Use Your Intuition to Avoid Drama

Woman looking nervous

Here at Ladies Again, we’re focused on personal growth and self-improvement. As such, it’s pretty easy for us to get so focused on changing ourselves that we forget that sometimes we’re perfect just the way we are. There’s one part of our makeup that we should be content with: our sense of intuition. Our intuition is that small nagging feeling in the back of our guts telling us when someone or something seems strange or odd. That voice lives in everyone, and it’s our hind brains noticing that something is off. The voice exists to warn us to escape from bad situations.

I learned a great deal about intuition from reading Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear: Survivor Signals that Protect Us from Violence.” The bestselling book has been flying off bookstore and library shelves since it was first published in the late 1990s. I had to wait months to check out the book at the library. Now that’s a popular book! If you have not read the book yet, I strongly suggest you pick it up.

There are a few highlights from the book that will help you, a person who is interested in self-improvement. First, in order to get in touch with your intuition, you must know what it is. Intuition means “to guard, to protect.” De Becker writes: [Intuition is] a cognitive process, faster than we recognize and far different from the familiar step-by-step thinking we rely on so willing. We think conscious thought is somehow better, when in fact, intuition is soaring flight compared to the plodding of logic.” He continues to argue that “intuition is always in response to something and always has your best interest at heart.”

This book clicked for me. I came away from reading the text understanding that a gut reaction to something is not necessarily a mystical flighting feeling, but a quickly-processed assessment of a potential dangerous or harmful situation. By the end of it, the book made me feel more comfortable about my ability to assess risk.

The author includes a number of tips for people who are concerned with protecting themselves from harm. He talks about getting out of domestic violence situations (recognize the threat of death, end contact and hide low somewhere safely), ending relationships with stalkers (cut off all contact since stalkers like people who hate saying no firmly), preventing workplace shootings (fire problem employees immediately), penalizing murderers (don’t publicize their crimes). He also talks about the ways that role models act as violence prevention officers since many violent perpetrators were abused and neglected as children. This book opened my eyes to seeing the way the role models transform lives. After reading this book, I WILL donate to Big Brother, Big Sister to promote the work that they do to help children.

Some quick tips from the book.

  • What does your intuition sound like? There are a few common messengers of intuition: nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, dark humor, wonder, anxiety, curiosity, hunches, doubt, hesitation, suspicion, and fear.
  • Predators like rapists use many tactics to attack people. Here are a few of them: Talking to people as if they are on the same team when they just met (“We’re in this elevator together), premature charm and niceness, sharing too many details, shaming people they just met (called typecasting), helping people without their permission (grabbing grocery bags), saying that they “promise” (thus denying that they will harm you).
  • Some signs of violent and potentially dangerous spousal abuse: The woman has a feeling she is at risk, the man accelerates the pace of the relationship (i.e., marrying too fast), he resolves conflict with intimidation, bullying and violence, he is verbally abusive, he uses threats to control, he breaks or strikes things in anger, he has battered in previous relationships, he cites alcohol or drugs as an excuse or explanation for hostile or violent conduct, he has a criminal record, he becomes jealous of anyone or anything that takes her time away from the relationship, and he refuses to accept rejection.

If you’re interested in learning more about your intuition, read the book! I highly recommend it.

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Are You Gracious?

Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center- Photo from Department of Defense

What does it mean to be gracious? Like maturity, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. Here’s a story: I have a friend who worked in information technology at a small company. I worked in the office with the friend and noticed that many older employees would ask the friend to go to their homes to set up new digital tools and gadgets, like streaming services. My friend was very willing to help them. I said to my friend one day: “That’s so nice of you that you help so many people. How do you have time to do it?” He replied: “I don’t have the time to do all of this! But those people help me at work and I like them, so I don’t complain.”

I was shocked by his revelation. He was willing to go above and beyond to help people, and he never complained about it or mentioned it at work. I wondered, do I have the maturity or compassion to help people in this way and not expect something in return? The answer was definitely No. As I age and mature, I desire to become more gracious. Why? Graciousness allows a person to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Let’s define the term.

The blog How to be Gracious has a great definition for the term gracious:

The gracious person is warm, welcoming and always looking for the opportunity to elevate others instead of themselves. Because they are comfortable in their own skin, the gracious person does not constantly engage in self-aggrandizement; they do not feel the need to assert their superiority over others. Instead, they constantly search for opportunities to make those around them as comfortable as possible.

If you are gracious, then your aim should be to make the day of anyone you interact with more pleasant rather than less, even in the most imperceptible ways. No matter how bad a day a person is having, a person does not have the right to make other peoples’ days less pleasant because of it. Personal difficulties are just that – personal. They are not an excuse for being unpleasant with strangers, family and friends.

What this means that a gracious person does not brag around others to make themselves feel better. Instead, they think of ways to make others around them feel better. We’ve all met snobby people who enjoy putting others down or poking fun of others to make themselves feel better. Here’s another gem from How to be Gracious:

Sometimes people use manners and etiquette to make people around them look bad or seem unsophisticated. This is not gracious – it is rudeness and snobbery. When manners harden into formality or a way to elevate oneself at the expense of others, this is not gracious.

Have you been gracious recently? What did you do to help someone else?

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The Age Panic

Clock

There is an unspoken rule in Western society that life begins to degrade rapidly after age 30. Why? Because all of the worse parts of life happen after then. Sagging skin, balding crowns, infertility, middle management. Mediocrity.

In the dating and love realm, the message is clear: You had better figure out life and marry someone by the time you reach 30, or else no one will want you. This rule is applied much more stringently to women than to men (much of this has to do with biology, of course). After all, no one wants to be associated with a cat-loving lonely middle-aged spinster. Older brides (like Meghan Markle) are judged harshly by public, but are judged nonetheless slightly better than single and childless people over 30. In many ways, it is much more socially acceptable to marry and divorce several times than it is to be single after a certain age.

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Idolizing Psychopathy

Beer lovers. Young cheerful couple drinking beer at the bar

I’m beginning to see a common thread between much of the language used in popular culture about relationships between men and women. There seems to be a great deal of game playing going on. For every tip about “game” written on Red Pill/manosphere forums, there might be double the amount of language made available for women in popular music, self-help books and other sources. One book stands out as the pinnacle dating bible for women: “The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right,” by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider,” was published more than 20 years ago. Full of manipulative dating tips, such as wait for him to call and pretend to be busy, the book continues to be read widely in spite of its very obvious flaws. Why is game playing so popular among dating gurus?

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Do You Know How to Eat in Public? Find Out

Dining table

[This is a re-post of a previously-published article.]

I’ve always gotten nervous by the idea of eating in fine restaurants, and my fear of publicly embarrassing myself while dining out seems to grow as I get older. I wonder: Which fork should I use? What happens if I spill food on myself? Or worse, what happens if I mispronounce a word on the menu? Will everyone in the restaurant, waitstaff included, know that I am a phony who does not deserve to eat there?

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It Depends

Women talking

My time away from Ladies Again has changed my views on everything

I apologize for my long absence from Ladies Again. This past year has been a whirlwind for me in a number of ways. In the past 12 months, I quit my job, started a new job training program, and traveled in Asia. I also began a self-healing journey, as corny and pretentious as that sounds. Much of my healing focused (or focuses?) on reducing my anxiety around relationships and dating. The creation of Ladies Again is a product of that anxiety, since the site was designed to be a repository of information about femininity and traditional relationships. Quick! I have to boost my femininity before I end up old and alone forever! I always prided myself as being an anti-feminist who hated today’s blase misandry, but the truth was I was deeply afraid of being used or manipulated by men.

It all started with the end of an unhealthy relationship, which forced me to recognize that I was repeating the same relationships over and over again. I signed up for therapy, which is when I confronted the fact that my father was not involved in my life, and that the fear of being a lonely single mother was guiding the decisions I made in my relationships. I also realized that I was preoccupied with relationships and love, and this is evident in the number of relationship-related articles published on Ladies Again. Dating gave me a lot of anxiety. I spent much of the past year working on that anxiety. Now, I see dating anxiety in others everywhere. I would bet that many popular dating columnists and pick-up artists have this kind of relationship anxiety and preoccupation with dating as well. MGTOW, for instance, may be a way of trying to manage dating anxiety by dropping out of the sex market altogether. After therapy, I realized an irony that was so intense that it smacked me in the face: I was so afraid of ending up alone that I was attracted to the men most likely to abandon me.

I had to admit the truth. I have always been honest and open in my friendships with other women, but I resorted to playing games with men. Without seeing positive relationship role models in my own home or family, I followed much of the foolish dating advice given in pop culture by armchair experts like pick-up artists, talk show hosts, and advice columnists, among others. Sometimes, there are quality articles from professional psychologists (like this one), but most of it is garbage. Play hard to get. Wait for three months to have sex. Return his calls late. Don’t talk about your ex. Never depend on a man. Make him pay for everything. Let him take the lead in all decisions. Much of this advice is outdated, illogical, and makes dating more complicated than it needs to be. At best, modern dating advice works well only for people looking for casual sex. At worse, dating advice teaches people to be dishonest. In the long run, you lose by following mainstream dating advice. Who wants to be in a relationship with a man or woman who does not answer their phone calls, doesn’t open up about their past, and allows the other person to dictate all relationship decisions? A person who is clearly not interested in establishing a healthy and open relationship.

My new dating mantra is “it depends.” It all just depends! The only thing you can do is go with your gut–if a person is giving you anxiety or making you feel insecure, it’s not a good fit. It is impossible to apply firm rules to a dating world that has been affected by the forces of industrialization, urbanism, feminism, misandry and secularism. Firm rules work only for individuals confined to their own religious or political communities, like Mormons for instance.

So, I stopped stressing out about relationships and dating. I decided instead to spend much of my free time with my friends and family. I learned to dance in the past year, something I never thought I would do. I finally had the time to volunteer and read fiction books. I also threw my dating rules out of the window. It doesn’t make sense to pretend to be something you’re not just to hook someone in. Finally, I stopped putting marriage and children on a pedestal. I am just starting to realize that a person’s contribution to the world does not have to be based on their ability to marry and have children. Snooki and Kanye West have children, and that doesn’t make them healthier than a random childless person. It’s probably for the best, for example, if sociopaths, addicts and narcissists decide to skip marriage and children altogether.

Ultimately, it all depends! Oh, how freeing it is to admit that truth. I will continue to write for Ladies Again, but the focus of my writing will now include details on my own self-healing journey. I will write about my efforts to be more open, honest and caring. Stay tuned!

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Honesty and Integrity are Key to Femininity

Hillary Clinton

Many of the articles on Ladies Again follow our theme on better ways to increase femininity through self-improvement. Today, however, I would like to try something different. Instead of writing about the better ways to clean or how volunteering can increase our sense of caring and femininity, I’d like today’s article to focus on one aspect of femininity that cannot be underestimated: integrity.

The dictionary Merriam-Webster defines integrity as a firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values. You know a person with integrity when you see them. These are the people who are honest, trustworthy and down-to-earth. They are not afraid to be assertive about their values and morals during times when others either oppose them or put pressure on them to conform. Individuals with integrity understand right from wrong, and stick to their principles.

When it comes to women, individuals with integrity are respected and trusted by their peers. These women handle themselves with grace and confidence. They will admit when they do not know the answer to a question, and they will accept responsibility when they make a mistake. Can integrity be taught? It’s possible that it is taught from the family or from religion. The jury is still out if it can be taught in schools.

The subject of integrity is especially relevant today given the role it played in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Voters in rural and urban communities alike found themselves debating the trustworthiness of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The election was full of enough ethical conundrums to puzzle spectators for years: During the campaign season, Clinton faced an ethics probe over her emails, while Trump faced a lawsuit over his troubled Trump University.

The question many people asked themselves was “Who is more likely to be lying to me? Who is more likely to be telling the truth?” One woman interviewed in a New York Times article accurately summarized many of the sentiments held by voters last year:

I really wanted to have a female president. I think that’s important. But I’m not sure that’s her…I voted for Obama the last time. I don’t agree with a lot of what he said, but I felt he was honest.

Integrity is key to caring for and respecting others, and it is a quality that is key to femininity. Interestingly enough, it is also key to masculinity as well, after all, men who adhere to an ethical code are respected and appreciated.

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It’s Time You Started Volunteering

Teamwork image

How much do you volunteer each year? Would you say 10-20 days a week? If you do not volunteer regularly, consider becoming a volunteer and using your time to help others in need. I currently volunteer at a hospital so that you I can learn more about working in the medical field. There are thousands of way ways to volunteer: You could work in a hospital, build houses, pack meals or help a child learn to love reading. Why? First, it feels great to help other people. By volunteering your time, you are increasing your ability to care for other people, which will make you more feminine. After all, compassion is one of the hallmarks of femininity. In addition to the impact that volunteering has on your ability to empathize with others, volunteering also offers a number of unexpected benefits.

Thinking of Others

Volunteering will help you to think about the needs of other people in your community. Though you may be successful or live comfortably, many people in your very same community are facing serious challenges and need assistance. Perhaps, for example, you do not visit your local library that often, but that library makes a big difference for veterans trying to find jobs or local foster teens who need quiet spaces to do their homework. Volunteering helps to remind you that you are sometimes greater than you think: Your few hours of volunteer service may make the difference for a family struggling to feed their children or a homeless person trying to get back on his feet. You can also learn more about your community through volunteering.

