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Invisalign: Two weeks in!

My first 2 weeks using Invisalign!

Okay, I’m about two days shy of the three-week mark using Invisalign, but this will just have to do! I have been curious about Invisalign for the last year for a few reasons.

For starters, I’ve never had traditional braces and I cannot TELL you how many times my dentist has asked me if I’m interested in braces. No, no, and no… until I was.

My teeth aren’t that crooked. Instead, they are very crowded on the bottom and a little angled up top. It has never bothered me until recently. In fact, I often prided myself on the fact that I’d made it this far without orthodontic work.

But the truth is, I take a lot of care in the way I look. I’m not vain or superficial, but I do like to take care of myself, and I also like to experiment with new beauty trends (I just Derma-rolled for the second time ever last night), and I have a bucket of makeup and a tiny collection of face masks to prove it.

I wear makeup on most days – mostly to express myself and help boost my confidence. That’s all great, but I started to feel like my look was incomplete with my teeth. Sure, my nails look great, contour is on-point, lipliner looking fresh… but my teeth?

So, when I switched dentists because of insurance, I specifically looked for one that offered Invisalign. I asked about it immediately, slapped down the down-payment, and they got to work.

The first step was to have impressions taken of my teeth. These impressions were sent off to Invisalign and they made a computer simulation of the changes my teeth would go through from start to finish.

My dentist also took tons of pictures of my teeth, and of my face – she said I would see a slight change in my profile.

Once I approved of the way my teeth would look (according to the simulation), my dentist was able to tell me that my “treatment” would be six months, which is the minimum amount of time for Invisalign.

At my next appointment, my dentist applied some “buttons” onto my teeth – basically they are small raised pieces that help “lock” the Invisalign in place, and they help the teeth move a little faster.

She then had to shave down the sides of some of my teeth since they were so crowded – the shaving involved her flossing my teeth with sandpaper. Literally. It was an interesting and awkward experience.

Before she handed me my first set of trays, she told me I had to wear the trays at least 22 hours each day: sleep in them, only drink clear liquids with them in, and take them out to eat. I was instructed to brush my teeth before putting the trays back in.

She broke two pieces of bad news to me at that point: 1. The first two days of each tray are painful, and 2. My coffee intake would likely be reduced given that I couldn’t drink it with the Invisalign in.

Ohhhhh… I was visibly upset over this coffee news. You see, I usually sip on coffee from the time I wake up (6:30 or so) until around 10. But if I did that, I’d already be breaking the 22-hour rule with Invisalign.

“It’s only for six months,” she said. She didn’t GET IT.

But anyway, I snapped in my first trays and was on my way. And she was right, it HURT. That night, I had so much trouble getting the trays out, I skipped dinner.

Since then, though, it stopped hurting, and it’s very easy to get the trays in and out.

On my two-week mark, I put in a new set of trays, and it hurt some (I took one dose of pain killers), but not as bad as the first one, leading me to believe the “shaving” was actually the issue.

I have 14 trays total, so I’ll be getting new ones about every two weeks. I expect to be putting in tray no. 3 on Thanksgiving Eve… which will make for an interesting Turkey Day.

So far, it’s been okay. It is a little annoying to have to take the trays in and out so much – I feel like I’ve cut down on snacking because it just isn’t worth the time and effort (in case you wondered just how lazy I was).

On the upside, I can already see the progress my teeth are making – and it looks great, even this early in the game! I also started using a whitening toothpaste in hopes of getting a bit of a brighter smile along the way!

I’ll keep you posted…

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2017 Goals: A progress report, III.

The end of the year isn’t too far away!

I know everyone is saying it: OMG it’s already August?! That’s right, 2017 is flying by! And another shocker, I feel like I’ve come nowhere on my goals. So, I’m revisiting them today to see if I can’t accomplish something or get back on-track, somehow.

GOAL: Start With Kindness. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I’ve spend a chunk of my life feeling sour about things that have happened to me, and choices I’ve made. But in general, I wouldn’t classify myself as bitter – I’m actually pretty kind and very giving.

