Seizing The Moment: Winter Olympics 2014

“Just get out there and know you have the opportunities. Just try it.”

Sarah Hendrickson, on encouraging young women to take up a sport.

Wondering who Sarah Hendrickson is? After this year’s Olympics you probably won’t have the same question. But for now, let me answer that for you. Hendrickson is the reigning female ski-jumper world champion. Now nineteen years old, Hendrickson started jumping when she was just seven. By the time she was twelve she was jumping off the Olympic large hill at the Utah Olympic Park and just one short year later she was traveling all over the world for competitions. At a young age of thirteen, Hendrickson was ready to make a name for herself, ready to go all the way to the top.

The problem? Hendrickson excelled in a sport that didn’t really support her, that didn’t really support any women athletes- until recently. The 2014 Winter Soci Olympics will be the first time women athletes will be competing in the ski jumping event and Hendrickson will finally get to celebrate her success, along with many other female ski jumpers, the way she deserves. The long battle is finally over. Female ski jumpers have been petitioning to be included in the Olympics since 1998. They  have heard all sorts of excuses ranging from it’s a man’s sport, there aren’t enough women involved, or that it’s not “medically appropriate” for women to participate. Hendrickson and other young aspiring ski jumpers had full support of their older teammates, women who knew what an accomplishment and honor being an Olympic athlete truly was. Just before the 2010 Vancouver games, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jermone helped to lead a gender discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was unsuccessful at the time, but a year later in 2011 the International Olympic Committee finally approved women’s ski jumping as an Olympics sport looking ahead to 2014.

This story really stuck out to me because this just isn’t something many people think about anymore. We get too comfortable, we think that since we have come such a long in gender equality that’s enough, we assume that everyone has the same rights, we don’t pay attention to it anymore. This proves that there’s still plenty left to do and that there are really amazing women out there trying to make it all happen. I was a competitive swimmer since I was 9/10 years old all throughout college. I was lucky enough in those 12-13 years never once to feel undervalued or excluded based on my sex. I was lucky enough to be in a sport in which, because of the brave women that came before me, I was accepted. Being a part of a competitive sport has taught me more skills, values, and life lessons then I would have ever imagined. Being fully immersed in a sport goes way beyond the physical, it shapes the person you become mentally along the way. You form friendships, develop skills, experience failures, celebrate successes- you inherit a second family. I never once stopped to think that other women haven’t been as lucky as I have been. I never once stopped to think that the struggle isn’t over.

Despite being excluded in the Olympics, these female ski jumpers could still compete, could still enjoy the sport, could still excel on an international level. But, in the end they were still told they couldn’t do something that their male counterparts have been doing since 1924. Their success automatically stopped. Not because they couldn’t make it to the Olympics but because someone told them they couldn’t. As Hendrickson recounts in a TIME interview (in which I got the rest of this information as well), “It’s really hard to pursue a sport like that, where there’s not really support, not really a future.” With all setbacks and disappointments included, Hendrickson stuck it out despite her temptation to switch her full focus onto soccer. She is a prime example that nothing is truly impossible. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to get there.

What does this mean for all us non-Olympic-athletes? A lot.

1. Never take anything for granted. Be thankful for every person, place, thing, or opportunity in your life.

2. Support and inspire each other.

3. Try something new.

4. Don’t take “no” as an answer for anything.

5. Do what you love.

6. Never pass up a new opportunity and don’t give up on old ones.

7. Always seize the moment.

The Olympics are about more than just the sport. It’s about what it takes to get there and the lessons you learn a long the way- it’s about the journey, both good and bad. This year while I am watching the Olympics, this is what it will mean to me. It will be about the athlete’s impact both on and off the “court.” It will be about their impact on people just like me. What does the Olympics mean to you?

Decorating Inspiration: Add Some Sparkle

So, I have this awkward space between the last step going down into my basement and the wall. It’s a big enough space for someone to accidentally step into and possibly fall and hurt themselves. When we re-tiled the basement floor when we first moved into the house we decided that we didn’t want to put a piece of tile in that spot because we don’t want people to mistake it for the step itself, since the step is tiled as well. So we left it blank, untiled for a while. Ok, fine maybe for over a year.

