Make New Friends, but Keep the Old

No woman is complete without her friends. No matter how successful, intelligent, or wealthy- a girl needs her girlfriends. A friend provides many important essentials: a much needed afternoon break from your hectic life, a dependable second opinion, a shoulder to cry on, or a person to share and celebrate your joys with. When you have a fight or disagreement with a good friend it seems as if your world is going to end. You aren’t quite sure how you would ever survive without them.

Friendship isn’t easy. People, especially women, expect a lot from their friends. Despite our own busy lives we are expected to frequently keep in touch, know the happenings of each other’s lives, and organize a get together every few weeks. Sounds exhausting but we all do it (and it’s totally worth it). Making new friends is just as hard as keeping the old but I have gathered some great tips on how to maintain those priceless friendships. Just follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated.

*If you are meeting a friend somewhere- be on time. If you are constantly late, don’t have an excuse, or don’t apologize for your tardiness then it seems like your life/whatever you were doing before is more important than meeting your friend.

*Don’t gossip about friends with other friends (unless you are bragging about all their accomplishments). There’s a very good chance that anything bad you say WILL get back to the other person- especially if you are all in the same group of friends. If you do slip-up and the gossip gets back to your other friend- be honest about it. Don’t dig yourself deeper in a hole. Fess up and explain why you said what you did. Your honesty will be appreciated.

*Listen more than you talk. Show an interest in their lives by asking questions about what they have been up to.

*If you are at a party or large gathering make sure to introduce new and old friends to each other, giving them a chance to form their own friendship. Don’t keep groups of friends separate.

*If you get a phone call while you are with a friend and need to answer it make sure to excuse yourself.  Better yet, if you don’t need to answer it then don’t. It will make your friend feel super important in that moment.

*No matter how boring or pointless, don’t interrupt your friend’s conversation. Let them talk until they are finished then you can politely change the subject. Do not then point the conversation towards you- they are probably just as uninterested as you were. Pick a neutral topic.

*If a friend asks for your opinion or advice- be honest. No matter what you think your friend wants to hear, tell them what you truly think is right. They value your opinion more than you know. You might save them from making the biggest mistake of their life.

*Celebrate their accomplishments and joys by taking them out for lunch or buying them a little gift. Also take part in their sorrows. If they are upset about something or going through a hard time- reach out to them. A friend is someone who isn’t just there for the good times but for the bad as well.

*Every girl has to have someone they tell all their secrets to- we can’t keep everything to ourselves, it’s just in our nature. If you are that person for someone else, live up to the expectations. Keep their secrets safe no matter how tempted you are to run and tell another friend.

*One of the best things about having a friend is that you have a whole other closet to go through. It’s perfectly fine to borrow things from your friends but there are fine rules that come along with it. If something is new, don’t borrow it (even if your friend says you could). Don’t keep anything too long, you never know when your friend is going to need it. Lastly, return everything in the condition in which you got took it in (clean that is).

Friendship is priceless and if you do it right it should last a lifetime. Although a lot goes into maintaining a friendship, if you just follow your heart and do what you feel is right you won’t have any problem making new friends OR keeping the old.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

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Claim Your Prize Here

If you are reading this post right now I owe you a sincere congratulations. One, you made it through my last two awfully depressing posts. And two, you survived six months of reading my blog. Therefore, happy six months to me and a big congratulations to you (really- you have no idea how much I appreciate it).

What’s in it for you? Alright, alright don’t get so pushy- I think you deserve a treat too. How about a candy bar? No. An afternoon nap? Nah. A day at the beach? Nope. Jeez, you guys are so hard to please… wait, I got it! How about a nice warm stone massage and facial? DING, DING, DING- we have a winner!

I think you should treat yourself- I really do. You won’t regret it. Spas are for relaxation, a place to de-stress, but not everyone feels that way. The thought of going into a quiet, dimly light treatment room with a complete stranger deters many people from even stepping one foot inside a spa. Have no fear, I’m here to save the day again (hey, I can toot my horn a little today- I’m celebrating!). These few simple guidelines will surely ease your nerves. Speaking from experience, I promise that you will be going back for a second treatment very soon.

*Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your appointment. If it’s your first time, many spas will have a short questionnaire for you to fill out and you will definitely want a few minutes to unwind in the relaxation room while sipping some cucumber water.

