Sunday, January 19, 2014

January Birchbox!

Man, I just LOVE Birchbox. This was just my second month, but I was just as excited for this one as I was for December's. Maybe even more so! Let's jump right in, shall we?! Here's the photo of what was in my box, the photo is from the Birchbox website:

I have to also say that I absolutely LOVE that it comes in that little brown box - it's SO cute, and just the right size to use for a small gift for a friend or something. I love stuff that I can reuse with little to no effort involved, and this box is just perfect.

So, here's what was inside! (clockwise starting from the mint colored bottle on the left)
~ Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser with muslin cloth
~ Camille Beckman Body Butter in Morelia Monarch scent
~ Coastal Scents Revealed eyeshadow palette (the full size has 20 colors, the trial size had 4)
~ Under Armour Braided Mini Headband
~ Omnipotent Duosity Hair Treatment

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser:
At first I thought, "I haven't used a washcloth in years. Literally, probably not since I was like 8. Why would I need a washcloth...?" Well, let me just tell you, I washed my face this morning with my normal cleanser after using the Liz Earle one the last few days, and I was missing Liz Earle and the muslin cloth. The cleanser itself is awesome. It doesn't foam or even lather at all, and it's meant to be used without water first. So, squirt some on the hand, massage onto dry face, then use the muslin cloth with nice hot water to wipe everything away. The ingredients list for this product is surprisingly SHORT, always a good thing, and most of it is plant oils. It's safe for use around eyes, which is always important to me since the skin around the eyes is SO delicate and sensitive, and yet we plaster on so much eye makeup and make it so difficult to remove...this cleanser removes it. I still really like my eye makeup remover (Mary Kay), and I have been using it even while I used this cleanser, but it does tend to leave a little bit of smudge underneath my eyes - this cleanser gets that smudge OFF! This cleanser feels super smooth, totally non irritating, and apparently has won over 90 beauty awards worldwide. There's a reason - it's great. The hot cloth wiping it all off at the end makes me feel like I'm in my own little spa for a couple of minutes. Feels great. I wish it had also come with the moisturizer that pairs with it; I would love to try the whole system together. There is also a toner solution that is sold separately, but I'm not a huge fan of toners in general. If one ever comes in my Birchbox though, I'll DEFINITELY try - I'm loving Liz Earle. When I run out of all of my Mary Kay cleanser, this is definitely a product I will consider buying to replace it.

Camille Beckman Body Butter in Morelia Monarch scent:
Body butters usually fall into one of two categories: soak in nicely and make skin soft, or don't soak in very well and make it impossible to do anything with your hands for an hour because it's too greasy. This one definitely falls into the first category; it's really thick but rubs in really nicely and makes the skin feel great. I used this mostly on the backs of my hands, my elbows, and my knees. I still have some of course, but I do have to admit that this is not one of those products that you can say a little bit goes a long way. I used a totally normal amount, maybe even a little bit more of it than my normal lotions. The scent is really subtle and nice. Overall, I really like this, but it's not something I will buy - I have about a million lotions and stuff that I don't use very often so they just last forever. I can't justify buying more when there's so many on my shelves and in my drawers.

Coastal Scents Revealed eyeshadow palette:
I'm not sure if all of the samples of these that were sent out this month were the same, but the colors I got were black, a light nude shimmer, brown shimmer, and a sort of greenish brown shimmer (sort of like weathered bronze maybe?). The reviews of these shadows tended to say that it didn't have much staying power and would crease on the eyelids throughout the day as it wore off a bit. I haven't had that same experience, but I also use a primer first so that's probably why. (Side note: I LOVE the primer I use; I ordered a couple of gift sets for myself in the post-Christmas Sephora sale, and this primer came in the bareMinerals set - it's called Prime Time in Rose Nectar, a light shimmery pink color.) Back to the Coastal Scents Revealed shadows...I like the colors, they are similar to ones I already use regularly, although I have been trying to reduce the amount of shimmer in my life lately - without success, obviously. But that's ok. I don't really have that much to say about these eyeshadows; I have about a million shadows in all sorts of brands: Clinique, Mary Kay, Urban Decay, and now Coastal Scents. Eyeshadow is something that I don't normally buy because I always get them as gifts with purchase or in a gift set or something like that, so as long as they're fairly neutral in color (i.e. various shades of browns) and not bright blue or something, I'll wear them daily. I save the fun colors for rare occasions of summer parties or concerts or something. So, I am very indifferent about this product, sorry.

