• Speaking My Mind

    Plant-Based and Sugar-Free Living

    I’ve changed my diet a bit more since my last post, so I thought it was about time to update y’all! I have now excluded all sugar from my diet, including honey. I’ve also been eating plant-based as much as possible, with the goal of one plant-based meal per day. Usually, I eat some sort of animal protein for dinner.

    Cutting out sugar has been harder than reducing my meat intake. Sugar is addictive, so the difficulty can probably be attributed mostly to that, although I do love sweets in general. Now, when I crave chocolate (yes, I’ve even reduced my chocolate intake. When I do eat chocolate, I eat 85% cacao because there is less sugar), I opt for fruit. My go-to fruits lately have been apples and grapes. I like to pair my apples with grocery store-made almond butter. They make the almond butter there for you and it’s delicious!

    Overall, I enjoy eating a more plant-based diet. It feels better in my body and I get to support local farmers because I buy most of my produce from them! I’ve been using Sahara Rose’s new Ayurvedic cookbook to make plant-based meals, and they’ve been so tasty. I can talk about recipes I’ve been trying from her book another time, but I highly recommend you check out her book.

    One day, I would like to be vegetarian, but I’m hesitant to do so now because over the summer I lost a couple of pounds…which isn’t bad necessarily, my weight does fluctuate a little bit, but I’m afraid I’d lose more weight by becoming vegetarian. I’m also afraid of having vitamin deficiencies. Plus I don’t want to have such a prohibitive diet because cutting out dairy and sugar are difficult enough…to exclude animal protein would be even harder. So for now, I’m just doing the best that I can to eat lots of veggies and plant-protein while avoiding sugar and dairy.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    13 Days

    Finally, a moment to sit and write.

    This past week has been hectic because of my temporary full-time job, so I apologize for my absence. Whenever I return home from work, I want to numb my mind by watching TV, but I’ve been too tired to even do that.

    Anyway…I wanted to chat about my personal life because it has undergone a serious transformation. Namely, my relationship with my family has changed. This has been an ongoing transformation since I moved back home, I just hadn’t thought about writing about it because…I’ve had so many other things I wanted to say I suppose. Plus, sometimes I focus on negative things when I write rather than positive things, and what I want to talk about is extremely positive. It’s still a little surreal to me because I would have never thought, four years ago, that I’d be where I am now.

    One of the first great things that have been going on with me is that I haven’t been fighting with my mom at all. Both she and I have grown so much and we handle our volatile emotions so much better. We both utilize different methods to control our emotions such as a spiritual practice, writing, and Yoga. My mom and I actually share Yoga together now because she attends the class I teach on Friday mornings. It’s a really nice way to spend a little time together because, during the week, both her and I work a lot, so we don’t get to talk much. Yoga on Friday mornings is a beautiful way to check in with each other as well as start our day on the right foot. It’s really sweet we practice together too because she was the first one to suggest I do yoga teacher training, and here I am, now certified and teaching a class that she can attend. It’s so lovely.

    My girlfriend has been coming by the house weekly since September or so, which has been great. Aside from being able to see my girlfriend, my parents are able to see her and get to know her, which is helpful to make them feel more comfortable with my sexuality. My mom really likes her (she told me!) and we all chitchat and drink wine together. It’s so much fun! I never thought that’d happen!

    My aunt invited my girlfriend to Thanksgiving, so my girlfriend is coming. My aunt most likely knows my girlfriend is my girlfriend due to my social media, but the rest of my family probably doesn’t. My girlfriend will be introduced as my friend just to avoid drama at my aunt’s house. My relatives that know me will know though, which is all that matters to me.

    I’ll have to update y’all after Thanksgiving to share how it all went down. In the meantime, I will be trying to enjoy any bits of Halloween that I can! I haven’t watched any Halloween movies yet, which is tragic because there are only 13 days left. I probably will be watching Halloween movies until after Thanksgiving.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    August & September Favorites!

    It is time for another favorites post! Today I am sharing my top five favorite items from the last two months!

    1. Autumn-scented candle

    IMG_2343.JPG

    This candle smells so delightful! It perfectly welcomes the autumn season and it has a great, festive color scheme too!

