Springtime Reflections

Springtime Reflections

I love spring; it’s my favorite season. It’s beautiful, colorful, scented, and hopeful. The feeling that the air is warming, the sight of the lengthening days, affects us all. Spring fever is a reality. Mother Nature is reinventing herself, and as tenants of her domain, we wish to do the same.

Spring is a time of year (rivaled only by autumn) when the weather and temperature are pleasant, for the vast majority of days. Spring has something autumn does not: hope and promise. Autumn is the time of year where the Earth takes off her makeup, takes a shower, and gets into bed, leaving us with her often-cruel younger cousin, winter. Spring is the awakening of the Earth, and the time during which she gets ready for the day, which stretches before her full of possibility.

Spring cleaning is an excellent practice for starting fresh. It’s good to get all the dirt, dust, and general grime out of the house when winter is over. But don’t stop there – clean your car, or downsize your wardrobe, or throw out the things you kept because they might be important and turned out not to be. Doing a deep clean before the real heat sets in will allow you more freedom, because all the cleaning to be done for the rest of the season won’t have to be as in-depth.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us without allergies. If you are one of the fortunate allergy-free population, take advantage of the warmer weather to enter the domain from which you were barred for so many months: the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun with the lingering chill of winter in the air. Smell the grass being cut and the flowers in the breeze and the oncoming rain. Look at the growing verdancy, the blossoming colors, the little animals tentatively leaving their holes to go about their business. Take pictures. Touch flower petals. Breathe. Enjoy.

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The Italian Dream

The Italian Dream

I want to live in Italy. I don’t really care where, as long as it’s near an airport and not too far from the coast. It would be easy to do soon, given the boyfriend’s job, if I found a job myself. I am, by virtue of my mother’s lineage, eligible for an Italian passport and dual citizenship, which would make the whole thing so much easier.

I don’t think I’d like to stay there indefinitely, but then again, maybe I would. It’s a discussion I don’t need to have yet. I would love to live there, in “sunny Italy.” I would be alone much of the time, but I could make friends, whether citizens or expats or both. My Italian language skills have increased by leaps and bounds, and I know if I lived there I could even speak passably. My reading, writing, and aural comprehension are decent, I think.

I can only think of three jobs as a native English speaker with elementary-intermediate Italian skills that could help sustain us: tutoring, nannying, and/or freelance writing. Of course, if we wanted to stay longer, I would inevitably learn more of the language, and could perhaps get a regular job, but I think we’d eventually end up returning to the States.

Have any of you lived abroad? What did you do for a job? What did you like about it? What didn’t you? Let me know in the comments!

Lifestyle Change (Hopefully with Weight Loss!)

Lifestyle Change (Hopefully with Weight Loss!)

 

This is me today, at a weight I am not proud of achieving. I had, over Christmas and the new year, lost twelve pounds. Ten are back, unfortunately.

Like I said in a previous post, I was always a skinny kid growing up, to the point where, to me at least, it was a big part of my identity. So gaining 100 pounds in the last three years has been devastating, to say the least. It’s so funny, because three years ago I thought I was fat, with my healthy BMI and 29-inch waist. I now know I was not at all fat, especially because even now I’m not.

Me in 2016.

But yesterday I began, with two friends, a lifestyle change. I will be exercising five times a week, whether on the elliptical, with weights, doing floor exercises, or just walking the dog till we’re both exhausted. I will eat less dairy and avoid excess sugar; no soda, fast food, red meat, or white breads/pastas/rice; more fruits and vegetables, especially the latter; and protein at every meal. I also have added one lemon water to my morning.

I’m trying to learn to love my body as it is, as well. While it isn’t my ideal of what I “should” look like, I am starting to realize that it is still beautiful and capable. I’m also trying to forgive my past self. I’m trying to forgive the woman who fought her mental demons so hard she forgot to care for her physical being, or was too tired to do so. I’m trying to forgive the woman who, in boredom or distress, turned to food for comfort. And I will continue to try to forgive, because I know the days will come when, for whatever reason, I miss a workout or eat something “bad.” But, I hope they will be few and far between.

