Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hiding Place

Earlier this year I started reading again, and one of the first books I picked up was The Hiding Place, recommended to me by my friend Meisha. I had no idea what it was about when I started, but I quickly learned that it was something magnificent. When I finished the book, I felt so inspired to be a better person. Everything that Corrie ten Boom went through, everything she did, everything she saw, everything she survived, everything she risked, everyone she helpedit's incredible. Definitely my new favorite book.

Read it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You Girls Know What I'm Talking About

(Wrote this a bit ago. Just getting around to publishing it.)

I want you to know that as I write this, it is 4 o'clock in the morning. If you know me, you know I am NEVER EVER awake at this time. However, I simply can't sleep, so I figure I may as well write about why.

I am in a lot of pain; I'm on my period.

I know some of you fellas might not want to know about this, but the thing is, you really ought to. It may provide a little understanding toward the fairer sex, and as I hope you know by this point, women like to be understood and validated. (Everyone does, really.) I'm really not sure why periods have been so taboo, even now, when we seem to talk openly about pretty much everything. It's really quite silly since almost every female between the ages of 12 and 55 goes through this about every month. It's a normal and natural thing, so if you think it's gross, you just have to get over it at some point or another. It may as well be now.

So. Women have this approximately monthly thing called a period. Basically what happens each month is a nice nutrient-rich lining is created in the woman's uterus so that, should impregnation occur, there is a healthy/comfy spot for a fetus to begin growing. If it doesn't occur, then this lining is released during the menstrual cycle. Biologically, this sounds like a great plan! However, in practice, I think most women would attest that it's extremely sucky. What it feels like is that my body is throwing a giant temper tantrum because I didn't get pregnant. It hurts. Sometimes when it's happening, I try to think of ways to describe it. "It feels like someone is taking a sledgehammer to my insides." "It feels like someone is taking my organs and squishing them in their fist." Here are some other fabulous attempts at explaining the feeling of menstrual cramps.

Periods are a real pain. And each of us women seem to experience periods differently. Some of us don't have them to begin with. Those who train very hard athletically or those who are underweight don't have periods. For those that do, some feel more pain than others. Some breeze through it while others seem to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. A girl once told me that she threw up during her period every. single. time. I can't even imagine.

The period lasts about 4-5 days, and the pain, in my opinion, is unpredictable. It's kind of off and on for a couple of days at the start. This pain is normal but rather inconvenient. During those couple of days, athletic endeavors (for me) are avoided. Sometimes it makes it really hard to concentrate on things or do work! Honestly, sometimes I just want to say heck with it and take a sick day. Occasionally I do. Sometimes cramps really cramp our style. Some women use birth control to regulate their periods and this sometimes also alleviates pain. We can also take drugs like Midol, but trust me, we can still feel what's happening.

And then there's the emotional side of the menstrual cycle. Some women don't experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Others do. I find my emotions are very near the surface sometimes, and when I take the time to think it through, I can usually link it to my period. In the past, occasionally I felt like I was going crazy! Like, really. It's not fun to feel emotionally out of control. Luckily, as the years have gone on, I've learned more about how to manage these physical and emotional disturbances.

So anyway, I don't really want to go into any more details there. Just know that periods are painful and just

and sometimes that battle is with Aunt Flo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gel Nails

I'm a girl, and I like to look pretty. That's why I like to paint my nails. But man, using regular nail polish is a big pain in the neck. It chips within two days, and it's hard to get it all off cleanly. It always ends up looking tacky, and you have to reapply, remove, reapply, remove, reapply. UGH.

But around Christmas I bought myself everything I needed to start doing gel nails, and I'm so happy about it! Seriously, one of the best purchases ever.

