TREAT YO SELF

You wanna know something Americans are terrible at? Politics. BOOM. Just kidding, I don’t have the energy to tackle THAT argument right now. But in all seriousness, Americans are terrible at self-care. Our way of life here in the states is completely inhibitive of active self-care, especially compared to many countries in the likes of Europe and Asia.

Why should you care about this, you ask? Well, I’d retort, don’t you care about YOURSELF? A typical working American’s week looks something like this: Work Monday through Friday, ideally from 9-5 but we all know those hours are creeping upwards with many people starting work as early as 7 and not finishing until past 6 pm. Then go home, take care of kids, or eat dinner, and watch TV. Then when the weekend rolls around, it is some variation of a Netflix binge fest, drinking and partying, or shuttling your kids to their activities. In short, the average American is not taking care of themselves at all. You might argue that watching TV at the end of a day counts as self-care, but while I binge TV with the best of them, vegging out in front of a screen is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about proactively partaking in things that improve your quality of life.

The factors of self-care I’m going to list below will sound like common sense to most people but how many of us are actually taking the time to do them? The fact that I know most of you are going to roll your eyes makes me believe that these aren’t new or original ideas, but that know-it-all attitude isn’t translating into DOING it all and people aren’t even doing the bare minimum to take care of themselves.

1.) GET MOVING. Like always, exercise makes a huge difference. But this time, I’m not even talking about lifting weights, intervals, or running. The healthiest countries in the world do not usually have a strong fitness culture, but they DO have a strong walking culture. People will always walk when they can and are generally active in their daily lives, and as we all know, movement is good for your heart, your brain, AND your body. Americans, unfortunately, are extremely sedentary so even short walking or dance breaks can make a huge difference.

2.) EAT A GODDAMN VEGETABLE. Now I KNOW people are rolling their eyes at this one because I sound like everyone’s mother. Remember what I said above: we are talking the bare minimum here. But not only am I encouraging people to add some leafy greens here and there, it is also important to make sure you’re eating well, and regularly. Don’t skip breakfast, don’t work through lunch, and definitely don’t binge because you skipped a meal. Eating regularly and including as many food groups as you can, will help regulate your metabolism and keep your energy levels up!

3.) GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP. This is the sin that most Americans fall prey to whether you’re a middle schooler or nearing retirement. We are not getting enough sleep. While the amount of sleep you need varies based on your age and other factors, seven to nine hours tends to be the recommended amount. But what’s more, is that people don’t keep regular sleep schedules. We wake up for work at a regular hour but then sleep as much as we want on the weekend which totally messes up our body’s routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same hour can do wonders for your energy, your mental clarity, and even your skin.

4.) TAKE A VACATION. A real vacation. If you’re working, or even going to school, chances are you have some kind of vacation time or arrangement. Especially for my working folks out there, TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL. Too many Americans just don’t take advantage of time off, whether it is a weekend or a full on two-week trip abroad, most of us never disconnect. We are always keeping an eye on our email and that can really take its toll. We are one of the countries with the longest work days and the least vacation days, so when you do have the opportunity to unplug, DO IT, or eventually all that work will just burn you out.

5.) RELATIONSHIPS. Nowadays we have all sorts of relationships right at our finger tips, we go to parties, work events, and social commitments all the time. However, something that can get lost in the shuffle is working on a couple quality friendships. Ideally, these friends can be found close by so you guys can go to coffee or hang out, but if they are long distance that is fine too. Relationships need love and they ultimately feed your soul. Everybody always claims to wish for more time to spend with family and friends, but somehow it ends up low on the priority list from day to day. But if you carve out a little bit of time to catch up with friends at least once a week, it can be truly calming and rejuvenating.

And that’s it! Five simple things. FIVE. We all know that these are things that we should be doing, but somehow it is just so easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of work and commitments, and when we do have some time to ourselves it is perfectly understandable that we would just want to sit around and sleep or do nothing. But carving out a little bit of extra time and effort for your own personal wellness can do WONDERS for your overall attitude and peace of mind. All those little pockets of time focused on self-care can really add up and ultimately, if you take care of yourself, everything you touch will also be much better for it.

 

 

I’m Moving…Again

I have an important announcement.

Drumroll, please.

I’m moving to Canada.