*Make sure to be honest about your medical history/any current medical problems. The last thing you want is a nice relaxing spa trip to cause more problems for you down the road.

*When you make your appointment, ask about their cancellation policy. At many spas, if you cancel with too short of notice there will be a fee.

*If you have a particular therapist that you like to see, make sure to tell them that when booking. Don’t assume you can just walk in and request a certain person- they may already have another customer.

*Leave all your valuables at home (they make you take off jewelry anyway) and shower before the treatment whether you take one at home before you arrive or in the locker room of the spa.

*Before you walk in the door, turn off your cell phone. Better yet, just leave it in your car. There is absolutely no reason to bring your cell phone with you, people don’t go to the spa to talk or to listen to other people talk.

*If you are new to the spa, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a quick tour. It’s much better than wandering the halls yourself looking for the locker room and other amenities.

*The biggest problem people have with spas is the nudity. You don’t need to undress completely. If you are comfortable, go ahead. But it’s ok to leave your underwear on (I know I do). Also they will provide you with a sheet to cover yourself when you roll over onto your back and your bottom is always covered with a sheet-nothing is ever exposed.

*If you have a problem area that you would like your therapist to pay special attention to- speak up! They aren’t mind readers so if you don’t say anything it’s your loss.

*Don’t fall for add-ons, unless you want to pay. Sometimes during your massage they will ask if you would like a certain lotion or an extra treatment and most of the time these extras cost something. If you don’t have the extra money, decline politely or if you feel comfortable ask if there will be an extra cost involved (you don’t want to miss out on anything already included in the price you are paying).

*Don’t feel pressure to talk during your appointment. The therapists are usually very respectful and know that people come to the spa to relax. If your therapist is particularly chatty just say that you have had a rough week and really came here to just be by yourself and not have to talk to anyone for an hour. They will understand, they’re used to it.

*You aren’t expected to jump right off the table after you appointment but you should try to move at a respectable pace. There is a good chance that there is someone else waiting to use your room.

*Don’t forget to leave a 15-20% tip (in cash if you can) at the reception desk after your massage.

*When you get home, drink lots of water throughout the rest of the day to rehydrate your muscles and reduce any soreness that may arise in the next couple of days.

Whoever thought of the idea of a spa is a complete genius in my book. There are very few other places where you can go to be in complete relaxation by yourself. Everyone needs that every once in a while. Try it once, you will be happy you did.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence,’ this one is easy. Enjoy- you deserve it!

A Duty to Remember

If you made it through the wake (see last week’s post), then you survived the hardest part of the funeral process or at least the most uncomfortable part. The funeral service itself is easy in terms of etiquette but it is often the most emotional part of the process. This is the last time that family and friends will physically get to be with the deceased, making it extremely hard to say the last goodbyes. But we can’t lose sight of the purpose of a funeral- to honor and remember. The deceased deserves to have a rightful passage into the afterlife and it’s the duty of those that are left behind to make sure that happens.

There really isn’t much for you, as an attendee, to do at a funeral service. If you are respectful, sympathetic, and just use your common sense you will do and say all the right things. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

*Dress in darker, appropriate clothing. Many websites that I looked at say that wearing bright colors to a funeral is no longer inappropriate but I personally disagree. People are in the process of mourning and there is no reason they need to be bombarded with a bright pink blouse. Darker colors are respectful and show that you are mourning as well. And again, keep the amount of skin showing to a minimum.

*Don’t feel uncomfortable with tears. Funerals are very emotional. If a family member or friend starts crying as you are talking to them, don’t feel uncomfortable. Let them cry, it’s heathly to openly express emotions. The vice versa applies here too. If you start crying as you are talking to someone else don’t feel embarrassed, it’s perfectly normal.

*When you arrive at the site of the funeral (wherever that may be), it’s appropriate to find family members of the deceased and offer your condolences if you happen to see them. But the same rules apply here too- be brief. Also, if you don’t know the family well, identify yourself and your relationship with the deceased.

*Usually the first couple rows of seating are reserved for immediate family. If you are a friend or co-worker you should sit further back unless you are told otherwise by the family.

*It’s always appropriate to send a memorial gift. Whether you send flowers to the family or something as simple as a mass card or sympathy card. It’s just an extra way to let the family know you are thinking of them and are truly sorry for their loss.

