How to Practice Self-Care When the News Sucks

02 January 2019

Lately, it seems like the news has been filled with horrible thing after horrible thing. Worse, it becomes inescapable and almost addicting to read more and more about these horrible things because of our presence on social media for hours a day. This feeling isn't just from reading reputable news sources, but the everyday person's responses to this news can also be extremely upsetting.

Although it may feel like your duty to stand up and get into Twitter wars or tear strangers apart on a mutual friend's Facebook post, the seemingly futile efforts can prove to be excruciatingly daunting--particularly if what you're fighting about is something that you've experienced personally or are extremely passionate about. I know that I personally have just felt depressed as a result of having and reading conversations with blatantly ignorant people.

Because of the toll that the news can have on a person, it is important to practice self-care during times of hardship and politically charged events--especially when the news triggers memories of our own personal traumas

Delete Social Media Apps

You don't have to go as far as to delete your entire social media profile, because I, of anyone, know how important social media is in the modern world. However, deleting Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform apps from your phone will allow for less time spent consuming toxic comments and headlines that can be distressing. For some reason, just telling myself to not check Facebook wasn't enough, I had to remove it from my phone entirely to break the habit.

If you're anxious about going off the grid without a warning, you can make a post or status update informing your friends and family that you'll be taking a break, and leave necessary contact information if needed. For me, deleting Facebook has brought me a lot of peace during this time, and if I need to check on work-related Facebook items, I can still just check on my computer!

Have a Relaxing Pamper Evening

This applies to everyone! Winding down and treating yourself with a hot bath, a face mask, painting your nails--taking care of your needs for one night with no distractions is an excellent way to escape the outside world and just focus on yourself. I suggest doing this on a day you find yourself especially down or triggered. If you notice thoughts drifting back toward The Bad Stuff™, practice breathing exercises and reframe the mind to instead concentrate on the current activity.

Ignoring your problems is not always the solution--but dedicating one evening to forgetting about what's going on outside and focusing instead on yourself and self-soothing can be quite healing.

Watch Something Funny

When I was in school and my mental health wasn't the greatest, coming home and watching How I Met Your Mother was my sanctuary. I became so attached to that programme because I associated it with the soothing quality laughter has on a person. They always say--laughter is the best medicine! Although HIMYM isn't everyone's cup of tea, there are tonnes of shows at our disposal no matter your taste. Think of something that never fails to make you laugh and smile and just escape for a bit into that world.  After all--laughter is the best medicine!

Another way to apply this trick while still staying informed is by watching satirical, comedic news programming and shows that commentate current events, such as The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, or, my all-time favourite, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. If you don't have cable, the pieces are typically up on YouTube within 24 hours of going live.

Let Your Creative Juices Flow

Developing a new artistic skill or practising a hobby you enjoy is not only a great distraction, but art is a wonderful way to express pent-up feelings you're harbouring in a tangible way. No matter your art of choice--music, painting, embroidery, makeup, etc., there is some way to express how you're feeling, without getting too political (unless you want to 😉).Even if you don't feel like expressing your emotions, art can be an equally beneficial distraction (there she goes with distracting yourself again!) and has beautiful results! Dedicating oneself to a craft sparks all sorts of lovely feelings and can be truly cathartic.

It's so important to practice self-care every now and then, whether there is a reason or not. I hope that 2019 is your year to take care of yourself and keep your best interests in heart, regardless of what may or may be on the news in the coming year. Remember that your mental and physical health should always come first and take the time to soothe and you'll be relieved a lot of extra stress.

Happy New Year and best wishes to all of you!
x, Sarah

Why Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the Best Show on Television

21 October 2018

** Please note: This post DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS, so if you plan on watching the show and don't want anything ruined, maybe skip this one.  TW // mental illness, depression, anxiety

In honour of the fourth and final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiering this past month, I bring to you my collection of thoughts as to why "CXG" is so, so, so important.

01. It unapologetically displays behaviours of mental illness with almost terrifying accuracy

As someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, as our hero Rebecca Bunch is in season 3 of the show, I was absolutely astounded at how authentic the behaviours and thought patterns are. What a relief! I've grown sick of the portrayal of mentally ill characters and how utterly ill-researched their suspected illnesses really were. As if there wasn't enough of a stigma against sufferers of all mental illnesses, the media can really exacerbate these already societally-conceived biases against the mentally ill. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca has serious, and I mean serious issues, but she is still portrayed as highly intelligent, quick-witted, feisty, and full of love. Rebecca as a character is riddled with flaws, but still ultimately likeable, and even if her actions are often a bit...well, unorthodox, we are still rooting for her, even though at times I feel like I'm watching myself at eighteen making the same mistakes over and over again without learning a damn thing, but that's more of a me problem...

