FIVE TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR BLOGGERS WHO HUSTLE

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I've shared numerous blogging tips like 15 Habits to Being a Boss Babe & Eight Tips To Being a Successful Blogger - now what if your issue isn't being a badass nor successful but rather finding a way to balance it all?

If you're familiar with the blogosphere, then you know that in addition to our personal responsibilities and full-time employees, we enjoy it all while being creative. In fact, many bloggers aren't seeking to do this as a career and see this as an added bonus to their dream jobs. With that being said, as rewarding it may often be, blogging can be one of the most frustrating jobs with little to no guarantee of success in a saturated world.

We are often up extremely early or unimaginably late to edit videos, photos or to draft content at the pace of an exhausted mind. Being transparent about all this isn't meant to scare you away but really to point out how significant time management is in the world of a creative individual. If you find yourself getting home after an 8+ hour work day and struggling to stay on top of it all, here are some tips that should help alleviate some of the stress.  

1. PLAN AHEAD

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Did you know that there is a 42% chance that you'll complete something if it's written down? I always stress about time management because a goal is literally a dream with a deadline. Despite life happening and things popping up, creating a plan on a daily basis puts you in a position to tackle anything that comes your way seamlessly. My Erin Condren Life Planner (not sponsored) is a gem I've carried and renewed for years to keep track of my life. Everything from shoots, chores, to meetings and editing is instilled in my routine because of the habit I've formed through planning. Having a 9-5 shouldn't force you to give up your hobbies nor dreams- plan your day and see where you could squeeze in your hustle.

2. HAVE A NOTEBOOK

In addition to planning, I find that having a travel journal where I jot down ideas for future posts has helped me tremendously. I don't rely so much on my phone for this, as writing it down makes things more real me. Find a mini notebook and an artsy pen you don't mind keeping in your purse during your commutes so you could use them as idea flows through you!  There nothing worse than trying to remember that thing you meant to write down but didn't have to chance to! My favorite way to strategize is by outlining content because it helps with my creative bloc and keeping me in check when I struggle to produce things.

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3. STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE

This one has been a never-ending struggle, so I often ask myself this. What is the point of creating a schedule, outlining everything if you lack a routine? I've noticed that the best way to increase my following and viewership is by being consistent with my routine. I've gone from having viral posts to less than a handful of views because no one knew when I'd come back! A break is great and necessary, but don't work so hard to fall right back into old habits. Getting comfortable with procrastination gives you a feeling of instant gratification but incompetence, so why not work hard towards you goals and reward yourself when it is merited?! 

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4. USE YOUR RESOURCES

Even with an oversaturated world, it is the best time to be a creative with the answer to everything at just your fingertips. I encourage you to find inspiration everywhere and put in work to do the research you need for your growth. A few of my favorite resources are Canva for graphics, Facetune for photo editing , UNUM for planning and even going to my favorite bloggers for inspiration. Whatever is it you plan on doing, someone has already done it and so please save time and pay attention to your surroundings to reach these goals.

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5. SAY NO 

I generally have a hard time saying no to people, so imagine saying no to offers! I learned that taking on every project that comes my way hurts me more than it helps. As a blogger, your first collaboration will be encouraging and mind-blowing but be mindful of your worth, time and uniqueness. Work with companies that align with your brand and stick to your price! Yes, it's a scary thing to turn down opportunities but remember that not all that glitters is gold.

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Conclusively, I hope you can take away a few things from this post. As fulfilling as blogging is, I wish these were things people in the field shared with me before I dived in. Because everyone work differently, be cognizant of what is  most efficient way to manage your time and go for it!

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FIVE SELF-CARE PRACTICES: HOW TO BE A KINDER & HAPPIER YOU!

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The majority of us are so busy achieving goals or simply surviving, that we often to live our lives in between the madness of it all.

I'll be the first to admit, my obsession with accomplishing tasks can be so unhealthy to the point where I completely shut down. Have you ever been in a place where you wanted to check off a million things on your to-do list but the thought of it made you take a nap? Oh doll, me either.

In this day and age, self-care has sadly become one of the most underrated routine. Our busy schedules (barely allowing space for a delayed commute) has no available slot to squeeze in a simple breather, let alone forming a new habit. Though I've recently failed with implementing this, taking time to pamper yourself is the most important facet of achieving goals. If you aren't physically, mentally and emotionally taking care of yourself, how could you possibly handle tasks at such a low frequency?

So, when was the last time you were kind to yourself? Whether it's been a few hours or all a blur, here are 5 ideal self-care practices for a happier and healthier you.

1. BE SELF-AWARE

The biggest correlation with self-care is usually lighting candles, body scrubs, bubble baths and a good ol' face mask. While I absolutely love the physical bit, it's also important to focus on the mental and emotional self. Developing the sense that every aspect of your life is a result of what you create is a type of mindset that pushes the anxiety away. Remember, what you think becomes. Slow down, be present because YOU'VE GOT THIS. 

2. PAMPER YOURSELF

Take a bath or a long shower, because you'll probably reconsider the latter if you tend to overheat like I do. Use a body scrub, it gets rid of dead skin. Wear a mask, especially if you have a stubborn spot. Burn a candle in your favorite scent, it'll soothe you. My point is, take a day to do the physical things I told you also mattered in tip #1, for YOU. And please, DO. IT. OFTEN.

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3. DE-CLUTTER YOUR SPACE

I find that a cluttered space clutters my soul, (this is dramatic but have you met me?) so it's also important for my area to be clean. Organizing your space, even chunck by chunk is a helpful way to provide clarity and peace. Try a minimalism challenge on pinterest or choose a day to purge, toss and donate. I promise, it feels good. 

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4. VISIT YOUR FAVORITE CAFÉ

One of my fondest memories is of my mother allowing my sisters and I to be creative. Nearly every weekend, she would take us to different centers or events to freely explore and create. This nostalgia has instilled my love for creative spaces and refueled the feelings I had as a pre-teen flipping through pages, in the freezing air-conditioned libraries of Africa. There's really something so soothing about being in a space where everyone else is zoned into achieving a goal they've set to accomplish. I know this seems counter-intuitive but actually being in a café, even to reflect instead of working, shifts your energy!

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5. CREATE A GRATITUDE LIST

I find myself noting things (even mentally) that I am absolutely grateful for; whether I currently have them or not, when I see my glass half empty. Creating a list of all the great things happening in your life, from smallest details to the biggest changes, is an excellent method for refueling. It helps with actually understanding, that while sometimes the progress may be slow, the growth stops. 

Contrary to popular beliefs, self-care is a necessity and not a luxury - which should be practice on a weekly basis. Join a challenge, try a new recipe or go for a walk. Whatever you choose to do, do it for you and your peace. The goal is to feel important, loved within and free from anxiety and depression.

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DECIEM - THE ORDINARY COMPANY | SKINCARE REVIEW

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I've always been obsessed wit getting rid of the texture of my skin! So much that I pushed back my desire to create a Youtube channel for so long. An acne-free, texture-free, pore-free, glossy skin was the goal and I wasn't doing anything else until I perfectly executed it.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that no one is perfect and eventually built so much confidence. My skin as an adult was never terrible to begin with, but the high schooler in me was still traumatized from years of pimple popping and terrible scars.