In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about a kindness campaign started by my favorite radio show hosts, Johnjay & Rich. Their campaign, #LoveUp, encourages everyone to do something kind for someone else – whether big or small, and whether they need it or not. I’ve already started my own #LoveUp acts of kindness, and they’ll definitely be making appearances in 2017. 

PROGRESS: The last time I wrote this progress report, I’d purchased a snack for a fellow dancer after class when he was short on cash. Since then, I’ve purchased Starbucks for a few people in line behind me. It’s the simple things, y’all.

GOAL: Be a Practicing Writer. In my previous job, much of my day was spent writing. Whether or not it was stuff I actually wanted to write was not the issue, but I wrote a ton during those years. I blogged, I wrote freelance articles, I wrote books, poetry… and I really haven’t immersed myself in my craft since.

This year, I used birthday money to buy books on screenwriting, and I volunteered nearly 20 hours of my time toward the Austin Screenwriting Festival, listened to many podcasts on the craft, and have researched courses to take to learn on it – but haven’t actually DUG in there and started typing! So, I’ve got to do it – whether or not its work anyone sees, its time.

PROGRESS: I’ve totally sucked on this for ALL of 2017. The last time I looked at these goals, I was struggling to even write these blog posts. But, I’m happy to report that I am, at the very least, getting my grasp BACK on this blog, and am also working to carve out more time to W R I T E – ’cause that’s what writers do, right?

GOAL: Just Go For It. I spend a lot of time analyzing situations and decisions, trying to figure out if I should do it or how or when or why, and frankly, it’s exhausting!

When I moved to Austin in 2015, I had basically no money, was living in an extended-stay hotel, and I spent my evenings going on “adventures” – where I’d basically just drive to a place that sounded cool and check it out, so at least I’d learn my way around the city and pick places I wanted to visit later. It was simple, fun, and it really helped shaped the way I look at the city. I’m definitely aiming for more adventures in Austin, and elsewhere, in 2017.

PROGRESS: I’m still kicking this one’s ass. I’ve flown to two places already this year, and am about to book trip #3. I’m also trying new things, and doing new things, because JUST DO IT. This is the best advice I’ve given myself this year. Taking on this attitude also encouraged me to JUST get a blood test, JUST get my eyes dilated, just do things – all things because YOLO.

GOAL: Act, Believe, & Receive. I’ve spent the last several years really trying to focus on myself. After years of abuse from various places, I lost myself and I was letting other people create my course. It took therapy, time, and lots of self-reflection for me to even begin to build myself up and allow me to just be me, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

In these last few weeks of 2016, I’ve felt it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So, in 2017, I’m going to act more confident, believe in myself, and receive the treatment that I deserve.

PROGRESS: On a recent trip to Indiana, I got smacked in the face with some weird truth from friends and family. Frankly, I haven’t felt the same since. But, it’s all good. It was time I learned a few lessons, and now? I move on with confidence; ask, believe, and receive!

GOAL: Be Intentional. As of yesterday, I started listening to “The Minimalists” podcast, and although I’m just four episodes in, I am hooked and craving for more learning on this lifestyle choice. The Minimalists are particularly two men who left corporate America (and six-figure salaries) to live simply in terms of having less things, but to also live with intention and do everything on purpose – down to drinking one perfect cup of well-made coffee instead of just guzzling another K-cup.

PROGRESS: I’m still packing up clothes and books after cleaning out my apartment, and I’m also taking a look at my GIANT stash of beauty products – using up the remaining ones before I buy new. But, I’m also intentional about small, daily things. I get up early and enjoy a slow morning before work; add a few slices of fresh lime to my soda water before I go sit on the porch. It’s small, but it’s those details that make things a little more special.

GOAL: Live High. Initially, I was thinking of a fantastically mellow Jason Mraz song titled as such, but then I thought of that moment at the Democratic Convention this year when Michelle Obama talked about her approach to bullies: “When they go low, we go high.” Essentially, I want to give myself permission to do things just for me. I do a pretty good job already of having no shame for watching hours of TV each week (hell, each night), but I want to do a better job of encorporating happy and healthy habits into my life, and not apologizing for them.

