Skills

It might sound like cheating – it’s not!

To start, let’s clarify that we at Carpe Juvenis are not condoning fraud to achieve your goals – that sort of behavior harms others and can have disastrous consequences from an ethical and legal standpoint. In contrast to that, acting a certain way in order to cultivate good habits, confidence, and success is far from unethical. All you’re doing is presenting a side of yourself that might normally need some coaxing to come out. Faking your way to success is more like a magician’s sleight of hand than smoke and mirrors. And honestly, who would fault you for wanting to improve yourself (albeit with a little misdirection)?

Here’s what we’re really suggesting: Act like the version of yourself that you want to become. Before you realize it, you’ll already have become the “you” that you wanted to be.

Amy Cuddy, researcher and professor at the Harvard School of Business, has studied the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels as it relates to power and emotion. Her 2012 TED talk, in which she discusses her landmark study on the role of body language and hormone levels, ranks as the second most-watched video in the organization’s history at over 28 million views. If you haven’t already seen it, take some time after reading this article to watch it via the link above.

At its core, Cuddy’s research points to this: social stimuli and hormone levels have a dialectical relationship. Thus, body language and feelings of power and confidence are engaged in a positive feedback loop. We all know that having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol will affect one’s outward behavior (feelings can dictate one’s behavior), but Cuddy’s talk tells us that the reverse can also be true (behavior can dictate one’s feelings). Acting powerless can lead to feeling powerless while acting confidently can lead to actually feeling more confident.

In her talk, Cuddy shares the story of one of her students, who, after not participating the entire semester, came to her and said that class participation was too difficult for her. The student was shy, unconfident, and admitted that she felt like she didn’t belong there. Cuddy responded by saying that she did belong there, and she should fake confidence until she actually became confident. Fake it, and see how far it gets you.

This story – of feeling out of place, intimidated, and thoroughly convinced that you are not of the proper caliber to succeed – is my story, your story, our story. We’ve all experienced moments of hesitation and self-doubt. When confronting those difficulties, we owe it to ourselves to use every reasonable tool at our disposal to break down the walls that block our way to success.

To achieve that success, keep two thoughts in mind.

First, accept that you are a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Leverage that variability, and do you. It’s trite, but true. Sometimes the most perfunctory thoughts can be the most profound. Let’s deconstruct the do you message real quick. It doesn’t mean you should live fast and die hard, abide by your emotional whims, and act selfishly. Rather, it means that you should be the best you can be in the face of adversity. When challenged, does doing you include selling yourself short and limiting yourself? No way. When challenged, doing you includes presenting the side of yourself that can most readily tackle the issue. Ignore the haters that say you’re one way when you’re actually another.

(As a side note, I would like to add that you should NOT flatly disregard what other people think about you. The whole reason that faking it to success is so important is because other people’s thoughts about you can affect your life in incredibly powerful ways. “Not caring what other people think” is cognitive dissonance at its most paradoxical. You shouldn’t care about others’ unjustified judgments, but should certainly care about their thoughts, opinions, and prejudices as it relates to you. Often we don’t realize that, because we’re privileged, it’s easy to just disregard others because we don’t think it will harm us. Ask anybody from the Black Lives Matter or feminist movements if they think others’ opinions can be weapons – sometimes unconsciously – and if we should care about those opinions.)

Second, destroy the notion of one’s “place.” Your “place” is the most insidious, reprehensible form of prejudice, and accepting your “place” without using every feasible tool at your disposal to achieve your goals is truly a shame. Show me the mandate that says variance in lifestyle isn’t freely allowed. Faking it until success means taking a stand against self-inflicted shortcomings and tacit acceptance of one’s “place.”

So fake it. Pretend you’re confident and push past the things that tell you otherwise. You owe it to yourself.

Image: Unsplash

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Entrepreneur, baker, author, and cupcake lover are just some of the words used to describe Trophy Cupcakes founder Jennifer Shea. Jennifer had always loved cooking and baking, but it wasn’t until she saw a cupcake shop in New York City that she realized what she wanted to do. When she went on tour with a rock band doing marketing and promotions, she used that time to also test out different candy shops and bakeries around the U.S. and Europe.

Now, Trophy Cupcakes has four locations in Washington state. Jennifer has also written a cupcake cookbook and appeared on Martha Stewart – amazing! Even with all her success, Jennifer continues to be hardworking, kind, and generous with her time. It was incredible to discuss with Jennifer how she got to where she is today, challenges she faced along the way, and what it means to be a leader.

Name: Jennifer Shea
Education: BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University
Follow: @trophycupcakes / Instagram / Facebook / Trophy Cupcakes

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Jennifer Shea: It’s about identifying your dreams, your bliss, and really focusing on what you’re passionate about. It’s also about taking steps to make your dreams happen. The people who realize their dreams are the ones who put one foot in front of the other and just do it. Even if your dreams or goals seem out of reach, just start talking to people about how to accomplish them. You’ll be amazed how the pieces will start to come together.

