Baring it all, in business?

A topless picture I sent 10 years ago, has come back... in a business proposal.

A topless picture I sent 10 years ago, has come back… in a business proposal.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a guy I went to high school with — you may remember him as the guy who wrote this email about me. To make a long story short, it’s a guy I had a massive crush on for years, but for some reason he was terrible to me.

Because of my A. faith in people and their ability to change, and 3. my wavering level of self-confidence, we have kept in touch over the years, though I haven’t seen him in about 10. A little more than a year ago, I stopped communicating with him because he often made me feel bad about myself.

He’s made it clear that he thinks my career is a joke, my life is boring, and he’s got no problem bragging to me about how great everything is for him.

Enter: the email. It was formally written, as he said he knows we’re “not on good terms,” but he was in a position to hire a writer and thought of me (not sure why, but whatevs). He described the project as lucrative.

He also said he hoped that this business deal would somehow mend our friendship, but if I told him to “fuck off,” then he would understand.

After thinking on it for a day, I replied to him, touching on only the business matter at hand. I’m always looking for more, new writing work, so if in fact his proposal was legit, then let’s play ball.

I heard from him a few days later, On Valentine’s Day, via text, saying he was still working out plans on the writing deal.

Then, he started sending me a variety of photos that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at: various office pictures of some sort, of dogs under desks, people sleeping in weird places, and motivational sayings taped to a glass wall. I didn’t reply.

Then he asked me if I was single for Valentine’s Day, but I had fallen asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, he’d sent me another picture. It was one I’d sent him 10 years ago — a topless photo.

He’d sent a text along with it, “I’m single too, but I still have this to look at, get off to, and help me sleep.”

My stomach churned.

I remembered that I’d sent him the picture — not a smart move, but at least my face wasn’t in it — you could even see my dorm room behind my bare chest.

The picture, of course, made me mad. How many phones had he had since then, and he felt it necessary to save the picture on each phone? But the photo also made me very sad. It was a sign of my past — a time when I did a lot of things to either please people, or get their attention. And for years, I desperately wanted his attention.

I wrote him back and told him that all at once, I remembered why our friendship was over, and that I was no longer interested in the business deal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my past lately (read last week’s column for further proof), and although I’m getting better at making sound decisions regarding my emotions, it will always be a working journey for me.

The fact of the matter is, as a dating columnist and blogger, there are a lot of people out there that know things about me, that they wouldn’t know otherwise. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me at all — until I want to get a “serious” writing gig.

I get nervous when I make a pitch — afraid they’ll Google me and see the secrets I’ve shared, that Playboy audition, or my weaknesses in finding a decent man — I’m afraid they’ll judge me; box me in as a fluff writer and call it a day.

I will probably suffer from that battle until I find a job (or jobs) that celebrate the entire me. But that’s the struggle any creative finds himself in. Every blog, every article, poem, one-liner, painting, collection… it’s out there to be judged by those who know nothing of the sort.

That is the risk we take, in order to fulfill our passion.

While I’m not proud of that picture I took 10 years ago (it wasn’t my last, but let’s be real), I can only be proud of the moves I’m making today — the ones that don’t involve the toxic people, in life and in business.

I’m single, stop asking why.

Single, sexy, and sweet.

Single, sexy, and sweet.

“So, have you found anyone yet?”

It was a question from my coworker whom I’d just met.

“What does that mean?” I asked her.

She found it difficult to believe I was still single. I told her to believe it, because I am very, very single.

“That’s good,” she said. “Wait until you’re like, almost 30 and then settle down.”

Aside from the fact that I’ll be 30 in four months, I don’t understand why coupled people think that being single is a life decision.

My coworker — who has four kids with her boyfriend and lives in his parents’ basement — was suggesting that once I blow out the candles on my 30th birthday cake, I finally say, “yes” to all of those men that have proposed to me.

Oh wait, there are none.

A few days later, I was taking out the trash with my boss. We were talking about furniture we’ve obtained over the years (riveting, I know), which naturally led to the fact that I’m single.

“Are you ever going to settle down?” she asked me.

