Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise

As I starting typing this blog post, I realized that I may have failed to give the blogosphere a very important piece of information. As of January 17, 2012, I am officially back in college!!

I am still happily working my full-time job, but have started taking night classes. And I am super excited about it!! I am studying psychology, a field I have always been interested in, and hope to eventually work with kids/teens/young adults. I haven't fully decided if I want to be a school counselor, crisis counselor or actual therapist yet - but I think there is time to figure all of that out.

So, in class this week, my professor in my Behavioral Psychology class asked us to write a one page paper analyzing a song that motivates us, and explain why. 

This assignment was basically made for me. 

I thought I'd share my paper with you, dear readers. I haven't even turned it in yet, but I was so darn excited about this assignment, I had to share it. Hopefully my professor doesn't stumble across my blog before I turn it in.  

by: The Avett Brothers

“There was a dream
One day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage a broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid, with a head full of doubt
So I scream till I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out.

Decide what to be and go be it.”

I’ve always felt driven or called to help people. When friends or family encounter problems or hard times, they always seemed to migrate towards me. And it was not ever a burden, but a pleasure, to be that for them.  As I’ve grown older, it has expanded to also include my co-workers and, occasionally, strangers.

Right after high school, I tried college. I could give you the slew of reasons why I didn’t finish then. I could tell you about how my parents were getting divorced, that my best friend had tragically died, that my long-term boyfriend (now my husband) and I had parted ways and that I partied too much. And while they are all true, they are all still just excuses. The fact is, I doubted myself. And over time, something terrible happened – almost everyone else started to doubt me too. So, I gave up and took a full-time job, just going through the motions.

One of the few things that keep my soul alive and awake is music; specifically live music. As I grew tired of my routine, I found myself constantly thinking about what I was doing with my life. Shortly after my 28th birthday, one of my best friends and I went to see The Avett Brothers in concert.  I loved their music for a long time and have sung along to this song a hundred times at least, but that night it’s like I was hearing it for the first time. As “Decide what to be and go be it” hit my ears that night, it all just came down around me. I already knew what I wanted to do (psychology) so I HAD decided what to be; now I had to do what it takes to go be it. Today, in my first semester back in college, when I hear that song it brings me to tears and reminds me to shake my ‘Head Full of Doubt’ and replace it with ‘Road Full of Promise’.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Don't Know What to Call This...

Holy overdue blog post, Batman!

I've still found myself fighting this mental "funk", which is probably why it's been so long since I've blogged. It's not for lack of things to write about. In fact, I'm going to cram a lot into this one post because it has actually been a busy few weeks.

Last weekend was jam-packed with music related things. On Friday night, my Dad treated us to a wonderful evening in Dallas. My brother Frankie, Ryan and I met my Dad, step-mother and step-brother for dinner at a really cute Mexican restaurant, La Calle Doce, then headed to a great show at The Kessler. We saw Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks - he was quite the entertainer! The opener, Slim Richey & the Stray Gypsies, was something special, too.  Two of the members are in another group called Milk Drive that plays in Denton from time to time, so I hope to catch them again. It was a really fun night!

The very next night, Frankie, Ryan & I loaded back into the car with Brittany and Mandy and headed back to Dallas, House of Blues this time, for a concert I have been [im]patiently waiting for since we bought our tickets months ago. I am struggling to find the right words to explain how amazing this night was. As I reflect back, this night is easily the best concert I have ever been to. I don't think I have ever seen an opener as equally matched to the headliners as The Staves were to The Civil Wars. The Staves are a trio of British sisters who were absolutely captivating - and as beautiful as they are talented. And they are really talented. After they finished their set, I could feel the nervous anticipation for The Civil Wars. A singer/duo/band hasn't taken over my iPod like they have in a very long time. I am always in the mood for them, I like every song on their album, and they are almost better live. A rare, rare gift for this music lover. Once they took the stage, the next hour and a half seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. Joy Williams' voice soared effortlessly over the sold-out crowd as she swayed to the music. Combined with John Paul White's powerful pipes and unmatched charm, they left the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. When the show was over, I felt floaty and moved, a feeling I've only had a few times in my concert-going years. (Like this one and this one. And one I never blogged about.) It was also quite a treat when an old friend of Frankie's and mine, Romeo, was in town for this very show. We met in the Texas Country music scene back in 2004, so it was really fun to get to spend the evening watching this amazing show together, too! It is a night I will not soon forget.
The Staves and The Civil Wars, House of Blue 1.21.12

 It's also been a busy few weeks for the Denton Women's Collective. A few of us got together last weekend, and again today, to discuss and plan an upcoming Town Council Meeting in Flower Mound where we are being recognized for our work with Finding Kind! It is such an honor, and we are so very grateful. Which brings me to my next bit of news. DWC has booked another pair of screenings for Finding Kind at Marcus High School in Flower Mound! So, ladies, if you couldn't make it to the screening at FMHS, you should join us in March!

