{Strategy} | The Mary Kay Way of Business Leadership

Mary Kay Ash started a business in the 60s after she retired from a career in sales. She had been a working woman supporting three children. Although she didn’t necessarily know at first that she wanted to sell skin care and makeup products, she did know that there were many ways to improve on the business models she had worked in before. Now that she could manage her own business, she wanted to try out the Principles of Leadership, functioning under the overarching principle of the Golden Rule, that is,

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

With this basic premise, Mary Kay invested her life’s savings of $5,000 into the formation and launching of the new company. Her son, Richard, co-founded the company and worked alongside her to bring her dreams to fruition.

To date, Mary Kay Cosmetics has a sales force of over 300,000 Independent Beauty Consultants, paid solely by direct commission on the volume of their sales. She has been touted by both Baylor University and the Wharton School of Business as one of the greatest women entrepreneurs in American history.

Here is a summary of her Principles of Leadership:

  1. A company is only as good as its people.
  2. The Invisible Sign – People desire validation and praise. When you talk to people, always visualize the person in front of you with a sign around their neck that says, “Make me feel important.”
  3. Praise people to success. The surest way to retain people and their motivation to work for you and your business is to give them praise frequently for doing things right – even the things that fall into their job description! Far too often we overlook the things that happen as “business as usual,” because it is not exceptional. Yet, people need to have confirmation that they are doing well and that they are valuable in their role at the company.
  4. Listen attentively and reflectively.
  5. Sandwich every bit of criticism between two thick layers of praise.
  6. Follow through on your commitments to others. Your word is your bond.
  7. Enthusiasm moves mountains.
  8. Engage people to create something that you all value (people support that which they help to create).
  9. You can’t rest on previous success and expect to continue growing in the direction you want to go. You must continue striving to be better.
  10. Remember the linchpin of your organization – whose move is the primary trigger upon which the success of the company stands? (For instance, in the case of the Mary Kay Cosmetics company, the Independent Beauty Consultants were the ones who ordered the volumes of makeup to sell. Without orders from the Independent Beauty Consultants, there would be no need for the rest of the company to exist! Thus their opinions are extremely important to the success of the company and should be valued as such.)
  11. Be willing to take risks for the benefit of the company. Try new things so as not to stagnate.
  12. Create an environment that allows room for mistakes, personal growth, and investment in the well-being of others.

While many of these ideas may seem common-sense, they have made Mary Kay Cosmetics into one of the most successful cosmetics companies in the world. It seems her advice is worth listening to and applying!

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.


{Strategy} | Rory Vaden’s Focus Funnel

Check out Rory Vaden’s step-wise, research-backed technique for strategic time management. Vaden talks about the importance of including not only “efficiency” and “priority” but also “impact/lasting relevance” as criteria for assessing what you should be spending your time on first. This is called thinking like a “time multiplier.”

In order to do any of what he’s suggesting, you need to first clarify your vision (more about how to establish your vision for your life, family, career, spiritual, and other goals here). Now, check out the video:

I found this advice instrumental in figuring out how to save Mary Kay $23k in my first year of work as a contracted chemist. I intend to use this savings as one of the items I will use to justify my proposal that Mary Kay extend a full-hire position to me at the end of my contract.

You may have to practice this skill for a while until it becomes a new way of thinking for you. It took me a few months of intentionally redirecting my mind to this idea and watching the video a couple times to get this into my system of doing things. Now I find myself very productive.

What do you think about this? Is it helping you get real with yourself about your aspirations for goal-setting and accomplishment and your personal success? Leave a comment below and share your story with us. We’d love to see what this technique can do for you!

{Living Social Justice} | March For Our Lives

On Valentine’s Day, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students at Parkland High School in Florida (NYTimes, National Public Radio, NBC News. Cruz had been expelled the year prior for disciplinary reasons. The FBI admitted knowing about his threatening and alarming posts on Twitter and on YouTube, though they did nothing to follow through on the calls citizens made to present the concerns. Cruz had actually acquired the gun, an AR-15, legally, since he was a legal adult. Although he was a mentally disturbed teenager, the gun vendor did not hesitate to allow him to purchase the gun. Nothing showed up in his background check (how was that possible, given that he had told the world in a YouTube comment that someday he planned to become a professional school shooter?!).

This laissez-faire attitude towards gun rights NEEDS TO STOP. NOW. Yes, we want to protect the 2nd Amendment. Yes, we want to stay sane. But in order to do both of these things, we need to be alive and well!

We need more free or low-cost resources for preventive mental health care in schools and in general. We also need to allot more funds to education in our state budgets to provide certified counselors and therapists to serve the young people at our schools.

The data show that the United States does not exhibit higher instances of mental illness relative to other developed countries (NPR). If this is so, then we must think about the easy availability of guns to Americans as a potential root cause of this issue. If we made guns incredibly difficult to acquire in the first place, then there wouldn’t be opportunities for mentally ill individuals to shoot other people. In fact, when anyone goes off the handle feeling passionate, they would have to resort to other means to harm other people – most of which would either be “low throughput” (e.g., a knife attack), or premeditated (e.g., poison or date rape drugs in a drink).

Want to stay alive for the next year? For all intents and purposes, you or your children could be the next victims of gun violence! This is why we will march.

