Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do You Fear What I Fear?: Or, the Unnecessary Christmas Homage Title

Sometimes, I am paralyzed by fear. Often it happens unexpectedly, and other times I know exactly when I'll freeze up. The things that make me scared are many and varied. Some of them are so benign that it's insane to even spend any time thinking of them; others are more real and raw. Here is a list of some of the things I fear, in no particular order:

  • ingesting cleaning products
  • having an aneurism
  • that no man will ever fall in love with me
  • that I will never fall in love with a man
  • that the man I love and the man who loves me will not be the same person
  • not being as smart as my peers
  • my professors not thinking I am smart or eloquent
  • being too smart and seeming arrogant and aloof
  • that I will never meet Don Miller
  • touching raw chicken; getting salmonella 
  • checking my bank account
  • speaking in public to my peers
  • a man like Mitt Romney being president someday
  • that I will someday just end up alone in a rented apartment eating my way through tubes of Pillsbury cookie dough and writing blog posts to nobody
  • walking alone at night
  • that I will never be able to work hard enough to think I've done enough
  • that I will never be interviewed on "Q"
  • that the people I love don't know how much they've impacted me
  • that I will never have the words to forgive people
  • that people will never be able to forgive me
  • posting a link to my last blog post on Facebook
  • my best friends not needing me anymore
  • that I could never express enough gratitude
  • Tumblr being linked to Facebook
  • that I will never be Mrs. B. Cumberbatch
  • getting Alzheimer's
  • dying before I have the chance to say goodbye to people I love
  • that Second Cup will stop making maple-flavoured coffees
  • never being published
  • people thinking I'm not genuine 
  • catching the house on fire by leaving my straightener plugged in
  • that I talk to much and people just wish I would stop but no one will tell me
A friend of mine recently faced his life-long fear. He had harboured a secret from himself and from people who love him for over 20 years. In the past little while, he's decided to dive in headfirst and deal with his fears for once and for all, and to tremendous results. Not only have things not been as bad as he expected, but they've been exceedingly better than he could have ever hoped. He now, for the first time in a very long time, is experiencing an overwhelming love that he never expected. He is humbled and touched. It's quite beautiful to witness.

As I've seen this change in his life, I've begun to think of my own attitude towards my fears. Some I will never get rid of (like touching raw chicken; that's just smart); others I need to face head on. Whether that means I need to start changing the way I think, or start working more or less, or letting go of the things that I have no control over, I have to take action.

I don't think we are meant to live in fear, and I've seen how life can look without it: liberated.

Number of books read in 2012: 22
Current TV series: BBC's The Hour
Current nail colour: Illamasqua's "Muse"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bracing for Impact

I asked a friend the other day what they were most proud of in their life. After prolonged contemplation, they said they're proud of how they treat people.

That struck me as both beautiful and unexpected. It's a question I've never been asked, and, surprisingly, to which haven't really given much thought. I suppose if someone had asked me a few months ago, I would have said something school or work related, like winning a SSHRC or some review I'd written, or maybe even that Jian Ghomeshi had tweeted at me (3 times - I'm practically an internet celebrity).

But when I thought about it, I think what I'd say I'm most proud of is my independence. I have always been fiercely determined to be self-sufficient. It's not that I don't ask for help, or even that I see seeking advice or assistance as needy - on the contrary! I think knowing when you need help is evidence that you are wise, in tune with yourself, your abilities, and what you require in a particular situation. I have worked hard to write my identity as a strong woman who can function solo.

Last week, I stumbled across this post by blogger Becca (of Bookworm Beauty) and it resonated deeply with me. Her whole blog is fantastic, but this post about "throwing down your guard" is quite powerful. It was one of those times where you feel like someone has taken every thought you have never vocalized or couldn't even make sense of in your own mind and laid it all out there for the entire Internet to read:
There are things I just do not do. I do not let people in very easily. There is a core in my center, the middle of me, where I keep everything that's important; all the things that hurt me or that, if I let anyone see them, could possibly hurt me by their reveal or the trust needed to display them. I keep the soft parts safe inside this core, and no one is allowed in but me.
As I read her post, I started thinking about how I've done exactly the same thing. I mean, I'm an open person and I share a lot about myself, both on this blog and within relationships. There's little that I won't talk about or give advice on (whether people want it or not). And I trust people. I trust my friends and my parents and my sister to be honest with me. I trust that they will accept me even when I'm a moron. I trust that they will give me sound advice when I need it, and I trust that they will take mine when they do. I have good people in my life.

