Feminism, Mindfulness

Mobbin' Pretty: Female Fellowship

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I am my gender's biggest fan. I love being a woman, and the strongest anchors in my life have always been women. I am very lucky to have a mother who never set limitations on what she could achieve based on her sex. She was an economist, an interior designer, an aerobics instructor, an entrepreneur; professionally, she was a stud. My dad's work ethic and leadership is unparalleled, and  I can only hope to apply these virtues into my own career path. What I admire most about my mom though is her fearlessness to undertake a multitude of projects and endeavors and fulfill them with excellence.

A woman's ability to multitask is an inspiring thing.  Our capabilities stretch far beyond the stereotypical aspirations attached to women. Considering this, I reckon that women must make an effort to get past the bitchiness and stop unhealthily competing with one another. Empowerment >. There are so many incredible females I know who have undeniable amounts of creativity, intelligence and potential; it would be a shame to waste time and energy on putting them down. Because, really, the only time a woman is helpless is when her nail polish is drying. Instead, let these women inspire you to do better — be better, even. Let's do this... 

 1. Cut the negative energy and stop bashing other women.

Is it really necessary to bash other women? Don’t we have it hard enough as females on this earth? It is so easy to say mean, spiteful things about other women who have done us wrong, who have hurt us, or are even just walking down the street. Why do we do this? I know you have done it. I have done it in the past too. Criticizing other females for their flaws is more of a reflection of your insecurities; get a grip. We see a woman running down the street and we find something terrible to say about her form, her body, her gym outfit, her anything. In reality, we should be saying, “Damn girl. Look at you go. Keep running.” As women, we must begin to empower the other women around us. We really are in this together and we have fought long and hard for our place in this world. We don’t need to be holding picket signs protesting for our rights to be a woman who is fighting for the strength of the next generation. Let’s start with our sisters who cross our paths. Make it a point to see the beauty and grace of other women around you. Send her good energy and be proud of her.

2. Be a woman young girls can look up to.

I am fortunate enough to touch the lives of younger girls in my space - whether it's a teenage cousin, international exchange students I am helping, scholars in our educational foundation, or young women in my volunteer program. I always think about what they would think or feel about my actions and behavior; how I would feel if they did the very same. I am really lucky to have quite a few younger women in my life that I value and respect and I want them to know I have my shit together and I am proud of the choices I have made. I want the young girls who take the train with me in the morning to see me and know that I am respectable and dress appropriately for a 30-year-old. I want them to see that I talk to those around me with respect using language that is suitable for being in a public place. I want young women to see me and know that I am proud of myself, proud of being a woman, and that they can come talk to me about the crap we go through in life as women. I want to radiate the powerful knowledge that integrity and authenticity always win. I want to help younger women remember that we have to earn the respect we get from others, regardless of our gender or any other stupid labels floating out there that attempt to highlight superiority based on our differences . We can start earning that respect, right here, right now, all the time. 

3. Respect where other women are on their own journey.

I once found myself comparing my path to the path of a woman with whom I went to undergrad with. We have the same undergraduate degree, but I went to get a masters and she went on to start a family. I see photos of her beautiful children on social media all the time, and admire how gracefully she's preserved her passions. I can only imagine how much of one's self motherhood requires. Is she happy? Maybe. I hope so. But I know in my heart I wouldn’t be happy there just yet. I know where I am right now is where I am supposed to be. I know that I am developing and growing in ways at 30 that I have never even believed could happen before. I know I am determined each day and ready for any challenges that come my way. This goes tenfold for comparing your relationships to those of other women. Relationships are a significant part of our journey. By this time in my life, I have recognized and realized that no relationship will be the same as the last and I am in no place to judge someone else’s relationship either. Let’s be clear here however, when you see something actually not okay, something that hurts your gut or you know is dangerous or unhealthy, speak up. That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.