PROGRESS: I think I’m doing pretty good on this one. I am back to eating healthy (mostly vegan) foods to reward my body for all of the work it does. I do a face mask almost every night and still treat myself to pedicures, which feels especially great when I hang out at the pool! There’s no harm in rewarding yourself for all the work you do!

GOAL: Choose (& Plan for) Your Destiny! This started as kind of a joke between me, and well, myself, because someone told me earlier this year: “Everything that happens to you is because you let it. You choose your destiny.” In the way it was delivered to me, it seemed more of a way to avoid blame, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it in all areas of my life.

Spent my Saturday working? Well that was obviously the destiny that I chose. No more being a victim; no more going along for the ride. We choose our destinies! 

PROGRESS: I live by this hardcore. This guides my daily course, helps me to avoid toxic friendships and loser dudes. I choose my destiny and I know it’s going to be great because that’s the kind of taste I have!

So, I still have a little work to do before the year is up, but I’m feeling pretty good about the way things are rolling. What about you? Or perhaps you’re already looking ahead to 2018 – I know I’m starting to think about possible goals for next year. I’d love to hear yours!

Dancing thru challenges.

Hellooo.

Hellooo.

I mentioned on Monday that I spent my weekend dancing. The dance studio I attend, Dance Austin, put on its 9th studio showcase on Sunday, and I was performing in both showtimes.

I know I’ve talked about my love for dance on here before, but being a part of this showcase (my second) made me think about it a lot more. Let me explain.

I started dancing in 6th or 7th grade; taking a small jazz class where I learned basic turns and leaps, and also performed for our families at a local gym. In 8th grade, I joined my middle school’s dance team, where we performed during pre-game or halftime of the basketball games.

I also did this in high-school, where it became a much bigger part of my life. Dance wasn’t just something I did – it was a huge stress relief for me, an escape, and it was where I made a lot of my friends. It gave me goals and confidence; it shaped another way for me to express myself.

In high school, I dreamt of being a choreographer. I wanted to put together dances for music videos and huge productions, that is, until I did a project for school and discovered the harsh truth about that side of the entertainment industry – it didn’t pay much, and it wouldn’t be a job for long – my body would probably be too beat up to be a choreographer in my older years.

And so, when I moved away for college, I left dance behind. I knew I wasn’t talented enough to be on a collegiate team or to go pro.

But when I moved to Texas, I wanted to see if there was a place for adults of any kind to dance. I took to Google, and found Dance Austin, a studio with a variety of classes for anyone, and they did performances! I hadn’t taken dance in 12 years. So, I was nervous for my first few classes.

At the very least, though, I was burning calories, and dancing in a room full of people I didn’t know. I had everything to gain.

Since then – it’s been a little more than a year now of going to class four times a week – I’ve gotten to know several of the people who dance beside me. They are diverse in age, culture, background, and experience. Some of them are engineers, video gamers, or salespeople. Some of them are dancers who audition for paid gigs or choreographers. Some are school teachers or vet techs, and some are retired.

But we all love to dance for one reason or another; and we don’t just love it. We do it. We all have lives outside of the studio, but we do whatever we have to and make it to class, day after day, week after week, and we get to perform our work in front of loving crowds.

At the showcase on Sunday, the hostess (who is fabulous and teaches “Twerk and Burn” at the studio) asked the audience to applaud for the performers because they are LIVING life. At first I clapped and nodded, but she’s right.

Yes, I dreamt of making it as a dancer. I have dreamed of being one of those who goes on tour with someone as a dancer, or performs with a professional team at halftime. But that’s not how my cards were dealt, and that doesn’t mean I can’t still dance. I can still do it; wherever I am – and not just in my living room. I can still perform for crowds, and rehearse in a studio, and rejoice silently when I wakeup sore the next morning.

