Summer Favorites 2019

This summer has been a weird one for me. I quit my prior job and moved out of Calgary in the spring, spent some time in Japan and then finally moved to Chicago and started a new job during the summer and it’s just been crazy getting used to everything since then. In any case, there are a few things that I have grown rather attached to throughout this new season of life, so if you’re looking for new recommendations on anything and everything – check out the below list!

Beauty/Skincare

Shiseido Sunscreen – started using this right before Japan since I spend way more time outdoors when I’m on vacation and I think I finally am able to stick to the whole sunscreen everyday thing. This goes on super thin and smooth and it has SPF 50 as well as being sweat and water-resistant. Perfect for summer, and perfect for me all year round. 

Son & Park Beauty Water – a recommendation from my lovely friend Clara. She let me use this along with my next favorite when I was visiting her back in May and I woke up with my skin glowing. It’s a toner/essence that’s super light, but whisks away impurities without stripping my skin at all like toners usually do for me. 

CosRx Snail Mucin Essence – paired with above, my skin looks amazing. This stuff does feel slimy at first, but a little goes a long way, it goes on thin, and locks in moisture like none other. 

Atelier California Clementine – my favorite perfume at the moment. Smells like someone bottled summer oranges and I can’t get enough. 

Sweat Block – these little wipes do the impossible. You apply them before bed one night a week and they severely reduce sweating. I am a person that sweats, and using them on my armpits has been amazing for summer
Food/Snacks

Peet’s Coffee French Roast – Those of you close to me know that I worked as a consultant for Peet’s coffee for over a year and turns out I really miss it because I started buying their coffee in stores. Their Dark Roast French Roast is just amazing. One of the few coffees I’ve ever made at home that leaves no bitter taste on the finish at all.

Goat Cheese on everything – Creamy goat cheese of any type has been amazing to use in my summer cooking. Goes well with summer fruit, baked onto stuffed peppers, on my avocado toast, everywhere.

Shows

It’s been hard for me to focus on books for the last few months, but I have still been consuming shows at the same rate. Below are some of my recent favorites. 

Fleabag (Amazon Prime) – only 12 episodes total, this is maybe the sharpest, wittiest show I’ve ever watched.

Good Omens (Amazon Prime) – A six episode mini series based on the book of the same name – this show is just well executed fun.

Patriot Act (Netflix) – political comedy shows never get old, and Hasan Minaj is my new favorite commentator on our current plights. 

The Chef Show (Netflix) – a sort of behind the scenes look at the recipes in the movie Chef. Very lowkey, but fun to watch and introduced me to my new favorite pasta recipe. Pasta aglio e olio. 

Miscellaneous

Tim Ferriss Podcast – This podcast has been around for a while but I am just now getting into it. The thing that separates Tim’s podcast from other interview podcasts I’ve listened to is how specific it gets. If someone says they eat a protein bar each day, he asks them which exact one they eat. He interviews a huge variety of insanely successful people and really gets to the nitty-gritty of how their journey progressed and how they live their lives today. The episodes are long, often more than two hours, but I listen to them while I run and just pick up where I left off each time. 

Candles – I found this article earlier in the summer, and have been slowly working my way through some of the scents it recommends. So far I’ve tried the Brooklyn Santorini Candle, and the Jenni Kayne Basil Candle. The Jenni Kayne one might be my favorite candle I’ve ever owned, it smells incredible. 

Google Drive – Not a new invention but now that I have two laptops instead of one, google drive has become invaluable to me to work on my personal writing and projects when I don’t want to carry both devices with me. 

Yoga w/Adrienne – Working on my flexibility has been an irregular part of my fitness routine but I’ve been trying to amp it up. This YouTube channel has a huge range of videos for all abilities and activity types and Adrienne has a self-effacing style that doesn’t feel too hippy-dippy for someone as cynical as me. 

I literally cannot believe summer is pretty much over. I don’t know about you guys but it FLEW by for me. Fall is my second favorite season though so I’m not too sad about it. If any of you have any products, books, movies, anything that you’ve been loving lately, I’d love to hear about them, I’m always looking for recommendations.

