How to Enjoy Your Own Company as a Single Woman

new-yorknew-york-2Radio. Podcasts. Facebook. Twitter. Emails. Snapchat. Phone calls. Instagram. YouTube. Pinterest. Texts. Netflix.

Even if we are single women, are we ever truly alone?

When I think about the ways I can distract myself, it’s small wonder I’m usually uncomfortable with silence. How many of us take the time to proactively shut out the world and just enjoy ourselves for a few hours?

When was the last time you can honestly say you enjoyed your own company – really and truly? Here are five ways to tune the world out, reconnect with yourself, and remind yourself why you are an amazing woman in the first place:

  1. Plan for a day to yourself. Take a sick day from work. Or a legitimate vacation day. Heck, even part of a weekend is fine! Plan on doing things you love to do: a manicure, a bubble bath, a good book, binge-watching Netflix, or downloading an app you wanted to try. Ignore the phone and disconnect from your email. Schedule several uninterrupted hours of goofing off time to charge your batteries and love the company.
  1. Take yourself on a road trip. Whether it is to an art gallery across town or the Klown Doll museum four hours away (hand to heart, that is my next solo road trip. Yes, I am weird.), pick a destination you’ve always wanted to go to and just go Don’t wait for a friend or a date to take you. You are in control of yourself, your car, and the music on the radio. And make sure you have fun when you get there. Take some silly selfies or buy some postcards!
  1. Take yourself out to lunch. I’ve found that dining alone can be intimidating for the uninitiated. (Personally, I don’t mind eating alone when I’m out of town, but it somehow feels weird in my hometown.) So lunch is a great compromise: It’s cheaper, less of a time commitment, and you can try out a new restaurant without splurging on the dinner menu. Of course, if budgets and time are limited, sit-down fast food is good, too. Discretely people-watch, savor your food, and order whatever the hell you want!
  1. Enjoy yourself outside. Go for a bike ride, sit out on the patio, take a walk to the park, or go for a jog. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to music, a podcast, or just the sounds of nature. There is something primal and soothing about being outside in fresh air. The frustrations of the day don’t seem quite as bad, you get some exercise, and you can allow yourself to simply be for a while.
  1. Allow yourself to think. I don’t know about you, but being alone with just my thoughts can be rather scary. Suffering from depression, I can do to some dark places pretty quick. And frankly, sometimes I don’t want to know what I am thinking. But once in a while, I schedule a brain dump for myself. I get comfy on the couch and spend 5-10 minutes furiously writing on a steno pad. I allow the stream on consciousness flow from my brain to my hand and I write till time is up or my hand cramps up. Read what you wrote the next day. Did something bother you before that seems petty now? Or is something weighing on your heart? What insight have you gained about yourself?

Try one or try all five. By scheduling a little time to rediscover the magic of yourself. You gain a greater sense of self, and I think you gain a little more wisdom in knowing who you are, what you are about, and that you know how to be gentle with yourself. We are all our own harshest critics, but when we learn to love ourselves for who we are, we can start tapping on the brakes of life and learn to just be.

What was the last thing you learned about yourself that surprised you? Comment below!

An Interview with Lottie L’Amour

 

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For Plus One Woman’s first interview, I want to introduce you to the fabulous Lottie L’Amour, a fabulous British plus-size blogger who is based in London. Lottie has been blogging for nearly two years. Her bright affinity for patterns is what initially brought me over to her site, but her articles on living as a plus-size woman, body positivity, and unapologetic confidence reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker. I can’t be the only one – she has thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As if that weren’t enough, she has also branched into the world of vlogging!

Enjoy this interview where Lottie shares her insights on British designers, mixing trends with classic pieces, and being at peace in her own skin.

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PoW: More and more UK designers are offering shipping to the States. For those of us who are completely uninitiated, how would you describe the styles of: River Island, Simply Be, Lovedrobe, ASOS Curve, Evans, and Elvi?

LL: It’s funny because this side of the pond, we’re jealous of places like Society Plus and Torrid! UK fashion is pretty progressive for plus size women, we’re getting more choices than ever before but unfortunately these choices don’t always reach all the way down the larger end of the plus size spectrum. Places like ASOS Curve, Evans and Simply Be do fashion all the way up to a UK 32, so they are leading the way in offering a wide range of sizes, but newer brands like River Island, Boohoo and Elvi are adding more sizes as time goes on (those three do up to a UK 26).

