Life and Health

How to Fail At Using Parenting Expert Advice

As parents, we want our children to behave appropriately and make good decisions. However, there are times when children act out, break rules, or make poor choices. In these instances, it’s important to give consequences that will help them learn from their mistakes and make better decisions in the future.We had a giant meltdown and temper tantrum over the fact that she couldn’t watch TV before dance class. I had warned her yesterday that this might happen and yesterday she (very maturely) said “ok, I won’t even ask for TV tomorrow before dance class.” Ha! I should have known that was luring me into a false sense of security.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Today, you would have thought I had ripped her right arm off by not allowing her to watch 5 minutes of TV before leaving for dance class. It wasn’t my finest parenting moment so I just said “that’s it, I’m tired of these meltdowns over TV, no more TV this week.”And here is how I didn’t follow the “expert” advice when holding her accountable for her behavior:

  1. Be clear and consistent. I did not give her any warnings — she has been told about this behavior in the past and I understand she’s disappointed and frustrated but so was I so instead of warning her this was coming I just said it….of course now I have to stick to it because if I cave on this I’m going to create a whole new set of problems for myself.Focus on the behavior. I did not call her a terrible and ungrateful child. I did express my frustrations at her behavior because she was “acting a fool” but it probably came out a little harsher than I had intended.Use natural consequences. Not sure what natural consequences would have been for flailing around on the floor kicking and screaming like she was spurting arterial blood because I had simply said “no.” I’m hoping the loss of TV due to her profound, deep feelings for an electronic box will be natural enough to break her habit. Sometimes life is disappointing kiddo, but we need to figure out ways to deal with it.Make consequences proportional. I’m not sure if the rest of the week is proportional for one 10 minute meltdown but maybe it’s proportional enough to make an impact. She and I routinely get into arguments about the TV and her addiction to it. Sometimes it’s because her father and I have different opinions and she unfortunately gets stuck in the middle between us. This time I made sure to call her father and tell him that she gets no TV for the rest of the week.

Before I was a parent, I thought I wasn’t going to negotiate with her, bribe her, or yell at her because I am better than that and then I became a parent in the messy real world and realized that all of these techniques have their place and that’s why parents have been relying on them to varying levels for decades. I may not have been the paragon of parenting wisdom and patience today while fighting with my almost seven year old but we’ve somehow made it through. We’ve, so far, successfully navigated all the potholes and speed bumps.All the “expert” advice is useful but sometimes, as we’ve all experienced, expert advice and real world living aren’t always in tune with each other. On occasion when we’re both having a bad day at the same time we have to wing it and hope for the best. I don’t know what’s going to be the fallout from this particular event but so far things seem to be ok.

Life and Health

5 Lessons From Life…So Far

I will be turning 42 this year and while I might be the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” this year, I definitely don’t have all the answers but I might have some.

Photo by Angèle Kamp on Unsplash

I honestly don’t know what the definition is of “mid-life” anymore since our life spans have steadily charted in the upwards trajectory for the past few centuries but i have come to a place in my life where I have enough time to look back at the past with some fond reminiscing about “in my day” but still enough to look forward to see the future with wonder and possibility (I hope…it’s getting a little dicey out there).

Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash

In my almost 42 trips around the sun at this point I have come to a few understandings:

  1. “Be yourself, everyone is already taken” but don’t forget about everyone else. Who knows where this quote actually originated from and I think there is some truth to being yourself. We have to be ourselves — so dance to the music in the grocery store or wear the clothes that you were “TOO” whatever to wear when you were younger but in the journey to become the women who wear red hats with purple dresses (or whatever old ladies that have stopped giving a f*** about other people’s opinions do) don’t forget that other people exist and our survival depends on what we can accomplish as a community. No one exists in a vacuum or on an island. I tried to act as if I did for a great many years and sometimes I still fall into those patterns but as my hair has started to change from brown to gray I’ve realized that I need help from other people and they need help from me. We are, after all, in this together.Spend time wisely but waste time just as wisely. Our society generally does not encourage rest. It’s getting better because we’re at least talking about it but the conversations around rest seem highly performative and privileged. We need to talk about what rest really looks like and FEELS like. For me, sitting and binge watching an entire season of something in a night or two may look like rest but at the end of the day it doesn’t actually feel restful. Rest is not just supposed to be escapism or numbing; it is supposed to be an activity that feels good. After two episodes in a row or mindless doom scrolling I can start to feel the difference in my body and mind when I tip the scales from rest to numbing. Find what that feels like in your body and notice what rest feels fulfilling and rejuvenating and what just feels like wasting time. For me, nourishing rest looks like writing, reading, and walking in nature — after those activities I feel refreshed and ready to go back to the “real world”.Move — your body will thank you for it. Start somewhere no matter how small. Our bodies were designed to move. We survived because we could hunt and run during the heat of the day when other animals were resting. Doesn’t matter if you can only do 5 minutes — start somewhere and keep it up. I am starting to feel my warranty running out and I am cursing my younger self who didn’t find a way to stick with any of my activities. I am starting to feel the aches and pains in some joints from a body that has carried too much weight and not been utilized properly. I’m trying to roll that clock back a little bit and I’m making progress but if I had just developed habits and routines instead of berating myself I would be in a much better place now.Keep exploring and gaining knowledge. In this day and age we have information at our fingertips through the internet, podcasts, books/audiobooks, magazines, apps, etc…. Take some time every day/week/month to step outside your comfort zone and learn something. In this global world our focus can be so small (see number one). By taking some time to read news from another country (I like BBC or Al Jezeera) or listening to podcasts about all the things you didn’t pay attention to in high school (don’t worry, I didn’t either!) this wide, beautiful, wonderful, and oftentimes difficult world is open to us. And we should experience it.And don’t worry about the mess — you’ll always make another one.

As I round out this trip around the sun I still have time to “live deliberately” because I know that, for better or for worse, I am on the other side of the hill at this point. 

I am starting to see the end of this tunnel called life and when I’m done I want to live a life that makes my daughter proud.

Here’s to the next leg of this journey!

Tips and Tricks

Routine versus Ritual And Using Them To My Advantage

Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash

There is all this talk about creating routines and habits to make your life easier and I subscribe to that thought process but when do we really need ritual instead of routine?

Let’s start by diving into the definitions of the words. According to Merriam-Webster:

Routine when used as a noun means “a regular course of procedure; habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure” or when used as an adjective “of a commonplace or repetitious character; ordinary”.

Whereas ritual is defined as “the established form for a ceremony “or “a ceremonial act or action” when used as a noun or “of or relating to rites or a ritual: ceremonial” when used as an adjective.

While these words on their surface may sound relatively interchangeable if we look at their definitions, we see that there is a difference between them. Routine feels habitual, something that can be done or dealt with without requiring any deeper thought or purpose. Ritual, on the other hand, feels more intentional.

If you subscribe to a religious affiliation and you conduct your prayers or practices as routine do they feel as special or transformative? If you are picking up your mail or driving to work (or some other well practiced destination) do you treat it with reverence?

It’s been important for me to think about what in my life is a ritual and what is a routine; focusing on how these two things are different allows me to use them both beneficially.

Routines, in my experience, are habits and practices that you can do automatically. This is something that doesn’t require much thought and if you want to build easier, better habits using your routines to your advantage is helpful. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear really pinpoints the idea of making habits by building on small, already accessible routines — like if you want to start an exercise habit maybe do 5 squats while you’re brushing your teeth. Something small and routine that ultimately you can do without thinking.

Routines can get you through the grinding tasks of adulthood or things you know you should be doing but don’t really want to — when the inner teenager is shouting “but I don’t wanna!” These are ways to automate the tasks that your mother (or other adult caregiver in your life) would make you do against your will.

For example, I hate folding laundry. For some reason, this task is my “wall of awful” where I just see the laundry baskets piling up (my husband does the laundry) and every time a new laundry basket gets added I just die a little inside. I don’t know why, it’s really not that big of a deal but for some reason folding clothes is like torture — matching all the socks especially because they’re all SLIGHTLY different, am I right?

Anyway, I digress.

After everyone else goes to bed, I usually stay up and watch a little TV. Usually, an episode or two depending on what time it is, and my routine has become when I sit and watch TV, I fold the laundry. I have paired these two activities together to help me do the one I NEED to do but don’t really want to do. Using a routine in this case has helped me combat my inner teenager and “adult”.

Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

But when I want to feel connected or intentional about my activities, that’s when I investigate making something a ritual. In December 2021 I wrote about my after-work ritual that helps me close out my workday and transition into my home life without dragging the stress of work home with me.

This ritual is an intentional 10 minutes of my day that allows me space to decompress and shift into my family life and responsibilities. If I died tomorrow, work would replace me ASAP, but my family cannot. I do not want to waste my time with my family being caught up in work and this ritual allows me to take 10 minutes to put a bookend on my day to ensure work stress (for the most part) is not distracting me or taking me mentally away from my family.

The other ritual I have found to be helpful is my morning ritual. I used to call it a morning routine because there is lots of evidence out there talking about the “best” morning routine, but I have found that I need some intentionality to starting my day. By participating in my morning ritual, I shake off the sleep, feel grounded and therefore ready to start my day.

Realizing this difference in routine vs. ritual has helped me see the value in both and when one may be more appropriate than the other. I have created routines in my life regarding cleaning and movement, but I’ve created rituals to connect on a different level with myself, my family, my friends, and my world.

Routines are largely passive and about making life easier whereas ritual is active and about making life more meaningful. Separating the two and using them at different times makes life better.

Life and Health

Many Hands Make Light Work

In a moment of social media weakness, I shared a post that said:

“You are totally replaceable at work. You’re not replaceable at home. Home is your real life. Keep that perspective. Always.”

Photo by Microsoft 365 on Unsplash

I tend to shy away from sharing things like that on social media because I almost always think “inspirational” or “though-provoking” memes need more context.

Like the one where people are pointing at the ground saying, “it’s a 6, no it’s a 9”, and then it’s supposedly some lesson about not understanding the point of view of the other person. I don’t know about you but any time I’ve seen numbers painted on the ground they are painted in a specific direction for a specific purpose (usually as a speed limit warning), but I digress.

After sharing the meme, I felt a little uneasy but so many people responded to it so I didn’t feel I could take it down. I firmly believe in the sentiment of the meme for MOST people. However, this meme doesn’t represent people who don’t have choices, paid vacation, or sick days, and people who own their own business. This meme doesn’t represent the hard work ethic that has been drilled into people and in some cases traumatized people. There are some, my partner included, who feel defined by how much work they do and contributing the bigger, better paycheck even at the expense of their home life (this is a point of much contention in our marriage).

We have been conditioned to “get a good job” and the job (or paycheck) determines how good of a member of society you are. One of the first questions usually asked when you are getting to know some one is “what do you do?” (Sidebar: as a mother this feels like a completely awkward question because it comes off incredibly judgmental and I have yet to find a comfortable way to phrase it when it comes to the SAHM vs. working mom debate……. Why is that still a debate? But that’s a topic for another post) as if we are defined by our jobs. It’s as if our jobs dictate how much value we bring to society. We are seeing this rhetoric play out in the minimum wage/fair living wage debates currently raging here in the United States. Nationwide value judgements are being placed on people based solely on what they do for a living. This rhetoric is harmful and plays into the “unskilled” labor myth.

We all have different skill sets and it is this diversity that allows us to create a fully functional society. I was a terrible tollbooth operator — I worked as a toll collector during a couple college summers and it was dreadful because there were many hours where I was alone with no one to talk to. There were cameras in the toll booths that the cops in the station could watch and I imagine they spent a good many hours laughing at this poor college kid who was talking to herself, dancing, doing anything possible to keep her energy contained in this tiny little box. Now someone who is an introvert might love that job but for me it was complete torture.

Anyone who’s ever worked in food service, retail, or other service industry jobs knows how hard they are but when we talk about those being “unskilled” jobs and they should “get a better job if they want more money” we are playing into the hands of the oligarchs. All our skills are valuable, all our skills are important, and we deserve to be treated as such.

If you have a screaming kid in the car because they’re hungry, the drive-thru workers will save your ears and your sanity — I think those workers are incredibly valuable in that moment.