No, this is not a drill, practical joke, or political piece (although my timing is great regarding that). I really am moving to the city of Calgary, Canada in one month’s time.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a couple reasons: chiefly, that my boyfriend lives in Calgary and since my job allows me to work anywhere, we decided to do away with the long distance thing and move in together. And also because I can never stay in one place for long. Just look at the last four years:

  • August 2013: Moved to Malibu, CA
  • May 2014: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • August 2014: Moved to Shanghai, China
  • May 2015: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • June 2015: Moved to Tujunga, CA (Thanks, Kay and Jim)
  • August 2015: Moved to Thousand Oaks, CA
  • May 2016: Graduated Pepperdine and moved to Chicago, IL
  • June-July 2016: Euro Trip
  • September 2016: Moved to Downtown LA, CA
  • September 2017: Move to Calgary, Canada

I know it’s typical for college students to go back and forth and not settle during their university years, but I do think I’ve moved around a little more than the average student/young professional. This past year living in DTLA has been the longest I’ve been in one place since leaving home, and I’m moving yet again!

However, the decision to move wasn’t quite as easy as it seems, and I honestly have quite a bit of anxiety over it. First of all, even though I’ve moved around quite a bit, I always knew I was coming back to somewhere, whether that was Chicago or California. With this move to Canada, I have no idea if I will end up staying there or where I would move next.

Secondly, it is a BIG deal to me to move in with my boyfriend. Moving in with a romantic partner means we will be merging our lives. And the scary part, of course, is if things go south with the relationship, it is much harder for me to rebuild my life again after shifting all the way to Canada. Furthermore, I am moving to my boyfriend’s home turf. His family, friends, and activities are already established in Calgary, whereas I will be starting from scratch — no family, no friends, no social life at all. That is absolutely terrifying for me. I don’t want to rely solely on my boyfriend for all of my social needs, but that is how it is going to have to be at the very start until I start getting involved in my own things. Moving to California the first time was different because I was a freshman at university, and everyone knows freshman are all desperate to make friends so we were all in the same uncomfortable situation. This time around, it is only me in the uncomfortable situation and I have to figure it out by myself.

Lastly, I was initially apprehensive about moving to Calgary. All my life I’ve lived in or around extremely large cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Shanghai, etc. These cities are enormous, gorgeous, and have tons of opportunities. Calgary, on the other hand, is a bit smaller and still developing. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m not used to it. I also admit I’ve been spoiled by the sheer variety of activities, food, and landscapes afforded to me by those cities. Calgary has a much different feel to it and the major points of interest are things I had never even considered doing before, like skiing, camping, or cycling. I have visited a couple times and definitely felt out of my element.

So there you have it, in spite of my fears of not having any friends, not having a social life, not fitting in with the activities, being too bored, of my boyfriend and I breaking up, I still decided to move. I still decided to move because I decided it was important to continue to challenge myself.

I know it’s Canada and I won’t have bigger issues to tackle, like language or vastly different cultural norms (although I will never understand the big deal about hockey), it is still a different country and I will have to build my life there. I’ll have to learn what I like about Calgary and what I like doing there. I’ll have to learn how to live with my boyfriend, and I’ll learn how to create my own social life from the ground up. So while it’s comfortable to live in places I know so well, with people I already love, I know I will grow so much more by putting myself in a place I barely know, with people I definitely don’t know and force myself to make it a great opportunity.

 

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Checking out my new horizons…

 

Read it and Weep

What was the last book you read? Did you choose to read said book by choice? Or was it for something else like school or work?

When my sister and I learned to read, we didn’t just read them, we DEVOURED THEM. I remember most of our Christmas gifts would be books and by the time Christmas break was over, we would have finished a good chunk (if not all) of the books we had just received. We would read everything! We read novels, fantasy, science fiction, history, historical fiction, and nonfiction.

My sister and I are, unfortunately, increasingly rare specimens of people. In an age where consuming information at hyper-fast speeds is becoming more and more important, many people claim they don’t have the time or the attention span to sit down and read an entire book. We favor online articles and social media to consume information, and to be honest, real life has gotten so ridiculous (American politics anyone?) that it may feel like you’re viewing fiction every time you check the news.

