Monday, November 27, 2017

Free AF: Quitting Ain't Easy

The late, great Nina Simone once said “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: No Fear! I mean really, no fear.” This was a small part of a larger response to the question of what freedom meant to her. 

Up until about a year ago I considered myself to be moderately fearless. I said moderate because I had limitations on just how carefree I could be. I attribute this mainly to my Taurean traits that require structure, planning and discipline, and frown upon disruption, change, and unpredictability.

In early 2015 I assumed a professional role that I considered to be a dream job in my respective industry. I was working for a small, progressive tech firm that was a huge deviation from the monstrous corporate conglomerates that I had worked for in the past. Yes, I worked a gazillion hours a week, and zig zagged across the country several times a month, but I was killing it like I had never done before. I was making bank, getting recognition by senior executives, and moving right on up the ladder. That professional utopia was shattered about eighteen months into my tenure when the company was acquired by a larger organization.

It hit me like a MAC Truck, because I literally did not see any of it coming. I tell you who did...the executives I worked beside daily, and were knee deep in the transaction. These companies ain’t loyal! My gut told me that the shit was going to hit the fan sooner than later. I ALWAYS trust my gut! Sure enough a few weeks after the acquisuition my professional house of cards came tumbling down. News broke that my company would be closing in just a few short months, and my role was being eliminated.

I had never been in a position where I was forced to find work. Any job that I had left in the past was voluntary, and on my own terms. For this first time in my professional life I was on the clock. Let me tell you something, this ain’t what you want!

I was scrambling, searching high and low in the daytime with a flashlight trying to find another position. Job searches, interviews galore, and anxiety were all in overdrive as I did not want to be unemployed. Low and behold I was offered a position, which I accepted out of complete desperation just days before my company was set to close. I let out a sigh of relief thinking everything would be just fine as I had another consistent paycheck lined up.

Man, I was never so wrong in my adult life! Within days I determined that I had accepted the role from the depths of hell, at the most horrific organization in the universe. I will save you the hardship of reading through my tribulations. Just know that the role, and company were straight TRASH!

I felt like I was back at square one, with my back against the wall, yet again. DAMN Gina! I hung in there by a thread for several months, because I had bills just like everyone else. That is all that motivated to get out of bed in the morning, and to stay in the position.

For months, I was consumed by the toxicity of the situation. My mood changed, my spirit was showing signs of defeat, and I was on the verge of a damn meltdown. My man had enough of my madness and flat out told me “Wo-Man Up and quit that job!”

Huh? Quit my job? Did he not live in the same house as me, and share the same bills? I went back and forth with the idea of quitting my job for weeks. Had I lost my mind? Could I handle the financial implications? Your girl mustered the strength and quit that TRASH ass job.

For two months I was submersed in non-stop job searches, resume submissions (why do I have to upload my resume and manually type all my experience out again, shits ridiculous), countless phone screenings (with millennials who had one year of professional experience...get out of my face), in-person interviews from here to Timbuktu, without one tangible prospect or offer.

My outlook was bleak, the NOs were fast and furious, and my faith was being tested beyond measure. I was tired of it all...the process, the disappointment, and my interview fashions (Chile). 
One night I randomly received an email at 7PM requesting a phone interview for a gig I could not even recall applying for. I completed the phone interview,  and scheduled the physical interview all in a matter of weeks. My gut told me that I rocked my interviews,  and that both the position and company were a good fit for me. About a week later I was offered the position, which I accepted after some strong negotiations:)

There is a testimony that lay deep within my test. I was bent twenty-five different ways, but I did not break. You see sometimes God will test you, and allow you to fail while others all around you succeed. Your faith must have endurance during the “waiting period.” God is purposeful and this experience forced self-discovery and self-reflection on me. I learned more about myself during my twelve week “waiting period” than I had in my entire lifetime. 