We are all valuable because we are human beings contributing to the whole. My job is valuable, but it is not more valuable than that my friend who manages a restaurant (and teaches) or the one who is keeps lawyers and court reporters straight so legal proceedings can move forward. My job is different but I also value the landscapers who take care of our lawn — they are being paid to do a job I COULD do myself but frees me up to do other things (I’ll save the suburban lawn environmental disaster discussion for a later date). But so often we put ourselves in relationship to others in the hierarchy of “skilled” or “unskilled”, college educated or not and this plays into the hands of the puppet masters. Pitting us against each other instead of realizing that we need this diversity in order to thrive. The global supply chain issues have taught us that so many industries are interconnected and rely on the other puzzle pieces to work. We are all part of the puzzle that makes society work.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

While we are all replaceable at work and should lean more into a true work-life balance we also need to remember that WORKERS are people who use their skills to keep society afloat regardless of the industry.

Life and Health

Stories I Tell Myself About Family Dinner

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

I have been dealing with a (minor) parenting crisis as of late: dinner time. This isn’t the normal dilemmas where my child won’t eat anything or that we’re constantly running to different events so we can’t get a good dinner in.

Luckily my daughter will try almost anything, and we have followed Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in eating so we very rarely have fights during dinner about the food. I also work to curate our schedule so that we aren’t running all the time, every night of the week because I know how that go-go-go schedule burns me out so I can only imagine how it would affect my five-year-old. My dilemma comes from the stories I tell myself about a “good” family dinner.

I grew up privileged enough to have sit down family dinners with my whole family (dad, mom, and older brother) and I don’t necessarily remember a lot of individual meals, but I remember the feeling I had and the cumulative effect these meals had on my attitude and well-being even on days when I was the less than perfect little sister or daughter. Family meals meant everyone sitting at the table and the food was passed around as everyone took their helpings. Talking about the day or whatever came to mind. Most of the time our meals were the traditional meat (usually a beef product because my dad hated chicken unless it came in a bucket), starch (potatoes or rice) and vegetable (corn and broccoli seem to be the two that stick out in my memory). Looking back, I was incredibly lucky to have the food security and family time that was not available to everyone and these mealtimes have impacted how I view mealtime for my own family.

However, as my daughter has grown up, I’ve become more beholden to the ideal and the “should” around family dinner than the reality.

My partner works a shift job that often has him out of the house for dinner and it is usually just the two of us. Sometimes as this pandemic has worn on and I’ve had to balance on the ever-shifting sands my job in education requires I am too emotionally and physically spent and unfortunately my daughter gets what’s left some nights (let’s not talk about the guilt that has brought on in the past year — I’ve worked on rectifying that which has made a difference) and the reality that as a working parent in general creating the family meal is just sometimes exhausting.

I have new appreciation for my parents who seemed to get a complete, relatively balanced (for the 80s) meal on the table most nights of the week. But as I’ve explored this I have new appreciation for their prowess in the kitchen and how they ended up getting it done when they were both teachers themselves; I’ve also started to remember that sometimes it was pizza, sometimes it was fried chicken, sometimes we just went out to eat. We didn’t always eat at the table; sometimes it was dinner in front of the TV (on TV trays) and sometimes it wasn’t all four of us at once with different members of the family involved in different things. Sometimes there were “fly bys” (my mom’s phrase for drive-thru) — it wasn’t always this idyllic Normal Rockwell scene gathered around the table.

While there is a lot of research to suggest having a family meal is helpful to everyone’s well-being it almost always comes with the signifier “regularly”. What does regularly mean? It doesn’t mean every day and it doesn’t always have to mean dinner.

There is a growing body research that describes the effects family meals have on parents and children but does that research mean that I need to provide a perfect family meal every night? As I’ve worked through this story in my head the answer is a resounding no. There are just not enough hours in the day or energy in the tank sometimes to prep the meal and sit at the table eating it but the flip side is that sometimes there is enough.

I’ve realized that I should capitalize on the nights when there is enough time (not Tuesday) and enough energy (not Friday) to sit down at the table and eat with her — even if it’s just the two of us because having that time to talk and be focused on each other does do wonders to improve our “family functioning” which is a fancy term the scientists use to discuss interactions and relationships between the family members.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Even without the scientists telling us that family meals are important I intuitively knew that sitting down at the table with my kid is a good idea. Remembering what it felt like as a child myself to have those times with my family was something, I didn’t need the scientists to tell me. I recognize that talking with her about her day also clues me into what she’s thinking, feeling, or going through because I know if I don’t lay the groundwork now, I might be shut out in the future.

