A Mental Diet

After I wrote my fall TV show post I started thinking about all the shows I’d like to watch, but can’t. It’s a funny thing to say considering I’m an adult and I can technically do whatever I want (within reason/the law), but similar to how we know we shouldn’t each donuts and ice cream and cake for dinner every night, I know there are shows I shouldn’t watch.

This is not a moral or biblical “shouldn’t.” It’s a mental health kind of “shouldn’t.” If I drink Mt. Dew & eat potato chips for every meal I know I will be physically unhealthy. If I binge on Game of Thrones or This Is Us or Criminal Minds I know I will make myself mentally unhealthy. And like food, we all have a different threshold for “too much.” We all prefer different flavors- we all process those foods (or shows) differently. I don’t enjoy pie, but a lot of people love it – I don’t enjoy GOT, but a lot of people love it.

I think it’s important to know what you can and can’t do mentally. I have never enjoyed violent television shows. I don’t like anything that fixates on the drug culture (Shameless, Breaking Bad, OITNB) or anything with violent or rape undertones (The Handmaid’s Tale, OITNB, Game of Thrones). It doesn’t both me one bit that people enjoy these shows- I just know that I don’t.

In my early twenties I used to love Law & Order SVU, CSI, and Criminal Minds. In my teens I watched General Hospital, Grey’s Anatomy, and other dramas. Somewhere along the lines I realized that I internalized the drama, fear, suspicion, and paranoia that the characters in these shows portray. I let it affect me and I carried it with me. When K would leave for business trips I’d have terrible dreams about kidnapping and murder. I honest to God believed someone was living in our attic. (And I love to be alone- having him gone was not the issue. My brain was the issue.)

So I stopped watching shows like this.

This mental healthy “diet” isn’t restricted to television. There are songs and artists that I avoid for emotional reasons. (I’d guess many music lovers are nodding their heads.) There are books I know I shouldn’t read or I should space out. (Thrillers make me shake- my body actually quivers while I read them. Holocaust and slavery-era books completely destroy me.) Obviously there are movies I’d never touch. I watched Django: Unchained with my family once and I felt sick for a week.

Perhaps it sounds silly at first, but if we’re careful about what we feed our bodies nutritionally, why wouldn’t we keep tabs on how other stimulants make us feel?

We all feel things extremely differently. It’s why menus & Netflix & the TV Guide have so many options. I would challenge you to pay attention to how television shows and songs and movies make you feel. I know that I shouldn’t have a milkshake every night, but once is a while is totally fine. I know I can’t read a book like The Handmaid’s Tale every week, but every so often is fine. Knowing what’s good for you in all forms of ingestion is important to your health.

So pay attention to how television shows make you feel. Do you walk away from Grey’s Anatomy feeling dramatic and bitchy? Do you walk away from GOT with a little bit of rage? Evaluate how affected you are and how your personality differs after you take in a program or movie. Set some limitations for yourself and find a healthy mix.

(Or maybe I’m just crazy 😉 Are you completely unaffected by shows? I’m genuinely curious.)

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Most Beauty Stuff from a Non-Beauty Blogger

A few weeks ago I tweeted a throw back post and asked if anyone would be interested in seeing the products I currently use. At least three people said yes so here we are.

Everything here is cruelty-free (doesn’t test on animals). If you’re unfamiliar with animal testing, you’d be surprised to find out many cosmetic companies do it. China requires animal testing on products sold there so some companies make a disclaimer along the lines of “we don’t test… unless it’s required by law.” Sorry, assholes- that’s still testing.

Anyway, these products have pulled out of the Chinese market and, therefore, don’t test for any reason. Some even champion against animal testing. Also, the majority of them are less than $10!

No one pays me to say pretty things about this stuff- I just like it. *no affiliated links*

NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer*
I don’t use this stuff every day, but sometimes I feel the need to conceal my under-eye bags or an especially brutal zit. Cue this baby. I use it under the complexion rescue.

bare Minerals Complexion Rescue*
I think Lindsay put this stuff on my radar. I love this product. It’s a lighter foundation-type cream that can be worn alone or under another cream/powder. It’s also spf 30. I wear this every day and I love that my face is always protected!

e.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation
I wear this almost every day. I’ve suffered from acne for years and I now have scars to deal with but this stuff covers everything flawlessly (ha). It’s light, so inexpensive, and it’s got some sunblock in it (spf 15)! Some makeup doesn’t blend well or co-exist well with other make up, but the e.l.f. foundation goes perfectly atop the complexion rescue.

e.l.f. Prime & Stay Finishing Powder
I think this stuff recently changed its name… I use this as a powder over the liquid concealers. It helps tone down the shine and keeps everything in place, plus it’s a little extra coverage for those pesky scars 😉

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
I don’t use bronzer often, but when I do it’s this stuff. (Thanks again, Lindsay!) Also, it smells like a beach vacation.

