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What a stuffed llama taught me about self-care.

Labor Day weekend, I went to the outlet mall to catch some highly-anticipated sales. After almost shopping ’til I dropped, I stopped by a store I’ve recently come to love: Five Below. It’s a place you have to be in the mood to look, but everything is $5 or below.

I’ve bought some pretty cool things there in the last few months including a set of 20 fine-tip markers (for journaling), a bluetooth speaker, and a felt board. Okay, and some candy.

That night, I was looking for things to take with me on the beach vacation. During my browsing, I came across a giant metal bin of small plush llamas. Some were gray and some were caramel, and they all had little blankets stitched on their backs. They were so cute, and after picking one up, I discovered it was soft, too.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been trying really hard to declutter my apartment – donating boxes of old clothes to Goodwill and selling random junk on eBay. I’ve been making progress and it’s helping.

I went on this decluttering spree after listening to a slew of podcasts on minimalism, convinced that I don’t need things to make me happy. And while true, there’s plenty of things that I don’t need, I’ve also learned that indeed, some things DO make me happy. My apartment is full of memorabilia, whether its framed magazine covers of my favorite artists, or scrapbooks full of ticketstubs, those are things I won’t ever give away.

I’ll never be someone who only has a bed in her apartment or stops buying people gifts – I’ll make my effort to declutter, and perhaps focus more on buying consumables or experiences, but that’s probably about it.

As I stood there at the bin of llamas, I found myself in the midst of a self-care crisis. Ever since my dad passed away, I’ve made an effort to do ONLY things that served me – even if it meant it may not be the best decision.

For example, I stopped forcing myself to go to a dance class just to burn calories. Yes, sometimes I feel good after working out, but honestly, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I just want to go home and cuddle with kitty Blanche after work and that’s not something I’m going to deny myself.

When I went through my weird food phase – I told myself I would just eat whatever sounded good, even if it meant only eating fried cheese curds from Culver’s for dinner. During times of stress or grief, we must be kind to ourselves.

Earlier this year, I went through this same conversation when I was debating buying a cat stroller. Would people think I’m a loser? Would I look silly walking around my neighborhood with this stroller? And then I decided I didn’t care. If a simple $40 purchase made me laugh even once, and I wasn’t hurting anyone, then do it. And I did, and I’ve had many, many laughs while strolling Blanche around the neighborhood.

So, there I was, trying to talk myself out of buying this $5 llama, because I’m 33 and I shouldn’t be buying stuffed animals.

In the last year or so, stores have embraced mermaids and unicorns, and llamas, too – it is my personal belief that the world, in general, is in such turmoil, that we’ve turned to imaginative, glittery beings to distract us from all things grey and bleak.

My dad loved animals – especially farm animals – and goats and llamas made him laugh. I’ve stopped myself from buying many llama trinkets, from drink coozies, journals, t-shirts, and a phone case, there’s cute “no drama llama” stuff everywhere. Even one of my freelance clients had photos of a lama trek for me to edit, and I found myself getting a good chuckle.

And so, I decided to treat myself to a stuffed llama. Why not? No one had to know about it, and if it makes me smile, then what’s a small little toy going to hurt? I picked out a grey one, with a teal and pink blanket on its back, and magenta feet and ears. After much thought, I named her Laverne.

After a few weeks with Laverne, she’s become a good cuddle buddy. I know stuffed animals are often meant for kids, but when I thought about it, my dad brought a tiny squirrel beanie baby with him to the hospital. He liked having something to hold in his hand.

After surgery, he couldn’t have the beanie baby – everything in his ICU room had to be approved – so his girlfriend knotted a hospital washcloth for him to clutch. My dad was later admitted to a different facility, where I was told he pestered his roommate by tossing the squirrel over to his side of the room (very much something my dad would do).

Every year, my mom and I buy Christmas gifts for seniors in a nursing home who have no one to buy them presents. One of the most coveted items is a stuffed animal, and my mom and I spend countless hours trying to find animals that are just the right size for hugging and made of soft fur. I suppose a stuffed animal can provide comfort to just about anyone.

So, even though my appetite has picked up and I’m slowly getting back into my dance and yoga classes, I’m happy I bought Laverne. If that makes me a little weird, well, it wouldn’t be the only thing.

If it’s going to make you happy, and won’t cause harm, I say go for it.

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Review: FitFabFun Editor’s Box Summer 2018

FitFabFun Editor’s Box!

Hey there! I have been polling my followers on Instagram – I want to offer the content you guys want to see – and the results are in: more beauty content. I was getting ready for work one day and realized that although I’m a beauty junkie, I don’t really talk much about the products I’ve tried on this blog. So, that ends now – I promise not to overload you though.

A few weeks ago, my best friend sent me my first FitFabFun Box! I was so, so excited to see all of the goodies inside, and try them all. Well… I’ve officially tried everything in the box (I am even out of some of the items), so I can offer a full-review now. Here’s what was in my box (it was the Editor’s Box for Summer 2018) and what I thought:

MakeupDrop Silicone Beauty Blender in Winter Glitz

I haven’t tried any of the silicone makeup applicators, so this was exciting to see. I have used makeup brushes for most of my daily application, and then I tried different “Beauty Blender”-type sponges. Honestly, after everything I’ve tried, nothing beats the cheap $2 bag of cosmetic wedges – but that’s just me.

I tried this applicator, and although I wanted to love it (I love the glitter inside it), it wasn’t for me. I use setting spray on my sponges to apply my makeup and this didn’t really allow for that. I also felt like it wasn’t blending my makeup – just sort of smearing it around. However, I didn’t toss it – I’m going to see if it would work for anything else, perhaps applying a mask instead?

On the MakeupDrop website, it shows ways to apply eye shadow with it. It is very easy to clean, and it uses less product, so that’s cool. You can get the original MakeupDrop applicator on Amazon for $18.

Trina Turk Turkish Towel

This 100% cotton towel looks more like a light blanket, which I love. It has a blue diamond pattern with white fringe on the end, and would be cute as a wrap and/or a swimsuit cover-up. I immediately put it on my patio and have been sitting on it while I read books (and babysit Blanche). I love it and can’t wait to take it to the beach with me in September!

This exact towel is $78 but I found a very similar one on Amazon for $16.

TULA Dual-Phase Skin Reviving Pads (5-pack)

I always see lots of beauty and fashion bloggers using Tula products, so I was excited to try these… and I kid you not, I woke up the next morning and was stunned at how different my skin looked! Here’s the full description of what these pads do:

 

  • INSTANT FACIAL: These pads provide both chemical and physical exfoliation without any of the down time, giving you baby soft, smooth and brighter looking skin in just 2 minutes.
  • EASY TO USE: Easy to use applicator makes this fool-proof and individually wrapped pads make this an ideal item to take with you wherever you go.
  • IDEAL FOR all skin types and ages, perfect for those with dull, rough, uneven complexions.
  • TULA & PROBIOTICS: TULA is the leader in probiotic skincare. We combine powerful probiotics and skin superfoods for healthy, balanced and glowing skin. All our products are clean, clinically proven, and effective.

It looks like a regular toner pad (like the Clearasil pads we all used in high school), that you slip your finger in and just use both sides, rinse off, and voila! I have used 3 of these already and after the first one, I searched online to see where I could buy them.

These are $59 for a 16-pack – it says to use them 1-2 times per week, so that would last a few months, which isn’t bad, especially for the awesome results. QVC also sells them, and often has sampler packs with some of their other products (which I would love) – keep your eye out for one-day deals and/or the option to make monthly payments.

 

dr. brandt pores no more® LUMINIZER PRIMER

I love trying different primers, and I have used a few of dr. brandt’s other products from my monthly Birchbox. This primer is a light cream color and is pretty sticky – in a good way – you want your makeup to stay! I really do love its light texture and the color. However, it’s not really “luminizing” – which could be could if you prefer more of a matte look. A 1-ounce bottle is normally around $41 – but it’s on Amazon for $19 right now.

pūrlisse BLUE LOTUS Balancing Moisturizer

I have only used this a few times (I’m trying to use up another moisturizer before I jump into another one), but this has a nice texture. Its light (not heavy) and a bit sheer (almost like a gel), so it’s perfect for daily use under makeup. It is supposed to help with anti-aging, but at this point I can’t speak to that aspect of it. It’s normally $55 but Amazon has it on sale for $35 right now!

AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream

I have been using lots of hand-lotion lately – I went through all of the mini bottles of the stuff I’ve collected over the years (mostly stocking stuffers) and put them in my office at work and use them after washing my hands in the restroom, so I happily added this to my desk and it smells SO FREAKING GOOD. It’s not a strong scent, but perfumy, and the lotion itself is not greasy. A little goes a long way – I love it! The 3.4-ounce bottle is $24.

Yumi Kim Makeup Train Case

Ugh, I am such a sucker for cosmetic bags – it’s really embarrassing how many of them I have. This one is so pretty – it’s a periwinkle blue color with cream and pink flowers all over. But, the best part is that it includes a place to hold makeup brushes! I usually just dump everything into one bag and end up digging through it every day while traveling – not now! I haven’t used this one yet (perfect excuse to take a trip), but I am looking forward to using it soon. This one was a partnership with FitFabFun, but if you google “Yumi Kim Makeup Train Case” – it looks like many of them are being sold on Poshmark for $35-40, which is less than the original price (I believe it’s $58).

Spongellé Body Wash Infused Buffer in Papaya Yuzu

I was really amped for this thing and tried it almost immediately. It’s a flower-shaped sponge that has the soap already inside it… and I’ve used it every single day and it’s already all used up! Whoops! But, no worries, I looked up Spongelle, and they have tons of different scents and even options for kids. You can follow them on Instagram @spongellebeyondcleansing and see all of their products. Most of the sponges are around $20 and I think they would make really great gifts; it’s not something I would think to buy for myself, and it felt luxurious to use. I think I will treat myself though – I’ve been eyeing the “Radiant Amber Shimmer” which does say it has a dash of sparkle. Yes!

And there you have it! Do you use FitFabFun? It seems like a really great deal, so I might have to get myself boxes more often – all of the products are full-size, so you really do get your money’s worth!

Creating a self-care plan.

It's time to take care of ourselves, first.

It’s time to take care of ourselves, first.

The term “self-care” has been swirling around the interwebs since at least the end of 2015, which makes me a little late to the game, per-usual. The truth is, I never really gave it much thought until recently – and for good reason.

I know I’ve been alluding to “tough times” lately, and I’ll explain. If it isn’t blatantly obvious, I’m a democrat in every single way. I try not to make this a political space, and I won’t go too deep here, but yeah, shit has been pretty rough these days.

When things happen, as in things that are reported in the news, I debate to myself whether or not I should say something on this blog. Some readers say this blog IS their news, so I don’t want someone to miss out on anything big. Do I do a little, “Uh, hey, Trump has fuuuucked things up again, TODAY” – memo?

Let me back up a little. I have always loved watching the news, keeping up with things, and in general, just being informed. And I know the 24-hour news circuit has haunted our world since the Jon Benet case, but I really didn’t feel the effects until last week.

You see, I work in a political field, and I do digital communications, i.e. I monitor Twitter, a lot. So, I’ve seen alllllll the Trump Tweets many times over. At the end of the work day, I was starting to feel really heavy, like my shoes were filled with cement.

To combat this, I have been watching “The Daily Show” every single night. I need someone to make light of this, of anything, something to make me laugh and tell me that I’m not going to blow up while I sleep.

But the night that Trump fired Sally Yates, “The Daily Show” didn’t touch on it, because obviously it’s taped during the day, and the Trump administration is so entirely insane, that even in just two hours, the world can be completely flipped, border patrol and protestors with handmade signs, included. How the hell does this happen?

I decided right then and there that I’ve got to do something to take care of myself. Because I see things going on, and I’m trying to make the change during my 9-5, and although I want to jump into my car and protest the shit out of pretty much every damn thing coming out of that White House, I must take care of myself first.

And so, I need a self-care plan. For many, part of their self-care plan is to stay off social media, or to only stay on for certain chunks of time. I don’t have that option when it comes to my job. Luckily, there are other things I can do to avoid going insane.

Here are some ideas I came up with:

  • At-home manis and pedis
  • Intentionally schedule “me” time
  • Clean out the closet and donate the unwanted items to a place that does good things
  • Spend less time with the phone/iPad/computer, etc.
  • Take a cooking class
  • Take more walks – even if it’s just around the neighborhood
  • Attend a local high school sporting event
  • Take an online class (I’ve still go to learn screenwriting this year)
  • Get crafty/artsy (hello, Pinterest)
  • Listen to this song more often:

When I was looking up ideas for self care, turns out, I actually do a lot of these things already: write a blog, spend time with a pet, cook, dance, sleep in on the weekends, write letters…

I’d love to know what you’re doing for your self-care plan – perhaps reading this blog is part of it, which is another reason why politics are generally not invited here. So let’s hear what you’re doing for self-care; or ideas you have for those of us who need it.