What NOT to Wear

Woman with afro putting on her heels

No one should care more about your appearance than you. Surely the most important opinion of your looks is your own, but first impressions DO count in many situations. Some situations this is especially called for are job interviews, meeting new people, first dates, and so on. You WILL be judged by the way you look, like it or not.

Your image really suffers when you wear clothes that don’t fit. Like it or not, we judge people based on how they look—partly because if we don’t know someone, we have to start somewhere, and it usually starts with first impressions. But even if people know you, some impressions are just not up to par with representing the image you want to portray and putting your best foot forward—especially when it comes to a job interview or a public appearance where impressions mean a lot.

You can look good no matter what size you wear—whether it’s 4 or 24. More and more clothes are being made to accommodate all kinds of sizes and shapes of girls and women. But I shake my head sometimes when I see how some people wear jeans that don’t cover their behinds (ugh—the saggy jeans!!!), or shirts that don’t cover their bellies. Please take a little pride in yourself (and everyone who you may run into in public) by acknowledging some basic principles of dressing excellence.

Your shirt is too small if:

  • The buttons are holding on for dear life, pulling the sides of your shirt so far apart that you can see Os down the front of your blouse, not to mention your bra underneath.
  • You can see the skin on the bottom of your stomach. Not cute. (If you have rolls or a “pooch,” don’t accentuate them with a tight shirt.)
  • The armholes are rolled up in your armpits, so the entire hem of your sleeves is not visible.

Your pants/jeans do not fit if:

  • You can see your ankles while you’re standing up (your pants are too short)
  • You can see your crack when you’re standing or bent over (your pants are too small, or you may need a higher rise)
  • You have to lie on your bed, jump up and down, or hold in your gut to zip up your pants.



  • Your bra creates breast bubbles under your shirt (your bra is too small and you probably need to go up a cup size—get a proper bra fitting in a fine department store
  • You can see your bra or panty lines through your clothing (invest in Spanx or another quality shapers to smooth rolls, lift breasts, and eliminate panty lines)


In general, if you have to squeeze into it, it doesn’t fit.


If you need more help to get rid of those pesky unworn, ill-fitting items, tomorrow’s post will explain how to purge your closet.


Take Back Your Time!: How to Start Unitasking in 8 Steps

The scattered piles of books and papers on my floor, across my desks, and on top of my dressers makes it clear that I have too many things going on at once. Because I can’t process all of it in an orderly fashion, this clutter is also transferred to my mind, which leads me to procrastinate or just give up.

I have a variety of interests and personal goals. I am involved in an active set of ministries at church, work full-time, do public speaking and freelance writing and above all, am a single parent of a little one, and I’ve started a new business I’m excited about. With all I’ve got going on in my life, and without giving priorities to my tasks and goals, everything becomes an overwhelming glob of to-dos. Something has got to give.

cluttered bulletin board
Courtesy of John Lawton

When crunch time comes along, we find out what the real priorities are in our lives. We’re all so busy, but busy doing what? Saying “Yes” to too many activities and too many people leaves no room for “me” time or family priorities, and we get worn out. Are ALL of our obligations really THAT important? Do we know when to say “No”?

Don’t have to wait until you “get around to it.” Decide now, from this day forward, that you will STOP MULTITASKING.


1. Multitasking wastes time because it slows you down.

Our minds can’t handle too many demanding things simultaneously. I’m not talking about combining little tasks such as running the washing machine while you watch TV or skim a magazine, or listening to an mp3 while you exercise. I’m talking about productive, cognitive tasks that require you to concentrate and process information, whether it be reading, writing, or driving. Think about it: you really can’t check your email and do your homework at the same time. You can have both in front of you while you take turns studying, and then take breaks to read emails. Switching back and forth between tasks is not efficient. You cannot truly multitask because your brain does not process information that way.


Continue reading “Take Back Your Time!: How to Start Unitasking in 8 Steps”

Moving On Up

What do you do when you’re seeking a promotion at work and you’re in a comfortable position while others are struggling? Do you leave things be (stay quiet and don’t rock the boat), or do you speak up and ask for what you’re worth?

I’m blessed to say that I’ve been employed at the same firm full-time for over a decade, fresh out of college (I was hired less than two months after graduation). I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in that time.

Humble Beginnings

I started as a junior technical writer in a Maryland office just outside of DC at age 22. I had a Bachelor’s degree in technical communication but no telecommunications knowledge. In just one year, my mentor and manager saw to it that I was promoted to Information Developer (a mid-level technical writer).

During the time I worked in MD, the technical publications team grew from a staff of four (I was number 4, but the others were temps) to 15. The company grew too fast, and layoffs ensued. I lost count of how many layoffs I have escaped since 2000 (including some last month—it’s amazing how the work keeps piling up while the funding dies off). In the meantime, continued to perform and train new hires. My manager encouraged me to take advantage of the company’s tuition assistance program, so I earned my Master’s in two years while she worked on her Bachelor’s.  It was also during this same employment streak that I bought my first house, got married, gave birth to my daughter, and got divorced. Basically, I grew up while working here.

