The Everygirl’s Guide to Life, by Maria Menounos
Maria Menounos is one of those people who has sort of been on my peripheral radar for a long time. She’s not super famous, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to her, but her career (she’s an actress, a producer and a journalist/host) always struck me as interesting, so that, combined with the fact that she’s famous enough for me to know who she is, meant I always read articles about her when I came across them.
Lately, though, I’ve started noticing Maria for more than just her career — she’s really getting a reputation for being in killer shape. A lot of the fitness magazines I read have profiled her in the past few years, and last month she landed the cover of Shape magazine (see below). I thought her health tips were cool, so I did a bit more research and discovered that she wrote a book explaining how she manages to work a bunch of jobs and still stay healthy and positive. Intrigued, I ordered the book and absolutely loved what she had to say.
I purchased the book from Amazon Prime (it was actually cheaper to buy the print copy than the ebook), and patiently waited until my brand new copy arrived. Not only did it arrive a day early (Thursday orders are the best!), but instead of a clean copy from the Amazon warehouse, I received a book signed by Maria herself, and sent from Brookline Booksmith in her hometown of Boston. I have no idea why this happened — it’s not what I ordered — but I started collecting signed books this year, so I took it as a, ahem, sign, that there was something special about this book. And I was right.
The Everygirl’s Guide to Life covers all facets of a modern woman’s life, including home/decor, fashion, makeup/skincare, friends and family, love and relationships, health, travel, work and charity.
Maria outlines exactly how to live a happy and balanced life, discussing everything from mascara application to how to build a screening room in your garage. However, she’s very clear that in order to find success in all those arenas, you must first build a stable foundation, which requires two things:
1. Get organized!! Menounos spends a lot of pages explaining how important and time-saving proper organization is (and she’s right that lazy people ultimately end up doing more work). If you file your paperwork, do your dishes, tackle your laundry, organize your closet and build a good black book (she explains what that is and how to do it on page 26), everything in life will be simplified.
2. Keep your mind in possibility. At the beginning of the book, she lists all her Everygirl mottos. One of them is the Japanese principle of kaizen, which is a “philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement in all aspects of life. When something in life is good or works well, remain open and challenge yourself as to how it could be improved.” That’s all well and good, but she takes it a step further with the idea of keeping one’s mind in possibility.
“At every stage, at all times, we must be open to what is possible rather than what is impossible…When I look back at my entire life and career, I realize that I’ve lived better and had the most success when my mind, and the minds of those around me, were in the state of possibility…Keven always said, ‘Why isn’t it possible for you, Maria, to be an actress and a reporter?’ Most everyone in Hollywood said it wasn’t possible, but Keven believed it was, and then so did I.
We must be open to what is possible in every area of our lives. Maybe it is possible to do all the things you want and need to do with limited time and money. Maybe it is possible to change old habits. Maybe it is possible to learn new ways of doing things. Maybe it is possible to live better, period.”
This concept resonated with me. I tend to get too hung up on the negative side of things sometimes: I can’t afford to do this, I don’t have the required skills for that, that plan will never work…etc. But now I’m really striving to be more positive and open to the idea that good things can and will happen for me. And you know what? It’s working. Some pretty amazing things have happened in my life in the few weeks since I read this book, and I firmly believe it’s because I opened my mind to possibility. I’m not saying that the universe simply handed me things, or that the power of positive thinking made them manifest. I simply mean that when I stopped looking at how things could go wrong, and started focusing on ways to make things go right, they started working out.
I’ve also started implementing some of her other, more tangible, suggestions. One of the great things about the book is that it’s designed with all budgets in mind. If you have the money to install custom closets, then by all means, do so. But if not, she shows you exactly where to shop and how to wield the tools necessary to do it yourself (IKEA and a drill are key).
One of my favorite tips thus far involves skin care. I have, and always have had, pretty good skin. I’m very fair, but my complexion is mostly even and I’m not prone to extreme breakouts — more the occasional pimples in my T-zone. However, because my skin is generally clear, breakouts are more noticeable when I do get them. And I’d been noticing over the past few months that I was breaking out a little more often, even though I’m in my 30s and use a Clarisonic brush every day (shouldn’t that be enough?!). Then I ran across this tip, implemented it, and am seeing improvements.
“Never, ever, ever use a towel more than once on your face. Buy a bunch of cheap washcloths from a discount store like Overstock.com where you can buy a pack of twenty-four for $17.99. One use, and then they hit the hamper. If you let them air-dry to use again, you’re growing a science experiment filled with gunky mold spores that you are now smashing into your face.”
This simple tip struck me as pure genius, so I went straight to Amazon to order these washcloths (which are bigger than average — bonus!) and then to World Market for this basket to hold them, and a seagrass tote similar to this one to use as a bathroom hamper. Yes, this means more laundry, but it’s a small price to pay for clear skin. Implementing this suggestion, along with her advice to add a witch hazel toner to my repertoire, has made a difference.
Overall, I think her guide is both intriguing and useful, and if you are struggling in any area of life (and who isn’t these days?) I recommend checking it out. It may be that not every tip is beneficial or applicable, but I’m betting that pretty much everyone will find one or two useful gems here.