As someone who magically dodged chemistry throughout her years of education, Deciem became a tab bit intimidating at a glance. The selection of skincare products seemed to have much of success story but was composed of a foreign language to me – so I made it my business to physically go to their soho location and ask as many questions as I could possibly have answered. The store greeted me with a lab-like atmosphere inclusive of much more excitement than beakers and microscopes. The brightly lit subway tiled rooms were cozy enough to keep me in for nearly an hour, ignoring the crisp winter night. This company, with a growing portfolio of more than 50 products in 15 different markets truly met my price demand! After using the pictured products for nearly two months, here are my current thoughts on them.

THE ORDINARY | GLYCOLIC ACID 7% TONING SOLUTION $8.70

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I've heard so many incredible things about this toning solution for acne-prone skin and had to double my quantity, seeing that I sells out like hot cakes. I learned about how well Glycolic acid works for my skin type when I had a facial around my birthday. It's meant to improve the dullness & texture of skin with continued us and should only be used in the evening. I use this product after my evening shower, in addition to the Lactic Acid, Alpha Arbutin and a pea size of African Shea butter. 

THE ORDINARY | LACTIC ACID 5% + HA $6.50

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Not to be confused with Lactic Acid 10% (a stronger formula,) the Lactic Acid 5% mildly exfoliates, in order to smoothly remove dead skin and painlessly give a new layer. In addition to the Glycolic acid, I use this in the evening as recommended, to allow maximum absorption overnight. If you are looking for something to help soothe sensitivity from too much acid on the skin surface, this product is for you.

THE ORDINARY | ALPHA ARBUTIN 2% + HA $8.90

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Alpha Arbutin has a gel consistency and reduces the appearance of spots and hyper-pigmentation. Simply put, this product can be used in the morning and evening and helps with pimples and uneven skin-tone. This is my third step in the evening after using the above products.

THE ORDINARY | ASCORBYL GLUCOSIDE SOLUTION 12% $12.90

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This is pretty much a long word for a vitamin C serum. Ascorbyl Glucoside helps brighten the skin-tone and reduces sign of aging. Because of its abrasiveness, this product should not be used with GLYCOLIC ACID 7% TONING SOLUTION. I cannot fully vouch for it as I plan of using this once I am done with my first bottle of Toning solution but it was highly recommended. 

I can't stress enough how important it is to use sunscreen in addition to this routine - the sun can be very damaging and will reverse all your hard work! As always, please purchase these with your discretion and understand that because we all have different needs everything that works for me may not work for you. Deciem employs skin experts who can truly direct you to your needs.

Conclusively, it's safe to say that I will be revisiting this store for a restock! I purchased 7 items for a total of $61.87! A complete steal in comparison to other brands that provide the same results. While it doesn't carry the entire line, Sephora does have a few of its best sellers on their website too.  

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HOW I CURATE A COHESIVE INSTAGRAM FEED

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A frequent question I get asked nearly every week on my Instagram is, how have I created a theme for my feed. Because I consider my life to be a pleasing bubble of aesthetics, making sure my personality digitally shines through as been both fun and satisfying. Besides my Pinterest account, Instagram has been the source to my analytic growth on the blog which also stems from the pattern of my visuals encouraging a longer interaction. Before we get started, I'd like to bring to your attention that a cohesive theme on your feed doesn't automatically equate to having the same exact photo style – as OCD as I am, I couldn't possibly commit to something so tedious!

YOUR EQUIPMENT  

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An important thing to keep in mind is the tools you use to post on Instagram – not be confused with having with having expensive equipment. Whether it's your phone, a DSLR or any other form of electronics, having the equipment to capture your documented moments is a starter. I personally use my Canon SL1 with a 50mm f 1.8 lens to capture my products shots and blog photos, which are all the images below!

YOUR LIGHTING

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If there's one thing you need to take away from this post, it's that having good lighting really matters. Shooting yourself or a subject facing an opened window or with artificial lighting will take your images to the next level. Over a couple of years, I've purchased a ring lighttwo soft boxes and savage paper background to use depending on the background I am in the mood for. Again, you do not need to splurge to have good lighting, the sun is actually my favorite of them all as it is the most natural.

YOUR IMAGES

Without an images, there's really no feed – so make sure it's a good one! Try capturing photos with different angles (or the same if that's the look you're going for) to show your personality. My rule of thumb for this is, if I second guess the quality of my images, I won't post it. End of story.

YOUR EDITING

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in addition to having good lighting, editing plays a massive role on the outcome of your photos and into the beauty of your feed. There are countless amounts of affordable (and free apps) that allow you to make your pictures pop - so take advantage of them and do your research! Some of my favorite apps are VSCO CamFacetune and A Color Story but I am currently using Adobe Creative Cloud to complete most of my photo editing. My current favorite Lightroom preset (essentially a filter) is by Moss Onyi. 

YOUR THEME

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Your theme is what brings the visuals and your consistency as a whole. What does your feed look like as a whole the minute someone is on your profile? You can go for bright, dark, warm or anything in between but having a particular mood on your feed is what brings it all together. I usually switch my images around but always post uniformly by 3 – this means 3, 6, 9, images and so on look the similar before I start a new theme.

YOUR NICHE

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This is really self-explanatory, especially if you're an entrepreneur! Be yourself but pay attention to what your crowd likes. Not only will this help boost your following but also teach you a few marketing tactics. Be sure to have your Instagram as a business account so that you're able to view your analytics.

YOUR INSPIRATION

Screenshot, save online, Pin and search up some inspirations on the gram! I enjoy saving images from my favorite pages to recreate them with my own twist. Finding inspiration always pushes me out of my creative block and beyond my limit. As they say, surround yourself around people you can grow with – even if this means virtually for the moment!

Now that we've handled all the "secrets" to a successful feed, please remember to have fun. Yes, the algorithm sucks and I can 100% relate to the delayed gratifications from my decreased engagements but don't give up! Enjoy the ride and remember that this should be a fun hobby

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EIGHT TIPS TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER

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I couldn't leave the topic of blogging on just pointing out its "ugly truths" without actually giving positive pointers!  Being realistic about what I enjoy doing and laying things out on the table to potential blogger is important to me, but so is actually sharing my tips and tricks. I am fortunate enough to have many of you ask me questions about my brand - if I can help one person with starting their blog, my job is complete!

Knowing the good and the bad of the blogosphere is an imperative part of conceptualization, as it fully prepares you for what is within your control. What are others doing that you should recreate with your own twist? What can you learn from their mistakes? Now of course this isn't a one size fits all guide, but merely what I've acquired through the four years of my creative career. Whether you are just starting out (like any blogger who is now at the top of their stardom) or already traveling the world with your entire work crew, here are some tips that could be a gentle reminder or an eye opener.

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1. WRITE FOR YOURSELF FIRST

 Let's take it back to the time where blogging was considered as a digital journal. Before you are for anyone, you are for yourself.  If you don't write for yourself to least to look back on, it'll come off as forceful, which in fact is an aggravating disadvantage. I cannot stress enough how important it is to genuinely enjoy this because of how challenging it becomes. A vast majority of successful bloggers / YouTubers will all tell you that they started this as a hobby that eventually developed into an accidental dream job. So, my first advice to you is to do this for you, write about the things you love, get creative and the rest will eventually follow.

