Events/Performances, Fun

The Knocks @ Flash

I’ve been fangirling over The Knocks for the last four years, so when Nu Androids finally got them to come to D.C., there was no chance I was going to miss them!

I was first introduced to their music by a friend who had seen them perform at a small party in New York.  Songs like “Classic” had this chill, happy vibe that was incredibly infectious, resulting in me not just listening to, but downloading their entire catalog of work.  Since then, I had been waiting for the day they’d come to D.C. and throw it down “House Party” style… until June 9th.

One of the cool things about this Electronic Music duo is that while some of their songs have gone mainstream, they are all about doing this for the love of music. It means they are playing smaller venues, keeping it at a “house party” level, making the overall atmosphere feel more intimate, which they certainly accomplished at Flash.

They were only supposed to play two hours that Saturday night, but when their time was about up, they requested to extend their play time another hour.  The cheers to that news were deafening, as they definitely killed it with the remixes of their songs (which, while their album versions are great, their live sets are better).  Truly, it was one of the best EDM shows I’ve been to in a long time, and I can’t wait for them to come back (ahem, Nu Androids).

For more video clips, click here.

 

Healthy & Beautiful

My FabFitFun Summer Box Has Arrived!

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For those of you who saw my post about the spring box, know how much I have fallen in love with FabfitFun!  I’m continually amazed with just how much you get for what you pay, which is one of the biggest reasons I continue this subscription.  AND, given that I’ve been so impressed with product quality, I went onto their site for their sale, and picked up a few extra items!  Below is what was included:

Add-ons

  • Summer & Rose Claire Roundie (in pastel-moraccan) – These became all the rage in the last year, for both it’s beauty, as well as its multi-purpose use.  I can’t wait to try this out on my next beach vacation!
  • Zoe Ayla Jade Crystal Roller – I’ve already used this, and am hooked!  It’s made out of 100% pure jade, and can be hand-warmed or put in the refrigerator, depending on what your need is.  It definitely helps relax muscles while increasing circulation!
  • LaTweez Mermaid Tweezers – Funny back story… I had a similar product, from six years ago that was almost confiscated in Qatar, because the light broke and they thought it was a spy camera, but I digress.  The technology of these tweezers have improved significantly since then, with a much brighter LED light, longer battery life (so you can prove they are just lighted tweezers), and an awesome carrying case with a magnified mirror!  They are coming everywhere with me.
  • FabFitFun Electric Travel Toothbrush (in confetti) – While I can’t seem to find this on the site anymore, I’m a big fan of travel-sized electric toothbrushes.  This one came with a slim carrying case and two toothbrush heads!

What’s in the Box

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  • Foreo – This skin care company is one of the most avant-garde, tech-savvy company I’ve ever seen for the beauty industry.  After your download their simple-to-use app, you sync it to your phone, let the device scan your face, and it will tell you not only the age of your skin, but where improvements can be made.  It also times you on how long you must cleanse each area of your skin, using that same device as a scrubber!  I was truly impressed with it, and am excited to use it again.
  • Vasant Brightenup! Exfoliating Cleanser – I used this product with Foreo, and received great results!  The exfoliant is gentle to your skin and smells so good!
  • Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel – After I exfoliated, I went on to use this product, and was also impressed with the results.  My skin was left feeling soft with a bit of a glow!
  • Tarte Sex Kitten Eyeliner in black – First, the cat cap is adorable, but second, the eyeliner is amazing.  I’m a big fan of liquid eyeliners that have a fine, non-destructible tip that leaves a clean line!
  • Tarteist Pro-to-Go Palette – I LOVE eye palettes, and I love sultry colors even more!  I’ve been a big fan of Tarte’s eyeshadows for a long time, and I can’t wait to try these new colors!
  • Yumi Kim makeup case in Peri Floral – Think about how many makeup cases you’ve bought over the course of your life, thinking you finally found the one that is going to organize and hold it all, only to be frustrated when you have to pull everything out, looking for what you need.  Yumi Kim’s case SOLVES EVERYTHING.  Seriously – a brush compartment to organize your brushes, a hidden zippered case for samples, tweezers, hair ties, etc., AND a LARGE compartment for your makeup, including larger eye palettes!  If that wasn’t enough, they are so stylish to look at, too!
  • Coola Sport Organic SPF 50 Sunscreen – Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t really picky about things like sunscreen, opting for whatever I could get my hands on.  These days, I find it so important to find something that’s healthy for your skin!  I was impressed to get this in the box – it’s vegan and gluten-free, too!
  • Erth X FabfitFun “Tu Y Yo” ring – This ring is an understated stunner.  Featuring two freshwater pearls, attached to a 14K gold plated ring, it’s perfect with any outfit!
  • Pier One Marble Ring Dish – Marble is all the rage these days, and this dish is on-point on style (picture below with the Erth ring).

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If you’re interested in a subscription of your own, click here!

Travel, United States

A Weekend South of San Francisco

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Point Lobos – Bird Island

For as many times as I had traveled to San Francisco for work, I had only left the confines of the city on a few occasions, and that was usually to see friends for a night or visit my company’s former sister office building.  Yet, secretly, on my phone, I was harboring a bucket list of to-do’s that were within minutes, and even a few hours, of my “second home”.

At the beginning of May, a girlfriend of mine suggested we tack on a girls’ trip to our most recent work trip, offering to accompany me to these places, since she used to live there and had seen the best spots.  Thus, our girls’ weekend trip was born.

Below is my itinerary, including where we stayed at what we did.

San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden

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Zen Garden

Ever since my travels to Australia last year, I’ve been a bit obsessed with tea customs in different countries, with the Japanese customs being my favorite.  While a bit touristy, it was amazing to see this peaceful tea garden exist not too far from the city itself.

(It’s $9 per adult to enter – tickets can be found here.)

Below are some of the pictures from the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s definitely worth a visit!

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Winchester Mystery House

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First of all, I’ve been obsessed with the story of this house for decades.  It’s a horrible series of unfortunate events for the Winchester family, which seemed to have been poured into the design of this odd masterpiece.

We purchased the main tour and the extended tour ($54 for both), which was a limited time offer, since some of these rooms were so fragile, they couldn’t take heavy tour volume for more than a few months every few years (click here for tickets).

Throughout the incredibly informative three hours we spent there, we saw almost every room in the house, learned about every minor detail of what went into each room (that they were able to explain), and appreciate the kinds of inventions Sarah had installed to assist her workers in getting tasks done faster. From the indoor/outdoor water recycling system for her plants, to the elevators, the intercom system, the laundry room, and her efficient way of heating her home, it was clear Sarah wanted her workers to feel comfortable and appreciated for the tasks they were doing.  Even their workers’ quarters were well appointed with both cool and warm air apparatuses, along with comfortable beds, and other amenities!

I’ve heard comments from friends on how creepy it must have been to tour it, given that people have seen ghosts of workers there. The truth was, it was incredibly peaceful walking through it (even in the basement and the attic), which told me that those workers who died in the home, weren’t ever in distress – they enjoyed the job security 🙂

Since we were not really allowed to take pictures in the home, I only have a few of the exterior, as well as of the final room, AND the costumes from the movie!

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Our 24 Hours in Carmel-by-the-Sea/Monterey/Pebble Beach

Accommodations

When we arrived to Carmel, it was a bit late in the evening, so we checked into The Wayside Inn and went to bed.  Having stayed at many inns before, I didn’t have high expectations.  When we opened the door to our room, I was blown away.  I felt like I had stepped into a quaint suite in Nantucket, well-appointed with high-end amenities, and  peaceful decor.  The beds were the most comfortable ones we had ever slept in, too!  To top it off, we were also given a free breakfast, delivered right to our door.  It was a fantastic experience from end-to-end, and I highly recommend staying there!

Hiking Point Lobos State Reserve

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Point Lobos offers different length/degree of difficulty of hikes, which given that we wanted to enjoy it, we chose an easy 4-mile, moderate incline here-and-there, hike (click here to view).

For the first 3/4 of the hike, we were walking through thick forest vegetation (on a trail of course), reminding me of my less-than-fond memories of Girl Scout camp and how much I hated potential wildlife surprises.  The difference was, though, the unbelievable reward at the end (which can be seen above).

Once you have made it to the expansive view, you are treated to unbelievable beauty of caves, cliffs, Bird Island (which doesn’t smell pleasant), and seal pups (which were hard to capture).

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Pro Tip: Get to the reserve when the park opens!  If you wait until 10am, there will be only street parking.  If you wait until 11am, the trails will get busy.

Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive, Monterey

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After leaving the serenity of Point Lobos, we headed to Pebble Beach to do the 17-mile drive ($10.25 in cash, per car, to enter).

It’s another beautiful drive (with jaw-dropping homes along the way).  It’s highly recommended to do this drive, not just because of the multiple places to stop and take amazing pictures, but also to see Seal Island (highly recommended during pupping season in early May).

Hanging Around Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Anton and Michel

First, I am definitely coming back for a weekend… to shop and relax.  Every single store, restaurant, inn, coffee shop, and wine bar are so charming, so elegant, and so much fun to explore.  Below are my list of recommendations.

Basil

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Grapefruit Spritz

We came here for lunch and drinks, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!  I’d recommend the asparagus puree soup and basil house salad with chicken.   I wouldn’t recommend the cocktails unless you like a strong pour! (Gluten-free rating: 10/10)

Anton and Michel

If there is one restaurant you can get to for dinner, this needs to be it.  From the service, to the food, to the wine, to giving us one of the best tables in the restaurant (see the pool image above), it was a five-star experience the whole way through! I kept it light on dinner (so I could make it to dessert, so if you want the same, I’d recommend the Wild Mushroom Risotto, Wedge salad, and selection of ice creams (they brought me sundae toppings on the side.  I’d also recommend the 2015 Domaine Drouhin Williamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noir.  (Gluten-free rating: 10/10)

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company

I love non-commercialized coffee shops!  Their coffee and other caffeinated drinks are absolutely fantastic.  They also offer a small menu of gluten-free treats as well!

