Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Okay to Feel Sad: Thoughts on Dealing with Feels

 Hello there, everyone.  Recently, I've been experiencing some more emotionally difficult times. While on the one hand, it sucks, on the other, it's given me a lot of great insights into myself and my life, and I can happily say that I am steadily recovering. 

       Today I want to discuss how one deals with sadness. It seems as though our culture does not provide many tools for acceptance and understanding of negative feelings, so I hope you will find this post a helpful resource for accomplishing these things. I'm not a psychologist or a therapist, but I can speak from my own experience. 

       One thing I realize that is most helpful when dealing with sadness, or any negative feeling really, is just feeling that feeling, very deeply. In fact, depending on whatever you are dealing with and whatever event or experience, or a combination of a few of those, has made you upset, you may be dealing with a whole wicked range of feeling. These might range from shame to anger to grief to everything in between. That is totally ok. Just let yourself feel those feelings, to the fullest depths that you can. When I am doing this, sometimes I cry for pretty much entire days. If you want to do that too and you think it will help, there is absolutely no shame in that! 

      Try to devote a non-busy day or weekend to this process. Definitely allow yourself time to just feel. You don't have to journal or analyze your feelings or even think about them at all, just let them happen, and let your urges dictate your actions. If you want to scream, cool. If you want to punch something, great. If you want to curl up into a tiny ball on your bed under your covers and whimper like a depressed puppy, go for it. Heck, do all three. Feel your feelings and let them out. 

       After a period of time spent doing this, you may either begin to feel like you no longer feel the feelings you were dealing with, or you may begin to understand that you can feel them without them being overwhelming and dictating your actions, like you were letting them do earlier. This is kind of a coming-down experience from the peak in the emotional roller coaster.

       This is a good time to discuss and observe your feelings. There are many ways you can do this. What I like to do best for this stage is spend equally large amounts of time either talking to others about how I feel, or hanging out by myself, preferably in nature, the place I feel most comfortable. When I am  alone, I spend a lot of time thinking about my feelings and trying to understand them. I sift through all the emotions I am feeling. I try to gather up every one of them, and then I go through them, one by one, and determine all the possible reasons I could feel that particular emotion. Journalling is also often a helpful way to do this, as is talking with others, as I mentioned earlier. Other people who care about you and who are good listeners can be especially helpful in helping you understand and even mitigate your negative feelings. 

       The ultimate reason for most my feelings, and the conclusion I often come to, is the feeling that I am inadequate, that I am not good enough. This belief can manifest itself as an emotional experience in a hundred different ways. 

        For example, let's say a friend insults you, or does something rude. You are surprised and upset. You probably feel angry at the person who did it, and also sad that they would do something like that. Maybe you feel sad because you think you deserved what they did, or because they think you deserved it. Maybe you think that you deserved it because you think that you are not good enough. 

       This is not the best example, but it does show how you can see a connection between each emotion. With each feeling you come across, simply ask why you feel that way. Eventually you will find an answer that you can no longer question, and this will usually be a deep-rooted belief, one such as I am not good enough.

       Well, guess what honey? You are good enough!You are beautiful and perfect and unique in your own special way. You have not been treated the way you truly deserve. What you truly deserve is love, happiness, kindness, and compassion. I promise. 
        Even if you cannot fully grasp the above concept (goodness knows I have trouble with it), just finding the true root of your troubles, the belief that causes your negative feelings, is comforting in itself. Now you know what you must change, in order to feel better. You must work on that belief, and take it from limiting and depressing, to limitlessly positive. 

        These times of clarity are great, and for me, they are definitely the silver lining of sadness. However, often they will slip from our mind as daily life takes over again. Do your best to remember what you have learned about yourself, but also allow yourself to feel negative feelings. It's still okay to be sad. Just know that you can recover. 

        It's perfectly okay to go through this process more than once. I go through it extremely often, sometimes on a daily basis. 

        What I want to leave you with is the understanding that it's ok, and perfectly human, to feel less than 100%, whether something bad happened to you or you just feel lonely or upset, seemingly for no reason. Allow yourself to acknowledge these feelings and address your emotional needs without shame. We are all human. We all cry. So it's okay if you do it too. 