What the hell? While I don’t have a boyfriend, it’s not like I’m running the streets naked. If I were, perhaps I’d actually have sex more than twice a year.

It’s not as if I wakeup everyday and remind myself to put off a relationship.

In fact, I really feel ready for something serious. But I haven’t found someone to join me in that venture, yet.

“I don’t think that’s a question I can answer,” I told her. “What if I don’t find someone?”

The look on her face was one of terror.

“Don’t say that!” she said.

I wasn’t trying to be outrageous, it was just a fact. There’s some sort of percentage out there that will prove my point: finding a match isn’t easy.

While my boss nor my coworker said it outright, there was a tone in their questions that rubbed me the wrong way.

What’s so terrible about being single? These women acted like me being on my own was the worst possible thing that could happen to me.

I don’t dream of being single forever. After all, I want someone to share things with, to talk to, and to fall asleep next to.

But I can’t just walk out my front door and expect to find the man of my dreams on one knee (if it were only that easy).

Instead, I’m going to work on a social campaign that outlaws coupled folks to ask singletons about their singleness. Frankly, it’s rude and no one’s business.

No matter how many sexy details I reveal on my blog or through this column, stop asking me why I’m single or why I don’t have kids yet.

It’s a collection of questions I don’t have answers for, and for about three seconds, it makes me question my self worth.

That’s the thing about singletons: we know we’re worth more than dating just to date.

If there’s one thing that’s sadder than being single, it’s settling. And I refuse to do it.

Pic of the Week.

Yummy, healthy Shanti Bars.

Yummy, healthy Shanti Bars.

Lately, I have been basically living off protein bars. Seriously. I take them to work and eat one when I don’t have time to break for an entire meal, or just pack them in my lunchbox so that when I do sit down to eat, I can get protein without the use of a fridge or a microwave.

Of course, there are some protein bars that are healthier than others, and I’m always trying to find healthy ones that taste great, without breaking the bank, of course.

Recently, I discovered Shanti Bars, which are the first EVER paleo-friendly bars I’ve seen! Not only are they paleo, but they’re also 100% organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, and plant-based. They are handcrafted in sunny Miami, Florida, and made with non-GMO ingredients and NO preservatives — this is really, really amazing for a protein bar.

I got the variety pack, which included one bar of each flavor: coconut, goji, spirulina, goldenberry, cacao, mulberry, and turmeric.

I haven’t had ALL of the bars yet, but so far, Goldenberry and Coconut are my faves. Here’s why I’m loving the Goldenberry:

A zesty nut-free blend of super seeds mixed with a refreshing splash of lemon.

Each bite of the Shanti Goldenberry Protein bar is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other life-giving properties that heal, energize and rejuvenate the body and the mind. With 17 grams of plant based protein, this bar is perfect as a meal replacement or post workout recovery. Shanti Goldnberry Protein bar is jam packed with nutrient rich ingredients such as goldenberries, chia seeds and hemp seeds ready to boost your immunity and strength. To make it even more filling and fueling we added a bit of organic rice protein.

And the Coconut:

A satisfying combination of creamy coconut and sweet almonds.

Shanti Coconut Energy bar is packed with nutrients, bursting with flavor and life-giving ingredients like coconut and maca. It has all that you need to give you the burst of energy and all the health benefits your body needs. This energy bar provides 7g of plant-based protein. Coconut is not only delicious and creamy, it is also known as a fat burning agent. Think of coconut as your ally in energy. Delicious, nutritious and fat burning.

Yum! I love the chewy texture of the bars, plus the fresh taste. Very delicious! A perfect, guilt-free snack or even a meal replacement. Finally, a healthy option for someone on-the-go!

Maine.

I picked up a copy of Maine during a library trip — I had written down a list of authors I wanted to check out and J. Courtney Sullivan was definitely one of them.

Maine is Sullivan’s second novel (the first one is Commencement), and it’s got all the good stuff rolled into one: the story of a multi-generational family, each with its own set of problems. What brings them together, aside from family, is the family-owned beach property, purchased decades prior.

The book is divided into chapters (naturally), but each chapter is told by the perspective of a different family member — I LOVE it when authors do this! The New York Times book review of Maine does a great job of wrapping the characters up in a neat little package:

Alice, the widowed, 83-year-old matriarch, a devoted Catholic and fierce but lonely woman who is haunted by a tragedy in her past; Alice’s granddaughter Maggie, a fiction writer living in Brooklyn whose first collection of stories was about “love gone awry” (and who, though she was supposed to arrive in Maine with her boyfriend, has instead shown up solo, and pregnant, love having gone awry yet again); Maggie’s mother, Kathleen, the black sheep of the family, who on hearing of her daughter’s predicament hops a plane from California even though she vowed after her father’s death that she would never visit Maine again; and Ann Marie, the fastidious, tightly wound wife of Kathleen’s brother, Patrick, whose carefully constructed marriage is not all it seems to be.

Because of the different-character chapter setup, the story really dives into the lives and the history of each character, which is really interesting.

I found an interesting article in Real Simple where Sullivan answered questions about the book. In one, she discussed the deeper meaning of Maine:

Maine is a novel about the roles we play within a family—in the eyes of the Kellehers, Kathleen will always be a mess. But to people in the worm farming and AA communities, she’s something of a leader. And the same is true for Alice. Her kids see her as someone who is too old to be trusted alone, a mean drunk, a racist. But through her church, she prays each day, she visits the sick, she fights to keep her hometown parish alive. Her church community sees her as she wants to be seen. As both Alice and Kathleen show, sometimes it’s much easier to be graceful and generous to outsiders than to your own family.

Fascinating! I have to admit, I didn’t even think about it this way when I was reading the book. Truthfully, I picked up the book, because I have always loved the idea of a beach home that’s shared by a big family — the memories and the drama surrounding it. Plus… beach picnics. With wine.

I am really looking forward to reading other books by Sullivan, including Commencement (a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose), The Engagements (an exhilarating novel about Frances Gerety, the real pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and four unique marriages that will test how true—or not—those words might be), and Dating Up (a guide for women everywhere who have worked hard to get where they are in their lives and their careers and deserve to be challenged, excited, and supported).

Fresh Friday: Light Blue.

Look at his eyes! Helllooo.

Look at his eyes! Helllooo.

Another Friday is among us, and I can’t say I’m complaining! I’m still in the need for a hot guy, so per usual, I’ll turn to the ads of another classic fragrance — I know you know this one — Light Blue by Dolce & Gabanna.

Truthfully, I’d never worn this perfume until this week (anything for the blog). I knew it was a popular fragrance (one of the bestsellers), but I never really understood what the big deal was. I will say, though, that an ex of mine wore Light Blue for men, and it smelled fantastic.

I honestly wasn’t as impressed with the women’s version.

As described by Sephora, “A stunning perfume, overwhelming and irresistible like the joy of living. The scent is surprisingly colored with the liveliness of Sicilian citron, the happiness of Granny Smith apple, and the spontaneity of bluebells. Feminine and resolute notes are expressed with the intensity of jasmine, the freshness of bamboo, and the charm of white rose. The deep and true base embodies the character of cedarwood, the fullness of amber, and the embrace of musk.”

While you know I love a musk, I’m finding that fruity isn’t really my thing, and I definitely smelled more fruit than floral. It’s not a bad fragrance, and I can see why it’s popular: it’s light, not overbearing, and it’s a pretty generic scent.

The real downside? It doesn’t last long, at all.

I hope you’ve got a fantastic weekend in-store! I’ve got all kinds of new stories and adventures to share with you next week. As always, thank you for reading.

Things I’ve learned from ‘Boy Meets World’

Life lessons from 'Boy Meets World'

Life lessons from ‘Boy Meets World’

I’m not afraid to admit that I watch a lot of stupid shit on TV. I work hard, every single day, I do “serious” things all the time, so when it comes to TV, I don’t mind a little brainless action. “Boy Meets World” is one of the less-stupid things I watch.

