Step Into Spring

My seasonal Christmas graced Western North Carolina this  weekend as the J. Crew Sample sale came to the distribution warehouse in Asheville, N.C. This is fabulous because it encompasses three of my favorite things in one event, J.Crew, getting a steal of a deal, and competition.

Anyone who knows me know how much I love J.Crew and a good sale. Every time the new season’s catalog comes out, I pick it up an try to re-create my favorite looks, most of the time with what I can find at Goodwill (I work for the state). As much joy as I get from that, it was impossible to pass up the opportunity to get the real thing at a price I can afford.

So a trash bag, some thrown elbows and 3 hours later, I came home with four pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, a sweater, a scarf, three necklaces, new sunglasses and a handful of hair accessories, all for less than $140. ( all pictured above)

While I’m actually in love with all of it, I wanted to share three of my favorite pieces.

First, and obviously these leopard calf hair ankle boots.

Half of me loves them because they are unique and super comfortable. The other half of me loves them because I found them in excellent condition for $45 and they retail for about $400.

I’m no so wild a dresser as these might suggest, I really like the classic looks, but I was feeling adventurous, and I think these can take a classic look and add some sauce to it 🙂

Next, is the pink ladybug pendant necklace.

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photo/link: https:www.jcrew.com/p/C1866

I was so happy to find this because I remember looking at it  in the retail and outlet stores and pining over it because I have been super into long necklaces, and this just says spring to me.

I can’t wait to over-wear this in the spring an summer with dresses and long tops.

I really like pieces like this because they help me to ease my wardrobe into spring with a small pop of color without going from all black in boots to a fuchsia blur in cork wedges.

Finally, I’m a little more than excited about these black  wide-legged cropped pants.

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photo/ link: bebe.com

 

These aren’t the exact pair, but these look the most similar, they retail for about $100 at bebe (link in the caption).

I’ll be honest, these are a little out of my box. I am totally cool with leopard calf hair, but a little flare in my usually strictly-skinny pants closet is scary.

I swore I would never wear these when they first came out, but I have seen so many cute outfits with them that I decided to take a baby step out of my box. Any girls who have already purchased these have any ideas on what to pair them with? I’d love suggestions!

P.S. For all my long-legged giraffe women, these come in tall. So we don’t have to look like we are wearing gaucho Bermuda shorts  😉

Happy spring shopping!

 

 

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Saving {very dry} Winter Skin

Happy Friday!

Its winter here in Western North Carolina, but I feel a little uncomfortable describing it as such- especially because it’s 71ºF today. Nevertheless, it is February, and my winter skin problems are plaguing me like its 20ºF.

I used to describe myself as someone with VERY dry skin. But after watching hours of youtube videos trying to find a solution, I realized that I just have sensitive skin. In the summer, I can go with a lightweight moisturizer and be totally fine. But in the winter, I don’t know if it’s the wind, the cold temperatures, the dry heat or all the above, but my skin gets unbearably dry.

I feel a little silly blogging about anything that could be considered “beauty,” honestly. Not because I don’t love feeling feminine, or using make-up, but because I’m cheap, low-maintenance and at 24 I am just now discovering all the crazy things make-up can do. So, I wouldn’t hardly call myself a beauty expert, but I would absolutely call myself a dry skin expert.

To save time, I’m going to give a quick list of all the things that people have told me to try, and I tried, that didn’t work. (So I took them back because I’m cheap).

-Cetaphil daily moisturizing lotion
– Up &Up version of CeraVe daily moisturizing lotion
-Organic Coconut oil
-Nivea Creme ( in the large blue tin)
-Argan oil (alone)
-Various cleansers in addition to moisturizers

These were all varying degrees of failure, some worked but were really greasy and didn’t get along with make-up (Nivea), some made my skin feel soft and moisturized at first, but by lunch my skin would flake under my foundation (all daily moisturizers/argan oil). And still others I wouldn’t make it out the door without my face feeling tight and irritated due to the dryness.

