9 Handbag Essentials That Every Woman Needs

Purse? Check. Keys? Check. Cell phone? Check. That’s all a woman needs in her handbag, right? Well, you may need nothing more for the school run or a quick shopping trip, but if you’re heading out for a day at the office or about town, there’s a whole host of items that every woman should have in her handbag to ensure she’s ready for whatever the day has to throw at her. Here are 9 of the most important.

1. Wallet


Naturally you’ll need your cards, but don’t forget to keep a little loose change too (to pay for a carton of milk or for parking). A well-equipped wallet should also include emergency contact details, a note of any regular medication in case of an accident, and maybe an organ donor card as well.

2. Cell phone


Nowadays, your cell phone is so much more than just a way to contact people. You may have a payment system installed, a calendar with alerts set up, push notifications from your social media, and your “to do” lists. Your phone may also function as your personal trainer, fitness tracker and news feed, so keep your phone handy and invest in a portable charger or charging phone case to avoid sudden battery failure.

3. Make-up essentials


If you’re heading out straight from the office or merely need a quick spruce up during the day, make-up essentials are just what you need. Keep a basic supply including foundation or BB cream, blusher, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. You can fit all of these into a small zipped purse. Buy miniature travel versions of your moisturizer, and don’t forget to pack makeup removal wipes. For the finishing touch, keep a small perfume atomizer to hand as well.

4. Key ring


At the very least, you’ll probably need house keys, and maybe car keys too. But with a little forethought, your key ring can become a mini toolkit in itself. Attach a tiny torch (no more fumbling with the keyhole in the dark!), a cutter, a bottle opener if you like a drink, and perhaps a universal screwdriver or similar for those annoying emergencies.

5. First aid kit


You don’t need to carry a full kit here. Look for a mini version with tiny tubes of antiseptic ointment, a couple of Band-Aids (handy for cushioning heels against shoes that rub), and some individual antiseptic wipes. Safety pins are also useful, if only for replacing a missing button or hook.

6. Personal hygiene

Staying fresh and clean on the move is easy. Breath mints or chewing gum will banish bad breath (or the tell-tale scent of your lunchtime balti!), whilst hand gel gives you instantly clean hands whenever you need them. And a supply of feminine items is always a good idea, in case your monthly “buddy” decides to visit unexpectedly.

7. Beauty essentials

A little zipped bag with beauty essentials ensures you’ll always look your best. Spare hair accessories will prevent embarrassingly uncontrollable hair, and storing a few plastic earring backs means you’ll never lose an earring again. Spare nylons also avoids an unexpected wardrobe malfunction.

8. Pen and notebook

Even if you keep everything on your cell phone, you never know when a pen and notebook could come in handy. It’s sometimes easier to jot down some details for a friend, note the name of a new restaurant or assemble a list of project materials on paper, and you can buy tiny books with integral pens that hardly take up space at all.

9. Healthy snack


Finally, it’s all too easy to succumb to a sugary donut or chocolate bar when hunger strikes but you don’t have time to look for something healthy. Combat this possibility by carrying a small snack with you. Cereal bars, dried fruit and nut snack packs, and fresh fruit are all great—perhaps invest in a fruit carrier if you prefer softer items such as bananas or grapes.

Now you may think you’ll need a bag the size of Santa’s sack to carry all these essential items around with you, but in reality a shopper or tote bag has all the space you need. If you prefer a smaller version, it’s amazing how much you can squeeze into a little bag if you really try. So there’s no excuse for not being totally prepared at all times, is there?

A People-Pleaser’s Guide to Saying “No”


Kindness is a good thing, especially in today’s fast-paced world that seems to be filling up with disturbing headlines by the minute. All the more reason for people-pleasers to spread the love, right? Not so fast. Constantly saying “yes” isn’t doing you—or those around you—any good, whether you’re trying to preserve relationships, make the world a kinder place, or avoid confrontation. In fact, experts say that people-pleasers face extraordinary amounts of stress because of their inability to turn others down. The pressure you put on yourself to please others is not only taxing, but it takes away from tending to your own life issues. Furthermore, people-pleasing can rob your of your personal and professional time, sabotaging productivity.