4. Understand what it means to be a feminist.

In my undergraduate comparative world literature program,  I read novels like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, A Woman Destroyed, Nervous Conditions etc. I learned a lot about myself in these classes. Thanks to a lot of stellar female classmates and incredible professors, I also learned a lot about feminism, where it came from and where feminist theory is headed. Feminists don’t hate men. In fact, it is just the opposite. Feminism defined is the belief that women and men should have equal rights. Powerful literature icons like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Tsitsi Dangaremba and so on were crusaders in the fight for equal rights for women. Yet women and men alike have challenged this and made feminism a negative word that puts feminists in this group of women who are anti-men, anti-shaving, pants-wearing, unattractive humans that no one can connect to on a neutral plane. This is full of inaccuracies. I am a self declared feminist. I want equal rights for women on all levels, but I also enjoy my weekly mani-pedis, rock dresses from Hervé Leger to Forever 21 like no one's business, love cosmetics, and surely appreciate both inner and outer beauty. Feminists want more. They don’t want gender roles to define what we can and cannot do as women. We want more for everyone, not just women.

5. Really love your body.

Growing up with asthma in a third world country was rough. It meant that every time I had an attack, putting me on steroids was the answer. I remember so many mean things that were said to me about my body when I was younger. They stick with you and torment you. Girls are so vulnerable for so many of their formative years. It took a devotion to working out and athletic training in my 20s to liberate myself from these body issues. It is only at age 30 that I am finally learning to embrace every dangerous curve in my body. I work out more days than not, I eat healthy in the sense that if I don't recognize an ingredient, I don't consume it, and I truly have grown fond of my body. Yet I still struggle. Sometimes, I still find myself criticizing myself. However, I also know the importance of taking care of myself and I know this outweighs the aforementioned self-deprecation. I know that when I am training hard, I need to eat more. I am trying to learn that when my body physically can't begin or complete a workout, I'll live to fight another day. I'm finding ways to be more mindful of what my body needs and adapt somehow. It is time for us, as women, to take control of our bodies. Be proud of what you have. Take care of it. Feed it when it is hungry and train it efficiently when you can. Be aware of your movements, and most of all, love it wholly, every little bit of it.

6. Learn how to be alone.

This is a tough one for a lot of people. We all struggle with this. But we hear about it all the time. This does not mean constantly keeping people on the back burner, holding old flames around for the hell of it, or sort-of-dating people. It means being alone, really unattached, and immersed in yourself. We all need to learn this. We need to freshly go into a new relationship; not go from one relationship to the next. There is not a set time on how long this has to last. Once you are there, you will know how much time you need. But you really have to give yourself time. I know lots of women who have never had this; women who have never genuinely been alone, women who when asked if they were single nodded their heads sharing a timid yes, but knew they could contact any number of men to keep them company later that night. I value this time as a woman deeply, although I had to learn it the hard way, but this is probably why I value being alone with myself so very much. It is during this time that I'm finding out what I really want, what is going to be worthwhile, and what I deeply desire. It is here that I am learning how to dive into a new space and person will a full heart, hopefully one day ready to love and be loved again. It is here and now that I am finding myself. 

7. Be direct and clear.

We typically know what we want. So say it. You are asked what is wrong. You respond with, “Nothing.” You are asked again. Again, you say, “Nothing. I'm FINE.” Then you are an outright asshole because your significant other or anyone else in your life for that matter can’t read your mind. How is this fair to that other person? If you want something to be different, ask for it. This has to be, by far, one of the most frustrating things to witness in other females in my life. At some point in our lives we were shut down by someone or something and stopped being honest about what we want, I get it. I have seen women give in to unfair situations, lose control and regret not asking for what they deserve after the damage has been done. Fortunately for me, my maternal grandmother is such a dominant figure in our family and she raised her daughters and granddaughters to always take charge of a situation. My aunt and I were just laughing about how resilient the women are in my family; we really don't stop until we get what we want and we don't waste time. There is, however, a disclaimer here. If you aren’t ready to say what you need to say, take a breather. Walk away until you are calm and ready. Don’t put people through hell being in your presence because you aren’t ready to share what is on your mind but expect them to read it. I promise the person you choose to be honest with will get it and will respect that honesty, and will provide you with same kind of courtesy and clarity. 