    2. Roasted Red Okra

    IMG_2310.JPG

    I bought this at the farmer’s market because it looked unusual yet festive for the season.  I, unfortunately, forgot to take a photo of its beautiful hue before I put them in the oven, but you can get an idea of what it looks like by clicking here! Anyway, they tasted exactly like regular okra, they just looked extra cool with their red/green gradient, similar to how the leaves slowly begin to change from green to red as the days become brisker!

    I seasoned them with ground cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Then I ate them with my hands! It’s a super delicious and easy recipe.

    3. I learned how to cut an avocado!

    IMG_2169

    Yes, as a college graduate, I finally learned how to cut an avocado! In the past, I have squished avocados and I have gotten the meat all over my hands trying to get the pit out, but now I’m less of an amateur.

    The trick is to cut the avocado in half, all the way around. Then, before pulling the halves apart, Turn the avocado so the cuts you just made are on the sides, then cut the avocado in half again. This way, when you pull it apart, you have four quarters as pictured above! It makes serving the avocado easier as well as removing the pit.

    4. Sweet Loren’s Gluten-Free Fudgy Brownie Cookies

    IMG_2110

    These cookies are insane! I’m a chocoholic and my preferred baked dessert is brownies, but not just any brownies. I need to have my Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Brownies with chocolate chips. They are seriously heaven! These cookies are real competition for the brownies.

    The cookies from Sweet Loren’s are relatively new and my sister bought them to try. We are a big fan of this brand because their cookies are organic, often gluten and dairy free, and the woman behind the business is a survivor of cancer. Our favorite cookie from this brand is the chocolate chunk ones, and this brownie cookie places a close second.

    These cookies are essentially brownie bites, especially when warm! They are rich, moist, and super chocolate-y. They are a healthier version of the Ghiradelli brownies, and I’m all for it!

    5. Toothpaste and Tongue Scraper

    IMG_2043

    I picked this up when I was with my girlfriend in the Indian store we frequent. It came with a free, stainless steel tongue scraper, which was cool because I had been wanting to integrate that into my daily routine.

    Initially, I did not like this toothpaste because I found it to be foamier than the toothpaste I usually use (Arm & Hammer’s Advanced White Toothpaste), but I’ve grown to really enjoy this brand.

    It has a more…earthy flavor and it’s a brown color that foams white. A little goes a long way because it gets extra foamy. The tongue cleaner is super nice and I’ve been using it daily.

    Those are all my favorites for these last two months! Was there anything you tried recently that is currently your favorite thing? If you try any of my favorites, let me know what you think!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind,  Yummy Recipes

    Drink Me: London Fog Tea

    My favorite season is now in full swing, as evident by the plethora of Halloween and autumn decorations in stores as well as on people’s lawns. Although I’ve been rocking Halloween/autumn-esque attire since August, I got a little extra in the spirit by using my Bath and Body Work’s Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte lotion and body spray. I smell like a sweet cinnamon pumpkin, and I love it!

    Another thing that I’ve been loving lately is the beverage I’ve been starting my mornings with: London Fog Tea!

    I have become obsessed with making myself London Fog Teas. I was inspired to make it when I was looking at the ingredients in different Starbucks beverages, and I saw that they offered this unique tea. I had heard of it before, probably from an English YouTuber, so I was intrigued to see what was in it. I was surprised to realize that I had all of the ingredients: Earl Grey tea, lavender, vanilla, milk, and sugar. Thus, I made it immediately and I’ve been making it daily since.

    Here’s how I make it:

    In a small pot, I boil water for a minute. Then I add a generous teaspoon of loose Earl Grey tea I got during my first trip to London, hence why the tea is inside a London bus container as pictured above. I add about a teaspoon of dried lavender that I got from a farmer’s market last November (you have to get dried lavender if you don’t have it!! It’s so delicious!). Then I add almond milk and let it boil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Afterward, I turn off the stove and remove the pot from the hot burner to allow it to cool a little bit. Finally, I pour the delicious beverage through a tea strainer and into my beautiful Alice in Wonderland teacup mug! It’s very fitting for this English beverage.

    Since I am sensitive to sugar, I omit it. I also have not made it with vanilla yet, but I would add less than a teaspoon of that.