But I still think reading full on books and immersing yourself in a story is important. The majority of books I read are nonfiction or science fiction/fantasy. And I think there is a huge benefit to reading a wide range of books for personal growth and development (and to be one of those pretentious show offs at parties). Below, I’ve outlined how I divide the books in my library and why reading books from each of these categories has more benefits than you might think.

Nonfiction books have obvious benefits. They usually fall into two categories: self-help or history/biography. There is much to be gained by reading these types of books. You can learn techniques to directly help your wellness, success, or productivity. Or, by reading history and biography books you can learn about events and people that have shaped the world into what it looks like today and can increase your understanding and perspective on your environment. I know people think these can be boring or cheesy, or like reading a dry, boring history textbook, but some of these are dynamically written and just as gripping as that tabloid article on that celeb that did that thing (you know the one). My personal favorites in this category:

  1. Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi)
  2. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big (Scott Adams)
  3. Blink (Malcolm Gladwell — actually everything by him is great)
  4. GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso)
  5. Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
  6. The Four Hour Workweek (Tim Ferris)

The next category is novels. I define novels as fictional stories that have realistic characters and settings. This category of book is important because it increases your thinking and perception about your world. Even though the stories told in this category are fiction, the struggles of the characters are usually very real and tackle topics that relate heavily with most people. This category of book resonates with me because it helps with my empathy and understanding of people. Going on a journey through a character’s life helps you see things through their eyes, and even though they are made up, that skill can transfer to your own, very real, life. My personal favorites in this category:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  2. Fates and Furies ( Lauren Groff)
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ( Stieg Larsson)
  4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini – this guy is a powerful writer ok?)
  5. The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchinson)
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  7. Rich People Problems (Kevin Kwan, a guilty pleasure but a fun read nontheless)

The last important category in my repertoire is fantasy/fiction/sci-fi etc. I define this category as stories about things that are completely made up. The setting, circumstances, characters, and story are all completely fictional. These differ from novels because the setting is not real. This is my favorite genre because reading these books is kind of like watching a film for me. They tell these fantastical tales that my own brain can’t imagine and immerse me in a world that doesn’t exist to tell a story that ends up being highly relatable. These books are also my favorite because not only are they the most entertaining for me, I feel like they combine the best of the first two categories into one. Their characters are still intensely relatable which adds the empathy element found in novel studies, and they also encourage outside of the box thinking. In order to truly enjoy a fictional world, you have to understand the fictional rules and workings of that world and that thinking forces you to expand your mind and think about your own world more creatively. My favorites (I have so many here so I’ll only list a few):

  1. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling, this is a classic)
  2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  3. Enchanted (Orson Scott Card, honestly I’ve read all his books)
  4. Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin, another expected one, but the books are honestly amazing)
  5. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
  6. Queen of the Tearling (Erika Johansen)
  7. The Selection (Kiera Cass)
  8. The Veldt (Ray Bradbury, this is a short story, but I love it)

I have been a reader all my life. I LOVE books, I’m such a nerd for all kinds of reading so I might be a bit biased, but being a strong reader definitely carries over into other elements of your life. Many people don’t want to spend the time reading or they claim school ruined reading for them, but reading should never be a chore and there are MILLIONS of books out there so there is something for everyone. Reading novels and books not only offers the benefits I described above, but it also drastically improves your thinking, writing, and vocabulary skills. I know I sound preachy, but there is literally NO downside to reading more books. Comment if you can think of one and we can have a lively discussion on the topic!

 

 

Bare Necessities

I’ve lived a pretty typical middle-class young adult life. I graduated high school, went to college, and now I have a job and am contributing (?) to society. However, because I went to a university across the country, studied abroad on the other side of the world, and now live completely on my own, I’ve realized that there are a few skills that I learned along the way that everyone should really know by the time they reach my age.

And obviously, as a plucky 22-year-old, I have TONS of wisdom to offer, and everything I say should be taken completely seriously. SO, with THAT said, the list below encompasses things you should’ve been figuring out how to do before you could even drink in this god-forsaken country.