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2. BE CONSISTENT

I am currently sighing at how evident my lack of consistency has been in the past several weeks, but I am going to stop dwelling on my multiple hiatuses. A break is necessary in order to refuel but do not get comfortable and take them often, otherwise your subscriber retention will be at an all-time low. Bringing consistency and sticking to a schedule will effortlessly drive traffic to your blog- when people connect with you and know your schedule they come back!

3. GIVE AWAY YOUR KNOWLEDGE

For a very long time, I felt as though keeping all my blogging "secrets" will put me at an advantage but to be truthful, someone has already done it! SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. Showing what equipment you use, where you've purchased your looks or what tips you have for blogging will not hinder your growth but actually help it. No matter what the obstacles are, what is meant for you will be! As they say, "A candles does not lose it light by lighting another candle," so please shine on and share your light!

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4. MAKE IT VISUALLY PLEASING

 What gravitated you towards my blog? Would you still be reading this post if it weren't visually heavy or pleasing? Well, me either! Having quality images not only bring readers to your blog but also keeps them there. You don't need the most expensive camera to deliver good visualization. Do your research, search for alternatives and see what investments you can make to fit into your budget.

5. CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR

Generating an editorial on a monthly or weekly basis is an excellent prevention to the constant creative block bloggers face. When you have an outline or a schedule for your posts, you're more prone to committing and being stress free. Print out a calendar and outline some ideas you can potentially manifest- the easy part is jotting down ideas so don't forget to actually follow through with them. Another suggestion that works best for me is compiling a checklist of topics that attracts my target audience and referring back to it when I am not inspired.  

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 6. EFFECTIVELY BRAND YOURSELF

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Branding is when someone creates a form of identity to their brand that is recognized any and everywhere. It's what makes you unique among your competitors and brings traffic to your blog. Is your work uniformed across all platforms? Can someone see a photo taken / edited by you and immediately know where it's from? These are the type of questions you'd want to ask yourself to understanding the concept of branding. A way I brand myself on Instagram is by having a cohesive feed that also corresponds with my blog. I also make sure that all profile pictures on all of my platforms are the same – that way people know that it's me!

7. PROOF READ EVERYTHING

I've had the luxury of having an editor, with an English background, for the last three and a half years, but learning to proof read my blog has been such a breeze thanks to her! I like tend to outline my posts, draft them, walk away for several days then review them with a fresh pair of eyes. If you know someone who can gladly proofread your blog-posts, FANTASTIC! But it's truly a no-brainer if you were to try it yourself because for the most part, this is what every blogger does.

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8. ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE

Keeping your current viewership by interacting with your audience is much more effective than trying to recruit more. Retention is important! Letting your audience know that you hear them by replying or gifting them is the perfect way! Always ask open ended questions, create call to actions, generate giveaways when it's merited- treat your audience like the people they are and not just as numbers.

There are countless of accessible ways to have a successful blog, please do not limit yourself to the above tips! Do your research and follow what works best for you. Most importantly, remember that although having a massive subscription count is great, it is not contingent on the success of your blogging career. I truly hope you learned a few things here and please, if you have any questions feel free to comment below!

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FIVE UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT BLOGGING

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Blogging is a dream to every creative who loves experience! I mean, you receive products or services, document your journey, get tons of like on your social media platforms and BAM! A few thousand dollars is deposited into your bank account from the company you advertised for. Right? WRONG.

The term blogger is usually associated with a group of people who have the easiest profession, that comes wrapped in a package of free trips and commodities for a trade in reviews. While there is some truth to define us in this excessively saturated world, most of it is exaggerated through the pacified obstacles that are swept under the rug.

In between hectic shoots in unbearable temperatures, long written reviews that are assumed to be false and curated inspirational posts when we are discouraged, bloggers too try to balance their “real life” goals and relationships. Blogging is a satisfying outlet to creative individuals whose heart are filled by it but like any career path pursued, it can also be stressful. While I don’t regret my experience in the past several years, I do wish some things were laid out in the open before I dived in head first. It’s rewarding, satisfying and incredible but it’s also draining, disappointing and frustrating. Editing these long overdue images I took back in the fall reminded me of just that – the good times and also the realistic times of my blogging career.

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1. IT IS OVERSATURATED

Youtuber or a Blogger is one of the most saturated professions, but to be quite frank, so are other career path in the working force. Because there are so many of us, it's hard to really stand out (with the exception of very few people) and immediately become a sensation in the digital world. DON'T GIVE UP! As much as this sounds like an oxymoron, there are not enough people in this industry; joining the blogging or youtube world through persistence, consistency, uniqueness and determination will get you where you would like to be. Just be careful not to be so destination focused or intimidated by the market.

2. IT'S A LOT OF WORK

Blogging is a lot work and it is draining, especially if you want to make it into a career. You'd have to truly love it because looking from the outside it seems like an breeze until you're actually doing the work. Many of us have full-time jobs, are parents and in relationships, so finding the time to really put in hours of quality content can be challenging. Planning ahead by sticking to a routine and fighting off procrastination make a huge difference.

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3. IT'S EXPENSIVE

It's expensive as hell! Considering so many people are delivering quality content, it's safe to say that in order to succeed I had to at least follow the structure of successful blogger. Booking photoshoots, staying relevant with editing skills and having the right equipment takes time but it also add up. I don't recommend diving into it by buying everything on day one, but I do think investing into your brand once you're sure of it is important. Find ways to cut back on certain things in life by compromising on unnecessary expenses, that way you can things like that ring light you've been eyeing for a while. Just because it's expensive doesn’t mean you have to be broker so do your research and be frugal!

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4. IT TAKES A WHILE TO MONETIZE

On average, it takes at least a year for influencers to make some any type of income - one of the many reasons you'd like to do this because you genuinely love it. Many successful people in this industry will tell you it took them up to about 50-100 posts to receive a $100, yet they still push through with it because it is their passion. Starting off by purchasing your own products and services for an honest review will eventually get you noticed (among other things) and prompt companies to reach out to you. 

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5. YOU'LL WANT TO GIVE UP

Even as someone who is passionate about my craft, I've considered giving this all up (hence constant my hiatuses) but I am still here. I constantly remind myself why I started - to inspire people to follow their dreams and pursue what sets their soul on fire. 

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As transparent as these truths were, I hope you realize that like anything else, having a blog requires a lot of work, consistency and dedication. Even with these facts laid out, I am more than positive that I would've still dived into this head first because that's just how passionate I am with this. DO NOT be discouraged and please remember that even the most creative and influential people once faced these challenges and still do. If there's anything you should take from this post is to better prepare yourself and be cognizant of what's to come if you pursue this path.

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BEST OF 2017 | A YEAR IN REVIEW

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Although we are well into the second week of January, I still wanted to do a 2017 recap for the blog. I enjoy doing these type of reviews because more than often, it is a reminder of my progression when I am being super hard on myself.