Under Armour Braided Mini Headband:
Mine is not multicolored like the one in the photo, it is one color - neon coral. I really like this headband. I like headbands in general, but don't wear them very often because the ones that wrap all the way around the back of my head ALWAYS slip back and fall off. I must have the wrong shape of head for these kinds of headbands, because this is literally the only one I have ever found that lasted through a workout - and I did have to adjust it once still. It grips like nobody's business, and it's TIGHT, which definitely helps. I like this headband a lot and will definitely use it when I remember to. I don't think I'll need to actually buy any of these though, one is probably enough until it wears out or the grippy stuff gets too dirty to do its job or something. So I guess I may end up buying one at some point in the future, but not anytime soon.

Omnipotent Duosity Hair Treatment:
I really really wanted to give this product a RAVE review. I mean, it's gluten- and paraben-free!! Which, don't get me wrong, is awesome. But the truth is that, while it's nice and I like it, I don't feel like I really CARE about it. So, here goes: it's designed in such a way that it's actually two products, stored separately in their compartments, and then you dispense it in relatively equal amounts and rub it together. It foams/lathers really nicely on the hands, and then put it in your hair focusing on the ends - it's basically a conditioner that's supposed to do a bunch of healing things to your hair. Which I'm sure it does, but quite honestly I don't feel THAT much of a difference once my hair is dried. When I rinsed it out in my shower, though - WOW, so so so so soft. The first time I tried it, I was worried that it wasn't rinsed out all the way because my hair was SO silky. I expected my hair to feel weighed down after I dried it, but that wasn't the case. I used this product again yesterday, and didn't use any of my normal after-shower hair products, so I'd have a better perspective on this particular product - and my hair feels really nice still today. Not greasy or weighed down, the ends are soft and nice. So, I suppose it does live up to its claims. The thing is, I don't really care. Haha. Maybe that's because I absolutely love the Beauty Protect leave-in conditioner I got in last month's box, so I just spritz a bit of that before blow-drying. The Duosity does smell really good though, and I am pretty shocked at just HOW silky my hair feels in the shower after it's all been rinsed out. It's nice, for sure. Probably not something I will spend money on, but I might reconsider when I run out of the shampoos and conditioners I already have.

Well, that's all for now friends! Thanks for reading, and any of you who got different items in your Birchboxes or have opinions on the above products, I'd love to hear all about it! Also, my friend over at I'm Better in Real Life wrote her review of her January Birchbox, and I'm sure she'd love for you to take a look!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Homeschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDx

If you have a spare 12 minutes, or even if you don't (MAKE the time) - watch this: Logan LaPlante at TEDx with accompanying article.

I haven't really confided in many people lately, but suffice it to say the last few days have been REALLY weird. This whole week, actually. WEIRD. Not at all how I was picturing a new year to go. Even with my gung-ho attitude in my last post, somehow things weren't really coming together like I expected them to after I'd completed several things that needed attention and followed my schedule and to-do list ALMOST to a T (exactly to a T? This girl isn't known for that, let's try with baby steps here...)

A friend posted the above link to Facebook earlier today, and I watched the video twice. In a row. This 13 year old kid is pretty amazing. A major takeaway (for me) from the talk was the following:

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLCs): 8 practices that make people happy and healthy (Dr. Roger Walsh):
1. Exercise
2. Diet and Nutrition
3. Time in Nature
4. Contribution and Service to Others
5. Relationships
6. Recreation
7. Relaxation and Stress Management
8. Religious and Spritual

The above list is exactly what I have been wanting to integrate, and with a new year I was contemplating exactly HOW to integrate it - because when there are multiple facets to your goals (i.e. the more and more complicated things are), the less likely things are going to go as desired. This was the sentiment I was trying to articulate in the last post, though I'm not sure I did such a great job. Instead I just ranted about new year's resolutions, haha!

Anyway, as I listened to this kid's talk twice in a row, I decided that the way to implement these changes into my life, and make it really simple so I can stick with it and reap the benefits of all of it, is to just focus on one of these changes per week, in a rotating fashion. So it would take two months to get through the whole list technically, but I think integrating one thing at a time, a week at a time, could be a great way to start building each as a HABIT, so those things just actually happen naturally after a while. So, I'm going to make myself a little calendar series that's JUST my TLCs so I know what's going on that week and also so I can see it every day and do just one little thing to achieve that particular TLC on each day.

