This Is Why Having A Nice Work Space Matters

I’ve developed a bit of a nasty habit: I leave piles of things on my desk and I do all my work in my bed.

I don’t think I’ve used a desk for its intended purpose since my early high school days, and as a result, my desk has become a sort of dumping area for all sorts of things. Bills, notebooks, snacks, clothes, everything. Of course, there’s no way this is really conducive to me getting work done, even as a so-called “creative”. Slouching under the covers while I design logos and come up with ad copy is keeping my mind and body in the entirely wrong mindset. I tell myself that I’m supposed to be working, but my body and mind is ready for sleep.

Deep down, I’ve been wishing I actually made use of my desk space for awhile, especially after seeing so many pictures of gorgeous work spaces splashed all over home decor sites, but I haven’t brought myself to get my desk together until today.

I realized I needed to take the plunge as I was lying in bed reading an article about people who work from home. I’m a full time student, but all the time I spend doing homework in my apartment is akin to what it is like to work from home, so I figured the principles would easily apply to myself. Most stay at home workers strongly recommend that you keep a clean (upright) work space so you don’t find yourself getting distracted. Imagine your room as a metaphor for your mind. If your room is a mess, your mind will become equally messy. Your thoughts will get tripped up and trapped between mounds of clutter and piles of paper. It might seem silly to think this way, but if so many stay at home workers agree on this as a universal truth, I figured it can’t be far from reality.

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Of course, being a highly aesthetic person, I believe there is more to the equation than cleanliness. When building a productive work space, you must not only make it neat, presentable, and easy to use, but also inviting. A work space that does not fit your aesthetic tastes will not draw you in. You’ll inevitably retreat back to your bed or wherever you are most comfortable.

You can brighten up an otherwise cold work area by adding warm lighting and pops of color. You can do this fairly cheaply with some fabric and a DIY attitude. A couple of my favorite ways to add pops of color is by adding fabric to boxes or push pin boards. These are items that are used for decluttering and make your work space more efficient, so why not make them an attractive focal point while you’re at it?

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Of course, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. I knew I needed to walk before I could run. I decided to start overhauling my workspace by cleaning up all my clutter. I’ll tackle the DIY projects next time. Stay tuned.

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Ancient bottles of water were dumped. Nail polishes were returned to their assigned seats. Piles of mail were organized. Loose change made it back into my wallet. I have to say, it was all pretty darn satisfying. But the most powerful part of the process? Sitting down at my desk to work for the first time in years. And honestly, I have to wonder if the reason I had enough time to write a post today was entirely a result of my space change. I found myself flying through my work today at breakneck speed. Maybe it was just a fluke, but I’m certainly not going to find out by climbing back into bed.

You Can Eat From All The Food Groups And Still Be Healthy

It’s official (or at least I’m making it so). You absolutely should not be cutting food groups out of your diet in order to stay healthy. Even the fitness stars you religiously follow on Instagram are able to eat fully balanced diets that involve carbs, fats, dairy, everything. So if you were thinking of taking on the Whole30 diet or trying out Paleo in order to do the whole “New Year, New Me” thing, put the kale down and back away slowly.

A healthy diet does not involve depriving yourself. In fact, you should be enjoying yourself. A good diet includes colorful plates of food, filling portions, tasty flavor combinations, and treats. Especially treats.

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The most important thing, for me, is making sure my meals 1. have variety and 2. look happy. What I mean is, I want to be healthy but I don’t want to eat salad every day. Mind you, I’m not a salad hater, but sometimes, constantly eating leaves gets boring, no matter how much you dress them up. So instead of drowning myself in vegetables in the pursuit of a healthy body, I simply make sure I get the amount I need. The rest of the diet equation can be played with, and when it comes to food groups, I’m v. inclusive.

Of course, a lot of people also think that eating well has to come with a ton of planning and monetary resources. Well, I’m going to be honest with you. I have not used a grocery list in over a year, and, being a college student, money gets tight sometimes. And yet, I can still manage to make healthy meals. How? When I go to the grocery store, I shop by food group. I make sure I have grains, starches, veggies, fruits. proteins, dairy, and something sweet. I also stay stocked with spices, herbs, and oil. Then, when I get home, I find creative ways to combine the items from all the food groups with a sense of balance. I don’t have to buy anything fancy, but I can actually make fairly elegant dishes if I’m willing to search for recipes based on the hodgepodge of things I have on hand.

