What My Email Inbox Reveals About Me

070103_pre-web-emailIn the past, you could learn a lot about a girl by looking through the contents of her purse. However, as we become increasingly glued to our iPhones and computers, we can learn even more about one another electronically: through social media profiles, texts, most recently used emojis and especially the inbox of your personal email account.

This week, we’ll go behind the scenes of my own collection of emails — all the empty gum packets, crumpled receipts and loose coins that metaphorically comprise my inbox. Get ready to learn a whole lot about me! :)

  • I’m connected to Nigerian royalty.
    I know what you’re about to say. “But Val, that’s impossible! Nigeria is a presidential republic, not a monarchy!” That’s where you’re wrong. For years, I’ve received emails from Nigerian princes, begging me for my banking information so they can finally send me their fortune. I must have done something really philanthropic in a previous life, because my e-benefactors keep promising to give back in a big way. (I also have quite a few contacts in India who have offered me large sums of money in return for minor personal details, like my address and social security number.)
  • I have an extreme and very eclectic shopping addiction.
    This is the only explanation I have for the countless emails I receive from local and national retailers: clothing stores, home goods stores, chocolatiers, wine supermarkets, even Israeli cell phone carriers. In fact, my personal account receives more emails from these companies than from friends and relatives. What can I tell you? I’m addicted to the discounts!
  • Someone is looking at my profile on an Indian dating site.
    Never mind that I’m not Indian and I already have a boyfriend. I’m assuming my wealthy friends overseas (the ones who want to give me money; see above) set up the profile for me as a token of their gratitude. Very sweet of them!
  • Someone has just commented on my blog.
    It might just be a spam bot diet pill company like last time, but hey – it’s the thought that counts!
  • All the clubs I joined in college are still active.
    I never unsubscribed from their email lists, so the fun never ends.
  • When I was in middle school, I wrote fanfiction.
    Really, really bad fanfiction. Apparently, ten years later, people are still reading it.
  • I have severely offended a “nutritional supplement” company.
    Or rather, they believe they have offended me. Every few months, I receive the same exact email with the subject line “I’m SORRY” followed by a whole lot of groveling because I still haven’t clicked through their website to make a purchase. I’m not sure how I keep winding up on their list, but I have to admire their sketchy persistence.
  • My mom sends me really funny articles and videos.
    Unfortunately, they get buried in my inbox underneath all these junk emails!

Am I leaving anything out? What does your email inbox say about you?

Link Love Wednesday: Draco Malfoy & Shane at Walmart

Courtesy of HelloGiggles.com

Courtesy of HelloGiggles.com

It’s that time of the week again! You know, that time when I post interesting, funny and sometimes bizarre articles from around the web for a very eclectic link roundup. Get ready for this week’s Link Love and share your own favorites in the comments section below!

Any fantastic articles you’ve come across lately? Drop a note in the comments section or share your favorite posts that you’ve published!

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up TogetherA pop culture junkie through and through, I can’t help but have some strong opinions about the television shows I have watched over the years. From universally hated finales to unhealthy relationship pairings, even our favorite TV shows will disappoint us from time to time.

This week, we’ll talk about the ones that got away – the TV couples who should have been together when the series ended. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

1. Dan and Blair (Gossip Girl)
Throughout Gossip Girl, both Dan and Blair experience their share of relationships. The Upper East Side’s Queen B begins the series in a long-term relationship with golden boy Nate Archibald, falls into an emotional on/off affair with bad boy Chuck Bass over several seasons, and even marries the Prince of Monaco. Dan, a writer and outsider from Brooklyn, falls for socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Blair’s sometimes-best friend), briefly dates Hilary Duff and begins to raise a child he soon learns is not his. Let’s face it: these characters have a lot going on.

At the start of the series, Dan and Blair come from very different worlds and have nothing but disdain for one another, but as the seasons wear on, we learn that the two actually have a lot of common interests and chemistry of their own. They form a very close friendship that eventually evolves into a brief relationship, but the writers quickly force a breakup because the two characters were never supposed to be endgame material. Blair ends up with the emotionally and physically abusive Chuck (who once traded her for a hotel), while Dan ends up with the aimless Serena. Moral of the show? Shared interests and the ability to have real conversations with another person are nothing compared to rocky relationships with emotionally unavailable people! (“Dair” was pretty great while it lasted, though, and it definitely made the show a lot more interesting.)