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At the Chicago Art Institute Garden Party PC: Kirin Upadhyay

 

My Perfect Morning

The alarm only gets to blare for a second before my hand reflexively reaches out to shut it off. Even in my half-asleep state I know I only have a minute to decide if I’m going to set the snooze or blink the sleep out of my eyes before slipping back into sweet sleep.

I decide on the blinking. It’s Monday and I’m refreshed from the weekend. The world is still dark, but my eyes adjust quickly and I work up the gumption to pull back the covers so I can change. My limbs have that jelly feeling from not having moved in a full eight hours so it’s time to get the blood flowing through them again.

I pull on my gym gear with sleepy fingers, grab my headphones and head out. It’s a full body circuit today. Sprints, weights, jumps, repeat. Before I know it, I’m flushed, sweaty, fully awake, and in the shower. A cold shower. My body hasn’t had the time to cool off from it’s early activity so I force the issue. 

Upon exiting, it’s all creams, lotions, sunscreen, and makeup until I feel silky and glamorous enough to take on another day. My body has moved, now time to make my mind move for a few minutes. I open my notebook to practice a few minutes of Greek and a few of Mandarin. If I don’t practice my languages I’ll lose them. But now I’ve worked up an appetite. 

I set the kettle on for french press coffee, and prep the rest of my meal. Avocado, egg, and goat cheese on sourdough toast with some salt, pepper, and spice to taste. My coffee is cool enough to drink now so I pick up the book I’m in the middle of at the moment and read for a little while. If an idea strikes me, I may do some writing as well. 

I set everything down and give myself a few moments of complete peace while I only focus on finishing my coffee. I watch other people get their commute started outside my window. Breathe in the smell of dark roast a few more times, and steel myself to face the world. 

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This is what an ideal weekday morning looks like for me right now. I keep a pretty strict routine, usually waking up around 5 and heading straight to the gym to get started and then finding time to get in a few self-improvement hobbies (reading, language) while I’m preparing and eating my breakfast. I hit this routine usually four out of five weekday mornings, so I’ve been pretty consistent. Sometimes I adjust to do an early call or to do a workout later in the day, but for the most part, this is my morning routine.

It may seem strict, but that’s only because I’m prioritizing the activities that are important for me. I know I need to workout, practice language, read, and write to get to who I want to be so I make sure I have time to do those things, and the only uninterrupted time I can guarantee in a day is the time before anyone else is awake. So if I get all this done in the morning, I can go to work with a clear head, and I can leave my evenings free for things that come up throughout the day or for social plans. This arrangement means I rarely have days where I don’t get to check everything off my to-do list and that feeling is worth the early wake-up calls. 

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Lake Michigan at 5:30am – courtesy of one of my early morning runs

Swipe Left: Thoughts on Dating App Culture

I feel like I’ve been talking about dating apps with a lot of my friends recently, more specifically about how unsatisfying they are. While there are a whole slew of problems with these apps that contribute to this feeling, today I’m only going to focus on one and how I specifically combat it by using, or rather, not using the apps. 

The chief problem with these apps as I see it, is that they allow us to fall into the belief system that we can actually find a PERFECT partner for ourselves. Because we have access to a seemingly endless amount of potential matches, we allow ourselves to think that eventually, we must be able to discover the PERFECT one if we just swipe long enough. You may not think you do this – but I encourage you to be more self-critical. Have you ever swiped left on someone because they weren’t tall enough? Swiped left because their job wasn’t ambitious enough? Swiped left because they misspelled a word in the profile description? I definitely have. We think that because we have infinite choices, we can be infinitely discerning as well. We disguise these limitations as having ‘standards’, but more often than not the standards by which we are evaluating potential matches are society’s standards, not our own. Because the means by which we are normally able to evaluate matches – actual interaction – isn’t available. 

