****This blog is no longer updated at this address! Come check it out at http://thinkandgrowchick.com. All of the archives are available there as well****

This site is my online journal that documents my attempts to reach various goals inspired by the principles found in the book, Think and Grow Rich. Join me as I strive to meet financial goals, fashion goals, school goals, hair-care goals, and everything in between. I hope that other young women will relate and find my journey useful to read about; this blog is for me as much as it is for women seeking resources for personal development and freedom. To get a daily dose, follow me on twitter and facebook...and don't forget to follow my blog!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Years Hair Update

If you remember a few posts back, I talked about how I wanted a new hair look for the New Year. I put up a few pictures of looks I decided I was going to go for and said that I was saving up some money so I could get to the salon and make it all happen. Well, because I've been flagrant in my neglect to update you all with my subsequent hair decision after that post, today's post is dedicated to my new hair regimen and styles that I actually decided to go through with for the New Year.

For starters, I did in fact head to "The Dominican's" (pre-financial apocalypse, of course) to get my hair straightened.

Maybe it's because of my increasing skill in doing my hair myself, but to be honest, I was not really impressed with the final results. Yes my hair was soft, yes it was shiny (and no, this picture doesn't really do it justice) but I can't say I was super impressed. If I can ever save up enough money to get my hands on a Maxiglide, I have a sneaking suspicion that I can do a much better job myself. But I digress...The whole point of me getting my hair straightened was to determined whether or not I wanted to go through with the Heidi Klum haircut I featured in my last hair post.

I must say, I'm glad I had my hair straightened on a separate salon visit first, because once I saw the state of my hair and how long my bangs were—I just couldn't go through with the cut. In fact, I couldn't go through with anything...no cut, no color, no nothing.

Why couldn't I go through with my painstakingly planned New Year's hair makeover, you ask? For two reasons:

(1) My hair was so raggedy! I knew I was being abusive to my locks with all the rough combing and sleeping on cotton pillow cases but WOW! The above picture features my hair AFTER the stylist trimmed it. Look at all those scraggly, fly-away ends! I ended up trimming it again myself the next day because I was so horrified with the condition of my hair. Needless to say, I just felt that it would be reckless to go experimenting with new haircuts and hair colors as my hair needed some serious TLC.

(2) I was actually really surprised at how long my hair was once it was straightened. Like I said before, I've been an abusive parent to my tresses and I assumed that I was going to face a lot of breakage, leaving me with shorter hair. To my luck, I did not have a lot of breakage and even retained some length—the trade off was that I had to deal with an exorbitant amount of split ends instead. Nevertheless, seeing the length (however meager) renewed my desire for a head of healthy, long hair. Thus, scissors are officially out of the question and my new hair goal for New Years and beyond is armpit length, or "APL" status.

Since that week of straight hair, I have since been on a mad dash to find the perfect combination of products and techniques for a new "growing my hair" regimen. I've been on forums, read blogs, and watched youtube videos to get an idea of the things to try and so far...I think I've been pretty successful :-) Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my new regimen and different techniques I've been trying with my hair.

Have you ever had plans for your do, but changed you mind once you actually got to the salon? Are you currently on a "grow my hair" challenge yourself? What are you doing to ensure "hair success"? Share your comments below.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Easiest Way to Predict the Future...

...Is to create it! And every year around this time, I find myself turning into a list makin', collage pastin', goal chasing fool, trying to do just that—create my future. So why do all of this particularly doing THIS time a year, you ask?

Because the New Year is near, duh!

Like clean, white sheets, fresh from the dryer on laundry day, the beginning of the New Year is that new start most of us just can't wait to get into. With a tumultuous 2009 nearly behind me, I too am excited at the prospects of white my life will be like in 2010. True to Think & Grow Chick form, I am leaving nothing to chance and everything to a well documented list of goals. The difference this year, however, is that I am not waiting for a whole 'nother year to pass by before I realize I didn't accomplish anything. Goals are useless if (1) you don't set deadlines for yourself and (2) you don't review your goals to see if you're making any progress before your deadline hits. In other words, the following represent things that I am trying to do in 6 months or less. Meet my half-year hit list:

  1. I will attempt to bring in a solid income of $2,350 per month. Though this is equivalent to a million dollars for me given the (college student) poverty level I'm currently operating at, the above number was carefully calculated as just what I need to get out of my current financial mishap and still have some left over. I just got hired at a popular downtown bar (and I still plan on keeping my current part-time job), so working full-time, I think this is feasible. (I'll do more about my new budgeting plan in a separate post.)
  2. I will completely pay off my lowest credit card amount, $873.53. (I have three cards in total...I know, I know, I'm cringing too.) Calculated in the income goal above, I should be able to eradicate that little grey piece of plastic which has caused me so much pain and cost me near a grand to date. Sheesh...
  3. Because I'm super ambitious, I plan to attack my debt AND I will have at least $1000 in personal savings in 6 month's time. I know ya'll think I'm crazy because I owe A LOT of money, but if I've learned anything from those personal finance books, it's that you have to have some sort of egg nest when paying off debt, otherwise you'll just run back to your credit card when the (inevitable) first sign of trouble hits. I cannot go back there again, so my new plan incorporates paying myself first.
  4. I will be enrolling back in school part-time for the 2010 summer session, and full-time for the 2010 fall session. I would be in school right now if it weren't for the back tuition I owe Howard, so a soon as that's paid off (which will be in less than 6 months is I can hit the income number listed in #1), I'm enrolling in the most affordable school I can get in to so that I can FINISH. THIS. DEGREE!!!
  5. Swinging into the land of vanity, My hair will reach armpit length (APL) or longer in six months or less. I'm armed with a new regimen and a new attitude, (again, more in a separate post) so I see no reason why my strands can't attain such lengths.
  6. This may come as a surprise because I'm already a pretty healthy, slim girl, but in 6 month's time I really want to tone up my physique. That's right, I'm trying to be all chiseled up like I was in my high school ballerina/track running days. I'll be sure to document my new found fitness adventure in subsequent post.
  7. I've been saying this forever and I'm sorry I still have to say it now, but I want to improve my wardrobe. Now this is not to say that I dress busted or anything, but my financial situation has really jacked up my fashion situation and I have had enough! I used to take pride in being a generally stylish young woman and I want to get back to that, stat! I've included shopping money in my target income level (goal #1) so that I can achieve this, guilt-free. 
  8. Last but of course not least, in 6 month's time I really want to develop this blog. To be honest, I've really grown to love blogging and I think it can become an amazing personal resource and entrepreneurial venture for me and my readers. I generally like to be more concrete than simply saying that I want to "develop" something, but for now I'll say that I definitely want to increase readership.

    So that's it for me dear readers. The are my personal action items for the next 6 months, starting today. My deadline for all of these goals is Thursday, June 10, 2010. I am not playing around this year and neither should you! Two (or a thousand) heads are better than one, so I encourage everyone to come up with their own 6 month game plan and either link to it in the comment box below, or email it to me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com so that we can get the ball rolling together.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Never Say What You Can't Do: Video Response

    A simple video response to yesterday's post :-)
    (you may need to turn up your volume, the audio is kind of low, sorry!)

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Never Say What You Can't Do

    I cried harder as she continued on her lecture. Even though her voice was rising, between my sobs and my hands uncontrollably shaking the earpiece, I was struggling to hear what she was saying.

    "Courtney, we are not built to break. You are stronger than this! So what, you've got to take a little detour. So? God is teaching you a lesson right now! Take this time to get your act together, then get your a** back in school! I know it seems like a lot of money—hell, that's a lot of money for me and I have a full-time job. But this is not insurmountable. If you work hard for the next 6 months and save everything—and I mean it Courtney, you better save everything—you can pay that off. I don't mean to sound like I'm not sympathetic to your situation because I am, but right now, you need tough love to get you out of this. You think this is tough?? You have it made, Courtney. There are women leaving abusive husbands, struggling to get that degree while living in homeless shelters. Heck, you think it was easy for me trying to get through grad school with two small daughters? Why do you think I'd always invite those young girls over to study at our house, hmm? It was because I couldn't afford childcare!!! I would feed them and they would come over and study with me so I could watch you and your sister! It is not a game, sweetie, but there are worst things in life. You can do this. So have a good cry, splash some cold water on your face, call your boyfriend, make some tea, draft up a plan, and get down to business."

    "Do you understand?"

    "Yes," I replied to my mother as I sniffed hard and hung up the phone. I was so angry but she was so right. I had gotten myself into this, but I could definitely get myself out of this if I was willing to put in the work.

    Deep down, however, I knew the tears came less from the unfair charge I was being forced to pay and more from realizing for the first time where I really am in life. I cried hard a few days ago because for the first time, I really felt like I was at the bottom. To be perfectly honest, I am.

    At 21 years old, I am unenrolled from college, I owe $3,350 in charges from Howard University, and I cannot transfer to another school until I pay the debt off because there is now a hold on my transcripts. In addition to all of that, I'm currently on a strict repayment plan with my credit card company because I owe $4,687.46 and almost 80% of that amount has to be paid in 12 months or else I get slammed with an outrageous interest rate. To say this is not the life I envisioned for myself is an understatement.

    When I first came to Howard, I was a bright and shiny, scholarship having, 3.8 GPA achieving, chemical engineering student. "I'll never leave Howard," I adamantly told my parents on one of their first visits. "This is the dorm where all the scholarship girls stay," I continued. "I'll never stay in that other dorm."

    Fast forward to my sophomore year when waking up to go to class literally sent me into panic attacks. I had long discovered that I was not really interested in engineering and that I was just doing it because it was "impressive", but I was too scared to do anything else because I didn't want to let anyone down. My grades were reflecting my lack of interest as I was struggling to hold on to a 2.5 GPA and my scholarship was a thing of the past.

    Since I'm the type of person who likes to fix things before anyone notices that things are going wrong, I applied for my first credit card, hoping I could build up some credit before the school year ended so that I could take out a private loan to finance the rest of my education without getting my parents involved. As God would have it, the economy tanked right at the end of that year, simultaneously forcing Sallie Mae to raise the credit score required for school loans and leaving me up the creek without a paddle.

    By my Junior year, I knew I had to get out of engineering before I graduated with a worthless GPA. I had since discovered my love and aptitude for Business, but the School of Business at Howard refused to accept me without a 3.0 GPA. Factor in the Parent Plus Loan my dad had taken out for me without knowing the extent of my academic and financial predicament, and you'll understand why I felt like my only option left was to crawl under a rock and die. Embarrassed and scared because my back was up against the wall, I broke down during a routine phone call with my dad and I told him everything.

    I was so surprised at how supportive my dad was that I felt bad for not telling him sooner. Through my tears and much needed prayer, my dad agreed that it would be best if I withdrew from Howard and transfered to a less expensive university that would accept me into their business program before I wasted anymore time and money. Thinking the worst of my situation was over, I withdrew from all of my engineering classes and made the arrangements to enroll in the spring semester at the city university across town, given that I could take advantage of their lower, in-state tuition rates.

    Everything seemed brighter at that point. I was laughing again, smiling again, and overall I was feeling more like myself. I was excited to be spending less money on a new major that I knew I would truly love and I couldn't wait to get started. The world seemed to be turning up roses until my new school told me Howard would not release my transcripts. I ventured to the financial aid department to find out why and BAM! Because I withdrew before the semester ended, Howard had returned all of my federal loans that were previously covering my tuition, unbeknownst to me, leaving me with a balance of $3,350. My heart sank—I would not be able to transfer to any school until the amount was paid in full.

    I have been M.I.A. on this blog not just because all of this is happening (though it certainly has taken a lot of my mental energy) but because in order to stay true to the mission I had when I first started this blog, I knew I'd be a complete fraud if I continued blogging without addressing my situation on here. How on earth can I spread that message of "Think and Grow Chicks can achieve any goal!" and not put the spotlight on myself? If I truly believe my own mission, then I have to be this blog's resident example of making all of your dreams come true...even if everything seems to be going wrong.

    So take heart, my beloved readers, I'm going to be fine and if you're going through anything right now, you're going to be fine too. With a little hard work and a whole lotta prayer, I know I can still achieve everything I've ever dreamed of doing. I will be back in school in 6 months, I will pay off all of my debt in a year, I will graduate as a high achieving business major, and I will be a raging success. Period. So if you forgive me for taking a leave of absence over the last few weeks and you believe in this blog, this mission, and the fact that you truly can accomplish any goals as a Think and Grow Chick, then I invite you to continue to follow my journey.

    If you have a "comeback" story to share related to any topic or goal, feel free to leave your comments below or email me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.