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2. Shawn and Angela (Boy Meets World)
Many of us grew up watching Boy Meets World and wanting the idyllic Cory/Topanga relationship, but to me, the more interesting couple was always Shawn and Angela. Shawn, Cory’s best friend, had a rough family life and difficulty staying in a relationship longer than two weeks. Angela was the first girl he really committed to, dating in high school and college, and his character grew a lot during that relationship. They part ways when she leaves for Europe to be closer to her father (which is a valid reason to leave), but the couple never really gets closure.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together3. Rory and Jess (Gilmore Girls)
First, let me just say that I hated Rory’s Yale boyfriend, Logan. To me, he never really came off as a fantastic boyfriend, and I was happy to see that she breaks things off at the end of the series and leaves for her dream job (a positive portrayal of a young woman who temporarily chooses career over relationship). However, if Rory was meant to be with anyone, it was always Jess, Luke’s nephew. Although a troublemaker who doesn’t always know how to be the best boyfriend, Jess grows in his relationship with Rory and (much like Dan and Blair of Gossip Girl) the two have some very real shared interests. Both experience their highs and lows over the next few seasons, but Jess ultimately grows up, achieves some of his goals and becomes a better version of himself. In some ways, he and Rory are at a much more similar point in their lives by the end of the series. I’d like to think that after Rory fulfills her dream to work with Christiane Amanpour and Jess publishes his next novel, the two settle down and live a happy, drama-free life together.

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4. Jackie and Hyde (That 70’s Show)
I know that everyone is looking back nostalgically at Jackie (Mila Kunis) and Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) because of the actors’ real life engagement/pregnancy, but I always preferred the pairing of Jackie and Hyde. Although an unlikely pair, the two characters work well together on the show and develop considerably throughout the relationship. Things go downhill when Jackie demands an engagement and Hyde marries a stripper, but with the way the show was written, it all felt like a wild misunderstanding that would eventually be resolved. However, the writers never seemed to explore the relationship again, instead bringing Jackie and Fez together in a final season that felt a lot more like fanfiction than the actual show.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together5. Ted and Tracy (How I Met Your Mother)
Yes, readers, I am still mourning this devastating loss! The show How I Met Your Mother, in which Future Ted tells his teenage kids about how he met their mom, opens with the story of how Ted met Robin, a woman he immediately thought was the love of his life. We quickly learn that she is not their mother. Ted and Robin date for a few seasons, but have some fundamental differences that would affect marriage and children in the future, so they eventually split. Over time, we realize that Robin truly is not The One for Ted, and he finally lets her go right before she marries his close friend, Barney. At the wedding, Ted meets the bass player, Tracy, and immediately falls for her. During their conversations, we quickly see how perfect they are for one another – their pronunciations of “Renaissance,” their dorky shared interests, the many ways they unknowingly crossed paths over the years.

The writers do a great job of convincing us that Tracy is Ted’s soul mate, the one who made nine seasons of heartbreak all worth it. Then, after the characters meet, Future Ted reveals that Tracy died and that he’s in love with (now divorced) Robin again. The entire episode felt like a slap in the face and like complete regression of his character (and possibly an April Fool’s joke), but the writers stuck to the ending they had planned years earlier, ultimately disappointing their fans. After all Ted has been through, he deserves his happy ending with Tracy!

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What are some TV couples you think should have ended up together? Do you agree/disagree with any of the above?

Link Love Thursday: Don’t Call Me “Bae”

Batman-Dick-GraysonHope everyone is having a fantastic week! Summer officially begins on Saturday, so I’m excited to log some more days by the pool on the rare occurrence that it’s not raining in Florida. How are you spending your summer? You can start with a peek at this week’s Link Love, and post your own favorite findings in the comments section below!

What are some of your favorite articles from the last few weeks?

The Role of Women in Romantic Comedies

sandrabullockIt has become a widely accepted fact that the plots of romantic comedies are just not realistic (for further proof, see here and here). Growing up with the now often-parodied teen flicks of the 90s and early 2000s, I can attest to the fact that the movies I watched when I was younger played a huge role in the misconceptions that I and so many of my peers had when it came to relationships. If a guy treats you poorly, he likes you. If you argue a lot with another person, it means you have chemistry. And if all else fails, you’ll probably just wind up with your best friend anyway.

I think we can agree that these misconceptions are harmful, but until recently, I didn’t stop to think just how harmful their portrayals of women could be. Most female characters fall into two categories: desperate to fall in love and get married (think of Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You), or too career-driven to ever want or attract a man (Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality or perhaps any other movie she has ever been in). Let’s call this second character Jane.