8. Free yourself from compliments and criticisms

I understand that it is nice to receive compliments every now then, and while we should learn to graciously accept them, they should not define us. The same goes for the haters. Personally, the only path to authenticity is to bury the ego. You've got to own who you are and own your choices. People's perception, especially about others, is in constant flux, not to mention that so much of it is more often than not self-serving, artificial, and synthetic. We cannot standardize people, their goals, and their ideas, and freeing yourself from this means building security in your own thoughts and values. An indestructible woman is comfortable with herself no matter what others say and do. 

9. Master your passions and be happy.

A lot of us make the mistake of mapping out the things we need to do right in order to achieve happiness. The truth is, to master your passions is to become happy, and frankly the only way to master something is to relentlessly do it. Life has a knack for throwing us off our planned path. It’s not easy to stick through the grit to come out the other end prosperous; it takes courage and consistency to keep at it when things aren’t going quite as you had expected, and actually, this is when it really matters. There is so much delight in being able to achieve and accomplish, and sticking it out guns blazing through shit and reaping the rewards after.


As a female millennial, I have come to terms that I am not really trying to do the impossible; I simply want to do my part in eradicating the stereotypes and spreading love for fellow women. We live in a time when we all have huge potentials for success no matter who we are, and all human beings are given the same 24 hours. I am here to utilize my passions to become extraordinary, to never settle, to define what success and happiness mean to me, and then go do whatever it takes to help other women realize and achieve this as well. I truly believe in my heart that I enjoy womanhood because of this deep desire to work towards always being the best and real-est version of myself. 

Wellness, Money

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds

Isn’t it amazing that we’re already done with first month of 2015? I hope that you’ve all started off the new year on a high note.  Tax season is here; W-2s were sent out last week. I always plan tax day the weekend after the last of earnings statements have been sent out. I have always thought this to be a healthy habit, and this year, I thought I'd share some saving tips to launch healthy financial planning, for when you receive those income tax returns. 

kladrido - girlsfunds

 

Building a financial future — whether it’s your retirement, your family’s future needs or simply attaining your personal goals, or being able to buy the things you want — all begins with saving. Saving is the best and most important way to make sure you’re financially safe when it counts.

Saving doesn’t just mean getting discounts on the things you buy; it also means putting away money for a rainy day, and pretending you don’t know it’s there. You’ve got to do things like create an emergency fund so that if something does go wrong, you won’t be trying to scrounge up money or borrow from family or friends, wiping out debt, paying off bills that never seem to go away, and eventually, it means putting your money to work for you.

By finding ways to lower your everyday costs, it is possible to build habits that can change the way you look at your life, your household, and the future. It starts with some basic principles: a budget, a savings account, and good spending habits.

Here are some sure fire ways to help you save money:

1. Eliminate Your Debt

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Whether it's student loans or credit card debt, eliminating your debt frees up additional funds to be allocated towards other things like savings or investing. Add up how much your monthly debt payments are and see how much you are spending servicing your debt. Create a plan to pay off as much of it as you can so you can start saving.

2. Set Savings Goals

One of the best ways to save money is by visualizing what you are saving for. Start small. For example, I have three different piggy banks in my home strategically placed for me to "deposit" loose change. If you need motivation, set savings targets along with a timeline to make it easier to save. Let's say you want to buy a house in 2-3 years with a 20% down payment - you have a great target, and it becomes much easier for you to identify what you need to save each month to get to your goal.

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3. Pack Your Lunch

An obvious way to save money is to try to cut on everyday spending. If buying your lunch costs you $10 and bringing your lunch costs you $3, over course of the year, you could create a $1,820 emergency fund.

