Friday, April 14, 2017

on the brain.

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 I've had two different posts simultaneously in process, and neither of them has felt quite finished. So. Here I am, combining them into one post that won't really have much of a flow, but sometimes that's okay.

Memories have been flooding my brain space lately. I have a complicated relationship with memories, which mainly stems from my inclination to be both overly sensitive and overly sentimental. I love when a memory seeps into my mind randomly, but it can also mean that I'm overcome with emotion thinking about the time and the place and the feelings associated with it. And because events can't actually be relived, I can sometimes get caught up in that idea rather than the absolute magic of what a memory can do: transport you to a time and place that is in the past (which is kind of like reliving it). My mom and I used to walk to a tiny little store called the Coffee Mill at the end of the school day. I'll never forget when she turned me onto apricots. A small collection of juicy, tart, delicious dried apricots would be neatly organized in a cellophane bag and we would collect a package from the shelf for the both of us to split. That's mostly what I think of when I eat apricots these days.

It occurred to me the other day that it's nice to sometimes remind myself that anxiety is a burden I carry that others do not. Day to day, my anxiety doesn't even register to me as an additional piece of baggage that I lug with me everywhere. In fact, for most of my life, I just assumed that every other person's mind must be filling up with worries to the point of exhaustion and breakdowns and an overwhelming lack of bandwidth to deal with it all. Turns out, they're not! So sometimes it's nice to give myself credit where credit is due: that in addition to what it means to be a human who is alive and feels things, I'm also a human that deals with anxiety on a daily basis. If you also suffer from anxiety, I hope you'll give yourself a pat on the back today because it is hard.

The other day, I was trying to describe why traveling gives me anxiety and I just couldn't do it. Because there's not always a way to pinpoint how anxiety manifests itself. Sometimes it's obvious, but sometimes it's more like background noise: it's just there and you can't locate the source. I can't specifically identify a piece of travel that makes me feel anxious, it's just the entirety of it. And I'm always grateful for travel once I've immersed myself in it, but there's often an undercurrent of anxiety that surges its way through every piece of it.

All this to say that if you're a sentimental person or a sensitive person or an anxious person (or, if you're all three of these things), hang in there. Maybe there's something to be said about the heightened experience these afflictions grant you. Because while feeling everything incredibly deeply can be exhausting, maybe it can also be a way to hold onto moments longer and with more clarity.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

a working definition of success.

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 The other night Jeffrey and I were talking and he said something about how I'm always overworking myself, and for one second my brain computed that as a COMPLIMENT. The intent of his message was for me to slow down, but for a fraction of a moment I was proud that someone I love thought I was overworked. I feel like the amount of time one spends working is a common measure of success. Like, if you don't have time for leisurely, pleasant things then you're probably really successful. But why?

Running myself ragged doesn't make me a better or more dynamic or kinder human being. In fact, I'm pretty sure it does the exact opposite. I'd like for success to be measured in the number of times I laugh in a day. In how many times Woody wags his tail. In a home glowing with candles. In warmth and breeze and freckles on my shoulders. In flowers and walks with my nieces and in mundane trips to Target with people I love. In pie shared with friends. In phone calls home. In making cookies on a Friday night.

When I was teaching and I wanted to leave work on time, I remember sneaking out (sneaking! out!) of the building because I was so worried that my colleagues would see me and silently judge me for not staying beyond my contractual obligation (just to be clear, this had everything to do with my own insecurities and nothing to do with my actual colleagues). When I left teaching it was partially because the overworked part of my brain was falling apart into three million pieces and I could no longer stand the thought of my tired, broken body bending down to collect them.

I've done the work to get to a place where overworking myself is no longer a priority and I've determined where I want to expend my energy. But there's still a piece of me that feels guilty for taking the lunch break or for walking out the door when my work day is technically done and others still sit at their computers.

But I'll tell you one thing: on Saturday, as we walked down to the waterfront to see the cherry blossoms in bloom and talked about our plans to enjoy falafel in a tiny, bustling restaurant, my heart was full and I felt nothing but happiness and gratitude and love and maybe even a little bit of success.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

when it all stands still.