No-Strings-Attached_240These movies do an incredible disservice to Jane and characters like her because they paint them as cold, out of touch and clearly Missing Something. In fact, there is usually a best friend character prone to “messy” relationships who summarizes this sentiment early in the film by stating that Jane is so set in her ways and afraid of getting hurt that she risks finding true happiness. Also, would it kill her to put on a little more makeup and wear her hair down once in a while?

Never mind the fact that Jane loves what she does for a living and is well suited for it. Pop culture tells us that the woman who focuses “too much” on her career is simply doing so to distract herself from finding a soul mate. Only when she lets her hair down (literally and figuratively) and demonstrates some form of vulnerability, perhaps by crying or getting drunk in front of the male love interest, does she open herself up to a happy life. Only then does she truly become the character we like and root for. After all, what man would want to be with a woman who enjoys her job?

In real life, there are gradients between these extremes. Women who love their careers and enjoy being in a relationship do exist. In addition, there are plenty of men who like independent women. Why do we have to box ourselves into these two very limited categories? (And for the women who don’t ever visualize themselves in a relationship, who are we to judge?)

ginnifer-goodwin-purple-nails-he's-just-not-that-into-you-nubar-pasadena-purpleWe value a woman’s willingness to be in a relationship as a trait to be valued, but not her independence. In the movies, Jane’s “independence” is clearly just a wall she put up after someone hurt her, a wall that is meant to be broken down by the male lead. (Jane’s best friend or love interest in the film may actually use the whole “wall” metaphor in a big speech that makes her realize just how closed off she has been the entire time.)

If a woman rejects a man or decides to put her career first, pop culture labels her as cold. (Tweet this!) What the movies – and the people who watch them! – fail to think about is the fact that we all have different priorities at different points in our lives, and while a woman may hope to marry and have babies someday, she might not be ready for that stage.

There are a few exceptions to the romantic comedy genre that don’t posit relationships and careers as an either/or for women, but all too often, pop culture dictates that we must choose (and that “career” is the wrong choice). Society – and women especially – need to remember that these options are not mutually exclusive, and that they can have both.

The Freshman 15: How to Shine at Your Summer Internship

freshman15-internshipWith the June solstice just days away, many of us are already feeling the heat of summer. From beach days to lighter class schedules, summer can be the perfect time to soak in the sun and relax before life resumes its craziness in the fall. However, for many, summer can also be a great time for college students to gain real world experience (and earn extra cash!) through job shadowing and internships.

During the summer before my senior year, I interned part-time at a public relations agency, which allowed me to fulfill the role of an entry level employee while learning a lot about my craft and adding new writing samples to my portfolio. Throughout college, I participated in three other internships as well, each building on the skills I acquired during the previous one.

The people you meet at your internships will serve as important contacts throughout your career, and the experiences you have (both positive and negative) will guide you in your professional life later on. Because of this, it is important to give each internship your all, and learn how to stand out in the best way possible! This month, we’ll discuss 15 tips you can bring along to any internship you pursue.

The Freshman 15: How to Shine at Your Summer Internship

1. Dress the part!
I’ve talked about this time and time again, but the way you present yourself plays a huge role in how you are perceived. When I worked part-time in Career Services, I was amazed at what some of the students wore to job fairs – skirts that were too short, clothes that were too see-through (hint: anything see-through is too see-through!), outfits that were about three levels too casual. If it’s something you would wear to a club, it’s probably not something you should wear in an office environment. If your office allows casual clothes from time to time, follow the lead of the other employees, and if you are allowed to wear jeans to work, at least make sure they don’t have holes or tons of embellishments. As an intern, you are likely younger than most (if not all) of the people in the office, but if you dress that way, you probably won’t be taken as seriously regardless of the quality of your work.

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Alice-White-Rabbit_l2. Arrive early.
When I was a cheerleader in high school and our coaches scheduled practices, they always stressed that early was “on time,” and “on time” was late. In other words, arriving at least a few minutes early was the expectation, not the exception. This can apply to your professional life as well. Showing up a little early demonstrates that you care about the job at hand and that you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort.