If you stuck with me through all of this, congrats on having a wicked awesome attention span. I'll try not to go so long between posts next time. ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Newsprint Nails

A week or so ago, I tried yet another YouTube idea. Newsprint nails. I was obsessed with the look and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I gathered my supplies:
Light grey polish (I used OPI Moon Over Mumbai)
Top Coat (I used Essie Matte About You)
Rubbing alcohol

Now, I didn’t have a newspaper handy and wasn’t going to buy one just for this purpose, so I opted for an old paperback book. I know, I know - tearing pages out of a book is blasphemy, but I chose one that I will probably never read again.

I painted my nails with the usually two coats of polish, then waiting for them to dry completely. Once they were dried, I soaked each finger (one at a time) in the alcohol for about 20 seconds, then pressed the printed page firmly onto my nail and held it in place for another 10-15 seconds. When I released – viola! Newsprint nails! Once I was done with all 10 fingers and the alcohol has evaporated from each fully, I applied a good amount of top coat. 

The process was really, really easy and I LOVED the look but…I found that my nails were chipping within a day. The color I chose is one of my longest lasting polishes, so this surprised me. I have to wonder if soaking my nails in the alcohol messed with the integrity of the polish somehow. I read another version where they put the newsprint on the nail first, then held a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol on top, similar to a temporary tattoo. I might try it that was next time and see if the results are any better!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Inspired: Dove Evolution

The video has been around for awhile. You know the one. A time lapse video of a model being put through the ringer of blow drying, curling, makeup, styling...and then, Photoshop - all to achieve someone's "ideal" of beauty. I have a few friends who've done their own versions of this, both in video and pictures, and I've always meant to as well. But, usually when I think to do it, I'm half way through my routine.

Yesterday, I made a point to take the few extra minutes and photograph myself after each "step" of my process. See, this is more than just jumping on a bandwagon that has been around for years. This is important to me. Not only as a woman, but as a member of a society that is so (unfortunately) based on appearance. Without going off on a tangent here, I'll just say this. While I clearly go along with some of the very hype I am dissing, I have a real problem with how the media/society/our peers make us feel that we aren't "enough" if we chose NOT to straighten our hair, apply coats of make-up or wear the latest fashions. There are many, MANY days when I wish I'd never picked up that first tube of mascara. My Mom warned me. "Once you start, it will be hard to go back." Boy, was she right. I have now grown accustomed to seeing myself with my hair done a certain way and a full face of make-up.

Many woman will tell you "Woman don't dress up for men. They dress up for other woman." I HATE that mindset. As if it has to always be a competition. I've thought long and hard about why I feel the need to do it all. I actually think I go through all of the blow drying, the straightening, the curling and the make-up application for ME. Which is why I am okay doing it. It makes ME feel good. I've reached a point where I really don't care much about what other woman, or men, think. Now, I do care what my husband thinks because really nothing makes me feel more beautiful than when he gives me that certain "look", but more importantly I care how I feel. And I feel like the best version of me when I've put in the work.

I said I wasn't going to go on a tangent, didn't I? Oops. Let me get to the point. I think it's an important part of self-acceptance to embrace your "before" just as fully as your "after". So, here's mine, 100% unedited and raw.

Wet, naturally curly hair. Zero make-up.

Post-blow dry.

After flat ironing.

After curling.

And finally, after applying make-up.

Thank you, Dove, for inspiring me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wrap-Around and Waterfall Braids!

Oh Pinterest. How you fuel my braid-fire.

While on one of my many visits to Pinterest, I came across a braid I knew I had to try. The wrap-around french braid. I LOVED how polished but fun it looked. So, the next morning, I gave it a whirl. It took me two tries to get it "just right". I should have taken a picture of the front, but I didn't.

I parted my hair in the front how I would usually wear it. For me, that is slightly off-center. I started on the side with more hair on the part. I started braiding normally right behind my ear, the just french braided low and "sideways" to achieve the wrap-around look. Once I got to the end, I braided normally to the end, tied it off with a band, then tucked the end in and bobby pinned it! I got tons of compliments and it really held up well all day!

The next one, I actually did for the first time over the summer on my co-worker/BFF/favorite hair model, Kim. (In fact, the video I will link below is dated July 5th, and I did this for Kim on July 7th...which I remember because that's her birthday!) This one has been all over Pinterest, but that's not where I first saw it. As I've mentioned, I watch a lot of beauty YouTube videos - and that's where I first found this gem. Oh, the Waterfall braid. It is just as beautiful as it is tricky. This one takes some serious concentration on the first go, but once I got the concept down, it was easy breezy. Now, let me say this - I have yet to master this self-Waterfall. I can do the sides just fine, but the back is REALLY hard to do without being able to really look at it. This one is easier to learn by watching, in my opinion. So, here is the video I watched. And now, let's admire Kim's beauty...

Happy Braiding! ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Product Review - Batiste Dry Shampoo

I have naturally curly hair. And while I do wear it natural from time to time, I only get a day out of my hair when it's curly unless I wear it up because I have to put so much product in it to tame the frizz. (Longest run-on sentence ever.) So, I blow dry and flat iron my hair to straighten it most of the time.

