Everyday Inspirations

Macy's Day Parade, photo by Phil Bastian
Thanksgiving is a time of bringing people together. Since it should be a time of celebration, whether your the host or a guest, be sure to exercise some etiquette so everyone can be thankful for the amazing family and friends in their lives. 
What to wear
Even informal gatherings can have a dress code of sorts. As the host, be sure to let your guests know what type of attire they should wear. As a guest, if you're going somewhere new, be sure to find out. You don't want to show up in jeans and a tee when grandma got out her best pearls for her favorite holiday. If they say, "wear whatever," it's always safe to be on the dressy casual side.

Be punctual
There's nothing more annoying than having dinner all ready and all you have to do is wait until cousin Bobby shows up. Expect heavy traffic and icy roads and leave early to respect everyone's time. By no means should you purposely show up late or leave early so you don't have spend as much time with your in-laws (which I'd never do because I have the best in-laws ever).

Dinner time
Some may make it all as traditional as the pilgrims while others may have their own special spin on Thanksgiving. Be respectful of their traditions, no matter if they don't fit into what you're used to. The nice thing about Thanksgiving is there's usually so much they won't notice if you don't take a scoop of the jello salad. If it's a family specialty you will be expected to partake, but you can always take a small amount.

Don't gorge yourself
What is Thanksgiving infamous for? Stuffing our faces until everyone is ready to pop. Oh and did I mention there's dessert? Six different kinds of pie. There's nothing pretty (or comfortable) about gorging yourself though. As you're serving up your plate truly take a *little* of everything, even if they are your favorite mashed potatoes. You can always go back for seconds. Also, don't skip on the greens. Some people say they don't want to fill themselves up on it when they could use the room for extra sweet potatoes, but it will aid in digestion so you don't feel like you might explode. Finally, eat slowly.

Thanksgiving traditions
Whether it's customary to watch the Macy's Day Parade or participate in a little touch football, don't ditch out on or complain about the traditions. Just focus on enjoying the people around you and the way Thanksgiving brings people together.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!
text etiquette
Texting has completely transformed the world communicates today. It is a great way to communicate fast and simple messages. That being said, you should be careful and take the time to read through your messages. Here are some quick tips for better texting.
  • Keep your message short. If it's going to be a long conversation you should call. Be considerate of the other person's text plan. Only text a lot if you know they have unlimited texting.
  • Don’t text anything confidential, private or embarrassing. You never know who might be looking over their shoulder.
  • Don't text messaging when sharing bad news or important business matters.
  • Be clear with your intended message. Read through it and determine if anything could be misconstrued or taken offensively. 
  • Proofread your text. Texting may be an informal form of communication but you still want to look intelligent and be sure your message is clear.

This weekend Dan and I took a trip to Zion National Park in southern Utah. I definitely recommend it. While the weather was absolutely glorious, it was still just chilly enough that I kept pretty covered up. When I had on capris, though, I saw how white my skin is. Oh boy.

I've made peace with the fact that I'm a white girl. I don't tan and that's fine with me. However, I do still want to avoid frightening the people hanging out with me next to a pool. The best option? A fake tan. It should be your go-to option too, even if you can tan. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation's web site, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases in two million people are diagnosed annually. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. Yikes.

Today's market offers a lot of products that will give you the tan you desire without hours of being outdoors (or in a tanning bed), or that icky orange glow. Every person has different needs and it's best to experiment to find what you like best. Some of your options include:
  • Gels, creams, lotions or foams: These are the most common at-home products you can use for a tan. There are pros and cons to each, but the best part is that you can control the product. I really like the lotions that "build up" a tan over a few days. It's easy to see how much you like the color. (Tip: Only buy products based on your actual skin tone, not what you want your skin to look like. Meaning if you're pale like me, go with the "light" shade instead of "medium" or "dark.")
  • Spray tans: Spray tans usually last longer than lotions or creams. Most people get a spray tan at a salon, where a professional will apply an all-over shade. 
  • Bronzers: You can get a glow with a simple bronzer powder as well. Bronzer is a great option when you need to add more color quickly.
And remember to ALWAYS wear your SPF. Yes, even over your cute, new (fake) tan.
We've all been there--you're shopping or getting ready and your friend or significant other asks how they look in something. If the look isn't something you love, you're suddenly torn between being a good friend and telling them the ugly truth or being a good friend and telling them what they want to hear. Unfortunately there are several ways to go here and unless you have a Twix to delay your response with, you need to make a quick decision as to how you will respond.