I want to share a few gems that I learned throughout my experience, which I hope can help you find your very own freedom:
  1. I am strong as shit!
  2. There is more to life than a job or career. 
  3. My sanity and peace of mind are far more valuable than the paycheck and hardships a job can bring.
  4. It is okay to dip into your rainy-day fund, especially when you are standing in a torrential downpour.
  5. My Man and my Tribe are AMAZING, and I am filled with gratitude because of their love, support, encouragement, and prayers.
  6. Keep your CV, Cover Letter and References current as a mother. #StayReady
  7. The many NOs are necessary to get to the YES.
  8. I was privileged because I had been able to shop, groom, and dine leisurely. For the first time, I had to taper all of it down while unemployed. #Priorities
  9. God is a chess player. 
  10. I had to be specific and intentional with my prayers.
  11. I came to the realization that I had to stop waiting for the storm to pass, and simply learn how to dance in the rain.
  12. Get multiple streams of income in place. #Forever
  13. Have a tangible "Plan B" available at all times.
  14. Be flexible in establishing your New Normal, whenever necessary.
  15. I am both FEARLESS and FREE, and it feels so good!
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Budget Beauty: Drugstore Faves

Can I just tell y'all that as of late I have become the self-proclaimed "Queen of The Drugstore" when it comes to this here glam. For many, many, many years I was a luxury brand loyalist. I am talking everything from MAC to Kevyn Aucoin, and everything in between. Over the past nine to ten months I have found myself moving away from the high-end, luxury brands and shimmying right on down to the drugstore. 

In years past when you mentioned "drugstore"to me I would cringe at the thought of low quality products, with poor shade ranges and lackluster product lines. Much has changed in the cosmetic industry over the past few years, and more specifically within the past twelve to eighteen months. Product quality has improved significantly, shade options range from ivory to deep cocoa, textures include dewy and matte, product lines are vast, plentiful and long-wearing, and the price point is unmatched. 

I am often asked about my product breakdowns when wearing my full glam, and most people are surprised when I run off a laundry list of drugstore products. As a former professional makeup artist, I promise you that you can rock drugstore makeup just as well, if not better than the luxury brands. It is literally all in the product application and technique. Properly preparing, setting, and sealing your face will ensure rich, long-wearing makeup regardless of the brand or price point. 

The best part about drugstores is that they offer affordable baseline pricing, and most have coupon and reward programs that afford even greater deals. I live in my local CVS and I stack the hell out of my coupons and extra bucks. I split purchases, and utilize rebates so well that the cashier asks me for pointers! I tear CVS up and hear me? I am talking $72 worth of cosmetics for $11, yeah that kind of deal. 

Another benefit of drugstore makeup is that if you travel a great deal you will not pass out should you forget a staple product at home. I used to travel a ton for my previous job and I always forgot some form of makeup. No worries as I would find the nearest drugstore and replace whatever I forgot at home, because the drugstore brands are available nationwide. 

I wanted to share some of my Drugstore Faves with you guys. Many of the products outlined above are my "Holy Grails" of the moment. Specifically that damn Maybelline Master Chrome Highlighter and the Salon Perfect Lashes (swoons).

Here are a few recent pictures of me rocking full drugstore glam.

Maybelline Master Chrome Highlighter
Nuance Nail Lacquer-Prickly Pear
Maybelline Matte Ink Lipstick-Lover                                               
Be sure to check out the products above, and comment below about your experience. Feel free to share some of your fave drugstore products as well. 
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Reloaded: Reclaiming My Blog

Illustration Credit: Dominik Vaughan

Heeeeey y’all…..I know you guys are giving me the entire sideeye right about now. I have been gone for five months of Sundays. Chile! Just typing that makes me let out a loud sigh for my damn self. I took some time off over the past few months to literally get my shit together.

I had been dealing with a ton professionally and personally, and that shit simply got to be too much. So, I did what I do best…I handled it! Handling my affairs required me to take some time away from the blog, and many other things in my life (more on that in a future post).

The bright side of my absence is that I spent some time on the blog, redefining its purpose and the direction I want it to go in the future. So, to paraphrase my Auntie Maxine, I am “Reclaiming My Blog.”

I really want this blog to win, and to win a few changes and improvements must be implemented. I want to deliver content that is more substantive, empowering, and consistent. No worries as all the FLY, and then some will remain in place. This blog must be multi-dimensional, relative, and present. This platform must be reflective of the evolution going on in my life, and the shape shifter that I have become. After all this is about A Journey To Living.

As you can see I have rebranded the actual website with a fresh layout and vibrant logo. This is just the beginning as I have so much in store for the blog, and beyond. I promise that the blog posts, social media content, and overall brand of Because Life Happens will be colorful, robust, and more.

I need you guys to get on board so that you can become submersed, and in the know of all things Because Life Happens. So, be sure to subscribe to the blog, and follow us on all available social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Be sure to tell all your homies about the blog, and Like/Comment/Share our content. I am so ready, and I hope that you all are as well. Let’s Do This!!!
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