• 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. 

  • Speaking My Mind

    June & July Favorites!

    I’m super excited about this post! I’ve never done a “favorites” post before and I think it’s a fun addition to my blog. My favorite items range from books, clothes, food, and beauty supplies, so there is something for everyone. Let’s get started!

    Favorite Sunscreen: CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion

    I got this product after reading several articles about how the most common sunscreen in stores has been damaging coral reefs and it’s also not good for your body. You can look this up online for the details, but the gist is that the chemicals found in sunscreen interfere with hormones and such in your body. This sunscreen is made with zinc, which is a natural element, thus it’s better for your body and for coral reefs! What I have noticed though is that unless you make sure to rub it in, you may have some white residue on your face. Just make sure to look in a mirror before you take photos or go out haha

    Favorite Lotion: Sleep Lotion from Bath and Body Works

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    love Bath and Body Works! I go on a shopping spree there with my mom and sister at least four times a year so we have scents for every season. The store recently had their Biannual Rubber Ducky Sale, so I snagged this for around $5-7 whereas it’s usually around $15! While I have tried many of their lotions and scents, I think this one is my favorite and I definitely will have to repurchase. The scent is so relaxing and warm, I love it. It’s also super moisturizing! Since I’ve been shaving my legs for the summer, my legs get really raw and irritated but this lotion soothes them and locks the moisture in for 24 hours. It’s the perfect solution!

    Favorite Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass

    I know I listed two books but in my defense, the books were combined into one book, so, I count them as one. This series is phenomenal and incredibly thought-provoking. I purchased the edition published by Penguin and they included all these amazing footnotes that provided a ton of insight on the characters as well as the author. This makes a great summer read because it’s simultaneously philosophical and whimsical! Follow me on GoodReads if you want to link up about books!! You can find me by going onto the main page of my website and in the right sidebar, click on one of the books that I am currently reading.

    Favorite Drink: Taco Bell’s Watermelon Freeze

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    This drink is iconic! It’s not too sweet in my opinion and the flavor is so tasty! The only suggestion I have for this drink is to make the sugar candies chocolate candies instead. It would be more reminiscent of Friendly’s Watermelon Roll (did anyone else grow up eating these slices of heaven???) and it would, therefore, be better overall. The chocolate would provide a beautiful contrast to the sweet and sourness of the slush. Perhaps when I get it again, I’ll add chocolate chips myself and report back!

    Favorite Chocolate: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger

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    I am obsessed with ginger! It’s my favorite spice. I also have a deep love for dark chocolate, which I eat daily. Two of my favorite things combined together is pure heaven! I was first exposed to this delicious dessert when my girlfriend bought me dark chocolate ginger candies to make me feel better. I don’t know if I was suffering from allergies or if I was sad, but it was one of the best treats she’s given to me and also the worst because unfortunately, chocolate ginger candies are sooo hard to find! I’ve only seen them at ShopRite where they had half the size of this container yet at the same price, and at Trader Joe’s, which is the best option for this delectable treat. I may have to make them myself, honestly.

    Favorite Dessert: Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas!

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    I strongly advise against buying this because it will ruin you. I devour almost the whole box in one sitting, they are way too delicious. They are so good that now whenever we go to Trader Joe’s, my family buys at least four boxes. Obviously, we can make this ourselves and it’d be cheaper to do so. In fact, my sister and I did make a version of this last summer, however, we didn’t cut the bananas up into slices. Banana slices make frozen bananas less painful to eat because you are less likely to get brain freeze or feel pain in your teeth from biting into a frozen banana half. Next time I make this, I will definitely be cutting the bananas into slices!

    Favorite Outfit of the Day: Tangerines!!

    My sister and mom picked out this cute tangerine top from Anthropologie for me, and I love it! It’s the perfect shirt for summer because it can be worn casually or more dressy as I wore it in these pictures. I paired the shirt with fancy, woven shorts from Abercrombie I bought two years when I used to work there.

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    My orange earrings and bracelet (the engraving in the bracelet is a coqui) are from Puerto Rico when my mom went to visit my grandma. I think I got the goldstone bracelet during a Florida trip back when my grandparents were still alive. Lastly, the watch is a gift my mom got for me for my most recent birthday.

    Those are all of my favorites for these last two months! I’d like to continue this series if not every month, at least every other month. Perhaps I can integrate some things that I got that I don’t like too! I also want to do lookbooks/OOTD pics again. I take photos for them but I haven’t posted them since like…2014/2015?

    Have you tried any of the things that I’ve listed, or are you interested in trying something that I shared? What are some of your favorite items from the last two months? Let me know in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Bullet Journaling My Finances

    Last year when I went on a 5-month hiatus from my blog because I was struggling with grief and depression, one of my best friends from my hometown recommended I Bullet Journal to help me deal with my emotions.

    For those of you who don’t know what a Bullet Journal is, it’s a method of organization for a ton of different things such as daily to-do lists, mood tracking, gratitude lists, etc. There is an official journal you can buy, or you can use whatever journal you have, you can even create your own with scrap paper!