Step 1: Survey their personality
Are they the type of person that wants to hear that truth or is it more likely that they are just asking for confirmation of what they think? I usually like to hear the actual truth and I don't ask this question unless I want a real answer for instance, but I know other people that ask this to hear they look good.

Step 2: Survey your relationship
Are you close enough with this person that you won't offend them? I'm not saying you should lie, but if you're not that close it may be more polite to tone down your response.

Step 3: Respond
Whether you've decided you can be openly honest or need to tone down your response, one great way of handling this situation is to suggest something else. You don't need to blatantly dis what they are wearing, instead suggest that you like a different outfit, color, style, pair of jeans, etc better on them. Or nicely suggest it's okay but not your favorite so maybe he or she should keep looking.

This tip really isn't black and white. You just have to tactfully respond based on the situation. That may mean being totally honest or simply telling them what they want to hear. But hopefully this will help you analyze what is appropriate. Good luck! 

Friday afternoon facial, brunch with my sweetie... the weekend is full of tipping opportunities. I figure it never hurts to brush up on tip-related etiquette. Here is a list of some common tipping situations.
  • Sit-down restaurant: Generally 10–20%, depending on service, but I recommend tipping 15–20% unless the experience was horrible. And on behalf of wait staff everywhere, keep in mind that it's fine to tip higher if your experience was exceptional.
  • Coffee shop: Tip jars are optional, but I think it's good karma to help out the friendly barista who's getting your morning started on the right foot. You usually don't need to tip more than 5–10%.
  • Hair salon: You should be fine tipping 15–20%. You can always tip higher if you had a great experience or the stylist took extra time on a more complicated style or color.
  • Facial/massage/body treatment: Tip 15–20% (or higher based on your experience).
Easter Eggs
Happy Easter everyone! Without getting too Sunday school on you, today's etiquette post is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This, similar to the Golden Rule, is truly a principle of ethical treatment for fellow human beings to treat other people the way they would want to be treated. If humanity could strive to live by this principle, truly live by it, take a moment to think how much happier society would be; how unified families would be; how successful workplaces would be; how supportive friends would be; how much healthier we all would be. I know it sounds cheesy, but think about when someone has done something nice for you out of the blue and it makes your day or saves you stress. Now think if you could be that person for someone else. Then they could be for that person for another, and the cycle could continue. I challenge you all to do something kind for someone everyday this week and see how it makes a difference in your world.

We would love to hear your stories of kindness! Send us your stories here. The person with the best story will get something {inspiring}.

A dear friend of mine has worked hard to get into shape. In the process, she has, naturally, lost weight. She looks beautiful, healthy, and happy, and I'm thrilled to see her well-earned changes.

My friend's weight loss is not her ultimate goal; her physical fitness is. However, her weight loss has garnered a lot of attention. While people have good intentions, some can only fixate on a smaller body, not athletic achievement. And when well-meaning individuals say things like, “Wow, you've lost a TON of weight,” it can be a challenge.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hearing, “You lost weight! You look great.” That can be very motivating and some people want to hear it. However, constantly hearing HOW MUCH weight you've lost or HOW DIFFERENT you look can be tough because it can feel like you're being told “You looked bad/fat/awful before.” And who wants to hear that?

We are raised to think being thin is the ultimate goal. This is not true. Getting active to better yourself (live longer, improve stress on your body, improve mental health) should be your goal. We should be celebrated for working to make life more enjoyable, not just to fit into a smaller size. While new pants can be a nice bonus for getting in shape, they should not be the only reason. If you're exercising just to lose weight, chances are you will get bored and have no motivation. You need to establish a relationship with your body that keeps you going on the days you want to quit.

