliner in Wildberry.  If you would like to tone your red lip down, however, you could use a brown liner such as NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Expresso or Iman Perfect Lip Pencil in Espresso.  Just be sure to blend the lip liner in well with the lipstick!

ARE YOU A FAN OF RED LIPSTICK?
SHARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS!

My Cups Runneth Over: A Love/Hate Story About Bras


According to this infomercial that I am currently watching,  about 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.  I find that odd, especially since we all as women have to carry those things for a living.  Yep, these are our partners for life, yet so many of us have no clue how to make carrying the load easier for us--especially those of us with large chest areas.  Why is this?

I think for many of us, we weren't taught to fit ourselves for bras.  Personally speaking, my mom presented me with my first bra in the fifth grade (I believe it was like a -0 AA lol).  And only because I now know better, I will admit that I was rocking that same size until I started high school.  Let's just say those numbers had long expired and needed badly to be retired.  My mom started complaining about the fit and the spillage, so I took it upon myself to head over to Walmart with a friend and take a shot at figuring his whole bra thing out.  After playing the guessing game until I felt I had an accurate number, I rolled out of Wally World with several pairs of 36Cs, feeling quite accomplished.

Despite my greatest efforts I still had spillage, but I misread that for "cleavage" so for the most part my teen years were smooth sailing.  It wasn't until PE class that I felt awkward, causing me to double-up (wearing an 18-hour bra and sports bra) for support.  You would think that a teenage girl would be proud of being busty but I was not.  I wanted to play various sports, but after being teased for making too much movement in the chest area as I ran, I loathed doing any physical activities publicly.  Puberty sucked and my body was slowly trying to catch up with my bust size.




It wasn't until 2003, my freshman year of college, that I found my perfect bra.  During a trip to the mall with my dear friend Nic, she delicately told me I was wearing the wrong bra size.  She even urged me to get fitted in a department store.  I did just that and finally felt comfortable within the constraints of a bra.

Though that was several years and two children ago, I still find that to be a defining moment in my transition into womanhood.  Thanks to Nic, I get fitted often and make sure I purchase the best bras for my needs.

Here is a good video I found on YouTube on how to measure your bra size.  Check it out here:


DO YOU KNOW YOUR CORRECT BRA SIZE?


Repost from Archives: September 2011

MANIcure Mondays: Hulk Smash + Sparkle


Hey ladies! I'm beginning my weekly blogging yet again with my fabulous manicure.  I wanted to run back to my comfort zone of pretty pink and sparkles, but Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Savage has definitely done a number on my nails.   The blue stains from previous weeks have yet to be lifted from my nail bed, so I decided to go with a darker shade that I rarely wear.  Sometimes I look at my stash and think it's crazy that I have so many polishes, yet I always use the same five colors.  So this week, I decided to introduce you to my new best friend,  Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Irish Green aka Hulk Smash.  Since the color is such a true green, and my children say the color reminds them of the Hulk, I'm now calling this mani my Hulk Smash look :-)

And while I may have tried to venture outside of the box with the color, old habits die hard.  I was not able to get away from my love of sparkle.  So, yep.  You guessed it.  I'm still sticking to O.P.I.'s Servin' Up Sparkle like nobody's business.  You guys already know by now I'm smitten by my sparkles.


So what are your manicures looking like this week, ladies?  Tell me all about them in the comments!  
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