Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good--and Work It, Girl!

Work It, Gal! embraces a three part philosophy for the working woman: look good, feel good, do good.

Every working woman--whether working in the home or in the office-- strives to find that perfect balance. Join the conversation as we dive into what it means to look good, feel good, and do good as we strive towards an overall balanced life. And more than anything, don't forget to work it, gal!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Pull The Trigger. #Dogood

 
Don’t worry—I’m not advocating a violent rampage when I say “pull the trigger.” And it might seem like a contradiction that pulling the trigger equates with “doing good” but what I mean is to execute—whether you are executing on decisions, your goals, your dreams, or your plans; and to do so in a decisive and effective manner, with the finality of a single, well-aimed gunshot. The thing about pulling the trigger is not that you’ve executed, or that you are trying to execute; it’s that you are using a tool that has the most effective results.

Imagine you’re in the Hunger Games of life. The buzzer has just gone off to signal the start of the game, and you’ve leapt off your launch pad towards the weapons that could guarantee your survival. What do you see? Some food, a jug of water, extra clothing, a bag of poison, a bow and arrow, a slingshot, and a gun. You duck, dive and roll your way to these treasures, grab as much loot as you can, and you’re on your way.

As the days of your life toil on, you may find yourself encountering chilling rain, suffocating heat, savage predators, or deadly assassins—you might be forced to use your spare clothing, your extra water or your weapons of war. In the final push for survival you might meet an insurmountable foe, your own Goliath as in David and Goliath. You have two choices: fight, or turn away. And because you are you, a Work It Girl, you decide to fight; to slay the beast.  You survey your weapons of war, select your tool, aim..and fire.

The moral of the story is not just that you chose to stay and fight—to execute, follow through, slay your life’s dragon(s); the moral of the story is that you chose the right tool to win the battle. It’s not the desire to execute that prevails, it’s the tools that are used.

With David and Goliath, David used a slingshot; with Katniss in the Hunger Games, she used a bow and arrow, and often in hunting season, a gun is epitomized as the ultimate weapon—deadly effective, and final.

Your own personal Goliath might be a difficult meeting with a superior or a coworker, a complex business decision that requires a high level of subjective analysis with no guaranteed outcome, a life-changing event, or a situation where leadership and communication are key elements. With each of those situations, you likely can, and will, decide to execute. You’ll walk into that meeting with your head held high; you’ll inevitably make some type of business decision while crossing your fingers for a favorable outcome; you’ll be forced to encounter and then overcome some life changing event, or you’ll tackle that role that involves extensive leadership or communication ability.

While choosing to execute is the first step, making sure you get the most effective results from pulling the trigger means using the right tools. For each situation, you can plunge ahead, grabbing whatever tools seem handy at the moment, or you can chose your weapons of war carefully and almost guarantee a positive outcome.

Some Weapons of War That Might Be Helpful in Your Life’s Hunger Games:

Unlike food, a jug of water, extra clothing, a bag of poison, a bow and arrow, a slingshot, and a gun, these weapons of war are a little less tangible, but they can be just as deadly effective.

1.       Play Chess, Not Checkers. Someone once told me that with any interaction, chose to play chess, not checkers. It’s typically our first instinct to respond to what is immediately in front of us—it’s a science. For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. That is how the game of checkers typically operates. With each black and red piece, you are looking at your next immediate move, to counter the last move of your opponent. With chess, you look at the long term strategy. You might sacrifice a queen or a pawn, but you are more focused on the long term strategy than the short term outcome—sometimes you may have to lose the battle to win the war.

2.       Don’t Be Afraid. I heard somewhere that everything you want is on the other side of fear. So take chances. For every person that took the dive—started their own business, wrote a book, went to the pros, there are that many more people who were too afraid to try. We live in a world where the monotony of daily living, that typical career path, is almost required just so that we can get by. Try to live in a world where you break the monotony, even if it’s just for a little while. Another little tidbit I heard—the average person goes through about eight career changes in their life. Wouldn’t it be great if at least one of them was that thing you were always wanted to do, but were too afraid to try?

3.       Be Confident. This one might be a hard one, but I’ve learned that sometimes you’ve gotta fake it to make it. For a very short period of time, I had to deal with a difficult person who was years ahead of me professionally. Whenever I met with this person and they turned bully (which was more times than not!), my voice tightened up and my throat closed off. It was difficult to talk persuasively, effectively, and most importantly, confidently—but it hit me all of a sudden—no one knows what I’m feeling inside unless I show them. In future meetings of this nature, before I entered the room, I calmed the rolling waves on the inside, fixed myself with a confident smile, cleared my eyes to a smooth and steady gaze, and stated my claims. On the outside, I said what I wanted and more often than not, I got it. On the inside, my heart sometimes jackhammered and I was sweating bullets, but in the end, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that I looked and sounded confident.  

