Of Clutter and the Kingdom of Heaven

There is no doubt that we are a capitalist country (USA), in a consumerist culture.  We are constantly bombarded by ads that tell us we need this and that product.  We are then told that to be happy we need to have more.  And when more is not enough, we are told we need better stuff, and then when better isn’t enough, we need more again, and then better and so on and so forth.  Next thing you know, we need storage spaces outside of our houses, because we have outgrown our homes, so we get a storage space.  (Did you know that storage space companies are well and thriving? I’m sure you did.)  Then we think that we have too much stuff because not only have we outgrown our houses but they are overflowing with stuff and clutter, so we hire organizers to help us with parting ways with the stuff we don’t really love, need, or no longer serves us.  (Or we buy books on how to get rid of clutter, either way, I am sure you get my point.)

But, is this really the way Jesus called us to live?  Does Jesus really want us to live in cluttered homes, in a never-ending circle of unhappiness and stuff?  Didn’t He say at some point (and someone please help me with the exact Bible verse) to give up all earthly riches in order to enter the Kingdom of God?  Aren’t we called to be humble?

I am speculating, because I couldn’t find any studies to back this up, but America has to be one of the most cluttered countries.  We are also a self-proclaimed Christian nation.  If this is the case, if we are Christian, then why are we so obsessed with acquiring stuff?  With flaunting what we have (and what we have thanks to debt)?  With impressing our neighbor?  With keeping up with the Joneses?

When did the devil get a chance to ingrain himself in society to such a degree?  That we see it normal and a blessing to be overflowing in things that in the end are nothing but vanities?  When did we, as a Christian nation, put “stuff” first, even above God?

I am trying not to judge, but how many people do you know who would rather go to the shopping mall for 4 hours to spend money acquiring things they don’t really need than to go to church?  How many people do you know would rather shorten Thanksgiving dinner or skip it all together so they can go get that fancy whatever-it-is-they-suddenly-decided-they-needed-thing on black Friday?  How many people are so in debt over stuff they really didn’t need?

Just some thoughts that came to my head as I was organizing my closet, and getting ready to donate clothes I no longer wear and stuff that I bought when I was feeling down and decided that “retail therapy” was the way to go.  (Yes, I am guilty of consumerism, too.)


Being Grateful

In the world we live in, we are constantly bombarded by the idea that a better car, a better house, better clothes, better friends, etc. will bring us happiness.  But not very often do we stop to think to be grateful for what we already have.  Have you ever stopped to thank God for what you do have?  Your health, your job, your friends and family?  And how would being truly thankful for what you do have change your view of the world into one of happiness?

I have recently shared how gratitude and journaling about it has helped me with my depression.  While the change is a work in progress and has had its ups and downs, it certainly has forced me to look at what I do have in my life and to appreciate even the little things, because somedays – and we’ve all had those days – that’s all we seem to have to be thankful for:  the little things.  And on the better days, be sure to stop and smell the roses and everything big you do have, because it is worth noting, too.

Once you start realizing what you do have and are truly thankful for it, it will be easier to eliminate clutter, live simpler, and enjoy more.  While my gratitude journey is far from perfect, I have been able to eliminate some clutter, and enjoy more of what I do have while living simpler.  I have a long way to go, but I can see the difference of where I was versus where I am and where I see myself going.


Who do we worship?

Do we really worship God?  Do we give Him his dues?  Or do we just roll around on Sundays, shut the alarm clocks, sleep “five more minutes” and then realize we are so late for Church and just have breakfast/brunch and watch a rerun on Keeping up with the Kardashians?

I know, it is so tempting to sleep in on Sundays, especially when Mass is offered so early in the USA.*  Especially when it seems to be the only day we can sleep in.  Or when it seems to be the one day we can really rest after spending Saturday catching up with everything else we didn’t do during our busy weekdays.  I know.  I have been there.  I have missed Holy Sunday Day of Obligation because I was so busy just… catching up on some really needed zzzz’s.

But who do we really worship?  It’s one thing to miss Mass one day for whatever reason, and another to miss Mass because we’re binge watching THAT show one Netflix or Keeping up with whomever!

Piggybacking on my post from 6/20/2016Of Clutter and the Kingdom of God, are we really putting God first?  Just a thought to put out there in your mind.  I am not talking about clutter and stuff now.  I am talking about people you put above God.  You know, that TV show you follow.  Or that artist you just can’t get enough of.

Are you putting them above God?  Are you missing Mass, not saying your usual prayers, looking at sinful stuff (yes, I am looking at you, 50 Shades of Grey fans and others) because you just think that Mass is boring?