CJ: You majored in Nutrition and Dietetics at Bastyr University. How did you determine what to study?

JS: I’ve always loved food (who doesn’t), especially cooking and baking. But I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do right out of high school. I was already interested in nutrition because I was a vegetarian at the time. But, because I couldn’t put my finger on what my passion was or what my career was going to be, I landed on nutrition by accident at a job fair. I came across Bastyr University’s booth and saw that they had a whole foods nutrition program, which sounded fascinating. I decided to just go for it.

CJ: You spent some time touring with a rock band doing marketing and promotions after college. What was that experience like and what did you learn from it?

JS: It was a really exciting time, but super hard, too, because it’s rough to live out of a suitcase day in and day out. I was glad I’d majored in nutrition, but I wasn’t seeing myself in that profession in a typical capacity. I happened to meet and date a guy soon after passing my boards and he asked me if I wanted to go on tour and sell T-shirts. To the horror of my mother, I said yes.

I’d worked really hard in school and had a full time job, so I needed a break and touring sounded like a dream come true. I also didn’t want to be the girlfriend stuck at home while her boyfriend was on tour doing who knows what. So, I basically created a position for myself in the band. I eventually called myself their Merchandise Manager and I figured out how to help make sure the band got all of the profits. I really got into figuring out what made their fans tick and what kind of merchandise they would love.

I introduced a whole line of pillowcases with song lyrics going across the cases and badges that were exclusive to each tour so as you went to more shows you could collect the different patches. I had a lot of fun with it, and it taught me a lot about merchandising and presentation. It was a good first experience with having my own little business.

CJ: You opened Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle in 2007. What inspired you to open a cupcake shop, and what does your role as founder entail?

JS: I first saw a cupcake shop while visiting NYC and I instantly knew it was what I wanted to do. My life flashed before my eyes. I realized that I’d been complaining that I didn’t know what my passion was, yet I baked all the time. I didn’t know that I could turn my hobby into a career. Touring was a great way to do research because I visited so many candy shops and patisseries in the U.S. and Europe. I took mental notes about architecture, design and perfect little details I saw.

My role as founder has changed a lot over the years and it’s always morphing. In the beginning, I did everything—from baking the cupcakes, to opening the register, to training and managing employees, to doing payroll, to coming up with new flavors and marketing. When you’re a small business, you have to do it all yourself. I should’ve just slept in my shop, really. I would get there at 4am and leave at 9pm. As we started to grow, I was able to bring in more experts.

Right now I focus on marketing, social media and innovation. I’m also our brand ambassador, making sure that we are living up to our brand promise and that my team understands what that is. I also act as the face of the company. I do several speaking gigs each year about how I got started. I also teach classes in my shops and online through Craftsy.com. I also wrote a book, which took a lot of my time, but was totally worth it.

CJ: In your role as founder, leadership is important. How have you learned to lead and what does it meant to be a leader?

JS: That has probably been the most challenging part of having a company. I haven’t always been a good leader and work really hard at it now. I think being a good leader means understanding how differently people work. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has a different way of getting motivated and inspired. You have to really listen…really see people. If you can take the time to see what makes people tick, you will have a much easier time inspiring them and leading them to represent your company the way that you want.

On another level, I try to inspire others to do something amazing with their lives beyond Trophy. I like telling people my story because I didn’t come from a background where I had parents who pushed me toward business. I didn’t have money or experience that would have made you guess I could do this. I really just followed my dreams and figured it out along the way. The more I believed I could do it, the more the doors to success just kept opening right in front of me.

CJ: What have been the greatest challenges in running your company, and what do you wish you had known before opening your shop?

JS: Entrepreneurs have to be naive because if they knew how hard it was before they started, they wouldn’t do it. I always say that entrepreneurs succeed because they don’t know any better.  I didn’t know anything when I started. I had taken some business courses as part of my registered dietician training, but I didn’t have any experience with the business of baking.

I wish I’d known there are so many people out there willing to help you and you don’t have to do it all by yourself. I have that type of personality where I think I have to do everything myself, but I learned that it’s okay to ask for help and that there are all kinds of women/young entrepreneur groups in just about every area that can be super helpful. I also wish I had asked someone to be my mentor earlier on, so that he or she could give me pep talks. I recommend finding a support system—a group or person—that can help you with business-specific problems along the way.

The thing I wasn’t expecting was for me to stop baking. I thought I was always going to be the one baking the cupcakes, but the more I learned about business, the more I realized that when you run a business there’s a point where you have to be steering the ship and looking at the big picture. If I was in the kitchen for 8-10 hours per day, I wouldn’t be able to determine our next move.

CJ: Almost a year ago you published your first book, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties. We love that your book not only provides recipes, but also party how-to’s. What was your book writing process like?

JS: The publisher came to me and asked if I wanted to write a cookbook. That sounded exciting right off the bat but I knew the cupcake cookbook world was already saturated. (I have so many of them myself!) I said I loved the idea of writing a book, but in order for it to be marketable it needed to have more than just recipes. I wanted to help people learn how to plan parties. I also wanted to appeal to more than just bakers.

Little did I know this book would be 10 times as much work as a cookbook. Every single cupcake recipe includes party ideas and a craft, plus suggestions for décor, drinks, and food. Writing all of that content and then photographing it was challenging. But I love the way it turned out. I tried not to do anything that would be dated; I wanted everything to be classic so the book would always be relevant.

Touring with the book through Williams Sonoma stores was super fun and I love that I now have fans across the country and beyond!

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to have their own bakery and run their own business do now to set themselves up for success?

JS: Believe you can accomplish your dreams, then know that believing is half the battle, doing is the rest. Also, embrace your fear! Everyone is scared. The key is to know that fear is a part of the process and not be paralyzed by it. This mentality is not necessarily easy if you weren’t raised that way. I started reading books about manifesting and having an abundant state of mind, and that really changed my life. I also started doing guided meditations focused on love, success and manifesting…amazing! I would also recommend traveling and going out of your way to meet people who are inspirational to you. You can meet almost anyone if you come from an authentic place, and you’re not pushy. Most people are happy to help you or answer questions. Sometimes even brief encounters can really end up paving a road for you.

I believe in synchronicity and that if you’re following your dreams, the universe will end up putting things in your path that will help you down the road. Be adventurous and put yourself out there even if you don’t know where you’re going. I didn’t necessarily know where I was going. If I hadn’t gone on tour (and horrified my mother), Trophy may not exist today.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like? How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

JS: Every day is a little different, depending on what projects I’m working on. And as an owner, you have to wear lots of hats. But usually, I wake up early and meditate (this sets the tone for my day), then I get my son ready for school. My workday starts with checking in with the bakery, which is the heart of our business. I really like knowing first thing in the morning that the bake has gone well and that everything in our stores is “Trophy-quality.” I try to visit each shop and I check in with our general manager, work on social media, and talk to employees working on different projects. I may do a talk for a local Girl Scouts or entrepreneurs group. Or, I may have back-to-back meetings about a million different things. My goal is to get to a point where I make sure to do something for myself each day beyond meditating.

Balance…it’s super tricky. If you are super passionate about what you’re doing, it’s very easy to lose site of family, friends and even yourself. I have learned that it’s very important to take time out of your business path for self-care. If you are not well rested, taking the time to recharge (through exercise, spending time with family or reading a good book), you will eventually crash and burn. You cannot be a good boss, entrepreneur, friend, (fill in the blank) if you don’t make time for yourself to recharge each day.

I stay organized through using tools like Basecamp — it keeps all of my to-do lists in one place. I also use my calendar religiously so that I don’t overbook or forget meetings. I also try to never schedule meetings for Mondays. That gives me an entire day to plan my week and tie up any loose ends from the previous week.

CJ: You have had many amazing career moments in such a short period of time, such as being featured in Vanity Fair magazine, appearing on The Martha Stewart show, and releasing your first book. What other goals do you have for Trophy?

JS: My goal is to continue figuring out how to make Trophy a relevant and inspiring business to the community and to myself. What we do is about so much more than cupcakes. We sell little pieces of happiness and people feel emotionally invested in it. I’ve seen people eating Trophy cupcakes on their first date. I’ve also seen people serve Trophy cupcakes at their wedding, and then again at their baby shower.

The best businesses stay fluid and I think there always has to be a fresh idea and a new outlook for what Trophy is giving to everyone. That’s what I stay focused on. I also really want to open something that’s exciting with more offerings and where people can have more celebrations.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

JS: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

CJ: If you could enjoy an afternoon eating cupcakes with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what kind of cupcake would you bake?

JS: My dad. He passed away when I was a baby, so getting to spend an afternoon with him would be a dream come true. I would create an angel food cupcake with chocolate whipped cream filling for him. It was his favorite type of cake that my grandma used to make him.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

JS: I would tell my 20-year-old-self to believe in me, and the power of the universe. It took a lot of years before I believed that I really could do anything. I spent a lot of years flailing and not really seeing that I had a passion. Who knew that your hobby, what you love to do most, could be your career?! I’d tell me, “Just get out there make your dreams happen!”

Jennifer Shea Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

EducationSkills

I remember the day I decided to take on a senior thesis in strangely vivid detail. I walked out of my advisor’s office feeling extremely confident and excited about the project I was about to undertake. However, by the time I had made it the three blocks back to my dorm, I was on the phone with my best friend in a panic, fervently begging her to talk me out of the decision I had just made.

As I look back now, over a year later, I can happily say that it was one of my better decisions. I currently work as an intern in a biological anthropology lab at The George Washington University studying primate behavioral ecology. For the past three years as an undergraduate student, I have studied data on maternal behavior and infant development in wild chimpanzees, wrestled with excel spreadsheets for countless hours, cataloged infinite sheets of behavioral data, and memorized an extensive protocol for entering data into excel and our online database. I came across this internship opportunity through an email sent out to all students pursuing their anthropology major.