So, that's what I'm going to do. Another thing I really wanted to do, after reading friends posts at the new year such as Buffalo Writes and I'm Better in Real Life, was set aside two hours on one day - JUST ONE DAY and ONLY TWO HOURS - for crafting. I know that sounds like something I really should not be focusing on at this point in my life and career, but that's the thing - I literally go insane when I don't feel like I have time to make a project I've been wanting to make. I lose sleep over wanting to do something that I didn't have time to do that day. It makes me upset when I see my half-finished ear-warmer headband on my nightstand shelf...and it's been unfinished for TWO YEARS. And I refuse to buy one because, as one of my previous posts discussed, I know how to make those. I simply cannot bring myself to spend the $15 or $20 when a ball of yarn costs $5 or less and I can make it exactly how I want it, and I get pleasure out of making it. Retail therapy doesn't last all that long, but knowing that I made something that I enjoy wearing or looking at often - that's DOING SOMETHING, like my last post referred to.

Also, Buffalo Writes has a thing called First Friday Happy Hour every month with a group of her friends from elementary school, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of this regular event. I want to do something like this. There are people I see frequently enough, and there are people I love to death but never get to see - and why? Because we all have excuses, and unfortunately a lot of them are legit - since we're responsible adults now. Everyone's schedule is either super super hectic or so organized that there is literally no wiggle room - so I want to establish a gathering for a group or maybe even a couple different groups of people I would love to see more regularly. Each of these wouldn't need to be once a month - that gets to be like one thing per week, and that's too much for me! But maybe every other month. Six times a year sounds like a pretty good frequency for our totally nutso adult lives. First things first, figure out who's interested. That's something I'll tackle when I'm feeling ambitious. Haha.

On to the next part of my discussion about Logan's TEDx talk:

"Much of education is oriented toward making a living rather than making a LIFE." - Dr. Walsh

Now, husband and I have discussed the topic of homeschooling a lot. Not just had long discussions about it, but frequent discussions. Our own public and private school educations were great, but we see a lot of problems in the changes that have since occurred, and seeing various school environments as adults we have decided that when the time comes - our kids are going to get at least the first 13 years of their educations at home. Come high school, we will more than likely put them in a traditional classroom, especially if they are girls - because we all know my girls are going to be graduates from my alma mater! Fifth generation! (That is, if we even have any girls...) We've done some poking around on the Internets at various homeschooling curriculums, and I've learned that Washington is a pretty easy state in which to homeschool. And at least one of the Internet communities we follow has some good resources from all over the place for homeschooling, and the more we listen to our podcasts and everything, the more we really don't think we want our kids in the current school system.

We know there will be backlash, it will be hard, and our friends and family will criticize. We will be the weird ones. Our kids will be the weird ones. I cannot and will not judge anyone whose children go to traditional school, whether public or private, or whatever. Every family dynamic is different. We just happen to consider it feasible to do this at home, not anytime soon, but by the time any future children will be old enough for a structured education. But I get it - it's not for everyone.

Anyway, TED talks have some AMAZING talks regarding education...actually, regarding just about anything and everything. There have only been a couple of TED talks I didn't like; the vast majority of them really light fires under my booty and are totally inspiring.

Well friends, thanks for reading, and until next time - be inspired! And inspire others! Haha, easier said than done, right? Ready...GO!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Reflections and Intentions

WOW! My last post (likely due to its keywords, like "Birchbox," and Facebook sharing) had 109 page views...according to the shifty Google stats, anyway. No matter how many times I tell it NOT to count my own pageviews, it still does. Even though I only looked at the actual blog page twice after posting it, still throws the numbers off and makes me wonder just how inaccurate it is. Anyway, the most views my posts have EVER had! Pretty cool :)

In light of the new year, I have been thinking a lot about everything that happened in 2013. How cliche, right? (p.s. I wish I knew keyboard shortcuts for accents and stuff that go on letters...alas, I don't have those skills yet. Sorry for improper grammar.) SO MANY things happened this year:
I took (and passed!) my board exams
I graduated from dental school
We moved across the country (again)
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary
We found a fantastic apartment exactly where we want to be
We did some super fun tourist-y things and enjoyed the amazing summer weather
I began paying down my student debt (a long road ahead, for sure...)
I tried so hard for so long to find my "ideal" work situation, and failed
I experienced several different offices on a temporary basis
I officially started my own practice, in a pretty much ideal situation
We spent a lot of time with friends we have missed, and a lot of time with family as well

I'm sure there are a lot of other notable things I could list, but they aren't coming to me at the moment. There are several things that need loose ends tied up as well, such as finishing my business plan and receiving the last paycheck I am owed from a job that ended over two months ago. So, 2014 will see some BIG things happen - namely, (hopefully...) the growth of my practice and everything that entails.

