I’m Okay With Being Alone

When I was a younger teenager, I constantly longed for love of any kind. I would buy Seventeen magazine and read the monthly horoscope section to see if Gemini’s were going to be romantically lucky this month. I would watch cute, cheesy love movies and read romance novels. My number one Google search was probably “how to get a boy to like you.” All of my friends always had at least one boy to talk to, and no boy was ever interested in dating me. (At this point in my life I didn’t even know you could like boys AND girls without being ‘weird’. I live in a very conservative small town right outside of Pittsburgh.)
I didn’t fully understand why no one was interested in me until I really thought about it. I never interacted with people at school, and never would I DARE leave my house to meet people outside of my school. Around freshman year of high school, I recognized I was a loner, but I was very okay with it. I loved being alone and, though I rarely am anymore, I still love it. I cherish the time I do have alone.
Spending time alone is something I believe everyone should do if they’re looking to make a change in their life, whether that is manifesting meaningful relationships or simply just changing the way they think. Being alone is what you were given, and is what you can use; your best work comes out of being lonely and thinking all of the time. When relationships are meant to be in your life, it will happen; there is no need for force.
If you are not sure how to effectively spend your time alone, here are some ideas:
1. Journal. Letting your thoughts out in a safe place where there is no judgement is very helpful. Talking to people is okay, too, but if you feel uncomfortable being very vulnerable, journaling is a good solution. It is also amazing to have something physical to go back and look at how you were feeling at a specific point in your life.
2. Learn something that interests you. Read a book or watch a documentary about a specific topic you’ve always wanted to know more about.
3. Meditate. Ground yourself. Connect with your inner being and feel at 100% peace. Meditating helps clear so much negative energy and clear your mind.
4. Go places alone that would make you feel a little uncomfortable. Go to a restaurant and eat a meal. Go to a park and take a walk or read. Just do things you normally wouldn’t do alone to cultivate a relationship with yourself in the real world.
When you do these things and learn how to enjoy being alone, you will slowly form a relationship with yourself you never knew was possible to have. Life is so much easier when you enjoy your own company. This is a very hard process, but if you REALLY want change, I PROMISE you can do these things. I believe in you and I am already proud of what you are going to accomplish.
With love,
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Grow Up Already

         For years, I’ve felt reluctant to grow up. All of my birthdays have been sad, because I just keep growing older. I cried when I got my period for the first time. And second. And third. I knew that was a significant mark of womanhood, and I wanted nothing more than to stay out of it. I cried the first time my Mom made me wear a bra. Though I have not worn one in three years, my boobs have grown and I still feel scared when I think about it. I quit my first job since it made me uncomfortable simply because I could not believe I was old enough to have one. I still haven’t had my first real kiss and I would never think about going to a high school party. Although it took me a long time, I realize I have a huge fear of growing up.

          It’s not that I even had an amazing childhood that anyone would miss, but I just can’t seem to let go of it. Maybe I feel as though it COULD’VE been better, or it SHOULD’VE been better. I need to accept the fact that I cannot change it. Spending all of my time hoping and wishing I was raised in a different area or family wastes my time thinking about what I am doing right in this moment.

          A lot of my childhood, I was obsessed with teenagers. When I’d go to the mall, I’d see the sixteen-year old boy and girl holding hands and smiling. I saw the group of girls holding 25 shopping bags collectively, whispering about the hot topic in their group. They always seemed so much older than me. Actually, they still feel so much older than me. Everyone my age has been through so much more than I have and I feel so behind and lonely. I feel like it’s time to stop obsessing over teenagers and the way they act (and calling them ‘they’ like I am not one myself). I need to experience things, kiss people, get a job, and do more than just sit in my room reading a book all day. I’m anxious and I don’t know where to begin.

         I guess I just wrote this essay to make myself feel vulnerable and hopefully discover I am not alone. I’m not sure how exactly to grow up, but I think it starts by living in the present rather than the past, or even the future. I’m always in a rush, but I never stop to think what I’m doing. I need to stop trying to make things happen and accept that they will happen if they are meant to. I’m hoping 2018 is an actual fresh start, for me and everyone else reading this that feels lost. May you stick with your resolutions and prosper in every way you can. I love you. (This world needs more love.)

All the love,

Shelby

 

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Bad Year

It is the end of the year. 2017, the horrifying monster in 2016’s closet has finally released it’s tight grip on us. If it was kind to you, congratulations on your successes and your luck. The rest of us have been chewed up and spit out.
The moral of the story this year, for me at least,  has been “Things Don’t Go As Planned.” I learned my lesson by trying to fight the winds of change as much as I could, to follow on a beaten path, to be as “safe” as possible in order to avoid any extra heartbreak. Needless to say that was a mistake. A messy one.
As humans, one of our most profound abilities is to grow. Our experiences, especially the scariest ones, help us to evolve, to become stronger and wiser. This year I witnessed the women in my life go through their own metamorphoses- my grandmother, who lost her husband of 50 years, became independent and stayed strong, never letting herself cry in front of her children and grandchildren. She began to surround herself with friends again, and by Thanksgiving she was laughing and cooking and sharing all the same, and did the chores my grandfather always did for her without as much as a sigh. My 15 year old sister’s friend ended his life after so many bad days that it seemed impossible to continue. She stood in a line of grieving kids for hours for her chance to say goodbye. That night, she texted her friends she’d lost contact with, and patched up the holes in their friendship. After years in the same position at the same company, my mother decided to start a business helping others find jobs. She left a journal page open, which revealed to me that she wants to write a book in the future. She knows she’s only getting started.
And then there was me, who came running home after a string of stress and bad decisions left my mental state in shambles. I was lucky enough to be compassionately received by my family. For once in my life, I had no idea what was next. It turns out that downtime and trauma leave you the opportunity to become re-acquainted with yourself, to reassess your priorities, and to outline who you want to become and how you’re going to get there. In that time I was able to assess where exactly I saw my life going within the next 5 years and I feel more hopeful than ever before.
My best friend’s father, Gregg, had a catchphrase: “You are always where you’re supposed to be.” Nearly 4 years after his death, Gregg’s voice still repeats this mantra in my head whenever I begin to doubt myself. This statement might seem too broad to be universally true, but 2017 showed me that Gregg was onto something. Did my vision for this year include a mental breakdown? Of course not. My grandmother didn’t plan to lose her husband, nor my sister’s friend’s parents to lose their child. If you’re anything like me, the endless possibilities of what life could throw your way in a year absolutely terrifies you. Knowing that a curveball could smash my hopes and dreams for the future in an instant is quite possibly the root of all my anxiety. I would love to share advice on how to deal with this, but I have yet to find any that truly helps. However, I find solace in the idea that we are constantly learning and absorbing our surroundings. Where you are at the end of this year may not be where you want to be, but in honor of Gregg, look around and assess what you’re learning from your current situation, and how it can help you grow in the long run. Calming, isn’t it?
If you’ve had a bad year, I extend my hugs and best wishes to you. You win some, you lose some. It will be okay. It’s impossible to say what 2018 has in store for us, but before we begin our next trip around the sun, do something I only ever began to do halfway into this year- count your blessings. Understand that things can’t always happen our way and why that might be a good thing. You may be just where you’re supposed to be.
All the love,

10 Ways to Survive the Mercury Retrograde

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First things first: What is the Mercury retrograde?

From December 3rd to December 22nd, planet Mercury (the planet of communication), will be in retrograde. This means that Mercury appears to be going in reverse, which can screw up communication, moving on, and transmission of any kind.

How do we survive this?

  1. Don’t do anything too risky. Double check and proof read all messages, don’t say anything without clearly thinking it through. Whatever can go wrong, will.
  2. Make your intent clear with people. Don’t be wishy washy- people will misunderstand you.
  3. Clear your mind. Get things done. Splurge on aromatherapy and sage. Do yoga and listen to soft music.
  4. During the retrograde, it is the perfect time to reflect on the past year. Read old journals. Read old love notes. Write new ones. Don’t send them (yet).
  5. Make sure you have time set aside for anything that could go wrong- this means show up at the airport early. Order your coffee ahead of time. Set your alarm. Don’t be late.
  6. Read your tarot cards. Do a “past, present, future” spread. Are you content with your current direction?
  7. Make lists. Fill them with ideas, random thoughts that pop in your head, resolutions, etc. Keep your lists in a safe place. Do you ever wonder where all the notes that you scribbled to yourself went?
  8. Take time for yourself. Wear comfortable, soft clothes. Meditate.
  9. This is not the time to be impulsive. Remember this.
  10. This is the time to refuel. Fill yourself with inspiration from films and 90’s movie stars. Reinvent.

Remember- you can always just blame it on the retrograde.

By Gabi Barrera

Things to do Everyday

Lately, I have been feeling as though I need a fresh start and to rid of all negativity in my life. When I feel this way, which is more often than I wished, I tend to unfollow everyone and have an existential crisis that lasts for about a week. This time, however, I have made a list of things I want to accomplish everyday to work towards a positive lifestyle instead of believing that it can happen overnight. Here is the list I have composed:
1. Rid of all negative people. This includes both in real life AND on your social media feeds. Real life negativity is not really a problem for me as much as comparing myself to the perfect girls on Instagram and losing self-confidence that way. I cannot really give advice for forgetting about people in real life that bring negativity because the way I did it years ago is unhealthy and not recommended. But for the social media aspect, I say only follow people that spread positivity daily, make you happy in general, or inspire you (be careful not to get this confused with WANTING to be this person).
2. Feed your body superfoods, but do not be afraid to indulge. I’m not saying you should ALWAYS say yes to junk food, but every once in a while is fine. If you have trouble with limiting your amount of junk, keep track of what you eat and how you feel after. Personally, I feel absolutely GROSS after I eat anything that is not nutritional or raw, so it is easy to not eat junk. However, I would not have realized this if I did not start keeping track.
3. Spend time alone. GO OUTSIDE IN NATURE AND JUST EXIST. Dance around in your underwear to your favorite song or read that book you have always been wanting to read. During your alone time, do something engaging so you can take this time to learn about yourself. Trust me, learning who you are takes a long time, but it is worth it.
4. LEAVE YOUR HOUSE (WITH A LOVED ONE). I know for introverts like myself, it is hard to get out and explore with people, even if they are close friends. Also, if you struggle with any mental disorders that prohibit you from wanting to experience, acknowledge you are not alone, but you need to get out. I have been struggling with depression since I was 8 (I am 16) and it took me until I was 15 to realize this. I made myself leave my bedroom. once a week with my best friend, then twice, and now I am currently at three times a week. You do not have to do anything extravagant at this time, just go see a movie or walk in the park and enjoy nature.
5. Drink water. A lot of it. Everyday. This one seems obvious, but most people overlook this advice. I’m not saying it is magical, but it does help. I promise you.
6. Stop thinking (so much). I have a huge problem with over-thinking that I am still working on, so I can’t give the greatest advice on this one, but I know we all need to do it.
7. Meditate. Guided meditations are free on YouTube and are helpful to beginners. I tried guided meditations every day this past summer, and it did the opposite of what it was supposed to on me. If you’re like me, I would not recommend giving up completely. I have a weird obsession with music, and I find clearing my head while listening to my favorite songs really releases stressors gets me on that meditation high which I LOVE. (You should try it: just lay on your bed, eyes closed, with your earbuds in and your favorite song blasting. It works!)
8. Yoga. I HAVE BEEN SO INTO YOGA LATELY IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY AND IT HAS GIVEN ME SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO EVERYDAY. Sorry, I just really appreciate it. It took me a few tries over the past three years to get into it, but I finally did and I promise you it is worth it. It is so cool to be flexible, while also gaining muscle and relaxing! Do yoga as often as you can, please.
9. Read. Work your brain. Expand your vocabulary. I love reading and I have been reading since I was two, so I am not sure what advice to give on how to get into it, but look it up and get into it! It is so worth it! I know we all have those boring days where you have NOTHING planned and you have refreshed your Twitter timeline at least 30 times… read a book!
10. Journaling. Releasing the overwhelming thoughts into your head onto paper helps more than you could ever imagine. Write everything. Write all the things you did one day that made you happy. Write everything you did throughout the entire day and every conversation you had that you do not want to forget. Journaling clears your head and it is SO FUN to go back and look at your mental progression and past conversations.
11. Do not judge people. That brings in unnecessary negativity and is so boring! LIKE… just think about it?? You are wasting your precious time caring about other people’s life choices?? STOP! Focus on yourself baby!
12. Be nice, but do not let others take advantage of you. You know your limits. Do not let people cross your boundaries and use you. You are strong and you can stand up for yourself. But be nice to everyone! That is such easy positivity being manifested into your life.
13. Don’t care what others think. Be yourself. Do whatever the fuck you want to do. Very overused sayings, but hold so much truth! Stop living your life to impress other people and start living your life to impress yourself! This is my number one tip and something I am proud to say everyone usually compliments me on.
14. SPEND TIME NAKED. Usually, the average person is only naked when they are getting dressed, undressed, or bathing. Lock your door, close your blinds, and spend time alone naked. Do not be afraid to look at yourself, but don’t judge yourself. Being in your most vulnerable state for long periods of time allows you to be more comfortable with who you are. You are one, with all that is, and you are the most you at this raw state. I LIVE by this piece of advice. Also, do not sexualize this tip. I am talking about self-love and positivity of teenagers and young adults. Get out of here with your sexualization, asshole!
I know these tips can seem overwhelming at first glance, but break them down. Read one a day. ACCOMPLISH one a day until you handle two, then three or four. Before you know it, you will be subconsciously completing each of these goals everyday.

Tea Time! – Your Guide to Tea

Trying to cut your obsessive sugary coffee habit? Maybe a Redbull addiction? Or both? Or you just really like tea and want to learn some more about it? Have no fear – lets break a few types of tea down with their benefits. Photos included are my favorite brands of each.

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Green Tea 

– contains antioxidants that slow signs of aging, prevent the flu and raise your
metabolism
– shown to prevent and slow cancer
– helps with arthritis and bad cholesterol

 

 

 

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Yerba TeaATTENTION ALL CAFFEINE ADDICTS! 

– a stimulant, without the jitters
– full of antioxidants
– could have anti-cancer properties helps stimulate the immune system
– protect against disease.

 

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Black Tea

– helps eliminate bad breath.
– proven to help you de-stress fast
– medical research indicates that it lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes
– reduces high cholesterol

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Pu’erh tea
– aid digestion
– cleanse the blood and help with weight loss
– busts cholesterol as effectively as some medications.

 

 

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Oolong tea

– speed up your metabolism
– burn fat and block fat absorption
– can be used to fight high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease

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White Tea

– more effective than even green tea at preventing cell damage
– can shrink cancerous tumours and stopping the growth of cancer cells.
– becoming the new cosmetic fix for aging skin