Images: 12

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Open Letter to the Universe

    As the year comes to a close, I want to take some time to be thankful for everything the universe and powers that be have given me. 2014 has been an amazing year full of radical changes, and in many ways this year has given me exactly what I have needed to keep growing and changing and healing. I am vastly grateful for everything life has brought to me this year. So, without further ado:

Dear Universe, 

Thank you so much for 2014. This year I was granted many opportunities for change. I was able to get a job, take on a leadership position in a school organization, leave an unhealthy relationship, cut my hair short, and make many new and very valuable friendships. 
I am especially thankful for my friends and family. I am so happy to have the pleasure of knowing so many inspiring and heartwarming people, and I’m very happy to be close to quite a few of them. My friends are all extremely special people and add to my happiness in immeasurable ways. Also, my parents are awesome. They’ve given me everything I have, and I am so glad that two people as good as them are the people that raised me. Thank you for the people in my life!
I’m also very grateful for all the learning opportunities that have been given to me this year. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about environmental and social issues, and I’ve also had opportunities to get involved with both. I got my first “real” job this year, and have learned a lot about what that means to me (it’s pretty great having money). I learned a lot of new technical skills and got the chance to really deepen and improve my art practice, which has been super fun! I’ve actually produced a lot of art in general this year, which has made me feel really good. I’ve even sold a couple pieces! I’ve also made a lot of mistakes this year, and luckily none have been too harmful, but they have all provided me with learning opportunities that are continuing to help me figure out the guidelines I want my adult life to operate under(more on that in an upcoming post). Thank you so much for all of these opportunities. 
I’ve also done a lot of really cool and fun things this year, including: skinny-dipping in the ocean in the middle of the night, learning how to do cool makeup, finding a tree-swing in the middle of the forest, going to the Catalyst with friends, going on tons of night-walks, hosting dinner parties, learning to make books, getting to know more about Santa Cruz, making friends with adults (older adults), teaching art to a little girl, reading and learning a LOT, getting to know my parents better, hanging out with kids, finding a beach cave, and just getting to know/hanging out with awesome people who I really like. I’m so grateful that I’ve had all these experiences. I’m so happy that I’m able-bodied and outgoing, because those two things have really helped me experience a lot!

Another thing I’m very grateful for is UCSC! I realized today that this is really the only college I would ever want to go to. This place is awesome! There are so many friendly people with so many interests and backgrounds and stories to tell. Additionally, there are so many cool opportunities and things to get involved with. I’m very privileged to be able to receive a college education, and I am even more lucky that I get to do it at a place like UCSC. 
I’m so grateful for the beautiful planet I live on. I’m grateful for all the people that live on it, and all the people I get to meet someday. I’m grateful for all the places I’ll get to visit. I’m so happy that there are beautiful forests and oceans, and animals that no one has ever seen. I’m so glad there are big cities and small towns and all different kinds of cultures. I’m so grateful for ART! Art helps me make sense of everything when nothing makes sense. I’m extremely grateful for music, and I’m really glad I’m a good dancer; dancing is the best thing I can do with my body. 
I’m super grateful for my brain! I’m so glad I’m a (generally) smart person and I’m so happy I have the ability to generate so many creative and interesting ideas and bring new projects to life. 
Lastly, the thing I’m probably most grateful for is the way life continues to unfold for me. I definitely do not feel like things are stagnant, but instead happening at a pace I can keep up with. I feel like the Universe is looking out for me. I’m so happy with the way I’m developing and changing as a person, and I feel like I’m heading in a very good direction with my life. I’m grateful for the realization that continually hits me: I can do anything I want with my life. There is literally nothing stopping me! Which is awesome! I’m so, so grateful for that freedom, and for the fact that so many amazing possibilities are available to me in my life. 
Thank you so much, Universe (or who/whatever is in charge here). You have given me so much to be grateful for. Sometimes I feel upset and small, but knowing how much life has granted me makes me feel so good. Life is really magical if you think about it. Thank you for that. 

