Happy August!

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Is it just me, or is 2017 flying by at cheetah pace? I honestly cannot believe that summer is already nearing its end. It seems like it just started! Am I right? While I do enjoy and appreciate the summer months, I would be remiss if I did not mention my absolute favoritism for the Fall season. Who doesn’t love the brisk October mornings, yellow/orange afternoon sky, and pumpkin spiced lattes that comprise this time of year? While I am already stoked for the transition into Fall, I am actively trying to make the most of the rest of the Summer. After all, it is my last ‘free’ month before entering into graduate school!

So let me regale you with the accounts of my summer, and the still-coming events that are to ensue:

While I was planning to take a lavish vacation to the Caribbean islands this summer, I instead decided to stay somewhat local, and save my lavish trip as a reward for completing a year of grad school. Still pending then is a Europe trip in the summer of 2018. Woo! Since I’ve already been to Ireland, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, and Italy, I decided that this trip is strictly a visit of Eastern Europe. Plan is to visit Germany, Poland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Greece. If you have any advice or places to suggest, please comment on the blog!

Moving on…

Palm Trees

My first trip this summer was to the hot and steamy Palm Springs in Southern California. At only 3 hours from home, this spot serves as the perfect little weekend getaway. In an attempt to vacay the “right way”, we booked a high-floor room at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort. This resort is absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by a lovely golf course, and lines of palm trees, I swear it wasn’t even a mirage! A manmade lake also sits behind the hotel, and boats travel into the lobby! The pool was spacious and there was even a fabulous DJ, jammin’ his beats all day outside. This place isn’t exactly Vegas, but by the looks of the pool, you’d never be able to tell. The crowd was young, the girls were scantily clad, and the alcohol was flowin’. Definitely a hot spot summer destination!

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Found a RiteAid…so obviously got icecream at 10AM
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Lobby Pics with Al
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Bathing Suit is from Andi Bagus
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Friends who travel together, stay together 🙂

While in Palm Springs, we went to dinner one night at a restaurant called Las Casuelas Nuevas. I would argue that this may have been the best part of the trip. The food was FANTASTIC. I got chicken and shrimp fajitas…and a house margarita on the rocks! HOLY GUACAMOLE. It didn’t disappoint. The live mariachi band was exciting and enticing. They played popular music and sang songs like, “Despacito”, encouraging guests to chime in and sing/dance along. It was a lot of fun. The service could have been a bit quicker, but everything else made up for it!

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Best Marg I’ve had

The weekend after the Palm Springs trip, I headed to Bend, Oregon for a business trip! While I must admit that this was my first trip that was not for pleasure, it sure ended up being quite pleasurable nonetheless! I was lucky to be able to visit a quaint and charming town in a beautiful state. The businessmen I worked with were fun and engaging, and we definitely had our fair share of good meals and nice talks. I am lucky to work for a company that grants me this type of opportunity. Although I didn’t get to explore much of Bend, I already know that I’ll need to visit again. This destination is packed with beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls, natural rapids, and much more. We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown Bend, which did not disappoint with their classic, warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in. The location was also prime, as we were literally a (less than) 5 minute walk from the downtown shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a pretty and relaxing place to visit, look no further than Bend.

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Riverhouse on the Deschutes

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My last trip of the summer will be in San Diego, California this upcoming weekend. While it should be a low-key trip, I am looking forward to eating good food, visiting some trendy spots, doing a bit of shopping, and spending quality time with my best friends. We will be staying at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. More to come on this trip very soon!

Well folks, that’s all that I have to share with you today. Hope you enjoyed this blog, and feel free to share some hot vacation spots you’ve visited or are visiting!

xx allie

 

 

 

Life on Life’s Terms

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

The serenity prayer has helped millions of recovering alcoholics to accept life on life’s terms, and cope with the everyday struggles that are sometimes out of our control. Whether you are an alcoholic or not, chances are that you could also benefit from the teachings of the 12 Step Program. I am lucky to say that I have never struggled with having a problem relating to alcohol, but I have a whole heart of compassion for the people who have. I honestly believe that the 12 step recovery process is a life changer for anyone (alcoholic or not) who commits to the principles and seeks to live a satisfying, honest, and accepting life.

Undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to accept in life is that there are many things that we have absolutely no control over. It is important to recognize those things, and learn to accept our powerlessness over them. We should expend our efforts and energy towards the things that are within our control, allowing us to reach a greater level of satisfaction, pride, and meaning once our influence has proved successful. Learning to live life on life’s terms means that you are willing to accept the ups and downs that the universe delivers, without putting up resistance or acting out as a means of coping.

I recently starting reading the NY Times Bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and despite what you may think from the title, it’s actually been a pretty eye-opening read. The premise of the book is that life sucks sometimes, but it’s better to just admit it, shrug your shoulders and get over it. Manson says that we should really stop kidding ourselves and acting as though nothing but positivity surrounds us. He says we should just honor the fact that the world is shitty, and then make the most of what’s left of it. In other words, accept life on life’s terms. It’s important to remain level-headed through all of life’s shitty, unfair moments, and continue to give fucks about only the things that truly matter. Be honest with whatever your situation, and be honest with yourself. Life gets better once you accept the things you cannot change.

xx allie

fabfitfun Summer Box Review

 

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What’s up guys! A few days ago, I received my summer edition of the fabfitfun box. I gotta say, it did NOT disappoint. I’m really obsessed with these boxes, because I can’t get over what a great value they are. They come loaded with season-specific products that are name brand and high quality. Let’s review the contents of my box:

  • Michael Stars Ruana Scarf/Sarong: I knew that this was going to arrive in my box, since it was the spoiler product prior to its delivery. I wasn’t too excited for it initially, but after receiving it, I absolutely love it! It is super soft and thin, and I love the black & white color that I got. It looks trendy over a white blouse, or can be tied to your handbag or used as a scarf. It’s literally the perfect summer garment. Retails for $54.

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  • BKR Little Water Bottle (glass): Since I workout often, I am constantly looking for a clean water bottle to take with me to the gym. This one is cute, girly, and convenient. Retails for $35.

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  • Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50: When I go outside to tan, I use tanning oil spray for my body (that is a 15 SPF). However, I know I’ve been needing a face sunscreen that is more protective and sensitive. I really like this lightweight blend, as it is not oily at all and mixes very well with my foundation. Retails for $24.
  • Cargo_HD Picture Perfect Highlighter in Bronze: This is a very subtle highlighter (less of a bronzer), that really just gives my face a nice glow. It kind of sets my makeup and leaves me looking awake and renewed. Retails for $30.

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  • Juice Beauty Smoothing Eye Concentrate: I love eye creams and concentrates, because you can never start your anti-aging regime too early. It doesn’t just soak right in and dry up. It lasts for hours, leaving the skin around my eyes to feel soft, moisturized, and supple. Little bit goes a long way. Retails for $29.
  • Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk: I haven’t tried this out yet, but it looks like a higher quality dry shampoo, and it comes in a sizable bottle. It’s supposed to help you regain volume and texture, without leaving a white residue. Retails for $20.

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  • Ready, Set, Create Art Set: Honestly, I wasn’t too too stoked with this item. I’ll probably regift it, or give it to a child I know. There were some other item options that I would have preferred to receive here (too bad its random sometimes!). I really liked the Himalayan salt kit, and also the body massage oil. Retails for $22.
  • Kris Nations Mystic Gemstone Bar Necklace: Aside from the Michael Stars Ruana, this is my favorite thing in the box. I love handmade dainty, girly necklaces, but this one is special to me because I received the moonstone which is helpful for harnessing positive energy. Goes with literally any outfit. Retails for $58.

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  • Collagen Peptide Stick Pack and 20% off Coupon: I’ve seen collagen inspired products before, but never in an ingestible powder. They aren’t kidding when they say that it’s odorless and tasteless. Initially, it seemed like a HECK of a lot of powder to put inside my coffee cup, but it dissolved right up and was indiscernible upon drinking. I felt good having it in the morning, as it was 9 extra grams of protein, and collagen is great for joints, bones, skin, hair, etc. I might just have to buy some more and use it on the daily.