Want to join me at the Dallas event? Click here for the details. Select “Going” for the event status, then leave a comment to the #femmebosssquad page if you’re going!

Details for the Dallas event (in case you don’t have Facebook but still want to join!):

Saturday, March 24

12-3 pm

Dallas City Hall

1500 Marilla St.

Dallas, TX 75201

Activities are planned in the following cities:

Maryland: Annapolis

Idaho: Boise

North Carolina: Buncombe County

South Carolina: Charleston

Illinois: ChicagoSpringfield

Ohio: Cleveland

Colorado: Denver

Michigan: Detroit

Connecticut: Hartford

Alabama: Helena, Birmingham/Irondale

Indiana: Indianapolis

Kentucky: Marshall County

Tennessee: Nashville

Arizona: Phoenix

Oregon: Portland

Minnesota: Saint Paul

Utah: Salt Lake City

Puerto Rico: San Juan

Washington: Seattle

Missouri: Springfield

California: FresnoLos AngelesOrange CountySacramentoSan DiegoSan Luis ObispoSan JoseSan Francisco

Florida: Orlando (to be held at Lake Eola Park [Downtown]), West Palm Beach

Georgia: Atlanta (to be held at the Georgia State Capitol), Augusta

Massachusetts: Boston (to be held at Boston Common)

New Hampshire, marches are planned in Concord (Organizers: Eve Caplan & one other high school student), Portsmouth

New Jersey: Morristown

New York: New York CityRochester (Washington Square Park)

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

Texas: AustinDallasFort WorthHouston, San Antonio, Round Rock

You can also look through the March For Our Lives Facebook Feed to see which other cities have been added since the time this article was written.

Relevant Hashtag: #neveragain

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

Birth Control & Protection Options

What is birth control, and why should you care?

Birth control (contraception) is any method used to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy as a result of intercourse or other sexual contact. Because pregnancy is a condition solely known to women (and pre-op trans men), the choice to maintain or terminate a pregnancy belongs to the woman (trans man). It is up to you to educate yourself about your sexuality and to choose what level of risk you are willing to accept when having sex with other people. To maintain your rightful autonomy as a fellow human being, you should not allow anyone else to tell you how to control or make decisions about your body. You may consider their advice, but ultimately, pregnancy and engagement in/abstinence from sex are your choices to make.

What are STIs (also known as STDs)?

STI stands for sexually-transmitted infection. STD stands for sexually-transmitted disease. Most venereal infections are easily treated and cured, or at the very least managed. As a result, medical professionals now prefer to use the term “STI” because less stigma surrounds the term infection than the term disease (UC Berkeley Sexual Health Education Program; Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 275). Check out this infographic from the Center for Disease Control for an easy summary of the latest statistics for STIs in the US.

For specific questions you might have when landing on this page, please scroll to the FAQ sections at the bottom.

Male condoms, also known as “rubbers,” “prophylactics,” or “safes.” The male condom is one of only two types of contraception that also provides STI protection.

Methods of Contraception & Their Efficacy Statistics

Non-barrier Methods & Their Efficacy Statistics

Non-barrier methods are any form of contraception that involves a hormonal or chemical change to prevent pregnancy in the woman’s body.

