It’s Time For A Social Media Detox

I have decided to take a month long break of all social media. Starting January 1, I will be deleting Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube from my phone.

This idea has been a pressing one, in the back of my mind for the last month or so. What has stopped me from doing it has been this blog. How would I promote and let readers know that I have posted something new without all my social media accounts? I thought that by letting go of social media, I would have to abandon this blog, which I am not ready to do. I get a lot of joy out of creating these posts and it keeps me writing regularly.

djlujj7ewsa-freestocks-org

However, I have decided to take a break, or a detox as I am calling it, for just one month. In that time I will still be creating posts, but I won’t be sharing them until February when my detox is over.

This social media detox idea came to me, after I noticed an increase in discontentment within myself, that I couldn’t figure out the source of. I practiced gratitude, listing the things in my life that I am grateful for such as my boyfriend, my family, my apartment, my job, my healthy body…But still, this discontentment kept slipping in.

It was then that I noticed the correlation between my unhappiness and my attachment to social media. While scrolling through Instagram, I see what other people have. The things they possess, the beautiful locations they live in, the amazing photos they take, their clothes, their bodies…and I couldn’t help by compare my life to the image I was seeing. Naturally, I felt I fell short while making this contrast.

Comparison is the death of happiness.

If I had put my phone down and looked around me, I could have found just as much beauty and happiness in my own little life.

AND on top of that, we all know that the majority of what you are scrolling through is absolute bullshit.

Between photo shop and other editing apps, people can alter their bodies and the overall tone of their photos with a few simple clicks. So I’m wasting my time, comparing myself to a woman WHO DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE THAT.

Yeah, I’m not doing that anymore.

I am getting rid of these distractions (because let’s face it, that is ALL social media is) and am spending my down time doing proactive, soul enriching activities. For me that is reading and writing. There are a few writing projects that I have been putting off that I am fully committing to finishing or at least, STARTING.

ofadd5o8hpk-freestocks-org

On top of that, this detox will allow me to notice how addicted to my phone I am. I want to be able to fully enjoy a movie, without checking me phone while watching it. I want to be able to wait in line at a store and just be, not clawing at my pockets to get my phone and  scroll though Instagram so I have something to do with my hands. I want to be fully engaged in moments, instead of thinking about how I can capture them to show other people. (Also, side note, NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT MY LIFE ENOUGH FOR ME TO STOP MY OWN ENJOYMENT IN ORDER TO HAVE PROOF THAT I AM ENJOYING SOMETHING)

Bottom line, I want my attention span to continue to grow, not dwindle for constant sensory over load. I want my creativity to not be interrupted by the pointless and distracting habit of being joined at the hip with my phone. And most of all, I want to find fulfillment in the things that have always brought me fulfillment before Twitter was even a thing.

See you all in a month!

My Favorite Flowers: A Brief History

I’m not sure if it’s because this is my first winter in California, but I’ve been feeling inspired by the sight of flowers and budding trees on my bike rides to and from work. I decided to do a little research (because I freaking love researching) and delve deeper into the meaning and symbolism behind flowers, as I was sure that there are many ancient meanings or holistic traditions surrounding our practice of adoring ourselves, our homes or giving flowers as acts of love or thanks.

I also wanted an excuse to make a pretty post.

Here are some of my favorite flowers and their symbolic meaning:

fqpyln_x_ji-xochi-romero.png

Sunflowers have always been my favorite. To me, they are always happy, stretching themselves as tall as they can to touch the sunshine. In many cultures, the sunflower is a symbol of unwavering faith, adoration and longevity. In Christianity, for example, the sunflower is a symbol of God’s love and the faith that guides souls to a higher place, as the sunflower is facing the life giving rays of the sun.

Another symbol I found particularly interesting was in Greek Mythology, where the sunflower represents Clytie, a water nymph. She was a lover to Helios, the sun god, until he decided to pursue a love affair with Leucotha, daughter of Orchamus, instead. Upset, Clytie told  Orchamus about the affair. Orchamus sentenced his daughter to die, by burying her alive. Clytie thought that Helios would love her once again, however, he didn’t think of her anymore. Clytie ends up laying  on a rock, naked, for nine days without food or water. Simply staring at the sun. On the ninth day, she is transformed into a flower, a sunflower, which turns towards the direction of the sun.

I love the tragedies of Greek Mythology, and find, the often carelessness, of people with their bodies in an act of love, grief or longing, romantic and dramatic. As an English major, I have read my share of myths, however it has always been a subject I would like to get more familar with.

The color of sunflowers is quit important to their history, as yellow is associated with vitality, intelligence and fertility. Native American culture saw the sunflowers as signs of  a bountiful harvest in their late summer festivals. It can also represent certain energies. According to whats-your-sign.com 

As a yellow flower, the sunflower can be compared to the solar-plexus chakra (Manipura). This chakra and its color governs intellect, and is a central force of perception as well as self-awareness and personal evolution.

Yellow is mind expanding and spiritually enriching. As I mentioned, I associate these flowers with happiness and sunshine, but I loved learning that there are so many other ways to view the beauty of the sunflower.

 

z5m06bfttkc-joao-silas.png

I have been loving red roses lately. To me, they are whimsical, romantic and feminine. I put a picture of these flowers as the background to my phone and it fills me with joy every time I look at it. Most know roses symbolize romance, love and affection, given on Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. However, it is more than just love they represent, but eternal love. Even after death.

In mythology, red roses are associated with Aphrodite, goddess of love, as she is often portrayed  with roses around her head, feet and or neck. This is because, according to the legend, after Aphrodite’s love, Adonis, was slain, a rose bush grew within the pool of his spilled blood. Because of this, we have the tradition of roses tied to ever lasting love.

Images of Christ within Christianity, as often depicted with red roses are well  as the sacrifice of his own blood to save our souls is the portrait of the ultimate sacrifice for love.

To me, a red rose is the most beautiful plant nature has produced.

 

cswo_dtgzq4-alex-grodkiewicz.png

 

Daisies are wild and free.  I love seeing them grow, untamed, in fields, out of place and without order, sprouting their roots where ever they want.

In most cultures they are a symbol of purity, cleanliness or chastity. Just like the cliche “fresh as a daisy” implies. The name daisy actually comes from an Old English word meaning “day’s eye” because the flower “only opened during the daytime, ” according to flowermeaning.com.

In Roman Mythology,

In the west, the daisy is a symbol of simplicity, chastity and transformation. We see these meanings sussed out in the Roman myth of Vertumnus vs. Belides. As the story goes, Vertumnus, Roman god of seasons, agriculture and gardens, became utterly enchanted by the dainty nymph, Belides. Vertumnus was so beguiled and infatuated with Belides – like a creepy stalker – he became obsessed, and would not cease pestering Belides with his unwanted affections. Being the sweet nymph she was, Belides transformed herself into a field of daisies rather than hurt Vertumnus’ feelings.

Youth and new beginnings are also associate with this bright and lively flower.

 

m0ffmszej3y-alisa-anton.png

 

Lilacs are my mother’s favorite flower and I will forever associate these with her. I have many memories of their fresh and pungent smell wafting throughout my childhood home, symbolizing the beginning of Spring.

Lilacs have many different meaning, depending on the culture. They are most commonly associated with romance, specifically a new romance. According to ftd.com,

During the Victorian Age, the giving of a lilac was meant to be a reminder of an old love. In fact, widows were often seen wearing lilacs during this period.

Lilacs are some of the shortest blooming flowers, only lasting about three weeks.

1432751716_285527f518

When I think of the jasmine flower, I think of jasmine tea. I love tea and find it extremely comforting, especially the floral essence of jasmine in the afternoon. However, contrary to popular belief, jasmine tea isn’t really made from jasmine. According to flowermeanings.com,

The tea is brewed from green tea, and then infused with the fragrance of jasmine. To make the tea, jasmine buds are gathered during the day and added to the brewed tea at night, as the buds begin to open and release their fragrance. It can take up to six hours to infuse the tea with the scent of jasmine. It is important to note that jasmine flowers and foliage are not edible and should not be brewed for tea.

While jasmine is another romance flower (can you see a pattern here), it also represents beauty and sensuality.

I also learned that jasmine is the national flower of Pakistan, adorning brides on their wedding day and decorating garlands during burials, as a final goodbye.

 

5dlvpkwopas-carol-hu

Last, but not least, the hibiscus flower reminds me of a phase in my adolescences where I was obsessed with all things Hawaiian. My bedspread was covered in hibiscus as I dreamed of laying on tropical beaches, eating coconut. I still have this dream and hope to someday achieve it.

Hibiscus represents beauty, specifically young, feminine beauty. According to Cherie Roe Dirksen’s research on her blog,

The Hibiscus is known to help women to reclaim their sexuality, vitality and authenticity and has aided many women who have been sexually traumatized (through the use of Hibiscus essence).

Hibiscus petals can also be made into a tea that can holistically aid in the healing of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Now that I know this beautiful flower represents femininity and female sexuality, I am interested to research further and see what else I find. In the mean time, I will most likely find ways to adorn myself with this flower in an effort to harness more of my female vitality and authenticity.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little research project of mine. If there is anything else you would be interested in learning the symbolic meaning of, please comment down below! I would love your input.

Where flowers bloom so does hope” – Lady Bird Johnson

Veganism is Greater than Food

I have mentioned before that going vegan has changed me, for the better. Not only have my eyes been opened to the horrors of factory farming and the intolerable torture animals go though on a daily basis in these places, I have been become aware how much we use animals for other commodities besides meat and cheese.

Makeup, hair products, clothing, shoes…These everyday products are largely tested on or made from animals. And these animals suffer greatly to give up their fur for our own use or to make sure that our new mascara doesn’t cause infection or blindness (There are many other ways to test this without harming anyone).

After researching this, I took stock of my current possessions to see how I had been supporting animal cruelty over the years. Of course, my makeup drawer was full of brands who test on animals and my skin and hair care didn’t have any indication on the label that they respected the lives of animals over the money they will make by selling their products to the masses. Also a number of clothing companies, such as Forever 21, produce their inventory by the labor of under paid humans beings, in terrible working conditions over seas. Ugg boots are made from the wool of sheep, who are often sheared so quickly they are severely cut and wounded, left to die. (Thank God, I have always considered Ugg boots the ugliest footwear on the planet).

63584949852470988258084115_crueltyfree

Veganism is about all life, not just animals. Human beings are also treated as commodities for their labor, especially in other countries. I’m sure if you check the labor of the majority of your clothing, you will see that most if not all were not produced in the United States, where labor laws are mandated (as far as we know).

Since discovering this, I have taken it upon myself to only support cruelty free companies. I am in the process of transition all my makeup, hair and skincare to all natural, vegan products. (Check out what I use for my skin and makeup routine here!) Clothing has been a bit more difficult but I am trying my hardest to not support companies that use animal skins and furs.

img_4023

To help you all out, here are some links to cruelty free and vegan companies! Comment below with some of your favorites.

Beauty 

 

Clothing (These are popular brands that offer cruelty free products) 

Shoes 

A more extensive list can be found at Farm Sanctuary’s website, under Vegan Fashion. I will link it here!

I feel so passionately about living an entirely vegan lifestyle and living as holistically and respectfully to all life, as I can. I urge you to rethink your purchasing decisions, especially around this time of year of extensive buying. Please share this post and spread the message of animal rights, respect for the planet and love for your bodies, to everyone.

1363837592388527

 

 

How I Holistically Soothe My Anxiety

Even though I have not been one to suffer with severe anxiety or depression, I have my share of boughs of anxious feelings or overthinking. Almost a year ago I experienced my first anxiety attack, or what I think might have been close to one. (I’ll link that story here.)

After moving to California, I have had more moments of being extremely anxious, which I think comes from changing everything about my life all at once. Sometimes I felt short of breath or couldn’t fall asleep. Sometimes I felt like crying is the only way to let this feeling out of me. Other times I laminate over the choices I have made in my life and wonder if I am doing everything “right.” These moments were particularly difficult, and not beneficial to me or my overall health. I could usually link these episodes to lack of sleep, as when I am really tired, I can’t function mentally at all.

As this feeling become more frequent, I started focusing on ways to calm myself and allow these feelings to pass. Here is what helps me when I am feeling particularly sad, out of control or afraid.

Breathe/Meditate

Closing my eyes and feeling the air fill my lungs always calms me down. By taking this moment to tune out everything around me, I can focus on my physical body instead of the thoughts whirling around my mind. I take note to relax my facial muscles, my hands, my feet, my shoulders….and breathe. I channel the peace I wish to receive by relaxing my body and feeling the effects of this relaxation.

tumblr_n4r5w6oafb1siudeoo1_500
Photo from Tumblr.com

Drink Herbal Tea 

Herbs, like most medicines, make changes in the body’s chemistry. According to LivingHerbalTea.com,

When we ingest herbs through capsules, tinctures, or teas we are allowing their benefits to come into our systems so that positive changes can be made. In the modern day, one of the greatest changes we can receive from healing plants is the removal of stress.

I love green tea, however, when I’m feeling anxious I like to drink chamomile. Chamomile tea actually relaxes the muscles and the whole nervous system. It can relieve nausea or digestive issues as well. There is something extremely comforting about drinking a hot cup of tea.

tumblr_n7m5epijdi1tdefgmo1_500
Photo from Tumblr.com

Write

Since writing is a channel for my emotions that I feel the most comfortable with, this is my go-to task when I am feeling anxious. I find this particularly helpful when I don’t know the exact reason I am even feeling anxious or sad. By marking up a piece of paper with a stream of my own consciences and then reading it back, I find that I can make sense of what is going on in my head a little more clearly. I usually feel relieved. I also love writing down quotes that calm me or fill me with hope.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Photo from Tumblr.com

Make a List

If I am stressed or overwhelmed in anyway, I make a list. I draw hollow boxes next to each bullet point and look forward to the moment I can fill them with a check marks. I am a visual person who needs to see everything that is floating around in my brain, in one solitary spot. I can look at the list and know that it’s never as bad as my mind was making it out to me, or I can take it on as a challenge.

Read a Book

I am obsessed with books, as I have probably mentioned. Reading is my ultimate comfort and, according to my mom, it has been since I was a little girl. Getting lost in someone else’s words, feelings or story takes me out of my world and into another, one that I can understand because it is written out in front of me. I usually accompany a novel with hot cup of green tea. It honestly can’t get any better for me. 🙂

fullsizerender

Take Time to Myself 

I am quite introverted at times and some days I would rather stay in the house alone and read, write or watch “The X Files.” If I don’t get this time to myself, I can easily feel overwhelmed or anxious. When I have a day off, I try to relax and do some of the things that are important to me or things that make me feel good about myself. Even if that is just reading a book. I also really enjoy taking the time to pamper myself by taking an extra long shower, applying a coconut oil hair mask, clay face mask or maybe doing my nails. When I feel clean and good in my skin, I feel better overall.

Pray

Whether you believe in a higher power, or the universe, I find it comforting to know that there is someone or something out there that has more control than I do. Offering up my tribulations or stresses and believing that everything will work out, is extremely helpful to me. I like knowing I’m not alone with my anxiety.

Gratitude 

The best thing for me to do when I feel this way, is think about what I am grateful for. I write it down in my journal and list as many things as I can. My health, my eye sight, my strong body, my home, my boyfriend, my family, the clean water that I drink and the fresh fruit and vegetables that I eat. There are so many aspects of my life that I am grateful for and making a conscience effort to remember and recite them, often time takes away the anxious feeling I am experiencing. I have the ability to see the good in my life, or focus on the bad. My anxiety or sadness comes when I focus on the latter.

Gratitude trumps discontentment, worry and fear, every time.

tumblr_nz98rennrb1sb9y83o1_500

I hope you found this list helpful! Please comment below with anything you do to holistically help and sooth your own anxiety and depression. I would love to learn more 🙂

A Hobbit’s Guide to Minimalism

For those that know me or have known me for the last 10 years, you know that Lord of the Rings is a passion of mine. Yes. I say passion because obsession implies an element of creepiness and my ability to quote any line from all three movies (extended versions, duh) in any real life situation is not creepy. In fact, it is an admirable skill to possess.

As I began to write this post on minimalism, a quote from Tolkien (said by Bilbo in the films) popped into my head.

ab7d848bb0818fa3cfc96b8d150e8182

 

I realized at this moment that I haven’t watched the movie in months and am due for a fix. But more to the point, I realized I can connect the pleasant and simple way of hobbits to the way I live my life now, as a new found minimalist.

When my boyfriend and I decided to move from Massachusetts to California, we wanted to do it the easiest way possible. Since we were driving, we packed only the bare essentials, what we needed for camping and some clothes. This meant getting rid of the majority of our belongs before the trip.

The hardest part for me was getting rid of my books. I am a bit of hoarder when it comes to literature and I love a good book shelf. After years of collecting books, I had to filter though them and decide which I would be giving away, which I would be keeping in storage at my moms house and which few I wanted to take with me. Since books are so sentimental to me and full of memories, some of these choices almost brought me to tears. But I ended up piling about 10 or 15 novels in the back of the car, books I couldn’t leave behind or that I had not read yet. (A copy of “The Two Towers” that I purchased in Oxford, England, the very town that Tolkien wrote the novels in, came with me, of course.)

img_3879

All my other belongs seem to have little to no importance  when they were laid out before me, ready to be sorted. I stuffed trash bags full of clothes. Clothes that I had to buy and couldn’t live without in the moment, now had little value to me. After many trips to Goodwill and moving most of my furniture to my brothers room, I was left with two bags of clothes, the books, my record player and my comforter. I was confident this was it. I didn’t need much else.

Hobbits value simplicity. As Bilbo Baggins says as he introduces his kins folk to the audience in the beginning of “The Fellowship of the Ring,”

But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet, and good tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of things that grow.”

This sounds like a wonderful life to me. When I am able, I would love to create my a garden and grow my own fruits and vegetables. But more importantly, this idea of a quiet, peaceful life is one that we are not always encouraged to seek out.

tumblr_mqozjqgbfy1qeyawwo1_500

In our consumer driven society, we are constantly told that our lives will be better with more. More money, more clothes, more makeup, more furniture, more electronics, more cars. Women are told that they are not beautiful enough unless they have the best clothes, and makeup and haircuts. I was caught up in that and experienced days of sadness and feelings of being unattractive because I didn’t have enough money to afford the “things” that I was told would make me look better.

Quiet and peaceful are two words I would not use to describe capitalism. But we are all right in the middle of it. Those with lives of excess, like celebrities, are celebrated and admired. Their “status” is our end goal. More, more, more.

After experiencing the shedding of my old life as I enter a new one by getting rid of most of my belongings, I felt light and more free. I didn’t need all the things I thought I did. I was just as fine as I was without them, as I was with them.

When we got our studio apartment in Long Beach, Marty and I wanted to carry this minimalist lifestyle to our living space. We bought a bed, well just the mattress actually, a table and chairs and a bookshelf. I strung up some lights and hung a tapestry. That is pretty much the extent of our apartment.

There is a type of stress relief that comes with minimalist living. I have the clothes that I have. I occasionally with buy new clothes with the change in weather or if something is needed, but I don’t have the compulsive desire that I once did to shop all the time and always have something new to wear. We have enough money to pay our bills and get lots of delicious healthy food, because we don’t spend our money on more things to clutter our apartment or our closest.

By decluttering my life, I also learned more about myself. I learned what is actually important to me, what I value most. I leaned that my books have value to me, my music. I also learned that people, above all else, are what I value most. I don’t miss the stuff I use to have back home, I miss the people I shared my time with, my friends and my family.

Now, I have made myself content with the things I do have. I find gratitude in my simple life. I have a home, a job, a loving boyfriend, a wonderful family, my health, an abundance of food…these are things that many don’t have. Or they do, but are distracted by the unattainable chase for happiness in material goods.

Let us learn from hobbits. Celebrate your simple life. Live for the people you love most. Find out what actually has value to you. Live for your passions.

Even if that passion is just eating.

Like mine.

“In fact, it has been remarked by some that the Hobbits’ only real passion is for food.”

hobbits-reputed-passion-for-food