To my understanding, the best nine feature was introduced to Instagram in 2015 – it's a website that generates a collage and algorithms on 9 of your most like pictures within a year. Like reviewing my old journals or planners, this is a great digital way for me to measure my growth and visualize what I would like to alter in the upcoming years. 

Like I've done in the past, I took this concept from my account over the years (pictured above) and decided to do a similar take on my favorite/most popular posts on this platform. 

HOW NOT TO GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS \\ SPRING STYLE: KHAKI TONES WITH JORD WATCHES

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Interestingly enough, this post applies to my current demeanor and lack of interest towards  my goals and endeavors. I've been chronically suffering from a "blogger's block" that I can't seem to shake off but this a gentle reminder that I will eventually figure things out. No matter what you are going through, remember to go after your goals because they are achievable regardless of what your circumstances are.

Collaborating with Jord Watches was quite the experience! While I was excited for one of my first collaborations of the year, bringing my vision to life in a promotional way was rather challenging. As a creative, I have come to terms with expecting the unexpected and working with my resources to make the best out of my challenges. This blog post was solid proof that ignoring my fear of failure and enjoying the journey can in fact produce great results. I have always been afraid to work with companies and ultimately not delivering what they asked for but this was my personal issue! Everyone has their personal struggle so looking past it and staying focus through all obstacles is imperative.

 OLIVE SMOKEY EYES + NUDE LIPS

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To my surprise, this didn't quite make the cut as my most liked photo on Instagram but I am pretty sure it was a close one. It was my first time in nearly a decade that I had my hair braided in cornrows and I never felt more liberated. Braids were considred to be too "afrocentric" or "unprofessional" in my line of work and as soon as I was able to embrace my culture, I did just that! So yes, expect to see more hairstyles on the blog because your girl got a new job!

PEACHY HALF-CUT CREASE TUTORIAL

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The peachy vibes was a hit on all my social media platforms! I purchased new equipment to improve my video and photography skills - thankfully many of you noticed! I've been slacking with the channel because of my demanding schedule but I promise to get it together soon. In the meantime, please subscribe!

 

FESTIVAL INSPIRED LOOK + SIMPLE SURVIVAL TIPS

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My first festival ever and definitely not my last! I attended the moon-fest, documented my look and shared a few survival tips. This shoot is also a reminder of a time when I started being a little more versatile with my content and choice of photographers. Be sure to check out these tips because festival season is right around the corner! 

FINDING YOUR PURPOSE + LIVING BY YOUR OWN RULES

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This was taken on an extremely hot day, right under the sun and not a cloud was in sight to protect me from its beaming rays. Honestly, I have no poker face so to even see how great the images turned out through the heat irritation is beyond me! Luckily, my heat exhaustion wasn't in vain because reading this post sets my soul on fire! 

YEAR 27 | WHAT 26 HAS TAUGHT ME

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Wow, this was my most liked and interacted photo of the year. My 27th birthday was an interesting milestone because if you really knew my story (which I will share with you all when I am ready), you'd understand why this post meant so much to me. 2017 was really my year of health, strength and uncomfortable growth - while I won't deny that there were some sad times, I gratefully can say that the good did outweigh the bad.

BTW, this outfit was super last minute but it all worked out in the end! 

GIRLBOSS: 15 HABITS TO BEING A BOSS

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Sealed the year with another holiday shoot! I nearly froze to death and was photobombed more than I can could but who cares right? I got the shot right? Any blogger knows the struggle.

What was one of your favorite blog post I've published in 2017? If you're a blogger or have a creative outlet, what was your personal highlight? If you're not a blogger, what do you hope to accomplish in 2018? 

Don't just read, comment down below because I would love to know!

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NYE 2017 LOOK | SOME OF MY 2018 GOALS

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Oh my goodness! I can't believe this is going to be my last post for 2017!

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has supported my journey as a blogger. This year has been a bit challenging in terms of being inspired and staying consistent, but I pushed through the very last day of the year!

As most of you may know, I am not really fond of resolutions, nothing against anyone who believes in them, but they usually have a 14 day expiration with me. Through previous experiences, goals have always been more tangible and realistic because I seem to speak them into existence and achieve them. 

I want to keep this post very concise and sweet, nonetheless, I hope you're inspired to create your own tailored agenda just in time for 2018.

GOAL 1 | SELF-CARE

This has been my biggest priority in the last few weeks and I plan on sticking to it well into the new year. Taking the time to pay attention to my needs and protecting my energy has really allowed me to better prepare for my future and understand my present state. I've been dedicating my Sundays to self-care by lighting candles, taking a bath, putting a mask on or going to the spa and it has really helped me refuel for the week. 

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GOAL 2 | TUNE INTO MY EMOTIONS

Coming to terms with the fact that I am a sensitive person and being aware of my feelings, rather than sweeping them under rug has been a rough journey. For a very long time, I've hated the fact that my feelings would easily get hurt but really understanding what I feel this way and taking nothing personally has been the trick! I believe the world needs "soft" hearted people like me to balance its blackness- finding an outlet to release my sensitivity while going through it to grow through it has been the key!

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GOAL 3 | EMBRACE / EXPLORE MY CREATIVITY

I've literally been all over the place in terms of my creative outlet! If I am being honest with myself, I've wanted to just quit and disappear quite often this year, hence my frequent hiatus. I plan on removing my self-doubt and ambivalence this upcoming year by just doing it and enjoying the journey. After all, the enjoyment of my creativity is is why I started blogging in the first place.

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GOAL 4 | FORM GOOD HABITS & BREAK BAD HABITS

These two are viewed as a paired in my opinion because I need to remove the bad by placing the good. Getting rid of some habits I am not so fond of and creating new ones that will help me grow as a person is undoubtably on my list of goals for 2018! This includes signing up for the gym (I already been training but I am ready to spread my own wings), cutting out soda (don't judge me sis, I don't drink!) and sticking to my early morning routine. I am sure we can all relate to that breaking habits are hard but creating new ones are so much more rewarding.

GOAL 5 | BUDGET BETTER

Did you know that 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, no matter what their income?! I didn't know this but sadly, I've been part of that statistic, even with an increased income (praise Allah for this blessing!!!) I am working on a budgeting plan and really sticking to it so if you have any recommendations, please comment down below!

I hope your 2018 is prosperous and filled with health, wealth (I mean who doesn't want more money?) and ultimately positive vibes. Thank you again for all your support and see you in 2018! 

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HOLIDAY 2017 | HOW TO BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES

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While many of us are excited to celebrate the holidays, it is also a sad reminder of unfortunate times to a vast majority of people. Which of course is understandable, considering there was a time when I passionately hated the festivities and wanted to crawl under my bed. If you're going through the holiday blues, I'd like to let you know that you are very much entitled to yourfeelings. I'd also like to remind you that you're also entitled to happiness and trying these "simple" tips will help push you beyond the sadness.

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KEEP YOURSELF BUSY

One of the best thing to do while going through tough times is getting your mind off of it! Keeping yourself busy will not only distract you from your current circumstances but also boost your confidence in terms of productivity. Do you have a project you've been meaning to tackle for a while? Are you on a deadline? If not, even better because you can beat procrastination by staying ahead of your schedule.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE

Being around loved ones (even when you feel like being around happy people is a dreadful task) is a great reminder that you are cared for. I highly recommend you surround yourself with joyous and encouraging people, who can either relate with your current experience or essentially makes you aware of your worth.