Easy ways to compliment weight loss (without just focusing on weight):
  • Focus on the activities that have contributed to the weight loss: “I've noticed you're getting more active. You look great! What have you been doing?"
  • Exercise improves a person's mood. Talk about his or her change of attitude: “Your pleasant attitude is so welcoming. Thank you for being positive. It makes my day better.”
  • Point out a person's dedication: “I've noticed you've lost weight. You look awesome. I know how much dedication and work it takes to get fit.”
My husband Nate and I on our honeymoon in paradise. Note the lack of inappropriate content in this photo. :)
So we've all seen the friends on Facebook that didn't act with so much class when it comes to their relationships. Maybe you grimaced, gossiped, or gave them the heads up they may want to change their ways. But the last thing you want is for that to be you, right? I've put together a few Facebook relationship guidelines to consider when sharing your relationship with the social networking world.

{you went from "in a relationship" to "it's complicated"}
Let's face it, sometimes these relationship status updates are just asking for trouble. Though it can make pretty interesting entertainment for the Facebook world, it certainly isn't so classy. Remember, you don't even have to put your relationship status on there at all. Or you can set it so that it doesn't appear in the news feed through your privacy settings. Also, informing your significant other that you are breaking up with them this way--definitely tacky. That's being said, those changing relationship statuses to the positive should be wary too. More on that later.

{facebook is not your therapy couch}
If you and your significant other are having issues, don't treat Facebook as your free therapist. Yes, your friends are on there, but not all of them need to know all the juicy details. DO talk to your close friends in person or on the phone if you need to, but don't go posting more drama or polls on who is right or wrong on the Internet. Even better, talk things out with your significant other like adults.

{tmi, pda, xxx, omg}
You're in love. You're in lust. Whatever. But the entire world doesn't need all the details. We don't need 100 photos of you and your lover smooching or to hear everything you did this weekend. Don't post the naughty photos your friend took of you. Don't leave an overload of mushy messages on your lover's wall for all to see. We don't need a complete description of why his or her body in the land of paradise either. Some things should just be special for the two of you to share. 

{and here is my ex acting like the idiot he is}
Don't go posting photos, videos, or comments about your failed relationship. You may want to demonstrate that you're not the stupid one, but by acting that immaturely, you're showing you're in the same league. Keep the ex bashing to your close friends in private situations.

{we're engaged!}
Congratulations! You are so happy you feel like you want to scream it to the whole world. I remember, I was there too. But pause for a minute, do you really think your friend from 7th grade gym class should find out at the same time as your best friend? Your aunt? Through Facebook? Certain people should find out in person, over the phone, or even over text before you let the vast world of Facebook know or they will feel like they're unimportant to you. Hold off for a moment and make some phone calls, which should definitely include your parents. For your friends it is certainly appropriate to send a text letting them know the news if you don't have time for individual calls to all of them. I mean, after all, you might want to take in the moment with your fiance.  

We live in a time of immediate communication—text messages, emails, social networking—but I don't think I know a single person who doesn't enjoy receiving mail. There is something to be said that, despite all our advances, the old-fashioned method of handwriting a note, buying a stamp, and sending thanks via the postal service brightens a day in a way that no email ever could. It's still magical to open your mailbox and see something that isn't a bill or junk mail. An actual handwritten note is a simple way to genuinely show thanks.

You cleaned, you cooked, you entertained. It was a lovely evening and everything went perfectly. Maybe a little too perfectly because it seems your guests want to stay all night. There's just some point where it's time for them to go home. But how do you politely say it's time? First try cleaning up. That should indicate you're prepping for closing time. If they still don't get the hint share your obligations the next day like getting up early or your all day errands. Or alternatively you can say you're closing up in 15 minutes which should give them enough time to finish up the conversation without them feeling like you're rushing them out.