Just remember that Mass is practice for Heaven.  Can we at least dedicate one hour a week to God?  That’s all He asks from us, and He still doesn’t usually get as much, but those soap operas, oh My Word, we are not missing them.  Oh my Lord.  We are not missing that opportunity to binge watch Game of Thrones (or whatever other show you binge watch)??

Just something to think about.  Most parishes offer several opportunities to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in the Mass several times a weekend (with Saturday Vigil(s) included), and we still somehow just not plan accordingly.

*In Mexico, there used to be Sunday Masses as late as 1800h.


Giving Compliments

One of the most beautiful things we can do for each other is build each other up.  One of the simplest ways to build someone else up is simply to give them a compliment on how they look, how they make you feel, etc.  But there is just simply something wrong with how compliments are sometimes given.

Being facetious

Fret not if you think you are in the receiving end of a facetious compliment.  The problem here lies on the compliment-giver, not the receiver.  As a confident person, simply take the compliment with grace, and move on.  This kind of insincere compliment only makes the giver look bad and speaks of immaturity on their part.  Come on, can we say “mean girls” from high school all over again?

However, if you are the compliment-giver and you are being facetious – a word of caution –  only other immature people will go with it.  The old adage applies here – if you’ve got nothing good to say… don’t say it!  You’re not earning any brownie points by being that way.  This, perhaps worked in middle school and high school, but not anymore.  You’ve grown up.

Tearing yourself down in the process

And I could go on a forever tangent here.  Nothing agitates me more than getting a compliment from someone who is tearing themselves down in the process.  Once recently, and many times before, I have gotten a compliment on how good I look, only to say thank you and have the other person say something along the lines of “and I look like I just grabbed my clothes from the garage sale.” (or something along those lines).  I’ve always been left speechless.  Mostly because I get so angry that I can’t think clearly.

But to you, beautiful lady who tears herself down in the process of complimenting others, please, don’t do it.  Compliment away all you want –  I firmly believe complimenting others is good for your soul, but please don’t tear yourself down in the process.  You may not look or feel like a million bucks that day, but that doesn’t mean you get to bring yourself down.




How to handle compliments

As an image consultant, I like to look the part.  So I dress up with as much style according to my goals.  Because of this, I often get compliments on my outfits and how I look.  It is no secret, either, that I wasn’t always as well dressed, and that I even fell under the sloppy/frumpy category more often than not.  So when I started dressing better, and the compliments started coming in, I never knew how to handle them.  I also noticed that I wasn’t alone.  I often heard other women uncomfortable in their own skin when a compliment came their way.

My initial reaction was one of the blushing girl – nothing wrong with that.  I was lacking self-confidence, and being an introvert, I definitely never drew any attention to myself, so when the attention started coming towards me, I was shy, to say the least.  Thru much blushing, however, I still managed to say thank you, but -and here came a crucial mistake- I started grabbing the compliments and tearing them down.  For example, someone would say to me, “You look really good in that sweater,” and I would say something like “Oh, thanks, this old thing?” or “Thank you, I got it for $5!”

The problem with comments like that is that they only partially accept the compliment, and they speak of a lower self-esteem.  It’s like saying “Thank you, you’re right, I do look good in this sweater, but it’s an old/cheap/ugly/etc. piece of fabric.”  In all honesty, no one, unless they specifically ask, wants to know whether the sweater is 10 years old or if you bought it at the bargain locker.

So, with this in mind, as uncomfortable as it might be, next time you get complimented for your looks or your outfit, simply say thank you with a smile.  There is no need to tear down the compliment.  Simply accept it with as much grace as possible and move on.

first impressions

The resume

Oftentimes, especially in this day and age, the resume really is the first impression you have with a potential employer.

A resume is a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. It is a quick advertisement of who you are. It is a snapshot of you with the intent of emphasizing interests and secure you a job interview.  A resume is not an autobiography, and should ideally be one-page long.

A resume should be tailored to your professional goals.  It is not uncommon for serious job-seekers to have a resume with 2 or 3 variations according to the job they are applying for.  Since it is a snapshot of you and a quick advertisement of who you are, it is necessary to make sure it is accurate, carefully written, and critiqued.  It should look good, but it should also be scannable.

In the “look good” department, there are many  templates you can get.  Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and similar word processing programs often come with resume templates you can use.  Similarly, you can buy templates from different websites, work with a graphic designer on creating one, or even buy one from Etsy.  Make sure, however, that the design is in line with the job you want.