  1. Cooking: I don’t care if it’s pasta, steak, or the meanest grilled cheese ever, you should know how to make yourself a quality hot meal. Extra credit: You can make more than one, and have a few go-to dishes for yourself and when you’re trying to impress! Look at you, you overachiever you.
  2. Skincare: Once again, this doesn’t have to be fancy, but so help me, if you’re not moisturizing your face and body then you are just asking for flaky lizard skin, not to mention, PREMATURE AGING (it’s ok to start screaming, I know it’s terrifying).
  3. Haircare: Get a hair cut regularly. Just DO it. You know it’s the right thing to do, and your hair feels so much better afterward. Also, don’t forget to shampoo AND condition.
  4. Shop for Underwear: You’re not a kid anymore and isn’t it just embarrassing to have your mom do this? You should know by now which kinds you like and what brands to invest in. People with boobs: if you so choose to wear bras, get fitted by an expert, it helps.
  5. Favorite Books: I know reading books for school sucks, but reading is good for you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. You should explore some genres and find a few books that blow your mind, the kind you’d recommend to others. A couple of mine: Ender’s Game, Perfume, and Never Eat Alone.
  6. Know how to change a tire: I actually fail on this account, but I know it is something I should learn. You never know when you’ll be in a tight spot with no cell service so your parents can talk you through it.
  7. Set a Schedule: I know this is EXTRA boring (unless you’re a planning fanatic like me) and I know you can set whatever hours you want since you’re an adult, but all that extra freedom is precisely why you need to learn to set your own schedule so you don’t turn into an ambitionless lump that has to peel themselves off their couch every Monday.
  8. Fitness: You knew this was coming didn’t you? I don’t care whether you walk, swim, yoga, or whatever. But pick something, and do it regularly.
  9. Traveling: Traveling alone can be stressful, you should know how to navigate airports, baggage issues, and how to get around in new places without your phone. Traveling is an unparalleled learning experience, and remember what I said earlier about knowledge and power? Yeah, exactly.
  10. Cleaning: Chances are, you have your own space by now, whether it’s a dorm room or an apartment. Being a slob is just unacceptable. Learn to pick up after yourself and how to clean different surfaces properly. There is no excuse for this. Don’t be nasty. Extra Credit: Doing your laundry without shrinking or ruining anything.

And there you have it, in my obviously learned opinion, these are the top ten things you should have figured out by the time you are a budding adult…there is literally no good way to classify this period of our lives is there? Young adult? Young person? Millenial? Comment the best way to classify those in their late teens/extremely early twenties because I have no good ideas for this…

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PC: the AMAZING Clara Yu

 

Be Naked

We are born naked. That moment lasts a second before our tiny bodies are swaddled in blankets. As we age, we start dressing to flatter our bodies. You’re on the shorter side? Wear shorts and skirts that cut above the knee to elongate your body. You have a bit of a tummy? Wear floaty fabrics that don’t draw attention to it. We are all about covering and reshaping. But what if I challenged you to stand in front of your mirror naked? Just stand there and look. No floaty fabrics, cling in the right places, or spandex. Just you and your skin.

For a lot of people, this would make them uncomfortable. For whatever reason, their naked body makes them blush. This is a concept I never understood. I have never been able to fathom why their own nudity makes some people so uncomfortable. I must assume it is from familial or cultural traditions that I was not privy to.

Maybe my experience with nudity has been a bit different. Ever since I was little, nudity was never a big deal. I’m from one of those families that doesn’t close the door when we shower. When we were on vacation, my mom would make my sister and I strip down so she could spray every inch of us with sunscreen before we put on our swimsuits for the beach. That was just normal. I quickly realized when I would go to my friend’s houses that this behavior was not typical. My friends were horrified at the idea of seeing their family members naked or anyone seeing them naked. They made sure to close the door to the bathroom and it was completely unacceptable to walk in on anyone, for any reason (Luckily, I was an observant child and never made that mistake). But at my house, my sister and I would honestly have full on conversations while one of us was peeing. And if my mom was in the shower, I would be in the bathroom doing my makeup. My parents never made it a big deal and consequently, I never treated the naked body as anything out of the ordinary.

Then, when I joined swimming, nudity and exposure just became even more commonplace. Locker rooms twice a day, swim meets on weekends – eventually, you just lose any sense of modesty purely because it’s inconvenient. Furthermore, speedos and competition suits don’t really leave much to the imagination. I’ve been around nearly naked guys and girls since I was nine and even though we all obviously hit puberty, the nudity was already part of our lives. Swimming is just an exposed sport, and it was never a big deal.