4.       Sometimes Less Is More. Have you ever been told that when you’re telling a lie, less is more? I read this somewhere, or maybe I heard it on Oprah, but the premise was that the more details you try to fabricate, the less effective you are. I think the same concept goes for telling the truth. Again, this is much easier said than done—cutting out the fluff, but when you “bottom-line it,” there are less extemporaneous facts to get in the way of what you really want. And if people understand what you really want, you’ll be more effective at getting it.

5.       If you’re responsible for the outcome, be responsible for the decision. Have you ever been in a situation where whatever decision is made, when the results are in, the buck stops with you? If that’s ever the case, always be the one who has the final say in the decision because only you are responsible for the ultimate outcome. Anyone else, no matter who they are, will be fleeing for the hills if the outcome turns into a mess. So, if for some reason you can’t be the final say in the decision, but you’re still responsible for the outcome, get rid of the decision; it might not be the popular thing to do, but it could save you a lot of grief in the end. I have a case in point—two friends who worked for a company with a difficult CEO. The CEO had a habit of making or changing the decisions of middle management. If the outcome looked like it would be disastrous based on the CEO’s meddling, one friend stopped or delayed the decision-making process, thus preventing the outcome from occurring while they maneuvered their way back into being the sole decision-maker. The other friend fell in line with what the CEO wanted and ultimately allowed a disastrous outcome to result. Of the two, who do you think had the more effective result?

So pull the trigger. Tackle your predators, assassins and Goliaths. And I hope these weapons of war help—it’s a jungle out there! So here’s to pulling the trigger with the right tools in your life as we start this New Year, and: “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Signing off,

Work It Girl

Follow me on twitter @workitgal

Friday, December 20, 2013

Number One Tip To Feeling Good For The Holidays #feelgood



So today's post is going to be quick and dirty because I know we're all looking forward to the holiday and all the awesomeness that entails. But let's not forget that we're "Work It Girls" and we're all about the "look good," "feel good," "do good" while juggling our crazy life schedules. And if there's one feel good tip I could give to anyone--"Work It Girl" or not-- it's this: surround yourself with people who love you.

There's no surer way to feel good than to be surrounded by love. Of course this might seek like a "duh" suggestion, but so many times we rely solely on ourselves to make it work as a "Work It Girl." And while it's true that the only true happiness you can attain comes within, it doesn't hurt to have your biggest champions by your side as you strut your stuff on life's runway. Those champions can be your friends, your family, your significant others, your friends who feel like family, or your God (in whatever shape or form that might come in.)

As my week pretty much imploded on itself I was reminded of that simple fact--step back, breathe deep, and remember that you are loved. As we head into this holiday season, in addition to remembering the "Reason for the Season," let's remember those who love us, those we love, and keep heaping on the feel good feeling.

Finally, thank you. Thank you to my life champions who remind me to rock it every day. You know who you are. And thank you to my readers--the number of you exceeded my expectations. Happy holidays as you give love, receive love, and bask in that feel good feeling.

Signing off, 

Work It Girl

Follow me on Twitter at @workitgal. And keep coming back for more!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


“Affluenza.” Does A Body Good? #lookgood
 
I’ve got the affluenza. Well, actually I don’t. But I wish I did. And if you’re like the ninety-nine percent of us out there, you might wish you did too. What is afluenza you ask? Afluenza is the affliction of being too wealthy. Symptoms of afluenza might include: lighter jail sentences (or none at all), better job prospects, lower interest rates… free “stuff.”

Poor-itis on the other hand, is what most of us suffer from—and if it’s not poor-itis, it’s just-getting-by-enza, or doing-well-enough-ia. And most people, who don’t suffer from affluenza, but one of these “other” diseases, also experience symptoms: disproportionate representation in the incarceration system, difficulty climbing the social ladder, higher interest rates…

The benefit of affluenza, in addition to its jackpot symptoms, is that affluenza allows you to look good. I’m not talking about the grossly proportional face that’s the key to supermodel beauty, or the rock hard, solid abs that we all crave—I’m talking about a way of presentation to the world that signals to others that you must be treated differently. You look good. And if the occasion calls for it, you can brush your teeth, scrub your face, put on a nice set of clothes, and speak with eloquence and grace to communicate with the confidence that there is weight behind your words.