My greatest passion has always been finding the answers to questions. I was never satisfied chalking things up to fate, chance, or destiny. Everything in my mind has to be answered with facts and correlations. I’ve always been curious; most of us are. The idea of research appealed to me because it is a way to establish facts and reach brand new conclusions – having tangible answers has always been crucial for me.

When I learned that the lab was working with Jane Goodall’s database, I knew I needed the job. Jane Goodall has been a personal inspiration my entire life. Her courage, strength, and dedication to science have always been traits that I admire. Jane embarked on a research journey in Tanzania in 1960 that many men and women would not have dreamed possible. Her independence and drive allowed her to succeed during a time when women were barely respected in scientific research. She individually named all of the chimpanzees she studied, researching their culture, hunting behaviors, and tool use. Her discoveries changed the worlds of primatology, anthropology, and the way we study evolution.

Although I didn’t necessarily plan on pursuing a career in primatology, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my foot in the door of research and learn more about something I loved. I’ve learned that in order to discover your true passions, trying new things and jumping on interesting opportunities is a must. Working in the lab taught me that research was something worth pursuing, even if biological anthropology and primatology weren’t my primary passions.

When I first began working in the lab, entering data was exciting and informative. However, I soon realized that I was itching to get more hands-on in the work that the other lab members were doing. I would watch as the graduate students developed their research questions for their dissertations, and the post docs queried data for their analyses. I wanted to see if I had what it took to create my own questions and pioneer my own project. I met with my research advisor to discuss options and she suggested I begin work on a senior honors thesis.

The concept of individual, original research can be daunting, and it has been anything but easy for me. My near-fatal flaws include procrastinating and a lack of organization, but over the past year I have learned many valuable lessons about pioneering my own major project. Hopefully these skills will be applicable to you throughout your own research, senior theses, or any other type of long-term project.

1. Create a flexible timeline with small goals

This is extremely important for those of us who tend to leave things until the last minute. My thesis has taken place over the course of three semesters. I dedicated my first semester to creating proposals for two research topics, a major literature review, drafting preliminary research questions, and writing a 10 page introduction. I set deadlines for these individual tasks with my advisor in order to hold myself accountable. My second semester was all about performing the actual analyses and revising the questions after preliminary results. This semester, I’m finishing the final analyses and writing up the full body of the paper. Having smaller goals and requiring someone else to help keep you on track has really helped me stay organized and has limited my procrastination.

2. Keep an up-to-date spreadsheet tracking all of your sources/literature

The first step in research is almost always reading. There are so many studies that have already been done and it is crucial to educate yourself on the facts and information that already exist in the academic world. I ended up reading over a hundred journal articles in preparation for my research project. At first it was hard to keep track of the knowledge I was gaining just from the notes I had been jotting down, so I created a system to keep track. I started logging every article into an excel spreadsheet, listing the title, author, year, species, questions asked, methods, and results. This made it easy for me to look back and pull out the relevant information. I gained a foundational knowledge of my topic, as well as ideas for potential research questions and methods. For someone with severe organizational problems, this was a lifesaver, and I am constantly referring to this document. Make Excel your best friend!

3. Be proactive when it comes to meeting with your advisor

Fostering relationships with professors and mentors in college is one of the best moves you can make. Not only will they support you during your time in undergrad, but they typically have abundant connections that they are more than willing to share with you when it comes to your future. However, you are not their number one priority. Professors have multiple classes, conduct their own research, and are involved with countless other commitments. Therefore the responsibility is on you to be proactive when it comes to getting help with your project. You may have to be the one to schedule weekly meetings to touch base. You may have to be the one to create your own deadlines. Chances are that the more proactive you are the more your mentor will recognize your motivation and drive, and will do his or her part to help you succeed.

4. Treat the project as if it were a class

At most universities, working on an individual research project with an advisor can qualify you for research credits. For example, I got three credit hours towards my degree for each semester I performed undergraduate research. Therefore, I learned to treat my thesis as an actual class. If you think about it, you spend about two and a half hours in class per week, with an additional two to five hours on homework and readings. Each week, I try to dedicate that same amount of time to my project. This way, tasks don’t build up and you will feel less overwhelmed.

5. Utilize the people around you

I cannot stress this enough. Having other lab members around to support me has been absolutely invaluable. The grad students had all written senior theses in the past and are currently working on dissertations, which makes them excellent resources when it comes to research design, time management, and staying sane. At first, I felt a bit awkward approaching them; I wasn’t exactly sure that they would want to spend their time mentoring an undergrad when they already had so much on their plates. Luckily, they have been in your position before and understand the importance having mentors. Ask to grab coffee and talk about their projects and tips that they might have for you. People love talking about themselves and their work, and your colleagues want to see you succeed!

