Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's in My Purse? Digital Marketing Conference Edition

Hi there, women on the move! I'm writing you from a Trailways express bus on the way to NYC for the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference! I am so pleased to be traveling to the city today to just be a sponge at this exciting conference. 

But- here's the thing. I found it so challenging to determine what to bring with me, and couldn't find by good advice online.

So, my friends, in this spare time I have on the bus I'd like to share with you the contents of my business day bag! I really hope this can help you plan what to bring for your first big business trip into any major city!


Before we even dig in, I need to tell you that the key thing is ALWAYS my iphone (which is practically surgically attached to me!) but there are a few apps that I rely on whenever I travel into the city that I would be remiss to omit!

#1: My iPhone and The Travel Apps I'm Counting On for my NYC Business Day Trip:

• UBER - this app has saved me more than a couple times. If you haven't heard about this app that lets you summon a taxi with your built in GPS, actually SEE the driver's picture in advance, read and leave ratings, and pay automatically... Then welcome to the future. 
�� Use PROMO CODE gm98w to get your first ride free (up to $20).

• Embark NYC - for a Hudson Valley lady such as myself, it can be downright exhausting to navigate NYC's extensive network of public transit and city streets, and this is one situation where Google Maps just doesn't do it for me. Try Embark for specific, GPS and Map driven directions. It even gives you a buzz when you're on the subway and your stop is next! TOTAL lifesaver.

If you're not planning a trip to NYC specifically, I will say that Uber works in most places, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were Embark apps for every metro area. Hey- it's NYC, and if you can make it there... You can make it anywhere! *winks*

So onto the juicy stuff.

#2: iPad

The second item in my bag is also a no-brainer for any digital marketer. I'm planning to use my iPad during the conference to look up websites mentioned, speakers, and instantly connect with any online concepts using my iPad. I'm also going to be tweeting though this. I don't know about you, but it just seems more professional to interact on an iPad device than a phone during a conference.

#3: Pen & Paper

The third item I'm bringing to the HSMAI meeting at the Marriott Marquis @MHMarquis is pretty low-tech. 

It's a different kind of pad, along with my favorite pen on earth - the uniball vision elite in bold black. Ever since I was about 18, I've been using this brand of pen for all the important stuff.

Wait, was that 2 items? Well I consider them 1 because neither is helpful on its own.

#4: The Conference Agenda

Although I'm sure they'll be handing this out at the event, it makes for good light reading on the way, and a chance to brainstorm questions -  and a reminder of why the ticket was so darn expensive! Also, can this bus please go any faster? 

#5: My Wallet

No, I'm not opening my wallet for you but I will say I have a little emergency cash, my return ticket, and a zippered section just for receipts from the trip so I can keep track of expenses.


#6: My work name badge

I have a special place in my heart for this badge, and no offense to lanyards but I have a feeling I'll prefer this. (I am keeping an open mind, though)



#7: Business Cards

Again, kind of obvious but I do have an interesting method to share- try tucking some in your iPhone case. Boom. Never without a business card, because, hey, I'm never without my iPhone.


#8: Heels

Oh did I mention that my bag is huge? These babies are in there, too. I'll change out of my semi-sensible Montana girl boots and into the heels when I'm arrived at the Marquis.



#9: A Protien Rich Snack

Just in case I can't grab food and my blood sugar takes a dive, a little snack goes a long long way! Here I have Justin's classic Almond Butter which I'll take straight just like I used to do Protien gel back in my long distance cross country running days (ah, high school, I was so fit then!) when no one is looking! Hopefully it won't come to that. I mean that in the most sincere way possible, because I have honestly always brought a bar or something never a packet of almond butter lol! But hey, #preparedness if we get stuck in an elevator I'll be the one with the 80 calories of negotiating power.



10: Makeup Bag

In the words of the great Stevie Wonder, makeup is a world within itself! Or something like that. And, fortunately for me we have almost arrived to Port Authority. I will say this though- travel light (lighter than me if you can - this trip was pre 7am so little time to makeup in advance. And for heaven's sake, bring an extra pair of panty hose. They'll fit.


I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my special trip to the city. Although it isn't my first (or last!) this one represents a challenge and an exciting opportunity I was happy to share with you.

Let me know if this blog post has helped you, or if you have any advice to share. Please add your voice in the comments below.

Never stop Learning, Growing, and Reaching.