    I personally used a random notebook for my BuJo, and I used it quite a bit for several months until I finally returned to my online blog. It never became the cutesie journals that you will find online if you search “Bullet Journal ideas” in Google Images because I just used different colored pencils and pens to create lists. Regardless, it helped me get through a difficult time, thus I am picking it up again! This time, I’m going to use it to help me keep track of my finances. (I’m also not using it in lieu of blogging.)

    As I’ve mentioned previously, I have been a bit stressed out about money. Although I am making a small income, I somehow spend outrageously every month. The months leading up to graduation were particularly expensive due to many nights spent celebrating and…honestly I don’t know what else.

    Anyway…I was inspired to pick up my BuJo again because in my email inbox recently, there was a message about Bullet Journaling and Finances. Intrigued, I clicked on it and read a helpful article about how someone used the Bullet Journal to get out of a $240K debt! Thankfully, I don’t have such a large task to tackle; I want to save more money, spend less, and budget.

    After reading the article, I adopted two of the prompts that the writer of the article, Seth, used! Below is my version of what he had done.

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    What I buy

    The prompt above is to track my everyday purchases and my income. This will help me determine what I need to scale back on so I can save more money. Off the top of my head, I suspect that I spend a lot of money eating out and on alcohol. I also spend quite a bit doing spontaneous shopping on Amazon (books are my greatest weakness!!) and at the mall for yoga items (speaking of which, there will be another yoga haul soon!).

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    Habit tracker

    This second prompt I copied is a habit tracker for the month of June. All the days of June (except the 29th and 30th…I ran out of room) are included as well as the day of the week. The vertical column consists of habits that I want to break and make. For example, I want to read at least 20 pages of either one or of multiple books per day because I have a bunch of reading to do for the yoga training as well as a huge pile of half-read books I’m dying to finish. For some reason though, I always get caught up on YouTube or reading different lifestyle blogs, which is better than YouTube I suppose but I would prefer to finish a book.

    Other habits I want to create that would help me achieve my long-term goals include researching PhD programs, applying to at least two jobs/day, meditating with my mala, writing, studying (for yoga/GRE), doing yoga, 10 minute cardio, save $20, clean/organize 5 items in my room, not spend money, and research a car to get. Some habits I would like to break include not buying coffee, not buying alcohol, and not buying food (unless it’s from a grocery store).

    When I do a habit I want to create, I will put a smiley face on the date. When I don’t do a habit I want to create, or when I do a habit I want to break, I will put a frowny face.

    I have many habits in the vertical column, so I don’t expect them to do them daily; however, I hope this tracker will encourage me to practice these habits more frequently than I have been. Currently, I’ve been avoiding many of these tasks and I expect this tracker will help hold me accountable. This will ultimately help me achieve my long-term goals!

    At the end of June I will update y’all on my progress with this.

    Do any of y’all Bullet Journal? What prompts do you like to use for finances or in general?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Faith + Bravery: Taking the First Steps on a New Adventure

    My aunt took me and my sister out to lunch, and as per usual, we had a wonderful conversation.

    She had recently returned from a trip to Memphis with her husband, and they went to several Civil Rights museums. I confessed to her that the things I must do in order to get to the next chapter of my life seem impossible, so she told me this quote she saw in the museum that blew her away:

    “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices on Resistance, Reform, and Renewal an African American Anthology

    When she shared it with me, I was also floored. This quote is obviously in regards to civil rights, however, it also encapsulates exactly what I need to do that would answer my own questions:

    How do I get a car so I can be independent? How do I get a job but also prepare for the GRE’s and figure out what doctorate program I want to do? How do I make new friends since all of my closest friends are moving away? How do I become a self-sufficient adult even though I’m afraid to do so?

    Between these worries and fears as well as my disastrous room, which seems to reflect my inner turmoil, I have been feeling so overwhelmed that I haven’t done much to move forward at all. Naturally, I’m not going to get to the next chapter if I’m not taking any steps at all…thus, I should trust the Universe more. I should also trust myself more.

    Evidence of the Universe conspiring to support each individual is evident in my own life in the past, as well as in my girlfriend’s life currently. Per Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life” :

    “You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

    I’ve sited this quote what feels like 10 times now on my blog, yet I always need to be reminded of it. Perhaps I should make it one of my mantras in addition to the Sanskrit mantra, Ananta Swa Bhava, I repeat for my japamala meditation. It means my state of being is infinite and boundless.

    I am infinite and I am a child of the Universe too so…I need to have a little more faith.

    So the first steps I will take until my yoga training starts in a little over two weeks will be to apply for at least one job a day and to finish organizing my room. Instead of watching endless YouTube videos at night, I will read material that will inspire me especially because I have an obscene amount of partially read books on my Kindle. I will also allot one hour each day toward researching doctorate programs that I may be interested in.

    By the time my yoga program rolls around, hopefully, my personal space will be less cluttered and more organized and I will at least have some ideas percolating in my mind in regards to future education plans. Then I can write them down in the new journal my aunt got for me! It’s a beautiful journal and I’ve never had such a nice one before!

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    I hope you can see the gold detail on it in this photo above!

    IMG_3439 It also has beautiful quotes throughout the book too!

    Anyway…that’s all from me for now. Let me know in the comments if you have any quotes that inspire you!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Save Rock and Roll (Save Myself)

    I’m bored with all of the books I’ve been trying to read and with all of the shows I want to watch so I decided it was about time to come on here and write again.  So…yeah..I’m ending my Fall-Out-Boy-esque-hiatus now.  My hiatus was not five years nor did I release an underrated, killer record before going on break and then proceed to get married, launch a solo career, or have children during my hiatus…but this has been the longest break I’ve taken from writing on here, and in general, since…my sophomore or junior year in high school.  It’s a little unfortunate I didn’t write because I like to document my life, thoughts, and feelings…but everything seemed so…heavy at the time and the idea of writing anything…I didn’t perceive it as therapeutic.

    During the last month or so, however, I have been documenting random thoughts/feelings into a journal by hand to at least get them out there and then I would organize them into the different Bullet Journal prompts I had going.

    Anyway!  I am going to resume writing again.  I’ve been having an urge to write creatively over the last week or so…hopefully I can do some of that because I miss that.  In the meantime, I’ll blog a bit about what’s going on and I’ll start with an update since a bunch has been going on!

  • Speaking My Mind

    The Eve Before More Surgery

    I’m having surgery again tomorrow, but unlike last time, I’m not afraid because I already know what to expect.  Nonetheless, I’m not particularly thrilled about it, although it will be better to go through the surgery than to avoid it.

    The surgery I had before, and the one that I’m having again, isn’t super serious; it’s purely a dermal procedure to ensure that I don’t have skin cancer and that I don’t develop it from what’s been considered atypical.  Despite this, the fact that I have to get surgery “to be safe” and “to check” for these things has confronted me with mortality more than before. Then, a month after my first surgery, my cousin was killed, which was devastating in itself while also further contributing to these thoughts about mortality.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Post-Summer Solstice

    I haven’t been the greatest at posting these European blogs…or beginning to even write them.  I was determined to write all of the blogs about my trip on my trip because of how much time we spent traveling.  As per usual, I don’t follow through with my plans.

    I wrote consistently for the first two days.  Afterwards, I just wrote lists of things I didn’t want to forget because I slept every time we traveled.  When I got home, I was too exhausted to bother with writing the blogs and a month later, I am just fucking lazy.  I’ll finish writing the blogs eventually because it’s important to me, but until then…I’ll be in the USofA, rotting away.

    Since I’ve returned to the states, my life has been incredibly drab.  It’s not because the excitement and glamour of Europe has dulled my regular, old life, but rather, I’m in limbo right now.  Hell, I’m always in limbo.  I should rename my blog “Life in Limbo” or something lame like that.  (Speaking of my blog, I’ve been meaning to redesign it again.  Another thing to add to my To-Do list.)

    The reason I feel like I’m in limbo is because I am very lost when it comes to what the fuck I’m doing with myself.  I don’t have a strict schedule so my days are all over the place, and I’m not the greatest fan of that.  I miss school for my hour-by-hour itineraries.  Fortunately, I’m resuming school in a couple of weeks, so order shall be restored to my life!  Until then, I’ll be in limbo.

    Some things I’ve been doing while I’m in limbo include working!  Yes, shockingly, I got a job!

  • Speaking My Mind

    Second Update: How to Discover and Redefine Myself

    The past two days have been really good…Friday I went to the women’s basketball game and we won.  Yesterday I spent the whole day in the library with my friend but we watched a bunch of movies later so that was nice…last night though I had a bad dream about my ex.  She wasn’t in it much and we didn’t interact with each other…which is one of the reasons that it was bad.  It was also a bad dream because I had many physical limitations…like I couldn’t move fast enough and/or I couldn’t talk or see…it was frustrating and difficult.

    Regarding my ex, I feel very powerless about what happened between us which is probably why I dreamt feeling powerless when it came to her in my dream…I was physically unable to tell her how I felt and look at her…it was hard and depressing.

    Yesterday when I was in the library I wrote my final letter to my ex under the advisement of my therapist.  My therapist had suggested that instead of writing a “mature” letter, I should write something vulnerable.  She didn’t say I had to send it but I think what I wrote is important for my ex to know.  I’m going to share it with my therapist tomorrow and see what she thinks, and then when I drop off her stuff at her house during Thanksgiving break I’ll include my final letter.

    The letter is vulnerable, strong, powerful, compassionate…I think it’s a really great letter and hopefully it’ll make these dreams of feeling restricted and powerless go away.

    Anyway, just wanted to share that before I update my list to see what kind of progress I’ve been making…

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