How to Get Everything You Want: An A-to-Z Guide
A: All the Affirmation You'll Ever Need
Iyanla Vanzant, author of Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women
Finding a meaningful mantra is one of the best ways to show yourself some support. It's a tool that can instantly connect you to your best self -- no matter what the world throws at you -- and provide inspiration and comfort. Choose a word, a phrase, or even a lyric from a song that suggests what you want in life. It could be something like "I choose love," or even just a word, like peace. Allow the phrase or word to run through your mind, and practice saying it when you wake up or before you go to bed at night. Eventually, it will become automatic and will always be there for you when you need it.
B: Better Customer Service
Tina Waters, senior vice president of Customer Service Operations at Comcast
For better assistance, separate the person from the problem. Remember, whatever your complaint, it's not your representative's fault, and the calmer and more pleasant you are, the better she'll be able to empathize with your situation -- and help you. If you're still not getting what you need, either because your rep doesn't have the right information or because her language skills are lacking, convince her to connect you to someone on a higher level. Don't patronize or act imperious. Simply say, "You know what? I appreciate that you've tried to help me, but is it possible to speak to a specialist or a supervisor?"
C: A Cool Summer Meal
Courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, world-renowned chef and restaurateur. His restaurants include L.A.'s Spago.
"This is a gorgeous, sweet green soup," Chef Puck says.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 quart chicken stock or broth
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
7 cups shelled fresh English peas or frozen peas, defrosted
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Makes 9 to 10 cups.
1. Heat a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add butter and olive oil. When butter is foaming, add onion, reduce heat to low, and slowly cook onion, stirring frequently until onion is translucent and very tender, 5 to 10 minutes. (Do not allow it to brown or it will discolor the soup.)
3. Add stock, cream, honey, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add peas and boil rapidly 2 minutes or until peas are tender.
4. Remove from heat. Let soup cool before pureeing it in batches in a blender until smooth. Strain soup into a large bowl. Add lemon juice and adjust seasonings to taste. Chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy.
D: My Dream Wedding Dress -- For Half Price!
Christine Bettes Cartell, 27, actress, New York City
Nick and I met in Tokyo when we were both working for Disney -- I was a princess at the theme park and he was a singer. We moved to New York together in May 2006, and in November he proposed. When we started talking about the kind of wedding we wanted, we both agreed we didn't want to break the bank. We wanted to throw a great party for our friends, but we did not want to go into debt.
I started shopping for a dress right away. The first place I went was Macy's. The saleswoman kept bringing all these dresses covered in beading, but they reminded me too much of the costumes I wore at work. I told her to bring me the simplest dress she could find. She brought me a dress by Marisa. I tried it on and loved it, but it was almost $2,500. I'd told myself I wasn't going to spend that much for a dress I'd wear only once.
For the next six months I went to just about every wedding-dress shop in New York City, but I kept coming back to "my" dress. Every time I put it on, I felt like I could really shine in it. But I couldn't justify spending all that money.
As the months went by, though, I couldn't help thinking that maybe I was being silly, that I should just chuck the ideal dress and buy something else. I tried on another dress with a friend and actually started tearing up when I saw myself in it. But it just didn't feel like mine -- I wanted to feel like a bride, not a princess. I even went back and tried it on a second time, but it still wasn't the one.
Then one day I was reading one of the bulletin boards on theknot.com, and I saw a post that read "Dress for Sale." It was my dress! I contacted the seller, and it turned out that not only was it my size, but the woman selling it lived 15 minutes from my parents' house in Michigan! The next time I visited, I went to try the dress. I took my mom and one of my bridesmaids, and when I put it on, they both looked at me and said, "That's the one!" It ended up costing less than half what it would have at Macy's -- $1,200 -- and it didn't even have to be altered!
I was patient and stayed glued to my budget, and somehow, it all worked out. I waited almost a year between finding the right dress and actually purchasing it, but it was so worth it.
E: Exercise You Actually Enjoy
Jillian Michaels, TheBiggest Loser fitness trainer, life coach, and author of Master Your Metabolism
Think back to when you were a kid. What activities did you enjoy? Canoeing? Dancing? Ice-skating? Whatever it was, start there. I have adult friends who just joined a softball league and love it. Another friend is taking surfing lessons. I am studying jujitsu because I always thought it looked cool in martial arts movies. Exercise that's fresh and fun and suits your personality sets you up for success, because you're more likely to stick with it. So let the inner child in you come out, and run with it.
