#GIRLBOSS

Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Nasty Gal clothing, releases her first book #GIRLBOSS in May

Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Nasty Gal clothing, releases her first book #GIRLBOSS in May

Have you noticed how much flack the word “bossy” has been getting lately in popular culture? “Bossy” has become a word to almost exclusively describe women, or more precisely, women in power, and evidently it is discouraging girls from taking on leadership roles. Who wants to be called bossy? Or take on the negative connotations of being pushy, stubborn, or “too aggressive” that the label communicates? I don’t necessarily disagree with its opposition. But it’s interesting how central the word has become, receiving mention everywhere from books written by women in leadership positions talking about their process (or struggle) of rising to the top, to PSAs featuring celebrity spokeswomen, aiming to urge girls to pursue key positions who might be afraid to take on such a label. Is the word really that scary? The most recent appearance of the anti-bossy movement is the #BanBossy campaign created by Girl Scouts and Lean InThey got a slew of amazing women involved to help spread the word. Check it out below:

Tina Fey's hilarious book Bossypants, released in 2011

Tina Fey’s hilarious book Bossypants, released in 2011

Men are rarely, if ever, described as bossy. Instead, we call them leaders and admire their capabilities to make important decisions for the group and themselves. But why does gender have to come into play here at all? I say, we don’t need to ban the word “bossy” but we do need to use it appropriately, and take the gender out of it altogether.Daenerys isn't bossy. She's just the  boss.

I suppose if modern culture doesn’t find that possible, then this #BanBossy movement is onto something. But until the label disappears completely, which will take time if it ever does, girls need to remember there are worse things to be called than bossy, so shake it off and keep doing your own thing. If you are strong and capable and interested in leadership roles, the world needs more of you. Period. And as much as I love the idea of Sophia Amoruso’s book title #GIRLBOSS, I’d love it even more if one day there is no distinction. A woman who leads is simply just… the boss.

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, being a boss and having it all

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, being a boss and having it all

How to get Relationship Ready for Spring

Spring is a time for new beginnings, new crushes and for some, new or perhaps first, relationships. Since we’ve just broken into December, that means you’ve still got PLENTY of time to get yourself relationship ready so you’ll be primed for any romantic opportunity that might come your way. You might think you’re all systems go for a relationship NOW, but be sure the check-list below is in place first and keep yourself on track with it this winter.

1) Don’t be THAT girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl who completely devotes all of her time and energy into winning a guy’s attention and affection; the girl who wishes all fall for a boyfriend by Christmas (or Hanukkah). The girl who ditches out on friends the moment a guy comes into view or the girl who stresses every second about each outfit a crush might see her in, what his glance might have meant, whether or not he finds her cute enough, skinny enough, smart enough, funny enough. Don’t let somebody else dictate your desirability or leave you feeling less than enough, and DO NOT spend all day on Tumblr and Facebook trolling for clues about your crush’s true feelings for you or anyone else.

If you’re anywhere between middle school and university right now, odds are you’ve crossed paths with the pressure and desire to get yourself a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s natural to want to experience love and coupledom at some point, but it’s simply one of those trite truths in life that you will become 100% more attractive to everyone around you the minute you answer only to your own standards of self, and not someone else’s. I’ve personally succumb to this in my life, as I know many others have too, but daydreaming the hours away about your crush, wishing he or she would just finally come to their senses and love you back, and putting all of your focus on him or her is time that could have been spent developing yourself, watching awesome movies, implementing a workout routine, winning gold medals, starting a band, seeing friends, reading Lisi’s books… And BONUS: your future boyfriend will find you exponentially more attractive if you’re someone who has her own interests and priorities in check. It’s like magic, promise. I know, I know–it’s incredibly hard with so much out there telling you what to look like [SPOILER ALERT: EVERYTHING is photoshopped and even plus sized models don’t get to be plus sized anymore], what to care about, how to live your life, how to “get the guy,” etc., but your inner self knows what’s right for you, what your true passions are, and how to keep following them on your personal path. Playing games and fitting an arbitrary mold have nothing to do with that, so live to make yourself proud, first and foremost. Harder said than done, but practice makes (almost) perfect. Onto #2.

