Create Your Own Story

In the April 7th edition of TIME Magazine there was a commentary article entitled “Fast-Track Girls Finish Best” by Charlotte Alter. The article talks about two recent books Marry Smart by Susan Patton and Lean In For Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg and the advice they are both giving to young women today. Patton focuses on marriage/building a family while Sandberg zeros in on the career side of things. Although they both focus on different aspects of a young woman’s life, they are both saying the exact same thing: we don’t have any time to waste.

With all due respect, as a woman in my mid-twenties, I have to say I completely and wholeheartedly disagree.

Now, I haven’t read either of these books for myself and I also never plan to read either in the future. Here’s why.

Patton’s March Today Show interview sums up her book enough for me. Patton urges college women to primarily focus on finding a husband, further suggesting that young women should spend 75% of their time finding a spouse and 25% on professional development. She even suggests that if you need cosmetic surgery to do so before college, in order to make yourself more “socially successful” at finding a spouse. Patton has our biological ticking the moment we turn eighteen. She actually really seems to believe that we have absolutely no time to waste if marriage and children are part of our life plan, “Work will wait. Your fertility won’t.” I guess I missed the memo that said parents spend thousands and thousands of dollars to send their daughters to college for them to find a spouse and get knocked up. After all, that’s the only thing all women want anyways. Right?

Sandberg takes on the other extreme, that your career should be your prime focus. Sandberg, as the chief operating officer of Facebook, is a hugely successful woman in which many young women look up to. She has certainly climbed her way to the top in the corporate world and she deserves every bit of that success and admiration. The TIME article points out that in the introduction to Sandberg’s book she writes, “There’s no question that the world moves faster today… This means that grabbing opportunities is more important than ever.” Meaning, we need to take every opportunity we can to further our career as soon as we can. Alter describes Sandberg’s viewpoint perfectly, “The idea is to get good enough, fast enough, that your career becomes childproof.” Makes sense because all women are solely career hungry. Right?

Here’s where I have a problem with what both these women are saying. It’s not the advice itself that ticks me off (alright, maybe a little). It’s the fact that these women are sitting there telling other women where their priorities should be. Maybe I’m completely crazy, but what if we all just worried about creating our own story? I don’t see men writing countless books and articles for other men about how to live their life. It seems like most men sort of just figure their life out on their own. Why can’t we do that too? How about if women just started supporting other women’s decisions despite if we agree with them or not? How about if we all just decided which life path to take on our own based on what is personally important to us, what goals we have for ourselves, and our interests? Would the world fall apart? No degree, no life experience, no personal background qualifies one person to give another person advice about what their priorities should be. Part of life’s journey is figuring out those priorities for ourselves. The mystery of not knowing what the next step will be is half the fun. The priorities we choose create our own unique life. A life completely different from the woman sitting right next to you, living across the street from you, or living across the country.

Before my husband and I got married, we were dating for almost eight years. I was a sophomore in high school when we met and started dating. He has been a huge part of every aspect of my life since then: proms, graduations, birthdays, vacations, sporting events, successes, and failures. I chose to stay in a relationship with him because it just felt right to me, because I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. While my friends were thinking about which boy they wanted to hook up with next I never once questioned my decision to have a serious boyfriend through most of my high school career and all throughout college. Although, he has always been and will always be one of my top priorities here’s the shocker- he wasn’t my only priority. My school work, where I wanted to go to college, and my career were all important to me too. I wanted to get good grades, go to my dream college, and have a successful career all with him right by my side. I never felt like I needed to pick one or the other. I created my own life story to fit all my own priorities. Yes, I got married less then two years out of college. But, I married my best friend, one of my biggest supporters, the person who always pushed me to be the best I could be. I also filled my time with priceless work experience, internships, and classes that would help me fulfill my other priorities. About two months out of college I was offered a job in my dream profession. Not because I was lucky, but because I worked for it. I sculpted my life to incorporate both of my priorities into it. I took part in internships, classes, and hobbies that showed I was serious about my career too. I had more than one dream, more than one priority and I created a life that would fit them both in it together. This is my story and let me be the first to tell you, it’s probably not yours too.

My decision to get married in my early twenties was one of the best I ever made, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage another young woman from doing the same thing. I would rather ask, “Do you truly believe this is the best thing for you personally?” I couldn’t be happier to have started my dream job right out of college, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage this either. I would rather ask, “Are you sure there’s nothing else you’d rather do?” I decided not to continue my education right after college, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage this decision either. I would rather ask, “Do you feel completely prepared to reach your goals with the resources you currently have?” I decided that I was happy in the state I was living in, in the area I called home, so I decided to stay. I never studied abroad nor did I feel the need to travel immensely after college. I wouldn’t suggest or discourage another young woman from making that same decision. I would rather ask, “Do you feel completely fulfilled or do you feel like you are constantly chasing after something new?”