    Cheers to fancy teas! Let me know if you try it and what you think about it in the comments below!

    xx Vic

     

     

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Flowing with The Current

    I’ve been listening to The Lively Show podcast a ton lately, and not just because I have too much time on my hands, but because I have learned so much from it.

    Jess Lively, the woman behind the show, is an entrepreneur and an intuitive coach. Essentially, she coaches people on how to become more in touch with their intuition.  Her podcast used to be a more Q+A style, but recently she switched things up in Season 5 by airing sessions she has with clients.

    I love listening to these sessions! It’s comparable to listening to someone’s therapy session, except focused on intuition rather than on psych. This podcast has caused me to reflect on my relationship with my intuition.

    In my previous blog post, I did an oracle card reading which concluded that I need to connect with who I really am, also known as my intuition. I have learned that my pessimistic attitude can be attributed to resisting my intuition. This is not uncommon at all, as I’ve been learning from the podcast.

    The two clients that Jess has interviewed thus far have been confronted with the challenge of acquiescing to one’s intuition, even if it’s scary because the results are unknown. The unknown is what makes life exciting and worth living, though. Thus, I’ve been working on transforming my perspective on life by living more intuitively.

    You might be wondering what that even means, which is a completely valid question.

    I believe living intuitively is different for everyone because everyone connects with their intuition differently. I think I connect with my intuition when I write, similarly to the two women in Jess’s sessions.

    Initially when I write, I’m actively thinking about what I want to say…but eventually my intuition takes over. My intuition is why I learn the most about myself when I’m writing because it is when I’m writing that I have epiphanies and moments of complete clarity.

    Since I want to strengthen my intuition, I’ve decided to write more frequently than I currently do, which is at least twice a week for my bog. In addition to my blog, I’d like to hand write in a journal. I tend to avoid writing in a journal because I find it to be more isolating than writing somewhere on the internet. Unless you give the journal to someone, only you will read what you write, which is fine but I enjoy building a community with others by sharing. On the other hand, journaling is also very valuable because it strengthens the community that one has with oneself.

    I’ve decided to journal either before or after meditating, which I’d like to make part of my morning routine if I choose to do yoga in the evening instead of in the morning. Once I begin my new job, I will manipulate my daily routine as necessary.

    By the way, I have a job! I begin on Monday and I’m quite excited about it. I was really nervous to take the opportunity because initially it wasn’t what I thought I wanted to do. However, with my more intuitive approach to life, I decided that I should take advantage of the job offer and see where it leads. I’ve also finally decided to stop vacillating between the decision to apply for grad school or not, and I’ve officially concluded that I will postpone applying for at least another year. My intuition has been guiding me to get to know myself without school…so I’m going to trust it.

    There are many examples of when my intuition proved itself trustworthy, but the most recent one has been with my experience as a new yoga instructor.

    I began teaching last week, and it was phenomenal! It’s a 5:45am class, which initially made me hesitate because it’s so early, but my girlfriend urged me go for it and I focused on my intuition rather than on my nervous mind. I’m grateful I did because despite whatever job I’m doing, I’ll be able to continue teaching this class since the class is before most jobs begin.

    I have been working for only a week, but so far it has had so many perks! I’m able to sub for other teachers (which I’ve already done), participate in other classes, and use the facilities. Plus, I got CPR certified and I’m part of a great community! I feel like I can try new things without fear of criticism, which is important to me too.

    Evidently, things are going pretty well right now. Flowing with the current of my intuition has allowed me to feel more aligned with my true self, which isn’t stressful at all. I thought it would be…because trusting yourself is scary, but when you go all in, it’s not.

    This is not to say that you will never experience seemingly undesirable things if you trust your intuition, because that’s not true. However, I do think that trusting yourself provides you with a peace that is unachievable when you only tune into your mind. My posts are a great example of that. I often begin my posts using my mind, but by the end, I’m more intuitive.

    Aside from writing, another cool way to hone your intuition is from an app that Jess shared on her podcast. The app is free and it’s called ESP Trained. Astronauts use it to strengthen their intuition and according to the app, they improve their skills significantly. I like playing some rounds with my eyes closed.