Name Description Effectiveness
Hormonal release vaginal ring Insert the flexible ring once per month and leave in for 3 weeks. Take out for the fourth week to have your period. Using the ring this way provides a month of complete birth control. 99% when used perfectly
Hormonal birth control (“the Pill”) Most popular type of birth control. Comes in packs of either 28 or 21 pills. In the 28-pill packs, there are 21 active pills and 7 inert pills. You must take your birth control pill at the same time every day in order for it to be effective. The pill packs come with instructions should you miss one, two, three, or more pills in a month. If you miss two or more pills in a month, you need to use a backup method until you get back on track with the pill schedule (might take as much as long as 7 days to restore). When you start taking the pill, there is a wait time of at least one month from when you start taking the pill packs for it to be an effective form of birth control. 99% effective when used perfectly; 95% with typical use
Mini-pills (progestin-only oral contraceptives) These pills come in packs of 28 pills and do not contain estrogen. These are convenient because they avoid the side effects that taking estrogen orally can cause. 98-99% effective with perfect use; 95% with typical use; 100% effective with nursing women without affecting milk supply
IUD A Can be made of copper (non-hormonal; trade name is Paraguard) or can be plastic with hormonal release (Mirena, Skyla). Inserted at the doctor’s office or at a clinic. Paraguard lasts up to 10 years and is the largest. Mirena is slightly smaller and lasts up to 5 years; Skyla is the smallest and easiest to insert and lasts up to 3 years. Can also be inserted within 7 days after unprotected intercourse to reduce risk of pregnancy to 1% (99% effective).
Hormonal release suppository (implant) in arm Soft, hormone-filled capsules that are inserted under skin in upper arm area. Prevents ovulation and cervical fluid thickening, preventing sperm from getting into the uterus. Safe, long-term, reversible option. Types: Norplant-2 [Jadelle] (lasts up to 5 years), Implanon (lasts 3 years) 99% effective, talk with doctor about potential side effects.
Hormonal release contraceptive patch Applied to the abdomen, buttocks, upper arm, or upper torso. Changed every week for three weeks, left off for one week, and then resumed. Combination hormones (estrogen + progestin) 99% effective in women under 198 lbs when used perfectly; less effective for women at higher weights
Spermicide This can come in a variety of forms, but all of them include the active ingredient Nonoxynol-9: canned foam, cream, jelly, vaginal contraceptive film (VCF), suppositories. The disadvantage of Nonoxynol-9 is that it actually increases the rate of HIV transmission in people who use it relative to non-users. May cause an irritation, rash, or itchiness if you or your partner are allergic to any of the ingredients in spermicide. 94% effective when used perfectly; only 74% effective with typical use
Monthly injection (Lunelle) Can be injected into the arm, thigh, or hip. Not available in the US as of 2004. >99% effective
Three-month shot (Depo-provera) Injection scheduled for every 3 months, given in arm or buttock. High level of progestin. 99.7% effective
Female Sterilization (tubal ligation) A surgery that closes the fallopian tubes. This stops the egg from traveling to the uterus from the overy. The tubes are cut, burned or blocked with rings, bands, or clips. The surgery is immediately effective. Performed in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital, using general anesthesia. >99%
Male Sterilization (vasectomy) A minor surgery that severs the vas deferentia, the tubes that carry sperm from testes to penis; keeps the sperm from getting mixed into semen. It is possible to reverse within the first 5 years of the procedure, but should ultimately be considered a permanent form of birth control since the success rate of reversal is only ~30%. >99% as long as you wait a month after the procedure to start having sex without a backup method
Experimental male “Pill” Not available yet, undergoing trials in 2018 Not available yet, undergoing trials in 2018
Withdrawal (“pulling out”) Removing the penis from the vagina just before ejaculation so that the sperm gets deposited outside the vagina and away from vaginal lips. However, precum (pre-ejaculate) can contain enough sperm to induce a pregnancy, so this method is widely seen as ineffective. This is a male-controlled form of birth control, which may leave the woman feeling very out-of-control and unsafe. It may keep the woman from enjoying sex due to fear of mistakes. Some men can’t tell when they’re about to ejaculate, so they don’t pull out in time to avoid getting sperm in the vagina. 81-96% depending on how perfectly it is done; 81% with typical use.
Emergency contraception (“morning after pill,” “Preven,” “Plan B,” “EC pill,” or “combined EC pill”) Use in any of the following situations:

  • “The condom broke.”
  • “I didn’t think we were going to have sex.”
  • “I didn’t realize that I had forgotten to take my pill.”
  • “I was raped.”

Take emergency contraception up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The sooner you take the emergency contraception after having unprotected sex, the more likely it is to work at preventing pregnancy. You can buy this at any local drugstore (e.g., Walgreen’s, CVS, RiteAid) by asking for it from the cashier or pharmacist.

75-89% if initiated within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse; can be initiated within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse
Abstinence Usually doesn’t work with partners who spend a lot of time together in a sexually-charged mood or setting. However, it does allow an opportunity to experience erotic pleasure with a partner as long as both parties agree beforehand that penile-vaginal penetration will not be part of the activities. Requires clear communication and agreement prior to initiating non-penetrative sexual activities. 100% effective when actually practiced
Fertility awareness method (FAM) Requires a lot of attention to and awareness of one’s own body, including taking your waking temperature, spotting any cervical fluid, and identifying your cervical position every day. Requires meticulous charting of these fertility signs to determine whether or not you are fertile on any given day. More effective than the “rhythm” calendar method. 91-99% effective when done perfectly; 75% effective with typical use
Breastfeeding as birth control Inhibits ovulation when breastfeeding is done in a certain way. Frequency of feedings, whether your baby uses a pacifier, whether or not liquid/food other than breast milk is given to baby, and even taking a daily nap with baby can all influence your fertility using this method. You can use the Lactation Amenorrhea Method during the first 6 months of breastfeeding if:

  1. Your menses haven’t come back since you gave birth
  2. Your baby is under 6 mos old, and
  3. You are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding.
99% following the LAM method (see Description)

Source: Chapter 18, “Birth Control.” Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Barrier Methods & Their Efficacy Statistics

Barrier methods are any form of contraception that involves physically blocking the sperm from the egg to avoid fertilization. The effectiveness of barrier methods varies a lot depending on how consistently and accurately they are used. Barrier methods have the advantage of not causing as many side effects as the non-barrier methods (e.g., sensitivities, hormonal changes, immune responses, etc).

