Friday, December 20, 2013

Stuck In a Rut

To say I have been stuck in a rut recently would be an understatement.

My fall semester is officially over but the last weeks of the semester were a very trying time for me mentally. I went from having no time to breathe one week to having absolutely nothing to do the last week of classes. Oddly enough, the week I had nothing to do was the harder week for me. Sure, I spent time prepping for my semester abroad and studying, and I did - honest, but that still left loads of free time. Thus my boredom drove me into a rut. And when I get stuck in a rut, it's normally a deep one.

As someone who as suffered from deep clinical depression, the thought of being in a rut scares me. I'm always terrified that I could easily fall back into my depression. I tend to over-think even the most minute aspects of my life so having endless amounts of free time that leads to crazy amounts of boredom, can be a bit dangerous especially when I'm alone. Having down time is normally nice, but too much of it lets my mind wander into scary territories that I would rather never revisit ever again. Some people may say it is the stereotypical "seasonal depression" that many people seem to suffer from, but that doesn't make it any less important since it can easily carry over for a longer period of time.

Even as I write this I'm still stuck a bit, partly due to confusion on the potential future direction of this blog; I will likely start doing more beauty related posts because I enjoy them. And primarily due to a massive writers block that has been driving me bonkers. Normally when I'm stuck, I write. I'm no Jane Austen by any means and most of the time this writing never sees the light of day, but it's therapeutic and helps clear my mind. Not being able to figure out things to write about is frustrating to no end.

In order to help get my out of my rut and out of my writers block, I thought I'd share of few of the things that have helped me out. Maybe if you are stuck you can try one of these things out as a small step in the right direction. One of the things I did/do to relax a bit is some extra pampering and me time. My handy dandy Origins Drink-Up mask and my recently purchased Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque seemed to do the trick. Nicely scented masks are always a go-to for me whenever I am stressed. I've found that taking care of yourself in even the smallest of ways, such as skincare, can really be beneficial in the long-run to you taking care of your mind. It may seem superficial to some, but for me it works since it is a baby step in feeling good about yourself and can make you happy if even for only a moment.

But probably the most helpful of all of the things I did came in the form of aromatherapy. I'd always wanted to try the this works deep sleep pillow spray; I've heard many great things about it and how helpful it can but was always put off from buying indue to the price. However, as I was online shopping on black friday on ASOS, I saw they had a little "dream team" bundle with mini versions of the spray and the deep sleep stress less rollerball, so I decided to give it a go. In short, they combine Lavender, Chamomile, and Vetivert for a soothing aroma. It is so relaxing and has helped me sleep and clear my mind of all of the stress caused from being stuck in such a rut.


There are also a multitude of other things you can do to clear your mind when you're stressed and get you out of a rut. These are simply two of the main things I tend to fall back on when I get stuck.

What do you do when you're in a similar situation?

Talk to y'all soon!

Xx

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meaningful Music Monday #3

Hey all!

Today marks the first day of my final week of classes before finals week. Last week was a bit of a stressor; it was actually more stressful than finals week will be. Hope y'all are doing well and here are a few songs to start off the week right!

'The Secret of Life' - Faith Hill
"Sam looks up from his Sunday paper 
Says, 'Boys, you're on the wrong track
 The secret of life is there ain't no secret 

And you don't get your money back.' "

I've always been a Faith fan and this song is a favorite for it's meaning. When you're feeling down and out, this song definitely helps you feel better.

'I Believe' - Yolanda Adams
You keep creating pictures in your mind
So just believe they will come true in time
It will be fine leave all of your cares and stress behind and
Just let it go"


Another oldie but goodie that popped up one day when my music was on shuffle. Simply put, Yolanda Adams has one of the most amazing voices ever and it's hard to be unhappy listening to her sing. I can't be the only one who always seems to want to get up and dance whenever this song comes on, right? 

Hope y'all have a great Monday!

Xx

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Favorites

How is it already December?! I know everyone says it, but man has this month/ year just flown by. To be quite frank, I want it to go a little faster so I can get to London already, but that's neither here nor there.

And now I'm just going to get right into it; here are my beauty favorites for the month of November:



REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask: My face has been particularly annoying this month and I have not figured out why. But what I do know is how much I love this mask! I got it in the REN The Fab 4 kit a few months ago and I absolutely love it. It's a different kind of exfoliating mask as the glycol lactic acid just eats away at the dead skin without the rough exfoliating beads. It does have a burning/tingling sensation sometimes when you use it, but it is not painful at all and actually feels nice. As soon as I run out of my mini size, I am definitely going out to purchase the full size as it is one of the absolute best masks I've tried.

Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer: Picked this up after reading a post by Lily Melrose and it has become a daily necessity for me in cold weather. It's quick and easy and really does dry in seconds while still being a great moisturizer. It comes in 3 different scents and mine is in cocoa butter, which smells heavenly.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer: My new go to concealer. It does exactly what it says it will do and I even use it as a normal concealer to hide blemishes and redness before I put on my foundation. I love the applicator at the end because it distributes the product well enough that I don't need a separate brush to blend it in.




Revlon Lash Potion Mascara: I definitely did not need a new mascara when I bought this, but I just simply could not resist the packaging! It's just so pretty. It also happens to be a darn good mascara as well. It definitely is volumizing when you use two coats and I have noticed some lengthening going on. While I don't love it as much as I love my Benefit They're Real Mascara or my Maybelline The Falsies, I've worn it so much since buying it and definitely recommend it if you are looking for a new drugstore mascara. (I will note that I've heard that the non-waterproof version hasn't had the best reviews, this is the one I have and have not had any problems with it. But if you're wary, I'd try the waterproof version)

Rimmel 60 Second Nail Polish in Blue Eyed Girl: Rimmel Nail Polishes just don't get enough credit, in my opinion. Great formula, a decent selection of colors, nice opacity, affordable, and the brush is wide so they are easy to apply. I loved this color as it is a normal medium blue shade that's different from what I would typically wear on my nails at this time of year. And hey, how could this blue eyed girl resist a nail polish with that name.

