new year, new you…the bold way to make “resolutions”

“NEW YEAR, NEW YOU!” blare the headlines of every magazine, newspaper, and website article. The start of the new year also brings the advent of Resolution Season. I myself am a great maker of resolutions. A keeper of said resolutions? Not so much.
But this year, I’ve decided to do it differently. Too often, our resolutions feel more like a punishment than an attainable goal. How many of us have made depressing resolutions like, “I vow to only have dessert once a month” or “I will never, ever, EVER miss a class!”, only to find ourselves crumbling under the stress of these regiments after a few weeks? Or, if you’re like me, it’s more like a few days.
For 2015, I’ve decided that the key to success in new year’s resolution resides in their presentation. I’m not going to stress myself out with strict rules. Instead, I’m going to set goals for the year, and make a resolution to not punish myself when I waver from my purpose.
My first recommendation for your resolution is that you retitle it to a goal. I find the word goal much less looming than resolution. A goal is something you work towards, taking steps (whether they be small or large) to reach it.
For example, I might have resolved to exercise every single day. But I know that this resolution would crumble with my first stress-filed Monday. So instead, I might set a goal: I want to participate in a 5k by April 2015. This overarching goal means less stress and more sense of achievement as I move towards the big picture.
Getting to this big picture sometimes requires lots of little steps. So to keep my goals this year, I’ve decided to break down some processes into smaller, bite-size pieces that I can reasonably accomplish.
A good example of this is my goal to keep a clean room. To achieve this, I’ve set smaller goals and made a list of chores to do on certain days each week. Monday is laundry day, Friday is vacuum and dusting, and I’ll try to make my bed and wash dishes every day. When broken down into smaller goals, the goal of a clean room is much easier to keep up.
Also essential to these processes is the idea of not punishing yourself. I realize that I won’t always be able to keep up with this schedule. Some Mondays, no washers will be open in the laundry room, and some Fridays, I’ll be too busy with rehearsal to clean up. And that is okay. Be sure to write yourself a free pass once in a while as you work towards your goals. The new year shouldn’t be a time of punishment; I’m striving to make it a year of growth and self-worth.
Going along with this idea of re-wording resolutions, I’ve decided to “billboard” my goals in a way that I will remember. Billboarding means creating a memorable word or sentence to remind yourself of your goals each day. It should be catchy, happy, and remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I’ve developed a sentence about my goals for 2015. “Live Compassion. Pray More, Worry Less. Work It.” This billboard reminds me of my goals to be kind to everyone (including myself), to let go of excessive anxiety, and to “work it” in all aspects of my life, doing the best I can do and showing my authentic self.
This idea might seem kind of cheesy, until you put it into practice. When someone cut in line at the grocery the other day, I came close to losing my cool. Instead, I remembered “Live Compassion,” took a deep breath, and moved on with my life.

Originally published at Mediaocu.com

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fashionable apartments, here and abroad

I am a sucker for high fashion. And low fashion, for that matter–you won’t see me turn my nose up at a Forever21 black pleathered biker jacket. To that end, I always seem to find myself checking in with the beautiful and the creative, through any means available: I’ve subscribed to Vogue for six years, follow several fashion and travel blogs, and get updates sent to my inbox daily. These last ones are the most scurilious of the group–I will admit that I delete a larger portion than I read. But today I was stopped in my tracks during my morning coffee routine (6:00 am, just me, the couch, a large cup of coffee and an inbox of neglected emails…pure romance) by an email from Refinery29, with a story entitled “15 Things You’ll Find in EVERY Fashion Girl’s Apartment.”

Sadly, I don’t have any of these items in my apartment. On second thought, maybe not-so-sad, given that some of these hotly coveted objets des arts would cost a semester’s tuition. Still, it’s fun to dream…and the writer of this article made me laugh out loud. It made me think about the differential between what constitutes chic in Europe, and what we consider fashionable here. To my mind, these images have a very Parisian-influenced vibe. I could picture any of the fashionable young femmes I spoke with in various shops and cafes in the City of Lights walking home to one of these abodes at night. American girls? Not so much…I know that I sport a lot more color, and a lot less extravagance, in my spaces (really, who needs a cow hide rug? Who wants a cow hide rug?)

What do you think? Overkill, or just overtly glorious?

Photo credits Refinery29

my travel philosophy: a spirit without borders

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders; let me walk upon the waters, wherever you might call me.” This simple prayer had led to one of the greatest adventures of my life: the act of letting go.

