Third Trimester Essentials

Before baby arrives, I wanted to jot down a few things that I found especially wonderful during my third trimester. I survived this pregnancy generally unscathed by the usual discomforts. But still, the third trimester was the most challenging, physically and energetically. I combated that by taking care of myself with skin-care routines, occasional manicures, and plenty of sleep. I avoided purchasing most things during my pregnancy, but found that some items around the home were life-savers. For example, I reached for our decorative lumbar pillow every night, as substitute for the pregnancy pillows I never bought. I also relinquished my frugality for items such as an exercise ball to sit on (honestly the most comfortable seat in the house) and a pair of new Birkenstocks (the most comfortable shoe to walk around in). If I could give choose ONE item, though, it’s the water bottle with a sippy straw for me! Lastly, I made the most of my personal time, as I hear you don’t get much after baby arrives. I read books and blogs, digested podcasts, and wrote and journaled as much as I could.

Of course, everyone’s pregnancy is different. The creature comforts and third trimester discomforts range widely. I’d love to hear what essentials you found useful in your third trimester!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves

Today we are talking beauty as it relates to pregnant persons. I, myself, have had my fair-share of feeling frumpy during pregnancy. Some days, I wake up and feel altogether BLEH. That’s absolutely normal and okay! There are, however, a few beauty routines that freshen me up and make me feel confident again. These routines aren’t meant to hide the fact that I am carrying another person. Rather, they help me glow in all my maternal glory. I’ve always kept a fairly minimalist beauty routine, but it has changed slightly during this time. Thankfully, I have honed in on my arsenal of maternity beauty must-haves, and wish to pass them along today.

As a side note, I truly believe that less is more in the beauty world. When hormones run amok, the last thing you want to lather on your already-inflamed skin are chemically-loaded creams and powders. This would be adding insult to injury. Yes, it could hide the symptoms temporarily, but it could also aggravate the situation. Plus, my goal is not to hide myself from the world. I want that which will allow me to face everyday with confidence. I attack generalized feelings of pregnancy “blah-ness” in three key areas: My gut, my face, and my body.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves for the Gut

Photo by Ellie Ellien on Unsplash

It all begins with the gut. Holistic doctors have been touting this for years, and I think there is truth to it. The saying, “you are what you eat” didn’t come out of thin air. Personally, I have found that when I go through periods of eating unhealthy foods, my skin reacts with rashes, my body feels lethargic, and acne tends to appear out of thin air. I feel emotionally stressed, even without environmental stressors, which makes me believe my body is physically reacting to foods I am eating.

When it comes to feeling beautiful, you need to feed your body nutritional meals. This means eating a clean diet low in sugar, gluten, processed/frozen food, red meat, and yes, even caffeine. Clean eating is simply good hygiene. I see tremendous improvement whenever I do a week of clean eating. This is the first line of defense when my looks have gone down the way-side.

But there’s more than just eating well. One of my favorite ways to combat anything (sickness, inflammation, tiredness, overwhelm…) is to stay hydrated. I drink more than the recommended 8 cups of water a day. A tactic I use is to keep water within reach at all times. This Bink-Made Maternity bottle is helping moms stay on top of their hydration goals. I highly recommend!

I also like to take pre-natal vitamins and have been ingesting a daily dose of collagen for the last few years. My favorite collagen brand is this one from Thrive Market (affiliate link). I have recommended this brand of grass-fed collagen peptide to multiple friends and family members who have now become obsessed with the product! Of course, the beauty potions help too, which is why I want to address my favorite products for the face and body next.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves for the Face

Photo by SUN STUDIO CREATIVE on Unsplash

In general, I choose naturally occurring oils and serums. Avoiding make-up is also something I do. My daily make-up routine during my pregnancy consists of Glossier’s lash stick (aff link) and a dehydrated eyebrow pomade from Merit called the Brow 1980 (aff link). I use the latter to tame brow hairs since I never shape, wax, thread, or do anything with my brows anyway. Once a month I’ll reach for additional make-up options, all of which are from the Merit Beauty line, for weddings or special occasions.

