6.30.2020

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"
Henry David Thoreau

It's difficult to sum up the month of June 2020. It was challenging, heartbreaking, emotional, optimistic, a time for reflection, love, growth. I feel like everyone is learning a lot right now, myself included. I've read more in the past few weeks than I read all of last year. I struggled a lot with anxiety, but I had more tools in my arsenal to help me manage. 

I keep doing something I shouldn't do though, and that's replaying the past. This time last Summer I was on an epic road trip, making my way through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. I was virtually carefree, mimicking the winding open roads, hills, and rivers we chased down in our car. Last Summer wasn't that long ago but it feels like it happened in a dream. I don't know...I really don't think I'm handling things well. Most people are being cautious in regards to the pandemic, but they are still managing to live their lives as best they can. Some days I feel like I just put mine on pause indefinitely. When will I be able to press play again? 

I'm just being honest. That's where I'm at right now. But don't worry, I still have my monthly recap for you :)

Home: 
I finished burning my first Homesick candle and decided to turn the container into a vase. These beautiful nude-pink carnations are sitting on the kitchen table. They may not be considered chic flowers (I know plenty of people steer clear of them) but I love carnations. They seem to last a long time too. 

To repurpose any candle: 
1. Burn the candle down to the very bottom, and then wait a couple minutes to scoop out the warm wax. You can also throw some hot water into it to soften the wax. I just used a large spoon and the wax/leftover wick came right out.
2. Using a large bowl with soap and warm water, wash the container out using a scrub brush. I let mine sit in the bowl for a few minutes as well. 
3. Dry the inside and outside with a towel and voila, a new flower vase, makeup brush holder, etc. is ready to be used. 

Weekends: 
Getting outside is one of the only things I'm comfortable doing right now. My in-laws have a beautiful backyard with a pool that's been our go-to spot on the weekends. We always take Nettie. She's a great swimmer but is afraid to get in, so we make sure to strap a life vest on her and do our best to encourage her into the water with treats. 

Hair: 
I got my hair cut on June 12th, where my stylist took two inches off of dead, dry ends. It felt glorious! I'm going back in August for a color refresh. Although I love the warmth of my current balayage, I'm still planning on going a bit darker again. I want my hair to be even more low maintenance in the Fall. 

Books: 
I finished reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. I don't do book reviews (you should check out my friend Rachelle's blog and Gina's blog for those) but I think I'm going to attempt a post about this one because there is just so much to discuss! Especially as it relates to mental health and therapy. 
I also ordered Heart Talk by Cleo Wade, and want to get her other book called Where to Begin. My goodness she has a way with words. 

Social: 
I started following this account on Instagram and it has done wonders for my feed. 


I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Reminder that you are loved, you are doing great, keep going. 

6.24.2020

I bought most of these products in April, and since I've had time to put each of them to the test, I wanted to share my feedback. From now on, I will do monthly reviews on the beauty products that I have purchased from either a month or two before. I love sharing my honest opinions, and hope that some of you will find them helpful in case you are thinking of trying them too!


Tatcha The Silk Peony Eye Melt Cream:
I really wanted to fall in love with this eye cream, but after using it every morning and evening for two months, I don't think I'll buy it once it runs out. The formula feels thin, and I prefer a thicker, richer consistency. It absorbs very quickly which makes it ideal for daytime, but it doesn't provide enough lasting moisture. I also haven't noticed much of a difference in my under eye area, and for the price, I expected at least some change in puffiness and dark circles. I absolutely love my Tatcha silk canvas primer and was certain that an eye cream by the brand would blow me away, but I'm disappointed. I plan on going back to Origins or Kiehls in the Fall when I really need extra hydration.

Recommend: No


Drunk Elephant Time to Wake Up: 
These serums are bundled together and I use them as such, so it's hard to tell which makes more of a difference in my skin. I use one small pump of each, mix them in on my fingertips a bit, and then pat them onto my skin before my moisturizer/sunscreen. The C-firma is very sticky and smells unpleasant, while the B-hydra is smooth with not much fragrance. Once applied, the scent goes away and the texture of my skin immediately softens. They do provide some sort of a glow as well. I really love the idea of a "time to wake up" serum in the morning, but I wouldn't say that it's absolutely necessary. A good eye cream and an allover moisturizer with SPF does the trick!

Recommend: Yes, if your skin is dull and needs something extra


Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo: 
I initially loved this shampoo, but after a few weeks, I am now on the fence! It makes my hair incredibly soft, adds a ton of moisture, and smells like candy. You also need the tiniest pea sized amount! The only downfall is that because it's so thick, you really need to make sure that you rinse it out extremely well or otherwise it will leave a film. You also need to use a clarifying shampoo a couple times a month in order to get rid of any buildup, but I do that anyway because I've had some issues with my scalp in the past. It would be amazing to find a shampoo that takes care of every problem, but I have yet to discover one. I think if you have super thick, damaged, or color-treated hair then you will enjoy this shampoo. I'm going to keep using it.

Recommend: Yes, but don't use too much and rinse well


Blossom Nail Polish Remover Spring Bouquet: 
Since I'm back to doing my own manicures (even before Covid really), I was down to the last drop of my previous polish remover and was wanting one that didn't contain acetone. My cuticles are always dry, and acetone makes the dryness and peeling worse. I spotted this at Target and decided to give it a go. It's organic, acetone-free, and doesn't smell like a typical nail polish remover. The floral scent is okay, but the reason why I like it so much is that it feels like a cuticle oil! It's actually moisturizing which totally surprised me. It does take a little more patience to remove polish, but it does the trick! I haven't tried it on real gel polish (only gel-like such as Essie's gel couture), but I'm really happy with this safe, non-toxic formula.

Recommend: Yes


I hope you enjoyed these reviews, and let me know if you've tried any of the products! I have some good stuff to review next month.

6.22.2020

I've gone through so many thoughts and emotions over the last few weeks. Name it and I've probably felt it. In my last post, I mentioned not knowing my place here anymore. I've gone back and forth over whether to continue blogging or to close it down, but ultimately I still have things I want to document, both fun and more personal. My voice may not always be necessary, I may hesitate when certain events are happening that I don't know how to process, let alone write about. But I do want to keep going, because I probably need this space and need you way more than you need me. I've been alone in quarantine a lot, and blogging has offered me a window to the outside world. While our state continues to reopen at a rapid pace, I'm still nervous about venturing out. While most people I know are heading to public spaces again, I'm taking my time and doing things very slowly. I mean, getting my haircut was a huge deal for me!



So moving forward, I will continue to focus on the things I love like beauty products, my style, and mental health posts. Please know that I'm very much aware of the history-making events taking place in our country right now, and that I stand in solidarity with black and brown voices. It's also pride month, and I stand with the gay community as well.

 I will only produce content that I truly love and am passionate about, and that sometimes will include heavier topics, especially as they relate to mental health. But, I'll also get back to talking about less important things like style and beauty. We could all use a little of that, right? I haven't used affiliate links since March, but I'm going to incorporate them again in case you're ever interested in the exact products I buy and use. I won't link similar products any longer, only exact because I want to provide more transparency with you...if I haven't actually bought the product or item myself, then how can I even recommend it? I do want to make some small changes to my actual blog (I'd love to ditch the name and just blog under my own) but that will come later. It's true the world has changed so much over the last few months, and as I struggle to keep up, I am doing my best to embrace it. I think if this happened a couple years ago, I would have completely fallen apart and gone into a full-blown depression. Thankfully, I have done some actual hard work on myself, and I am better equipped now to pivot and deal with the changes. If you have anything you'd like to discuss, let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you!

Thank you for reading,

Noelle

6.09.2020

Since my initial post about George Floyd's death and how I was feeling about everything last Monday, I've spent some real time engaging in difficult conversations with my family. Nate and I have also had some discussions that we've never had before in all the years we've known each other, and it became abundantly clear - we grew up in a bubble, and we have absolutely no idea what it's like to live in this country as a black person. The area we live in is finally becoming more diverse, we are surrounded by people who don't look like us in our neighborhood, but just a few short years ago that wasn't the case. When we went to elementary, middle, and high school, that was not the case. It wasn't until I got into college that I finally began seeing what diversity looks like, and it definitely opened me up to new friends, teachers, and colleagues. Then when I started counseling youth with "behavior problems" and especially kids in foster care, I began to see the inequities in our systems and it made me so angry. They were disproportionately BIPOC and LGBTQIA. I had some incredibly heartbreaking conversations with kids about the things they had experienced in their formative years, the violence they saw so close to home, their longing for a parent who was incarcerated or killed, cycles of addiction and poverty, abuse at the hands of adults, and their desire to break free and live a happy life. After six years of enjoying and learning from my role, the reality of the system began to wear on me emotionally and I left my job. I didn't know how to be of service to others when I was struggling to take care of my own mental health. There are days when I wish I hadn't left, feelings of guilt for not doing more. But regret does nothing to advance the causes I believe in. Contributing can start or re-start anytime. It's never too late. Why not now?


People often ask me what I did at the organization I worked for, and although I always tried my best to explain it (behavior specialist doesn't quite cut it) the main thing I tell people is that I listened. I worked with kids of all ages, allowed them to say whatever they needed to tell me, encouraged and supported them with their plans of care, visited their schools, talked with their teachers and therapists, provided them with resources...but listening was always my focus.

I'm still listening. I have so much learning to do, and instead of feeling shame in that, I'm actually excited to have the opportunity and the privilege to learn from others. I'm grateful that my mind is fully open, as I wish others would be opened as well. I've donated, signed petitions, have unfollowed people that aren't part of a solution, and am committing myself to doing more research before giving my money to companies and brands. But I know that the real work is within myself and my local community. That's where I can have the biggest impact. This year has been hard on all of us, but it's also been the big push that we needed in order to really change and grow. When I have moments of doubt, I try to quickly snap out of that mindset and focus on the gratitude that I am here with breath in my lungs and a beating heart. There's always room for more love, growth and understanding.


Part of having a little space on the internet is being able to share with you, and I want to do just that. Here are some creators, bloggers, and writers I want to spotlight for their amazing talents, experiences, and voices.

Tia Meredith is a powerful force. She is a writer, book coach, and all-around amazing woman. I briefly met her at an event in San Diego, and she is someone that any of us can learn a lot from. Her instagram is one you should follow. 

Rachelle is not only one of my favorite bloggers, she is also a friend. I'm learning so much from her. I've linked to her blog many times over the years, so I'm sure many of you know her, but if not then you need to! Also check out her fashion inspo account on Instagram.

Natasha is another blogger that I've followed over the years. She is such a genuine person and her positive energy and kindness always lights up my feed on Instagram.

Krystal Festerly is an artist and writer. She makes beautiful jewelry, trays, and coasters from hand pressed flowers. Her vibrance comes through in everything she creates.

Funmi Monet is a beauty enthusiast who has introduced me to some gorgeous products and brands. Her content is enviable, fun, and uplifting.

I hope you'll follow each of these ladies! Please share any of your recommendations below, especially if you know of more writers.

I will be back next week (I think). I'm not sure where my blog fits in anymore, but hopefully I can figure that out soon. I still enjoy documenting parts of my life and connecting with you. But sometimes, I feel like a dinosaur in this space and have had thoughts of moving on for longer than I care to admit. Anyway, thank you all so much for reading.

6.01.2020

Over the last few years, I've been open with you about topics that aren't always easy to talk about. Mental health, anxiety, depression, going off of medications like Prozac and birth control pills, leaving my job, not knowing what the hell I want out of my life, fears, strained relationships with family. All uncomfortable things to write about, but important to share them with you anyway. It doesn't matter if I have one reader or one-hundred...I've chosen to discuss topics that go beyond beauty and fashion. Ultimately I consider you my friends, and these are the things I would say to you in private conversation if we were sitting down to have a cup of coffee or lunch. And just as awkward and scary as it is for me to have these conversations in person, they are equally as such online. But that doesn't mean I should shy away from them, it's quite the opposite. Uncomfortable conversation is how we listen, learn, and grow.

The listening part is why I studied Psychology, and why I (almost) wanted to become a therapist. I have felt diminished and small for much of my life, and I think it's the reason why I'm so angry right now. People just talk over one another instead of really listening. It's the times in my life where I have felt unseen or silenced by someone else that I have sunk into depression. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard.

Photo c/o @intheloopTemecula and @iam.mamamermaid from Sunday night vigil at city hall


I have been devastated and disgusted by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. The fact that it happens so often is unimaginable. People who are supposed to serve and protect and help. I don't know what it's like. My mother has experienced racism first-hand, and I grew up in an all-white suburban neighborhood hearing kids say things like she should "go back to Mexico." I've been called names I won't repeat, I've had to defend my mom in ways that I know some of the friends I grew up with didn't understand. I still hear slurs in regards to Mexicans and immigrants, but it doesn't compare in the slightest to what black people experience on a daily basis. A daily basis! I want to be part of the solution, and I want others to do the same. I'm not going to pretend I have answers because I don't. All I know is that I'm scared for the future in a way that I wasn't just a few years ago. Maybe I'm paying attention now. Maybe it's my age, and the fact that I'm not as naive as I used to be about all this. My one piece of advice is to call out racism when you see or hear it - do not be silent. Get involved, speak to friends and family, donate to organizations, support brands that honor inclusivity and promote diversity, support black businesses, read as much as you can and educate yourself so that you're armed with truth and facts. This isn't political, this is about human decency, compassion, and love. Senseless murders and acts of violence must be scrutinized and must end.

Resources: Black Lives Matter, George Floyd Fundraiser

5.28.2020

"The only way out is through"

We are almost in June, and while the weather heats up and the start of Summer begins to take shape, many counties in California are also beginning to reopen. Our lockdown became official on March 19th, but the last time I went out on a normal day was on March 11th. That date will always stick out in my head. I wasn't in full panic mode yet, but I knew something unprecedented was about to happen. 

Three months have gone by for me both at rapid speed and at a painful crawl. I've had days filled with crippling fear and sadness, and I've had days of pure happiness and personal growth. Like everything in life, you can't have one without the other. As restaurants, stores, and even salons start to reopen in many parts of the state, I feel somewhat relieved. My friends can regain some financial control again, people can get services that they desperately missed. I'm also still really nervous about the virus. I'm not sure why it's become political, but I have no desire to participate in any of that because there's still so much that's unknown.  I mean, whatever happened to nuance? You can hold different thoughts and emotions at once - excitement that businesses are reopening, but anxiety of venturing out yourself. It seems that people will continue to get sick no matter what we do, and that knowledge is maddening. With that being said, I'm still going to be extremely cautious in my measures and if I feel uneasy, I'll listen to that voice in my head.  Everyone is still encouraged to socially distance and wear masks whenever possible, and I'm comfortable doing both for as long as needed. 

Ultimately I know that every state (and country for that matter) is different though. Just a few short weeks ago I thought California would be on lockdown all of Summer, and just like that in the blink of an eye, I can now go get my hair cut. So while I have no idea what the Summer will hold, my hope is that this next phase will be a little less scary than the last. But really, who knows? 

Has your area begun to reopen? I'd love to read any thoughts you may have on this, both good and bad. 

In the meantime, May has been quite the beautiful month. 

Nate and I packed a nice lunch and took Nettie to the park. It was also the first park we took her to as a puppy. There was no one around, which actually isn't unusual for the area. She got the chance to run around and we chased each other through the sprinklers. 

I ordered my first Homesick candle in the Hawaii scent and have been burning it every night since. It's less tropical than I expected, but the fragrance really fills the room and definitely reminds me of my favorite place. I really miss my godfather...I've mentioned it before but he lives on the island of Maui in Kihei. He's like a father to me and I can't wait to see him in person again. 

I'm still following my nutrition plan, and have even lost a few pounds in the process. Last weekend, I made a quick and easy breakfast wrap with spinach, grape tomatoes, eggs, and feta. I also added some pesto to the wrap itself. 

We watched Waco on Netflix. I was pretty young when that terrible situation played out on national television and I'm happy about that. It's hard to watch, but also one that's impossible not to. 

I started reading a book called Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. I'm halfway through and not only is it written in such a funny, conversational way, it's also adding a lot to my own therapy sessions. 

How was your month? Is there anything you're looking forward to in June?