However, now I also realize when the risk-reward ratio is off and heaping this “should” onto my shoulders for the day would make it too much. There are days were forcing myself to do a family dinner would not improve my relationship with my kid or myself. I have come to understand and accept that while family dinners are important to me, they are not a hill I need to die on making them happen. There are many ways family dinners can happen: we can “eat watch” (my daughter’s phrase for eating in front of the TV) or we can have cereal at the dinner table. This doesn’t always have to be an all or nothing scenario.

We also build our relationship and spend quality time together in other ways as well so hopefully all of these things together will give my daughter the same comfort and security my parents were able to give me even if it’s not always at the dinner table.

Life and Health, Tips and Tricks

Why The Pomodoro Technique Works…In This House

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When the world turned upside down in March 2020, I was one of the millions of people (luckily) sent to work from home with really no guidance or structure. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll know that I am a high school science teacher by day and it’s a career, despite its challenges, I really enjoy but in March 2020 the regimented and controlled flow of the day was thrown off its axis and now I was at home. The guidance of what we were supposed to be doing, lessons we were to be delivering, or how we would interact with students was a constant change and everything was different.

The time span of March 17, 2020 until June 17, 2020 was a free for all as far as how to organize my day and still attempt to connect with kids during this difficult time. I worked hard on preparing and delivering lessons that were easy enough to do without my supervision but interesting enough to not just feel like busy work. I sent emails to students and their adults trying to stay connected; sometimes my work paid off and sometimes it fell flat but during that time frame we were trying to survive. During that season, I realized how the structure and routine of the school day with set periods I was teaching and set periods I was supposed to be accomplishing prep work or grading really kept me on task and organized so I searched for a way to recreate that structure at home even though I was basically left to my own devices and often in the house alone since my partner was an essential worker allowing my daughter to stay in daycare and me to keep working without losing my mind.

It was during the spring of 2020 that I discovered the Pomodoro Technique; originally described by Francesco Cirillo and named after the cute kitchen tomato timer he used to delineate work and break. Since discovering this technique myself, I’ve read more and more research about how “microbreaks” are really important to overall functioning and productivity both from a mental and physical standpoint. Now I’ve tried to implement it in my classroom especially since my district has lengthened the class period and I have seen it work for myself, my kid, and my students.

The basics of the Pomodoro Technique is that you work for a certain period and then you’re able to take a short break — this cycle is called a “pomodoro” and after 4 of those such pomodoros you can take a longer break. I almost never make it to 4 pomodoros because I’m either finished what I needed to work on at home or the period has ended at school but you can accomplish a lot in just 1 or 2 of these cycles. The “perfect” pomodoro is usually 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break but I usually use 20 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break.

Flash back to the Spring of 2020 when I implemented this technique for myself to continue trying to do my job in such a way that I had never tried to accomplish it before — lo and behold I found it worked; it kept me on task and working on my to do list often completing all the things. The key to the work period though is to cut out distractions. For me that meant putting my phone on do not disturb or airplane mode so it wouldn’t constantly suck my attention away. I also installed impulse blocker and pomodoro browser extensions so if I needed to work online, I wouldn’t just be able to go check what social media or deals on Amazon for “just a minute.”

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

It is these “just a minute” distractions that ultimately made the to do list take a lot longer to accomplish or make it harder to focus and understand what I’m working on; by constantly diverting my focus to something else it takes me ANOTHER minute to reorient myself to the task on hand.

When I’m working on crafting a project or lesson plan, I even close out my email at work because I can’t afford the constant “ding” notification because the noise itself is enough to through my mental train off the track even if I don’t go check that email.

I also started implementing this at home with my daughter when it came to cleaning or doing anything she fights me on. I ordered a sixty-minute time timer (I also ordered a bigger one for my classroom) and I’ll set it for 15 or 20 minutes. If the time timer isn’t handy, I’ll use a timer on my phone or even the sleep timer on her radio to measure it. We’ll do something for x minutes and then she can take a break. Or I’ll play with her for x minutes and then she plays by herself.

