Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Introducing: Treat Yo Self Tuesday

I really enjoy Parks & Rec (it's definitely one of my favorite shows).
And, while I don't agree with much of anything
Tom Haverford (played by Aziz Ansari) does/says,
there is one lesson that I have learned from this character:

As Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle (played by Retta) would put it…
 Or, more simply put:
Do nice things for yourself.

You don't have to do these things all the time, and they doesn't always mean buying yourself some crazy fancy new things. Sure, things are nice But the goal here isn't to put yourself into debt while you "treat yo self." Seriously, there's nothing wrong with making your treat a simple Starbucks splurge. 
While Tom and Donna take one day out of the year to splurge on every possible whim, you don't even need to spend money a ton of money. If you're able to, eat lunch outside one day to get out of the office. Talk a walk. Go for a run. Get ahead on work or chores, to give yourself extra downtime later. Read. Listen to music. Watch a movie. Cook yourself a meal. If you don't like cooking, try a new restaurant. Take a class. Go on a trip. Grab a drink with friends. Take a long shower/bath. Meditate.
This could really entail just about anything.
Think of it as the same way as someone into fitness thinks of a cheat meal.
This is something that is an occasional treat, that helps motivate you
and keep you on track the rest of the time.
It can be a big mood boost, and help you stay positive the rest of the day.
Every now and then, everyone needs it.

Whether it's doing something small for yourself daily or weekly, that costs little/no
money, or planning something to do in the future that may take a little more effort…
At least once in a while, do something nice for yourself.

Today I took time for yoga, meditation and light reading.
What will you do (or have you done) for yourself today?

As always, send your thoughts to:

Remember...treat yo self!
xxxx Alyssa Marie

Monday, September 29, 2014

Money Monday: The More You Know

As I've fallen into the grown-up "financial trap" (the world of paying bills and taxes), I've been fortunate to have a little guidance along the way. I will admit, though, that I didn't start learning about more significant aspects until after I turned 23. And, trust me, this is good stuff to know. 

"Money Monday" will be a regular addition to the site going forward, in the spirit of encouraging awareness on the topic. From sharing money-saving tips to spotlighting the not-so-basic terms, I'll offer the things I've learned along the way. In light of this being the first edition, there are a few definitions of various terms below.

I'm always open to ideas and suggestions, so feel free to email your thoughts to:

Happy Monday!
xxxx Alyssa Marie
  • Traditional IRAs:  A Traditional IRA (short for "Traditional Individual Retirement Account") enables you to put away money for retirement, without getting taxed on it until it's withdrawn. Traditional IRAs help you to grow your money much faster (since none of your dividends, interest payments, or capital gains will be taxed). 
  • ROTH IRAs:  The biggest difference between "Traditional" and "Roth" is that the contributions to a Roth IRA are tax deductible. A qualified withdrawal (stipulations include being age 59 ½ and having had the account for at least five years), including earnings, from a Roth won’t get taxed because it already has been. Roth is a tax-exempt plan, versus a tax-deferred savings plan (Traditional IRAs).
  • 401(K) A 401(K) is an employee-sponsored retirement plan. Basically, money comes out from your paycheck (before taxes) and is invested in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Most companies usually offer a 401(K) plan and many also offer to match whatever the employee puts in it (i.e. if 5% of your yearly income goes into your 401(K), your employer will contribute a matching amount). You are not required to pay taxes on the money in your 401(K) until you make a withdrawal from it (which usually isn't usually allowed until you're 59 years old). It's worth contributing more to your plan so you can pay less in taxes.  Contributions you make to your 401(K) plan are completely vested (which means that you own everything you put into it). The contribution from your employer most likely holds a stipulation that the vesting percentage increases every year you work for them (until you own all of it). It's a good idea  to start saving money for retirement sooner than later….so, if you have the option to pick between companies, the quality/offering of a 401(K) plan should be an important factor.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

OTS on Pinterest: September 2014 Inspiration

Though the month is almost over, I decided to share some of the things that caught my eye during September (via Pinterest). I had a few random thoughts while reviewing this board:

- Contrary to how it may look, I also like home elements that aren't just all-white in color.
(And I don't typically lean towards all-white because…well, things get dirty! Lol.)

- That being said, the first thing I typically pay attention to are the design elements (not colors).

- That (also) being said, I really enjoy adding natural elements into design.

- It's probably obvious that I'm An Alexander McQueen fan. (Oh, the designs! R.I.P.)

- Speaking of whom, I've come out of my "skulls are edgy & cool" phase…
but I'll likely always like any from McQueen.

- I'm not the biggest fan of gold jewelry, simply due to an allergy.
Why can't they make these pretty things in silver more frequently?

- I really enjoy architecture, clean lines, cozy spaces, vintage fixtures & greenery.

- I have always been (& will probably always be) a sucker for almost anything Art Deco.

Check out the link below to see my board for this month.

As always, feel free to send any thoughts to:


Happy Sunday!

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Friday, September 26, 2014

Extra Credit (RE: Last Post, "The Problem With…")

Since my post earlier today, I've come across some other articles continuing the discussion of the hostility that women face online. Several are written by women who have experienced them firsthand. All of them raise important points and, while there are many more out there, these are definitely worth reading.

Check them out below, and share any thoughts with me at

xxxx Alyssa Marie

The Problem With Emma Watson's (Wonderful) UN Speech

I know it's been a while...let's try to ease into this next topic, yes?
And, just like that, I've probably lost some of you already.
I know, I know. That wasn't quite "easing in."
No? Still here?
Good, because this is important.