Dance is a daily challenge for me. I test my brain to learn choreo quickly and work it through my body to do the moves I want. I work to keep up with my instructors, and with my fellow students, who may be more fit or more skilled than I am.

And hey, I don’t know any of us who don’t get nervous before getting on stage. In fact, before February, I’d never performed on a stage in that capacity, ever. And I did it – I performed a dance for 200 strangers. And it was pretty awesome.

And Sunday? I had set a challenge for myself: perform a stiletto routine (meaning, an entire dance wearing heels), and perform it. And I did! There were even stairs involved, and turns, and a stage, and nothing bad happened! It was awesome!

The following day, sure, my legs hurt, and my back was sore, but it was all worth it. At our next showcase, in February, I’ll set another goal for myself, and I’ll walk away (or dance away) feeling more confident than I do today.

Celebrating crazy cat ladies!

Is Taylor Swift a cat lady?!

Is Taylor Swift a cat lady?!

I was sporting my #CatLady trucker hat (for sale in the merch store) last month, and a guy asked me if I really was a “cat lady”. Yes, I said. “Well, how many cats do you have?” he asked, half disgusted, half intrigued. “Just one,” I said. “It’s a lifestyle.”

It was then I realized that I’ve never really explained my personal campaign to celebrate cat ladies, everywhere. Let me spill my story.

Let’s start with where this all came from. So, here’s the Wikipedia definition of a cat lady:

A cat lady is a single woman who dotes upon her pet cat or cats. The term is usually considered pejorative, though it is sometimes embraced. A cat lady may also be an animal hoarder who keeps large numbers of cats without having the ability to properly house or care for them. They may be ignorant about their situation.

So, there’s that. In general, to call someone a “cat lady” is an insult. Why? Well, way, way back – there were Egyptian goddesses who had cats, and even religious symbols who had cats, but eventually cats came to be synonymous will the devil. So…yeah.

And then came the movie “Clockwork Orange”… *rolls eyes* – the movie that all pretentious English majors obsess over. This is when the more modern-day crazy cat lady appeared in pop culture. And then, Eleanor Abernathy was born as a character on “The Simpsons” – and she is a true cat hoarder.

When you think about it, the cat lady stereotype goes beyond just a single woman with a lot of cats. She’s often insane, out-of-sorts, and generally dirty. She’s cranky, and no one wants to be around her. How terrible, right?

And so, I’ve embraced this stereotype in the opposite way via my merchandise, and the use of #CatLady. Being a #CatLady has nothing to do with the number of animals you own, or cats, at all. It’s about celebrating who you are and not being ashamed of any aspect of your being.

A true #CatLady is confident in herself, in her life, and she’s more interested in doing what she wants than worrying about what others think, or following societal norms. Maybe she is married, maybe not. Maybe she has kids, maybe not. A #CatLady has no age, no holds, and basically gives zero fucks. #CatLady – celebrate it!

Because when you think about it, this whole “Crazy cat lady” stereotype is just another way to degrade single women. It’s an easy way to dismiss emotions, a simple way to label someone we don’t know, and a socially acceptable way to insult someone that isn’t “typical” in terms of American culture.

And I’m over it. There’s no male equivalent, because single males are accepted and rewarded in our culture. As women, there’s so much expected of us, and at times, we give so much just to be treated equal from others, and we still aren’t satisfied.

So, I’m sticking with my #CatLady ways – yes, I do have a cat, and yes I am single, and I live alone. Am I crazy? No. Am I a spinster? No. Do people piss me off? Sometimes. But I have a successful career, great friends, know how to laugh, and I’ve got a few kitchen skills up my apron. So, yeah, I’m a #CatLady – for life.

#LivingLife

Facing the sun.

Facing the sun.

Last Tuesday, I was taking my favorite dance class (per usual). I love it for two reasons: 1. The dances we learn are always fun and challenging; and 2. The instructor has this amazing, positive energy that’s contagious.

On this particular Tuesday, she was teaching us a dance very different from ones she’s taught us in the past; one that was less about exactness and perfection and more about being comfortable in our own bodies, feeling the music, and adding our own style.