I consider myself lucky. When it's straight, I can usually go 2-3 days without shampooing. I just don't get that "dirty" hair look for at least 48 hours. And thanks to dry shampoo, I can stretch it to 3 days. This means less heat damage and more time for my hair's natural oils to keep it healthy. But, dirty hair isn't pretty.

I have been using dry shampoo for a long time. In high school, I bought it in a little container that looked like loose face powder. I'd get a little bit on a kabuki brush and pat it into my roots. As the years went on, I tried different brands and applications - some better than others. The loose powder/kabuki brush method works just fine, but takes a longer. I really like the kind that "sprays" on. And after half a dozen brands, I think I've found "The One" (for me).

 Oh, Batiste. The miracles you work on my 3-day hair.

My number one complaint with dry shampoo is that it can look "chalky" on my dark brown hair. Well, Smarty Pants Batiste thought of a solution for that. The "Hint of Color" line. (Okay, I don't know if I can really call it "a line". It comes in two colors. Blonde and Brown.)

Here is why I love this product:
-It leaves absolutely NO chalky-white residue.
-It does a great job "absorbing" oil.
-It smells nice. (I've used some dry shampoo products that smell like chemicals. Gross.)
-It adds volume to my limp 3-day-hair roots.
-It's only $8.99.

Two thumbs up, Batiste! 

*Disclaimer: I am not being paid or sponsored by Batiste or Ulta in any way. This is simply an opinion from my personal experience.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Product Review - Neutrogena Naturals

I  am one of those people (read: girls) who is in constant search of "the best" beauty products. I spend far too much time and money at Ulta (though I try to ONLY shop when there is a coupon or sale). I read beauty blog after beauty blog. I watch YouTube videos galore. When I get a new product, I tend to tell people about it. And recently I had a handful of friends tell me that I should add "reviews" of the products I try to my blog. So, here it is. I realize this makes me sound vain and self-absorbed. I really don't think I am either of those things. I just like to "play beauty shop". And I am always looking for products to simplify my routine.

One product I am always on the market for is a great face wash and scrub. I have really sensitive skin so I have to be careful with what I use. Too many chemicals (see: Proactiv) and my skin freaks out. For about a year, I've been using a make-up remover, followed by a face wash and scrub all by Clinique. (Nothing against Clinique. I have been a loyal Clinique customer for a long, long time. They make a great product.) They've worked fine, but I felt like my skin was starting to look a bit dull and it always felt a bit "tight" until I applied my moisturizer. And I didn't like having to use a make-up remover first and THEN washing my face.

I started doing research and just didn't have anything jump out at me. Until, that is, I saw the commercial for Neutrogena's new Naturals line. I grabbed my Ulta coupon and headed to the store. I read the label and compared it to what I was using as well as other things on the shelf. Two major things caught my eye.

1 - I could read (and understand) most of the ingredients listed. I love the idea of using less chemicals on my face.

2 - They do no test on animals.

I decided on the Fresh Cleansing + Makeup Remover face wash (two in one - JACKPOT!) and the Purifying Pore Scrub.

I have been using these two products (the face wash daily and the pore scrub a few times a week) for about three weeks now and I love the stuff. The face wash leaves my skin feeling soft and clean. The pore scrub is gentle but effective. My skin looks healthier and has lost the "dull" look. And the best part? I spent less on both Neutrogena Naturals products than I did on ONE of the Clinique products. So, props to Neutrogena. I am a happy girl.

*Disclaimer: I am not being paid or sponsored by Neutrogena or Ulta in any way. This is simply an opinion from my personal experience.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Musical Musings

Lately, I've had to battle myself in order to be in a good mood.  This is not a common thing for me. I mean, we all have bad days, but I am usually one who can shake it off fairly quickly. But not recently. I've been dealing with a couple of personal things, things I'm not quite ready to talk about publicly, and it's just getting me down. I'm finding it hard to keep said things from taking over my mind. Like, 24/7.

I don't mean for this to become so cryptic, it's just an important piece of the Musical Musings puzzle. See, music, as I've mentioned many times before, is a major part of my life. And it often gives insight into my moods. For example, if I'm listening to Bon Iver, I'm probably stuck inside my own head. Or if I'm listening to The Avett Brothers, I'm probably in a happy place. So lately, I've been trying to trick myself. I have been playing music that makes me feel really happy, hopeful and takes me somewhere else.

I'll get to the point.

Right now, I cannot get enough of the song "We Are Young" by Fun. (feat. Janelle MonĂ¡e). It just fills my soul with joy! It's the type of song that makes me want to just dance around with my friends. So, I've been listening to it a lot. For the 3-4 minutes that it plays, I can escape my thoughts and just let the music lift me up. So, Brittany, Lindsay, Kim - I'm looking at you girls. Dance party circa Phil's Deck?

Edit: Some people have said they can't get the video to play. If you are one of those people, click here.