I just want to look in the mirror and be happy about the appearance of the woman I see again. I want to feel beautiful and womanly and dainty and capable again. I want things to fit me more easily.

I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know what the results will be. I’m hoping that by telling all of you that will help me to stick to the plan. But, I hope when I check in again, I will be healthier, stronger, and more fit. Ideally I will be thinner also.

I love you. I’m trying to love my physical body, too, as I am. I’m getting healthier for me, because I do love me.

If you have any tips or tricks, please leave them in the comments – I’d love to hear them!

Career Calling Possibilities

Career Calling Possibilities

I’ve never really known what I want to be when I grow up. I know I still have time. I know I can always go back to school or get any certification I want or need when I do finally figure it out. But, considering that I’m graduating in August, I’d like to figure something out for myself to do and make money doing.

The thing is, and I don’t mean to sound pigheaded here, is that I am good at or passionate about many different things. I love science and understanding why things are the way they are, but lack the discipline and patience required for repeating experiments and writing lab reports. I am nurturing, kind, and caring, but I know I couldn’t both work with kids and have and raise my own little hoard of (ideally) three or four. I can’t sit in one place too long, but my hand-eye coordination is a bit lacking.

I love caring for others and am an empath, but I don’t care about theory, just hands-on practice. I would take disasters personally, because I am highly sensitive. All of this would make me a poor nurse.

I love to edit and rework others’ writing. I love to write, but cannot finish writing a novel or even post to a blog regularly. I love to read, but I cannot sit and finish one book; rather, I hop around from book to book and gradually finish them all. How can a writer not write and still support herself?

I am a talented lyric coloratura soprano. My voice has deepened slightly and become richer with age, and I almost like it now. I am now in the place I ought to have been while formally studying voice; meaning, I am now in a place where I am quite willing to take criticism and direction, where before I was a teenager and I knew absolutely everything and I was naturally talented, so I could always skate by on that. However, here we run into the same issue as with nursing; my highly sensitive self, whose sensitivity and empathy make me an excellent actress, would take any rejection from an audition to heart. Auditions are the name of the game in music. So, no performance career.

I have planned my wedding since the fourth grade, and dreamt of it much longer than that. I used to keep a binder full of documents with the details of my future nuptials. I did this into high school (what a romantic dweeb). I am personable, detail-oriented, and thorough; but is this only because I am planning my own future wedding?

I have always had a deep and profound love for anything beautiful. It moves me so deeply, frequently to tears, when I see something truly beautiful. I see beauty everywhere. It’s a wonderful way to be. I am practical and love functionality in my beautiful things, and I am also an excellent bargain hunter, which would make me a great interior designer. But, do I really want to go back to school?

There’s a lot to consider. I think I will simply finish the degree I have almost completed before I decide to do anything else. I don’t know what I’ll do in the meantime, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. If you’ve got any tips, please leave them below.

What Love Does

What Love Does

Love, love, love. The things we do for love. We drive almost three hundred miles in a twenty-four hour or so period for a night in our love’s arms. We change our life plans.

My parents have always frequently reminded me, “Man plans; God laughs.” In the last few years I have discovered that has a decent amount of truth to it. I thought I’d fall in love forever later than I did. I thought I’d graduate college and move out sooner. I thought I’d always want to live below the Mason-Dixon, or near it. I never thought I’d have as many friends as I do, and certainly didn’t allow myself to dream of being as well-loved as I am.

That’s the thing about love; it’s transformative. It disrupts the best-laid plans. It takes the life you’d planned, the one that felt comfortable, achievable, and inevitable, and rips it to shreds. Love says, “There is another way. Take the risk. Jump. You may fall, or you may fly.” Love has you considering living in a new part of the country, a new part of the world. It makes you disregard statistics and naysayers that predict your failure.