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The longer days have been a gift. It is such a happy thing to be able to walk outside at 4:30 in the afternoon and not be met with total darkness. And the sun here has been a welcome change. Now I just ache for the warmer days. It’ll be such a relief when I no longer have to wear layer after layer just to feel remotely comfortable, or sink into a bathtub to try and take the chill away.

But I must admit that when I actively choose to have a positive attitude, it’s amazing how quickly the small things add up into big things, and my entire perspective can shift. A moment to acknowledge a bloom forcing its way through the packed earth. The sun streaming through the window. An unexpected latte from Jeffrey. Late night TV marathons and Thai food. A new plant for the house. Sitting here and giving myself the time to write about precisely nothing. It all feels so good.

Sometimes it feels good to have nothing of real note to write about. Sometimes it's enough just to talk about a shift in the weather and to share some pictures from a spontaneous trip to the coast. Sometimes it feels right that my only dream for the foreseeable future is to have a tan of some kind.

To be at peace is a special kind of feeling. To close my eyes and feel that my insides are still. That I am completely whole as I am right now. And even when I change tomorrow, I will still be whole. I had forgotten that the stillness can feel so incredibly good. My brain hardly ever allows for it, but this reprieve; I will soak it all in.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

thoughts for a sunday.

It's 11:37 AM on a Sunday. It's 40ยบ outside, but I've forced our window open and I'm parked in front of the (nearly) unbearable chill. Because it's the beginning of March and for most of my life that's been open window weather. Woody's snout has made its way to the stream of cold air and he has fully leaned into it, eyes closed, fur blowing. There's a cupcake next to me and now he's hopped up (still in the perfect position to get the breeze) on the couch, dutifully ignoring said cupcake (because cupcakes aren't for dogs and he somehow knows it?).

I called my mom from this morning's walk and our hour-long conversation felt like 15 minutes (as it often does). And even though I'd like nothing more than for us to be in the same city again, we've gotten pretty good at the long distance thing, and I'm a little bit proud of that because I didn't always think I'd get there.

The dishes are washed and the bed is made and the apartment is tidy. And I'm here. On this couch. Writing about practically nothing because sometimes that feels good.

For the first time in a long time, I actually feel my age. It's weird to be 27 and to think about what I thought my life would be like by the time I got here. It probably involved children. It probably involved a career that made my heart sing. It probably involved many things I don't have. And coming to terms with that can be a little strange. The more adult I become, the more I realize that I know almost nothing about actually being an adult. And the more I realize that that's probably what it means to be an adult. We're all just mostly walking through the dark, looking for the light switch, and only finding it about 50% of the time (if we're lucky).

I just read this article about a woman who has cancer and is hoping her (phenomenal-sounding) husband will find love again after she's gone. It's a sad article, but it's also pretty dang beautiful. Why is it that we shy away from writing beautiful things about our partners? I can't tell you the number of times I've written something lovely and truthful about Jeffrey and then hit delete. Better not gush, I tell myself. No one wants to hear about that, I tell myself. But, why not? Jeffrey is a truly delightful person. And he chose to marry me. Me! From now on, I'm just gonna go ahead and hit publish when I feel compelled. Love is worth celebrating. And real, lasting love? It's rare and it's precious. It deserves to be memorialized (along with all the times I've written about the sad things while I wallowed in the depths of my own despair).

Sometimes I'd like to turn the worrying part of my brain off. It is so exhausting. Why is it that I can know that worrying serves me no purpose, and I just do it anyway? How many times have I worried and nothing has ever come from it (the answer is almost every time.)? How many worry stones have been made completely smooth by my mind? I recently started going to a Pilates class once a week. My instructor is also an energy healer. Energy work is something I've never really given much thought to, but she and I were talking about it anyway and she was like, "I feel like you're carrying some burdens for other people, and the problem is that they decided to set them down long ago, but you're still holding onto them." And it was like she smacked me in the face with my own truth because if that isn't just exactly who I am. But why am I doing it?