I guess I can understand why people would be uncomfortable being naked in front of others. It’s an extremely vulnerable position to put yourself in. But sometimes nudity makes sense. We all have to change clothes, we all shower, and for the most part, we all have sex – all of which are activities that are made much easier by being nude. Yet some people will still painstakingly hide their bodies. They will only change in bathroom stalls, they will have sex under the sheets with the lights off, etc. But why are they afraid of their own bodies?

If you’re one of these people, I challenge you to stand in front of your mirror for a full minute, naked. Do it when no one is home. Lock yourself in your bathroom. I don’t care what you have to do to feel safe, but try it. Don’t focus on flaws or attributes, just take stock of what’s there and how everything fits together. I promise you don’t have anything that no one else has. This isn’t about body confidence or that whole positivity movement. This is about being aware of what your body truly looks like, and accepting that.

I’m grateful for the way I was raised and for swimming because they made me comfortable in my own naked skin. I was never made to feel that being exposed was bad, or that my nakedness was offensive. It was just there. I know from personal experience, the more comfortable you feel being naked alone, the less scary it is in front of others, and one day it might not even be a big deal to you at all.

WARNING: this confidence will throw some people off. My boyfriend is consistently afraid for my modesty when I strut around my own apartment nude. I assure him I don’t care who sees me naked. Surprisingly, that doesn’t calm him down 😉

 

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Photo Cred: Kiki Moussetis

 

 

Fight it Out

I argue with my boyfriend. I argue with him A LOT. And he argues back…and it’s AMAZING.

Obviously, fighting, crying, shouting, and generally being frustrated with your significant other is never a fun experience, but a relationship without those conflicts is even worse.

Conflict is necessary in a romantic relationship. There will be tons of things you disagree on or dislike throughout your interactions and the worst thing you can do is sit on them and pretend they don’t exist. And while every disagreement should not turn into a knock-down drag-out MMA fight, sometimes it’s healthy to lose your temper a bit.

Personally, I consider myself lucky. My boyfriend has the patience of a middle school teacher who runs an orphanage on the weekends, whereas I have the short-temper of  Yosemite Sam. Most of our disagreements are solved pretty rationally and quickly, but every so often we work ourselves up into a shouting match. These don’t happen too frequently but they do almost always result in extreme frustration for him and tears for me. However, we are never able to go to sleep unless some kind of understanding is found so there is a lot of talking, explaining, and listening, and ultimately we end up feeling even better about our relationship.

First off, as I’ve alluded to above, working through conflict can help you grow closer and can strengthen communication. Honestly, most conflicts probably stem from a miscommunication in the first place and figuring out where you guys misunderstood each other and working to better comprehend each other’s intentions can actually improve your communication skills and in turn, can improve your relationship. Every time you are able to work through one of these conflicts, you will be able to uncover another element of the other person and grow even closer.

Secondly, sometimes it’s one of the ways you can tell that you both care about each other. Nobody gets angry over things that don’t matter to them, but if you get frustrated or angry with each other you know that whatever the issue is, it means a lot to the other person, and it means a lot that you understand them and why they are getting worked up. Now, I don’t mean to say you should use fighting to show you care, but fighting is a by-product of caring a lot. It is also a by-product of feeling comfortable enough in the relationship to argue without fearing a breakup or something equally dramatic.

And sometimes, it is just plain cathartic. Maybe your partner has been leaving their clothes on the floor for the past couple days and you decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and ignore it but finally, you snap and say something snarky and pick a fight. Maybe both of you have had a rough week and it just feels plain good to shout at each other for a little while and then have great makeup sex. Sometimes, that is just what you needed.

However, even though I believe conflict is important in a relationship, I do believe there should be some ground rules

1.) No hitting. This should go without saying, but violence is never the answer and physical abuse is not something to be taken lightly. At no point in any conflict should anyone resort to violence to make a point or to get the other to give in. This is just plain unacceptable.

2.) No name calling. It’s like your playground days again, isn’t it? Once again, this does way more harm that it’s worth in a fight. Never call names or call out personal characteristics because they will probably only hurt or anger the other person more, making the fight harder to resolve. Calling out hurtful past experiences, or using intimate information against the person is also a huge foul.

