Archive for the 'self improvement' Category



07
Mar
11

great hair

Reader H. C. writes:

I would like to have great hair. What do you suggest I do?

Dear H.C.:

Well, that’s an open-ended question if I ever read one. But here are a few tips for having, as you call it, “great hair”:

1. Get a good stylist.

There is a huge difference between a $10 haircut and a $30 haircut. It may sound snobby and uneconomical, but it’s true. Unless you happen to be one of those lucky people who knows a girl who studied at beauty school and just gives her talents away to friends for kicks, you’re going

hair

Probably not a good idea to do this. Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

to have to shell out for a great haircut. Furthermore, you’re going to have to shop around to find the stylist that’s right for you, and keep going back to that stylist for as long as you possibly can. And it’ll probably cost you more money than you’d pay at SuperCuts. This is not to say there aren’t great stylists at SuperCuts. There are diamonds in every rough. And not to say just because you pay more for a haircut, it’s going to be super awesome. My best advice? When you see a girl who’s got the look you want, ask her where she gets her hair did. She’ll probably be thrilled to tell you, and I’ll bet her stylist will give her a price break for the reference if you’re nice enough to bring it up. Don’t just keep going to someone because you’ve heard they were good, either; if you don’t like what they’re doing to your hair, find someone new.

2. Get good hair products.

This doesn’t necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg, but the cheap shampoo at Walgreens isn’t necessarily the best thing for your scalp. There are many who argue shampoo in general is bad news bears, and will tell you how to wash your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It’s really just that easy, actually — you lather up with some baking soda and apple cider vinegar and wash it out. Gets the oil out. May not smell as nice as your Herbal Essences Floral Orgasm, but you can always put some lavender oil on the tips. Also, this route apparently takes a few days to work, so you may have some oil leftovers for a while. If you’re not up for the hippy dippy route, there are good shampoos out there that won’t dry out your hair. Most salon products tend to be a notch above drugstore, and some of them won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Ask your trusted stylist what she thinks you need.

3. You don’t have to wash and style your hair every day.

This depends entirely on your hair type, oil production, how often you dye or style your hair, the climate in which you live, and how much you sweat or exercise on a given day, but don’t be afraid to let the locks go without shampoo for a day (or two!). We of the west tend to over do it on the cleaning products on our bodies. You’re supposed to produce some oil, so let your body do its job to your hair. In fact, I like to give my ‘do an olive oil treatment every once in a while, especially in the winter. I just rub some into the ends (or my scalp if I’m feeling extra sassy) and give it a night to soak in. Extra shiny! If your locks do get greasy in between washings, it may be because you’re stripping the oil out by washing it too much and your scalp is overcompensating. Try a dry or waterless shampoo (you can even make your own! [link via eHow.com]).

4. Cut early, cut often.

Even if you’re growing your hair out, it’s a good idea to get a trim. For shorter hair styles (e.g. dudes), I recommend once every three to four weeks to maintain a shape; for longer hair, six weeks is a good timeline. If you are dyeing your hair, you’re going to have to keep up those roots — four to six weeks minimum for a re-dye job. Otherwise you’ll look, as my mother says, “tacky”.

Now I know I’ve got some stylists among my readership. Got any tips you wanna’ share?

26
Jan
11

too much time at the watering hole?

Reader M.S. writes:

My problem is my favorite hangout. As a freelance writer, I don’t work in an office and I could work whenever and whereever that I want. I just feel that I am spending too much time at my hangout. Now, like I said, I’m still very productive and I have not gotten any backlash at all, so they have no problem with me using their wi-fi. It’s just that I am there five days and 20 hours a week. I have not been blessed with a lot of friends in my (soon to be) 30 years of life and to find a group of people that respect me and see me as a friend (at least some of them do) has been something that has been very refreshing for me. I guess my question is: is there anything wrong with hanging out in a resturant/bar (I sit at the bar because I am friends with a couple of the bartenders, but I don’t drink) for so much time? I like to think I’m a smart, unique individual, but I am still going to ask if this is okay. I’d feel a lot better if I was wasting time in a library or Starbucks, rather than Hooters, even if I would be doing the same thing no matter where I was. The other thing about this is that I take the subway to get there because I live in a different borough than where the resturant is, so it’s not like I could pop in after work for 30 minutes and then leave, I kind of have to stay for an hour or two at least to justify the trip.

So am I worrying about something that I should not be worried about, because I do have other problems like getting writing gigs and how I’m going to make money as a freelance writer. Or should I try to find other hobbies and split my time more? At this point, I’m either at home, at a computer lab at Brooklyn College or this place. Is that bad?

Dear M.S.:

I’m going to quote Hamlet on this one: Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, 250-251)

old man on a computer

You can stay home to do work when you're old. Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I say if you’re enjoying yourself and you’ve found a nice group of people, there is no problem going somewhere regularly to do your work, even somewhere like Hooters. Even if you don’t drink. Even if you’re opposed to ogling amply-busted women. If none of these issues is keeping you from going to your favorite hang out, then going there is more positive for you than not going there.

 

But if you’re really having trouble with it, maybe you do need to find somewhere else to hang out. What I mean is, if you’re thinking it’s bad, it’ll be bad.