Daisy by Marc Jacobs: I've actually had this for months and have loved it for months. Marc Jacobs does such a great job with perfumes and this one is no different. It's not overpowering and strong, just a nice, fresh Daisy scent that is light enough that I think it would suit any age. It is also a versatile enough scent that I think it can be worn year-round.

What products have y'all been enjoying this past month?

Xx

Monday, November 25, 2013

Losing Control: Panic Attacks




Before I begin I want to not that while anxiety and panic attacks tend to go hand-in-hand, and I don't want make this post super duper long, I'm going to focus on just my panic attacks for this post. I had/have many, many anxieties and want to give anxiety it's proper focus.

Now, onward. 

My heart begins to beat hard and fast. My mind is racing at an uncontrollable pace. My hands begin to shake. My eyes water and tears stream down my face. My throat feels like it is closing and it is hard to breathe.

About 5 minutes later, it's over. I've had another panic attack.

What exactly is a panic attack? Well, a technical definition from mayoclinic.com is, " a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying."

To me, a panic attack is when you suddenly lose control of everything. From your body to your mind, you feel like you have quickly lost control due to reasons that could be unbeknownst to you. Your heart starts to race like you're being chased. Your hands start to shake uncontrollably. You're aware of nothing and everything at the same time. You can often feel like you are having a long-lasting heart attack and no one can help you because you yourself don't even know what's wrong. 

Then the next thing you know, it's over. And you're sat there wondering what the hell just happened and why it happened. You may not even realize you had a panic attack it was that short. Or you just don't even know what to call what happen or you shrugged it off as nervous energy, as it was with me in the beginning.

I often had mini panic attacks in high school. Whether it was over an exam, a field hockey game, where to sit at lunch, they seemed never ending at times. My heart rate would constantly be elevating when I thought about a situation that made me anxious, which quite frankly was all of the time. But I had never really seen one before so I never really realized that was what was happening until summer 2012 when I had a very bad, long one while I was on the phone with my mom. It was over me driving to the movies in Hunt Valley with a friend. I believe it was the driving part that triggered it, however I still don't know for sure.

Now let me back up a little to explain a few things. I have always been an anxious person, I do suffer from pretty bad anxiety; as in it's genetic and a true mental disorder. For the most part, there is no event that has triggered it, also known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There really is no one event that I can point to that causes my anxiety except, partially, when it comes to driving. 

I hated driving before I go my license but got it because it was/ is a necessity. The first day of my senior year of high school I was in a horrible car accident that left my car totaled. Before it, I was already an anxious driver but this accident just amplified it. And while I did get behind the wheel again the very next day because I had to drive to school, that didn't stop the heightened anxiety every time I slid into the driver's seat.

Now fast-forward a little and because I was rarely getting behind the wheel, any thought of me driving anywhere would bring on a panic attack, especially if I was driving somewhere I had rarely/never driven too. I basically lived in constant fear. The key to getting over my panic attacks and anxiety was to just drive and drive some more. But in order to do so, I actually had to work up the courage to get in the driver's seat, which was not an easy task.

To make matters worse, driving was not the only thing that caused these panic attacks. The there primary trigger was any thoughts of some sort of social gathering, hell at one point any type of social interactions, not involving my family and my mind immediately triggered a panic attack. While this may seem silly to some, this was my life. It's not that I WANTED to be this anxious and have all of these panic attacks, I just couldn't help it! They come on so suddenly sometimes that there is little time to stop it and you can only do your best to control them when they happen. 

The fact that they can happen at any time means one other thing: they can happen anywhere.

From my house to my car to the store to school, I've basically experienced one in any place you could imagine. This led me to essentially want to never leave the house. I would turn down invitations to parties, meals, etc. because I was terrified about what COULD happen. I became a hermit. I never really made friends. It sucked.

I lived in fear of many situations. I lived in fear of my anxiety. I lived in fear of panic attacks.



(source

Due to the sometimes unknown nature of panic attacks as well as potential feelings of embarrassment, there are people who don't talk about their experiences. In turn, some don't get the help that is out there for them. I know I certainly was one of those people. As I mention in my story, I went to therapy. My therapist used Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, or CBT, with me. He helped me re-learn/ reprogram my responses to certain events/ stimuli that triggered my panic attacks. And I want to share a couple of those with you in the hopes that maybe someone else can benefit. Before I do, I want to instill one thing: if you do suffer from panic attacks just know that you are NEVER alone and there are things out there to help. No matter how lonely and scared you feel because of what you go through, you are never alone.

(As a quick side note, I feel like I should also mention that I am also medicated and that has also played a major role in helping me overcome my anxiety. This came about after conversations with both my therapist AND my physician as something that would be beneficial for me. They don't work for everyone. While I am for giving them a try I certainly DO NOT think this is a topic to take lightly. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, consult with your doctor and listen to them. There's a reason they have the degrees they do.)

