How To Handle Criticism

At one point or another, we're going to face some criticism. When this happens, we have two choices: to react and take things personally, or to look at it objectively and grow from it. How do you most often respond? Experiencing conflict and criticism is a normal part of life, as we are all different people with various opinions/backgrounds/life experiences; however, the way in which we handle it will determine if it has a positive or negative effect on us. Here's a few ways to handle criticism in a healthy, beneficial way.

1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. 
(Criticism is destructive, but suggestions are constructive.) See criticism as a positive stepping stone on the pathway to your growth.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously. 
Learn to laugh at yourself, and enjoy a big dose of grace. You are not the first, nor the last, to experience correction and critical words. Smile, dance, shake it're going to make it.

3. Look past the criticism and see the critic. 
What are they dealing with in their own life that they are filtering the criticism through? Is there anything in their criticism that can actually be beneficial to you? If so, grow! If not, drop it.

4. Realize that good people get criticized. 
As someone once said, "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be someone who doesn't like peaches." Seriously, even the nicest, most wonderful people are going to discover someone who doesn't like what they're doing. Even Jesus faced frequent criticism.

5. Keep up your strength.
Stay strong in your faith and in the physical sense. Feelings of depression and discouragement tend to take root in fatigued bodies and spirits. Build up strength by engaging in spirit-building habits (suggestions here), and stay strong physically by doing some sort of exercise on a frequent basis!

6. Focus on what counts. 
It's easy to get stuck on what someone said or did that bothered you, but instead, shift your focus to the many people that are focused on helping you! In reality, there's many more interested in your success than the few that want to take you down. Invest your time with the ones who build you up!

7. Concentrate on your mission, then address the mistakes. 
What is your end goal? What's the reason why you do what you do? That goal or mission will never be accomplished if all you continue to dwell on are the mistakes. Learn from the experience or the criticism and move forward! There's greater things to come!


Coiffure Class 101: French Side Braid

I've not done many hair tutorials on here, but after receiving some requests, especially over the past year or so, I thought it would be fun to show you (with a little help from my styling maven of a sister) how to create some of the styles I wear on a regular basis. First up, the French-style side braid. This is a simple twist on a classic summer look, and a favorite of many a camp counselor. Having invested many years in summer camps, this fun, oversized braid is a subtle, styling nod to those happy memories. It looks so pretty, and in the high temps, will also keep you feeling nice and cool! A few subtle tweaks take it from camp-style to chic in a matter of seconds. 

{Step 1}
Brush out your hair, and sweep all of it over to one side. For those of you with thin or extra silky hair, a spritz or two of texturizing or styling spray will help with a little extra grip. For added volume and fullness, I like to use Big Sexy Hair Powder Play, and for extra hold and to zap oil, Psssst Dry Shampoo is pretty fantastic. 

{Step 2}
Begin by french braiding*, starting a few inches back from the top, pulling hair across the back of your head to keep the braid on one side and not down the middle of your head. 
*If you need help french braiding, here's a good tutorial

{Step 3}
Finish braiding off the rest of your hair, making sure to keep the braid tight, and secure with a hair tie. 

{Step 4}
Here's where the magic happens! Start loosening up or pulling apart the braid to give a softer, fuller effect. Begin at the top of the braid and work your way down; this gives your braid the 'Disney Princess hair' effect. If you have super thick hair, this step will alleviate a lot of the pressure and weight that comes from braids pulled tight on your scalp. 

{Step 5}
Fluff up the end of the braid, as well as around the top and crown of your head. Tuck in any super loose ends, but remember, this looser-style braid will naturally have a few pieces that may stick out, that's part of the casual I always look this fabulous charm of the hairstyle. For those of us with lots of layers, myself included, you may need to employ the help of a few bobby pins to keep the larger, shorter pieces from falling out, but use your layers to your advantage to keep the style from looking too slicked back from your face. Your braid should look full and effortlessly glam, not sloppy. 

{Step 6}
I always pull out a few pieces around my face for a little extra softness, and because I think it makes the style look better and less 'done', if you know what I mean. After you've tweaked it to your liking, I always finish the look off with a spritz of natural hold hairspray and a bit of shine spray. I like to use Chi Enviro 54 Natural Hold and Mermaid Hair Shine Spray (It has the perfect hint of coconut, tames frizzies, and makes your hair super soft and shiny!). Voila! Enjoy your fabulous, french side braid!

Happy Styling!


Summer Sweaters

(Sweater: Gap, Shorts: Lilly Pulitzer, Necklace: Target, Sandals (on major sale right now!): Lilly Pulitzer)

The thought of summer sweaters seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron, but I have to admit that there's actually something to them. Lately I'm all about a comfy, open-knit sweater. They're the perfect piece to transition from the super hot afternoons into the breezy evenings, and whether you pair them with sweet scalloped shorts or white denim, toss them over a swimsuit after a dip in the ocean, or even slip it over a solid color maxi dress, you'll always look perfectly chic. This one I found from Gap is on major sale right now, and I think you'll love the effortlessly cool look for those long summer days. Also, can we talk about how much I still love the lace-up sandal trend? Whether you're in shorts, a dress, or even cropped denim, there's something so stylish about these shoes that pulls together any look. I've worn my gold ones so much this summer, and am looking forward to the lace-up flats that seem to be the next big thing come this fall. On another note, did you make a summer reading list? I always enjoy catching up on a bunch of books I've been wanting to read. I spent the past weekend doing some reading, and am always looking for good book recommendations! There's nothing like finding a new favorite! Have any suggestions? 


Floral Favorite

(Dress: c/o Eshakti, Jewelry: Etsy, Lilly Pulitzer, Clutch: Vintage)

We're still in the middle of the sweet summertime, and there's nothing better than a simple look that is unfussy and effortless. This pretty, custom chiffon piece from Eshakti is so light and feminine, and the soft blue floral print is reminiscent of an old French print. I've gravitated toward more skirts and dresses lately, simply because it's just too hot for structured pieces. Maxi dresses are great for their simplistic silhouettes and chic appeal. Easy, breezy, beautiful...oh, and did I mention it has pockets?! Definitely a winner. In fact, I think this one is coming to brunch with me next weekend. 


Are You Listening?

It's hard to listen when you're always talking. I know that sounds obvious, but how often do we find ourselves in conversation, and while the other person is talking, we're thinking of our own next response? I know I've done that before. A wise person once said that a person cannot learn if they are always talking. Not long ago, I met someone who wished to be mentored; however, they were so concerned about sharing their own experiences and thoughts that they never stopped talking long enough to listen and obtain the wisdom and advice they so deeply craved. Have you ever felt like even though someone said they were listening to you, that they were really only 'hearing' and not truly listening to what you were saying? That's not a person that you want to share your thoughts with, especially when that person is constantly trying to interject their own thoughts and feelings into the conversation all the time. How do we go from just hearing others' words to being a good listener?

There's two types of listening, passive and active. As we've discussed, no one enjoys speaking to a passive listener; they are there, but they're not listening to what's being said. Active listeners are engaged and interested in what is being said, as well as desiring to understand the full message from the communicator. This is the kind of listening that all of us crave and will respond positively to. To become an active listener, here's a few tips:

1. Listen more than you speak
2. Actively engage in the other person's story
3. Look at the person who is speaking
4. Ask for clarification if you don't understand something
5. Keep the focus on the other person
6. Listen beyond the other person's words...what are the implied messages, body language communication, tone of voice...etc.

Think of a couple situations in your own life where you've been a passive listener, and a few where you've been an active listener. Would it make a difference in your life to become a better listener? Let's challenge ourselves today to be actively engaging in our listening to others. It will not only benefit your understanding, but you'll also find that it builds trust in all of your relationships with others.
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