Instead of hiding behind powder, I stick to skin-replenishing routines. True Botanicals is my go-to brand, with Aesop not too far behind. My night-time routine involves a nourishing cleanser, a rich Chebula active serum, and a moisturizing eye cream. In the day-time, I turn to a light moisturizing face oil, more eye cream, and a bit of sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

On days when I feel especially pruney, I love to use True Botanical’s renew nutrient mist, which I carry with me on airplanes and car rides. For my pregnancy, I have switched to their calm nutrient mist as recommended by pregnant mothers, but I prefer the renew version and will likely switch back once I finish my bottle. I apply lip balm feverishly throughout the day as well. As a child, my lips were always bleeding and chapped. The habit of wearing lip balm has really saved me from those woes.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves on the Body

Photo by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

On my body, I apply lotion when I wake up and after I shower. I also have been using a well-loved body oil on my belly. It is from the brand Rowsie Vain. They have a number of body oils and perfumes and I am enamored with her brand. Now, this isn’t scientific advice but I am currently at month eight and have somehow avoided stretch marks thus far! The cause of stretch marks have yet to be proven, but some theories include hormones (what doesn’t?), rapid growth that doesn’t give skin enough time to stretch, and thin skin wherein the collagen fibers break down due to stretching. I have already mentioned that I have been taking my beloved collagen for a year, and that I stay hydrated. But the belly oil is one thing I won’t stop doing, because I think it helps! Lastly, and this is bordering on the superfluous, this sugar exfoliating body scrub does wonders for my skin!

A Note on Brand Loyalty

I don’t stray too far from my tried-and-true favorites: True Botanicals, Aesop, Merit and Glossier. Everyone is different, but I do recommend finding a handful of brands that you LOVE and sticking with them. Our bodies suffer when we use multiple products and exchange them frequently. Allow your body and skin to get used to something, and then stick with it.

Of course, nothing beats sunshine, exercise, meditation and a good night’s rest!

For all my mama’s out there, let me know what you’ve grown to love! I am looking for post-partum products, too!

The Anti Anxiety Therapy Notebook That Rewires Negative Thinking

I waited more than a month to write about Therapy Notebook’s Anti Anxiety Notebook. I felt it was important I give it a proper review. Now, I can affirm that this is, without a doubt, the most useful tool I have used to date to rewire my negative thinking. I can’t wait to delve into the positive aspects of this book. It is a revolutionary way of addressing mental health, especially for those who don’t have the financial means, time, or space to seek out a therapist in person.

Let me start by saying I have no background in psychology. Although both of my sisters specialized on the subject, I personally have very few tools to improve my own thinking. I have a history with mental health, having experienced depression in my 20’s and anxiety in my 30’s. It took half a decade to figure out how to heal from depression, and it is taking just as long with anxiety. But the fact that I did move on from depression really proves that there are ways to undo harmful thinking. This book has empowered me in ways I didn’t know it could.

Before delving into the anti anxiety notebook, here are a few related post on mental health:

Related Posts:

How the Anti-Anxiety Notebook Works

The Anti Anxiety Therapy Notebook applies the science of cognitive behavioral therapy. An introduction in the book walks one through separating the objective facts of what happens in our lives from the subjective narratives we attach to those events. We attach narratives in an instant – most of them are thought processes ingrained in us from childhood or our formative years. Deconstructing reality from our perceptions is a thinking process that takes practice. It starts with awareness. Properly asking yourself, what happened (physically) without judgement or bias requires effort.

Identifying Emotional Responses

Once you’ve separated what actually happened from what you perceived happened, it is time to address your feelings around the event and your thoughts. A feelings wheel in the appendix illustrates the emotions that can we can feel. I was surprised to learn that some emotions I thought I was feeling are actually a misdiagnosis of another, more accurate emotion. For example, when I felt nervous, I realized that the nervousness was rooted in fear, a fear of disappointing others or letting them down. Likewise, when I feel anger, sometimes it’s really because of embarrassment or shame. I used to think I got angry at people when really, I was most angry with myself. The feelings wheel really helped me narrow in on the most accurate emotion.

We tend to name an emotion and land on it, but reflecting on what other emotions are leading us there is crucial to our understanding. Emotions, like narratives, are reactive in nature. Usually, it is a repeat response to similar situations from our past. Analyzing those responses and peeling back the layers requires patience. All of this takes time. The journal has helped me to sit down with my emotions and identify them properly.

Cognitive Distortions

Once your emotional state is identified, the journal asks you to question the thought patterns that brought you there. Before this book, I didn’t know what thought patterns were. They are actually referred to as cognitive distortions, because of their inaccuracy and reinforcement of negative thinking and emotions. These lead us to think things that are unhelpful and untrue. There are 12 distortions described in the book:

  • All or Nothing Thinking
  • Blaming Others
  • Catastrophizing
  • Emotional Reasoning
  • Fortune Telling
  • Labeling
  • Magnifying the Negative
  • Mind Reading
  • Minimizing the Positive
  • Overgeneralization
  • Self-Blaming
  • Should Statements

When I first started using the book, I made assumptions on my thinking tendencies. I thought the patterns that I fell into were Magnifying the Negative, Self-Blaming, and All or Nothing Thinking. I was surprised to learn that the traps I usually fell into were Catastrophizing and Fortune Telling. This makes sense now as my mind tends to lie in the future tense. A lot of my anxiety and negative emotions come from my fears that project out what I think could happen in the future. I realize that more often than not, my predictions are wildly dramatic and unlikely to ever happen.

Rewiring Negative Thinking

The last section challenges our brains to rewire and think in a new way. It begs the question, how can you think about the situation differently. I use this section to brainstorm all the different interpretations available, the possible outcomes, and the alternative emotional responses. This part of the process is cathartic for me. I imagine living in a multi-verse, where a different version of myself will think and choose to act in a more positive way. Then I choose which version of myself I want to be. This gives me more control of the situation’s end result. For me, that bit of control releases my anxiety.

How This Journal Helped Me

After using this journal for a month, I am less anxious about the things that once worried me. For one, it has shifted my attitude towards gratitude. It has increased my ability to be kind and to forgive. It has also increased confidence in my abilities, and removed some of the stresses of “What-Ifs”. Now I know that even in the worst case scenarios, there will also be a silver lining. I can’t stress enough how much improvement this book has given me in one month! If you wish to start your journey, I really do recommend this book. And if this is any indication as to the healing effects therapy provides, then it really is worth a try, for those who have been debating about it for a while.

What’s In the Journal

The Anti Anxiety Notebook starts with a few key points on how cognitive behavior therapy works. Interspersed throughout the pages are quotes to reflect on, as well as 5 coping mechanisms: Changing Mindsets, Mindfulness, Sleep, Positive Relationships, and Distraction. There are also empty pages scattered between journal entries, with enough room for a brain dump. I use this space for reflection, doodling, venting, and more. At the end of the book are 3 very useful appendices: CBT Basics, Cognitive Distortions, and The Feelings Wheel (my favorite resource!).

As for the journaling portion, the book includes dated pages where I was able to jot down events that caused anxiety. Questions I was forced to ask myself were:

  • What happened? (describe the situation)
  • What is going through your mind? (describe your thoughts)
  • What emotions are you feeling?
  • What were the levels of intensity of those feelings?
  • What thought patterns do you recognize? (more on that below!)
  • How can you think about the situation differently? (challenge your thoughts)

Is this book for you?

I have no experience in receiving therapy in person. But I know this to be true: Therapy Notebooks provided a way to map out my thought patterns and cognitive biases in my own space and my own time. Although it is made by therapists, it isn’t a replacement for therapists (if that is what you need). However, it does bridge the gap between those who can and cannot afford therapy sessions. The notebook lowers the barrier to getting help, when perhaps you don’t have the means to pay for it or the ability to leave work or home for a proper chat.

If you do end up trying it, I am curious to see how it serves you.

This post was written in partnership with Therapy Notebooks, a company looking to empower people with tools that improve mental health. My anti anxiety notebook was gifted to me by the company to try. As a practicing dentist, I experience anxiety every time I go into work. I also experience daily anxiety at a much lower level, because my thoughts tend to lie in the future, which is unknown. Part of my suffering is caused by a longing to control my environment and outcomes. That coupled with a culturally ingrained need to get along with everyone and avoid causing ripples in the proverbial water. The thoughts, opinions, and experience noted here are of my own.

Natural Nail Rituals with Bare Hands

I have always loved simplicity and a humble aesthetic. Even when it comes to fashion and beauty, I lean towards function and comfort. It has to look good too, but we can all find beauty in the mundane, everyday things. I have a penchant for the unappreciated as you may well know. So it’s only natural that my interest was piqued when I came across the brand Bare Hands, founded by Suzanne Shade who hopes to create an alternative to routine manis and pedis. Finally, I found a person glorifying the beauty of our nails’ most natural state.

We are not taught to love natural nails.

When I was young and going to dental school, there was a cardinal rule that applied only to women: Nails must not be painted with chemical color lest someone has an allergic reaction to any ingredient. I remember the rule feeling constrictive as a twenty-something year old female. Friends my age were just making their first paychecks, and taking care of themselves through manicures and pedicures. Attending social gatherings where girls were dolled up, sipping cocktails with their glossy nails made me feel what Anna Delvey would only describe as ‘poor‘.