Like I said, I’ve watched a ton of youtube videos, and read equally as many product reviews, but I couldn’t find anything convincing enough to make me want to try it. I would rather stop wearing make-up and apply regular, cheapy lotion 5 times a day than buy something for $40 or buy 7 products for a 45-minute routine.

I exaggerate, but not much.

I came across my solution by accident, and I don’t know exactly what your skin-tuation is, but for me I swear by these two steps.

1. At night, on a make-up free, damp face (I don’t think it matters how you get there- cleanser, wipes, shower, what have you) I first apply Moroccan Argan oil (I got mine at Wal-Mart for $6) and I let that soak in while I brush my teeth or dry my hair.

2. I cover that with with L’oreal’s Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm (it goes for $19.99 at CVS, which I know is a lot, it is for me too, but I waited until it was on sale, and I used my extra care bucks to get it for $12. It’s not free, but its my true skin-saver for under $20)

In the morning, I wake up and do exactly the same thing, I just give my skin some time to soak up the golden balm before applying make-up. For those of you curious where the spf is, I get mine in my setting spray.

And that’s it. Those two steps refresh me from a day in the elements and protects me from our dry baseboard heat at night.

I say I stumbled onto this because it’s true, it not something I would have ever gone out and purchased for myself, if you read it, the cream itself is for “mature, very dry skin”. This is not something I would have thought would be necessary for me, but I really can’t argue with the results.

(P.S. I know my fellow cheapy’s will notice there is a L’oreal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition moisturizer for $2 less right next tot he golden balm, and be tempted. I know this because I was yesterday when I re-stocked. I can’t speak to this because I could bring myself to buy it after having such success with the golden balm (this is the first time I’ve gone back to buy the same product more than once, and probably the first I didn’t return). I did, however, open it to realize the consistency is very different, so proceed with caution!)

I’d love to hear feedback and anyone else’s successes in dealing with dry winter skin!

Returning to ‘Normal’

Happy Hump day!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous first half of the week, and for the glass-half-fullers we are almost to the weekend!

I’m been talking a lot lately about mental health and the road to recovery after anxiety or depression. For those who have never experienced it, I understand it seems like I’m going overboard, and honestly, I hope you always feel that way because you never have to go through it.

For those who are currently going through anxiety, or are well on their way to recovery I want to talk about my experience and a few things I painfully searched for on the great and powerful Google, but couldn’t find.

I am going to address what was my biggest question that sort of formed an umbrella over my whole experience “Am I ever going to be back to ‘normal’?”

It drove me absolutely insane that everything I read about people who tried medication, therapy and all sorts of things all said “I am doing so much better, I’ve stopped having panic attacks and for the past ‘x’ years I have only had minor anxiety.”

What?! No. I spent 24 years of my life without anxiety and it slapped me in the face one day, and now I am going to have victory by only having minor anxiety forever? That was something I was not going to accept, and I couldn’t understand how these other people who were like me were satisfied with just having generalized anxiety forever.

My response two that is a two-parter:

First, if you haven’t heard it from anyone else yet, let me be the first to tell you, you are going to be completely fine one day. And you are going to feel normal.

Second, ‘normal’ will look a little different to you.

You will, in fact, feel like your old self again after you’ve taken the time to heal whether it be through therapy, medication or just time. But, part of that new normal will be that you now know how to handle anxiety-inducing situations, so they will no longer feel like anxiety.- That’s the part I didn’t get.

When I would read about people who just lived with ‘occasional’ anxiety, I hadn’t gone through my recovery process yet, and more importantly, I hadn’t discovered that that’s how you beat anxiety, by not giving power to those thoughts/ fears.

That’s the piece I was missing.

Now that I have made it through a significant part of my journey back to ‘normal’, I understand. I do feel 100% like my old self, and when thoughts or feelings of anxiety come, I don’t see them as that any more, and because they don’t hold that same power, it doesn’t feel like I have anxiety anymore.

I know this isn’t the 100% erased answer that you were hoping for, but I hope it can reinforce that you are going to get better, and you don’t have to fear these feeling forever. Your perspective will shift, and your ability to relax  will be back sooner than you think.

For forgetting Sarah Marshall fans, you just have to  “do less”

What are some of your concerns and problems that you are working through right now?

Hitting the Brakes as a Chronic People Pleaser

 

I lied.

I lied to other people, and I even lied to myself. I said something that I thought would make everyone else happy to hear, rather than really examining the truth.

My lie was that I said I had realized that the reason I thought I needed to go through a period of such real anxiety was so I could learn to be more compassionate to others. Sounds nice, right? Like poetic realization. I’m sorry, ( not supposed to say that as a recovering people pleaser,) but that’s not what it was.

I needed to go through that period of anxiety and what seemed like real despair, because I had gotten myself to a point where I had lost myself and my personality, and I wasn’t living my life to the fullest. Know why? Because I based my every move on how I thought it would make others feel. ( Ironic, right?)

Obviously, by my lead, I’m not magically changed because I realized the problem, sorry.

When I explain this, I’m going to do my best to say it the way that I actually identify with. The truth is that we all want to be that badass woman, dressed to the nines in a pair of ridiculous sunglasses declaring that we’d “rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea”. But, I am just so so so not that person. There are great things about me, even some badass-y things about me. But, I will not ever hear another human truthfully utter a statement likening me to a shot of whisky.

I say all this to express that I am someone who will always care in some way what other people think. All of the memes, middle fingers, and sassy poses in the world aren’t going to remove that, it’s part of who I am.

For me, it’s not necessarily a self-confidence thing, I probably have too much of that most days. For me, it is a deep desire to make the people around me happy.

It didn’t start as a way to hide my true thoughts and feelings, but because I tried so hard to make everyone else happy that I became sort of a chameleon. In every situation I would just morph into whatever was needed to keep the peace, or raise someone else’s self-esteem, or fix a tough situation- no matter what I, personally, wanted. This put me into a place where I spent so much time and effort focusing on what I could do to make everyone else’s lives “perfect” and I couldn’t even tell you what I wanted in mine.

If you are like this, this is something that I need to tell you, but it’s o.k. if it doesn’t resonate with you the first time. We are not actually making their lives better, by sacrificing our own. I know you think, what the big deal about being accommodating? Why is it such a problem that I want to make my employer feel like they can give me any task, and i will take care of it? Does it really matter that I held back what I thought to spare my friends’ feelings?

The truth is, yes, it does matter. Because I can bet that you didn’t just agree with one of those statements, all of them resonated with you on some level. By always conceding, you are allowing yourself to be covered up by the wants/needs of others and you can’t fix it for them by just giving them what they want. If you need proof, think of a friend who has never had their ideas challenged or someone you know that just got everything they wanted without hesitation.

For those who look for Bible verses on the subject:

Luke 6:26 sounds the alarm: “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.”

As someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, and that God really means well for all of his people, I know that the crippling anxiety I went through was for my betterment. That I would have spent the rest of my life living for what everyone else wanted rather than being myself and loving people in my own way. I would have totally missed out on some great things that I know are in store for me.

I want you to know that yes, you can go to your partner’s favorite restaurant, yes, your boss can know that if there is a task that needs to be completed, you’re the man or woman for the job and yes you should be gentle with your friends and try to take care of their feelings, but you really can’t spend all of your time and energy devoted to what you think everyone else wants, because it will not fulfill either one of you.

Does making yourself appear ugly, make someone else more attractive?

I hope you know that you are all women and men dressed to the nines in awesome sunglasses, no matter what drink you are, and how many people like the taste of it.

It is possible to be kind to others without being what you think everyone wants.

Choosing Hope

Three words. It. gets. better.

Throughout my journey of improving my mental and emotional health, one of my greatest weapons has been hope. I can always appreciate my progress and recognize my growth when I am feeling hopeful.

It’s taken me a little while to come to this conclusion, and I still raise my eyebrows at myself a little when I think about it. But, I honestly don’t regret going through the period of anxiety in my life because it’s taught me a lot about myself and shown ways I can help others. And the best part, is that it doesn’t last forever, and it will get better. That is reason enough for us to have hope.

In hopes (punny) that it might help someone else through a hard time, or remind someone that there is always hope, I want to share a few of my favorite reminders about hope.

1. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

2. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

3. Before something great happens, everything falls apart. (unknown)

4. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

5. Sometimes we can learn, study and know, and sometimes we must believe trust, and hope. (M. Russell Ballard)

6. Hope is a choice, choose it.

7.Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny (C.S. Lewis)

8. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6)

9. A single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing. (unknown)

10. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

What are some of your favorite quotes about hope?

Awesome Outlets for Overcoming Anxiety

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As someone who spent most of her life thinking that people who had anxiety were just people who couldn’t handle stress (sorry about that), it really took me by surprise when I became absolutely overwhelmed with anxiety last fall. It literally felt like walking into a brick wall, that consequently fell on me, and there was NOTHING I could do to get away from it.

Because I was not born with it, and mine was situational, my biggest thing with anxiety was that I was terrified it would last forever. I did not want to be someone who was living with anxiety, or struggling with anxiety,  I wanted to be someone who “went through” and “overcame” anxiety.

I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking I was going to die or lose, or more frightening to me- thinking I was going to “snap” and lose control of my mind and thoughts forever- no, seriously. If you feel like this, I promise. I promise. I promise. It is not going to happen.

You are not the exceptional case that everyone else is fine, and you are going to die ( I thought that too). You are going to get through this, and it will be nothing but a blip on your radar when you do. If you need to email me at 3:00 am so I can reassure you of that again- I will do it 1000 times. Because, I had to have someone do that for me (thanks, mom).invisibiliapodcast_icon_hotpink-01_sq-2359778531d9733109e3674a5cecf5a711aa511f-s300-c85

  1.  Podcast: Invisibilia: the secret history of thoughts

If you don’t want to talk to me, I suggest listening to NPR’s Invisibila podcast specifically “the secret history of thoughts.” I don’t know about you, but I was a big “why” person. If you could tell me why I was feeling a certain way, that helped the logical part of my brain to wake up and participate. This podcast, specifically, helped me to put anxiety into perspective, and not feel like it was running my life.

** PS the whole Invisibila series is awesome if you time to work your way through.

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2. TED Talk: Walking on Custard: How Physics Helps Anxious Humans | Neil Hughes

  Escape the Custard by Neil Hughes is not only good for a laugh but it helps to put your feelings into words (another thing I struggled with) and learn how to identify when your anxiety is actually coming on, and when your mind is just in a cyclical state of being anxious about becoming anxious (this has also been me.) I am able to look back at the conversation with my mom where I tried to explain to her that I was afraid of being afraid and, sort of laugh. download

3. App: Pacifica

This was a little outside of my box at first, but I’m really glad I got it. I tried a lot of mindfulness and CB therapies and Pacifica helped me not only keep up with my progress between sessions (feed my competitive side), but more importantly, it has some cool free exercises listening exercises to relax when you’re having a panic attack, or just need a distraction from your own thoughts.

These are just a few of the many things that I tried, and the ones I feel like worked best for me, but honestly along with every one of these there was a lot of prayer, tears and support.

Before I personally went through it, I thought real anxiety only occurred if there was something wrong with you, or you were mentally weak. What I learned, was, well a lot of things, but most importantly:

1. Don’t be embarrassed about it. Because I found out almost every person I know, even those I would never expect, have been through it, or are going through it.

2. Don’t let it have you. I feel like everyone is affected by anxiety in some way at some point in their life, but that absolutely doesn’t mean it has to be forever.

3. Don’t let it be a mark on your record. As I was working on getting out of that anxious state, I had a lot of feeling like” I just want to be done with this” I can’t believe I’ve let anxiety run through this much of my life, and I’ve wasted it.” It is absolutely not a wasted, and I firmly believe that our greatest achievements can come from painful points in our lives. I learned a lot about myself, why I do certain things, and going through those feelings really gave me a heart for wanting to help others to become someone who “overcame” anxiety.

Life is pretty great when we let it be!