Here’s a guide to help you say “no” with more ease, and feel better about sticking to it.

Focus on your needs first

Many people-pleasers are so tuned in to the needs of others that they put aside their own desires. If you’re constantly putting your own plans or problems on the back burner for fear of saying “no” or because you think you’ll make someone else feel left out, chances are you feel drained and perhaps a bit sad. No wonder—you’re not doing much to boost your own happiness and well-being when you barely give yourself any attention!

Instead, tell yourself that it’s perfectly fine to take care of your wants first and foremost. This doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore others or ditch their needs during critical moments, but by taking the time to tune into what you want instead of what other’s want, you’ll find more balance in your life.

Enjoy the present moment

As a people-pleaser, you’re probably often thinking about how you can help during future events involving friends, family and colleagues. But when you’re always planning a birthday party two months out or thinking of how you can assist a coworker, your mind never gets a chance to enjoy the here-and-now.

Self and relationship coach Jennifer Twardowski explains that focusing on the “here” allows you to learn more about yourself and hone in on your needs. Learning to appreciate the moment frees you of people-pleasing thoughts so you’re not constantly thinking of how you can be there for others (whether it’s 10 minutes or one week from now).

Say “no” without saying “no”

You can say “no” without using the word—an ideal option for people-pleasers who feel that the one-word response is too curt and unkind. By informing others of your plans, you’re not only engaging in friendly conversation but you’re also conveying that you have a lot on your plate and therefore won’t be able to tend to their request(s). In some cases, a rundown of your weekend agenda isn’t even necessary; simply saying, “I can’t; I have a lot on my plate this week” will suffice.

Of course, there are moments when a firm “no” is well-deserved. Offensive requests or ones you feel can be emotionally or physically harmful should prompt your people-pleasing tendencies to be left by the wayside without a second thought.

Don’t be overly apologetic

Saying “no” (either directly or indirectly) may make you feel rude or unkind, leaving you with the need to apologize excessively. Some degree of expressing understanding over the other person’s need for help is a thoughtful reaction. However, being overly apologetic about turning down someone’s request signals that you might change your mind. At the very least, it could make others more likely to continue asking for your help in the future, banking on you saying yes to make up for your bad feelings about not being able to help previously.

Surround yourself with people who truly consider your feelings

Let’s face it, some people can’t get enough of themselves. They’re the ones who really tell you how their life is when you ask, right down to the fuzz they plucked off their left sock while getting dressed in the morning. Their life is one drama-infused event after another. What they ate, why they’re ticked off and what their plans are for tomorrow seem to matter most. And of course, asking you to step in and help in any (or all) aspects of their ever-important life is a given. Such me-myself-and-I people thrive on your people-pleasing tendencies.

Take the time to ask yourself if you’re truly enjoying this person’s company, or if you’re only there because of an inability to easily say “no.” If the latter is true, consider easing out of the relationship and finding new friends who actually care enough to ask you how you are doing. Surround yourself with others who genuinely care about your needs and who ask about life events (good or bad) that have happened to you, without being prompted to ask. You’ll soon forget about relationships in which you never seemed to matter until the other individual needed something.

By giving yourself as much attention as you tend to give others, you’ll notice your stress levels drop and your well-being improve. It’s wonderful to help others, but when people-pleasing becomes the only behavior you feel comfortable with, it can define you, drain you, and even encourage others turn to you only when it best suits their needs. Put yourself first for a change; you deserve it!

Pros and Cons of the Charcoal Skincare Trend


Visit just about any drug or department store and you’re likely to come across charcoal skincare products. From black body sponges infused with it to face masks containing the ingredient, this intriguing beauty item seems to be turning heads. After all, activated charcoal has been said to do wonders for other parts of our body, cleansing the stomach and flushing toxins from the digestive system. And if it’s good for us internally, then it must be amazing for our skin—right?

Not so fast. There are pros and cons to the charcoal skincare trend. As with anything else that falls outside the usual routine (e.g.. diets and exercise regimens), it’s important to understand the full picture. Charcoal products may be the best things you’ve ever tried, or they might be part of a silly fad worth skipping. Here’s the low-down.

Charcoal skincare pros

This active ingredient can come in the form of soaps, scrubs, masks and foaming cleansers. Several experts tout the benefits of using activated charcoal (i.e. oxygen that’s been added to charcoal) on skin. In fact, so popular is this trend that numerous spas have such treatments on their list of services, some charging upwards of $260 dollars for a charcoal facial. Many who have had one say they’re likely to do it again; they say their mood and appearance improved significantly afterwards.

Even if they haven’t indulged in such a costly facial, a lot of people say that more affordable department store purchases have given them more glowing, acne-free skin. Many people also suggest using activated charcoal products to help diminish cellulite from stubborn areas such as the belly, buttocks or thighs.

Indeed, science does show that activated charcoal draws impurities out of the body, allowing them to exit through the skin. Chemicals, toxins and poisonous micro-particles that build up in our bodies due to environmental and personal stress (along with improper eating and exercise habits), are said to be extracted and vastly eliminated by turning to activated charcoal. Applying it on the skin therefore acts as a magnet, sucking out harmful toxins and resulting in a healthier system and unclogged pores.

Spa professionals, major beauty brands and tons of consumers are advocates of using this method to treat skin. For example, Wendy Brooks, director of global product development at mega beauty brand Origins, explains that charcoal absorbs upwards of 200 times its weight in impurities. She believes it’s an ideal way to purify skin naturally and effectively.

There are even suggestions for homemade skin products involving mixing some of the powder from an activated charcoal supplement capsule with various oils and sea salt, then applying topically. Browse the internet and you’re bound to find tons of articles and videos about how to combine certain ingredients with this powder in an effort to achieve gorgeous skin.

Is it worth it, though? Some people aren’t feeling the trend and have no qualms about explaining why.

Reasons to shun the charcoal skincare trend

While a number of consumers have noted improvements in their skin, others aren’t so quick to recommend jumping on the charcoal skincare bandwagon.

In fact, Dr. Craig Kraffert is a dermatologist who says that just about the only interesting aspect of this trend is its unusual appearance. Using a very dark black product stands out from the typical, creamier and lighter colors and is therefore appealing to many individuals. Otherwise, he says this is more hype than help. “Truthfully,” Kraffert says, “there isn’t solid clinical data one way or the other… the uniqueness of the ingredient itself, especially its color, is likely the main driver behind the recent surge in popularity of activated charcoal facial cleansers and masks.”

Furthermore, many people who have used products containing activated charcoal note that their face was left slightly blackened. Clearly, this isn’t ideal if you’re heading out on a date or to a family gathering, and it certainly defeats the purpose if you have to cover up the darkened skin with tons of pore-clogging makeup. Still, plenty of users maintain that it’s worth the temporary darkening, saying that it has worked wonders for their skin.

A look at similar skincare trends

In addition to the activated charcoal skincare trend, several others exist. Between celebrities who swear by certain routines, DIY creams found on social media, and clever product marketing strategies, the popularity of various trends ebb and flow. For example, several people (myself included) enjoy occasionally putting coconut oil on their face s, saying it hydrates their skin and leaves it supple. Others, frankly, don’t like walking around smelling like a coconut with legs.

Another popular natural skincare method involves applying olive oil like moisturizer. It’s also not uncommon for people to turn to homemade mixtures involving sugar scrubs, uncooked oatmeal and honey, or to apply an egg white face mask or essential oils.

Final thoughts

As always, it’s best to find what works for you. If your skin appears to be improved by using activated charcoal products, then go for it. But be aware that everyone’s skin reacts differently and that you may be buying more into hype than anything else.

Positives of Not Having Frequent Sex with Your Spouse


When it comes to sex with your spouse, less may be more. Contrary to what the rest of the world seems to think, there are many upsides to not having frequent sex with your partner. Yes, you read that correctly!

