Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Feelings



Helloooooooo, weekend. I'm glad to see you, because really, we shouldn't talk about how much coffee I've had this week. It's been a long, but not necessarily bad, one. There's just always so much to...and can someone please explain to me how you can clean a room, then turn around to find it a wreck the next day? How?

This is where I remind those who know me that there is a difference, as Adam Levine said, "between dirty and messy" (1:40). I'm not a dirty person - I like clean spaces and organization and color-coordination and a place for everything with everything in its place. BUT...I am also a human. Specifically a creative one, which means sometimes I think best in chaos and does it really matter if there's a pile of clothes on the end of my bed when I'm writing a scene or editing a photo or choreographing a dance? Nope. Nada. Not one bit.

Does that mean I live like a packrat? Of course not! I let things slide when life is just too busy to bother with hanging up clothes, and then I come to my senses + spring into my clean-ALL-the-things, reorder my life, empty my inbox, reply to comments, demolish my to-do-list frenzy. It's wonderful.  As Gina is fond of saying, if you wait 'til the last minute, it only takes a minute.

Also, I indulged in some prime procrastination last night by watching numerous clips of Ellen scaring people on her show - and if you haven't seen the episode where Gru from Despicable Me is a guest, fix that now - as well as all of Elaine Benes' finest moments from Seinfeld.

I laughed a great deal. And resolved to start watching that show on a regular basis. I always forget how essential laughter is for my mental health.

Happy weekend, friends! Hope you have some good laughs.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Feelings


Another week, another Friday...it's a grey, foreboding day over here and I'm typing away in the library with the busy thrum of espresso machines clicking and hissing besides me as the line for that magical, rich, brown liquid stretches around the Starbucks. As I just told one of my favorite professors as we chatted in her office about fashion and design and planners, today is a day on which you can look like a mess and it's okay. Because some days, you just roll out of bed, put on leggings, a long sleeved t-shirt, vest + headband. And it's okay.

As always, I'm glad to see the weekend arrive and feel like waving gaily at the world as I walk to my few classes today (perks of being an upperclass; I love being done before lunchtime). Of course, this weekend's a little different as Ash Wednesday was the start of Lent...so some of you might not read this until Sunday if you've given up the Internet or even (gasp) reading blogs. If so, I take my hat off in respect...that's a brave undertaking. 

I was talking with a friend about Lent and we agreed that while it's not a strictly enjoyable season, it's one that's good for the soul. I remind myself to think of it like working out (which I do not enjoy any more, but always feel better + stronger afterwards) - except Lent is discipline for the soul. 

Going without, being okay with uncomfortableness, practicing the art of discipline. 

And the real focus is not prove something to ourselves, but rather to draw closer to God. Which is why I'm changing what I've given up for Lent because my initial choice doesn't feel right...doesn't quite feel like a true sacrifice. Also, does anyone else feel pressure to choose something brilliant to give up? All week long, I was asked, "So, what are you giving up for Lent?" A question that made me grimace in awkwardness and search for an answer, much like Harry Potter when confronted with something he didn't know: "Er...."

But I finally feel resolved and content with my Lenten resolutions. I'm excited to go deeper into silence and prayer and try to root the start of my mornings in some quiet time with God. Also, get thee to Pandora and add the Gregorian Chant station. It's kind of ridiculous in the best sense. 

I've been struggling a lot with mornings lately, and really want to rework my schedule and routine to revolve around an energizing and productive morning. Which is both challenging and exciting. But I'm looking forward to putting some of those plans into action and taking better care of myself so that in turn I can care for others. 

Sarah's post about Lenten splendor and entering into a season of silence is lovely. And in lighthearted news, pop over to Caitlin's blog to check out the shots I snapped of her super cute retro style. Does she or does she not look like a cool musician/cafe owner/tattoo artist who lives in Nashville? 

Do you know your love language? If not, you should get on that. Mine has changed over the year's to Gift-Giving, so I was cheering with every line I read of Amanda's post.

That's all I have for today, friends - drop a note below and let me know how your week's been or if you're celebrating Lent + if so what, you're giving up.

P.S. If you haven't seen Maroon 5's insanely catchy and adorable new music video "Sugar"...well, you're welcome. 

P.S.S The Oscars are this weekend! And I might be watching them for the first time in....6 years? It's been long overdue. Hello, red carpet dresses, Benedict Cumberbatch, and all the beautiful + talented people in Hollywood/England. #Britishtakeoverftw #EddiedeservesBestActor

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Winter Skin Essentials


I don't know about anyone else, but so far 2015 is being quite snappy + cold in terms of weather...one day it's balmy and sunny (I wore SHORTS last week), then yesterday it was 30 degrees when I woke up. Ughhhh.

So while I've been trying to adjust to the rapid weather changes, I've found a couple things helpful for my skin during the colder days.

1. Bundling Up - Head to Toe



If I've just woken up, it's all too tempting to roll out of bed, throw on a jacket and run to class. But I've made it a priority to make sure I put on a thick pair of socks, wrap a warm scarf around my neck (infinity ones are the best, you can bury your face in them), and slip on a thick headband that covers my ears or a warm beanie. Gloves are also great if you have a long walk or bike commute ahead of you.

Simple things, I know, but ones that have overall contributed to my happiness...I'm less grouchy in the morning and my skin is less red + chapped when most of me is protected from the cold + wind.

2. Water, Water, Water



Hydration is definitely still an area where I need to improve, but I carry around a water bottle in my backpack pocket and try to make sure I get 1-2 glasses at each meal. I always notice a difference in my skin when I'm not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep. One of my favorite ways to hydrate is tons of winter citrus (I keep a bag of grapefruit in my room) and fresh fruits in the morning. I also try to eat at least one salad a day for those leafy greens - so important to get clean eats in there. Like I said, I can always tell by my skin if I'm not doing #2 and #3.

3. Make Time for Sleep



This by far is one of my favorites...in that I'm finally making it a top priority and it feels good to try being more disciplined about it. I love reading blogs, checking IG, and Pinning at night especially, so one way I like to wind down is by having a little routine.

I light a candle (if I don't have one burning already), change into a tank + yoga pants, put my slippers on, wipe off any makeup or wash my face while soft classical music plays in the background. I also like keeping my main overhead light off (not a fan of fluorescents) and use my lamp instead, which gives the room a warm, cozy glow. Then, a spritz of lavender mist on my pillows and sheets and off to bed I go. If I'm still not tired, I'll usually journal or write until I'm sleepy.

4. Take Care of Those Lips



In addition to skin cracking, my lips usually suffer during winter, so I'm that obnoxious girl who is always slathering on chapstick...it helps immensely though, because even lips need some TLC. I've gushed before about my love for Maybelline's drugstore BabyLips (the clear one is my all time favorite) because it goes on so smoothly but isn't sticky and it sinks straight in. Definitely does a great moisturizing job. Burt's Bee's has some great ones too, in almost every scent/flavor.

I also like to regularly exfoliate my lips with E.L.F's lip exfoliator (again, available in drugstores, not expensive + so worth buying!). It's essentially a compact tube of a brown sugar scrub with honey + vanilla and...oh. my. word. It smells + tastes so good. I swear my lips are softer and look larger afterwards!

5. Homemade Sauna 


photo one credit; a cup of joe

One thing that I've found so relaxing and good for my skin is to let the hot water run in the shower - as hot as possible for a minute or two with the shower curtain shut, even before you get in. The hot water rises and thickens into steam, creating a sauna-like atmosphere.

If I really want a spa feel, I spray a few quirts of this amazing mist into the stream of hot water and voila...instant lavender aromatherapy. I usually let my skin soak up the moisture (it feels so good) and let my pores open up. Then you can turn the water to a cooler temperature and shower like normal.

6. Face + Lotion



I've always had really bad cracked skin, mainly on my hands and knuckles, during winter, but I found this great cream by Neutrogena that I slather on...it sinks in at once and leaves my normally-leathery hands feeling soft and rich. I haven't had an issue with my skin cracking this year, but I know it's a common problem, so I thought I'd share what's worked for me in the past. Bath & Body Works's coconut lotion is something I love for normal lotion purposes as the tropical scent is especially cheerful during the cold, grey dreary months.

I also try to give my face a gentle deep-cleanse once a week or so, and this stuff is amazing. I tried it after hearing EssieButton mention it in one of her videos...and I'm so glad I did. It's cool + creamy + exfoliating + smoothing + refreshing + hydrating all at once. I always feel like I'm pampering myself when I use it - and it lasts forever! I've been on one tube for over a year now.

So there you are, friends...a couple of ways how I take care of my skin during these cold months. Do you have any tips or tricks? I'd love to hear them below in the comments!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Style




In addition to my hair color changing this year, my style has evolved also...I'm come a long way from 16-year-old me. But then again, it's been a six year process. ;) I celebrated my 22nd birthday last weekend and it feels good to be heading into the mid-twenties. 

I find that my sense of style tends to shift slightly every other year or so...which I think is perfectly natural and just a sign that you're changing + growing up. I've gone from wearing bright colors head to toe during freshman year to slowly transitioning into a love of dark colors, neutrals + dark denim. 

There's something refreshing about a simplistic wardrobe, especially when classes + commitments + work begin to pile up. Dark jeans, a simple shirt, edgy jacket + ankle boots make for a simple outfit that takes less than 5 minutes to put together and makes you look like you've got it all together. I don't know about you, but during these chilly + busy days, that sounds perfect to me. 

Happy Monday, friends!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weekend Links


I realized it's been a while since I did a link round up of some of my favorite Internet pieces lately, and since I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for my excellent-and-tastefully-curated post, here it is. You know, if you don't have Valentine's Day plans (all the single ladies, as B says)...

This one's for any fashion blogger, but also for all of us who occasionally venture out in this crazy, can't make up its mind weather - tips for taking photos in cold weather by the always brilliant ABM girls.

I love Tsh's posts about life, needing quiet + space, and basically anything else she posts, so her 5 Ways I Stay Sane on the Internet is something I needed to read. Soak up her wisdom! (....As you read this on the Internet...cough)

Despite being a photographer, I've enjoyed not lugging my camera around this semester - I'm not taking any photography classes and senior photoshoot season hasn't started yet - and I'm oddly addicted to using my phone to take pictures. I love the ease and creativity it offers in capturing the simple moments. These tips for All You iPhone Photographers are gold.

I've written countless times about how I'm getting better about being kind to myself, which has involved not feeling guilty about doing quite a few of these 17 ways to make yourself happier right now.

Are you in a long-term relationship? I'm not (single since birth peeps put your hands up!), but I enjoyed every minute of reading Carrie's post about Being Young + In a Long-Term Relationship in which she talks about how she and her fiance met as kids.

For those of us who have struggled with running late before, here's why we do it...

I love the fabulous Julia and her post about what to do when you can't sleep speaks perfectly to the night-owl artist in me.

Emily Freeman is one of my favorite writers, period. And this post about how she keeps track of what she's learned each month is lovely. And this one rattled my soul, in the good way. And this one, this one, this one too...in fact, just go read her whole blog.

Also, can we take a minute to appreciate my brilliant friends and their excellent taste? I received a total of four different mugs for my birthday last week...but the one that produced the most reaction (read: screaming) from me was this one. Well done, Katie. Well done, indeed.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Feelings



Another week, another Friday. Oof. And yet, Friday has a special magic about it...no matter how tired I am when it arrives, my heart always feels a little lighter, a bounce enters my step, and I can't help the smile on my face.

I like the idea of sliding into Friday, into the weekend...as always, there's lots of feels and to-do's and each week brings its own challenges. But there's something nice about not feeling so exhausted by the time the weekend rolls around that all you want to do is sleep.

I told a friend I've realized I need to be more kind to myself DURING the week, not just on the weekend. I touched on this a little last Friday...but I've been thinking hard and letting everything settle within and form this post.

I've always been a juggler, a multi-tasker, a cook with a hand in every pie, a girl who loved to dance with a tray full of plates and feel the rush of thrilling success at keeping them all steady.

So I was shocked when the week before my twenty-second birthday everything crashed down, when my arms suddenly failed me, when every ball I was desperately trying to keep in the air fell...and shattered on the ground.

I was left staring at my hands in disbelief, not because of what they dropped - but because they were shaking. 

Because finally, so very finally, my body, my mind, my heart - my life - came screeching to a halt, to a horrifying crash that builds and builds, piling up like the ugliest train wreck that's spilling out of my eyes, out of my soul.

Because finally, I was forced to stare at the girl in the mirror and accept the fact that I've never really taken care of her the way I should have. That I hadn't been as kind and forgiving and loving towards her like I've been to other people. That I'd cleared my schedule and dropped important matters time and time again for friends in need, but rarely did I do the same for her.

'Keep going,' I told her, 'you're too lazy, you need to work harder, you just waste time anyways so why do you get an intentional break. Do better - why aren't you doing better?'

Rarely did I give her space, time to breathe, the adequate rest...and then I was frustrated and incredibly disappointed when she couldn't run on little sleep, random meals, and always, always a busy rushing and constant loading on of stress.

Mirrors don't lie, and neither did the girl staring back at me with tired eyes. She's so tired. And stretched so thin...and tried so hard. Always to be met with the daily mantra: 'You weren't good enough. You should have done better - you should have done more.'

And it was like waking up, like I finally heard and recognized the cultural lies I'd been grounded by growing up, the ones that had buzzed in my ears, the ones defined as being normal:

You can do it all, rise above the challenges, this unhappiness is normal, growing up means taking on more, everyone else is sleep deprived too. 

Well, guess what? None of that's true.

Because you CAN'T do it all. And it's taken my type-A, oldest child, responsible + bossy, loves-being-busy-every-minute self nearly twenty-two years to figure it out. Something always has to give. And it's only now in my third year of college to realized that me - my mental + physical health - was what was giving. I don't know about you, but I finally realize that constantly being stressed and not getting enough sleep and having so much crammed into each hour wasn't much of a life.

So my emotions and I had a little heart-to-heart. I cried (mostly because I was tired, but also because, FEELINGS), called my mom, listened to some friends, and tried to figure out what God was telling me.

Which was to breathe...and let go. 

And that is so hard for me, to admit I can't handle everything on my plate, to quit something, to say 'no.'

But that was my only real goal for this year. To say no more. Even to myself.

So I told my boss I needed to take the semester off from work, I dropped an class that's unnecessary for my major and doesn't hone my real craft, I started having time for real meals, and spent more time in the sunlight...letting myself have time to breathe, to sit, to be.

I felt radical in my realization the world cultivates a desire for busyness in us, that we feel restless and frantic if we don't feel harried and frantic.

So I've been taking better care of myself lately. And let me tell you, friends, it feels good. And nice to think of myself for once. Everything is a balance, I'm learning  - our generation seems to struggle with that. We're either too self-obsessed or too hard on ourselves.

But from one former rusher-and-pressurer to another, let me whisper to you wherever you're reading this...on your phone, on your laptop, in your room, in the hallway before class, in your bed before you fall asleep...

It's okay. It's okay to slow down and take care of yourself. 

Why don't you try it? You don't have anything to lose and so much to gain.

Sending you love + prayers this weekend, friends.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Feelings


Oof. We're finally at the end of a very, very long week....did it seem exceedingly long to anyone else? The days got a little mixed up and I couldn't tell Tuesday from Wednesday. This is why exceptional amounts of sleep are something to aspire to.

These past two weeks really hit it home for me that I need to make self-care a huge priority. I knew that was one of my year goals coming into 2015, but I didn't realize how I actually need to change my schedule/life to implement more time for me as a person. 

After almost 22 years, I'm finally realizing that I don't need to be doing it all. I'm someone who loves being busy and balancing number plates - but I don't need to do it to the point of stretching myself too thin. I'm taking 18 hours this semester, working part-time, on a leadership team for a huge college retreat my church is putting on, and trying to stay involved in my dorm community. 

I pushed through the first three weeks of school before accepting that I would only make myself miserable, and just because I was doing 20 different things didn't mean I had to keep doing them. 

So after talking to a couple close friends and a lengthy phone call with my mother, I decided to make the best desicion for me. I let my boss know I needed to take that semester off from work - which was terrifying because there are a million ways to justify working, but I need to concentrate on my real full-time job of being a student. And I'm looking into dropping a class that I don't need for my degree plan. I'm even coming to peace with the idea that because I'm not in the Honors program (and it's a bit late to join at this point and still try to graduate on time), I won't get to write a thesis. I really want to write a thesis, friends. I have a creative fiction novel that's been kicking around in my head for years...but I'm learning to let go. And say no, to one thing at a time.

I turn 22 on Sunday, and I'm feeling at peace with my desicions...for the first time I feel like I'm starting to look at my life from an adult perspective in deciding when and where I commit myself. It feels good.