            I have traveled much in my 21 years, gallivanting off on family vacations, cross-country spring-break road-trips, and long awaited pilgrimages to major centers of arts and culture. I went to seek beauty, and I found the essence of it in all of my travels. Through carefully structured days and nights, I crossed things off the to-do list, ticked pictures off on a chart of postcard worthy vistas and views. This sense of completion was rewarding, from a control point of view: plan! Execute! Achieve! Mission accomplished. But in my heart, I felt there was something inherently missing in this divide and conquer world I’d been living in.

            So, on this great European odyssey, attempted alone, knowing no one, I decided to adopt a new philosophy: trust. I believe we travel to expand our hearts and minds, to expose ourselves to beauty on a whole new level. That’s impossible to do when you’re spending your life clutching desperately to a well-thought-out game plan. Immersion comes from allowing an open heart and trusting that everything will occur as it is meant to. Missed my train to Viterbo? It’s a good chance to explore Rome. Don’t know how to speak to the shop keeper? I make do with hand gestures and basic Italian, and end up meeting her family and knowing all about her products. By simply making myself vulnerable to new experiences and losing the shield of control, I have opened so many doors that would have been previously unknown to my searching hands, doors that appear in no guidebook or tour schedule. After years of pushing myself so hard to be right, isn’t it nice to sit back, stay open, and let the world flow in to me, instead of at me?

            Travel is a world of no wrong answers: a world without borders.

pieta: my vision of the vatican

I had envisioned the Vatican embalmed in a state of continual holy solemnity; a silent chamber of wafting incense and chanting priests. Naturally, I felt a distinct sinking feeling in my stomach whe I entered the vast nave of St. Peter’s Basilica and emerged into a land of yelping children, tour guides chanting monotonously in 15 different languages, and people weaving in and out of the side chapels with phones and cameras plastered over their faces. The prevailing attitude was one of “checking it off the list:” see the dome? Check. Touch St. Peter’s foot? Got it. So when do we leave for gelato?

It was loud, and chaotic, and utterly devoid of the magnificent peace I usually feel when I enter an old church or chapel. I wandered away from my group, growing restless from the noise level, and attempting to restrain my worrying about future events on the trip. The motto of my travels is always “be present,” but that can be difficult when the present is as cacophonous as a train station!

I began to think about the rest of our day, mapping out destinations as I gazed at the beautiful frescoes on the wall ahead, before my eyes flicked left and I came face-to-face with the Madonna herself.

Michelangelo was touched by something divine when he carved the Pieta, of this I have no doubt. The face of Mary, young and beautiful, is carved with the most essentially human expression I have ever seen on a statue. There’s love there, yes, and sadness; but the prime feeling is one of ultimate sacrifice. So often we are led to think only of the divine sacrifice of Jesus when artists reflect o scenes from the crucifixion, but the Pieta raises to transcendental levels the ultimate sacrifice of the corporal world: a mother letting go of her beloved child. I couldn’t see this image and feel distant from the moment; I played a major role–I took in part of the Madonna’s pain as my own, and there was intense beauty in that moment of connection.

The whirl and chaos of the Vatican melted away. All chatter and noise grew to a senseless drone in my ears. For that moment, I was left alone with Mary and her son, a holy communion of three, a world of our own inside the tourist jam.

Oscars 2014 Picks!

Here’s a brief list of my picks for the top awards as we get ready for the most exciting night in movies!

Best Music: Let It Go. The music theatre side of me is begging for it. But I also have a special side of my heart for Moon Song from Her.

Music (Original Score) Saving Mr. Banks

Directing: The Wolf of Wall Street: I haven’t seen that kind of acting in ages.

Costume Design: The Great Gatsby…please. How could you not? So gorgeous.

Animated Feature Film: Frozen. Gorgeous and fun. The Boyfriend is pulling for the Miyazaki though!

Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o. Her performance made me cry from just a look. This young actress is one to watch; incidentally, she’s also my red carpet A-lister for all time! I want to be her best friend.

Actor in a Support Role: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave. Though I’ve heard Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers was a force to be reckoned with.

Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep, August: Osage County. Because it’s Tracy Letts and Meryl combined.

Actor in a Leading Role: I’m gonna split this one between Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. I thought both of their acting was fearless and incredible in outrageously different ways.

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave. This movie changed my year. I will put it on the same level as Schindler’s List for pure story telling and moving effect. I laughed and I cried. It’s a true testament to art’s power to present the best and worst of humanity.

ways to show yourself compassion

I was discussing my recent New Year’s Resolution with my therapist last week. I’d decided to do a random act of kindness for someone each day. It doesn’t have to be a big deal at all–even a kind word will do it! I just thought it would be a great way to spread a little love and get out of my head a bit.

But then my therapist started me thinking (as therapists so often do). She replied that my idea sounded wonderfully and lovely, but had I considered adding myself to the list of random act of kindness participants?

I looked at her with a little bit of amusement and assured her that no, that wasn’t how it worked.