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It also helps to have certain go-to recipes and hacks that you know will contribute to keeping a balanced diet. If I am going to eat a salad, I make an oil infused vinaigrette to ensure I get those extra nutrients. A glass of milk after a workout can be even more beneficial than water (when I was in high school, my cross country coach would even have chocolate milk for us to drink after interval training on hills). Instead of consistently using meat for protein, I’ll sometimes have peanut butter on toast first thing in the morning.

The beauty of eating this way is that you can actually eat more. When you eat mostly processed junk or diet restrict by eliminating food groups, you waste caloric intake on things you don’t need. This is what causes people to gain weight, bloat, and feel sluggish. When you give your body the recommended amounts of each food group, you’ll quickly find that your plate can be twice as full as before and yet you won’t gain weight. This is because you’re being strategic with your food.

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Today, for example, I had pasta for lunch. Pasta is one of those dreaded carb foods that a lot of fitness people avoid, but guess what? It’s perfectly fine. Eating grains is normal for the body and expected. I started my day off with an apple before my morning workout. For lunch, a small bowl of leftover chicken alfredo and a cup of Indian chai, which kept me full until a late dinner. Since I wasn’t eating some wimpy salad for lunch, I didn’t experience any lust for sweet and salty snacks around 4pm. For dinner, black bean stuffed sweet potatoes and peas. And after I finish writing this? A cookie wouldn’t hurt. On a day like this, I’m eating fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains, and proteins, along with plenty of water and a workout. And frankly, I feel great!

What You Need To Know About Travel Anxiety Amidst The Terror Attacks

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Photo credit to Gratisography

Tis the season for increased travel. Whether your recent promotion blessed you with the opportunity to take a holiday vacation this year, or you’re just heading to a relative’s house to eat, drink, and be merry, millions of people will be hitting the airports this season. While for many people, the month of December is an exciting time, it can also be a time for increased anxiety — especially for people who tend to feel uncomfortable with the travel process. Large crowds, unpredictable flights, and new places can easily leave you feeling uneasy during this time of year. Now, with terror attacks occurring across Europe, and countries being  stricken by war, it may be difficult to overcome the fear of traveling to places both near and far.

Just in the last week, A Russian Ambassador was fatally shot while attending an art exhibit, and a truck plowed into a German Christmas market by a man affiliated with ISIS.

In times like these, finding ways to cope with the stressful time in between the workday grind and the holiday unwind is of the utmost importance.

This year, I personally won’t be flying anywhere (I’ll be visiting a sibling in my home state of North Carolina), but I did travel to Mexico last winter. For the most part, the trip was a blast, but my anxiety definitely reared its ugly head when I nearly missed my flight out of Mexico due to an airline scheduling error, and wound up being flown to Chicago rather than home (FYI: my holiday vacation clothes did not hold up in the Chicago snow). Ever since then, I’ve made sure to be fully prepared — or as prepared as I can be — for mishaps, scary situations, or anxious moments.

First, I’ve learned that it is crucial to really do my research before traveling, especially if I’m flying to an airport or location I’ve never visited. It helps me to read travel blogs, watch YouTube Vlogs, and read about airports so that I feel like I have a better understanding of the lay of the land. When I feel like I know exactly where I’m going, I’m less likely to feel panicked or overwhelmed when I get there if I’m not being picked up from the airport by a friend or family member. If I’m really worried, I set up what I call a “virtual travel companion”. A virtual travel companion is a friend or family member who roughly knows your itinerary and is prepared to take calls from you should you need a little help. If you’re traveling to a foreign country over the holidays for example, you might want someone in your home country who knows where you will be for the majority of your excursion. It can give you a little peace of mind if you are prone to feeling alone or lost, and if something does go wrong, you have someone you can call and talk to, get advice from, or ask to google translate something when you can’t figure out the word for “Wi-Fi” in another language.