I’m the lucky owner of the seasons on DVD, and when you think about the fact that it was only on for seven seasons, there were a TON of life-lessons packed in there! Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • Mr. Feeny is awesome. If we could all have a George Feeny in our lives — could we be SO lucky? At some points, it gets a little (okay really) crazy, like when Feeny becomes qualified to be a college professor, but ultimately, Feeny is always there for Cory and the gang.
  • People change. One thing that gets on my nerves about this show is that Cory and Topanga always claim they’ve always loved each other. In fact, no they haven’t. Cory thought she was weird and wanted nothing to do with her when they were kids. And sure, all boys hate all girls when they’re kids. But hello, Cory and Topanga = true love, forever.
  • Everyone had a Mr. Turner. Okay, so maybe that teacher of yours didn’t have an earring and a motorcycle, but the “cool” teacher is so necessary — the one that reminds you learning isn’t so bad, and not all teachers are soulless.
  • Opposites do attract. A few times throughout the show, the fact that Cory and Shawn come from different backgrounds, yet remain best friends, comes up. And it also resurfaces when Shawn’s half-brother Jack shows up. People are always surprised when different folks get on together, but it CAN happen and in real life, it happens all the time.
  • Getting married in college is a terrible idea. COME AT ME. But let’s not forget that absolutely disgusting apartment Cory and Topanga had when they got married (ahem, eloped). No, thank you.

And because it’s Thursday (meaning, tomorrow is Friday), I’m going to leave you with my favorite episode of Boy Meets World: City Slackers. You’re welcome.

Accepting my Dating Past.

Hoping I won't get judged for the things in my past.

Hoping I won’t get judged for the things in my past.

Every couple of years, I meet someone that makes me wish I could change a few things about myself. Often these things are impossible to change, things in my past.

About three years ago, I had a giant crush on my neighbor, John. He was incredibly sexy, even when wearing sweatpants. We bonded over our Midwest backgrounds, our love for orange cats, and one night, we stayed up through the next morning — he even played songs on his guitar.

I wished that I was his type. You know the kind: a woman who’s gorgeous at all hours, but not without makeup, impossibly thin, and always happy.

Or at least, those were the girls I always saw him with at the wine bar beside our apartment complex.

I’m not that.

I skip makeup whenever possible, and no amount of hours at the gym will ever slim my thighs. And my happiness has wavered over the years.

A few weeks ago, I met someone that got me thinking about some decisions I’ve made in the past.

On these pages, I’ve openly discussed that I was involved in an affair, and I also slept with an engaged man for almost a year.

The guy I met, he appears smart, kind, has similar interests as me, and he even plays the guitar (swoon).

The problem is, I met him at one of my regular spots — a place I go several times a week. Despite the numbers, Baton Rouge is a small town.

I teeter from not wanting to regret my past actions, to knowing that people talk. And my actions don’t speak the best of me.

If my past were different, I’d be my usual bold self, and approach him, talk to him, and maybe even text him. But whenever I see him, I fear the Scarlet Letter syndrome and hang back.

If he already thinks I’m a home-wrecking whore, then I certainly don’t want to put the nail in the coffin.

The only thing I can honestly say about my past is that I wasn’t in a good place when those decisions were made. I was leaving my happiness up to someone else, instead of myself. And the result was incredibly hurtful.

I know that everyone has a past, and it’s all about how you overcome it and make things better in the present. I know I’m in a much better place today; a happier place.

Truthfully, I’m not sure the guy in question even knows I exist. If he does, I hope he won’t judge me for my past. After all, a guy worth my time will accept me for me, mistakes and all (right?).

As a single person, it’s easy to fall into the mind trap of feeling like there must be something wrong in order to end up single.

Despite my past, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with me, I’m just a woman wishing to be accepted and loved.

Pic of the Week.

Look at my sad little Blackberry.

Look at my sad little Blackberry.

For Valentine’s Day, I treated myself to a gold iPhone 6. But of course, it’s not just any gold iPhone 6 — it is my first iPhone, ever. Seriously.

For the past… Oh, seven years, I’ve had various Blackberry Curves. And before that, I rocked a Sidekick like a boss.