Let’s back up for a moment. There’s a great deal of information suggesting the benefits of having frequent—even daily—sex go far beyond the obvious pleasant sensations. For example, articles link the act to cold prevention, and even to earning more money—one study found that those enjoying time between the sheets at least four times a week earned about 5% more than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, there’s an influx of shows, movies and books focusing on the topic, making it clear that there’s a huge emphasis on sex in society. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Here’s why.

The “less is more” approach to sexual intimacy

This isn’t to say a person should forego sex for weeks on end or become a cold, unromantic soul. Rather, it’s about letting go of society’s over-emphasis on the importance of sex in relationships. In other words, toss the notion that daily romps are the only way to bond with your spouse, or that going more than three days without sex means your marriage is doomed. While the rest of the world is constantly trying to determine if their “normal” fits in with the bevy of surveys, statistics and articles about the act based on what other people are wearing, whispering and exploring, consider shifting away from the extreme focus on sex. Instead, adopt a “less is more” approach to sexual intimacy.

Relationship expert Dr. Phil is on board with this idea. While he acknowledges the importance of sex in strengthening bonds, he maintains that it need not always include chandelier-swinging and simultaneous orgasms. In fact, he says that people should also view sexual intimacy as something that has nothing to do with intercourse.

He suggests engaging in other physical acts that are sexual and loving in nature; holding hands, caressing and touching are ways he says people can—and should—be intimate. When you and your spouse engage in these gestures, you’re still communicating desire and expressing love; wrinkled sheets and clothes strewn across the floor aren’t the sole way of conveying such feelings.

Daily sex: the stuff dreams are made of… or overrated and predictable?

David Lesser, who addresses the topic of frequent sex in a Huffington Post blog, writes that while he isn’t saying daily sex would be awful, he’s of the mindset that it’s not necessary. That is the key message here: despite all the pictures, tips, hard-to-pronounce “new” positions and “how often are you getting it” discussions, frequent sex is not essential to creating lasting bonds with your partner. “Trying to do the deed daily sounds like a job,” Lesser says. That’s the point exactly. Sex should be fun, meaningful and spontaneous; daily sex can equate to yawning, predictability and ho-hum feelings.

Not having frequent sex with your spouse can also intensify the experience when it does take place. There’s something about yearning and a slow build-up of anticipation that can take sex from good to fantastic.

Forget the over-emphasis on sex and do what’s best for you and your partner

What fun is sex when it’s based on what others say is the optimal frequency? Their lives are not yours. They may have no children, while you have three. They may have roommates, while you and your spouse have the house to yourself. You are not your colleague, neighbor or a reality TV show celebrity, so ditch whatever you hear or read about sex (much of which is likely filled with gossip and exaggeration anyway), and do what best works for you and your spouse.

Ditching the constant focus on sex and abandoning tasks like keeping track of time in between lovemaking sessions can also strengthen another crucial area in relationships—communication. Yes, sex is a form of communication, but beyond that, there’s something to be said for face-to-face interaction—with clothes still on. Sharing laughs, letting your spouse in on your deepest thoughts and approaching serious topics are all part of bonding that builds intimacy and fosters increased closeness in and out of the bedroom.

In sum, choosing not to place so much emphasis on the frequency, duration and kind of sex you’re having and instead focusing on other aspects of your relationship can bring you and your partner closer together. Sex is amazing and important, but it’s not everything.

Why Text Fighting Harms Relationships

Angry businesswoman holding phone at desk

We’re all guilty of it—you glance at your phone, and think your partner has taken a certain tone, ignored you, or implied something negative when that’s often not the case. Perhaps they were in the midst of something and their curtness or lack of reply has nothing to do with you. Technology makes it easy for us to reach each other 24/7, but has it diminished our ability to truly communicate?

Mary Ann Allison, assistant professor of media studies at Hofstra University, asks her students to monitor their texts and other digital methods of communication. She notes that when the students comply and pay attention to their texts, they say things like “Wow, it’s a really different conversation when you’re talking with someone and listening to them.” The point is that we lose something vital, honest, raw and human when texting. There’s no eye contact, and no body language—we can hide behind our phones, and that’s not a good thing.