Making your resume scannable is very important in this day and age.  Many employers don’t necessarily look at printed resumes anymore, and simply scan the resumes for keywords.  Be familiar with the keywords for your field, and especially familiar with the keywords for your desired job position.  Make sure, however, that they are in line with your experience, and that your resume looks good in every other way, because once your resume is picked for having the right keywords, it will undergo the same scrutiny as in the olden days before computers and keywords.

If you do get an interview, it is customary to have a printed resume ready to hand over to the employer.  In this day and age, too, it is becoming more and more common to simply hand over an electronic copy of your resume.  This can oftentimes be e-mailed in advance, though sometimes, it may be required to hand it over in a thumb drive or memory stick.  For electronic delivery of your resume, pay close attention to what format they want it delivered in (.docx, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, etc).


So, what does an image consultant do?

An image consultant does a wide range of things concerning image, according to a person’s own goals concerning the image they want to project to the rest of the world.  As an image consultant, I hate to admit it, it really is the clothes that make the man, and attract the best possibilities.

Image consultants work in a variety of settings, from freelance to employed by small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.  Their specializations range from personal styling to body image consulting to corporate branding and everything in between.

The most common things he or she can do at a personal level are:

  1. Make-over  Who hasn’t needed a makeover or an updating in style?  Looking outdated just doesn’t help the cause. The make over consultation may include hair and make-up, skin care, and maybe even a fitness and nutrition plan.
  2. Wardrobe consultation  Ever had that one blouse you really loved and you wore until you literally wore it out?  Ever had those shoes that were so cute and ran to the ground?  Ever got dressed in something that didn’t quite feel right?  A wardrobe consultation is a session in which one gets advice on what wardrobe items to keep and which ones to throw away or donate.  It also includes education on what styles and cuts fit your body type and personal style as well as the functional goals.
  3. Personal shopping – Ever gone shopping and hated it because it feels as if nothing fits?  Personal shopping is one on one shopping counseling.  You go shopping with your image consultant.  According to your goals and style, he or she may have already picked out a few shops and boutiques that fit the bill, and work with you to learn what goes and what doesn’t.
  4. Personal dating profile makeover – Ever had a dating profile that didn’t really attract anyone?  Or maybe it attracted people all right, but they were the wrong kind of crowd?  A personal dating profile makeover is help with a mini makeover to potentially attract better and higher quality dates.  Some image consultants may include dating do’s and don’t’s, dining etiquette, and coffee etiquette.
  5. Job hunting – An image consultant may offer resume consulting, job interview skills and mock-ups consulting, proper attire consulting, and realistic job hunting goal-setting (because “finding any job” just doesn’t usually cut it).

Hope this helps!

first impressions

Dressing for the job interview

A good first impression is often the opportunity you need to open a door to the job you have wanted.  It’s not a secret, that you have to look your best for a job interview.  As if knowledge of your field and confidence in what you have to offer the company weren’t enough, you have to make sure that you don’t look sloppy, that you appear to take care of yourself and, well, we all know about that old adage of the interview suit and making sure everything from hair to toes looks well.

A well-tailored suit will be your best friend and easiest choice for the interview.  Make sure it is structured and fits right.  This is not the time to be vane and buy a suit that’s too small because the number in the size tag isn’t what you normally wear.  This is also not the time to be super-cheap (interviewers can usually tell the difference between a super cheap suit and a super expensive one, but more on this later).  Don’t be afraid to take it to a tailor to take in hems and make sure they fall in the right places.  If you choose a dress or a skirt, make sure it is not too short.  A pair of pumps will do the trick for a woman, and a pair of laced shoes (not tennis shoes) will suffice for a man.  The safest bets for colors of the suit are your dark neutrals, such as black, navy blue, and dark gray.

As a woman, your make-up should be mostly neutral (you don’t want to over-do it), and your hair should be conservative, but in line with who you are.

As for the price tag of your suit:  You don’t want to go to Wal-Mart or the equivalent to buy a suit or separates for a suit, because interviewers can usually tell by the fabric and the lack of lining and structure.  This will probably not help your case.  Remember that you want to dress for the job you want.  The job you want is probably one where you can afford better clothes.  (Not to mention that your wardrobe should be about quality, not quantity.)  You don’t want to buy an Armani suit either, unless you can afford to dress in Armani and the likes everyday.

There is no doubt that America is dressing down for work.  In many fields, especially IT, where my main experience lies, business casual and jeans are not uncommon dress code for everyday work.  However, as it has been my experience with interviewers I have worked with, part of the judging will undoubtedly be on that first impression and it includes dressing well.  It can be the deciding factor in hiring between to equally qualified candidates.