When I returned from maternity leave in September 2003, my manager had changed. Manager #1 still worked in an office a hundred feet away from mine, but I no longer reported to her. Manager #2 was in NJ, and flew down to meet us, but I only saw him once. This began my experience of working for people I almost never saw in person.

Working Alone

In June 2004, I separated from my husband and moved to Virginia with my daughter. I worked from a tiny office with two desks, where technicians and installers would come and go. The manager of that office arranged to allow me a key to the office, and the vacant desk. I had my equipment shipped from Maryland and pretty much worked in isolation. I endured a big transition—not only the new state of Virginia, but missing my friends and co-workers in Maryland, coping with a marital separation, and becoming a single mom

In September 2004, I received a letter from Corporate and Human Resources, stating that the office in Maryland would be closing, and my job would end.  I was being laid off—I wasn’t able to dodge the bullet by moving to Virginia (or so I thought). I started planning to move and look for work. I went to Maryland in November 2005 to train the writer from India who was taking over my work. There was a very different air in the building at that time, as everyone else was training their successors as well.

Looking for work did not take long. In January 2005, just a couple of weeks before my lay-off date, I was hired at a temporary agency in Virginia Beach. They placed me at a well-known managed healthcare company for a 3-month assignment. Two weeks after I started the job (and still employed at the other company with very little work to do), my manager held a conference call with myself and the other remaining writers in Maryland.  His news was that we would be retained after all! We all had the option of working from home now that the office was closed. Since I wasn’t losing my job, I put in my two-week notice with my temporary agency and the healthcare company—two weeks after I started.

Continue reading “Moving On Up”

Frenemies No More: How to Deal with Friends Who Hurt You

Friends don’t hurt friends—or at least the way it should be.

Everyone has a story or two about getting stabbed in the back. What about friends who just suddenly stop all communication with you, and give you no reason? Betrayal and abandonment are hard to forgive and forget. You almost expect it if you’re on the dating scene, but when it comes to friendship, we take it harder.

Dr. Jan Yager’s book, When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You talks about the realities of friendship gone wrong. How do you deal with toxic friends? Why do some people have a pattern of picking the wrong friends, and end up getting used time after time? How can we choose positive, healthy friendships that enrich our lives, and spot them early on, weeding out the “frenemies” waiting to happen?

According to Dr. Yager, it starts with us. If you don’t respect yourself, you will allow others to treat you badly. For an in-depth look at some highlights offered in this book, chapter by chapter, read on. (Warning: This article is NOT a quick read, but you’ll find a lot of insights.)

Continue reading “Frenemies No More: How to Deal with Friends Who Hurt You”

It’s Time to Unplug: Recover From Information Overload

The more that technology connects us, the more disconnected (distracted) we can get, which negatively impacts our stress level, personal down time, and quality time with loved ones. We feel a wave of terror if we leave the house without our cell phones, and we must attend to every buzz and ding that emanates from a nearby pocket, purse, or PC. No wonder we’re feeling frazzled.

I came across the opportunity to review Joanne Cantor Ph.D.’s book, Conquer CyberOverload: Get More Done, Boost Your Creativity, and Reduce Stress while I was finishing an article about multitasking (and how unproductive it is). I often write articles based on what I am experiencing, and I am no stranger to feeling overwhelmed or anxious with some of the projects I have my hands in.

Conquer CyberOverload is a small book–the perfect length for the short attention spans of readers Dr. Cantor has targeted.

myth-of-multitaskingDr. Cantor cites much research that shows how little our brain can process when do try to do certain types of tasks at the same time (also known as multitasking, but in reality is task-switching). She also gives suggestions and practical ideas at the end of each chapter in table summaries on such things as how to manage our high-tech devices, and keep email and other interruptions from impeding progress on the things we try to accomplish. These summaries help you use the knowledge you’ve learned in a practical manner.

Now I’ll highlight a few of the noteworthy things I found in each of the five chapters.

Defy Email and Info Overload!https://dareeallen.leadpages.co/leadbox-942.js
Continue reading “It’s Time to Unplug: Recover From Information Overload”

Getting Started in Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping to Improve Customer Service

If two or more companies in the same area offer the same product or service for a similar price, how do you decide which one gets your business? I believe the answer is Customer service.

Many businesses use mystery shoppers as a way to assess and improve their customer service and their employees’ performance. I got started with mystery shopping several years ago at Shoney’s restaurant in Maryland. Mystery shopping is a fun, easy way to make a little extra money.

Continue reading “Getting Started in Mystery Shopping”