I was embarrassed by my naked nails. They looked grungy after working with putty, plaster, and stone all week. My nails were dull, ragged, and downright ugly. I caught myself occasionally hiding them in my pockets or under the table. When Friday came around, I reserved an hour in the evening to paint them, only to remove the color by Sunday night. There was no way I could afford a mani/pedi, which runs at around $50 with tip. Beauty, it turns out, can also be expensive.

But the definition of beauty is changing.

Historically the idea of beauty has been elevated to unnatural levels. For some women, that also makes it unattainable. Just like makeup hides our natural facial features, polish hides our natural nails. We are always told to hide. Or reach for better. We are never enough.

The problem with covering ourselves in paint and powder is that we create a facade that’s a difficult standard to maintain. It complicates things. It keeps us from doing real work. More importantly, it keeps us from being ourselves.

I am grateful to see a shift in that thinking.

Simplicity is beautiful.

There is beauty in simplicity. We see that today, as more people turn towards minimalism, slow living, and intentional lifestyle choices. It started with the popularization of a natural looking brow. Then followed the revered diastema, a gap between the front two teeth. Makeup became more neutral as fashion styles veered towards chromophobia. Today, the rich aesthetic encompasses those along the greige spectrum of browns and greens. Think of stone-colored Porsches and neutral Yeezies. And we see this aesthetic translating to the nail industry.

Enter the era of natural nails.

Bare Hands is a brand revamping what the nail industry would consider beautiful. Gone are the days of bright colored polish, long fake nails, and glittery coats. If it isn’t neutral, it just isn’t posh. At least, that is the current consensus. But what of unpolished nails altogether? Suzanne has created a natural, healthy, and sustainable method for nail care.

As a dentist, baker, and dog-walker, having painted nails is problematic most of the time. And while I love getting fancy with my collection of curated J. Hannah polishes, I go without polish for more than half of the month for the sake of simplicity. Painted nails chip on oft used hands. Moreover, no one wants synthetic oils in their mouths or their dough. For many us who work in kitchens, studios, farms, and medical offices, painted nails are just not a sustainable option.

Additionally, maintenance is a pain. The amount of time it takes to put on and take off polish is significant if you add on dry-time. If you paint your nails weekly, this could be one and a half hours per week spent on upkeep. And it is expensive. Some women have reported spending $200 a month or more on nail care alone!

Suzanne created an alternative.

Suzanne is a woman after my own heart. She has always loved the look of natural nails. And as a frugalist, she could not fathom spending a fortune to keep up with the Joneses’ social standards. Her penchant for bare nails stems from her studies in art school. After learning that certain oil-based paints are not healthy for fine art use, she started to question why it was accepted for nail color.

So began her quest to get to the root cause of why women feel the need to paint their nails. Part of it is social, yes. Seeing others at that heightened level of beauty is a factor. However, she also discovered that most women simply did not like the appearance of their nails. And none of them had methods to care for it in a natural way.

Take me for example. Every week, I am baking sourdough, working on a farm, doing dentistry, and picking up dog poop. My hands take a beating. My nails are shot. It’s easier to cover up all that wear and tear. Polish is my pretend way of making my nails pretty. But after discovering the Dry Gloss Manicure from Bare Hands, I no longer have to hide.

The Dry Gloss Manicure by Bare Hands

The Dry Gloss Manicure kit is very simple and easy to use. A tutorial on their website taught me how to use it within minutes. The routine includes caring for your cuticles, buffing your nails to reveal a natural shine, and moisturizing with a citrine oil. You can soften the cuticles using sugar and coconut oil, ingredients already in your kitchen pantry. The kit provides a unique buffing tool and a citrine oil pen packaged in a beautiful leather case, shipped without plastic in a cardboard box.

I have actually made a habit of using the dry gloss manicure each night while I am watching TV or listening to a podcast. It has made a huge difference. I admire my nails often nowadays. I open my palm and try to catch a glint of natural light. On top of that, I am obsessed with the citrine oil, that I just might buy a bottle of it by itself from the site. It smells amazing and really moisturizes the dry skin around my nails!

Join the Movement

I think it’s time we embrace natural nails. Doing so will not only save us time and money, it will also save us from the related stresses. Namely, we no longer have to keep up with the Joneses, limit our movements and tasks, and hold ourselves to an impossible standard. We can embrace ourselves, do more of what we love, and feel confident in our skin.

Deep, deep gratitude to Suzanne for allowing me to try the Dry Gloss Manicure kit. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wish to try the manicure yourself, feel free to use my code DEBTIST15 to receive 15% off all products. This is a one-time use code per person, and any links provided in this post are tied to my audience, although I earn no money from them. There is also a newly released Natural Pedicure Set which has a verbena balm for your heels. I can only imagine it being as lovely as the citrine oil. These two are great small gestures for the hard-working girlfriends in your life, but if you wish, there is a Mani Pedi Pairing that makes a grand gift. It also saves you $6 by buying the combo.

How to Beat the January Blues

I am completely bewildered that we are almost halfway through January. I wanted to come on here to see how everybody is doing. To tell the truth, I, myself, am feeling lethargic this morning. I could barely wake up to the cat’s meowls. The thing is, January blues are quite real. So I wanted to write a post on how to beat the January blues.

Did you know that the third Monday of January is deemed Blue Monday? It is supposedly the saddest day of the year and was dubbed so by the press in 2005. The combination of gloomy weather and tight purse strings, lack of holidays and, well, MONDAY resulted in the name. After the excitement from holiday festivities subside and the expectations from New Year become more difficult to reach, of course a more depressed feeling settles in. But we can battle it in healthy ways. (Anyone else doing Dry January?).

A note on Sadness:

Sadness is not a bad thing. Rather, it is a natural human emotion that we should allow ourselves to feel. It is not something to extinguish. We watched the movie “Don’t Look Up” recently and I couldn’t resonate more with their message. There is a difference. Today, the tips I am sharing are not to rid our lives of sadness. I am sharing them to get over the hump. When the blues prevent us from normal function or motivation, sometimes it is helpful to have a few tactics in your back pocket.

How to Beat the January Blues

+ Exercise

The best times to get a workout in are early mornings as soon as you wake and late afternoons about four hours before bed. Exercise increases dopamine (boosts mood) and anandamide (joy, bliss) hormone. It will also make you tired enough for bed, giving you more reason to sleep early.

+ Get outdoors

The Japanese word shinrin-yoku means to forest bathe. Forest bathing refers to the activity of getting outdoors, surrounding yourself with trees and going for a walk in the woods. Now California is a desert and we are short on forests here but getting on a trail is much the same thing. There are restorative as well as energetic benefits from being outdoors. It can really boost the spirits and give you a new perspective.

+ Let the Sunlight In

I always open all the curtains and blinds in the morning to let as much sunlight into our home during the day. Natural sunlight and plenty of windows is actually my number one requirement for buying homes. That’s how much it affects my life! Sunlight increases the hormone serotonin, which boosts mood, calms emotions, and helps with focus. I guess you can say sunlight feeds my soul and sets me up for creative success.

+ Hydrate

Hydration is another frugal life hack that I discovered. People love to spend money on all sorts of formulas and supplements, yet most people fail to drink enough water! Our bodies, having evolved from oceans, are highly receptive to water. Whenever I am low in energy, I pour myself an entire glass of water and drink the whole thing. I make it a point to drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. My co-workers make fun of me for being always at the water refill station (we have one of those high-pH filters) filling up my Kinto water bottle. I am there so much, they’ve nicknamed me the camel!

+ Take a cold shower.

“But isn’t it already cold enough?”, you might say. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, this is a great one. This will activate the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your stress response. Doing so will cause a spike in nor-adrenaline which boosts mood. Just have a hot cup of coffee brewing in the meantime.

+ Boost Mood with Food

One of my favorites! Certain foods will make our bodies lethargic and lower our moods. I recommend a gut-friendly diet, filled with nuts, greens, fruits, and legumes. My favorite book about nourishing our bodies with food is called Eat to Beat Disease by William Li. I haven’t gotten sick in five years and my body stays in pretty good shape. People ask my all the time how I do it. I eat well, has always been my answer. And trust me, when your body feels good, so do you.

+ Eat Chocolate.

This is coming from a dentist! Eating nutritious food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. If you read the aforementioned book, you will find that it includes some of my favorite things, such as coffee and chocolate! Chocolate contains flavonoids which reduce stress-hormones in your body. Just make sure it is over 80% dark chocolate and not that milk chocolate stuff that is swimming with dairy products and sugar. I go to Whole Foods and buy Chocolove’s Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%) or Endangered Species’s Strong and Velvety (88%). I can eat a whole row of these in one sitting with no remorse.

+ Give Up Alcohol

I gave up alcohol for frugal reasons once and the benefits far exceeded my expectations. Some people use alcohol to cope with depression, but the crash will make it worse. Instead, do the opposite and you might find better results.

+ Avoid the News

The news is there to make you feel bad. As a business model, it is the only way they can keep you coming back for more. Remember 2020 when everyone kept checking the news? Didn’t that feel awful? Didn’t we spiral into something terrible? Avoid the news to feel a smidge lighter. Personally, I never follow the news.

+ Avoid Social Media

As a species built on comparison, social media can both inspire us and bring us down. Depending on the type of people you follow, Instagram may be causing some of your misery and pain. Seeing others thrive all the time can sub-consciously negatively affect your personal perception. I’ve done one month hiatuses from social media before and they have been stellar!

+ Get Plenty of Sleep

Humans are like cell phones in that they need to recharge. Sleep is their power source. Without good sleep, I am a real monster. I feel terrible, my body is tired, my brain in a fog … I mean, utterly useless! Luckily, sleep has always been my forte. As a baby, as a child, as a teenager – my parents have endless stories about me sleeping. Even when my husband and I met, we would literally spend hours in the afternoons napping in college. It was the best! Nowadays, I have a habit of drinking coffee which negates the nap hours needed in the afternoon. But I do still have a strict sleep schedule. You might be shocked to learn that my ideal number of hours of sleep is nine!

+ Re-evaluate Resolutions

You know how some people have bigger eyes than their stomach? Well I have bigger dreams than the universe. When it comes to resolutions and goal setting, I can go a bit overboard. But when you go overboard, you could sometimes drown. So I make it a point to constantly re-evaluate my goals and resolutions. At the end of each day, week, and month, I write down where I struggled. Then I ask myself, “Why was there unrest? Is the goal not aligned with my dharma? Was it too difficult or stressful? Did I not prioritize it enough or set aside enough time to get it done? Does it cause me more stress than good?” Re-evaluate your resolutions to avoid feeling burnout. As a rule of thumb, get rid of every task or goal that is not necessary to making you 1% better. It could honestly be making you 1% worse.

+ Create a Future Reward or Motivation

I am very bad at rewarding myself when I do well. That’s because I never think I deserve it. As someone who experiences self-woe firsthand, let me just nip that in the bud for you now. You deserve rewards, especially if they motivate you. We can’t expect ourselves to always produce. Create something good to look forward to in the future and think of that every time you hit a hump. Plan a trip after a really long stint at work. Take a few days off after a stressful life. Even buy yourself something nice after an achievement. Yeah, I said it.

+ Write affirmations

I used to have a great planner called Mal Paper that required me to write an affirmation about myself every morning. It was really difficult for me. Words of praise are not my thing. But the practice really improved my life. I actually became a better person because of it. When we have low moods or energy, we have trouble finding the good. By starting with an affirmation, you find the good in you, which gives you an idea on how you can give good to the world around you. That’s mood boosting on its own!

+ Reframe

Sometimes, reframing the situation is all you need to do in order to get out of a rut. For example, if work has been extremely difficult, you could tell yourself the following things:

  • I am so lucky to have a job when so many others do not.
  • I am grateful to have co-workers who have my back and who make my day better (list co-workers).
  • It may be difficult now, but I know that these moments are helping me grow in my career and as a person.
  • I am having difficulty at work because my expectations are too high.
  • I am a strong, capable individual who can overcome these difficulties and help my teammates out.

+ Try Something New

If reframing doesn’t help, then pivot onto something new. Humans thrive with new experiences because the novelty gives our brains that dopamine hit. That’s why when you purchase something or do something for the very first time, you experience that short-term high. While it isn’t everlasting, that boost may be just what you need when you’re blue. To continue the previous example:

  • Talk to someone about your difficulties.
  • Try to change your role at work.
  • Switch tasks with someone else.

+ Take a Break

When trying something new doesn’t help either, then just stop and take a break. We don’t allow enough breaks in our lives. I think that doing nothing is one of the most rejuvenating things a person can do. Don’t worry about everyone else. At this point, the focus is on you. Everyone else will be fine.

+ Ask for Help

Lastly, ask for help. If none of these tips on how to beat the January blues helps you, then maybe another person can. When I quit my job and focused on self-improvement, I hired a life and wellness coach for three months. It was amazing. Her name was Michaela Puterbaugh and you can learn about her here.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

How to Recover From the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and you may already feel a bit of burnout creeping in. Every day I am asking my patients what their plans are, and “nothing” seems to be the favorite answer. We may already be burned out from the rest of the year. Every day I am asking myself what my soul needs in the new year to flourish. Others may be asking themselves what they need just to get by. Whatever the case may be, don’t forgo making plans to recover after the holiday season. The tendency may be to jump head first into 2022. Perhaps it’s better to pause, take a break, and breathe? Here are a few of my favorite ideas to recover from the holidays.

Take time off of work.

You might feel like working full-speed in order to pay for the holiday spending is what you need to do. But I love taking time off of work to recover, even for just a day. I am lucky enough to not work a 9-5 job five days a week and to have flexible schedules. However, if I did work a traditional schedule, I would certainly request time off after my busier days. This time off isn’t for completing tasks, organizing the home, or socializing. This is a chance to reset, evaluate, and prepare. Activities that are perfect for this include getting out in nature, meditating, taking a yoga class, going to a coffee shop to write, or even getting away.

Take a vacation.

Sometimes, a separation of schedule isn’t enough to take the mind off a to-do list. For me, it also usually requires a separation of space. Taking a vacation or going away from home is a great way to recover from the holidays. My choice stay is GetAway! Stationed nationally in nature, these tiny cabins are the perfect way to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the earth or whatever grounds you. I would even recommend going without your significant other. It’ll do wonders. You can read my review of the GetAway experience here. Make your first booking with my referral link and receive $25 OFF your first stay (minimum two nights required).

Declutter the Home

We accumulate a lot of things over the holidays. I look at the things we received as gifts and consider what they are replacing in our space. We try not to keep two of anything so that’s an easy way to declutter. I also try to really consider the function of things. I get rid of a lot of stuff at the end of the year. Part of that is my natural response to the frenzy that is the holiday season. I declutter to alleviate myself of the overwhelm. But the other part of it is this: I am preparing my space for an intentional life.

Clean and Organize

I don’t know about everyone else but my house tends to look as scattered as my brain after the holidays. I usually need a day to reorganize and clean. Some of the things I do is clear out the fridge and store the leftovers, which are plenty. I put the gifts away and remove the decor, which are few. I clean the kitchen, wash sheets and towels, and sweep the floors. Throughout the year, I use this cleaning list that I wrote. It is saved on my Iphone under ‘Notes’ with checkmarks next to each task. I do a weekly cleaning time block each weekend and address the tasks little by little. It’s a simple way for me to get things done.

Give back to yourself.

In the name of giving to others over the holidays, we tend to forget about ourselves. There are many self-care strategies that you can implement to give back to yourself again. This includes getting into an exercise routine, laying off the sweets, lessening the alcohol and coffee, and being openly grateful.

I know that this list is short and sweet, but these are my favorite ways to recover from the holidays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, nor does it have to be expensive. Just make sure you are doing something for yourself to recover. The holidays is a stressful time for everyone. Don’t feel bad if you need to tell loved ones you need a break, or more space, or less time with them. We need to say no, in order to say a bigger “YES!”. That’s a good mantra to have in 2022.

J. Hannah’s Newest Nail Color, “Compost”, Is the ‘Ugliest Color In the World’ and I Am DIGGING It.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

First and foremost, I am a lover of all things misunderstood and socially unaccepted. It’s in my hard-wiring, perhaps in recognition of my own youthful quandaries as an immigrant, introvert, and straight-arrowed studious female. I have a soft spot for defending the outcasts and arguing the other side. For example, I decided in my teen years that my favorite number would be thirteen, donning it on my soccer jerseys because the movie ‘Freaky Friday’ had all my classmates hating on the number. I chose it because “it wasn’t fair”. And when my mother asked what color I wanted to paint my room after we moved for the tenth time in my life, I mortified her by picking a dirty greige-green, the color of mossy detritus. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that I equally love J Hannah’s newest polish release named similarly after my self-described teenage room. In fact, I adore it.


The color, called Compost, was fashioned after Pantone 448C – a color that market researchers agreed upon as The Ugliest Color in the World. A mix between olive-green and brown, Pantone 448C was originally invented by the marketing agency to slap onto the face of cigarette boxes to deter users from continuing their smoking habit. The message was plain and clear: stay away from this hideous substance, like tar dripping down one’s throat, or the color of ashen decaying lungs after years of smoke. But rather than repulse from this cursed tint, J. Hannah instead embraced the color and revived it as something sophisticated, without changing it.

On Instagram, she writes:

“A study in Jolie-Laide, ‘Compost’ is a statement in the nuanced line between the revolting and the luxurious, between the hideous and the refined. A reminder to not flatten beauty’s complexity into a single note. (In other words, if you know, you know.)”

J. Hannha’s Instagram

For you see, this Compost color is, to me, a beautiful color indeed. It is the color that I seek on my travels abroad, the one I am drawn to in nature and calmed by. Likewise, it is the base shade in my home – a color that sums up the beige, grey, green, and brown hues. I present to you a personal color study of Compost, that hopefully by the end, has you DIGGING it, too.