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3. Do your research.
You may receive a formal introduction to the company when you arrive on Day One, or your internship coordinator may throw you an assignment right away. I’ve experienced a mix of both throughout my internships, and the best way to handle it is to prepare yourself ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with the company by visiting its website and social media pages, as well as any relevant news articles about them. This will make things less overwhelming as you adapt to a new environment, and will allow you to ask more specific questions and have better conversations with the full-time staff. It also shows that you have dedicated time outside of the office to learn about the company and that you care about what you are doing.

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4. Keep copies of everything.
Because my internships involved a lot of writing opportunities, I was able to keep physical and electronic copies of my press releases, pitch letters and published articles for my own records. As long as your work is not confidential, make sure you collect copies of everything you do so that you can refer back to them later on. Future internships and employers may want to see samples of previous work, so you will be able to present those much more easily if you already have them (instead of scrambling to ask former internship employers to email them your way). When I interviewed for my full-time job after college, I was able to provide a portfolio of past work that I can now refer back to if I need inspiration for current writing assignments. I can also look back at those pieces and see how much my writing has improved over time!

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5. Ask others what you can expect.
If you have a friend or classmate who has interned with this company in the past, ask them about their experiences! Your peers can be your best resources, and chances are, they will be happy to share. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture this way, which plays a huge role in how comfortable you feel in the workplace and whether or not you see a future there. Conversely, I have returned the favor and  answered questions for friends pursuing internships and full-time employment at some of the places I have worked, and it has been rewarding to do so. If you don’t know anyone who has interned there, see if your friends know anyone who has, and request introductions through LinkedIn or in some other way. You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to help one another. If the company is big enough, you may also be able to read reviews by employees on sites like Glassdoor.

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tumblr_inline_n6cjumawXi1qlr65v6. Take notes.
Take notes on everything – what you did each day, what feedback you received from your employer, what assignments you have received for the next week. These notes will help you perform your job better, but they will also help you remember some of the seemingly minor day-to-day tasks you fulfilled as well. You may wonder why those could be important, but in future semesters, you may come across another internship or job that requires that experience, and you’ll be able to include it on a more targeted resume. For more of my tips for a winning resume, click here.

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7. Do not badmouth the employer.
Even if your experience is less than ideal, you don’t want to burn bridges with potential contacts. Don’t post that your internship “sucks” on Facebook or say negative things about specific people through social media. In person, be careful what you say as well – you never know who knows somebody who knows somebody else, and regardless of all that, you don’t want to be regarded as the difficult person to work with. I don’t care how “private” your social media is; once you publish something on the Internet, it is never really gone.

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Studio Portrait of the Village People8. Take on new roles that are slightly outside of your comfort zone.
An internship is a learning experience, so you have to make the most of it! If the employer believes in you enough to entrust you with a task that you’ve never done before, then you need to believe in yourself enough to do it! Ask questions and do some research along the way, but allow yourself to try new things and learn from them. There is a first time for everything, and even in my current role, I find myself doing things I didn’t think I was capable of doing. On my first day at one of my internships, I was asked to work the teleprompter for a local talk show, even though I wasn’t interning in television. I was apprehensive about being allowed anywhere near all of that expensive equipment, but now I can say I’ve mastered the art of the teleprompter! Learn as much as you can every day, and you will get so much more out of your internship. (Tweet this!) It will also show the employer your versatility, and you may be asked to return for another semester.

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9. Be willing to take criticism.
We love to be showered with praise, but realistically, this isn’t how we grow in our professions. When you receive constructive criticism, take it. It can be hard to hear, especially in the beginning when you are still adjusting to a new work climate, but it is the only way you’ll get better at what you do. Don’t be overly defensive or sensitive – it’s (probably) not personal.

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messy-desk110. Maintain a neat workspace.
This may sound silly, but when your desk is reasonably organized, people automatically assume you’re a reasonably organized person and worker as well. You could be the best intern the company has ever had, but if your cubicle looks like a tornado has gone through it, other employees may make negative judgments. Keep your space neat and take pride in it, especially if you share that space with someone else.

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11. Accept tasks with a smile.
Be positive and don’t let yourself be “too big” for a task. While your internship should not consist solely of brewing coffee and taking down phone messages, realize that sometimes you may be expected to do those things. Be a team player. If you find that you aren’t doing a lot of what you signed up for, talk to your internship coordinator politely. Don’t complain – instead, tell him or her about your interest in a specific project or work function, and ask if you would be able to assist with that. Communicating with your boss instead of rolling your eyes or complaining to your mom via text will be much more productive and will allow you to actually change things.

