December 31, 2014

An anything-but-lazy girl's guide to relaxing well: Vacation edition

An anything-but-lazy girl's guide to relaxing well

I'm milking the last of my vacation, meaning I geared down into a (quasi) washed, (moderately) unkempt but incredibly relaxed state. 

Ready to make the most of your time at home before heading back to work? Here's what I wear and do to relax well on my break:

1. Lululemon Wunder Unders are perfect because they straddle the sweatpants/leggings line so well.
2. Thick, warm socks: Laying around isn't always great for my circulation.
3. Lip stuff. You know, they get chapped.
4. A big cozy cardigan like the Kimchi Blue one Santa gave me for Christmas.
5. Zit cream. (Because you shouldn't wear anything else on your face, obviously.)
6. Books, like Yes, Please or #GIRLBOSS, for when I'm tapped out on Gilmore Girls or Downton Abbey.
7. Glasses. (Because contacts put a serious cramp in sporadic napping.)
8. A t-shirt. Maybe a men's one. I like grey ones for loafing around the house.
9. BKR. (Because drinking water makes me feel less guilty.)
10. A mug of tea. Preferably one that pairs well with the leftover chocolates I eat for breakfast.

All of these things pair well with a thick blanket (like a Parachute down duvet or anything else that begs for you to bury yourself in), a couple episodes of whatever show you're watching, and a snack. Always a snack.

December 10, 2014

Feminism: Count me in.

Treading delicately is difficult when the floor is littered with land mines.

My heart is heavy and full. An article is making its rounds on Facebook, resulting in women refusing to label themselves as feminists. I continually fight the urge to comment because it all makes me feel feisty, which means it likely won't be productive. Thinking and writing results in something more coherent and cohesive, leaving all (or, at the very least, some) of the land mines in tact.

Feminism is big and bulky. I took a Women's Studies course in university and it had everything television told me to expect: An aged hippie professor, a gaggle of militant lesbians and the token creepy guy faking empathy while leering at the woman beside him. I learned lots, including how women advocating for equal rights started long before there was a label for it.

I walked away from the class thankful for the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by the women whose stories I heard. Do I agree with everything done in the name of feminism? No. But I can't deny that my present ability to own a home and a car, to vote for political leaders, and to find protection within the law against abuse and harassment isn't the result of women working tirelessly for equality.

And I never had to do anything for it. I am unbelievably fortunate.

Sheer stubbornness keeps me from ripping off the title and rolling over, crying into my pillow about how the word has been used in ways I don't like and how it's all just not fair. Nah. No thanks. I'm quite content to stand here – even if I'm all alone – and say how thankful I am for what has been done and acknowledge how much more needs to happen.

(Yes. There are still discrepancies. And inequalities. In so many ways.)

For the sake of our daughters and sons, or nieces and nephews, let's not worry about the trivial stuff. Hashtag movements are nice, but they don't last. Let's keep praying and advocating and working to remind ourselves of where we've come and how much further we've left to go. Because both men and women carry figurative weight, unrealistic expectations and impossible demands.

You know, what she said.

November 25, 2014

Kissing my husband goodbye is a full-contact sport.

(... And not in the way you may think it is. This is a revised retelling of a previously published story. Enjoy!)

Hubs and I will never be the couple who wake up, eat breakfast and walk out the door together. Like, never. He works in shifts. I have a regular 9 to 5. When one of us is up and ready for the day, the other is likely still half asleep, sprawled over onto the now-vacant other side of the bed.

A couple days ago, I tiptoed into our bedroom to put on my wedding rings and to kiss Hubs goodbye. He worked an evening shift so I was extra quiet. Cherishing the moment, I touched his head before leaning in to kiss him on the cheek when HE BURST AWAKE, LAUNCHED HIS BODY UP, FLAILED HIS ARMS AROUND AND SMACKED ME IN THE FACE.

Mumbling something about "catching the bad guys," he quickly smothered me into a weird bear-hug type deal, apologizing profusely and asking what he did. My glasses dug into my head at an uncomfortable angle and I was stunned, uncertain whether to laugh, cry or smack him back.

As soon as I untangled myself from the uncomfortable and slightly suffocating hug, Hubs turned over and fell back asleep like he didn't just wallop his wife in the face. Turning on my heels and stifling giggles, I beelined it to the bathroom to see if this bizarre encounter left any discernible marks.

When I returned home that night, Hubs gave me a quizzical look. "What happened this morning?"

I filled him in. He remembered nothing. Nothing. We laughed, I cried (kidding) and then he suggested I gently push him before saying goodbye. We laughed even more. There's no way that'd be helpful. It'd only make things worse!

The next morning, I opted out of the pre-kiss push. As I peered at him through the dark, the whites of his eyes gleamed back at me. He smirked. I asked if he needed a shove.

He laughed. And launched himself up off the bed in an act of faux-surprise just like he did on that fateful morning. Exactly when my guard went down.

So I shoved him.

November 12, 2014

Figuring out a little more about who I am and what I want to do. (With help)

After spending much of my life charging toward what's next in order to get to this goal – which quickly shifted to that goal or back to this one again – I lost my bearings. At times it seems like a quarter-life crisis lasting two years too long.

Almost four years ago I graduated college with a bachelor's degree in hand and decided I didn't want to do what I originally set out to do. Since then I occasionally wrestle with feelings of inadequacy (Why did I go from a large well-known university to a tiny invisible college? Should I have studied this instead of that?) and frustration (How do I know when it's not a pipe dream? Why do I keep feeling inadequate when I know I'm more than capable?)

I quiet those feelings by saying yes and figuring out the rest later. And I pay better attention to the markers in my path, the ones I miss when I focus on being overwhelmed. I also made changes. Looking back I can't help but roll my eyes at how some were blown out of proportion but I was afraid and fear makes you do crazy things. Like cussing out actors in a haunted house and hiding behind your cane-swinging grandma for protection. Another story for another time.

Encouragement and inspiration came from a few places. Braid Creative was one of them, providing solace as I narrowed down what I wanted to do. And when Kathleen sent out an email about Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do, I went balls to the wall and signed up.

Turns out I had to get creative about figuring out the rest. The course was open for nine of the busiest days in my month so I scribbled frantic notes and printed out all the worksheets to work through in more depth later.

Super practical and completely rad, the worksheets are the best part of the course. I polished off two or three a night and every time I started a new one my brain put up a fight. Long mental lists of why I shouldn't or couldn't or didn't want to do the work and how hard it'd all be populated without any effort. I saw it as a sign I was doing exactly what I needed to do. When I ignored the lists and started writing, I couldn't get my thoughts onto paper fast enough.

I walked away from it with a better idea of what I want to do and – surprisingly – a more defined sense of who I am. A little more clarity, a little more confidence. It helped me uncover and embrace parts of myself I didn't think fit with what I want to do. By pulling apart the bits, I felt a little more whole. And my bearings feel a little more gathered, professionally and personally.

If you're struggling with sorting out who you are and what you want to do, I can't recommend Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do highly enough. It's a small investment with huge returns. Only $75. And the best part? You don't have to wait long to get started. The next course opens on Friday. Registration is open until tomorrow.

Can't hurt, right?

[image courtesy of Braid Creative]

*When you use one of the above links to sign up for the course, I make a small commission from it. I will never recommend anything I don't absolutely love and adding affiliate links like this helps me make a tiny bit of revenue to support this space. Any questions? Feel free to send me an email.

November 07, 2014

A lazy girl's guide to work nights: Fall edition

A lazy girl's guide to work nights

Settling into fall's cozy grays and shorter days doesn't help. Dressing with layers and driving in the dark, along with listening to Lorde and The National on repeat, has lulled me into an uber-relaxed state. After a long work day and an occasionally tedious commute, I run to these things when I get home. These are my essentials for a lazy work night (or a regular Friday night):

1. Sweatpants
(I read it. And I loved it.) 
3. A cozy blanket
4. An inspirational mug to make you feel like you're accomplishing something
5. Tea, to relax you and boost your immune system
6. A funny TV show. I recommend The Mindy Project
7. Nutella, because you're too lazy to make yourself a proper meal
8. A spoon, because scooping out Nutella with your fingers is undignified.

November 06, 2014

Veronica Mars

On Saturday morning I lay in bed reading Vulture's 9 reasons why Veronica Mars was feminist as hell. I loved the article and knew it was time to finally come clean with a recent TV obsession.

I watched Veronica Mars in full a couple months ago and – big surprise – I loved it. Veronica is smart and complex, unwilling to bend to social or gender norms. She knows who she is. She's fiercely protective of the people she loves. She isn't going to do anything she doesn't want to because she already has.

In the pilot episode, you learn Veronica was drugged and raped at a high school party. Her best friend, Lily Kane, was murdered. Her dad lost his job as town sheriff because of the murder investigation and now works as a private eye. But Veronica isn't a victim. She's determined to solve what happened and bring justice to her friend (and to herself).

Veronica Mars is heavy without being too heavy. It's candid and honest without being exploitative. It doesn't shy away from depicting the aftermath of sexual abuse for victims or drawing clear lines about what is and isn't okay. And it does it well.

It's also funny and melodramatic. It can also be tricky to follow. Veronica Mars aired under the perpetual threat of cancellation for most of its three season run. At times the story lines feel rushed and frantic, other times it's slow and steady.

One of the neat aspects of Veronica Mars is that it continues to live on: All three seasons are available on Netflix, and the Kickstarter-funded movie can be rented on iTunes. If that's still not enough, there are two novels – The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell (coming in January!) – and Play It Again, Dick, a spin-off web series starring Ryan Hansen.

