When the Pandemic Lockdown Hasn’t Been All Sunshine and Banana Bread

To be honest, I’m not sure how to begin this post because I feel like it’ll be a chaotic and emotional rollercoaster just like the pandemic has been these past 8 months. Although it’s tough for me to reflect on all that has happened and how I reacted to it, I know that this is probably one of the more important posts I’ll write.

One thing’s for sure: I have not been okay. I’m sure many, many of you feel the same way. Our worlds have been rocked and life as we knew it was taken away from us and reduced to the four walls we live in. It was a drastic change to say the least.

As you read this post, you might not see my situation as anything out of the norm. I’m not writing this because something catastrophic happened to me. In fact, I’m actually really fortunate. However, I definitely didn’t do the best job at recognizing how fortunate I really was during this time. I allowed the doom and gloom consume me and tortured myself mentally with things that were completely out of my control. There were some low points that I had never experienced personally before and it was scary. I quickly had to make a decision to either remain in the awful hole both that I felt I lived in and had dug myself in mentally or do something about it.

What I hope you get out of this post is either to understand and recognize that you share some of the same experiences I had or gain a new perspective of how people react differently to the same situation. I also hope that you get inspired to give yourself what you need during this time whether it is sunshine, banana bread or any of the things I did for myself (listed below). All I ask is that there is no judgement. If your intention is to judge, you can stop reading here and keep it moving.

Feeling Trapped (Physically)

When we were placed in lockdown back in March, everyone was physically trapped in their homes. Everyone’s living situation is different. Some have really taken years to make their house into a home while others chose their dwellings based on the idea that they wouldn’t spend a lot of time in it. Me? I was somewhere in the middle. I had been living in my apartment for the past 6 years and it definitely had its pros and cons (more cons if we’re being hones) but I got complacent and hated moving so much that I just stayed.

There were so many red flags over the years that I just ignored. Case in point: I’ve always had issues with neighbors. My unit was completely sandwiched—neighbors on both sides and above and below. Most of the time, things were tolerable but it helped that I was able to distract myself with activities we were used to doing pre-pandemic. Once we were forced into lockdown and I had nowhere to go, this issue, among others, was amplified.

Not only did I feel physically trapped within my own unit, I was also trapped into hearing my neighbors all of the time. You don’t realize how much goes on when you’re not home and boy, did I wish I never found out. Not only was the noise and general nuisance created by my neighbors annoying, it became exhausting over time. Their drama became my drama because as a self-proclaimed empath, I had absorbed all of that negative energy.

On top of that, emergency vehicles seemed to visit my building quite frequently. To be clear, this is highly unusual as I don’t live in a major city nor do I live in a high-rise. It truly became concerning since we’re in the middle of a health crisis! For all I knew I was locked down in a virus-infested building where people were contracting it left and right and I was next. My four walls started to feel like they were closing in on me and it got harder and harder to find any sunshine through the darkness.

Feeling Trapped (Mentally)

It’s no surprise that I struggled mentally during this time as well. Most people’s mental health has been severely impacted. Just like our living situations, everyone’s mental health situation is different. There are those that have, again, worked hard over the years to make the mental “house” into a “home” and those that have spent more time distracting themselves rather than living in their mental “home.” Well, 2020 spared no one and we had to not only spend more time in our physical homes, but our mental ones too.

The exact moment when my mental health really started to suffer was on Easter Sunday and my fridge suddenly stopped working. This began a horrible and (unnecessary) anxiety-filled 5 months until they finally replaced it in August. This sounds like a weird reason for me to go into a mental spiral and I’m honestly embarrassed that I let it get to me that much, but it is what it is. Without the typical distractions of everyday life to remove me from the situation, I had to sit next to my fridge essentially all day and choose how to react to it.

[Narrator: She ended up not reacting well to it. Not well at all.]

Just like I got complacent with my living environment, I got complacent with my mental health and didn’t know how to cope with it. I had just accepted it as something I was going to struggle with forever. As a constant worrier in general, it doesn’t help to have something to actually constantly worry about. I’d rather go back to my old-fashioned type of worrying where I would just come up with imaginary scenarios that never end up happening. Instead, I worried about my fridge breaking and well, it did time and time again.