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12. Get to know others on staff.
You may be a marketing major who is interning in the company’s marketing department, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to know people in human resources, information technology or other departments. Meet as many people as you can, and have real conversations with them about what they do in their role and how they got to where they are today. Show the initiative. You may learn that you enjoy another aspect of the company or simply that you’ve found a new mentor.

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love-exclamations13. Learn proper email etiquette.
Even in a professional setting, I still receive the occasional email written in all caps! Proofread before sending an email, especially company-wide. “Reply all” if multiple people are included on an email. Make sure you’ve attached whatever you need to attach before hitting “send.” Sometimes I like to write the email in its entirety before adding the recipients so that I can avoid sending the email too early. And of course, spell out full words – no “netspeak” that the older generations are always complaining about! It makes our generation look lazy. :)

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14. Make the experience your own.
Keep the lines of communication open. If there is something you would like to be doing at this internship and haven’t been able to do so far, just ask. The worst thing that can happen is that your internship coordinator says no, but then that leaves you right where you started. By asking the right questions, I ended up with so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise: I received on-air media training, I helped coordinate a press conference at a missile museum, I sat in on a radio interview and even transcribed a speech for Bill Clinton (and wrote an article about it). The people at your internship know that you are there to learn, so chances are, they will be open to personalizing the experience for you if you put forth the effort.

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15. Keep in touch.
With the invention of email and social media, there is no excuse not to stay in touch with employers after the internship experience is over. One of my biggest regrets from college was not doing a better job of keeping up with some employers once the new semester began, and it is the greatest wisdom I can pass on to you. Chances are, you are not going to find a job through a job listing when you graduate – you will probably instead find that job through the contacts you make along the way. Even if the company you interned for isn’t hiring when you graduate, they may be able to pass your information over to someone else in the industry who is. They can serve as references and role models as you pursue your career further, so send them an email every now and then to see what they are up to.

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For those pursuing internships this summer and in upcoming semesters, best of luck! Internships can be some of the most rewarding experiences you have in college, and you will be able to apply the lessons you’ve learned in the classroom. For more of my tips on how to stand out professionally while you’re in college, click here.

The Seven Deadly Sins of College Life

sevendeadlysinscollegeNow that freshman orientation sessions are in full bloom, it’s time to start thinking about your first year in college. It can be tricky to navigate those first few semesters of your undergraduate career, but with the right tools and resources, you can still succeed both academically and personally.

As you prepare for a new life on campus, keep these “deadly sins” in mind, and be sure to avoid them at all costs!

The Seven Deadly Sins of College Life

1. Lust.
Whether you’re new to the dating world or you just ended things with your high school sweetheart, it is easy to fall prey to this first vice. Unless you attend a religious school, you’ll most likely have more dating freedom than ever before when you first set foot on campus. You should take advantage of that freedom… to an extent. Meet new people, but don’t date every guy who lives in your dorm building just for the convenience or excitement factor. Remember that college is also a time to form other important relationships, like lasting friendships and mentorships. (For tips on how to survive your college relationships, visit my Freshman 15 post here.)

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2. Gluttony.
Once you’ve moved into the dorms, you will be exposed to more free junk food than you’ve possibly ever seen in your life. If you’re not careful, pizza can and will become a staple in your diet, as it seems to be served at most campus events and nearly every day in the dining halls. With more access to unhealthy food than you know what to do with, you may experience weight gain or other unwanted health issues. Allow yourself to indulge every now and then, but make sure you still get your fruits and vegetables, too!

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3. Greed.
If you decide to live in the dorms, chances are you will have a roommate. Regardless of your floor plan, you will need to learn to share your spaces effectively. Don’t be greedy and allow your belongings to take up the entire dorm room! Instead, talk to your roommate about those shared spaces so that you can coexist peacefully. (For other ideas on topics to discuss with roommates before move-in, click here.)

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No, not THAT kind of sloth!

No, not THAT kind of sloth!

4. Sloth.
Don’t let yourself get lazy in college! This often happens because of the freedom college allows students to choose their own class times and be accountable for their own work. Your class might not take attendance, but you will still see repercussions if you decide not to show up. You may have the ability to take all of your classes after noon, but if you run the risk of sleeping in even later and losing productivity time, is it really worth it? Without your parents or guardians around to wake you up for school or urge you to finish your homework, you have to push yourself to do these things on your own. Set alarms. Make lists. Learn how to manage your time effectively. These things will not only help you succeed in college, but they will also benefit you long after graduation.

