9 Ways to Self-Care In The Summer

Sometimes it’s difficult to shut our thoughts off, to put that assignment for school or project for work aside, and to do what truly makes us happy. From a very young age, we’ve been programmed to constantly go, go, go and rarely even notice that we are close to reaching burn out, but it’s so important to take some time to ourselves and recharge. How come we don’t have siesta?! It’s so unfair, honestly! Self-care. We hear it a lot, but what does it really mean? Well, I personally feel like it varies cross the board; it is whatever you make it. But, the more standard definition would be something along the lines of figuring out the things that make you happy, and doing them, however many times and whenever you feel you need to find some peace and quiet within a hectic day, or week, or even in one single stressful situation. I promise, you will feel re-energized and so will everyone around you because positive energy is contagious and there’s not enough of it right now.

To me personally, self-care means finding out my passions and pursuing them; it means figuring out the things that make me smile, the things that make me cry; self-care is learning to appreciate my body the way it is; it means living in the moment. Taking a day off from the usual crazy routine to enjoy something simpler, something mindless. This word so full of self-constructed meaning signifies coming to terms with myself, and knowing my limits. It is growing stronger with every experience, good or bad, and trusting my instincts. I could go on and on, but self-care pretty much means learning how to trust and love yourself despite the imperfections because as cliché as it is, the person you’ll spend the longest amount of time with is yourself, so you might as well start learning how to enjoy him or her.

These are some fun little activities I’ve compiled over the past couple of summers that I do sometimes when I’ve had a particularly rough day or just want to relax.

  1. Make a healthy smoothie that’ll keep you energized for the majority of the day.You’re bound to find something since they’re for practically every occasion! I usually put 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of all-natural raw cacao, 1 banana, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a handful of spinach/kale (my hands are tiny, so you might want to be careful with that), and 1 teaspoon of honey (or Agave as a healthier substitute), and ice, and blend for about a minute (starting on low and gradually increasing to high). Yeah, I get that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as I’ve been told by too many friends, so if you’re not brave enough to try my concoction, you can always try these to-die-for 54 healthy smoothie recipes here
  2. Watch summery hair and makeup tutorials on youtube I’ve already mastered a fishtail, and now I’m working on a braided bun!

Check out these top 20 beauty gurus of 2016. Also, for my blind friends, Molly Burke has a really descriptive and easy-to-follow Mirrorless Makeup Tutorial and a How to Curl Your Hair without Looking tutorial as well.

3. Take a bath

I find a hot bath, especially post-workout, and with Netflix in the background is the best way to spend at least a couple of hours of my day. I’ve also been experimenting with some new bath stuff in order to come up with any excuse just to sink deeper into the water for as long as I possibly can before I have to get back to my crazy schedule! I just tried a bath bomb from Lush called Dragon’s Egg and the Ocean Salt face scrub, and I absolutely love both! The scrub works especially well with getting all the dead skin off your face!

4. Try preparing a crazy food you’ve never heard of before

Since my summers consist of everything healthy to make up for both semesters of disgusting, but definitely necessary before finals school food, last summer I tried making this Chocolate Avocado Pudding and when I say I hate Avocado, believe me I’m not a fan! Everything about it freaks me out. The texture, the lack of taste… but oddly enough this pudding actually tasted richer and way better than regular chocolate pudding, and I couldn’t even taste the avocado!! So definitely give it a shot, but if you hate it, you didn’t get it from me!

5. Aroma therapy

Ok, so I feel like you either hate this one or love it. I personally can’t get enough of the smell of some of my favorite oils like coconut, peppermint, and lemon, not to mention all of the unique health benefits that come with each one. You can get creative, too. My goal this summer is to try making different yummy-scented lotions and scrubs with them! Here is a list of the most common ones along with their therapeutic properties.

6. Tea

Tea is like my therapist away from my therapist. Stressed? I brew some Yogi stress-relief. Feeling low on energy? The Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy’s got my back. And, last week my mom bought a blooming flower one, which is a little ball of tea that quite literally blossoms into a flower as it steeps in your cup. If that’s not relaxing, I’m not sure what is.

7. Yoga

I took a yoga class this past semester, and it definitely went right along with my self-care obsession. Right now I’ve been following this video for a while because she’s pretty descriptive, and does most of the same moves as I learned in class. Although, everyone’s been telling me to try a number of “Yoga with Adrienne” videos, which are more workout-based, and can be found here. I will keep you guys updated once I get someone to walk me through what she’s doing!