Name Description Effectiveness
Male condom A latex (or PU plastic blend) sheath that fits over an erect penis and keeps the sperm from getting out into the woman’s body. Comes in a foil packet. Keep out of sunlight and make sure that your pocket or wallet doesn’t have any way to puncture the package. Puncturing the package or keeping it in the light will damage the condom, making it less effective or even ineffective. Latex condoms are shown to be more resistant to breakage than PU condoms. Note that condoms are intended for one-time use. After you use one condom for a sex act, you should dispose of it and open a new one. Condoms cannot be sanitized. Although a condom goes on a penis, carry condoms with you at all times. 87-98% when used consistently and correctly for every sex act
Female condom Also intended for single use only. Push the back inner ring into vagina and back and up towards cervix. The front will lay on the outside of the vagina, over the labia. When the penis is erect, guide the penis into the female condom so that it doesn’t get pushed aside while you’re trying to have sex. 95% when used consistently and correctly for every sex act
Cervical cap A thimble-shaped rubber or silicone cap that snugly fits over the cervix. Held in place by suction. Fill the cap with spermicidal jelly before use. May need a fitting appointment at a clinic. Can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex. Some types can be left in for up to 3 days at a time, allowing for greater sexual spontaneity. 91% effective.
Diaphragm A shallow, dome-shaped, soft rubber cup that has been fitted to you by a doctor/clinician to securely cover the cervix. Place spermicidal jelly (cream) in the cup to kill or immobilize sperm. This will keep the sperm from reaching the egg. There are three types of fittings (flat, arcing, or domed). Choose the one that fits your anatomy by consulting the doctor or clinician during the fitting appointment. Can insert up to 6 hours before sex. 94-98% when used properly and consistently; 80% effective with typical (non-vigilant and non-proactive) use

Source: Chapter 18, “Birth Control.” Our Bodies, Ourselves.


The bottom line: Talk with your partner(s) about STI protection before having sex. The greatest love and respect you can show for yourself and your partner(s) is to be open and honest about what you all feel comfortable with regarding sexual health risks, safer sex practices, and contraception.

STI Protection FAQ

  • I can’t actually get pregnant. Should I still use STI protection?

Yes! You should use protection (condoms or dental dams) even when you have no reason to conceive (e.g., confirmed infertile, sterile, or trans pre- or post-op). This will greatly reduce your chances of getting a STI.

  • Should we use a condom or dental dam when performing oral sex on a partner?

Yes. This is the safest form of either kind of oral sex.

  • Where can I go to get free or low-cost STI testing?

Look for a Planned Parenthood or free sexual or women’s health clinic in your area. You may have to travel a bit to reach it, but it is definitely worth your time to go. I’ve compiled a Google Maps result localized to your region here.

  • I had sex with an untested partner. What is the likelihood I would have gotten any STIs?

You can look through the statistics at the Center for Disease Control Web site.

  • What kind of testing should I ask my doctor for to make sure I don’t give anything to my partners?

Doctors are notorious for not recommending HSV-1 and -2 (herpes) testing, which is why these viruses are so widespread among sexually active people. You should really ask your doctor to add AT LEAST HIV/AIDS, HSV-1 and -2, gonorrhea, and chlamydia to the test panel order. This will give you the cleanest and clearest picture to your test results so that you can ensure you get proper treatment and can be transparent with your partners.

  • Should I trust my sex partner to have my best interest when it comes to protection and contraception?

You should never trust your partner above your own ideas and intuition regarding your body and your sexual health. It is your responsibility to ensure that you communicate with your partner about the level of risk you are will to accept before initiating sex with them.

  • I’m a teenager and all of my friends are having sex. What should I do?

You should only start experimenting with sex when YOU feel that it is the right time. It does not matter what any of your friends are doing; only what will satisfy you and make you feel like you’ve done right by yourself. Sex has consequences, just like any major decision. Consider the many consequences that will result from deciding to have sex before you agree to engage in it.

Some example questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do I feel ready to start having sex?
  2. Why do I want to start having sex?
  3. With whom do I want to have sex for the first time? Why?
  4. Do I feel in love/safe around/sure about the person I’d like to have sex with for the first time?
  5. Is self-pleasure (masturbation) enough for me right now, or do I really feel a need to experience partner sex at this time?
  6. What would be the worst that could happen if I started having sex using safer sex methods?
  7. What would be the best that could happen?
  8. What would having sex do to my standing or reputation with others? Would I potentially jeopardize my status in my religious or other community? Does that matter to me?
  9. Do I feel like I know enough about my own body, the process of pregnancy, methods of contraception, and how to protect against and treat for STIs that I will not harm myself or my future by starting to have sex?
  10. Could I wait a bit longer? What’s the worst that could happen if I waited till x time? (x = college, after college graduation, after grad school, after graduating high school, till marriage, etc.)
  • I’m a teenager who feels ready to start having sex. How should I proceed?

First of all, equip yourself with the knowledge you need to feel like the sex you are going to engage in is in agreement with the level of risk you are willing to accept. Are you ready to accept the consequences of becoming a sexually active person? Have you considered how this will affect your future as a now sexually active person? 

Have you Googled enough to feel safe and like you have a plan for getting protection, treatment, etc? What is your contingency plan if you somehow still manage to become pregnant or get a STI? Do you have the funds you need to take care of that should that issue arise?

You may want to talk to an adult whom you trust – perhaps a pastor, school counselor, therapist, older sibling, cousin, parent/guardian, role model, or parental figure. Since they are older than you, they can provide more perspective about the consequences you are trying to judge before engaging in this new life decision. You’ll probably need to get multiple perspectives.

Are you ready to have safer sex conversations and lay out boundaries with the person(s) you intend to start having sex with? If you find this too difficult or gross, maybe you shouldn’t be having sex yet. Sex is a mature behavior, and you must be mature about communicating about sex. The conversation should not be pressuring but rather open, clear, honest, and direct.

  • I’m feeling a spasming pain where I pee. I may have experienced incontinence, and it really hurts to pee right now. What is going on?

You are likely suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is very common for women to develop after having sex with a new sex partner. Foreign bacteria from the anus, penis, and/or mouth or fingers gets trapped in the urethra and multiplies quickly, creating an infection there. The urethra swells due to inflammation, creating the spasming or painful sensation upon urinating.

What to do if you think you have a UTI:

Don’t panic, but you will need to get antibiotics. You will need to see a doctor in the next day or two to get the right kinds of antibiotics to cure your infection. The doctor will also be able to select an antibiotic that you neither are allergic to nor will experience negative interactions with any other prescription medications you might be taking. You MUST finish the entire prescription for the antibiotics to be effective. If you stop once you start feeling better and don’t finish the whole pack, you put yourself at great risk for developing an antibiotic-resistant infection which is much more serious and much more difficult to treat. You also MUST see the doctor within the first day or two that you recognize that you are experiencing UTI symptoms to avoid allowing the infection to spread into your bladder and kidneys. Bladder and kidney infections are also much more serious to treat and may require hospitalization to resolve.

Note that you likely want to consume probiotic yogurt (yes- there are actually vegan options for this too!) to promote the growth of “healthy” bacteria that normally flourish in your bladder, urethra, and kidneys while you are simultaneously taking antibiotics to kill off the “foreign” bacteria.

Ways to avoid getting a UTI:

  1. Urinate immediately after sex (10 min up to an hour after sex). The flow of urine will push out much of the harmful bacteria, keeping them from surviving and reproducing in the urethra.
  2. Drink cranberry juice or take Azo Cranberry tablets. Take either 1 glass or 2 caplets per day with water. Try to avoid sugary cranberry drinks, since sugar feeds bacteria. Go to your local Whole Foods or Sprouts to get the juice that is literally just cranberry juice and water. You can further dilute it, add other fruit juice to it, or add erythritol, Splenda, or stevia to the juice to sweeten it and make it tolerable.
  3. Drink lots of water each day. Choose water over sugary drinks, caffeinated, or carbonated beverages.
  4. Avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages (e.g., energy drinks, coffee, tea, soda, diet soda). These types of drinks irritate the urinary tract and make it harder to heal the infection.
  • Should I use a female condom with a male condom for double protection?

Although it may sound like a good idea to have “double-protection,” really what happens when you combine a male condom with a female condom is that you create too much friction by rubbing the two condoms together, increasing the likelihood of a tear. You should just pick one or the other, never both at the same time.

  • Can I use any lube with my toys or condoms?

You should only use water-based lube with toys or condoms, since they will dissolve in the presence of silicone-based lubes. Silicone-based lubes will eat away at the finish on your toys, making them impossible to sanitize over time.

  • Should I use a condom on my toys?

You really should not buy toys that are made of either toxic or porous materials. In the which case, if you’re purchasing body-safe toys, you will have purchased a medical-grade silicon, stainless steel, or glass toy. You should not need a condom with any of these because these materials are all non-porous. This means that you can completely sterilize them by boiling them in a pot of water on the stove for about 10-15 min.

References for more information about safe versus unsafe toys: toxic toys, porous toys, and this LikeAFemmeBoss.com article (coming soon).

Contraception FAQ

  • I just had unprotected sex. How can I reduce my likelihood of getting pregnant?

You can take emergency contraception (“morning after,” “Preven,” “Plan B,” “EC pill,” or “combined EC pill”) up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The sooner you take the emergency contraception after having unprotected sex, the more likely it is to work at preventing pregnancy. You can buy this at any local drugstore (e.g., Walgreen’s, CVS, RiteAid) by asking for it from the cashier or pharmacist.

  • I just missed my period. How do I know if I’m pregnant?

You should purchase a pregnancy test from your local drugstore (e.g., Walgreen’s, CVS, RiteAid) by asking for it from the cashier or pharmacist. A pregnancy test requires you to urinate on the “brush” side of the stick that comes in the package. Your urine will contain hormones that are only present during pregnancy, which is why this test works.

  • I just missed my period. What can I take to reduce my likelihood of keeping a pregnancy?

As soon as you determine that you’ve missed your period, you can take Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) tablets that do not contain the stabilization agent you normally find in the tablets you get at the drugstore. Raw Vitamin C has been shown to cause spontaneous abortion in some women by causing menstrual extraction, keeping the zygote (egg + sperm) from being able to implant in the uterine lining. You can read more about this here or check out this book.

  • I just found out I’m pregnant, but I’m not in a position to be able to bear or raise a child. What can I do?

You can call or visit a Planned Parenthood near you to schedule an appointment to talk with one of their counselors and/or to schedule an abortion. Planned Parenthood has many different options for dealing with this exact situation, and they can give you the information you need to make the best decision for your own life.

  • I just found out I’m pregnant, and I don’t have a Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinic nearby and I know that I need to terminate the pregnancy. What can I do?

Schedule an appointment with the nearest clinic you can find. You may need to book a flight or borrow a car to get there. It’s very important that you take action on this very quickly, since the window between knowing you’re pregnant and when it is no longer legal to have an abortion performed is only about 4 weeks. You may need to ask a friend or family member for financial or other help to make this happen. Know that what you decide to do with your body is your choice. No one else has to live with the consequences except you – therefore they should have no say.

In the meantime between scheduling the appointment and travel arrangements and actually getting to the appointment, you can take Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) tablets that do not contain the stabilization agent you normally find in the tablets you get at the drugstore. Raw Vitamin C has been shown to cause spontaneous abortion and can also keep the zygote (egg + sperm) from implanting in the uterine lining. This prevents pregnancy.

  • Where can I get contraception?

From the Planned Parenthood Web site:

“You can get birth control pills at drugstores, health clinics, or Planned Parenthood health centers.

You need a prescription for birth control pills. You can get a prescription from a private doctor or nurse, a health clinic, or your nearest Planned Parenthood health center. In a few states, you may even be able to get a prescription online.

During your visit, a nurse or doctor will talk with you about your medical history, check your blood pressure, and give you whatever medical exam you may need. Most people don’t need pelvic exams in order to get birth control pills. Your nurse or doctor will help you decide what you need based on your medical history.”

  • Where can I buy emergency contraception?

You can buy this at any local drugstore (e.g., Walgreen’s, CVS, RiteAid) by asking for it from the cashier or pharmacist. **Remember: the sooner you take the emergency contraception after having unprotected sex (within 72 hours of unprotected sex), the more likely it is to work at preventing pregnancy. 


  1. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era. New York: Touchstone, 2005.
  2. UC Berkeley Sexual Health Education Program Resources and Web site.
  3. Stevie Boebi‘s YouTube Channel.
  4. Arielle Scarcella‘s YouTube Channel.
  5. Planned Parenthood Web site.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

{Strategy} | Use Your Time Wisely

We all only have 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year to get things done. And yet some people just seem to be so on top of their game! While others struggle just to get to work on time and put in their 9-to-5 to get paid.

In this article I discuss some strategies to make your 24 hours feel both meaningful and powerful! Let’s get productive, #femmebosssquad!

Step 1: Focus on your vision.

What are your larger goals? What would you like to accomplish in the next year? In the next 3 years? How about the next 5 years? How would you like your life to feel? Don’t be afraid to get super precise about it or super far-reaching. You need to challenge yourself and choose the scenario you can best visualize for yourself in order for this to work!

Honestly, following this approach, you’ll really surprise yourself how many of these goals you will be able to hammer out in the advantageous time span you set! That being said, don’t write down anything unsustainable, like “get to a point where I only function on 3 hours of sleep.” Focus more on what healthy and happy would look like to you!

Write all of this down and tweak it until it looks just right.

Step 2: Define your personal values.

In other words, what moral precepts must you uphold in order to get from where you are now to where you want to be without feeling miserable or guilty?  I’d suggest honing in on your top five values. Here are my personal values, which you can use to guide you. Choose what resonates with you, though, and maybe Google a bit to determine the differences between values and preferences.

My personal values:

  • Personal integrity
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Calm / Personal wellness
  • (Environmental) stewardship
  • Valuing the present moment

For me, personal integrity covers a lot of ground. For me, I find that clear communication, upholding commitments in my various relationships, not overextending myself to meet obligations, and finishing goals I start all fall under the category of personal integrity. Stewardship for me really pertains to valuing the things I already have, being grateful to the Universe for what I have already been able to achieve and gain. Stewardship for me also involves taking good care of my things and the environment around me. I find good stewardship of the environment to be important too because I think of it as a form of social equity – not only are we preserving the Earth for our own health, but also for the good of our posterity. We also know that pollution and contamination disproportionately affect marginalized people groups and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In preserving and caring for the environment I find that I am also caring for the person next to me. I’m also intentionally valuing the present moment, because the environment is now.

Step 3: Hone in on the big goals you’d like to accomplish and when you’d roughly like to accomplish them by.

If you haven’t done so already, make a Google+ account. This will give you access to Google Drive, where I link this goals printable. Make a copy to store in your personal Drive account. Print out a copy or type directly into it. In it you’ll write out your 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year big goals that coincide with and accomplish your vision of yourself and your lifestyle that you created up in Step 1.

Step 4: Plan out your hours.

If you haven’t done so already in the previous step, make a Google+ account so you can get to this free printable Google Sheets worksheet. Make a copy to store in your personal Drive account. Open the sheet and proceed to the following steps:

  1. First, emphasize the importance of sleep – start by blocking out 8-10 hours per night depending on your personal needs.
  2. Plan at least 30 min before bed and 30 min in the morning to prepare for bed and to adjust to waking up (stretch, brush teeth, meds, wash face, etc.)
  3. Fill your obligations into the grid – work, family/social obligations, church/spiritual meetings, travel time, morning routine, etc.
  4. Once you’ve blocked out your travel time, meal times, bedtime and morning prep times, and work time, you may be surprised with how little (or how much) time you have left! This time is where you can now schedule in fun stuff, regular therapy or doctor appointments, grocery shopping, planning, meal prep, laundry, balancing your finances or budget, etc.
  5. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (check this article for how to do this) for what you will accomplish during each hour block of your study time for your classes. This will get you to stop worrying about how and when your hw assignments and readings will get done. It works because you have indicated to yourself that you’ve already planned out ample time and space for this and any hiccups. This method of reassuring yourself through engineered control measures YOU have set for yourself is providing a safe atmosphere (environment) for your brain to relax. That way, when you study you will actually be much more efficient because you won’t experience pervasive panic thoughts or other intrusive/ADHD-type distractions.
  6. Look at this chart EVERY NIGHT before you go to bed. This prepares your brain for the next day. It will also help you feel much more in control of your life and your goals. You will worry less, and be more excited about the fun things you’ve scheduled. You’ll even start to enjoy the things you used to “dread” or get worried about because you now know they will be efficient, contained, easier, and manageable.

Step 4: Keep yourself accountable with Google Calendar.

If you followed the steps above, you should now have a Google+ account. Google+ accounts come with Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Blogger, and a whole suite of other productivity tools free to you to use. I’d suggest getting comfortable with the Google suite of features, because I personally believe that more companies will switch over to the Google infrastructure in the next couple decades, setting you as an employee ahead of the curve. In other words, Google is the future, so might as well embrace it now.

Anyhoo, go ahead and set up your Google Calendar here. You can also set it up by clicking on the icon that looks like 9 tiny boxes in a grid and scrolling down in that menu till you find the button that looks like a calendar card. Click on this to open Calendar. I’ve been told that Google Calendar works much smoother than Apple’s iCal analog, and it syncs automatically across all devices – whether they are Google, Apple, or Windows!

You can schedule all of the things you set up in your Google Sheets worksheet you made in Step 3. Click an empty space on the calendar screen to create a new event. Label it with an event title (e.g., “US history study time,” “work,” or “sleep”) and modify the time to reflect the entire block of time you’ll be doing that activity. Set these events up as recurring events if they happen every week. You can make custom recurring time blocks by clicking “Custom” in the Repeat every < > section of the event you’re creating. Once these are set, you now have a guideline to work with in case you need to cancel something during the actual week in which you are working.

In other words, we’ve basically created an ideal image of what our schedule would look like in Step 3. Now in Step 4, we’ve created a real-time working model of your actual schedule, where you can insert, adjust, tweak, and delete events as needed to accommodate the special circumstances of that week.

Now, at the end of every week, hold yourself accountable to your schedule. Did you find that something consistently wasn’t working for you time wise? Was there a task you kept rescheduling or deleting because it constantly felt overwhelming or in the way of something else that spilled over? Did everything fit into the allotted time blocks you scheduled for each activity? Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly so that you can get into a stable routine that actually works. Here it is better to be realistic than idealistic, because the real you has to accomplish these things every day. Comparing your ideal schedule with your real-time Google Calendar schedule gives you, in essence, a reality check – you can figure out if your expectations of what you are able to accomplish are realistic. You can also figure out how you can improve by seeing where your shortcomings fell that week.

Step 5: Repeat this process until it becomes second nature.

And in a year’s time you’ll be amazed at what all you were able to accomplish! Sometimes reflecting on what you’ve been getting done and not getting done unearths a lot of latent emotions and subconscious beliefs about yourself. You should sit with these feelings, however uncomfortable they may be. These feelings and beliefs tell you more about yourself and where you may be struggling in life. I’d highly recommend that you invest in some good self-help books (I discuss several of the ones I benefited from most here) and set aside a time each day – even just 10-15 minutes! – to read. You’ve gotta replace old habits and negative beliefs about yourself with positive ones, because just trying to chuck them with no adaptive (positive) replacement never works (that’s what the psychological research shows, anyway!).

Check out these other articles too if you’re looking for more assistance overcoming negative beliefs:

Please leave a comment below if you felt that this article was helpful or if you have any strategies you’d like to add that have worked for you!

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

Day in the Life | Working at Mary Kay

Hey, Babes! It’s Hump Day!

Just wanted to share a little glimpse of today with you. I’m sitting in my car using the Blogger app while I wait for the car to heat up (it’s still so cold here in DFW!). Heading into rush hour in just a couple more minutes. Taking this time to reflect on my goals for today.

In my bullet journal, I usually write down a section for every day where I list 1-4 specific items I’d like to complete after work that day. This keeps me focused and energized about making small steps on the blog. For instance, last night I added more citations with links to the Web sites. I also added high-resolution, royalty-free pictures to the blog. I also made my boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day gift, vegan red velvet cupcakes with whisky icing. Just in case you were wondering – I’m poly (known more formally as polyamorous) so I have multiple significant others who all know about each other. More on that later…

Anyhoo, after this I crawled into bed. Sleepy! This took most of the free time I had in the evening.

This morning I woke up to my alarm clock and turned on the phone in my face to give me a bright blue light (this inhibits  melatonin production). Next I got up and brushed teeth, took meds, got dressed (capsule wardrobes article coming soon!), made breakfast, and listened to my favorite jams. This morning I got pumped with Panic! At The Disco and Chon.

So off to work now! Training on HPLC software so that I will eventually be able to run the sequences myself and care for the instruments (each one is worth about $20k!). I’m also training on the methods we use to verify that the raw materials meet the specifications we need to be able to say they’re good to make the makeup out of! Sounds like an interesting day!

Tonight I am going to Cheesecake Factory with my bf for a romantic dinner. That will probably take up most of my free time for tonight but totally looking forward to celebrating our friendship and relationship!

Hope your day is full of love and self-love! Muah! Happy Valentine’s Day, Babes!