Cottage of Sweets

This place is an adult child’s dream!  Not only do they sell rare candies we all had as kids, they also sell an amazing array of house-made chocolates, fudges, and other sugary confections!

Kris Kringle of Carmel

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I am not ashamed to have gone in there and purchase several ornaments… at the beginning of May 🙂  They have some beautiful pieces I’ve never seen before, along with a large collection of unique Nutcrackers!

Diggidy Dog

The toys are a bit pricey but are so worth it. I brought home the one on the right (which was all but destroyed in a week).  They also have a wide variety of homemade treats!

Additional Notes

  • Friar Tuck’s and the Tuck Box only accept cash
  • It’s a bit cold and rainy in early May – I’d suggest late May
  • The drive to/from the airport is about 2 hours – plan accordingly if you leave later!
Fun, Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: How To Take Back Your Power

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In going through the last meditation challenge with Deepak and Oprah, I had a hard time getting through some of the practices, because some of them felt recycled, while others were nice reminders. Most really didn’t take me into my practice the way I had hoped.

Then, about halfway through it, they focused on a subject that will always be important: Taking back your power.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or a female, young or old, it applies to everyone.

When I speak of taking back power, I don’t mean developing a false ego to “lord” over others.  I mean being able to make decisions for yourself that not only make you feel fulfilled, but also confident that you’re living your best life.

Think about a job you had or a relationship/friendship you were in, that perhaps, made you feel less than you actually were.  You may have stayed at that job or with that person because you either believed it/they could change, or you accepted that you were less than you really were.  Now, think about the day you liberated yourself from that burden.  How did it feel?  What did you do?  Are you onto greener pastures now?

How to Meditate on It

Now, take that feeling of confidence – that feeling of freedom, close your eyes, hold onto that feeling, and breathe. Focus on that feeling for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.  Visualize what it would be like to move on from any current situation that is wearing you down, and insert that feeling into the visualization.  Repeat this daily, preferably in the morning, and try to live by that feeling during the day.  THAT is meditating to not just take back your power in a current situation, but keep it.

I Need More Than Just Meditation For This!

mindbodygreen has a great article on “11 Ways to Take the Power Back in Your Life”.  While written three years ago, I still find it to be a fantastic guide, especially if you feel you’re needing way more guidance than meditation.  It’s a guide, that no matter your situation, will always apply.

I’m big on people sharing and learning from each other, so I’m interested in hearing stories about how you’ve taken back the power in your own situations!  Feel free to leave them in the comments section of my blog.  I promise I read them and respond!

 

 

Healthy & Beautiful, Style

The Review My First FabfitFun Box

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A few years ago, I got super sucked into influencers’ recommendations, thinking, “well if it works for them…”  I’ve bought workout guides and DVDs, books to read, vitamins, apps, etc., almost none of which I stuck with or saw results from.  I quickly took the stance that it was okay to pour over fashion influencers’ outfits and search high and low for the real deal, take makeup tips and make them my own, and emulate workouts they’d post – all still requiring trial and error but costing far less money than ordering products that may not work for me.  That was, until, I received my first Fabfitfun box.

I (religiously) follow two amazing women on Instagram that don’t affiliate themselves with brands they don’t believe in, which means their recommendations are a bit more pricey but certainly, remain high quality.  One of which, that came up with both of them on separate occasions (as well as with many more women I know), is the Fabfitfun box.  You may have seen the ads for this on social media – it’s the box that arrives once a quarter with full-sized products and other goodies, based on your personal preferences on health, wellness, fashion, and personality.

My first box arrived last week, and I’m beyond impressed.  (Note that I did pay the annual subscription for this, and have, in no way, been paid for this review.) 

What came in my spring edition box?

First of all, the box is art in and of itself.  When I opened the plain cardboard box to get to this beautiful container full of presents for myself, I was beyond giddy.  Second, when I opened the box my jaw fell open.  They weren’t kidding about full-sized products that, combined, were far more than what I paid.  Those that cultivate these boxes do an amazing job vetting everything that goes into them to only include what’s on trend and of quality.