I’ve talked about this before, but in linguistics we talk about the difference between prescribed rules and described rules. Prescribed rules are the ones that we enforce on language; the grammar our second grade teachers push into our heads so that we write well. (Like using “well” instead of “good” in that last sentence. That’s prescribed.) Described rules are those that you come up with if you just sit back and listen; the actual rules people use when they’re not thinking about it and are just talking. When you’re not applying prescribed rules, the described rules that you naturally follow can be quite different.

I find the same is true in the rest of life. Prescribed rules say nice girls don’t sleep with a guy on the first date. Prescribed rules say guys who don’t drink shouldn’t hang out at bars. Described rules say otherwise.

Take a look at the rules you’re holding yourself to and decide if they’re really the rules you believe in. Are you really the type of guy who hangs out at libraries? Apparently not. Is there anything wrong with being the guy who uses the Wi-Fi at Hooters? Survey says: no.

Ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable with the issue in the first place. Is it your social image? Is it rules your parents taught you? Is it comments from friends or family? Are you spending more money than you’re making?

If you can reconcile your feelings of inclusion and love (yep, having people know your name somewhere is love) with your feelings of moral or financial obligation or whatever else is going on in your head, then you’re okay.

You can look for freelance work anywhere. You and I both know that’s true. You might as well enjoy yourself while you do it. As long as your work isn’t suffering, there’s nothing wrong happening here.

I say, since you’re a writer, write down how you feel. Do a pros and cons list. Figure out just what it is that’s bothering you so much about this and either come to terms with it or let it keep you from going back. (Apparently, it’s not so far, so my guess is it’s not really that big of a deal to you.)

If you just need outside assurance that what you’re doing is okay, here it is: Kat Cox says it’s okay. Hooters is not a bad place unless you think it is. Hell, I’m not one to draw lines in the sand about these sorts of things, but if you have to, tell yourself the following:

It’s not a strip club. You’re not doing anything illegal. You’re not getting into trouble. You’re getting work done. You’re fulfilling your social needs. You’re stimulating the economy. And who knows, you might just be making somebody’s day.

As far as finding other hobbies goes, yes, you should probably find some other hobbies eventually. I think everyone should have myriad hobbies. I know it’s cold in Brooklyn right now, but once the spring hits, you should find some social team to be a part of that’ll get you outside of your house (and Hooters). There are lots of things to do in NYC.

Plus, any place gets old after a while. The group dynamic at your bar will change somehow. Your favorite bartenders may leave or move on. Someone new may come in that you can’t stand. It happens. You’re probably going to find a new place to go, too, eventually. Just be prepared for that.

But for the time being: you’re doing just fine.

 

02
Jan
11

new year’s resolutions

Reader B.A. asks:

What are your resolutions for the new year?

Dear B.A.:

making the resolutions

Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I generally abhor the seemingly arbitrary process of making new year’s resolutions, mostly because I think they’re a great way to set yourself up to fail.

Of course, the new year is a fine time to try and change specific things about your life, even if it’s just for a month. I do enjoy any chance to attempt to make myself a better person, arbitrary or not. Add a chance to write that down somewhere and okay, fine, I’ll make a few.

So here, for your enjoyment, are my New Year’s Resolutions:

Stand up for myself.

I’m not saying I’ve had people attack me or anything; I mean this as something that goes on inside my head. This is a concerted effort to know what I’m worth, what my ideas are worth, and believe it. It also means that I’ll stand up for myself even if someone hasn’t put me down. This means asking for things when I need them, or even just when I want them. It means not apologizing for doing the things I feel I need to do, even if it’s not what nice girls do. It may make me feel conniving or cut-throat, but that’s only until I get used to it. (Guys live like this all the time!)

Find my self-worth in myself rather than others.

This is a hard one to quantify, but as a girl, I’ve found it’s very easy to gauge my self-worth based entirely on how (I think) others perceive me. There are several places this happens: job performance at work, friendships, family, or even just how members of the opposite sex respond to me in public. Being attractive and nice are all fine things, but being happy with yourself is a much deeper enterprise. It’s a hard trap not to fall into, but I just have to learn not to care if anyone else thinks I’m pretty, nice, or funny. Part of it for me is simply looking at the things I feel good about having done, whether they involve other people or not. If I keep a list in my journal, say, I can look back on it when I’m not feeling so great about myself and remember the feeling.

Enjoy the feeling of being hungry.

I don’t mean this is an anorexic, “I’m not eating anymore” kind of way. This is part of a general life-long goal of slowing down and paying attention to my body. We live in the kind of world where food is readily available to us at all times, and going hungry is something we forget how to do. So I’m going to recognize hunger when it strikes me, and allow it to be just a feeling that I can enjoy. (Don’t worry, I’ll still feed myself, too.)

Make mix CDs for my friends.

I used to do this a lot. Seeing as it took me three years to update my iPod, the process has been on hiatus lately. But I’m planning to start it up again. So watch out.

Eat more veggies.

Notice I didn’t say “lose weight” or “be healthier”. I’m simply adding more fruit and veggies to my diet. A couple carrot sticks here, an avocado on my turkey sandwich at lunch… Easy peasy. I may even rejoin the CSA I was part of last year (Los Poblanos Organics), as they’ll deliver a box full of veggies every other week right to my front door. Then I have no excuses — it’s already in the fridge!

I think that’s all I’ve got. Not very deep or particularly interesting, but there you go.

What are yours?

Happy New Year’s dear readers! 🙂




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