It reminds me of the first signs of life, in the form of lichen and moss, on our most recent trip to Iceland.
It reminds me of mountain terrain in the fjords of New Zealand.
It reminds me of Fall in Germany, the foliage around the Neuschwanstein Castle.
It reminds me of Alaskan Hills,
And the California Coast.

It reminds me of Michael’s hazel eyes, when the morning light hits it just right.

It is the color of our Parachute Bed Sheets, or this linen set,
As well as the most luxurious rooms in the world.
The Audo - a new hybrid space from Menu | These Four Walls blog
It is described as baroque mulch and organic drab.

It is the exact nail color I want on my nails to carry me through the Fall and Winter Seasons.


I have had the pleasure to have been #gifted a bottle of polish and have already tried it on myself. It is the third in my J. Hannah Polish collection- along with Patina and Miso. It pairs quite nicely with all the J. Hannah silver jewelry too (The Pearl Demi Signet recently replaced my wedding ring. Meanwhile the Form Hoops I is my daily earring and I carry a tiny milled Emax tooth in my Objet Pendant.) One thin, watery coat makes for a limey-green moss color, not far from the olive trees lining Jenni Kayne’s home. Two coats adds a smidge of brown, similar with the photograph above, complimenting the color of ground coffee beans. Three coats, though, is my favorite. The color of MENU Space’s NoNo Coffee Table, Nordic Knot’s Norr Malarstrand 01 Rug, and Bemz’s Zaragova Vintage Velvet in Olive Green. The color pairs nicely with black, brown, cream, and rustic terra cotta orange and reds. It is, in my opinion, the jewel tone of today’s modern world, as our field of acceptance and inclusion expands, in a year when it becomes most necessary to make the ugliest of circumstances beautiful. Iykyk.


Travel: A Facial SkinCare Kit with Symbiome

This post is sponsored by Symbiome, a new skincare company on the block, using 100% natural ingredients in the most minimal way possible to deliver maximal results.

It used to be that when I traveled, I packed nary a skincare product and relied heavily on those supplied by the AirBNB or hotel that we were staying at. However, at my most recent adventure, a new skincare company, Symbiome, offered to send me off with their jetsetter kit called The Journey. Packaged in tiny quantities, I was easily able to stash it in a TSA approved Ziplock bag and bring it with me to Iceland. Considering the tiny bottles, I was sure that it wouldn’t last me the ten days abroad. To my surprise, I had enough to bring back and now that I am packing for a trip to Spain next week, I find myself placing it in my suitcase once again.

This kit is the perfect kit for minimalists wishing to carry on a facial skincare routine en route. The Journey kit from Symbiome includes the Reset Cleanser, The One Moisturizer, and the post-biomic oil called Recharge002. The balanced collection keeps my skin clear, hydrated, and glowing as if I hadn’t just spent fifteen hours in a dry, air-conditioned aircraft. Allow me to momentarily dissect its contents.

The cleanser comes in a plastic pump bottle and is in foam form. 2-3 pumps is enough and I massage it on for about ten seconds. It is extremely gentle on the skin, washes off quite easily. It easily removes the SPF sunscreen I wear, as well as my mascara, without needing makeup remover. It leaves my skin feeling fresh, and it smells good to boot – fresh, herbal and invigorating.

The moisturizer is thick in consistency. It is very rich, but does not leave a heavy feel to my face. A little bit goes a long way. It’s calming to put on, smelling of milky vanilla, and I seal it with the oil which supposedly bolsters collagen production. That’s good for me, since I don’t take my collagen daily supplements while traveling. It also improves skin tone and texture. I feel a firmness in my skin after having used it. Lastly, Symbiome boasts its soothing abilities for sun-exposed skin, something I could certainly use after a day of hiking in the mountains and traipsing in the city. The oil feels crisp, and I use about 3-4 drops administered to my palms prior to pressing it onto my face and neck. If you’d like to make the set last longer, the moisturizer and the oil can be used separately, depending on your needs.

These are definitely minimalist essentials for someone on the go. I liked this new company’s products, and would highly recommend The Journey set to anyone wishing to travel this summer.

Note: Mike and I also carried along this Arrival travel set from Aesop, and shared it on our ten-day trip in Iceland. It was enough for two. This is an affiliate link and will help support this space as I earn commission everytime someone makes a purchase with this link. As always, thank you for supporting companies that support this blog.