Reasons gel nails ROCK
  • They last about 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS, people. You might get a tiny bubble or a chip before then, but it's still waaaay better than regular nail polish
  • Your nails are smoother. The nail polish just dries perfectly and all smooth-like. It feels great.
  • It comes off easier. When it's time to put on a new color, it's really easy to get off the whole thing without using any remover. Should I take the polish off without remover? Someone at a salon would probably say no, but I don't care.
  • My nails are stronger. Somehow the gel is pretty tough, and my nails don't bend or break like they do when they're bare.
  • My nails are longer. Because they are stronger with gel polish, they actually grow! Yay!
  • It doesn't rub or scratch off. When I used regular nail polish, I would find little streaks on my papers occasionally from my nail polish. That doesn't happen with gel nails.
  • I don't have to reapply all the time, which saves me time and patience. Forty minutes every two weeks? I can do that! Forty minutes every five or six weeks for my toes? Psh! Done!
  • It dries immediately. Once you're done, you're done. I know it's hard to believe, but you don't have to worry about smudging and you don't have to worry about doing anything with your hands. They're good to go. It's amazing!
The only drawback is the cost. You do have to get a lamp/dryer thing, but those are a one-time purchase and you can find them on Amazon for $25. (Those dryers are hard to travel with though.) The nail polishes are also about 3x more expensive than regular polish. You can get a base and top coat for about $25 as well, and then each color is between $9 and $15. I think it still comes out to be cheaper since you use it less often.)

If you think you might want to give it a go, I've found that while I preferred OPI regular nail polish, I much prefer the Artistic brand over OPI when it comes to gel nails.

Best of luck!

Monday, August 25, 2014

8 Things I've Learned Since Being on a Diet

I've never been on a diet before. Not until 3 weeks ago when my doctor insisted that I do this very strict cleansing 4-week diet. And even though I was unhappy and overwhelmed by it, I decided that I wanted to get better, even if that meant changing my eating habits, as torturous as that is.

For someone who so often just grabs snack items because cooking is too time-consuming, especially when you're cooking for one, I was not happy to make changes. However, I think I've changed my tune. Here are some things I've learned since 3 weeks ago:

It's super hard at first. Mostly because you don't know what to eat when you're so limited! And anything besides a handful of carrots requires time and effort. But Pinterest and Google are your friends. With a little effort, you can find recipes that you like and that fit your diet. And with a willingness to take some time to cook and prepare and try new recipes, you're sure to find what works for you.

My go-tos?
  • Giant chicken salads (with boiled eggs, avocado, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, corn, and/or sunflower seeds)
  • Omelets (eggs, bell peppers, and turkey)
  • Paleo pancakes (banana, eggs, and cinnamon)
  • Fruit (especially peaches right now OMG)
  • Nuts (mainly cashews)
  • Yam fries (I don't know why everyone calls them sweet potatoes. They're yams.).
You know that feeling you get when you eat a big ol' greasy burger and fries along with a soda? That nasty heavy feeling? You don't feel that eating these things.

It's kind of expensive. I think I've spent a lot more on groceries than usual since I started this thing. Fresh produce, almond milk, and chicken can be kind of costly, but I'm sure I'll get better at preparing more things and shopping the deals better with time.

People are supportive. My friends have been understanding and not tried to tempt me. Thank you to everyone who did not invite me to The Pie. Or Chocolat. Or Bruges. Or any other delicious place.

It's easier to say no when you are motivated and have a set outline for what you can and cannot eat. When you are simply trying to "eat healthier" it's hard to stick with it because there are no real boundaries. And it's hard to say no to friends. The kind of diet that I am on is kind of nice because I can eat as much as I want, but only certain kinds of foods. I don't have to decide if it's worth the calories or not. If it's on the list, I'll eat it. If it's not, I won't.

You're less likely to overeat. When you go out to a restaurant, they give you a giant mound of food. Our societal eating habits are just bad. When you eat only what you prepare, you eat to satisfy. Plus, when you can only eat so many things, you just eat less because there are fewer options and temptations.

Lots of protein keeps you satisfied. I have paleo pancakes or omelets for breakfast every morning. I don't have to eat that much to feel satisfied and I don't feel starving an hour later like I do when I eat cereal. Cereal is so yummy, but it doesn't have much substance.

You can lose weightfast. I've dropped 10 pounds in 3 weeks. That's almost 1 pound every 2 days. That is really fast. Of course, I've been working out a lot as well, but I was doing that before this diet. 

And lastly...

I have a huge sweet tooth. I've never wanted cookies so badly in my life. This is one thing about the diet that is totally unsustainable. I will probably have a cookie at the exact 4-week mark. Even though it's nice in the short term to have black & white rules, I think healthiness and weight management is about balance. It's okay to have some sweets or a burger sometimes, but it should be a small part of your diet.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Create a Successful Tinder Profile

When I heard about Tinder, I thought it sounded like the most superficial thing in the world.

Well, about a month ago, I decided I'd at least give it a shot. I have to say, my opinion has changed. It seems like it's actually a pretty useful app that can help people meet. Particularly for introverts, it's a comfortable place to start. Plus, when you match you automatically know that you're attracted to each other, and though attraction is not the top priority in a relationship, it's pretty important. So before you even talk, you both know you have at least that going for you.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Tinder, it seems there are some people just looking for something superficial and stupid, but I think (at least hope) most people are genuinely open to something bigger and better.

If you're one of those on Tinder not just to mess around or boost your self confidence with a plethora of matches, but you're legitimately open to starting a relationship, I've come up with a few (okay, several) tips to help out your profile.

  • Make your first photo a good picture of only you. Don't put up a picture of your abs, you and your friends, you in the far-off distance, you wearing a mask, you making an ugly face, or you doing something nutty. You have more leeway with the rest of your pictures, but even so, don't go too crazy with the photos.
Wait, I have no idea which one is you. Plus I can't see your face.
  • Don't put any pictures up that aren't you. I don't need to see a landscape from that one time you went hiking or the sunset at a beach. I'm here to get to know you, so put up ones that tell me something about you. If you don't have six good pictures of you, put up three. If you don't have three photos of yourself, then you really need to take more pictures.
  • Don't put up pictures of you being close with someone of the opposite sex. It looks like you're dating someone, even though clearly you're not since you're on Tinder.

  • Don't make all of your pictures shots of you doing something crazy. Skiing, wakeboarding, skydiving, whatever. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the majority of guys are crazy outdoorsy around here, and that's the only side of them I see on Tinder. Not that I don't like outdoorsiness, but I'd like to see more than that. Put up a variety of photos that show different parts of who you are!
  • Avoid bathroom selfies. If you must take a bathroom selfie, at least make sure the mirror and counter are clean.
  • Just say no to gym selfies. Who takes pictures of themselves at the gym?? And on that note, don't dwell on your muscles, unless you want a girl that only cares about your muscles. I haven't seen girls' profiles, but I'm guessing they often do similar shots of their bodies. Just, no.

  • Use good quality photos. If you've zoomed in so much that the photo is grainy, don't use it. And noticeably cropping someone out of a photo is bad form.
  • Write a bio! This is the biggest sin I see on Tindereither no bio or something lame like the following:
    • Using a famous quote.
    • Quoting a random line from a movie. 
    • Giving their Instagram username. I didn't even know that many guys used Instagram, let alone wanted strangers to be all up in their business. 
    • "Just ask me what you want to know." I call that lazy. You should at least say something about yourself. 
    • "No one ever reads these." Um, yeah, we do! At least I do.
Tinder has this reputation for being extremely superficial, and when nobody writes a bio, no wonder! We're judging whether we're interested in each other based solely on photos. So let's write bios. If you write an intriguing bio, it can be a great conversation starter for when you get a match. 
You can tell a lot about a person by what they write, so here are some tips on writing a good bio.
    • Use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Some people seem to think that correctness in language is inconsequential. It's not (especially to me). It's important for clear and intelligent communication. If your bio is one huge run-on or it doesn't make any sense, I can already tell that chatting with you will be torture. And if you're over 20 and still don't know the difference between your and you're, seriouslyit's time to figure it out.
    • Don't talk about how much you love working out. You sound like just a jock.
    • Don't be boring. Don't say "I love my family. I like sports. I love hiking and talking to my friends." First of all, almost everyone likes those things. Give yourself some life, man! Find a way to communicate the essence of who you are. If you're funny, show it by writing a bio that makes people laugh. Don't just say you're funny. That's super duper lame. Some things can't be communicated in a bio, so just don't try. For instance, there's no constructive way to say you're a good listener. It's something you just figure out later.