6. Never stop reading

New information is constantly being published. Even though I performed my major literature review over a year ago to jumpstart my research, there are countless new articles on my topic. It is so important to stay informed and always have the relevant and recent information on your topic. Reading the latest publications may give you new ideas for how you want to frame your paper, something else that you should control for, or another question you should be asking.

Good luck with your own research and thesis journey!

Image: Flickr

CollegeEducationLearn

It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do after you graduate from college. Some people will jump right into the workforce directly after the college, but the rest of us are planning to continue our educational careers by going to grad school or law school immediately after we graduate. I know a lot of people might not want to think about the next phase of their journeys just yet but it’s important, if you haven’t already, to come up with a list of schools you want to apply to after taking the LSAT, the GRE, and for the future doctors out there, the MCAT. I’m not planning on taking the LSAT until June, but knowing what schools I want to aim for gives me an incentive to study hard so that I can get a good score on my test. We’ll talk about preparing for the test another day, but for now let’s stay on the topic of picking a school to attend.

For the most part, I already have my list of universities written down. This list used to be about a page and a half long but after thinking more about what I want out of a law school, I was able to narrow the choices down. For people who are considering going to graduate school, these tips can still be useful to you, especially if you have a long list and aren’t sure how to shorten it.

One of the most important things to be when making your list is realistic. Keep your GPA and the score you get on your test in mind when researching schools. For example, if I have a 3.0 grade point average and I score a 152 on the LSAT, I’m not going to chance applying to Harvard Law. This is mostly because I know that my grades and my test score aren’t high enough and it would be a waste of money to apply to a school I most likely will not get into. Since application fees aren’t cheap, being honest with yourself will keep you from going broke. I’m not saying that it is impossible for someone who has those scores to get into an Ivy League like Harvard or that they shouldn’t apply, but it’s much more realistic to look at schools that you can get into before shooting for the ones that are much more difficult to get accepted into.

You can easily find the test score and GPA range for all of the universities you’re thinking of applying to online. Just use Google or visit the university’s website and you’ll find all the information you need. Once you have all of that information written down and you’ve figured out what schools you could get into and which ones might be a little more difficult, now it’s time to weed out the right ones in that list.

Many people look at the rankings to determine which school is the best, but really, it’s up to you to make that decision for yourself. Only you know what you want out of the law, graduate, or med school you want to attend. If you’re not sure what it is you want just yet, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a clue, it just means that you need some help figuring it out.

When thinking about law school, I initially didn’t know where I wanted to go. Then I started thinking about location. Where would I enjoy going to graduate school? Do I want to stay in my home state or try living somewhere new? Once I had a list of the places I wouldn’t mind living, I started thinking about the cost. Graduate school isn’t cheap, but there are some that are less expensive than others. You don’t have to shy away from the super expensive schools because, chances are, you can get scholarship money and grants to help you out.

This leads into the next thing you should look at when making your list – how much money in scholarships does the university give away each year? Once you’ve narrowed your list down by taking out the schools in the places where you know you don’t want to go and you’ve decided what schools are in your budget and offer the most scholarship money to its students, you can start looking into things such as class size, campus environment, programs offered, etc. If you’re going to law school, check to see if they have the clinics that you’d want, and if you know for sure you want to specialize in a particular law, research the classes they have to see if what offer will prepare you for your career.

Other things to consider that are really important are employment rates. Many universities provide information on where their graduates went on to work or if they got jobs at all. If a school has a high percentage of unemployed graduates, then that’s something that you’re going to have to think about. Really, I can’t tell you what school is best for you. Only you know how to answer that question. If you need more help, speak with an advisor and try to visit the schools on your list, if you can. Go to graduate, med, and law school fairs. Ask the university representatives questions and look at countless websites of different universities. It isn’t just the academics that makes a school good, but the campus environment is extremely important as well. If you want a school that’s huge or one that’s small, that’s something else to factor into your search. If you value approachable faculty members, diversity, or anything else you can think of, then take the time to find the schools that fit that criterion because those schools exist. In fact, they’re waiting for you right now. What are you waiting for?

Image: Brent Hoard, cropped

HealthSkills

Last week I shared my natural face wash recipe. This week, I’m sharing my body wash recipe, which also includes several essential oils.

If you haven’t read my last article, you may be wondering why on this green earth I would use oil to wash my face and body. To sum it up in a nutshell, most of our facial and body cleansers contain harsh, even dangerous, chemicals, including industrial cleaning agents and ingredients in antifreeze. To top it off, many natural and essential oils contain antibacterial and cleansing properties.

It sort of blew my mind and got me freaking out about what I’d been putting on my skin all these years. So, I did some research on natural stuff, and now here I am, with some chemical-free and deliciously scented face and body washes that I made myself. They work wonders.

So here’s the recipe, which includes the incredible and inexpensive coconut oil that comprises the majority of my face wash. As with the face wash recipes, the possibilities are endless here. Essential oils and castile soaps do wonderful cleaning jobs, they’re not harsh on the skin and they don’t send chemicals down the drain into our water.