    Do you tune into your intuition? How so? Please comment below! Also let me know if you try out the app and tell me what you think!

    xx Vic

    PS: The photo I used for this post is from a few weeks ago when I was out to lunch with my sister. I’ve been to the area before, but I was inclined to snap a photo of the creek that time. Little did I know it’d make a perfect photo for this post!!

  • beauty and fashion,  Speaking My Mind

    My Bath and Body Works Collection (Plus What I’m Wearing this Autumn)

    The weather around here has gone from humid heat to cool and gloomy, like the weather in The Goonies. It’s the perfect autumn weather, despite it being a little bit early. I’m okay with autumn arriving early though because it’s my favorite season!

    My birthday is in the fall and so is my favorite holiday: Halloween! I decorated my room for Halloween in August and I’ve been wearing an autumn color palette for several weeks as well. I’m excited to be home this year for the season because I get to actually see the leaves change colors too.

    Another great thing about autumn is that Bath and Body Works releases an autumn/Halloween beauty line! This season is my favorite time to shop at B&BW, but I shop there every season with my sister and my mom. We always get the seasonal soaps, lotions, body sprays, and oil diffusers. It’s a fun seasonal tradition because the aromas really get you into the spirit of whatever season it is.

    Since I go every season, I don’t always finish the products I buy. Sometimes I don’t finish them because the scent I got was limited edition (most of their stuff these days seem to be) and I’m reluctant to finish them. Thus, I thought it’d be fun to share my collection of Bath and Body Works items I have accumulated over the last two years or so, in addition to the latest scents that I will be wearing this season!

    Not all of the scents are available in stores anymore, but I found some shops on Amazon that sell them. They may or may not be reasonably priced though.

    If you only want to see this year’s autumn scents, please scroll down to the bottom 🙂

    Nearly Empty Lotions:

    IMG_5658.jpg

    Aquamarine came out this past spring I believe and they don’t sell it anymore. I got it in conjunction with a sparkly body spray of the same scent. The scent is described as a blend of ocean water, mint, and wet stone. It’s super refreshing and feminine in a unique way. It’s definitely one of my favorites even though it doesn’t fall under my preferable aromas which are vanilla, marshmallow, and almond.

    Sandalwood Rose came out either two or three winter holidays ago. It emerged around the beginning of their aromatherapy line, and I’m devasted that they discontinued it because sandalwood rose is my favorite aroma next to vanilla, marshmallow, and almond. I even remember the first time I smelled this combination: I was in elementary school and taking yoga at the recreation center in my town. The instructor had given me the remains of a sandalwood rose oil and I held onto it for as many years as I could until I eventually had to throw it away.

    This combination is so good because it has a “warm” smell that I tend to gravitate towards, but it’s also feminine without being fruity. It’s fantastic, I highly recommend it.

    Happiness is part of Bath and Body Works current aromatherapy line, and this product definitely incites joy. This lotion is a combination of bergamot and mandarin essential oils, so it’s very bright and almost spicy. I use it all over my body on days when I’m feeling a little solemn.

    Nearly Empty/Partially Used Body Sprays:

    I have a lot of body sprays in this picture, I know. I tend to use body lotion very quickly, but the body sprays don’t go as fast, so I end up with a ton leftover. I should probably refrain from buying more body sprays for awhile…anyway, let’s commence!

    IMG_9889

    From left to right…

    Wild Madagascar Vanilla (far left) is basically the more sophisticated, older sister to Warm Vanilla Sugar (far right). The former is vanilla with African pear, wild jasmine, and white sandalwood. This scent was available about three years ago now, but they discontinued it, unfortunately. They still offer Warm Vanilla Sugar, which is part of their signature collection, but I’m honestly waiting for them to get rid of their signature collection. As a long-time shopper of Bath and Body Works, it seems like they are moving more toward expanding their aromatherapy line.

    I purchased Island White Sand this summer, and while it’s a lovely smell with undertones of sparkling tangelo (what is that??), sand, white orchids, driftwood, and coconut water, it just isn’t me. I don’t know what possessed me to buy this scent honestly. It isn’t a “warm” scent and it also isn’t particularly feminine in my opinion, so I barely used it. Pretty much the whole bottle is left. I used the lotion I had paired with it at least, but I may have to find someone who would want this.

