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Pic of the Week.

Mexican brunch remains.

Mexican brunch remains.

Last week was incredibly rough.

Nothing traumatic happened per se, it was more about the impact of several events all rolled up and combined with my case of the blues.

Even though my blog has “Bitter” in its title, I do try and keep things on the uptick ’round here. But the truth is, things aren’t always so easy. And if there is one thing I’ve always promised my readers, clients, friends, and editors in my 13 years as a writer, it’s that I will always be honest. Even if that honesty is ugly; so, let’s do this.

For starters, it was my first full week of work in awhile — there was Labor Day, and then my beach trip, which gave me two awesome short weeks at the office, right in a row.

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that I recently got into some trouble at work (someone screen-capped my personal Twitter feed), and I was told that I was not a good representation of our office (um, duh), and that I should be ashamed to even show my face at work.

And while I don’t believe I did anything wrong, I’ve tried my best to follow orders and basically hide in my office for the last few weeks. I put up curtains, got a candle warmer, hung photos on the wall, and strings of lights around shelves. I even put in a microwave so I wouldn’t have to visit the break room.

So, when I get to work, I go straight to my 3rd floor, corner office, and I work all day, not stopping for lunch.

But I can’t hide all the time. Part of my job requires going to meetings. And I am supposed to go to said meetings with a positive attitude (I was told this).

While I’ve had my job for more than six years, I can say with confidence that I’ve always felt like an outcast. I dress different, I talk different, my ideas and attitudes are different. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sit well with my superiors.

But I can’t be fired just because I’m not well-liked. What in means though, is that going to work is more difficult than it should be — I feel alone at work.

And although I’d love it if my hobbies — my blog, my blog class, my books — made the money that could cover all of my expenses and I didn’t have to have a traditional office job, that’s not the case (today, at least).

Post-brunch beer.

Post-brunch beer.

Of course, that’s the beauty of having this blog as a place to go to when I need it the most. When I can share my story with someone out there (even if it’s just one person that I don’t even know, I appreciate you).

The fact that anyone even reads this brings a smile to my face, even when there’s no one around to see it.

But lately, I’m starting to really feel that loneliness like never before.

A few months ago, a writer friend approached me about doing an authors event — I would read an excerpt of my book to a small reading group, and then sell and sign copies of it.

It has always been my DREAM to do that! My stomach was churning with adrenaline and I gave a little squeal of happiness behind my closed office door.

But then I pictured it: me, packing my car with all of my shit. Going to the reading group with said shit. Unpacking it. Smiling as I read stories about my broken heart. Smiling and laughing as I sign and sell shit. Packing it up, driving home, opening my door to see no one, and (let’s drive this one home) eating dinner, alone.

It’s my worst nightmare. What’s success with no one to share it with? And yes, I know, I don’t need a man to be happy. Being single is so fun.

Heard it all before.

But there are times, I wish to have someone by my side. Someone to share it all with.

Last week, my 4th book was published. While I felt this huge weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt proud of the work I’ve put into the universe… my phone was silent. No messages of congratulations from my friends or family, or my crush (said crush has since been eliminated).

And boy was I bummed. I know, it sounds selfish, and it makes it seem like I just do it for the lip service. I really don’t. And some of you readers sent me congratulatory messages, and I loved them! I hope I’m not asking for a pity party here; I swear I’m not trying to.

Instead of running home and popping a bottle of celebratory bubbles, I did my usual workout, and I watched the 2-hour premier of The Voice (#TeamPharrell) with my cat.

And that’s when it all started to sink in. I really am a team of one. I haven’t spoken to my dad in two months. Aside from my mom, I actually haven’t spoken to anyone in my family for years.

No matter who’s at fault, I do know that we are only on this earth for a short time. And I’ve always kind of had this fear of dying young; which is probably why I feel this incredible sense of urgency to get stories and words out there NOW.

I want to pick my battles and let go of grudges. I want to smile more. And I really would like to find a person to share my life with; the tears and the laughs. If he’s out there, I’m waiting. And I’m really working hard to be the best version of me while I wait.

All of this is what swirls around inside my brain most of the time; and then the universe does its thing and delivers me a reminder that I’m not all alone. I’ve got some really awesome friends around me.

One of them had a birthday over the weekend, and we celebrated over Sunday brunch (okay, and margaritas on Friday, and champagne the Thursday prior). which is possibly one of my favorite things. Although the celebration wasn’t for me, it was a moment that I needed.

And while friends aren’t the same as being in love, it’s exactly what I need. I may never find happiness in my job, my coworkers will probably always give me side-eye, maybe my family will win the world record for the silent treatment, and maybe the cute guy at the gym will never ask for my phone number.

But friends. I’m really good at keeping my friends around. Maybe that’s really all I need: friends. And Sunday brunch.

Hey Tweetheart: dating & social media.

Dating & social media: a delicate balance.

Dating & social media: a delicate balance.

Ugh. As much I love to Tweet in my daily life, when it comes to dating, social media can be a pain in the ass.

I’m not really talking about meeting people via social media, although I’ve heard of this happening (ending in successes and failures alike). I’m really talking about how our use of social media affects dating and our relationships.

In a nutshell, it causes a lot of drama (in my experience, at least).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I meet a guy, or start talking to someone, I do like to scope him out online. That might mean a simple Google search, or a check on Facebook, Twitter, and if I’m really feeling nosey, Instagram.

The thing about doing that is, our online image might create a picture that’s not entirely true. Even though a lot of my life is online through this blog, my column, my Twitter and Facebook feeds, it’s still not ALL of who I am.

About a month ago, I went on a date with a guy I met through Ok Cupid. After we exchanged names (online dating sites utilize usernames to protect privacy), he Googled me, and found my blog, which he told me before we met in-person. No big deal.

But when we actually DID meet up, he had done more than Google me — he’d actually Facebook-ed me, read my Twitter feed, and Wiki’d my hometown, to the point he ‘d memorized its population. He knew things I didn’t even know.

“Your actual picture comes up first in Google,” he told me. “Impressive.”

What’s impressive was the size his balls must have been in order to admit that he’d spent a chunk of his life stalking me online. And considering I’ll never talk to him again, it was a complete waste of his time. Although he did purchase my book, so thanks bro.

Aside from the fact that it was a little creepy, I wasn’t sure how to continue a conversation with someone who openly admitted to knowing so much about me. What was left to talk about if he’d already done the research?

My point: if you’re going to stalk, especially in the beginning, keep in mind that more than likely, you’re looking at just a small portion of a person’s life.

That’s why you want to actually go on dates and have real, face-to-face conversations — to get to know them better.

Once a relationship is established, it’s difficult to define exactly how social media can safely play a role in a relationship. Since I’ve been cheated on so many times, I’ve gotten into a bad habit of using social media to see what women my then-boyfriend was talking to. Facebook wall posts were usually proof of flirtation, if not full-blown sex.

It’s not a fun road to travel down.

Looking too closely at a significant others’ social feeds can lead down either path — either you discover something you needed to, or you’re about to pick an unnecessary fight.

I’ve never been one to wish for that whole “relationship status” on Facebook, mainly because I’m built to believe that a breakup is inevitable and then everyone will see the giant “HOLLY PHILLIPS IS NOW SINGLE” post on their feeds. Ugh.

But when I dated my last boyfriend, I was kind of surprised he never wanted our profiles to “link up.” I started to get paranoid when I saw posts on his wall from other women, and asked him about each one. He started hiding posts from me, and when we broke up (via email), he blocked me from Facebook and immediately linked his profile to the girl he’d been cheating on me with, for the entirety of our relationship.

In a way, my gut feeling was right — he was hiding something. But on the other hand, I never wanted to be that kind of girlfriend who was whining about something on Facebook.

Granted, he was (and is) a loser all around.

The final side of social media I want to address, is one that I almost forgot about, until my favorite modern dating guru Patti Stanger, reminded me of it on her website: don’t compare.

If you’re constantly looking online at other people’s feeds, there’s a type of depression that comes with it. People (yep, probably talking to you) do a really superb job of snapping cute selfies when they’re on a date, or mentioning the beautiful five-dozen roses they got #JustBecause, or how blessed they are for actually finding “the one” 10 years ago.

And we’re all happy for the proverbial YOU! We are! But when all I see is rainbows and glitter, sometimes it makes me feel like I’m without — even though I’ve never, ever been in a relationship that compares to anything I’ve seen on Facebook.

So, tell your friends congratulations, give their roses a “like,” and pull yourself away from the feeds for a while. Remember, social media only displays a part of someone’s life; chances are, it’s the part with the sunshine and not the rain.

Fresh Friday: Bliss.

I LOVE Bliss products!

I LOVE Bliss products!

Fresh Friday is here, and this week’s scent is spa-worthy as it is Bliss by Bliss, as in Bliss spa! If you haven’t heard of the spa, chances are you’ve seen, or perhaps tried one of their many skincare products.

Spa in a bottle

Spa in a bottle

Not to deter from the Bliss scent, but I do want to mention the products, as I’ve tried several of them, and I stand by them (no, I’m not getting paid to say this). They’ve got several different lines of products, from Fat Girl Slim (used it) and Fabulips, to Fabulous, Poetic Waxing, and No Zit Sherlock.

And then, there’s the scent! Bliss (the fragrance for women) was inspired by a mixture of essential oils that lives in the air at all of the Bliss spa locations. I had the pleasure of getting a pedicure and a fabulips service at the Bliss spa in Chicago, and it smells delicious in there!

Bliss has notes of bergamont, cucumber, lily, violet, and ylang-ylang. It has been described as “A spa in a bottle.” It has also been described as mood-boosting, fresh, hip, and modern.

If you want something clean, and light, this is your best bet!

Celeb Crush: Scooter Braun.

So freakin' HAWT.

So freakin’ HAWT.

If it weren’t for Justin Bieber (also one of my celeb crushes), I’d probably have no fucking clue who Scooter Braun is. But when I saw Bieber’s first movie, “Never Say Never,” I couldn’t help but look at Scooter and give a little — Damn, who is that?

Scooter is the talent manager for Bieber, The Wanted, Psy, and Carly Rae Jepsen. He also, oddly enough, created a documentary that was submitted to the United States Holocaust Museum.

Is it his connection to Bieber that makes me swoon? Maybe it’s his net worth of more that $40 million or his $6 million home in Los Angeles (what can I say? Success is hot to me)? It might be the sexy scruff and lovable smile. Perhaps it’s his philanthropic efforts?

Or maybe it’s the fact that he’s MARRIED.

Yes, folks. And I can honestly say I had NO idea he was even dating someone, until I started researching for this post. You can imagine my broken heart when I saw the picture of him kissing a (gorgeous) girl in a white wedding gown. DAMN!

I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t actually believe there was a chance we’d meet somewhere and fall madly in love. And this, my friends, is how you know your celeb crush has gone too far.

Le sigh.

I can still keep him as my crush, right?

Never lose hope in someone you love. The truth and love conquers all in the end.

—Scooter Braun 

Pic of the Week.

Completely hyped on fall candles, per usual.

Completely hyped on fall candles, per usual.

Well, it’s the second day of fall, and call me basic, but yes, ’tis the season to embrace every single little thing about the outdoors — even when there’s not really fall-like weather.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I started my stockpile of fall-scented candles weeks ago, and even made a chili (recipe coming soon) over the weekend. I just love everything about fall; the colors (not only in nature, but in fashion), the ever-so-slight chill in the air, and even though it’s a signal that the year is coming to a close, I always get a sense of renewal during the fall months.

So far, I’m trying to step away from so many pumpkin-scents (although I can’t totally deny the symbol of the season) when it comes to my candle selections, and find a few different ones that still make my apartment festive and cozy.

And while I love a good Yankee Candle just as much as any great homemaker, I like to find candles that have strong scents, but are less-expensive. A candle is literally just burning, so I aim for $5 or lower in my hunt for candles.

The large jars, by Main Stays, are from Wal-Mart, and were just $3.50 each, while the smaller mason jar candles are from Dollar Tree, making them just $1 each (and they burn for a decent amount of time). The larger candles are in Fall Fruit Cornucopia, Harvest Leaves, and Mulled Cider, while the small jars are both in Pumpkin Pie.

I also purchased a candle warmer for my office, since we aren’t allowed to actually light candles. The candle warmer melts the wax in any glass jar candle, and lets off the scent, while remaining flameless. I’ve had it in my office for a week (using the Fall Fruit Cornucopia) and I absolutely love it!

Here are some other fall scented products I’ve come across in my continuous hunt:

What festive scents are you filling your home or office with this fall?

Fresh Friday: Hypnotic Poison.

Nice nails.

Nice nails.

Thank God it’s Friday, right? Well, it’s actually Fresh Friday ’round here, and today we’re profiling Dior’s Hypnotic Poison. I have always admired Dior fashion, but of course, have never been able to afford it — but I’ll enjoy the samplings of perfume while I’ve got them!

Looks like an apple...

Looks like an apple…

Sephora describes Hypnotic Poison as, “Mysterious and mesmerizing, extravagant and bewitching, Hypnotic Poison is a magic potion for modern times. Audacious and profoundly feminine, the fragrance is an unsettling harmony, a fusion of contrasting olfactory facets.”

It has notes of Bitter Almond, Caraway Spice, Sambac Jasmine, Cinnamon, Tuberose, Vanilla, Musk, Mosses, and Jucarunda Wood.

Hypnotic Poison came onto the scene in 1998, and is known for its heavy vanilla scent. A simple glance at some online fragrance forums (yes, those exist) and you’ll see that users have noticed a difference in the scent they bought in 1998, and 2011, and then another difference in 2014.

I haven’t seen anything “official” about Dior changing the formula of the original scent, but if you’ve smelled it before, you might want to spritz a little on before purchasing, as users are saying the “new” version isn’t as complex as the original —sad day if you loved it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I sprayed this on — it’s very warm, and delicious smelling, like something in the oven (seriously). I sprayed in on around 8 am, and at 2pm, it’s still smelling wondrous.

Other cool ways to experience Hypnotic Poison by Dior: Shower gel, Deodorant, Body lotion

WYSK: Joan Rivers.

Joan, in complete glitz.

Joan, in complete glitz.

I know I’m a little late to the party on celebrating the life of the one and only Joan Rivers. Originally, I was going to use this edition of WYSK to talk about my two favorite Total Dives: Nikki & Brie Bella. But I changed my mind, and decided to talk about a different kind of diva.

I have always been a Joan Rivers fan, but a few weeks ago, I got in a bit of trouble at work when I said some things on my (personal) Twitter feed that (allegedly) a lot of my coworkers didn’t appreciate. It was not the first time I’ve been reprimanded for my mouth (or my writing).

I was told I should be ashamed to even show up to work.

For about five seconds, I wondered if I should be ashamed. But then, I thought of Joan. I woman who answered to no one, and would never let someone (no matter who) tell her how to feel. And no, I’m not ashamed, nor am I apologetic.

Joan Rivers was the only woman to ever host The Tonight Show, and as she was described in Nell Scovell’s article for Vanity Fair, she was undeniable. She was also: hilarious, glamorous, daring, giving, hard working, and bold.

“When people hate me, that’s good,” she told the A.V. Club. “They know I’m there. You’re not a chorus kid. Remember inA Chorus Line, she’s having trouble and he keeps saying, ‘You’re standing out,’ and she’s trying not to? They hate me? That’s good.” 

—Joan Rivers, for Time magazine

There are so many accomplishments behind her, it’s difficult to remember them all — she was a comic, a writer and an author (12 best-sellers), an actress, a designer, award-winner, a fashionista (changing the red carpet game forever with the question: who are you wearing?), and a reality television star.

I’m certain there will never be anyone quite like Joan — and I’m thankful for her. Even though she hated being called a pioneer, we can never have enough powerful women to look up to.

I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.

—Joan Rivers

Pic of the Week.

Grillin' on the beach.

Grillin’ on the beach.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Native Cafe — one of my favorite spots along the Gulf, right in Pensacola Beach (I just ordered a stack of peanut butter pancakes, if that helps at all).

This morning, I had to say goodbye to my two best friends, and goodbye to a vacation we’ve been looking forward to for a better half of the year.  The other ladies had to head out earlier than me, since they live in Indiana and I’ve got a shorter (4 hour) drive to get back home.

Pensacola Beach holds a special place in my heart — while it’s not an expensive place to visit, it’s not home to many fancy restaurants, it’s really just a beautiful beach… and it’s where my friend and I spent weeks every summer, growing up, and now, as adults.

And so, last night, we capped off our long weekend with something I’ve always wanted to do — host a beach bonfire. Believe it or not, it took a lot of planning, and even some paperwork (for the permit)… we pulled it off and were able to sit around a fire, with waves in the background, and s’mores on-hand.

And while I do love the beach, and I love being away from my work-life, what I love most is knowing that I’ve got people in my life to share these moments with. The situation isn’t always ideal — I wish I lived closer — but we’ve made it work, even if it involves day-long drives on someone’s end.

There’s not a lot of people that I know that would do it.

And so, cheers to the summer — it’s been adventurous, and really, really great!

Fresh Friday: Sel Marin.

The sea... bottled, only glamorous.

The sea… bottled, only glamorous.

Aloha! Since I am spending this Fresh Friday with my toes in the sand (jealous, much?), I wanted to feature a beachy scent this week — and it just had to be Sel Marin by James Heeley.

Sel Marin is described as “An afternoon standing on the docks during a clear spring day, the salty sea spray refreshingly hitting the skin” …ahh. Nice, huh?

Barney’s describes Sel Marin as, “Both breezy and aquatic, Sel Marin perfectly captures an early summer’s day spent at a quiet cove, a place absent of all fruity tropical oil smells and distractions. A refreshing blend of lemon, Sicilian bergamot, sea salt, seaweed, vetiver, birch and cedar.”

Sel Marin is a fragrance for men and women, with a base of Cedarwood, musk, and leather; midlle touches of sea salt, moss, and algae; and top notes of lemon (shout out), Italian bergamot, and beach leaf.

James Heeley is a fragrance designer, and he’s got quite a collection — which I will discover here — that ranges in scents from Bubblegum Chic and Hippie Rose to Ophelia and Menthe Fraiche.

The winner is commenter #3, Shannon! Let me know if you want the red/white blue hat, or the green one!

Dating With Myers-Briggs.

I'm an INTJ...

I’m an INTJ…

We use all sorts of tools — from horoscopes and compatibility tests (Which Harry Potter character are you?) to discover what our perfect match is going to look like. Does it work? Perhaps, but I’m still trying to figure it out.

At work, my coworkers and I completed a Strengths Finder test to determine our top five strengths. Not only were we required to discover our strengths and share them with others, we were also asked to post our results on our office door, so that others can learn how to better work with us. I’m not kidding.

In case you’re curious, here are my top five strengths: 1. Strategic (seeing patterns), 2. Responsibility (taking psychological ownership), 3. Futuristic (fascinated by the future), 4. Focus (guided by a clear destination), 5. Input (likes to add information to “archives”).

Basically, I’m awesome.

While I don’t know if “finding my strengths” helped me or my coworkers when it comes to my job, it’s always interesting to find out more about yourself, and those around you. One of the more popular tests that can explain your personality is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As it is described on their website:

The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.

Once you take the test, you’re given a set of four letters that help describe your personality. I’ve taken the test several times and I’m a clear INTJ. Here’s what that means:

Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.

So what do personality tests have to do with dating? Well, once you’ve pegged yourself with a set of letters or numbers, or even aligned yourself with certain characteristics, there’s always going to be another set of traits that complements yours — the question becomes, does that make for a perfect relationship?

I will always think that certain traits do complement one another; though I’m not sold on the whole “opposites attract” thing. I found this website called Mass Match, and this is what it said about my Myers-Briggs compatibility:

  • Best types for a relationship: ESTJ, INTJ, ISTP, ENTJ
  • Possible types for a relationship: INTP, INFJ, INFP, ENFP
  • Least likely types for a relationship: ESFJ, ISFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ISFP, ENTP, INFP, ENFJ
  • Percentage of the US population: 3-4%

I was shocked to see that I could match with another INTJ, but equally saddened to see that only 3-4% of the US is INTJ. HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND A MATCH? Maybe that’s why I’m still single…

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