    • Take some time on your bio. You don't have to write it in two minutes. You can take twenty if you want to. Potentially hundreds of people are going to see it; you should take the time to make it worth reading.
    • The bio is a great place to disclose important information. In my area it's common to put "LDS" or "non-LDS" since typically, people are looking for one or the other. It would probably be good to mention if you have a kid too. The big things.
Perhaps if Tinder users represent themselves well and reserve their right swipes for people they could legitimately be interested in (and not just to see if that guy/girl swiped right too), this app would be more useful to people than it seems to be currently.

Hopefully you got something out of my thoughts here.

Over and out.

Oh wait! P.S. hopefully this is a "duh" moment for you, but when you actually meet Tinder people, do so in public place; safety first. And don't get addicted to the app. Like any other piece of technology, remember its usefulness and use it for a good purpose.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jimmy Fallon Has It All

Have you been around me lately? If so, you've probably heard "I looooove Jimmy Fallon" come out of my mouth. Since he started on The Tonight Show, I haven't missed a single episode.

As opposed to many other shows, Jimmy's is uplifting. He doesn't go out on the street to embarrass random people. He doesn't parade around someplace making himself a nuisance. He doesn't get laughs at the expense of children. It seems like he generally tries to stay away from anything dirty. I don't know about you, but that's a huge plus for me!

Okay, can we talk about his talent for a second? Jimmy is not only a gifted singer, dancer, and comedian (and harmonicanist?), he's incredibly upbeat (and not in an annoying "seriously just stop" kind of way).

Plus, he's smart, humble, and gracious. Seriously, he's the whole package. I hope you notice the way he puts all of his guests at ease. He laughs constantly, he plays off of his co-host, and he plays little spontaneous games with his band. The show is fast paced, and he rolls with the unexpected punches of his guests. And! He's pretty much up for anything, whether getting soaked in a game of Water War, suiting up in Velcro for Sticky Balls, or donning a wig, dress, and braces and talking like a teenage girl.

Oh, one more thing: he can keep a pretty straight face, which is fantastic, but he also breaks character all the time, which makes him so loveable. He's so comfortable on the stage, you can't help but feel happy watching his show! On top of it all, Jimmy finds a way to constantly keep the show fresh. I don't think a week has gone by since the show started that one of his YouTube videos wasn't trending on Facebook.

The show is hilarious, and it doesn't get old. I just love that Jimmy Fallon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Talk to Someone Who's Venting

When someone's venting to you, their emotional state is somewhat compromised. They are seeking relief. They just want to let some words fly out of their mouth, and they want you to listen. You should take this as a compliment when someone vents to you because:

a) they see you as a deep enough friend they can trust you won't judge them for their (perhaps irrational) behavior
b) they know that you can handle them at a slightly ugly moment
c) they believe that they will find relief by talking to you

Rants can be about silly things like someone standing in a crowded doorway, the computer glitch that's giving you a twitch, or the fact that your neighbor just put a swing set in their front lawn. OR it could be something bigger like how your boss has been treating you like a nuisance or your mother-in-law invited herself over for 16th time this month. Whether it's big or small, we all need validation sometimes.

So you're talking to someone who's venting.

Rule #1 is DON'T TALK. Do you not completely understand what your friend is trying to express? Do you want to ask some clarifying questions? Don't!!! At least not in the heat of the venting session. If you must, ask one. But that's ALL! A person who is venting is upset, angry, or simply annoyed. They don't want to be interrupted, so if you interrupt, it. had. better. be. good. Interruptions only tend to frustrate the venter more, and if that happens, they might just shut up and bottle up their feelings. Trust me, you don't want that.

Rule #2, keep eye contact. This shows that you're listening and that you care about their feelings.

Rule #3, do not exacerbate the situation. Some people tend to reciprocate the mood of others. If you respond to someone who's venting by venting in return, it's a recipe for stress. Rather than talk loudly, quickly, and excitedly with the person, just listen. Calmly nodding in understanding can diffuse a tense situation.

Rule #4, wait. It might take a little while for your friend to get her feet back on the ground, but she will soon enough. Don't rush her. Rushing her might make her feel like you weren't listening in the first place or that you don't care about how she's feeling. She won't feel validated. So just wait. She'll get there, and if you just give her a little time, she'll feel so much better, and your friendship will be stronger.

Rant over. ;-) Thanks for reading.