NYX Bright Idea Illuminating Stick*
Again, I don’t use this stuff every day but when I do I looove it. I use it on my cheek bones and it makes me look so fresh and awake! Plus, it doesn’t make my cheeks breakout and that’s always a win!

IT cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder*
I didn’t believe in finishing products until this little compact walked into my life. I use the translucent powder and it keeps everything matte and in place all day. It’s not necessarily cheap but I love this stuff! I use it every day on top of whatever face-makeup I’m using .

[I know that seems like a lot of stuff, but I’m working with 14 year deep acne bullsh*t so I don’t mind putting some effort into my face. Also, it comes together really well and doesn’t appear cake-y or overdone. ]

e.l.f. Moisturizing Lipstick
I love this stuff. It goes on nicely, stay on for a relatively long time, and doesn’t dry out my lips. My favorite shade is Wine Tour. It’s a good fall color but I wear it all year long!

Burt’s Bees Lipstick*
It has a fancy name, right? Ha. This stuff is the bomb [dot] come. I accidentally left mine in the car & it melted so I’ll be stocking up on this soon! I had Ruby Ripple but I can’t find that shade online!

Wet n Wild Megaslicks Balm Stain Moisturizing Lip Colour
Guys… that price in unbeatable. And this stuff is great for a night out. It’s not quite as harsh as lipstick, but it stays on pretty nicely. I usually put on lipstick before I leave the house, then put a megaslick shade (that matches) in my purse and use it to touch up my lips. (Lady and the Vamp goes well with e.l.f. Wine Tour.)

NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick*
I rarely wear this one, but holy cow does it stay on! I just wore Kitten Heels to an Incubus/Jimmy Eat World concert and it stayed on all night. I didn’t reapply once and it was holding strong when we pulled into the driveway that night. It’s a little drying and slightly waxy, but it’s lasts forever.

NYX Suede Matte or Slim Lip Liners*
Awesome staying power and a plethora of colors! I have 4 different shades.

[Obviously I don’t use all these at the same time…]

NYX Two Timer Duel Ended Liner*
This pencil has a felt tip liner on one side and kohl pencil liner on the other. This is my first experience with liquid eyeliner and I really like this one!

essence Lash Princess
I put this on first for length…

essence Rock n’ Doll
…then put this on top for serious volume.
But they’re great on their own, too!

Mario Badescu Facial Spray w/ Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater
I use this for two things- sometimes I spritz it as a finishing spray (on dry winter days) and sometimes I use it to moisturize my face before touching up my foundation.
We also used this on vacation to help with facial sunburn!


*Indicates that a parent or sister company might not be c/f. NYX & IT Cosmetics are owned by L’Oreal. bare Minerals is owned by Shiseido. Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox.
Sometimes it takes research to figure this stuff out- that’s why I got ya started. Also, these aren’t all vegan brands. If that’s important to you, you’ll need to do some extra research 🙂

That was longer-winded than I’d intended… I guess I wear lots of make-up, haha. If you have any thoughts on these products, suggestions on new products, or questions about cruelty-free stuff, let me know!!

 

Wear the D@mn Shorts

This is a tale of self-confidence…

Last weekend we’d planned to spend some time with friends lakeside. The Friday before the trip I started brainstorming outfit ideas. I was thinking my cute swimsuit paired with my cut off high-waisted shorts.

‘But your thighs are so flabby and chunky. That’ll look terrible- all that cellulite and the scars. You should pick a different pair of shorts,’ I thought to myself.

Let’s pause my story and insert that I try very, very hard to encourage others to treat themselves kindly. It makes me mad when my mom nitpicks about herself or when my 10 year old cousin complains about her “fat” or when my friends are getting down on themselves.

“You aren’t fat, you have fat. Everyone does. It’s why you’re alive.”

“Don’t you dare talk badly about your arms/leg/tummy! That’s how you lift groceries or get from A to B or nourish your body!”

“You look great today! And who’s so important that you’d take their opinion over mine?!” 😉

Those are a few of my go-tos when it comes to encouragement.

But for whatever reason, that Friday afternoon I was hating my husky, pale, chicken-pox-scarred thighs. I’d like to say it was a fleeting thought, this discouraging self-talk, but it browbeat me into 30 minutes of outfit changes.

It’s funny… The internet is notorious for highlighting people’s “perfect lives.” That said, some of the most body-positive, encouraging, beautiful-inside-and-out people push their perfectly imperfect & totally embracing messages via social media (looking at you Lindsay, Aubrey, Chelsea, Dana, Christina). And I’m am 100% on board with that.

And yet I fall victim to my “zitty face” or “flabby tummy” or “chunky thighs.”

I’m usually extremely comfortable in my skin. My body is relatively healthy. I was given working limbs and organs. I am able to care for myself and others. Overall, I got very lucky with the skin I’m in. But we all have moments of weakness.

Fortunately, our moments of weakness happen at different times. When I’m feeling poorly, someone else is sending out positive vibes meant for me. So when you’re feeling badly, just know that someone is sending out those positive vibes for you, too. (Might I suggest any and all of those ladies up there! ☝️ )

I don’t think anyone is always positive and encouraging, but someone somewhere is always sending out some good vibes. So go seek it- it’s 100% meant for you. Someone loves you. They love your wide hips or your small shoulders or your pointed ears. Whatever features make you cringe in the mirror, I guarantee someone thinks nothing of it and loves you completely. And you should, too.

What I’m trying to say is: wear the damn cutoff shorts, my friends. ☀️

Everything is Great

The creativity bug has been on vacation these last few weeks… Most of my posts have been lists or recaps or link-ups. All those things are great, but I usually try to throw in an opinion piece or heartfelt rant here and there. I’ve just been so tired. We’re both healthy and safe and happy, so I feel terrible complaining, but I really am exhausted right now.

You know how some people get tired and sad during the last half of winter but suddenly perk up in the spring with all the sunshine and rain and blooming flowers? Yeah- I’m the opposite. I hate this season and it totally drains me. Plus, Thunderstorms + Lylee = Audrey on the couch all night with a trembling dog and maybe 3 or 4 interrupted hours of sleep.

It’s also our gateway into the “crazy season” with the business. And tax season. (Sweet Mother of Pearl, don’t get me started on the taxes we owe this year *sob*) Anyway… stress levels are HIGH and there’s very little separation of personal and professional and canine stress at the moment.

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. Ha.

But in other random news…

Lylee went to the doggie spa (read: groomers) for the first time and had her nails professionally dremeled. It was taxing on both of us, but she was happy at the end and her nails looked good. So that’s a win.

We host an Easter meal at our house for K’s side of the family so I’m gearing up for that. People are always eager to bring sides so it’s never too much stress on me 😉 This year I’m going to make a mashed potato casserole, carrot bread, and decorated eggs! We’re either going to have brisket or a pork shoulder… I hate ham so the perk of hosting Easter is eliminating it from the menu 😀

Our 4 year anniversary is on the 27th of this month. K planned last year’s outing so it’s my turn this year. (I don’t know when we started taking turns…?) Any ideas for me?

And with that I’m off to try meditation (or a bottle glass of wine) and hopefully enjoy the weekend with family and friends and church 🙂

What are your weekend/Easter plans?

Things I Really Love Right Now

I was going to write a serious post today. I started one about the controversy surrounding the Beauty and the Beast outrage. I thought about screaming ranting about the idiotic administration running our country. But I just can’t. If you’ve been around these parts long enough then you know that I have 0% issue with people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. You also know I loathe the people inhabiting the White House. So let’s talk about something that isn’t going to make me pull my hair out.

I’m going to link up with Kristen & Gretch for some “currently” updates and some favorite things that I want you to know about 🙂

Reading… The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Atonement (Ian McEwan) is also on the docket. Last two books for Erin’s Challenge!

Watching… the series finale for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I tried to drag the series out as long as I could. I’m sad it’s over but pleased with how it ended. Now I’m trying to convince K to watch Firefly with me. (I’ve seen it, he hasn’t.)

Looking Forward To… my mom’s birthday celebration. Her b-day was Tuesday but I’m surprising her with an outing on Saturday. I can’t say much here because she reads this blog 😉

Planning… a fall vacation. We were going to go to Disney, but I couldn’t get K excited about it. He’s never been and wants to see it for the first time with a big family group or with a kid in the picture. Fine. Whatever. I was bitter about it at first, but now I’m looking forward to spending some time at Universal Studios (#DisneyForever) and on a cruise. We compromised.

Loving… my new job with K’s company. I feel so relaxed and fulfilled working for a company that I love and working alongside people that I really enjoy and working in an industry that’s had my heart for +8 years.

(Here’s what I was up to at this exact time last year!)

Now let’s talk about my recent favorites.
(I’m going to style this like Rebecca Jo’s Friday Favorites post.)

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Favorite Reads

I’m going to recommend two authors instead of books.

I’ve gone on and on about The Lunar Chronicles, so it makes sense that I recommend Marissa Meyer to those who love a little fantasy and adventure and retelling. Her newest standalone novel, Heartless, quickly became a favorite for me, too. (I’ll talk about it on Tuesday!)

The_Lunar_Chronicles

The second author that I’ve really enjoyed so far is Ashley Weaver. She writes a 1930s mystery series that centers around Amory Ames and her playboy husband Milo. They’re not thrillers, but they have an air of suspense and romance and betrayal. Plus they’re set in historical England- which is my fav.

Favorite Recent Purchases

Everyone has their favorite place to buy jeans. Mine is Old Navy. If you’re an ON gal check out these jeans! I have three of the same pair, all in different shades (medium wash, light wash and light pachuca). They are so comfy and flattering to my curvy hips!

Also on the recently purchased list: These pajamas from Marshalls (or TJ Maxx, I guess.) The same cross-cross shear pattern around the neck is also down the outside of each leg on the shorts. Perfect as the weather warms up!

…obviously this isn’t my body. Ha.

Favorite Lip Stuff

I’m not a beauty blogger, but I have three lipsticks/stains/things that I’ve been loving lately. Two are Burt’s Bees products (Pink Lagoon gloss lip crayon & Ruby Ripple moisturizing lipstick) and one’s from Wet N Wild (Lady and the Vamp balm stain). Last weekend I got three compliments on the balm stain!

Favorite Funnies

Have you tried any of this stuff? What’s something you’re loving lately?

What's New With You

Fly Me to the Moon (or don’t… please, don’t)

It’s painful for me to admit this, but some time in the last four years I developed mild flight anxiety. I have an overactive brain that tends to visualize everything that could go wrong (although, scientifically, the things I imagine probably can’t go wrong). I’m not going to go into it because I know that I’m being dramatic and I don’t want to put my false mental images of doom into your head, too.

But, you know, just let it be known that I have flight anxiety.

Here’s where I imagine all this anxiety stems from… In 2010 I totaled my car on some black ice and it took me 2 years to get comfortable behind the wheel again. In 2012 I flew to India and we hit turbulence that dropped the plane and nearly shook me from my seat. Traumatic events tend to shake me to my core and send my imaginative brain into overdrive.

flight_anxiety_1

Two weeks ago K and I flew to San Antonio for a business trip. (Details about our trip are happening next week hopefully.) I have flown a few times since India, but the anxiety gets worse with each trip. I was seriously dreading these flights.

The self-talk that happened in my head during our time in the air was unreal. I channeled Chelsea and repeated to myself, “You can do hard things.” I prayed like a mad person. I turned my ear buds all the way up and tried desperately to lose myself in books. Every once in a while I panic-grasped K’s hand or thigh.

When the smallest hint of turbulence rocked the plane I told myself that the flight attendants were still standing and smiling and passing out drinks- it’d all be ok.

Before our last flight home I looked up the dangers of turbulence on my phone. (I knew this was a risk… sometimes ignorance really is bliss.) Turns out, turbulence is very rarely the cause of air troubles. It’s totally normal and does not bring planes down. That little bit of knowledge helped immensely on the last flight. (All our flights were smooth- my brain had the turbulent issues.)

flight_anxiety_2

Of course, when I really boil it down, what the hell am I going to do if something were to happen on a plane? Like, really. What exactly are my options? I jokingly told K that if something goes wrong and we’re taking a nose dive to the ground, please punch me and knock me out. Neither one of us can figure out if I’m kidding about that still…

But back to the point… I survived our flights and, though I was mentally exhausted, I found ways to cope with the stress I was feeling and walk away confident and happy (to be on the ground ).

So how about some mediocre advice from an inexperienced* flyer…

  • Create a playlist and bring a book that will grab & keep your interest. Dave Matthews Band calms me down when driving in stressful situations so I loaded up my Amazon Prime playlist with some DMB for the flight.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Watch the flight attendants. Chances are they’re laughing and smiling and jovial, even when buckled up and bouncing along in the turbulence. Be friendly with them, too. They’re your biggest allies in the air, especially on longer flights.
  • Repeat to yourself, ‘I am brave. I am OK. I can do hard things.’ (You’d be surprised how effective this is. )
  • If praying is your thing have a laid back, honest conversation with God.
  • Research flight and turbulence. First I read this article, then I found this site: http://www.fearofflying.com/ . It actually has a ‘program’ to cure those with flight anxiety. I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking into it…
  • Some people drink alcohol or take relaxers. If that works for you, cool. I’m pretty sure I’d have just started crying uncontrollably if I’d been drinking. I needed my brain to be clear and strong for the trip.

It sounds backward- and maybe this just helps me- but looking out the window helped me relax. The beauty and the stillness of the sky/clouds/ground below was helpful.

(* truthfully, I’ve been flying my entire life… I started when I was a toddler and I’ve been around the world… so, you know, I’m kind of experienced… just inexperienced with this newfound anxiety)

flight_anxiety_3

It’s weird… I’m not afraid of heights. I’m not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of travel. I just hated the feeling of the plane dropping out from beneath me like it did on the India trip.

It’s funny, but I suddenly understand Lylee’s irrational fear of thunderstorms.

So let’s open the floor for outside advice 🙂 Do you get shaky on flights? How do you entertain yourself on a plane?

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Comparing Apples to Orange to Instagram

I don’t discuss my full time job here very often (ever? ) but I work for an appraisal company. A large part of my day is spent comparing commercial properties to one another (or comparing markets or construction quality or amenities…). All day long I make comparisons- it’s second nature now.

In valuing property, comparisons are necessary. That’s 100% the opposite when it comes to valuing our lives- comparing ourselves to one another is so dangerous and toxic. I think all bloggers tackle this problem in a post at some point, but just recently I witnessed individual friends get down on themselves after making comparisons. That led to a self-evaluation where I realized that I tend to put pressure on myself, my marriage, my relationships, and even my dogs after comparing myself/us/them to someone else.

We all do it. I have mommy friends that compare themselves to other moms (or compare their child’s development to other children). I have friends in the dating pool that compare themselves to other people who are dating or recently engaged. I have married friends that ask K and I  about our relationship and then compare us to their life. I’m sure that parents of adult-children compare their lives to other older parents (i.e. how often their kids come around, whether or not they’re grandparents, how close they are to retirement). There’s no age restriction on comparing- we all do it.

comparison

I enjoy social media, but we know those perfect snapshot moments don’t help. Engagements, pregnancy announcements, new houses- they makes us wonder if we’re where we should be in life. Tropical vacations, perfectly cooked dinners, beautifully lit trees and steaming cups of tea- we wonder how others manage to have it all and what we should be doing differently to achieve it, too.

A few days ago I talked a friend off a proverbial ledge. She’d had a great day and was feeling good, but then she looked around and started second guessing what was happening to her in comparison to others. We both came to the conclusion that these ‘harmless’ comparisons were making her dangerously unhappy. It’s ok to want what we want and it’s ok to look to others as examples, but we can’t idolize other relationships or careers or lives. First of all, we’re all different and things never work out the same way for one as they do another. Secondly, we don’t actually know how glamorous (or tragic) someone’s life is. And, regardless, it doesn’t matter- you have your life and there’s no Freaky Friday fortune cookie that going to swap it with another person.

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I am happy with who I am and the life I live and the place I’m at- but I still fall victim to comparison more often than I’d like to admit. I glance across the aisle and see how someone else is doing on their wife test or employee test or friend test. I try to put myself on a grading scale. How am I doing as a daughter? friend? dog owner? Well clearly not as good as so-and-so… just look at those Instagram pictures!

It sucks. And we all do it. And we need to remind one another (gently) to stop. So here’s your reminder today.

Your house is cozy and comfy, even with the cat hair tucked in the corner of the steps. Your tree is just the right size and sparkle for you. People love you for the person you are- they’re not comparing you to anyone so why are you?

Pass the message along and remind someone else that we don’t live in a venn diagram. Pat yourself on the back and then pat someone else’s back. Go after the things you want, not the things you think you’re supposed to want. The people around you are very happy with who you are- you should be, too  🙂

You do you, boo.

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