4. Shop on Wednesdays and Use Coupons

Most grocery stores launch their sales mid-week.  Shopping on Wednesdays means getting first dibs on the sale items. And, you can maximize your savings and spend less time waiting in lines because you are beating the weekend crowd. Second, subscribe to your store flyers and keep tabs on the items you usually buy and when they’re on sale. For example, Omega-3 packed seafood like salmon or cod normally costs $12.99 - $21.99 per pound, but local Fresh Market groceries have them on sale on Saturday mornings for $7.99 – $11.99 per pound. Furthermore, stores will honor coupons from the previous week or combine them; all you have to do is ask. For example, you can utilize as many coupons in Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Spending smarter gets you extra chunks of change which can be added to your savings.

5. Take a “Staycation”

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars on airline tickets overseas or nationwide for the whole family, look for fun vacation spots or free activities close to home. We have some amazing vacation spots and events that are right here in our backyard: quaint towns like Luray or Lexington in Virginia, wineries all over Loudoun County, and free symposiums and museums around the DC Metro area. Prioritize, and keep it real. If you really need a vacation and can afford it, then go and satiate your wanderlustin' soul. If not, don't try to make ends meet and plan a better vacation for next time when you won't have to be stressing out about being broke after a big trip.

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6. Pay Yourself First

Set up an auto transfer from your checking to savings each pay period, whether its $50 or $500, don’t cheat yourself out of a long term savings plan. You may be working hard at work all the time, but if you have nothing to show for it in a healthy savings account, you’re not doing justice to your time.

7. Record Your Expenses

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Write down everything you are spending money on each month. This will help you figure out what you are spending money on, cut out the unnecessary expenditure, and also help make sure you are staying within your budget. For example, paying $1.29 per iTunes downloaded song really added for me so I switched to an online streaming music service. Seeing this expense trend helped me identify where I could cut spending and generate additional savings. 

8. Create a Budget

Creating a budget is the key to success. Knowing limits on what you can spend on each “category” is key. It is important to sit down with the family to figure out what needs to be in the budget. Everything goes in the budget not only the important things like food, gas, mortgage but other little expenses you spend money on each month. For me for example, my budget includes nail appointments, salon visits, dining out, shopping allowances, etc.

9. Utility Savings

This may not seem like much but they do add up. One of the best things I’ve done to upgrade my home and lower my electricity bill is to switch all my lightbulbs to LED. I also use energy efficient curtains for my windows. You can also lower the thermostat on your water heater 10 degrees, which can save you between 3-5% on energy costs. Utility costs seldom go down over time, so take charge and weatherize you home. Call your utility company and ask for an energy audit in order to find out how energy efficient your home is. This will range from easy improvements like sealing windows and doors to installing new insulation or siding, also look into energy star high efficient products. This could save you thousands on utility cost. Little upgrades like these truly make a difference over time.

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10. Have a Healthy Relationship with Money

Personally, this was a hard one for me to learn. Especially for my fellow millennials, unlike the previous generation, we don't have the promise of an entry level position right after we graduate from college. We entered the job market during a time when the economy was not on our side. This can create anxiety when it comes to dealing with money. Never lose faith and pick yourself back up. Pay off the debt; work your heart out; and start from somewhere. Just like any goal you have, you've got to set boundaries and employ self-discipline to get the results you are looking for. 


Wellness

5 Rituals of Self-Care for Productivity

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It is another dreadful Monday morning for some, but not for me. I am involved in several projects career-wise and to stay alive, I have come to the realization that staying awake until the wee hours in the morning to review a report due for submission, then slamming a shot of Nespresso to counter-attack my lack of sleep, and finally heading in to work hungry and drained were all going to annihilate me.

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For the past three weeks, I have been going to bed right around midnight, enjoying my healthy breakfast of goat cheese, fig, and prosciutto omelette and my Green Smoothie quietly while practicing Italian, and diving into my tasks for the day with composure. There is nothing quite like a graceful morning to propel me to eagerly apply my vision into my work.