    Japanese Cherry Blossom is an iconic scent seeing as its part of the signature collection. It makes an excellent perfume because it’s strong and lasts for several hours. (Or maybe this one is so strong because I’ve had it for at least 4 years??) If you like feminine, floral scents, I recommend it. I feel romantic when I wear it and I have it both in the sparkly spray, pictured here, as well as in a non-sparkly spray.

    Almond and Vanilla is the evilest aroma Bath and Body Works has created because not only does it smell fantastic because it’s my two favorite scents ever, combined, but they also discontinued it in their stores. Thankfully I bought a lotion in this scent before they completely got rid of it.

    Beach Nights Summer Marshmallow is more my jam in regards to summery scents because it smells cozy and delicious! It’s a blend of toasted marshmallows, salt breezes, and S’mores. This spray is from two summers ago and whenever I use it I can’t help but reminisce about that time in my life.

    I already talked about the Aquamarine scent, so I’ll skip over it and talk about the Spiced Pumpkin Cider one! It’s a blend of pumpkin, cinnamon, and apple cider, and it’s the ultimate fall aroma! This is from last autumn but they brought it back this year too.

    Cashmere Snowflakes is a scent my sister and mom got me into, and it’s the perfect post-holidays, dead-of-winter aroma because it adds some brightness and warmth to your life! I’ve barely used it, so I’m hoping to get more use of it this winter. They offered it during the last two winters, so they will possibly offer it this winter as well.

    Bright Autumn Blooms is probably the most floral fragrance I own, but it’s not too much for me. I honestly don’t what flower this is supposed to replicate and there’s no description of it, but it’s quite refreshing. It was part of their autumn collection last fall but it’s no longer available in stores.

    Favorite Summer Scent This Season:

    I got this travel-sized fragrance for my Disney trip at the beginning of the summer because I was not checking my suitcase. I wish I had gotten a larger size though with a larger lotion (I had a travel-sized lotion but I finished it) because this scent is just…sexy. It’s not a “warm” scent, but it’s super perfume-y in the fact that it’s strong and it smells super good. I hope they offer this one next summer too.

    IMG_0550.jpg

    What I’m Wearing This Autumn:

    IMG_9060

    The three items from the left are from the new collection. I’m really excited about the Rose lotion because while it’s not Sandalwood Rose, it’s sufficient enough. It has a lovely floral scent without being too overpowering.

    Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte was available either two autumns ago, so I suppose it’s a staple seasonal item. I used it two years ago and then opted to use Spiced Pumpkin Cider last fall. I love the Marshmallow scent more though because it has the warm undertones that I adore.

    The Almond and Vanilla is no longer sold in stores but it’s a great autumn scent for when I run out of the MPL lotion, which will definitely happen too soon.

    That’s pretty much it for my collection!

    Do you love to shop at Bath and Body Works? What are some of your favorite products?

    What scents for lotion/body spray do you use in the fall?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Pumpkin Spice, Everything (Will Be) Nice

    These last few days have been emotionally tumultuous for me, so I’ve been recharging in Starbucks sipping on iced pumpkin spiced lattes. They’re a delicious treat and I feel a bit better after consuming them. It’s also nice to be out of my house considering I did not leave my house at all in the last two days…which is probably not healthy but I don’t really have anywhere to go these days. Not leaving my house is definitely one of the many reasons I feel emotionally out of balance as a Vata person.

    In Ayuverda, which is the sister science to Yoga, I am predominantly a Vata person. I can explain this more in a different post, or you can look it up…but to explain briefly: Ayuverda is a method of characterizing everything in the universe, and there are three Doshas that can be used to describe it all in a very detailed manner. Everything has all three Doshas, but sometimes one is more prominent. Vata is only one of the Doshas, and in regards to how this Dosha appears in people, it includes being tall and slim, physically cold, creative, and idealistic. Some of the things that imbalance a Vata person are a lack of schedule, stress, and instability. I have been experiencing all three.

    While I have stability in the sense that I have a roof over my head, clean water, and food, everything else in my life feels unstable. It’s the dance that all twenty-somethings that graduate from college have to do, and I feel like if someone were to rate my performance thus far, it’d be a lackluster rating.

    The lack of a schedule, while everyone else is busy with school and/or work, is really getting to me now that my sister went back to school. For the first time since I was born, I’m living at home with only my parents around. It’s kind of weird honestly…so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room.

