Happy Holidays from THL!

The first day of November hit, and suddenly, the world turned its attention to the holidays. Ads appeared everywhere boasting holiday sales, the biggest savings you’d see all year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went with a deluge of emails urging us all to shop, shop, shop.

While I am one to love shopping — and writing about shopping — today is a day to remember that Christmas and the holiday season in general are not about buying clothes or stocking up on makeup. They are not about clipping coupons or heading out to shop at  the stroke of midnight.

Not even remotely.

The holidays are about family. They are about spending time with the people you love the most, and letting them know how much they mean to you. They are about drawing each other near and holding each other close, being grateful to have people who love you and ground you in the midst of the craziness that is our world today.

They are about remembering your past and being hopeful for your future. They are about giving more than you receive, and not just giving in a monetary or commercial way, but giving of time, love, patience and care. They are about opening our hearts, clearing our minds and just being present in a fleeting moment in time that will soon be a mere memory.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for: from my family and friends, to my job and this labor of love that is THL, my life is filled with blessings both large and small over which I continually pinch myself.

So today, I will take stock not of the gifts that were under my Christmas tree, but of the gifts I’ve been given throughout my life and the gift that is my life in general.

I urge you all to try do the same, not just today, but every day. I know I will.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all a very happy holiday season.




It’s not goodbye, it’s ‘later, baby’

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite shows of all time is The Mindy Project, which wrapped up its sixth and final season on Tuesday, Nov. 14. While endings are never easy, this one was especially emotional for me. And here’s why…

Dear Mindy Kaling,

You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I feel like I do. Just like millions of viewers in the U.S. and around the world, I entered the universe of The Mindy Project and instantly fell in love with the quirky, over-the-top Mindy Lahiri and, in turn, became a fan of you. Your humor, your acting, your style, your confidence — I admired everything about you and the show.

So as the final scene of the series finale panned out and I watched as Mindy and Danny grew smaller and smaller in the glow of the television light in the fictional St. Brendan’s Hospital, I found tears streaming down my face. I was crying because it was over, yes, and because it ended with the hope that the duo rekindled their relationship, but also because I recognized something else in that dwindling last moment: I saw how both Mindy and I have grown, changed and evolved together.

I started watching the show on Hulu in my second year of college, which was in every way a tough year for me. From difficult courses to challenging roommate situations to being a generally shy and self-conscious person, my sophomore year began in a haze trying to find in myself the confidence to rise above the the circumstances I faced. I didn’t know what it meant to truly speak up or what it felt like to be a self-assured person, let alone be bold and brazen.

And then I ‘met’ Dr. Mindy Lahiri. For the first time, I saw someone who was completely confident in herself, someone who owned herself at every turn and never let anyone forget just how fabulous she was. Despite her immaturities, flaws and shortcomings, she was someone I wanted to be; she was successful and smart, and she knew her worth and made it known to others.

Watching Mindy Lahiri that year became a nightly ritual, ending my night with bouts of laughter that softened the edges of a rough day. I watched in amazement as she stood up to Danny in “Danny Castellano is My Gynecologist,” rooted for her as she navigated her many relationships, and hoped that she would soon find her happily ever after.

As the seasons went on and Mindy Lahiri’s adventures took her different places, I too embarked on my own journey. As Mindy applied for her fellowship at Stanford, I applied for and got my very first job on campus. When Mindy and Danny came together (and eventually fell apart), I found myself coming together, ditching my past insecurities for a greater sense of self. As Later, Baby began to take off, I was about to set off on my final year of college. When Mindy finally decided to commit herself to Ben and secure the happy ending she thought she wanted, I had my own happy ending when I graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa.

And as Mindy learned that she — along with Danny and her colleagues at Schulman & Associates — all changed for the better by the final season, I noticed that, after all these years watching and rooting for Mindy, I also changed. While I am not perfect, just like Mindy isn’t perfect by the end of season six, I now know who I am, I am at peace with who I was and the mistakes I made, and I know who I want to be going forward.