The Recipe

1 cup castile soap – inexpensive, health foods stores
3 drops rose oil – pricey, health foods stores
3 tsp coconut oil – inexpensive, grocery or health foods stores
5 drops lavender oil – somewhat pricey, health foods stores

Note: while some of the oils I use are pricey (close to $20 for a small jar), they last a long time. Most recipes call for only a few drops of each, as a little goes a long way. Plus, the oils can be used for all kinds of health purposes. They’re a good investment.

Soap-wise, I chose Dr. Bronner’s organic almond liquid castile soap. It smells de-lish but not too strong. Like I did for my face wash, I used a mason jar, but feel free to use any type of bottle or container.

Be sure to shake it up before use, every time! Otherwise, the oils will sit on top and not mix in with the soap.

Other than that, just put it on a washcloth and use it the way you’d use regular body wash! Scrub and rinse.

For extra moisturizing and cleansing, you can rub coconut or another type of essential oil on your skin when finished. I’d recommend coconut oil just because it’s so much cheaper than your typical essential oils, plus it smells awesome and works wonders. You can wipe it off or leave a light layer if it’s comfortable for you, although leaving it on all day feels a little weird in my opinion.

I hope you find my recipe beneficial, but feel free to find the scents that work best for you! Research can let you know the best ingredients for dry skin, oily skin, and normal skin.

Anyone have other recipes for natural body washes? Share below!

Image: Annouk, Flickr

EducationSkills

The fall semester looms near. Did your pack your things? Make your schedule? Say goodbye to your summer flip flops? The end of August is a time of change, and for some students, this may mean starting a part­-time job for the first time. Now, I know it’s hectic to move into your dorm, prep for classes, and adjust to the back-­to-­school mentality, but now is the time to start hunting for part-­time jobs for the fall semester.

Here are four things to keep in mind:

1. School vs. Job

School comes first. But your job pays for school. But school comes first. This has gone through your head before, hasn’t it? If you’re like me, you work part-time during the semester to pay for textbooks, supplies, and tuition. Some students pay for their groceries and bills and rent. Whatever your situation, it’s important to understand your own limit and be able to balance that midterm paper on ancient Greek epics or the midnight shift in the student labs.

Everybody has their own pace. Some students may find the workload heavy, especially if they’re new students or thesis-­stressed seniors. Consider these things when you’re deciding if you want to work or not.

2. Paperwork

Since you’re working, you might want to get some things together. Before leaving mom or dad, get your personal information from them. Many jobs require identification, so get a state ID or an unexpired driver’s license from the DMV. At the end of the year, you’ll get some papers about taxes, which you might give to your parents so they can file their taxes. Don’t throw these papers out or lose them! You should provide accurate data because that tax info is the same info you’ll need for your FASFA (that sounds familiar right?). When in doubt, keep it, and ask your university’s finance or career office.

3. Where To Work

In the school library? In the labs? In the bakery, the clothing store, the modeling agency? Things to consider about your job is how it would work with your schedule. Because colleges can have pretty irregular hours, it may be hard to find someone who would take you from 3­-9pm one day, and 7am-­4pm the next. Keep in mind that university jobs tend to go to students who are in financial need, and departmental jobs look for students who are reliable in their major and may not depend on financial need. For example, I don’t get first dibs at the library, but I managed to find work in the photography lab. See the difference? Find what suits you, and don’t be afraid to ask around your school. Jobs as an assistant, teacher’s assistant, archivist, or anything else may be found in unexpected places.

4. Start Hunting!

Since people are going back to school, they’ll be quitting their jobs. Someone going from New York to California may drop one job in the Big Apple only to pick up another job in San Diego. Imagine all of the college students who are doing this (possibly including you!). The next few weeks are the perfect time to find jobs, especially in school (since the semester is starting again).

Each semester is a chance for a new beginning, to try something new or to redo something from before. Getting a job may be scary and stressful, but you’ll never know what you’ll get if you don’t try! Good luck!

Image: Tobias Mikkelsen, Flickr

Health

I wash my face with oil. I get some funny looks when I tell people this, but I personally think it makes more sense than telling people I wash my face with chemicals. Not only that, but my skin glows. It’s super clear, feels like a baby face and smells like a coconut! Does it get any better than that?! I’ve tossed all my store-bought face washes because I no longer feel the need to scrub my face with chemicals, alcohols, and other industrial cleaning products of unknown origins.

I became interested in using oil cleansing face wash when I was at the grocery store, reading labels on cosmetics marketed as “organic” and “natural.” I’m sorry, but can someone explain to me what is natural about Disodium Laureth-3 Sulfosuccinate and Cocamidopropyl betaine?

After some research, I found that many(probably the majority of) commercial face wash products contain chemicals like those found in antifreeze (propylene glycol – a skin irritant that can lead to liver and kidney damage) and crude oil (mineral oil – inaccurately named and classified by the World Health Organization in the most harmful group of carcinogens). Trust me – that’s only the very beginning.