It is so easy to get sucked in the dangerous trend of overworking, and then wondering why we are not getting the results we are looking for. The truth is, results don’t come through hours spent. Great results often arrive by doing less and working smarter.

Mike Del Ponte, founder and Chief Hydration Officer for Soma, which aims to revolutionize the water industry using sustainable design revealed his secret in his Kickstarter campaign interview, “every day I need physical energy, mental clarity, and emotional balance to tackle everything that comes my way. Self-care is the secret to performing at the highest level.”

Here are my personal five rituals for self-care:

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1)    I drink a glass or two of lukewarm water with lemon slices, cucumber, and mint when I wake up. Our bodies lose water while we sleep and become naturally dehydrated in the morning. Although citrus fruits are naturally acidic, citric acid metabolized by our bodies actually help alkalize our system; cucumbers are simply refreshing; and although I loathe mint with anything dairy, I love the flavor it gives my water. 

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2)    I define my top three most important tasks to accomplish for the day. They can be professional, personal, or a combination of both, but I prioritize my day according to these tasks, and I do not sleep until they are completed.  

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. | "50 Ways to Take a Break, and the Essential First Step of Remembering"

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. | "50 Ways to Take a Break, and the Essential First Step of Remembering"

3)    I take mini-breaks during the day. I try to spend several minutes every hour catching up on WhatsApp group conversations with my family, Snapchatting with my best friend, or updating my Pinterest boards. These little pauses spark my creativity and productivity like no other. Especially when I am going through a tedious task, I am able to step away from the dilemma and then go back to it with a new perspective.

Alesja Popova | "Wings" 

Alesja Popova | "Wings" 

4)    I move daily. I am firm believer that regular movement keeps us healthy and alert, plus it boosts energy and mood, and relieves stress. My exercises of choice include cycle classes, high intensity interval training, and weight lifting.

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5)    I put my mobile on good night mode, unplug, and bring closure to my day by reflecting. For the longest time, I have been reading Buzzfeed articles on my iPhone to fall asleep. To my dismay, I ended up sleeping later and later because I am naturally a curious person and so I end up amassing more information and brain power than I intend to. I have actively chosen to power down, meditate on what was great and what I can improve, what I can do away with and what I am blessed to have. 

What about you? What are your top 5 rituals of self-care? 

Gym, Fashion

Dress for Success: Gym Fashion

Rosie Huntington-Whitely is the queen of GYM FASHION. Whether she's rocking a pink glossy lip balm, or emphasizing her amazing physique with sexy capris, or donning a Givenchy purse post-workout, it's apparent that her effort to look gorgeous while in athletic mode is admirable and something we should emulate.

Rosie Huntington-Whitely is the queen of GYM FASHION. Whether she's rocking a pink glossy lip balm, or emphasizing her amazing physique with sexy capris, or donning a Givenchy purse post-workout, it's apparent that her effort to look gorgeous while in athletic mode is admirable and something we should emulate.

When it comes to gym gear, functionality should always be top priority. Style, however, should always be a very close second, because even if you didn't go all out beast mode on a particular day, you should always dress for success. 

Sometimes, just a bright pop of color does the trick. 

Sometimes, just a bright pop of color does the trick. 

I don't understand the whole baggy t-shirt and ratty clothes philosophy at the gym. I sweat my ass off, but I don't think that automatically entails letting my appearance suffer. I am not talking about taking and posting a bazillion selfies at the gym, or drenching yourself with Smart Water so you can pretend that you're #mirin, brah. I am talking about using fashion in the gym to help you stay confident and motivated. 

LOOK good = FEEL good. 