But that got me thinking: why can’t it be? If I’m so dedicated to showing love to other people, it seems a little bit ridiculous that I’m harboring so much hate and guilt towards myself. I realize those are strong words, but anyone with an eating disorder will connect with them. Sometimes the self loathing is so strong all you want to do is turn off your life and become someone, anyone, else. Which is impossibly sad. 

So I decided to take her up on her suggestion, and begin making myself the recipient of some of my random acts of kindness. It isn’t a selfish thing; it’s about self preservation. Part of the recovery process is remembering all of the wonderful things these magnificent bodies of ours are capable of. To do that, you’ve got to show ’em a little bit of love!

Here’s my list of 15 little ways to show yourself some compassion today.

1. Buy some new bubble bath/bath bombs and take a long, lingering soak. Don’t worry about the other shit you have to get done.
2. Take an hour/two hours/an afternoon to do what you really like doing. Don’t try to fool yourself into, “But I really do enjoy doing my homework!” Nope. Next choice. For me, this is reading or knitting 🙂
3. Start a movie or TV show marathon. You can be working on other tasks while you play it, but make sure it’s something you love. For me, this is Modern Family.
4. Say no. Recognize when you need to do something for yourself instead of going out with friends or doing an extra task, and say no without feeling guilty all night. I’m still working on this one, but it can be an awesome feeling!
5. Window shop! I go online and look at outfits that would look great on me. Price is no object when you’re just gazing.
6. Call someone you love and talk for a while. For me, this is usually my boyfriend or my mom. It can be so nice to hear someone’s voice and talk about nothing important for a while. If you need support, ask them for it. Be reminded of why they love you.
7. Make yourself a mug of something good. For a quick pick me up, I gravitate towards hot, good-for-the-soul drinks. If I don’t want to stress, it’s either hot water, tea, or coffee, but if I’m feeling indulgent and ready to challenge myself, I’ll get hot cocoa or a latte. 
8. Read something inspirational. For me, this runs the gamut between my devotional (Jesus Calling) and the accompanying Bible verses, to Peace Is In Every Step, a Taoist text on peace. Whatever works for you! Gain a little bit of inspiration and a chunk of perspective. 
9. Paint your nails. Take the ten minutes out of your routine to make yourself feel sparkly and pretty and worth it.
10. NAP!! This has become a huge one for me. I get so exhausted from the daily struggle of life plus recovery, and I have finally learned not to fight the nap train anymore. I embrace it. If there’s time for a nap, I will take it. Listen to what your body needs!
11. Take a walk and jam. I’m not allowed to exercise yet, which makes me a little stir crazy sometimes. When I have to have to get out and do something, I’ll take a walk and listen to a Pandora station I love (currently switching it up between Hillsong United, Mumford, and The Civil Wars).
12. Draw and color. There’s nothing more relaxing than making a coloring book pretty. Give your brain a chance to relax.
13. Let it go. Is there something you have to get done but just can’t do right now? Okay. Let it go. Seriously, put it aside for an hour or a day and come back to it later. Be kind to yourself and stop forcing your brain to do something it just doesn’t want to do. You’ll come back to it refreshed and ready to work.
14. Plan the future…but only fun things! I currently take mini breaks to Pinterest some inspiration about my upcoming trip to Italy and Paris. Places I want to eat macarons? Check. Gorgeous fountains? Check. Dream big! You have a future outside of ED.
15. Remind yourself how well you’re doing. Sometimes it pays to just take a moment and remember: You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Recovery is absolutely exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you start getting bogged down by how far you have to go, remember how far you have come. You’ve taken the first step towards getting better. Be proud of yourself.

What do you guys do to show yourself a little love? Let me know!

neda awareness week…coincidences or destiny?

This has been an interesting week from an ED point of view. First of all, and most obviously, I’ve been posting statuses for NEDA Awareness week on my Facebook, just reminding friends how gorgeous and wonderful they are–and how a number on a scale doesn’t play into that at all. So that’s been good.

But I’ve also been approached by several of my close friends about getting help this week. It’s run the gamut: some just needed a little bit of good vibes tossed their way. Others asked me for the names and numbers of my recovery team.

In this deeply personal struggle, I think it’s important to remember that most women (and men, for that matter) have something they would like to change about their body. I’m not a weirdo, I’m not crazy. I have a disease that makes me sick. But I’m by no means the only one. It’s good to remember that I’m not alone. 

It’s even better to remember that through my struggle, I have gained experience with which I can help others. Now that is a powerful thing.

Hope everyone has a great week!