For me, deep breathing has been the main thing. My focusing on my breathing and that alone, I am able to relax, calm down, and return to 'normal'. If I feel a panic attack coming, no matter where I am, I do my best to stay quiet and focus in on controlling my breathing. I also try and make sure to stay positive in my thinking as I am doing so. Thinking, "Calm down! Don't be anxious! You're fine; quit worrying! Stop over-thinking! It's no big deal," only makes things worse because it works me up. I am sure others feel the same way. So I try to tell my self, "Focus. Deep breaths. Slow breaths. You're fine. There is nothing wrong it's just in your head. You are stronger than you think. You will be okay." 

Another way I have attempted to control them that may help others is that I began to be cognizant of when they occurred. I tried to note whenever I could when I had a panic attack. This actually really helped. I noticed that I hate sudden changes. I hate being unprepared. I hate being rushed. I hate knowing I might be late. This led me to learn how to go-with-the-flow more and take control. It took some 'baby steps', if you will, on my part but ultimately I have curbed the amount of potential panic attacks in those situations. That is not to say that I don't still like having a schedule/ being prepared, I definitely do, I have just learned that there are times where I have to be more flexible There are just times where things are out of my hands and I just need to roll with the punches all the while recognizing that a panic attack may arise.

In the past 12 months I have only had ONE panic attack. That was last month over a class and I'd like to think I handled it far better than I had previously. There have definitely been some other close calls however over time the previously mentioned methods have allowed me to manage them far better than I used to. Thinking about that now is almost freeing. If I can do it, so can you. Hopefully by sharing my experience some of you feel better and less alone in this. Panic attacks/disorders are one of the most treatable problems so if you want to change, in the wise words of Béla Károlyi "you can do it."

Xx

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Perfect Imperfections - My Skin


I initially debated saying this perfect imperfection of mine was my face. Then I realized that was too general as it's not my face as a whole I hate because of the grief it has caused me. It's my skin that causes the anguish, mainly because of one thing: acne.

I have been plagued with bad acne since I was about 10 years old, so basically half of my life I have been fighting this stupid demon. My acne has felt like an annoying little gnat that just keeps on coming back. This isn't to say that my situation has not improved over the years, believe me it has, but it just never seems to completely go away. My face used to look like I was attacked by bug bites in concentrated areas on my face. But it was never super bad like I know some people have dealt with. It was just a pain in the rear; a very noticeable pain in the rear.

And it made me want to hide my face. All of the time.

When it came to clearing it up I tried everything. Over-the-counter stuff, prescriptions, Proactiv, you name it and I have probably tried it. They either eventually stopped working, never worked, made things worse, or if they worked there was always some sort of negative that I couldn't handle. Some would dry out my skin so badly that my chin flaked. Badly. As if bad acne wasn't enough my skin made it seem like I had dandruff! Lotions and moisturizers would only work to an extent and could at times make it worse. I will admit that part of this was me not necessarily knowing what products do what and not having the patience to find the right combination. But I have learned now. And I have even tried going to dermatologists for more thorough treatments, but that wasn't effective for me either. There was even one time where a skin doctor prescribed medicine to me after only taking a quick glance at my face. 
I was crippled with embarrassment.

I started experimenting with make-up when I entered middle school, so at age 11. Thankfully, my mom understood my embarrassment and she took me to Sephora to have their consultants help me out After this, I would never go anywhere without at least some sort of concealer or foundation on. It didn't matter if I was just going to Target or going to be out all day. I had to cover my face. I would shy away from going places if I wasn't going to have time to put it on in fear people would stare at my face in disgust. It didn't matter that acne is so common amongst everyone Who would want to be seen with a person like that? Most people never noticed it or took a second look if they did, but I did and that was enough to terrify me of what others would think of me.

Even now I get a little anxious when I leave the house make-up free in fear that people are judging me for my less than perfect skin. But I now know that I am not the only person who deals with it. I have actually been fortunate because I now realize that my skin truly was never that bad. I also understand things that I can personally work on to keep my skin clear; it isn't always about the medicine. Using the right makeup, not always wearing it, keeping my hands off of my face, etc.

My skin is just another 'perfect imperfection' of mine that used to weaken my self-esteem that I have now learned to tolerate and understand. Even if there are still days where it makes me want to cry and pound my fists in frustration. But, then again, I am certain I am not alone in this.

And to prove (to myself more than anyone else) that I am comfortable in my skin and because I wanted a picture in the blogpost, I give you me facially naked on the internet (sorry for the lighting but oh well):



Until next time.
Xx


Monday, November 18, 2013

Current Skincare Routine


I'm not going to lie, my skincare routine tends to be unstable. I am one who is constantly looking for new products because of how bad my skin can get. I don't play around with it as much as I do with makeup, but unless I find something that knocks me out of the park, I am always trying new things. Normally, I tend to prefer higher-end products for the simple fact that they tend to work better, so I have no problem splurging. But I have been pleasantly surprised with a few drugstore finds.

Simple Soothing Facial Toner: I grabbed this on a whim as I needed a new toner and I love their cleansing wipes. I've been using this for about a month now and have noticed a difference in my pore size and overall redness. It also is a great second step after the cleansing wipes in makeup removing to make sure the last little bits of makeup get off of your face.

Clean&Clear Persa-Gel 10: Maximum Strength: And oldie but goodie. I ran out of my Origins Super Spot Remover and needed a new spot treat on budget, so I picked this up. It's different from my Origins spot gel because that was salicylic acid while this one is benzoyl peroxide, but I used to use this in high school and it was one of the few things that worked for me. My only qualms with this product is that it can be extremely drying if you use it too often (which I do because I apply it 3 times a day…). But it is pretty fast acting in clearing up any blemishes so I can live with that, for now anyway.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer: My sister used this over the summer and I kept stealing it from her so when I came back to school I just had to purchase it for myself. My skin tone has evened out since I have started using this, but I can't be sure if it is 100% because of this product even though it does claim to help in that department. However, it does leave my face feeling and looking nourished and radiant after I apply it. I love that it contains SPF as well because I have enough skin problems as it is without getting sunburnt. 