If you get nervous when you’re up in the air, it can help to distract yourself as much as possible. I very rarely pay for music (read: I am a broke college student) so, as a special treat, I usually buy myself news songs or a new album when I fly. Having new music to listen to on the plane keeps my brain engaged with something other than the possibility of a plane crash, and it really helps the time pass. You can also make the travel process less uncomfortable by giving yourself other self-care treats, like getting your favorite snack to eat on the plane or buying yourself a box of chocolates. Trying all the the different flavors of truffles and cremes in a “Whitman’s” box can be a fun way to relax during an otherwise stressful experience.

If you do find yourself having an anxiety attack while traveling during the holiday season, use deescalating techniques to calm yourself down and move forward. Personally, I find that it best to redirect myself from thinking about questions. When I catch myself thinking a million thoughts that start with the phrase “what if”, I pause and switch myself to statements. When my internal monologue asks, “What if the person who is supposed to pick me up from the airport can’t find me because I got lost? What if they don’t show up on time and I’m alone in a strange place with a lot of bags?” I stop, take a breath and respond to my internal monologue: “If I get lost, I’ll find a map or ask someone in uniform for directions. If my ride is late, I’ll find a very comfortable chair and read a funny thread on Reddit”. Once you do that, it may be easier to take several deep breaths and be on your way.

The holiday season might always bring a little stress, and scary news stories often make it worse, but travel doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence now, or any other time of the year. Go forth, and enjoy all the greatness of the world this December and all throughout 2017!

 

One Woman’s Mission To Build A Community In STEM

 

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Several weeks ago, I wrote about my experience as a young woman pursuing a career in advertising who also has an interest in STEM (and its status as a male dominated field). Personally, I was never told not to explore science or math as a career, but the media I consumed from youth onward tended to portray men in those roles. My parents gave me female-oriented magazines to read that focused on careers in fashion, social issues, art, and health, but very little on careers in science. On my campus, I’ve heard tons of stories from female peers who felt they were not encouraged to pursue STEM fields like their male counterparts and face a less welcoming environment in the classroom and the workplace. Other students I’ve talked to have had great professors and mentors, made friends in their classes, and have access to awesome resources, but still wish for a larger community of women exploring these subjects.

At the end of the article, I articulated my desire to connect with women who were not only making great strides in the STEM field, but also had the desire to reach out and lead young women to realize their potential in a field they might otherwise overlook. When I met Dr. Anna Powers as a result, I knew I had to share her story.

When Dr. Anna Powers, an NYU researcher, lecturer, scholar and entrepreneur, noticed that some female students had never been encouraged to explore STEM by a mentor or role model she quickly identified a correlation between lack of encouragement or guidance and performance in the subjects.

“There are very few women in these fields to begin with, so there is no community,” Powers says. “Not having the proper support can turn women away from the field and, thus, many young women feel that science is not for them.”

While Powers herself was always interested in STEM subjects, she noticed during her many years of teaching that while some young women were perfectly capable of excelling in these subjects, the society around them did not motivate or encourage them to explore. Then, their potential was left untapped.

As a direct result, Powers established her organization, Powers Education. Through this company, she pairs young women with tutors and role models to help them explore subjects like technology and math as well as unlock the potential they had not yet realized.

One student, for example, came to Powers with a “D” in a science course. The student had struggled to understand the subject and had almost resigned herself to failure as she felt she was more naturally gifted with language arts, a college major typically dominated by women. Powers took her into office hours sessions and explained that science, too, is a language and that her brain was perfectly capable of learning it. By the end of the semester, the student passed the course with an “A” and saw science in an entirely different light. For her, and many students, she simply needed a mentor to show her that her difficulty with science is not unsurmountable, she only needed to find inspiration in the pursuit of new knowledge – and that inspiration can open tons of doors.

“I could have gone into another field, had I not met a role model who encouraged me to get a PhD,” Powers says. “I have always been really good at science, but in order to pursue it, one needs to feel inspired.”

