Comfy Week Nights and Weekends


No matter what I am up to, my friends always mention how busy I am and that I need to slow down. And you know what? Most of the time I agree with them. And because of that I am always looking for ways to unwind in comfort after a long week or even a long work day. My favorite way lately? Coming home, throwing my hair up, changing into some Cuddl Duds, and playing with the pup.

You all know about hair up and a cute pup, but have you heard of Cuddl Duds?! Oh man... if you don't you need to. They are the perfect layering apparel to live life in comfort. I have friends that layer them under their snow gear, some wear them for pajamas, and some wear them for busy errand days - because no matter what you will be living easy in comfort. I am all about swapping into them after a full day of office wear. Plus, they are light enough that as the weather cools off I can just toss on another layer or two. I am a big fan. #GoComfy with Cuddl Duds at Kohl’s for the latest styles and color choices! When you're comfortable, everything is possible.

This post is sponsored by Cuddl Duds and Kohl’s, but my love to #GoComfy is all my own!

How to Stay Motivated and Actually Achieve Your Goals


Just about all of us have set some major life goal at one point or another, be it a fitness goal, a goal to learn something new, a goal to see through a major endeavor, or a goal to put an end to a bad habit. Yet not all of us can say that we have had success in meeting these goals. In fact, it is estimated that just 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goals.
As this article points out, motivation really is the key to achieving any goal. You have to have the motivation to do the work. Unfortunately, however, motivation so often wanes within a short period of time. How, then, do you maintain the motivation you need to actually see through your goals? Here are some tips for staying motivated and actually achieving the things you want to accomplish.
Write down your motivations. First, it’s important to write down why you want to achieve a particular goal. This will help make your motivations more tangible, and it will serve as an important reminder later when motivation is running low. It helps to write down some very specific motivations, as well as some broader ones. If you have a major fitness goal, for example, your motivations might be: be able to walk up three flights of stairs without running out of breath, be able to do 50 push-ups, fit back into my favorite pair of pants, and be more fit so I can be more active with my family.

Write down what makes you smile. We don’t always know what exactly motivates us to keep going on our goals. So, take note of what makes you smile throughout the day. To go along with the fitness goal example, maybe it’s seeing the muscle tone in your arms as you lift weights. Maybe it’s concocting the perfect-tasting smoothie. Or maybe it’s finally getting to hit “cool down” on your daily treadmill run. Pay attention to those little moments that boost your enthusiasm so that you can look forward to them on an everyday basis.
Break the goal down into small, meaningful steps. If you don’t break your goal down into smaller, more detailed steps, you’ll never know how you’re actually progressing toward your goal. That’s why it’s important to create a detailed plan for your goal. Let’s say, for example, that your goal is to lose 10 pounds in three months. If you were to break this goal down into weekly benchmarks, that would mean losing about three-fourths of a pound every week—or three pounds every four weeks.
Create a detailed plan. In addition to breaking the goal down into smaller steps, you’ll also want to created a detailed plan that you will follow for actually achieving your goal. What will you do each day to get you to those small milestones you just planned out? If your plan is to get in better shape, you might plan a diet around fresh produce and lean meats and commit yourself to doing a 30-minute “living room workout” on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Dissect your excuses. Maybe your plan to get in better shape involves getting up half an hour earlier on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but when that alarm goes off in the morning, you simply tell yourself that you’re too tired—and then you don’t get up. But what’s the real excuse here? Are you, for example, staying up later than you should watching reruns of your favorite show on Netflix? If this is the case, then you are not exercising simply because you would rather watch your favorite TV show late at night. Whenever you find yourself making an excuse, stop and ask yourself what the root of this excuse is, and then find ways to alter your lifestyle to eliminate these excuses.
Seek outside inspiration. There are plenty of sources of outside inspiration you can turn to when motivation is running low. For instance, think of three people in your life whom you feel your most inspired around. Consider calling them up or spending some extra time with them. Alternatively, you might watch a TED talk or listen to a podcast that centers around the idea of motivation, discipline, or success. Music and books can be other great sources of inspiration.
Repeat these steps as often as necessary. Remember that you always have the option to repeat these steps as you progress toward your goals. You can always reassess where you are in relation to your goal and create new benchmarks to measure yourself against. You can also create a new game plan that will lead you more successfully to your goal. You can always pinpoint something that isn’t working and alter your lifestyle to counter it. Remember that keeping your motivation up is a process, and it’s normal to have to stop every once in a while to recharge.
By: Maurine Anderson