This weekend I finally “solved” the problem and it was a super easy thing to do. I had a large glass vase leftover from my wedding that I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it. Then inspiration struck- I will put it by the basement stairs so people can’t step into that awkward, completely pointless space. I just couldn’t put an empty glass vase there so I headed to the craft store.

What I came back with: pine cones, sliver glitter spray paint, gold glitter spray paint, and some pretty filler twigs and branches.

Naturally, the next step was to paint some of the pine cones sliver and some gold:

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The spray paint gave them a really neat frosted look with a little pizazz, but still leaving a hint of the natural pine cone look as well:

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To finish the project off (after the pine cones dried), I put my fillers in the middle of the glass vase and pushed in my sparkly pine cones between the filler and the vase. So when you look through the vase, you can see the pine cones instead of the ugly bottoms of the branches.

The end result: a beautiful and cheap decorative piece. Problem solved- for now… until my next pang of creativity strikes.

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There are three morals to this post:

1. There really are so many quick and easy do-it-yourself projects out there that add a lot of character to your house. It’s also nice to add your own personal touch to some items in your home. Fire up your creativity for a weekend. It’s fun!

2. Glitter spray paint is awesome! You can spruce up or refurbish anything with it. Use it.

3. When you own a house there’s always a new project to take on, no matter how long you have lived there.

Happy decorating!!

Sometimes, life happens.

This afternoon I came across this absolutely horrific, but yet inspiring, story on BuzzFeed. Last week a, beautiful and very sweet, 12-year-old girl from Tennessee died suddenly from pneumonia complications. A completely heartbreaking story that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to read. According to her father, Taylor only had minor flu-like symptoms and even tested negative at the doctors. Like any good parents, they got her the right prescriptions and set her up with all the necessary tools to ride out this yucky, but what seemed to be minor, virus. But apparently, that wasn’t enough. Again- why was I reading this? This is a horribly depressing story that I really wish these parents, or any parents, didn’t have to go through.

Nevertheless, I went on reading and I’m really glad that I did. While sorting through some of Taylor’s stuff her parents found a letter that she had written to herself, to be opened in ten years. Her parents did not know about this letter and had no idea what they would find on the inside. You should really go check out the letter for yourself because Taylor was one amazing, funny, and caring little girl. There was one line that really stuck out to me the most, it was the last line of the letter:

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Now remember, this girl is only 12-years-old. I know many people in their fifties and sixties who don’t even think like this. But, with only a mere 12 years of life under her belt this little girl had the intelligence and insight to write this as advice to be given to herself at age 22. To me, that’s amazing and completely inspiring. And the best part about these few simple words? They are completely true.

Life isn’t always easy. I know many of us wish life was always happy and filled with success, love, and prosperity. Let’s stop for a moment, is that what we really want? Thinking about it now, after reading those words- I think a perfect, easy, problem-free life would be boring and unfulfilling. If nothing ever went wrong in your life, if you never had to overcome a challenge, how would we learn? People become who they are from their struggles and from the challenges they overcome. Most of the time that “new” person is better than the one they were before. We can’t always expect the best outcome in life, we can certainly wish for it but we also need to be prepared for the worst. You can’t prevent life from happening to you. There’s actually very little you can control. What you can control is how you handle these problems you are faced with- what you learn from it, how to choose to grow as a person, and what you decide to pass on to others. We all struggle in our own way, there is not one single perfect life out there. I hate to break it to you but something bad is probably going to happen to you at some point in your life. The more we embrace that reality, the better prepared we will be and the more we will get out of the one life we have to live. In the end, be thankful for the very simple fact that you are still breathing. There are many people that would have wished they could have one more day, one more moment to live their life. You have this moment, you have this life. Don’t take it for granted- live, grow, and learn every day. No matter what.

In the wise words of one kick-ass little girl: stuff happens, “go with it.”

Baked Sausage with Veggies and Potatoes

Last night I made sausage with vegetables in the oven and thought it would be a good recipe to share with you all. It’s super easy and a great solution if you have some leftover sausage in the freezer and don’t know what to do with it. It’s also a really flexible recipe. You can customize it however you want by adding in the vegetables that you and your family like and avoiding those you don’t like. It’s a pretty hard recipe to mess up- no matter what ingredients you decide to use. You can also season with any spices/herbs you want. It’s fun to experiment a little with this one. Here is how I made mine.

sausageandveggies

Ingredients:

Any type of sausage you want (the amount varies on the number of people you are cooking for)

One green pepper (you can also use a red pepper as well)

One medium onion

2-3 stalks of celery

Handful of scallions

1-2 zucchinis

2-3 Potatoes (I used a mix of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes)

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Garlic Salt

Pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I like to make my oven a little hotter so that the potatoes will cook faster.

2. Cut up your potatoes and place into a mixing bowl. I try to cut my potatoes into smaller pieces, I find it’s easier to eat and they cook faster and better. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and pepper and toss until the potatoes are covered.

3. Place in a greased cooking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

4. In the meantime, cut up all your veggies and sausage and throw everything into a mixing bowl (I use the same one that I used for the potatoes). Again, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and pepper. Toss until covered.

5. Add veggies and sausage to the pan with the potatoes. Mix everything together before putting back into the oven.

6. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Poke veggies and potatoes with fork to test the tenderness and continue cooking to your own liking.

And you’re done! Easy, peasy.

A New Year, A “New” Blog.

The New Year always makes everyone re-evaluate where they are in life, what they are doing, and where they want to be in the future. In part of my own re-evaluation process I took a look back at this blog and saw that it had changed, evolved, and advanced since I first started writing it. Therefore, I feel inclined to change the purpose of this blog a little bit in order to let this blog evolve naturally. When I first started writing I was a senior in college trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I felt a little lost, uneasy, and uncertain. I turned to writing this blog for myself. If I was going to go out in the real world, try to get a job, and start socializing with real life adults I needed to know how to carry myself, how to act, what was expected of me and most of all- build more self-confidence. College teaches you a lot of invaluable things but what about how to act in certain social situations? What’s expected of me at a wedding, funeral, traveling, or at a restaurant? How about how to host a party, or being a good guest, or how to start a simple conversation? So, here we are. Lipstick Confidence became a blog for young women filled with etiquette tips and lessons on these very subjects and more.

Soon enough I felt myself wanting to expand. I started talking about individual women who are doing really amazing things. Every girl wants someone to look up to, someone who they can relate to, someone that will push them to be a better “you.” The expansion didn’t stop there. I went on to talk about current events that impact women as well. Sometimes we get so stuck in our own little bubble we don’t realize what is happening right outside our door. Not only do we miss seeing the injustices but we also miss seeing the good as well. I found myself wanting to share every story, good or bad, I heard about anything pertaining to women with my readers. And the expansion isn’t stopping there.

Here I am today- a teeny-weeny bit wiser, married, and a home-owner (boy, can a lot change in just about two years). Change is good. Change allows for the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Lipstick Confidence will certainly remain what it always was- a sort of self-help-real-world-survival-guide. But, I’m ready for version 2.0! My blog is now expanding it’s mission. I want Lipstick Confidence to be a sort of safe haven for all women. A place where they can come to get advice, be updated on current events, browse the latest fashion trends, see what other awesome women are doing, get health/fitness tips, find great books to read, get home decor inspiration- anything and everything that a woman may need. Yes, this means more work for me, more research, more blog posts, and more time but I’m ready for this change.

I personally believe that there are many different skills every woman must feel comfortable with, along with many different aspects of being a confident woman. No matter how big or small, from baking a cake to conducting an important board meeting, you will be able to find it here.

Welcome to the new and improved, Lipstick Confidence!

18 Things Women Shouldn’t Have To Justify

I love this. Too good not to share and so true. Happy New Year, everyone!

Thought Catalog

1. Putting themselves first. When Barbara Walters asked Michelle Obama if it were selfish that she openly makes herself her first priority she responded: “No, no, it’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”

2. How little or much they’re eating, especially if it’s “unhealthy.” You can eat a big lunch without having to say “I haven’t eaten anything all day” or have some delicious ass nachos without saying “I totally deserve this, I was so good this week, I’ll start the diet again tomorrow.” More importantly, you shouldn’t have to always be interrogated with “that’s all you’re having?” or “you’re going to eat all that?!”

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