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ASOS Curve is second to none for fashion forward pieces, closely followed by River Island and Boohoo, who’s curve ranges are basically an extension of some key pieces from their straight size ranges. For girls needing workwear or occasionwear, Evans, Simply Be and Elvi are perfect to find those high end pieces mixed in with some regular staple items. Just make sure you read a few UK plus size fashion blogs to check up on the fit of the items – some of them can come up small, so it’s worth reading up so you know when to size up!

(PoW note: ASOS has a good size conversion site here. But remember to always, always check measurements & ask if you aren’t sure!)

PoW: You wear such fun, bold patterns! How do you like to mix up the trends of a season with classic staples like the little black dress, a white button-down shirt, skinny jeans, Breton stripes, etc?

LL: I love to mix in elements of the past with outfits that I put together – whether it’s going full hog and wearing a 1950’s dress, or just a little nod to the 90’s with a choker, I constantly take inspiration from bygone eras and make them into something trend-led in a street style. For example, if I’m wearing a plain black dress, I’ll always rough it down with a giant novelty clutch bag or a pair of biker boots and a glittery bomber jacket! Skinny jeans go with absolutely everything – my black ripped skinnies are a staple in my wardrobe. I often wear them with a cute breton stripe bardot off-the-shoulder swing top and a pair of metallic trainers for when I want to make a little bit more of a subtle statement.

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The beauty with using plain staples is you get to choose how much you want to stand out that day – life isn’t all about making a statement all the time, it’s perfectly cool to tone it down and have a little nod to your love of bright prints and sparkly things with your accessories if you’re not feeling it that day.

PoW: What is the best advice you ever gave or was given to help you love the size you are?

LL: The first thing you need to do is make the decision to not give a crap about how anyone else views you. The minute you decide “actually, I’m living my life for me, and I’m happy as I am” is the minute your whole perception will change. That’s a decision that only you can make – there’s no magic formula or guidebook on how to get there, you just need to decide to be kinder to yourself. For me, I decided that I’d spent too much time attributing my worth to my size, and that was wrong. One of the most radical things I did was actually just looking at myself in the mirror – and I mean really looking at myself. Not skimming over the chubby bits I used to. Not focusing on what I thought were my best bits. I focused on every single part of my body and I told myself that I loved my body, every inch of it. My body has done wonderful things for me – it allows me to hug someone I love, it allows me to explore the earth, my soft stomach protects my organs, my wobbly thighs help me to walk… it really is an amazing, beautiful thing, just as it is. All bodies are deserving of love, yes, even your own!

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To find out more about Lottie, visit:

Note: All photos (c) Lottie L’Amour and used with permission.

Curvy Girls Rule the Art World

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Open any magazine or watch any ad on TV, and you’ll see straight-size women are the norm for beauty, and they have for decades.

Women like Ashley Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Tess Holliday, and Rebel Wilson are finally smashing long-held ideas that all beautiful or successful women have to be thin.

While all these women are beautiful and talented, curvy women have been celebrated in art for thousands of years. Allow me to indulge my inner art nerd as we take a quick tour of curvy women through the centuries to show you that plus-size women have actually been en vogue longer than you may think.

Note:

  • As you will see in a lot of fine art, some of these ladies are nakey. So if you’re expecting all these ladies to be clothed, they’re not.
  • I realize I am leaving out artists in Africa, Asia, and Australia, which is a huge chunk of the world’s population. I know there are fantastic examples of art that I am leaving out, but I am just not as conversant in art from those continents.
  • I also know I left out female artists. I found a couple that would have been good matches for this article (especially Marie Fox), but due to copyright laws, their paintings are not available on the royalty-free sites I use. Seriously, though, check out Marie Fox – she’s good. 

Venus of Willendorf (25,000 – 28,000 B.C.E.)

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Discovered in Austria in 1908, this faceless woman is estimated to be almost 30,000 years old. Archeologists think she may have been used as a fertility goddess because such emphasis is placed on her curves. Whatever her purpose, this fun-sized 4″ statute is one of the oldest surviving stone figurines ever found.

The Three Graces (1635)

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There is a reason the word “rubenesque” is synonymous with curves. In Ruben’s day (Belgium, around 1600), having extra weight on you was a sign of wealth and good health. You could afford to eat more than the working classes, and this was considered ideal beauty. I swear you can see cellulite on there!

Bather Admiring Herself in the Water (1910)


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Auguste Renoir was one of the most notable Impressionists active in France in the late 19th century. His early works feature women at work, in cafés, or gardens. But when he moved to the south of France in his later years, he painted more nudes. And many of them were true girls with curves. I wasn’t able to find much background on this particular painting which is held in a private collection, but it is an exceptional piece celebrating lady curves!

Woman Undressing (1983)

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The most recent entry on this list, Fernando Botero is an 84-year-old Columbian painter who often paints larger people, often reproducing famous pieces of art such as the Mona Lisa. When asked why, he simply answered, “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why.” His non-reproductions may seem to have a cartoonish quality, but I think this one shows the intimacy of a woman alone at the end of a long day. Though we can’t see her face, the fact she has rolls and a booty is something many ladies can relate to!

 

Hopefully this little tour of classic art will help you realize that plus-size women have been artist muses for hundreds (and thousands!) of years. Back fat, big butts, jiggly arms, cellulite, stomachs, double chins and all – we are beautiful women inside and out and we deserve to be celebrated!

What can be done to make beautiful, plus-size women mainstream again so that all sizes are celebrated? Comment below!

Using the Word “Fat” in Front of Girls

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  • Fat (adjective) having a lot of extra flesh on your body 2. having a lot of body fat
 3. having a full, rounded form
4. unusually wide or thick

God, those definitions are depressing, especially that last one!

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I remember the first time someone called me “fat.” I was in third grade, and we had scoliosis screenings at school. We had to strip to the waist and nurses would do an evaluation. This was in the 80s and since the jackwads who ran my elementary school had absolutely no consideration for our emotional well-being, us girls were corralled into the ladies’ room and we had to disrobe in front of each other.

Utterly humiliating.

I was bigger and more developed than the girls in my class. I didn’t have a bra yet, so imagine the sheer horror of having to be in that line.

“Wow, Ann, you’re fat!” Molly Matisons loudly declared to the chuckles of my classmates.

Tears fell down my face as I turned scarlet and tried to cover myself with my arms. The nurse only snapped at me, “Don’t move! You need to have good posture for the scoliosis test!”

That was the beginning of a long relationship I’ve had with that word. Originally this post was going to be about reclaiming the word “fat.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to talk about the word and what it did to my self-esteem.

Unfortunately that incident in third grade wasn’t the last time I was called fat. My high school bully Brandon – abuser is a far more accurate word – called me fat almost every day I had class with him freshman year. It didn’t matter how many people told me I looked nice on any given day in high school. All I heard was his voice echoing in my mind:

“You are a fat bitch.”

Much has been written about the psychology of the developing female mind, but I’m not going to cite any. I’m not a trained psychologist. All I know is what I have observed in my own life and what I witnessed during my years as a classroom teacher. It all boils down to a pretty simple principle.

Words hurt.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words leave deep, invisible scars that never heal.

The rational part of me knows I was an extremely sensitive child. I know the scoliosis incident was 30 years ago and high school is also a distant memory. I wish I had thicker skin, but I didn’t.

It’s also not fair to blame the nine-year-old or fifteen-year-old me for taking those words to heart and letting them become my reality for the next 20 years. I was just a kid. Molly and Brandon, even though they were kids just like me, knew what they were saying. They also knew it would cut me to the core and I would give the reaction they were looking for.

That makes me careful about what I say around kids nowadays. I don’t interact much with them since I left the classroom, but I see my goddaughter every week and kids come into my office almost every day. While I’m not perfect, I try to engage them in conversation about their likes and interests, not about what they look like, even if they are super cute. I want them to know people care about more than what is on the surface.

And my goddaughter is 11. I really try not to call anyone fat when we watch TV together. We will talk about people making poor choices that make the sitcom/reality show amusing, but laughing at someone for being fat is off the table. Middle school is rough as it is, and I don’t need her absorbing that dialogue to use someone’s weight as a means to judge their character.

Is there anything someone said that sticks with you even today – for better or worse? Comment below!

Why This Body Positive Activist Wants to Lose Weight

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret that I haven’t told anyone before.

I am trying to lose weight. I am also a passionate about body positivity.

I know, I know. The two seem to contradict each other. If you feel so strongly about being positive about your weight, why are you trying to lose weight?

Just because someone is trying to lose weight doesn’t mean they don’t care about how people are treated because of their weight. Here are some of the reasons why I am trying to lose weight:

  1. To treat help manage my PCOS symptoms. I have shared with you my struggle with PCOS and the hell it unleashes on the women who suffer from it. When my weight is down, I notice fewer symptoms including: fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, and nasty black facial hair. It’s not 100% foolproof, but even five pounds makes a big difference
  1. I have more energy. In general, I just feel better. I am much more likely to want to go outside and exercise rather than sleep in if I have been losing a little weight. And when I exercise in the mornings, that just sets an awesome tone for the day. Or if I exercise in the evenings, I have more energy to concentrate on my writing and am less likely to do my usual mindless, crazy nighttime eating.
  1. I am motivated drink more water. Like having more energy, losing weight has a compound effect that motivates me to make better choices. For example, no one can argue that water isn’t good for you. When my weight is down, I know I consume fewer cocktails or glasses of wine. Instead, I prefer to grab plain tap or sparking water.
  1. It gets me out of bed. Not only do I get up earlier to walk or run, but I also get up early on Saturdays to go to Weight Watcher meetings with my mother and my sister. And that sets a great tone for the day – I don’t loaf around in bed until 9:00 or 10:00. I get home from my meeting at about 9:30, start cleaning, and my Saturday is off to a much more productive start.
  1. I get to compete with my mom and my sister. When I go to meetings with Mom or my sister, it’s always a mini-contest to see who lost the most weight. Mom has much more discipline than my sister and I do. (When she asks us how much weight we lost, we answer, “Don’t worry about it!” if we gained.) But I can get competitive, and the weeks I beat them, what can I say? It’s fun 😉
  1. I want to fit into that ^%$#!NG jacket! This is the shallowest reason, but a year ago, the exact Chanel jacket I’ve been lusting after for years was on mega-sale on eBay. It was the Holy Grail of my wardrobe. And despite being a size 20, there is no way in hell I can fit into it. So I have to lose a few pounds to get into it. But dammit, big girls can and will wear Chanel!

I will fight for fat acceptance with my dying breath. And I love my curves. But losing a little weight makes a big difference in my life, and I work the Weight Watchers program. My health and an expensive jacket depend on it.

What about you? Do you think you can work on being healthy and a body positive activist? Comment below!

Why You Should ‘Sleep On’ Some Purchases

elevateIs spending $100 a lot to you? Does the thought of paying $100 for a pair of shoes, a purse, or a piece of jewelry make you break out in hives? Or do you channel your inner Tom and Donna and treat yo’self?

Personally, I lean more towards Tom and Donna.

While it is important to save money, you do deserve a treat every now and again. And I believe you get when you pay for, especially when it comes to things like shoes and winter coats, you can’t go completely nuts.

Today I’m going to talk about the importance of waiting a day before buying something, guidelines to help you make wise purchasing decisions, and why you should sometimes splurge.

The $100 rule was an idea I first had when I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. In it, he champions “sleeping on” any purchase of over $300 and talking it over with your spouse before you buy. Obviously I don’t have a spouse to talk things over with, so I modified it to fit my life. If I am going to spend $100 on a non-essential item, I think it over for 24 hours.

Simple as that.

Here are my rules for if I want to spend $100:

  1. Groceries, utilities, and other bills do not count. Of course I have to eat and pay the bills. But if I want a new pair of glasses, I have to check the finances to make sure it is in the budget.
  1. Determine if it is a need or a want. Eventually I need a new pair of glasses, coat, or pair of shoes. But I only want jewelry, extra shirts, spa treatments, etc.
  1. If it is a need, I do my research. If it is a want, I definitely sleep on it. I have no problem forking over $100 for a “need” item if it will last me a really long time. But I have to do my due diligence. I scour the web to see where I can score the best deal and go from there. If it is a luxury like jewelry or a dress I want, half the time I find I didn’t really want it after thinking about it.
  1. I am not afraid to spend money on classic, quality items. My current purse, only pair of jeans, and my two favorite pairs of shoes cost over $100, but they have lasted my for years. Here are some questions I ask myself to determine if it is worth the splurge:
  • Will the item last a long time? Is it made well?
  • Does it go with everything you own?
  • Will this be your only winter coat/pair of jeans/purse?
  • Will you enjoy and use it for more than a year?
  1. If I experience even the slightest buyer’s remorse, I return the item. It is important to treat yourself, but if you are not completely delighted with what you bought, why would you keep it?

If you follow these rules and ask yourself these questions, they will hopefully clarify what you need to buy and what you should think about. I am not opposed to spending money, but I want to make sure I am spending it wisely and on quality pieces.

Have you ever “slept on” a purchase before buying? Comment below!

Are Warehouse Stores Worth the Price?

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To Costco or not to Costco?

That is the question. Whether ‘tis smarter to pay the annual fee for the privilege of buying a $4.99 rotisserie chicken or 45 rolls of toilet paper at a time, I want to examine the pros and cons of warehouse stores to see if you really get your money’s worth.

  1. Depending on what you buy, the savings can add up. You are probably not going to buy everything at a warehouse store. But when I was a Sam’s Club member, the money I saved in kitty litter paid for my $45 annual membership. Per pound, a 42-pound bag of litter was half the price of litter at the grocery store – a savings of over $100 a year if I bought litter at the grocery store once a month. (Yes, I have a fat cat. I go through a lot of litter.)
  1. Extra bonuses. While Costco and Sam’s Club don’t usually accept coupons, they do have specials in their circulars and mailings. Depending on when you sign up, you can get gift cards to Sam’s and extra sign-up bonuses, such as free food items and/or free upgraded membership.
  1. Cheap eats! When I was a member of Costco, one of my favorite things to do was grab a $1.50 jumbo hot dog and soda before I started shopping. Warehouse stores offer fast, convenient food for low prices. And while not haute cuisine, it’s hard to say “no” to such a cheap meal. And it is genius marketing on Costco’s part to keep that $1.50 combo meal value price the same for the last 30 years.

And don’t forget the samples!


 

But at the same time, there are drawbacks to warehouse stores.

  1. Do you really have room for two quarts of parsley or 30 rolls of paper towels? If you live in an apartment or small house, space is at a premium. It is wise to buy only what you really use and have room to store. While I can easily stash the 42-bag of aforementioned kitty litter, I have less room for a 30-pack of paper towels, which would take me over 5 years to use.
  1. Convenience factor. I loathe grocery shopping. I do all my shopping at one store, even if another item is on sale at another store nearby. For me, my time is more valuable than running errands all over town. So while I may save a few bucks at a warehouse store, I don’t have the patience to go there once a month. I just want to get my shopping over and done with!
  1. Contributing to local economy. While Costco is almost legendary on how well they pay and treat their employees, the same cannot be said of Sam’s. Because I like to support local businesses, I try to shop the locally owned/operated stores and support local jobs with my spending dollars.

In the end, the decision is a question of cost versus convenience. The savings are undeniable, but I personally cannot stand the hassle factor. I think the wisest thing to do would be to pool resources and go in on a “family” membership with a family member or friend who is like family!

What is your experience with warehouse savings? Comment below!

Where the Hell Has the Plus One Woman Been the Last Three Months?

It’s ironic my last blog post was “What to Do When You Don’t Get the Job.”

The very next day, my boss’s boss sat me down and told me in no uncertain terms that I was no longer employed.

I’m not going to get into the whys, the hows, or the long saga – that is all water under the bridge. Over the next few months, I will share lessons I learned – there were a lot. And suffice it to say, it was heartbreak followed by six scary weeks of unemployment. But I want to explain why I have been on hiatus and why I have chosen to come back now.

I stopped blogging because my biggest priority was self-care: getting my butt out of bed daily, filing for unemployment, getting health care situated, and forcing myself to eat and interact with people. I lost 15 pounds in three weeks, and my depression took me to some scary places. In good conscience, I could not blog about being a strong, independent woman when I was always one sad song away from bursting into tears.

While unemployment is harder than hell, I found a few truths that I can engrave on my heart:

God provides. I am not overly spiritual, but God had a plan for me. I left a job that no longer sustained my and brought me to a new workplace, and I work with nicer people than I ever dared hope for.

Family is everything. To keep my spirits up, all my siblings treated me to a movie. I got out of the house to see several movies and deepen my relationships with my brothers and sisters. My parents fed me dinner every day and let me watch TV at their house in the evenings. That prevented me from going crazy alone in my apartment.

Friends are life. My best friend was a HUUUUGE support for me, inviting me over for dinner, letting me hang out at her house while I applied for jobs, and providing a friendly face. Other friends introduced me to people looking for writers, and I was lucky enough to score some wonderful writing gigs!

Getting unemployment is a joke. Laws vary in every state, but it took my state two weeks to receive my paperwork and another two weeks to process it before I saw a dime in unemployment. Even then, I couldn’t earn more than $90 a week working even a part-time job, or else I would lose my benefits for the entire week. How is that an incentive to have people work stop-gap jobs while they look for work? And the state’s unemployment website made me apply for jobs on it every week. Many of them were either for minimum wage or for jobs like nursing, which I am definitely not qualified for. In any case, my heart goes out to the under- and unemployed.

The Affordable Care Act is a godsend. You may hate Obamacare with every fiber of your being, but it allowed me to get the medical care I desperately needed. I was able to afford my antidepressants to get my through this difficult period, and I know I would have been suicidal without them.

I learn from my mistakes. I am determined not to make the same mistakes in my new job that I did at my old one. So far, so good.

Sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. The first two or three weeks was the hardest. I would cry because I wasn’t hearing anything back for interviews. I know now HR works on a different timeframe than I do, but it was hard not to feel like a huge pile of poop. Taking one day at a time, an hour at a time, even one breath at a time was a challenge. But I kept walking. And eventually I won.

Now that I am back in a routine of working a new job, I now have the energy to devote to this wonderful blog and I am excited to be back! I missed you all so much!

7 Things to Do When You Don’t Get the Job

7 Things to Do

I recently applied for a job I was eminently qualified for. It would have been a good pay raise doing something I was passionate about, and I was really excited about the position.

I had all the necessary experience and degrees. I went through a phone interview, two face-to-face interviews, gave them a sample of my writing abilities, and even took a personality assessment.

I thought I aced all the interviews. I researched the company carefully, wrote prompt thank-you letters by hand, and I lined up the best references possible. I felt supremely confident. In short, I thought I had it in the bag.

I just got a phone call this week.

I didn’t get the job.

Damn. Shit.

This is now I felt:

What are you supposed to do when you think you did everything right, but you still don’t get the job?

  1. You are entitled to your feelings. Anger, sadness, grief, cheated, resignation…Whatever you feel, realize it is totally normal and you have the right to be however pissed or depressed you are. The important thing is to not let despair take hold in your heart. Remember there are people who love you and when you hurt, they hurt.
  1. Allow yourself a pity party. I bought ice cream, frozen pizza, and a bottle of wine. And they were all consumed in one evening. Did I feel guilty about it? No! I have the right to express my feelings however I see fit. The key is to make it an exception, not the rule.
  1. Ignore all the clichés you hear. “It wasn’t meant to be.” “A better job is out there.” “It’s their loss.” I heard lots of variations of these phrases. While they are rooted in some truth, don’t be mad at the people who say them. They really do mean well. But you are allowed to be upset you weren’t the one hired.
  1. Follow up with the people you interviewed with. If you interviewed with a reputable organization, you have the right to know what you can do to improve your chances of nailing the next job you apply for. Be polite and take any criticism that comes your way positively. Remember – you are an adult, and handling constructive criticism is healthy.
  1. Don’t burn any bridges. This excellent advise comes to you courtesy of my big sister. It is so hard not to snark on the people who rejected you. The HR director claimed she didn’t get back to me in the original timeframe because she was “on vacation.” If my math is right, that means she took three vacations in the six weeks I interacted with her. Yeah, right. But am I going to tell her that? No.

As hard as it is – and believe me, I know it’s nearly impossible – don’t laugh when they say you were a “top candidate” and they will “keep your résumé on file.” They’re lying and you know it. I know it. We all know it. But don’t be bitter towards them. You never know who they know. And the very last thing you want to do is be a pariah about town when it comes to looking for a job. I know taking the high road is waaaaaay easier said than done, but it is to your advantage in the long run!

  1. Don’t apply for other jobs you aren’t passionate about. It may be a reflex to go out and apply for any job willy-nilly because you want to get out of your current work situation, or you need to raise your income quickly. But don’t waste your energy applying for jobs you aren’t suited for or you don’t think you will love. That is moving in the wrong direction.
  1. REMEMBER: YOU. ARE. MORE. THAN. A. JOB.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received when looking for a job? Comment below!

How the Convent Trained Me for Life as a Single Woman

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Maria von Trapp. The Flying Nun. Sister Mary Clarence (Sister Act). Me.

Yes, yours truly was a nun for a year before I was booted out. Even though I wrote a book about it, I really don’t talk much about my time in the convent.

But the longer I blog about life as a curvy single woman, the more I realize that my time in the convent was excellent preparation for living as a single woman in my 30s.

I was 27 when I entered the convent. I came fresh out of grad school and I had never lived really, truly on my own before. The lessons learned during that short year stay with me to this day:

  1. I learned how to do things for myself. I had to learn how to change a tire, cook for six hungry people in 30 minutes, basic household repairs, and how to make $100 (our monthly allowance) last for an entire month for entertainment, clothes, and toiletries.
  1. You will not get along with everyone you meet. Contrary to what movies or TV might show, some nuns are actually notoriously difficult to get along with. They can be crabby, long-winded, or just plain unpleasant to be around. But in the spirit of community, you do your best to put on a cheerful face, act like an adult, and tolerate their company as best you can.
  1. Treasure your own company. I hated the retreats where we to be silent for 48 hours. But in the everyday hustle and bustle, I came to appreciate the hour of quiet I had in daily prayer. That was me time, and that allowed me to recharge my batteries after taking care of others for so many hours.
  1. Everything changes, yet everything stays the same. It seemed the nuns were moving all the time, changing jobs, or starting new ventures. But the older nuns were calm, serene, a little sassy, and were always just there. They had seen and lived through so much, that nothing ever seemed to faze them. I envy their serenity, and I hope as the years pass, less will bother me and change will not weird me out as much.
  1. Giving up control is not a bad thing. I can be a control freak. I hate getting lost, not having an itinerary, or being at a social event where I don’t know anyone. But I had to live in the convent without Google maps and I was often at events where I didn’t know a soul. But I learned to rely on my sense of direction and I actually started trusting myself things would be OK if I got helplessly lost or if I had to make awkward small talk. And I was actually fine!
  1. The deepest joys do not require a lot of money. I didn’t care if I didn’t have the latest fashions or gadgets. I was happier playing cards at home or going for walks out in the neighborhood.
  1. An open spirit can lead to unimaginable blessings. I got thrown into so many situations I did not sign up for (volunteering at a women’s shelter, rebuilding blighted houses, renovating the motherhouse), but those were some of the biggest joys I experienced in my time with the sisters.
  1. I am stronger than I think I am. I am braver than I give myself credit for. I thought my life was over after I left was kicked out of the convent. I really thought that was what God wanted me to do, but it wasn’t. Contrary to what I thought, my life wasn’t over. I had a broken heart for a while, but I learned to heal and get on with my life. I really did have everything I needed in me, and while I may have bent, I didn’t break.

I sometimes still get asked if I would ever consider entering the convent again. The answer is a resounding N-O. I tried that life, and it is not a good fit for me.

But the passing of years has brought wisdom and grace. I have grown a lot since I was 27, and the lessons I learned with the nuns were wonderful training for the woman I am today. I followed my heart, and even though my convent experience blew up in my face, I am stronger and wiser for the time I spent with the nuns. I am that much more able to handle life as a strong, single woman.

What life experience has had the biggest effect on you? Comment below!

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