Unlocking the lost parts of myself

I was not fully looking forward to our family trip to Sequoia and I almost didn’t go. There were personal reasons and then more topical reasons.

It had been about 15 years since the last time I had went. Prior to that we went almost every year when I was growing up. But a lot has changed in 15 or so years and I just didn’t think I had it in me to “rough it” in nature.

I use the term “rough it” loosely because we stay in cabins that have electricity and beds, we only camped once or twice, that I can remember. You do have to walk to a central shower and bathroom but it’s far from sleeping on the ground in a tent. My niece’s friend Sam likened it to, “glamping”, it’s not quiet that plush…but somewhere in-between.

Over the few days I was there though, it was like this dormant part of me woke up. “OH, I used to love nature. I used to love running around and exploring!” I had completely forgot that that part of me even existed. It was like I forgot about that girl completely, but the big beautiful trees and endless vistas brought her back to me.

I felt SO insignificant out there in the vast world of nature. I was SO small, tiny, miniscule! I can’t even verbalize how unimportant I felt. And it was amazing…because it was a reminder of how big the world is. And, though my problems and issues sometimes feel insurmountable they are even tinier then I am against the backdrop of nature. That’s such a comforting feeling.

Sometimes it feels like life is crashing around me. One crazy happening after another but the forest kind of just side steps the chaos. You see broken or burned trees scattered about the floor but it doesn’t stop everything around it from being beautiful.

Sequoia trees cannot begin to grow without fire. If the ground becomes overcrowded they can’t thrive. So they require something so destructive to live, enter fire. In our lives we say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but maybe the hard things in life are pushing us to thrive too.

We walked through Crystal Cave which was formed, in simple terms, by running dripping water. Water finding weaknesses in marble and working at it for millions of years formed an amazing cave. Sometimes we feel like the small steps we take don’t mean anything yet these tiny drops of water formed a massive, beautiful cavern.

The place I didn’t really much want to go back to, became a place I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to go on more trails, more hikes, soak in more of the forest. After the first day I stopped caring that my phone had absolutely no service. I was happy about it. It really forced me to disconnect and connect with mother nature and my old self again.

I leave you with a Shakespeare quote our tour guide at Crystal Cavern told us:

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

Breaking up with my Clarisonic

A brief history of my skin: I had really bad skin in H.S. and even after. Once I got out of the bad relationship I was in (and stopped using MAC face makeup) my skin pretty much cleared in my mid 20’s. I hadn’t had any issues with my face since, until about 7-8 months ago. I also have eczema and take an allergy pill and moisturize my skin everyday in the shower.

————————————-

I DON’T KNOW JACK ABOUT SKINCARE. I used my Clarisonic once a day, used a moisturizer with SPF in the morning and some concealer here and there. That was my daily routine for about 5 years. The products really didn’t change and the Clarisonic was a constant.

I’m pretty sure at this point everyone knows what a Clarisonic is, but just incase you don’t… I loved mine and used it religiously 1x a day. One time it died right before I was going to Hawaii and I rushed to order another one because I couldn’t IMAGINE not having it on my vacation! I imagined a face full of zits on the beaches of Maui.

Late last year I was going through a lot of stress at work and home, then I moved and added MORE stress. Suddenly my relatively calm skin was like a war zone. These weren’t cute little whiteheads, these were massive, disgusting straight up ZITS. And I was HORRIFIED. I’m 35, not 14, wtf was going on with my face?!

I tried switching long time products like my SPF moisturizer…it got worse! I changed my makeup, my face wash, nothing helped. One time  I was in tears because my boyfriend and I were going to the gym and I had to pull my hair back and show my skin. I didn’t want to go to to the gym, I did, but I felt hideous and horrible. Same thing at work and I work with so many people that have flawless skin! (You notice it more when yours looks like shit.) I kept trying everything taking my nightly shower earlier, switching my laundry detergent, not drinking anything but water. Nothing really helped. It felt so hopeless, it’s like my own face had turned against me.

I brought this up to my co-worker Kate one day, because she had talked about being a skincare junkie. Then I mentioned that I had talked to Kate about skincare to my other co-worker in MN, Erin, and low and behold I apparently work with 2 major skincare mavens! And I had no idea!

We started our own private Slack convo and they divulged their routines and favorite products. When I told them my tiny routine they both said the same thing, ditch the Clarisonic .

*HORRIFIED GASP*

“But…but..I’ve used it for years and it’s been fine. That can’t be it, its just stress…probably right?”

*Sheepishly* Right?

“You are probably over-exfoliating…stop using it and see what happens” was their consensus.

I was so desperate…that I went out and bought $40 of products they recommended and…ditched the Clarisonic.

Low and behold guys, it got better, especially on my cheeks. It still is happening under my chin here and there, but everyone I talk to agrees that that area of your face IS hormonal and stress affected.

My routine is now:
Morning – Cosrx low ph cleanser, Origins spf moisturizer, Origins eye cream
Night: Cosrx low ph cleanser,  The Ordinary Squalane, Origins eye cream
If I do my makeup I put on The Ordinary Squalane as a primer

I am slowly going to try to switch the ELTA SPF and another (tbd) moisturizer for the Origins because I don’t love the tint it has. I am also going to introduce The Ordinary Niacinamide at night.

The Ordinary Marula oil is supposed to be amazing but I went for the Squalane first because I read that it was good for oily skin. And I’m proud to say that Erin and Kate have both tried the Squalane because of me.

BTW, don’t ask me to pronounce Squalane because I still don’t know how to say it.

I thought my skin was looking way better, but the proof is in the pudding. When i did my makeup the past 2 weekends I barely had to do ANY spot cover up. And my niece complimented my skin on Sunday which almost made me cry. Like, I had been so miserable for months and now I feel like it’s getting better. Still not perfect under the chin, but way way better on my actual face.

I still miss my Clarisonic though, and I don’t blame it for breaking me out. I asked Erin and Kate why it turned on me and they said it’s probably just the fact that skin changes with age…and my skin became more sensitive to it. Yay aging! (eyeroll)

I still don’t know crap about skincare. But I will say that if something similar happens to you it could be a product/tool that you have been using all along. Though, I think we all tend to blame new products in our ecosystem first. Don’t be afraid to question products and tools you’ve loved all along.

I will keep you updated here and there as I move along with my skincare journey. I don’t know if I’ll ever ben on Erin or Kate’s level of comprehensive skincare knowledge. But I just know I am SO thankful to them for helping me figure out at least some of my skin issues!

Participating in “The Disney Swap”

I follow a lot of Disney peeps on instagram. I don’t recall who, but someone posted that they were participating in “The Disney Swap”. The swap was closed at the time and they had just received their package. It looked interesting! So I added them on instagram and waited until the swap opened again. 

A few months ago, it finally opened. The ask you for your favorite Disney characters, colors and shirt sizes, plus other general info like your name, instagram handle, email address and mailing address. The swap only accepts so many people at a time, it was filled up within a few days. It took about a week after that to get assigned my partner.

The way it works is that you’re assigned to a person but they are assigned to someone else. So, the person you send a box to is not the one sending you a box. The boxes value has to be around $30 but you can fill it with whatever Disney goodies you think your partner will enjoy. The swap facilitators send you the form that the other person filled out and it gives you a pretty good idea of what that person might enjoy. You have a swap deadline, your package should be sent by that date. 

My swap experience was AMAZING. I had the sweetest partner that informed me they had ordered me some items from Japan so they might be shipping past the deadline. JAPAN?! Oh-em-gee, of course I didn’t mind if it was going to be past deadline! She kept me very informed and I was never worried that I was “forgotten”.

The date to send really snuck up on me, so around the deadline I emailed my own swap partner and told her I’d be sending a bit late as well. I had ordered her something and it came while I was at Walt Disney World. She was also very nice about it, she just received her package today in fact…I hope she liked it!

I loved everything my partner sent me, she totally “got me”. That is what is picture above, Mermaid Monday indeed!!

The only con about the swap is that there is always the possibility that the person sending to you won’t send anything. The swap facilitators say that they block people who do this. The person who sent me my package hadn’t received one from their partner. I feel so bad! She did such an amazing job and didn’t get anything from whomever her partner was. They do have “swap angels”. People that will send packages to those that didn’t receive one. But it is not guaranteed you will get a swap angel if you do not get a package.

I think it would be better if the swap was mutual. Meaning that you sent the person a box that sends you your box. I think this would add more accountability in sending. Though, I cannot speak to the percentage of people that didn’t receive boxes because I don’t know how many total participants there were. I would be pretty bummed out if I got burned though.

Would I recommend it? Yes of course, I had a wonderful experience! I believe most people are generally honest and you can’t let the bad ones keep you from trying something new. I think I would participate again if the swap partners were mutual. 

To check out the swap and try and get on board with the next one visit:
https://www.instagram.com/thedisneyswap/