Recently, Ethan Couch, a young, wealthy, reckless drunk driver, killed four innocent victims. Couch was sentenced to ten years of probation and no jail time, for the grossly negligent homicide of four innocent people. The rationale for such a light sentence? The poor guy (metaphorically speaking of course) suffers from an extreme case of “affluenza.” I’m absolutely serious—this was a legal argument that prevailed in court system. As it turns out, his circumstances, his parenting, his lifestyle, heavily contributed to his actions, and the choices he made, that led him down this unsavory path. Yet, he walks away with a light slap on the wrist—he “looks good.”

Compare that to the article that just recently came out in response to this decision—“Meet Dayvontay—He Suffers From Povertenza.” Dayvontay might have failing grades because he reside in a poor school district—there’s no money to move somewhere else; he might not get into the best schools because of those failing grades—if he even decides to go to school. He might end up in jail, or selling drugs on the streets. But the countless Dayvontay’s have never waged a successful defense based off of their homegrown “poor-itis.” At the end of the day, no matter how hard Dayvontay brushes his teeth, they won’t be straight. The gold crowns won’t disappear and the missing teeth won’t magically appear. (Subsidized insurance often doesn’t allow for porcelain crowns—it’s cosmetic. Neither does it allow for things like implants—again, cosmetic.) No matter how hard he presses his clothes, they don’t hang quite right on him, and his vernacular doesn’t seem to allow him to speak with eloquence and grace. His presentation gives a different kind of weight to his words.

The behavioral problems that stem from socio-cultural backgrounds are the same, whether one suffers from affluenza or poor-itis, as Mary Gresham, an Atlanta psychologist, attests, as quoted from CNN’s blog [I]mpulse control problems are seen across all socioeconomiclevels in families where limits aren't set.”

However, the fact of the matter is that how you look, and the perceived social status that comes along with it, dictates how you are treated in the world. It might not be right, it might not be nice, and it might not be fair, but it’s true.

Examples:

I have a friend, a young black mother under thirty, with five young kids. Her family is middle-class—nice house, nice cars, nice job. She moved to a new town, and made the decision to venture to her new doctor’s office without getting ready for the day, five sick kids in tow—runny noses, pajamas, fussy. The receptionist assumed she was a young, unwed mother on government assistance. Her questions were not answered; her voice was not heard. The treatment she received, until she set the record straight, was saddening.

My parents, on the other hand, always insisted on looking good. We once went to the airport to catch a flight, but we were notoriously late, but my mom was wearing heels, panty hose, and a dress suit. My dad was wearing slacks, a dress shirt, and maybe even a tie. All of us kids were dressed to the nines.

The baggage attendant observed our little troupe and commented —“You guys look pretty important; you must have somewhere to go.”

My dad’s single, measured response, with the full force of confidence behind it was, “We are late.”  

In a moment, we were whisked to the front of the line, our bags were tossed on the conveyor belt, walkie-talkies came out, a go cart sped across the floor, and we were briskly shuffled in. The driver called out, “Make way!” to the crowds as we were zipped through the airport on the little go cart—and we made our flight. (Obviously all of this was pre-security screening.)

Here’s my point: Yes, in a way, afluenza (and it’s by product—looking good) does a body good. And that’s why so many people want to catch it.

Question: As the ninety nine percent of people, do we argue against the advantages of the affluenza’s look good advantage? Or do we try to fall in line, so that we can attempt to get the same benefits (symptoms) that those with afluenza suffer from?

Here’s my argument: (And remember, it may not be nice, it may not be right, and it may not be fair—but it’s true.) People are influenced by the way you look, and the weight that carries. So, sometimes, we may have to put in a little more time, a little more effort, a little more money, to look good (as people—not just as women). And when I say “look good,” I’m not talking about conventional standards of beauty; I’m talking about the look good that carries weight; that makes people notice you, and want to hear you. When you look good, you have the weight behind your words to be heard. And only once you have someone’s ear who has the ability to change the practice, can you point out the ills of affluenza. Those with poor-itis, can still try speaking, but unfortunately, as the record shows, nobody’s listening.

This drive the question: “What does it mean to #lookgood?” Stay tuned for part two as we dive into the meaning of #lookgood.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you think you need to look good in order to have your voice heard?

Signing off,

Work It Girl

(Follow me on Twitter @workitgal, subscribe to the blog and keep posting your comments!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Not Your Average “Molly Mormon.”



Definition: A Molly Mormon is thought to be the "perfect Mormon woman" – an attractive woman whose life revolves around the family and marriage and the social demands of Mormonism…and who embodies the cheery, chipper and domesticated female in Latter Day Saint culture.