Soap&Glory The Greatest Scrub of All: This is a gentle exfoliator and it claims to be for all skin types. I can only vouch for me and my dry skin, but I do like this. It isn't my favorite exfoliator that I've tried, but it is not harsh and leaves my skin feeling smooth. The exfoliating beads are small and there are a few containing salicylic acid that burst when you use it. I used to use it a few times a week but as the weather gets colder and my skin drier, I now only use it a maximum of once a week so I don't damage my skin.

Murad Clarifying Cleanser: I initially got this as a deluxe sample offer from Sephora for spending over $25 on an online order and was pleasantly surprised at the size of it for only being a sample. A little can go a long way with this product and I have noticed great results over the past few months I've used it. I love the tingly, cleansing feeling I get when I use it and after I wash it off my face always feels fresh. I'd never tried Murad products before this but I have heard great things about the whole line in general so I am interested in trying a few others. It also smells like lemon-lime and I love products that work and smell great.

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid and Cream: Another deluxe sample from Sephora that I just love. Both are moisturizers that have become life-savers for me. I use the liquid and then the cream and within three days my dry skin felt amazing. Both products are lightweight, fast absorbing, and provide a barrier to keep the moisture from leaving the skin while moisturizing at the same time. It's a shame the full-sizes are as pricey as they are or else I would repurchase these in a heartbeat as these are perfect for dry skin in the winter . 

Origins Drink Up 10-Minute Mask: Yet another Origins product that I love. This is a thick, intensive, and quick mask that really does leave the skin feeling very hydrated in just 10 minutes. There is also an overnight version, but I have yet to try it (although that will probably be one of my first purchases from Boots when I get to London). I actually use this as an overnight mask currently because my skin is so dry at times that it normal soaks up all of the mask in about 10 minutes anyway. It has a strong apricot smell that is an added bonus. 

What skincare products are y'all loving at the moment?

Xx

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meaningful Music Monday #2

Happy Monday all!

I keep meaning to do more of these posts, but I just keep forgetting. Ah well, here are a few songs that have put me, and hopefully you, in the right mood to start the week.


'Little Me' - Little Mix
"You gotta speak up, you gotta shout out,
And you know that right here, right now,
You can be beautiful, wonderful,
Anything you wanna be,
Little Me"


I swear this song describes high-school/ young me perfectly; and I know I am not the only one who feels that way.

'Don't Blink' - Kenny Chesney
"Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth."


I have always loved this song but I'd forgotten how much I loved it until I heard it on the radio the other day. It's one of those songs that when you're in the right mood can hit you hard. Sometimes we all just need to remind ourselves to slow down and take everything in and embrace the now without rising the future.

Have a good week everyone!
Xx

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Perfect Imperfections - My Smile

*Bloggers note: This was the first ever post on my blog and the first of this series but I didn't like it so I revamped it a little and reposted it. So it you think you've read this before, you may very well have. I'm going to redo all of the posts in this series but I won't delete the old posts until I redo them individually.*

I used to hate myself. I despised myself. This mentality went on for so long that there was a point where there was not one thing I liked about myself. So it was no wonder that I believed no one could like me either. Within the last year I decided to make a change that coincided with my seeking help for my depression and anxiety. I have learned to appreciate all of the things, big/small and/or genuine/superficial that make me who I am and separate me from everyone else.

My perfect imperfections.

I've found that one of the first things people tend to notice when they meet someone for the first time, and contributes to their first impression of said person, is their smile. And what was the number one thing I hated most about myself for basically my whole life? You guessed it, my smile.

Genetically, I was cursed from both sides of the family. This isn't to say both sides of my family have bad teeth, they don't (and there are many people from both sides with GORGEOUS smiles….lucky bastards ;) ), they're just not the strongest of teeth physically. To add on top of that, my mom took antibiotics whilst pregnant with me, and as a result I had marks on my teeth before they even grew in. Weak enamel + 2 years of braces (and some admittedly not so top notch brushing on my part) = calcuim-deposit markings galore on my teeth. Not to mention, I had buck teeth that stuck out with a gap in-between them (Thank goodness for braces).

This lead to me hating to smile. I was embarrassed. It wasn't necessarily the shape of my smile, but what was inside of it if that makes sense. in my mind, people wouldn't like me because of my disgusting smile. Sure, my teeth were straight, and the shape of my smile is quite nice, but who wants to look at someone with a smile that is not pearly white and has marks all over them? Not me.

Fortunately for me, this is the 21st century and there are ways to fix the markings. I didn't go all the way and get veneers because that destroys the real tooth and at my age that it simply not needed, but I did have bonding done. In short, my teeth were roughed/ etched a little and my dentist applied a resin that was similar to my natural color.  It was kind of like getting a filling done in a way. The only teeth I've had done so far have been my front top 6 have and I honestly could not be happier with the results. Even if I don't end up getting anymore teeth bonded, I would probably be okay with that. After all, most people don't see the bottom teeth and those are not nearly as bad as the top were. But it is amazing how much a relatively short appointment, well actually it took 2 appointments for those 6, can change your view of yourself. I honestly remember not being able to stop smiling after I got them done. It wasn't as if they were bright white afterwards, and they still aren't, but there were not any marks. None. Those marks that had made me so self-conscious for years were gone in a few short hours. My teeth were finally one color.