I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions. I think I've addressed this before, but I'm not sure if it was here on this blog or not. At any rate, in my opinion New Year's Resolutions always end up being the afterthought during the holiday hangover that goes something like this: "hmm, I better come up with a resolution to start off the new year...ya, I think going to the gym EVERY DAY should be my resolution. I'm going to sign up for a membership (on a whim...) and then MAKE MYSELF go every day, and then I'll be happy with myself for achieving this empty goal." Whether the resolution actually is going to the gym every day or not, I feel like so often resolutions are forgotten about after the first two weeks. Then the membership (or whatever investment went into the resolution) keeps costing the same month after month, and life gets in the way of achieving the goal that requires overextension of an already hectic life. So then there's that feeling that comes in a few months later when you realize you gave up on your resolution after three weeks, and you feel like poo about yourself. Self-esteem? Out the window. Mull that over in your head a little bit, and feel even worse about yourself.

I've experienced this multiple times in the last couple of years, and never once did I make a New Year's resolution. I just set goals for myself, without STATING the reasons behind them or planning out the logistics, and then when I realize I didn't achieve them - wow, talk about a downer. So, this year is going to be different (we always say that, don't we?). Now that we're officially adults and live life by the actual calendar year, I figured it was time to address some of the things that need changing - with a change in the calendar, so here we are.

I came across this post that was shared by one of my Facebook friends yesterday: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person. It's pretty fantastic. It's a swift kick in the butt, that's for sure. But let's be honest - that's what some of us need. Even if you can't admit that you need it - you probably do. Great post.

I decided that instead of "resolutions," a better term would be "intentions." I feel like "intentions" is more open-ended. It's not finite, and it encompasses change as necessary. "Resolutions" reminds me of legislation or bylaws or whatever - I've been in enough House of Delegates meetings for dental societies that the word "resolutions" just is much too binding and specific for me to use to describe the goals I want to achieve. "Be it resolved that...this is our opinion on this matter, and changes to the wording or anything else must be presented for a vote in the House of Delegates and thereafter be very official." That's not how I want my goals to be.

Whatever you or I call them, the goals we want to achieve at the turn of the new year will be difficult. If they aren't, you haven't improved yourself or your life all that much, so what was the point? Achieving life-altering goals requires a new perspective, intentional living, re-prioritizing, know, all of those hard grown-up things we all know we need to do, yet have such a hard time actually DOING. Well, the 6 Harsh Truths above emphasize just that - you have to actually DO SOMETHING. Why is that actually so hard? I don't know. But I need to knock it off and DO IT. There is absolutely no reason I am unable to do SOMETHING. Just something. Move forward. Get on with it.

Doing something, just about anything, improves self-worth SO MUCH! I listened to a great podcast yesterday, one of my favorites, and the topic was fantastic - body-loathing and how to change it. Why do we loathe our bodies? Because our self-worth is severely diminished (I get that there are complications with all of these psychological and emotional issues, but for the sake of this synopsis, bear with me). How do we change that? DO SOMETHING. Volunteer. That's a big one - what can you do to help another person - THAT is your self worth. What can you do that is of worth to another human - it might sound superficial, but it's SO TRUE! Think about that for a minute. Volunteer. Create. Write. Work. Produce something. DO something. Right in line with the 6 Harsh Truths.

Listen to the first 18 minutes of this podcast. If you want, continue listening as they address a listener-submitted question about carb requirement for running. Interesting, though definitely not shocking.

Also, listen to this entire thing. They have an awesome guest on this episode.

Sarah and Jason of the Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness podcast are AMAZING, they are by far my favorite podcast. I highly recommend listening to them on a regular basis. I had forgotten how influential they are on my general attitude, and yesterday was reminded of how important this single hour per week is to my wellbeing. I feel like they are close friends of mine, and we have never met. They have no idea who I am. But that's ok - their podcast is a big part of my life, and needs to be.

I realize I kind of went off on a couple of tangents here...again, another reminder that I'm not a writer like some of my blogger friends are. I didn't even list my intentions for 2014. Oops. Suffice it to say that this girl needs to start out by simply DOING SOMETHING. Holy cow, I need to WORK. And CREATE. So, first things first, finish my damn business plan and finalize my loan situation. That will be one HUGE step towards improving the state of my sanity.

Welp, I think it's about time to wrap this one up, kids. I need to get going to a classified location to shove myself in a corner until sufficient work has been done on my made-up financial statements for my business plan. If that doesn't sound like a party to're right. It sucks. But I need to DO SOMETHING. For real.

See y'all next time, and thanks for reading.