    There have been perks with that though because I’ve finally been making progress with my room. My mom bought me some new furniture to store items in and my room feels so much more peaceful. I have to tidy up my floor now and then do some more minor organizing, but I plan to get the biggest stuff finished this week. I will share pictures soon.

    Aside from cleaning my room, I’ve also been reading daily before I go to sleep instead of wasting time on social media. I have finished three books I had half-read: The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I plan to finish Don Quixote next, although it may take more time considering how large the book is.

    The only tasks on my schedule lately are job interviews, which is super stressful. All of my interviews have been phone interviews so I don’t have to go anywhere and I also haven’t been getting dressed for the day because I spend so much of my time at home. My interviews seem to be going well for the most part. I did have a terrible interview experience though…perhaps I’ll talk more about that in a different post.

    I know I have said this before, but maybe it really is time to look for part-time work? At this point, based off of my interviews, I won’t be working until October 1st at the earliest, but that’s assuming I get second-interviews and then a job offer before then. If that doesn’t happen, I may end up not working until December, January, or even later. Ideally, I’d like my part-time work to be yoga related…but considering how volatile my self-esteem is these days, it’s so hard to put myself out there face-to-face with someone. My girlfriend recommended I put teaching yoga on the back-burner for now because when the time is right for me to teach, I will be able to teach. I do have a yoga audition today though…but yeah maybe I’ll hold off on it for a while.

    It feels like I’m just “holding off” on everything. I’m postponing taking the GRE, applying to grad schools, and thus, attending grad school. I am also postponing getting a yoga job and it seems like the universe has decided for me that I am postponing working full-time for at least another month.

    People don’t talk truthfully enough about the frustration, depression, and self-doubt that comes with graduating from college and then trying to get a job. I feel like people only talk about those feelings in hindsight once they get a job, so their perspective on the situation is different at that point. They see their challenges through rose-colored glasses because they had overcome the job-hunting challenge.

    Well let me be honest: post-grad life is grueling.

    College is super stressful, but this is a whole different type of stress because you will be on your own and you will be trying to be an “adult.” Plus you will get asked by everyone you interact with the dreaded “so what are you doing now that you graduated?” and as the months go by and if you still don’t have an answer, you will seem and you will feel more pathetic. All you will do is worry because you won’t want to dread that question, you will want to answer it and you will want to be excited about your answer, but you will have no idea what/when/how you will have the answer.

    Every job application you send out will feel desperate and you will just hope that the employers can’t tell. You will feign enthusiasm in every interview you manage to get, but the second you leave you will be overcome with negativity and self-doubt. Every rejection you get will feel personal, because it kind of is, and you will doubt every decision you’ve ever made in college ie maybe you should have studied something else, maybe you’re not an ideal candidate for any job because of XYZ.

    It will feel like everyone is judging you, especially your parents/guardians, especially if you live with them because everyone is judging you. “Judging” is essentially what employers do. No one will judge you as much as you judge yourself though.

    Right now, on the mental and emotional spectrum of Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar (clinically depressed) to Don Quixote from Don Quixote (unaware of his senselessness but unwaveringly believes in himself, disregarding the ridicule from anyone else), I feel closer to Esther Greenwood. I would love to be more like Don Quixote.

    Hence why I got dressed for once to be seen in public, went to Starbucks, and got an iced pumpkin spice latte.

    Pumpkin spice, everything will hopefully be nice eventually.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Remembering

    Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the passing of my cousin.

    It had actually slipped my mind that this anniversary was approaching because my sister was preparing to move back to school so I was spending a majority of my time with her and my mom. What caused me to remember the anniversary was that I started thinking about my cousin more than I usually do.

    I always think about her…but this was different. She was at the forefront of my mind when I woke up and thoughts of her were affecting my mood more strongly than usual. It wasn’t until a couple days of this that I remembered the anniversary of her death was approaching.

    I’ve been practicing strengthening my intuition by simply using it more, so intuitively, I felt that she was reaching out to me. Perhaps she wanted some attention or perhaps I subconsciously wanted to actively remember her, or both. So, I decided to start talking to her.

    It may seem a little unusual, it’s a little unusual to talk about it honestly….but it feels right to me.