When Powers went to college, she took a course that combined math and physics, where her professor noticed her aptitude and encouraged her to pursue a career in STEM. For the first time in her life, she realized that science was a beautiful, ever-changing thing that she could spend the rest of her existence discovering. Being a goal oriented person, Powers decided that she would not only dedicate her life to science, but she also wanted to change the world. For her, that meant doing exactly what her professor had done for her. She wanted to bring more women on board to experience everything that STEM has to offer.

Currently, Powers Education is focused not only on teaching but also on building a community of women in STEM by inspiring women to participate. The video campaign, emPower, captures the stories of young women in STEM, their struggles and how the community in Powers Education helps them find belonging.

 

 

In the future, Powers wants Powers Education to be global. She still has work to do in the US and tons of girls can benefit from building a relationship with one of her tutors and receiving a deeper education, but some countries have even wider gaps to fill. In fact, in some countries, girls are discouraged from going to school in general, let alone exploring STEM.

“I want Powers Education to be the go-to resource and support for all educational and career related materials for women in STEM,” Powers says. “I believe it is essential to the world because women are essential to the world”

Want to learn more about Powers Education and ways you can participate?

Visit powerseducation.com/empower

If Everyone Understood Consent The World Would Be A Little Brighter

 

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Sometimes, the internet just give you gold.

I was scrolling through an article today, and as per usual, I went to read the comment section. Some people avoid comments like the plague, but I’m genuinely interested in hearing people’s opinions whether I agree with them or not, and sometimes I learn a thing or two or find a link to another relevant article. Today, however, I found ironic internet gold. As I’m scrolling along, I read the following comment:

“I think campus sexual assault is being discussed mostly in the hopes that it will lead to some republican saying something appalling on a live mic.”

This comment was posted in 2014, but they certainly weren’t predicting the future about this:

 

First, I certainly don’t think the discussions surrounding sexual assault on college campuses or elsewhere were a secret conspiratorial plot to stoke a fire and catch a republican presidential candidate making “lewd” comments. That is ridiculous. That is clearly ridiculous.

The problem is, too often, people think that conversations surrounding rape, sexual assault and consent are being perpetuated for any reason other than educating people and making people safer. People aren’t talking about it because they just want attention or pity, they aren’t talking about it because they want to encourage women to make false accusations, and they aren’t talking about it because they want to make all men feel like guilty pariahs. People are talking about it because they want others to understand the difference between consensual and non-consensual activity, and what should happen when non-consensual activity takes place.

I do think the discussion of sexual assault on college campuses and the Trump video are linked — they are linked because it demonstrates the exact mentality that leads to the normalization of non-consensual behavior. When Trump states that he can grab women’s private areas and kiss them, he claims that he doesn’t wait, and he doesn’t have to because he is a star. When he says, “I don’t even wait,” the words he carefully leaves out is, “for her consent” or “for her to stop me”. Even Trump himself knew when he made the statement that he was implying that there was something he should have waited for, and yet he did not — and to him, that is a bragging joke.

As women on college campuses, including my own, continue to battle this issue, it becomes increasingly clear that the journey will be entirely uphill until mentalities like that of Trump are dealt with.

When a college student is sexually assaulted they can go to both the police department and the University. Many students choose to report the incident to both parties, as the criminal justice system works slowly, often taking years to reach final judgement. By reporting the incident to the college as well, a victim may be able to have their assailant suspended, moved, or in some cases expelled. Colleges, however, have been heavily criticized for their inability to accurately judge such serious crimes and their proclivity to find ways to blame the victim for the assault. When elements like drugs and alcohol come into play, universities still seem unclear on how to proceed when determining consent. Further, it is often in the university’s best interest to determine the activity to be consensual in order to avoid PR issues.

On the flip side, high profile cases like that of the Duke lacrosse players, have drawn increasing media attention to the plight of those falsely accused of non-consensual activity, leaving a community of people who believe tons of women would be interested in accusing men of sexual assault for various vindictive reasons.