8. Read a book (not for school for once!)

Yes, this too, is probably on every other self-care list known to man. But, I may have some suggestions that you’ve never heard of. My all-time favorites are The Edge of Never, by J. A. Redmerski (I’ll link the book review here), and The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons (book review here). None of these contain spoilers, btw. If you don’t like romance, you should probably skip the reviews altogether, but if you do these books are for you! Both of them are also part of series… don’t get too hooked or you’ll be self-caring for too long! 😉 Again, The Edge of Never goes along with my live in the moment mantra, and The Bronze Horseman takes place in Russia. Yup, I apparently like to escape reality by reading about reality…

9. Hair and nails!

If you have a little extra… or a lot of extra money go have a girl’s day with yourself or with your friends! I usually fall under the first one so I don’t usually do both at once, but I know when I do it feels so amazing to have someone play with my hair for a couple of hours, or massage my hands and feet. I leave feeling like a completely different person and everyone always thinks I just got a good sleep… shhh… it’s our dirty little secret! Btw, have you heard of the new dipping powder that’s already colored? You just dip your nail into it and it dries like an acrylic, accept it’s much better for your nails and doesn’t ruin them when you’re ready to take them off!

 

More to come!!

Do You Have Snapchat?: The Question that “Snaps” Me Back to Reality… Litterally

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Do you have snapchat?
This is the question that so often literally snaps me back to reality because, well, no I don’t. For those of you who might not know, I’m blind.
Let me tell you how we got here first. Last month, I went clubbing with a couple of friends. It was a pretty chill girl’s night. We were all sitting around talking when we spontaneously thought it would be really fun to go out since we hadn’t in a while. We all got ready, did our makeup, and after double and triple changing and re-checking all of our outfits, ordered the uber.
When we got there, we jumped out eagerly and approached the booming base of the music and stood in line. The bouncer ushered us through and we shuffled on past the packed and sweaty mass of people to get inside and away from the cold.
When I go out, I always make sure to let one of my friends know to keep an eye out and if it looks like I’m in a bad situation to intervene. Obviously, it’s mutual and if I notice that any of my friends are uncomfortable I make sure to step in, too.
As soon as we entered and made our way onto the dance floor, the music changed to this really intense and rapid beat, which I was totally feeling after a super stressful and homework-packed week. Dancing is one of my favorite things and even more so with my girls! As to how I learned to dance as someone who has been blind basically all their life… we’ll save that for a different day.
Anyway, after a while of dancing and laughing and simply just having a good time, I felt the familiar hand on my shoulder spinning me around and away from my friends. It was gentle and lingered there questioningly, giving me a chance to say no if I didn’t feel like dancing with him. But, my friends were getting themselves dances too, so I didn’t see anything wrong with spending a couple of songs with this guy. We started dancing at around 1 and finished at around 2:30, about the time that the club started to close. In between the pauses of the music, and taking breaks from dancing we kept asking each other questions like, “where do you go to school?” “How old are you?” All the ordinary questions anyone would ask if they were trying to get to know someone. And in all of the curiosity, there was not really a good lead-in question that gave me an opportunity to slide in the fact that I couldn’t see. So the conversation smoothly continued to progress. Honestly, that’s not the first thing on my mind when I’m telling someone about myself. Blind just isn’t one of those things that pops up in conversation because it doesn’t by any means define me or who I am. So time passed by and for a second, just for a second, it’s like I forgot who I was. Then, after hours of dancing, and conversation he finally asked the question that makes my heart start beating just a little faster and sends my thoughts racing every single time, without a fail! “Do you have snapchat?”
Ok, so I don’t get anxious because I’m insecure and uncomfortable talking about my disability, or because I have this strong desire to use snapchat, and can’t. I become anxious because I know that the second I reveal something that he didn’t know about me before, he was going to start making judgments about me that I wasn’t ready for him to make yet. Preconceived judgments that to him would be his perception of the truth. A perception that once made, is unlikely to change. And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t want to find out what kinds of misconceptions people have about blindness. Incapable, vulnerable, innocent, helpless, and a bunch of other wrongful, assumptive, and degrading words are far from the truth. I want people to see my true personality shine through before they focus on what to them is this huge reveal, and to me is just another descriptive word that is at the bottom of my list. In fact, it’s so down there, that blonde, short, Russian, optimistic, extroverted, a friend, a daughter, a girl who is passionate about traveling and life, and many other words come to mind before, blind.
This is why often times I shrug the question off and say something like “Sorry. I don’t really use my phone much.” It’s not a lie, but it’s not the full truth either, and I get that some people may find that dishonest. I won’t disagree with you there. I fully support the idea of educating and opening people’s minds to difference and diversity, though, but there is a time and place for it. The club, for me anyway, most of the time just isn’t one of those places. Educating comes with its fair share of exhaustion and at the end of the week, I just want to get lost in dancing and losing myself to the beat of the music and the rhythm of the movements.
But, I did want to get this guy’s number, and if I’m going to do that I give nothing other than the truth. It is never my intention to lead anyone on by withholding information that might make or break a date that we haven’t yet gone on. So, over the music, I screamed, “I can’t see, so I don’t have snapchat.” Then, everything stopped. Not for him, not for my friends dancing off in the distance, but for me. The feeling of the unknown lingered in the air as I held my breath for his response.
And then he said, “Wow! Wait! You are?,” He paused and then proceeded to follow that up with, “Well, even though you might not be able to see yourself, you’re really pretty,” And I let out a breath that I didn’t even realize I had been holding until then. Some people might see that as an offensive answer, like I don’t need to see myself in order to be confident with my body, but in my opinion, this is something I can work with. Nobody is perfect, and especially not if they’ve never met a blind person in their entire life. It was an attempt at a compliment and I appreciate that more than he’ll ever know because it was an indication of open-mindedness and a carefree attitude. I mean, in retrospect compared to other people, he took it pretty smoothly and that’s all I can ask for from a random dance partner at a club. He ended up putting his number in my phone because voice over is nearly impossible to use in such a loud setting.
The rest of the night flew by, we got back safely. We both took chances that night. I told him something that was personal and he took the first step to what I see as acceptance. Keeping an open-mind can truly go a long way. Although the snapchat question always brings me back, it is also a reminder of how many lessons I’ve learned from living with a disability all my life. It is a reminder of my parents pushing me out of my comfort zone and to be my absolute best, and firmly, yet not overbearingly encouraging me to keep a positive outlook on the world. A reminder of strength, determination, and self-acceptance. A reminder of the first time I realized that I would never drive like the rest of my high school friends, but a reminder that I could get to the same destination if I just figured out a different way of getting there. All of these things are so much more worth it than fitting in at a club, or any social setting really, and I couldn’t be more greatful to my blindness about what it constantly teaches me about myself, and life in general. Going out isn’t forever, and the guys who don’t accept you for who you really are aren’t worth your time, but the lessons you learn and take away from these experiences are unforgettable, making you stronger and stronger with every one.

Talking About Shopping: The Way Eye See It

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10/26/2016 (Wed) 10:00am-10:30am

Hello lovelies!!! It’s been so long I’ve missed posting on here! It’s just that with all the midterms, projects, and research papers I’ve barely had time to get my nails done, never mind sitting down to write a blog post. Priorities, right?? 😉

Well, when I actually got the time to pick up my lap top I was at a loss as to what to write about. Part of me wishes that something eventful happens so that I could have this big story to tell all of you, but unfortunately, my life isn’t that exciting right now. So the topic I’ve chosen for today is a question that I’ve been getting a lot lately. One of the first things that people usually ask me, if it’s not my dog’s name, is how I manage to pick out such fashionable outfits.

First, I will share a secret with you all: I haven’t always been able to wake up every morning and feel good about what I put on. Especially not in high school! Quite t he contrary actually, I used to throw on baggy hoodies and jeans because I mean that’s as easy as it gets. What matches better than a random color for the top and some jeans? Dressing down was something I always did back then, but I never even remotely enjoyed it . I woke up grumpy every morning and resented going to school; I went to a very privileged and predominantly White high school lacking in any kind of diversity. Everyone always looked so put together, wearing labels from Abercrombie and haulister with their Coach bags and preppy girl accessories, and then there was me. I didn’t really develop a sense of style until college and let me tell you why.

One of the questions you may have as you’re reading this is why I never had friends to do high school girlie things with, or friends to go shopping with. Well, I guess my answer to that would be that I just didn’t. People at my high school were afraid of difference and decided that it was better to avoid it rather than approach it, but that’s a story for a different day. No hard feelings towards that, their loss I guess.