*This post is not simply about feminism, itself, or even about any of the arguments surrounding "what it means to be a feminist." The actual definition of feminism is quite simple (see above)…what seems to make the topic such a heated one, is that many do not agree on the various approaches used (to accomplish the end goal). I'm well aware that I may take some heat here, but I truly feel this is an issue that should be discussed (and encourage any comments you may have on the matter).

Watson's UN Speech (full text here)

Almost a week ago, Emma Watson delivered a (truly wonderful) speech on gender equality at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as the UN Global Goodwill Ambassador. Her goal was to encourage men/boys to be more active in seeking equality for women/girls globally, thus launching a UN campaign dubbed "HeForShe." In her speech, Watson acknowledged the impact gender equality has on both sexes, and stressed the importance of men's involvement in promoting women's rights.
Let it be known, I fully agree with Miss Watson.
So…what's my "problem" with her speech, you ask?
My problem here is not with the speech, itself, or even Miss Watson.
My problem is with the surprising  events that would unfold in the days after.

Only hours after this speech, which simply appealed to men to be advocates for gender equality, a disturbing web page titled "Emma You Are Next" surfaced online. Featuring a countdown and the logo of 4chan (the anonymous bulletin board that became ground zero for the hacked celebrity nude photo epidemic), the site seemed to be in retaliation of her own advocacy. 
In a bizarre turn of events, the "doomsday countdown" ran out Wednesday at midnight…and redirected users to an online campaign aimed at ridding the web of 4chan. "Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more private pictures from being leaked," a message on the site read. "None of these women deserve this and together we can make a change."
In a flippant letter to President Obama, also posted on the site, they claimed to have been hired by a group of celebrity publicists to help stop the proliferation of illegal celebrity photo hacks. "The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past 2 months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored," the letter reads. While it initially may have seemed to be the work of some benevolent force, the party behind the site is a group of notorious internet pranksters operating under the guise of a nonexistent viral marketing firm called Rantic Marketing. 
That's right, Rantic Marketing doesn't exist
Something that can't be missed here is the fact that Rantic Marketing, itself, is simply a viral stunt. Much like the Emma Watson timer was meant to fool the internet, Rantic's website is also just another prank. But who are they, really? If you aren't familiar with them already, allow me to introduce you to  SocialVEVO (aliases include "Swenzy," "Yasha Swag," "Jacob Povolotski" and "Joey B," among others).
Brace yourselves, this is one heck of a ride down the rabbit hole.
Last December the DailyDot published an article (here) about SocialVEVO, the group responsible for a similar website stunt involving a character death on the popular show Family Guy. The article (definitely worth a read) goes on to show several examples of how the group manipulates social media trends to gain profits…though, how they profit (and what their profits are) remain unclear. 
So…how does a fake marketing firm consistently (and so easily) fool the internet?
Enter Fox Weekly.
Though most are familiar with Fox, don't feel bad if you've never of heard of this branch.
(Note the orange "weekly" banner at the top of each fake post.)

In order to gain even more exposure for the Emma Watson countdown, an article was published by the fake news site (since deleted, view cached page here). The site asked if 4chan hackers were about to reveal nude photos of the actress, despite the author knowing there were no such photographs…because they also created the countdown site, itself.
Essentially this has all turned out to be an incredibly elaborate stunt, which served to embarrass and expose global media for (presumably) being just as invasive and predatory as any 4chan hacker…and was, ironically, done by a group using similar tactics.

As the epochtimes would point out, multiple major news outlets reported on the website as if it were legitimate, including the Washington Post and BBC. Certainly this should raise questions regarding journalistic standards, media direction and vetting processes at a time where we're running from one breaking headline to the next. Especially considering that all it seems to take are a few spammy hackers to trick major media.

Sure, it can be effective to use media trends to gain publicity…but the trend they tried to exploit here is much more serious than the untimely death of a cartoon dog. As Amanda Taub of The Vox wrote, despite them being a hoax, sexual threats against women still have a "chilling effect" by "using terror as a weapon"…and that, whether it was perpetrated by 4chan users or Rantic, "the harm from those threats persists even if no photos are released."

Taub's words on the matter raise valid points:
- "The site threatening Watson was greeted with glee on 4chan and Reddit, where commenters explicitly stated their hope that the threats would force her to abandon her feminist campaigning."
- "The site reminded every woman that this is something that could be done to them by hackers, if the hackers so chose."
- "How often have we seen a woman's sexual history used not only to shame and discredit her, but as a justification for not protecting her from harm?"
The avclub nails it, too:
"This fake threat was then exposed by its supposed targets, who decried the mainstream media's "willingness to 'Listen and Believe' the feminist victimization narrative," thus exposing the reasons why that "narrative" exists in the first place. And in the end, the pretend debasement of Emma Watsonto raise awareness about debasement, or somethingended up being actually, really debasing, as Watson's speech was quickly swallowed up in this nesting doll of internet ugliness."

Though the threats against Emma Watson have proven to be a hoax, they reflect the incredibly troubling (and misogynistic) notion that it's okay to threaten or violate a woman's privacy as an intimidation tactic to shut her up. Also, they are NOT funny, and this is completely unacceptable.

And (much like Miss Watson did last week) I encourage men AND women, both, to be vocal about all gender quality issues - including this one.

Leave comments below, or send me your thoughts at

xxxx Alyssa Marie