Taming Wild Hair

I’m a leo and I have a lion mane of hair. It’s frizzy, curly, wiry, unruly, and thick; and I generally just leave it as is because I’m not sure where to start with styling it. Not to mention it’d take a large chunk of my morning hours to do anything to it. When I was home over Easter, I got my hair cut by my trusty hairdresser and she showed me a few nifty tips that I thought I’d share for all of the other curly-haired ladies out there.

I rarely ask hairdressers to blow-dry my hair post-haircut because it takes at least an hour longer, and I always feel bad backing up their schedule. I’ve been going to the same girl for my haircuts for the last three years, and she always asks if I want it styled before leaving, but generally, it’s a “no.” Anyway, this time, she diffused my hair a bit so that it wasn’t sopping wet and then showed me two things I could do to tame the frizz in my hair and create more defined curls.

The first thing she told me to do was to loosely braid my damp hair into pigtails before I go to bed. When she demonstrated, she left some strands out in the front. She told me to use fabric hair ties when fastening the braids because they won’t leave indentations on the bottom of the hair. Then, she twirled the loose strands in a hippie-like manner and pinned them to both sides of my head. These too were left loose, so as to create a more natural wave that framed my face. I gave her advice a try, and it really worked on my hair.

The second piece of hair wisdom she shared with me was a simple twisted bun. She told me that she had learned this trick from one of her other curly-haired clients. It’s a really easy thing to do with damp hair–you simply twist all of your hair (you can leave a few strands in the front with this one, too) and then wrap it into a ballerina-type bun. If you sleep in it, and let your hair down in the morning, your hair will have a natural wave, rather than a ringlet curl.

Sample Twist Bun

These two tips have worked for me and the best thing is–they’re super foolproof. Enjoy!

Déjà vu

Graduation is a mere 3 weeks away and I’ve been applying, applying, applying with hopes of securing something definite for post-graduation. The process has felt like a déjà vu of life four and a half years ago when I was poring over college applications. Here are some of the reasons why:

 Reason 1: The prep

In high school, it was all about the SAT and ACT—getting those scores to whatever your dream college wanted was the root of immeasurable stress for 16 and 17 year olds. Many of us had tutors, went to prep sessions, and bought out Barnes and Noble’s stock of Kaplan and Princeton Review SAT/ACT prep books. After all, the golden rule was: “practice, practice, practice!” When test day came, you endured the four tedious hours and exited the room feeling like a Walking Dead zombie.

Fast-forward to the present. Now, 21 and 22 year olds are stressed about having an impeccable resume and an eye-catching cover letter (at least in the J-school). Instead of putting a number on your intelligence, like the SAT does, you have the opportunity to show how and why you’re a good fit for the job. Instead of seeing an SAT or ACT tutor, you’re visiting career services or asking fifty different people to read and comment on your resume/cover letter. It’s just as stressful. Oh, and don’t forget that you could also be studying for the GMAT just in case grad school is in your crystal ball.

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Reason 2: The mentoring

By the end of junior year of high school, many kids are drafting college essays and well into standardized test prep. By senior year, those tests may be done, but the all-consuming college essays still remain. I remember writing mine at least five times over and then having it edited by another ten people in order to produce something that I thought would get me into Carolina. Be it a college counselor, a parent, a teacher, a tutor, a hairdresser—someone acted as a mentor in the college application process.

And now, four years later, we’re making mock interview appointments, having our resumes and cover letters reviewed by anyone that can spare a minute, writing emails to alumni, the list goes on. There’s someone mentoring, someone helping you along the way.

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Reason 3: The rejection (or fear of it)

Finally, you’ve produced test scores and essays that you’re proud of, woohoo. It’s time to hit that submit button and let the admissions minions do the deciding. After the relief of sending off your applications comes the fear—what if I’m rejected from everywhere? What if there was a glitch or something and it didn’t go through? What if they don’t like oxford commas and I used one?? 

Submitting job applications has the same sense of relief. Once you’ve finally written a great cover letter and created an awesome resume, there’s that happiness, but then the concern creeps in. What if I just don’t have that ‘something’? What if I overlooked a typo? What if I didn’t write the right company name on the cover letter? 