I have had a crisis of faith. Many in fact. And I recommend it.

                “Too many people believe and do, just because someone told them too.” –April Frresh

As a child, your parent might have told you to do something, and more times than not you did it. If you asked why, as children often do, you might have gotten the response of, “Because I said so.” As a child, maybe this was enough of a reason for doing, but at some point you “put off childish things,”  and needed to find a reason for doing and believing that was more than simply because someone told you to.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” –1st Corinthians 13:11

A few years ago in Sunday School, I challenged someone, saying, “You have to have more of a reason for doing than simply because someone told you too.” An awkward silence ensued. My statement was out of line with the “primary answers” — “say your prayers,” “read your scriptures,” “keep the commandments,” “follow the prophet.”

***

Rewind to a few years earlier; several months after Proposition 8. The Mormon Church, along with its practices and belief, was front and center in the media. Controversy surrounded the Church, ranging from its stance on homosexuality, to its position on black Mormons and the role of women in the Church.
These topics are front and center once again, and I remember what I learned years ago during one of my crisis of faith:

1.      First, almost every religion has its skeletons in the closet, its shadowed past…and guess what? That’s ok. It doesn’t mean that its “right” but it means that it’s okay to keep believing what you know. Because when you know, you know.

2.       Second, even if you might believe something on a fundamental level, that doesn’t mean that you’ll always fit the mold. You might be considered different, and outsider, not your average run-of-the-mill “whatever.” And that’s okay too.

3.       Third, and the most important—but hard— part, is feeling happy, feeling good and feeling “among,” despite your “otherness,” your differences.

And that’s where “doing good” comes into play.

Gay and Mormon

Around the time when the Church was working on Proposition 8, I was dealing with a crisis of faith—I had researched and questioned and sought and prayed, and even made of list of all the things that I had a cognitive dissonance on with the Church, as I mulled over my growing dissatisfaction.

I remember sitting on the beach, the cool breeze blowing against my skin, soaking in the warm sunshine while staring into the ocean. The scripture kept replaying in my mind: “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” And I recognized that I was not happy. I could not reconcile being true to myself as a person with the things that I’d been taught to know and understand—and that I still believed were true.  
So I asked the question of my beach-going companion: “What do you do, when you believe everything you’ve been taught about the Church, but living the Church does not make you happy?”

The response: “If you aren’t happy then you must not be faithful enough. Or steadfast enough.”

Another “primary answer.” I imagined how a gay Mormon might feel living the gospel in a Church that didn’t accept the homosexual lifestyle—still believing the core foundational principles of the Church, but not being able to be true to who they were as a person—and as a result, not being happy with who they are as a person. As I saw it, God made all his children. And God doesn’t make mistakes.

As someone rather bluntly told me at the time, the “choice” about who I was as a person and what I believed as a person was either conform or get out. Neither resonated with me. I was a person who dared to question, who wasn’t satisfied with “primary answers,” but I was also a person who profoundly believed in the fundamental principles of my Church.

I felt as fundamentally shut out of my own world as any gay Mormon might feel.

Black and Mormon

There was another group that was shut out of the Mormon world at one point in time—Black Mormons. My dad joined the Church before blacks could hold the Priesthood. Holding the Priesthood is a privilege that allows worthy men to have certain positions in the Church, give blessings, perform baptism, go to the temple, and oversee various religious ordinances. If you were a Mormon black man in the early 1970’s, none of those privileges were available to you. You couldn’t be married in the temple to you wife. You couldn’t baptize your own children. You couldn’t stand on equal ground with your white counterparts in the Church. And yet many blacks still joined the church.

My dad’s conversion story, then and now, was “when you know something is true, you know—and nothing else matters.” In light of that, I was raised with the subtle, yet common sense understanding that the Church’s views on race and the Church had come from men, and not from God.

A few days ago, the Church brought to light something I’d known all along—race relations of the past were more “personal policy turned quasi-doctrine,” than official Church policy. Many in the Church had just used prior leaders’ unsupported beliefs to justify their own outmoded position on race.

In light of the announcement, some members feel vindicated. Some feel validated. And then there are those on the other side who feel the need to rally behind the Church’s past stance, justifying, explaining away or minimizing the importance of the announcement or trying to postulate that the Church doesn’t “owe” anyone any type of apology for its past positions.

Female and Mormon.
The need to validate personal policy turned quasi-doctrine doesn’t just gain play on the race issue. Unpopular views on woman’s roles still fight for life and are vigorously defended, most notably when it comes to Mormon feminists.