~Laura

Friday, February 13, 2015

What to Wear in a Family Photo - 4 styling services that are MUST tries!

It was the ultimate style challenge - a family portrait (my very first with my husband's family) and we were to wear coordinating outfits - grey tops for girls, and colored pants... Colored pants!

With all the amazing online styling services - I'm telling you, you can have one amazingly stylish family portrait, my friend. You just need to know where to look. Scroll on down to my top 4 pics for the BEST family photo look - for all the peeps in your family. Please note that this blog post contains affiliate links!



This is one of those times I was so, so grateful for Stitch Fix. If you haven't already heard about this FABULOUS company, Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that ships boxes full of brand new clothes to you according to your size, preferences (which they get from your Pinterest page and other sites!) for a $20 fee. The best part? That $20 fee gets applied to anything you choose to buy. And trust me, you'll fall in love with something. There is also a men's equivalent of Stitch Fix , called Bespoke Pos which seems amazing. Also, if you need something for kiddos, there's FabKids 

Anyway, so there I was. Without time to shop over the very busy holiday season, I was left scrambling to find the perfect outfit for this really important photo. With a click, I was able to schedule a fix to arrive at my in-law's house in Las Vegas, where I would be visiting, packed full of options for the unique style challenge. Of course -Stitch Fix already had my sizing down to a T. With a few months of experience of styling me already under my belt, I knew I could count on them to come through, so I didn't even bring other options from home.

When the box arrived two days before the family portrait, I was excited to share my loot with my Mother in Law, Marilyn. I was so happy to get her feedback on each piece, narrow it down to just one outfit. Of course - I ended up finding the perfect thing, and while I feel it would be wrong to share my family photo right here on the blog, I will say I felt so confident and happy with how it turned out and am so grateful to Stitch Fix!


My mother in law's first fix, with her notes on what she kept!
After seeing what Stitch Fix could do for me, my Mother in Law Marilyn decided to give it a try. Yesterday, she received her very first fix, and she's so pleased that she's already scheduled her second one. 

She sent me her sheet with these notes (see left), showing us what she chose to keep and what she sent back- which is all part of the process. And one thing I've noticed is that over time, the stylists get more and more attuned to your style and sizing needs.

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet, I invite you to give it a shot and let me know what you think back here on the blog. Not only is it great for just a wardrobe refresh, they really do a great job at style challenges like my family photo.

Top 4 styling services I recommend:

  • Stitch Fix (for ladies sizes 0 to 14)- boxes of new clothes, keep what you like, $20 styling fee (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
  • Gwynnie Bee (for plus size ladies)- new and gently worn TRULY STYLISH clothes at ridiculously low prices, delivered on time in cute boxes with free shipping & returns. See my Mom's Gwynnie Bee review here! (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
  • Bespoke Post (for men) - I also highly recommend Bespoke Post which is for men (heard about this via Esquire magazine)(affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
  • FabKids (for kids) - super cute clothes for boys and girls sizes 2+ that I hear about eveerrry where (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)


This post contains affiliate links as noted. That means, when you click and buy through one of the links, you support the 3 Best Of Everything blog! Thank you so much for reading, please subscribe! See you real soon.

Never stop Learning, Growing and Reaching,

~Laura


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Important notes on Self Discipline and the 5 am club

I am writing this for myself just as much as for anyone else's benefit. The concept of making our bodies our slaves is really interesting to me. Having joined the 5am club at the inspiration of success coach Robin Sharma, I have since slipped up more than a few times. I understand the need to view the body as just what it is.

Our bodies will ask for more and more sleep, more and more food, and any number of things that are simply better in moderation.

Our bodies will crave what isn't right.

Our minds know what is better. Did you know that the "real" you is the mental one, not the carnal or animal you? Did you know that heaven hears every thought? Nothing escapes the mind of God. As such, the ideas in your mind are to be cultivated for good, and the body to be put to use, to be put into action in support of the highest possible aim. 

Think about what race you're running. WHY do you desire success? What is success for you? For many, success is defined as a temporary gain like wealth or acknowledgement.  For me, it's a different playing field entirely. You see, when you have your eyes fixed on God, many hardships fall by the wayside in pursuit of God's goals. It is folly to be wrapped up in what feels right. It's a mistake to wake up late every morning, to pour everything into your children, to pursue power or getting your children power.

This is a wake up call! If you're after the crown that lasts, pursue the things of God with self discipline. Whip your carnal desires into shape. Don't be a slave to your body...


