The Importance of Self Care

My body and I have a long history. A whole lifetime, in fact. As a child I thought very little about my body. I was too busy running, jumping, playing, screaming, crying, laughing and being a kid to think about it.

Fast forward through puberty, weight gain, weight loss, dieting, stress, grief, injury, therapy and college, and here I am, figuring out adulthood and what it means to take care of myself. There are the basics–work, shelter, food. But as I’m finding out, the real kind of soul nourishing self care has to come from a place of self love–a somewhat unfamiliar territory for me.

2016 had a lot of ups and downs for me. I accomplished goals I never thought I could  and other goals turned themselves on their heads, leaving me feeling more confused than ever.

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In the past, “taking care” of my body came from a place of hate and insecurity. I ate healthy and exercised to lose weight, not to thank my body for all that it does. I took my body for granted. I pushed it through sleepless nights to finish papers and to party with friends. I bottled and dismissed my emotions when they didn’t fit into the image of who I wanted to be. And in the end, I always ended up unhappy and far from the life I wanted to lead.

Within the past year I’ve come face to face with growing pains and had to get real honest with tough choices. It’s been uncomfortable to say the least but I’ve begun to realize the value of patience. I like to think I know patience with others but I have never known patience with myself.

Patience with yourself and your life and your journey is the foundation of self love and self care. Buddhism teaches that the desire to end suffering causes more suffering. We need to sit with our discomfort to know contentment.

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If you’re like me and think “well what the hell does that mean?” when you read that, I can’t say I have all the answers but I can tell you what it means for me.

For me it means that life is shitty but it’s not shit. I can suffer and feel pain but it does not mean my life is bad. I can experience confusion and guilt and jealousy but it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. To be human is to suffer and to be alive is to be in a constant state of flux. Pain will flow in and out of our lives and it doesn’t mean life is bad.

So, with that understanding, I am coming to know self care. These days, self care for me is sleeping in until I feel fully rested, even if I have a day-long to do list. It’s eating nourishing, enriching food when I’m hungry because I genuinely feel better when I do. It’s journaling regularly to check in with myself and unravel the jumble of thoughts in my brain. It’s running at my own pace, for pleasure, or not running at all and resting when I need it.

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I saw a quote once that said something like “A lifetime is a long time to hate yourself” and I wondered then if I’d ever get to a place of self love. I am still on that journey but it feels like a sigh of relief to at least know what it really looks like.

But, perhaps most importantly, I believe that self care and self love is different for everyone. What makes me feel good and nourishes me  might not be the same for you or even your loved ones. Recognizing that my self care isn’t the same as someone else’s has been half of my battle.

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It’s so easy to idealize someone else’s version of healthy and neglect yourself and your needs in the process. So, that being said, take some time to be honest with yourself about what makes you feel good. Not “I would feel good if I could make myself do this because it would align with the idea of who I should be” Things that you do because you enjoy them and feel a little lighter afterwards.

For example, I avoided yoga for a long time because I didn’t regard it as a “real work out”. I figured if I wasn’t sweating out calories on a treadmill or building muscle with squats and sit ups, it was a waste of my time.

Within the past few months I sought out yoga, not as a work out but as a way to calm my nerves, and I’ve really fell in love with it. It feels like I’m taking care of my body and my mental health.

But maybe you hate yoga. Or self care for you is spending time with your loved ones. The point is, make space in your life for the things that make you feel good, outside of your self improvement goals. Then, go from there.

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My Year in Books

2016 was a year of many ups and downs but one of the things I most enjoyed was getting back to reading. They say that if you want to travel in time to read a book and truly, there are few things I enjoy more than doing just that. I smile thinking back to when my mom, a voracious reader herself, would make me sit with her and read my American Girl books. I hated it! I was just learning to read and my mom wanted to make sure that I developed a love for it like she did. Silly, but it really was a gift in a way.

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As the years went on and I was required to read more and more for school, my reading for pleasure kind of took a back seat. I did enjoy some of the reading of course— Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I highly recommend taking a Women in Pop Fiction class)—but as my required reading list grew longer, it seemed more daunting than relaxing.