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BE GRATEFUL

I've formed the habit of shifting my perspective when I go through a hardship, by counting my blessings. Look back at the beginning of this year or even further back and reflect on how far you've come. Have you accomplished certain goals you've set earlier in the year or grown from who you were in the past? I am more than sure you the answer to these questions are yes, so dig deeper, count those blessings and celebrate yourself.

GIVE BACK

If you're like me, giving back leaves you with a heart so incredibly full! I firmly believe that blessings come back ten-fold when you help someone in need- the universe has truly proven me right. A massive way to feel helpful is giving back to your community or a charity of your choice- this not only makes you feel good but ultimately changes someone's current circumstances.

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REMEMBER THAT THE BLUES ARE TEMPORARY

Being cognizant of how you're feeling by knowing that there is ultimately light at the end of the tunnel, should alone push you to keep moving forward. All triumphs or failures are temporary and just a part of living- a great mantra to have is to be okay with what you cannot control.

Although these tasks are rather difficult to achieve when you're physically experiencing the blues, achieving them can undoubtably give you some form of happiness! Whatever it is you are going through, I pray that time quickly heals it and if you're not experiencing the blues, I am so glad!  

May this holiday be your one of the most joyful ones!

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE | FOR THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE

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I had to do a "Gift Guide for Him" because I couldn't possibly leave out the amazing men in our lives- especially after doing a "Gift Guide For Her" too!

Although most of my posts are geared towards women, it didn't seem fair to exclude the men that deserve some lovin'. Ultimately, this guide is more than likely being read by women, who are planning to gift their favorite fellas with thoughtful items. Showing gratitude to our loved ones during the holiday season is important and these guys are definitely inclusive in these qualifications.

I've compiled some equally badass items as my previous guide post! I hope this either inspires to get the listed items or gives you some form of direction for your shopping travels. Below are my top choices for your brother, papa, hubby and anyone in between these categories:

RAPID BEARD GROOMING & TRIMMING KIT

This Rapid Beard Kit, packed with natural & organic ingredients, is the right fit for your "No Shave November" babe. We all know beards are the endless trends that we admire so much, so this in a wrapped up black box is a hit.

TOMMY HILFIGER STADIUM SCARF

Looking for something for a dapper & dandy fella? No problem! I've got you covered with this Tommy Hilfiger Stadium Scarf, to compliment his tailored look and overcoat.

DIGITAL POLAROID CAMERA

A man with a great eye for still images? This vintage style Polaroid Camera will keep his  wonderful memories alive.

GOOGLE HOME 

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As much as we love our men, we can all agree that they aren't the most organized people! Help yourself by gifting him a personal assistant, to of course free yourself from the headache. HAH!

FOSSIL PAUL MAGNETIC CARD CASE

A timeless Magnetic Card Case for the classic guy. Because, why not? 

RALPH LAUREN POLO BEAR SWEATER

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This Ralph Lauren Polo Bear Sweater is a unique collector's item and always comes back during the holiday season. I actually gifted my brother this and plan on wearing it myself. (Shhh, don't tell him). You can also check their Bear Shop out too because it's to die for!

RALPH LAUREN TARTAN TIE 

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This Tartan Wool Narrow Tie is the perfect combination between the holidays and a preppy guy.

FOSSIL SINGLE ZIP SHAVE KIT

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I am really into dopkits and travel bags- so I had to include this Fossil Shave Kit. It's an amazing gadget for a wanderlust to stay organized. 

This gift guide was really challenging (because gifting men are just a headache to me) but I had so much fun putting it together! Have you completed your list or are you a last minute shopper like me? Comment down below, I am curious to know!

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MY CURRENT FAVORITE PRODUCTS | AÏCHATOU BELLA

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I don't remember ever doing a "Current Favorites" video on my YouTube channel, so it's finally time that I one! This is a short clip of items I've continuously and religiously used in the past few months and cannot keep my hands away from. Because I've really been exploring more on skincare, I can vouch that every single item in this video has given me great result and while not everything works for everyone the reviews speak for themselves.

I want stress that you should truly do your research no matter what a blogger's opinion is and strongly urge you to try samples at Sephora before splurging. Let me know if you've tried any of the listed products and your thoughts on them! 

All items used in this video are listed in the description box.

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR HER | FASHION, BEAUTY & LIFESTYLE

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To my last minute gift shoppers, fear not!

You aren't alone on the holiday explorations, that result to purchasing items from your own wish-list rather than checking off your loved ones'. Unlike my last gift guide, I really wanted to focus on a variety of fashion, beauty and skincare products- to perfectly fit into your aunt, uncles, BFF or even girlfriend's lifestyle.

Although it's meant to bring people together, we can all agree that the holidays is a bit stressful as gift givers. So to keep it simple and sweet, I've linked seven of my favorite items, from a few favorite shops, that you can purchase in the comfort of your snuggly bed. This list is for all the people who allowed your 2017 to be wonderful, by either tagging you in funny memes, listening to your stressful weeks and essentially lifting up your spirits. Are you ready to shop? Let's get to it!

TARTE LASH DELIGHTS EYE ESSENTIALS

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Let your BFF say hello to volume and lengthening lashes with this Limited Edition Eye Essentials set! A perfect stocking stuffer and a bedazzled beauty in her cosmetic bag.

MINI MANI MONTH NAIL POLISH

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I haven't personally tried this particular brand but Ciaté London has been on my list forever! This Mini Mani Nail Polish bundle is a great way to either countdown to the holiday or simply as present for a nice "at home" treatment. 

PADDED JACKET WITH HOOD

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My goodness! I mean, how gorgeous is this H&M Hooded Parka?! They've really stepped their game up with some of their pieces this season and this jacket proves just that. Keep your loved one warmed in a fashionable way by gifting them this reasonably priced jacket. Oh, please hurry up because they're selling faster than hotcakes!

READY, SET, GOLD! 35R EYESHADOW PALETTE

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I swear by Morphe Brushes and their very affordable products. The 35R palette is a purchase I made a few months ago and have zero regrets! If you know anyone with a rose gold obsession, this is for them! (Use my favorite Youtuber, Jackie Aina's code: Edges for $$$ OFF)

360 NOSE CONTOUR COLLECTION

I had to include another Morphe item because you can't beat the price! For all the girls that want their nose snatched, it's just $18 away with this 360 Nose Contour! (Use my favorite Youtuber, Jackie Aina's code: Edges for $$$ OFF)

FACE MASK MAGIC!

Sheet masks are truly one of the secrets to clear skin- these have work wonders for me and will for you sister too. It's a set of 6 bestselling masks at a value of $36, targeting any skin type. A cool (literally) tip is to keep them in the fridge, for a refreshing feeling during the pampering process. 

FENTY BEAUTY STUNNA LIP PAINT

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This. Lipstick. Is. EVERYTHING. One swatch literally lasts all day long and the consistency is very comfortable. She deserves the world for the holiday but giving her this Fenty Beauty lipstick might just be a gift close enough!