Below is a list of everything that was included:

  • Lip statement palette by ISH in #imsmokinghot
  • All natural collagen-infused lip mask by KNC Beauty
  • Leather eye mask by Free People and Understated
  • Skin perfecting lotion (oil free) but Murad
  • Concealing nail ridge filler by Dermelect
  • Superbloom candle No. 14 by Anderson Lilly
  • 18k gold plated black tassel earrings by Ettika
  • Exfoliating body polish by Dove
  • Massage roller by Physique 57
  • Floral fold over bag by Rachel Pally

My Reviews

Certainly, you can’t base a review off of just looking at the products, which means I wanted to give all products a chance, for about a week, before reviewing them:

  • ISH lip palette – I’m super picky about the colors that go on my lips, as well as the staying power.  Unfortunately, this palette wasn’t for me.  I tried varying combinations of colors and just wasn’t impressed.  I’ve seen other users have a great experience though!
  • KNC Beauty lip mask – I’ve tried other lip masks and haven’t been impressed.  This one certainly makes my lips feel better.  My belief is you have to use it consistently over a two week period, which means you need to purchase a second pack.
  • Leather eye mask – The only time I ever wear eye masks is on long haul flights and at hotels (I have no idea why on the latter – it became a thing).  This one comes with a cooling pack that you can place in the freezer, and OMG!  The couple of times I’ve looked overly tired and puffy, this has done the trick!
  • Murad face lotion – My skin is SO FINICKY!  If it’s extra dry outside one day, or it’s a different day in my cycle, my skin requires very different treatments.  It’s taken me years to discover this and even longer to find the right products.  Naturally, I am a skeptic when it comes to trying new lotions.  BUT this one seems to have knocked all others out of the park!  It’s light-weight, oil free, and perfect under any makeup.  I am a huge fan!
  • Nail ridge filler – I use SNS with tips for my nails, so unfortunately, I’ve passed this off to a friend for a review.  I’ll edit this post with her review when she gets back to me.
  • Anderson Lilly candle – My office always has a candle burning for it’s calming effects.  The copper candleholder is BEAUTIFUL and the scent is heavenly, but a bit over-powering.  It’s certainly meant for a bigger room.  The other thing I am a bit unsure of are its ingredients.  Good candles blow very little black smoke into the air.  This one was unfortunately low on the quality scale.  Nonetheless, it’s beautiful.
  • Ettika black tassel earrings – ARE ON POINT for spring, and I’ve worn them over and over again!  ‘Nuff said
  • Dove body polish – I’ve used this product before and I’m a huge fan – especially in dryer weather.  Note (from previous experience), it’s not great for people who spray tan.  You’ll need something stronger for that.
  • Physique 57 Massage roller – Okay… when I first saw it, I giggled (because I’m immature), then I thought it looked a lot like one of those ab rollers, then I tried it.  It’s great for two things – one, back massage with a shirt on (it’s uncomfortable without), and lightly massaging out cellulite and aching muscles.  I’ll definitely keep using it.
  • Rachel Pally bag – It is such a fun, functional bag.  The colors are beautiful!  They make great gifts for others!

I certainly can’t wait for my summer one!

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: You Are the Author of Your Own Life’s Story

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I’ve taken a few days off from writing meditative posts because 1) Life. and 2) At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wanted to make sure what I was writing was useful and unique.  Writing/using meditative practices can feel redundant at times, and while practice is what gets us to that elevated state of being, it’s also not helpful to repeat the same things over again.  In order to grow in your practice, especially if you’ve been at it for a while, you sometimes need new information to help feed it.

I’ve written on the topic of “Creating Your Own Life Story” before, but it came from a different point in my life, a point at which I was evolving into who I wanted to be.  A few years later, and I’m a lot more self-aware (in all aspects), am driving towards the things I want, and am finding myself enjoying each of my days as much as I can. In other words, I’m constantly creating my life’s story, and it never stops!

I know, especially in today’s world, there’s so much noise – “buy this”, “travel here”, “do these 80,000 things before you die”, “vote this way”, “hate this”, “love that”. You follow all of these “strong recommendations” on how to conduct your daily life, living in fear (and debt) that you’ll be missing out, or are judged,  and you’re miserable because what you really wanted was something different.  In this scenario, are you really creating your own life story or living out someone else’s?

I used to have major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) a lot.  I believed that other people’s lives, documented on social media, were far better in comparison to mine. I tried to emulate much of what they did and wore, and realized that 1. I was exhausted 2. I felt broke, and 3. I had no idea who I was.  So what if I preferred a different style of dress?  So what if I didn’t get the $1000 milkshake at the newest/trendiest cafe (totally exaggerating on that one, but I once shared a $300 lasagna)?  Was the stress and instant gratification worth the emulation and money for something that would be forgotten on a timeline?  And, that’s just this overly-hyped use of social platforms… this doesn’t even account for real-life situations of going to place after place, event after event, seeing the same faces every night, realizing you’re just as lost and miserable as everyone else… while they are carrying the coveted bag of the season.

Step 1, for me, was getting out of my environment.  I’ve mentioned before the notion of being around what you want to BECOME.  This means living in an environment that nurtures your life’s goals, not prohibits them.  It means surrounding yourself with like-minded people who inspire you to get there.  Unfortunately, Washington, D.C. wasn’t the place for my transformation, so I moved back to San Diego for a year.  While it came with its own challenges, it also came with a lot of GROWTH – it was as though I needed to be a “life” exchange student to independently transform into the person I was always meant to be.

Step 2, for me, was figuring out how to BE healthier.  This wasn’t a checklist, but rather a natural progression.  Sunshine is a good start, and so are long walks by the ocean and the bay.  Then I started hanging out with some of my favorite people who are into holistic approaches to life, including meditation, Reiki, eating well, and workouts designed to relieve stress.  Slowly, over that year I was there, I began to evolve.  I started to naturally move away from certain people who weighed me down negatively, I adopted new, healthy habits that had me looking and feeling better than I ever had before.

Step 3, for me, was to EXPERIENCE my own life.  Feeling freer than I ever had before, I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles meeting all sorts of amazing people, went to Sundance for the first time, flew home a couple of times to attend some super fun events, as well as so many other places to do things I had had on my “bucket list”, but was never sure I’d get to.

… and then… I moved back to Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened.  My lease was up, and I knew that while San Diego was great, I needed to be around a bit more energy.  The decision was then between moving to Los Angeles or going home.  I went back and forth on it until I was just about a week away, and decided that for some unknown reason, it was time to go home.

The thing was… I was different, more relaxed, and happier.  I saw the city in a different light. I took the tools I instilled in me, and made a conscious decision to keep using them as best I could (while not being surrounded by sunshine and water).  I took a trip through Europe for two weeks, experienced pure euphoria on a few occasions during that trip, came back, met someone amazing, traveled to Mexico, India, and Iceland, bought a house, and moved up in my career.  I’ve written two books (which are currently being reconstructed), have been asked to contribute to professional publications, and have finally settled into a great mind/body routine.

The summary on my life matters because I consciously CHOSE to create my own story, to experience my life the way the universe intended.  I said “yes” more and “no” less.  I chose (and choose) to remain present as much as I can to appreciate every moment, regardless of what I’m doing.  I chose (and choose) to not waste any minutes, because there might not be minutes left with someone you love, or even you, yourself.

You’re going… “well, good for you, but why do I care?”  Because everyone is given their own journey from the start, and few actually take it.  YOU have the ability, at any time, to choose what you want to do with your life.  I’m not saying up and quit your job, and become a beach bum; but I am saying if you’re happier by the beach, look for remote work that allows you that flexibility!  If you wish you could have happier friends, make sure you’re making yourself happier first and then you will attract those friends!  Don’t wait for others to create your story, make yourself be the most interesting person in the room because YOU went out and created it.

Live. Life. Fiercely.

So, you want to be on the path to happiness, and you’re ready to create that story that’s all your own.  How do you do it?

Always start small!  Just like any new healthy habit, it’s taking baby steps to make it stick.

  1. Start by looking out a window you always look out of and notice five new things you never saw before – it can even be people!  Appreciate the fact that you saw five new things out of the same view – it means you’re already practicing awareness and looking through a different lens!  Repeat that for a week or so, appreciating, each day, that you can see something different (it’s also fine if it’s different windows).
  2. Do something different in your routine everyday.  Are you usually a coffee and toast person?  Have a bowl of cereal instead!  It forces you to sit down for a minute and enjoy the morning… even if it’s only a minute.
  3. Take stock of the things that make you the happiest – things that have a lasting effect.  No, this isn’t shopping.  Is it your home?  Is it your family?  Friends? Travels?  Pick one (or more) of those and spend more time with it/them.  This is to create that happy feeling, continuously, that propels you into wanting to seek more avenues of long-lasting happiness.
  4. When you’ve mastered these, seek out the new things you want to try that gives you the same happy vibe you’ve been feeling everyday.  Is it learning to skydive?  Dance?  Go do it!  The happy feeling comes from accomplishment of trying it… even if you decide it’s not right for you to do again.

The goal you must always keep in mind is that you are seeking happiness through things that brighten your life.  The more you open yourself up to the experiences, the more you do, become, and are able to share with the world!  Go out there and create your own story.

 

Events/Performances, Fun

G-Eazy at DAR Constitution Hall

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4 Rows back, and he looked right at me.

One performance by Halsey and G-Eazy (“Him and I“), on Saturday Night Live, and I became a huge fan!

On March 17, 2018, I, along with my other half, attended G-Eazy‘s “Beautiful & Damned” concert at DAR Constitution Hall, and hands down, it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to since Drake.

Those that follow me, know I’m a HUGE lover of music, particularly when it comes to hip hop and EDM.  When I heard G-Eazy rap for the first time, I went to iTunes and sampled every one of his songs, noting the uniqueness of each beat, and the soul in all of his lyrics.  As he puts it, “he’s an autobiographical rapper”, and as the media puts it, he’s the “James Dean of rap”.  Not quite fitting in with the typical hiphop crowd, he’s managed to carve a niche all his own, within an industry that has been historically African American, and he’s done it with a ton of hard work and sleepless nights. It’s that kind of story that impresses the hell out of me, and makes me a super fan.

SO…in just a short few months, I went from being introduced to his music, to scrambling to get tickets.  Below are some of the many snippet videos I took (the full library can be found here), and a slideshow of shots.

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(Note the below video has NSFW language)


Other Things to Note

DAR Constitution Hall is a CASH ONLY PLACE, and is honestly terrible for a large concert when everyone is in line for the one ATM – come with at least $200 if you plan on drinking.

We went to the after party at St. Yves.  I’ve never been a fan of that place, but given that that is where the after party was, and it’s an intimate venue, I made the call to go.  Now, I’ve been spoiled in D.C., in always getting right into a club, so the thought of paying an entrance fee never occurred to me.  Having to pay $60 for two people was ridiculous (then there were drinks).  But, I decided it was worth the effort to be in an even more intimate setting.  He showed up at 1am (last call is 2:30am in D.C.), and looked less than thrilled to be there.  I’ll think twice about after parties from now on (or so I say).

All-in-all, definitely attend his concert, definitely think of close seats, and definitely get to know he’s music.  Yes, he’s raw, yes, he’s pretty vulgar, but there’s something beautiful in him putting it all out there.

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: Creating Peace in Your Life

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It may because I’m getting older (I’ll be 40 in August), but I’ve realized I hate disturbances and do my best to avoid them at all costs.  If I can “be” Amy Poehler in this .GIF then I’m heading in the right direction.

For the first (let’s say) 36 years of my life, I allowed myself all sorts of unhealthy imbalances that left me tired, dramatic, and totally unsure of who I was as a person.  I wanted “the right” people to like me, but in turn, wanted them to make me happy.  I really had no idea who I was, and that wasn’t good.

In the last four years, a lot of things changed.  I went from married to divorced, from living in San Diego, to living back in D.C.  I went from renting to being a homeowner, and financially struggling to get by, to dabbling in investing and certainly padding my savings.  I also went from allowing friends that didn’t have it together, to making peace with the fact that I’d prefer quiet nights in than absorb negative energy.  But, the only way  I was able to get there was to create my own peace and self-love, by spending a lot of time taking stock of my life.

We all have that one aspect of this process that’s the most difficult to overcome and for me, it’s other humans.  By nature, I’m a people person and with my aforementioned affliction, it was super hard to take stock of who I surrounded myself with, what I really wanted in a friend, and ultimately, how to gracefully “exit stage left”.  If you’re like me, then you know that deep down, almost everyone is a good person, and quite possibly, they are just as “stuck” as we are/were.  As time goes on and the universe’s “nudge” to follow your path gets stronger, it forces you into a situation of having to make better decisions for the long run. As the saying goes, “Surround yourself by those that inspire you to be where you want to go.”  While it feels down right wrong to fade out something (or someone) that doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s also important.  It’s part of growing into the person you want to be – the person you have to spend the rest of your life with (you).

Sure, I’m focusing on other humans because that’s where my journey has taken me.  But, it could be anything.  It could be a job, bad habits, holding yourself back from something you really want to do, a need to surround yourself with materialistic goods to make yourself happy, etc.  The point is, no matter how painful, it’s necessary to shed what no longer serves in order to find peace.

Many believe peace is about instant gratification; happiness. The actual definitions Miriam-Webster has includes:

: a state of tranquility or quiet: such as

a : freedom from civil disturbance

  • Peace and order were finally restored in the town.

b : a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom

  • a breach of the peace

2: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

  • I have been in perfect peace and contentment
  • —J. H. Newman

3: harmony in personal relations

  • The sisters are at peace with each other.

4a : a state or period of mutual concord between governments

  • There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.

b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

  • offered the possibility of a negotiated peace
  • New York Times
5used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

Imbalance feels disturbing

at peace

: in a state of concord or tranquility

  • The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

(Originally this word was created in the 14th century – that’s a bit ironic given how much of Asia was being conquered at the time, as well as the spread of the Black Plague.  Perhaps this word was the only word to describe what they wanted 🙂

But, if you look at all of the definitions for it, it proves that most people abuse the word “peace” as something that isn’t an ever-lasting state.  If you take a look at “at peace” (at the bottom of the list of definitions), it denotes a timeless state of being – that it’s the end result we all want to achieve.

How To Get There

As with yesterday’s post, this isn’t an easy journey, and certainly one that can’t be forced. But, there is a path and if it’s followed diligently, it will be easier!

  • Meditate – seriously, I can’t stress that enough.  It can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or whatever works for you.  Putting your body and mind in a state of complete calm becomes somewhat addicting.  You’ll realize you like having no disturbances.
  • Consciously think about what would put you at permanent peace.  Write it down and put it somewhere you can save it.
  • Begin to slowly chip away at how to get to that state of peace.  Is it staying in one extra night a week to save money, helping to slip away from those you don’t truly want to be around?  Is it telling yourself you don’t need to go on Amazon everyday? Is it slowly fading out a bad habit by replacing it with a good one?  Regardless of what it is, take it day by day, or hour by hour if you have to!  Make sure to write down the milestones you want to achieve and if necessary, a plan to get there.
  • Write down your positive thoughts and feelings in the morning, and do it again at night.  Read it once to see how your day went, then don’t look back – living in the past doesn’t promote growth

For those reading this, you’re already on the path to self growth, or are looking to achieve this.  I’m not an expert in the slightest, but I’ve been through enough life to get the hardships, difficulties, and the constant wanting of something better.  I, myself, have followed the above, and I’m a believer in the process!  I hope that each of you find the long-lasting peace you want in your lives.  And if you ever need something to aspire to, save that Amy Poehler .GIF 🙂

 

 

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: Putting Your Beliefs Into Practice

It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted on my meditative practices, and over the course of that year, I’ve received a lot of comments and messages about bringing it back.  It brings me so much joy to know that there are people out there that I’ve helped in some way, if even only a tiny bit!

Truth be told, I stopped meditating for a good, long while – not because I hated it or felt it wasn’t working, but because I wasn’t allotting myself the time to do it every morning.  Thus, imagine the negative thoughts, beliefs, and physical “trauma” I started to gain!  All of a sudden, I became tense all of the time, feeling as though my world was a step away from crashing around me, resulting in me losing sight of what is so important: I am/should be grateful for the life I have.  It’s up to me to make my happiness a reality.

In February, I went to a Bachelorette party for a bride that is very into holistic healing – something I believe in as well.  We pulled a lot of tarot cards throughout the course of the weekend and the same thing kept popping up: I needed to make big changes in order to be happy.  She then performed Reiki (which I had never done before, but now swear by) and anything that was causing me to panic suddenly left from the top of my head and flew away.  I’m not joking.  I could literally feel the bad energy leave!  After that, I looked something like this:

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(If you don’t know who the guy in the .GIF above is, it’s Peter from “Office Space, The Movie”. He goes to a hypnotherapist to learn to not be so miserable at work. In the middle of the hypnosis, the therapist dies and Peter is left in a state of not caring about a thing.)

When I got back home, I promised myself to bring meditation back into my routine, and I’ve kept good on that promise ever since.  I was using Headspace to start, but found myself back at the Chopra Center to keep with my Transcendental Meditation, using Sanskrit Mantras.  A little over a week ago, they came out with a new 21-Day Meditation Challenge that helped bring me back to the basics.

For those that don’t know, Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey come out with new, free 21-Day Meditation Challenges every so often, and this one is called, “Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body, and Spirit”.  I had pulled away from their challenges for a while because they seemed to follow a path of what was happening in the world, and I really wasn’t getting anything out of them.  But, this new one brought me back to the basics of why meditation is so important: If your mind is healed, so is the rest of you.

In the first nine days I’ve done it so far, there’s a noticeable improvement in my overall mood, my spirit, my thought process, and even my physique (even my brain has muscle memory, so-to-speak).  It has been a great reminder of why each of us need to take 20 minutes out of our day to do some type of exercise geared towards being still, breathing, and letting all thoughts pass through you.

Instead of walking you through my practice this morning, I want to walk you through a concept of why these practices are so important, and up until recently, didn’t truly understand.

I’ve been reading this book called, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One” by Joe Dispenza. Arguably, this is hands down the best book I’ve ever read on how to transform yourself into your full potential.  I read a lot of self-help books, and out of all of them, if you only had time for one, read this!

He structures his book into two parts: The physiology of the brain and how it’s connected to the body; and how to train your brain to think differently.

He breaks down life to it’s very physiological core (through quantum physics), explaining not just our human makeup, but also how the brain and body are separate, yet connected: The body being a vessel for our brain to perform.  When we train the brain to think, react, and feel a certain way, we are also telling our body to automatically respond to it in the same way.  This means that when we allow certain negative behaviors to become habit (i.e. smoking, drinking to excess, or acute anger/depression), our body automatically identifies this as a routine it’s supposed to react to, i.e. only allowing you to feel comfort within these negative habits, not happy ones.  The most profound thing Dispenza said on this was that 95% of our brain is asleep while the other 5% is conscious!  That means that 95% of the time, we allow physical and emotional automatic responses to take over – something that for most of us, isn’t a good thing.  We need to continue to nourish our brain with positivity in order to feel the continual healing effects it has on us physically.  It’s why meditation – the act of training your brain to think, feel, and BE different is so crucial for each of us.

Think of one moment in your life when you felt pure elation.  It could be the day you achieved a physical milestone, such as climbing to the top of a mountain; taking a vacation you had always wanted to take; a pleasant surprise from someone you loved; or even indulging in something little.  Now take that memory, that feeling, and think of how you physically felt.  Perhaps there was a small rush of adrenaline, you felt lighter than air, and/or there was a spring in your step.  Now think of what it would be like if you had those feelings of euphoria more and more.  Suddenly, the small stuff doesn’t matter anymore.  Things that would upset you, no longer do. Or, you walk around with a different lens on life, realizing you have so much to be grateful for and you’d rather remain in that space.  Whatever it is, it’s proof that that happy lifestyle is achievable!  We sometimes just have to work a bit to get there – to train our brains to think more positively on their own so it’s an automatic response.

Tips on How to Achieve This New Mental State

Just as we train our bodies to achieve anything physically, we have to train our brains to be the command center that trains our bodies.  This means “rewiring” our thought processes.  It’s not an overnight process, and just with anything else we train for, we need to do these things repeatedly to get good at it.

  1. Remember that one (or more) moment of pure elation/happiness in your life and hang onto it.  Use it as a goal to try to achieve once a month, then once a week, then once every few days, and so on.  What most don’t realize about this exercise is that by looking to achieve this very simple (yet sometimes difficult to attain) emotion, you are not only reclaiming your own life, you’re making YOURSELF happy for YOU.
  2. Take stock of bad habits and negative thought patterns, and start leaving yourself some reminders about NOT doing these things (post-it notes, throwing out cigarettes, leaving rewards for yourself with instructions on not opening it unless you went a full day without…). Give yourself rewards each week/month, for every period of time you’ve gone without indulging in it, is a fantastic way to stay on track.  For example, you might be a habitual smoker and you decide to quit slowly.  Indulge in a sweet treat if you make it two days, book a weekend getaway if you make it a month, and so forth.  For those trying to break negative thought patterns, start by complimenting someone on something – the reward will be in the positive energy.  Or, pamper yourself with something small to show you love yourself.  This leads to a “want” to continue to do positively-re-inforced things to evoke the positive feelings.  This is also a reward within itself.
  3. To coincide with number 2, at the beginning of each day, write down one positive thought in a journal.  And at the end of each day, write down something new and positive you learned or felt.  Re-read these two entries to feel the gratitude for how great your life truly is.  This practice actually reinforces the connection between mind, body, and soul!

While we’re all on different life journeys, are from different cultures, etc., there’s one thing we all share a “want” for and that is a peaceful existence.  The more we can tune into our own thoughts, behaviors, and actions; and change that for the good of not just ourselves, but for everyone, the more peaceful our coexistence can be!

 

Style

Style: How to Make Carpet Treads

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Quick synopsis: Wood stairs are noisy and slippery – especially in socks.  A few “lessons learned” later, and we realized we needed to do something about it.

I searched all over the Internet for nice looking stair treads that flowed with the general decor of the house and couldn’t find any (that weren’t an arm and a leg anyway).  So, I set to researching how to do it myself.  Below are the steps I went through to make them.  I can tell you they aren’t perfect BUT at least we’re not keeping the neighbors up, nor are we creating an unintended slip n’ slide.

Measuring the Stairs

Believe it or not, not all staircases have the same stair length (width) all the way across, which can leave your treads looking smaller or larger (depending on how narrow or wide the step gets).

Make sure you measure each step by it’s length and width.  Then, lob off anywhere from 2-3 inches on each side.  Stair treads aren’t usually made to go all the way across (as you will see in the first picture above).  However, they DO go edge to edge from back to front.

Picking Carpet

I’m pretty sure this is self-explanatory.  We had leftover carpet from our basement so we used that.  Note that the carpet should be durable, easy to clean, and not have such a crazy pattern that it’s hard to cut straight.  Also, make sure you have double the amount you think you need.

Cutting the Carpet

I used Robert’s Professional Carpet Cutting Knife, which did a pretty decent job.  Note that on a normal staircase, you will dull close to three razor blades, which are included with the knife.

Make sure that when you are cutting, you are doing it on a non-scratchable surface so as not to damage anything.

I also suggest using a fabric pencil or another washable marking pencil to make your cutting lines.

Finally, cut at least 3-4 more than you think you need, just in case.

Sealing the Edges

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I used Robert’s Universal Carpet Seam Sealer to seal all edges of the carpet to prevent fraying.  However, there are a couple of things to note with that:

  1. The carpets need to dry on a drying rack for a bit – this can take a few hours to do.
  2. The edges will feel hard, which at first will not be super fun to walk on, but it does wear down over time.
  3. Six months later, and the edges of some of our stair treads are fraying a bit, which means we need to reseal.

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Sticking Them to the Stairs

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I used Robert’s Indoor/Outdoor Double-Sided tape to do this.  It’s super easy to apply but a pain in the butt to cut.  Make sure that you use a box cutter or something else with a blade to do this – NOT SCISSORS.

Once you’ve cut your strips (two per tread – one for the top and one for the bottom), remove the adhesive backer from one side and apply to the tread.  Do the same for the other.  Then remove the other adhesive backers and apply the tread to the step.

Note: They can be removed and reapplied to the step if needed.  They will still stick!

You’re Done!

I’m sure you’ll probably do a better job than I did on cutting, but they certainly do the trick, and we’re super happy we did it.  Good luck!

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