Anyways, college was life changing for me!! When I got to Bridgewater, I made real friends who are so super accepting and really fun to go out with!! I always thought that even if I had people to go shopping with, it would be totally awkward because it would be a one way streak. I assumed that they would help me pick out clothes and I wouldn’t be able to help them pick out or compliment theirs. This is literally so not the case: when we go shopping it’s a blast. We talk about anything and everything, we try on different outfits, they are honest with mine, and I feel them up and tell them how cute they look. 😉 No, but in all seriousness, I only have a couple of friends who I trust to be completely and utterly honest with me, and that is the most important thing when I pick out my clothes. I need to go with someone who I know is going to tell me if I look totally horrible in something, or if I just have to get this one thing even if it’s way out of my price range. I need these type of opinionated friends who have a sense for my style because I really don’t like wasting my time or money on something that I’m never going to wear. And trust me, I will find out if something looks awful and I will return it.

So, that’s the first step. The next thing that I do in order to pick out outfits is I get things that I know will always go together. For example, jeans and black leggings go with almost anything, if I wear a patterned top I can’t wear patterned bottoms and vice versa. I usually get neutral colors for cardigans and jackets so that they will go with any color top. Most of the time I don’t need to tag any of my clothes since they all tend to feel different, unless they are all t-shirts. There are ways to label clothes and I’m thinking of doing it when I’m feeling particularly adventurous and want to go with a tackier and more risky outfit. I will keep you guys updated if that is the case. Although I rarely use it, there are color identifier apps where if i take a picture of a piece of clothing it will read out the color. Over time, I’ve figured out that I like my clothes to be more on the dressy side, and so I will shop at stores like Charlotte Russe, Express, American eagle, Forever 21, ETC. The more pricey stores tend to always have people who are willing to provide assistance if I ever go shopping alone.

The next precaution I take is to ask the person who I’m with if the new top that I got will match with … pants that I have at home, and that … cardigan. My friends have all probably looked through my closet at least a hundred times, and if they don’t know what I’m talking about I will just ask someone when I get back to my dorm. Eventually, I get a feel for all of my clothes, but as I get ready to go out and I’m with my friends they will usually tell me what else looks cute with the jacket or Cammie that I just got.

To end this off, I have to say that I would not be at this point without my friends. I would never have developed my own sense of style, I would not know what to look for when I go exploring on my own, I would not be able to dress the way that I do! Thanks guys, you are my number one supporters, not just with shopping, but with literally everything! I don’t know where I would be without you!!! My friends are everything I never thought I would have, and better than anything I could have ever imagined! They are some of the most fun, most accepting, honest, and spontaneous people in the world! They allowed me to grow into myself in so many ways and I can’t thank them enough for that!

If I were to give one piece of advice, it would be to surround yourself with people who are positive, make you feel good, and will never bring you down. People who can be honest without being hurtful, and people who you can give back to and they will accept it. There is nothing worse than asking for help, and then the person not accepting your help the next time they need it. Choose your friends wisely because if you make the right ones, you will never be alone. I truly believe that is one of the key things to living a happy and care free life. This blog post is primarily on shopping, but that is not in anyway all that my friends and I do together. Fashion is not everyone’s thing, and that’s totally understandable. I just like it for a number of reasons that I will write about in one of my upcoming posts! Also, in terms of clothes, gradually it will get easier to pick out outfits because you will get a sense for what you like, what looks good on you, ETC. I have to say that I do not by any means look fancy all the time, and there are still days that I resort to my basic hoody jean look. But thanks to all the support I have I am finally able to completely choose my daily outfits on my own. This is probably not the case when I am getting ready for a party, but come on, who gets ready alone anyway? What do you guys think about all of this? What is your definition of living life to the fullest? What outfits are some of your favorites? What should I post about next? Please, please comment and share!!!

Until next time!

Z 🙂

The Perfect Summer Treat For Your Furry Friend!

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So, I know I promised to post a couple of recipes on how to make different types of healthy smoothies. I still will do that, but first, I wanted to throw an idea at you of a cool little snack that you can make for your pooch. What better way is there to really connect with your pup other than by sharing some ice cream on an especially hot day like today?