Because here’s the thing – people are SO different in real life. I think about it this way – for me personally, out of the seven* guys I’ve gone on more than two dates with, I met six of them in person. And I wouldn’t have swiped right on ANY of those six had I spied their profile on a dating app. Not because they weren’t attractive, but because they totally aren’t the type that translates well on a dating app. They’re the type to post cheesy photos and simple profile descriptions if any so they just wouldn’t stand out on an app to me – but in person, I clicked really well with them. In person, I was able to evaluate by the standards that matter to me. Do they make me feel wanted? Do they make me feel safe? Do they make me laugh? Do they turn me on? And so on and so forth. Notice all of those questions have to do with how they make me FEEL which is impossible to tell on an app. The most you can do on a dating app is maybe send some flirty texts back and forth but until you meet in person you can’t know if you have that x-factor with someone because it’s just too detached. 

I’m not saying you should give up on apps completely but they should definitely be taking a backseat to your other interactions – if you use them too frequently, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So first and foremost, do you. Kill it at work, practice your hobbies or pick up a new one, watch Good Omens like you’ve been meaning to, read, workout, travel, spend time with your friends and your family. Fill your life to the brim with the things that already bring you joy and accomplishment. This will do two things – it reduces the time you have to merely swipe out of distraction, but it also makes your life fuller so that when you do meet someone you have that much more to bring to the table because you’ve actually been living a life instead of swiping it away. 

Secondly, when you do use the apps, I only have two tips for you – prioritize the people that made an effort to talk to you first rather than just match, and then endeavor to meet up with whoever you take a liking to as soon as you can. As I mentioned before, it’s so hard to tell if you really click with someone unless you meet them. This also weeds out anyone who is just in it for the distraction as well as preventing the black hole of texting in circles. 

Lastly, focus on meeting new people in person whenever possible. Whether it’s a work or networking event, or a friend’s party, you never know how far your circle truly expands and who might be able to introduce you to someone amazing.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

*No I am not currently dating the 1 that I did meet on an app – that was a short six month relationship awhile ago.

Little Secrets

We all live, walk, and breathe while carrying secrets. 

Some are big, but most are small. The secret of saying you’re fine when you’re not, of saying you can when you can’t. 

We tell ourselves that these secrets are ok to keep, in fact they must be kept so as not to burden those around us. After all, these are small secrets. Who wants to hear about small things? The fact is, we just don’t feel we have time for others’ secrets as well as our own. 

You see it when your friend’s eyes glaze over as you’re telling her how you’re frustrated with your love life. You see it when your partner’s eyes dart over your shoulder when you just can’t put your finger on why you’re feeling unfulfilled at work. You don’t even realize it but you learn to stop. You learn that people pretend to listen so that you’ll pretend to listen later. In one ear and out the other. 

So you keep your secrets, you dwell on them. Small ones pile on top of tiny ones and before you know it, your entire being is composed of secrets that you no longer have the ability to define nor share. 

But then someone will ask you about them. They’ll look you in the eye when they ask but you won’t believe it. The first time they ask you’ll gloss over one little secret with a laugh. That usually works. But they ask again, intently. This isn’t fair, you think. Why would you ask for my secrets when I know you won’t care? Why make me go through the pain of defending them when you don’t really want to hear them? 

But they look at you and ask again. This time, you allow your suspicion to show and you ask them if they’re sure they know what they’re asking. If they’re sure they want to see a part of you that’s insecure, lonely, or sad. If they want to see a part of you that while soul-defining is not charming, or positive, or attractive. 

They say they’re sure. Steady, attentive, waiting. You’re going to tell them now, but you feel tears prick the backs of your eyes out of fear. What if they don’t think of you the same after this? What if your delicate balance of keeping secrets has been ruined? Or worse, what if they betray their indifference? 

It’s too terrifying to tell your secrets and tolerate their eyes staring so directly at you so your gaze rises to the ceiling, falls to the floor, lingers just past their shoulder as you talk so you don’t feel the full force of their unwavering observation all at once, you’re not trained to take such concentration.

But you take the risk and you tell them. And when their attention doesn’t flicker and their eyes fill with sympathy rather than indifference, the sense of relief you feel is powerful enough to forget all the other people who didn’t listen.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis