Curly Hair Don’t Care

If you have curly hair, then you know that summer is the season of bushy hair and broken ponytail holders. If you leave it down for more than a few hours it gets to be like a pyramid sitting atop your head. Small birds are probably living somewhere in there but you’ll never find them.

I used to hate my hair because I never knew what to do with it. I tried cutting it short – didn’t work, in fact that only made it bushier. I tried getting it layered but that also made it bushier. Turns out, thick curly hair needs to have weight to it so it pulls its own self down. I found that out the hard way.

I also found out that most gels and hairsprays don’t work. For awhile, I used the ‘No ‘poo’ method of hair care, which involves not using shampoo because most shampoos kill your curls. This method worked fairly well, but after awhile I felt like rubbing conditioner into my scalp wasn’t doing the washing trick, so I went back to shampoo – but this time I used TRESemmé Curl Hydration, and I haven’t looked back.

I still didn’t have a good hair product, though, until I bought this, the leave-in conditioner with the longest name on the planet: Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Curl Nourish Butter Cream.

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So my hair routine is usually this: I brush it out before getting in the shower, usually a big no-no, but it removes a lot of the extra hair that’s causing it to be so bushy. Then I shampoo and condition it, and comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. Once I get out, I towel-dry it but I NEVER, EVER, EVER comb or brush it AFTER a shower. While it’s still pretty wet (don’t let it dry too much before doing this), I liberally use the Garnier Fructis, which I usually refer to as “my actual lord and savior.” Then I just try not to ever touch my hair, ever, and viola! My curls are actual curls and my hair is relatively flat – or at least as flat as curly hair can ever be.

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sunset sky

don’t be with someone who turns you yellow
be with someone who lightens you up
and reveals your sunset sky

the setting of the sun
taught me a lesson today;

as I stood there and thought Gee I wanna be like you

you are
the clouds seemed to spell out
the gold trim on their underbellies shining
even as the sun dipped beneath the blue mountains

-Helen Armstrong

LDR Tips | Rabb.it

Last week I wrote about how great it is to watch TV shows together on the phone while far away from your partner, and a lovely blogger named Sarah commented to suggest that we try out rabb.it, a website that allows you to stream a video via a shared connection. Dubiously, I checked it out, worried that like so many other streaming sites it would be clunky and filled with viruses waiting to happen.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a very neat, streamlined site that was easy to use and gave plenty of video and chatting options! After signing up, you get your own “Room” to which you can invite people via e-mail. They don’t even have to make their own account to join. Then you choose a streaming host or site to go to.

rabb.it

Once you’ve chosen – for us it was Netflix – it comes up like this:

rabb.it 2

You’re able to navigate the site and you can both see it, and even switch between who has control. In the lower left are your icons – when she joined me, there was another one next to mine – which can be voice only or video chat. Once you’re both there, all you have to do is hit play and watch! It makes it way easier and really does feel like you’re in the same “room” together, even though this one is virtual.

Music Monday

I’ve been obsessed with this song, particularly this version, for the better part of a month now. It got me through finals and the end of my semester in Italy, and two weeks’ traveling through Italy and Germany afterwards as an emotional wreck because I’d had to say goodbye to my friends and my girlfriend. This song will forever remind me of that time, the bittersweet end of the semester but the rush of traveling to new places and seeing new things.

Slam Poetry Recommendations

I’ve fallen once more into the Button Poetry area of YouTube and instead of crawling out, this time I’ve decided to pull more people down with me. Here are some of my all-time favorite slam poems:

(side note – I got to see Neil Hilborn at my college last winter and he was amazing, so funny, so interesting, so real)

(this one reduced me to a crying mess in the kitchen during a sangria party)

Weekly Wrapup

At the end of the week I like to think of a handful of good things that happened to me or that I accomplished this week. It’s a good practice to get into on Fridays – instead of dismissing the week you’ve just had in favor of the weekend, take a bit of time to reflect on the good things about your week.

For example, for me, three positive things about this week:

  1. I interviewed for and got a job on campus
  2. I visited my best friend for the first time in months
  3. I started a blog!

How about you? Leave a comment with three positive things about your week!

LDR Tips | Netflix and Phone?!

In this day and age we love to watch TV together. In fact, it’s often better and more rewarding than actually talking to each other. (Cue the gasps of everyone born before 1950.) Even the Baby Boomers know that Netflix is where it’s at. My parents have been trying to get my brother and I out of the house constantly so they have time to be alone together…and watch Downton Abbey.

Netflix is what seems to be keeping love alive these days and hey, that’s okay; at least something’s doing it. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, then Netflix seems to be generally off the cards. After all, what’s the point in Netflixing without the chilling?

I was in this mindset until my girlfriend and I decided to do what all 90s kids used to do – we grabbed our cell phones, our respective bowls of popcorn, and queued up the first episode of The L Word. (Insert corny stereotype joke here.)

The-L-Word-Show-Page

Whatever. It’s like the gay Gossip Girl and if you think I didn’t watch with rapt attention as I blew through all 6 seasons of that overdramatic Upper East Side prep school bullshit in under a month then you’re wrong.

Our show choice aside, I had qualms about how this would work out. Even saying “Let’s hit start on go. One, two, three, GO!” didn’t keep us perfectly in time with each other. One of us inevitably ends up ahead of the other and laughs at jokes first, and forget about trying to pause it because that just makes everything all that much wonkier.

Technical difficulties aside, though, it was the most bonded to my girlfriend I’d felt since we last saw each other in person. Even if our laughter was staggered, we were still laughing at the same things. We were still talking. “Oh my god NO don’t sleep with her!” and “look at that precious baby bisexual look at her” and “ew this guy is almost as bad as Larry on Orange is the New Black.” It suddenly didn’t matter that she was in Colorado and I was in Pennsylvania because we were both doing the same thing, at the same time.

So give it a try. Even though it seems old-fashioned and maybe you think it’ll be awkward, I guarantee  you that the frustrations will only last a few minutes and the benefits will far outweigh them in the end.

happiness;

like a ball
rolling down a hill;

in summer;

it bounces across dirt
collecting grass
kicked up by the mower
that your dad hauls out
every week;

dons his orange headphones
to block the noise;

rubs his face whiter with
sunblock to keep away the rays
of hot summer;

rolling easy
sunsets and rises
crickets
cicadas
cccccccccccccc
rolling;

-Helen Armstrong

Nama-what?

It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I found myself with nothing to do. I’d already completed my tasks for the day, watched a bit of Netflix, made banana bread, and spent far too many hours on YouTube.

It is at these crossroads that we all must look ourselves in the mirrors and say: who am I? Will I log onto tumblr and spend the next several hours of my life looking at Supernatural gifs and stupid jokes? Or will I make something of myself?

Most of the time the answer is the former, but today it was the latter (solely because I had leftover kale salad for lunch and was feeling pretty healthy and didn’t want to ruin my streak). So I opened YouTube and typed in “yoga for beginners.” One of the first videos was “Yoga for Complete Beginners” which sounded like me, so I clicked it.

It’s by a woman named Adrienne and she makes all sorts of different videos about yoga. She has one of those soft voices that you expect from yoga instructors and she’s encouraging, understanding, and somehow knew exactly when my shoulders were hurting (as well as told me what to do about it). As someone who doesn’t want to drop $50 on four yoga classes at the local studio, I’m really happy that there are all these videos on YouTube for free, so that I can do yoga, for free, in my own bedroom, using a bath towel as a mat and acting as a human bridge for my dog to walk underneath while I do downward dog.

Adrienne dragged my body kicking and screaming through several simple poses in this 20-minute workout, and it was exactly what I needed after spending 2016 eating gelato and not working out beyond climbing Italy’s copious hills.

Was it difficult? Yes. Was it impossible? No.

Here are seven thoughts I had while doing yoga for the first time in years:

  1. “Why does my body already hurt it’s only been two minutes and I’m just sitting here”
  2. “Have I always had the posture of a gorilla or is that a new thing?”
  3. “Okay focus Helen, don’t get distracted by the beautiful instructor…oh my God but look at her…”
  4. “Where is my pelvis again…?”
  5. “How are her legs so straight are we even the same breed of human?”
  6. “But how can I look at her if my forehead is supposed to be on the ground? How will I know if I’m doing it right?”
  7. Do what feels natural? None of this feels natural.”

I complain but actually I feel really good right now – my legs might hurt a little and my muscles feel slightly strained but spiritually speaking, I feel good. It’s nice to check in with your body every now and then, even if you don’t like what it’s saying. At the end of the video Adrienne told me to do this same thing every day for a week, so tomorrow around this time, you can find me hauling out the old bath towel again.

Namaste!

Midweek Meditation: Dogs

My girlfriend jokingly told me to make the first Midweek Meditation about dogs and I laughed but then I remembered something that happened earlier today.

I was sitting on the couch and my dog was next to me on the floor. I was twirling my earbuds around in circles from my finger and they accidentally hit her in the head. She winced and I, of course, had a guilty breakdown over it, climbing off the couch to apologize to her and tell her how much I was sorry and that I still loved her and didn’t mean it. But she just licked my face happily like nothing had ever happened.

And, honestly? If we could adopt half of that forgive-and-forget attitude that our dogs have, do you know how much happier we’d be? We should let what people do to us be like the wind and we’re the trees, it bends us but doesn’t break us, and then it moves on and leaves us.

Of course that’s easier said than done. When someone wrongs us it’s easy to add it to a list of the ways we’ve been mistreated; eventually we have a long list. And we use that list for so many things. We use it to justify our own wrong actions against others, or the reason why we are the way we’re more ___ than we should be.

If we could learn to be more like dogs and not only forgive but forget what’s been done to us, especially the things that were earnest mistakes or one-time transgressions, especially when the person deserves our forgiveness, do you know how much better our lives would be?

Sometimes I feel so heavy with the weight of what other people have done to me. So today I’m going to be more like my dog. I’m going to set it down and walk away from it. If you have a lot of things that you’re still upset about that you should have let go long ago, join me this week in trying to let go of it – truly let go of it. Not just forgive it. But forget it, too. Like a dog would.

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