Offers Perspective

Volunteering teaches you to be grateful for the opportunities you currently have. As a lady, you have to carry yourself with grace and humility, and one of the best ways to appreciate the life you have is to meet others who are in need of help. Volunteering gives you a perspective that you may not get at your job or hanging out with your friends.

Connecting with other Thoughtful People

Volunteering is a great way to expand your social network! Consider that by volunteering in a tutoring program or in an environmental cleanup project you are meeting others in your area who are also interested in the same activities. Maybe you might connect with environmentalists on a volunteer project that you would not have met otherwise. Many people have met friends and partners from volunteer projects.

Learning Opportunities

I always think that volunteering is one of the best ways to get hands-on experience in a new field or activity. Unlike formal internships, volunteering opportunities give you unfiltered and unstructured access to new career fields. By volunteering on a home building project, for example, you have the chance to learn directly what it is like to work as a construction worker, if that’s a career you are interested in. Similarly, a person thinking about becoming a nurse can learn about all facets of working in a medical setting by volunteering in a hospital.

Connection to Your Community

Local volunteer opportunities are great because they anchor you to your community, which makes you feel happier in the long run. Being a member of a larger community makes you happy.

How do you volunteer? Share the details using the hashtag #ladiesagain

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Throw the Party of Your Life

Image of man partying

Will you host a party this summer? Back in the day, it was expected that women would host elegant parties to bring together friends and acquaintances from their various social circles. Middle- and upper-class women would compete to see who could host the most popular parties. Today, many women (and men) have issues finding time to host house parties, so home events are far less common than they used to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have time to read this blog post, then you have time to spare to plan a party for your social circle.

If you have never hosted a party before, start with as easy project, such as hosting a barbeque or beach bonfire. Outdoor events are much easier because you do not have to worry about securing color-decorated table settings or fine silverware. Another easy option would be to host a game night or potluck in your home. You can use recyclable dinnerware and serve food on one central table.

If you want to host an event of medium difficulty, consider hosting a brunch, creative event (i.e., painting night) or dance party in your home. With the brunch, you will have to round up dishes and seating options for your guests. As for the creative events, you will need to prepare for the party by purchasing the craft materials (check Pinterest for ideas). For the dance party, you will need to secure a DJ or a band, plus you will need to make sure that your neighbors are okay with the loud music. Prepare to spend a great deal of time cleaning up after your dance party ends (trust me).

If you are interested in hosting a high-level (top-shelf!) difficult event, consider hosting a dinner party in your home. I classify dinner parties as the hardest events to host because of the amount of pressure on the host to create a seamless and elegant event. With the dinner party, you will need to select a set of stylish table settings, cook excellent meal course options, and secure wine and other beverages. For this event, you will need to also check if your guests have food allergies or limitations.

Here’s a few tips to hosting a party that will be the talk of the town:

Scout Early

Don’t just select a date in your calendar and begin planning your party on that day. You must first ask friends in your social circle if they are interested in your party idea. Do they want to go to a Pinterest-inspired painting night in your home, or are they more excited about a summer beach bonfire? Once you decide the kind of party you will have, you must also think about when your closest friends are available for an event. You want to make sure that you select a date far in advance, usually one to two months early. After all, you do not want people to skip your event because they already made plans.

Prepare for Your Party with a List

After you select a date, begin to think about the theme for your party. Will all of the cups have one central color or pattern? Select a theme, then walk through every step of your party to determine what you need to buy or cook. When a person walks into your home, should they get a name tag? Then purchase name tags and markers for the party. When they come your bonfire, should they receive a flower lei necklace? Think about every item you will need, including paper towels and band-aids.

Get a Core Group of Friends to Help–Thereby Ensuring that they Come
Once you start planning your party, choose a few select tasks that your closest friends can help you with. I say this tip so that you can ensure that a few select people are certain to attend your event, after all, they have a responsibility to help in some way with the event! You may also benefit from their help. Have one friend bring a few bottles of white wines, and have another friend bring the plastic forks and knives. Ask one friend to take photos throughout the event. One friend can bring the pinata, if necessary.

Eat First

On the day of your party, eat as much as you can before the party so that you can prepare for all of the running around you’ll do during the party. Trust me, you will not have time to eat a full meal during the party. You’ll be too busy socializing, which is a good thing!