A little over a year ago, an outlier Mormon group cropped up toting itself as “Wear Pants to Church Day.” Their message dealt with women and the Priesthood, modesty issues, inclusiveness in the Church and a whole host of other things. In an effort to champion their cause they started a “Wear Pants to Church” movement, where one Sunday a year women are encourage to wear pants to church. The outcry from some members over something as simple as wearing pants was swift and vicious.

“Do Good” and Mormon.

My biggest problem with the Church when I was having a crisis of faith was not about having different views on homosexuality and Mormonism, being Black and Mormon, or even being a feminist and Mormon. My crisis of faith dealt with being me and Mormon.

I wanted to be true to myself at my core and still feel like I could worship without feeling that cognitive dissonance, or worse, the judgment or contempt of others because I fell outside the norm.

I was not, and never will be, okay with “primary answers.” My core is to search and question and challenge—because I want to ask the hard questions and still have that be okay; because I don’t always accept the easy answers; because each time I’ve had a crisis of faith, I come back to the fundamental principles of my faith and know that they are true.  And when you know, you know.

So my challenge with this “do good” post is to encourage others to be good to those around them who may be different. To make them feel among. To show that the purpose of our faith is to feel joy whether a gay Mormon, a Black Mormon or a Feminist Mormon.

So do good my friends. And Happy “Wear Pants to Church” Day this Sunday!

Signing off,

Work It Girl


Monday, December 9, 2013


The “O” Factor. #FeelGood




Playing off my last blog post “I’m Too Sexy for My…Work??” we’re going to talk about the “O” factor today, but before your minds start wandering into the gutter, it’s not necessarily what you imagine.

Being an adult is hard. Whether its school, work or home, there’s always something to do, someplace to go, and not enough hours in the day to do it all. With all the hustle and bustle, sometimes we forget to remember that we need to find time to feel good. As a child, I didn’t quite understand why my parents would sometimes say in heavy laden tones, exhaling deeply and pushing out with their breaths the burdens that life had laid on their shoulders, “Ohhh, life!” Years later, when I was finally having my own “Ohhh life!” moments, I understood, and I found myself saying the same thing—“Ohhh, life!”

And then I finally resolved to just say “O.”

We’ve all watched the iconic restaurant scene in “When Harry Met Sally” with its “O” moment forever emblazoned in our minds (and if you haven’t seen it, you can check out the clip below; start at 1:45 if you’re in a time crunch). While Sally is having her “O” moment over what looks like a chicken salad sandwich, we can find our own “O” moments (perhaps not nearly as graphic) despite what seems like the barely manageable and relentless flood of academics, work, bills, car notes, accidents, family illnesses, kids, relationships, loves and heartbreaks. And while we might not be able to top Sally’s “O” moment, it doesn’t hurt to try, even as the “Ohhh, life!” moments keep coming in waves.


About three years ago I found my “O” moments with power yoga. While Sally’s out of context “O” moment makes us chuckle, the real life lesson comes from the spectator’s comment of “I’ll have what she’s having!” It’s the hope to finding pleasure—that feel good moment— in all kinds of mundane things—even food.

When I first started doing power yoga, it was pure agony, but I kept doing it, because it took my mind off the tidal wave of “Ohhh, life!” moments that were bearing down on me, and when I was done, I felt really, really good—like that loose limbed, muscles-like-gelatin feeling you get after a really great massage.  It took about six to eight weeks of frequent, relentless yoga-going before my muscles were no longer screaming at me in agony. I got to the stage in my practice where, in the midst of doing yoga, I experienced a transcendent feeling, almost spiritual in nature, where I felt like I was flying and dancing, all at the same time. My body, my movements, my entire being was like water—fluid, supple and flowing, a steady rhythm that took over me, where I lost track of time, and my mind ceased to shoot off in a million directions, and I was lost in the moment. I found myself going to yoga four or five times a week, just to get that high, and bask in the afterglow. And even with my many “Ohhh, life!” moments, life didn’t seem so hard anymore.

While you might not reach Nirvana doing a flying pigeon at the yoga studio, you can find your own “O!” moments that make life just a little bit easier.

Some of my “O!” moment suggestions include:

1.       Trying to be Happy—Deciding to be happy in spite of these crappy “Ohhh, life!” moments is a sure-fire way to feeling good. Just ask the HuffPost blogger who came to the same conclusion. 

2.       Drinking Hot Chocolate (or other Hot Drinks)—My hot drinks list is in a hierarchy of order. See a list of my favorite hot drinks here. You’ll either love me or hate me for introducing you to them.

3.       Engaging in Mental Gymnastics- Recall that transcendent, floating, rhythmic, lose track of time feeling that I described with yoga? Try it with any mental exercise, whether reading a difficult book, solving a complex problem, becoming engrossed in a difficult work project or writing. Don’t give up! While at first it might seem ridiculously difficult to get going, after the initial mental hurdle, your mind gets into the swing of things, and you’re lost for hours.

4.       Eating Good Food- My all-time favorite meal is Carrabas’ olive oil and herb seasoning with freshly baked warm bread. Glutton (or gluten) up! Order a tall glass of water and just feast your heart out on the complimentary bread. If you want an actual meal, or your conscience is tugging at you because of your minimal order, Carrabas’ “Pollo Rosa Maria” can elicit a response darn near close to When Harry Met Sally.

5.       Sun Bathing- Someone once told me that I’m a “rare flower,” the reason being that wherever the sun is, you’ll find me soaking in my vitamin D, usually with a hot beverage in hand. Try it; you’ll be happy you did.

6.       And of course, POWER YOGA—To get a list of my top yoga studios click here. NOTE: you actually burn nearly 800 calories per session in power yoga; enough to treat yourself to the most decadent of hot chocolates every once in a while!


And remember, to feel good, just say “O!”

Signing off,

Work It Girl


Top Five Places to Do Yoga in Los Angeles



1.       Bryan Kest Power Yoga Studios- My favorite combination includes breathe work, chanting, incense, mood lighting, heat, crazy intense flows and poses where you’re literally dripping sweat from every pore, and random musical instruments being played by an instructor, but not every class is like that. http://www.poweryoga.com

2.       Yogis Anonymous- this is more of a restorative yoga class, where the physical exercise is not as strenuous, but the mental rewards are just as great. http://www.yogisanonymous.com/

3.       The Hub: Urban Sanctuary for Body and Soul- this is a combination of both Bryan Kest Power Yoga and Yogis Anonymous—not quite as grueling as Bryan Kest, not quite as relaxing as Yogis Anonymous. http://www.thehub-la.com/

4.       The Yoga Place- The Yoga Place is on par with Mind Body Meditation, except the class is wrapped up in 60 minutes instead of 90. This is perfect if you have a super busy schedule. The counter argument is that Bryan Kest had classes that started as early as 6 in the morning and as late as 10 at night, so you could fit in a long session either before or after your super busy day. Unfortunately, Bryan Kest doesn’t have as many early morning and late night classes anymore so for shorter sessions, The Yoga Place it is! http://www.theyogaplacela.com/

5.       YAZ—Yoga for Athletes- This yoga studio is not really my type, but if you’re not into chanting and meditation, but solely want to do yoga for the killer work-out, I recommend YAZ. It incorporates weights with a yoga practice that could be on par with the Biggest Loser, complete with loud music and an instructor screaming at you to do just one more set. http://go2yas.com/


Top Three Favorite Hot Drinks



1.       Seattle’s Best “Cocoa Trio”-The nuclear option is Seattle’s Best “Cocoa Trio.” You’ll either love me or hate me for introducing this to you—if you want to be truly decadent, fold yourself into the comfort of dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate swirled into one, mixed with whole milk, then topped with whipped cream, drizzled in milk chocolate, and sprinkled with white chocolate shavings, all topped off with a dark chocolate mixing stick.

2.       Starbucks “Tall Non-Fat”- If you still want to fit into your jeans come New Years, go for the standard feel good hot chocolate, the “Tall Non-Fat” from Starbucks; you get the taste of bittersweet mocha chocolate from the cocoa plant fixed with a hint of vanilla and less than a third of the calories of the “Cocoa Trio.”

3.       Lipton Infusion “Saveurs Du Soir”- If you want to be especially good, go for the 0 calorie Lipton Infusion “Saveurs Du Soir,” mint licorice tea. You can’t find it in stores but you can order it online and it will Rock. Your. World. Don’t add sugar or honey, put it in a small teacup and steep it for several minutes, then sit back and enjoy.

Friday, December 6, 2013


I’m Too Sexy For My…Work??

 
 “Swinging back to study Marissa Mayers photo, I concluded that unless someone found the curve of her shoulder overly-titillating, Marissa Mayer was flirting dangerously close to the Mormon version of modest.”

A few months ago, I walked into a client meeting, hair down and wavy, wearing black tailored pencil slacks, a dress blouse, and high heels. After preliminary discussions, it was decided that I would take on a new project for the client. As I turned to leave, my client said to me, “You look very nice, and you’re very pretty, and you seem very kind, but I want you to look like a lawyer. From now on, I want you to wear suits when you do work for me.”
 