So, in the past year while I was decidedly straying from screen time (more on that in another post) I found reading again. I cranked out around 30 in total, give or take. Admittedly some of the books I read this year are embarrassing—I love a good self help section at Barnes and Noble—but here are some that aren’t too bad :o)

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    ⁃    The Happiness Project
    ⁃    The Defining Decade
    ⁃    What French Women Know
    ⁃    The Inferno
    ⁃    The Opposite of Loneliness
    ⁃    Crazy Rich Asians
    ⁃    Fifty Shades Darker
    ⁃    Lucky
    ⁃    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
    ⁃    Brain on Fire
    ⁃    America’s Queen
    ⁃    The Circle
    ⁃    Hollow City: Sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
    ⁃    The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest
    ⁃    Girl On The Train
    ⁃    The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
    ⁃    Wild 10/4/16
    ⁃    Satan’s Advice to Young Lawyers 10/10/16
    ⁃    Water For Elephants – 10/18/16
    ⁃    The Help 10/25/16
    ⁃    At Home with Madame Chic – 11/8/16
    ⁃    Fifty Shades Freed – 11/16/16
    ⁃    My Year with Eleanor – 12/1/16
    ⁃    The Beautiful and Damned 12/20/16
    ⁃    Harry Potter and The Cursed Child 1/1/17

Around October I thought it would be fun to start including the dates that I finished each book so that’s why you see those there. I also did not include any books that I did not finish, or any books that I’m currently still working on.

Of all of them, my favorite book was probably The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. I love that entire series and am so upset that it was meant to be one of 10 books instead of three. RIP Stieg Larsson. I also enjoyed America’s Queen (Biography of my idol, Jackie Kennedy Onassis,)The Miss Peregrines Books, Crazy Rich Asians, Inferno (anything by Dan Brown, really) and The Defining Decade.

Some books I didn’t quite enjoy but felt the need to finish because I had already started them, like The Happiness Project, The 50 Shades series, and The Opposite of Loneliness. There are probably around 10 books I started this year that I just could not push myself to read through, no matter how loudly my OCD protested. I summoned my inner Marie Kondo and dropped them off at the Goodwill to bring joy to someone else.

I didn’t begin the year with any particular book list and looking back I am actually surprised by how female-centric all of them are (not a bad thing, of course.) However, I do have a book list started for 2017. Side goal: stop buying more books when I already have so many to finish.

Here’s my 2017 book list, as it currently stands, and including a few that I just started, listed at the top:

– Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
– The China Study

– Dante’s Divine Comedy
– Library of Souls – Miss Peregrine series
– Holy Blood, Holy Grail
– The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
– China Rich Girlfriend – Crazy Rich Asians series
– Rich People Problems – Crazy Rich Asians series
– The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
– Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
– The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
– Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food
– Steve Jobs – Biography

If I can keep up my streak, I’ll be able to get through all of these by June so I’m always looking for book suggestions! Do you guys have any book lists or reading goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

chelsea

Book Review: At Home with Madame Chic

Okay, confession time: I am a total Francophile. I admit it. I am the cliche American, obsessed with French culture.

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I think my obsession first began when I visited France the summer before my senior year in college. To be honest, I knew almost nothing about French culture when I visited. (Major faux pas on my part. I didn’t even think much about it until after I came home and found myself once again frustrated with the general calamity of our materialistic, productivity-obsessed consumer culture. I remembered how simple and fresh France was and sought to bring that sophistication in to my own life.

Long story short, I read a lot of books about French culture. At Home with Madame Chic came up in my reading suggestions so I decided to check it out. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t crazy about it.

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Now, don’t get me wrong — it’s a good, general self help book. The author, Jennifer Scott, provides a lot of advice for home keeping and simplifying life at home with kids. I think, however the book is misleading. After reading the description, which cites the author’s time living in France with a French family, I purchased it in hopes of hearing about exactly that. What daily habits did the matriarch Madame Chic have in keeping her home? What kind of food did she cook? How did she approach clutter?