It was complete and utter hell for me because when it rains, it tends to pour and it felt like bad things kept happening to me. I had some of my darkest thoughts in those moments. I’m not proud of it at all and realized very quickly that I needed to get in control of my thoughts and overall mental well-being if I was going to survive this lockdown. All of this because of a damn fridge. I(t) robbed me of all of the peace and joy in my life that I couldn’t even get myself to partake in lovely lockdown activities like making banana bread.

The Breakthrough (Physically + Mentally)

It is truly scary to reflect back on how I dealt with the lockdown. It brought out a side of me that I never want to face again. I want to come out on the other side of this more resilient and in control of my mental well-being.

If you noticed in the last paragraph of the previous section I wrote, “I(t) robbed me of all of the peace and joy…” I wrote it that way because, naturally, I want to blame the fridge for messing with me mentally, but I allowed it. I chose to obsess over it. If it was going to break, it was going to break but I didn’t need to sit there agonizing over when it was going to happen. It’s okay to acknowledge that I had those obsessive thoughts, but I would’ve managed them better. I didn’t need to torture myself with something that was completely out of my control. What I can control is taking actions to help me be a better person.

I’m sure you can relate that the pandemic has put a spotlight on aspects of our lives that we might not be proud of whether it’s financial, familial, physically, mentally, and so on. I personally have multiple spotlights going and because of this, I needed to figure out how to take action and change my current circumstances. Below are some of the things I ended up doing to breakthrough the personal hell I had been living in both physically and mentally.

Continued to See My Counselor

I had started seeing a counselor earlier this year because I felt like I was at a huge crossroads in my life. By the end of March, I needed her more than ever. I’m SO glad that I had already established that relationship before the pandemic because she really understands me and could help me holistically throughout the lockdown period. She provided me with a lot of resources and exercises to try and learn how to cope with my crippling anxiety and depression.

Simply talking to someone who isn’t in your circle of friends (although I feel like she is my friend lol) or your family is so helpful. The added benefit is that a counselor or a therapist can help you work through your thoughts and issues. They have the research and effective techniques in their back pocket that they can use to help you. It’s so wonderful to have that time carved out to truly dedicate to your thoughts and feelings. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve been internalizing once you start talking about them out loud to a trusted professional. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Decluttered My Space

This was a big one for me. For the longest time I had “affectionately” referred to my bedroom as my “depression den.” It honestly looked like a bomb had gone off in it. Clothes and junk were just everywhere and I could barely see my floor. I can’t believe I’m willing to share that. I’m definitely really embarrassed right now. But, it was a true physical representation of the mental struggles I had been going through from my early- to mid-twenties. I was trying to suppress those issues by surrounding myself with stuff. It was awful.

Decluttering was something I knew needed to happen for YEARS but it just always felt overwhelming (if you couldn’t already tell). What motivated me was when one of my good friends was in the process of moving. She truly was my inspiration in changing my own circumstances because she was doing exactly that. We had set up weekly FaceTime sessions and while she packed, I decluttered. Having that accountability was so helpful. I 10/10 highly recommend it. As a result, I ended up with a clearer space and mind.

I *Actually* Moved

The last thing I thought I’d be doing during a pandemic is moving. Like I said before, I hate moving on a regular day but during a pandemic?! That’s just crazy. The thought of random people touching your stuff all day long and packing up 6 years worth of stuff was horrifying (the decluttering in advance definitely helped a lot).

This was a huge and risky decision for me to make but it clearly needed to happen. It was long overdue. The lockdown showed me that I shouldn’t take my living situation for granted ever again. My quality of life was drastically depleting because of my living environment when it should be a place of peace and solace from the world (even though we can’t be out in it). I never should’ve become complacent in the first place, but now that I know better I’ll know to be better. You should never be scared to change your situation if you know it will truly help you feel more at peace. Your peace is so valuable and often factors into your overall happiness.