In my world it works beautifully for all ages. I get more accomplished in a focused 20 minutes than I get in a distracted hour and I often find that I’ve completed all the to do list items with time to spare.

It’s amazing what cutting out the constant distractions and interruptions can do; by giving myself the structure and I know a break is coming relatively soon so I don’t even feel like I’m being deprived of all the “fun”.

Part of being successful for me has also been to use technology to help me not just to hurt me. In my experience, many people bemoan the distractions but don’t use the tools available to help manage them so here is a list of my favorite techniques that help:

1. Tomato Clock (Firefox) Browser Extension

2. Impulse Blocker (Firefox) Browser Extension

3. Forest App (App Store and Google Play)

4. Actually closing down my email

5. Quality Time (Android App) — this is really great for setting and forgetting times when you want your phone to be unavailable you can also set this through the “digital wellbeing” settings on some phones (I have it set to lock my phone from 5:30p-8:15p for family time and 9:15p-6:00a for bed time and get ready for work)

We decry the digital connected-ness because our nostalgia takes over and it was so much “easier” to get things done or focus on the task at hand before all these distractions but on the flip side, we revel in what the digital age has brought us in the ability to connect across time and space or to see, experience, and learn things we never have before. I believe the way forward is finding the way that blends the nostalgic, rose-tinted glass look of the past with the possibility and opportunities of the future. The phones and technology are here to stay so finding the ways to work WITH them instead of AGAINST them is an important part in crafting the future we want.

Life and Health

Stories I Tell Myself About Makeup

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I grew up in the 80s and 90s when big hair, blue eye shadow, and having a “fully done face” was normal. I remember the makeup “tips” in the magazines like Seventeen and YM but I always struggled in regularly doing my makeup once I was allowed by my parents and into this new decade of life. I CAN do it and make it look pretty good but doing it on the regular was always a struggle.

As the calendar pages dropped and I became 40 (I really have to keep reminding myself because I still don’t believe it, in my head I’m still in my 20s) I dug into the stories I tell myself about makeup and what that meant for moving forward:

  1. There are only two options — completely made up (you know the routines that involve 3 types of foundation, 2 types of bronzer…etc) or bare faced
  2. You should change your makeup to “go” with your outfit AKA cool colors to go with cool colors and warm colors to go with warm colors
  3. Multiple colors of eye shadow MUST be used
  4. Skin tone must be completely evened out and “perfect” when you’re finished
  5. If you wear make up you’re giving in to societal pressures and beauty expectations but if you don’t your bucking the system
  6. Wearing make up regularly would teach my daughter (and my students) that you HAVE to wear it

There are a few more and maybe you have your own stories to add to the list but as you can see my stories ranged from the superficial to the existential. I had to sit with these stories for a little while to figure out where I fell. As a self proclaimed “tomboy” and screw the expectations of others kind of woman I really had to lean into why I had such a hang up around make up, wearing makeup, talking about make up with my daughter and so on. Why was this little thing such a big deal to me?

Eventually I came to the answer: I feel better when I have SOME of it on but the idea that I felt better wearing make up than not butted up against my “damn the man” and “I will not conform to societal pressures of beauty!” attitude. Could these two things co-exist in my own mind?

Who knew that such a tiny thing (it usually takes me 5 minutes in the morning) could be riddled with such emotional turmoil? And not to mention I know plenty of individuals who wear all different levels of makeup (or not) and are totally fine, beautiful, amazing human beings living their own truth. Why was I struggling with this so hard in my own life?

Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

From the time I was a kid all the way until now, I have been a person who does things their own way. Through this introspection I discovered that NOT wearing make up all the time was just as inconsistent with being authentic as wearing the full face all the time. Both of those things were about others expectations of my body and not really about my own. By not wearing it I was telling the world “ha! Look at me! Screw your systems of oppression and I am going to flaunt my naked face!” even though sometimes that felt just as performative as I envisioned wearing it all the time was caving to societal pressures.

At this point, I have found some messy middle ground of where I feel comfortable and authentic in my own face however it looks on a daily basis. I didn’t realize when I started this exploration that make up was full of existential land mines for me, who knew? It really took me digging into those feelings and reflecting on them to know where I really stood moving forward.