Love always, 

Honestly, that letter could have gone on for days, there is so much to be grateful for!! So, a little food for thought: what are you grateful for? I encourage you to reflect back on this year and think about all the good things that you have been granted. 

I wish you all a very happy holiday season. Take care, and let the Universe know you love it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Conquer Your Fear

          Hello my beautiful friends, today I am talking about a very exciting topic, conquering fear! I feel that this is a very important topic to discuss, because for most of us, fear controls our lives to some degree (it's okay, you can admit it, you're scared of stuff too). Recently I've been doing a little conquering of my own, so I want to discuss my epiphanies and offer any help I can to the rest of my fellow humans. 

          To begin, let me share a bit with you about my own experiences with fear. Prior to this point in my life, I kept up a lot of fear-based habits. I barely communicated with some of my old friends from high school, fearing that they no longer cared about me. I kept up a relationship that had long since passed its expiration date because I was terrified of being lonely, and I was so afraid to face myself without him there validating me. My fear of other people's opinions of me kept me from doing and saying so many things. I had so many negative and fear-based beliefs about myself and about life. I was getting by, and even enjoying myself a lot of the time, but still, the fear affected me deeply. 

          Did any of those examples resonate with you? Fear has a hold on every heart, to some extent. Luckily, there are ways to, yes, conquer it!

           First, you must pinpoint your fear. If you have negative feelings about any situation, they are probably fear-based. Maybe you feel bad about not hanging out with your friends often enough. This could be because you are afraid they could dislike you, or because you are afraid to be alone and face yourself. Find your fears. Write them down and identify them. 

          Now comes the actual conquering part. There are several ways of going about this. One excellent way is to follow your fears. I love the quote "Fear is the path to adventure," because it is so true! Fear can actually be seen as a guiding force. When you are afraid of something, that is your gut pointing you towards the next thing to tackle and overcome. 

          When taking this approach, time is of the essence. There is another quote I am fond of that reads "Procrastination breeds doubt," which is very true. The more time you have to think about doing something, the more you overwhelm yourself with negative thoughts. When this does happen, you must try to expel the doubt from your mind. But how? Well...

           The core of overcoming your fears is believing in yourself. Once you come to terms with the fact that you are all you have to survive, you will realize that doubting yourself - about anything - is about the least productive thing you can do with your time. And suddenly it kind of becomes a tough-self-love thing, where every doubt you can eliminate is washed away simply for the sake of efficiency. You can be your own rock. You can get through anything. You don't have to listen to anyone else's opinion about you (good or bad) because you know within yourself that you are good, and your own affirmation is all you need. 

          I'm not saying that you don't need other people - don't abandon your friends! I'm also not saying that this process is quick. But honestly, coming to the realization that my self doubt didn't serve me, and that I am the only person who can make myself happy, really helped me realize how unproductive harboring fear is. I'm still learning. I'm not a guru, and life is a continuous process, but I seriously believe this advice can help people out there, because it helped me. 

          For more life advicey stuff, surf my Life Ideas tag. For more help on this specific topic, I highly recommend reading The Four Agreements. It's a brilliantly helpful book. Now go forth, and conquer thy fear! ;)

Photo cred goes to the lovely Madeline Stone!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Hello, everyone. Today I am sharing a dangerously delicious recipe from Life, Love, and Sugar: the chocolate chip cookie cake. This deliciousness is addictive, trust me. I preferred it without the vanilla buttercream, but I included that part of the recipe just in case you al would like to try it. 
Cookie Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips OR about 1 cup of chocolate chunks

Vanilla Buttercream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water
Cookie Cake
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
4. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.
5. Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Place parchment paper into the bottom of your cake pan to help the cookie not stick.
8. Spread the dough out into the cake pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool mostly in the cake pan, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream
1. Beat the shortening and butter until smooth.
2. Slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
3. Mix in the vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water.
4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add more water to get the right consistency.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Summer Thrift Haul!

       Hey friends, today I am sharing a little thrift haul video which showcases the many thrift scores I have made since my last thrift haul video, which I made about a year ago. As you can see on the right, that first sweater I showed you guys is now indeed in my Etsy shop!
       Please let me know if you guys like this video! I really enjoy doing these and will probably be able to make another very soon since I plan to be doing some thrifting in the near future. I flu guys have any questions about how or where I thrift, please leave a comment below and I can answer your questions in an upcoming post!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Great Makeup Debacle

        Hello, friends! Today I am here to talk about, yep, you guessed it, makeup! I've struggled with my own views on makeup for a long time. About a year ago, I wrote the article, Go Makeup Free and Feel Beautiful!, providing you all with a healthy list of reasons why you didn't need to wear makeup. And now, here I am, wearing it. What?! Yes, I know, confusing and contradictory indeed. 

        For a long time, I went through this cycle where I wouldn't wear makeup or do my hair at all for a month or longer to appreciate my natural beauty (mmhm). And then I'd "binge" on makeup. Mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick?! Oh yes. This madness would continue for several days, sometimes accompanied by the uncharacteristically copious use of blow dryers and curling irons. Then I would stop and go back to my plain, unadulterated ways. And I'd feel bad about the binge! I subconsciously had this belief that doing your hair and makeup meant you hated the way you naturally looked and you were putting yourself down. And I felt bad for this supposed act of self-hatred. 

"Makeup is both a treat and an art form, a little something extra. It is not a crutch to rely on to make yourself look perfect everyday. You already look perfect!!"

       Then, I just laid off for a long time. Over the summer I got really into that whole space punk thing, and just weird and interesting makeup in general. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and saw a lot of sick selfies on Tumblr and I started to see makeup as an art. It became more of an act of self-expression rather than one of self-hatred. 

         I see now that wearing makeup is not a sin - it's just a fun thing to do! I'm getting more into makeup and slowly finding things that look nice on me that I enjoy wearing. I have set down a few guidelines for myself though. These are:

- Wear makeup to have fun and express yourself. Makeup is both a treat and an art form, a little something extra. It is not a crutch to rely on to make yourself look perfect everyday. You already look perfect!!

- Wearing makeup every single day is something that I see as just a bit excessive. Therefore, I neither require myself to wear it every day, nor do require myself to go without it everyday. Everything in moderation!

- Enjoy it! Makeup should be fun! I don't really like the idea of slobbing foundation all over myself every day (nor do I need it!) so I don't do it. It's not fun for me. I do, however, go a little crazy with glitter. I like glitter :)

That's all for me today, guys. What are your thoughts, feelings, or experiences with makeup? Let me know down in the comments! 

Photo credits to my friend Madeline Stone for those pictures of me workin' it 90's style.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life Lessons From a 19 Year-Old


 Hi, everyone! I recently had my 19th birthday, and I spent some time reflecting on what I learned in the past year of my life. I wanted to share these lessons with you all in a video form,  just to make it more personal and conversation-like, but here's a brief list of them below too!

1. Forgiving yourself is key to growth and happiness.

2. Getting upset with yourself when you can't complete every task you want to do is not conducive to self-love. Instead, you must celebrate your progress.

3.Reading is awesome! The library is your friend.

4. If you are thinking of breaking up with your partner with any feelings besides discomfort, you should probably break up with them.

5. Always express your feelings toward other people and let them know you like them.

6. Never bury your emotions. Deal with negative feelings as soon as possible and work through it fully.

7. Do no harm. Treat all living things with respect and kindness, including yourself.

8. Being connected to your feelings and spirituality is very important for your own wellbeing.

9. Reach out to the people around you. Connect with your family and friends.

10. Loving yourself is REALLY IMPORTANT.

11. Live with intention. Focus your mind on what you want.

12. Act on your ideas and be prolific and productive.

13. Experimentation and variety are things to be embraced. Try new things!

     I hope that these life lessons I have shared with you all may help some of you see things in a new light or gain a new understanding of life, just as I have in the past year. If any of you have any thoughts, experiences, or life lessons of your own, please feel free to share with me in the comments section or at my email account which you can find under the About Me tab up top :)