These chemicals are so harsh on our pretty little faces that they can cause reactions, including dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Their short-term benefits are derived from industrial cleaning agents. Imagine washing your face with Clorox wipes.

That research was enough to make my skin crawl. Being a slight mother nature weirdo, this discovery was all the motivation I needed to switch cleansing methods, pronto.Weirdo or not, though, the benefits that come with natural oil washes and the health/beauty dangers that come with commercial ones make the option seem like a no-brainer.

I started my switch by simply Googling “natural face wash.” What I found was unbelievable. I realized that most stripped-down face washes I could buy still contain at least some kind of long-named chemical, but that I could make my own using only a few ingredients, namely, essential oils.

What?

It seemed so counterintuitive to clean my face by rubbing oil on it, but, like most people my age, I decided to blindly trust the Internet. I settled on a simple recipe that wouldn’t require me to purchase too many oils (being real here, I have almost no disposable income). I also didn’t want anything too complicated for my first try.

The Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need, if you want to try the recipe I use:

Coconut oil (1 tablespoon) – very cheap, grocery or health foods store
Tea tree oil (3 drops) – average, health foods store
Lavender oil (2 drops) – somewhat pricey, health foods store
[optional]: squeeze of lemon juice for oily skin
[optional]: a couple drops of honey
A bottle or jar with a lid (I used a mason jar to make it cute)

Mix as many “servings” of the recipe as you please into your container. This next step is optional, but you can stick it in the fridge, and it will take on a more lotion-y consistency.

The Method

When using it in either form, simply put some on your fingers and massage it into your face until you feel you’ve covered your whole face, jawline included.

Then, take a washcloth and put it under water that’s as hot as you can stand having on your face. Wring it out and put it over your face for about a minute – this is to “steam” your face and open your pores more so the oil can get in there and do its job.

Next, use a clean washcloth and warm water to wipe the remaining oil from your face. And voila! You’re done!

Other Options

There are endless variations on the recipe, because so many essential oils possess cleansing and antibacterial properties. I read about one girl who uses literally only coconut oil. I read another article listing possible oils to mix, including castor oil, which apparently is a fantastic gentle cleansing oil. I think I’m going to try it in my next recipe.

If you want to get creative with different scents and oils, do a Google (or Bing, I don’t know your life) search on essential oils, determine which ones have cleansing and/or moisturizing properties, and try those in a face wash blend! It’s all about finding the one that works wonders for you.

Results

The results are actually unbelievable. Like I said at the beginning, my skin is clear, soft, and glowing. My pores look smaller, too. I even put on some makeup to test it out, and the oil peeled all of it right off.

Whether you have extremely dry, extremely oily, normal, or acne prone skin, there’s a natural oil face wash out there for you. Best of luck in making the switch! Your skin will thank you.

cat in tub

Any other natural face wash ideas? Share them in the comments section below!

Images: Sharon_K, Flickr; Veganbaking.net, Flickr

EducationSkills

Counting down the days until you are free from the vice-like grip of your job or internship? Dissatisfied with the work you are being asked to do? Wishing time would pass faster? We’ve all been there, and it really is no way to spend your time. Instead of using your energy being dissatisfied with your internship, use that energy to figure out how to make your internship work. Here are some tips to make the most of your internship when you are feeling frustrated with it:

1. Grab Lunch with People in Other Areas of the Company

If you are working in a certain division of a company, talk to people who work in other divisions. For example, if you work in the script reading division of a film production company, ask people in the marketing, finance, Human Resources, talent, and production divisions to go to lunch. You can walk up to someone or send a quick email introducing yourself. Be grateful for the time people give you, and meet with the intent of learning more about how those people got to where they are in their careers. This is a great way to network internally at your internship and to make the most of your time there. Even if you aren’t dissatisfied with your internship (or job), this is a smart way to meet more people and gain insight.

2. Focus on the Good and Write Down Positive Things That Are Happening

When you are frustrated, it’s easy to get pulled into a negativity spiral. Step back from your disappointment that the internship isn’t what you thought it would be, and instead focus on the things that are going well. Did you make a new friend? Did you deliver a project before the deadline? Was it a nice sunny walk to work? Pay attention to the little positive things, and you’ll see when you write them down that things might not be so bad after all. You might also try starting a gratitude journal for this same purpose.

3. Ask Your Boss for More (or Different) Responsibilities

Do you think your workload could be heavier? Too much free time? Maybe you see something that would be interesting to try? Once you determine whether you need more responsibilities, or maybe just a different project on your plate, approach your boss with a game plan. Have a clear “ask” and know what you want to say. If you approach your boss with an open-ended loose idea, he or she might think you aren’t serious or ready for more responsibilities. Ask for something specific and explain why you are feeling this way and how you would accomplish the tasks. If your boss approves, you now have a new exciting project to add to the original tasks that weren’t satisfying you. Even though you still have to get the other work done, your new tasks will help you break up the day and test new skills.