Managing Digital Privacy with a Partner


The internet brings a huge array of wonderful changes for relationships. It means that barriers between different cultures are down, that it’s easy to stay in touch with people who are far away, and that there’s always an adorable cat video waiting for you somewhere.
However, the internet also brings its share of challenges for relationships. After all, when a conversation with an old flame from college is just a click away, the temptation can be harder to resist. When hard-core pornography is constantly creeping in at the corners, and the anonymity of the net makes it easy to keep secrets, it can impact marriage and family in unexpected ways. Although you and your spouse may feel like you’re in your own little bubble, our hyper-connected world loves to puncture those bubbles.
Here’s the thing: every couple has their own way of dealing with the challenges that the internet presents. It’s impossible to say that one way is right or wrong. However, it’s always good to be well-informed, and open channels of communication between you and your significant other.
So, I’ve collected information about three young couples who have had to think about the question of online privacy between the two of them. Each deals with the challenge in their own way, according to their specific challenges and relationship. Reading more about them can help you develop a plan for how you’ll handle online privacy with your own partner.
Marin and Troy
Marin and Troy* have already come face-to-face with the challenges presented by the internet. Troy has struggled with a pornography addiction in the past, and so they’re taking measures to guard against it, and to rebuild trust between the two of them.
The first step for this is setting up filters on the internet on the home, and on both of their phones. This allows both of them to check their behavior online, and to stop and consider where they go and what they see, instead of being subject to compulsive clicks. In order to avoid friction or resentment between the two of them, they decided to set up Troy’s mother as the arbiter of filters on options that allow for parental controls.
In addition to the filters, both Marin and Troy have access to all of each other’s online accounts. Although at first this might feel like an alarming breach of privacy, they’ve decided that it’s a necessary measure in order to re-establish trust that was lost in the wreckage of addiction. What makes this work well for them is that it goes both ways, so both of them are more alert to the way they behave online. Marin said, “I was surprised to see that there were actually things on my account that I would have initially wanted to hide from Troy. Not anything really illicit, but just things I was saying about some of my friends, or the amount of shopping ads I received in my mailbox. Sharing access to each other’s accounts has actually opened up a lot of conversations that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Ben and Carla
Ben and Carla decided from the get-go that they didn’t want to have any secrets from each other. Although they still have their old email accounts, they both have the passwords and access to the others’ account. But on social media, they’ve decided to merge their accounts into one family account instead of maintaining separate identities. This means that they both know about the others’ friends, their new projects, and the manner in which they interact with the people around them.
Ben told me, “We decided to merge accounts at some point during our engagement. I was contacted by an old High School girlfriend who wanted to chat again, even though it said on my profile that I was engaged. It’s possible that her reaching out was totally innocent, but we realized that it wasn’t really a question that we wanted to have come up over and over again once we were married.”
“Although both of us lost some friends in the transition,” said Carla, “The truth is that most of those friends were people that we didn’t keep in touch with anymore anyway. We know that we’re building a new life together and that there’s not necessarily room for anyone who doesn’t know us as a couple instead of as two individuals.”
Pat and Jun
Pat and Jun are two people who value their individuality and independence. In fact, deciding whether Jun would take Pat’s last name when they got married was a big deal. Both have their own careers and sets of friends that are independent of the relationship.
When they got married, they decided that they would keep all their own accounts and usernames. So how do they counter threats that could hurt the relationship? “We decided early on that we would make a decision right then to trust each other, and to talk openly about everything,” said Pat. “That means that if someone asks one of us out for a coffee date, we tell the other about it and talk over whether it makes either of us uncomfortable, or if it’s something that doesn’t threaten the relationship at all.”
While Pat and Jun maintain privacy online, even from each other, they both say that when they have kids around, they’re going to set up filters on the internet. “Filters can guard against everything from adult content to total time-wasting or cyber-bullying. I don’t want to censor what my kids can access, but I want to make sure that I’m able to talk to them about every new challenge as it comes, so I want to be aware of what they’re seeing,” said Jun.
By Christine Hill
*names have been changed for the sake of privacy