*If there is a register book at the funeral- sign it. Leave all necessary information that it asks for and sometimes it is a good idea to briefly explain your relationship to the deceased so the family doesn’t feel like a bunch of strangers came to the funeral.

*If you are going to be part of the funeral procession to the cemetery, take your proper place behind the hearse and cars of immediate family members and turn on your headlights/blinkers so other cars on the road know you are a part of the procession.

*At the cemetery there may be seats set up around the grave site. These are for immediate family and should be reserved for such.

*The most important part (and the one often forgotten) is to keep in touch with the family afterwards. Especially if you are close with the family, a quick phone call or visit every now and then lets them know that people are still thinking about them. The hardest part of the mourning process is going back to your everyday life without your loved one. People get so wrapped up in resuming their own lives that they often forget about the family. Honor the deceased by extending a helping hand in the months to come.

See? You shouldn’t be scared of the funeral service. As sad as a funeral can be, it’s also a time to remember the good memories and honor the deceased’s accomplishments. Your sincere condolences and support is all the family is looking for. Don’t get wrapped up in acting a certain way- as in all other circumstances, just be your own ‘lipstick confident’ self.

The Circle of Life

Death is a natural part of life- we are all going to experience it at some point. It’s not something that anyone looks forward to but it’s a reality that needs to be dealt with. The worst part is the unexpected, what you’re not prepared for. Sometimes death is predicted (old age or a disease) and other times it seems to come out of nowhere (such as a car accident). Whatever the situation is, we need to know how to handle ourselves. Death is already an uncomfortable and depressing subject to deal with and there is no reason to build up more anxiety because you don’t know what to say, how to act, or what to wear. There is nothing worse than not knowing how to act in a high stress situation, therefore this is something that needs to be talked about despite its depressing connotation.

This week I’m going to talk about wake etiquette (guess what’s coming next week). The wake is possibly the hardest part of the funeral process. My family chose to opt out of the dreaded process when my grandparents passed away. Wakes are uncomfortable and sometimes scary- especially the first time around. But we need to remember the purpose of a wake: to remember and honor the deceased. That’s not so scary, right? Here are a few general tips to help ease your nerves the next time you find yourself at a wake (which I hope is in the very far future):

*Dress appropriately. Wakes aren’t super formal but you still need to look presentable. Don’t wear anything that will call attention to you such as bright colors or anything flashy. Your clubbing attire or exercise clothes aren’t appropriate choices either. If you are comfortable wearing the outfit to work it’s most likely appropriate enough for a wake.

*Before you enter the room, sign the guestbook. It serves as a nice keepsake for the family afterwards and it helps them remember who came because they are very unlikely to remember less than half of the people they see that day.

*Try to keep your emotions in check. Of course, it’s totally appropriate to cry at wakes but try not to sob hysterically- it’s hard enough on family, friends, and guests already.

*While you are in line, talking to the family, or mingling with others afterwards- keep your voice down. Funeral parlors are a place for mourning and remembrance, not loud laughter or banter.

*If it’s open casket you should really try to view the body out of respect (and clearly the family wants you to). But if you absolutely can’t do it without losing your cool than it’s perfectly alright to skip over the viewing and go directly to the family.

*Once you get through the line and reach the deceased’s family, keep your conversation minimal. No matter how well you know the family, try to keep your conversation limited to your condolences and move on. Again, it is very unlikely for them to even remember what you said anyways.

*Mind the crowd. Don’t take too long going through the line and talking to the family. There are other people waiting behind you as well. Don’t draw out the process for the deceased’s family any longer than it has to be.

*If you know people at the wake, it’s appropriate to lightly mingle with them AFTER you paid your condolences. Your conversation should really stay limited to the deceased and their family because well, that’s why your there. If you feel the need to carry on an extended conversation with them go outside or tell them you will call them later.

*Remember that the wake isn’t about you (unless you are immediate family of the deceased). It’s not a social hour or reunion.

*Lastly, this may sound weird, but just be yourself. If you are close enough to the deceased to attend their wake then there is a pretty good chance that his/her family already knows your personality. Don’t over think anything too much, just the fact that you walked through that door to pay your respects is enough. And honestly, people aren’t watching your every move- they have more important things on their mind.

Again, I hope none of you ever have to put any of these guidelines into practice but the reality is that we probably all will. Despite your level of acceptance of reality, we all need to be prepared because unfortunately the hardest experiences in life require the most ‘lipstick confidence.’