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5. Wrath.
Because of all the changes you will experience in college, you may be dealing with a lot of emotions. You also might have trouble coping with difficult situations because you are still getting used to a new support system and environment. However, it’s important not to take these things out on the people in your life. Learn how to control your emotions and find what makes you happy when you’re struggling the most. When in doubt, visit an advisor or your university’s counseling center for a shoulder to lean on. These resources can truly make all the difference when you need a nudge in the right direction.

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6. Envy.
While you’re in school, you’ll likely meet a few people who seem to Have It All. These people seem to be in perfect relationships, are super involved on campus, win every award known to man, have more friends than they know what to do with and seem to be Better Than You in Every Way. I certainly knew a few people like this when I was in college, and it’s easy to become jealous. Of course, you’ll realize in time that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of their own, and that no one is living the perfect life. The best way to stop envying others for the lives they are living is to create the life you want for yourself. Get involved in the activities that interest you. Volunteer. Make new friends. Immerse yourself in your major. Figure out what will make you happy, and do that instead of dwelling on how much happier everyone else is. Your happiness will soon follow.

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7. Pride.
Admit your shortcomings and accept help from others. Early on in college, I knew quite a few people who felt they could do everything on their own, even when they couldn’t.  Although they struggled in some of their classes, they felt they were too smart to attend tutoring sessions or visit the professor during office hours. Their grades suffered because of this. I don’t know why our society raises us to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but you have to let go of that notion from the moment you start taking college classes. Don’t be “too smart” for your own good.

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If you could add an eighth deadly sin for college life, what would it be? Add your own in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends in History

henryred2When it comes to the world of dating, times have changed. From defining the relationship to breaking up on social media, our generation has definitely evolved in the way we look at love and heartbreak. We look back on the past as a simpler, more ideal time, when people went on dates before “going steady” and then marrying young. However, when we take another look back at relationships throughout history, we soon realize that things weren’t always hunky dory. When I think about some of these relationships, I am thankful I was born when I was, because for every awkward Facebook breakup today, there was at least one horrible king who beheaded his wife and moved on to the next.

We’ve talked about the worst boyfriends on TV and in literature (as well as the worst girlfriends on TV and in literature), so today it is time to take a little trip back in time for one of the most awkward history lessons you will ever encounter on this blog. Behold – history’s worst boyfriends!

I guarantee these men are much, much worse than even your most despised ex-boyfriend, or your money back. :)

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends in History

1. King Henry VIII. For those who have read The Other Boleyn Girl, you may recall that Henry Tudor left his wife (the beloved Catherine of Aragon and mother of his first child) for Anne Boleyn, whom he later executed. But did you know that the English king went through four other marriages after that? One of those wives died in childbirth, but two of those marriages were annulled, one of which ended in the woman’s execution. Henry started his own religion just so he could get a divorce. If that isn’t a commitment-phobe, I don’t know what is.

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2. Ivan the Terrible. First of all, if the word “terrible” is regularly used to describe a man, is he really someone you want to be dating? Look at your life. Look at your choices. When he grew tired of his wives, he sent them off to the convent or worse, killed them. He also murdered his son and beat his pregnant daughter-in-law (leading to a miscarriage). Aside from some of the truly terrible things he is remembered for throughout history, let’s not forget his anger problems and untreated mental illnesses.

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imagesCA42RWO63. Rasputin. Pop culture might deem him “Russia’s greatest love machine,” but faith healer/mystic Gregori Rasputin would make a pretty controlling, manipulative significant other. By treating the Tsar’s youngest child, Alexei, Rasputin gained the trust of the Tsarina and had a huge influence on governmental affairs, leading to the downfall of the Russian monarchy. In modern day, Rasputin is that scraggly guy who finally wore you down for a date and ultimately became your boyfriend for five years, until you found out he was stealing your money the entire time.

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4. Emperor Nero. This Russian ruler was another monarch with a love for executions, including matricide. Not only did he kill his own mother (with whom he had a sexual relationship…ew), but he poisoned his stepbrother and kicked his pregnant second wife, resulting in her death. He also probably started the Great Fire of Rome.

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5. Vlad the Impaler. This is another classic example of why someone’s name might be a great reason to deter you from them. If you aren’t familiar with Vlad the Impaler, then you may have heard of him by another name: Dracula. Vlad the Impaler had a bloody reign, killing many perceived “traitors,” whether or not they had actually done anything to cause suspicion, and supposedly burned beggars after he allowed them to eat free food. If you do decide to begin a relationship with someone called “The Impaler,” you should be careful not to piss that person off!