Truthfully, I started using a Mac in high school when I wrote for the school newspaper (Triangle, where you at?). When I got to college, and started working for their newspaper, they used Macs, too. I pretty much fell in love, bought a MacBook, an iPod, and later, an iPad.

But I could not give up the Crack…Blackberry. After all, crack is whack. Thanks, Whitney.

However, in the last year of having the Blackberry, it just wasn’t jiving well with my career needs. As a blogger, editor, journalist, and digital media guru, I need a mobile device that’s going to handle the crazy amount of emails I get, in order to keep the business alive.

And how am I supposed to claim I’m a social media expert when I don’t have Instagram (I do now, @Orangejulius7), or access to hot new apps?

The iPhone was really not even a luxury, but more of a necessity. Nonetheless, it was beautiful when it arrived on my doorstep in its sleek, white box. And the fingerprint detection? Money. So money.

As of now, I can do basic things on it, I’ve successfully used Siri’s help once, but other than that I feel completely clueless as to how to use the damn thing.

And as an actual phone, like, to call people, it completely sucks. If anyone knows the trick to this, that’d be a tremendous help.

And yes, I know I sound like a complete dinosaur. For the past few years, I’ve really tried top my technology game — I bought a new car, a subscription to Sirius radio, a camera for blogging purposes, and a voice recorder for interviewing accuracy.

But anyone that knows anything is aware that technology is ever-changing, and if you don’t keep up, it’s a long game of catchup to play, right before the new thing comes out.

In any case, I need YOUR help! Give me your iPhone tips, tricks, fun apps, games, cool people to follow on Instagram, and whatever else you think I need to know to survive!

Halp.

Survival Guide: Meeting the parents.

Dont "Fock" it up!

Dont “Fock” it up!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve met someone’s parents, but it’s always something I’ve considered myself good at. Why? Mainly because I’m an only-child (I’m not spoiled, swear) and growing up, I spent more time talking to adults than kids my own age. Plus, I love hearing stories — and parents are full of them.

The last time I met “the parents” was actually around this time of year — two years ago. It was Easter Sunday, and my then-boyfriend and I met his mom and dad at church. Of course, I was nervous, but more about going to church than actually meeting his parents. Nonetheless, it went well and his parents actually ended up meeting my mom a month later.

But enough about him… and them. I really got to thinking about “meeting the parents” last week as I watched The Bachelor (don’t judge). It was the “hometown dates” episode where the bachelor visits the four remaining girls in their hometowns and meets their families.

What’s always annoyed me about this part of the show (among other things), is that a majority of the families aren’t divorced — which is impressively awesome — but it seems unreal. Secondly, their homes are usually massive and gorgeous…anyone else wondering if it’s staged?

If I were on the show, there’d be no point in visiting my hometown because no one in my family even lives there — and my parents are divorced, and in fact live hours apart from each other.

The fact is, that is the person you’re dating is at all close to their family, then you’re eventually going to meet them. For me, I am close to my mom and it is important for her to meet someone I’m seeing. But we live 15 hours away from each other. So in our case, meeting the parents is a little less traditional.

So, when it comes down to it, how do you survive meeting the parents? I’ve got you covered:

  1. Get the details. Where are you meeting them? What are they like? What do they know about you?
  2. Dress appropriately. A lot of this will depend on where you’re meeting them. But in any case, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Per usual, vote for dressing up rather than dressing down.
  3. Bring it. If it seems appropriate, bring something — perhaps a bottle of wine (if they drink), baked goods (try these white chocolate macadamia cookies), or even flowers.
  4. Turn on the charm. Don’t go overboard, after all, you want them to like you for YOU. But present the best version of yourself there is. Make a good impression!
  5. Seal the deal. Don’t forget to tell them “thank you” and that it was nice meeting them. Hopefully it won’t be the last time you get in with the family!

What are your tips and experiences meeting the parents? Share them in the comments. And hey, I just joined Instagram, so follow me @OrangeJulius7

Fresh Friday: 8.

I wanna get in them jeans.

I wanna get in them jeans.