4. Be Honest with Your Boss About Expectations and Reality

If you are truly frustrated with the way things are happening in your internship or you feel like the job you applied for isn’t quite what you are being assigned, talk to your boss about it. Your time is precious and you should be making the most of it. While it’s important to pay your dues, you shouldn’t be spending every day for three months cleaning walls and getting coffee for people. You need to be learning and challenging yourself.

5. Take Initiative (While Also Getting Your Work Done)

If you see something around the office that needs to get done, be a self-starter and offer to do it without anyone having to ask. Be sure to get your main duties finished first, but then once those are completed, you have a project where you can shine and show initiative. This is a great way to be a rockstar at your internship even when you might feel dissatisfied with it.

6. Make Friends

Befriend the other interns or entry-level people you work with. Ask them to grab lunch or dinner after work. Is there a fun networking or social event this weekend or weeknight that looks interesting? Ask someone from work to join you! Having friends at work will help your internship feel more fulfilling.

7. This Internship is Temporary

Oftentimes, we figure out what we want to do by figuring what we don’t want to do. Even though you are disappointed with your internship, treat it as a learning experience for what you do not want to do. It’s a good lesson to learn now when you haven’t invested too much time or money into it. Additionally, once you realize that you only have a certain number of days of your internship left, you may start to feel inspired to make the most of it.

8. Create Healthy Competition with Yourself

When I feel frustrated with repetitive work, I create a healthy competition with myself. I try to get the work done faster than I did the previous day or see if there is a new strategy I can implement to accomplish the work. Setting goals against the work you did on previous days will keep you feeling sharp and attentive.

9. Plan After-Work Activities

When your days are filled with work you are not passionate about, they can feel long. Plan after-work activities to help keep you excited throughout the day. Search for networking or social events in your area, plan a dinner with a co-worker or friend, or catch a movie. There are many things you can organize after work that will help keep you from feeling too bummed out.

Bonus Tip #10: For Future Internships, Truly Know What You’re Getting Into

When you are applying for future internships, really understand what you are getting into. Just as the company interviews you, interview the company and ask them questions so you get a feel for what you will actually be doing on the job. Talk to other people who have interned at the company to hear what they have to say about their experience. Companies will be getting value from you during your internship, and you should gain value from your internships, as well. Ask lots of questions, do research, and if you can, ask to spend a day with a member of the team you are interested in to get a feel for what your summer, fall, or spring will look like.

How do you make things work when you are dissatisfied?

CultureEducation

When we come across programs that make us excited about learning, we can’t wait to share and tell people all about it. One program in particular that we adore is General Assembly, a global educational institution that empowers individuals to learn topics such as technology, design, and business. You can take classes, workshops, courses, or immersive programs that last 8-12 weeks. The opportunities are seriously endless.

Last week, I took a class about eCommerce at General Assembly, and just in that hour and a half, I felt like I had a good grip on the basics. The class sizes are small, the instructors are accessible after class or by email for additional questions, and classrooms are clean and spacious. Oh, and there’s free Wifi!

I can’t wait to take more classes at General Assembly. I learned a lot from my first class, and if you plan on taking a course at General Assembly or another program, here’s what you should know!

1. Don’t forget your ticket. If you register for a class online, you will receive an online, printable ticket. Print this out right away and remember to bring it with you to class. This will make checking-in much smoother.

2. Bring a notebook or a laptop. You will be taking a lot of notes. Don’t rely on just your mind to remember everything the instructor says.

3. Do initial research. Even if you are taking a class because you do not know the first thing about the topic, it never hurts to do some initial research before the course. This way, in case the teacher uses terms and doesn’t go over them in class, you will have an idea of what he or she is talking about. Having done some initial reading also allows you to focus on the details that is being presented rather than trying to catch up with the basics.

4. Come prepared with questions. The instructor may encourage questions throughout the class or after he or she has finished the lesson. Either way, have a couple of questions prepared so you get the most out of your course. Remember, there are no stupid questions!

5. Arrive 15 minutes early. You don’t want to be the person stumbling into the class five minutes late and scrambling to find a seat. Plan on arriving 15 minutes early so you can find a good seat, set up your laptop and get out your pens, and review your questions.

6. Sit near the front. Sitting near the front of the class will help you see the presentation slides better, as well as give you a better chance of having your questions answered. You don’t want to be peering over people’s heads just to see what the slide says. Arriving 15 minutes early will help guarantee you the best seat in the house.

7. Introduce yourself. If you are sitting next to someone, say hi. If you enjoyed the class a lot, approach the instructor afterwards to say so. It never hurts to introduce yourself – good things might come out of it.

8. Thank you email. If the instructor offers his or her email address at the end of the presentation, jot it down and make sure to send a thank you email. Thank the instructor for his or her time, what you most enjoyed about the class, and if you have any additional questions, now is the time to ask them.

Have you ever taken a class at General Assembly/a similar program?