Time to Hit the Gym!

Happy New Year! With resolutions top of mind, it is the time of year when many people head to the gym to better their personal health. For this topic, I turned to one of my best friends, Meredith Reiber, a multi-faceted fitness and nutrition professional who manages a gym as well as owns Pure Movement and is also a Diet Doc Consultant. Together, we have put together our tips for being a courteous gym member and workout buddy!

  1. Greet the front desk staff when you sign-in for the day!
    • If you have a quick question or request, feel free to pop in to the main office, but if you have in-depth question about membership or training we suggest scheduling an appointment with a staff member.
  2. When using the locker room:
    • Be sure to leave room for others. Do not spread out all your personal belongings across the bench, counter top, etc.
    • When changing or heading to the showers, avoid being totally naked. Use a towel or at least stay in your underwear.
    • Place all your personal belongings in a locker, do not leave anything laying out, and use a lock to secure your personal items.
  3. Personal Appearance
    • Wear appropriate gym clothes.
      • While at the gym, it is tempting to show off how you great you look, but remember to still keep it classy. For the ladies, avoid booty shorts (NOTE: there is a difference between yoga shorts and booty shorts) and letting the girls hang out. A supportive sports bra is not only appropriate, but you will thank yourself later for investing in good undergarments!
      • Wear freshly washed clothes each gym visit! Stuffing your sweaty workout gear in your sweaty gym bag amplifies your hard work (AKA sweat) stench.  Do your clothes, and your gym buddies, a favor by not wearing them again until washed!
    • Use deodorant! Let’s be honest, we all sweat, but let’s try to keep the smells to a minimum.
    • The mirror in the class studio and weight-room is to check your form on exercises. Avoid checking yourself out and/or obsessively fixing your hair and makeup. Additionally, beware of adjusting your clothing in the mirrors. Gyms are covered with mirrors and you would be surprised at how many people can actually see what you are doing (i.e. picking at your underwear).
  4. Be conscious of a busy gym and/or if there is a wait for machines.
    • Do not be a “machine hog.” If someone is waiting to use the same machine as you, take turns alternating sets.
    • The gym can get pretty crowded, do not try to wedge yourself into a tiny space between people. Be sure you have enough room for your exercises, but also be aware of taking more room than you need. NOTE: This is especially true during fitness classes!
    • Leave your cell phone behind! The gym is not the place to be snapping selfies, checking emails and social media, or responding to text messages, especially when it is busy and people are waiting.
    • If you know an exercise class fills up fast, register ahead of time and arrive early to ensure your spot in the class.
    • Gym rats! Be courteous of new gym go-ers.  It may be frustrating to have to share the equipment you have been using all year but these newbies have to start somewhere, and who knows, they may end up becoming a regular, like you, by next year!
  5. Respect other people’s privacy.
    • Some people do not like to socialize while at the gym. If someone has headphones in or you can tell they are super serious about the workout, let him/her be and speak to him/her after the workout.
      • There is a misconception about Fitness Professionals being able to workout all day.  The hidden truth is that it is actually harder to workout once you start working at a gym! If you see a staff member working out, hold off on those class, billing, etc. questions until after you see them wrap up their workout and are back in their office.
    • Try to avoid staring at people or watching others workout. If you are interested in the workout someone is doing, ask him/her about it after he/she completes the workout.
    • With that being said, still be a friendly individual. Smile and/or say hello as you walk past people.
    • Keep your comments to yourself.
      • Unless you are a personal trainer or member of the gym staff, do not critique other people’s workout. Leave this to the professionals!
      • If someone is not “in shape,” DO NOT make any comments about him/her. They are there working hard to get in shape, encourage them!
  6. Control the noise.
    • Avoid dropping weights on the ground when you are done with your set. Not only is it distracting, it’s not good for the weights or the gym floor.
    • Keep your headphones to a level at which you can hear them and get pumped up, but not motivate the entire gym (not everyone enjoys the same music).
    • Limit the grunting, groaning, and other expressive noises. Your goal should not be to have everyone looking at you, take Kevin Hart’s advice.
  7. Clean up after yourself!
    • Wipe down the machines and mats you use when you are done. All gyms now have sanitary wipes ready for use!
    • Put back all the equipment you use (free weights, medicine balls, kettle bells, etc.) to where it belongs.
    • If you used a towel from the gym, be sure to place it in the hamper.

While going to the gym or a fitness class is great for most people, we know working out at home is also a popular practice. If you are looking for a way to increase your personal wellness, checkout Meredith’s Virtual Workout Subscription!