This ultimate guide is the perfect way to show gratitude during the holiday season, so I hope it was helpful! Is there something else I should've added to the list? What's on your wishlist? Comment down below!

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GIRLBOSS: HOW TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION

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If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.

Procrastination may be an easy solution for those of us who excel meticulously under pressure, but for the majority us, it becomes a minor anxiety attack to put together a masterpiece near its deadline. 

"I'll finish this Netflix series first...Oh there's only 10 episodes in this season?! Maybe I should watch one with 14 episodes."

These are the silly decisions I've tirelessly made prior to submitting an important project, despite knowing that the quality of my work derives from having a good amount of time do it. I still struggle some days but more than often, that dark cloud lingering over my conscience makes me get up and get things done. The 3rd habit mentioned my GIRLBOSS: 15 HABITS TO BEING A BOSS BABE post was so relatable to so many of you, that I needed a post solely dedicated to procrastination. Without further ado, here are a few Girlboss habits I acquired to beat my awful procrastination habit!

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ADMIT THAT YOU'RE A CHRONIC PROCRASTINATOR

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

You can't solve something if it isn't seen as an issue- so truly analyzing habits and admitting to procrastinating more than often is the first step to beating it. I find it easier to tackle this problem when I tell myself that I am falling into old habits and need to get it together. 

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IDENTIFY YOUR WHY

Why is it that you're pushing this project away today into your mystical land called "tomorrow"? Are you creating issues that don't exist out of fear? Why are you pursuing this project in the first place?

I've personally procrastinated on blogposts or other professional projects out of fear of failure and self-sabotage. Try to identify why you are choosing to push back something you view as valuable in the long run and see how you can end this terrible cycle. Whether it is work related, going to the gym or even a hobby we've grown to love, procrastination is an underlying issue deriving from fear of not being good enough at it.

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SEPARATE YOUR WORK INTO SECTIONS OR CHUNKS

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The best way for me to complete something is by dividing it into steps in order to have an overview of my progression towards the end goal. Creating posts is a prime example of projects I enjoy breaking into pieces because checking off things, once they're completed, is an extremely rewarding feeling.

REWARD YOURSELF

Treating yourself after completing a task, is the best way to go! It allows you to look forward to your end goal while enjoying the good things, guilt-free!

STAY CONSISTENT

Do not work so hard to kick procrastination's butt, just to fall into old habits again. Staying consistent makes things so much easier so it's better to stick to it then having to start the process all over again.

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What are a few procrastination habits you struggle with? Have you been able to beat it and if so, how? Comment down below because I'd love to pick up on a few new tips!

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GIRLBOSS: 15 HABITS TO BEING A BOSS BABE

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A Girl-Boss is a woman of purpose with a dash of feminism because she plans, handles her business and exudes confidence even when she struggles with the occasional self-doubt. She talks the talk and walks the walk without having to knock anyone else down on her way to success. Inspired by the book #Girlboss, whether you’d like to be a CEO or take charge of your life, here are 15 habits to being the boss babe you’ve always dreamt of becoming:

1. A GIRL BOSS SETS A ROUTINE

Transitioning into one could be challenging if you’re a “go with the flow” type of person but I promise it'll eventually be seamless once you nip it in the bud. Setting a schedule not only helps you get things done but also makes you better at time management. Try waking up an hour or two before your usual time to plan and prioritize- it'll help you ease into your day when tackling current projects.

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2. A GIRLBOSS PLANS / VISUALIZES AHEAD

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Always forecast and set goals. What are your daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals? While these shouldn’t be set in stone but rather altered as you go on,  having some sort of foundation for the near future instead of winging it like your eyeliner (pun intended) is the way to go! 

3. A GIRLBOSS DOES NOT PROCRASTINATE

“Tomorrow” is truly a mystical land where all adults dump their responsibilities to continuously enjoy “today.” I say this to let you know that you’re not alone and you’re human but don’t get comfortable. Procrastinating is a draining habit that dawns upon you when you’re enjoying the moment instead of just doing what you're supposed to do. Please do what you should do, when you should do it whether it's enjoyable or not. Put a deadline on your goals! Your future self will thank you when you're freely surfing through social media. 

4. A GIRLBOSS SINGLE-TASKS

Multi-tasking is the icing on the ice-cream cake called procrastination. I am sure we can all agree that running so fast to get no where is a waste of time; so it’s best to slow down and do it right, do it once, one at a time. If your mind is scattered like mine, sticking to visualization will help you focus with what’s currently on your plate, instead of what's being served next. 

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5. A GIRLBOSS PAYS ATTENTION TO DETAIL

We've all used this as a skill during a job interview or in our cover letter, but are we really attentive to details? I personally have been working a lot on this since single-tasking but to tell you the truth, I slack off. Rushing to complete a project that has your name on it without paying careful attention is a terrible move. A girl boss is mindful of these things and make sure whatever she delivers represents her properly because it can potentially make or break a deal. 

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6. A GIRLBOSS DRESSES THE PART

Yes, a Girlboss is entitled to her off days but she dresses the part when it is time to show up and glow up. As an entrepreneur or a business professional, dressing appropriately for the occasion exudes confidence and ultimately sparks an internal confidence that helps get things done. 

7. A GIRLBOSS IS IMPECCABLE WITH HER WORDS

A Girlboss works on her vocabulary and knows when to be a cup of English tea (around professionals) or a bottle of Vodka (around her friends). She never ever dumbs herself down to make others feel better about themselves. A struggle many of us face when expending our choice of words is, those who lack confidence judge us. That is none of our business, keep being a boss babe. 

8. A GIRLBOSS TREATS PEOPLE KINDLY

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Please do not be someone who is selective with their kindness by being respectful to their higher up but rude to everyone else. A Girlboss is respectful and kind to everyone she encounters no matter who they are or what they do. She remembers her humility, thinks before she speaks and tries again when she fails to do so.

9. A GIRLBOSS SELF-REFLECTS

 It’s important to track down your progress and see what has been achieved and what needs to be polished. A Girlboss knows she isn't perfect but is still cognizant of her behavior, obstacles and opportunities. She reflects on personal and business goals in order to plan and prioritize better. 

10. A GIRLBOSS IS INSPIRED NOT ENVIOUS

It’s easy to get lost in the world of social media by comparing people’s digital lives to your real life. A girlboss see people’s highlights as inspiration and not comparison. She is not envious of people’s success but celebrates their achievements as she would like hers to be celebrated too. 

 

11. A GIRLBOSS SURROUNDS HERSELF WITH AMBITIOUS PEOPLE

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who push you beyond your limit is extremely important in life. A Girlboss knows the importance of having a circle of friends who inspire her when she is filled with self-doubt. 

12. A GIRLBOSS NETWORK

Even with a solid circle of friends, it's important to get out of your comfort zone and expand your contact list. When you meet people who are where you'd like to be, it fuels a drive within to go after what's yours. A Girlboss knows that her network equals her net-worth, so she builds and maintain important and genuine relationship.

13. A GIRLBOSS INVESTS IN HERSELF 

Setting a percentage of your income (5-10% is recommended) aside to invest into yourself is one of the keys to growth. Purchase books, take courses, renew memberships because whether you own a business or not you are your best when you work on yourself. 