Basically, this box was WELL worth the money I spent. It’s original price is $49.99, which is a steal…but if you use my code, you’ll get an additional $10 off your box…making it only $39.99!!! (which is less than the retail price of the Ruana itself!)

My code is: fffa2p6

GO GO GO GO GET YOURS NOW!

xx allie

The Number on the Scale

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For those that live in the northern hemisphere, summer is finally here! Woohoo! For you Aussies that follow the blog—this post may not necessarily be time-relevant for you. But feel free to give it a read anyways!

If you’re like most people, then you may get nervous as summer approaches since hot weather equals less clothes, and therefore less coverage. The media enforces this further by promoting 10-day rapid weightloss fads, slimming juicing diets, and chiseled abdominal techniques. But let’s be honest, the average person doesn’t get the rocking body that we see in the magazines and on tv overnight. But IT’S OKAY, since those are unrealistic expectations anyways!

This post is one of the few reminders to you that it’s more important to be healthy, than to be skinny. American standards of beauty are next to near unattainable…and for crying out loud it’s just ridiculous! Who says that a beautiful girl has to be 110 lbs (50 kgs)? Beauty is not measured in pounds or kilograms.

As I matured into a young woman, it was hard for me to accept my weight of 140 lbs (63 kg). Most of my friends were much tinier, and wore much smaller clothing sizes than I did. While I am lucky and never struggled with an eating disorder, I noticed that I would judge myself in photos and when looking at my reflection. “My arms are too big, I don’t have a thigh gap, and my face is getting rounder.” The negative self-talk was relentless at times. But with the years, came emotional maturity and personal acceptance. I’ve always been a fan of the gym, and to this day I continue to work out 4-5 days per week and eat a balanced diet. I am healthy and strong, and proud of my curves and density. I have learned to appreciate my assets (both the good and not so good), and be grateful for them.

No two people look exactly the same (well unless you’re an identical twin), and we should embrace our unique appearance and distinguishing features. Of course it’s okay to have fitness goals and to work towards them, but once it turns into an obsession be careful. If you’re happy and you’re healthy, then it doesn’t matter what the scale says. Ditch it! Try not to be hard on yourself when you ‘splurge’ and have a burrito or scoop of ice-cream. Part of life should be about enjoying the occasional indulgence, and fluctuation is very much normal. Balance is key.  

Most importantly, be confident! There is absolutely nothing more striking and sexy than a person with confidence. Remember that beauty starts from within.

Stay beautiful, folks.

xx allie

 

 

When Life Gives You Rotten Lemons

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Not every day can be a good day, but there is good in every day.

This past week has been a challenge. It feels like the universe has taken every opportunity to knock me down and watch me squirm, for the sheer purpose of reminding me how to get back up. I like to believe that things happen for a reason, so I am doing my very best to be grateful for even the recent adversity that has come my way.

[Sidenote: This is my second time writing this post, as the first time I accidentally closed the document without saving. Nice one, Al]

When the world seems like it’s messing with you (at your expense), the only way to fight back is to take time to notice the heartwarming moments in every day. Revel in them. Let their effects be long-lasting.

What do I mean? If a day is shitty, then what is there to revel in? STILL SO MUCH.

As I was getting my car washed the other day, the man who was drying it off with towels decided to clean my tires with product (a service that I would normally be charged for) for free. Out of the goodness of his heart, he threw in something extra just because. While it didn’t take him long to do, and I’m sure he didn’t think much of it, I’ve thought about it every day this week so far. His small, kind gesture seriously made my week.

Every day at lunch, I sit outside under the sun and eat lunch with the new employee. From our conversations, I’ve learned that she is going on 62 years old. While at first I was bummed to have to share my table with someone that I didn’t really know, I have grown to really appreciate our time together. I have grown to really appreciate our conversations and her attentiveness. She follows-up, and makes me feel important. She tells me that she thinks of me and our conversations later on once we’ve parted ways. Although I don’t have the opportunity to see her much at work (since we work on different floors and in different departments), I always look forward to seeing her at our table at lunch.

As I mentioned before, I just started a new workout called Studio Barre, a little over a week ago. On my first day in, I introduced myself to the owner. On my third time in, she said goodbye to me using my name—when admittedly, I had already forgotten hers. I know it’s her business to be friendly and kind, but I felt like her salutation was genuine. I was impressed and flattered by her memory, and it left a lasting positive impression.

These are just a few of my personal examples for the week. Although they may not seem like much, I have allowed them to leave impressionable and positive impacts on me despite the bigger picture bad week that I’ve had. Life doesn’t always give you lemons fit for lemonade. So when that happens, what do you do? You throw them away, and make a freakin’ margarita. Cheers to better weeks ahead!

xx allie

 

On Ambivalence

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Lately I have been feeling an overwhelming amount of ambivalence. From it, I am beginning to realize just how uncomfortable the feeling of ambivalence is. It is tough to feel conflicted. It is difficult to have opposing views on the same matter. Often we have what I like to call ‘fleeting ambivalence’, as we try to make a decision between two choices, or narrow down what we want to do on a Friday or Saturday night. It is a short-lived emotion that does not provide noteworthy levels of stress or frustration. However, when the ambivalence is long-lasting, it’s quite a different story.

Long-lasting ambivalence is painful. When you can’t decide how you feel about something or someone, you feel anxiety. You feel discomfort. Cognitive dissonance eats away at you, leaving you to feel, for lack of a better word, “off”. When you’re experiencing long-lasting ambivalence, there’s little you can do to offset it. You find that the only solution is to sit with it, acknowledge it, and try not to let it bring you down. Not much of a solution after all, huh?

Sometimes we have to accept feelings and emotions that are difficult. We have to remember that they are transient, and will eventually change, like anything else. We have to be patient. We can try to fight them, but we’ll only end up more troubled and conflicted than we would be otherwise. We can try to deny them, but then they’ll just resume at a later date and a greater intensity. We can try to make reason out of the emotions, but even that can be difficult if you are truly experiencing ambivalence. Ambivalence is nonnegotiable.  

One thing that can help, though, is keeping occupied with healthy distractions. The key word here is: HEALTHY. Coping with troublesome emotions is often a struggle and for this reason, some people turn to drinking or drugs to numb the way they feel. This is very much ill-advised. So how, you ask, have I been implementing healthy distractions into my life?

Opt Out of Familiarity:

One of the most proven and effective ways to combat depression is through exercise. I have made exercise a standard part of my routine, but lately I’ve been trying to find new ways to get my workouts in (eek–sorry for ending this sentence in a proposition). For instance, I decided to try our local Studio Barre, which I found to be a fun and exciting way to tone and strength train. I am really enjoying the change of scene and the new exercises and props (weights, workout bands, etc .) that allow for focused muscle targeting. I seriously feel the burn in my abs, booty, and arms during the class and I very much appreciate the challenge. I even tried a workout at 5:45am before work. Not bad!

If you read my blog at all, then you know how much I love Zumba. Since I rave about it at work and am seriously considering becoming a Zumba instructor this summer, I convinced my coworker to try a class out with me. We found a dance studio in Ventura (midway between our cities) and joined for a day to take a class together. While I prefer my usual gym and instructors more, I was very impressed with the welcoming and genuinely kind community at this gym. Everyone was quick to start conversation, introduce themselves to us, teach us the culture of their gym, and encourage us to visit again soon. It was a very heartwarming experience, and I was proud to show my coworker just how awesome the Zumba community and culture truly is. Basically if you’re crazy and outgoing, you’ll fit right in.

Tennis anyone? Most people that know me also know that I play tennis! I played Varsity in high school and have always enjoyed hitting around for fun since then. Making tennis plans with coworkers after work is something that I just recently began to do. It is a fun way to bond with my fellow peers, and to play the game that I love. Although I was initially drawn to the sport for their adorable girly outfits, I ended up being smitten by the game itself. While it can be played by just about anyone in the most simple of ways, it can also be so technical if you are willing to learn the ins and outs of the game. When I play tennis, time slows down. I don’t get that feeling with anything else.