What is happening?

Recently, my partner was on the road while I was feeling lonesome miles away. I was so glad to finally text before bed one night, when our schedules aligned. However, there was radio silence in the middle of the texting exchange, and—after about 20 minutes—I became increasingly agitated that he’d left me hanging. I sent him a barrage of texts, when I should have just waited to hear back.

That led to his wondering why I was acting like a text-psycho, and it was all downhill from there. I’m not proud of my insecurities, but I am honest. When we jump to conclusions, the mind races with irrational thoughts, and we create stories based upon speculation.

What really happened?

As it turned out, a colleague needed to vent, and my guy set his phone aside in order to give them his full attention. Mind you, it was late at night and they were at a bar in another time zone, so I assumed they were partying and I felt neglected and insulted. I became reactive when I could have chosen to keep my cool.

Sometimes batteries die, or real, live people interact and phones are put down. Focusing on facts, breathing and relaxing into the moment can help with what I’m coining “lack of text anxiety.” Studies suggest that periodic text-free breaks throughout the day are a great way to restart your brain and reset frazzled emotions.

We’re all hooked!

The problem isn’t the lack of a speedy reply—it’s that we’re all so used to instantly getting a response. The minute we don’t, imaginary scenarios fly into our brains, taking over our otherwise pretty rational selves. I don’t think it’s possible to come back from where we are now, when it comes to text addiction.

I do believe that we should all work on texting less—try to take 20 minute text-free breaks two or three times a day. Turn your phone off, and tell your partner that you’re going off the grid for an hour—but just be sure to warn that you’re taking a text-timeout, so that loved ones don’t feel neglected or inclined to worry.

So, what should we do?

Like everything in relationships, it’s got to be a two-way street. Set yourselves up for healthy communication in general and voice your needs, making sure to listen to your beloved’s needs as well.

Never fight via text. If things get heated, communicate that you need to cool off, then talk in person if possible. Phone calls, FaceTime or Skype are helpful when you’re not able to meet up in person right away. Give your thumbs a break.

Hold each other, listen to each other breathing, and help keep your relationship thriving with some good old fashioned live talking, using your mouths.

Fabulous Ideas for Upcycling Your Clothes

Are your closet door straining at the hinges? Do you need a pick and a miner’s lamp to search for your clothes? Do you give up deciding what to wear and resort to old favorites because you just have too many options? If your clothing collection is overwhelming you, maybe it’s time you take action to revamp your wardrobe and make use of all those hundreds of worn-out, unfashionable or boring items. Of course, you could just donate them to the local thrift shop. However, with a little imagination, you can upcycle all kinds of items to create fabulous new clothing—or even something totally different. Plain colored items can often be easily dyed, decorated with fabric paints or washable embellishments, or be jazzed up in other ways.

How to upcycle an old T-shirt


There are a million things you can do with an old t-shirt. If the color has faded on a plain shirt, it’s a simple task to dye it, either by hand or in your washing machine (just be sure to rinse the machine well afterwards!). Use fabric paints and washable embellishments to design your own decoration, or try a printable decal—you can buy kits to let you do this from your own artwork using your home printer. Get a bit bolder with tie-dye or batik printing if you like! It’s simpler than you think. Try some hand sewing to alter the shape, such as adding decorative gathers on the side of an oversized tee or adding lace edging to the waist and sleeves to make the item prettier. For a grungy look, experiment with cutting or slashing—a rotary quilt cutter is great for this, but you can also use sharp scissors. Weave strips into a braid and add a buckle for a soft belt. Cut into panels or strips to create a new shirt or skirt, or combine logo t-shirts to make a patchwork quilt.

How to upcycle jeans


Denim jeans come in a fabulous variety of blue shades. It’s simple to cut and fray the legs to make pedal pushers or little shorts, and you can also add rips or abrasions for added effect. Cut the denim into triangles or squares, and design yourself a mini-skirt—just measure around your waist, measure from your belly button to your thighs, and be sure of the correct size and length. Use cut-off legs to create casual bags, sew multiple pockets onto a colorful background panel for a fun organizer, pencil case or place mat, or weave denim strips together to make a beautiful rag rug.

How to upcycle a sweater


If your favorite sweater has developed holes, don’t despair – just upcycle it! Naturally, you need to oversew any raw edges well so the knit doesn’t unravel, but it’s easy to cut panels and sew them together to make an item like flared skirts. You can even combine sweaters to make something entirely new. Sweater arms make great leg or arm warmers, or you can add suede panels to make slipper socks (making sure the soles are non-slip for safety). Combine a sweater and fabric to create a dress with knitted bodice. Knitted sweaters can also be pressed into service as a tea cosy, potholder or fancy cushion cover.

How to upcycle socks


If you wear a hole in your sock, it’s no longer the end. Modern trends dictate that socks don’t have to match any more, so you could simply wear individual socks from two pairs, but there’s plenty more you can do with a humble sock. Brighten up tired cotton socks by re-dying and adding tiny lace or braid edging—try to match your existing color schemes. Meanwhile, long socks can make cosy arm or leg warmers to keep you toasty in the winter. And if your socks are beyond wearing, you can still use them! Pamper your feet with nourishing foot lotion before bed, and wear old socks to protect your sheets. Even more creatively, cut the legs off wooly socks to insulate a drinks bottle (keeping the contents hot or cold), make a child’s hand puppet or toy, or make wearable dusters to help when cleaning ornaments.

The internet is teeming with brilliant ideas for upcycling clothing, so why not revitalize your wardrobe today? You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

What to Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About It


There are only two things you have true control over in life, your thoughts and your behavior. No one else can choose either one of those for you. But sometimes intrusive thoughts about unwanted events can flood your mind and it can feel like your thoughts are controlling you. Whether it is something that happened in the past such as a fight with your partner, or a future event you are worried about such as not having enough money to pay the rent or not doing well at the job interview, negative rumination robs you of your present moment well-being and over time can lead to serious problems like depression or anxiety.

So why do we ruminate on negative things?

  • Sometimes you are trying to figure out a solution to a problem.
  • Sometimes you are expecting something to go wrong and you are trying to avoid an unfavorable outcome.
  • Sometimes it might be that a part of your brain isn’t functioning properly and a set of neurons gets stuck firing over and over again.
  • Sometimes it is just a bad habit you have.

The problem with ruminating is that most often you are focused on things going wrong instead of how to generate the solutions to resolve the situation and make it go right. If your boss got angry with you at work, you may be ruminating on what you did, wishing you could have done it differently, and worrying that if you do it again there might be serious consequences like losing your job. You might replay the scene with your boss over and over in your head, or worry excessively about what would happen if the worst-case scenario did play itself out. This kind of thinking activates you fight flight response which actually shuts down your creative problem solving thought process. In order to find the resolution that will allow you to let go of the problem, you will need to disengage from the ruminative thought pattern.

Stopping thought isn’t something we are good at. Psychologists refer to this as the white bear problem, because deliberate attempts to suppress thoughts can often make them more likely to resurface.1 If I say think of a white bear, then tell you to stop thinking about it, chances are the white bear image will still be in your mind.  The reason for this is that there is no off button in the brain. In order to stop any one thought you need to turn on or activate a different stream of thinking.

Below are 4 ways you can begin to regain control over your thoughts.

1) Engage in an activity that is on a different emotional frequency.

Feeling follows thought so negative rumination generates negative emotions. Worrying makes you feel anxious. However, psychologists know behavior can change emotions too. If you do something that you know generally makes you feel better like going for a run, calling a friend, going for a walk in the park, watching your favorite movie, meditating, you can raise your emotional frequency. When you are in a better mood you can think more clearly and will often gain a different perspective on the situation. Doing something that generates positive emotion also acts as a distraction task by simply giving you something else to focus your attention on.

2) Write down all the reasons why what you fear will NOT happen.