How many people have confessed that they don't feel confident in the gym? Have you ever been intimidated about stepping into the weight floor? I know I have. When I first started working out, I was one of those cardio-machine-only gym chicks. But being around such amazing iron ladies, with my personal trainer Karen as my main source of fitspiration, I've awakened new passions for lifting and high intensity training and dominating the weight floor. #whoruntheworld 

The Perfect Little Black Tight. This is my main priority for my personal gym style. I need a comfortable bottom that I can wear to cycle class, a heavy leg workout, or barre class and be able to move as freely and quickly as I need to. 

The Perfect Little Black Tight. This is my main priority for my personal gym style. I need a comfortable bottom that I can wear to cycle class, a heavy leg workout, or barre class and be able to move as freely and quickly as I need to. 

I love my pinks and pastels at the gym sometimes too. Yes, I'm wearing pink but I can do more burpees than you. 

I love my pinks and pastels at the gym sometimes too. Yes, I'm wearing pink but I can do more burpees than you. 

I am at the gym for about 2 hours a day, 5 to 6 times a week. That is the only time I actually have for myself, especially on weekdays. Think about why you’re in the gym. It is to work out and crush itThe practicality of what you wear should therefore be of paramount importance, but this not an excuse to look like a slob. Without having to try so hard,  you can let your style and individual fashion sense become an expressive aspect of your fitness routine. 

Color-blocking. The key to wearing bright tights is keeping the rest of your gear simple and pattern-less. 

Color-blocking. The key to wearing bright tights is keeping the rest of your gear simple and pattern-less. 

Enjoy being yourself in the gym with your personal style. If you feel great and work out hard, that's double the endorphins, isn't it? 

Recipes, Smoothie, Nutrition, Drink, Wellness, Plant-based

Alkalizing My Body: Katie's Green Morning Smoothie

I have had a love-hate relationship with plant-based smoothies for about a year now, but I know deep in my heart that there is nothing in the world that nourishes my body quite like it. I'm the type of person who enjoys food because of the dining experience, so the thought of blending ingredients and calling it a meal occasionally feels sacrilegious to my foodie convictions, yet here I am, on day 11 of making smoothies a part of my daily routine.

My dude noticed my prolonged glances towards the shiny silver Nutribullet on our weekly destressing excursions to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and bless his heart, he surprised me with it! Someone once told me that every time you see the labels "fat-free" and "no sugar", think of the words "chemical shit storm". I couldn't agree more. Most of us are always looking for quick, supposedly healthy alternatives that we forget to dig a little deeper into these marketing claims. Blending my own smoothie in my own Nutribullet allows me to control the ingredients that go inside my body without me having to second guess the caliber of health and nutrition of meal number 1 or snack time of the day.

After being able to sift through all my juicing and detox ideas, I have finally come up with a recipe that I absolutely love and is dairy-free, plant-based, and paleo-friendly. Bonus points for my new fling with the flavors of noor dates. I cannot believe that I've been missing out on their yumminess. Who needs sugar and sweeteners with these bad boys around?

I truly have seen improvements with my skin, energy, and overall physiological well-being. We owe it to ourselves to nourish our bodies with whole foods that enable it to work more efficiently. I will never trade a plate of food for a smoothie, but I am committed to making this a part of my daily morning routine because I do believe in all it's health benefits. I hope you enjoy it, too!

KATIE LADRIDO'S ALKALIZE YOUR BODY MORNING SMOOTHIE

YIELD: 1 smoothie 

PREP TIME: 3 minutes  

COOK TIME: 2 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 

1 medium banana

5 pitted diglet noor dates

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup baby kale

1 cup baby romaine

1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk

1 cup cubed ice

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all the ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.  

** For a protein boost, I highly recommend VEGA protein & greens, Vanilla flavor, which provides 20g of plant-based protein, and 2 extra servings of greens.

 *** When I crave it in the afternoons, especially if I know I am taking a challenging cycle class in Equinox and need the energy boost, I add blueberries to switch up the flavor, or I sometimes double up the ingredients to make a smoothie bowl afternoon snack.