Now, my teeth may not be pearly white but I am no longer scared of what people think when I smile. I don't worry that people are judging me harshly because of what I thought was a disgusting smile. 

I've learned to be proud of my smile. My smile may not be perfect, and it may still not be
pearly white", but it is me. And dammit I like it.

second grade
This is my 2nd grade yearbook picture. Those teeth speak for themselves.

seventh grade
 Seventh grade mere weeks before those braces came off and I realized how bad the marks on my teeth were, in part due to the fact that I constantly had power-chains on my braces. 


And this is me now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fear of Failure

I have an intense fear of failure.

I've never coped well with failure. It is safe to say I used to react horribly and it greatly contributed to my struggles with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I won't lie, on occasion I still do react badly it is just  not as often. For me, most of my fears of failure have always stemmed from primarily one source: school.

In middle school and my first year of high school, I cried when I got Bs on exams/ projects. Literally. Eventually I "loosened up" and became okay with getting Bs, but they were acceptable to me only in my AP classes. My parents never had to put any pressure on me about schoolwork because I did it myself more than needed. If anything they would tell me to ease up a little. And during field hockey games, I would tear up if I ever let up a goal in a close game because I felt like I was failing my team. I remember when we lost in the state semi-final my sophomore year and in the state final my junior year I thought the losses were all my fault; I was the goalie after all, the last line of defense. Looking back now this all seems pretty silly, but back then it was perfectly normal to be. I stressed myself out so much over making sure I succeeded in school and so I graduated with over a 4.0 GPA that I had no social life because I burned myself out over schoolwork. And thus I was stressed over my lack of a social life and felt like a failure in that category as well; but that is different story for a different day.

I managed to make it through my first 3 semesters of college without really having to worry about getting anything lower than a B in a class. (Duh, most of my classes up until that point were mainly Gen Eds aka General Education courses - except Russian, I took Russian. That was hard.) Then came my spring semester of my sophomore year. Now, I have always been a person who is better at writing papers than taking exams. Much to my chagrin, I took a physiology course where my entire grade consisted of only 5 exams, your lowest of which was replaced by participation points(for most like me - a 100%). I would walk into my exams relatively confident that I would do decently and every. single. time. I would see my grade and nearly burst into tears. Only twice did I score higher than an F: the first and last exam, and they were barely Cs. I had to study like I have never studied before just to get that 73% on the final to ensure I would get the C I needed to pass that class and not have to retake it. This was the first C I ever received as a final grade. I know C means average and getting Cs is very common, just not for me.

But you know what? I'm damn proud of that CI worked my tush off for it. I realized you can't be perfect at everything and in every class. After all, "Cs get degrees". Even though the old me would have been crippled in sadness over getting that C because to me it used to scream "you're a failure"I didn't necessarily feel like one. Because I knew/ know I'm not one. I felt like I understood that I couldn't always get the grades I wanted simply because not everyone can be good at every subject. Sometimes the material just will never fully click with you in certain subjects. And that is okay.


Then about a month ago I was faced with another difficult challenge: I realized I may have to drop a class. I bombed an exam. Like really bombed. There's no light way to put it. Despite studying for hours that day before the exam and feeling pretty darn confident walking out of it, I just bombed it. I guess I should mention that I only go to this class half of the time because one of the days it's my only class and it isn't until 4:15. I live off campus and honestly it is hard to work up the desire to go even though I like the material and my professor is awesome. When I got this particular exam grade I was in another class waiting for it to start, and I broke down crying. I also got my grade for a small paper for the same class back, and that grade was horrible. I just lost it.

Getting a C is one thing, but admitting I am doing so poorly in a class I may need to drop it in order to not have an F on my transcript? Me? The girl who graduated top 5% of her class? The girl who has always prided herself on being strong at academia? This can't be happening. It just can't, not to me anyway. I was like I was losing part of my identity. 

After many tears shed and a few heart felt conversations, I've reached the point where I am comfortable with the fact that I may have to drop and retake the class despite my best efforts. I've done all I can at this point and maybe I have already dug too deep a hole to climb out of, this semester. That's what drop credits are for anyway, right? No matter how comfortable I feel about what I may have to do at the end of the semester, facing failure is an overall horrible feeling. I've had to learn that I can't be a perfect student and that academics don't define me anymore but this doesn't mean I am a failure. Grades don't make the person and don't tell the full story about one's intelligence despite common beliefs. I think I'm still coming to terms with that.

Sometimes you have to fail because failure and your response to it makes you stronger and helps you grow as a person. It makes you learn quite a lot about yourself. It's an unavoidable fact of life.

But boy can it be a tough pill to swallow.

Talk to y'all soon!


Xx

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Favorites

I know, I know, yet another person hopping on the monthly favorites bandwagon and I'm not even what you would consider a traditional "beauty blogger", which I think is sort of reflected in this list anyway. But I love reading these kinds of posts, as well as hauls, because I'm nosey and like to see what products others are trying that might peek my interest. If I love these kinds of posts (and YouTube videos…), I know there must be others that do too! So without further ado, my October favorites:





This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin: This was recommended to me last summer by my therapist and I've only just gotten around to reading it. I wish I had gotten around to it earlier, especially after all of the struggles I've had. In sum, it's a book that takes the basic components of music such as timbre or pitch and explains their ties to cognitive psychology, neurochemistry, and evolution. But it is written in a way that anyone can understand even without any type of background on music or psychology. I don't want to get into much more detail but it really is a fascinating read if you have any interesting in music or psychology or simply are looking for a new book to read. Music was something that has always helped me through tough times, especially the darkest days of my depression, and reading about some of the reasons why it helped me was really eye-opening.

Benefit's the POREfessional: I don't really have any 100% staples in my makeup routine but this one will probably be the first. It definitely minimizes my pores and as am added bonus it mattifys my skin and evens out my skin tone pretty well. And when combined with my normal primer, my makeup stays put all day. I don't like heavy products on my face and this one is light-weight and oil-free so it is a perfect primer for everyday use.


Benefit's Gimmie Brow: I've never used products on my brows before until this one and it's pretty darn good. It's a new, all-in-one gel +brush that you just swipe and it distributes the product evenly and makes the brows look uniform. I never knew I needed a brow product until I used this and became addicted. I have relatively prominent brows so it makes me feel better leaving the house knowing that they look groomed and not like I haven't ever had them waxed.

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation: I recently decided to get back into liquid foundations after only using powders. I have dry skin and powder foundations tend to emphasize that fact, especially in winter. I don't want my stupid old flaky chin to come back and make it look like I have dandruff. Rimmel is one of my favorite drugstore brands so naturally that's where I turned and I was not disappointed  It's medium coverage and has a slightly dewey finish, but it's not too dewey. Being someone who has struggled with her confidence because of her acne, this does not break me out and when paired with my concealer, makes my skin look pretty damn good if I do say so myself and is a definite confidence booster. It also has an interesting scent, not bad, but I can't place it. I like it though.



Maybelline Color Whisper: A Plum Prospect: With my purple hair, I'm not really fond of how it looks with a red lipstick; it's too much for me personally. So I've been experimenting with more purplish toned colors and this one has been a hit. The application is smooth, has wonderful color payoff, and is pretty long-lasting. I love my lip products and always feel confident when I love the color of the product and know that it won't be wearing off or smudging on me throughout the day.

Maybelline Color Tattoo: Pomegranate Punk: This is currently in my everyday makeup routine. It's a creamy eyeshadow base that is easy to apply and looks wonderful on its own. I like to blend it with my MAC Bare Minimum eyeshadow for a slightly smoky eye look. The deep pomegranate color is also perfect for fall. For people who don't wear eyeshadow often and are looking to start, this particular product is a strong place to start as its easy to use and comes in a variety of great colors.

MoroccanOil Intense Curl Creme: Absolutely amazing. I just love this product. It helps tame my crazy frizz, enhances my curls, and hydrates my weak/ damaged hair. And like any MoroccanOil/ argan oil kind of product it smells incredible. I use it after I wash my hair as a leave-in conditioner and a little goes a long way so even though it's pretty expensive, (seems like) it's going to last a while. And I am one anyway who will splurge on hair care, so it's likely I will repurchase it.

Batiste Dry Shampoo: Floral & Flirty Blush: Dry shampoo is a hair essential and Batiste is the best brand I've tried. Not only does it remove the oil and make the hair look fresh, it can be volumizing as well. My curls have always made me self-conscious when they're not exactly uniform because they're a day old or they look greasy and this product does the trick in boosting my confidence. I'm also one who likes her hair products to smell good, if you couldn't already tell, and I love this scent. This one is floral scented and I'm excited to try the other scents!

Monkey Slippers: Cold weather is coming and my toes need warming. I got these from Target last year and while there are holes from constant wear on the soles, I can't bear to part with them. They're just too cute! If I'm not wearing my Minnie Mouse onesie at this time of year, I definitely have these on my feet! And cute slippers are always better than lame, bland slippers anyway. 

And that is it for this month! Let me know of any products you really liked this past month!

Talk to y'all soon!

Xx

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just Doing Me

When I first started going to therapy two summers ago, one of the big things I learned was that in order to be happy I needed to start taking care of myself and focusing on me. I've always liked my alone time but I never really did things during that time to take care of myself until the past few months or so when I began to set aside time for pamper days/evenings. I normally try to do them once or twice a week depending on how stressed I am, and being back at school generally means I need it at least twice a week. I honestly wish I had started doing these sooner because they are so relaxing and I've found they are very helpful in setting the mind right, and after all of the problems I've had over the past few years these days can be a God-send stress-reliever at times.

A full-out pampering for me consists of some sort of hair treatment, a few skin products, and doing my nails. Sometimes I will only do one or two of these things if I'm short on time, but at least once a week I like to go full-out.

I also like to experiment with new products just like I do with my makeup. And as I have really struggled with my skin all of my life I've found that most of the more common drugstore products just don't work for me. I can't explain why but I've tried almost every Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, etc. product under the sun and while some may work for a little bit, most of them never fully work for and so I have had to branch out into slightly more higher end products such as Origins, Clinique, etc.


And since I love pampering I thought I'd share with you a few of the things that I love to use.
Redken Extreme Deep Fuel: While I'm a natural blonde, it is a dirty blonde and I like it much lighter so I get it highlighted, so there's a lot of damage that's been done with the bleach over the years. And the shampoo I currently use to get the purple in my hair can be drying at times. I also have pretty weak hair from years of being an untreated anemic, I even lost half of my hair and the stuff goring back is way stronger than the other stuff, so most of my ends are horrendous. All of this means I need a strong hair mask and this one is amazing. My hair stylist is a Redken stylist so I have always used Redken products and this is one of the best. I put it on damp hair, wrap it in a twisty towel and then wash it out 10-15 minutes later and it makes my hair softer. After some searching to find it online and why it was so ridiculously expensive on Amazon, I found that this product has unfortunately been discontinued. Bummer.