Began a Pursuit of (Inner) Happiness

So, I prioritized my mental health, cleared out my space, and sought a better living environment, sounds like I solved all of my problems, right? Wrong! So, now what? I’m starting to sound like a piece of work.

Sure, I’ve made some huge strides in my life to improve my circumstances and for that I am so proud of myself. But, along with all of the situations mentioned above, there were others I experienced during lockdown that made me think I should alter my approach to life in general. And that is to generate my own happiness. Let me explain.

For so long and I’m sure many people can relate, I’ve chased validation and happiness from external sources whether it’s other people, buying certain items, my job, what I chose to eat or drink, etc. Once the pandemic stripped all of those interactions and options away from us, that external reliance on and source of happiness was gone. So, how does your “happiness” generate now?

What really jumpstarted this pursuit of internal happiness was seeing people online saying how they wish it was 2021. It’s true that 2020 sucks, but how do we know that 2021 is going to be any better? I didn’t want to rely on waiting for 2021 to bring me happiness because I already know I’ll be let down. Instead, I want to focus on how I can generate my own happiness now so that no matter what happens in 2021 I’m not drastically affected because I’m operating from my own happy place.

I have to admit, this is a journey that I just recently embarked on. I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with this idea of self-generating internal happiness, but I’m proud that, through self-reflection, I recognized this as something I need to work on to establish and maintain a sustainable source of inner peace. I’m really excited about what this journey will bring and hope to update you soon on some sort of progress. I’d also be happy if you’d like to join me in this pursuit. Let me know in the comments below.

As embarrassed as I am about sharing how horribly I dealt with the lockdown, there was no way in knowing how any of us would react to it because we’ve never gone through something like this before. Our world hasn’t gone through something like this for 100 years! I hope we never have to ever again. I hope that my honesty and actions empower you to consider what you need to do for yourself to help you through this trying time because unfortunately it’s not over yet. Feel free to reach out. I’m here for you if you need some guidance. I want to see everyone on the other side.

Until next time, stay safe & be well,
– LM

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4 Tips to Improve Your Resume—Right Now!

Whether you lost your job during the pandemic, looking to switch careers, or just a need for a new challenge, getting a new job will always involve submitting a resume. Even if you aren’t actively searching, it’s always a good idea to update your resume periodically rather than rush through it before a fast-approaching application deadline. You always want to be prepared and not reactive.

To be honest, I always find myself reacting to job postings I come across and scrambling to tailor it to that specific posting. It might seem odd that I’d be writing this type of post, but I don’t want you to be like me and be this frantic every time you apply for a new job. Instead, by adopting the tips within this post now you’ll be better prepared should that dream job open up. Not only will you be prepared, but your resume will most likely appear more polished rather than thrown together. Your resume is the first impression you cast on a company. You should work hard to put your best foot forward.

Below are a few of my top tips for improving your resume right now that you might not have considered. I hope that you find these tips helpful and may you get that dream job even if it doesn’t open up in a few years. You’ll be ready for it.

1. Update Your Skills Section

Learned a new software in your current role? Took a coding course? Earned a new certification? These things are important to not only feature but keep up-to-date and relevant for the jobs you’re applying for, especially if you’re switching careers.

Traditionally when we think of skills to feature on a resume, we think of software, tools, and platforms. You know, the more technical skills that would impress your future employer the most. These types of skills are also almost always listed within the job description. That’s another tip for you: if the job description is requiring you to know certain skills and you do, be sure to have those prominently featured on your resume and written in the same manner they have it written on the posting (e.g. PowerPoint vs powerpoint).

So, it’s great that you’re a wiz at Excel or have experience managing project timelines in Smartsheet, but what you should also consider including on your resume are what are referred to as “soft skills.” Rather than technical skills, soft skills showcase more of your interpersonal abilities. Oftentimes in cover letters applicants will boast about their communication skills or attention to detail. It’s those types of skills that can also be listed on your resume. Other types of soft skills include: team player, adaptability, and problem-solver.

Again, if these types of skills are featured in the job description and you truly exhibit these skills, feature them on your resume! Be specific as possible as well! If there’s a way to connect your skills—both technical and soft—with accomplishments in your work experience section, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring authority.

2. Replace Your List of Job Duties with a List of Job Accomplishments

Speaking of accomplishments, it’s more appealing to showcase your top three accomplishments in each of the jobs featured on your resume rather than copying and pasting your job description. I know that, even for me, this is a new concept. I primarily list out my duties and sprinkle in some accomplishments if they’re substantial enough. And that’s the thing, IF they’re substantial enough. This one is for my ladies out there: your accomplishments—no matter how big or small—are substantial. You did the damn thing! Now share it with the world!

Back to listing your accomplishments rather than your job duties—stay with me. Nowadays, especially for experienced professionals, hiring authorities know, or at least assume, that you are able to do what you’re asked to do within your job duties. By highlighting your accomplishments, you wow the hiring authority by showing them how successful you were within the role. Here are a few examples:

  • Implemented new project management system that increased productivity of team members by 40%

  • Developed comprehensive social media strategy that generated 100K new followers within 3 months

  • Increased Q3 sales by 15% by proposing and implementing a more efficient checkout process

As you can see, these facts are most impressive than say, “Manages team of seven members to execute projects for major global e-commerce company.” Try it out and you’ll be surprised with how much this changes the overall tone of your resume.

Feel like you haven’t accomplished much in your roles? I bet you anything that you’re wrong. Ask your colleagues, coworkers, old bosses, friends, and family about what they remember you doing in those roles. More often than not, we forget these details because we focus so much on the day-to-day tasks. Get some outside perspective and you’ll be racking up that list of accomplishments in no time.

3. Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is one aspect of your resume that you might not think much about. But, to me, it should be one of the most important things you get right. A resume with haphazard formatting throughout the document can be very distracting. This might be a little harsh but if you list having great attention to detail as one of your skills and the formatting of your resume is inconsistent, it’s going to be hard to believe you.

So, what do I mean by formatting anyway? Well, it could be anything from your font, your font size, whether you bold or italicize certain pieces of information, spacing, etc. It’s the everything! Every little decision you make contributes to the overall design of your resume. Even if you use a resume template on Word (which is totally okay!), take note of the formatting choices that were established and make sure you follow them consistently throughout your resume. If you’re the one making the decisions, make note of each decision you make and consistently apply them throughout. Did I mention be consistent? Wasn’t sure if I made that clear enough (haha).

What might make this easier for you is to write our your entire resume out first in basic font. Get the organization down and then start adding in flair afterwards. You can then see how one formatting decision will impact the entire document (i.e. making your work experience dates bold, italicizing secondary information, etc.).

Whatever you decide in terms of formatting, just keep it consistent (just had to make sure I said it one more time)! Nothing makes me cringe more than 4 different fonts and the lack of cohesion. Again, it might be because I’m a creative and we pay attention to these types of things probably more so than others. But, trust me that it will make your resume appear more polished and appealing to hiring authorities.

4. Research Current Resume Trends for Your Industry

Do you need a creative resume? Are you able to get by with a standard resume? Do you really need an objective statement? The answers to these questions vary depending on which industry you’re trying to get hired in. This step is particularly important if you switching careers especially from creative to non-creative and vice versa.

Why are there different resume trends for each industry anyway?
If you’re a creative, can’t you just submit a regular resume and then point them towards your portfolio?
Why can’t you have a creative resume even if you’re “just” an accountant?

It’s easy to see why a creative would want to have an equally creative resume because they want to portray their personal branding. As far as more traditional careers, I honestly don’t have a problem with an accountant having a creative resume. I would just make sure the design was still neutral enough to not ruffle any suits. You’ll surely stand out in a sea of generic resume templates. I’ve oftentimes received compliments on my resume design, which is great and all as long as a job offer comes with the compliment. You feel me?

No matter what your resume looks like, you should also look into if there are standard sections that need to be included such as an objective statement. Even though I’ve personally retired my objective statement section probably 10 years ago now, there are still some industries that expect it. So just be sure that you’re not standing out for all the wrong reasons.

BONUS TIP: Check Spelling

Yup, you heard me! And no, I don’t mean running a simple spell check on Word. We all know that thing misses a lot. I want you to actually read through your resume and make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. I know it’s tedious but didn’t you say you had great attention to detail? Don’t fumble an opportunity simply because you neglected this step. I’m just looking out for you.

Now that your resume has been updated, go get that dream job and tag me (@lisatothemarie) when you get it!


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3 Things to Consider When Shopping the Sephora Sale

Source: Sephora.com

Ahhh…it’s that time of year again: the Sephora sale (10/30-11/9)! Is it just me, or am I the only one who always feels ambushed every time the sale comes around? I mean, by now I should know when these sales occur throughout the year but I honestly don’t pay attention. So now that there is a sale upon us, how the heck do we take advantage of it? Here are my top three things to consider when it comes to the Sephora sale.

1. Staple Products

If you get some of your go-to items in your beauty and skincare routine from Sephora, well, this is the perfect time to stock up! It might seem so boring to only purchase items you know you love during the sale, but why the heck not? We’ll talk about using the sale to test out new products that might become future go-to’s in the next tip, but getting products you already know and love is such a great strategy.

For me, I plan on buying my favorite lip balm and my signature body spray. I already know I love these products, so I won’t be disappointed or feel like I wasted my money on products that will collect dust in the back of a bathroom drawer. You know the one.

Source: Sephora.com

So again, if you want the most bang for your buck, I’d highly suggest you use these sales as a time to stock up on your favs. Not an avid Sephora shopper like me? That’s okay! More than okay actually. Your wallet probably likes you more than mine likes me. Anyway, even if you don’t have any Sephora go-to’s you can always consider using my second strategy for the sale.

2. Specialty/Novelty Products

Another approach to the sale that I sometimes take—depending on the types of products that launch around that time—is to purchase specialty or novelty products. These are products that you have been curious to try and aren’t sure about. These can also be coveted items that you’ve had your eye on and they just happen to be part of the sale. Sometimes brands will be generous and launch products right before or during the sale. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it just feels like the biggest blessing from the beauty gods.

What’s especially great about the holiday sale is: HOLIDAY SETS! I’ll write a whole blog about this soon, but many brands right now have curated sets of their best-selling products or even new products for the holidays. This is obviously great for gift-giving purposes, but it’s also a great way to test a lot of product out especially from a particular brand. You’ll really get the essence of the brand through these sets that’s for sure.

For me, I currently have a couple of holiday sets in my Sephora cart from Rare Beauty, Selena Gomez’s beauty brand. She has one set that features two matte cream lipsticks and another that features a liquid blush and a lip balm. These are the products from her line that I’m very curious about, so these sets would be the perfect way to get acquainted with her brand.

If my first two strategies haven’t convinced you to partake in the Sephora sale, then the next one is for you. And honestly, I could afford to take my own advice.

Source: Sephora.com
3. Financial Situation

Yes, it’s exciting that Sephora is having a sale because it doesn’t happen often. But, you really have to consider if it’s really worth it.

Unless you’re a Rouge status, you’ll only get either 10% or 15% off. Don’t get me wrong, any little bit helps, but you’re still spending money. If you have other financial priorities that you need to focus your attention on, you should try to avoid getting enticed by these types of sales.

The Sephora sale will always come around. I promise you that you won’t miss out on anything if you don’t buy something now. Don’t spend frivolously out of boredom. You’ve got bigger goals to achieve, my dear, and that eyeshadow palette isn’t going to bring you lasting happiness. Trust me.

I hope these tips helped you hone in on your priorities for this round of the Sephora sale! Comment below with how you approach these sales, what you plan to buy or if you’re going to skip it altogether.


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Hello World! Welcome to LisatotheMarie | The Blog!

I can’t tell you how many “hello world” pages I’ve made in my lifetime. Anyone who codes knows that creating a webpage that says this infamous phrase is usually the first lesson you learn when learning a new language. So as a coder at heart myself, I thought this would be the perfect way to introduce myself and my new blog.

Hi there, I’m Lisa—and LisatotheMarie is my online alias.

Welcome to my blog! Many of you might know me personally and many of you might not, but I know one thing is for sure, you’re all going to get to know me better through this journey I’ve embarked on.

So, why did I start a blog? Why now? And, why should you care?

Well, because, if not now then when, and maybe you shouldn’t (lol). In a more eloquent way, I decided to start this blog because I’ve always talked about starting one, like, for YEARS. I’ve overcome a lot of hurdles and obstacles along the way (mainly, my own sad excuses) that have made me nervous about starting one. What if I put so much effort into it and no one reads this? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not new to the concept of blogging. Heck, I’ve had a Xanga and LiveJournal but nothing that ever stuck. I remember sharing the deepest and darkest thoughts on those accounts and thankfully, no one really read them. But now, blogging has evolved into this crazy industry.

So, why do I want to toss my hat into the ring?

To be honest, I just want to help people. Something I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I like to help people. I always seem to be giving advice (solicited or not, sorry!) and extending myself to people to make sure they look great, feel great, and be great—which is the tagline for my blog. I feel like I oftentimes am telling different people the same things. So I thought, why not bottle it up into a blog that y’all can refer back to (yes, I say y’all and will probably use it throughout this blog. Sorry not sorry.)?

I also want to work on my writing skills. The only times I really get to flex my writing skills is whenever I’m applying for a job and have to write a killer cover letter (which I’ll dedicate an entire blog post on ;)) or when I was in grad school and wrote papers (which was torture). This will totally be a more casual tone than those formal examples I mentioned, which will make it fun for me and hopefully for you too! I want to provide helpful tips and advice in an approachable way.

For those that know me personally, it would be like all the wonderful conversations we’ve had and boy, there have been a lot of them. I love talking with people and sharing common ground with people from all sorts of backgrounds. I think it really helps open your mind and recognize the different perspectives that we all have on the same world. Cool, right?

Which brings me to my next point: Whatever I post and write from here on out, I want you to know it is not meant to be taken as the only way to do anything in your life. This is just me bringing my perspective, wisdom (am I old enough to have that?), and experience to you and you can decipher what you’d like to adopt into your life.

I’d also invite you to express your thoughts in the comments below every post. I’d love to hear from you. Again, this is like a conversation between two good friends and I’m just bringing up specific topics for us to discuss and navigate together. I’m really excited about it!

So, what will my blog be about?

Admittedly, I have a lot of interests—for better or for worse—so I’ve really tried to narrow it down to topics I know I can write a lot about and these might evolve over time. But for now, I’m starting off with Beauty, Lifestyle, and Career. These are the three main things that I’ve focused a lot on over the years and I’m so excited to share my thoughts with you.

What about your YouTube videos?

Ah yes, my YouTube videos. I was really hitting a stride with my YouTube videos late last year into earlier this year and well, like most everything during the pandemic, my videos when on a little lockdown of their own. I’ll go into more detail in a dedicated blog post about how I’ve been dealing with the pandemic and how it has greatly impacted my creativity. BUT, I plan on getting back into creating more videos. I loved making videos and love that you all loved them just as much. I have a few ideas of how I’d like to make a comeback and maybe even switch it up a little. Stay tuned.

So, now what?

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little introduction and have gotten a better sense of what the heck I’m doing. I don’t expect you to read every post, but I do hope you read some of them and actually find them helpful. I invite any suggestions you may have on topics you’d like me to discuss and I’ll consider them. It’s now your decision to either bookmark my homepage or never give this another thought. But, I truly hope you’ll stay a while and that I give you a reason to keep coming back for more.

If you follow me on social media (Instagram especially), I’ll let you know whenever I publish a new post. I hope to get to a consistent schedule (i.e. every Tuesday and Friday), so when that’s decided I’ll definitely let you know.

If you’ve read up to this point, THANK YOU! I really appreciate your perseverance and I hope you’re just as excited as I am. My first actual blog posts will be published soon, but for now–

This is: LisatotheMarie | The Blog.

Stay safe & be well,

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