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 40º 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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

the post I never wanted to write: or, why i left my teaching job.

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Deep breath. Lean in. Spread your message (it could help someone else). Here goes.

I never planned to write this post. In fact, my plan was to not write this post because writing it down in words made it really real and that was scary. But, here it is anyway, because, as with most things, it's best to face them head on. So: at the end of last school year, I made the incredibly difficult decision to leave my teaching job.

The truth is that it hadn't been right since the beginning, but I was committed to making it work because teaching has been my dream for a very long time and I devoted a significant portion of my life to making it happen. The first year was a lot of tears and late nights and a giant caseload that felt way beyond my capacity. The second year was better and the third year was a big class size and a new district and more stress than I ever could've imagined.

And my gut was telling me over and over and over to walk away, but my brain was telling me something different, and it all comes from this: in our society, it is a common practice to tie our worth to a career. And teaching was worthy. It's the kind of job that takes every little thing out of you, but you allow it to happen because you're making a difference and doing real good in the world. And that was enough to sustain me, until it wasn't. Because in the process of helping others, I had forgotten to help myself. And I had become a shell of a person, and when I really sat down and forced myself to think about that, it was terrifying.

I'm sure many people can relate to this, but I am ridiculously hard on myself. I hold myself to an impossible standard; the kind of standard that I would never expect or want a loved one to meet. And while I was throwing myself at my job, I had forgotten that in order to be an effective human being, you absolutely must take care of yourself. And you can live within the cycle of putting yourself on the back burner and putting all of your energy into only taking care of others, but that will eventually come back to bite you in an ugly way. For me, it was crippling anxiety. Living inside my head was so incredibly exhausting. It was draining and it was dark.

And when I admitted to myself that it wasn't working, even after years of trying, it was the most freeing moment. And it wasn’t freeing in the sense that I immediately felt one hundred times lighter (that came later, and still only in waves), but freeing in the sense that I found the courage to listen to my gut and that’s a good and strong feeling.

Teaching has been an incredibly important part of my life. I miss it often and feel an ache when I think about former students whose lives I had the privilege of knowing for a year or so. I think that any time you let go of something that holds meaning for you, it’ll be a battle, and while it might get easier, that battle might not ever fully disappear from your life. And that’s okay. Teaching is a thread that will likely weave its way in and out of my every day for years to come. While I am no longer a teacher as a job, I still consider a piece of my identity to be that of an educator. I studied the subject with great love and devotion throughout college. Over the course of my three years as a classroom teacher, I worked to improve my craft and hone my skills and be the best I could possibly be. While I was in it, there was never a single piece of me that gave up. And I’m really proud of that and that’s what I choose to hang onto.

As a side note, this is probably the scariest and most personal thing I’ve ever published on this blog. In writing in this space, I only have two goals: (1) to reflect on my own life, and (2) to potentially help someone else by sharing my personal experiences. Maybe there will be a message here that helps and resonates with you.

For whatever reason, this favorite and beautiful quote from You've Got Mail popped into my head while I wrote this essay. At best, it's only loosely related to anything here, but I'm sharing it anyway to remember that, for whatever reason, I found connection:

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void." -Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

Monday, January 9, 2017

weekenders.

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This weekend Jeffrey and I stayed a night at the Sou'wester. It was so much fun and even the drive was pleasant. It felt really nice just to know we were heading somewhere to relax. Jeffrey brought all the supplies we needed to make our favorite spaghetti for dinner. We walked around the neighborhood in the freezing cold. We drove(!) down onto the beach to watch the sunset. We read books for hours. We watched Amélie. We talked about lots of different things, serious and lighthearted and everything in between. It was the most restorative, lovely, relaxing little trip.

We had to cut our trip a little short due to a snowstorm that was heading toward Portland, so we packed up a little early and drove back to the city. At home, we lit candles and made curry and watched Superstore and today we made pancakes and cookies and spent the entire day in our pajamas. It was the perfect weekend and I'm so glad for that.
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