It's a great show for dark nights and cozy blankets. A bit smarter and definitely more sarcastic than your usual teenaged television show. Still plenty cheesy.

November 05, 2014

"Maybe you look too pretty?": Why it's never an okay answer.

It was my gut reaction to why some women feel unsafe while running alone, and it wasn't right.

I know how it feels and I never look pretty when I run. While training for my first half-marathon I ran in the early morning to cover my miles before the temperature climbed too high. Darkened pathways and strange men kept me on high alert, picking up my pace when I passed either.

This fear culminates in planning how to defend myself from an attacker: How quickly could I grab my spare key? Where could I jab it to buy myself enough time to run to safety? Could my bladder release on command if I was desperate? If I called out for help, would anyone come to my rescue?

My imagination can get the best of me, something unhelpful as a person managing a degree of anxiety on a regular basis. I take measures to keep myself safe. I don't run with headphones or earbuds. I run against traffic. I wear brightly coloured clothing and I have a pretty fierce BRF. I run in daylight hours. I share my route and estimated arrival time before I go out (even if in a text message).  I do everything the experts encourage women to do when they're out running alone. Still I am always on high alert.

Our world is not as it should be. It never will be. Tiny minorities of ghastly people do unimaginably horrific things and it'll be all we hear about on the evening news. Curtains get pulled back to reveal what's really going on behind closed doors. Sticks and stones are the least of our worries because words on screens have become the nastiest.

Women (and men) aren't victims because they're attractive. Questioning whether a person is to blame for his or her victimization for any reason shifts the blame from the perpetrator – who deserves all of the judgment and vitriol – to the victim. Not okay. Not ever.

And for my mind to jump to this conclusion first? I was embarrassed. And ashamed.

I write this as much for myself as for anyone out there who has ever fallen into the "Maybe you look too pretty?" trap without even thinking about it. Even though I know what it feels like to be vulnerable and fearful. Even though I know better. I jumped to that conclusion. It was the first response that popped into my head. And that's not okay. Not ever.

November 04, 2014

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

Earlier this year I experimented with natural deodorants. Some were okay. Others were pitiful. Pun intended.

Of all the natural deodorants I've tried, Soapwalla Deodorant Cream is one of my favourites. It smells nice, like a gentle earthy mix of lavender and tea tree oil, and is easy to use. Applying deodorant with your fingers takes getting used to, and I recommend giving it a couple minutes to absorb before putting on a top. It'll sink into shirts before your pits.

Made with food-grade ingredients, I feel confident about using this stuff on my skin. I still store a drugstore stick in my gym bag for lunch break exercise because it's convenient. If you're interested in giving it a try, I order mine from Eco Diva Beauty.

October 31, 2014

Eight Galloween costumes (for you and your BFF)

Saying my husband is uninterested in dressing up for Halloween is an understatement. Can't get frustrated with him for it. They aren't his thing.

I love dressing up. It doesn't always turn out well, but it's fun. I would love to top my last (successful) costume, but I'll need to grab a friend to fill out the other half of my ensemble. A Galloween costume, if you will. Similar to a couple costume but for BFFs instead of romantic partners.

Tonight I'm dressing up as Lindsay-In-Sweatpants. Not original. However I have high hopes for next year. These are my ideas for Galloween 2015:

Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins (or April Ludgate)

Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz and Amy Farrah Fowler

Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson

Mindy Lahiri and Morgan Tookers

Garth and Kat

Keith and Veronica Mars

Golden Girls (any of them)

Kelly Kapowski and Jessie Spano

Any takers?

October 30, 2014

My Halloween costume ideas peaked in bible college

Finding a faux father was the biggest challenge in putting this costume together. (Turned out most guys at my school didn't want to dress up as the guy who pretend-knocked me up. Weird.) Luckily my friend Jacob said yes. He ironed the logo on that shirt and bought orange TicTacs. I couldn't have asked for a more committed costume partner. 

Lots of people asked to touch my belly, carefully crafted by carbs, lactose and a thick scarf molded under a fitted tank top. Others just went for it. 

I lingered between loving the attention and grappling with the urge to run away and hide from all the happy hands. Pregnant women aren't kidding: Baby bumps are tactile magnets. Even the fake ones. 

October 28, 2014

My first (and worst) half-marathon

My first half-marathon was a mess.

Months of diligent – albeit likely too intense – planning and scheduling, running and stretching prepared me for the weekend. They didn't, however, prep me for everything to go down the toilet.

I started to feel achy and weak after picking up my race kit. Carb-loading in a comforter cocoon, I tried to sweat out my full-blown fever. It broke. On the morning of the race, I woke up feeling off but persisted anyway.

As if that wasn't enough, I committed the unforgivable running sin: wearing something new on race day. New shorts, new (and terrible) sports bra, and sunglasses. I also hadn't figured out less truly is more when running for a couple hours straight. The few pockets I had were jammed packed with tissue, gels, iPods, earbuds, ID and an iPhone. Not a bright move when you're healthy. Even dumber when you're sick.

Big hills, hot sun, and a weary mind made running more difficult. Throwing my training plan out the window didn't help either: I started too fast, didn't pay attention to my refuelling schedule and ended up walking, nursing side stitches and swallowing my puke back down. Along with my pride.

A mixture of sadness and embarrassment washes over me when I think about that race. It also makes me giggle and thank God I ran it with Nicole – my ever-patient, ever-gracious running partner and friend. She was beyond encouraging, telling me I looked great even when I knew my face was a pallid green hue.

It was rough. I was a mess. But I finished it.

October 22, 2014

Some things make my heart hurt

Preparing for a wedding and working early hours meant I ran in the evenings. Suited up and ready to go, I swung open our front door to find a short, slightly pudgy blond boy with a white bag.
"Hi, my name is Daniel and I am eight years old. I'm a part of an after-school children's program to keep kids off the street and I was wondering if you would like to buy a box of chocolate-covered almonds or give any extra donation toward it."
This kid's eyes caught me off guard, halting my usual "No thanks." Big and blue mingled with sadness and fear. He memorized his script well. He was completely alone. No adult hiding behind the corner of our garage watching and waiting to see how he performed, much like what happened with trick or treaters asking for candy or the local peewee hockey team wanting empty bottles.

He was alone.

I ducked behind the door to run his request by my family and to scrounge up some cash. My dad pulled out a five dollar bill and when he gave it to the boy, Daniel suggested he could keep the extra two dollars as a donation. My dad laughed. He let him keep the change.

Forty minutes later I rounded the corner toward home and started walking. In the distance I saw a short, slightly pudgy blonde holding a white bag on the other side of the street. Still alone. Looking from side to side, he impressed me as slightly self-conscious and lonely in his eight-year-old skin. I listened as Daniel gave his pitch to an older gentleman.

With a heavy heart and watery eyes, I walked by. I imagine he fielded a fair amount of rejection and resistance from people uninterested in buying chocolate or supporting his after-school program. He was only eight years old, left to do this all alone.

Four years later, I hope Daniel is well. I don't know where his parents are or why he needed to be kept off the streets. Would he have been literally living on the streets? Or was he a latch-key kid needing something to do other than spending afternoons and evenings home alone until mom and/or dad showed up? I hope his after-school program was (and maybe is) helpful and valuable.

Most of all  I hope he isn't alone anymore.

October 21, 2014

Lazy/Beautiful: Dermalogica Emergency Spot Fix

Over the years I've honed a decent skin care regime: Sweating lots, sticking to a couple key potions and serums, eating my vegetables and, on occasion, going without makeup.

And – for the times when I toss those things out the window, veer slightly off track or follow every step perfectly and still see red spots – I've got this:

Dermalogica Clear Start Emergency Spot Fix: the perfect zit cream. Liquid gold, I tell you! I've never seen a pimple shrink as quickly as when I dab a little of this on it. Only a tiny smear and poof – it disappears. Or it pulls everything up to the surface all at once. Gruesome for a day, gone for tomorrow? I'll take it.

Morning or night, I put it on after washing my face and before putting on moisturizer. (This one, to be exact.) It doesn't dry out my skin and leave a crusty, flaky halo around the pimple. You know what I'm talking about? Apparently you're supposed to reapply it every six to eight hours. I've never tried that because, you know, life. There are more pressing things than crushing a zit into oblivion. I can only imagine how pimple-less my skin would be.

While it's a bit more expensive than drugstore potions, it's worth the extra couple bucks because it's fast and effective. It doesn't take much to make a big difference, which is why it'll have a special spot in my skin care arsenal as long as it continues to exist.

October 20, 2014

15 things I wish I knew when I was 18

Last weekend I wrote a letter to my little sister – part of my family-by-choice not family-by-blood – who's graduating from high school in June. The letter was given to her at a special rite-of-passage type event at her school.

As I sorted out what I wanted to write, I reflected on the past ten years. Because, yes, I'm already ten years out of high school. How did I get so old so soon?  I decided to write her a list of all the things I wished I knew at her age with the hope that it'll put her a little farther ahead of where I was back then. I'm pretty confident this is already the case. 

Here are a few things I wish I knew when I was eighteen:

October 17, 2014

Making decisions easier

While rereading Bossypants this summer, I learned a new way to make seemingly unsolvable decisions: Decide to not decide... yet.

Turns out Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels were both uncertain about her impersonating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live – which, by now, you'll know was a huge pop culture moment in 2008. In her book, she mentions how they dealt with it:
"We decided not to decide. This is another technique I'd learned from Lorne. Sometimes if you have a difficult decision to make, just stall until the answer presents itself." 
(Bossypants, pg. 203. Emphasis mine)

I was curious if stalling makes situations more stressful. Until I tried it once. Then twice. And after a couple more times, I liked it.

Exhausting my pro/con lists often leave me feeling stuck. When I remind myself I don't have to decide yet, a solution or decision pops up quickly. Allowing my mind some space to relax, which shrinks the decision-making stress, usually gives me the answer/solution I need.

Have you ever tried this? Did you find it successful?

P.S. If you haven't already, you should read Bossypants. Heck, you should pick up a copy for yourself. Word to the wise? Don't eat or drink while reading. I learned this the hard way; I laughed so hard, I dribbled.

October 16, 2014


The Braverman clan is my favourite TV family.

You may not be bowled over immediately but, over time, you'll come to love them too. Parenthood is about family and life, navigating both as best as you can together. It's not afraid of getting heavy. (Sitting down to watch it beside a box of tissues is wise.) In six seasons, the Bravermans faced cancer, Aspergers, separation, adoption, bullying and more.

Personality clashes and conflicts are normal. Relationships are mended and repaired. It doesn't tie up problems with a tidy bow and a life lesson. Some story arcs last through multiple episodes, some over seasons. It's nuanced and refreshing. Heartwarming and heartbreaking. Genuine and subtle. Beautiful too.

As far as television dramas go, Parenthood is the best of what is (and has been) on TV, regardless of its near-criminal lack of awards and accolades. It's a show I'll keep coming back to over the years, a comfortable place to reflect and watch, laughing and crying the entire way through.

October 15, 2014

Foods I'd eat everyday if I didn't need my jeans to fit*

Butternut squash and kale curry from Vij's Railway Express at Food Cart Fest. I died.
  1. Indian food
  2. Olives: Black, never green.
  3. Banana pancakes (Whip 1 mashed banana with 2 eggs) with dark chocolate almond spread
  4. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  5. Guacamole
  6. Chocolate hazelnut tuxedo cake
  7. Pineapple
  8. Lazy peanut butter cookies (Mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and an egg.)
  9. Onion rings
  10. Swiss Chalet's French fries
  11. Pavlova
  12. Cinnamon buns
How do I know I'm settling into fall quite nicely? This. This is how. When temperatures drop and clouds roll in, I hibernate. And then all I want to do is eat.

Anyone else with me?

*It's not about staying a certain size so much as avoiding buying a new pair of pants. It's a close second to swimsuit shopping for me.

October 10, 2014

Ten things I find pretty great.

  • Renting movies from iTunes (like The One I Love)
  • Relaxing in a bath full of lavender-scented epsom salts
  • Using gold pens with black ink
  • Walking in the door, after a long day of work, to freshly baked cookies
  • Connecting the dots with a coworker, realizing the overlap between people, places and blogs in our lives
  • Listening to this CD over and over again. It's my favourite right now.
  • Working from home means sweatpants, makeup-less-ness, and productivity
  • Chatting with a friend, realizing hours have passed and it only felt like minutes
  • Cleaning out a Netflix queue (and curing indecision) by watching what's first on the list and continuing down the line
  • Working toward long weekends

October 09, 2014

The One I Love

When I decided to recommend The One I Love I promised myself I'd avoid starting this post with "There's only one word to describe this film" or something else just as cliched or lame. But I'm coming up totally blank. It was crazy. Intriguing. As credits rolled, I was speechless. Well, almost.  I immediately drilled Hubs for his take on how it all played out. He shrugged.

Reading anything else about The One I Love will leave you hanging, which is appropriate. The movie itself does too. At least, I thought it did. And I, like many others before me, am only going to dive into a superficial overview of the plot: Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), a married couple on the verge of splitting up, spend a weekend away at the suggestion of their marriage therapist. Anything beyond that? You need to watch it.

I'm a big fan of Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. (Or Brendan Deslaurier and Peggy Olson, if you prefer.) If the powers-that-be in Hollywood ever read my tiny blog, more of them in more things, please. And thank you.

Watch The One I Love if you like indie movies or mulling over ambiguous endings. Big fan of neat, tidy resolutions? It may not be the one you love.

Slow clap for puns.

I rented it from iTunes because it was, sadly, absent from any local theatres. If there's one bone I have to pick with my neighbourhood, it's that great indie theatres are more than an hour's drive away. Considering it for your next movie night? Check out the trailer:

(Curious what I'm watching next? Planning on hunkering down to finally watch Obvious Child and Fed Up this weekend. After turkey, of course. Want to hear my take? Let me know by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook page.)

October 08, 2014

All of the ladies.

When I tried on my wedding dress for the first round of alterations, it was clear I wasn't ready for the big day.

Shoes were bought and brought to ensure the perfect length. Accessories were almost decided. Hair, too. But the most important part of a perfect outfit? The stuff no one sees but it sets everything up to look just right. Ladies, you get what I'm talking about, right? I hadn't done a thing.

Since "hoisting my main sails" was not work for the faint of heart or the weak of underwire, I marched into a small specialty fitting shop a couple weeks later. After many deep breaths and pep talks and chocolate bars, of course.

I wasn't completely new to this. I had a similar experience at a major department store where the "expert fitter" wound a measuring tape around my torso, pulling the tape snug around my jacket, sweatshirt, long-sleeved and tank tops. She eyeballed me a bit. Turned me around. Eyeballed me a little more. Then she announced a number and letter, her best guess.

But at this store the measuring tape I faced was a little more personal. A little too close for comfort. And, ladies, it was in European numbers.

If you've never been sized by a European system, I'll sum it up in one word: traumatic. Numbers shrink but letters soar halfway through the alphabet past double and triple iterations of the same letters, an unfamiliar pattern I never had to recite in kindergarten. It's intriguing and horrifying.

When the older lady in the speciality store delivered her final verdict, I briefly cycled through the Kubler-Ross model. My eyes bulged. My head shook. And the first comment to slip out of my mouth?

"So you mean I've received flotation device status?"

She laughed and chattered on while I blinked away visions of an 80-year-old Lindsay, hunched forward and wearing sweatpants in order to tuck it all in. My shoulders slumped. My back curved. Standing in the fitting room, I could feel my spine succumbing to its eventual fate. Really, though, I just have terrible posture. Nearly always.

Four years and many measuring tapes later, I'd like to go back to 23-year-old Lindsay, traumatized in that changing room. Standing in front of her, looking into her stunned eyes, I'd grasp her hands in mine while whispering,

"Just you freaking wait..."

Because the measuring tapes don't go away. You'll start to feel a little more used to them. Things shift and change. And you'll learn to care less about the numbers and letters and care more about embracing what you've got while you've got it. Because, honey, these things don't always stay the same.

Literally and figuratively.

October 07, 2014

Lazy/Beautiful: Sephora Instant Moisturizer

I'm all for making the most of what you've got with minimal effort.

It hasn't always been this way. Hours dwindled away as I caked on foundation, concealer and mascara in my middle and high school years.

My beauty philosophy leans heavily on the "less is more" side of the spectrum, with a hearty dose of "If the barn needs painting, paint it." Taking a less-is-more approach means preparing well: eating properly, exercising often and sleeping enough. I don't regularly wear a lot of make up but I love experimenting with products, regimes, and great life choices to create a relatively zit-free canvas.

One of my tried and true favourites is Sephora Collection's Instant Moisturizer, the only cream that keeps my dry spots hydrated and smooth without creating more pesky pimples. It quenches without creating an oil slick, absorbs without leaving that tight, stretched out feeling. My skin tone evens out. Redness minimizes. And best of all? I can use it day or night. A light layer during the day leaves my skin primed for makeup without a greasy sheen. At night, I add an extra layer around my eyes and cheeks to keep my Sahara-esque skin from drying out.

After experimenting with various oils, primers and other moisturizers all summer, I hit a rut and ran back to Sephora. Within a week, my skin returned to its still-zitty-but-less-dry state.

So, normal. It's back to normal.

October 06, 2014

Look Ma, I'm (not) an athlete

No one should ever call me a "natural athlete."

A natural book-reader or list-maker, yes. I come by those things naturally. But athletically inclined? Nope. Any progress I've made is because I'm determined, persistent, and stubborn.

Three ways to say the same thing. And I've got them all.

I find running therapeutic. A constant source of fresh goals and new challenges, running is a way for me to burn off energy and quiet my mind. A regular jaunt around the block kicks my writer's block to the curb and jumpstarts my creative juices. It preserves my sanity, along with my husband's. It improves my sleep, increases my energy, and squashes my stress. 

When running became a more consistent part of my life, I decided I needed a proper wardrobe to support my habit. Turns out, runner's sartorial choices mainly revolve around spandex and lycra. Words like compression, Dri-Fit and wicking get tossed around casually. Getting accustomed to all of them takes time. And courage.

This need for courage became evident when I bought my first compression top. I knew the benefits: It'd wick away sweat and keep me warm during cold and/or wet runs. But getting that thing over my head and around all my parts? Not fun.

There's no hiding anything while wearing compression fit clothing.

After bringing it home, I sat and stared at my new long-sleeved, black top before I bit the bullet and put it on.  Pausing in front of my floor-length mirror, I surveyed my Spandex-clad side profile. "Not bad, Lindsay... Not bad. You look like a real runner!"

My ego grew three sizes in those three seconds. I turned a couple more times, evaluating my outfit at different angles. My all-black, all-compression running ensemble was flattering. I was meant to be out there, racing around the neighbourhood streets. I looked like a runner. An athlete. A good-looking athlete! 

A few more minutes of self-flattery followed before I put on my shoes and ducked out the door. Consumed by vanity and self-admiration, I was distracted as I ran. I didn't clue in to what was going on until it was, uncomfortably, too late.

Here's the thing about compression tops: They're skintight. When your body moves, they do too. Generally upward. And when you pull them over a pair of less-fitted pants, they all stay in place. Until they start to climb.

As I ran, the fitted top continued its usual trajectory up my torso, bringing my pants up with it. And the higher they went, the more my pants gathered between my cheeks. And I refused to pick this massive wedgie because I was running down the busiest street in my then-neighbourhood. All the traffic. All of my pants, up all of my butt.

Another benefit I glean from running? Humility. It brings me back down a notch or two off my high horse. Always.

October 03, 2014

Ten things I'm grateful for

  • Two weeks ago, I listened to Martha Stewart speak. The only valuable nugget of advice I took from her carefully crafted message? Learn something new every day. And I have!
  • I found two pairs of dress pants on sale at Target. Together they cost less than the original price of one!
  • Carving our short moments of quality time with my husband. That guy's schedule and mine just haven't lined up well lately.
  • Achy legs: I went for a run after work a couple days ago and my legs are still sore.
  • Calm, a mediation app where you can choose from a variety of ambient noise. Like waves washing up onto a beach. It's perfect for mellowing out after my busiest work rushes.
  • Rainy days, cozy socks and warm cups of tea
  • New books, like The Rosie Effect and Not That Kind of Girl
  • Rereading old, lingering magazines and folding over pages with info I want to keep
  • Recycling said magazines once you're done with them, emptying out a bedside drawer to make room for more books. (And maybe more magazines)
  • Seeing my persistence pay off: My dad finally agreed to run a half-marathon with me.

Have a great weekend!

October 02, 2014

The Mindy Project

Have you watched The Mindy Project yet? (If not, what are you waiting for? Seriously?)

It's a show about Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN who's looking for love and losing herself in rom-com cliches while managing her professional life in a Manhattan medical practice full of quirky coworkers. It's sassy, subtle and super easy to binge-watch. It's one of the few shows that makes me laugh out loud!

Whenever I recommend the show, I always mention it takes a bit for the show to find its stride. Undergoing a couple of notable casting changes and shifting its focus to more of an ensemble comedy between the first and second seasons, it only gets funnier and funnier. Ike Barinholtz and Max Pally are two of my favourites. And Chris Messina. Is it super cheesy to say his tough-yet-sweet Danny Castellano is dreamy? Whatever. Don't care. He is.

If you've tried to watch it and dropped off the radar, I recommend giving it another try. You'll want to get to, at least, the middle of the second season. To the airplane scene. If you've seen it, you know why.

The first two seasons are available on Netflix Canada, and the third is airing on TV right now. 

October 01, 2014

Let's start this off with a bang

My middle school was pretty wimpy. All one hallway and six portables of it.

Its miniature gym was perfect for one court's worth of volleyball. It was also the ideal size for less-than-fit Dr. Lindsay to heave hulking teammates to safety while ducking dodgeballs.

As a way to compensate for our gym's shrimpy size, my school instated a community PE program where we spent time goofing off learning sports and stuff in local recreation centres. For a couple of weeks, we hung out at a local gymnastics studio.

The more athletically inclined kids in my class wowed the masses with flips, back handsprings and various other tricky body things. Others, like me, evoked awe by somersaulting in a straight line or shimmying ourselves off the side of the trampoline without getting our shorts – or worse, our skin – caught in one of the springs.

The gym was owned by an older couple with matching coke bottle glasses and Dorothy Hamill haircuts. Even at 14, I couldn't quite wrap my head around the "he" in that relationship, with his slightly stained white tank top straining to cover his paunchy midsection. Was he a gymnast? I couldn't tell. He fired out directions like he knew what he was talking about. Whatever the case, they knew more than I did so I listened to and obeyed everything they said.

In an effort to teach us new things, we were shuttled through various stations during our time at the gym. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't escape the handstand one.

May 02, 2014

Short Term 12

After reading plenty of reviews naming it one of the best movies of 2013, I was excited to finally watch Short Term 12

And, you guys, it was well worth the wait.

It was beautiful and heartbreaking and captivating and agonizing. Set in a foster-care facility, Short Term 12 revolves around Grace (Brie Larson), a young counsellor who's working through her own stuff as she cares for troubled teens. Out of all the movies I've featured here on my blog, this one is by far my favourite.

It's heavy, so I recommend watching it alone or with a friend or two. You may want to hash it out with someone once it's over. (Available on Netflix or iTunes)

May 01, 2014

Here's to you, lady, and all your little victories.

Having lady parts can be a lot of work.

Yeah, there's the usual stuff. Ovaries bring oodles of monthly excitement that's easily overshadowed by the joy of birth. (Or so they tell me.) Chest, breasts, chesticles – whatever you call them, they're there. Never quite exactly as you'd like them to be.

Then there's all the stuff you can't really talk about. You know all those moments that require mustering up a lot of courage but you don't get to celebrate openly for fear of sharing too much information? I'm talking tackling the little bits and pieces of being a lady that feel like mountains until you conquer them, crushing them into tiny molehills.

Last week I celebrated a little victory. It struck me as I strut down the street to pick up our mail, smiling confidently and, subsequently, laughing at myself. Thus, this post.

Here's to you, ladies, and all your little victories you can't necessarily talk about: shrinking pimples, clean bikini lines, smaller pant sizes, tidy upper lips, properly sized bras, disappearing stretch marks, obliterated ingrowns, less-visible cellulite and fancy new underpants. Hooray!

April 11, 2014

The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back is a sweet coming-of-age story about Duncan (Liam James), an awkward teen who spends the summer at a beach house with his mother (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Duncan ends up working at a waterpark where he bonds with Owen (Sam Rockwell) and begins to find his place.

Overall it's a fun, light movie that veers into dramatic moments without getting too heavy. It's great when you're looking to entertain a big group of people with different tastes. You'll laugh. You'll be ready to punch Trent in the face.You'll cringe as you remember your own awkward adolescence. (I sure did.)

P.S. The first scene in the station wagon is autobiographical. Oh my heart!

The Way, Way Back is on Netflix right now. Grab some friends, make some popcorn and settle in for a great movie.

This post was written out of my love for Netflix and desire to tell you about the great movies I've watched. This post was not sponsored!

April 08, 2014

Lazy/beautiful: Scrubbing out the gunk

Sure you could splurge for a gold facial. Or a blood one.

Or you could hit up your pantry and linen closet.

Why the baking soda? It's coarse enough to exfoliate the top layer of skin cells without making your skin red and irritated. Add it to your regular face cleanser or make a paste with water and wash that gunk away.

Why the washcloth? For an extra-deep clean, soak a cloth in hot water after you finish washing your face. Wring out the excess water and drape the hot washcloth over your clean skin (or hold it as close as is comfortable). Using hot water is key: It opens your pores and loosens up dead skin cells. When you're done, wipe your face with the cloth to remove the dead skin. For an extra punch, splash your face with cold water, too!

After a couple of weeks, I've noticed a difference in my skin. It's softer. Pimples are smaller and less frequent. I'm happy with the results (and even happier to pocket the $10-15 that I'd usually use for a drugstore scrub).

Do you have any tips or tricks to getting the gunk out of your face? I'd love to hear them!

March 28, 2014

What to watch next: "Drinking Buddies"

Ooh, this is a good one. Drinking Buddies is a fantastic "will-they-won't-they" about Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde), coworkers in a brewery who drink (real beer!), flirt and spend time together – along with respective significant others. One of the neatest bits of trivia I learned about it is that the film is entirely improvised. How cool is that? You'd never know it either.

Drinking Buddies is a great movie to watch with a group of friends. Grab drinks and take bets on whether they will or won't end up together in the end. It's available on Netflix now!

[image source]

This post was written out of my love for Netflix and desire to tell you about the great movies I've watched. This post was not sponsored!

March 19, 2014

Wearing my heart on my sleeve

I feel strong after I run.

And it's not just about physical strength. Sure it feels great to push my legs past their limits while climbing steeper hills and travelling longer distances. A rush of endorphins is exhilarating. Tired lungs and pumping blood remind of how far I've come and how much further I have to go.

But at the end of a run, I am aware of more than just my physical strength. I feel at home in my skin. All of it. My spotty red face is a melting pot of dried sweat and makeup smudges, a messy combination that melds well after a few splashes of water. It's one of the few times I feel content to go without makeup. 

In this moment, it matters less what my body looks like and more what my body can do. Callused toes, achy hips and tight hamstrings harmonize in a celebratory show of what I accomplished, every kilometre I trekked.

After I run, I feel strong and confident and beautiful. 

During a run with my dad on a grey Saturday afternoon, I was finally able to articulate why I bought this shirt.

"It's who I am and who I want to be. It's both my present and future."

Buying a shirt isn't going to capture how I feel after I go for a run. It doesn't bottle those feelings up and apply them liberally whenever I pull it over my head. 

It does, however, serve as the reminder I need. The one that tells me that I'm strong, confident and beautiful even when I don't feel it. It reminds me I am enough. It reminds me of the source of my strength. It reminds me of the sufficient (abundant) grace and the power that is made perfect in my weakness. 

She is strong. (And confident. And beautiful.)

(As are you.)