Exercising Your Mind


Ever since I stopped being a student, it seems like my mind has started falling apart. I can’t be the only who’s noticed. I’m not as quick on the uptake when I’m calculating a discount at the store, or the tip on the restaurant check. I don’t remember new people’s names as well, and I have a hard time expressing what I know about the nation’s drug abuse fiscal burden… see? That didn’t even make sense.
Your brain stops developing sometime in your 20’s, according to most studies. The prefrontal cortex is still developing between age 18 and 25. This region controls things like impulse control, self-evaluation, focusing attention, and complex planning.
However, as soon as your brain hits peak performance, certain functions start to deteriorate. The first things to go in your late 20’s and early 30’s are spatial skills, reasoning, and speed of thought. Next up is memory; it’s harder to find connections and names and recollections.
Keeping your mind active can stave off disease, make your quality of life better, and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So what can you do to keep your mind fit and spry once you’re done with school, and your job requires you to do the same type of busywork day in and day out?
Read Instead of Watching TV
Studies have found that reading improves connectivity in the brain, and especially exercises your language function and your ability to process movement and sensation. However, 42% of college grads will never read another book after graduation (how heartbreaking is that!)
Other studies show that reading stimulates the brain and decreases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially when compared with watching tv, which dramatically increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The beneficial effects can also be had from word puzzles, games, and cognitively engaging activities like painting or playing an instrument. So, even if reading isn’t your thing, cultivate a hobby that will keep your mind active.

Exercise Your Body

Although we usually think that exercise is something for the body, not the mind, the truth is that you can’t isolate them from each other. The way you treat your body affects the way your mind works, and vice versa. Exercise can have an amazing effect on the brain. In fact, kids who exercise regularly get better grades, are better able to focus, think creatively, and make new connections.
Exercise continues to have an effect on our brain as we age. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain, and the ability to make new nerve cells and connections within the brain. One study showed that simply walking every day improves your ability to daydream, plan for the future, remember the past, and even the ability to plan and execute a task.
There are other ways that your body’s health affects your brain, too. Eat well, and get enough sleep in order to continue to support your brain’s health.
Try Something Completely New
We’re only recently learning how much our brains love novelty. Our brains are wired to seek out brand-new things. We actually get a dopamine hit that encourages us to explore more and find more rewards when we try something new. Novelty helps us to build new connections and learn more. We used to think that you were born with a finite amount of brain cells. But now we know that brain cells are actually created throughout our life (called neurogenesis) and neuroplasticity (the ability for your brain to actually change over time) can be cultivated by exercising your brain and trying out new things periodically.
So, continue to try out new things as you age! Travel somewhere new, take a class for a skill you’ve always wanted. Best of all, meet new people! Social connectivity keeps our brain active, staves off disease, and reduces stress.
Be Positive
One of the biggest ways to quickly age your brain and make it slower before its time is negativity and stress. Stress can dampen your memory, hamper nerve and cell growth or development. Find your own stress relief technique, like exercise, social interaction, walks in the park, daily meditation, and cultivate it as a habit of your life.
By Christine Hill

How We Wore It: Fall Sweaters


It’s back! With my blog break there was also a break for How We Wore It! But I am excited to introduce it back to the blogging world today. In case you need a refresher, this is how it works. All of us were given the same “inspiration outfit” and we were asked to create our own take on it once we let our creative juices flow. Any outfit can be inspired by the colors, the patterns, the pieces, or the textures is fine.  So our how we wore it is coming from the inspiration side – with things we already have! Because not many people have the luxury to just go buy a new outfit based on what they see on Pinterest, so you have to work with what you have. First up is the look we used for our inspiration.

I picked out this outfit because I thought it was the perfect way to introduce fall while reintroducing How We Wore It. The outfit was simple enough that it could be taken to any inspiration direction. And now that the weather is finally cooling down I cannot wait to pull out all the sweaters and cardigans in my home. Here is my take on the look.
So when I originally was thinking of this outfit I had a really great idea in mind with the navy blue cardigan I have that is chunky and oversized… but then I remembered I have it to D.I. so I was out of luck. So I decided to go with another fun sweater in my closet. I swapper the dark on top, light on bottom for a light sweater on top and dark leggings. Then I still paired the look with brown boots and accessories.
Want to see more Diary of a Debutante inspired outfits? Check out how all these babes styled their look –  Kyla from FordOlogy / Paige from The Happy Flammily / Alyssa from Impractical Composition / Jessica from Flint Flair / Amber from amber nicole blogs / Jen from Real Life, On Purpose / Autumn from Stay gold Autumn / Rebekah from These are the Days / Tessa from Tessa Marie / Aubrey from Aubrey Zaruba / Emilie from Burke Does / Susan from Sue’s News / Madeline from CaseyLand / Sierra from Sierra’s View / Justine from Little Dove Creations / Jessica from Mason Jars and Lemon Bars / Kiana from Glitter and DonutsWant to be one of the 15 How We Wore It stylists next month? Don’t forget to sign up!
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