Organix Luxurious Moroccan Argan Creme: I picked this up on a whim because I've heard great things about argan oil. I was recently given MoroccanOil Intense Curl Cream by a friend's mom and I actually like that better (and it is so worth the hype) but as it's much more expensive, I still use this one once a week to make my hair feel extra soft and healthy at the ends. It also smells fantastic so that's an added plus.
Bath&Body Works Stress Relief Body Cream: I'm a sucker for things that are spearmint scented and this body cream is no different. The eucalyptus and spearmint are meant to not only nourish the body, but the mind as well with aromatherapy. When you take the time to breathe in deeply I have found that it does work, at least for me. I even purchased it in hand sanitizer form so I can take it with me if it's needed. As a body cream, I like to also slap it on my feet and put socks on to nourish my feet and moisturize them so it works as a multipurpose product.

Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask: With my 100 point perk at Sephora I once nabbed the amazing GlamGlow YouthMud mask and fell in love with it. Unfortunately it's super duper expensive so I have been on the hunt for a good replacement. I stumbled upon this particular mask after reading a post by Lily Melrose over on her second blog, etcllymlrs, and decided to give it a shot. It works very well and I've seen a noticeable change in my skin. It has worked well to help clear my pores and leave my skin looking fresh. While not as instantaneously effective as the GlamGlow mask, it is still something that I will forever repurchase because of the results I've seen, especially when paired with my Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Gel.

Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask: Since I have dry skin hydration is a must. This mask smells like apricots and does wonders. I'm itching to try the overnight version of this mask but for now this does wonders. I will end up using it twice a week as winter comes along but this mask makes my skin feel refreshed and hydrated.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro in Lava Red: I've never had a real manicure or pedicure in my life; I've always loved doing my nails myself as I find it relaxing (and my nails used to peel terribly bad from my anemia). Fall is a great time for dark nail colors and this is a gorgeous deep red. It's even darker on than in the bottle and I love it. This particular brand is particularly long-lasting as well!

Seche Vite Top Coat: Everyone should definitely believe the hype on this one. It's fast drying and leaves a glossy finish that almost makes it seem like you got a gel manicure. For someone who loves doing their nails as much as me, this is just a must have.

LUSH Mint Julips Lip Scrub: I honestly can't get enough of this stuff; it tastes like a York Peppermint Patty! It's a simple exfoliator for your lips but it works wonders. And since it's made of pure sugar its 100% edible and tastes amazing. I probably use this more than I should but I can't help it. It will be a stable come winter and the ever so prevalent dry lips.


Bath&Body Works Candle: Sweater Weather: No pampering is complete without a candle. I was drawn into this candle by the name and then loved it by the smell. It says it's a combination of eucalyptus, fresh sage, and juniper berry, all I know is it smells like heaven.

What do you like to use on pamper days? I love getting recommendations!

Talk to y'all soon!

Xx

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Never Alone

Hello there! How are y'all?

Recently I had some mental struggles that led me to having my first panic attack in well over a year. It was over a grade on an exam and I actually started crying in the middle of another class because at the time I felt like a failure. I worked through it and then went on a canning trip. Canning is basically canister solicitations and we do it 3 weekends in the fall to raise money for THON. On our trip, we got to see one of my org's THON children (basically it's like an adopt-a-family kind of thing) and seeing him helped make me put things in perspective.

I realized how lucky I truly am. Struggles are going to happen and it's how you respond to adversity that makes you stronger.

Per the usual with me, one of the main things that helped me cope was music and I thought I'd share with you one of the songs that I absolutely love.


This is a live cover version of the song Never Alone by Lady Antebellum performed by Kait Weston. I've always loved this song but when Kait came to perform it at THON 2012 it gained so much meaning that I went to iTunes and bought her version as well. I hope y'all listen and enjoy it as much as I do! 

Have a great rest of your week everyone and I'll talk to y'all soon!

Xx

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stepping Into My Comfort Zone

I know, I know… that sounds the opposite of what you are supposed to do. But hear me out!

I've mentioned before that I have only recently become more comfortable wearing what I want to wear. Meaning, that I normally chose to dress how everyone else was dressing to fit in rather than how I wanted. And let me tell you, there have been a few moments where I have wanted to revert back to the old me because of some comments.

For example, one of my current favorite pieces of clothing are dungarees/overalls, whatever you prefer to call them. I have a few pairs, my current favorite being my floral Kimchi Blue ones from Urban Outfitters. It was these I was wearing not too long ago when I got some interesting comments such as: 
"Overalls are for little kids." 
"Aren't you a little old to be wearing that?" 
"That outfit is for a 5-year-old." (that one was said when the person behind me thought I had music playing through my earphones when I actually did not.)

Sigh...they're so pretty 



My daddy always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." So even though I wanted to tell those people off, I held my tongue.

For once in my life, I'm wearing the kind of clothes I want to wear. Again, I know I've mentioned this before, but it is nice to not second guess pieces of clothing I think are cute because I think the majority of people would negatively judge me for it. So what if I wear things that the majority of people on my campus probably wouldn't wear? It's what makes me, me. I know it kind of sounds obnoxious, especially because there are many other people out there with a similar style to me, just not around me at my college (at least from what I've seen). I guess what I'm saying is that despite some of the negative comments I may get, it's nice to finally wear what I like and feel comfortable in and not just picking out things to wear because it is the norm.