 

It’s funny… a conductor on the train planted the seed for this post. Tigger was lying on the floor of the car, all cuddled up under my seat, when the conductor stopped by to ask if he was too hot. I said that he was alright, and then somehow, we started talking about how ice cubes are the go-to when your dog is lying on the kitchen floor, trying to cool down, but can’t. All the sudden, he filled me in on a secret homemade recipe. Apparently, he makes ice cream for his puppy every night so that he is able to share a treat with his friend every morning for breakfast. I thought this was a brilliant idea so I asked him what he did to make it dog-friendly as well as still look and taste like ice cream. He said to just cut up some bananas and put them on a raw-hide stick. Then he said to add some blueberries, strawberries, and any other fruits that you think your fluff ball might enjoy! He mentioned something about mixing all of the ingredients with some water to ensure that it would freeze.

Unsure of whether I got all of the details right from his brief version, I actually looked up a recipe for Strawberry Banana Popsicle Dog Treats. Check it out here. It’s still surprisingly easy! Who knew that a slight change to the original method could solve the tasteless ice cube problem?

After this guy got me thinking, I began looking up similar recipes to see what other fun snacks I could prepare for Tigger in order to get him through a long day of work. It only took a couple of minutes of browsing before I discovered another recipe that makes frozen peanut butter treats. All you need is half a mashed up banana, some water, and unsweetened and unsalted peanut butter. Mix 1 cup of peanut butter and a half mashed banana together, adding a tiny bit of water, and put table spoons of the mixture in an ice cube tray. Same goes for this one: store in the freezer until they feel firm.

I looked on amazon and found these really cool ice cube trays that might make this recipe even more paw-some than it already is. Instead of a standard ice tray, these are silicone paw shaped molds that are perfect to bake with or store in the freezer. I can’t wait to try these at home and watch Tigg devour a refreshing and tasty little icy serving that will surely cool him down right away. This will be an-ice surprise to finish off the day after he’s had his fun in the sun! Not to mention, you can eat these too since they’re way healthier than regular ice cream, which is usually packed with artificial flavoring and other ingredients that can be detrimental to your health. Just don’t forget to replace the raw hides with real Popsicle sticks or else it will not be a so-fun end to your day. I’ll keep you updated with pics whenever I get a chance to grab some bananas and peanut butter from the grocery store on my way home from work. If you get a chance to make these before me, let me know what did and didn’t work for you in the comments below.

 

The Naked Truth About the Naked Drinks

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and walked past the juice isle? Have you ever stopped to take a look around and had the Naked label catch your eye? Have you then thought to yourself, I do want a juice, but most juices are relatively unhealthy, except for this one? I mean it can’t be that bad for you… everyone in class drinks it, and everyone says how healthy it is. Have you proceeded to look at the pictures on the bottle of the carrots and other required vegetables in your diet that you don’t usually consume on a regular basis? Then, following these thoughts, have you ever just put a couple into your cart and walked away feeling great about the little lifestyle change that you just made? Well, let me break down for you the truth behind this supposedly beneficial and increasingly popular drink.

First of all, there are about 60 grams of sugar in a bottle, roughly about twice the amount of grams of sugar in a chocolate bar. If that’s not enough to make you think twice about this healthy option, then hopefully the law suit against the company in 2011 is.

Naked was sued for claiming that these drinks were all natural when in fact they were not. The labels including phrases like “All Natural” and “100% juice that placed these drinks in the healthy isles of grocery stores all over the country were deceptive to say the least.

This article reveals that there were artificial ingredients such as Archer Daniels Midland’s Fibersol-2, fructooligosaccharides, and calcium pantothenate added to the drink, falsifying the inaccurate label. In another article, it was revealed that these supposedly healthy drinks contained GMO, zinc oxide, and ascorbic acid, which Naked conveniently failed to mention alongside the “all natural” label on the bottle.

As a result of the law suit, in 2013 the company settled for $9 million, and consented to give $75 back to anyone who bought a naked juice before August 19, 2013, although they still did not admit that their claim was false. Not to mention, an article listing, brands to boycott, claimed that Pepsi, the company that bought out Naked in 2001, was not in favor of disclosing whether or not products have GMO as one of their ingredients. Furthermore, the juice also contains pesticides, which leads me to believe that it is not made from organic fruits.

So, hopefully this article catches your attention before you waist $4 on an inorganic product that contains triple the amount of sugar than the daily required serving and is sold by a company that presents inaccurate labelling.

You can easily make a healthier version of this fruit juice, probably for cheaper and with way more benefits. Keep watch for my next post which will list a couple of healthy and yummy smoothie and juice recipes that you can easily make at home within 5 minutes!