National Food Flags

I saw this on Facebook and had to share. For any foodies, this post is absolutely gorgeous…and mouth watering. Advertising agency WHYBIN/TBWA created flags from 18 different countries formed out of the country’s most recognized foods. The flags were created as a promotion for the Sydney International Food Festival, but I think these prints would hang beautifully in any kitchen.

Italy, with it’s beautiful piles of fresh basil, pasta, and tomatoes, quickly won my heart. I’m also particularly fond of Great Britain’s scones, cream and jam. Not only because I’m an anglophile, but come on: that looks delicious.

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Italy…pasta marinara, anyone?

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Great Britain…of course it’s tea and crumpets. 

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And Brazil! Give me fresh fruit any day.

Weekend Success Story

This morning, I had one of the most successful Sunday mornings I’ve had in months.

No, I did not cure cancer. Nor did I finish all my homework for the next two weeks. I didn’t get the interview done that I need to do for the student paper. I did not go to brunch at a fancy place with fancy friends and order fancy (and expensive) eggs Benedict (how does anyone like eggs Benedict anyway? One of life’s great mysteries).

This morning was a success only in the fact that I did nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

I went to bed fairly late last night, after a wonderful evening rushing about town with friends. I ended up taking some benadryl to counteract my evening of petting and cuddling with cats–adorable, but allergy bombs for me–and the medicine knocked me out. 

morning in bed

Most weekends, I cannot sleep in past 8 or 8:30. The thought of all the things I have to accomplish in the day jolts me up and out of the bed and sends me stumbling to my Keurig. But this morning, I woke up at 8:30…and was completely unperturbed. I rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Amazing. At 9, I got up and ate a little breakfast, checked my email, but I was still feeling really groggy and tired. So what did I do?

I got back in bed for another hour.

I can see how this might not seem like a big deal. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it isn’t. But I live most of my life in a constant state of hurrying about, trying to stay on top of a million and one things, and hardly taking a moment to sit and just be. Every second of the day has to be spent accomplishing something.  This high anxiety personality of mine usually leads to some wonderful successes, but also to quick burnouts where I feel like getting out of bed is a chore. 

So this morning, I changed it. I ignored the pangs of rising anxiety (what about homework? Shouldn’t I be working on a blog post? Or reading! I could be improving my mind!) and simply gave my body what it needed: sleep. And lots of it.

Now I feel happy, rested, and ready to take on this next crazy week. It’s amazing what a tiny bit of change in perspective can do!

Golden Globes Fashion: My Hits and Misses

I had a wonderful time watching the Golden Globes last night with my four best friends! They are all much more in-the-know about television than me (the best I can do is a few episodes on Netflix every month or so; it’s much easier to catch me reading a book), so they helped me know who everyone was.

Mostly, what I took home from this show was I need to go watch some movies. I hadn’t seen ANY of the films nominated for best drama, and few of the comedies! Even though I feel like I’ve been living at the movie theatre this past break, there’s still so much out there! A theatre girl’s job is never done.

While I was happy for all the stars, I have to admit that I found some of their fashion choices a little…questionable. Like, “what were they thinking?!?!” level. Please find below my favorite looks and a few of my “hmmmm….” moments.

Hits…

Lupita Nyong’o: this Twelve Years a Slave star looked radiant in this gown. This is my favorite dress I’ve seen on a red carpet in a very long time. I also think she’s one of the most gorgeous girls EVER.  A little obsessed. 

Michelle Dockery: This Downton Abbey star stunned in Oscar de la Renta. The simple gown would be gorgeous with a plain line, but I think she pulls off that tea length asymmetry with perfection. Bravo, Lady Mary!

Taylor Swift: Okay, I’m admittedly not the hugest fan of this country dive. But I think this dress is stunning! Classic Carolina Herrera lines, with a pop of black to give it a little sexy flavor. Love it, especially when paired with a red lip!

 

And Misses…

Sandra Bullock: Oh man. I really do not like this one. I don’t understand anything about this choice: that colour combination? The weird half-sexy/half-ballgown shape? I think the Gravity star could have done so much better than this frock. Oof.

Amy Adams: This is a better picture of Amy’s Valentino number than others, but I still think the beachy maxi dress plus milk maid hair style looked very strange. Is it formal? Is it a walk around the city? Who knows. I get she was going for a 70’s theme, but I think it could have been much more cohesive.

Sally Hawkins: There seemed to be a distinct “mother of the bride” trend going on this year (see Mila Kunis’ look for further evidence), but I think Sally’s takes the cake. It looks like something from the David’s Bridal mom section. At least she looks stunning and rosy in that colour.

 

One final note: I am certainly not commenting on the beauty or talent of these stars. They are all incredible performers and gorgeous women, and one outfit that I personally think is a little odd has absolutely no effect on my appreciation of them! 

Who did you think were hits and misses?

All photos, Harper’s Bazaar