And what happens if you do fall? What happens when, for example, college takes longer than you had decided it should? Well, then love becomes the cushion for your fall. Love says, “I am here. I haven’t left just because you’ve fallen. I am here. I am here.” Love becomes an anchor for us, while at the same time setting us free, because even though you may fail, love will still be there. The reason most people don’t dream bigger is this: they’re afraid of losing love. “If I fail, will I still have friends and family who love me?” If love is true, you will, whether you fail or succeed.

I have, in the past, been someone who has often said, and believed, that “Love isn’t always enough.” That is an oversimplification. Love is always enough. It just depends on what we love more; ourselves, our friends, our significant other, our family. One could love one of those groups more or just differently than the other, and that is not wrong. There is no right or wrong way to love, if one loves truly. True love wants and works for the best for us, but also accepts us as we are with no expectation of the same.

Love allows us to dream bigger, to dream differently. It sets us free, because we know it is always there for us, whether we fail or succeed in our dreams. Love accepts us as we are, and hopes and works for the best for us. Love is always enough, and you are love. You are enough.

Self-Care

Self-Care

Self-care is one of those terms that has gone viral in the past few years. Typically, self-care is attributed to caring for the physical self, and seems to be marketed more toward women. Self-care seems to mean skincare, haircare, fancy baths, fluffy things, etc. While those things are important and certainly can be a part of self-care, they are only one aspect of true self-care.

True self-care means caring for the whole self. Yes, bubble baths and perfume and skin- or haircare are lovely and important, but they feed the physical. Can they feed the emotional or mental aspects of a person? Of course they can. But they cannot do the job as completely as other things can.

True self-care does mean working on the physical person. It means eating well, moisturizing, washing, exfoliating, exercising, and doing all those things that are wonderful for your body. It also means checking up on the body, with regular doctor appointments, nipping possible problems in the bud, and listening to what your body is telling you. It means setting up a sleep schedule and sticking to it.

Another area of self-care is mental. It is important to exercise your mind as well as your body. While I myself can revel in gossip sometimes, I also make sure to listen to news podcasts every morning to keep up with current events. If I want to know more about a certain issue, I research it so I can form a better-informed opinion. I listen to Ted Talks, podcasts, read books by authors with backgrounds like mine and backgrounds that are very different, and watch YouTube videos about anything and everything about which I want to learn more. I have friends with whom I can discuss current events and philosophy, to hear differing ideas and/or arguments. I sit and think about things, ruminating on things I have read or heard. I have always lived very much in my mind. I’m rarely ever bored, because there is so much to consider in the world and beyond it. I write, draw, and play piano. I try to challenge myself in some way every day, to help keep my mind sharp. I love to learn.

A now little-talked-about aspect of the self is the spiritual. Being in tune with the spiritual aspect of self does not necessarily mean joining or practicing a religion. Religion is an excellent means to teach and enforce morals, and to encourage tuning into the spiritual. Self-care in regards to the spirit means realizing that there are truths, whether moral or scientific or otherwise. It means realizing that some things are bigger than we are, but also means realizing our (and others’) power and importance. It means realizing that there is a common human connection that spans generations and centuries and languages and social classes and any other divide possible between individuals or communities.

The social aspect of the self is of paramount importance. As humans, we all long to be loved, accepted, understood, and to make and maintain connections with each other. Friendships, romantic relationships, and familial relationships are the best ways to care for the social self. Frequently romantic or familial love is considered the most important, but platonic love can be easily as rewarding and fulfilling as both romantic and familial love. Friends are the family we choose. Friends don’t necessarily want anything from us, the way a lover can (and frequently does), other than our love, which includes support and honesty, among other things. Friendships are easy to begin, and come in varying degrees of seriousness. We are allowed to have as many (or as few) as we want and need.

The last area of self-care to discuss is emotional (though there are certainly other areas as well). Some ways of caring for the self emotionally include journaling; talking, venting, and connecting with friends; seeing a therapist; laughing; meditation. Taking control of one’s emotional state can be difficult, but it is essential to living life with grace. This does not mean that one ought to repress one’s emotions; rather, it means that one acknowledges an emotion (or emotions), lets it run its course, and does one’s best not to let the emotion(s) change behavior in a negative way. It does not do to wallow, and it isn’t healthy or productive. Feel your emotions. Acknowledge that they are both important and natural. Then move along. You and your life and the lives of others will be the better for it.

 

How to Look and Feel More Attractive

How to Look and Feel More Attractive

Drink more water.

There are so many benefits to drinking water! Just think – over half of your body is composed of water, so it’s clearly vital not only to survival, but also to thriving. Drinking water is good for your skin and your health. Thirst frequently manifests as hunger, meaning that many times when people believe they are hungry, they are actually dehydrated. So, by drinking more water, you not only can help your skin, you can also help whittle your waistline and reduce your grocery bill – which is what most of us want anyway.

Take care of your skin.

This is my personal routine. I consistently receive compliments on my skin, the vast majority of the time when I’m not wearing makeup. Every night, I wash and moisturize my face. But, believe it or not, I never wash my face in the morning. I read somewhere a long time ago that, if your face was cleaned the night before, upon waking, the oils on your face are beneficial to that skin. So instead of ridding my face of those oils entirely every morning, I rinse my face with cold water and dry it gently. That way, I reduce the oils that have accumulated on my face overnight without stripping the skin of them entirely. This means that, overall, I use less product and products, which saves me money. I also make sure that every time I wash my face, I use moisturizer.

Take care of your hair.

Besides the obvious tip of using as little heat as possible, I have a few more. The first is to figure out the best hair-washing schedule for your mane. My hair is thick and slightly oily, so I wash it every other day, if it hasn’t gotten any substance or smell in it. I wash my hair at night and let it air dry while I sleep. If it needs a little something, I will add Garnier’s 10-in-1 Rescue Leave-In Spray when I brush it. If I do ever use a blow dryer, I run a generous amount of Garnier’s Marvelous Oil through my hair, to protect it and help it dry faster. This is important for me, as my long, thick hair takes absolutely forever to dry, whether naturally or with a blow dryer. I have also never highlighted or dyed my hair, which greatly helps with its health.

Sleep.

Figure out how much you need – start with seven or eight hours, and go from there. Try not to use any screens in bed, including TV (at least before bed). I am frequently guilty of scrolling through Tumblr or texting before going to sleep, but lately I have been trying to read instead. Make it quiet and dark, or put on a podcast or playlist that helps with sleep, and sleep well.

Take your vitamins.

Make sure to eat your vitamins! However, if you’re not a fan of fruits and/or vegetables, you could eat gummy vitamins or take vitamin pills. The best ones for the skin are vitamin A and vitamin C, though there are certainly benefits to taking others. Make sure to check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.

Figure out your “signature look.”

The best thing about thirteen years of Catholic school was having to wear uniforms. They’re easy – no thought, no effort. A “signature look” is the adult version of a uniform. It could mean that you have a color scheme, or a set of silhouettes, or anything at all. You get to define it in a way that fits your style and lifestyle. Consistency is key. Having a signature look is a way of looking more attractive, because you will consistently look good. It will also ensure that people notice you, and not your clothing, first. We all want to be seen.

Exercise.

I don’t care what kind of exercise you do, or the amount of it. As long as you exercise in some way with some regularity, you will be more attractive. That could mean walking the dog more, or going to the gym, or taking a class, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise improves heart health, which gives you a glow. It also means that you will have better quality sleep, which also helps with physical appearance and energy levels.

These are just some of the ways I make myself look presentable. Using these methods ensures that when I do have a lazy day, I still feel pretty.