Unfortunately, my life decisions, what I have chosen for my priorities, won’t help you find yours. Patton’s and Sandberg’s won’t help you either. Follow your heart and trust your instincts. If you aren’t ready to settle down- don’t. If you aren’t ready to enter into the workplace- don’t. If you want to focus on getting married and having kids- do it. If you want to work solely on building your career- do it. If you want to make both work- trust me you can do that too. Making a quick decision is easy to regret, but no one ever regretted taking the time to truly figure out what they wanted. Despite what Patton and Sandberg suggest, you my fellow ladies have all the time in the world because as soon as you figure out your own priorities you won’t need anymore time.

From woman to woman, my advice to you is simply no advice at all.

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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.”

Cheers, to celebrating love!

During my normal daily internet browsing I came across this absolutely adorable story/video about a 70-year-old woman who never got to wear the dress of her dreams on her wedding day so she decided to that she was going to make that happen now. This story struck me for many reasons. First let’s get to the obvious- this woman is kick-ass. It takes a lot of guts at the age of 70 to walk into a bridal store and say you are here to shop for a wedding dress… for yourself. Yes, you have every right to shop for whatever and wherever you want but that won’t stop other people’s eyes from staring and making assumptions about you. I can just imagine some of the things that ran through some people’s minds, “Why is she getting married NOW?!”, “Who do you think she is marrying?”, “How old is she?!”, or “She thinks she looks good in that?” I wish I could say that everyone’s reaction to seeing an older woman shop for a wedding dress would be positive (because it is a very awesome thing) but unfortunately, it will not. There will always be nay-sayers and debbie-downers everywhere you go and to put yourself in the spotlight like that is one of the coolest things I ever seen. I also think that it is amazing that after all these years this woman is still following her dream. I think there comes an age in many women’s lives that they give up on what they haven’t accomplished yet. They think their life is over so there’s no use in trying. Let this one single woman be an inspiration to all. She just shoved it in everyone’s face proving that it’s never too late. If your still breathing then your dreams are still worth achieving. Don’t put a limit on what you can or can’t do, you have no idea what you could be missing out on. Seeing the pure joy and happiness written all over this woman’s face says it all. If she hadn’t taken charge of her own dreams she never would have gotten to experience that happiness and that once in a lifetime feeling. That pure joy and happiness is the second reason that I love this story so much that I just had to come here and blab about it to you all.

Having just had a wedding of my own this story also reminded me what a special and memorable experience I had the honor of having. Yes, I agree that the idea of a “typical” modern wedding has gotten way out of hand. The extravagant venue, the music, the flowers, the decor, the food, the favors, the dresses, the tuxes, the makeup, the hair, the shoes, the cake, the first dance, the honeymoon all seem to consume your mind. Why do we need all these things to get married? Why isn’t love enough? Well, I will tell you why. In fact, love is more than enough. Like this woman, if you are with the right person, you don’t need all these things to be happy. All you need is that other person by your side. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, where you are, or what’s for dinner. All that matters is that you are now bonded in a deeper love, a love that will only make you love your partner more and more everyday. BUT, until you experience a “typical” wedding day for yourself you won’t understand why you need those other things. It’s actually not really a need, it’s more of a want. All humans need love. We all have a natural instinct to find love. But, we also have wants as well. We want to share this moment with all our friends and family. We want to feel our absolute best. We want to have the time of our life. We want to feel like a princess. We need our partner to feel whole but we want our celebration.

A wedding is a celebration, it’s a once in a lifetime celebration. A celebration indicating that you found the love of your life, your soul mate, and your best friend. It’s a celebration that is worth the world. The day you get married is full of bliss, love, laughter, and joy from the moment you wake up till the moment you go to bed. The moment you slip into that dress it’s pure happiness. Your first step down that aisle is pure happiness. Your first kiss is pure happiness. Your first dance is pure happiness. The biggest moment of your life is immensely surrounded by happiness. There is so much love, so much excitement, so much good surrounding the both of you that it completely reaffirms why you are there, doing what you are doing. It’s true, the moment you say “I do” is really all you need but all that happiness that surrounds you makes for an unforgettable, completely self-centered, incredible moment that everyone deserves. We don’t need it but we want it.

This woman demonstrates that all you really do need is love. She was married happily for many, many years never having had a lavish wedding but she also demonstrates that sometimes it’s alright to want more than you need. If you want it- go get it. That pure joy on her face can’t be faked. That love for her husband can’t be faked. That want had to be clenched. And their love will only grow stronger.

You can see a few pictures on David’s Bridal Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @LConfidence and/or at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lipstick-Confidence/411787572256608.

Adventuring to Uncomfortable Places…

There are many different places with many different rules, codes of conduct, and expected behaviors that once can find themselves. That’s what makes being confident 24/7 so hard. In one place one thing is expected/acceptable and in the next place you find yourself it’s well…. not at all. It can be overwhelming to keep all these expectations and “rules” in order and straight in your already very busy head. This feeling often results in uneasiness or the feeling of being out of place which in turn sends off a signal to other people around you. A signal that says maybe you aren’t comfortable with who you are, that maybe your confidence could use a boost. This certainly isn’t the case, right? Your just uncomfortable because you aren’t sure what is deemed appropriate or not. You find yourself becoming a little quieter, jumbling the words you do manage to get out, hesitating before you make any movement, and possibly you notice that you are even a little shaky. These are all completely normal reactions to an uncomfortable situation. But why should we let these little cues define who we are in that moment? Just because we feel that way doesn’t mean we need to show it. Just knowing one of two things that are expected of you at any given place will give the person next to you the “wow, this person knows how to act” kind of impression, and that’s just what we want even if we aren’t feeling that same impression ourselves.