The truth is that for all the times I feel like I'm falling apart, there's a time where I feel like I've just grasped a moment of clarity, and I'm so aware of it. I want to imprint it in my mind so that I never forget the true fortune I feel when the door bursts wide open and for one single moment, I glimpse something so sharply and so clearly it can almost take my breath away. I can feel myself growing and changing and it makes me feel like I'm doing the work that needs to be done. There was a time in my life where I believed that progress was meant to be linear. And I can't tell you how thankful I am to now know that that just is not even a little bit true. My progress isn't linear in any sense of the word and isn't that the whole point? The twists and turns? That's where the beauty is. The real, painful, heartbreaking, heart-mending, full, whole beauty.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

make it green: concealer.

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Concealer is an underrated product, in my opinion. When a good one comes around, it has the power to brighten the face, curb redness, and conceal blemishes (and all this is possible with just one product!). I found my holy grail concealer about three years ago, and have gone through multiple pots since then. I'm convinced that I'll never need to search for another concealer again.

RMS Beauty has the loveliest, most minimal packaging, and one pot of concealer lasts me an incredibly long time. In addition, it conceals my undereye area and also my blemishes. It's a workhorse of a product that is long wearing, covers evenly, and doesn't cake.

Below I've listed a few different options, but I don't have plans to stray from my "Un" Cover-Up anytime soon. This is the product I would most heartily recommend to anyone without any reservations at all!

CONCEALER || What I'm looking for: covers both undereye area and blemishes; long wearing; non-cakey formulation; easy to apply; evens out the skin tone.

1 || RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up - $36: As I mentioned above, this is my holy grail concealer. This is most definitely my favorite makeup item of all time (bold! statement!). I opt not to wear foundation, so I need this product to work overtime and it does just that. It matches my skin tone perfectly (which is difficult to do — I have lots of redness to conceal!), applies like a dream, and works well in brightening the under eyes and camouflaging blemishes. Two things: (1) During the winter months, this product performs better if it's warmed up, so I just swirl my finger in the pot for a minute to bring it back to its creamy consistency; (2) I do wish there was a wider range of shades available. The price of this product seems a bit high, but one pot lasts a very long time! RMS Beauty is a cruelty-free company. (For reference, I wear the shade 00.)

2 || W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer - $22.99: In the world of green beauty, W3LL PEOPLE consistently impresses me with their prices. I would consider them to be one of the most affordable brands that offer a beautiful and truly natural range. I have never personally tried this concealer, but it receives fantastic reviews. I will mention that I am pretty disappointed with the shade range offered here. W3LL PEOPLE is a cruelty-free company.

3 || Hynt Beauty DUET Perfecting Concealer - $24: I have never purchased any products from Hynt Beauty, but this concealer is a cult favorite and also comes with a recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah (you can find her at Whoorl). In my experience, the products that Sarah recommends are always top notch and worth a try! Hynt Beauty is a cruelty-free company.

Make It Green is a series dedicated to replacing commonly-used skincare and makeup products with a green alternative. To see more of my recommendations, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

the sou'wester.

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Last weekend, Jeffrey and I spent a night at the Sou'wester, which is a mix of private cabins, vintage travel trailers, suites, and campsites. For Christmas, I told Jeffrey that I just wanted to be surprised, and this is what he found! Because it was so cold, the entire tiny town was really quiet and peaceful. We stayed in the big red lodge, and our room was absolutely perfect. There was a kitchen and a bedroom and a porch, which we didn't get to take much advantage of due to the weather. We're already planning a trip back when it's a little warmer.

Walking through the surrounding neighborhood bundled up and driving through the deserted tourist town (probably crawling with people come summer!) and picking out a VHS to watch and making spaghetti in our little kitchen and watching the sunset on the beach and eating It's It ice cream sandwiches that had been smushed due to travel and reading for hours on end; this is how I will remember our beautifully fleeting trip.

Some places just feel like magic in every corner, and this was one of them.

(I frustratingly forgot my camera, so these were taken on my iPhone!)

Friday, January 13, 2017

ditched, 001.

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001: black maxi dress

*ditched is a series that documents my commitment to myself to get rid of one possession each week that I no longer need, want, or use.
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