2) Now that you’re excelling in NOT being the type of person consumed by being in a relationship, odds are you’ll have a lot more time and energy on your  hands, as well as happiness. Now’s the time to get to work on yourself. What if you don’t know yourself all that well yet and are still figuring it out? Then it’s even more important for you to try out new hobbies, read various kinds of books, listen to music you’d never think you’d like, spend nights in, stay out late, be the best friend you can be to those already in your life. Over the next few months, get some quality ‘you’ time in and take yourself to all the places you’ve been wanting to go but didn’t have a crush to go with. Want to hit that cute bookstore/coffee house for an afternoon? Make it a self date, bring your copy of Pretenders and go. Really been dying to get to a theme park lately? Grab a couple of your best girlfriends and keep it no crushes allowed. Wanting to learn how to paint or make DIY journals? Find a weekend class in your area and make it an art date for the self. Create memories and experiences for yourself and learn what’s important to you. What makes you who you are? What are the things you love most and why?

3) Prep yourself by lowering fairy tale expectations. This doesn’t mean to expect the worst in all situations or to truly not expect anything at all, but to add a dash of realism on the romance front. We all want what those lucky lovers get at the end of movies: to live happily ever after. But the thing about that is, it’s fiction. Somebody, or sometimes many somebodies, sat in a room and wrote a story about two people who overcame odds to find and love each other. And it was born form their collective imaginations, as well as the expectations of their audience who WANT the lovers to have fate on their side. Truth is, it is REALLY difficult for two people to get along over a long period of time no matter how twitterpated they were at the start, especially when normal life comes into play and the excitement of a new relationship wears off. When you do experience a long-term relationship, you might have days of serious doubt, moments of wondering if you’re with the right person or if it’s working, jealousies will arise, bickering and fights over silly stuff you never thought could come between two people who love each other. You may even find out you’re simply too different–or too alike. Your own insecurities also tend to come up when you’re starting a new relationship or are becoming even more intimately bonded. Trust is hard for most and we all carry our own pains and baggage from the lives we’ve led up until the point of our relationship. I don’t want to dash all of your dreams here. There will very well also be moments you share that seem plucked straight from your favorite rom-com, so romantic and so written in the stars, how could fairy tales not be real? But happy endings don’t all look the same and we must be ready and willing to take the great and the not so great, and even the downright  boring. The times when loving your boyfriend or girlfriend is easy, as well as the times when it’s the last thing you can bring yourself to do. We must also keep in mind that sometimes the crush we had our heart set on for so long in school might not have been the best fit for us after all, and maybe it’s best to shift into friend zone. Knowing when to walk away with grace instead of holding onto something that isn’t working or doesn’t make you feel happy and loved is a tough lesson, but one you’ll certainly learn throughout your love experiences. So stay open and consider #3 while you’re still flying solo, and even keep it in mind once you’re attached. Be willing to experience your future relationship in whatever shape and color it develops into, and then see if it works for you and is the kind of love you want. Give yourself and your someday-love the benefit of the doubt, for they too are human and doing the best they can each day, just like you.

4) Get busy moving. This will not only occupy your mind and keep you from drowning in thoughts of unrequited love, it will also keep you healthy and feeling confident throughout the winter holidays that necessitate binging on 5 lbs. of pastries per event. Exercise is essential not only for heart health, but also for your brain. It will help you keep a clear head and be able to see situations more calmly and logically when the hormones of crush-love come pulsating through your body. Of course, becoming or staying active is pretty difficult to do throughout the winter months when cuddling up in pj’s on the couch seems to be more in order. You’ll want to feel healthy and strong come spring when the sun is shining again so my advice is to make a pact with yourself to get your body moving at least 2-3 times per week. If all you can muster is a speed walking session with your grandma, then so be it, but try to get some outdoor ‘play’ time in if at all possible. Bring your dog and a friend on an easy hike and make an afternoon of it, or try dancing like nobody’s watching for 15 minutes straight and get your cardio in without even realizing it.