Have Fun and Make the Rounds

Make sure to talk to everyone at your party. Introduce your acquaintances to your friends and vice versa. You never know when new connections will be made at your party.

Do you have any party hosting tips? Share them below on online using the hashtag #ladiesagain

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Clear Skin is Important: How to Get the Skin You Deserve

Basket of products

On Ladies Again, we write about better ways to take care of yourself because we realize that self-care is important to femininity. It is for this reason that we write about our own journeys with weight loss and finding makeup and self-care routines that work effectively. Below, I’m sharing my own personal journey through one aspect of self-care.

For years, I struggled with an obsession that I hid in secret. I would think about it every day, like when I showered, when I was at work, when I was in the library, when I watched television and when I read magazines. I would think about it especially when I noticed my reflection in mirrors and building windows. My obsession was my skin, which was plagued with large cystic acne.

For years, I coasted through high school and college with little to no acne. I had a few small forehead bumps occasionally, but I never had substantial pimples or breakouts on my face. My skin was so clear and smooth that I sometimes received compliments from others about the quality of my skin. All of this ended after I graduated from college and decided to stop taking hormonal birth control. Suddenly and without warning, I started getting large red blotches on my face and massive cystic pimples under the surface of my skin. Shortly after the pimples subsided, dark-colored and deep-pitted acne scars started to form on my face. My beautiful clear skin became rough, blotchy and pitted. I started to have serious anxiety about my skin. My friends and family started to notice the acne breakout happening on my face. Like it or not, your physical appearance is the first impression you make to the world, and I was cognizant of this fact more than ever before. I felt helpless and I was confused about what was going on with my skin, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

Makeup did not work to cover it up, and neither did over-the-counter acne facial washes and acne creams. Products that were supposed to help the acne ended up drying out my skin, which encouraged my skin to produce more oil. With the additional oil production, I ended up using more drying creams, and the cycle continued. I also spent a great deal of money on pricey dermatologists. One sinister (and highly-respected) dermatologist convinced me to take powerful antibiotics for months to keep the acne at bay. Doing so led me to have serious gastrointestinal issues as a result. Nothing worked.

Collectively, I spent hours researching acne treatments online and in libraries. I tried one quack acne method after another. I gave up peanut oil and I applied ice packs to my face every day. At one point, at my craziest point, I was sleeping every night with a few cold green teabags on my face. Crazy and desperate, right?

Image of Clear Skin Weekend bookOne day, by sheer luck, I stumbled upon a book that described the role diet plays in supporting overall health. The book, Clear Skin Weekend, specifically detailed the way that processed sugar in particular increases the production of hormones that create oil. Bacteria is attracted to excess oil, so skin infections (acne) happen when bacteria invade the oily pores. People with acne-prone skin have unique skin that is prone to trapping oil, which is why they must take additional steps to minimize the oil and subsequent harmful bacteria on their skin.

Clear Skin Weekend changed my life! The book made it is easy for me to understand the connection between diet and skin care, and gave me simple steps to take to improve my skin and overall health on a regular basis. I learned about all of the different ways that acne-prone skin is unique. Usually acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance paired with acne-prone skin. But sometimes, acne can be caused by a fungal infection or a reaction or allergy to a product.

The book also helped me to realize that sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong. For years, the medical profession has said that there is no link between diet and acne, but new research is showing that they are wrong. I now realize that the birth control impacted my hormones levels in a drastic way, which was altered when I stopped taking the birth control. Then, my hormone levels continued to spiral out of control when I began eating a diet high in refined sugars and low in fiber. Clear Skin Weekend gave me a list of steps to take to change my diet for the better and get my skin back to normal. Not only did my skin improve, but my overall health changed. I had more energy and I lost weight.

The book also discussed ways to improve the skin through select products. I learned that products, like skin exfoliants, that work for many people may be abrasive for individuals with acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin is unique in that it needs to be exfoliated more often than other skin types to stay acne-free, but the methods and products used to exfoliate the skin must be gentle in nature. So, think gentle enzyme exfoliants, not abrasive sea salt exfoliants. The book also detailed hair and skin care products that are harmful to the skin.

If you struggle with acne, consider reading the ground-breaking guidebook Clear Skin Weekend. It’s worth the investment if it will change your overall physical health and improve your self-esteem.

What are your experiences with acne and skin care? Talk about your experiences reading Clear Skin Weekend using the hashtag #ladiesagain.

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