Virtual Workout

Happy workouts, y’all!

AB + Meredith

Handling Holiday Stress with Grace

As we shop for gifts, welcome house guests, and prepare for parties and holiday meals, the joy of the holiday season has a tendency to also bring quite a lot of stress. While stress levels increase, our positive attitudes and mannerly ways often times decrease. This year, let’s not have that happen! Here are some of my tips to ensure you have a merry and bright holiday season!

  1. The Shopping Experience
    • Be prepared to handle the crowds. Do not push your way through people, simply say “excuse me” as you move.
    • Always thank the sales associate who help you find the gift you want, the right size/color of an item, and sometimes even do your gift wrapping. They appreciate polite customers 🙂
    • Avoid fights with other shoppers over the last item in stock. You will find something else and let’s be honest.. Getting dragged out of the store by mall security is not worth it.
    • Give people their space while looking through clothing racks, items on the shelf, and standing in line.
    • Speaking of standing in line, do not huff and puff because the line is long. Instead, use that time wisely. Get your coupons and method of payment ready so you can be quick at the register.
    • When you check out, do not be on your cell phone. Give the sales associate your full attention and be sure to wish him/her “Happy Holidays.”
  2. Welcoming House Guests
    • Create a welcoming guest room.
      • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.

        Graphic Available for Download on Life of Verde's

        Download Sign at Life of Verde’s

      • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
      • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, clear some space for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
      • Have a luggage rack in the room.
      • Put together a travel toiletry basket (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
      • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • If you have a visit packed with events, make a festive itinerary and send it to your guests in advance! Perhaps these guests have never joined you before and do not know your traditions, the area, or even what to wear for your events; so, this is a great way to make them feel welcome before they arrive.
    • Plan your menu and/or make reservations far in advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things. For example, I do not drink coffee, but I know most people do so, I make sure I have it prior to guests arriving.
    • It is certainly easier said than done, but try to check as many things off your to-do list as you can before your guests arrive. That way, you can enjoy the time with them. For example, make sure gifts are wrapped and any food preparation you can do early is done.
  3. Hosting the Party/Holiday Meal
    • Set your table and decorate our home ahead of time.
    • Plan out where you will place the food and make sure the serving dishes fit so when food is ready to come out of the kitchen, it goes directly to the table.
    • Do not wait until the last minute to shop for ingredients. It is better to stock-up early and have enough for the season so you do not have to run to the store at the last minute.
    • Prepare as much as you can before the day of the event. If you can make certain dishes and freeze them (without losing any taste quality), go for it. If you can cut up ingredients and store them before making a mix or tossing them into a recipe, get all the prep work out of the way.

I hope these tips help you to have a low-stress holiday and one you can find some time to relax! Remember, as busy as your schedule gets, always be polite and think positively.. You will get through it! Enjoy the time with your family, friends, and loved ones!

Happy Holidays, y’all!

AB

Tailgating with Class and Style!

Football season is officially underway and that means it is prime time for one of my favorite past times! As a BIG fan of college football (Go Terps! 🐢), it is one of the many reasons why Fall is my favorite season! As if the game itself is not enough to get you excited, throwing a well-planned tailgate is the best way to start the day! Here are my tips to kick-off your game day:

  1. Get in the Team Spirit!
    • Tie in your team colors and symbols to the table, tent, and lawn decor.
    • Dress the part! It is time to break out those team tees, dresses in your team colors, and accessories that add to the team spirit (hello turtle earrings and team koozies!)
    • Football shaped food and mascot inspired trays or desserts are always a hit!
    • Make a signature cocktail that ties into your theme or your team, use festive drink stirs, and serve a beer that ties into your team name or is from your team’s state!
  2. Be Inclusive, Not Confrontational
    • While we all have our favorite teams and love our alma mater, be inclusive of those who may be cheering for the other team. Add a little of their team color or invite them to bring a dish tied to their team.
    • While a little bit of friendly competition is always fun, avoid getting into arguments or confrontations with fans of the other team. Remember, you are there to have fun – not to “bad mouth” others!
  3. Plan Ahead
    • Tailgates can range in size from small and simple to large and extravagant (I have seen it all!). No matter what size your tailgate, the following always apply:
      • Be sure to have an accurate count of how many people will be attending and buy/make your dishes accordingly (aka always make extra). Running out of food and beverages is never a good thing!
      • Bring plenty of ice for drinks and food. Keep any food that needs refrigerated in coolers and ensure it will stay cold for the duration of the day or else you will have to throw it out (you do not want anyone to get sick).
      • Label your coolers to avoid confusion.
      • Remember to bring plenty of  trash bags and clean-up as you go.
      • If you are hosting, make a timeline for your set-up and when you need to start cooking. No one wants to miss kick-off!
      • Bring chairs for people to take a rest. You do not need enough for every person, but a decent number is always appreciated!
      • Here is a great checklist for all your tailgating needs!
      • Plan for the weather! If it’s a chilly day, bring along your favorite team sweaters and stadium blankets. Rain in the forecast? Get ready to set-up those tents!
      • Noon kick-off, how do you tailgate for breakfast?! Rally with donuts, bagels, egg bakes, grilled bacon/ham/etc, bloody Marys, and mimosas!
  4. There Is More to Tailgating than Eating
    • While the food (and drinks) usually take center stage at any tailgate, there are plenty of other fun things to do as well!
      • Just as you would in your home, be an excellent host and introduce guests to those who do not know each other.
      • Bring lawn games! Corn hole, ladder ball, bocce ball, and playing football in the parking lot are all fun ways to get people up and moving.
  5. Not Hosting, Just Invited to Tailgate?
    • Ask what dish, dessert, or drinks you can contribute to the tailgate.
    • Always help with clean up!
    • Be a classy attendee – Dress for the theme/your team and as mentioned earlier, avoid confrontation with others (especially from the opposing team).
    • Be social with the others at the tailgate and make an effort to meet new people!
    • If you have your own chairs, it is always a friendly gesture to bring them along.

Happy Fall and Football y’all!

Alexandra

Having Your Birthday Manners

With my birthday right around the corner, my excitement (as well as glitter, frosting, and sprinkles) is in abundance! I have been thinking about what goes into making a celebration special and even though the day is mine, other people are involved too. Here are my ideas on how best to ensure you celebrate a very HAPPY birthday!

  1. Be appreciative and thankful for everything!
    • Remember the lyrics, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”? Do not be that person (a.k.a. the demanding birthday diva). No one wants to be around a self-absorbed individual who demands attention and perfection from sunrise to sundown, with expectations that cannot be met. Be happy, have fun, and wear a smile all day!
    • Acknowledge everyone who leaves you a birthday wish on social media. A thoughtful response or even a simple “like” is appropriate.
    • For anyone who brings or sends you a birthday gift (no matter how big or small!), write them a handwritten thank you note and mail it within a week of your birthday.
    • Show your mom some extra love! After all, your birthday is a shared day with her.
  2. It IS Your Day. Celebrate how you wish!
    • Plan something that will make you happy! Do not let yourself be pressured into celebrating in a way you do not want or handing the reins over to someone who will plan something that is not to your liking (this goes for bachelor/bachelorettes and wedding or baby showers as well!).
    • Depending on how you choose to celebrate, keep in mind that certain events may be cost prohibitive to guests, and it is important to be understanding of those situations (also true for any event involving travel).
  3. Make your guests feel special! Although the celebration is about you, you are also the host (unless someone else has fully planned and given your party) and have guests to entertain.
    • If you have guests from different social settings (family, friends from different stages of life, colleagues, etc.) introduce them to each other.
      • Feuding friends? Speak to them individually prior to your celebration and express you hope to see them both. If they are unable to put aside their differences, suggest celebrating with them individually at another time. This will help to avoid any unnecessary drama from unfolding at your celebration.
    • Plan things others will enjoy as well!
      • If you plan to play games, keep them tasteful to avoid embarrassing your guests or making them feel uncomfortable.
      • If couples are invited, plan things both ladies and gentlemen will enjoy.
    • Whether you are having friends over for a small dinner party or throwing a huge birthday bash, have party favors! These do not need to be extravagant, simple is wonderful.
      • A few ideas are: a pretty bag of your favorite candies, a koozie, a mini bottle of wine with a piece of chocolate, or a beverage napkin set.
  4. I got something I do not like, now what?
    • If you receive a gift that is “not quite you” and the person is there when you open it, smile, give him/her a hug, and simply, yet sincerely say “thank you.” Do not exaggerate how much you like something if you do not actually feel that way, it can cause awkwardness in the future.
    • If the individual is not there, write a note stating “thank you for thinking of me” or “it was so generous of you to send me a gift.” Again, do not write how much you like something and go into detail about it if you do not actually feel that way.
    • If the item is returnable, you may exchange it for something else, BUT I caution you on doing this. If it was not sent with a gift receipt and the gift is from a close friend or relative, they may expect to see you display it in your home, wear it when you see him/her, etc. If this does not happen, the gift giver may wonder where it is and ask you. It is better to keep something you do not like than to offend the gift giver in the future.

Overall, these suggestions lead to one point: Stay humble on your birthday.
Be appreciative of all the love that surrounds you (not just on your day, but everyday). With this in mind, enjoy your day, live it up, and wear your best smile!

To all my other September birthdays, I wish you a very happy day filled with love, laughter, and lots of cake!

Cheers, y’all!

AB

The Plus One

It’s official, your friend/family member/colleague is getting married and you know you are getting an invitation! Inevitably, you begin to wonder, “Will I get a plus one? Who should I bring?” After all, weddings are fun and who does not want to have a date to bring out on the dance floor? It is definitely something we are all guilty of, but before we get ahead of ourselves, there are things to consider.

For most couples, the guest list is difficult to put together and even more difficult to cut down. Between big families and a lifetime of friendships made, there are a lot of people to consider and of course, a budget to follow. With the cost of weddings today, many couples are opting to not give their single friends a “plus one.” In the couple’s defense, it is their wedding day and they should have the people that mean the most to them there. As much as I hate to say it, that likely does not include your special someone who they still have not met or barely know.

With that in mind, how do you know if you have a plus one? Well, if the invitation is addressed to:

  • Your Name + Another Name (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith and Mr. Bob Jones): This clearly states you are invited with your significant other and that individual is your plus one. If your co-invitee is unable to attend this does not mean you should invite someone else in his/her place. As noted, the invitation is specifically for the two of you. Along the same lines, if you are invited to an event this way and you and your co-invitee end your relationship, you should not invite someone else in his/her place. (For a related scenario and how to deal with it, read my previous post)
  • Your Name + Guest (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith and Guest): Woohoo, you have a plus one and your guest is up to you! In that vein, think carefully about who you invite. Typically, the “and Guest” is for you to bring a date/significant other. I advise against using this plus one to bring another friend who knows the couples, but did not make the invite list. For whatever reason, that individual was not given his/her own invitation and that decision is for the couple to make. If you do not have someone you want to invite as a date, it is perfectly acceptable to R.s.v.p. for yourself only. Think of it this way, if you do not bring a plus one, you are giving the couple the opportunity to invite someone else they wanted to include, but were not able to under the current budget or venue capacity.
  • Your Name (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith): This invitation is solely meant for you. In this case, it is never appropriate to R.s.v.p. and add a guest or contact the couple and ask to bring a guest/plus one. The couple has made their list and you should respect their wishes. Again, these decisions are majorly driven by budget and venue capacity. Weddings are stressful enough and you adding surprises to the guest list is an unneeded complication for the couple to tackle, not to mention pay for when it may not be something they cannot afford.

Overall, I urge you to remember, this is not about you. If you are single and you do not get a plus one, it is not to make you feel bad. Who knows, maybe there is a large group of singles attending and you will be placed at an awesome table with fun people! So, dive head first into celebrating the couple. Attempt to push aside all the inevitable feels you get about being single and have fun with the friends/family you know who are also attending! Look in the mirror, smile, and remember you are crushing it in your own right even if that does not include a relationship at the moment!

Cheers y’all!

AB

The Contents of a Great Email

In today’s day and age, email keeps us far more connected than ever before. Rather than picking up the phone or walking across the office building, we continuously send emails to our colleagues, friends, and family regarding matters from business to social plans and everything in between. So, how do you know if your email gets read or better yet, how do you know if your email actually served its purpose?

To ensure your emails are getting the attention they deserve, and by that I mean the right kind of attention, here are my tips for the contents of a great email:

  1. Subject Line
    • Use the Important Information Only. I once was working with a hospital director’s executive assistant on multiple visits for distinguished visitors and the aide asked, “For visit requests, please put Date of Visit, Name/Title of Visitor, and Meet Time in the subject line so I can see the main points quickly. Once I see that, I will know exactly what I am looking for in regards to planning and level of importance.”
    • Do Not Write the Message in the Subject Line. The subject line serves as a preview to the contents of the email, it should not read like a sentence or go on past the viewing pane.
    • Stick to the SubjectIf you need to discuss multiple topics that are unrelated with the recipient, I highly suggest doing so in different emails. This (1) ensures all your topics will be seen equally and (2) reduces confusion when answering questions by eliminating bunched responses. If you do decide to include everything in 1 email, use an overarching subject line.
  2. Reply vs. Reply All
    • If you are placed on a group email thread and need to ask just the sender a question, reply only to the sender. There is no need to clutter everyone else’s inbox.
    • If you are sent a group invitation for an event, party, etc., submit your R.s.v.p. to the sender only. If you would like to know if other people are going, simply ask them yourself.
    • Only “Reply All” when all those on the message traffic will benefit from you sharing the information and it is pertinent to them. If you are the only person on the “To” line and the other people copied all need the information or are waiting for your direction then a “reply all” is appropriate.
  3. “To,” “CC,” and “Bcc.” Always pay attention to which line your name is placed on in the email and be discerning when adding people to those categories on your own email.
    • “To:” This means the email is directly to you and it is your responsibility to reply to the sender.
    • “Cc:” You are copied on the email for your awareness, but it is not your responsibility to take action. Allow the person on the “to” line to take action and send the first reply. If you need to comment or add information, do so after he/she sends the first reply.
    • “Bcc:” You are blind copied on this email, meaning it is only for your awareness. You should not reply, especially not reply all, because the other recipients do not know you were included. If you need to discuss something from the email with the sender, seek out that individual only (I suggest in person or on the phone).
  4. Marking Something with “High Importance”
    • Only use this flag if your email is truly of high importance and needs someone’s attention quickly. Overuse of this flag will result in people skipping your emails because they will believe nothing is actually “highly important.”
    • If something is truly important and you do not receive a response in an appropriate amount of time, call the person rather than sending him/her another email.
  5. Greeting
    • Always include a greeting to the recipient at the beginning of your email. The type of greeting you use will vary based on the email being sent (formal, professional, personal/informal), but no matter what a greeting is always important! Here are a few examples:
      • Formal: “Dear,” always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Professional: “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening” always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Personal/Informal: “Hey, Hi, Hey there, etc.” followed by however you address the person in your personal life.
  6. Closing / Signature Block. Yes, you need one! Do not ever send an email without signing it!
    • Use a proper closing that reflects the relationship/type of email you are writing:
      • Formal: “Sincerely,” “Very Respectfully,” “Respectfully,”
      • Professional: You can close with something that reflects your personality yet is still appropriate. For example, “Have a great day!,” “All the Best,” “Many Thanks,” etc.
      • Personal/Informal: This type of closing is completely up to you and the relationship you have with the recipient!
    • Clearly identify yourself. Use your full name, title/position, and company affiliation in your signature block.
    • Include your contact information. Your signature block should include your contact number, mailing address, and company/organization web address.
      Be sure to use the signature block template from your company/organization!
  7. Review your email before hitting send!
    • Check your email for grammar and missing words (when you type fast, it is bound to happen).
    • Remove any uncommon abbreviations or text message lingo/short words.
    • Be cautious when using emoticons. Emoji’s are appropriate in informal emails or internal correspondence (between coworkers), but should not be used for professional or formal correspondence.
    • Ensure the email is addressed to the appropriate people on the appropriate recipient lines.
    • If you stated in the email you included an attachment, be sure it is attached before sending!

By incorporating these touches into your emails, it will ensure you have proper email etiquette leading to your email receiving the type of attention and replies you desire.

Cheers y’all!

AB

Welcome to Positively Proper!

Hey y’all!

Welcome to Positively Proper! I am Alexandra and I am beyond excited to be sharing this adventure in the world of Protocol and Etiquette with you. I first had this idea in 2014 and over the last five years, I have worked on it “here and there” while I focused on other parts of my life. After making another major change this past Fall, I felt the inspiration to start writing and blogging again. So, here I am relaunching Positively Proper on Valentine’s Day because what day is more appropriate to launch a passion project from the heart?!

This journey started while I was working as a Protocol Specialist in the Washington, DC area, a role which taught me A LOT about protocol and etiquette in modern society. Now, I know what some people are thinking… Protocol and Etiquette are stuffy subjects. I am here to show you they are not! Protocol and etiquette can be fun and extremely relatable. What protocol and etiquette are truly about is putting your best foot forward and being confident as you do. Protocol and Etiquette apply in every day life and can truly make a difference at work, at home, with friends, and even during interactions with strangers. They also apply to social events, being a host, personal and professional fashion, and so much more!

Fast forward five years and what am I doing now? I work for an international nonprofit on the Special Events and Partnership team. With, what I like to think is, a decent amount of experience “in the industry,” I continue experiencing and learning more through my job and everyday run-ins with protocol and etiquette matters. So, why not share it all?! I will share my experiences with you and I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions with me! I am sure we all encounter similar situations and have some of the same questions as we meet new people, venture to new places, and attend fabulous events! This blogging adventure is all about learning and helping each other shine even brighter!

Cheers y’all!

AB