5) Find what makes you weirdest and let those qualities become what you love most about yourself. We are all so, so weird inside. Really. Some of us are just better at pretending we’re less weird than others. This really is a disservice overall because we forget how amazing our quirky ways really are and sometimes even become ashamed of our unique parts, and try to conform to what is most accepted, or visible, around us. Below is one of my favorite stories ever by Shel Silverstein. It illustrates my point perfectly. 

masks

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, not to mention so much better, to simply find the kind of romantic mate that works best with all of your unique edges that make you YOU? We spend a lot of time dressing ourselves up just to get closer to someone so we can remove our walls one onion layer at a time, and THEN see if our true selves work together. I’m not advocating putting it ALL out there 24/7 and making our personal lives public to the world or letting our issues become everybody else’s problem, but I am saying you will find the right people to crush on, and they will find you in return, if you are doing your best to be your authentic self. Again, also so much harder to accomplish than to suggest. It takes real courage to do this, and it’s going to be a struggle, but each and every one of you are so much stronger than you can imagine, so I know it’s possible for all of you. One day soon, you will see it for yourselves. Each time you practice authenticity of your amazingly wondrous perfect self, you’ll feel a little brighter, a little stronger, a little more able to love another the way you’d like to be loved, and that energy will come back your way ten fold. Promise.

And don’t forget: if by spring no such romantic interest is on the horizon, it doesn’t mean it will never happen for you. It just means your future love might still be masking his blue, and you’ll have to be a little patient until he can catch up with your awesome personal evolution. 😉 In the meantime, you’ve still got this:

As usual, Lisi will be back next week with another amazing post for you. Thanks for stopping by the Office Elf blog and happy holidays to all!

xx

Alisha

Summer Sickness Survival Guide

Sick Day

I can’t say staying home sick is never fun since I recall plenty of grade school sick days filled with popsicles and cartoons while my friends at school were learning about mitochondria and solving for X. But in the summer, there are few boring academic obligations to avoid, and instead you’re missing out on the good times you could be having with your friends out in the sunshine, at the beach, park, or wherever you go to celebrate freedom from class. It’s a total bust. Summertime sickness isn’t great for me either even though I’ve long been out of school. I, very fortunately, get to work from home except for when I meet with Lisi to discuss our on-going projects, so I get to keep my pj’s on all day if I feel like it. This week, I definitely felt like it, as a head cold knocked me down out of nowhere. I’m no stranger to summer sick days and have honed a few methods of coping with not feeling so hot in the heat. Below are five tactics to combat your cold fast so you can get back outside with your friends for the dwindling days of summer. Or in my case, back to my usual fast-paced brain that can handle more than one task at a time.

Healthy Water

1. Keep hydrated at all costs! One of the best things you can do for yourself while sick, or even when you’re not, is to drink as much H2O as possible. At least 64 ounces if you can manage it, but that’s pretty difficult, even for me, so do what you can. The water flushes your system of toxins and impurities, which is great for your skin and immune system. If you still happen to find yourself under the weather, like I have, then getting fluids in early will surely help curb the duration of your cold. There are other drinks like VitaminWater Zero and Pedialyte that are packed with Vitamin C, electrolytes and other benefits to get you hydrated and ultimately back on your feet, too, and they have a hint of flavor that might be easier to drink.

2. Zinc it up early. Taking Zinc at the start of a cold has been proven to sometimes lower the duration of an illness by 50%. I have these fantastic Zinc/Vitamin C effervescent tabs I dissolve in water and drink, but you will have to talk to your parents about this one and how much will be right for your age, and which method will be best for your to take.

sick as a yorkshire terrier

3. Give your pet a pat. Whether you have a pup, cat, parakeet or chinchilla, make sure you don’t forget that they need their daily dose of love, too. Be sure to pet or play with them throughout the time you are sick. While you’re doing that, you’ll be elevating levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which calm and relax and prime your body for healing mode.