The book very briefly touched upon these topics. While a chapter might start off with an anecdote about Madame Chic wearing an apron while preparing dinner for that night, it would veer off and talk about what kind of music the author liked to listen to in the afternoon or how she wanted to take a nap while her kids were home sick from school. Perhaps they are relatable and delightful for some stay at home parents, but these topics are largely uninteresting to me.

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I bought the book to read about the original Madame Chic, not what kind of junk accumulates on the author’s dining room table throughout the day.Rather than  “At Home with Madame Chic” it would be more aptly titled “How I Incorporated Values I Learned In France Into My Own Home Life”.

As a single woman with no children and a full time job, there was a large portion of it that was boring/inapplicable to me. This isn’t a bad thing per se but I wouldn’t have bought the book if I knew that’s what it was about.

It also addressed the subject of family/womanhood/femininity from the author’s perspective which is  not necessarily negative, but limited if you don’t fall in to the same identity spectrum. I think a recap/interpretation of Scott’s observations in France, as implied in the title and book description,  would welcome a greater audience. If you’re interested in how to approach heteronormative motherhood with a little more grace, this is good book for you. Just don’t go in with the expectation of reading about French culture.

Afternoon in the City

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a bit of free time last week and was able to catch up on sleep, reading and working out. After finishing 3 books in 4 days I decided it was time to get out of the house and spend some time in the city (and of course, to stop by Barnes & Noble for my next conquest.)

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Even Miso was sick of me hanging around the house.

Sometimes I don’t like to spend leisure time in the city while I’m training because Boston is so small that I inevitably end up running around the same places over and over again and I’m the worst when I’m bored with a work out.

However, spending two summers in a windowless, freezing office has ignited in me a passion for the outdoors. So downtown, it was.

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After browsing around B&N for a bit (it’s one of my favorite places to be, actually) I realized I was pretty hungry so I decided to try out a new place that just opened in Copley Square, called Dig Inn.

Pretty much everything about Dig Inn appealed to me. The food is locally and sustainably sourced and the restaurant focuses on healthy, plant based meals.

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I got a market bowl with mixed greens, cauliflower, roasted peaches, tofu, and pesto. The flavors were unique, delicious and tasted really fresh. Plus, all the utensils and containers were compostable! They also did really well with the tofu, which I think is difficult. It’s tough to find good tofu.

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Full and completely satisfied, I decided to enjoy the summer heat and walked home. As nice as it was, I will say I am counting down the days to fall, ha. Are you guys summer lovers or do you prefer the cold weather? Let me know!

chelsea

Kentucky Derby Party

On Saturday I helped host a Kentucky Derby viewing party for work. I’ve wanted to go to the Derby for years but was never quite able to make it work. Bucket list for sure, but the viewing party was a blast!

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I love dressing up for any occasion, so you can imagine my excitement in getting ready for the party. I found some awesome supplies at the dollar store and got crafty with my outfit. What’s a Derby party without a good hat?

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We got there early to set up and check out the launch of the new brunch menu.

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We ordered the Market Vegetable Omelet – haricots verts, peas, shallots, tomato, asparagus, cauliflower, breakfast potatoes, and the Fluffernutter Stuffed French Toast, made with frosted flake crusted challah bread.

Both were incredible, and neither of us were able to finish our dishes because they were so filling.

After brunch and a little bit of set up, we headed to the bar to try the featured drinks of the day – mint juleps and Kentucky mules.

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I’m not a big bourbon fan, but the mint in the drink was really refreshing and I enjoyed bourbon in a way I haven’t before.

Unfortunately, neither of the horses we picked won. (I guess Nyquist was the favorite for a reason.) It was still exciting to watch the race and to feel the anticipation in the crowd.

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Later on, we got an order of one of the Derby specials – Smithfield Ham Sliders. They were cute little biscuit sandwiches with ham, cheese, and pickles. The dish came with fries and easily could have been an entree.

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I ended the evening with a Kentucky Mule and admired the lights at the restaurant before heading home. My first Kentucky Derby party was a success!

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April Birchbox Review

So I realize this is a bit late, but it seemed beneficial to actually use the products in this month’s Birchbox for a bit and then write my thoughts on them.

April’s box was a fun one. I swear, it’s like sometimes they read my mind. Need a new hair product? Here you go. Want to try a different lip color? We got you.

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Also, I was psyched on the box design this month. It’s so pretty I brought it to work to organize some of my office supplies. I love when they team up with Rifle Paper Co.:)

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The products in April’s box were:

POREfessional Primer by Benefit Cosmetics
Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo by Living Proof
Volumizing Lifting Spray by PARLOR
Matte Velvet Lipstix in Ravishing Ruby by POP Beauty
The Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipes by RMS Beauty

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My favorite product in the box was the Perfect Hair Day dry shampoo. Partly because I use it the most frequently, but also because I’m picky about my dry shampoo. This one blends in super easily and smells pretty good too. I’m definitely a fan.

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Although I was excited to try the POP lipstick–Nothing beats a good red lip–I was disappointed a bit by this product.

The color was nice but it was so dry putting it on that I felt like I needed to use chapstick as a first layer. It also dried out my lips, which is problematic for me because I’m always fighting chapped lips. On the other hand, it does stay on all day, even through a number of meals and beverages.

Overall- not awful, but I wouldn’t purchase it myself.

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I don’t have much to say about the primer and the volumizing hair spray. I love Benefit cosmetics and PARLOR products. I used the primer recently in conjunction with a new concealer and really enjoyed the outcome,though I can’t say it had much of a different effect from my usual NYX primer.

The hair spray smells amazing, as all PARLOR products do. My hair is finally long enough to wear up so recently I’ve been doing that more often but come Summer when I want to play up the beachy look, I know it will come in handy.

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I found the wipes humorous, because they’re basically what I use for to remove my makeup every day – coconut oil and a tissue. Economically speaking, you’d be better off buying a jar of coconut oil and using that instead of buying these packaged wipes.

However, if you swear by make up wipes, these do work well. The packing boasts minimal/natural ingredients and they don’t sting my sensitive eyes the way other scented wipes sometimes do. I suggest wetting them a bit for best results, but other than that, I have to agree with the name – they are the ultimate make up remover wipes. Plus, they’re great for travel or when you’re too tired to get out of bed and wash your face.

I think a pack of 20 wipes goes for $20. If a jar of coconut oil isn’t your thing, these aren’t a bad choice.

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I got the email today that May’s box just shipped! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this month.

chelsea

 

 

Tuesday Night Extreme Bingo

This past week was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while. I had meager goals on Monday. All I wanted to do each day was work out, keep my apartment clean, and get in bed by 11. None of those things happened.

Luckily, for the most part, my week was filled with fun events. One of them was Extreme Bingo at The Green Briar.

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Tuesday night the girls from the office and I headed over to the Green Briar Pub in Brighton after work for Extreme Bingo. It runs 8:30-10:30pm which I like, because it gives me time to go home first and relax/change/eat before heading out again.

When I hear “bingo” I think of old ladies and those little cages with the handle that scramble the ping pong balls. Extreme Bingo is not like that at all. This was my third time going and I always have a blast.

There are 4 rounds and each round is themed. For example, one of my favorites so far is “90’s music videos.” Your card for that round will have different hits from the 90’s and each time a song is called out, the music video will play on a projector or TV screen. After a few squares I always find myself belting out songs when they come on.

There’s also different ways to win each time. Sometimes you need to get double bingo to win or get a “T” shaped bingo. It changes with each round and keeps things interesting.

The best part is that it’s totally free to play and the winner of each round gets a cash prize. The only downside is that I’m usually all riled up to go out after playing and I have to go to work the next day. Womp womp.

Seriously though, if you’re in the area or looking for something fun to do on a Tuesday night, I highly suggest checking it out. I didn’t think bingo was my thing until I tried it this way!

Extreme Bingo
Every Tuesday, 8:30-10:30pm
The Green Briar Pub
313 Washington St.
Brighton, MA 02135

chelsea