Learn:

100% of the time, I will always feel better about myself after I’ve learned something new. For this reason, I seek out books from our Barnes and Noble and make a point to allocate at least 20 minutes a night to reading before bed. Reading before bed calms and settles my mind before I enter into dream territory. Although my Lexapro causes me bad dreams 90% of the time, I at least like to think that my reading accounts for the other 10%. 🙂

Productivity and Relaxation:

Learning to balance productivity with relaxation is the key. 80% of my days are booked (sorry for all of the percentages–guess I’m kind of a mathematical person). I spend the majority of my time at either work or the gym, but I also spend time meeting my friends for dinners/desserts, massages and other beauty appointments, grocery shopping, car washes, etc. There is just simply not enough time in a day! But seriously, if you remember nothing else from this post, remember to always make time for r.e.l.a.x.a.t.i.o.n. If you have no downtime, then you will most likely go insane. Everybody needs the opportunity to rest their brain. Watch tv, meditate, play an instrument, get a mindfulness coloring book, do a facemask…WHATEVER IT TAKES. But there’s no substitute for some hard-earned and much deserved relaxation.

Gratitude:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again. The universe provides. It picks up on your energy, and grants you the things you need ( and sometimes even the things that you want). It is important to notice and be grateful for the gifts the universe provides. Some blessings come in small, seemingly insignificant packages. Others are more obvious. Be grateful for even your challenges, as they provide opportunities for growth, wisdom, and maturity. When you start to feel thankful for the things that you have, it matters less and less about the things that you don’t have.

Even an awkward and uncomfortable feeling like ambivalence can be turned into a catalyst for change and growth. Notice your emotions and give them some credit. You are having them for a reason, so try not to be hard on yourself. You are human. You are not, and will never be perfect. All you can be is you.

Have a lovely weekend, all.

xx allie

The Beauty of Today

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This morning I woke up early, before my alarm went off. I always love when I wake up at 5am, as it’s the best feeling knowing that I still have an hour and a half more to sleep. Today is also the best day of the week—it’s Friday…and for the next two days I don’t have any responsibility. I am trying to appreciate my free weekends right now, before I am occupied with papers and homework once I start grad school in August. The sun is out and about today, even along the coast, meaning it’s going to be a great weekend for tanning/hiking.

As I drove to work, I came across zero accidents. Phew. I checked my snack drawer as always, and noticed that someone had left a “Take 5” candy bar inside. I’m not sure who put it there, but I am absolutely grateful for their generous gesture. I always try my best not to purchase candy bars at the store (despite my contact desire to), but since this one randomly appeared in my vicinity…I am stoked. Thank you Universe.

Quick aside: I came across the most adorable succulent garden last night at Trader Joe’s, and simply cannot get my mind off of it. I will be going back this weekend to purchase those potted plants for my room. I love to add life to my living space. They literally look like this and they’re only $6.99 apiece:

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I am leaving work early today to go make a business relationship, and try samples of nuts and dried fruit (strange I know). Things like this make me grateful for the job. (Also so stoked for my solo business trip to Bend, Oregon next month! Woo!).

Tonight is a fun event, as Ally and I are headed to an LA Rooftop movie w/ wine and popcorn included. We are definitely going to get trendy and dolled up, as we rarely have a reason to go downtown on a Friday night. More to come on this..

Today I am full of energy and liveliness as it’s a beautiful day to be alive, and I am SO stoked for all that is to come. I am ready for the next chapter that the Universe delivers. I am ready for new adventures and learning experiences. Bring it!

xx allie

Creating a Cozy Room

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After graduating from UCSB a few years back, I moved back in with my mom to save money while working. Expecting it to be a relatively short transition period between my school apartment accommodation and getting my own place, I did little to decorate my room or “make it my own” so to speak. I took little pride in my room, and never felt good spending extended periods of time in it.

A few months back, I was accepted into a 2-year Master’s program that ultimately led me to decide to live at home for a little longer to avoid losing money over paying rent expenses. While it was tough to make this decision at the time, looking back I am really relieved that I did.

That being said, I felt compelled to transform my room into a cozy and inviting space for me to relax or study in. Although it’s not completely done yet, I already feel SO much better about my room and how far it’s come along. I now take pride in my room, keep it spotless and clean, and look forward to getting home to it at the end of every work day. It’s my cozy comfort lounge.

Here’s what I did:

Paint Color: Alright this was somewhat of a difficult choice. I knew I wanted something calming and warm. So for me it was between a very light yellow, coral, or mint. I decided to go with coral, as I feel this color is girly and happy. Side note: be careful when choosing your color from a swatch! The color always looks a few shades darker on your wall once it’s done. Also, you should definitely watch some painting tutorials on YouTube if you’ve never painted a room on your own before. There are tips and techniques for making your walls smooth and even. My life would have been 1000x easier if I had done this before myself.

Pillows: Essential. An assortment of pillows with different patterns and materials makes for the cozy illusion that you want. How can a bed truly be comfortable without pillows? Not only do they add to the coziness factor, but they also add toroom11 the deco. Use them as an accent or statement to give your room more pizazz and character.  You’ll also need a soft throw or blanket to lay across the foot of the bed: it’s an optional piece of extra coziness. I purchased mine at Ross.

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Rug: Specifically if you have wood floors, you will definitely be needing a rug. The rug should tie in with the other decorations around the room, but is mainly there to keep your feet warm as you move about. You’ll never want to leave your bed if you’re anticipating a freezing cold floor! Worry no more. I bought mine at Home Goods for $30.

Lamp: Lighting/Fixtures are important. There are literally thousands of styles of lamps. They can be modern, vintage, sleek, unique, and everything in between. The style of lighting you choose can really make or break your room and its theme. For my room, I chose a Himalayan salt crystal lamp. These have a ton of added health benefits, but also emit a dim pink hue that is not too distracting or obnoxious. I liked it because it adds to the calm, peaceful setting that I was going for with my ambiance. I got mine from Home Goods for only $15.

Candles: Not everyone is a fan of candles, but I happen to love them. They come in any scent and color, and never fail to relax me in the evening when I light them as I read. A nice scent is vital in a room, as it truly adds to the aura it presents. Pro Tip: Go for the Soy Wax Candles, as their smoke isn’t harmful for you to breathe.

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Living Plants: Living plants are always a nice touch. For my room, I chose a baby orchid plant that I’ve put on my bedside table. It’s totally thriving right now, and makes my room seem alive! Watering the plant and keeping it healthy also makes me feel like a proud plant parent. Hehe.

Reading Corner:  I am obsessed with reading good books. For me, a good book is one on self-help practices, relationships, communication, psychology, the brain, or mental health disorders. [Duh—I’m getting my Masters in Counseling Psych].  So personally, a nice space to read is vital. I had a vacant corner of my room that I decided to devote to this cause. I went to Target and was able to get a very soft seat ($70), which I’ve draped with a fuzzy throw ($30) and the latest edition of Psychology Today. Overhead is a 36” white feathered dream catcher that I purchased on Amazon for $15. Arguably my favorite section of my room.

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Wall Deco: Take your time with this one. It is important to find a painting/picture/canvas that you truly truly love. After all, it is the centerpiece of the entire room. It took me a few months to find something I loved, but I finally found this colorful elephant from Cost Plus World Market, that I just had to have. It was $100, which was a little more than I was willing to spend. I left the store without it, but the next day, I looked online and found the same canvas from Burlington Coat Factory for under $50. I bought it immediately. It currently resides over my bed and I absolutely LOVE how much brilliance it’s added to my room.

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While my room is still in the process of its transformation, I am TOTALLY excited about the progress I’ve made so far. I still need to purchase a flat screen TV for the wall across from my bed, a mirror to hang on the wall above my dresser, a floor plant for an empty corner of my room, and some mini lights to hang over my bed or window (have decided which yet). I feel confident that by my room’s conclusion, it will be the cozy and relaxing space that I desire and look forward to.

xx allie

Being Real

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As I was reading my book the other night (“Daring Greatly” by author/researcher Brene Brown), I came across a quote that I absolutely loved:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

*Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Although it has been quite a long time since I’ve read the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, this passage truly touched me. Growing up and even today, I’ve always had stuffed animals (even a blankey). I remember when I was little my mom would always say, “Allie, what are you going to do when you go to college? Bring your blankey with you?”. Well…that’s exactly what I did. I brought him along for the 4 year ride.

To me, this passage hits home. I have given my stuffed animals and blankey so much love and affection over the years, that they are worn, tattered, ripped, etc. One of their noses has fallen off, and of course I’ve taken the liberty to superglue it back on. Fact is, I’ll never give them up for as long as I live. And you can bet that no matter what, there will always be an animal of some sort in my bed that I sleep with.

But what makes this passage even more profound to me, is the fact that it also alludes to humans in love. Sometimes, it hurts to be loved. We are worn, tattered, and scarred from the love we’ve received, and in the end, it only makes us more real. It only makes us more beautiful. Not everybody can accept being loved. They are fragile and meek, and would prefer to be left unscathed. They may not look damaged or worn, but that is because they are not real. They have not gone through the one human experience that sets the real apart from the unreal. They are afraid to be vulnerable. They are afraid to be tossed around from the tempestuous emotion that is love. The incredibly sought after, yet infinitely feared emotion. They are not willing to be tattered from the wounds of love, and they’ll never understand the beauty inherent in feeling this sense of “realness”.

But those who are real don’t mind that it hurts. We are eager to be tattered and worn. We are eager to be shabby.

xx allie

The Light Between the Cracks

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“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen

 

One of my favorite courses that I took while attending UCSB was “The Dark Side of Relational Communication”. Not because I am a dark, sadistic person (because I’m not), but because the main premise of the class was that even the worst aspects of our relationships, and the sometimes harsh ways that they end, have a silver lining.

You cannot begin to appreciate the light without darkness. I have been struggling with a very difficult life transition lately. But despite my less than enthusiastic mood and notes of negativity, my support system is rockin’ it. I couldn’t be more grateful for a fantastic group of friends (who are basically family), and family (who are also friends) who have taken it upon themselves to rush in and comfort.  Despite the changes that occur in life, my support system has always been a constant. They are there through the best of times, and the worst of times. They are there to rise up my spirits, and remind me of my worth. They are truly the real MVPs, as they never let me down in my time of need.

I am able to be real with every single one of these people, and they are able to be real with me. They are the foundation on which I stand. They talk to me about the finer things in life, the things that are not always easy to discuss. They question my intentions, my values, and my aspirations, and challenge me to do what’s best. They are what make my life beautiful. They are what make my life deep.  Because that is what life is all about: human connection and belonging. I feel 100% connected by their presence and company in my life. I feel strengthened by their very existence to me. I am incredibly lucky, as not everybody gets the chance to meet life-changing people like these. They truly add to my life, and inspire me to always be my best self.

It takes a loss sometimes to be reminded of all that I have not lost, and never will. The people that see the light in me, will want to remain in my life. They will feel enriched in my presence, as I do in theirs. They will feel inspired by me to be a better version of themselves. To me, a thriving relationship is one in which both parties feel the value of their counterpart, and acknowledge it to them. There is a give-and-take exchange, where both parties feel balanced from the equal reciprocity among them. There are equal parts gratefulness. Equal parts love. Equal parts understanding. And equal parts patience.

There is not always agreement, but there is acceptance for the other side. There is respect, in spite of controversy. Not everybody is willing to make the sacrifices that must be made to cradle a relationship and solidify a bond. Not everybody is willing to endure the darkness, to appreciate the light. I am beginning to see the beauty of the cracks. I am beginning to value the presence of the dark.

xx allie