I looked to the other attorney in the room.  My male counterpart was wearing slacks, a dress shirt, and dress shoes, mirroring my attire. I hesitated for a moment; I wanted this project—but the requirement that I “look like a lawyer” when I was wearing exactly what the other attorney was wearing did not sit well with me. I capitulated though—a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do—and I really wanted to do work with this company. I was “workin’ it” after all.

Leaving the meeting, I half-jokingly asked the other attorney, “Does he require you to wear suits as well?”

He paused, considering, measuring his words in the practiced way that only an attorney can do; a sanitized, deodorized version of the truth, guaranteed to be as non-controversial as possible, given the context of the conversation and the screaming discrepancy in dress requirements for our identical roles.

“Well…,” he paused, “I think he’s asked me at some point, maybe when I first started working with him, to wear a suit…but this is what I usually wear, and its fine. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

For those who don’t know, the accepted “lawyer-dress norm” in Los Angeles is dress slacks, a dress shirt, and dress shoes, unless you’re going to court or perhaps working at a high end firm. The norm in this client’s office was also dress slacks, a dress shirt, and dress shoes. My norm for this client, however, was supposed to be a suit, because I needed to “look like a lawyer.” If I wore dress slacks, dress shirts, and dress shoes, I simply looked “nice,” “pretty,” and “kind”—but not like a lawyer.

I don’t think this client meant anything nefarious with his comment—he was simply concerned with a certain perception that I might give off to others I would be working with, and to counter that perception, in his mind, I needed to go a little bit further in the opposite direction.

Thereafter, I walked the line. I ditched my contacts for glasses, my tailored slacks for straight-legged or box-cut slacks and more often than not wore a suit jacket. Often, I toed the other side of the line, ditching the suit jacket, or pairing it with a tailored, professional dress. Although more and more, I was falling in line with the attire of the work culture (ie: not suits), occasionally, there was a niggling in the back of my mind because at some level, at least at first, I’d allowed myself to be set in a different category from that culture, simply because when I was wearing the norm, I was merely seen as “pretty” and not as a lawyer.

I was reminded of the huge outcry that occurred in August, because Marissa Mayers, a prominent female CEO, posed for Vogue. Apparently, her spread was too “sexy” for a female CEO. Some even warriored-up to say that Marrisa’s spread was one giant step back for women-kind.

Instead of focusing on the smart, accomplished, professional woman that was Marissa Mayers, the prevailing theme  about Marissa’s Vogue spread in many blog posts, articles and commentaries, was that Marissa’s look needed to “fit the part”—and that she shouldn’t trade off on her femininity when it came to her profession. But was that what she was really doing? Or was she showing that you could be smart, professional and pretty? That you could have a high-powered career, while shucking the box-cut suits, low slung heels, and tightly wound buns and donning instead the form fitting, tailored dress, stiletto heels, red lipstick and loose long hair that was so utterly feminine. Marissa showed women everywhere that you can be smart, accomplished,  professional and you can be utterly, fantastically, beautifully feminine.

The idea was that you can be professional and beautiful—not that you have to be. The contradiction within the backlash was blatant—you could be a professional woman; you just couldn’t be professional and pretty. And if you were, you shouldn’t show it. Instead of championing the progress of women, the columnists were trying to shove women within a box of “acceptable” according to their own standards. A box that we as women had just barely managed to climb out of. Talk about a dis-service to woman! (Note: there’s another subtle message here—that if you look pretty, you must not be a “professional.”)

Swinging back to study Marissa Mayers photo, I concluded that unless someone found the curve of her shoulder overly-titillating, Marissa Mayer was flirting dangerously close to the Mormon version of modest. There was nothing within that photo that was too sexy, except the fact that she looked good.

So we come full circle and ask, how is a professional woman, pretty or not, “supposed” to dress in the work place? I submit to you an answer—a professional woman is not “supposed” to dress a certain way, except based on the work culture of her environment, and that work culture should be the same across the board.

That’s just my two cents. What’s yours?

Signing off,

Work It Girl.

 

Monday, December 2, 2013


A Tradition of Giving.

I envisioned “Work It Girl” as a place where women could go to address the almost universal quest for a well-rounded, balanced life. Thus the concept, “look good, feel good, do good”—each segment focusing on one aspect of my three part philosophy.

For the “do good” segment of Work It Girl, I wanted to focus on women who are simply rocking it at life, whether in a major way, or in a small way, and whether this “doing good” applies to them doing good for themselves, or whether they are doing good for others…however, I’m going to deviate from that idea a little bit today and talk about a man—the original do-gooder in my life—my dad. While he might not be a Work It Girl, he definitely knows how to live a life filled with doing good.