3.) No dismissals. I admit, sometimes this one is hard for me as I have a mean sarcastic streak, but you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT dismiss your partner’s feelings. Don’t roll your eyes, or patronize them, accuse them of “just being so defensive,” or tell them they are being dramatic. Any of those actions show contempt and show that you aren’t taking your partner’s feelings and statements seriously. This type of feeling is relationship SUICIDE. Your partner is feeling a certain way for a REASON, just as you feel certain ways for your own reasons, and it is not your place to tell them that their feelings are invalid just because you don’t understand them right away. This is a relationship and it is your responsibility to listen to your partner and sympathize with how they are feeling. If you dismiss your partner’s feelings or allow your own feelings to be dismissed, the issue at the root of the argument will never be resolved and will only taint your relationship moving forward.

Fights can be tough, and arguments are not fun to start or to be a part of, but they are inevitable in relationships. However, if you both make an effort to avoid being actively mean to each other, then most of these fights can actually result in improved understanding, and who doesn’t want a wholesome, healthy relationship with mutual respect and love? NO ONE, we all want it, so fight and make up and love each other.

 

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He smiles to hide how frustrated he gets when I lose my temper at the drop of a hat…

 

 

How to Be Alone

Since leaving college last year, I’ve taken a huge trip by myself, am living alone, and working from home. So it’s safe to say I have a lot of practice being alone. I live by myself, across the country from my parents, in a different country than my boyfriend and work so much it only makes sense to make plans on weekends with friends. Which means sometimes I go a whole day or a few days without interacting with anybody other than my skype meetings for work. Sometimes I go out to eat alone, sometimes I go to movies alone, and I most definitely go to the beach alone.

People are surprised when I tell them how much I do by myself. I feel like, for some reason, many people are embarrassed or uncomfortable to do things in public by themselves. But just because you do things alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely or a failure, there are actually tons of perks to doing things all by yourself.

First of all, you’re not limited — by anything! You’re not limited by which one of your friends is free, or what they want to do, or when they are available. If you want to see that indie flick, you don’t have to try and find a friend who is into it. If you want to try that new sushi restaurant you don’t have to deal with your boyfriend who is only ever feeling a burger. If you are interested in something, you can just go do it! You have that power!

I get that a huge part of the fun of experiencing things is sharing it with others and the laughter and discussion that goes along with that. But for me, I need both. I need those times with friends, family, and boyfriend. AND I need that alone time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, going places and doing things alone allows me a level of efficiency and depth that I wouldn’t otherwise get.

For example, if I go shopping with friends, it can be fun, but it takes about twice as long to find all the things I’m looking for. If I’m alone, I’m in and out, and have so much more time. If I see a movie with friends, I know that they probably like to talk, but I prefer silence. This isn’t to say that I prefer being alone to doing things with the people that mean a lot to me. This is just to show that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Maybe you’re not in the mood to be around people but still want to do exciting activities, and you should feel comfortable having it both ways.

We think that if people see us spending time out alone they will judge us from afar, but how many times have you ever done that? You don’t stare at that guy at Starbucks who is at a table by himself, and you don’t feel sorry for someone if they are sitting by themselves at the movies. You barely even notice anyone but yourself anyways. Humans are self-absorbed, and in this case it is liberating!

Maybe we are all scarred from that one time we felt so embarrassed to sit alone at lunch in middle school (we all know those days were not fun for ANY of us). But now, life moves so fast, you can’t always wait for someone to catch up and live it with you, and nobody else has time to judge you for eating lunch alone anymore. Why limit yourself to what the everyone else wants to do when the power to do whatever you want, whenever you want, is sitting right in front of you?

 

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You can even take pics of yourself BY YOURSELF. Pro tip: prop your iPhone up on your purse and set the timer. 

 

Bitch Sessions: Making Fun of Accents

The other day I’m at the outlet mall with my mom, and we pass by the Coach store. I don’t know why, but this particular Coach store makes people line up outside because they only let approximately five people in at once. Well, there was a Chinese family in line, speaking accented English. There were also many other Asian people in line. My mom and I are passing by the line (mostly because we hate Coach, not because it’s long), and we pass these two guys who are disgusted that there are so many Asians in line. One guy says “Why are there so many of them?” And the other guy AFFECTS A TERRIBLE MOCKERY of a Chinese accent and says something along the lines of “We bought everything in our own country so now we come here to buy yours.”