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

{Living Social Justice} | Green Cleaning Agents

Tired of dried-out skin? Tired of feeling sensory-overloaded by artificial additives in everything? Tired of paying for the major ingredient in the stuff you spend all your money on to be water?  I definitely got to the point where I was sick of all of the extra chemicals and watered-down properties in the beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products I used at home. My body started to feel bombarded and I felt less productive. Perhaps it was because my body was constantly being assaulted by chemical warfare on the micro-scale! So I decided to start going all-natural – a minimalist chemical detox, so to speak.

Here is a list of products I compiled by category (click the images to learn more!):

Cleaning your house conveniently, healthfully, and effectively

Cleaners (click the images to learn more!):


I’d also highly recommend vodka as a cleaning agent. It is a mixture of ethanol and water, both of which are solvents commonly used in the laboratory to dissolve molecules of various sorts. The process of dissolving is one of the key reasons why cleaners work – they dissolve the grease molecules in your stains and take away sticky goo from spills, lifting them away from the surface you’re trying to get clean.

I personally haven’t had much luck with heavily marketed “green alternative” cleaning products such as Green Earth or Seventh Generation. Problematically, the ionic surfactants that make cleaners like Lysol with Clorox, Cling, and Windex so effective are actually the part of the products that hurts the environment. They deteriorate cell membranes of bacteria and other small organisms that would normally make their homes in soil and water, disrupting delicate ecosystems as they leach from the paper towels you threw into the landfill and the water you drained when you last did your tidying. So to get around that, try to use lye-based products such as Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps, acids/bases (vinegar/baking soda listed above), or solvents such as vodka and water first. They clean by different chemical means and are much more benign to the world around us (Schwarzman, McKeag, Mulvihill. Greener Solutions Course [Fall 2016]. UC, BerkeleyTOXNET databases by National Institutes of Health: US Library of MedicineEnvironmental Working Group [EWG]).

Avoid throwing away lots of paper towels and Clorox wipes as you clean. These modern conveniences still take 1-2 months in a landfill to deteriorate! Not to mention the fact that when you throw away more paper goods, you wind up filling your plastic garbage bags much faster! These plastics take up to 1000 years to decompose (LeBlanc. “How long Does It Take Garbage to Decompose?” The Balance)! Whereas if you had used a rag, towel, or reusable pad to wipe up the mess, you would have no waste and would save a LOT of money over time! (We’ll share the specifics pertaining to the money you’ll save by switching to zero-waste options soon.)

Alternatives to the rat race known as “fast-moving consumer goods”

Zero-waste wipes (click the images to learn more!):


As to what we put directly on our body?

Marketing research long ago showed that Americans in particular find a heavy lather and bubbles to be very appealing. Americans tend to think soap isn’t doing its job cleaning unless there are loads of bubbles. This is not necessary for the soap to work, however; it’s just a cultural notion that’s been reinforced by the mass consumerism we’ve been peddled since we were children. Not surprisingly, most of the soaps and cleaning agents we use today contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical which is a known skin irritant and sensitizer and which dries out the skin over time. In the presence of some other chemicals commonly found in American hygiene products, SLS can actually undergo a chemical reaction to produce a known carcinogen (YIKES!) Given that 1 in 3 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at least sometime in their lives, don’t you think that’s a recipe for disaster?

So I compiled a list of soaps that don’t have SLS or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), a known chemical substitute that has a similar toxicant profile but which helps companies get around the idea that there are “harmful chemicals like SLS” in their products. Essentially, a marketing scam. These soaps will keep your skin from getting dried out. The only downside to these soaps is that you need to keep them in a dish out of the spray of your shower head or sink to avoid wasting precious product.

Hand, body, facial, and hand-washed clothing soaps (click the images to learn more!):


I seriously swear by the SW Basics products. I had had a terrible acne breakout about 2 weeks ago, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong! It wasn’t particularly dry or humid at work, in the car, or at home. I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the sun. I wasn’t doing anything differently with my workouts, and I didn’t see much difference in my diet. Perhaps a lot of sugar. However, I was breaking out all over my face. And it was making me feel self-conscious. I gave the SW Basics cleanser a try – I just splashed a bit of water onto my face, dabbed a bit of the cleanser on a washcloth and applied to my face. I was amazed at how much black gunk came off my face just from the polluted air coming in contact with my face and the periodic nose rubbing that came with my allergies. I immediately rinsed the cleanser off with more water and the washcloth, blotted dry with a clean towel, and sprayed rose water toner over my whole face and neck. Finally, I applied the face moisturizer to seal it all in. I did this every morning before work and every night before bed for about 1 week. And now I have literally no acne! I was really surprised how well this blend of simple ingredients you’d find in your home worked on my face. So much for the little plastic cleansing beads and the crock of crap Johnson & Johnson keeps trying to sell you! Of course they don’t want your face to be cleared – they want you to keep coming back for more!

For acne-prone skin or simply for routine acne maintenance (here are the SW Basics products I used; click the images to learn more!):


I hope this curated list helps you make more informed decisions about how many toxins you keep in your home! Not only can this help your body health, your sense of peace, your wallet, and your family; it will also lower how much stress we are continually putting on landfills, the water treatment plants, and the soil and oceans!

Please let us know in the comments if you found this useful! Have a great week.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.