But it's time to be real: I don't trust people to really love me. I've been wounded. I've been taken advantage of physically and emotionally and spiritually. For the first three quarters of my lifetime, there seemed to be a steady flow of people who saw me as a vessel to accomplish some goal, and then tossed me aside, used and empty.  I gravitated to these relationships: out of fear, out of familiarity, out of the hope of redemption. I acknowledge that I played a role in some of these situations, that my actions encouraged abusive behaviour. I didn't know then that we teach people how to treat us; that we accept the love that we think we deserve. And to be perfectly honest, I really didn't think I deserved that much.

And so my independence, while practical and important, was a careful construction so I didn't have to be open to any more pain. If I didn't need to be hugged or listened to or helped - if I didn't need to be loved - then I didn't have to let people in, and I didn't have to be hurt anymore. It's a simple, age-old equation, and I am not the first, nor will I be the last to use it. But it doesn't make it any less true for me. My diligently crafted persona is a fortress to protect from people, from the wounds that vulnerability leave.

So when I'm saying that I'm proud of my independence, I'm sort of saying that I'm proud that I have protected myself, that my soul is safe, that I have created for myself an iron wall around my heart and no one can break in.

I've gotten quite good at this act. I am good at keeping people at bay. I am good at manipulating conversation so I appear knowledgable and strong, as having suffered but rebounding spectacularly. However, I've been slowly coming to realize that maybe this coping strategy, while necessary in some ways, has actually limited me from some amazing relationships and incredible experiences.

So this is my retirement from that performance. This is me peeling back my protective shell of humour and defensiveness. I am laying my vulnerability out on the table. I am owning my story and slowly turning the page, making room for others to start writing their narratives in sync with mine.

I am bracing for impact.


Friday, November 2, 2012

My One-Time Stint as a Beauty Blogger

So, listen: I know this isn't a beauty blog. I know that some of you who read this might not be particularly excited by or interested in this post. And I understand that, and it's ok if you skip my post this week. I hope you will come back!

Now that we've eliminated the haters (because they've definitely gone), I wanted to post about my favourite makeup and beauty products. Reading beauty blogs and watching reviews, tutorials, and beauty hauls is one of my favourite hobbies. Consequentially, I've tried a lot of new products and found a few things that I absolutely love. So I'm going to blog about it!

Nail polish:

My favourite nail polish brand is nails inc. The first polish I owned from this brand was "london town," the magnetic gold-brown (top right). My mom brought it back as a surprise from Halifax, and I've been hooked ever since. I was especially keen on the brand because all of their products are named after streets or locations in London. Also, the bright cobalt blue you see sandwiched in the back is not only a stunning colour, but it's also called "baker street." Since the TV show Sherlock is my main obsession, it is one of my favourite polishes.

But I like more about this brand than just the names and the colours. The formula (for the most part) is fantastic. All polishes give complete opacity in two coats, and some you can probably get away with one. They dry quickly and have decent staying power - usually 3-4 days with no chips. I also love that nails inc. is a high-end nail polish brand, but they only cost around $10.50, i.e. not much more expensive than less impressive drug-store brands.

I would be remiss if I didn't talk about my favourite polishes, though. I cannot sing enough praises about OPI's "My Very First Knockwurst," released as part of their Germany collection in late August (pictured left). Not only does it literally stay for days and not chip - like, I have never experienced a nail polish with more staying power - but it is the most perfect almost-nude colour. It's a very pale pink with a hint of lilac, and it is both professional and fun and I cannot rave about it enough. Another favourite polish that I wore almost exclusively this summer is Essie's "turquoise and caicos" (pictured right).  This was one of those polishes that I saw pictured in a few blog posts and I became mildly obsessed with finding it. I went to several drugs stores, Wal-Mart, and Dominions all across St. John's and every single one was sold out! It was torture!! I ended up paying a small fortune for it at Dominion when it wasn't on sale, but it was worth every penny because I think I wore it about 9 out of 10 weeks this summer. It is the absolute perfect summer colour, and you need to have it in your collection!

Finally, I have to talk about my favourite base and top coats: Revlon Colorstay. I was a Seche Vite girl for a while, but these Revlon polishes are the best I have found. My nail polish stays on double the time that it did with Seche Vite, and it's about $5 cheaper, too. And easier to find. Plus my nails stay shiny and glossy until I remove the polish. Again, can't rave enough about these as protectants for your nail colour!

Body/skin care:

I'm not really into skin stuff. I find moisturizing takes too much time and then you are slippery and stuff sticks to you (have you ever forgotten to put socks on after moisturizing your feet? The ultimate in gross). But I've found some stuff that I really like. A brand I recommend trying is Soap & Glory. I'm fairly certain they're a British company and a few select products are available at Shoppers. The first item I ever tried was "Girligo," a moisturizing body spray. It smells delicious - not floral or sweet but mild and clean - and has such a fine shimmer in it, and I use it almost every day. I also really like the face scrub and the face moisturizer. They smell sort of similar (i.e. amazing) and work really, really well. I have really oily skin on my forehead and chin, and I don't find that these products add any extra oil to my face. I also love the Bath & Body Works scent "Sweet on Paris." Like, I have never loved a scent more than this one. I love it so much that I bought the body spray, and I hardly ever use scents because they make me sneeze (which messes up your mascara). But this scent is AMAZING. It smells like candy, which is literally the only way I can explain it. If you don't have this scent, you need to get it. Stat.

Eye makeup:

I never used to wear eye shadow because I have unbelievably oily eyelids and nothing ever stayed on them without creasing or sliding down my face. But then I found Urban Decay Primer Potion (the purple tube) and my life has never been the same! It works like a dream, and a minuscule amount goes a long way. Related to the UDPP is the UD Naked Palette. This was my first high-end makeup purchase over a year and a half ago, and it was worth every single penny. I use this 12-shadow palette almost every day, and I've hardly made a dent in the shadows. Even for the most reserved of make-up users, there are colours here that you can wear every day, or dress up for something more special. I often use the grey and black shadows as eye-liners as well.

As much as I love the Naked palette, I have to say that I think I love MAC eyeshadows more. I used to watch YouTube videos where people raved about MAC shadows and I kept thinking: How on earth can they be that much better than other shadows? Oh how wrong I was. They are amazing: soft, easy to blend, a dream to work with. The colours I have (Twinx, Satin Taupe, and Naked Lunch) are absolutely perfect all over the lid or to add definition and shading. I have fallen in love anew.

Lastly: my current favourite mascara. I heard some beauty blogger say once that expensive, high-end mascaras are not worth the money because companies generally invest their money into their skin and foundation products. However, Emily of Beauty Broadcast raved about Tarte's "Lights, Camera, Lashes" mascara and, as she's never steered me wrong before, I thought I'd try it out. It is amazing. It makes my lashes long and bold and separated and it doesn't flake or smudge. I definitely think this mascara is worth the money.

Face makeup:

If I had to pick a favourite brand of makeup, it would probably be Rimmel. I love their Lasting Finish Foundation because it is the perfect match for my skin tone. I also love their bronzer (this one is in no. 022) because it's matte, not too dark, and again, a perfect tone-match for my skin. I also love my pinky-coral Milani blush in "Luminoso." It has a great deal of shimmer, which scared me at first, but it's barely noticeable once on the cheeks, and while I am a big fan of bright pink blush, it's nice to have an alternative so I don't look like I have a fever every day.

I have a bit of an acne problem. It's not all over my face, but I have breakouts on my chin frequently. There are two products that help with this and are thus vital to my makeup bag. The first is Origins Super Spot Removal. It's basically a gel that you put on under your makeup or before you go to bed, and it dries out spots very quickly. It's not an instant solution, but it definitely speed up the healing process and helps to not leave scars. The second product is Benefit's Boi-ing concealer (I am shade 01). This stuff not only covers my spots without looking cakey and thick, but it also is the best under-eye concealer I have found. The first time I used it, I was legitimately flabbergasted that it covered up my dark circles. I was hesitant to buy it at first, as it was pretty pricey for such a small amount of product, but it's so true: you get what you pay for. I've had this for 3 months and I haven't yet hit pan.

And finally...
Lip products:

Lipstick was my last foray into the makeup world. I was afraid of wearing bright colours on my lips, because it is very difficult to make orange lips look "natural." But I've sort of fallen for lipstick, and these are my favourites: Rimmel's "Coral Queen" is excellent for summer; Revlon Lip Butters in "Berry Smoothie" and "Cherry Tart" are hydrating and rich in colour without staining your lips. And finally, my newest obsession: MAC lipsticks ("Lovelorn," and "Charmed, I'm Sure" from the Marilyn Monroe collection). These lipsticks stay on for an insane amount of time, and do not dry out my lips. There's nothing that makes me feel more glamourous or good about myself than wearing this red lipstick. I often wear it when I'm just lazing around the house, because why the heck not treat yo' self?

If you've made it to the end, congratuwelldone! I do apologize that I have been off the blogging bandwagon for several weeks, but hopefully this is me getting back on. Clumsily.

Number of books read in 2012: 21
Current TV show: American Horror Story
Current nail colour: Nail's Inc.'s "Baker Street"