1 Corinthians 9:24-27New International Version (NIV)

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
More:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+9%3A24-27&version=NIV

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gwynnie Bee Kicks Butt at Styling My Mom (Photos Inside!)

My Mom and I have created this Gwynnie Bee review together, and I really hope it helps you decide whether or not to try this awesome service for plus size women's clothing cheap!

It's so amazing that we've had to wait till the year 2015 to have a service like Gywnnie Bee, a box subscription tailored to "real" women's sizes. (Disclaimer: Being a petite woman myself, I understand women come in all sizes! There are plenty of fabulous petite women's options out there just like Gwynnie Bee: See them here!).
My Mom's first items from Gwynnie Bee!

I have been so proud of my Mom lately. She recently got back into the workforce after years of being a stay at home mom with a part-time job. But more than this, she came back with STYLE! Launching her own business specializing in NY small business tax services.

To celebrate, I went shopping with my Mom to find her a great outfit to wear in her updated headshot. Oh how naive I was to think that in a few hours I could find something at one of the largest Macy's in the world - in NYC.

Nothing, friends. We. Found. Nothing.

My Mom explained that this was par for the course. Just a fact of life for women in her size range.

Luckily, I was able to do a quick search online for low-cost fashion for plus size women. --- They shouldn't even call it "plus" --- these sizes are the norm, and I'm totally amazed and SHOCKED at the lack of good stylish clothing options for the majority of American women today. At best, I consider it a missed business opportunity. At worst, it's a disservice and exposes woeful lack of consideration by big business for a huge portion of today's society.

Ok. Enough ranting. The good news is, I have found an awesome solution.  There is a clothing subscription for plus sized women called Gwynnie Bee - and it has saved the day. Not only did Gwynnie deliver some great plus size head shot outfits, it also helped my Mom find the perfect outfit to wear to my Dad's 40th High School Reunion.
Mom is radiant in her Gwynnie Bee dress!


My Mom has been a subscriber for a little over 4 months now. She has told me she's consistently pleased with what she gets in the mail. It's rare something doesn't fit her or is unwearable because everything is sent according to her size specs, style, and taste.

I'm happy to see my Mom embracing fun patterns. You know, there is a lot of bad advice out there for what plus sized women should or should not wear. I personally think that my Mom is absolutely stunning in this dress with a patterned top. And she never would have known unless she were able to try it on. Not only was she able to try it on, she was able to wear it and wear it until she finally caved and bought it for a ridiculously low price.

The thing I want to point out in these pics is not really the clothes. It's the glow in my Mom's face, that feeling of confidence about what she's wearing and how she looks that is transformative. Do clothes matter? YES YES YES. Style has a big impact on how we feel about ourselves. Getting something in the mail that was picked out for you in your size, well- it just plain feels good. Pair that with a beautiful frock for your next occasion, and we have a formula for success!

Talk about CONFIDENCE - She's got the Gwynnie Bee glow!
I really think every woman deserves to feel this radiant and confident. If you'd like to try Gwynnie Bee for yourself- get $10 off your first month through my special link: Gwynnie Bee Coupon

Thanks for reading. And...
Never stop Learning, Growing, and Reaching.
~Laura

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

3 Best Gifts for Women Who Inspire You

This year - if you're a newlywed or just landed a dream job, or if you're actively networking and building your connections, you may find yourself holiday shopping for several people you don't know well but are desperate to impress. It could be a boss (check!) if you're a newlywed it may be a sister in law or mother in law (yep I've got those too!) Maybe it's a mentor. A wonderful Grandma. The list goes on.  

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about a certain candle with a ring inside.  So after a good amount of research, I thought I’d write a post about the original ring in a candle – the Prize Candle. Use 

A Woman Who Inspires...
There is one person on my Christmas list this year who I am especially challenged to buy for that inspired this search. It's my sister in law! It really could not be any more intimidating. In my case, my sister in law is a well-known blogger and a creative business powerhouse.  She's been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, This month, she even released a book: Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed which teaches the all-important groundwork for us to make every DIY Pinterest dream come true.

What to Do?
It's too tricky to buy clothes at this stage (and it's really never appropriate to buy clothes for a boss!) and the typical gifts for women just make me cringe. 


In my online travels to solve this challenging gifting situation, I came across something amazing. So, I have aptly named Prize Candle one of the 3 Best Gifts You Can Buy For Women Who Inspire You! The other two gifts will be unveiled within the coming weeks. I'm looking forward to sharing an in depth Prize Candle review soon, but I wanted to share in this happy discovery as soon as possible.

Light a Candle...

I believe whole-heartedly in aroma therapy – and I just love the warmth and ambiance a candle brings to a room. Candles are a popular gift especially during the holidays, and honestly you never can have too many. But a plain candle can really fall flat- that's where the candles poured by this company make up the difference. As the name suggests, the Prize Candle has hidden within it something very special - taking your gift from "sweet" into the realm of "spectacular"... it is a ring within a candle, a gift within a gift, allowing you to pass through the minefield of challenges surrounding giving something of real value, or something to wear without coworkers noticing. This is such an inventive solution - and a gift that is completely unforgettable!

Your favorite inspiring sister will be kept in anticipation as the high grade soy candle slowly burns away the wax to reveal a vintage ring worth up to $5,000. I suggest you look at the Prize Candle gallery to get a better idea of the quality and different ring styles.

For Victoria, I've got my eye on the Cozy Cabin scent, which they've described as "the perfect medley of wood, fruit, florals, and musk that harkens times enjoyed at a secluded log cabin getaway. Notes: Bergamot, citrus, wood and musk with just a kiss of spice." Take me away!


This gift is one that cultivates and rewards meditative patience. It causes us to examine our fast-paced, get-it-now, instant gratification world in which we live. That in itself is a gift. And I can't wait to ask my sister in law in a couple months about her ring, and see a pic of it.

Once I receive my Prize Candle for my amazing Sister in Law (and one for myself!!) and my lovely ring (fingers crossed for a BIG appraisal!) I’ll post an update with a full review and let you know my thoughts.   

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase a prize candle, you can use this Prize Candle promo code to save $10 off of your first purchase!

Stay tuned for the remaining 3 Best Gifts for Women Who Inspire You which will be unveiled in the coming weeks!

Who is the most challenging person to shop for this year? Share in the comments below! Are you going to try a prize candle? I'd love to know! Thanks for reading :)

Never Stop Learning, Growing and Reaching,

~Laura

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The 5 AM Club

It has been officially over one month of consistently waking up at 5 am, followed by a morning protocol that sets me up for success. If you're wondering why I'm doing this, I've written a blog post on my 3 Biggest Reasons to Wake up at 5am which I invite you to read.

Here is a picture I took on my sunrise walk with my husband. I send it to you, since you're starting this life changing journey of waking up at 5am. You get to see things like this! Don't miss the sunrise.

Let me briefly share my morning ritual, which is based off the teaching of Robin Sharma, author of The Leader Who Had No Title and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and then explain how it's been changing my life.

In this post I share with you my best tips that I've learned from the month or so doing this, which should help propel you even more. By no means has my system been perfected, but this post is to help me celebrate and track my progress, and serve you at the same time.

My Weekday Morning Ritual
I have been constantly tweaking this to get the right balance and get the most out of my mornings. Here's my current schedule:

5AM: Get out of bed, do a little dance to release endorphins
5:00-5:20 Exercise (yoga or low-noise)
5:20-5:40 Review the day ahead and goals- using my planner and notes, what do I need to accomplish, what challenges face me? Write down some things I'm thankful for in my journal.
5:40-6:00 Read the Bible if you're looking for wisdom, I highly recommend the book of Proverbs... or a paper I've wanted to read (I print out articles that interest me throughout the day so I can dig in later)
(Image from Robin Sharma on Facebook.com)


[At this point I am super charged for the next several hours and wired to make the most of my time]

6AM-7AM 
6:00-6:30 Prepare a dinner and put in the crock pot
6:30-7:00 Early morning work, read email or news

7AM-8AM
7:00-7:35 Morning "sunrise" walk with my husband
7:40-8:00 Prepare a breakfast shake, coffee, bagel, day's snacks
8:00-8:30 Shower and dressed
8:40am leave for work

[I also have a morning office ritual that I'm working on establishing, which I look forward to sharing in coming posts]

How The 5 AM Club is Working Already
I repeat to people that the 5 am club is probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life, after following Christ and marrying my husband. Here are just some of the ways this habit hack has reshaped my life and is setting me on track for tremendous future success:
  • Establishing a new routine and mindset
  • Putting my own ambitions first, developing my own compass instead of letting the world and societal norms dictate what I will do
  • I'm eating better because I'm making time in the morning to cook
  • Improving my marriage by dedicating a morning walk for conversation (this is now totally sacred time to me)

I have a few tips and tricks that I've gathered in my first month that should help set first-timers up for success!