Over the next a couple weeks I am going to try to take you places where expectations/behaviors might be a little different from your everyday life. If you just take one thing away from each blog post I promise you will feel more comfortable and confident the next time you find yourself in that place (well, at least the people around you will feel that way). First up is the dreaded hospital. No one likes going to the hospital. It’s often times depressing, sterile, and unfriendly. But at one point or another we will all have to visit someone there whether it be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or co-worker. It’s one of those places that sometimes you need to force yourself to go to because it’s the right thing to do. Fortunately, there are some readily available tips and guidelines to help visitors feel more comfortable and well, confident with their visit.

*Don’t be afraid to call ahead. It’s always good to double check if visitors are allowed, what the visiting hours are, and what types are gifts/food are permitted. Every hospital is a little different. This is especially helpful if you aren’t completely sure what the patient’s current health status is or what type of diet they are on.

*Try to avoid visiting in large groups. I know you probably don’t want to go alone so it’s o.k. to  bring a friend of two but your whole pack of 12 girlfriends probably isn’t the best idea. Large groups of people can be very overwhelming to someone trying to recover and get better- it’s just plain tiring. Also not to mention hospital rooms are usually on the smaller side and your visitor might even have a roommate…

*Try to leave any small children at home. I know that sometimes this is impossible to do but try to find a time to visit when someone else is free to watch your children for a while. Hospitals are scary to adults, imagine what they seem and look like in a child’s eye. Children are also unaware of how to act in a hospital setting, their innocence can turn into a disruption to another patient.

*Consciously try to talk in a slightly softer voice than normal. The people you are with or visiting should still be able to hear you at a comfortable distance, no need to whisper, but you need to keep in mind that there are many other people in neighboring rooms or possibly in the same room that are trying to sleep/rest.

*Minimize cell phone usage. Only pick up incoming calls in the case of an absolute emergency while visiting the hospital. If you must make a call step out of the room and go down to the lobby where noise level doesn’t matter as much.

*Keep your visit short. I think the ideal visiting time for a friend or co-worker is 15-20 minutes (trust me, this feels like a lifetime) but for family feel free to stay a little longer if you want. It takes a lot out of a recovering patient to visit with someone and the reality is you probably aren’t the only visitor. Just knowing that you stopped in for a few minutes will brighten that persons day.

*Don’t assume physical contact is o.k. I know it’s a natural reaction to want to hug a friend in need but before you do so ask if it’s alright. You don’t know where the patient is feeling pain or how easy it is to move. Once you get permission- hug away!

*If your the patient, nurse, or doctor asks you to not visit then it’s simple- don’t visit. There is probably a good reason or the patient simply just wants their own privacy. Even if you plan on just stopping in for a few minutes, don’t do it. It’s rude and inconsiderate even with the best of intentions.

*If you are sick, even if it’s the slightest cold, don’t visit someone at the hospital. Even if your sickness isn’t a threat to them, it’s a threat to someone else staying in that hospital. There are a lot of very sick and elderly people in every hospital and the last thing you want to do is spread a nasty germ around.

*If you are visiting while a nurse or doctor comes into the room, politely step outside the room until he or she is done. This creates more room for them to work and gives the patient a feeling that you respecting their privacy and are really just interested in visiting them, nothing else.

*That being said, don’t pry into private questions or test results. If the patient feels like sharing, they will share. But it is good to show an interest. Ask how they are feeling, what their symptoms are, what they are doing to get better, etc. Take an interest in their disease, surgery, etc. It’s nice to know that the people who you care about also care about you as well. Taking an interest in someone else’s life makes them feel important.

*Don’t talk about negative things such as work drama, the failing economy, or huge blowout fight within your group of friends. The patient shouldn’t have to have anything else on his or her mind besides getting better. They will find out who got fired for what or who isn’t friends with who anymore once they get home. But you should talk about how much they are missed or funny things that have happened. It is very easy to start to feel isolated especially with longer hospital stays. If you can make the patient still feel somewhat connected (in a good way) to the workplace or your group of friends that’s awesome.

*Try not to sit on the bed or play with equipment. The bed and it’s settings are made just for the patient. There are often one or two chairs in the room meant for guests. If there aren’t any chairs you can manage to stand for 20 minutes- at least you aren’t the one in the hospital bed. Also be wary of the medical equipment. Try not to bump into it or move it. Even if the patient asks you to press a button or adjust something tell them you would feel more comfortable if a nurse did it and offer to page someone for them. You don’t want to be responsibly for messing something up or administering too much medicine, etc.

Nothing will make a hospital visit easy but they are certainly ways to feel more comfortable and confident with your visit. If you just abide by a couple of these “rules” no one will be able to tell just how nervous and uncomfortable you really are. Half the battle of confidence is knowing how to pretend.

I wonder where next week will take us……….

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.’