14. A GIRLBOSS BELIEVES IN HERSELF

You become what you think and if you don't believe in yourself first and the most, then who will?

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15. A GIRLBOSS TAKES CARE HERSELF

One of the most important part of being a Girlboss is self-care. None of the above can possibly be enjoyable without physical and mental health. You can't take care of the world if it's not right at home so remember who comes first!

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I had a great time sharing and putting together these 15 habits that I myself need to also work on. Girlboss or not, I really think these are some things that can make our lives better in the long run. What are some things that makes you the badass Girlboss that you are? Comment below and let's start a discussion!

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YEAR 27 | CURRENT GOALS

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Now that I've talked about what my 26th Year has taught me, it's time to streamline my current goals for my 27th year. While these are not all of them, posting some of my goals here always give me a sense of accountability in addition to inspiring you to create your own list! Before we get started, I'd like to show an infinite amount of gratitude to everyone who wished me a happy birthday- my heart is so full and the love was just incredible. Now that I am done being emotional and all mushy, let's get right into these goals!

BELIEVE 

I've been filled with so much self-doubt this year that it started to hinder my desire to produce content, socialize and even go to work. In my moments of inadequacy, I easily gave up and self-sabotaged. Any little obstacle easily closed me off to the point of where I'd stop working for the things I loved and believed so hard in. One of my priorities for this year is to stick to my craft and be my own cheerleader even when sh*t hits the fan because if I don't believe in myself and dreams, who will?

TRAVEL OFTEN

Having the opportunity to see the world as a child is one of my fondest memories. It gave me a strong desire to enjoy and experience other cultures by understanding that there is so much more out there. Seeing the world gives me an undesirable feeling and broadens my horizon but sadly I haven't been traveling as much as I would've rather lately. My goal for my 27th year is to travel at least a hand full of times both nationally and internationally.

CREATE A CARE PACKAGE FOR SOMEONE IN NEED

Curating a care package for the homeless has been on my mind for a long time, so it's only right that I finally check it off my list! It such a small act of kindness that really makes a great difference to someone else. If you're interested in doing the same and would like some ideas, please feel free to email me. :)

MAKE MORE TIME FOR LOVED ONE

Work, blogging and YouTube is important but my relationship with my loved ones is so much more important to me. I am still finding the balance between this beautiful madness that I call life but clearing out my schedule more than often to spend quality time with family and friends is definitely top on the list.

SAYING NO

I have a hard time saying no to people! I've continuously talked about how I will put my foot down but to be quite honest, I've been more on my tippy toes. Being too nice and worrying so much about people's feelings rather than my own has backfired because I get taken advantage of. My inability to say no has always been a draining struggle but it's time that I start doing things that work for me and my personal feelings even if it means that it won't work for everyone. 

HAVING A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

GIRLFRIEND! There's not much to say about this. I shamelessly eat extra fries, I don't exercise and I need to knock it off before I have a heart attack. It's time to tackled this. NO EXCUSES.

I hope you enjoyed reading this compilation of goals I have set for myself and somehow found a bit of inspiration and laughter along the way. Do you set goals for yourself? If so, what are they and when is your deadline? Comment below because you can inspire me too!

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YEAR 27 | WHAT 26 HAS TAUGHT ME

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I am pretty sure I start every birthday post with the word HOW?!

But seriously, how could time cheat me like this and continue to fly by so quickly?! I wish it would slow down a bit so I can savor the blissful now’s but I’m sure if it did in fact slow down, I’d be begging for the tomorrow’s too. 

It literally feels like just yesterday when I was writing DEAR AÏCHATOU & GOLDEN 26 (link) for my 26th birthday, yet here I am now talking about a few things my 26th year has taught me. I can’t possibly recall every single thing that has sunk in along the way, but here are a few highlights that you’ve probably seen throughout my blogging journey. 

I CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING

If you know me well, you know that I am a control freak. I love planning everything to a T which can be a blessing and a curse. Finally accepting that I can’t control every single detail of my life has ironically taken away my worries and given me peace. Let’s just say I’ve compromised and became a bit more realistic but, my planner still stays!

IT’S OKAY TO LET PEOPLE GO

I can’t nor will be everyone’s cup of tea and sometimes it’s not a realization until the tea has been served. Letting people go can often be unimaginably painful but it’s a wonderful disguise of liberation. Not everyone is meant to stay for the entire journey, some are just here to teach a lesson and move on. Let. Them. Go.  

CONTINUE TO PERSIST

 Not going to lie, this one was a hard one. I’ve taken so many breaks from blogging this year because truthfully, I just wanted to give up. There’s been so many times when I threw my hands in the air and just said “forget it, I can’t do it anymore” but somehow I only meant it for the day because as soon as my frustration wore off, I was back to working hard. If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s my drive and determination to stick to the things I want the most. The end goal is wonderful but the persistence and journey is what has been molding me.

PUT YOUR 10,000 HOURS IN

I am an avid reader and plan to really discuss more literature here. I read a while back “The Defining Decade of Your Twenties” and one thing that stuck to me the most is the 10,000 Hour Rule. This simple principle holds that 10,000 of “deliberate practice” is what’s needed to become an expert in any field. I would always complain about not being good enough at a new hobby until I read this rule and even after putting my 10,000 hours in I choose not to give up because I may be a minute away from my break through.

GOD’S TIMING IS THE BEST TIME

 whatever you believe in, I firmly believe that the universe is aligning with everything you are destined to be! In addition to all of the above, I’ve come to a realization that I can either cry about the things I don’t have or truly appreciate what is in front of me. What’s meant to happen will happen, at the right time and moment because truthfully, half the blessings that has come my way were far greater than what I’ve asked for. 

As mentioned before, these are the “little” experiences that have made life changing differences in this past year. Stay tuned for my next post to find out my 27th year's goals, because I am mean, who am I if I don't have a goal list for everything?! HAH!

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I AM A DREAMER | WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT DACA?

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I've always stressed about real life situations on my blog because that is the type of blog I'd like to be known for. While "Stilettos" bit of my blog is all about fashion trends and beauty secrets- the "Standards" bit is just as important to me. In spite of my obsession for all things glam and glitz, I am human with REAL feelings just like everyone else. 

It's rather ironic for me to have a photoshoot near a judicial establishment considering that nearly a decade ago, my heart would drop at just the sight of one.

Although I am not an undocumented immigrant today, I feel every bit of pain for the 800,000 people who are affected by DACA. Because like all of them, I too was once a DREAMer.

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WHO ARE DREAMERS? WHAT IS DACA?

Simply put, DREAMers, are children of undocumented immigrants who arrived to the United States as children and are protected by the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Under the qualification of being a DREAMer and other technicalities, these children were granted legal residency and the chance to work and go to school. 

The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was introduced by our former President Barack Obama (still my president, just saying) and allowed DREAMers to freely obtain a valid license, enroll in college, legally secure jobs and pay taxes. Although DACA didn't necessarily pave the way to citizenship, it was a starter and deferred deportation for 2 years- which could be renewed for a fee of $495.

WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE CHANGE IN DACA?

  • In September, the Trump administration ended any further applications for DACA and only accepted renewal applications through the end of October.
  • Anyone protected under the DACA Act will be allowed protection through the expiration of their permit-for now. 
  • Nearly 800,000 people will be directly affected by the change in DACA and could face immediate deportation.
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WHO ARE DREAMERS? WHAT IS DACA?

Simply put, DREAMers, are children of undocumented immigrants who arrived to the United States as children and are protected by the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Under the qualification of being a DREAMer and other technicalities, these children were granted legal residency and the chance to work and go to school. 

The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was introduced by our former President Barack Obama (still my president, just saying) and allowed DREAMers to freely obtain a valid license, enroll in college, legally secure jobs and pay taxes. Although DACA didn't necessarily pave the way to citizenship, it was a starter and deferred deportation for 2 years- which could be renewed for a fee of $495.

WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE CHANGE IN DACA?

  • In September, the Trump administration ended any further applications for DACA and only accepted renewal applications through the end of October.
  • Anyone protected under the DACA Act will be allowed protection through the expiration of their permit-for now. 
  • Nearly 800,000 people will be directly affected by the change in DACA and could face immediate deportation.

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EASY AT HOME TEETH WHITENING FOR SENSITIVE TEETH + GIVEAWAY

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When smile brilliant contacted me about collaborating with them on their teeth whitening kit, I had a couple of questions lingering. Was this safe to use? Could it provide instant gratification and save me from the scary dentist trips? But after consistently using my whitening kit for about 6 weeks, I can confidently say this product really WORKS! 

My teeth were relatively white to begin with but because the sides were a few shades darker, whitening my teeth furthermore was often brought up at the dentist. I knew I wanted them to look better but I wasn't willing to compromise my tea addiction nor endure the pain of the process (due to my sensitive teeth)so this was perfect for me.

HOW TO GET STARTED

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  1. Once you've ordered your system, a complete package (Whitening & desensitizing syringes, catalyst and base paste and pre-aid postage) will arrive with simple instructions on how to create your impressions and send them back for free, will be included.
  2. With the dental impressions made from the catalyst and base paste, the labs will create a custom-fitted tray of the exact model of your teeth. This process takes around 3-5 days and the completed tray is sent back to your desired address.
  3. The whitening process can finally start! Apply a very thin ribbon of whitening gel on the outer area (so you whiten the front) after ONLY flossing and allow it to work its magic for 45 minutes-4 hours. After this step, it is very important to brush your teeth and repeat the same process for 15-20 minutes with the desensitizing gel.

MY EXPERIENCE

  THE PHOTO ABOVE IS PRIOR TO WHITENING MY TEETH

THE PHOTO ABOVE IS PRIOR TO WHITENING MY TEETH

When I initially tried the whitening process, my pain level was around a 4/10 due to my extremely sensitive teeth and gums. Additionally, the desensitizing gel made me form tons of saliva as a natural body response. I gradually progressed my process from 25 minutes to eventually 1 hour as my pain tolerance (honestly I'm like cotton candy, I have none) increased. As seen in the photo above, my teeth are noticeably whiter than before using the kit. 

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

I have zero shame in asking questions many are often embarrassed to vocalize- so I thought I would share the concerns that were eventually eased by the very patient and kind Smile Brilliant team. 

  1. When should I whiten my teeth? The best time to do so is right before bedtime, this allows the whitening gel to do its magic while you're fast asleep with zero contact to food or drinks.
  2. Can I swallow my saliva during my whitening process? It's completely safe to swallow your saliva while doing this. Although it is a natural response, your body will eventually get accustomed to the process and you will create less saliva.
  3. Can I whiten my teeth if I have a crown? While the gel will not work on your crown, it is completely safe to use. Be sure to to carefully use the desensitizing gel after to make sure the bond is intact.
  4. Can I drink water after whitening my teeth? Absolutely. Please allow 20 minutes after the desensitizing gel to create a barrier. 

GIVEAWAY TIME

SURPRISE! I have a special giveaway just for you! In order to win your own customized tray creation kit,  be sure to read the rules below. Good luck babes! 

In order to be successfully entered, you MUST:

  1. Subscribe to this blog by entering your email address on the sidebar.
  2. Follow my Instagram
  3. Follow Smile Brilliant's Instagram
  4. Comment on my most recent photo by tagging two of your besties!
  5. Be sure to sign up for the giveaway after following the instructions above.

**There must at least 10 entries to qualify.**

DISCLAIMER: To save 5% OFF your whitening kit, feel free to use STILETTOSANDSTANDARDS5 but please note that while the kit was gifted to me for my honest review I will receive commission when the coupon code is used.

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BEST OF 2016

2016 wasn't the worst year, but it really tried to play me, though!

My brother was involved in a hit and run that broke his knee caps, my wig fell off while "drowning" (I had a life vest on by the way, so I wasn't going to drown) in a Mexican Cenote around a good amount of tourists, my relationships were tested among unexpected individuals and my love life consisted of blind dates with people who asked for two for one deals at coffee shops. 

There were many trying times and embarrassing moments like the above but I can't ignore the fact that this year was filled with an immense amount of growth and self confidence.

I went on many memorable trips (Canada, Washington D.C.Mexico, etc) and became a tourist in my own city by taking the time to appreciate my surroundings. I conquered my biggest fear of drowning by taking swimming courses and was featured on Condé Nast live for a makeup demo. 

Looking back on my Best of 2015 post, I can't help but be filled with warmth on how much Stilettos & Standards has grown in terms quality and family (YOU, my amazing subscribers.) It's creatively satisfying to know that I can have a particular post in mind, create it exactly how I pictured it and receive incredible feedback. The blog was filled with Street StyleMetal Cap Toesblogger meet ups and bringing awareness organizations like breast cancer

Thank you for sticking around with me last year and trusting my advice on fashion, food, travel and just living life. The bar has been set high this year and I can't wait to achieve our new goals! 

READ THE BEST OF 2016 BLOGPOSTS BELOW!

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VANDAL

Vandal is a restaurant inspired by the global artsy street fare and sits near the cobblestone streets of Bowery. The menu is filled with delicious tapas style portions that are mouth watering with the perfect splash of ambiance. If you're familiar with Tao and love the vibes, this would be right up your alley as it was founded by the same bombass Tao Group. 

The restaurant welcomes you with a beautiful terrarium-like garden entry that leads to a corridor similar to the Jeff Koons exhibit, where you can check in. There are many approachable bar tenders and friendly waiters filled with great recommendations of unique drinks and food. While often a jammed packed restaurant (even with reservations), my cousin and I were lucky enough to be seated right on time after trying out the Double Dutch (highly recommended) and Trigger Finger at the bar. 

Each room is painted by a different street artist and reminded me of my love for art and the freedom it brings within. We tried out the Pretzel Steak Tartare (my favorite), Chicken Shawarma Salad, Grilled Brussel Sprouts and Balinese Branzino. The food is lovely but you're really in Vandal for the ambiance and elite atmosphere. 

It's absolutely a place worth checking out a few times for the experience and ambiance but be prepare to spend some coins because a tab for two can easily be $200. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

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