My first and biggest tip, which I won't even put in the lineup below is:

REALIZE THAT GETTING OUT OF BED IS THE HARDEST PART.

All you really need to do is put your feet on the ground, stand up, and walk away from your bed. Everything after this comes easier.

1) Get your loved one to do it with you - or make an online accountability buddy.
This is so powerful- if you're living with your husband or wife, or have a child, make this a team effort. On the days you feel weak, the other may feel strong and coax you out of bed. My husband has been awesome about this. After being convinced that we couldn't have the life we want unless we develop habits of the truly productive and successful, he has become determined to maintain the 5am club.

2) Don't be sleep deprived- adjust your sleep schedule too!
The 5am club isn't a sleep deprivation exercise! You'll notice a lot of little things you're going to have to change to support your new operation. You'll feel tired sooner. So, don't sabotage your next morning by staying up too late. Get your full 7 hours and you'll be more energized to wake up at 5am.

3) Have an iron-clad reason.
Why are you doing this? So that you can be rich one day? No - that isn't a good enough reason. Your reason needs to be totally intrinsic. I tried and failed to do the 5AM club last year because my reason wasn't good enough. At that time when I failed, my reason was "I want to be healthier".
Can you see why that didn't work? It didn't work because, most of the time I feel like I'm healthy enough. It's a weak reason. It's easy to wriggle my way out of it- "sleep is healthy too"..."A little more sleep, and I'll feel better than if I had taken a walk this morning" - Do you see why this was a road to failure? Do you see how easy it is to fail without a good enough reason?

There are no such thing as "morning people" and "night people" - that's just a myth. One thing I've learned from Tony Robbins and other great personal development coaches is that your IDENTITY is what matters. If you consciously identify yourself as "not a morning person" you have done yourself a huge disservice and totally blocked your growth in this area. So change your story. Change how you view yourself in your mind. If you can't get over the negative self talk, you will not have progress!

Here's what DID work. I totally changed my identity. I told myself, "I know there's no way that I could ever be the person I want to be, accomplish all I want to accomplish, and feel as good as I want to feel unless I get up at 5AM every day. I am the kind of person that gets up early. So getting up at 5AM is just me being more like myself. When I don't do this, I'm not myself. I need to get up at 5AM to get what I need to do done."

4) Set up things to look forward to: A healthy reward system.
Consider the rewards of getting up early. You will see the sunrise. You will finally get to read the article you printed out for yourself yesterday to read. You will get to try a new recipe in your crock pot. You will get to review your goals.
Basically- you need to have a plan for that time between 5am forward and a fully assimilated understanding that will be greatly beneficial to you. It must seem so beneficial that missing it would come at a huge loss. Just getting up at 5am isn't good enough- you need to have a plan for your time and establish in your mind the rewards it brings.

5) Set up an accountability exercise.
A Facebook group (or any sea of strangers) is NOT an accountability group. Tweeting the #The5AMClub hashtag isn't good enough either! Every morning, on my morning walk I take a picture during this peaceful time at send it to my mother (it's about 7:30am at this time). That is a real, live person, who is now used to receiving these messages and would be sad if I missed one. She is part of the reason I never miss a walk, even on top of the beautiful time it is with my husband. The image that I send to my mother has become a lovely accountability exercise that makes her feel loved and remembered, too.

There are even more tips that I will send you in the coming weeks. I hope to see you again. If you have any feedback or suggestions, or tips of your own, please add them in the comments on this blog.

Never stop learning, growing, and reaching!
~Laura




Saturday, October 11, 2014

3 Best Reasons to Get up at 5AM, and More Insights on Building a Great Morning Ritual

Dear Bed - it's not you, it's me. You are comfy, cozy, and available any time. You are extra warm, and as the weather turns colder leading to crisp mornings, that toasty warmness means a lot to me. But it's just not working anymore. You, hands down, were the gateway drug to mediocrity that has nearly destroyed all my new years resolutions. I thought I knew how to handle our relationship, getting up at 7 or 7:30 am every day, but then I started snoozing, then finding myself rushing around just to get to work on time, leaving me frazzled instead of focused and prepared. But there's still 3 months left of this year. It's time for a change. I need a little more "me" time, and I think we should spend less time together.

5am club
So, what is the solution...

Maybe you, like me, are considering joining the "5am Club". Leadership and productivity expert, Robin Sharma (author of The Leader Who Had No Title and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari) touts membership in the 5'oclock club as a key feature of top achievers. I, for one, want to win the battle of the bed! Put mind over mattress! Starting first thing tomorrow morning (I like the idea of starting on Sunday, a day earlier than expected) I will be changing my habits and work to develop a better brain, and a better life.

I have tried it before, and failed. But I made it all about working out, and it wasn't a big enough motivator for me. What I've learned since then is that preparation for your day ahead gives you a psychological edge and a "primary win", mental confidence that sets you apart from the masses.

I'm currently waking up at 7:30am, but there are so many reasons why I want to wake up at 5. If you normally get up at 7, and now get up at 5 just Monday-Friday, you gain an extra 40 hours of self-improvement per month - approx 480 hours per year, or 20 days! A tiny adjustment for a massive reward.  Here are my top three, along with tips for how you can join the "club" too.

1. No-Excuses Time for what Really Matters - Finding time for what matters is a huge challenge, and usually by the end of a workday the best I can handle is cooking. By setting aside time for things thta matter first thing in the morning, I'm able to create a clear path for success. My favorite online workout is Blogilates wth Cassie Ho, which is totally free- so fun, intense and uplifting! Getting fit is so important for success - to get the energy and stamina you need to really be of use. Also, I love my slow-cooker, it's a great way to eat healthy and you come home to a delicious smelling home.

2. Establishing and Keeping a Holy Hour to Consciously Leave the Herd - Most of what we do in life is the result of our sub-conscious minds running on auto-pilot. To have true change, you need to interrupt and gain control of your thoughts. One hour in the morning to feed your mind and nourish your soul puts you in good company with great writers, thinkers, throughout the centuries and helps your behavior and thinking reach a new level of creativity and greatness.

3. Build Willpower and Grit - The #1 factor of success is GRIT. It means you have ridiculous levels of persistence. You may have a vision, but it will be diluted by challenge unless you develop grit. When you go to your limits, your limits expand. Change is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle, and gorgeous in the end. Being able to get up at 5am will make other (much harder) things easier, because you've overcome one of the #1 things that holds people back from greatness - getting out of bed.

Need more convincing or a boost? Here is a video by Robin Sharma that convinced me!


 Robin says that it takes 66 days for something to become a true habit. Not eating or using a digital device after 8pm will help you get better sleep. If your loved one doesn't share your desire to wake up at 5am, try using a vibrating alarm clock!

5:00 am Morning Ritual (20-20-20 Rule)

5:00 am - 5:20 am - Jump out of bed. Splash your face with cold water. Then- get exercise of some kind, even if it's just skipping in place with a jumping rope. This is just to jump-start the metabolic rate, and release endorphins.

5:20 am - 5:40 am - Review your goals and purpose, not just for your day but for your life! Make sure you are focused on service to others. Focus on excellence and mastery. Write down some things you're grateful for.

5:40 am - 6:00 am - As you learn more, you achieve more. So during this 20 min stretch, learn something new by reading, listen to an audio book, or watching a video. Here is a great quote from Robin on this: "Education is inoculation from disruption"

6:00 am - 8:30 am Morning Ritual

I am working on developing the rest of my morning ritual for something that really works. But here is what I know for sure! (PSST, I have been doing this for over a month now and have updated my schedule. Read my updated schedule and some wisdom I've attained from doing this consistently here: The 5 AM Club) At first, I thought "what am I going to do with all this extra time?" - then as I began to piece all the things I need to accomplish in the morning together I realized... maybe I need to get up at 4am!

6:00 am - 7:00 am - Full Blogilates Workout, according to the Blogilates calendar

7:00 am - 7:30 am - Prepare dinner with slow cooker, Prayer and Reading

7:30 am - 8:15 am - Shower, Dressed

8:15 am - 8:30 am - Make Healthy Breakfast, Coffee, and a Shake, hop in the car and go!

---
I will be up at 5am EST daily with my Twitter handle @NowItsLaura and the hashtag #5amclub and #66 day challenge if you'd like to join me. There are only 15 people worldwide doing this on Twitter right now from what I can see, so get to it! Follow me and hashtag, I'd love to see if you're taking on this challenge too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Le Tote for Larger Sizes

Hi loves! I have personally been loving Le Tote, (see my post on that here: LeTote Review) but if you're looking for an option for sizes 10+, I think you need to know what my mom discovered a few months ago!

It's called Gwynnie Bee, and it is a great answer for women who are looking to expand their fashion/business wardrobe quickly, but don't necessarily have the cash to buy it all at once!

Exchanges are unlimited, the discoveries are fabulous. Gwynnie Bee Sizes 10-32. Get started for $10.
Click the image above to learn more!

LeTote costs around $50 up front, but Gwynnie Bee is only $10 to try, so now's the time to check it out! No strings attached, don't you love it?

In the next few days, I'll be unveiling her full review complete with pictures and tips right here on my blog. Stay tuned!

~Never stop learning, growing, and reaching.~
Laura

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A TRUE True&Co Review: How True&Co is a Major Win for All Women -Including YOU

I have read many True&Co reviews, and decided to make you this one ultimate review that covers it all. I have already covered True&Co as one of the "3 Best" bra solutions for women, but this one gets into the nitty gritty.

Not only is mine a glowing review, but my love is so much more than skin deep! This company is truly revolutionizing the way women purchase bras up to size 38F, and is doing so with an uncanny balance of style, rebellion, and grace.

Now, I'm not a lingerie expert, and I never hope to be. But I am a very busy professional woman, a feminist, and someone who needs to hold her breath when inside Victoria's Secret.

The main thing I've seen against True&Co is that they don't carry enough sizes. This is something they've announced they're working on, and have already made some improvements on, so I'm expecting a lot more women to be able to experience the fit box fun soon.

For a moment I'd like to highlight a key difference in the marketing of Victoria's Secret vs True&Co bras.

True&Co V.S. Victoria's Secret

True&Co marketing (left), Victoria's Secret marketing (right)
In case you missed the difference the image above, the one on the right is hyper-sexualized, while the other isn't. One uses unreal photoshopping and the other shows real bodies. One depicts freedom, comfort, and naturalness, and the other feels voyeuristic. Guess who is who?

The difference is night and day.

And same thing goes for Adore Me, another up and coming online bra brand I recently reviewed, who has larger sizes and a selling model that includes its own twist on the quiz...

True&Co V.S. Adore Me
Adore Me sexualization in marketing images and "quiz"
What... no skip button??? And... May I ask YOU a question, Mr. Quiz? Do you always have to clutch a wall or the side of the bed to look good in these bras on a date? Just wondering!

So all of this is to further illustrate what I love about True&Co that all the other brands aimed at women in my size range seem to miss.

Yes, we want to feel sexy. But our bra's aren't for other people to gawk at, they are for us. 

Where True&Co succeeds (that the naysayers don't seem to grasp) is in the emphasis of real women in real postures in their marketing *and no, "real" does not mean over 140 lbs, it just means not photoshopped to oblivion*.

I get the sense that we put our guard up at the wrong things. We miss the obvious, we take things out of context, and we fail to recognize the subtle ways women are being marginalized, and therefore fail to celebrate the women and the brands that are part of the solution, winning the good fight.

One negative review about True&Co from last year still gets a lot of attention from people - I know anything from a year ago is a bit outdated these days but Google thinks that old article is still the most relevant. In fact, the reviewer's screenshots of True&Co.com are almost unrecognizable from what the website looks now. The reviewer didn't claim to even receive a shipment, or hold one of the bras in her hand. But she did claim the bras wouldn't fit people, and the company was profiting off ignorance. Based on my happy buying experience, something in that review doesn't really add up to me.

But you know how it is when people just want to complain - the comments keep it fresh. And all those comments basically tell one of two things: Either inventory was low or unavailable in their size, or they were frustrated that it wasn't the quick fix they were looking for. And box after beautiful free box of bras to try on still weren't meeting these commenter's perfect fit expectations.

One person even commented that they were angry they couldn't return a thong after trying it on. Lady -- I'm so very GLAD you weren't able to return the thong! (yeesh!) And others generally missed that "no returns" message on the more sensitive articles and the purpose behind it.

Negative reviews and comments are normal for any brand and what cannot be UN-true is that True and Co is not for everyone! We already know the size limitations, yes. True&Co caters to those they can in a way that's fun, sophisticated and straightforward. Some of us don't want strangers measuring our breasts! Some of us are not as free spirited as to go on a bra fitting extravaganza in retail stores. Some of us don't curate lingerie for a living, and some of us are just on the search for that one good bra and don't have the time and patience to make searching part of their lifestyle.

In short, the True & Co model is the closest most of us can come to total, undeniable bra fitting bliss.

If you're thinking about buying from True&Co I hope you love it. I have a promo I can share but didn't want to do it here. So if you're interested, check out my post on True&Co promo codes. You may even see an ad on my sidebar from True&Co, which I have allowed there along with some ads that are targeted to you based on your browsing activity. But (perhaps surprisingly) I was not paid to write this... I just happen to love the brand that much, and really wanted to offer my viewpoint since the quiz worked perfectly for me.

Enjoy! I hope this post shed some light on the touchy subject, and I look forward to hearing more of your *true* experience with True&Co.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Get the truth: Real-Life Stitch Fix Review

Take the short quiz at the end to see if Stitch Fix is right for you!

Years of college didn't do much for my style, and now that I've transitioned into an upscale office environment, I am forever grateful for Stitch Fix.

They actually listened to me yabber on about my needs,
"I like colors that have bright undertones instead of dark undertones. I have short curly hair so my hairstyle is on the edgy side. I like to dress feminine and sophisticated- my pinterest board tells all! Thank you :)"
And they continually amaze me with what they send. It's so right on, again and again that I always must buy something.

But the truth is, Stitch Fix isn't for everyone. Not only does it cater to smaller sizes, (click here check out a great plus-size alternative to Stitch Fix) it puts you in the hands of someone who is totally going off what you say about yourself. This means, if you're not at least semi-clear about your personal style, Stitch Fix might not be right for you.

Thankfully, they ask a LOT of questions, starting from your age, giving you some visual cues, and going all the way to what patterns you like to avoid. Overall, they are the absolute best I have seen at style profiling.

Here is the inside scoop.

My first fix contained the following:
My first Fix
I felt they had heard me out on the colors that I like- but I don't think the patterned tops (Carolyn Floral and Koma Tribal Tank) were a good match for a petite woman like me. The Carolyn was way too long to be a top, too short to be a dress (awkward!) and the Koma was made of a fabric that really couldn't be dressed up enough for work. The Nada Pencil Skirt threw me off- way too see-through and really- who wears white skirts?

However, the Doreen French Terry Blazer and the Lyla Striped Cardigan were both big hits for me.

The stylist's choice of the Doreen definitely showed she had taken a good look at my Pinterest.

It's now a part of my regular wardrobe and I like pairing it against black. I especially like the way it looks with bright pink nails.

The looks my stylist suggested were nice, but I think the blue on green would be too much color for me, and the striped dress would be too fancy for work.

The blazer was so "me" that it inspired a whirlwind of selfies- I love that boost of confidence from a new piece of clothing you love!

Me in one of the beautiful alcoves where I work - wearing my Stitch Fix blazer!

Stitch Fix Styling Tip:

My work environment is challenging to dress for because although it's a Victorian castle, my position at work is web/online. Sometimes its tricky dressing to fit in with my surroundings but also look the part. To that end, if you're using Stitch Fix to expand your work wardrobe, then definitely give them some details on what kind of environment it is and what your position is. It isn't enough to say, "I work in a cubicle" or "I need to dress for an office environment" or "I work in marketing". You have the opportunity to guide them so why not be specific?


So friends- that's it. My first big Stitch Fix review. Here are my main takeaways in a quiz format to help you make your final choice.

Is Stitch Fix Right For You?

Consider the following before getting Stitch Fix. If you answer YES to two or more of these, then Stitch Fix is totally right for you!
  1. Do you have a semi-developed style? i.e. you generally know what colors and patterns look best on you... You could look at a top and say "yuck!" knowing it would look bad before even trying it on.
  2. Are you a size 10 or under? (If not, I highly recommend you consider this alternative!)
  3. You have a specific "hole" in your wardrobe you're trying to fill- like a special event, or work clothes like me. Stitch Fix makes it easy to time shipments so you can get something right before a big event.
  4. You are open and willing to share your needs and tastes. Some people don't really like the idea of sharing their Pinterest board with a stranger. But Stitch Fix thrives on knowing what you like and matching up a look to your tastes, so Pinterest is their perfect partner in crime.
Did you answer "Yes" to at least 2 of the 4 quiz questions? Then...