This kind of behavior really gets under my skin. It’s a whole other issue to make blatantly racist jokes, but mocking accents is something that really gets to me. Let me say it loud and clear, PEOPLE WITH ACCENTS SPEAK MORE LANGUAGES THAN YOU. People with accents for sure speak two languages, maybe more, and the people that mock them probably only speak one. It’s so, SO disrespectful in my mind because people with accents are trying their hardest to speak another language, and are trying to function as best they can in a place that is not their home. And it chaps my hide so bad because the people who make fun of them probably have NO idea what it takes to do that. They have no idea what it takes to put yourself out there like that and adapt to a completely different country and culture. These are probably the same damn people who go to a different country and expect that the people there should speak their language. The AUDACITY.

People sometimes think it’s ok to make jokes about accents because their brown friend or their Chinese friend doesn’t mind, but making those jokes around everyone in public just shows underlying racist sentiments. It’s not my place to tell people what jokes they can or cannot make around their friends/family of different ethnicities, but I can tell you that just because your friends aren’t offended when you mock their accents, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way. And this doesn’t just go for people of color, this goes for anybody who has come to a new country and is trying to learn a new language. It seems like in America for some reason, British and Australian accents are the epitome of sex appeal but everyone else gets ridiculed and told to go back to their country.

All in all, if you ever feel tempted to make these jokes or think they’re funny, just think for ONE second before you do. Think about what it took for them to change countries and to try and learn a new language to fit in. THINK about how much ambition and courage that takes, and maybe, just maybe, keep your mouth shut.

 

accents

My face as I prepare to cuss you out for making fun of other people’s accents… I smile because you deserve it.

 

“I would never let my daughter do that!”

Fatherhood is an interesting concept for me to think about because although I have a father, I can never become one. In the wake of Father’s day weekend, I’ve been thinking about why I appreciate my own father so much. While he’s done so many things for me that I can never be grateful enough, one trait, in particular, stands out.

My dad always made my sister and me feel capable. He always encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone, learn new things, and have new experiences. He rarely made us back off on a new opportunity because he was scared for us. This was prevalent when we were kids when he would push us to be better at our respective sports, or when he would try and get us to read books outside of class that pertained to classroom topics to increase our knowledge so we could get ahead. Even as adults he never tries to pull us back for safety’s sake. A chief example is the nearly two-month long trip I went on by myself last summer. No family, no friends, just me! Most people, especially men who are

Even as adults he never tries to pull us back for safety’s sake. A chief example is the nearly two-month long trip I went on by myself last summer. No family, no friends, just me! Most people, especially men who are my dad’s age, balk at this and say something along the lines of “Oh I could never let my daughter do that!” When I ask these people why, they always say something like “oh she’d get lost”, or “What if she’s attacked or taken”, or sometimes they don’t even have a reason! And I think to myself ‘Do you not think of your daughter as a capable person? Do you not think you’ve raised her to be smart and competent enough to be ok on her own?’ I don’t get it at all. When I said I was going alone, my dad barely batted an eye because he knew I was totally capable of handling any chaos a trip like that could throw at me. He has always thought very highly of my and my sister’s abilities and I’m only just now realizing how much it meant that he never underestimated us.

Nowadays, I work with a lot of men that are my dad’s age, and they sometimes develop this strange protective affliction. I say ‘affliction’ because they’re NOT my parents and shouldn’t be concerned with protecting from work and should respect my ability to get the work done. But they sometimes end up treating me like their own daughters, but unlike my dad, they treat me as though I’m naive and fragile, and unable to do certain things on my own.

My dad NEVER does this. He would, of course, teach us new things or skills, but he never just assumed we needed protecting and for things to be done for us because we were incompetent. He EXPECTED us to know how to do everything for ourselves.

Surprisingly, and unfortunately, I’ve found that my dad’s behavior is a huge departure from how many fathers treat their daughters. Most tend to protect and worry about them more so than their sons and think them more at risk in the world, and less capable of handling that risk. Even if they don’t mean to do it, they feel their daughters are more fragile, and thus need more protection – from boys, knowledge, the world, EVERYTHING – but not my dad.