Now the show is over. Mindy has matured, and so have I. While the future is uncertain for us both, we’ve learned quite a bit from where we started: both a little messy, both in need of some polishing. We both seem to know now that, no matter what may come our way, we have the tools to tackle it head-on. We’ve come a long way.

With no more episodes left, no new adventures and no guessing what happens next, it feels as if I’ve lost a friend — the friend in my head. Mindy has seen me through so many highs and lows, from my surly sophomore year of college to my very first big-girl job in the media industry. But every story has an ending, and while Mindy Lahiri’s is over, mine is just beginning. And no matter what may lie ahead, thanks to Mindy Lahiri, I will always remember that I am a warrior, and my warrior name is “Beyoncé Pad Thai.”

So, to Mindy Kaling, thank you for creating a character that inspired me and countless  others. Thank you for showing us that women can be confident and outspoken, stylish and a straight-up boss. But thank you most of all for your talent, your art and your heart. You’ve commented so beautifully on what it means to be a female professional, friend, parent, partner and woman in the world, and we are all the better for it.

Mindy Lahiri will surely be missed, but she will always be just a click away. So while this ending is bittersweet, it’s not goodbye. It’s ‘later, baby.’



Nicole’s Favorites: Digital Must-Reads

Sometimes, speaking up or putting yourself out there can be extremely difficult. It can take all the confidence and bravery you can muster to finally speak your mind, stand up for yourself or go out on a limb in pursuit of your dreams. But, when you have models of those who have gone before us — those who have busted down doors or pointed out double standards — it can make it a little bit easier for the rest of us who are trying to find our way.

This week, I’ve chosen two pieces that I think are very important to read, albeit for different reasons. One teaches us to speak up in the midst of the most difficult or trying circumstances, while the other offers insight on the roadblocks women may face when striving for success. Both, however, will leave you feeling stronger and inspired. Here are my two favorite online reads for this week:

Gretchen Carlson: What Speaking Up Against Sexual Harassment Did for Me—and Why I Encourage Other Women to Do the Same 

(Trigger warning) The former Fox News host reveals details the sexual assaults she faced as a Miss America candidate and later sexual harassment she faced working her way up the media industry. Her experiences — and the countless others she heard from women with similar stories — then inspired her to write Be FierceStop Harassment and Take Back Your Power, due out on Oct. 17. Read her essay on InStyle here.

Jewel Eliese: How to Get Published: Be Male?

Writer Jewel Eliese breaks down the barriers to success in the world of publishing, which she concludes may be a function of gender, as males — and even females writing under male pseudonyms — have an easier time getting manuscript requests and even published. However, Eliese argues that we, as a society, can change things if we remove gender and its adjoining stereotypes from the equation and focus on the quality of the storytelling, not the name signed at the bottom of a query letter. Read her full article here.

While these pieces certainly point out the many trappings that can go along with gender, they should serve as a source of inspiration, letting us all know that change is possible if we have the courage to pursue it.



Nicole’s Favorites: High Fashion & Bold Feminism

Sometimes, designers like to make a statement in the styles they create, while others like to literally inscribe a message on their designs.

Take, for instance, these new tees by Dior and Stella McCartney, both of which offer an inspiring message of female empowerment. According to PopSugarDior opened their Spring 2018 show with “a Brenton-striped slogan top that read ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?'” Inspired by a 1971 essay by Linda Nochlin, PopSugar says the top highlight the very themes Nochlin explore in her essay, which dove into the gatekeepers barring women from succeeding in the art world. What’s more is that the tee hold even more significant, as it was designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri — Dior’s first female creative director.

But Chiuri isn’t the only one to take a stand with her T-shirts. Stella McCartney used her design talents to create an exclusive top for Glamour that reads “Women, Power, Love.” The shirt, which Glamour says they co-designed, is featured on all 17 of its editions around the world and benefits the The Girl Project, a charity created by Glamour to help girls around the world earn an education. The shirt, says McCartney, aims to not only empower women to speak up and love themselves as they are, it also serves as a reminder to reclaim what it means to be a “powerful” woman.

“I think when the words powerful and women go hand in hand, certain generations believe it’s not a compliment,” McCartney told Glamour. “But this [belief] was something generated by men to make women feel bad if we have something to say. That’s not the case anymore.”

Now, she explained, women are owning their voices and rejoicing in their power.

“Young women see power as something to be celebrated and to be proud of. I feel powerful when I’m being honest and when I’m not compromising who I am,” she offered. “Also, when I speak for other women who don’t have a voice—that’s when I feel that I’m being the best woman I could be.”

I love that these fierce women are using their talents to assert the voices, power and presence of women everywhere. Let’s hope the trend continues!




Nicole’s Favorites: Digital Must-Reads

Friday is here, and with the weekend officially upon us, you might feel like relaxing before jumping into your weekend plans. Whether your agenda includes going out every night, sampling every brunch in a 30-mile radius or cozying up with a good book, it won’t hurt to celebrate the start of the weekend with a bit of inspiration from some of the most powerful women around.

So before diving into your busy — or lazy — weekend schedule, be sure to give these online reads a glance:

How Shania Twain Learned to Feel Beautiful After Tragedy and Self-Doubt” – Without a doubt one of my favorite artists of all time, Twain imparts her tale of self-doubt, tragedy and eventual acceptance and self-love to InStyle‘s Sarah Cristobal. From feeling anything but pretty as a child to learning how to feel comfortable in her own skin through the loss of her parents, a divorce and a vocal cord injury, Twain’s determination to overcome all that life has thrown at her is the definition of beauty and grace.

TIME magazine’s “Firsts” series – A series of video and print interviews with women who have been the first in their industry to achieve success, this project aims to inspire women and girls to “find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to her that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular.” With interviews ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Serena Williams, Barbara Walters to Selena Gomez, this series will not only make you believe in the power of women, but also in the power of your own abilities. Two of the most notable interviews come from Ava DuVernay, the first black to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (Selma), and first female secretary of state Madeleine Albright; I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry watching them speak.

So wherever your weekend takes you, be sure to get a healthy dose of empowerment from some of the most inspirational women of our time.



Nicole’s Favorites: Graphic tees with a message

Graphic tees are a great way to share a cool print or a funny saying, but sometimes, screen printed T-shirts about more than just comfort and style. In fact, some tees can be as charitable as they are fashionable.

As someone who loves to shop with a purpose, I’ve been recently trying to find T-shirts and companies that donate to a worthy cause or organization with every purchase, and in that quest, I’ve landed on a few shops that are doing big things with simple tees. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Outrage

Called an “apparel brand for lovers of equality,” The Outrage fights inequities at every turn with T-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories. The best part is that every item for sale on their site gives back to organizations that fight such inequalities like Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

Store favorite: The “Resist” scoop neck pocket T-shirt ($29). This simple style injects a bit of the resistance into your everyday attire, all while benefitting the ACLU.


This New York and Los Angeles-based shop highlights the work of individual artists and designers, acting as one-part retail space and one-part design space. While not all of their products directly benefit outside organizations, they do have a selection of items that delegate a portion of their proceeds to specific charities and institutions.

Store favorite: “The Future is Female” sweatshirt ($60). Modeled after the first “The Future is Female” T-shirt made for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City, this sweatshirt allows you to wear your feminism out loud. Twenty-five percent of the cost will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Feminist Apparel

An independently-owned “purpose-driven” apparel company based in Philadelphia, Penn., Feminist Apparel believes in “spreading feminism through inclusivity, positivity, and open dialogue.” Featuring a wide variety of designs that spans issues including rape culture, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights and Black Lives Matter issues, there is something for everyone at Feminist Apparel.

Store favorite: The “Cinnamon Scrolls, Not Gender Roles” T-shirt ($29.95). While this tee is certainly cute with its animated cinnamon roll on the front, its message is still powerful — especially since proceeds benefit The Equality Institute, which works to secure gender equality and eradicate violence against women.

So whatever causes you support or issues you care about, you can wear your heart on your sleeve, thanks to these fabulous shops.

Happy shopping!




Take a time out with THL

It’s Wednesday, the days are getting warmer and brighter and our minds are on anything but our daily grind. So if you find your mind wandering in the middle of your work day or find a few minutes to unwind, there’s always something interesting to read online. Here are just a few of our favorites:

“A Culture of Extraordinary” by Stacy London

In this 2014 piece, the former What Not to Wear host not only offers a glimpse of life beyond the small screen, but also an honest assessment of the changing media landscape that is dominated by social media celebrities and so-called “online experts.” Calling our social media profiles our attempts at constant personal branding, London says we “don’t just have to be the woman who does everything; you now have to SHOW that you are (EVEN IF YOU AREN’T.)” While it’s already three years old, the piece has just as much relevance then as it does today.

Read it here.

Body Positivity Month at Outspeak

This digital opinion outlet is taking on body positivity all month long, “celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes, and exploring our complicated relationships with them.” As part of the project, Outspeak is requesting video submissions that address themes ranging from illness and disability to eating disorders to media representations of bodies. If you want to submit a video, click here for submission guidelines — or if you just want to follow along, the result is sure to be a fascinating work that is both expository and enlightening.

‘Fast Fashion’ advice from The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan

Perfect for new college graduates — and anyone who needs a refresher course — this article presents the pitfalls of falling for fast fashion (read: cheap, trendy clothing) while offering the benefits of investing in higher-priced, yet more quality items that will stand the test of time. Also discussing tailoring as surefire way to make an outfit look much more polished, Givhan’s piece makes abundantly clear that style is a function of quality and fit.

Read it here.

Whether your week is brimming with activity or slowing to a crawl, take a time out with THL to clear your head and get inspired.

Take a time out with THL

Sometimes, you just need a little boost of inspiration to sustain your motivation throughout the day. While it can be difficult to maintain your positivity through the hustle and bustle of the work week, there is a simple — yet beautiful — solution that will remind you to keep pushing forward at all times.

Inspirational jewelry is not only the perfect way to keep your favorite mantra visible, it is also a great way to add a little dash of something special to your look. Often very sleek and unassuming, inspirational jewelry can look minimalist to the untrained eye, but to you, it carries a special meaning that you take with you throughout the day.

Check out some of THL’s favorite inspirational pieces:

Piper Cleo

This online boutique offers a host of jewelry — inspirational and otherwise — to inject a hint of meaning into your daily wear. Equal parts dainty and powerful, our favorite piece happens to be the “Nevertheless, she persisted” bar necklace, which boasts the now-famous words of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell who ended a speech read by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Despite it’s political significance, the phrase has become something of a feminist rallying cry and makes for a perfect reminder to persist no matter the obstacles you face. The best part: the necklace is on sale for only $20.


A THL favorite, Mantraband offers both bracelets and necklaces with phrases on them that signify happiness, love, peace, strength or a journey. Available in gold, silver and rose gold, these pieces are subtle and unobtrusive enough to pair with your go-to jewelry without interference. Our personal favorite is the “Alis Volat Propriis” bracelet, a bangle that shares the message, “She flew with her own wings.” For only $25, you’ll remind yourself every day that you have the power to take charge of your life.

Alex and Ani

Perhaps the most well-known of these inspirational shops, Alex and Ani has a massive selection of their iconic bracelets, necklaces, rings and even accessories that all have latent meaning. If rings are more your thing, the Eros Arrow Wrap Ring offers the most unassuming take on inspirational jewelry yet. A simple arrow, the motif symbolizes direction; in its product description, the ring is said to serve as a reminder to “Stay focused with your eyes on the target. Let your arrow of intention fly to its goal.”

Take a break from work, take a deep breath and take a time out from the daily grind by perusing these selections of inspirational jewelry — and by reminding yourself that no matter what, you have all you need to succeed.

Take a time out with THL

It’s Wednesday, and you’re struggling to find the motivation to make it through the rest of the week. Enter THL, who has just the music you need to not only end the week on a high note, but also keep you inspired for days (and weeks) to come.

A Seat at the Table – Solange Knowles

Don’t be fooled by this easy listening; Knowles’ third album is packed with raw emotion and straight-shooting messages on what it means to be a black woman in today’s society. An album she deemed a “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing,” according to Rolling StoneA Seat at the Table delivers entrancing melodic hooks coupled with thought-provoking lyrics that are sure to make this album one that you’ll revisit time and again.

Standout tracks:

 “Cranes in the Sky” – A light and airy track, “Cranes in the Sky”is driven by a strong bass line that pulls it back down to Earth and enhances Knowles’ soulful voice.

“Don’t Touch My Hair” – Likely one of the most powerful tracks on the album, “Don’t Touch My Hair” not only asserts Knowles’ own power, but also that of all black women.

Long Live the Angels – Emeli Sandé

The sophomore album of Scottish singer Emeli Sandé doesn’t disappoint, delivering a heartrending account of a broken heart to eventual solace. Departing from her more pop-infused first album, Long Live the Angels incorporates soul, R&B and gospel influences, while certain melodies pay tribute to her Zambian roots. Overall, the album plays much like a story, bringing listeners from an introduction to her heartbreak, to a conflict in trying to grapple with the grief and finally to a resolution in deciding to love again.

Standout tracks:

“Selah” – Said to be a musical break that means “So be it” in Hebrew, the opening track is both haunting and beautiful, with lyrics flowing in a stream-of-consciousness style that is heavy with anxiety and pain.

“Sweet Architect” – Sandé’s emotionally-charged voice takes centerstage on this track, with words that sound like a prayer and an uncomplicated melody. The gospel choir at the end seems to act as a resounding “Amen.”

This is Acting – Sia

This covert singer-songwriter may not show her face on stage, but she certainly wears her heart on her sleeve in her songs. While some tracks discuss the struggle in letting her voice be heard, others serve as a reminder that we don’t walk alone when faced with struggles. Though her songs employ typically pop sounds, Sia’s unique voice cuts through the instrumentals and carries the weight of her important lyrics, as well as the heart and soul she surely pours into every ounce of her music.

Standout tracks:

“Alive” – A story of a woman still standing after facing the worst of what life has to offer, “Alive” places hope for a better future in the simplest of things: that we’re still breathing.

“The Greatest” – Sia’s most recent single, “The Greatest” pushes us to keep going, to never give up and to believe that we can be the greatest we can be.

Grab your headphones, close your eyes and let these artists restore your energy and rejuvenate your determination.

Take a time out with THL

We are 27 days into 2017, and the new year has already ushered in a host of new challenges. But don’t let the stress get you down — take a time out with THL to recharge and gear up to tackle head on whatever concerns are plaguing you.

Take some R&R time

If you’re too busy to head to a nail salon, try pampering yourself with an at-home manicure and pedicure. Better yet, use a nail polish with an empowering name so every time you look down out at your nails, you’re reminded to keep calm and carry on.

THL recommends: Essie’s “Power Clutch,” available at Ulta for $9.

Take some creative time

If makeup and spa days aren’t your thing, relax your mind with a little art therapy. A new trend, adult coloring books offer a brief respite from the daily grind and allow grown ups to be a kid once more. But make no mistake: adult coloring books aren’t all roses, sunshine and puppies designed to numb your mind. Some incorporate your favorite television shows, while others may even teach you something new while you’re coloring away.

THL recommends: “The Badass Feminist Coloring Book,” available at Barnes & Noble for $25, is complete with images of “40 badass feminists and bonus essays on feminism” that are sure to simultaneously relax you and inspire you.

Take some alone time

Everyone loves to read something that is both enlightening and engaging, so there’s no better way to steal a little time for yourself than by curling up with a good book. Whether you decide to read something brand new or choose to revisit an old favorite, reading allows you to escape from the present or become engrossed in a new tale — or may even make you aware of a previously unconsidered point of view.

THL recommendsWe Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, available at Amazon for $6.39 (or $2.99 for the Kindle Edition). This short essay, which was adapted from Adichie’s famous TEDx talk, lays out the basic premise of feminism and explains the logic behind an inclusive feminism.

These recommendations will surely provide an escape from the stresses of the new year. But don’t rest for too long — those challenges won’t resolve themselves.