I started to write a bit of background about my dad’s life, and it turned into a novel, so I’ll give you the cliff notes version. From being “allowed” to sleep on a relative’s front porch in Accra, my dad made his way to being financially stable in the same city. Remembering the hard times he had been through, he took it upon himself to allow other young people to stay with him in Accra, get their footing, and pursue their education.
 

When he finally came to America, the spirit of giving stayed with him. Especially in my younger years, but even when I was older, I remember there was usually someone—sometimes an entire family— staying with us in our home for varying degrees of time. He’d house them after they’d traveled from Ghana, or some other part of the world, as they tried to find their way in this new world. Sometimes he knew them; sometimes he didn’t.

After he started his appliance business, the missionaries from our church would call his store, sometimes several times a year, to ask if he could please give someone a refrigerator, a washer, a dryer, as they had fallen on hard times and needed the appliance to get by.
 

Whenever he’d get a call from overseas, he’s try to help out as best he could—if someone needed help purchasing a plane ticket to or from Ghana, if someone needed help paying a medical bill, if someone needed food, shelter, clothing, tuition money…the list seemed to never end. He never had a fancy new car, never went on a cruise, never took a fancy vacation. He has rarely, if ever, indulged in the extras that life had to offer—fancy dinners, luxurious hotel stays, golf outings…

Growing up, sometimes I was resentful of what I considered my dad’s overabundance of generosity. We never suffered—we always had a little more than the other side of enough. There was food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a nice roof over our heads. There were piano lessons and singing lessons and soccer games and summer school. But I knew, or I thought I knew, that we could have more—fancy trips to Disneyland and summer vacations, a used car for my sixteenth birthday, visits to the vet for my dog... Comparing myself to my American counterparts, I knew that we could get further, have more, do better, if he just put away his cultural views of community and obligation, and focus on us, just us.

I was at war with the Western view of individuality and the competing Ghanaian culture of community.

And then I went to Ghana.

I saw where he was from, and how far he had come. I saw, hugged and kissed my grandmother for the first time. I was surrounded by people who knew my name, and where I was from—home—even though we had little in common, except the blood that flowed through our veins. While Apam is a far cry from what is typically shown on the Discovery Channel, it was a stark contrast to the way I was living my life.

I looked at my grandmother’s house—my parent’s gift to her at the expense of their own Ghanaian homestead—a dream they had spent decades building, so that when they went home for the first time in almost thirty years, they could build a home and have some place to come home to the next time they visited. My grandmother’s home was nothing fancy by American standards—cement walls, and floors, in a small town where the likelihood of me comfortably living would be slim to none, some wood paneling in the sitting room—but it had electricity, and running water, and while the open air market teemed with noise, and goats scurried through the rough-hewn streets, it housed the woman who gave my father life.

In that moment, there, I saw what he sees in the people still there—some trying to make their way up and out. He sees himself, and the potential that lies within, if someone, anyone, gives them a hand up—the hand he wished for and never had in his early years.

This Thanksgiving, I was surrounded by another Western African culture, loud, fun, busy and full of some of the tastes, smells and sounds I missed. Reminiscing, I pulled up pictures of my grandmother, wishing that somehow I could reach across the ocean, the barriers of language and culture, and connect with her on a real level.

The next day, I received the phone call that my grandmother had passed.

It hit me in a wave of emotion. I was more sad for my father than myself; he had only had the chance to see her twice since leaving his home. I ached for him at having lost the opportunity to hold her in his arms and say goodbye, and it brought tears to my eyes. Whispering a brief explanation to the person nearest me, I excused myself from the bustling Thanksgiving festivities for a moment to gather my thoughts.

Returning to the party, I was pulled aside for a brief moment—it had been decided—this African community wanted to put together a small package for my dad, to help him find his way home. I was moved to tears once again, this time at the generosity of others.

Suddenly, I was on the receiving end of this African community “do good” act. It hit me, what it must feel like for some people, when they received a gift, an appliance, some money, some food, some shelter, from my father. I may not always agree with this overabundance of giving in the African culture—sometimes at the expense of the idealized version of the Western experience—but I understand it now; this desire to touch someone’s life for good. While I may not fully espouse this African community of giving, my life experiences have shaped me in a fundamental way, to be good, to do good, and to change someone’s(s) life because of what I’ve been given.

So yes, do good. Do good for yourself, and do good for others. And live a fulfilling, balanced and enriching life because of it.

Signing off,

Work It Girl