It’s Friday, and I don’t know about you, but I could use a little dose of HOT GUY. Thank you, Abercrombie old school ads. Actually, the other day, I spritzed on a little 8 by Abercrombie and Fitch just for old time’s sake, and I was surprised at how wonderful it was.

As described by Fragrantica, “8 by Abercrombie & Fitch is a Floral Fruity fragrance for women. Top notes are clementine, mandarin orange and grapefruit; middle notes are lily, melon, amaryllis, violet and freesia; base notes are amber, musk, bourbon vanilla and vetiver.”

Believe it or not, you can still purchase a bottle of 8 in-store. As described by the Abercrombie & Fitch website, “Provocative and sexy, Perfume 8’s spicy, invigorating floral scent is always exciting. Ginger and rich peach nectar combine with subtle hints of jasmine petal for a naturally pretty fragrance that is warm, inviting and perfect for day or night.”

With that, I’m going to spritz on a little 8 and hope the men in my presence rip off their clothes.

WYSK: Donna Tartt.

Author Donna Tartt

Author Donna Tartt

I’m halfway through The Goldfinch, and as I read it, I cannot help but wonder who the hell is this Donna Tartt chick? So I did some digging.

As you may have guessed, she’s the author of The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014. She is also the author of The Secret History and The Little Friend. She was also named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2014.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s from Mississippi and went to the University of Mississippi, where she was recognized early for her work in writing.

I’ve been wanting to read The Goldfinch for awhile — I actually purchased it many months ago, but per usual, I had to put it on my list of things to read. Now that I’m finally reading it, it’s very good, it’s just finding the time to read it that’s taking me so long.

In the meantime, I’ve saved articles and clips on the book, because I want to read them, but I’m scared of spoilers. However, I ventured (cautiously) into one I found in Vanity Fair, “It’s Tartt — But is it Art?

The article confirms any rumors about the book being turned into a film — it is! And mentions the fact that The Goldfinch sat on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than seven months, selling nearly two million copies.

The article covers the battle between being a bestselling author, to one that’s respected by critics — an interesting battle. While some of the critics loved The Goldfinch (obviously), others thought it was overwritten and that her words belonged in a children’s book. That we now live in a world where adults read Harry Potter.

Ouch!

The thing is, so far, I’ve loved Tartt’s ability to tell a story, particularly her detailed descriptions. I like knowing that right in my purse, or wherever, there’s another world waiting for me — it makes my breaks from work incredibly interesting.

I’m sure I’ll write another blog post when I finish, but for now, I’ll leave you with a quote from The Goldfinch:

When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a sunstruck instant that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch’s ankle, or think what a cruel life for a living creature — fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place. 

Celebrating John Hughes.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller's Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

Today, I wanted to celebrate my favorite screenwriter, John Hughes, as today would’ve been his 65th birthday! Hughes wrote two of my favorite movies — Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — among many others, including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Uncle Buck, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

He went to high school in Illinois (fellow Midwesterner!), and his high school would become the inspiration for several of his films. But before his movie career, he wrote jokes for comedians, including Joan Rivers, and also served as ad copywriter.

I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago. The ‘Tribune’ referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. 

—John Hughes

Vacation was his first success in written film, and Sixteen Candles was his first success as a director — it kicked off his string of movies geared around high schoolers. His biggest commercial success was Home Alone.

I’ve always loved Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it took me years to discover they were both written by Hughes, despite obvious similarities — both are set in Chicago suburbia, both focus around a character that wants to suspend his normal life, get away from his family, only to get what he wants, and realize that what he has is ultimately good. Both movies utilize intense monologues. And both movies are, of course, hilarious.

Aside from being the writer for some of my favorite movies, I look up to Hughes for writing more than 30 screenplays — I’ve wanted to get into screenwriting for a long time. I can appreciate any writer who takes what they know, even if it’s something as simple as life in high school, and turn it into a great piece of work, let alone a pop culture phenomenon.

I’d rather stir controversy than just… fade away.

—John Hughes, 1950-2009

The Oscars did a beautiful tribute to John in 2010, featuring several of the lead actors and actresses in his iconic films:

To learn more about John Hughes’ timeless films, check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, “John Hughes’ 12 Essential Films.”

Pic of the Week.

I need more sleep.

I need more sleep.

I’ve discussed a little about the trouble I’ve had with sleeping over the years. From what I remember, the trouble started during a bad breakup I had several years ago. He was cheating on me and I had these terrible nightmares of him having sex with other women. They were vivid and would wake me up during all hours of the night.

I dated someone after that, someone who could not have been worse for me. Our hours were very different, and he would say things — abusive things — to me before bed. Sometimes, the sex was scarily abusive as well. I went to sleep crying many nights when we were together. When we broke up, I felt this immense sense of freedom — I could finally sleep! And that first night, I jumped into bed early and fell into a quiet, solid sleep.

That is, until I woke up to a banging on my door. He was trying to get in. Luckily, I had already changed the locks and I was safe inside — although I was terrified.

That was almost two years ago, and since then, I’ve done a lot to try and help myself sleep better. I treated myself to an entirely new bed — frame, headboard, mattress, even new (and engraved) bedding. I’ve invested in lavender-scented everything. For Christmas, I got a diffuser for my essential oils and about an hour before bed, I turn it on to fill my bedroom with a relaxing mix.

Then, a few weeks ago, I purchased an all-natural sleeping pill from Melaleuca. I’ve been taking it at least five nights a week, and for the most part, I wakeup feeling refreshed — a feeling I’ve rarely experienced. I let a friend try the pill and he told me it gave him “weird” dreams. I hadn’t noticed that side effect.

In fact, I noticed the opposite. While I’ve been suffering from nightmares (terrifying ones that wake me up in the middle of the night), my dreams on the sleeping aid are pleasant. I had a dream a few weeks ago that I got married — granted, it was to someone I went to high school with that I never talk to, but it still beats night terrors.

Over the weekend, I had a very weird dream, though not entirely unpleasant. It started off as a date, a date with this guy who goes to my gym. We’ve never talked and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know my name. Nonetheless, he’s attractive.

We go on this date, which was at a BBQ place I think, and he was on his phone texting most of the date. When I called him out on it, he said I was the one who put myself in “lonely situations every day.” We left, and when I went to my car, my dad pulled up.

Now, my dad is a subject I’ve avoided on this blog, and I’m still not quite ready to venture there just yet. But, I haven’t seen my dad in a long time, nor have I talked to him. When he got out of his car, in my dream, it sure did look just like him, and he told me he was worried about me.

He hugged me, and I cried tears of joy. The hug felt so real. It was a feeling I’ve never experienced. I woke up mid-hug, and although I wasn’t crying, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I really felt like my dad and I just hugged — have you ever experienced a dream that felt real?

The more open I am about my sleeping troubles, the more I learn that a lot of people have trouble sleeping. While it doesn’t work every time, I do try and “wind down” at the end of the night — turning off some lights, watching light TV with the volume on low, and refraining from drinking. Reading, or drinking a relaxing tea also helps me.

Of course, maintaining a healthy diet and partaking in regular exercise also helps with a good sleeping pattern. What are your tips for sleeping soundly?

Single Girl Recipe: Snack edition!

Pre-workout avocado toast.

Pre-workout avocado toast.

For the last month, I’ve been trying to get back into a somewhat healthy routine. When I worked Monday-Friday, 9-5, it was pretty easy for me to meal plan, pack my lunch, and hit the gym every day at 5:15.

But my schedule is so different everyday now, and slowly, I’m finding ways to make it to the gym, but more importantly, eat food that’s good for me, and food that I can eat when I’m at work (where there is no break room, no fridge, and no microwave). I do have a nice lunchbox/cooler, so I can at least pack fresh things, but it’s often not a “meal” — I do better if I just leave it up to healthy snacks all day.

Here’s some of the snacks I’ve tried, and enjoyed, and hopefully it will help you stock your fridge and pantry with some healthier, and easy snack options.

Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Salad 

  • 1 can sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tb fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 tb chopped red onion
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients and chill before serving. Easy, right? I like to eat this with Beanitos chips, or on top of a grilled chicken breast. You could also mix it in with some quinoa. It’s good to double the recipe so you’ll have plenty. If you’re feeling spicy, chop 1 jalapeno and mix it in.

Fresh Blueberry Chicken Salad With Almonds 

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, cooked
  • 1/2 c chopped red onion
  • 1 tb rice vinegar
  • 1/2 c minced green onion
  • 1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tb low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c sweet mustard
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds

Dice chicken breasts and place in a bowl. Sprinkle red onion with rice vinegar and toss into bowl. Add the green onion, parsley, cranberries, and blueberries; fold into the mix. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, yogurt, and mustard. Fold into chicken mix. Garnish with toasted almonds. This is delicious on its own, or in a wrap. Be careful eating with crackers — don’t want to overdo it!

Protein Bars 

Protein Bars are a must-have in my pantry. They are easy to bring to work, filling, and they often satisfy my sweet cravings. However, it’s tough to find good ones if you’re not paying attention. Plus, they can be expensive. I always look for sales (my grocery store often has them on sale for $1 each).

Feel free to make your own — check out this recipe — or, you can purchase them, just be sure to check the labels. Here are some of my favorites:

I also have a go-to protein powder: ChocoRite. It’s less than $15 for a bag, tastes great as a shake (I like to buy a bag of the Peanut Butter and one bag of the Fudge Brownie and mix them), plus it has 24g of protein in one shake .

Other snack ideas:

  • Apple with peanut or almond butter
  • Hummus and veggies (carrots, bell pepper, cucumber)
  • Cottage cheese and tomato (or fruit if you’ve got a sweet tooth)
  • Rice cake with nut butter, unsweetened coconut, and dried fruit
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Berries
  • Dried edamame
  • Soy nuts

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Even singletons have love.

Don't hide your feelings, single people!

Don’t hide your feelings, single people!

As a child, Valentine’s Day was marked with gifts. There was a party at school, my dad would buy something for my mom, and my parents would get me one of those heart-shaped boxes of truffles.

Since then, my parents divorced, my dad decided that Valentine’s Day was “just for women,” and he quit talking me to altogether.

As an adult, I’ve spent several Februaries being bitter that I didn’t have a Valentine, until one year, I did.

It was many years ago, my boyfriend and I joined each other on his back stoop, drinking wine from a liter bottle. Eventually, I got drunk and decided climbing his fence was a superb idea — I ended up falling, but he was there to catch me.

I was so in love with him, and I’m certain I haven’t loved someone quite that much since. I didn’t need a gift; I just wanted his company.

Though it didn’t last for us, I’ve spent recent Februaries reminding myself that love comes in many forms — romantic love is just one of them.

Last year, I went on a first date Valentine’s Day night. It was probably a terrible curse, considering the kiss at the end of the date was one of the worst I’ve ever had.

But, there’s something to be said about celebrating the holiday, even if you’re single. After all, I hate feeling left out.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, meaning every decent food joint in the city will be packed with couples. Skip the smooch-fest and do something you like instead — see a movie, hit the spa, or invite your friends over for dinner.

This year, I decided to tell those in my life how much I love them by way of homemade Valentines. I remember how fun it was to get little red and pink cards as a kid, so why not bring that joy back?

A trip to Hobby Lobby, a pound of glitter later, and I’d made cards for my coworkers, my workout partners, my friends, and maybe a crush (or two).

I owe one to Papa Murphy’s for making those heart-shaped pizzas every February, too. I adore them.

These are the people in my life, and if they weren’t there, I’d be one sad gal. We don’t say it enough.

And if you’re reading this, I love you, too. If I had your address, I’d mail you one of my crafty cards.

If you’re lucky enough to have romantic love in your life this Valentine’s Day, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little envious.

But hey, there’s always next year. Just be sure to tell them how much you love them; because romantic love, the good, honest kind, is rare and special.

On Valentine’s Day, I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do. I might have to work, maybe I’ll hit the gym, or perhaps I’ll indulge in something sweet. Regardless, it’s just another day in my life — a life I think I’m finally starting to love.

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