When it comes to make-up, I have recently developed an addiction to lip products, especially lipsticks. Now that it is fall, red lipstick is a definite must for me (even though I would have never even touched it before this year, funny how things change). Wearing red lipstick is not abnormal, I would say it's extremely common. But what I have found is that very few on my campus ever wear it to class and only really do it for a night out. Sometimes the only person I come across that is wearing it during the daytime is a female professor. With the prevalence of red lipstick in the beauty world or whatever you want to call it, I do find it a little odd that not more people wear it on my campus. Maybe they do and I just happen to not come across them. I don't know about you, but I always feel like a badass when I wear red lipstick. I love wearing it. Makeup is fun and just because you don't wear a certain item/ any makeup at all, doesn't mean you can put another person down because they wear what you don't. Just like clothing, makeup is a form of expression and if someone wants to wear red lipstick to class, they can.

So I'm just going to put on my dungarees, my red lipstick, and embrace the real me.


Is there anything about your style that makes you stand out from others in our community?
Talk to y'all soon!

Xx

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wild Ride

(photo by me)



Nothing plays with my emotions quite like sports do, especially when they involve my Penn State Nittany Lions. I originally was going to do a long winded post about the game, but I decided to just post my panoramic picture of our white-house.

While this picture doesn't do nearly enough justice to depict what it looks like to have over 107,000 people all in white cheering on our boys to an improbable, come-from-behind, 4 overtime win, I just couldn't not share it.

This game was without question, the best sporting event I have ever been to. While I probably had about 5 mini heart attacks in the span of an hour, it was totally worth it. Singing the alma matter after the game, despite it being a new tradition since last year, has never felt so unifying. And I feel sorry for those who never get a chance to have this kind of experience as sports just bring people together like no other.

XX



Friday, October 11, 2013

Well, That's Different

"Well that's a different hair color…"

Yes, my hair is currently not your typical color; it's a light purple with a slightly gray tint.



And I love it.

I have always wanted to dye my hair a fun color, I did dip-dye it blue back in the spring, but that was mainly to test the waters. I've always loved the look of purple hair in almost any shade and I have dying to do it myself. Especially after seeing it done on Kelly Osbourne and Perrie Edwards.

I didn't have it done in a traditional way however. This past weekend, I went home and had a hair appointment where we put heavy highlights in to lighten my hair back to a very light blonde (I am naturally a dirty blonde but we had dyed it brown earlier in the year and have been slowly working back to the light blonde - but I digress). While I liked this final result, I secretly had a different plan for it. When I can back to my apartment at school, I decided to go purple. 

To do so, I did some research a few months ago and finally settled on using the Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Toning Shampoo. This is a purple shampoo usually used to rid blonde hair of brassiness when used following the instructions. I, on the other hand, did not follow instructions. I lathered my hair generously using the shampoo and then put it in a twisty towel to sit for 30 minutes before washing it out; and then I did it again the next day. Now I have purple hair. 



It's probably going to be a pain in the rear end to maintain the color I want because I'm using a shampoo (and when I go back home for my short winter break and get my hair highlighted again to get the last of the brown out it may be a bit of an issue… oops) but in the end I'm really happy because the shampoo worked like a charm and that's all that matters. 

As far as reactions from other people are concerned, I've had numerous compliments and only a few mixed reactions. I'm sure there are people who don't like it and think I'm crazy, but that is their problem and not mine. The old me would not have had the confidence to do something like this in fear of what other people would think. Now, all I can think about is how boring it must be to not be able to fully express one's self in fear of other's reactions when in reality, you shouldn't base your appearance on what others think. If you like what you look like then that is all that matters in the end.

Talk to y'all soon!

xx

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Emotions Running Wild

Hey y'all!

It's finally hit me.

Exactly three months from today, I will be sitting in my orientation. In London. A city I have never been to. In a country I have never been to.

Holy. Crap.

I know I've talked about this before, I'll probably ramble on about it to death to be honest, and somethings I'm about to write may be a little redundant, but right now my feelings are a little different from when I was first accepted. And don't get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled. Words cannot even describe how excited I am for this experience. Studying abroad has been a dream of mine since high school. I have always wanted to travel the globe and learn about other countries first hand. But the reality of it all is all hitting me at once.



I won't be a three-hour drive away from my parents in the next state north, in the same timezone. Instead I'll be across the Atlantic, in another country, in another timezone, about an eight-hour flight away. I know I am relatively independent from my parents as far as day-to-day tasks and such are concerned, at least I like to think that I am, but this is a whole different ball game. I can't go home on weekends for short visits or doctor's appointments. I probably won't be able to talk to my family as often as I do. My U.S. American sports teams/leagues will be difficult to watch (For anyone who knows me, this is very disappointing). I'll miss THON, my most favorite event ever. Timezones may cause me to miss other events in general. There will be products of many types I won't be able to get. The currency is different. The language is still English, but a different kind so some slang, etc. may confuse me despite all of the tv shows, movies, music, YouTube videos, etc. I watch/listen to from the UK (which is surprisingly a lot). I don't have a single friend or family member that lives abroad that I can go to in an emergency (albeit I will obviously make friends there).

All of these things combined have made my mind run wild and just thinking about it is currently making my heart race. The unknown is funny in that it can be both terrifying and very exciting, depending on how you decide to approach it.

I am constantly reading about London and specifically study abroad experiences, etc. in London so I feel as though I am preparing myself well. I know I'll at some point be homesick and experience culture shock no matter how prepared I feel. I know it's probably going to get even more overwhelming as my departure day draws nearer. Hopefully my tendency to over-prepare (if only you could see all of the information I have gathered…) will lessen the anxiousness I know I will feel.

No matter what kinds of emotions hit me, I can honestly say that three months is still too long to wait! I know, I know, I've already waited so long that three months will fly by. But I just want to be in London already!

Talk to y'all soon. xx