4. Treat yourself right. Your parents have more of a say in this than I do, but when I’m sick, I like to make sure I feel good in my environment by buying lots of treats my sick body wants, such as popsicles and pre-cut fruit bowls, and anything else good for me that doesn’t contain dairy (dairy is terrible for congestion issues, so no milk if you can help it while you’re feeling ill). And if you have the energy left, you may want to combine those good-for-you treats into one like I plan to do for my next head cold.  See: YUM.

Popsicles

5. Make your bed and then lay in it. Another great way to keep your cold at bay is to keep washing your bedding and sheets throughout your sickness, every day if possible. It seems like a hassle, but will help stop the spread of germs that will keep you sick for longer. Also be sure to pay attention to how you are laying in your bed. If you have a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose or chest congestion issues, laying flat on your bed will only worsen your symptoms, so try propping yourself up on a few pillows. Even a slight incline will be better for your than laying completely flat, so as a rule of thumb, be sure your heart is higher than your ankles and you should be good to go. Lastly, and most obviously, REST, REST, REST.  All healing requires extra sleep. It’s no fun, but you really have to take this step seriously. Sleeping a sickness out is one of the fastest ways I’ve seen a person get back to their usual healthy selves. If you have work or summer school and can’t sleep during the day, then make sure you’re getting to bed as early as possible at night. And I mean EARLY–like 9PM early. For any night owls out there, you’ll have to break your usual after-midnight sleeping ritual because going to bed after 12 isn’t going to help your cause. In fact, the hours before midnight are actually twice and sometimes three times more restful and beneficial to you than the hours you sleep after midnight. So get to bed very early, at least while you’re fighting off a cold.

That’s it! Those simple steps will set you en route to good health. If you have any more, please include them in the comments below. I’m still battling my cold and will be checking back to see if any of you have some tried-and-true tips I can try for myself. Thanks for reading and Lisi will be back next week!

xx

Alisha

Prep Talk

Class Picture

This is the time of year when all of your favorite magazines and blog posts have been highjacked by back-to-school know-how. I’ve been flipping through some magazines and reading about a whole lot of bad advice getting dished out to young girls and guys about how to approach the first day of school so that it’s absolutely perfect. Since Lisi asked me to guest post today (she was extremely busy today with back-to-back press interviews for Pretenders :)), I figured this would be a good time to run down a few of what I believe to be the top prep issues to get out of the way before your big first day at school.

1. Brush the dust off the old alarm clock. Maybe it’s been a while since last you needed to use it. If it has, then be sure you try it out for a couple of days leading up to school’s start so there won’t be any accidental malfunctions. The last thing you’ll need on your first day is to feel behind schedule as you run late to homeroom. And for Pete’s sake! Don’t forget to switch the PM to AM on the setting!

Snooze

2. Wear comfortable shoes. For a lot of people, the first day of school is like a fashion show with everybody presenting the best of what they’ve got, showcasing their ah-mazing style to their peers. My junior high wasn’t so much that way, but high school definitely was. Tons of girls came on the first day in sky-high heels, but sometime after lunch, I’d either watch them hobbling out to the parking lot to be picked up by parents, or they had abandoned their heels altogether (which isn’t permissible at school since you need to be wearing footwear). Now I’m not suggesting you get your mom’s Aerosoles loafers and attach them to your stylish first-day-of-school outfit, but do make sure whatever you put on your feet won’t be killing you by late afternoon. Unless you’re one of those heels masters, which I definitely am NOT, leave the stilettos for Friday night.

No heels

 

3. Don’t declare your style. I’m reading all of these articles in teen magazines about how you need to “declare your style” as soon as school starts, starting with the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. I don’t buy it. In my experience, declaring anything in certainty is one of the worst ways you can back yourself into a corner and stop experimenting and exploring with who you really are. So don’t declare a thing. Just do, or be. Wear whatever you want to wear, within reason, of course. It doesn’t hurt to be on trend in one area or another, but by no means should you hold those trends as the almighty rule book for what’s acceptable of you.  Junior and high school are times when you’re supposed to wear weird stuff that adults find questionable, or experiment with different personas until you find which one fits, or which one is undeniable ‘you.’ Some of us don’t find that for decades until we’ve already left school behind, and some of us simply follow what the trends say we should wear because it’s so much easier than finding our own personal take on style. If that’s you, that’s fine, as well, but if you’re someone who enjoys expressing an aspect of who you are through what you creatively wear, then go ahead and experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really no reason not to. And if you’re low on funds to do it, don’t fret. Some of the best dressed, most unique people I know shop solely from thrift stores. Dollar sale, anyone? The last word I’ll say on first-day-of-school outfits is that you definitely should have it ready a few days before classes begin. In my younger years, I systematically had freak outs each first day of school from kindergarten through my senior year (silly, I know) because of outfit mishaps right before I needed to leave my house. Be sure to have your outfit ready and possibly laid out to save you enough time in the morning to eat some breakfast with the ‘rents.

Wear it well Experiment with fashion

 

4. Backpack perfection. I am not a huge fan of the word perfect, so I’m not loving all of the advice I’m reading in blogs about how to make your first day as such, but having a great backpack really does skyrocket your day into perfectdom. Sometimes we get a bag that is stylish and cool, but not functional at all and it leaves our backs feeling broken, if not on the first day, definitely by the end of the term. There are so many awesome backpacks these days by every designer under the sun, and many are affordable without sacrificing the cool factor. Here’s something I found in Teen Vogue and they got it exactly right: the top 100 backpacks for back-to-school. Peruse the slideshow here to find your favorite. I’m going to take a class just to have an excuse to buy a new backpack, and I’ll probably get any and all of the ones that look like they are made for boys.

Backpack perfection

5. Know where your classes are before school starts. This is advice I wish I could tell my past self since I never once tried to find my classes before the moment I needed to be in my seat. I always just assumed I’d be able to find them easily, or that I had a pretty good idea where I needed to go. Don’t under-estimate how long it takes you to navigate a new campus. Even if you’re a high school senior or are in college and have experienced your fair share of first days, sometimes there’s a class that is in the boondocks and running to it against the clock can cause serious stress, not to mention forehead sweat and everybody knows the omnipotent rule in school: NEVER let them see you sweat. Just kidding. (Kinda.) Seriously, sweating in school is the worst. And if all of this advice fails, what you’ll ultimately need is a back-up emergency plan with a good friend to escape the horror of your first day. Maybe you can agree to meet at so-and-so’s locker between 3rd and 4th period to reconvene on the day and pump each other up as needed; or maybe you can drop off notes to each other in a well-concealed way. Remember notes? The original text messaging.

Original Text Messaging

 

So that’s it. All you need is a working alarm clock,  a comfortable backpack or tote as well as shoes, an outfit ready days before the first day of school, a map to your classes, and, if possible, an emergency escape plan with a friend midday just in case the whole day turns out wrong. If you can get those few things in order then you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic first day of class, and you can get back to the dwindling days of summer before the sun goes down on the last one. If you think there’s something I missed or you have your own essential preps, feel free to leave it in the comments. Now forget this post! Go out and try some of the fun, quintessentially summer suggestions detailed in the illustration below.

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

xx,

Alisha, Office Elf

Let’s Get Sprung

Hi everyone. Lisi has gone underground to write and is neck-deep in The Dirty Book Club so she’s asked me to guest blah-g today. Before I start rambling on about my current musings, I want to say how ah-mazing it has been reading the comments on last week’s post. Seriously you guys, I’m so impressed by the thoughtful and articulate ways you expressed yourselves and shared your stories. Also, a big high-five to both Lisi and Judy for the respectful ways they expressed their messages to one another.

I revisited the comments thread this morning, in fact, since they’ve been putting me in exceptionally high spirits. You’d think that today, marked by the spring equinox–aka the first day of spring or the moment in time in which equal amounts of the sun’s energy reaches the northern and southern hemisphere–would be enough to brighten things a bit, but I don’t think life’s present dullness is felt by only me. A number of my friends have been expressing feeling blue lately, or just plain drab overall. It’s true that today was overcast here, but just in case spring doesn’t bring the brightness some of us need this season, I’ve come up with a few no-fail, no-brainer tricks to shift your cloud-covered day into something positively luminous.

Spring

1. Take A Facebook Tour of Happiness

I found a study online yesterday where 75 percent of the participants admitted they enjoyed looking at old photos or wall posts on their Facebook page when they were feeling low. Researchers suggested being fascinated by these findings, although I think if you consider the results they seem to make complete sense. Psychologist Dr. Clare Wilson said, “Facebook is marketed as a means of communicating with others. Yet this research shows we are more likely to use it to connect with our past selves, perhaps when our present selves need reassuring. The pictures we often post are reminders of a positive past event. When in the grip of a negative mood, it is too easy to forget how good we often feel. Our positive posts can remind us of this.” You might have noticed that most people post on the Internet positive things they are doing showcasing what a great time they are having. An awesome birthday party, a tropical vacation, a great gift. We don’t often post about the negative things happening in life, though of course we all have a lot of that going on, too. By revisiting old photo albums on your Facebook page or reading past comments friends left that are particularly kind, we can focus on the goodness in our lives instead of dwelling on the lackluster bits we all experience.

2. Write A Friend Crush Letter

What’s a friend crush, you ask? Do you have a dear friend you couldn’t live without? Someone that has been loyal to you throughout your friendship and has truly earned the title of BFFL? That’s your friend crush. A great way to get out of your own personal funk is to stop focusing on yourself, your woes, your rejections, the things in life that just aren’t panning out. Instead, focus on someone you love and admire like your friend crush and either write a letter to or about this BFF. The letter doesn’t have to be sent ever, but writing to your friend or to a third party discussing all of the marvelous things about this favorite, loyal, inspiring, etc. person in your life cheers you up right away since you’re focusing on the positive aspects in someone and practicing gratitude for them. We get so caught up in all of the things that are missing from our lives that sometimes even the ones who stand by us for more than the happy moments get diminished or overlooked. This letter-writing activity practices slowing down and being conscious of what we are thankful for in our good friends (this works for family members too). In my experience, it took a quarter of a century to find even one truly great friend, so be thankful if you have a BFF you can count on during junior and high school years.

3. Happy Playlists on Loop

It’s no secret how much music impacts our moods, and if you’re anything like I was, you’re probably listening to a whole bunch of angsty Fiona Apple and Garbage or emo Bright Eyes and The Smiths, which make it pretty difficult to slap on a peppy smile and feel happy. I think back now, and was life really all that bad? Probably not. Did my music make me feel like I was an emotionally deep, arty soul? Definitely. We go through a lot of musical phases in our lives, but it’s good to be able to recognize when to change the music station and start singing a happier tune. Studies show that playing brighter, up-tempo music instantly lifts one’s mood, so that means faster beats and fewer heart-breaking lyrics. Maybe you have 10 awesomely happy or hopeful songs to get you jazzed for spring or just for any day you’re feeling blue.

Here’s my personal list of amazing upbeat songs from the past and present that get my day going or get me in a better mood to go out or be social with friends.

* Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Y Control
*Modest Mouse — Float On
* Little Dragon — Ritual Union
*Selena Gomez — Love You Like A Love Song
* Spice Girls — Wannabe (all-timer, don’t judge)
* Lykke Li — Little Bit
* Kimbra — Settle Down
* Taylor Swift — We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
* White Stripes — Seven Nation Army
* Arcade Fire — Wake Up

If these don’t leave you ready to conquer the world, I don’t know what will.

Do you have a list of happy anthems that get you moving? I’d love to hear what’s getting you out of bed in the morning or bringing some positivity to your day. Let me know what your favorite mood-lifting songs are in the comments below or if you have any favorite methods of focusing on the goodness life brings you. 🙂

Lisi will be back next week with her usual Blah-g. For now, happy Wednesday!

xx

Alisha