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Who would you consider some of the worst boyfriends in history? Share your own thoughts in the comments section below!

Link Love THURSDAY: Terrible Real Estate, Frozen and Social Media Pre-Nups

6097da4d58773b2814cef7fea44965eeGood evening, readers, and happy June! How have you decided to start your month? I kicked off June with my third Whole 30 (because I am clearly insane!) and by participating in the 100 Happy Days challenge. For the next 100 days, I will photograph something that makes me happy – and I encourage you to do the same! If you’d like to see my progress (I’m on Day 4 so far), feel free to follow my Instagram!

Plenty of interesting/strange news has also come with the new month, so allow me to share this week’s batch of link love with you!

What links have you come across this week?

Dinner Table Etiquette: How to Talk to Someone With Dietary Restrictions

480845_601090163258974_1110035571_nFor the past few months, I have experimented with an elimination diet. Alternating between the strict Whole 30 program and a more relaxed, mostly clean eating lifestyle, I have learned a lot about myself and my reactions to certain foods. (As an added bonus, I experienced weight loss, increased energy levels, improved mood and the best skin of my life!)

During that time, I have discovered that no two people are exactly alike when it comes to what works best for them and what kind of diet/routine they can most realistically stick with. However, the more ingrained I become in my healthy new lifestyle, the more I have been met with skepticism and some very strange faux-concern, and the more that I have learned just how judgmental our society is regarding food and dietary restrictions.

I suppose I had witnessed some of this before, but never firsthand. When a vegetarian or vegan discusses his or her choice to stop eating meat or animal byproducts, naysayers are always quick to say, “That isn’t healthy at all! What about all those nutrients you are missing out on?” (The best part is when someone says this while eating something undeniably processed or bad for you, like a bag of Cheetos.) When someone mentions a gluten intolerance, we dismiss what might be a very real sensitivity for them as simply a fad diet. If a person’s choice in cuisine is different from our own, we lunge at the opportunity to correct him or her, regardless of how informed we really are.

Cartoon_--_crouton_makes_saladBack in February, I embarked on my first Whole 30. For the next 30 days, I eliminated gluten, added sugars, legumes, dairy and various processed foods. Since then, I have completed my second Whole 30 and am currently on Day 3 of my third. When I am not on the program, I occasionally add in some of the above foods in moderation, but find I have less of a craving for them and now am aware of which ones have had negative effects on me. While several people were skeptical (“What can you eat during this program?!?!?”) and it has certainly been a challenge (I love me some simple carbs), the program was actually quite similar to what my doctor had been suggesting to me for years.

And yet, we are quick to dismiss someone’s dietary restrictions or lifestyle because it doesn’t fit into our own nutritional ideals. Why? To me, the only other people whose opinions matter on this subject are my doctors and, to an extent, my parents. Aside from a few basic standards – fruits and vegetables are healthier than Dorito’s, for example – there are many points in nutrition and weight loss where people (especially non-professionals) are going to disagree. “Is paleo the way to go, or should I go on Weight Watchers?” “Should I weigh myself every day, or throw out my scale?” “Are grains really the enemy?” The trouble is, we each have different bodies, minds and relationships with food. Therefore, can we really all fit into one box? Should we?

2161-300x300When you meet someone whose dietary preferences or restrictions aren’t the same as yours, listen and be respectful. (Tweet this!) Ask questions if you wish to learn more, but don’t try to pressure another person into something just because you think it is the right way. (Of course, if a friend or family member is consuming dangerously too few calories or exhibiting signs of an eating disorder, you may want to step in. Again, be kind and check your judgment at the door – food and body image are very difficult and emotional issues for many people.)

I truly believe the Whole 30 has changed my life for the better, and will happily talk to friends who are curious about the program or about the less restrictive changes I’ve made. However, I don’t believe in pushing my views on somebody else. I know several vegans/vegetarians, people who keep Kosher, people who avoid gluten, people who count calories, people who want to lose weight and people who want to gain weight, and I believe that different bodies and minds will benefit from different routines. Aside from a few basic principles, there really is no one size fits all, so let’s not offer unsolicited advice that may not work as well for someone else as it does for us.

In short, be kind and don’t dismiss others. Isn’t that how we should be living our lives anyway? :-)