SELF-CARE A to Z: GUA SHA

Jade gua sha tool

Thank you Mount Lai – love my gua sha!

I love beauty products, though I don’t always love the beauty industry. I don’t know which products to trust, but everyone is hawking their magic beans miracle fix. HOWEVER, I’m willing to try most items at least once (for as long as the product lasts).

Writer Ann Brasco demonstrates gua sha

Thanks to Ann Brasco for showing me the best sides of gua sha!

Today, I’ll explain a very beginner’s approach to Gua Sha for the face.  Gua Sha tools fall in the same family as the jade rollers you’ve seen in your friends’ fridge. So at first, I thought this was just a more manageable method of applying the rollers in a slightly different package.  I received my Mount Lai jade gua sha tool as a gift.  I tucked it up into my cabinet for a little while not knowing what to do with it until I saw one of my favorite writers Ann Brasco sharing her gua sha methods on social media.  She did a great job demonstrating, she has flawless skin, and I trust her judgement, so I followed suit.

The idea behind gua sha (and the rollers) is that you’re gently breaking up and redirecting lymphatic fluid build ups from under your skin and moving them along. Don’t ask me what lymphatic fluid is, but I know that lymph nodes are near your face and get sore when you’re sick, so getting rid of lymphatic fluid makes sense to me.

 

Now the gua sha’s flat shape, and the resulting flat edge of the tool, gently scrape and tug your skin and if you push harder, the muscles below.  This extra resistance helps your body break up release stagnant blood and stimulates cell growth to help heal the area – in other words, regenerate new skin with no wrinkles. OK, that was my mantra the first time that decided to try this.  After researching #guasha online, I found several demonstrations and immediately the tool seemed pretty self-explanatory but if you want a video, Mount Lai has one on their website.

This exercise had several immediate benefits.  First of all, it invigorated my face, almost like a facial.  Even while typing this 30 min. later, my face skin memorized how it felt on my skin. The exercise made me feel present because of the attention I gave it, and the resulting mild rush as I worked my way around my forehead, my cheeks, and my jawline. While it could be a regiment that grows faster with time, I don’t recommend that. Linger over it to let all of your senses react. But now, let’s go deeper.

Author demonstrates gua sha

It felt like standing up, stretching my arms except on my face. Relaxing…

The Mount Lai video used part of the gua sha tool to actually massage the area around our ears.  Now, I recently did acupuncture near my ears and they showed me how many pressure points are in and around our ears and using the gua sha tool felt amazing. I’ve been watching @wildling_beauty as well and she happened to tackle my problem area – these frown lines between my brows. She recommended an exercise that actually lifted the inner most corner of our eye brows and it felt like yoga or stretches for my brows. Something I never knew I needed.  Then, I moved the edge of the tool against the direction of my vertical wrinkles to try to help re-train my skin.

The blogger demonstrates gua sha on forehead lines...

BEFORE: See my brow frown lines?

I’m optimistic.  I’m now looking forward to tomorrow and pampering myself as soon as I wake up. I’m going to test it for the rest of the month and will circle back with “after” pictures to see I was able to lessen the dent of my wrinkles.

Thanks Ann Brasco for getting me hooked on gua sha.

What about you?

  • Have you tried Gua Sha before?
  • What is your favorite area to use gua sha on?
  • Did you know that they also use it on a larger scale to help with sore muscles?
  • Do you look at me thinking “Why is this lady rubbing a rock on her face?”
  • Do you believe in jade’s powers?
  • Have you read any earlier A through F self-care tips?

*To join the conversation in person, Follow me on Instagram @WanderWithSarah and join me:

  • Mondays, 8am for Coffee Inspiration – Just a quick jolt of positivity to start your week right!
  • Wednesdays, 5pm for Humpday Celebration – I’ll be reading uplifting passages from books and we’ll chat about them.
  • Fridays, 5pm for Happy Hour – Celebrate our wins – no matter how big – from the week and transition into a relaxing weekend. Sometimes I’ll have a special guest.

This is a part of an #AtoZChallenge so subscribe to find out what’s next. To start back at the beginning, click here.

SELF-CARE A to Z: EBB & FLOW

Woman floating in water

Right now our planet faces a very common enemy, this pandemic. Though everyone will process and travel this journey in very different ways, I feel many people peeling away the levels that created our identities and categorized us before and making connections on a human level – all while being told to physically distance ourselves. But after our emotions initially erupt and make us feel raw, there comes a strange calm amidst the storm. During these moments I ask myself, what am I supposed to learn from this lesson?  

It’s strange that as we start the 4th week parallel to our old lives, I feel like the shock and scare of it all died down a bit, for me, and I feel like I’m in this stage where I understand my job (stay home, keep working, look out for my parents or other compromised people, stay healthy). It feels as though we’re now in the part of this journey that we can plot on charts and navigate our course. It’s still a big deal, but not wrecking me like the first month did. April feels different thus strengthening my resolve to live this month differently. A big thing helping me through this has been online socializing and supporting my friends whether talking about the virus, their jobs, families or creative projects they’re working on. I’ve made an effort to be live online* this month to help make this a conversation and a supportive community.

Oprah on stage

Such an amazing day as Oprah helped walk us through inward exercises!

During my first online Instagram Happy Hour last Friday, one of my fellow #OMagInsiders Suzanne O’Brien, jumped on live from New York. We were reminiscing about having attended Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour right as the COVID stuff surfaced – albeit in different cities – and how fortunate we were that it didn’t get cancelled. The tour centered around finding our purpose, focusing our intentions and committing to ourselves.  Suzanne reminded that the primary message that came from the tour started with taking time to be still, to listen and to grow. That mantra helps so much in regular situations to help figure out your purpose, set your intentions and commit to yourself, but especially now. 

EBB
One of my high school girlfriends shared a comparison of her previous calendar filled to the edges with events, sports, playdates, and school reminders to her current empty calendar. Though shocking on the one hand, because we still anticipate the bumps in the roads we were used to traveling, on the other hand we’ve been given the gift of time that we used to always wish for. The ability to pause while the never-ending pounding waves of life retreat a bit, rather than fighting to keep our heads up in the thrashing waves, means we can do a self-inventory.

Footprints in sand on beach

Many of us banked some time not commuting, not getting ready for work, not driving carpools, not stopping for coffee, wandering the grocery store aisles and buying gas. Sure a lot was dumped into our laps that weren’t there before and there is a learning curve while we learn to put our lives online, but at least we’re all at home.  I double dog dare you to fine 5, 15, or 30 minutes that you didn’t used to have that you do now. If there isn’t, then force yourself to try (and I will too). Start small and grow. Be still and seek balance. 

Clear your mind, see what keeps coming racing back. Be intentional with your thoughts. If you don’t know how to process the thoughts in your head, try free-form journaling – Julia Cameron calls them Morning Pages.  Use a pen – magic happens when pushing a pen over pounding away on your keyboard. See what drops out of your head! Just be present.

Quote from Oprah Winfrey

From #Oprahs2020VisionTour journal

FLOW
Then – you know this, say it with me – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So although right now the shore recessed far enough back giving us this quieter time, this mental space from our usual routine, when it returns to the shore, your progress – the flow – will be just as big. Considering how far inward we’re turning right now, you’re going to come back with lightning bolts, rainbows and confetti guns following you around!

I feel flow in two different ways.  I totally understand Oprah’s definition that flow comes from living a life so balanced that there are no obstacles, no resistance.  Until I reach that state of flow, I feel it the way Bruce Lee explains that we should be formless and shapeless like water – but recognize that water can flow or it can crash.

Woman sitting on ocean rocks

Maybe start there. Find a few moments. Picture in your mind what you would love the ebb of your life to look like, sound like, feel like.  Then, picture the same for when you’re in the flow. What are some things you definitely want to picture in that space. What are things you would exclude?  I feel like this is a good place to start.

We are being touched and changed on such deep human levels or possibly feeling unsettled enough to take a leap of faith. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

 

What about you?

  • How often do you make time for yourself?
  • Do you meditate?
  • Do you journal?
  • How do you define flow?

Let me know in the comments below.

This is a month-long self-care #AtoZChallenge blogging project, so subscribe and please join the conversation!  To start at A, click here.

 

*To join the conversation in person, Follow me on Instagram @WanderWithSarah and join me:

  • Mondays, 8am Coffee Inspiration – Just a quick jolt of positivity to start your week!
  • Wednesdays, 5pm Humpday Celebration – I’ll be reading uplifting passages from books and, if you feel like it, we’ll chat about them.
  • Fridays, 5pm Happy Hour – Celebrate our wins – no matter how big – from the week and transition into a relaxing weekend. I have more special guests lined up!

SELF-CARE A to Z: ART & AFFIRMATIONS

For many of us it’s been about three weeks with our outside-the-home lives uprooted and shoved into a corner or taking over our houses. Did you ever think you could cram your work office, your kids school, their daycare, your animal farm and an aisle of Costco into your place and make it work? Well you did, so give yourself a pat on the back! 

You’re not seeing double, that’s two laptops.

The sudden derailing from my precisely scheduled life, hurtling straight for the shapeshifting unknown, rattled me. I’ll admit that I was in shock for the last three weeks just pressing on and celebrating little wins like “I didn’t leave the house today” or “I finally got an Amazon Fresh delivery time!” Now we’ve turned the corner into the next month and our lockdown, or its rhythm, has finally started to feel familiar. Still, with no end-date in sight, I am staging an intervention on my own behalf to stop worrying about all of the things I cannot control and focus on what I can – caring for myself.

My dream Me Time is spent reading!

I constantly dream about self-care – crave it, strive for it, plan it into a busy weekend, but am not the best about following through. So this month, I’m challenging myself to focus on it for 30 days and will share what I find through an #AtoZChallenge – plus will include a few bonuses at the end of the month. I don’t expect you to try everything every day. That sounds exhausting!  Try one, or a few, let me know if they helped or not. Did you do them alone or with friends? My goal here is to connect people who deserve to take some time for themselves – especially through a stressful time like this – and just check in with each other, start a conversation! Most posts won’t be this long, I just had a lot of ‘splaining to do.

 

My kids got in touch with their creative sides last weekend.

ART
As always, through the fear of the unsettled and unknown, rays of positivity peek through. With everyone essentially being sent to their rooms, they’re being forced to play with their toys, or dive deep into their imagination. I’m seeing more creativity during this confinement whether it’s finding a new way to exercise or teach the kids, or learning creative ways to connect. Seeing blocks of European families sing or exercise together warmed my heart.

We’re also shaking loose our shells that we used to present and protect with. What’s left underneath feels raw but allows the sunshine to reach those hidden ideas. In her book Big Magic*, Liz Gilbert shares the story of a professor who asked his writing student, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes!” Sometimes expressing ourselves through art feels easier than verbalizing the emotions rocking our body. Then, when you do, the dose of courage will carry over to all parts of your being. 

#TheKindnessRocksProject #RedondoRocks

You don’t need an overflowing art supply closet in your home. Grab a pencil and paper and doodle. Use water and a paintbrush on the sidewalk. I’ve seen adorable colored chalk mosaics! Make card castles with playing cards! Walk around your neighborhood and take photographs to document the quiet streets!  Cook! Paint kindness rocks! So many ideas!

#boldmoves

AFFIRMATIONS
Why do people feel guilty scheduling time for themselves? Often, especially during stressful times, people drop anything that feels like a luxury, instead focusing on the necessities. Besides checking in on your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, don’t forget to check in with yourself. Be your own best cheerleader with affirmations!

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

I’ve heard of a lot of different ways that people do affirmations. Some people call it a mantra, or a theme song, or even a soundtrack. Some people cut inspirational quotes out of magazines and put them on a vision board, others write them in a bullet journal or stick them on post it notes on their bathroom mirror.

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Start small. Think of your favorite movie quotes, your favorite song lyrics, your favorite authors or inspirational speakers. You’re bound to find favorite 1-2 line statements that cause you to pause and ponder the meaning. If you still can’t think of any, check out these statements that have helped me.

 

Take time to smell the roses…

I’m determined to use this period to live life differently. I’m going to do morning pages, more often than not. I’m going to listen to podcasts and read books. To force me to commit to myself, I’m going to schedule it in. 

 

  • Mondays I’ll share a little burst of inspiration over coffee.
  • Wednesdays I’ll read inspirational and motivational book excerpts that helped lift me up to celebrate making it halfway through our week.
  • Fridays We’ll gather, rant and rave about the week, about the new self-care things we tried, and kick off the weekend feeling the strength of our own presence.

Details will be on my social media so follow along if you are hope to find a self-care ritual simple enough to fit into your life.
Instagram: @WanderWithSarah Twitter: @WanderWithSarah
Facebook: Makes Me Wander   Pinterest @MakesMeWander^

*The two books I referred to were Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (tonight’s book read on Instagram) and Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough.

Note: These afflinks provide you a link to buy but it won’t cost you any extra money – though I may earn a few cents towards my next book.

MY MANY MOAI

I feel like an enigma as the introvert that loves joining groups. Growing up, groups served my desire to disappear in the pile of, and yet identify with, my peers. I wore the labels from showing up for just enough meetings to get in the yearbook picture and partake in the free snacks. I knew the truth I aimed to occupy, I just balked at my own value not believing I offered anything new. I feel like teenage angst boiled over then reduced down to a thick syrup of Imposter syndrome.  

Thank goodness that my heart knew what it needed and where I wanted to wind up, although my feet kept kicking myself in the ass. My heart backed myself into some amazing groups that I still can’t believe include me in their membership. These groups not only broadcast my soul to the world but, in turn, give me clarification and confidence about who I am. Each group feels a little bit like home. 

These lovely Red Hat Society ladies grew by word-of-mouth but are nation-wide!

 

High School Girlfriends – Friends who have known the many evolutions of me (since before I knew who I was) and still stay close anyway!

OMagInsiders – Group of hearts on a similar wavelength who expanded my horizons and helped redefine the second season of my life. 

Eat My Way Around The World – Flavorful foodie friends introduced to me by work who remind me to season our work life with social meals. They know what I’m saying even if words evade me. 

Redondo Rocks – Kind, creative and generous people aiming to embellish people’s days and  strengthen the positive connections in our community. 

Mom Tribe – I have a flourishing and eager-to-help network of moms who have driven carpools, fed my kids, kept them if I have to be somewhere at an off hour, taken them on fun adventures, and helped me keep my eyes on the ground – so much so that my children believe that I really do see everything everywhere. While I love them all for helping make me a successful mom, I love them as people and look forward to the times when the kids are scarce too.  

Korean Adoptees – We’re so spread out around the globe, but we’re reuniting online through a wide variety of groups where we help carry the history we share together and mentor each other to find the answers we hope for or the path we are meant for.

I’m so fortunate because these groups offer:

  • A security blanket – Non-judgemental support when needed
  • Level-headed perspective – They speak truthfully and directly to help steer me
  • Calming agent – They listen and give great hugs which dissipate the feeling of being alone in any storm
  • Strong support – They totally jump on my crazy train when I’m roaring down the tracks
  • Sweeten my life – They surprise me with special treats of kind gestures and rituals
  • Bonus: Did you know that by participating in regular moais, your life could increase by 8 years (Blue Zones)?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Do you belong to any moais, groups or clubs?

What kind?
What is your longest-lasting Moai?
Do you prefer online or in-person groups?

How many people are in your Moai?
Do you know how to say Moai?   Mo•ai (/mo,eye/) Japan
Tell me the top three things your Moai give you!

WWP: WRITE AN “ABOUT ME…” ABOUT YOU

Once I hit job-searching age, I received instruction on writing effective elevator speeches. These conversation starters explained myself and my goals – blurted out in the time needed to ride a few floors when momentarily trapped with someone possibly capable of changing my life’s trajectory. For me, creating a quick tagline to communicate about a company, product or service came far more naturally than talking about myself. What about you?

So, here I sit working on re-branding my website for the second time – but now considering what I believe and what I want to offer in that arena. I carefully consider each method of delivery and my messaging. I’m squeezing my brain and wringing my heart to find words to explain it in a way that embraces readers and convinces them to sit a while longer and see what happens.  Part of my resistance comes from the fact that I’m entering a new frontier and still trying to define exactly what space I will occupy. You too?

 

From my Twitter profile, my shortest “About me!”

WRITING EXERCISE 1: Elevator Speech about you – 1 liner – Who are you and what are you doing?

I recently completed the Brand You! Executive-education course working to gain a full 360 degree/3-D perspective of who I am and what I offer. Truthfully, this course benefits anyone trying to navigate this changing job landscape to remind you of your brand, your passion, vision, and core values that may translate better than specific skills being rendered unnecessary thanks to technology and automation.  

We only look and self-evaluate ourselves based on our reflections in the mirror. In this course, we receive evaluations and quick insights from others who see the “real us.” They know our faces straight on.  We also took a variety of third-party evaluations, some confirming information I knew about myself, some clarifying characteristics about me that now suddenly made sense.

My 150-ish word “About Me” from my Facebook Page

WRITING EXERCISE 2: Brief about you – 150 words – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this?

So what other questions do you ask yourself to help get to the core of who you are? Here are a few I’ve learned from a few conferences and podcasts. Share yours in the comments!

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What would you do if money was no object?
  • What are three things that bring you joy?
  • What would you write in your obituary?

Another reason why I have difficulty with this task is, again, imposter syndrome. I don’t always understand the “how,” I just know that I get stuff done. Sometimes it feels wickedly smart and other times extremely messy. But I get there.

This mantra quickly helped me transition from my year of vulnerability to a year of striving, confidence, reinvention:  Why Not Me?!

This is the first paragraph of a way too long profile from my blog!

WRITING EXERCISE 3: About you – as long as you need – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this? Then start revising by cutting half out… See what happens.

EXTRA CREDIT:
So while I did refer you to my various sites and my old “About Me” examples, I am working on redoing my site and will share new info “About Me” shortly! Feel free to let me know what caught your eye or what made you look away. While I finish re-working my various “About Me” please consider asking one more question for me:

What do you need right now?

Leave your comments or DM me if you wish to let me know privately. I want to know what you are working on, what is challenging you, what steals your time? I can’t wait to learn more about YOU!

#WednesdayWritingPrompt #WWP #Autobiography #MiniMemoir #Bio #Writing #AboutMe #AboutYou #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

ONE WOMAN WRITING RETREAT

I’m still designing how the label “Writer” fits me. Writing still exists as more of a hobby or side-gig right now, but occupies more real estate on my 8-year plan.  So I try to emanate what writers do… They write, read, write, wander, go on writing retreats, write, submit articles, drink wine, apply for writing residencies, write, procrastinate, get a publishing deal, get distracted, and write.

If you love this journal, you can click on the picture to buy! #afflink

So far, it’s been hard to create a regular habit for me.  I started my blog to force the daily writing habit (but my kids went to sleep earlier back in 2012). Now that they’re older, and seemingly never go to bed, my train of thought gets too easily distracted by the constant movement in my house. I don’t have a protected writing space physically or mentally. I often go away from home to get any writing done.

My writing retreats consist of Saturday mornings when I get up to move my car by 7:30am (due to street cleaning) or when I house sit for others and put distance between me and my laundry, dishes, bookshelf, stack of magazines, and binge-worthy shows. Conferences and retreats always sparks ideas and energizes me to write, but I don’t want to spend a lot of extra time and money just to get writing done. Also, while I love the networking aspect, I get more wrapped up in other people’s ideas and know that sometimes, I need to focus more deeply on my own.  

It dawned on me that when I wrote my master’s thesis 5 years ago, holing myself up in a hotel near my home helped me retain my focus! I live only 6 miles from the Crowne Plaza LAX hotel, limiting my travel time, and knew they’d done extensive renovations.  With their view of LAX, it makes my mind wander enough to get the “what ifs”  flowing without making me want to get up and wander. 

In order to maximize my time, I set up a few guidelines and enforced them:

RESPECT YOUR TIME – While on this mini retreat, use time wisely! Set boundaries, eliminate distractions. Although a bed to myself and unlimited paid TV movie channels tempts me, I purposefully left the TV off or swore that I’d wait until I met my productivity goals. (Turns out it never went on).

PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE – Rearrange any furniture not bolted down, that moves easily. I made sure the desk and my notebooks would be the central focus. I stayed close to the air, put my back to the view, and felt more invested in the job at hand.

SET GOALS – Whether aiming for a certain page count, or hashing out an idea by meditating on your ideas, make a schedule for yourself to allow balanced time for eating, sleeping, working, and daydreaming.

HEALTHY FOODS – My goal focused on not spending too much time and effort on meals. Though this hotel does feature a variety of food in the lobby, I knew if I ate in the hotel, I’d get wrapped up in conversations and get distracted. I purposefully drove offsite for dinner. Kabuki in the Howard Hughes center offered me flavorful sushi options outside of my routine spicy tuna rolls. 

I packed a weekend’s worth of healthy snacks for my marathon writing session.

I did wind up running to the lobby for a salad from the Boulevard Market Cafe and it hit the spot!

HYDRATE – My fluid routine consists of equal parts coffee, water and wine – in that order.  Creative juices flow more freely with proper hydration! 

VOLUMES OF SUPPORTING MATERIALS – Obviously, I’m the one you should look for in the case of an emergency that may prevent us from returning home right away. Not for my snack and hydration supplies but for my books to read to pass the time.

SELF CARE – Make sure you take time to be still, or pamper yourself, or do whatever helps your daily routine dissipate and allows you to center and be present for your writing weekend.

BE FLEXIBLE – You may define this as yoga, I define this as forgiving myself and allowing the schedule to reveal itself as I go. Things may change, I may not hit every  mark, but still dedicating time to myself and living in a boundary-less space while stretching my creative muscles felt amazing!

I’d love to report back that I finished a novel in 24 hours, or even an outline, but I didn’t. Still, it’s worth the exercise to get away, organize my notes some, and remind me what I love about writing. Next time, I plan to amplify my efforts with large adhesive note papers and some expo markers, or even a pile of square note pads that I can stick to the wall and continue to hash out ideas.

What about you?
When is the last time you did a retreat?
Were you alone or with friends?
What is your favorite part of getting away?
What are you writing right now?
Where should I go next?
Alone or with other writers?

#Writing #Writerslife #retreat #CrownePlazaLAX #KABUKI #Restaurant #Meditate #bath #wine #books #notebooks #ideas #Write #iboughtit #MakesMeWander

O WOW! OPRAH MAG 2019 FALL BEAUTY O-WARD WINNERS!

As a whole, I am a low-maintenance kinda gal. Primarily born out of necessity, coupled with the fact that I no longer like to wake up early, I have a very simple skin and hair routine – more than half of which I complete in my parked car before going to work. 

 

Usually using my phone light for better and brighter lighting!

 

So it was super fun for some of us #OMagInsiders and the magazine staff to play beauty queen and sample some of the products that O, The Oprah Magazine’s beauty editor Brian Underwood singled out for award consideration!  

Some products were classics, some were brand new. Some were high-end, many were more reasonably priced. All were deliciously and delicately scented, super effective and easy to use so they fit in well with my mornings! Here are my my longer (than the magazine) reviews:

JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS
FINE HAIR SHAMPOO WITH ROSEMARY & PEPPERMINT
This shampoo performed great! Because the shampoo ran thinner, I used less but it still permeated to my scalp. It left less buildup on my hair too. The peppermint smelled and felt wonderful, energizing me in the mornings. 
I recommend the shampoo if you enjoy treating your hair to a day at the salon! 

BEACHWAVER CO. GOOD VIBES
MOISTURIZING CONDITIONER WITH COCONUT OIL
I used a little bit of the conditioner – but I cheated and applied product all the way up to my scalp, not just stopping halfway like the instructions said. My knots instantly fell loose leaving smooth wavy hair! I didn’t need to apply a lot to my thick hair, and after I rinsed, I still felt the benefits without any residual buildup!

I used it at home and brought it in my beach bag for extra protection from the drying sun and salt! Transitioning from the beach to cafe just got easier simply by running my fingers through my hair.

ALTERNA
CAVIAR ANTI-AGING ANTI-FRIZZ AIR DRY BALM
I am extremely low-maintenance with the styling of my hair and this product worked really well with how simple I keep things. I used it both on wet hair straight from the shower, just running my fingers through my wavy hair and also on dry hair to seal my hair for a high ponytail! In both cases, it doesn’t require much product, spreads out easily between my two hands, applies clear and distributes evenly.

It does a great job holding my hair’s desired shape in both cases without tons of angel hair popping out (which is the norm with my wavy hair). I love that my hair doen’t feel waxy (dirty) by the end of the day, it doesn’t feel crispy when first applied. I just rub the rest of the balm into the back of my hands for extra moisture!

RODIN
LUXURY LIP & CHEEK OIL
The best feature of this product surprised me in that the oil didn’t feel oily. It applied to lips easily and didn’t leave huge glossy marks or come off in weird sticky blotches onto my coffee cup.

My tint-free oil absorbed nicely into my cheeks leaving a shimmer that looked more natural (to me) than the powdered highlighters do. This provided a more delicate, natural look that creates highlights better than the powdered highlighters or fine glitter lotions. I look forward to trying some of their tints!

ESTEE LAUDER
ADVANCED NIGHT REPAIR INTENSE RESET CONCENTRATE
Estee Lauder officially helped me turn the page from my aggressive younger blemish-fighting skin routine to a more caring, respectful mindful skin care routine! Advanced Night Repair felt richer and immediately relaxed and protected my skin. It felt as though this one product and I trusted each other to work together.

While using this, I didn’t have to use as many skin-care steps during the day (extra masks; serum + lotions) because the impact of the night repair lasted to the morning – even after washing my face. I saw a difference in the fine lines on my face after a few days and overall, my skin looked younger and more supple, more elastic. This earned a permanent spot in my skin care routine moving forward. More than a fan, I’m an advocate.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How long does your morning routine take?
What about nighttimes?
If you could only use one product for beauty and one for cosmetics, what would they be?
What is your favorite product that you feel deserves an Oward?
What’s the craziest beauty product you ever purchased?
Did you try any of the products from the list?
They’re so reasonable for how well they work!

#OMagInsiders #OprahMag #BrianUnderwood #FallOwards #Beauty #BeautyBlogger #MakeUp #Skincare #BeautyOver50 #BeautyOver40 #Over40blogger #Womenover40 #blogtober #MakesMeWander

 

 

WWP: WHAT IS A HEALTHY HABIT I DEVELOPED (AND ONE I RELEASED)?

With each passing year, the changes in the seasons – especially as summer cools and turns to fall – become more noticeable to me! Perhaps because I feel how fast they blow through now that my kids are older. Perhaps because I’m aware of how fast life is passing overall.  

A fellow blogger Jessica Gustafson inspired me this week by explaining how one masters living seasonally! I also relate to where she stands with making revisions to her blog, newsletter and such (while I’m just starting to design revisions and a newsletter).  Her example will pull me through to the finish line with revamping my blog!

But first, I’m responding to her prompts – I smashed 3 into 1. I look forward to checking back in with her blog at the end of this season too.  

Ready? Pens up!

  • What is a healthy habit you developed for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. What is one you can release in each area?  

Recently, I recognized that my daily routine followed the same path every weekday. Work, drive to the grocery store, sit in the parking lot for at least 10 minutes listening to the radio while playing some distracting game on my phone, wandering the aisles of the grocery store looking for dinner inspiration, then driving home to cook, clean up and crash until bedtime.  Sprinkle in daily debates with teenagers and I felt tapped out by the end of the day. Fortunately, while I recovered from surgery recently, I picked up a habit that improved my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Walking. 

While still in recovery, walking helped my body function properly and increased my endurance. The endorphins helped me feel better and lifted my mood.  Secondary benefits included the freedom it provided me (when restricted from driving) and my daily outings helped keep my curiosity healthy and my moods sunny. As my strength increased, I challenged myself with distance or speed records. I knew that I needed to reassess my workday routine to ensure I could keep my new practice up. While I used to tell myself to get up from my desk every hour and walk or walk 30 minutes at lunch, my consistency stunk. 

To force my plan, I gave up my parking spot on campus. I now walk about 15 minutes each way to my office and back.  On a physical level, it contributes a lot to my 12,000 daily step goal. It raises my heart-rate and gets me to breathe deeper (especially on the stairs up to my third floor office). On a mental level, sometimes it allows me extra time to finish a podcast I’m totally into, or it accommodates my physical meditation while I count steps or my breaths against the squares in the pavement. Spiritually, it gives me space to be present, be more mindful. Sure, I’ll admit this also keeps me safe from tripping on a crack in the sidewalk while looking at my phone. I clear a space within my cerebral clutter to talk to myself, evaluate what works and what does not. My chats with myself are kinder, more supportive, not just nagging myself or cursing – ok, maybe I still sometimes sound like a sailor in my head. I take the time to consider what I might work on or what I need to let go and let the universe take over. 

One new mantra that made sense to me the moment I heard it is “Why not me?” These three little words are helping me shed the habits I need to release: a) Crashing on the couch then wondering why I’m not hitting my marks b) Giving too much power to the “What ifs?” and c) Feeling like I can’t enjoy the Successes for fear that a Loss will be right behind it – to bring me back to level ground.

I still find it hard to believe that a little action as simple as putting one foot in front of the other releases all of this magic!  I also sometimes find it hard to keep up the routine on the weekends, but that’s my next goal!

What about you?
How do you check in with yourself at the seasons’ transitions?
What habits did you pick up during this last season?
Have you let any go?
Do you have a mantra? Or many mantras?
What do you do when you need to work through an idea?
What does the voice in your head sound like?
Do you journal? Do you want to know how to live seasonally?
Did you check out her other journal prompts?
Have you done other #WednesdayWritingPrompts ?
If you do – share the links in the comments below!

#JournalPrompt #WWP #selfreflection #Seasons #ChangingSeasons #Blogtober #Blogtober2019 #LiveSeasonally #Inspired #WritingPrompt #MakesMeWander

WRITING FOR CONNECTION AND RELEASE

As an adoptee who was born mixed Korean, the irony of our deportation to other countries – because our look did not fit in with the Korean society – is that we did not fit in with our new adopted countries either. I dove in and embraced everything my family offered me: My new home, Cheerios, Keds, Orioles, Elvis, Big Wheels and Sesame Street! But, even from my earliest memories, I remember feeling aware that I did not look like those in my play circle. 

Outside of my family and playdates, the only unlimited influence over me were books. One of the first books I identified with shared illustrations of Native American youngsters with similar hair and skin colors. That was the first time anyone came close to resembling me so I believed I must be one of them. 

When first introducing myself to the Korean Adoptee communities as an adult, I became feverish about wanting to meet as many others like me as possible.  Anthologies helped me gorge on fellow adoptees’ stories to crack open and identify some of the heavy emotions I’d carried with me and also to connect with people who relate to those feelings.  Several anthologies of adoptees or those from biological mothers brought me to tears as they shared thoughts from deep in their hearts. 

The many Mixed Korean contributors!

The first time I entered a conference session filled with mixed Korean faces, I felt my last nerve relax as I felt present in the tribe of people who truly understand me without uttering one word. The Korean adoptee and the mixed Korean communities embrace their own tightly and the connections reassure me. As soon as I heard about a Mixed Korean anthology, I immediately submitted the first words that came rushing forth. 

Bucketlist item: To have my my writing in a book!

My initial excitement grew from the idea that my writing would be published alongside my peers on pages in a physical book! I could not wait to feel the weight of Mixed Korean: Our Stories in my hands.  I had not yet even considered how it might impact the readers’ lives the way other anthologies became turning points in mine. The editors’ began preparing us for book readings! I signed up for an early Los Angeles reading and felt so nervous that I completely skipped my introduction and just read my passage.  

Mixed Korean: Our Stories at halfkorean.com annual dinner

I worried about the sharp emotions from my pages and how they’d be received. Turns out, as soon as I’d sent the words to the editors, the negative emotions went with them. So, now, when I read them on the page I still recall the moments that caused me discomfort, but the negative emotions no longer clung to me. Writing helped release me.

Mixed Korean: Our Stories reading in San Francisco

 

I brought the anthology to another reading with fellow Korean Adoptee authors in Los Angeles and later we did another Mixed Korean reading in San Francisco at a university! I’m so humbled with each new audience and the many stories that they, in turn, share with me. It warms my heart feeling each new connection and knowing that this anthology weaved our stories together. 

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Korean Adoptee Authors at Beyond Baroque

Currently there are a few readings scheduled around the country and stay tuned, because the anthology is currently being translated into Korean!  

If you order a copy of the Mixed Korean anthology, it benefits 325Kamra – a team of DNA angels who are working to reunite families!

What about you?
Have you ever contributed to an anthology? About what topic?
Or have you written a memoir?
Are you mixed race?
Do you know your ethnic origins?
Do you have any emotions you’re tired of carrying around?
Does it help to write about it?
Do you journal – daily, weekly, monthly or when you feel like it?

#journal #mixedkorean #anthology #Adoptee #KoreanAdoptee #MyHistoryIsAMystery #notafflink #nonprofit #DNA #SeoulSearch #MakesMeWander

WRITING FULL-CIRCLE WITH MY FIRST MENTOR

When asked what I would do if I knew I could not fail, the answer is: Write. When asked how I wound up here, the answer slowly takes shape. From a very young age, I just really dug the vibe of the few writers I met. One of my favorite childhood books, contained a personalized note from the author and, though I never met her, I felt instantly plugged in on that wavelength. It felt magical to me to read books then see the picture of the solitary author and know that they created something that people everywhere would enjoy. I also loved reading!

By Gary Bradshaw

I do not recall spending hours crafting original stories while growing up (besides the fantasies I wrote in my diary). I know I suffer from an overactive imagination. After a near-miss in an intersection, I sit and play all the “what if” outcomes in my mind in slow motion but try to stop myself so I don’t actually put those images into the universe (so they won’t really happen) all before I get to the end of that same block. I tend to look towards the horizon with a kaleidoscope rather than a telescope!

The first time I felt the depth of writing happened in a high school writing class where we practiced and analyzed various styles of writing. From there I rolled into AP English taught by one of my favorite teachers (and already my yearbook advisor) Gary Bradshaw.  I dug his vibe! He was a unicycle-riding, poetry-writing surfer! I felt like he absorbed the work I turned in – and any of my classmates’ conversations – differently than anyone else. After one particular essay “The Piano” that I cashed in every opportunity to rewrite (inching towards an “A”), I exasperatedly asked how to know what an “A” paper requires? His totally zen response to me: “When your writing piece is done, you’ll just know!” From that moment on, I did not write for the grade, I wrote for what felt right or made me sit up straight and lift my hands victoriously. He developed my skill, confidence and my intuition simultaneously.

When I think of how I passed some college classes thanks only to my ability to write well about a topic, I hear his chuckle. When I re-read things I wrote, without remembering the words, I thank him for helping me tap into my subconscious flow. When I get the rare opportunity to feel “boo-ya!” about what I just wrote, that brings me back to his zen wisdom.  I regret that I cannot thank him in person as he unexpectedly passed at a young age right after I graduated from college, and I hadn’t talked to him since high school. 

This year, I found that one of his PHS faculty peers, Frank Barone, created a collection of Gary’s poetry, Two Hands Writing. I bought it on the spot! I shed a few tears, hearing his voice in my mind while reading the words that he so carefully laid out on paper.  While I know our conversation remains one-sided, I feel like we now exist on the same wavelength. To close this full-circle moment, I found a new (to me) writing exercise online that he helped design! Maybe I’ll do that for a future #Blogtober post. 

What about you?
Who do you consider to be your mentor(s)?
Did you have a chance to thank them?
What makes them stand out to you?
What was their best lesson?
Do you pay it forward?
Do you have a great writing exercise I should do?
Do you view your future through a telescope, periscope or kaleidoscope?
Are you doing #Blogtober? If so, share your posts too!

#Mentor #Writing #Teacher #LearnSomethingNewEveryDay #CommunityPool #WritingExercise #PowayHigh #PHS #WritersSeminar #APEnglish #GaryBradshaw #TwoHandsWriting #NotAfflink #poetry #MakesMeWander

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