When I talk to male friends and guys on my campus, it seems they do not operate in fear that one day, a woman will decide to accuse them of rape because they are an angry ex-girlfriend or something. They are however, scared that will “accidentally” rape someone. Of course, you cannot accidentally assault a person, but some people feel that the idea of consent is so fuzzy in some areas that they could commit a crime by mistake. I find myself, time and time again, explaining that, no, just because your partner had alcohol doesn’t mean they can legally say you raped them (unless they were so intoxicated that they could not have objected to sexual activity or otherwise did not consent). I have to explain that no, you don’t necessarily have to say the exact words, “do you consent to this activity” before you make every sexual move. You do however, need to understand two things: 1. If someone does not have the capacity to object to an activity, then you cannot move forward with that person and 2. If someone, says “no” “stop” “slow down” “I don’t like that” or they pull away, push you off of them, turn away, try to leave, or do anything else to indicate they are not comfortable, you absolutely must stop what you’re doing. Learn to listen to the person’s words and body language and act accordingly and never use roughness or force unless they explicitly ask. If you find that when you are intoxicated, you aren’t a very good listener, then that isn’t a good scene for you and you should avoid drinking heavily before attempting to hook up with someone. If you are sober and an intoxicated person tries to initiate sexual activity with you, the best thing to do is decline. The next day, the person may regret the activity and feel taken advantage of, so while they initiated the interaction and it isn’t considered rape, you should honestly just be the better person and tell them “call me when you’re sober.” If at any moment, you feel unsure about a situation, discuss it with the other person before you do anything else.

While I have no problem explaining these consent rules to people headed to college parties, statements like Trump’s only expose our societal need for the conversation to start during our pivotal formative years. When I took sex education in middle school and high school, the conversation mainly centered on abstinence, puberty, and discussing how difficult it would be to raise a baby. After that, we were given a quick seminar on sexually transmitted infections and condoms (no other birth control methods were discussed). Consent never entered the equation. If schools don’t cover it and parents ignore the subject, who is going to tell them that you have the right to change your mind about a sexual activity at any point and being forced to continue is considered rape? Who is going to explain that males can also be sexually assaulted and they have the right to come forward? Who will intimate that while people may wear certain types of clothing because they want to look and feel sexy, you never have the right to touch someone, shout at them, or say rude things just because they dressed a certain way? All of these rules may seem obvious on paper, but when people boast about grabbing and kissing people without permission, it becomes all too clear that the consent discussion is far from over. Some people have yet to read the definition.

 

 

A Fake Instagram Influencer Just Taught Me A Lesson

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Social media influencers, meaning people who are heavily followed on one or more social media accounts, often team up with brands to sell products. This marketing technique is achieved with varying levels of stealth and success. Someone as influential and well-known as Kim Kardashian can cause products to sell out of stock, simply by endorsing the product on Instagram or Twitter. While many campaigns have reached great success by paying influencers to interact with and endorse their products, social health campaigns and other issues of public welfare have worked with influencers far less often, especially if the influencer isn’t an extremely famous celebrity. So far, many brands have been able to successfully market products like clothing, food, or technology through the help of influencers who have 40,000 to 80,000 followers, but social issue campaigns, like voting registration, tend to use high profile celebrities to get their point across.

Addict Aide, a french organization that seeks to prevent substance abuse, decided it wouldn’t be shelling out that kind of money for a high profile campaign endorsement. The solution? They created their own influencer, built her social media presence from the ground up, and then used the fake profile to spread their message.

I don’t follow many influencers on social media. I love their aesthetic profiles, but I prefer for my content feed to be mainly composed of people I know in real life. Yet, when I read an article about Louise Delage, the fake persona created by Addict Aide and their ad agency BETC, I noticed two things: 1. She posted the exact type of content that many of my friends and peers like to follow and  2. Had she been a friend of mine, I would not have noticed anything abnormal about her pictures.

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A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

But there is something abnormal.

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A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

She is drinking in every photo she posts.

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A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

When you look at all of the photos together, it seems so obvious that the fake character might have a drinking problem, but in real life, people rarely post several photos of themselves drinking, one after the other within a short period of time. You might see a photo from a friend or peer once per week, and it is mixed into your feed with tons of other images. You could be regularly looking at the evidence that someone you know has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and never realize it because you don’t put the pieces together.