College and job applications have one more thing in common: They seem like the key to your future, but also have all the power to ruin alter what you envisioned as your future.

giff

Boston Strong

I was born in Boston, MA and spent 12 years of my life there. I lived most of my childhood in a yellow house in a small, family-oriented neighborhood in Wellesley. Every year, there was one Monday in April that all school kids looked forward to—Marathon Monday. Pretty much everyone had a day off of school, especially in Wellesley because the marathon went right through the town’s center.

Marathon Monday was a family affair. We always went with our neighbors and watched it on a corner between two pizza shops. Lucky us, we had two pizza places to pick from for lunch (!!).  Watching a marathon as a fidgety kid may sound like it wouldn’t be too attention grabbing, but I remember being in awe at the speed of the pack leaders and the endurance of every person running the race.

It wasn’t until I moved to N.C. that I realized that the Boston Marathon represented just how united the people of Boston are. I think the whole world realized this last year after the Boston Bombings. I remember when I first heard about the event. I was sitting in my Media Ethics class and received a push notification from Huffington Post that said: “Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston St.”  There wasn’t enough information to understand the magnitude of the event, but after class it was evident. Students gawked at the news segments on the TV in Carroll Hall—the home of the J-School at UNC. Someone had disrupted one of Boston’s most well-known events, and in turn had attempted to break the spirits of its people.

The key word is attempted. Today, I saw endless headlines about commemoration and the resiliency of the city, but there were none (that I saw) about the bombers. Instead of pointing fingers or wishing for violent retribution, the people of Boston proved to the world how strong they were. That strength was always there, though. They displayed it in the manhunt that ensued after the bombings. They showed it in their ability to avoid stereotyping the Muslim community. Boston didn’t let the bombings come between its unity. That’s what makes the people of the city Boston Strong.

So, on the anniversary of the Boston Bombings, we look at how a great city bounced back flawlessly from a tragic event. We remember how Boston made the whole world stop and stare at a city that embodies pride and resilience. A year ago, 20 years ago, today and forever, Boston has been and will always be Boston Strong.

Boston Magazine Cover

Boston Magazine Cover

3 Best Apps for the Fitness Lover

The spring of my junior in high school, I quit the soccer team that I had been on for four years because I needed to work a job after school. I decided that I enjoyed playing field hockey in the fall, so I stuck with that, but couldn’t commit to two seasons of sports. Realizing that I wanted to stay in shape and also enjoyed being active, I began going to the gym after school or after work. It became a routine, one that I’ve maintained throughout college. Its a passion of mine, and I love looking for new exercises to add spice to my sometimes-mundane gym time. There are some great apps out there to help with finding new workouts–want new ab exercises? Want an elliptical interval workout? There are TONS out there. There are also some great apps that help you track your fitness. I’ve come up with a list of  some of my go-to apps for all you gym rats and fitness lovers out there.

1. PopSugar Fitness AKA FitSugar AKA PopSugar Active

This app is geared toward females and generally features workouts that will “help you get in bikini shape” or that are inspired by “Victoria’s Secret Angel trainers” etc., but I love it because it includes directions on how to do workouts, and if they’re complicated, there’s always an accompanying video. There are sections for strength training, running, yoga and cardio, and all include tons of different exercises targeting different areas. You can also record your workouts and create your own routines.

PopSugar has many different sections on its websites, and FitSugar is its online fitness section. It offers more workouts and a lot of nutrition articles. One of my favorite recent features illustrated 100-calorie portions of different Easter candy, which was actually pretty eye opening.

2. Breeze

This app is simple–it just counts your steps, but it motivates you to reach your goal. Right now, my step-per-day goal is 6,500, and it challenges me to choose walking over driving. It also sends you push notifications that tell you how you’re doing throughout the day and congratulates you when you’ve made a long walk or accomplished several steps. The only downside is that it you’re say, using an elliptical at the gym, it won’t record that. I haven’t tried it with the treadmill yet, but I’m almost positive it will work for that because it counts steps using the iPhone 5 hidden activity tracker.