In my years of dancing, this is probably something I have never done. I’ve always been instructed to do this; do that; fit in with a team, not necessarily stand out or be myself.

And that Tuesday night, our instructor told us to dance like no one was watching; in other words, LIVE LIFE; dance!

One of the reasons I got back into dance was to gain back some self-confidence I’ve lost over the years. Whether it be from manipulated men I’ve dated, family issues, friendships gone sour, or even career missteps, sometimes I don’t know who I am – even at 31.

I know I’m not the only one that sometimes struggles with body image, or speaking up at work, or feeling nervous about getting out there to make friends or date. It’s tough! And the more I research about it, having confidence can be a constant thing to work toward.

#Truth

#Truth

The good news is, many of the things I listed in “Simple Ways I’m Tackling Life” are also things we can all do to help ourselves regain confidence. These are things such as:

  • Paying special attention to hygiene
  • Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself
  • Eat a healthy diet & make meal times special
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Keep your living space neat & tidy
  • Do something creative!

But I’ve also discovered some new things we can do to boost confidence and feel good about ourselves. One of those is to make three lists: 1 that lists your strengths, 1 that lists the things you’ve accomplished, and 1 that lists the things you admire about yourself. Keep the lists handy so you can refer to them often, and especially when you’re feeling down.

Think positive thoughts. This is a tough one for me, but I know it’s necessary. Tell yourself how great, unique and valuable you are. Affirmations on the mirror? YES.

Here’s a cool idea I found: set up a challenge you can realistically set for yourself – whether it’s learning a skill you’ve always wanted to learn or hosting a dinner party. This could also be doing something you’ve been putting off, such as cleaning out a room of your house or finally planting that garden. I’ve got to think of what my challenge will be, but this sounds like such a great idea!

The next thing is to do something nice for someone else (#LoveUp). I forget how great being a CASA volunteer for 3 years made me feel, and I definitely miss it. This could be something like volunteering, or even just saying something nice to someone or holding the door open for a stranger. The world needs love!

And finally, don’t be afraid to speak up about how you’re feeling. That’s exactly why I love this blog – many times, when I’m feeling low or have an issue, I write about it only to find that I’m not as alone as I originally thought in the way I feel. We are stronger in numbers and we can help each other.

So, what are you going to do today to help yourself, or someone else, feel a little bit better? I think even doing just a few of these things will help me, and whoever is reading this, feel way better – and I’m all about that!

Am I lacking ‘girl game’?

I'm losing my cool and just going straight NERD.

I’m losing my cool and just going straight NERD.

Last week, Forbes magazine published an Instagram post revealing the top five downloaded podcasts, which included one called “The Art of Charm”.

I checked it out, and noticed the description was geared toward men and how they could improve their lives in all areas, including work, friends, family, and dating, all by the tips in the podcast.

Dating? Count me in.

I started binging on old episodes right away.

One episode was dedicated to learning how to “win” at speed dating. The two hosts had been on several speed dating adventures and were sharing their tips.

One of their pieces of advice was to steer the conversation in your favor – speaking to the men.

“If a woman just asks you ‘What do you do for a living’, it’s because she’s got no girl game,” one host said.

Girl game?

And here I thought asking someone about their career made for interesting conversation.

The more they talked about it, they explained that often women don’t have game because they don’t have to; women are used to being approached instead of having to do the work themselves.

It sounded a little annoying at first, but then I got to thinking about it, and they were right.

I went on a date a few months ago and I was so nervous, I found myself unable to rely on my usual crutch of self-confidence.

I was finding it hard to maintain eye contact and hold up conversation, which was very unlike me. Do I lack girl game?

During the date, I kept catching myself looking away or picking up nervous habits, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I hate to admit it, but I kind of think I need help with my dating game.

When we refer to men who have game, it means they’re not only good in the dating world, they’re super smooth. These men have loads of confidence, they know what they want, and they go after it.

For women, having said “game” might be a little bit of new territory; we’re still learning how to steer the dating ship and be treated proper in a relationship, simultaneously.

I have always wondered if a girl comes across as aggressive in the beginning, will the man still take the lead later, or will it always be up to the woman?

But the truth of the matter is, you can only be good at dating – actually going on dates – if you practice.

And, you lose practice one of two ways: 1. Spending your Saturday nights on the couch with Netflix, alone, or 2. Getting into a serious relationship.

Most women straight out of a relationship find it difficult to date because they’re ready to just pick up (emotionally) where they left-off, even if it’s with someone new.

It sounds silly, but mastering the game means conquering every day skills, such as holding great conversation, maintaining eye contact, and keeping an open mind. Overall, just be cool, right?

At the end of the podcast, the guys suggested everyone try speed dating because it’s a good way to put yourself out there, even for just a short time.

I’ve been considering checking one out – I often seen them advertised in New Orleans – and maybe I should. It’d be a good way for me to “practice” dating and hone my girl game.

Pic of the Week.

First thing’s first: I got new hair and I. DON’T. CARE. You know Chris Brown’s song, “Zero”? That’s my new theme song, ‘cuz that’s how manyyyy f*cks I give…

That’s right, my new hair is sassy, but more importantly, it’s easy to style and it feels healthy. I was rocking the same haircut and color for quite awhile, and although it was still looking great, it’s never too soon (or too late) to change up the game.

I think it’s true: women change their hair, or their look in some way, when they’ve reached a turning point. And after last week’s epiphany, I’m still feeling like a whole new woman, so why not get a fresh cut?

I have been eyeing this short, wavy style for a few months, wondering if I could pull it off. The women that wear it best have great bone structure, and let’s face facts, I could stand to lose a few pounds, and I’ve always had chubby cheeks.

I still kind of wonder how it ultimately looks, but when I woke up on Saturday morning, still in question, I decided “fuck it.” Who cares if I’ve got a round face, it’s my hair and I’m going to cut it. Booyah.

Truthfully, I’ve never been too worried about my hair. If it’s too short, I’ll grow it out, and if it looks terrible, it’s usually nothing a good wash and blow dry can’t fix. Perhaps I’ve been lucky enough to have some great stylists touch my locks, because I’ve really never had any hair disasters (and I definitely dyed my hair from a box for years and sometimes cut it myself).

But I put my faith in my hair stylist (Lydia @ The Garrett Neal Studio; you should check her out), showed her a picture, and we were on our way. She hacked a good chunk off the bottom (2-4 inches, depending on the layers), and added in some ombre highlights, aside from my usual refresh of reddish-brown color (you did know I’m a natural blonde, right?).

In years passed, I’ve spent a lot of time on my hair. I used to get up and wash it every morning, blow dry it with a flat brush to get it smooth, and then choose my hot tool of choice – I’ve done hot curlers, curling irons, straighteners, wave irons, and in the early 90’s, I definitely used a crimper.

But as of late, my plate is very full with other things: work, dance, blogging, freelance editing, my blog class, and general laziness in front of the TV. So, I cut the corners where I can. And while I still put on a full face of makeup before heading to work every morning, I don’t mind skipping on my hair.

This means my hair routine has consisted of this: washing it at night (with sulfate-free shampoo to treat my color), brushing it wet before bed, letting it air dry as I sleep…and then assessing the situation in the morning. Most of the time, it looks pretty good (my hair has some natural wave), and all it takes is a few sprays of something: dry shampoo (try Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak), texturizing spray (try Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe), or extra hold hairspray, and I’m good to go after a strategically placed bobby pin.

And my new cut completely supports this lack-of-care routine I’ve got going on. No fuss here.

Aside from my daily routine, I do a weekly protein treatment using Paul Mitchell’s Hair Repair and I throw on a hair mask (I like Amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask) a few days later, for good measure. Other than that, it’s easy, breezy, beautiful… (CoverGirl) over here.

Are you thinking of changing up your look this year? I’d love to see what style icons you’re admiring! Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see more of my fairly beauty regimen (and other ridiculous nonsense).

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