I could go on and on about everything else that makes my dad special, but he already knows he’s the best so I’ll leave you all with the thought that daughters should be expected to be capable, confident, and competent and any father who stands in the way of those traits, stands in the way of his daughter’s success.

 

daddy!

Me, My dad, and My sister all having a grand ol’ time in Mykonos last year.

 

Getting Started on Getting Fit

I’m not talking about that one time you decided to start your new workouts on a Monday and then by Wednesday you had given up and the whole cycle starts over next month. I’m talking about actually getting started on a new lifestyle so that you stick with it.

I feel like the hardest part of developing a new workout or diet routine is getting started. And not enough people talk about this part! Because once you’ve developed a lifestyle and have stuck to it for awhile, it becomes addictive, habit forming, and arguably easier to stick to.

For example, if you haven’t worked out in awhile and then decide to run five miles, you’re going to HATE it. You’re going to feel like passing out, and you’ll hate the process every step of the way. BUT if you’ve been running every day for the past three months, not only will you replace that feeling of nausea with endorphins, your day will also feel like something is missing without it. In the same vein, if you decide to cut out all junk food suddenly, you’ll feel horrible because that is the fuel your body is used to and you’ll crave it SO BAD. But if you phase out that food over time and find yourself eating salad every week, you’ll start to crave those (sounds fake, I know, but it IS possible to develop the longing for leafy greens).

In any case, because it takes a few weeks to break a habit and develop a new one, it is hard for people to get started on a new lifestyle. IT’S NO JOKE. And when you first start, your body will completely reject the idea because it’s not what it”s used to.

Something I feel like fitness personalities don’t address enough (not that I am one, I just follow a lot of them), is the mental game. Oh sure, they’ll spout all sorts of stuff about discipline, and wanting it bad enough, but they don’t focus on the fact that some people have to work at developing those mental skills just like you’d work on your biceps. Furthermore, while discipline is important, when it comes to getting started I think mental stamina needs to be addressed even more.

Here’s the thing, when you first start out, not only are you flexing your mental and PHYSICAL muscles in a new way, you’re also going to have to go through a brutal process of trial and error if you want to see success.

I imagine everyone has a goal in mind when they embark on some sort of lifestyle change. You want to lose weight, gain muscle, just feel better, whatever! BUT, in order to reach that goal, you must be able to stay consistent with something other than what your body currently does. To truly change your lifestyle you have to go through an arduous process of finding out what works FOR YOU. There are thousands of fitness programs, classes, and sites that are loaded with ideas about workouts and nutrition, but the key is that YOU have to do the ground work on this, and the only way to do it is by research and trial and error on your own body.

Additionally, you have to recognize that some of these things you’ll experiment with won’t work out. Everyone is different, which means not everything will work for everyone, and definitely not in the same ways. A lot of people hate running, hell, it’s taken me 20 years to tolerate it. So if you hate it but you start running thinking it’s going to achieve your goals, you’re going to end up miserable WHILE you’re doing it, thus more inclined to NOT do it, and then you’ll inevitably be disappointed when results don’t appear. If something doesn’t work for you, you have to have the mental resilience to bounce back and keep trying new things.

Keep a list. Let’s say running is the first thing you try. You try it for two weeks and you’re just miserable. Move to the next activity. There’s boxing, swimming, weights, HIIT, fitness guides, cycling, CROSSFIT!! The possibilities are endless, but it’s important that you don’t give up until you find something that you enjoy and that makes you FEEL GOOD. The same goes for food. Maybe salads make you gag, but you find that you like roasted sweet potato with chicken! Just keep trying recipes and dishes until you find some that FEEL GOOD.

And when I say FEEL GOOD. I mean literally — happier, more energy, no guilt, and excitement about working towards your goals and meeting them. Keep in mind, as I’ve said, this part of the process is NOT easy and the key here really is PERSEVERANCE and being able to bounce back when something doesn’t go your way immediately. Ultimately, it is easier to revert to old ways, but if you really want to change your lifestyle, you need to be prepared for the physical AND mental obstacles. If you can recognize these ahead of time, you can develop a plan to overcome them and press on!