G: The Guts to Say What You Really Think
Chandra Wilson, the no-nonsense Dr. Miranda Bailey on ABC's Grey's Anatomy
Dr. Bailey will lay down the truth no matter what it is; truth is really important to her. But her point isn't to be mean or controlling -- and she's able to say what she needs to say because of that. She's a teacher. She teaches at all times, and there's always a lesson to what she says, something that will make her students better. So with that in mind, you don't necessarily want to sugarcoat a situation when you have something difficult or even harsh to say. You have to teach the lesson. But that's what takes the sting out of it -- you're making it about the big picture.
F: A Facebook Photo You Want Everyone to See
Shannon Greer, portrait photographer
You want your photo to look relaxed, so wear something you feel great in, enlist a trusted friend to play photographer, and loosen up before the shoot by jumping up and down a few times. Opt for natural lighting -- as REDBOOK staffer Alison Brower did here, at right -- not a flash. For the pose, sit and ask your friend to position the camera above your head. Lean forward a bit on your elbows, jut your chin out slightly, and look up -- this will elongate your face. Take lots of shots, experimenting with different expressions and angles. And don't be afraid to show some humor: Wear a silly hat or make an over-the-top gesture. After all, you want your photo to look great, but you want it to stand out too.
H: An Hour of Peace and Quiet
Michelle Duggar, star of TLC's 18 Kids and Counting
As a mother of 18, getting peace and quiet is a matter of adjusting my expectations. A solid hour of alone time might be asking too much, but I manage to make my own peace throughout the day. When I'm doing dishes or making a meal, I put on soothing harp music and hum along. I find little ways to recharge my battery no matter what I'm doing.
I: Immortality for Your Favorite Faded but Fit-Like-a-Dream Jeans
Paige Adams-Geller, founder of Paige Premium Denim
To keep jeans eternal, pick a pair made from a cotton-poly blend and clean them as little as possible. Die-hard denim people never wash their jeans. When you must, always wash them in cold water, inside out, and never put them in the dryer: Heat will fade denim and eliminate stretch.
Resurrect a favorite worn-out pair by creating your own boyfriend jeans. Distress them by adding tears to the knees and the tops of the back pockets. Rips in these spots draw your eye to a perky booty and away from hips. Make the tears look naturally frayed by rubbing sandpaper or a fine-grind cheese grater across them, followed by a metal-bristle hairbrush. Wash once before wearing and enjoy your jeans' second life!
J: A Job I Really Love
Cherron Lipson, 27, sales and service manager/event planner, Aliso Viejo, CA
I started working as a sales manager right after college, which was a good job, but I had to travel constantly. I fantasized about finding something more fulfilling, where I got to call the shots instead of being at someone else's beck and call. I'd always enjoyed planning parties and started thinking about what it might take to start my own event-planning company. But I didn't have any business experience; I knew I needed more than passion if I was really going to take the plunge.
I started looking at graduate degree programs and decided on the University of Phoenix's master's in management, which I could do online. What I didn't know was how tough the next two years would be. I was still working full-time and traveling almost every week. Plus, it was important to me to keep my relationship with my husband healthy. I was a nonstop student, worker, and wife!
I'd wake up early and stay up late to do housework and made a special effort to make my husband's favorite meals -- anything to show that although I was busy, he was still important. Basically, I gave up everything in my life except the essentials. I rarely saw my friends, and I had to schedule everything from shopping to seeing my husband. And for two years I never left my house without my laptop!
But it was all worth it the day I got my diploma. I just gave birth to my son, Donovan, and it means so much to me to know that he will grow up seeing his mom make her own schedule and be her own boss. I look back at those two years and I can't believe I got through it. I'm so glad I stuck it out. Now I've opened my own event-planning business called Cimpliciti. I just finished doing a big graduation event, and my next gig is a consecration reception. I'm still working part-time elsewhere, but I'm gaining momentum, and I know that soon I'll be the full-time CEO of Cimpliciti!