    I talk to her when I’m driving, which is usually to my girlfriend’s house because I don’t really drive anywhere else. The drive is about an hour, thus it’s a decent amount of time to talk to my cousin about what I’ve been up to, thoughts/feelings that I have, and I also ask her some questions. Sometimes she asks me questions.

    My cousin was like an older sister to me, so allowing myself to communicate with her is…comforting and familiar. I used to call her frequently and she was always there to provide the insight that only an older sister can offer. I don’t have an older sister, in fact, I am the older sister to my sister, so the relationship I had with my cousin was and still is really special.

    Another way that I’ve been remembering and honoring my cousin is by rewatching Freaks and Geeks, which is a show she had told me to watch during my sophomore year of college, and we had talked frequently about it. It’s a perfect show to watch as autumn approaches too.

    At the end of the day, the little things I’ve been doing to remember my cousin are more focused on who she was to me when she was alive on Earth rather than focusing on how devastating it is that she is gone and feeling solemn that she isn’t growing with our family anymore.

    To me, it’s more important to remember the life one had as well as acknowledging their spirit. It reminds me of some of the African spiritual practices I’ve read about in Jambalaya, which I haven’t finished yet but I highly recommend it. So many cultures have traditions for their ancestors…I want to make my own for my cousin as well as my other ancestors. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but I will let y’all know what I decide to do!

    Please provide me with inspiration! How do you remember and honor your ancestors?

    xx Vic

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Who Am I?

    My sister and my girlfriend are going back to school this week, and for the first time in about seventeen years, I am not doing the same.

    Since I am no longer a formal student at an American institution, I’ve been reflecting a lot on who I am.

    Who am I without school?

    I’m still determining how to answer this question, but I started by creating a more detailed “about me” page. It was fun to do and while it’s not comprehensive by any means, I think it was a good place to start.

    Additionally, in the last week or so, I’ve been doing some things that I’ve put off because I was busy in school. For example, I’ve finished two books recently. I’m working on finishing two more before reading or buying a new one.

    The biggest way I’ve attempted to answer my question is by deciding not to rush grad school. It was a little scary to come to this decision because I find school comforting in the sense that I know what goal I have to achieve: to graduate. The means are provided as well such as you have to take classes and study. Without school, my goal is more focused on becoming self-sufficient… I need a job to do that but the types of jobs I can have are innumerable! To me, this goal is quite a bit more overwhelming.

    I want to tackle this goal, thus, I won’t be applying for grad school until next fall at the earliest.

    Delaying grad school would also allow my work experiences and whatever else I experience to influence which grad program I will eventually pursue. I still plan to take the GREs this year but instead of taking them in November, I will take them in December or January.

    In regards to jobs…I’ve had a ton of first interviews but it’s been slow to hear back about second interviews. I’m going to follow up with some places this week to see where I am at as a prospective employee. I will also begin to apply for part-time jobs so I don’t deplete my savings waiting for a full-time job.

    Some part-time job opportunities include teaching yoga. I’ve been postponing looking for yoga jobs in person lately but I’ll have to resume it. I just created a class about creativity because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I’m super excited to teach it! I have to fine-tune some things still, but it feels good on my body and I think it’d feel good to others too.

    I’ve been struggling with my creativity because I haven’t been using it to its full-extent these days. This is definitely partially attributed to school, which is one reason not being a student will be good for me because unless you allot time for creativity, school really hinders it. I was fortunate to have time to take two creative writing courses last year, but it has been difficult to maintain the drive to be creative because I was thrust from the cocoon of being a student to suddenly being a graduate who needs a job and wants to go to grad school and needs to study and…I was putting way too much on my plate.

    Once I decided to postpone grad school another year, I allowed myself the time to breathe and to allow my creative mind to flow. In fact, I’ve been dreaming a lot at night these days, which I think is a good sign. One thing I need to work on though is disconnecting from the internet before and after bed, because that definitely stifles creativity. Instead I want to reintegrate meditation for at least 10 minutes everyday. My goal is to then create something every three days.

    There are some other things I want to talk about and share, but perhaps that’ll be for a different time.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Why I’ve Broken Up with My Birth Control

    I’ve waited a couple of months to write about this, and I’ll probably write more about it as time goes on. But yeah…I stopped taking birth control.

    Before I explain why I stopped, I’ll briefly talk about my experience with birth control.

    I began taking a birth control pill at age 16 after experiencing a traumatic menstrual cycle. I remember my period as always being horrendous, which is typical of young cycles that are still regulating, but one day it was truly, without a doubt, a bad period.

    I was in high school and had bled through a tampon and a pad and onto my pants. Fortunately, I was wearing dark jean shorts so it wasn’t terribly noticeable, nevertheless, I went home early and went to the doctor to figure out what was happening. At that point, I was bleeding through super plus tampons and pads (worn at the same time) and through my pants in about an hour because I was having clots way larger than the size of a quarter.

    After bleeding all over the seat at the doctor’s office while getting blood work, my doctor recommended I take birth control. She also informed me that I have PCOS, but my OBGYN did not get those same results.

    Then I took birth control regularly until I was 19. My skin had cleared up a bit and I was pleased with having a regulated cycle. But one day, in a Gender Studies class, we were talking about birth control and I realized nearly everyone was on one form or another. This upset me because I thought it was fucked up (because it is but I didn’t realize why at the time), so I abruptly stopped.

    On my 20th birthday, my menstrual clots returned, although not as severely, but I decided I needed to get back on the pill.

    I did not bleed at all until the last few months before I finally quit. During the last few months, I was spotting for months because I couldn’t take my birth control at the same time every day. I felt oral birth control was such a hassle because of this, and I was suffering from breakouts which in my opinion, had gotten worse, too.

    Then, in early 2018, I broke up with my birth control again, but this time it’s for good. Unlike the last time though, I have been reading quite a bit about menstruation and doing my best to have a happy period. So far, I’ve been successful.

    How have I been successful?

    My Yoga journey introduced me to a book by Lara Biden called Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods. This book has been the ultimate guide for me toward having a healthy period, in addition to other articles I’ve read online.

    I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m more than halfway through. What I’ve learned thus far is that your digestive system and your menstrual cycle are related. If you eat poorly, your period, which is a reflection of your diet from about three months prior, will be affected. Thus, diet is essential for having a healthy period!

    There are five inflammatory foods that will hurt your menstrual cycle, and they are: sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and vegetable oil. 

    Even if you don’t have sensitivities to these ingredients, they are still inflammatory to your body. So, I decided to play around with reducing or avoiding some of these food groups entirely.

    I started by limiting, and then completely cutting out dairy. I thought it was going to be difficult to avoid dairy, but for me, it hasn’t been a challenge. The only time I’ve struggled is when people around me want to get pizza or if I’m at an Italian restaurant that has a limited menu of mostly cheesy items.

    Otherwise, I’ve easily swapped out regular milk for almond or rice milk, and I haven’t missed eating cheese because I can still eat cheese! It just can’t be from a cow. For example, I enjoy goat cheese spread on toast for breakfast and I can eat parmesan because it’s such a dry cheese that any dairy in it doesn’t affect my skin.

    My skin seemed to improve when I cut out dairy, and my menstrual cycle was relatively smooth with less PMS every month that passed, and shorter cramps. While I was satisfied with the changes I made in my diet, I had developed acne on my neck, which I never had before. It took me a couple of months to realize it wasn’t my hair or my hair products, but that it must be my diet again.

    Thus, I decided to try limiting my sugar intake. This has been the most difficult obstacle for me because I love sweets! I eat copious amounts of chocolate daily, I love cookies, dairy-free ice cream, sweetened beverages, cocktails (which have lots of sugar), etc. Once I switched from eating desserts to eating mostly fruit and chocolate when I want something sweet, the acne on my neck disappeared, as well as any lingering acne on my face that kept cropping up. I also use honey instead of white sugar because while they’re both considered added sugar, I think my body responds better to honey.

    While my skin and my menstrual cycle isn’t perfect yet, I have noticed how these dietary changes have changed my body. I’m still at the beginning of this journey but I’m pleased with the progress I have made so far.

    xx Vic

    For the record, I’m not recommending that you stop taking birth control and mess with your diet without consulting a doctor first. I am not a doctor and I am not offering medical advice. Please consult a doctor before stopping birth control. 

%d bloggers like this: