How 1 picture forced me to form a new habit!

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Written By: Katie Zurich ~ @FishingForFika

My daughter randomly brought me my husband’s phone the other day.  Her latest obsession is to scroll through pictures. And while I try to limit screen time, it’s fun to listen to her recollection of memories and play-by-play of past events. As we sat and looked at pictures I noted how horrific I looked in one of the photos taken. For whatever reason, it was the first time I saw the picture and it frustrated me to no end. I deleted it.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend’s house for brunch. A few of us gathered for a picture. There had been talk of posting it to social media. I begged for it to be kept private. I loathed it.

So what’s the deal?

I don’t feel or like that my inner joy isn’t reflected outwardly. My best self isn’t projected physically and it wrecks me.

I’m accountable. I own it. I got lazy. Lazy isn’t pretty. I want the beauty I feel about what I’m doing and how I do it to be palpable in all aspects of my life. I want to like how I look.

I thought about a gimmick. I was tempted by a shortcut. Ultimately, I want long-lasting results with a reasonable and responsible approach. Just like my writing, I can’t rush this endeavor. It didn’t happen overnight so I can’t will it away quickly. Again, this is all part of my accountability and a need for action.

I’ve read it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so I decided to be better and brighter for 21 days. I’ve taken to celebrating who I am now and working toward moving more and eating less. I’m two days in and I’m nowhere near feeling changed, but I do feel compelled and comforted.

Whenever we make a change that’s self-motivated it wakes us up in more ways than one. I’m writing a little more, smiling big, and loving without limits. If this is how I feel two days in, I can’t wait to see what happens after the completion of this mini-challenge.

Are you self-made, self-motivated, or self-saved? Did you start something small that became something big?




Katie Zurich

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MyThoughts. ~ Journal Entry 1

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Before you judge, sexualize, or objectify read. 

I choose to expose myself not repress of exploit. 

Is my body offensive? Or is my body natural?

Why can a man post a shirtless photo with no objections but when a woman does, it is flagged and removed from the internet? 

Perhaps it hurts her reputation. 

Why is the female body not okay to view? 

What is this double standard that reinforces disrespect and insecurity?

How can we have pornography, strip clubs, and prostitution but nudity outside of these contexts is stigmatized? 

I am perplexed by this concept. 

As a little girl my body seemed like something I needed to be ashamed of. 

My body seemed like it was not mine but belonged to the opinions and projections of others. I was socialized to fear my natural vessel. 

I was raised to cover myself up with clothing. 

Clothing made by the hands of exploited women, children and men. 

Why are women's bodies so taboo to the point of stunting our genders progression?

It's a game, A distraction from the true strength and beauty of our gender. 

Why is my body only viewed as sexual? 

Why will my family judge me for being nude? 

Why will I be fired from a job exposing my body? 

Where did this form of thinking and body shaming come from? 

Why is nudity only sexual. 

Do humans lack the complexity to treat people with respect when nude? 

Why is intimacy and sex shamed when women have it but not men? 

Why do we have a problem with same sex intimacy? 

How is it hard to understand and accept our trans community? 

Are we not made of the same things? 

~ @citrinecelestialbeing

Seeking Food Freedom: Listening to Your Own Body

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Diet culture runs rampant in America. From the moment we become sentient enough to make our own decisions, we are bombarded with damaging rhetoric about living healthy lives, weight loss, and fad diets that have disgusting long-term repercussions on people who live in bodies deemed not conventionally beautiful by society.

Diet culture often leads to disordered eating and dangerous years of yo-yo dieting that leaves years of damage, often so severe that these habits cannot be reversed. Food freedom is so hard to achieve when you’re constantly bombarded with media that discourages any sort of balanced relationship with food.

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Food freedom doesn’t look the same for everyone. There are so many forms of disordered eating that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Becoming mindful of your habits is the first step. Are you an emotional eater? Bored eater? Binge eater? Do you suffer from a diagnosed eating disorder? What triggers your unhealthy habits? Write them down. Keep your mind aware of why your body wants you to act a certain way.

Remind yourself that your physical appearance does not determine your health. People will have their opinions on your body because they are insecure about their own, but their judgements and their thoughts about how you live your life  do not matter. If they aren’t your health care provider, then they don’t get to have an opinion about your body and they sure as hell don’t get to have an opinion about your health.  

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Your body is your own temple. Feed it with foods that give you the most fuel. Exercise in a way that brings you joy and makes you feel strong. Don’t deprive yourself of that slice of pizza if that’s what you want after a long day of work. Ignore the noise that others put out into the world to distract themselves from their own pain. Live your life on your own terms and you just might find the freedom you’ve been fighting for for so long.

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Living With Purpose

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A huge part of our personal journeys includes figuring out what our purpose in life is. It’s an incredibly daunting task, but is also the key to living a meaningful, fulfilling life. Searching for our purpose is terrifying and exciting and crucial to our self-love journey.

Living out our passions can often lead us to finding our purpose. We were all gifted with different talents, experiences, and skills that can help make the world a better place. Striking a balance between making a living and living out a purposeful life that allows us to use those gifts can be difficult to navigate.

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We go through the motions of the day, going from place to place, often in such a daze that we don’t remember more than a fragment of what we did.

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When we can identify more of a purpose in our actions, we give more meaning to our days. We allow for more of our moments to be memorable. We eliminate some of the monotony that leads to feeling lost and helpless and ultimately burnt out.

Purpose is such a complex term. Discovering yours can be the most daunting task, but lead to so much reward. So spend the time looking inward. Write out your feelings. Spend some time every day doing things that bring you joy. It’s not a discovery that you can make overnight. So put in the time. Find what you love. Find what makes your heart sing. And fight like hell to keep searching for that passion and that purpose.

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Is Attraction a LAW??

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*This article pairs best with “The Secret”; a documentary found on Netflix

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As a child you learn about life from the adults surrounding you. This may sound obvious, as our parents, grandparents, and teachers teach us all our basic skills; how to read and write, how to tie our shoes and ride bikes. But, think of this concept a little deeper. Imagine the lessons we learned about relationships from observing our parents. Imagine the lessons we learned about work from the way the adults around us talked about their jobs. Imagine the ideas we accidentally absorbed, and still live by as adults, without having realized it.

Growing up I learned that money was incredibly difficult to come by. My parents were always saying “there’s not enough”. I was taught through watching their relationship that money cause marital problems. And by listening to how each of my parents blamed the world for never being able to advance professionally, I saw that getting a good job was nearly impossible.

“In this economy no one can get a job. We’re all set up to struggle.” This could have been embroidered on all the pillows in our home, as it was said so often it felt like our family mantra.

Once I grew up and moved out, I found myself in fearfully following the path my parents had taken. I didn’t want to struggle with money, and yet I was. I didn’t want to get rejected from the  jobs I really wanted, and yet I was. I didn’t want money to get into my relationship, and, wouldn't you know it? It did. I began resenting my fiance for all the money he was making, while feeling guilty about how little I had. All the things I didn’t want in life were coming true.

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It wasn’t until I learned about the Law Of Attraction that I understood what was happening. I was bringing those negative thoughts and attitudes into my life, just by simply thinking about them. The Law of Attraction works like that. Think of yourself like a magnet---anything you think, anything you feel becomes reflected in your reality. Because I was unhappy and living out of fear, The Law Of Attraction gave me that life reflective of my thoughts. Had I been focused on what I do want, the universe would have given them to me.

The Law Of Attraction seems to good to be true. You might be a little skeptical. If it helps at all to know, Oprah Winfrey believes in this law. She went from poverty to handing out four dozen cars off her own paycheck. If this doesn’t help to know, just think of it this way. If you begin to think positive thoughts---and I mean really trying to change your thoughts, to be grateful for what you have, to treat yourself kindly like you’re deserving of your best life---you’ll eventually begin to believe them. If you look in the mirror every day and say “I am beautiful and I am going to have a good day”, even if you don’t believe it for the first 100 days, eventually you’ll begin to believe it. You’ll feel beautiful. You’ll have a good day. And wouldn’t you know it, the thoughts you were thinking just came true. Now imagine no boundaries to what your thoughts can create.

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I understand negative habits are tough to break. I have to consciously stop myself still from doubting my intelligence or criticizing myself in the mirror. Changing mental habits does not happen overnight. It takes work. However, if you stick with it, I can’t imagine your life going anywhere but in a more positive direction. So go ahead. Give it a try. See what kind of life you can attract.

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Stop Apologizing for Your Womanhood

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Women are under constant scrutiny. We can’t speak our mind without being called pretentious or outspoken. We can’t be excited about something without being called little girls or foolish. And we can’t be passionate about our careers or hobbies or interests without being told to calm down and stop having a meltdown.

We’re punished for our talent, our passion, our drive, and our desire. Our every step is monitored and scrutinized and picked apart. We don’t get to enjoy the things we love.

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Women are incredible forces of nature. We are strong, powerful, beautiful vessels of love and light and change. But whenever we try to express our love and our light, it is never enough.

The world is against us. Around every corner is someone telling us to be a woman differently, to express our power in a more modest way. We have to stand against it. We have to prove that being a woman is complex and intense and so, so beautiful.

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Our passion and our drive is not a curse. It is not something to be criticized or put on blast. Being a woman is a beautiful blessing. It’s time we proved to the rest of the world that we do not have to apologize for our womanhood.

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Feminist Life Lessons from the Sanderson Sisters

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Alright witches, stand at attention! It’s time to get spooky. Halloween is without a doubt my favorite holiday. I’m that friend that plans costumes months in advanced and busts out the decorations in September. I’ve got a very long list of scary movies I’ve got to see before October 31st. Of course one of those movies is Hocus Pocus. I know,I know it’s past Halloween we are a bit late, but this movie is just so good GOOD! We had to share❤️

The Sanderson sisters—Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy)—were hanged for practicing witchcraft in 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts. Now three hundred years later, high school student Max (Omri Katz) has accidentally brought them back to life by lighting the infamous black flame candle. Before the break of dawn on Halloween night, they must cast a deadly spell on a child, taking his or her life in order to extend their own.

The Sanderson sisters are girl power icons. The sisters are comfortable in their identities. They’re confident, powerful (literally), and will not conform to society (they didn’t stop being themselves during the witch trials, they aren’t going to stop during the 21st century).

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Hocus Pocus doesn’t follow that traditional sexist horror movie trope: how many horror movies have you seen where the “virginal” girl finds herself on the receiving end of unwanted, undead attention? The answer is probably “too many”. Hocus Pocus puts the male on the receiving end, while his sister stands in the corner telling him not to light the black-flame candle and unknowingly summon the Sanderson sisters. I bet he wished he listened to his sister in the end.

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Then there’s Sarah Sanderson, a woman who seeks out her own sexual pleasure (and no one else’s) and has no problem demanding what she wants. And she proves that of course women can, and should, make the first move.

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But above all, no matter what happens in the film the Sanderson sisters always have each others backs. When one of them is stressed, they form a “calming circle” around the other. When one of them spontaneously bursts into song mid-plot, the others give killer back up vocals and dance moves. The fight like any group of sisters would, but their fights don’t drive them apart. They enlighten, inspire, and support one another. Just how all women should be doing to each other IRL❤️

Hocus Pocus
Starring Bette Midler, Thora Birch, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stephanie Faracy
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Intersectionality???

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Merriam Webster defines intersectionality as, “The complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”  In other words, there are many layers of our identities that affect the way we see, understand, and experience the world. Our race, gender, sexuality, ability, education, and socioeconomic status are all intersections of our identity.

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There are many ways that these intersections affect our day to day lives. Intersections such as race, sexuality, and ability can fall through the cracks in modern feminist discourse.

Allyship can be tricky. White women have more privilege in the world that should be used to fight the fight for those with less status. But making the decision to fight for others can put people in difficult positions, especially people who don’t have a lot of knowledge of the social justice world.

Using the privileges of certain intersections comes with a responsibility that can be difficult to enact without proper judgment. But we cannot afford to leave other intersections of women behind as we forge ahead. To be a better ally, we need to understand how we can use our differences to help others find the justice they deserve.

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LISTEN UP, LADIES

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When Oprah accepted the Cecil B. Anthony award at this year’s Golden Globes, like many, I felt empowered to do something and support others who decided to do the same. Out of the #metoo movement began a conversation about equality that was necessary and long overdue.

Let me be clear, I have high hopes for females. But as we examine how we’re talked about, what we earn, what we’re worth, and our value in society, let’s not undo the momentum with meanness.

Here’s the thing, sometimes we’re not so nice to one another. Case in point, today I overheard some gals at the local coffee cafe discussing another woman and her body. While I’ll spare you the exact commentary, it wasn’t complimentary.

As a mom, I hoped meanness was synonymous with growing pains, but it’s not. I’m always thrown by how freely and harshly mamas can be to one another. From decisions about whether to breastfeed or formula feed, to the debates and shame over working mom or stay-at-home mom lifestyles, we sometimes employ mean girl tactics that do nothing but destroy morale and incite fear.

This isn’t to say that we’re all terrible gossip gurus with little to no value in the hustle for fierce feminism. We’re strong, capable and courageous women. We just need to make sure we check ourselves for consistency and extend those same attributes to one another.

Commentary can be fun, but it it’s rooted in hurt or your pleasure is at the expense of someone else’s pain, then it’s no good. You’re entitled to an opinion, but it’s not always necessary to share it. These basic, cliche, but important thoughts serve as a reminder that we need one another.

In a world where stereotypes and sexism still run rampant, we need to fixate ourselves on sisterhood. Whether it’s body positivity, career advancement, friendship, or motherhood, be the  champion of confidence for your peers. If we all pledged to be more acutely aware of our behavior to one another, then we’d be that much more further along in owning and leading the campaign for change. But what if we did more than become aware? What if became so nice that it offered a cure for an epidemic of self-involvement and sensationalism?

Women supporting women can’t be something we speak of as a goal. It has to be lifestyle led with purpose and passion. We can’t follow #metoo without implying that it’s actually an #ustoo philosophy. What happens to a fellow woman is of serious concern and importance to us all. We can’t champion a cause if we don’t cheerlead for one another. We must become beacons of light instead of masters of meanness.

So forgo your girlfriend gossip for the day. Who cares if her butt is large? There’s more to love. So what if she decided to stay at home and raise her snot-filled children? It’s her choice and celebrate her ability to do so. And for god sakes forgo the standard dissection of her outfit. What she lacks in style is of no concern since her talent is raw and her potential endless.

It’s our time. Let’s do this the only way it should go down, together.

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Recommended Music Therapy

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Recently, one of my best friends and I drove three hours for a concert.

But not just any concert. A rock concert of female-led, badass bands.

New Year’s Day

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In This Moment

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And headlining - Halestorm

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(I want to be Izzy Hale when I grow up.)

There is something soul-cleansing about standing for three hours in the middle of a packed pit; your feet aching, feeling your shins slowly give out, your screams joining the roar of the crowd as your favorite band takes the stage, as the first chord sounds over the venue and the music swells and everyone sings along.

Then there’s that moment when the last band exits the stage and everyone stops screaming – your ears are buzzing and the sudden silence fills your head and all the thoughts in your finally stop.

Rock concerts are a kind of electric magic.

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The front women of these bands have powerhouse voices and each one of them made a point to encourage the crowd to be who they are and lead the lives they want to live.

As In This Moment lead , Maria Brink told the crowd,

“So you see this last song by us, this next song by us, is about rising above. Above other people’s expectations, and all these fucking ideas and perceptions of who and what we should be.”

Then the crowd sang with her as the band launched into their hit, “Whore.”

At one point during the song, I turned to my left and saw the guy standing next to me screaming the lyrics at the top of his lungs, because he felt the lyrics. Rock music is in your face, unafraid and unashamed, and the women in the genre are encouraged to be just as blunt and aggressive and open as the men. In that arena, it was less about labeling how feminine or masculine someone should be and just about you and telling everyone who doubts you to kiss your ass. The songs are a reminder to keep your head up and to fight back when shit hits the fan in life.

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Can I get an amen, to that?

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We All Love Peter Kavinsky

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Judging from the title, you could probably say I’ve watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. The film itself is amazing, from it being a major move for Asian-American representation in rom coms, to making us believe in love again. Sister love, boy-girl love, father-daughter love. It has it all. But there’s a reason everyone is OBSESSED with Peter Kavinsky, and it might have something to do with the fact that he’s literally the type of person we all want to date. Not just nice, but genuinely kind. Not just funny, but tears rolling down your face you’re laughing that hard because he’s hilarious. Not just thoughtful, but “drive across town for your favorite yogurt smoothie that you can only get from Korean grocery stores” thoughtful. He’s wholesome and the perfect book boyfriend.

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Peter Kavinsky has reminded us of the love and respect that we not only need, but deserve in a partner. To find your Peter Kavinsky instead of the people who text you at 2am with an “U up?” message can feel difficult at times. But they exist! I’m sure of it. In the meantime though, let’s all enjoy the hilarious, and relatable, Peter Kavinsky memes.

1. When he proved some men could be decent human beings capable of general human emotions.

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2. Expectations = through the roof

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3. BDE- confidence without cockiness. See also Peter Kavinsky

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4. When he saves the living room floor from a possible mess

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5. But let’s not forget about Katherine “Kitty” Covey. She always has her sisters’ back and that feminist necklace.

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The Tricks of Job Hunting

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These days, much like physics and astronomy, the art of finding a job is a hard science. Gone are the days where you put in your resume, iron out a professional outfit, and await a phone call for an interview. With job competition at an all time high, with some websites like Indeed showing 880 applicants to one single position, it’s time for applicants to learn how to play the game of “how to get a job.” This game is infinitely less fun than every other game in existent, and although the prize of winning this game involves a paying salary and a reason to stop binge watching television all day while eating hot pockets, the journey of this game can result in a great deal of stress.

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I learned all this about the job market the hard way. After years of applying to jobs that I not only qualify for, but have literally done in my previous work experience, and not getting many calls for interviews, I wondered if perhaps I was better suited to live in a cardboard box and hustle tourists via amaeur card tricks instead of trying for a traditional job. Luckily, I went to a school with a great alumni career placement program, and before I could sign my life away to become a common street thief, I learned all the tricks on how to get recruiters to notice you.

  1. Pay close attention to keywords

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You know those dumb words like “enthusiastic” and “goal driven”? Those words that usually make you want to punch the person who says them? Those are the words in the job description that actually matter. Employers are now getting so many applicants per job, it’s impossible to go through each resume. That’s why resumes are now run through a program that matches your resume/cover letter to the job description posted. Happen to write “written and oral communication” on your resume, while the job description says “oral and written communication”? That isn’t a match for the program, and with enough of these small inconsistencies, your resume will be taken out of even the consideration of an interview.

This may sound annoying (it is), or slightly discouraging to hear you have to change your resume for each job (you do) in order to appease a robot scanning your credentials. However, there are ways to help with this very impersonal process. I now use sites that scan your resume and the job description to see how much you match what the employer wants to see. These sights also give you suggestions on how to match better to make it pass the first round of candidate screenings. For example, instead of saying “Excelled in everything and anything because I am a genius, now hire me”, these sites would suggest using keywords from the description such as “Excelled in all tasks, in a fast-paced environment.” See; doesn’t that just sound chalk full of life when you say it like that? No? Ok, well, sorry, it’s the way it works, I can’t do anything about that.

2. Show your interest via Linkedin

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Before graduating I never had a Linkedin presence. I always thought of it as a much less fun Facebook, where instead of rolling my eyes at my old co-worker’s post of 37 pictures of her kid’s birthday party, I’d roll my eyes at random articles shared to make people appear smarter. And while I’m kind of right about that, as I just shared an article to appear active and intelligent like an hour ago, there is more to Linkedin than I knew. For starters, once you apply to a job, you can go and follow the company. Following a company for news updates helps you appear like you live and breath the company, like your life would be a complete disaster if you didn’t know the recent news of that particular company. It also shows recruiters of the position you applied for that you actually care about the job. In a world where some people apply to jobs much like they’re swiping through their tinder feed---rapidly and thoughtlessly, looking for a high volume of matches instead of quality matches---it’s important to show recruiters you really want the job you applied to.

Plus, Linkedin also shows profiles of currently employed members of companies you might apply to. That way, if you never hear back from the job, you can message them and be all “HI WHEN IS MY INTERVIEW I FOLLOWED YOU ON LINKEDIN SO YOU OWE ME ONE YEARS SALARY.”

I mean, you definitely shouldn’t do that, but with Linkedin you have that option, which is very cool in today’s out-of-touch modern world.

3. Reach out to the hiring team

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I know, I just told you to scream at the human resources rep, which perhaps lessened my credibility with this tip, but I was kidding. If you didn’t catch it was a joke then I might leave out “ability to grasp concepts quickly” from your resume.

Not until recently did I know it was ok to reach out to hiring teams/managers. I actually always thought it was frowned upon. But, according to career placement (so if you’re an HR rep reading this going “no, you absolutely can’t reach out directly, this girl is insane” then don’t yell at me), you can reach out. Not right away, mere hours after applying, but about a week or so after submitting an application, it’s a good idea to reach out and express interest for the position. Don’t reach out and ask what is taking so long, or how much the job pays, or really say anything other than why you’d like the job. This goes along with tip #2, which is about showing interest. You may have the same qualifications as someone else, but a person who really wants to be there is much more likely to have an impact than someone who is luke warm to the position.

Most people don’t have the luxury of sitting around, waiting to be called for an interview. Bills don’t stop coming because you are having a hard time getting a call back for job interviews. This can make the process even more stressful, as you watch your funds depleting day after day, with no income replenishing it. However, knowing these tricks of the market did something for me that I never thought would happen: I now feel more at ease when applying. I am more confident than ever when applying. I think to myself “I am a good candidate for this job, and I will get a callback” right before hitting “submit application.” And having a positive outlook on job applications is half the battle.

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Is Makeup good for ME?

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Written By: Katie Zurich

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I remember being an early teen and feeling conflicted about makeup choices. I was unsure of the best route to take, frustrated by the variations and options, which only seemed to complicate my application and appreciation for the artistry of said makeup use. And while I’ve had my makeup done professionally several times and visited beauty counters and shops by the dozen, I’ve never quite mastered the makeup mindset. 

I keep it simple and basic, but I’m pretty sure I don’t even do this right. The problem is that everything is an upsell and very little is explained in basic language or with confidence in mind. I’ve literally been told “now you look so good,” which implies that prior to being in the makeup chair or visiting the counter I looked in disarray or damaged. Now that I’m older I’m warned of lines, wrinkles, and everything under the sun categorized as anti-aging. Rarely does someone compliment me on my natural beauty, but instead I’m urged to think of makeup in terms of what it adds or covers instead of enhances. 

From lashes to blemishes, makeup feels so rooted into exaggeration and elimination, which I’ve identified as the pitfall within our relationship. For me, the focus should be on natural versus necessary. 

In a world where filters rule and cropping, lighting, and selfie sticks are common accessories or acts, I need better facilitators or ambassadors of the “love yourself” mentality. Because I want to look pretty and feel pretty like most people, but I don’t want to be told it’s only through makeup that this happens. 

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Friends are Forever?

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Let’s discuss friendships. In every stage of our lives we make friends based off of similar circumstances or situations. When we’re in middle school we tend to make friends that listen to the same music, that are in our classes everyday, or lived in our neighborhood. In high school we make friends with people in our extra curricular activity clubs, or people we’re around regularly. But at each stage of our lives, or friends change and some stick around but most don’t… and that’s perfectly ok.

It can be hard to come to terms that you’re outgrowing a friend, especially if you’ve been friends for awhile. But in a way, it’s actually a good sign and here’s why: you’re outgrowing your old self. As we get older, our priorities change. Whether it be looking for a family and settling down, or being a free spirit and traveling and experiencing new adventures, you and your friends are traveling down different life paths. And this can make having meaningful conversations difficult.

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Working towards your personal goals and finding new friends that not only support those goals, but are also like-minded, doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s pointless to live in the past. You may have had good times in the past, and it’s important to cherish those moments, but time only moves forward, and you’re definitely not the same person you were 5 years ago, 5 months ago, 5 weeks ago, or even 5 days ago.

It’s also important to note that while you may be outgrowing them, it doesn’t mean you have to cut them off completely! As long as they aren’t a toxic friend, keep them in your life, remain friends on social media and stay up to date on each others lives. They may not be a priority anymore, but they were at some point. It’s okay to outgrow our friends, but new more fulfilling relationships are waiting just around the corner for you.

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Combating Seasonal Body Shaming

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People will find any excuse to shame women for their fashion choices. During the summer, we’re expected to dress modestly despite 100 degree-plus weather. If we so much as show an inch too much skin, we’re shamed into oblivion for just trying to be comfortable.

As the leaves start changing and “sweater weather” begins, people will find many more excuses for shaming what we wear. Your sweater is too chunky, too bright, too loose. If you choose not to cover everything up, you’ll be called a slut. People will never be satisfied with the way we choose to dress.

But here’s the kicker… You can wear whatever the heck you want.

There are people in this world who exist only to tear others down. They will search for even the most miniscule things to attack another human being in order to boost their own ego. They prey on others insecurities because they don’t have the emotional capacity to address their own insecurities.

Your comfort, your fashion sense, your confidence is what matters the most. Other people’s opinions ultimately do not matter. So dress the way you want. Wear what’s comfortable, what makes you feel sexy, and what makes you shine.

Trolls are everywhere. It’s how you respond to them that defines how much power they can have. So rock that sweater or that crop top and show those haters just how small they really are.

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The Struggle of Butt Envy

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What is it about fitness Instagrams that have many young women, myself included, enamored? Could it be the way these accounts post a new workout routine, seemingly every minute, inspiring us to mix up our own routine? Or could it be because the girls on there have perfectly dewy skin and long bouncy ponytails, that make us think “I know I go to the gym to work out, but I should probably put on contour and highlighter next time I go.”

For me, the reason I often found myself scrolling through fitness accounts,was because of the round peach-like shapes of the fitness models butts. I couldn’t get enough. Butts in jeans, butts in jean shorts...butts in bathing suits...I thought it was the most feminine thing ever---to have a huge butt that made others triple take, because double take wasn’t enough. Even if the image was so photoshopped it looked like a poorly drawn sketch from the mind of a 13-year-old boy, I was still like “I need to get a butt like that.”

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And, call me crazy, but this doesn’t seem like a healthy mind set to head into the gym with. It wasn’t until I started working part-time at gym and struck up a friendship with a trainer that I realized most of those accounts don’t even know what they’re doing when it comes to work out routines.

“You always see those girls who stick their butts out while using the arm cables,” my trainer friend said once to me, as she was showing me how to use some machines, “ya, you’re not supposed to do that. That’s not proper form.”

In fact, it wasn’t until I began listening to my friend---this lovely, lovely friend of mine who teaches me how muscles work because for some reason I don’t understand basic human body concepts---that I realized the other flaws with the Instagram account workouts.

What was even more interesting was the day I decided to read the caption on one of these workout posts, something I had never done on any fitness account before. The caption never seemed important, because, as I said, I was only there for butt envy. As I read through the very long caption full of motivational things like “this workout will rid you of all your unwanted cellulite!” and “get the ass of a Kardashian in under 30 seconds with this sweat induced high kick!” I got to the end, only to find the entire post was an ad for workout products and diet teas.

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It’s not like I was in the dark about people using Instagram to play on insecurities to make a dollar. But when you see a girl in a high waisted jeans with fringe kissing the bottom of her perfectly round, plumped up butt cheeks, you kind of forget about all logic and begin looking in the mirror, mapping out the exact number of squats needed to get the same behind.

What starts as a simple, “Oh think account is cool, it shows me workouts,” sometimes turns into a “Ok, if I do 3,000 squats an hour and buy this ass-plump tea made from drops of 100% genuine Beyonce sweat, then I’ll finally look like the girls on that Instagram.”

This type of thinking doesn’t help you.  It only sets you up for disaster. Instead of focusing on the positives of the gym---like, I don’t know, extra years added to your life, or how your heart pumps blood better (or something like that, I’m not a doctor)---you begin only focusing on why you still don’t look like the women from the Instagram accounts. And while not all fitness accounts are altering images to promote ads for unhealthy diet culture, a lot of them are. It’s important to know which ones are there to inspire healthy habits, and which ones are there to make you so ravenous with envy that you buy a 25-pack of butt padded leggings.

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The Happiness Of Habits

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Written By: Katie Zurich

Fitness fads are a dime a dozen. And as it turns out, I spent plenty of change and then some on trying to acquire, tone, and flaunt my version and vision of perfection. But in the past 15 years or so my silent struggle has had the volume lowered or overpowered by the realization that extreme fads offer no stability or long-term success.

And while it feels like the Keto-crazed, Weight Watchers winners, and the ever-popular and passionate Paleo crowds gather round me, I recognize that I am unable to commit to a path because I need to carve one on my own. To begin, I offer no disrespect to anyone who has found happiness and a healthier lifestyle from one of the aforementioned options. Your choices and circumstances might have aligned better to the offerings of said programs and I’ll humbly acknowledge my own mistakes in application or longevity.

However, big changes don’t have to be the mantra for meaningful action.

I’m not thinking of a grandiose gesture nor am I am about to claim know-it-all status. Instead, I’m emphasizing the simplicity and serenity of healthy habits. Tomorrow I’ll drink 10 glasses of water and go for a walk. This is the type of proclamation and promise I need in my life.

I’ve been way too obsessed with pounds, inches, and sizes for the majority of my adult life. Why don’t I obsess over water? Where’s the excitement for a walk around the block? We live in extreme mode most days. We want to be the best and look our best and go to extreme measures in order to achieve said best life. But when we forget to set daily and healthy habit forming benchmarks, we risk losing ourselves instead of the weight.

I’m serious about my water intake enthusiasm. I need to cheer myself on from glass six to ten, but it’s a worthy investment. And I’m a truly crappy runner, for now, but I walk well. So why not promote my pride as I make lap two past my house?

I’m sure there’s those who will argue I’m playing it safe, which might be why I’ve struggled. But I have no shame as I drink my water or walk around the block. It serves me well to focus on habits that are possible and potentially powerful. I’m extremely optimistic about the path I’ve carved and for that and all the water and walks to come, I am grateful.

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Why is kindness so hard to find?

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We live in a hostile world where people have stopped listening to each other. A stranger smiling at you on the street has been deemed a weird and invasive act. We’ve been desensitized to our own humanity.

A little bit of kindness can go a long way, but we’ve become afraid to express such a powerful emotion. Maybe we’re afraid that we’ll be judged or rejected or hurt for our willingness to be vulnerable.

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People in this world are hurting and we can never understand another’s struggles from the outside looking in. That smile you offer as you walk by or a simple hello could turn their whole day around.

So smile more. Say hi to strangers. Pay for someone’s coffee one morning. Listen to a stranger’s story when they strike up conversation waiting in line. You never know what another person could need in that moment and your willingness to be kind could change the entire trajectory of their day.  

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Be the kindness you wish to see in the world. You never know how it could change the world.

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Approval Not Required

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As quickly as the idea formulated in her mind, was as quickly as her fingers moved eagerly across her phone screen. After all she was excited because she had finally found the thing that was going to set her life on the right track. The new career path, enlightenment journey, fitness routine, new major, or hobby/side business, that was going to give her purpose and calm the chaos she had been experiencing in her mind. She had to share this new path, not that she had even begun, but the idea alone was exhilarating enough so of course this time it would stick. Nevermind that this was the tenth “ah-moment” in the past year. She recognized that she was grasping at straws at this point, so this one had to stick. As her mind raced with the possibilities of what this new venture would provide for her future she shared the good news with friends, family, and strangers of the internet. She conducted in depth millennial style research (google), and attained the supplies required for the new life ahead. Pushing aside old dusty supplies of ventures past, she made room for the tools of the trade her new persona now required.

When she shared her idea messages and likes poured in, all in support and excitement for her. She knew she could do this. She had passion, she had encouragement, and she had approval. As weeks went on her initial zeal died down. Comments and inquires about her latest endeavor soon seized, and after a few months her new tools of the trade soon joined her shrine of forgotten ‘passions’. Frustrated and completely fed up she took a walk to clear her mind. Resting on a bench she came to the conclusion that what she had in life was all there would ever be. There was no further to go. She had to learn to be satisfied with the way things were, yet something deep inside her opposed the thought so strongly.

In one more attempt to make sense of noise that seemed to always cloud her mind, she stared blankly into the distance,speaking to no one in particular, and asked “Will I ever know what I am supposed to do or be”?

Suddenly a voice spoke. It was an older woman sitting on the far end to. It was an older woman at the far end of the bench. The woman had been observing her as she sat, and laughed sympathetically when hearing her question.

“Do you know” said the woman “how I found exactly where I was supposed to be and was completely at peace with my decisions”

“How”?

“When I no longer required the approval of others, to validate my decisions.”

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Empathy, Does it matter?

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Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy seems to be a lost art in 2018. We’ve lost the ability to understand each other, the willingness to ask questions to reach a common ground, and the desire to listen to people whose opinions may differ from ours. The political divide in our country has reached an all-time record of hostility, encouraged by our inability to empathize with others.

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We hid behind screens, firing incomprehensible mean comments at those we don’t agree with. We ignore those publicly hurting, grieving, and crying out because it is easier to turn the other cheek. We retreat inward when the pain of the outside world becomes too much to bear.

Embracing empathy begins with understanding the emotions we are feeling. Being able to identify why you are angry or sad or tired or lonely is the first step to being able to identify with others. Unplugging for an hour and replacing that screen time with journaling and meditating can bring you closer to your own feelings.

Finding a common ground with others is the next step. Sharing your stories and listening to others breaks down the walls we build around our hearts, allowing others to understand why we act the way that we do. This common ground lets us feel supported, seen, and heard, and is crucial to building empathy with people around us.

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Finally, you must be present with others to really understand them. Give people your undivided attention. Reach out to a friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Have a digital-free dinner with them. Ask them questions. Dive in.

Empathy can sometimes be this complex feeling that we can’t find the energy to understand. But when you break it down, practicing empathy becomes a simple task. You just have to be willing to put the energy in.

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