Not only is the representation so very important and needed, but it's also somewhat therapeutic. I, personally, as well as many other people I know who have watched the show obsessively, noticed a lot of mistakes Rebecca makes and noticed a similarity in my own life. It really put my own behaviours into perspective as we watch Rebecca's life slowly fall apart. It made me want to get better for myself so I don't get to the same dark places she ends up. But when she eventually does get better, it gives a glimmer of hope that no matter how bad things seem or how deep a hole you dig for yourself, there is a way out, and you can get better.

Probably the most authentic and evocative moment in the entire series so far is when Rebecca finally gets an accurate diagnosis. Anyone who has been accurately diagnosed professionally with an illness that just made your entire life make sense can understand exactly how Rebecca felt when she walked out of that doctor's office, knowing that everything in her life wasn't her fault, and why she never felt "normal". This moment rung especially powerful to me, having been diagnosed with the same disorder. Tears were streaming down my face as she felt so freed by finally having a name for the pain, as it was exactly how I felt given the same news. I had never seen anything like it on television before, and it really humanises the feeling of hopelessness associated with feeling abnormal your entire life with no explanation.

02. A diverse and loveable cast of supporting characters

Other than the representation of mental illness as an illness and not the fault of someone who is just "crazy", the inclusion of characters of a diverse range of races, cultures, sexual orientations, and gender identities is vital, especially in an era where people are finally able to be themselves more freely. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has one of the most diverse cast I have seen in a very long time, which is such a valuable asset for a television programme to have in 2018, and makes it more relatable to a wider audience.

Although our main character is straight, cis, and white, the main love interest, Josh, is played be a Filipino-American gay man (Vincent Rodriguez III is his name, and he rocks), which in itself is so important due to the Euro-centric and xenophobic stigma against Asian men being considered attractive (I will never understand). Seriously, try and think of a show or movie where a white woman is pining after an Asian man. Even if you can think of any, it is hardly ever seen. Even if there is a Caucasian/Asian relationship in some form of media, it is typically a white male with an Asian female. It may seem like a small, insignificant factor, but representation can be a dynamic tool in ending stigmatised racial stereotypes.

Besides our love interest, Josh, there are a handful of other people of colour portraying fun and interesting characters, including Valencia, Josh's saucy albeit seemingly bitchy girlfriend, and Heather, Rebecca's observant and addictively sarcastic neighbour. Even the extras in the background of public scenes and small characters such as vendors, office workers, and clients have a wide arrange of racial portrayal, which seems like a small gesture, but extremely important in the normalisation of racial diversification in film and television. Even Rebecca herself, while a white woman, is Jewish American, which is also not often found in mainstream programming.

If more shows or films pick up on this, the more we as a society will hopefully and ultimately become accustomed to racial stereotypes and generalisations can be slowly but surely obliterated. This won't inherently end racism by any means, but it is a baby step toward the end of a very white-driven entertainment industry, providing more work, opportunities, and confidence for marginalised individuals.

There isn't' just a voice provided for people of colour, there is also LBGTQ+ representation as well, including Josh's friend White Josh who is gay, and "comes out" on the show in the most hilariously passive, indifferent way, showing that being gay just isn't that big of a deal, and shouldn't be treated as such. And then there's Darryl, whose bisexual representation is most pertinent to me. His character's coming out song, "Gettin' Bi" totally annihilates bisexual generalisations

Something I've told everyone who is just starting Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for the first time is that nearly every character you meet you start out hating or disliking in some way, and eventually end up loving them, even if you think it's impossible. Every character is loveable in their own way, and add important elements of perspective and balance to the show's overall plot. I have never seen such substantial character development in any other show before, in every single recurring character.

Summer 10x10 Wrap-Up

13 September 2018

This past couple of weeks, I took the plunge and joined hundreds of other Instagrammers in the Summer 10x10 Challenge! I found out about this challenge in my Discover feed on Instagram and was instantly intrigued--a combination of two of my favourite things (as well as things I blog about): minimalism and style?? Sign me up!

What is Summer 10x10?

The blogger behind Style Bee, Lee, created the 10x10 challenge back in 2015, so it is by no means a new phenomenon, but it did seem to gain popularity this summer, as I was constantly seeing (and eventually followed) the hashtag #summer10x10 everywhere, from people I already followed to people I newly followed after seeing what outfits they put together using the 10x10 formula.

Essentially, the challenge is all about making the most of your wardrobe. You take ten items and make ten outfits over the course of ten days. For a more detailed breakdown, definitely read Style Bee's original blog post about the challenge

Thankfully this challenge isn't just dedicated to the summertime and can be done no matter the time of year--so it's not too late to start for yourself!

What Sarah Wants: 24th Birthday Wishlist

25 July 2018

leaves credit: (1) + (2)
My birthday is less than two weeks away now, and I already have the whole week plan-packed, but that doesn't mean I haven't had the time to think about some of the things I'd want as gifts! Here are a few items on my wishlist that stick to my minimalist theme -- all things I would use repeatedly or will replace similar, lower quality things I already own. 
  1. Plans by Death Cab For Cutie (vinyl) - $22.99
  2. Madewell Stretch Denim Straight Mini Skirt - $79.50
  3. Glosssier You Perfume - $60.00
  4. Vegan Leather Mini Backpack - $49.99
  5. UO Knock Down Plant Stand in Honey - $69.00
When's your birthday and what's your star sign? Let me know as well as what's on your future wishlist in the comments!

x, Sarah

A Minimalist Gift Guide

19 July 2018

Disclaimer: Gifts are always a luxury, not a necessity. In no way do you have to buy someone something in order to prove that you love them! This post is for those who wish to buy a gift and are unsure of where to start. Any person, minimalist or not, should be content with simply your friendship and kindness, because that's truly the greatest gift of all (wow, cheesy, lol)!

If you have a minimalist loved one, it can seem a bit overwhelming to shop for them when the specials times of year where gift-giving occurs rolls around. In honour of my birthday coming up next month (6th of August!), I've decided to put together a little gift guide for the minimalists in your life--whether they're minimalist veterens or rookies.

01. Money

This is a gift that anyone can appreciate--not just people living off of only the essentials. Probably the most versatile gift, albeit not incredibly personal, money can be used toward the necessities, such as rent, bills, or groceries, put towards a special trip or event, or even just saved. No one wouldn't love to receive money as a gift, regardless of the amount!

Instead of just flat out giving money, another option is to offer to pay for a monthly payment of theirs that they already have--such as a gym membership, Netflix or Hulu, or just filling up their tank with gas!

02. Gift Cards for Essentials

Similar to money, gift cards are a more personal approach to the idea of putting cash towards something your minimalist loved one will actually use. Examples of gift cards for a minimalist include grocery stores (Trader Joe's, Safeway), drug-stores (Walgreens, CVS, Target), supplies for their career (art supplies, tech, software), homegoods stores (IKEA, West Elm, PotteryBarn), etc.

Another gift card option is for non-essentials, but one for somewhere you know that they already spend money often, such as their favourite coffee shop, Sephora or Ulta, or their go-to clothing store (only if they're in need of new clothes, of course!).

03. One-Time Experiences

Rather than a material object, a perfect gift for a minimalist is an experience--whether it be a ticket for an extravagant holiday away, a gift certificate for a massage, tickets to a theme park or concert, paying for a hair or nail appointment, going to swim with sharks--anything that you know they would enjoy. This doesn't have to be overwhelmingly expensive. Even just paying for a movie or making them dinner is an excellent way to show you care!

This is the best option because there's no limit to what you can do! Whether you go for a road trip together or just pay for them to be pampered for a day, money spent towards experiences is far more valuable than used to buy material things.

04. Things You Know They Need

Hearing them complain about a faulty kitchen appliance constantly? Is their handbag falling apart at the seams and in need of being replaced? Are they running out of their highly-coveted cleanser? Pay close attention to when they mention or you notice these things--it can lead to a perfect, thoughtful gift that they wouldn't be expecting! 

05. Your Time

Perhaps the most priceless gift you can give to a minimalist is your time. Not every minimalist will even want any form of gift, even those listed above. The best way to show a person you care is to make time for them whenever you can--especially on special dates such as a birthday, anniversay, holiday, what have you.

Dedicating a day to a loved one and just spending time together can mean the absolute world to them--because a core value of minimalism is building and maintaning meaningful relationships. Similarly to their relationship with material possessions, minimalists will have no problem eliminating people who hold no real purpose or spark no joy in their lives. By sharing special moments and dedicating your time to them, you're showing your minimalist loved one that you are an essential and positive aspect in their life. 

Every minimalist has their own limits and interests, of course, but the mindset and way of living is roughly the same--living off of less for a fuller and richer life. Hopefully you've found this guide helpful if you're hoping to celebrate a minimalist friend or family member by giving them a gift. The key to finding the perfect gift for anyone, not just a minimalist, is listening. Understand the things they value, need, and love in life. The simplest gifts can often be the most thoughtful.

x, Sarah

10 Years of Vegetarianism & My Journey

21 June 2018

Ten years ago, June 2008: I was a thirteen-year-old living in Hawaii, about to start high school. My family and I had just finished our Sunday tradition of eating dim sum and were taking a leisurely stroll through Chinatown. We passed through the marketplace and I turned and saw what would have quite the dramatic impact--an entire pig's head upon a platter, up for sale. It was this poignant moment that I said to myself, "Yep. It's time. I'm going to stop eating meat."

Becoming a vegetarian had always piqued my interest, due to my life-long love of animals and my obsession with Degrassi, where Emma, a vegetarian character, seemed super cool to me (don't worry, I've grown up now and know that Emma objectively sucks). Aside from this, I was also about to embark on a new chapter in my life, my four-year-long commitment to an all-girls Catholic college preparatory academy. It seemed like the appropriate time for a new start.

Now growing up on an island, being a pescatarian is a much more feasible option than eliminating all meats, as we have an influx of tropical fish quite literally surrounding us in the ocean. At the time, I hadn't even heard of the term "pescatarian", and just used "vegetarian", emphasising that I don't eat any land animals. I was able to hold onto this commitment throughout the entirety of high school, aside from the occasional In n' Out Burger on our annual visit to California (I didn't know about the secret grilled cheese menu item at the time! Highly recommend, tastes exactly the same as a normal cheeseburger there, in my opinion).

Once I started preparing for the move to San Francisco for university, I was coming to the realisation that I would be living in CALIFORNIA. I'd be surrounded by In n' Out Burgers (not true at all, there is only one in San Francisco, nowhere near where I lived or went to school)!! It was at this time, in the summer of 2012, that I decided to try and transition back into being a meat eater, for convenience sake. It also gave me more options for my eventual dorm cafeteria food diet. At this point, I had no knowledge of the effect that not eating meat for four years and then attempting to would have on my body. Let's just say that I may have ordered a bacon cheeseburger from Burger King as my first transition meal and that... didn't end well. Picture me, screaming in agony on the couch, not sure if I was going to throw up, die, or both.

That wasn't my most glamorous moment, but the following few semesters in college weren't much different. I didn't eat meat very often, but I just had this overwhelming feeling of "unwellness" for my first two years. Aside from my usual chronic migraines, I was nauseous Every. Single. Day. Sure, this could have been my body adjusting to different medications every once in a while as well as my first experiences with birth control, but the only time I felt even the slightest bit better was when I cut out meat entirely. And this time, I was going to do it right.

Yet another transitional period in my life (I'm sensing a theme here), I had just gotten out of my two-year relationship with my college sweetheart, and I decided to cut all meat out completely, including fish (which I still miss dearly, but have found a fishless alternative!). It has now been four years since this decision, and I have never once looked back.

Now, I'm sure some of you will invalidate my experience as "not vegetarian for 10 years" because of my break and all that--and that's fine with me. There are plenty of people who set rules for their identity and diet in relation to what you're allowed to call yourself etc. but I try my best not to live that way and allow people to identify with whichever community they deem fit. It was ten years ago that I made the decision to be a vegetarian, and aside from a small break for convenience, I don't regret this decision in the slightest.

The most frequent question a vegetarian receives is, "Don't you miss meat?" to which I very confidently can answer, "Nope!" I think the biggest anxiety a person considering vegetarianism is the freedom that comes with being able to eat whatever they want, but I can assure you that nagging craving does completely go away eventually--and if you can believe it, it even, with time, transforms into repulsion. Although I do, on occasion, smell an intoxicating bacon-wrapped hot dog grilling on the streets of San Francisco and think for one millisecond, "God, that'd be good right now," I then remember how sick I'd be and instantly associate the meat with nausea. It's an adapted mentality, but it will come even quicker if you do go a while without meat and try and eat it again (a tactic I do not recommend).

So you've made 10 years, what's next? I told myself some time ago that when I made 10 years as a vegetarian I would begin the transition into veganism, and that's precisely what I've started this month! I'll go into detail about why and how I'm doing that in a future post (or video!).

Are you vegetarian/vegan? How long have you been committed to this? I'd love to hear your stories!

x, Sarah

  • blouse: vintage
  • jeans: gap
  • shoes: crossroads (capitol hill)
  • bandana: vintage (thanks, mama!)
  • sunnies: ray-bans
  • handbag: vintage
  • lip: glossier generation g in "zip"

*Photos by Ranier

Distracting (& Uplifting!) Post-Breakup Activities

24 May 2018

Hello, hi there from the Queen of Breakups! Okay, not really, but I've been through a loooooot of them. Like. A lot. For my age, at least. I've experienced every kind of breakup as well, being brutally dumped in cold blood, having to break someone's heart into a billion pieces, and having an amicable, mutual, mature breakup where no one was wronged (the hardest to achieve--thanks Andrew for being my coolest ex!). You've heard the spiel before--breakups suck. For everybody involved. I've lived with the guilt of dumping people for years and sometimes I'm still bitter over irrelevant people I never have to see again who ended things with me in, just, like, the worst way possible in February 2016 right before Valentine's Day... or something like that.

However the breakup, the aftermath is relatively the same (unless it was toxic and you're now free from a blood-sucking bastard. If that's the case--go you!). If you're prone to depression like me, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things post-breakup, especially if most of your day was eaten up by talking to your partner via text and you have to glare at your phone that has no notifications... NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW WHAT THAT'S LIKE!

As someone currently dealing with the aftermath of my (and possibly the world's) shortest relationship, I decided to share some activities that I find helpful after a breakup. Sometimes you need a distraction or two from the ever-present looming voice asking yourself "How do I always end up with the same type of guy??" (again, not that I would know). These are just things that help me personally, but if you have any more ideas that I haven't mentioned, please do leave them in the comments for myself as well as anyone else reading who may need it!

1. Write Letters to Loved Ones About How Much You Appreciate Them

Nothing brings you back down to Earth and helps your self-esteem like bringing awareness to the amount of love that you DO have in your life and not the love that you've lost. Handwriting personal letters to those people not only allows them to know how much you appreciate having them in your life but also writing things down in itself is just therapeutic. Studies have also shown writing things down helps you remember them better (ah, school lecture flashbacks), and what's better than remembering how loved you are? Nothing, friends.

2. Learn a New Instrument (or Song)!

Of course, learning a new instrument may require actually buying the instrument, which is quite the investment. Instead of spending all that money (unless you have it to spend--if so, kudos), maybe look into renting an instrument or borrowing from a friend! And if you're already a music pro (feel fortunate), learn a new song or two! Then with these new skills you have harboured, you can write your own angst-filled songs about your new ex and about how their jokes were never really THAT funny. 

3. Journal Those Feelings!

That's right--time to crack open that daily gratitude journal you told yourself you'd use every day back in January but has been gathering dust ever since the day you purchased it for the shocking price of $15.99. Write down all that's been building up since it all ended--whether that's sadness, anger, embarrassment, pure glee, or hatred. It's incredible how writing feelings down can just make them feel better. Or, you can try and look past the negative feelings and write down all the good parts of your day. Because honestly, screw that person, they don't deserve space in your head OR that cute overpriced journal.

4. Clean & Rearrange Your Bedroom!

Do you really want to enter the same room arrangement where you and Brian* used to cuddle and watch Netflix? I don't think so. Cleaning your bedroom alone allows for a clean headspace as well, and a way to start fresh! But rearranging your room--honey, that's some NEXT LEVEL starting fresh. You're feng shui-ing Brian the HECK out of your memory. Not only is that healthy, but also a little bit savage if you think about it. So you go host that little HGTV programme in your head as you attempt to move your heavier-than-expected IKEA bed frame in your pyjamas. LIVE YOUR TRUTH!

5. Start Binging a New Show!

I know I'm a person who has an endless of shows I "need to watch" but then I end up just rewatching New Girl for the 50th time. Don't be like Sarah! Broaden your horizons! Have to wait for your partner to watch the next episode of a show you both were watching together? Ha! Now is your chance to start a new show on your OWN schedule. Now instead of being invested in someone else, you can be invested in newfound fictional characters!

And there you have it--a compiled list of things I find helpful after a breakup, regardless of how gnarly it may be. I know there are going to be days where you literally just want to lay in bed and do nothing and that's okay. The cliché is true--time heals all wounds, but it's also important not to lose yourself and miss out on things you enjoy doing while that time passes. Stick around people who lift you up and be grateful for the good, it'll make everything feel like it's going by just a little bit faster.

x, Sarah

* There is no Brian, it's just the first generic white boi name that came to my head ok
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