3. Hot5

Hot5 trainers have created great quality videos to bring you this great fitness app. There are a wide variety of different work outs that can meet pretty much any requirement that you might have. There are work outs for hotel rooms, five-minute core workouts, and short yoga flow sequences. It has anything you might want and is geared to meet the needs of all fitness levels, from beginners to gurus.

My Five Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen

There are umpteenth lists out there about how to live your life, how to conduct relationships, how to survive college etc., etc. They’re typically entertaining and always make for an easy read, so I thought that I would create one of my own about five things that I wish I had known as a freshman.

1. Plan your schedule. This is difficult because you don’t know your major, and you certainly don’t need to as a freshman, but if there are some classes you would like to take, make note of them and take them. Also, taking random classes that you’re interested in early on can lead to a possible major or a minor. I took classes that were open–that was my strict criteria. And I wish I had been a bit more knowledgeable and discovered a topic that I could’ve pursued a minor in. So, really explore what your college or university has to offer. Talk to older students or friends to see what they enjoyed.

2. Record your time in college somehow. I thought journals were for preteens who liked to shop at Limited Too. I never considered keeping one when I was an underclassman, but now I wish I had. I took plenty of photos on my handy dandy digital camera, so I have those memories. But even with those, it’s hard to remember specific moments. I thought that there was no way I would forget anything important that happened in college, but now all of the years blend together in my memory, and it makes me sad that I don’t have some sort of written record of it. I’m not saying write a long, elaborate journal entry each night, but just keep a Word document or even a blog that chronicles your college life because you’ll want to be able to remember it.

3. Find a club/activity/organization that you want to be a part of for four years. There are thousands of extracurriculars available in college, so take advantage of them. These aren’t the kind of extracurriculars that you’re used to in high school; they’re not the ones that you have to be a part of to look good on paper. If you love something, there’s almost definitely a club or activity on campus that will relate to it.

4. Go to office hours so you get to know your professor. This is a cliche piece of advice, but it’s true. Professors have great advice and come senior year, most prospective employers will ask for a reference. If you know a professor well, they’ll be happy to help you out. I was intimidated by talking to professors my freshman year wish that I hadn’t been.

5. Get some friends together and spend a summer somewhere. This takes planning, which I learned quickly. My friends and I would always talk about spending the summer in Nantucket or Charleston, but never planned well enough. If you have a place you want to go for the summer, start planning early because if you put it off, it likely will fall through.

Curl Talk: Deva Curl Review

A couple of years ago, I got a text from my mom that said, “Alden! You need to get No-Poo Shampoo by DevaCurl!” I laughed out loud and asked her what it was. Usually, I don’t trust shampoos that say they’re “made for curly hair” because I’ve never experienced any notable results. I didn’t go out and buy No-Poo Shampoo. However, that Christmas, my mom gave me a giant bottle of No-Poo and another giant bottle of DevaCurl One Condition. I had to try them out.

The first time I used the shampoo, I was thrown off because it’s non-lathering, meaning it doesn’t make suds like normal shampoos. This is because most shampoos have dehydrating detergents that have the lathering effect. So, it really does feel like conditioner in a way. Once I got past the fact that there weren’t bubbles in my hair, I really liked it–it smells great and you still feel like you have clean hair.

Now, onto the conditioner. The One Condition really sold me. On the back of the bottle, it says to leave the product in for a few minutes, and you have to because it needs time to work its magic. But the result is seriously magic. I used to have to coax a comb through my hair, which was both painful and time consuming..and left me with a few less hair strands. With Deva Curl, I can comb my hair without any knotty disruptions. And when my hair dries, my curls look defined and like they’ve been hydrated by a deep condition.

This past summer, I lived in D.C., and got my first Deva Curl haircut–the founder also created an entirely new way to cut curly hair–cutting it dry. I was skeptical because it was the opposite of a standard haircut. I mean, cutting my hair dirty, and then washing it?!? To ease my fear, my hairdresser handed me the Curly Girl Handbook (also by Deva Curl), and it all made sense. Curls have a natural way that they fall, which isn’t visible when the hair is wet. Cutting curly hair dry enables the hairdresser to see where the curls want to bounce, if you will. Rather than cutting them off in awkward places, the dry hair cut works with the curls. It’s a great way to do it, and I would definitely recommend for every curl gal to try it out at least once.