The majority of what you worry about never happens. That’s because most of the time there are lots of valid reasons why what you worry about is unlikely. However, because our brain works on an activation/inhibition model,2 active thoughts about what could go wrong inhibit your brain from thinking of the reasons why these thoughts may not be rational. It requires a concentrated conscious effort to shift this train of thought and think of the reasons why your fear isn’t likely to come about.

3) Write down all the reasons why even if the worst-case scenario did happen you would still be ok.

Many times we feel that if something unwanted happens it would be completely devastating, we wouldn’t be able to survive, or we will be forever unhappy. But the truth is difficult unwanted things happen all the time and people do survive, and sometimes even come out the better because of them. Our brains are extremely adaptive to our relative circumstances. Paraplegics, a year after their injury, report just as much happiness as lottery winners.3 How well you handle any situation depends largely on how your perception of your ability to cope with the situation. Instead of focusing on why you won’t be ok, think of your strengths, the difficult things you have already overcome in life, why you are resourceful enough to get through other challenges.

4) Create an action oriented solution-focused re-frame.

When you have a resolution to the situation you will have both reduced the need for your brain to ruminate and you will have given yourself something constructive to focus on instead, which replaces the ruminative thoughts. Asking yourself a few simple questions can help you move you towards generating a solution.

a. What do I believe this situation means for me? Because we can only move forward in time we tend to think of events that happen to us in terms of what they mean for us in the future. If you have an argument with your boss, you worry about what it will mean for your future e.g., the relationship with my boss might be damaged, I might not get a promotion. If something bad happened but it had absolutely no bearing on your life going forward, it wouldn’t bother you much.

b. What do I want to happen? I would like to repair the relationship with my boss. Clarity about what you want is a prerequisite to developing a solution to any problem.

c. What can I do that is likely to bring that about? I can ask to meet with my boss and discuss the situation, I can make sure to keep my temper in check in the future, I can continue to interact in a positive way, I can make an effort to show my value. A plan to deal with a problem causes you to see the situation differently and reduces your anxiety and the need to ruminate.

If all else fails remember that thoughts are only thoughts and just because you think something, that doesn’t make it true. You don’t have to act on your thoughts; you can just observe them and let the unhelpful ones go by.

The Dangers of Eyelash Extensions


When it comes to having long, thick eyelashes, the beauty industry has hundreds of products for you to try. There are dozens of brands of mascara, multiple kinds of false eyelashes and medicated growth serums. In recent years, eyelash extensions have become particularly popular.

Eyelash extensions promise to be the best combination of mascara and false eyelashes. Long, dark and practically permanent, they’re ready to go every morning, last for months, and are designed to look fantastic in photographs.

But what exactly are they? And are they safe to use?

What are eyelash extensions?

Eyelash extensions (also known as semi-permanent lashes) are made of synthetic fibers. Unlike standard false eyelashes, which are attached to the eyelid, extensions are individually glued onto your natural lashes. Consequently, the glue used to attach them is also extremely strong.

Eyelash extension do not need to be removed every night—in fact, removing them is practically impossible. The glue is designed to hold until your real lash falls out, which happens naturally to every lash. Because they require a particular type of glue and very careful placement, eyelash extensions must be applied by a professional aesthetician or cosmetologist.

Are eyelash extensions safe?

Semi-permanent lashes can be annoying for several reasons. When you wear them, you cannot pull at them or rub your eyes; if you do, you risk pulling out your own eyelashes or rubbing irritating chemicals into your eyes. You also cannot remove them yourself. If you don’t want to wait for them to fall out on their own, you must have them removed professionally, as the glue is too strong to be dissolved without chemicals.

However, the biggest reason to avoid eyelash extensions is the danger they can pose to the health of your skin and eyes.

The dangers of eyelash extensions

The glue used to apply eyelash extension is incredibly strong and often contains irritants like formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. It is very harsh and can cause allergic reactions in the sensitive skin around your eyes. These reactions may include redness, hives, swelling, and even blistering that can temporarily damage your vision and leave permanent scarring on your skin.

In some instances, eyelash extensions can cause you to completely lose your natural lashes. This condition is known as traction alopecia; unlike standard alopecia, which is an autoimmune disorder, traction alopecia occurs when the eyelash follicle is so irritated and damaged (in this case, by the application and removal of extensions) that it loses the ability to grow hair altogether.

Others dangers include bacterial or fungal infections of both the skin and cornea; these can be due to the glue or irritation from the eyelash extensions themselves.

The bottom line

Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Consumer Reports warn against using eyelash extensions. Even beauty magazines like Cosmopolitan are starting to tell consumers that they are too risky to be worthwhile!

While long, beautiful eyelashes are great, there are safer ways to achieve them than with eyelash extensions.

How Sexting Can Strengthen Relationships


While sexting—sending suggestive texts and in some instances, images—is often something that people think destroys relationships, it can actually strengthen them. Of course, if your intent is to send sexual thoughts to someone other than your significant other, then you’re naturally setting yourself up for relationship problems. But when sexting occurs between you and your special loved one and doesn’t entail any of that life-ruining, cheating drama, it can do wonders for your romantic life. Here’s why.

Sexting boosts confidence

Think you could never bring yourself to send a suggestive text to your spouse? Give it a try. The thrill of sending the text will boost your confidence, especially if it’s not something you’d ever imagine yourself doing. Say what you feel. You’ll not only be surprised at how the words flow, but at how you’ll feel more self-assured in the bedroom. Hey, if you sent that kind of text, who knows what the night will bring?

It need not be the stuff romance novels are made of, or filled with X-rated words; a simple, “I can’t wait until you get home (with a wink emoticon),” or “I keep thinking of how good you looked when you got out of the shower last night,” will get the wheels of intimate thoughts going.

Sexting can improve your sex life

All of that sexually-charged messaging can boost your sex life, and there’s science to back it up.

A study led by researchers from Drexel University found that those who were involved in sexting reported having more satisfied sex lives and a more satisfied relationship in general. This research involved both committed couples as well as more casual encounters. It’s thought that expressing yourself so openly boosts libido and builds excitement so that sexual activity is ultimately more pleasing when it takes place.

Sexting can open the lines of romantic communication

Sexting can reduce the face-to-face awkwardness that sometimes comes with telling your partner you’d like to try a new position or be touched more in one particular spot. Suggestive texts about being massaged a certain way or ones that involve an image of you in more revealing clothing than normal can open the lines of communication; what’s otherwise left unsaid in the “real” world can be conveyed via text and handled accordingly.

Sexts can allow shy or more conservative couples to “talk” about things they’d typically not discuss, say, over dinner or during foreplay.

Sexting keeps the romance alive

Receiving a sext in areas not otherwise associated with feelings of desire can help keep the romance alive. There you are, sweating from a good gym workout, when you get a sext. Perhaps your spouse sends you a sext just as you leave the office. In essence, you’re maintaining a connection when you’d otherwise not be physically able to do so in certain situations. The thrill of getting or sending sexts just as you leave the grocery store or just prior to a conference call allows for more ongoing interaction. With today’s longer working hours and busier schedules, sexts can help keep the romance alive.

Sexting benefits mature adults too

While you might have images that only young 20-somethings are sexting away like there’s no tomorrow, the truth is, people of all ages are doing it—including those in their 50s and 60s. Relationship experts suggest that it’s a myth that aging and a diminished sexual desire go hand in hand. Instead, relationship coach Suzanne Blake explains, “Boomers want sexual activity. They want to flirt. It makes them feel lively and young.” To that end, she says that she’s observed a rise in older couples who are sexting, including people who “show” their spouse what they’re missing while on a business trip, for example.

For couples of all ages, sexting is a fun and harmless way to spice up your sex life and increase the potential for more fulfilling romantic encounters. Just be sure to double check that your saucy talk isn’t being sent to Mom or your boss; watch that phone contact list carefully, and keep track of toggling between that last conversation with your neighbor and the “what are you wearing” ones with your spouse.

So, what are you waiting for? Try sexting, or sexting more often, and you’ll be sure to experience increased confidence, better communication and improved levels of satisfaction.