Having just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, I’m acutely aware of my new responsibilities. I can buy a drink or a bottle of wine any time I want, and because I’m a college student, I’m almost constantly surrounded by alcohol (or at the very least, conversation about alcohol, parties, tailgates, and more). At my university, many people are starting to talk more candidly about mental health, but alcoholism and substance abuse are often left out of the conversation. Instead, we treat alcohol abuse like a joke.

Images like these are extremely common on the social media feeds of my peers, and are occasionally given hashtags like #alcoholic for good measure:

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Social media content like this as well as popular TV characters who heavily rely on alcohol such as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development or the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, are supposed to be silly and humorous. Of course this humor trope and normalization of substance abuse also blurs lines when it comes to discerning when someone has an alcohol problem. Many millennials seem to believe that as long as you have a job/make it to class, avoid receiving a DUI, and keep up a healthy appearance, they do not have an alcohol problem and are not in danger of developing one. This is a myth, and it is becoming increasingly important for college students and all young people to be aware that just because you are functioning on a daily basis doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Further, young people need to be better educated on how to spot warning signs of substance abuse in their peers and ways to address them.

For students who experience mental illness, it is paramount that substance use is approached with care, as heavy use of some substances, like alcohol, can worsen depression or anxiety over time. If you notice that you or someone you know seems to be self-medicating a mental problem with alcohol, it is extremely important to find more effective therapies and medication, as the seemingly helpful properties of alcohol won’t last forever.

If you notice that it takes you significantly more alcohol than it used to in order for you to feel tipsy or drunk, that’s another sign you might need to cut back. It’s natural for your body to get continuously more acclimated to alcohol, but if you seem to be building up a tolerance that results in you needing more than a few drinks to feel the effects, you have likely been drinking too heavily. Alcohol limits vary from body to body, so use your discretion and take notes of how many drinks you order at the bar. If the number starts creeping up over the course of a year, its time to cut back.

Finally, know that alcoholism doesn’t happen all at once. You won’t wake up one day and suddenly be an alcoholic. Becoming an addict is a gradual process, which is precisely why many people don’t recognize when their joking love for whiskey and vodka has become a full out addiction. Being drunk on occasion is not a problem, but if you are specifically aiming to get drunk or wasted every time you drink, your relationship with alcohol isn’t healthy. You should be able to enjoy alcohol for its taste or its light effect (i.e. being tipsy at most) without wanting to get constantly drunk. You should also take note that you should avoid drinking alcohol to feel better about something. Sure, if you have a bad day at work, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine, but if you drink every time you’re in a bad mood, you’ll naturally develop a habit.

If you notice that you have a friend, like Louise Delage, who always has a drink in her hand  and/or shows any of the above signs, be sure to have a discussion. If you haven’t recognized the warning signs, its possible that they haven’t recognized them either.

 

 

The Simplest Trick For Bringing Your Summer Dress Into Fall

It’s technically fall, but let’s be real. It’s still 80 degrees, humid, and rainy. The last thing I want to do is put on a chunky cardigan or leather boot. But I still desperately want to start transitioning my wardrobe because I’m sick of bright colors and crop tops! This week, I decided to do a little experimenting with my layering techniques in order to mix my fall and summer pieces. What did I discover? It turns out, with the help of a summer dress and a pair of fall linen joggers, you can put together the perfect jumpsuit for this weird transition weather. Intrigued? Find out how below.

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For this look, I grabbed a lightweight summer dress in a dark navy and paired it with a pair of navy joggers. Both items were made of thin materials which made them comfortable to wear in the hot weather, but the deep colors make the look September appropriate. To put the pieces together, I simply tucked the dress into the joggers and added a red belt for a pop of color and to define the waist. Since the joggers have a loose fit, the extra fabric of the dress didn’t show underneath the bottoms.

To finish off the look, I went with a classic red lip and winged liner. This makeup is bright without evoking summer vibes. For my hair, I wanted to do a look with piece-y texture. I usually wear my hair very straight, so in order to work against what my hair is trained to do, I sectioned my hair into four parts. I braided each section into a rope braid and then flat ironed each rope braid about four times. When I undid the braids, I had that cool-girl, rocker texture in my hair that looks effortless, and adds a little edge to the classic makeup.