I feel strongly that the negative occurrences of my past are contributing writers to the ensemble of a person I am today. A continual work in progress; a woman who has experienced enough to have hurt others, to have been hurt and to have realized that all of it is a messy package of character-building.
But — it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negativity; incrementally justifying thoughts and actions that foster stagnation. For example: self-deprecation as a coping mechanism. I do it often (less so now) and I witness others take part as well. Like everything, there are levels to it, ranging from seemingly harmless to quite alarming. I personally enjoy self-deprecating humor (most times) because I can relate. Most people can. I think that’s the underlying charm of it. If there is a quote to describe self-deprecating humor it’s “misery loves company.” We all find solace in knowing that we are not alone in the self-doubt we battle day-in and day-out. I mean, countless comics build their sets on foundations of embarrassing and relatable anecdotes. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with it, unless you get stuck in it’s cycle.
There is a difference between enjoying a relatable self-deprecating joke from time-to-time and identifying oneself on this principal. On a personal note, for a while I considered myself “damaged goods.” Rarely vocalized, but definitely internalized. I considered it just a part of my personality. But let’s unpack that phrase. Damaged…yes. Like I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been hurt. Such are the trials of life thought lol. Everyone gets hurt. Goods…yikes. What a way to dehumanize, simplify and belittle myself.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is a recent revelation I experienced in the past handful of months: having been broken is not a personality trait. It is and should be a temporary state-of-being. Consider it an existence that should have an expiration date assigned to it. Keep it around too long and it’ll poison and cloud your perception of life. Think of it this way, we’ve all been through the trenches, many of us are currently are going through the trenches, but that is not what defines a person. The way in which the trenches are navigated is where one discovers their personality traits. What I’ve learned about myself is that I have tendencies to be hyper-focused (sometimes to my detriment), generally positive, creative and hardworking when I’m passionate about what I’m doing (also sometimes to my detriment…).
What’s the takeaway from this? Not sure. I suppose it’s just a reminder that time heals. There may be nasty scars left behind, but (to bring it full circle) it builds character. Being damaged is temporary. It is not a permanent description of yourself. I’ll never be brand new, but I’m refurbished and still fully functioning lol.
And that’s all I’ll say about that. Thanks for humoring me 🙂
I’ve been trying to develop a blog post on the concept of complacency versus contentment for the past month. Initially, I thought it would be an easy enough analysis. Just like any stream of consciousness blog I’ve written, it should be simple right?
Step one: look up the official definitions of both words
Step two: take definitions and provide insight using personal experiences
Step three: conclude with at least one take away…hopefully
But the more I thought about it, the more the lines of both concepts continued to blur. Probably the most challenging part of this analysis for me is the current relevance it has in my life. Any analysis I do will always have some sort of personal connection and with that, comes many variables to unpack lol. To self-reflect is one thing, to effectively articulate that self-reflection is another. So, after sitting on this topic for a while, I decided to just let the post unfold however it unfolds. Whether there will be a clear point at the end, the world may never know…and with that, I will definitely be categorizing this post under “rambles” lol.
The definition of these two words are similar, both having to do with being in a state of satisfaction. The difference seems to be with the underlying attitude that accompanies the sense of satisfaction. Where complacency lacks motivation and the desire for growth, contentment typically utilizes gratitude as a vehicle for continued growth.
Contentment: noun. A state of happiness and satisfaction.
I was raised in an environment that values gratitude: being thankful for what one has at all stages in life. Which I still live by. Practicing gratitude is a helpful reminder of the progress we have made, however large or small. It is also a great reminder of the positive internal and external influences that have contributed to our progress.
There has been a self-care trend that I’ve noticed throughout the year called “gratitude journaling.” From what I understand, the concept is to develop a habit of gratitude through the creation of a daily list of people, things, circumstances, etc. The idea is to shift perspective in a positive direction by identifying, whether big or small, things in ones life to be grateful for. I love this idea. If anything, flipping back through such a comprehensive list is a reminder of how full one’s life can be. That’s always nice.
So, is contentment the appreciation of your current life circumstances, the recognition that it’s ever-changing and the acceptance that everything that comes with it is okay? My second question is: does contentment impede or foster growth? I would think that depends on the person. Thirdly, does contentment sans motivation plus time lead to complacency? These are the questions of life HAHA.
Maybe I have yet to experience what it means to be content because so far in my life I have always existed in some varying degree of fearing stagnation.
Complacency: noun. Showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.
*cue Satisfied from Tony Award winning Broadway production Hamilton*
I suppose the most daunting part of complacency is the possibility of not knowing you are currently existing in it. Complacency to me means acceptance of one’s current circumstances and a lack of motivation for better. I think fear is a huge contributor to this. Fear of change, fear of failure, or even fear of success. Instead of facing fear, a complacent individual comes to terms with their current situation.
So, are you content or complacent? I don’t think it’s that simple.
Personally, I wouldn’t say I’m completely complacent because…again my constant fear of stagnation that has resulted in my continued vision for things bigger than even myself lol…Or maybe I have yet to experience enough life to jade me to the point of complacency…yikes.
Maybe we all ebb and flow between contentment and complacency…and it’s ultimately on ourselves to decide when to keep moving forward, when to take a pause and if so, how long to take a pause.
On that note, this stream of consciousness seems to have once again boiled down to balance. Like everything in life, balance is key. It’s okay to feel content; I would think it’s great actually! To be proud of the achievements you’ve accomplished without regret of any part of the process, that’s amazing. It’s even more amazing to use that feeling as fuel to do even more positive things in your life. I also think it’s okay to be complacent…for a short period of time. Sometimes we need the time to brood, compare and ultimately motivate ourselves to restart that engine of motivation. That’s why regardless of what state of being we are in our life, it’s also good to build an army of people around you that will slap you right in the face, whether figuratively or literally (I mean…different people need different things? haha), to remind you exactly what you need to be reminded of.
What are your thoughts on contentment and complacency? 🙂
Side note: The exploration of these two concepts may have stemmed from the fact that I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Yes, I know I’m late for the game. But for those that don’t know, or for those who read the book ages ago, the heart of the story is recognizing one’s aspirations and making the decision to chase abstract dreams and transform them into a tangible reality. The story is also a navigation through the idea of whether life happenings are obstacles to overcome, stepping stones or both? lol. I realize that description may sound like the plot of maybe every Disney movie out there, but trust me, The Alchemist has thought-provoking perspective that is worth the read. It’s a book that can be interpreted in many ways. ❤
WHO is focusing on the need for comprehensive mental health programs targeted specifically toward the younger generation, which I think is great. Unfortunately, the reality we exist in tends to approach mental health in a reactive manner: mental health issues are treatable. But very scarcely are we exposed to resources that teach us about preventativemeasures…methods that can be utilized to address potential issues before they have a chance to escalate.
WHO speaks of young people in a “changing world.” This era of young people: Millennials (myself included) and members of Generation Z, are coming of age in a technological environment that continues to expand at an exponential rate. With that, comes bounds of information at our fingertips, making the big ‘ol world seem a lot smaller…a lot faster.
From my own personal experience, remembering a portion of life sans Internet and growing up alongside its development, definitely helped shape how I view the world. For me, technology has given me instant access to a variety of cultures and perspectives; and it has helped me develop a strong sense of awe and empathy for others…something I don’t think would’ve been possible prior without literally traveling.
I gratefully exist in an increasingly sensitive, open-minded and fluid generation. I love it. Social boundaries are being broken, bent and re-construed in beautiful ways. However, traditional social structures label sensitivity as a negative; open-mindedness and exploration as a privilege (which is true, but it is seen through a negative lens). These filters lead to generalizations that Millennials and members of Generation Z are entitled, narcissistic and individualistic. What I’m getting at here is that while I see this “changing world” as an overall positive…it is accompanied by new, complex sociological and mental challenges.
Myself and most of my peers are at points in our lives where the terms “burnt out” or “overwhelmed” are common phrases used in conversation regarding well-being. We are the generation that went straight to college, racked up loans, jumped on that stable job to start paying those loans with a quickness…fast forward to 3-4 years in the workforce, grinding day-in and day-out. (ooooh I can already imagine how far back the eyes of Generation X and the Baby Boomers are rolling right now) We are the generation of dreamers: pursuing side hustles, fostering passion projects and/or creating our own jobs, with plans to break free from the traditional structures that we originated from.
Unlike generations before us, we are inundated with access to so much at all times that the stakes are constantly being raised, standards are increasingly higher, expectations are continually (and seemingly) unattainable, and our perception of our own potential for success is constantly being challenged through wide-casted comparisons to others. These technology-stemmed social pressures support a culture of overworking, overwhelming and overexerting ourselves…spreading ourselves too thin.
Stress Knows Not What Age Is
In the end, while the causes of previous generations’ development of mental health problems differ from that of today’s generation, they have similar origins. From my own observations of myself and those in my circle of family and friends, unaddressed stressors and their triggers are what lead to the development of anxieties, and frustrations. Regardless of one’s generation, it all seems to boil down to two things:
a lack of self reflection – people are so busy with their lives hustling, stuck in routine, fixated on a goal (or multiple). It’s important for my sanity to step back on a regular basis to reflect on my intentions behind my actions, evaluate if those have changed and recalibrate if necessary. “Adjust accordingly” has been one of my mottos for a number of years now. It essentially reminds me to have a plan, know that the plan will be deviated and that the multiple deviations do not take away from the value of the original plan. If anything, deviations add to its charm.
a lack of self care – Again…people are so busy living their lives that they forget to take care of themselves. Whether it’s something as simple as getting my nails done once in a while, making time for a hobby that I enjoy or sticking to a gym schedule…it all adds up. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes! We need to be happy with ourselves (or even just my day…I’ll take what I can get lol) in order to purely provide happiness for others…in my opinion. How can we take care of others effectively and wholeheartedly if we don’t take care of ourselves first?
This past year has been one of constant self reflection. Not that I haven’t already been doing that, but this year I have actively chosen to take a more mindful approach to my mental health. Finding a balance between when to say yes or no to things, experiences and people I come across. Learning to identify the little things that bring me happiness and the bad habits I need to work my way out of.
Perspective is everything. I’ve always been one to give people the benefit of the doubt, to imagine myself in another’s shoes. It helps me empathize with others and their unique circumstances that I may not understand. However, it’s only recently that I started utilizing the concept of perspective on myself and my well-being. After many talks with friends and family, many moments of reflection, here is what I’ve learned in the past year and a half:
It’s okay to say no – Humans are social beings. We want to be accepted by others. Typically the word “no” isn’t the path toward acceptance/blending in. But it’s okay to say no to a night out in exchange for a solo night in from time to time. It’s okay to say no to more work projects if it’s going to negatively affect my other projects and more importantly, my ability to work on them effectively.
It’s okay to ask for help – I find solace in having control over a situation or project. But control doesn’t mean I need to do everything myself. I had to learn that asking for help does not mean I am incompetent. If anything it makes me a more competent human being to admit when I can’t handle something and to appropriately delegate.
It’s okay to say “I don’t know” – There’s a saying that goes something like, play to your strengths and hire others to fill your weaknesses? I don’t know (lol no pun intended) what it is exactly and frankly, I’m too lazy to look it up…but the point is that it’s not the end of the world to not know something. That’s what Google is for.
It’s okay to be scared – Fear is a lot of people’s reasons for not doing certain things. I continue to fight this fight. Isn’t there another saying that speaks to finding comfort in being uncomfortable? Well, there’s something to that. Doing something I am afraid of teaches me a lot of things about myself and my capabilities. I don’t consider myself a good public speaker and I never enjoyed public speaking. But my job requires it on a regular basis and even though it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I can see myself skills improve every time.
Good Mental Habits = Good Mental Health
When discussing goals, a lot of the time people are looking to break bad habits…what if we shift perspective and look at it as developing good habits? If we continue to build more good habits in our lives, won’t they eventually outweigh the bad habits? We all have our vices, but as long as we live an 80/20 lifestyle, I think we are good. That’s a B+ lol. We can’t all be A+ students.
Here are some things I try to incorporate into my day in order to give myself a mental break and decompress:
Take your designated breaks – I admit I’m really, really bad at this. Yes I had to add an extra “really.” But I am constantly trying to get better at this. I am entitled to my breaks and work will always be there waiting for me when I get back. It’s easy to get caught up in the work, but removing myself for even just 10 minutes gives my brain a much needed rest.
Utilize the Pomodoro method – My brother introduced this workflow method to me and I try to use it as much as I can. It consists of 25 minutes of uninterrupted, focused work, followed by a 5 minute short break. Repeat. It’s kind of like a game and it helps me increase my productivity 🙂 I use tomato-timer.com. You should try it out!
Stretch periodically – While using the Pomodoro method, stretch during breaks. It promotes blood flow and good posture…and who doesn’t want good posture!
Stay comfy – We are at work for a huge chunk of our day. Why should we be uncomfortable? Take advantage of ergonomic evaluations and accommodations if available and make your workspace as comfortable as possible. I have house slippers at my desk because I see no point in wearing real shoes unless I’m in meetings or walking outside. My co-worker runs cold, so she has a blanket at her desk. Why suffer through cold for 8 hours a day? No need.
At Home (Not at Work)
Find a physical activity that you enjoy – not everyone is a gym rat, but physical health is undeniably tied to mental health. So whether its going for a daily walk, jumping rope, rock climbing or Zumba, find something that doesn’t feel like a workout. I’m still figuring this one out…
Read a book – o0o novel idea there! (no pun intended…or maybe it was) It’s sad how refreshing it is to detach from a screen and read an actual book. Remember those? They still exist lol. But seriously, I forget how much I enjoy reading a good book until I carve out time to do it. Plus, while reading a book you are guaranteed no encounters or interactions with Internet trolls. SO GREAT.
Do nothing for at least 15 minutes – Why are we constantly moving from one thing to the next? Wake up, work, come home, do errands, etc. Call it what you’d like: meditating, self-reflection, zen time. I think it’s important to actually be still and be okay with being still at least for 15 minutes. Try it, it’s kind of difficult at first, but it’s possible to build up to it. I like using the Headspace app.
Stop and smell the roses! – I’m not one to stuff my itinerary with activities when I’m on vacation. It stresses me out trying to stay on schedule…while on vacation. It’s counterintuitive! For me, the act of wandering is an essential part of vacation to me. It’s not a vacation if I don’t take my time to immerse myself in the new environment around me.
Exercise – I always feel extra good about myself when I sneak a workout in during a vacation. Vacations tend to be filled with good food and a lot of lounging, only to get back home feeling like a lump of lard. No bueno. Take advantage of that underutilized hotel gym…you can fist bump the one other person in there and it’ll be a cool moment lol. Or you can go for a morning/evening run or walk. It’s a great way to see a new city! Be safe of course.
Happy World Mental Health Day
I know we live in tumultuous times and there is a constant stream of bad news infiltrating our feeds. It’s overwhelming and exhausting fighting the good fight day in and day out. That’s why I think it’s more important than ever to make sure we are taking care of all aspects of ourselves: physically, spiritually and mentally. Hopefully this day is a reminder that your mental well-being is worth prioritizing. Cheers to your peace of mind ❤
Disclaimer: Perspective is everything, so I recognize that my specific experiences that have shaped my view on this topic may not be relatable to others out there. Also, I am in no way an expert in any of these topics. The following is just a stream of consciousness about a topic that I’ve most likely discussed among my peers and close friends. So, consider this your disclaimer! On that note…let’s talk femininity! 😉
We live in a day and age where the concept of a spectrum is being applied to traditionally polar social constructs. For example: gender identity. Traditionally, the identifiers are boy or girl; male or female; and with that comes the traditional descriptions behind masculine and feminine.
I was raised in a fairly conservative/sheltered environment, so I am absolutely continuing to learn and understand the concept of identity on a spectrum. I agree with the quote that claims that you are a reflection of the company you keep, so it makes me feel a sense of comfort knowing I can explore these topics with people in my life without having to feel judged or shut down. So shout out to those that exist on the same wavelength of learning about and discussing these topics with me ❤
With that said, I’m about to delve into a few traditional concepts of femininity and how I’ve navigated or continue to navigate through them.
Feminine: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.
The above definition is what comes up when the word “feminine” is Googled. I personally believe that femininity is on a spectrum and is not limited to adjectives such as “delicate” or “pretty.” I actually cringe at how limiting those descriptors are. No one ever fits into one adjective. People are intensely more complex than those two words. What makes an individual…well, an individual is a beautiful blend of a breadth of traits.
I spent years internally debating what defined me as a girl and now as a woman (LOL. Cue Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”). This may be the first time I’m ever writing about this subject, but the formulation of my femininity versus the patriarchal definition of femininity has been a reoccurring notion throughout my life. I just didn’t know it as a 9 year old questioning the rationale of a dress…go figure. In fact, I still have this debate with myself all the time and it always seems to be about the little things. Funnily enough, its these little things that end up mattering so much for some reason.
Here are three concepts that I’ve found to contribute in some fashion to the general idea of femininity and my thoughts on them:
I’m constantly questioning my need for eyeliner (or make up in general) at work because if I don’t I’m afraid that I’ll either look like a 10 year old boy or be barraged with comments pertaining to looking like I’m tired or “not myself.” Which if you think about it, what kind of messed up insecurity is that? Also, FYI to anyone that says those things to people, that’s #RUDE. LOL. I’ll have you know that I am for the most part an adequately-rested and/or well-caffeinated human being.
Anyways, I think what prompted me to write down these thoughts about femininity in the first place came from my reflection about my recent cabin trip with friends to Sequoia. A group of mostly guys and a handful of girls spending a weekend in a cabin in the middle of nature. No make up, no dress up, just pure comfy clothes all day. As we filed into the car, I remembering saying out loud how excited I was to not wear make up for a whole three days…and that externalization of my feelings about make up in that moment actually caught me off guard. It made me think of my dependence on beauty products to make me feel and look some type of way. But liberating myself from make up for at least a full 72 hours…was REFRESHING. My face could really breath. I remember looking in the mirror on Sunday morning, brushing my teeth and liking what I saw lol.
That’s something I’ve been working on for the past…I want to say, 2-3 years. Accepting my body as a whole for what it is….including my face. There was a point in my life where I never left the house without some sort of make up on. These days, I am slowly increasing the quality of make up I purchase and decreasing the amount of overall quantity of make up I use on a daily basis. I am also increasing the number of makeup-less days (mostly weekends. It’s a work-in-progress). Those past two sentences seriously sounds like the steps of breaking an addiction. And maybe I am. I mean, I’ve never really worn a lot of make up. I’m honestly just too lazy for all of it everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy the process of make up…It’s just so odd how a bit of concealer and powder can contribute to someone’s definition of femininity.
Oh, clothes. I didn’t know what fashion really was or even cared until I was forced into it when I started college. Remember when I said I grew up in a conservative/sheltered environment? A big chunk of that environment was going to private, Roman Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. This meant that I wore a school uniform from the age of 5 until about 17. It didn’t dawn on me that I needed to make clothing choices seven days a week until I started college.*insert shrugging emoji* Catholic school girl problems lol.
I always sensed a sort of pressure to be more girly than I personally felt I was…I can even say that some level of this pressure still exists for me to this day (but again, work-in-progress people). Outside of the uniforms, growing up I always found myself challenging the norm of what it meant to be “girly.” AKA I wasn’t a fan of dresses and dresses are the article of clothing traditionally associated with the idea of femininity. But to me, dresses didn’t seem practical. To the dismay of my poor mom, I specifically hated every dress I had to wear to my piano recitals. That forced smile in the picture below (left) just says it all…sorry mom. Lol. The crunchy, over-hair sprayed ‘do didn’t help my confidence either.
Piano recital circa early 2000’s. Check out those white stockings and pointed toe!
Childhood Friend’s Wedding 2018: Confident enough in my skin to rock a pretty high slit on that dress 😉
Going back to the spectrum thing. I felt like I’ve always existed in the middle somewhere. I definitely had a desire for toys that were traditionally marketed towards girls, but I also wondered why I never received those fake tool sets/belts as gifts for my birthday. I wanted to pretend to use a hammer and nails too! I also liked getting into the dirt outside, getting my nails dirty and digging for treasure because for a good while, I wanted to become an anthropologist and uncover fossils for a living (Don’t judge me).
It was only until college that I started to enjoy clothes and saw it as a tool to express myself. It was no longer something that helped define me as either a “girly girl” or a “tom boy.” I came to the realization that I could be all of the above! I rocked all kinds of accessories in college (including hair length feather earrings) and tried all kinds of combinations of clothes…obviously some I regret looking back at pictures now, but you live, you wait 5 years and then you laugh at it lol. College is also when I actually embraced dresses! I discovered how convenient they can actually be. Wearing dresses meant spending less time trying to coordinate multiple pieces of clothing together. Who knew dresses would save me so much time (peak fashion laziness achieved).
I’ve dabbled in a variety of hobbies growing up, but the only one that had longevity was piano lessons. I remember doing ballet as a little girl and always thinking I wasn’t “girly” (let alone graceful) enough for ballet slippers and the leotards. Not long after I started, I stopped going because I would cry every time.
In junior high, I went through this “tom boy” phase. Not a fan of that phrase, but that’s what my parents called it. Mind you, this was during the height of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Paramore. Part of this phase was wanting to skateboard. My supportive parents (bless their hearts) even went as far as to bring me to the local skate shop to customize my very own skateboard. Then when it came to actually learning how to skateboard, it dawned on me how much I don’t like falling down. So…that was the end of that.
Another part of this phase was wanting to learn the drums. I wondered why I never saw a girl drummer in any of the bands I listened to, so I was determined to be the first one. Again, my supportive parents even got me a full drum set. They took me to lessons and I remembered enjoying it other than the fact that I was the only girl in class. But wasn’t that the point? I was supposed to be excited about that fact…but I let that intimidate me and I ended up quitting. Which is something I regret to this day.
I look back at these attempts to find what activities I was good at and realized that I let these weird constructs of what a “girl hobby” versus a “boy hobby” is dictate my life for a long time. Piano was the only extra curricular where I saw a good split between boys and girls, so that’s where I felt comfortable. When the activity I was participating in was on polarizing ends of the spectrum, I felt out of place. Interesting how that works…and how cool would it have been for me to be a ballet-dancing drummer extraordinaire!
I actually had a “world’s colliding” moment last year when I was in Joshua Tree for my cousin’s birthday. Part of the festivities included attending a music festival. It was there that I saw the Kolars, an indie alternative band from Los Angeles. One half of the band was a woman who sang and played the drums…WHILE tap dancing. Her individual definition of femininity was beaming through her grunge, quirk and grace. She is what I call GOALS my friends. That could’ve been me! Maybe…LOL.
Anyways, that concludes my mini-analysis of how the idea of femininity and my own personal definitions have developed over time. Thank you for indulging me. 🙂
Oh, and happy Women’s Equality Day! On this day, I am reminded that while I’ve had the privilege of making significant personal progress in regards to finding where I fit in this world as a woman, there are many women out there who still do not have that privilege. There are many women out there that live in parts of the world where the patriarchy is law and their voices are not heard. I can only hope that the other women out there that have the power and the privilege to make change, continue to bring other women up and expand this culture of supporting and liberating other women along the way. #GIRLGANG ❤
Chi-Town, Chi-City, the Windy City. It’s the midwest, it’s young and restless. LOL. Actually, it’s not so young. It’s a city known for it’s historic and innovative architecture, shady political climate and it’s predictably unpredictable weather. You are probably like what? How can weather be predictably unpredictable? Well, during the four days I was there recently in June, it was 90 degrees one day, 50 degrees and raining the next . I was sunburnt and freezing in a span of 14 hours. Nevertheless, Chicago is a city that I continue to love!
I never really had any reason to visit Chicago until my cousin moved out there for medical school 5-6 years ago. A few years later, one of my childhood friends would also move out there to attend the same medical school. Shout out to Rosalind Franklin University and Chicago Medical School! 😉 Since then, I’ve visited a total of four times, including my most recent trip in June 2018. This trip was extra special because my family and I witnessed my cousin and her fiancé officially become freakin’ doctors ❤
Spring-almost-summer is a great time to visit Chicago let. me. tell. you. Even with the random rain and wind chill we experienced, it was significantly easier to explore the city. I’ve been to Chicago during a “mild winter” (average temperature of 12 – 20 degrees) and it is NO BUENO. I mean, I’m sure it’s beautiful in more open areas, but dirty ice along the streets, pot holes galore and signs warning you about falling icicles aren’t really the most appealing things to see. How do you prepare yourself to dodge an icicle anyways? Also, if you were ever wondering what it’s like to freeze and sweat at the same time, bike through the streets of Chicago with a full down coat on. LOL.
In no way am I Chicago expert, but since I have a few visits under my belt, I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do in the windy city during the spring/summer months:
1. Bike Your Way Through the City
I’ve rented bikes two out of the four times I’ve been to Chi-Town and it’s been one of my favorite ways to “see as the locals do.” There’s something satisfying about feeling the wind on your face and literally navigating yourself through huge intersections of an unfamiliar city that you don’t get when you jump in a Lyft or Uber.
I’m sure there are a variety of bike rental options out there, but both times I used Divvy bikes since their pick-up/drop-off stations are numerous and scattered throughout the city. Biking is not only a good way to incorporate a workout into your weekend of deep dish pizza indulgence, but it’s also a liberating way to experience the city.
We rode our bikes throughout Millennium Park, along the lakefront all the way to the Shedd Aquarium and along the river. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but long as you stick to the bike lanes, stay alert and are mindful of the rules, I think it’s definitely worth it.
2. Kayak Through the Chicago River
Chicago is known for its unique architectural styles, ranging from towering steel skyscrapers to beautiful brick-laden buildings sprinkled throughout the city. The formation of the city’s beautiful skyline is full of such eye-opening history…and you can learn all the interesting details while kayaking through the river! What better way to see the city than to paddle your way through the river that winds through it? (and you best believe I sang “Just Around the Riverbend”)
I’ve taken the architecture tour twice with Wateriders, and both times were amazing. I had “Joel The Tour Guide” both times I’ve gone, and each time he manages to memorize the names of everyone in the group. Joel and his staff are personable, accommodating and entertaining. Wateriders also offer a variety of other tours including a Ghosts and Gangsters tour and a Moonlight Paddle. Of course these tours are only hosted during the Spring/Summer months, so I suggest you take advantage of that. You won’t regret it! (Just remember to wear sunscreen…and not a jean jacket…like I did)
3. Purchase a CityPASS
The official Chicago CityPASSis a convenient way to see the popular tourist spots on your list. For $106 (adult pricing) you can gain priority entrance to the following attractions:
It’s definitely worth it, especially during peak tourist hours (aka weekends). As long as you hit up at least four of the available attractions, you get your money’s worth.
4. Take Public Transportation
Skip trying to find parking in the city and buy a Ventra card! Prices vary depending on your preference. It’s as simple as pressing a few buttons on one of the automatic kiosks at each train station. Once you buy the card, you can either add a certain sum of money to it, or buy a pass for a certain number of days. Since my recent trip was four days, I ended up buying a 7-day pass. It gave me access to the above ground train, subway and the bus system. Public transit is an immersive way of learning about a new city and allows for more exploration, because you’ll need to navigate from station to station. Super convenient and more affordable than renting a car!
5. Visit Maggie Daley Park
Your kids…or your own inner kid will thank you for visiting this amazing park! Maggie Daley Park, along with the famous Millennium Park, is another free (for the more part) attraction to take advantage of within The Loop. Once you are done taking your “Bean” photos at Millennium Park, take a short stroll over the picturesque BP Pedestrian Bridge to Maggie Daley Park.
The park’s attractions are tucked between nooks of tree groves and features: the below pictured fantastical rope bridge at their Play Garden, a freakin’ rock climbing wall, many places to lay down a picnic blanket, an ice skating ribbon (forget your boring rink!) during the colder months, and more! For a full list of the park’s attractions, visit their website 🙂
Obviously there are hundreds of other things to do in Chi-town (I didn’t even get into all the food I ate), but I thought I’d share some of my favorites 🙂 Hopefully that was helpful! Let me know what your favorite things about Chicago are if you’ve visited before.
To all my fellow women out there, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEYN’S DAY! Throughout history, this day has been used as a platform for many causes including: protesting war, promoting women’s rights, and of course, celebrating the accomplishments of women. I am fortunate to live my life standing on a foundation built by many resilient, strong and intelligent women from history. Their work and the support of their allies has granted my generation a number of basic human rights. Basic rights like education and the ability to vote have allowed women today to excel in their chosen craft/work, have confidence in the complex goals they reach for, the access to tools help accomplish these goals and the poised strength to continuously battle sexism in all forms.
Yet, there is still much work to be done. Women, we must continue to celebrate one another and be grateful for those before us, because without their spirit and determination, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It’s one thing to demand respect from men, but it’s another to give respect to other women. That’s why I love this new wave of movements focusing on viewing one another as teammates as opposed to the competition: #girllove, #girlboss, #thefutureisfemale, etc. It’s up to us to use our privileges to lift other women and their communities up together. We can all lift each other up and as a collective, reach higher places!
Anyways, that is my long-winded way of getting to the point of my post. I want to take the time to celebrate a few women I admire. Specifically, entrepreneurial women. These are women that have taken their struggles, privileges and unique qualities to make a life that is meaningful for themselves and others. Their authenticity and passion are inspiring. So with that, let’s get straight to my woman crushes.
It’s no secret that the only TV I actually watch is HGTV. I discovered Joanna Gaines like millions of others, through the show Fixer Upper. I gravitated to her design style and the charming working dynamic she has with her husband Chip. They are the perfect duo: designer and contractor/real estate agent. Her design aesthetic has permeated the mass market and has been taking over Pinterest boards everywhere since the first season of their show aired five years ago. I’m pretty sure most people only know what shiplap or what a farmhouse sink is because of her design choices on Fixer Upper. Who wanted barn doors in their home prior to Fixer Upper? I’m pretty sure no one. lol.
With her husband as her partner in crime, she has taken what she loves: home + design and created a legacy for her family. The brand Magnolia has expanded from a home-flipping renovation service, to a home decor line now available at Target and to a literal marketplace/event space in her home town. Her passion and success has also contributed to the growth and recognition of Waco, Texas.
Maybe this newer generation wouldn’t know, but definitely my generation knows Lauren Conrad from her days as a reality TV star on Laguna Beach and The Hills. In junior high I followed her life via these reality shows and always appreciated her authenticity. I admire her to this day for using her privilege and platform to give back to women in communities who don’t have the same access to resources as she does. This is how she came to co-found a non-profit called The Little Market with her friend Hannah Skvarla. The online shop features fair trade products created by women in other countries who don’t have access to a marketplace to sell their goods. The duo travels the world to to find communities in need, develop partnerships, provide guidance and in the end provide a platform to showcase the work of these women artisans, enabling them to make a decent wages in return.
Ayesha Curry is a mommy-turned entrepreneur, combining her love of food and quality family time into multiple business ventures. I discovered her through her husband, Stephen Curry and quickly learned how much of a badass she is. She currently has a cookware line available at Target, a home cooked-style meal delivery service company, is the author of a New York Times best-selling cookbook, is a co-founder of a paper plate line with a mission to end childhood hunger, has her own Food Network show, and is a co-founder of a BBQ restaurant in San Francisco with plans to expand to other states. I admire her wit and ability to balance being an involved mom, wife and multi-business entrepreneur. I love most of all that doesn’t let her husband’s occupation define who she is.
I love that she knew that she didn’t want to work for anyone else and made it happen. With a lot of hard work she created a living for herself in an industry that didn’t exist at the time. Zoe Sugg is a UK-based lifestyle blogger and YouTuber known as @Zoella, with an audience base of about 17 million subscribers. She currently has a lifestyle range that features stationary, home decor, candles and more. She also has a beauty range that features bath bombs, shower gels and fragrances. Zoe shares her life with her audience on YouTube, both the happy and the not-so-happy. She is known for her openness about living with anxiety. I think her level of honesty about the struggles she faces with anxiety is refreshing. She is a fitting advocate for removing the stigma surrounding mental health. Her transparency inspires me because if she can run a multi-faceted brand while dealing with anxious tendencies, then I can too.
Elizabeth De La Piedra
Elizabeth De La Piedra’s level of authenticity is what I love about her. She is herself 110% of the time. She is a photographer and creative director based out of Chicago. Elizabeth was born in Peru, raised in Australia and studied fine arts in the U.S. She flaunts what she has and does not apologize for it. She owns being a mommy of two boys and is her DJ husband’s #1 cheerleader. She has a unique style that is once again, unapologetic. I appreciate that her work focuses on capturing women at their essence that tends to invoke conversations of inclusion, encourages self-love and fosters a supportive and open-minded community.
….and that’s a wrap. If you haven’t noticed already, the common theme about these women is their passion for the work that they do. They all come from different backgrounds and situations and have created their own path for themselves. With that, Happy International Women’s Day ❤ Let’s continue to surround ourselves with and lift up strong, independent, goal-oriented women. These are the women who will help inspire us to do and be better.
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a food and art installation/exhibition event in Los Angeles’ Art District hosted by Milk and Eggs. What’s Milk and Eggs? If I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know either until this event came along. Milk and Eggs is a grocery delivery service that values fresh and locally sourced food. Customers can place one time orders or subscribe to certain products to be delivered on a regular schedule. It’s a useful platform to find healthy options, allergy-friendly alternatives and unique snacks! As I was browsing through their site (very user-friendly btw and great food pics. I appreciate them lol), I found items that aren’t typically found at your local grocery store (Well, mine at least). What I also find great is that their delivery system is centered on producing a minimal carbon foot print. I actually really love that idea. Not many people are aware of how much the country’s traditional food production and delivery systems contribute to greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere. So good on you Milk and Eggs!
The event was fun! It took place at The Container Yard in Los Angeles, which was a uniquely beautiful backdrop to this foodie event. Upon entering, you were greeted with a cute little gift bag containing:
$50 gift card to Milk & Eggs
A sample of Unisoy Vegan Jerky
A coupon for Navitas Naturals Superfood+ Bar
A coupon for Harmless Harvest’s Harmless Coconut Water (my fave!)
Milk & Eggs branded goodies: mini chip clip & fridge magnet grocery list
Just past the entrance, was a bar making a number of complimentary specialty cocktails, courtesy of Barlingual and sponsored by Ventura Spirits. It was pretty interesting to see a hot drink option, complete with marshmallow garnish!
I apologize for the minimal food photos…my brother and I purposefully didn’t eat lunch in preparation for this event. So, my brain skipped over taking foodie pics and went straight for shoveling everything down.
Adobo-inspired fried chicken from Partido
Hot & Cold cocktails courtesy of @Barlingual
Yummy vegan chorizo tacos, washed down w/ Boxed Water
Coffee is life! Stumptown full-size servings ftw!
My favorite coconut water!
Food and drink were provided by a number of vendors including:
Harmless Coconut Water
Laura Ann’s Jams
Unisory Vegan Jerky
I attended the event with my brother and my two co-workers, so I didn’t get a chance to try absolutely everything in between the mingling and photo-ops. But, from what I did try, my favorite was the ravioli from Domenico’s Pasta. I liked it so much, I had multiple servings 😛 I also tried tofu chorizo tacos and fried adobo-inspired chicken which were both pretty good. I wasn’t able to get to the toast bar that featured multiple spreads and jams. But, lucky for me, all of the items showcased at the event are available for purchase on the Milk & Eggs website. I definitely plan to take advantage of that with my $50 gift card.
All-in-all, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Arts District. It’s already a win when you can park somewhere obscure in LA and not come back to a ticket or worse…your car gone lol. Thanks for having me Milk & Eggs, hopefully I get to go again next year! 🙂