An Old Soul Trapped in a Young Body

Lifestyle, Self-Help

Do you have a few moments from your childhood that stick out the most? Small moments that maybe only lasted a few seconds, but are ingrained in your head so perfectly and permanently? I have two moments just like.

I vividly remember being dropped off by my mother at a daycare when I was very young and again on my first day of elementary school. During both of those moments, I stood still after my mom left looking at all the other children run around the room. I remember standing there watching them shouting, playing, and having fun. On the first day of elementary school, I distinctly remember a boy running across the room with a huge smile on his face and chasing someone. Both of those times, I was taking in everything around me. Seeing the other kids, not knowing what to do, and wondering how long I would have to stay. I remember these two moments so perfectly because of how I felt. I remember looking at the children my age and feeling so out of place and so awkward, but more than anything I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong.

Those two separate days being dropped off at school stand out the most in my memory because they were the first times in my life that I realized I didn’t fit in with my age group. Although those may have been the first times, they certainly were not the last.

The reason why I’m writing this post today is because not too long ago I had an entire weekend where I felt this way. I experienced three full days of feeling awkward and alone and like I didn’t fit in. But I’m glad I did. It helped me become more comfortable with myself after that weekend. Those three days made me deeply self-reflective and overwhelmed me with flashbacks from countless moments where I felt like an alien among my peers. I was reminded of how hard it had been to fit in and how stressful it was spending my 24 years of life fighting with who I was. As uncomfortable and emotional as it was, that weekend helped me to finally let go and accept myself for who I am – an old soul trapped in a young body. A person who’s oddly mature for their age and who’s tired of pretending to be something that I’m not. And just like that I learned to finally love and accept that part of my personality.

That experience also gave me the inspiration to create this post to share a glimpse of what it’s like growing up as an old soul in a young body. This week’s post is a bit different from what I typically write about. It’s much more introspective and gives you a bit of a peak behind the curtain about what shaped me to become the person I am now – someone who’s not comfortable with the mainstream standards of doing things and wants to share my own story and advice to help others who share a similar experience.

Growing up as an Old Soul

I’ve always been an old soul ever since I could remember and before I even knew what being an “old soul” meant.

As I was growing up, Nancy was like a second grandma to me. She’s my grandmother’s best friend of many years and she was always around whenever the family got together for holidays or reunions. I was very close to her growing up, and she would always tell me that I was an old soul. That there was something in my eyes that told her I was “well beyond my years.”

Teachers, neighbors and my parent’s friends would describe me as being “mature for my age.” Friends and peers would describe me as being “a mom.” And my family would make jokes about how old I was and call me the names of my great-grandma or my grandmothers: Virginia, Penny, and Joanne. 

I didn’t understand what all of that meant as I was growing up. All I knew was that I would have rather spent my time talking with the adults in my life or playing cards with my grandpa than playing with other kids at a children’s birthday party. As a child and even a teenager, I really enjoyed the company of adults and the conversations I would have with them. That’s when I felt comfortable. That’s where I felt like I fit in and I was myself.

I didn’t like sports, or large groups, or birthday parties. I followed the rules, listened to adults, and didn’t rebel. I was also very introverted and very much a homebody (maybe because I’m a textbook Cancer). I liked being at home doing my own thing and I would tend to ask myself big questions like, “Why are we here? What do I want to do when I grow up? What kind of life do I want? What do I believe in spiritually?” I was a very introspective person which made having small talk about the weather or what classes I was taking seem excruciating. 

As a teenager, I spent almost every moment that I was at home drinking tea, wearing cardigans, reading. Whenever I was invited to do something where I knew everyone would be making bad decisions, I made up excuses to get myself out of it and told people that I was grounded. Lol. And now when I share that fun fact with friends today, I get a lot of laughs and end up being called a nerd for the rest of the night.

My point is, I’ve always been an old soul since before I could even spell my own name. This was my childhood, my young adulthood, and now my twenties. 

The Plus Side 

Part of me really loved being an old soul, especially when I was very young. I felt like I understood the world in a different way than my peers. I already felt like a bit of a grown up even before I matured. For that reason, adults liked me very much. I could hold a meaningful conversation with teachers and neighbors without being short or uncomfortable like most of my friends told me they felt. And I also kept to myself, didn’t talk back, and followed the rules. I wasn’t one to give the babysitters or a substitute teacher a hard time. 

As I got older I wasn’t a trouble maker. I had no desire to party or experiment with drugs or sneak out of the house. I had no desire to smoke cigarettes as a minor or steal alcohol or become one of the “popular” aka slutty girls. There was no pent up feeling in me that would only be happy by rebelling and making bad decisions. 

For that reason, I felt like being an old soul was a blessing. I’m sure it saved me from many arguments, and fights, and groundings. It kept me out of trouble and it kept me safe because I was content with the simple things. I wasn’t trying to tell my parents that I was going to a sleepover at some girl’s house when really I was going to a party. I felt fulfilled just having a conversation with my mom, spending the weekend with my grandparents, watching a documentary, or writing a paper. I was happy just relaxing at home and I enjoyed my own company.

The Pressure to Fit In

However, being an old soul as a child and teenager made growing up very challenging. I felt like I was the only old soul and introvert around. I wasn’t “cool” by any means and I’m pretty sure the “popular” kids didn’t even know my name. I was also called boring A LOT. Because I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t rebellious, or outgoing, or immature I naturally had fewer friends. My demeanor in school and in groups of people my age was described to me by everyone that I eventually became friends with as “intimidating.”

For most of my life, I absolutely hated the way that I was. Growing up, all you want is to be accepted, to be liked, to fit in at school, and to have close friends. But for most of my life, I was the odd one out and never really felt like I belonged. I got called lame, boring, mom, nerd – all of the things. I could give countless examples from when I was 4 years old to 24 of times when people put me down and made me feel bad about myself because I was acting too mature or reserved for their liking.

I seemed to be so different than everyone else and all I wanted to be like them. Even when I did meet people who I really wanted to spend time with, a lot of times they wouldn’t invite me to hang out because something about me was just different. I also noticed that I missed out on bonding with certain people because I didn’t have those memories of making bad decisions that bring people together. I just wasn’t interested in “blowing off steam” and “getting it out of my system,” whatever IT is.

I wasn’t interested in the same things as everyone my age or behaved the same way as them. It seemed like I either had to say or do things to fit in and impress my peers or get ridiculed. It was a double edged sword – no matter what choice I made I was unhappy. Connecting with people my age never came natural or easy. 

A few times growing up I would end up being liked by one of the “popular” girls, and when that happened I learned to not get close to them or accept their invitation. It wouldn’t take long before they realized that I didn’t fit in. That I wasn’t cool enough, or slutty enough, or spontaneous enough, or fun enough or whatever it was about me that made me a misfit. 

My nature also impacted my first romantic relationship and caused so many fights. Neither one of us could understand the other person. We fought because I apparently never wanted to have fun and because all he wanted to do was party. I couldn’t understand the desire to spend every moment of your life getting high and drinking Miller Lite, and he couldn’t understand the desire to stay home, watch movies, and talk about life. 

The other big challenge was that even though I felt more like a grown-up, I wasn’t actually viewed as one. I was still just a kid or “a stupid teenager” as my mom loved to say. I was still lumped into the category of immature young people who “just don’t get it.” There were times when I fit right in the adults, but there were times when I was viewed as too immature and I would be left out of conversations because things were too grown up for me to hear or understand. This created another big challenge for me as an old soul trapped in a young body, because I was never fully accepted by any age group growing up and for that reason, I’ve always believed that there was something really wrong with me.

After 24 years now, I’ve also learned from experience that being an old soul and by being myself, I can also have a very strange effect on others – particularly the people who are the opposite of me. I’ve learned that by being an old soul it tends to make the.. shall we say “younger” souls uncomfortable, which has made me a target and further made me unhappy with who I was. 

When I was in a group or at a party, for instance, people would become bothered by the fact that my personality wasn’t mirroring everyone else. In their minds it means there’s something wrong with me, that I’m not having fun, that I’m uptight, or that I need someone to swoop in and help me enjoy the party. They would try to get to me “relax” by trying to pressure me into taking shots, or doing drugs, or dancing no matter how much I said, “No thanks.” It seems that my maturity tended to make some people become self-conscious and as a result, they would single me out until I got fed up and decided to go home.

Think about it, whenever everyone is standing in a circle doing shots, and you’re the one person who doesn’t feel like drinking, there’s always that one a**hole who’s really bothered by it. That one person who’s uncomfortable by someone who’s not drinking and decides to make it their personal mission to get you to “loosen up,” get drunk, and “have some fun.” Meanwhile, they’re completely unaware that you were having a perfectly good time before they tried to step in and force feed you tequila. And it’s always that same person who keeps asking, “Why aren’t you having fun?” I’ve had more moments like this in my life than I can count.

I could go on and on with examples of how being an old soul in a young body has made my experience growing up a weird one. As much as I wanted to change though, it just wasn’t possible. You can’t make yourself become something that you’re not. There are some things about yourself that you just cannot change. You can’t make yourself an extrovert or an introvert, or taller or shorter, or gay or straight. There comes a point in time when you realize that no matter how much the world wants you to change and how different you might be from the majority, that you just have to accept yourself the way that you are.

Self Acceptance 

Even as a 24-year-old, I still have moments that are strikingly similar to those childhood memories where I was surrounded by people my age and all I can think about is how out of place I am. That one particular weekend was the most recent and the most eye opening.

For the first time in a long time I was so uncomfortable and felt so out of place for such an extended period of time that it occurred to me that I’ve felt this way my entire life. When I’m not being made fun of and ridiculed for being the way that I am, I’m punishing myself for it. If other people aren’t making me feel bad, then I’m putting myself down for not trying hard enough, or fitting in better, or for being so different than everyone else. In that moment, I realized that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore. Being an old soul is just my nature. 

I love small groups, and books, and deep, meaningful conversations. I’m the type of person who prefers red wine and conversation over going to a club. It doesn’t matter how many pushy people try to get me to dance or how many people call me grandma, I can’t change myself to fit in with what the people my age consider to be acceptable.

I decided for the first time in my 24 years of life to embrace my nature and fully accept myself for who I am. I decided to surrender and stop fighting my personality and be okay “fitting out” in the crowd. From that moment on I was putting an end to the idea that there’s something wrong with me and that I need to change my personality and everything about myself for acceptance. Because if changing who I am and being fake is the only way to be accepted by the people my age, I don’t even want their acceptance or their social media likes and stamps of approval. I don’t care how many rude comments I get about how “old” or serious I am.

The week after I had three straight days of feeling out of place and hating myself for being different, I came back to St. Petersburg and joined a book club. I ended up spending an hour one day surrounded by women twice my age discussing a very thought-provoking book about managing life’s challenges and I LOVED it. I’m done trying to be something that I’m not to make someone else happy. I’m letting go of the people who make me feel bad about who I am and I’m letting go of the comparison. The comparison game that I always do in my head when I see other people who fit in so effortlessly. I’m letting go of all of that and learning to love, accept, and embrace who I am.

Even though being an old soul often makes me stand out and not fit in as well with the people my age, I know I’ll be happier just by being myself. Because you can’t flourish completely and reach your potential if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You spend too much mental energy trying to change that could be spent working on something to help you grow as a person or meeting the right kinds of people who align with you. That energy could be put towards something constructive like your side hustle, a new hobby, a project, or new relationships. And in the end you’ll be so much happier because you’re allowing yourself to be authentic.

Although this post is much more personal and introspective than most, I’m sharing this with you because self-help and wellness are major themes throughout my writing. I preach about the benefits of self-discovery and why I believe that self-reflection, journaling, and self-love is so important. Even though I write about self-help and wellbeing, just like you I’m also a work in progress. I’m still discovering different parts of myself each year and still learning to love and accept my so-called “flaws.” 

I usually always end my posts with pieces of advice for my readers, but for this one, I have no special advice. Instead, I wanted to leave you with a few takeaways.

Takeaways

1. My experience

The main takeaway that I want people to get from this post if nothing else is the experience of growing up as an old soul. Because it’s not very common, being mature as a child and teenager can be viewed as a bad thing. When children are very young, it could be viewed as being shy, or closed off, or considered that they’re a problem child – as if their maturity is somehow going to make them fall behind in school. Then as these kids mature as teenagers, being an old soul becomes an even bigger problem as it’s not as easy to fit in. I could name dozens of instances in my life where I’ve received subtle (and not so subtle) messages that there was something wrong with me, that me being reserved or mature wasn’t socially acceptable. I know I’m not the only person who grew up with this experience. What I want people to understand more than anything is that it’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing that needs to be changed about these children, and that their maturity should be seen as a blessing and should be nurtured not suppressed. 

2. Be kind to old souls 

Being an old soul has impacted me in the majority of my relationships and social activities throughout my life. It’s caused arguments with people who wanted me to be different and I’ve been put down by countless peers, many of whom I didn’t even know personally. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences it will teach people to have compassion for old souls. Subtle messages and jokes that children hear throughout their lives DO impact their mental and emotional health and make them believe that they’re unlikeable just because they might not be exactly like the majority. Even though some children may be unusually mature for their age, they shouldn’t be put down for it. And remember there are much worse personality traits to have then being mature!

3. Embrace who you are

If you are an old soul yourself, there’s no point in trying to make yourself something that you’re not. It’s takes too much time, energy, and work and in the end all it does is make you unhappy. You can’t change your personality no matter how much fight who you are. Instead, embrace who are. Once you stop fighting your inherent nature and learn to embrace it, you realize that it’s not as big of a deal as you once thought. I used to constantly fight who I was and do or say things in an effort to fit in, but the moment I accepted my personality and spent my time doing what fulfilled me in the moment I started to feel happier and less like an outsider. I signed up for courses and classes, I read more, I learned about spirituality, and I started to feed that side of me that I tried to suppress for so long because it wasn’t cool. I stopped putting myself in situations where I wasn’t comfortable and did what felt right for me. And if that meant passing up a party and staying in on the weekends to watch documentaries then I would do that. If that meant joining a book club then I would do that. Interestingly, what I’ve learned from embracing who I am and staying true to me is that the more confident you are about yourself, the less people give you a hard time. 

4. Self-ассерtаnсе is a process

My fourth takeaway if you’re an old soul yourself is to accept who you are and to love and respect yourself. As you grow up, you start to realize that there’s parts of you that don’t match the majority or that people don’t think are cool, and there comes a time when you have to let it go and learn to accept that although you might be different there’s nothing wrong with you. This self-acceptance lеаdѕ tо соntеntmеnt bесаuѕе уоu’rе nо lоngеr fighting with уоurѕеlf and playing this internal tug of war but instead finding peace with who you are.

Now trust me, I understand how hard self-acceptance can be. When you’ve had messages throughout your entire life that there’s something wrong with you it can be really difficult to make the switch towards self-love and acceptance. It’s also much easier said than done. I understand that you can’t tell someone else to accept themselves and then it magically happens, it’s something that people have to learn on their own. And even then, it’s a process. There are the days when you slip up and start feeling upset with yourself again and have to remember to be compassionate. But remember, everyone has things that they don’t adore about themselves and we all have our own things that we have to make peace with, you’re not the only one. At the very least, start the process of self-love and acceptance in any way that it feels comfortable to you. Maybe it’s therapy, or yoga, or journaling, or affirmations. It is a process, but it’s worth it. 

5. It gets better 

My last takeaway that I want to leave my fellow old souls with, is that it gets better. The good thing about being an old soul is that you slowly start growing into your age and your peers start to grow up as well. Once you get out of school there are fewer moments where you feel like a misfit and you’re free to live your life however you want without the pressure of trying to find social acceptance among hundreds of teenagers. Year by year it gets better. Truthfully, growing up can be slightly awkward as an old soul, but when you think about it growing up is awkward for everyone! Each person has their own unique challenges and issues that they have to work through, this one was just mine. But if you’re an old soul just like me, know that you’re not alone, you’re not weird, and you’re not lame. And also, I’m down to get tea any day.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments! Are you an old soul or do you know someone who is? If you are an old soul, what was your experience growing up? Did you find social acceptance or did you find yourself being put down? How do you suggest we nurture children and teenagers who are old souls to help them thrive? If you are an old soul have you learned to love and accept that aspect of your personality? Is there many another personality trait that you’re working on loving and embracing about yourself? I would LOVE to hear from you. 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What it Really Means to be Healthy: Primary and Secondary Foods Explained

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Spirituality

I don’t know about you, but for years I feel like I’ve been on a mission to reach perfect health, whatever that means. I’ve bought countless supplements, eaten organic, tried tons of lifestyle changes, and bought a string of random products, but nothing has really changed. I wouldn’t say that now my apartment is filled with supplements and chemical-free products that I feel like I can give myself a gold star for just how wonderfully healthy I’ve become. I’d be willing to bet that you can’t either. No one can. So what does it really mean to be healthy? How do we know that we’ve figured it out? What advice, products, or changes really matter if we want to improve our health long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?

I learned a fun fact this week at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I learned that the word health comes from the old English word HALE meaning wholeness; being whole, sound, or well. The word and its meaning has changed over time and today health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not JUST the absence of disease. Therefore health is a dynamic concept, not a fixed outcome. 

Yet today we live in a society where organizations, companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers are always blasting information at us about how we SHOULD be. That’s how they make money and sell us products, diets, pills, and food that promise to help us reach the destination of perfect health. If we just follow their advice, buy the program, or purchase the pill, eventually shiny golden doors will open up and we’ll be welcomed into the land of perfect health. If we can only get there, then we’ll finally have flawless digestion, glowing skin, a tiny waist, a toned body, strong bones, luscious hair, and most importantly HAPPINESS. Right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works. I love my Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer, my detox teas, my almond yogurt, but I know that they’re never going to bring me this fantasy that I have in my head of perfect health. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as perfect health.

Health is much more like a journey than a destination. (Ugh, I hate how cliche that sounds! Sorry!) It’s about making changes that improve your health and HAPPINESS in several areas of your life, not just about buying organic or sculpting a six-pack. 

The flawed outlook of health

We can go round and round all day about our flawed health care system, so I’m not going to address all of those major issues in this blog post. You’d be reading this post until the end of time, and we both have sh*t to do. But what I am going to talk about is ONE major issue that I see when we talk about health, and it’s that health is a destination with a specific path you take on how to get there. This path could be diets, exercise, detoxing, supplements, acupuncture, etc. It’s whatever YOU have been told what health should look like in your life. Maybe it’s never eating, or laying in a sensory deprivation tank every month, or drinking celery juice. 

There’s a very flawed approach to health today where people believe that if you just follow a specific set of rules you’ll be “healthy.” Then, to top off this crazy theory that health is a destination, we have magazines, social media accounts, and brands that put out these filtered, photoshopped images of fitness models, further adding to this illusion that there’s a magical land of sexy, healthy, superhuman, happy people who have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing, not only is perfect health something that can’t be bought or accomplished through a set of rules and diets, BUT health is also NOT only about what you put in your stomach. It’s not about how much kale you eat, about how disciplined you are in avoiding sugar and dairy, or about taking supplements every day. Health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

The wiser approach to health and wellness

As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a future Integrative Health Coach, I’m learning about a newer, wiser approach to full body health and wellness, and you can’t buy it at Whole Foods. The idea that IIN and it’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, share is that human beings are nurtured by both Primary Foods and Secondary Foods. Can you guess what they might be?

Primary Foods 

Upon first guess, you might think that Primary Foods are actual food right? At least I did. But it’s the opposite. Primary Foods are the most important things in our lives and impact our health far more than the chia seeds. Primary Foods are broken down into relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality. If these things are out of whack in our lives then we’re far less healthy. We’re far more likely to have diseases and far less likely to have life satisfaction.

“Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Although it’s important to understand what people are eating, to find what works for their unique body, and to make improvements in those areas of their lives as well, all of that is secondary to the quality of people’s life. I’ve heard so many stories and studies from doctors and researches who have proved that how happy people are in their relationships determines how healthy they are and how long they live. People who have toxic relationships or a lonely, are much more susceptible to disease and have a much shorter life span. 

Side Note: If you’d like to learn about my absolute favorite study on this, check out this Ted talk video on the longest study that’s ever been conducted on happiness. This video is all about researchers have tracked the lives of 2 groups of men since 1938. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College, finished college during WWII, and most of which went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. This group was specifically chosen because they were from some of the troubled and disadvantaged families in the 1930s.

This study has been going on for over 75 years and has studied the original men as well as all of their children and grandchildren they’ve brought in to the world. This study is extremely in-depth and goes as far as to interview the men on the phone and in their living rooms, examine their medical records, scan their brains, draw blood, interview family members. The research staff even goes as far as to videotape the men talking to their wives about their deepest concerns. It’s a very intensive study that’s closely examined these men for decades. What they’ve found after 75+ years of research later is this… Good relationships keep us happier AND healthier.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of research and the last 75+ years prove above all else that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. The people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than the people who are less connected. Loneliness, on the other hand, turns out to be toxic. People who are less connected and more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives. If you have some time today, this is one of my all-time favorite Ted Talks and health studies that I’ve heard of and it’s definitely worth a watch.

1. Relationships

The first (and more important aspect of primary foods if you ask me) is our relationships. Relationships are the number one thing that feed us and have the largest impact on the quality of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a relationship between you and a partner. It includes your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Anyone and everyone who is in your life and the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Today, these relationships are weaker due to social media and the internet. Technology has created the illusion that we’re connected and in a relationship with people, even though it’s through a screen. More and more we’re living isolated lives, and it used to not be like this. People once lived in multi-generational homes, lived in the same city their entire lives, and carried friends with them far into old age. Now it’s different. You may be “friends” with someone online, but never even speak to them in person. Those types of relationships don’t fill us up and make us happy and healthy.

Relationships are also in turmoil today as divorce rates increase. It’s become much more common to cut people out of our lives than to make it work and get past our differences. (Please don’t misinterpret this as me saying divorce isn’t justified). The other issue is that not only are people divorcing, but there are also many people who have very unhealthy or unhappy marriages and feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. 

If we really want to improve our overall healthy and longevity, it starts with the quality of relationships in our lives. It starts by either making more connection or improving the relationships that we have with family, friends, neighbors, in-law, and co-workers. It starts by making the effort to pick up your phone and call someone, starting couples therapy, or spending more quality time with each other.

2. Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity plays a large role in how healthy we are as we age. Having the right types of exercise in our daily lives that we actually enjoy doing is way more important than people realize. It’s not that we have to run X number of miles a day, do yoga, or do CrossFit. Just like the messages related to our overall health, we’re programmed to believe that we have to follow a specific program or reach a certain number of minutes of exercise each day.

In order to feel truly healthy, people have to slowly incorporate ways to stay active in their lives that work for them AND actually make them happy. If pilates isn’t your thing, don’t do it! Today, people may also be doing the wrong forms of exercise for their body. For example, many runners or weight lifters completely neglect stretching, while many yogis neglect cardiovascular exercise. In order to be healthy, you don’t have to follow specific rules and programs that promise to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days, but instead slowly incorporate balanced forms of exercise that you actually LIKE doing. For example, getting a walk in each day, stretching before bed, doing a yoga class once a week, or doing InForm Fitness weekly.

3. Career 

Career is the next primary food that so many of us have neglected. We spend the majority of our live WORKING. We spend more time with our co-workers than our own family. We spend more time in an office chair than we do working on our hobbies. Our career feeds us way more than what we eat on our lunch breaks. I know when I was working a normal 9-5 job every other aspect of my life slowly deteriorated. I was so unhappy and exhausted that I didn’t have time to food prep and eat healthy, my relationships suffered drastically because of what little time and energy I had to give them, and I completely stopped exercising. If you’re miserable and stressed out for those 40+ hours a week, how can you possibly be healthy and flourish in your personal life? Those weeks take a toll on your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our careers really do feed our body and soul, and that’s why it’s important to either find work you love OR find ways to love the work you do. 

Side Note: As I write this at a coffee shop right now, I’m sitting next to a woman discussing with someone how miserable she is at her job. How it bores her and it doesn’t fill her up. “That kind of job didn’t develop me in a way that it should have after college,” she says. The girl with her is also sharing how unfulfilled she is at her job. Her exact words are, “I don’t feel fulfilled.”

Photo by Autumn Clark.

4. Spirituality 

This aspect of primary foods is also very important to our overall well-being, but at the same time it’s usually the first thing that people neglect. What I’ve been taught at IIN is that we need to have a spiritual practice. Having some kind of spiritual practice that fills up our soul and gives us hope and faith can make a drastic difference in our happiness. It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what the spiritual practice looks like. A spiritual practice could be going to church, praying, journaling, meditating, volunteer work, painting, or even hiking. It’s whatever works for you that makes you feel connected with a higher power and fills you up in that way. 

As Joshua Rosenthal shares in IIN, “we are spiritual beings in a material world.” The more congruity we have with who we are, how we represent ourselves, the career that we are working in, the more likely we are to achieve the outcome that we came here in this lifetime to achieve. That’s why when health is approached by looking at primary food and secondary food, the better off we are.

Secondary Foods

The secondary foods are the foods that we actually eat and that nourish our physical bodies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but they are secondary. Have you noticed that when you’re REALLY enjoying the work that you’re doing and you’re in a state of flow, time stops? The world around you melts away. You forget to go to the bathroom, drink water, or eat food? You’re enjoying yourself so much that someone has to remind you to eat dinner? When you’re having so much fun with friends you don’t want to stop and go get food. You’re being fulfilled and energized from those other aspects of your life that food becomes an afterthought. It’s why whenever I work on my writing or website, I forget to eat all day. Matt’s been trying to get me to eat lunch for months now!

However, there’s the opposite side of that. When people crave food it doesn’t happen by mistake. It means that something in your life is out of balance. It means that you’re not feeling fulfilled and you want food for comfort and to feel whole again. 

The other important aspect to understand about secondary foods is that each and every person has a completely unique body that has a unique set of needs. That’s why I get so infuriated when people get pushy about a specific diet or lifestyle they preach to others. Just because YOU personally eat a lot of ___(fill in the blank)___ or don’t eat ___(fill in the blank)___, doesn’t mean that other people have to. We all have a very unique bio-computer that maybe thrives when we eat fresh fruit and berries or closes our throat the moment we step into a room with blueberries. 

How does this relate to my philosophy?

I’ve always felt this way about health and nutrition. However, before starting at IIN, I didn’t have the words to express it. Lost Online is what I describe as a self-help, health and wellness blog, and I chose these categories because I believe the MIND and our MENTAL WELL-BEING override everything else when it comes to living a healthy life. That’s why I focus on the mind and what we can do to improve our lives in all areas and sprinkle in health and fitness through my posts. Because what matters more than how much chia seeds and kale you consume is how happy you are. 

How do we become healthy long term? 

You may be wondering, “What now? How do we become healthy?” Here’s how: 

1. Forget

Scratch the RULES that you have been force fed about health and wellness up to this point in your life. Understand the fact that we are fed more by our Primary Foods than what you put in your grocery cart. Understand that in order to achieve whole body wellness, you have to improve every area of your life – this might involve you being brave and taking leaps that terrify you short term, but would fulfill you in the long term. 

2. Identify 

Identify the areas of your life that need improvement. Write down each primary food group and secondary food and what aspects in each category you’re struggling with. For example, in relationships are you struggling to meet friends as an adult, do you have a strenuous relationship with someone, is there someone you don’t have a relationship with that you wish you did? In a way, you have to play your own therapist here, determine the areas of your life that aren’t filling you up in the way you need to flourish. 

3. Take action… but think small 

The biggest mistake that people make over and over again is that they want to change, but they try to do it drastically. They want to eat healthy, so they go vegan in one day. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories in half or exercise for two hours a day. They want to be more spiritual, so they buy 10 spirituality books on Amazon in one sitting. Do you see what I mean? We try to take giant leaps, but we don’t work that way. It’s too drastic of a change, so we’ll instantly revert back to how we used to be. If you want to change your life in any of these areas, make ONE change at a time. Setting drastic and unrealistic expectations of yourself is a sure way to fail. People learn and change their behaviors through slow and simple lifestyle changes. 

You might still be thinking, “WHAT DO I DO, HEATHER?!” 

Because we’re so used to people beating specifics into our head when it comes to wellness, hearing information that’s more broad might be difficult for you. We’re used to being told that we have to eat X amount of calories or do X number of reps. Here’s the thing: YOU know what you need to do. You know what changes you should be making in your life. I can’t make that decision for you. You know whether you need to go network with someone, meditate daily, call up a friend, cut out potato chips, start taking a supplement, see a therapist, quit the job, stop drinking a six pack of soda daily, put yourself out there, join a club, buy a program, go to church, etc. I guarantee you have some idea of a step that you know you need to be doing. If you realize that these areas in your life are still struggling, that you need more direction, then please reach out to me personally. 

Takeaway

My goal with this post is to help you understand that full-body health and wellness is about much more than what supplements you’re on and what you put on your plate. It’s also about the primary foods: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Only when you address and make improvements to each of these areas will you really come alive and be able to reach your potential. So scratch whatever diet you think you should be on right now. Dig deeper into all the aspects of your life and make small improvements. If you need help along the way, I’m always here to answer your questions. 

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments. Have you heard of Joshua Rosenthal’s idea of Primary Foods and Secondary Foods before? Do you believe that we are fed more by Primary Foods? Why yes or no? What areas have you found that you need to make adjustments to in order to feel happier and healthier? What steps will you make to improve?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Honest Flat Tummy Tea Product Review + Instagram Giveaway

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Product Reviews

I’m super excited because today I bring to you a product review for another one of my absolute favorite companies, Flat Tummy Tea.

But first…

Like I said in the past and will say many more times, I will never come to this platform and write a blog post so that I or anyone else can sell a crap product to you. This blog is my passion and only reflects my personal beliefs, values, and opinions. This post is not sponsored or paid for in any way. This is my honest review of Flat Tummy Tea. I stopped studying advertising in college because nothing sounded worse to me than promoting things that I knew I didn’t believe in and that didn’t actually add value to someone’s life. I chose to do this review because I’m a huge fan of Flat Tummy Tea and have been a customer for years!

I started using Flat Tummy Tea at the beginning of college after I saw this product really take off. I constantly saw content creators, influencers, and celebrities sharing photos holding up their fresh bags of Flat Tummy Tea. Everywhere I looked online back then, I saw Flat Tummy Tea – on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. There was always a beautiful girl with a perfect body holding up two bags of the tea with a beaming smile on her face. Of course, as an 18- and 19-year-old girl who wasn’t comfortable with her body, I was their ideal target market and I was SO curious about this product.

I finally decided to purchase the tea after seeing the product countless times and beginning a nice, long health and exercise kick. I saw that my stomach was not exactly as flat as I would have liked and I went shopping for any product that could get me one step closer to the body I wanted, which of course led me to purchase Flat Tummy Tea. 

What is Flat Tummy Tea?

Flat Tummy Tea is a loose leaf detox tea that’s made from natural herbs known to cleanse the digestive system, reduce bloating, and speed up the metabolism. The cleanse includes two different teas – activate and cleanse. Activate reduces bloating, supports the metabolism, helps maintain a healthy immune system, and boosts energy. The cleanse detoxifies your system, reduces bloating, decreases water retention, and cleans out the digestive system. 

It’s designed to help your body kick that bloat around your belly that comes from eating out way too often and not being as kind to your body as you should be. It gets rid of that bloating that’s been hanging around and with it that super heavy, gross, sluggish, and un-sexy feeling. 

It’s not like a diet supplement that will make you lose weight or get rid of your appetite, but rather a cleansing system. It won’t make you drop 10 pounds so you look extra hot this summer. Trust me, you’ll still have to work out. Flat Tummy Tea cleans out the digestive tract, makes the bloat go away and helps you feel more confident in everything that you wear. 

Ingredients

Activate Ingredients – peppermint (leaf), lemon balm (leaf), Liquorice (root), dandelion (leaf and root), cleavers (leaf), fennel (seed), green tea (leaf), caraway (seed), cardamom (pods). 

Cleanse Ingredients – senna (leaf), peppermint (leaf), cassia chamaecrista (pods), liquorice (root), caraway (seed), dandelion (root), rhubarb (root).

Here are some of the benefits of the ingredients found in Flat Tummy Tea as it relates to the product:

  • Peppermint: Ease digestive upsets including symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, and indigestion. Aids in weight loss and treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
  • Lemon balm: Used to treat stomach problems such as nausea and indigestion; boosts cognitive functioning, improves alertness and memory; helps with weight loss. Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. 
  • Liquorice: Licorice root is used to soothe gastrointestinal problems including nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pain; helps to treat leaky gut; increases energy.
  • Dandelion: Improves digestion as a diabetic and laxative; prevents and treats constipation; aids in weight loss; anti-inflammatory. 
  • Cleavers: Reduces water retention; Diuretic; Detoxifying. 
  • Fennel: Treats digestive issues such as bloating, cramps, and gas; Diuretic; Suppresses appetite. 
  • Green Tea: Increases fat burning; Improves brain function; Improves memory; Boosts physical performance. 
  • Caraway: Treats digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, mild spasms of the stomach and intestines, and constipation.
  • Cardamom: Relieves nausea and vomiting; Helps to heal Ulcers; Helps with weight loss.
  • Senna: Aids in weight loss; Treats constipation; Detoxifies the body; Most commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Cassia Chamaecrista: Commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Rhubarb: Commonly used as a laxative. 

How does it work?

The Flat Tummy Tea cleanse is two different teas that are meant to be taken at different times. The Activate tea is meant to be taken every morning when you have breakfast. It helps reduce the bloat while also giving you extra energy and helping to boost metabolism. The Cleanse is meant to be taken in the evening. For the first three days, you use the Cleanse tea every evening, after that you switch to every other day for about a week. Once that period is over, it’s meant to be used once every three nights until you’ve finished the program.

The Flat Tummy Tea Cleanse is sold in two-week programs and four-week programs on the website, but I typically don’t do more than two weeks at a time. I think the four-weeks would be way too hard on my system and wouldn’t necessarily work “better” than the two-week program. 

Disclaimer: It is the loose leaf tea, so you do have to boil the water, put the leaves in an infuser and let it steep for several minutes. You also DON’T want to go overboard with the tea leaves to try to get it to work “faster” or “better.” A teaspoon of the leaves will do. This is a cleansing system and it can be hard on your stomach if you use too much of it. You’ll also be spending far more time in the bathroom than you’re used to, so maybe don’t try Flat Tummy Tea while you’re on vacation, about to go on a date, or before you’re about to work a 15-hour shift. 

My Experience 

I’ll be honest, as curious as I was about this product and all the hype around it, I didn’t actually believe that it would work. At least not enough to still be using this product five years later even as an adult who ALWAYS keeps Flat Tummy Tea around the kitchen “just in case.” No, I thought this product would be another one of those things that I got super excited about for a couple of weeks before I realized it wasn’t all THAT.

However, from the first time I used Flat Tummy Tea I was amazed. Within the first few days, the bloating that had hung around – no matter how much water I consumed and how frequently I worked out – simply disappeared. It went down dramatically. My stomach no longer had that little round shape to it, and instead laid flat. Before then, I thought that maybe, “That’s just how my body is.” I hadn’t realized that it was just bloating that a simple cleanse could fix. Had I known that very first time how dramatic it would be, I would have definitely taken before and after pictures! Oh well, that was five years ago.

Since that first time I saw results from Flat Tummy Tea I used it at least twice a year and do the entire two-week cleanse. I always use this product religiously around Thanksgiving and Christmas when my bloating and water retention is at its WORST. (You know what I’m talking about!) My family has become very familiar now with my “special detox tea” that I make a point of sharing it’s “expensive.” I always make a big deal whenever I leave the room to tell everyone in my family, “I’m NOT done drinking my tea! No one dump out the tea trying to clean up!” Once I even put a note in front of it so the tea would still be there even through one my mom’s and grandma’s frantic cleaning frenzies. 

Now I know you weren’t expecting that tangent, but I share it because I really AM a fan and real-life customer of this product. I believe in it enough to pack it and take it with me during the holidays!

However, I don’t do the entire two-week program all the time. Sometimes, if I notice a little bit of bloating through the year but don’t think it’s necessary to do an entire two weeks, I’ll even use the cleanse for a couple of days until my stomach flattens out. Flat Tummy Tea has become my secret weapon. I even use Flat Tummy Tea for a few days before I have a shoot coming up!

Company Review 

I normally don’t review a company when writing a product review, but I did include this part for Flat Tummy Tea for their wonderful customer service. TWO TIMES my Flat Tummy Tea was stolen right after it was delivered to my house. It happened in two different neighborhoods in two different states. I haven’t had many packages stolen, but somehow it was taken TWICE from me. Both times, the company sent me my order again free of charge. I was so thankful for that because most companies would only do that once to make sure that customers don’t take advantage of it. I also was a super broke college student both times my tea was stolen, so I was very thankful I didn’t have to order $40 worth of tea again.

I also wanted to mention that the company has now expanded and creates shakes, supplements, appetite suppressing lollipops, a wide range of teas, and workout plans. Every time I take a look at the Flat Tummy website, there are always new products available, but there was a time when the company’s only product was their detox tea. It just goes to show that the company is doing something right and people love their products since they’ve been able to expand so much.

Flat Tummy Tea is not just some random product that’s all hype with no results. I love the product so much that I always have some on hand. Even my boyfriend, Matt, just asked me last week, “When are we gonna start Flat Tummy Tea again?”

Instagram Giveaway!

Because I love this product so much I wanted to share it with YOU as well, which is why I’ve decided to do an INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY!

All you have to do to enter is FOLLOW ME on Instagram @heather.ione, LIKE THIS PHOTO, and TAG 3 BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS. One lucky winner will receive a two-week cleanse from me!

I love this product so much that I want to help one of you experience it as well. And it’s perfect timing! Right smack dab in the middle of bikini season. Make sure to head over to my Instagram real quick @heather.ione and enter to win!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for reading. I really hope you enjoyed this post about Flat Tummy Tea. I love to share my own experiences with popular products because I know it can be so hard to find reviews that you trust when most of the people creating blogs and YouTube reviews are sponsored. 

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? Have you tried Flat Tummy Tea before? OR are you thinking about trying it? What drew you to the product? What did you think? Did you see any results? Did you have any side effects? Do you think you would use it again?

If you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way down, click that “+” and subscribe below to have my weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.

Disclaimer

Before I hit that beautiful, blue publish button today, I feel like I should first share that there are many mixed opinions about cleanses and detox teas. It seems that people either believe detox teas are wonderful for your health and digestive system or that they’re dangerous. I personally believe that detox teas are beneficial when you’re suffering from bloating, gas, constipation and other unpleasant digestive issues. However, detox teas such as Flat Tummy Tea should be used carefully and in moderation.

It’s important to mention this because the sad truth is that some young women (and men) suffer from the eating disorder known as Bulimia Nervosa and end up using excessive amount of laxatives, cleanses, and detox teas as a way to purge and lose weight.

The constant consumption of detox teas or laxatives ends up leading to a wide variety of health complications. I’m not going to go into detail about all of them because that’s not what this post is about. However, the biggest issue that arises from heavy laxative use is that it makes your body become reliant on laxatives. 

If you’d like to read one woman’s very personal and eye-opening story of this, check out, “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cleanses and Detox Teas,” on CelebMix.com. The article is about a young woman who suffered from an eating disorder and ended up becoming addicted to laxatives causing her bowels to become reliant on it and to bleed while she was trying to go to the bathroom.

That’s why I only recommend doing two-weeks of these teas at a time and to only use products such as this one in moderation. Follow the instructions and use the recommended amount of tea each day. Although I do recommend this product to others and I love using it myself, I think it’s important to mention that if you have struggled with eating disorders in the past, I wouldn’t suggest using this product. Detox teas, just like anything else should be used in moderation. 

How I Transformed My Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques & What I’ve Learned From It

Lifestyle, Self-Help, Spirituality

But First… A Message to the Skeptics

I am a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I’ve seen it completely transform my life over the course of the last four years. And what I’ve learned from talking to others about my experience is that people fall into one of two viewpoints when it comes to this topic… Either they are a believer just like me who have witnessed the magic of manifestation in their own lives OR they’re skeptics – They don’t believe it, they think it’s a load of crap, and they think that the people who preach about it just “got lucky.”

So what do I know about the Law of Attraction?

Four years ago I was the most unhappy I’ve ever been. I was in a town that I hated living in, I was in a toxic and co-dependent relationship, I was losing my hair from birth control, I was depressed, I was broke, I had been betrayed by several of my closest friends, and my job was terrible in every way. That rock bottom time in my life when I felt that I had nothing else to lose, that’s when I committed to using the Law of Attraction.

If you’re just hearing about The Law of Attraction for the first time, it’s among the most popular of Universal Laws, made popular by the documentary The Secret which came out in 2006. Simply put, it’s the idea that like attracts like. It’s the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring about positive or negative experiences into our lives. The Law of Attraction is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are made up of energy and because like energy attracts like energy, a person can improve their health, happiness, wealth, career, relationships and more. It uses cognitive reframing techniques and visualization to replace negative thought patterns and bring about positive improvements, material possessions, opportunities etc. into a person’s existence.

I had been familiar with the movie “The Secret” and had started to finally use the Law of Attraction out of comfort. I had NOTHING that was bringing me joy and happiness in my life, and spending my time visualizing what I wanted and convincing myself that everything that I wanted was being drawn to me like a magnet, was something that I did because it made me feel better. It took the pain away, it made me smile, and it gave me something else to think about instead of just how miserable I was.

What I actually wanted more than anything was to live in Florida. I was sick of the seasonal depression, the snow, and the bitter negative 55-degree weather. I didn’t want to be in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin for the rest of my life finishing college and getting a corporate job where I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and sit in front of my special lamp that gave me vitamin D in the winter. No. My dream was to live in Florida. To model. To be a blogger. To visit Costa Rica. To swim under the La Fortuna waterfall. To tour Europe. To drive my dream car – a hard top Jeep Wrangler through palm trees. To be in a loving, happy and supportive relationship with someone who actually had things in common with me. To start a YouTube Channel. To receive an unexpected and large sum of money. To spend my days doing what I loved. To have a little bohemian bungalow to come home to. To have a puppy. As well as several smaller, material possessions.

I had a very, very specific dream back then of what I wanted my life to look like. Today, four years later, this is my life:

This is not bullsh*t. This is not me getting “lucky.” I manifested my dream. My home, my partner, my travels, my large and unexpected sum of money. I manifested my dream life. The life that I prayed for and visualized a hundred times over and over again during that most difficult time in my life. I’ve received 99% of the things that I wanted back then, and the things that I haven’t received are literally just around the corner. Matt and I are hunting for our perfect home right now and we plan on bringing a little fur baby into our lives as soon as we move in. This sh*t is real.

If you still don’t believe me, that’s totally fine, but the Law of Attraction is operational whether you’re a believer or a skeptic. Our thoughts shape our reality. So today, I wanted to share with you my eight powerful manifestation techniques that I’ve used to bring about the life that I have now in hopes that it will help YOU. In hopes that it will help you manifest your dream and live each and every day in a state of happiness, abundance, and gratitude. So without further ado, these are the 8 manifestation techniques that helped me create the life that I had now:

1. Heightened Visualization

Hear me out. I know that you were expecting to see this on the list and it may not be anything new, but I want to tell you HOW I practiced this every day and how I made the most of my visualization practice. The #1 way that I manifested my life is through what I can only describe as intense or heightened visualization. (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous).

Each and every night for at least an hour a night I would practice visualization. And I wouldn’t just practice it the way you would think – I wouldn’t just imagine something. I would close my eyes and make myself feel as if what I wanted was actually happening. I would feel each and every detail of that moment. For example, with the car that I wanted, I would visualize driving down a street that was lined with palm trees. I would visualize a ring on my hand; how beautiful the palm trees looked against the sky; how the steering wheel felt against my hand; how excited and grateful that I was to be driving it. I would visualize each and every detail as best I could. I made myself feel so happy in the moment that I didn’t even really need the car because I felt like it was already happening. I did this with everything. I visualized swimming under La Fortuna and seeing it for the first time. I visualized being in love with the most perfect person for me. Each and every detail I visualized so strongly and with such happiness that I felt as if I already had it.

2. Overwhelming Gratitude

At the very end of each visualization practice, I would have myself feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I would thank the universe – because that’s what I call the higher power. You can call the universe God, or Source, or Source Energy, or Creation, or Love – whatever word resonates with you. But I would thank the universe and feel an overwhelming rush of gratitude that was so strong that I couldn’t help but cry. I would also say “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you,” over and over again. It wasn’t just a subtle feeling of gratitude, it was so strong and I felt in my heart and in every cell of my body. I felt gratitude like I’ve never experienced before. And I would do this after each and every visualization practice.

3. A Daily Gratitude Practice

The third thing that I started to do was introducing a daily gratitude practice. If you’ve read my post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It,” or “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” then you’ve already heard me talk about my gratitude practice a bit. But I can’t talk about this enough because it’s been the one part of my daily routine that has added so much happiness and peace to my life that no amount of meditation or no self-help book has been able to bring me. For that reason, I swear by it.

Each and every night before I go to bed I practice gratitude by opening up a document on my computer and writing IN DETAIL about ONE THING that I’m grateful for. I want to highlight “in detail” and “one thing” the most because SO many gratitude practices stress a specific number of things you should feel grateful for which makes it feel like a chore and makes it more about hitting a number than about the feeling of gratitude. I also say in detail because people say that a gratitude practice should just be one word like “health” or maybe a quick sentence each day like, “today I feel grateful for my health.” However, I believe that those simple and quick practices don’t raise your vibration enough and radiate enough gratitude into the universe to truly transform your life.

For that reason, I pick one thing each day that I am the most grateful for and I write about why I feel grateful about it. It could be an opportunity, a person, an event. I don’t make myself hit a set number of sentences, I write whatever amount feels natural in the moment and I write until I feel like I’ve finished describing it. (It’s usually about two paragraphs, just in case you really need an idea of how much I write each day.)

This practice has helped me reflect deeply on something that brings me true happiness and gratitude. It always shifts my mind away from the stressors in life and puts me in a super happy, and high vibe mood that helps me to visualize what I want. Over time I noticed that I started to feel less anxious, happier, and more peaceful even throughout the day, not just at night. Feeling like this each and every day really sets you up for success with your manifestation and puts you in the right frequency to attract what you want.

4. Creating a Vision Board

Again, hear me out. If you’re really interested in the Law of Attraction, you’ve heard this method a thousand times by now. But, you haven’t heard about my method. I’ve tried creating vision boards for my bedroom many times and found that they just never worked for me. I would always get too critical about whether it looked good and how artistic my board was so it would prevent me from really resonating with it. Instead, I created my vision board the way us millennials do anything else – on my phone.

I created a private board on Pinterest and found beautiful photos that I connected to. Photos that I felt truly reflected the life that I wanted and dreamed of. I created the most beautiful board and whenever I woke up in the morning, or was on a break from work, or was scrolling through my phone, I would pull up that board. It made me feel so happy and would constantly remind me of what I was hoping to attract. I loved it because I already take my phone everywhere, so that way I was able to bring my vision board with me as well.

Whenever I opened the board, I would take my time and look at each photo and imagine what it would feel like to actually have that item or accomplishment. There were photos of Costa Rica, Europe, happy couples in their home together, beautiful bungalows, Jeep Wranglers, and more. I posted pictures that reflected each area of my life like my home, my relationship, and my finances. This technique helped me get back into that manifestation mindset even when something stressful would come up.

5. Commitment

The reason why I believe that I transformed my life and created this much change is because I committed to it and I became pretty much obsessed with it for several months. I think the biggest mistake that people make is that they get really motivated and excited to use the Law of Attraction and manifest their dream life, but then they give up after just a few days. I made this manifestation process my entire life for several months. Every single moment when I wasn’t working or in class or busy, I was visualizing, practicing gratitude, and looking at my vision board. Just like anything else, if you want it to really work or turn out, you have to devote your time and energy to it. You can’t just do it for five minutes right after you saw “The Secret,” you have to make it a daily practice. The universe responds to you if you continue to show up, raise your vibration, and practice manifestation each day.

6. Sparking Joy

One thing that I did throughout this process was I surrounded myself with things that would spark joy and removed the things in my environment that were triggers. (I use the phrase  “sparking joy” to describe this because I’ve been binge-watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” this week. However, I didn’t know I was following her method four years ago.) I made it a point to surround myself with things in my environment that made me feel good and made me happy. I did this by adding plants and crystals all over my room and my apartment and putting up decorations or pictures that made me feel really happy and brought back wonderful memories.

I didn’t just surround myself with things I liked, I made it a point to remove things in my environment that we’re trigger items for me and made me unhappy in some way. I removed items that reminded me of a bad time in my life, or a crappy memory, or a fight with my boyfriend at the time. I also made it a point to remove things that I was keeping ONLY because someone else would be upset or offended if I got rid of it. And lastly, I removed things in my environment that made me feel guilty. For example, I used to have several books on my bookshelf that I had sitting there for YEARS, but never read them. And every single time I would glance at them on the shelf I would feel bad and feel guilty that it had been six years since I bought that book and still had never read it, or had any intention of reading it.

Throughout this process, I was amazed by how many things I had in my environment that triggered me all day long and made me feel terrible every time I would look around my room. I had gotten rid of several garbage bags filled with things that made me feel bad. After this process, I was blown away by how the energy in my room had changed. How I felt happy, lighter, and happier just because I was surrounded by items that reminded me of joyful moments or I felt were so beautiful to look at: plants, photos, and crystals.

If you’re trying to manifest your dream life, I think this is an extremely important step that no one ever talks about when discussing the Law of Attraction. Our environment impacts us so much. It’s really important to make sure it fuels positive emotions.

7. Staying Inspired

It’s super easy to feel inspired in the beginning when you first watch a video or read a book about the Law of Attraction, but it’s really important to keep that inspiration going so you continue to practice it with enthusiasm each day. In order to really commit to this process I had to keep myself inspired for many months, and I did this by constantly watching “The Secret. I found that whenever I watched “The Secret” I become so convinced that it was real, I felt inspired, and it put me in the manifestation mindset.

I wouldn’t watch it from start to finish, but I would play parts of the movie so I could hear the speakers as I was getting ready for the day or driving. I also would find quotes through Pinterest that inspired me and kept me thinking about what I wanted and believing that it was coming to me. Staying inspired is probably the hardest thing to do. It’s important to keep an eye out for what speaks to you and surround yourself with whatever keeps you in that mindset. Whether that be a podcast or a book or a movie, because you don’t want to lose that inspiration right as you’re starting to really manifest what you want and make progress.

8. Keeping Secrets

The eighth and final thing that I did to practice the Law of Attraction and manifest my dream life was I didn’t tell anyone. I kept my manifestation practice a secret and didn’t share it until well after I received what I set out to. The reason why I did this is because I have many skeptics in my life, and you may have them as well. Telling other people around you what you’re trying to attract could set you back in this whole process and prevent you from actually reaping the benefits of the Law of Attraction and seeing the changes in your life. If you make the mistake of telling other people, it not only puts pressure on what you’re trying to manifest because you feel as if you have to prove the Law of Attraction to people, but it also throws their feelings, thoughts, and ideas into the mix. Let’s say you tell a friend or family member what you’re trying to attract, they could be putting thoughts out into the universe that are sabotaging your efforts. If they believe that the Law of Attraction is a load of crap and projecting that into the universe, it could backfire for you. You want to make sure that nothing but love, gratitude, and faith is being projected out into the world when trying to manifest your dream life.

The Lessons I’ve Learned

Using these 8 techniques I was able to receive everything that my 18 and 19-year-old self wanted more than anything in the world. I wanted to share the techniques with those of you who also have an unwavering faith that the Law of Attraction is real, but I also wanted to share what I’ve learned over these last 4 years that ISN’T in any of those books, videos, and movies about manifestation. So these are the lessons about the Law of Attraction that I learned from this experience, in hopes that it will help you to better understand what you can expect moving forward in this process:

It works both ways

For as wonderful as the positive thoughts and ideas work for manifestation, so do the negative ones. I noticed that not only does projecting negativity bring about negative things in your life, but it can also postpone the positive things. Whenever I’m in a place in my life where I’m feeling very low and down about myself and I’m focused on what it’s not going well and what I DON’T have, I don’t receive the positive things.

The movie, “The Secret,” does a great job of hitting on this point – that the Law of Attraction can also bring about more debt, more fighting, and more discontent if you’re not careful. For me, it didn’t UNDO receiving my dream life, but it did push things back whenever I started to become pessimistic or overly stressed out. I never received when I was in that place.

You don’t have to monitor your thoughts

For some people, if you still do not have an unwavering faith that your dream is coming toward you, projecting negativity could be stopping your dream altogether. Upon hearing the last lesson, it might feel like you have to monitor your thoughts because that’s how I felt for a while. However, it’s not so much monitoring your negative thoughts as it is making a point of doing what makes you happy and makes you feel good in life.

It’s about making the visualization your dream life SO MUCH FUN that it becomes enjoyable and you don’t want to stop. It’s also about surrounding yourself with things that make you so happy and engaging in activities that you enjoy more than anything so you’re in the positive mindset without requiring monitoring. I don’t just mean going to a bar, I mean doing the things in life that really bring about deeper satisfaction. I started nannying again just because it brought me so much joy to take care of babies. I started doing the things that were on my bucket list just because it brought me inner peace and happiness as opposed to always telling myself “someday” I’ll do that. I started paying for experiences over possessions because it made me feel much happier long term than simply making an impulse purchase. It’s not so much about monitoring your thoughts as it is about making sure you’re in a positive and satisfying place in your life whenever you can and really enjoying the manifestation process along the way, as opposed to feeling like it’s a chore.

Your inner dialog can backfire

I’m not just talking about how you feel about life in general here: whether you’re happy or unhappy, negative or positive. One of the most difficult lessons that I’ve learned throughout this process is that the negative inner dialog and the way that I feel about MYSELF does impact manifestation. Throughout most of this process, there have been things that I wanted more along the lines of accomplishments but I didn’t get because I didn’t feel worthy. If you’re trying to manifest a Range Rover for example, if you feel like you don’t deserve it and have constantly self-sabotaging and self-harming thoughts, you won’t receive it. You have to get to a point where you stop that criticizing voice and find ways to truly love yourself, or else your inner dialog is going to be sabotaging this entire process and (TRUST ME) it will win.

I could write an entire post just about that inner dialog and how to deal with it. But for now, I’ll have to keep it simple: positive thoughts, compassion, and love towards yourself is equally as important as the vision boards and visualization. So do whatever you have to and find peace with yourself. Know that you’re worthy of having your dream to begin with, or else your subconscious mind will make damn sure you don’t get that Range Rover.

Nothing happened in the way I would expect

I honestly thought when I first started this process that the only possible way I could get everything I wanted in life was through winning the lottery. I thought it would take millions of dollars to be able to make everything happen. But it didn’t! Nothing – I mean nothing – happened in a way that I would have expected. So don’t for a second waste your time thinking about HOW it could possibly happen. That’s not your job. That’s the job of the universe.

When I first started trying to manifest back in 2015, I felt that thinking about the HOW would help out the universe in some way by presenting a logical and practical way for me to receive what I wanted. But there was nothing logical or practical to me about it. For example, I used to always visualize my dream relationship and a trip to Costa Rica (separately). I somehow met Matt out at a bar I NEVER go to, with a group of people I NEVER hung out at before,  just people his friend Pat said something funny. A year later his parents gifted us a trip to Costa Rica they had actually been meaning to go on themselves. Well, that’s not how I say my dream happening. I literally thought I had to win the lottery for me to be able to go to Costa Rica back then. The point is, don’t waste a single second thinking about the HOW. All that will do is convince yourself that there’s no way your dream will come true, just because you can’t figure out how on earth it could possibly happen.

You will receive as you’re ready

You cannot and should not put a date on when you expect to receive something. My move to Florida started to be put in motion THREE MONTHS after I was visualizing about it for an hour or two each night. My dream car I got two years after I began visualizing it. My tour of Europe I got after graduation. Some things happened right away. Some things took longer. But after I looked back at everything I wanted and everything that I’ve received up to this point, I realized that the universe gave me things as I was ready for them. Yeah, it would have been nice to get everything instantly in one day, but it didn’t work that way. For example, I tried extremely hard to find a perfect partner. I went on dates every week and as a result, all that ended up happening was I dated a string of guys for two months each who all just wanted to “have fun.” *insert eye roll here*

It wasn’t until I gave my “sweeping declaration” one night about how I was DONE dating, I loved myself, I was happy alone and I didn’t need another person to complete me when the universe decided I was ready and I was introduced to Matt just a few hours later. It’s no coincidence that I met my partner of two years right after I decided I loved myself and I wanted to give up dating and trying to force a relationship. Things take time, and sometimes the only reason why you’re not receiving something is that you’re not ready for it. For this reason, I believe that there’s also a spiritual connection with the Law of Attraction that none of us understand.

I didn’t have to work for the material things

When looking back at my trips and my possessions I realized that I actually didn’t have to work for them, they were gifted to me. The first thing that I hear from people who don’t believe in the Law of Attraction is that it’s not real because they believe that I wanted something so I worked for it… and then bought it. It’s not manifestation apparently, it’s hard work and money. But the thing is, it wasn’t hard work. The move, the Jeep, the trips, etc. were gifted. I didn’t work for them at all. And yes, that may sound very entitled or self-absorbed to someone who hasn’t met me and is reading this, but my point again that the HOW is up to the universe.

Don’t go into this process thinking, “Oh sh*t, I have to come with $50,000 for that Jeep. I better clock more hours at work.” No. Things will be presented to you in ways that you never expect, the reason why you don’t have them isn’t that you don’t work enough. So take a deep breath, and just get back to your vision board.

You don’t have to PROVE anything to people

It can be frustrating when you’ve transformed your life with the Law of Attraction but then your close friends and family don’t believe you. Trust me, I understand. I spent countless hours for three months visualizing this move to Florida and somehow my dad was offered a job in Florida just months after that. And every single person I’ve talked to about it gives me that forced, fake smile (you know that one were you can tell people think you’re crazy) and says “Ohhhh… that’s nice.” OR, becomes a very vocal skeptic and openly tells me that I’m wrong and everything I’ve received is one giant coincidence.

For a while, I believed that I had to tell the world what happened and that I had to prove that what happened to me was real. However, after having so many of the same encounters with people I finally realized this: you don’t have to PROVE the Law of Attraction to anyone. Why? Well for starters there’s no reward to proving it to someone, but most importantly it’s going to be impossible.

Trying to convince someone that the Law of Attraction is real will be as effective as trying to convert them to your religion. Everyone has their own set of beliefs about life, spirituality, and the mysterious workings of the universe based on their background, upbringing, and experiences. Going into a conversation with someone and trying to convince them that the Law of Attraction is real would be pointless as trying to get me to pray to Jesus, read the Bible, and go to church on Sundays. Or like trying to convince a skeptic to believe in ghosts. Go ahead, as an experiment seek out a skeptic, tell them some of your ghost stories, and see if you can convince them ghosts are real. Or better yet, try to convince a Republican to be a Democrat and vice versa. Do you see what I mean? So don’t feel like you have to PROVE what happened to you. Talk about it with the people who believe in the Law of Attraction, and if they don’t, that’s ok. You don’t have to defend yourself and prove anything. People will think you’re crazy, and that’s fine. Everyone close to me thought (and still thinks) I’m crazy for saying that I’ve changed my life with the Law of Attraction. If history has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot change other people and their beliefs. Talk about the Law of Attraction with people who understand and support you, and if they don’t, let it be.

Thanks so much for reading!

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post about the Law of Attraction, how I manifested what I wanted, and what I’ve learned from this experience. As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? What parts? Have you used the Law of Attraction in your life? What have you been able to manifest and how did you do it? Did you learn anything interesting from your experience with the Law of Attraction?

If you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way down, click that “+” and subscribe below to have my weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.

Shaky Knees Music Festival 2019: Festival Lookbook, Beauty, Photos, Drinks & More

Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel

It’s official, my musical festival cherry has been popped. For years I’ve lived vicariously as friends have gone to music festivals all over the country, with Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella being the most popular. I’ve been to so many concerts but never a festival. I’ve thought about it over and over but something always stopped me. Either I didn’t know the bands, didn’t have other people to go with or didn’t have the money. But after being invited to Shaky Knees Music Festival, I finally decided it was the right time and the right festival for me.

Shaky Knees is an annual three-day festival held in Central Park in Atlanta. It features over 60 bands that range from world-renowned to up and coming artists. It’s the perfect festival for those who are interested in rock, punk, or alternative bands. It’s not the kind of festival where you hear the loudest and dirtiest rap and hip hop music. You won’t find Cardi B singing about her designer bag and bloody shoes at Shaky Knees.

The 2019 Shaky Knees Lineup included Beck, Tame Impala, Cage the Elephant, Incubus, Tears for Fears, Gary Clark Jr., Interpol, Tash Sultana, Maggie Rogers, Group Love, and many more. Make sure to stay until the very end to hear who’s performances stood out and made my top 5 list!

With it being my very first music festival, I wanted it to be right. I wanted to have fun with it, because we all know that festivals are now about SO much more than just the music. It’s about fashion, beauty, the experience, and the pictures! In this post, you’ll be able to find my outfit details for each day, get my favorite (somewhat healthy) festival drink recipe, learn how I created my glowy, photo-ready makeup, and more! This was Shaky Knees 2019!

Festival Lookbook

So we all know that music festivals have become more fashion shows than anything else. Ever since Instagram has allowed people to document their outfits and good times at festivals, what you wear to the festival is an even bigger deal than who you see there. I wanted to put together a little lookbook for my three Shaky Knees outfits to give you some inspiration and ideas for your next festival. I also included where I got each item and links if you want to recreate it yourself.

Outfit 1

My first look I wanted to do something cute, comfy, and colorful to start off the weekend. I decided to go with a flowy, off the shoulder rainbow top with white biker shorts and a few accessories. The nice thing about Shaky Knees is that it’s not one of those festivals where people go over the top with their outfits. So something cute and summery is perfect.

Flowy off the shoulder top and white biker shorts with lace from both from Forever 21. The black fringe bag is from Amazon, as well as the face star stickers. My bright, beaded necklace I bought on a trip to Savanna from a local artist. The turquoise sun pendant was a gift from my grandma. And lastly, the beaded bracelets are from a little shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg called Gopali Imports where the owner travels to Nepal to buy all of his jewelry and clothes.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Bracelets from Gopali Imports.

Outfit 2

My second look I decided to do something bolder – I wanted an all white and black look. I wanted to be comfy, but I always wanted the look to be more dramatic.

I decided to make this outfit pop by wearing a black and white tie dye crop top from Gray Space in St. Petersburg, yoga pants with a super cute slit down the side of the leg from Forever 21, and very chunky jewelry. My wrap-around sun bracelet, earrings, and silver bib necklace are all from Etsy. All of the rings I wore I collected from different cities I’ve been to, rock shops in Florida, and from gifts from family. I then added a bunch of black temporary tattoos I bought from Amazon. I decided that I wanted to go with all black tattoos because they stand out to me more than the shiny flash tattoos that have become super popular. It makes a statement and not every single person is using them.

The temporary tattoos were the BIG hit throughout the weekend. Everywhere I went people gave me compliments on them and asked if they were real. I had a bunch of people tell me that I should get real tattoos that looked just like them. I also loved how they popped in all the photos that I took throughout the festival. AND they were great quality! I was expecting temporary tattoos to wear off right away but surprisingly they were SUPER strong. Next time I’ll be prepared and have some exfoliating gloves with me and rubbing alcohol when I want to remove the tattoos. Parts of the tattoos stayed on for days after the festival, so you can bet that they’re going to hold up through sunscreen and sweat at your next festival.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Outfit 3

My third and final outfit for Shaky Knees was very laid back and summery. I wanted to wear something a little bit more exciting and interesting, but by the end of a festival weekend in the hot Atlanta sun with next to NO sleep, I was wanting to keep the last outfit pretty simple and comfortable. So I apologized to my VERY large suitcase filled with accessories and about a dozen tops I brought along to Atlanta and put together this outfit instead.

I wore my white shorts from American Eagle, a bright red, twisted crop top from Fashion Nova, and a tropical button-up crop top from Ash Couture in St. Petersburg. I wore a mixture of the same jewelry I had worn with other outfits and to finish off the look, and my trusted Converse (which still need a very good, deep clean after that weekend).

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Boho Festival Beauty

If you want to be music-festival ready, you obviously don’t want to neglect your skin and makeup!

Throughout my weekend at the Shaky Knees Music Festival I knew I was going to be taking a lot of pictures. There would be tons of Instagram stories and posts to come! In getting ready for the festival I wanted my skin to look bright, healthy and glowing AND I wanted my makeup to stand out and look pretty in photos without caking my face. I was never into that overly made up and contoured look that you see all over YouTube. Here’s how I got glowing skin and put together my makeup if you’d like to try it yourself!

Skincare

I started off each day using my Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, which is Mad Hippie’s most popular product. The serum leaves your skin with that beautiful glow that we all want but is so freaking hard to obtain! To make sure my skin looked bright and refreshed that weekend, I even used the Vitamin C serum at night too. It gives you that glow while evening out skin texture and treating dark spots. I finished both my nighttime and daytime routine with my other Mad Hippie products as usual. If you want my full Mad Hippie product review and routine, you can find it in my blog post, “Mad Hippie Skincare Product Review + Instagram Giveaway.

Right after applying my serum and moisturizer in the mornings, I then applied a little bit of my favorite Facial SPF by Mad Hippie. This sunscreen is a natural 30+ SPF with zinc oxide. I absolutely love this sunscreen because it’s the only facial sunscreen I’ve ever used that completely protects me from sunburn. Which is saying a lot because I burn like you can’t even imagine. My skin is either snow white or beet red, thanks to my Irish blood – so when I put my stamp of approval on a sunscreen, I mean business. The other reason why I love this sunscreen (way more than it’s normal for a person to love a sunscreen), is because it doesn’t clog my pores! This SPF was the first thing to get packed before I left for Shaky Knees.

Makeup

For Shaky Knees and our countless pictures, I wanted my skin to look beautiful and healthy, BUT I also wanted to make a bit of statement.

In planning my makeup look for the weekend, I ended up finding a makeup company called Glossier that I’ve really fallen in love with. The products are designed to enhance natural beauty without making you look like a completely different person. It’s meant for those of us who want to look good, without having to do buy products that are meant to create that thick, caked on the makeup look you’d see on beauty YouTubers. However, these products also offered the ability to build them up and make a statement if you wanted to.

The products I used to make this look include:

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in G12. This shade is perfect if you have super light skin like me with pink undertones. It’s not a foundation that gives you great coverage, but it brightens up your skin and makes it glow. Even my boyfriend noticed how bright my skin looked after I used this foundation (and we all know that boys don’t notice much). After putting the foundation on, I followed it up with my Bare Minerals Powder Foundation that I normally use for better coverage. It didn’t cover up the glow from Glossier, it just corrected any dark spots, blemishes, and imperfections that were still there after applying the Skin Tint.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam. This is the most perfect blush I’ve found to date. It’s very hard to impress me when it comes to makeup and skincare, but these first two products are fantastic. Cloud Paint in Beam created the perfect, natural, rosy flush to my cheeks. It looked so beautiful AND because it’s a liquid blush it looks natural. Plus, all you need is a tiny dot because the product is highly pigmented. If there’s one product I will keep returning to it’s this brand and it’s 100% this blush. I’ve been using it every single day since the festival.

Glossier Generation G in Zip. This is how I got that lovely pink flush on my lips throughout the weekend. Glossier Generation G lipstick is meant to go on light at first but then build with each swipe. I put three layers on to make my lips stand out and look beautiful in photos.

Glossier Haloscope in Moonstone. The Haloscope is the most subtle highlighter I’ve ever come across. It’s perfect if you’re like me and you love glowing beautiful skin but you don’t want your makeup to be too obvious. I love glowing skin but I don’t want my highlighter to be the first thing people see – I prefer to be a little bit more subtle than that. This highlighter gave me a beautiful glow with very minimal product or effort. This is another product that I’ve been using daily since the festival. All I have to do is swipe it on the tips of my fingers and dab it on my cheekbones to add some shine and a soft glow in the morning.

Glossier Lidstar in Cub. I’m a HUGE fan of pink and rose gold eyeshadows. I love how feminine rose gold is and how the pink compliments my skin tone. I chose to use the Lidstar product for Shaky Knees over my regular eyeshadow because I loved how much the color popped for photos. When you’re going to be spending an entire weekend taking photos with friends, you don’t want to go for the same makeup routine you do every day. This product has a beautiful shimmer to it and is super quick and easy to apply with your finger tips.

Brows: For my eyebrows, I filled them in as I normally do with my Anastasia DipBrow Pomade in Taupe. I then follow my brow makeup up with Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Gel in Deep Brown which keeps my eyebrows in place and in the right direction so they don’t end up sticking out and looking all crazy. But this time instead of using my go-to Maybelline product I used my new Boy Brow from Glossier in the color Brown. It adds a little bit more color just like the Maybelline does and keeps your brow hairs in place.

Lashes: I got my eyelash extensions done right before Shaky Knees by a business in downtown St. Pete called “Lash Addict.” This set is the natural set in a classic shape. These lashes are created to make your eyes pop in photos while still looking more natural. I’m so glad I got them done before the festival because it saved me from having my mascara melt and smudge away in the hot Atlanta sun or have to keep checking for mascara flakes!

Nails: My nails I got done at my go-to place in St. Pete called “LeAnn’s Nails.” For events or shoots when I’m going to be taking a lot of photos I always love wearing white nail polish because of how simple and beautiful it is, but it still pops in all the photos. But because I was in the festival spirit, I decided to go for a metallic, gel nail polish that was white, but flashed little rainbows in the sun. I’m not sure what exact color it is because it didn’t come in a bottle, but if you ask your nail tech for their gel colors, they will most likely have some of those metallic options. I absolutely LOVED this color for the festival and have debating getting it again since I got back. The color is gorgeous and compliments every outfit.

My Shaky Knees Cocktails AKA Chambucha

So now that you’re looking all glowing and beautiful, lets get to the really fun stuff – the drinks. Wanna let loose and have a good time … but you know, get your daily dose of probiotics? 😂 Matt and I used to go to a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in St. Augustine called Sarbez that sold buy-one-get-one free “Chambucha” – kombucha mixed with Champagne. For Shaky Knees, we decided to recreate them ourselves. We bought a bunch of bottles of champagne and my absolute FAVORITE Kombucha by KeVita.

All we did was mix them half and half – and voila! That’s how you get healthy and have a good time right there. Try it! (If you’re over 21.. Ugh don’t you hate it how we live in a world where we have to give disclaimers like that so we don’t get sued?)

Just to make the festival experience even more exciting, we decided to buy a little party favor most known as a “Chambong” – it’s a bong for champagne. Or what the makers of our champagne bongs call the “rapid champagne consumption device.” We also got this idea from some of the bars in St. Augustine and St. Petersburg that keep these champagne bongs around for bachelorette parties.

We bought some plastic versions online so we wouldn’t be upset if they got damaged in our suitcase, and surprisingly they were super easy to use. I was expecting a big mess and for the champagne to spill out the bottom of the flute, but it doesn’t! Matt and I started out our weekend with a “rapid” champagne toast! If you’re ever going to a festival with a group of people or having a party, you can find them on Amazon here, and I guarantee they’ll be a big hit. Plus people LOVE taking pictures and videos of them.

But remember: Drink Water. This festival was pretty tame and I didn’t see much drama or anyone’s partying getting out of hand, BUT I did see a girl who passed out because of heat exhaustion. Too much alcohol, plus the sun, dancing, heat, and not enough water is a recipe for disaster. I’m all about relaxing and having a good time on vacation, but remember to take care of yourself. Before we would leave the AirBnb for the festival each day, I actually would take several WATER bongs out of the champagne flutes. Am I weird? Maybe. But I think it was really smart. I made it a point to drink water before the heat, the sun, and the drinks got to me.

Instant Photos

Aside from sunscreen and water, the next most important thing that I had to bring with me to Shaky Knees was my FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera! Of course, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with my FujiFilm camera. As much as I love how easy and convenient it’s become to take photos on our phone and share them instantly, there’s something that’s so special about taking a picture and having a hard copy. It’s a souvenir that you can actually take home with you and hang up to remember the fun you had. Matt and I got our FujiFilm right when we started dating and since then we’ve created a photo wall from all the instant photos of our travels, favorite memories, and our friends.

I also love my FujiFilm because I love the lighting and the effects of the photos. We’re so used to seeing beautiful, photoshopped and filtered photos, that it’s nice to have some photos that have some character and imperfections. Here are some of my favorite instant photos from the weekend.

If you’d like to get your own, there’s tons of FujiFilm cameras on Amazon here!

My Top Five Artists

Of course, I couldn’t talk about my time at the festival without talking about the music. I didn’t know many bands going into it, but after walking around and hearing dozens of bands perform, I not only discovered bands for the first time, but also found some new favorites. Here are my top five favorite artists and bands from Shaky Knees 2019!

Out of the musicians that I saw, Tash Sultana’s looping was the BEST part of the entire festival. I’m a sucker for looping artists who can play a dozen different instruments and make up an entire song from nothing but their own two hands without a band to back them up. Every time I hear a looping artist I completely forget the world around me and lose all sense of time. There’s nothing more interesting to me than watching someone create an entire song on stage without any help. I would rather watch one looping artist than an entire band!

Out of all the bands I watched, Cage the Elephant was by far the best. I’ve never seen a performance that was so strange and so over the top. Leader singer Matt Shultz was impossible to pull your eyes off of. The only way I could think to describe his dancing was creepy. It was filled with dance moods that reminded you of a contortionist with strange faces that gave me flashbacks to watching American Horror Story. I LOVED it. Cage the Elephant got moved up from 9 pm to 8:30 because it was supposed to start raining, and RAIN it did. Even though Matt and I were completely soaked standing in the middle of a crowd outside, we didn’t want to move. The performance was so fascinating we didn’t mind the cold, the crowds, or the rain. Seeing Cage the Elephant and Tash Sultana alone were worth the tickets.

My other favorite bands included Electric Guest, Bad Books, and Grouplove. Electric Guest is an L.A. based indie pop and indie rock group whose music performance was so much fun to watch. It was a performance that just made me happy to just there. Have you ever watched a band and noticed how much fun they were having that you just couldn’t help but smile and feel good to be surrounded by their presence? That’s what it was like watching Electric Guest. The dance moves from lead singer, Asa Taccone, with his bright orange jumpsuit and quirky dancing was by far my favorite part of watching them perform.

My next favorite band that would also fall into the indie rock genre was Bad Books. Their music stood out to me right away and was something that I could see myself putting on in the car when I feel like relaxing and daydreaming or as some background music while having some drinks with friends. It was my kind of feel good and unwinding music. The best songs of theirs in my opinion was “Baby Shoes” and “Forest Whitaker.”

Last, the fifth performance that stood out in my mind and became one of the most memorable from the weekend was Grouplove. Grouplove is an alternative rock band also based out of L.A. who I will never forget solely because of their giant Grouplove blow up banner above the stage that was shaped like the inside of someone’s mouth. Each one of the letters was painted over a blow-up tooth that was attached to gums. Gross. Sorry I didn’t get a picture to go with that image I put in your head! The music was slightly too “emo” for me (remember when emo was a thing?) but the performance is what pulled me in the most. The most memorable song and most popular of theirs is “Tongue Tied,” which was a throwback to high school for sure.

The Shaky Knees Experience

If you’re considering going to a music festival and you haven’t been to one before, Shaky Knees is probably a good place to start. It was busy and crowded, but it was set up perfectly for as many people as there were. There were multiple restroom stations, drink stations next to each one of the concerts that sold beer and mixed drinks, and it was very easy to navigate. I’m glad I started out going to this festival instead of one that’s in the middle of nowhere. Not only was it pretty clean but the people at this festival were also very laid back – no CRAZY partiers. Most music festivals bring out the most bizarre sides of people, but at Shaky Knees, it was pretty tame.

The festival was mostly filled with people relaxing, drinking…and smoking weed. At first, I was very taken aback seeing hundreds of people walking around Central Park smoking openly, but I later learned through one of our Uber drivers that it’s now legal to smoke outside in Atlanta. Apparently, there used to be thousands of people sitting in jail sells having their lives ruined from the possession of marijuana that the government decided it was ridiculous to be spending so much time and energy arresting people for weed. So if you’re into a festival that’s pretty laid back where you can smoke, but isn’t filled with people experimenting with drugs, this is probably the festival for you.

Side note: I feel like I should probably mention here that I don’t smoke, just in case anyone thinks I might be trying to push a stoner agenda here, lol. I just support other people who choose to and think it’s refreshing that we’re making a step in the right direction toward decriminalizing marijuana.

I really hope that you guys liked this post about Shaky Knees from my outfits, to makeup, to drinks, photos, and more. I really enjoyed the environment at the festival AND the music. I loved getting ready for the day, taking instant photos together, hearing indie brands that were brand new to me, and relaxing in the sun.

Before you go…

If you do end up going to a festival this year I will say, remember that it’s not JUST about the makeup and clothes. Because of the festival and dressing up culture, influencers, the pressure for women to look perfect, and our obsession with social media, it can be so easy to get lost in the outfits and “content” and forgetting to relax and enjoy the festival. I met someone at Grassroots in St. Pete right before I left for Shaky Knees and told him that I was excited about the festival but worried that I would be so wrapped up in taking photos for my blog and posting online that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it or I would annoy people. He gave me some really good advice which was to take 15 minutes each day to work on all of my content with attention and focus, so I get it done and out of the way, and then for the rest of my time put the phone down and just relax and enjoy the moment. I thought that was really wonderful advice. Instead of trying to have a good time while creating content at the same time, I would work on my photos or notes for a little bit in the morning and then for the rest of the day I was off my phone. We spend SO much time on our phones now. Don’t waste what should be your fun and relaxing festival weekend staring at your screen and getting “Lost Online.”

Thanks for coming to Lost Online! Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+” and enter your email where it says “follow blog via email” to have all future blog posts sent right to you!

As always, let me know what you thought of this blog post in the comments! Have you been to a music festival before? Which one? What were your thoughts on the festival? Do you have any festivals coming up? Did this post inspire any makeup or outfit ideas for your next festival?

Main Photo by Taylor Varvil @taylorvarvil.

Mad Hippie Skincare Product Review + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Lifestyle, Product Reviews

Today I’m super excited to share this post with you, because not only is it my very first product review, but it’s also my first GIVEAWAY! (But we’ll get to the giveaway part later). I’ve been blogging for well over a year now, and have thought long and hard about doing product reviews in the past, but nothing felt right. There was no product and no brand that I loved and believed in enough to put my stamp of approval on. I knew that if I was to ever come onto my blog and discuss a product or a brand, it had to be one that I felt added value to my life AND was an all natural and ethical company, especially if it was related to clothing or skin care.

One thing you should know as a reader of mine is that I don’t ever want to promote something so I (or anyone else) can simply earn money for advertising a crap product to you. There’s a reason why I stopped studying advertising in college, just saying!

Anyway, there was nothing that I believed in enough that I felt deserved a blog post… until the day I started using Mad Hippie products.

What is Mad Hippie?

If you’re just hearing about Mad Hippie for the first time, prepare to be blown away. Mad Hippie is an anti-aging, all natural skin care line. Their skincare philosophy was built on the idea that natural skin care products should be just as effective as traditional anti-aging products. Because we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health and lather our bodies with chemicals to have beautiful, glowing skin.

They are free from any and all synthetic fragrances, dyes, chemicals, parabens, PEGs, SLS, and all the other nasty additives that you can think of. Plus, Mad Hippie is focused on sustainability. They use BPA-free pumps, print with soy inks, run their facilities off alternative energy, AND donate $1 for every single web sale to conservation efforts. As someone who has recently been making the transition to chemical-free and fragrance-free products, Mad Hippie has checked all of my boxes.

Last, but definitely not least, Mad Hippie does not test on animals or use animal products, aside from a small amount of beeswax in one product.  

Discovering Mad Hippie Skincare

I first started to become aware of Mad Hippie Skincare about 8 or 9 months ago. It kept showing up on my social media feed and health and wellness influencers seemed to love it. After hearing it so highly recommended by fitness instructors, yogis, models, and influencers, I finally decided to go to their website and learn more. That’s when I started to understand why people seemed to rave about Mad Hippie like there was no tomorrow.

I was surprised to see that Mad Hippie was anti-aging, all natural, and only offers TEN products. In my opinion, that’s when you know a company sells great products when they don’t waste their time constantly bringing in new stuff, but rather focuses on a few items that are high quality. They also list each and every ingredient in the product and the benefit of the ingredient. Lately, I feel a lot more comfortable using products that have ingredients like green tea, aloe vera, goji berry, and coconut oil than I do using products that I don’t understand. And in case you were wondering, Mad Hippie Skincare is rated as a ZERO on the Think Dirty App. This means that they are completely safe and pose no short term or long term health risks, unlike most of the products you find today. If you go on the Mad Hippie Website you can actually see every single ingredient listed and their benefits. They send you a handy little book with all the products and ingredients as well! Although I have at least 4 of those little books now, I still love them, and it feels like I’m getting a present with every order.

My Mad Hippie Story

I remember I decided to wait until Black Friday so I could buy a bunch of Mad Hippie products at once and test them all out together. I believe that using a skincare line as opposed to just one of the items works better because each of the products is designed to compliment each other. I purchased the Cream Cleanser, Cleansing Oil, Facial SPF, Face Cream, Eye Cream, Vitamin C Serum, and Exfoliating Serum.

I was so excited over this brand that I decided to use the products every day for two months and write down every day how my skin was doing. I wanted to see if in fact Mad Hippie was worth the hype and worked as well as the other products on the market. I didn’t want to excitedly talk about this brand unless I knew it worked well, and I wanted to give it enough of a chance, rather than having the product for one week and then showing it off on Instagram. So I lined up all my Mad Hippie Skincare products, opened up a new note on my phone, and started my little experiment.

I used the whole line, and in the morning I woke up and immediately saw the change in my skin. When I woke up and looked in the mirror, my skin was actually glowing. It was clear, beautiful, and luminous. Very similar to after you get a facial. I remember being surprised by how good my skin looked just from something that I used at home without getting a facial done. I opened up my notes and wrote down these observations:

  • Skin feels very smooth, better than it usually does after I use moisturizers and serums. I still feel the moisturizer on my skin even 8 hours later.
  • Normally there is redness on my cheeks and nose when I wake up, but there’s no redness today.
  • Skin is literally glowing like I got a facial.
  • No breakouts or extra blackheads.
  • Skin is looking very “plump.”
  • Dark spots are showing less.
  • Skin is still glowing through the makeup I put on.

After two weeks, I stopped the log because it was getting old taking the time out of my mornings to write down the same thing. My skin glowed and looked much better after using Mad Hippie for the first time. The log has stopped, but my morning and nighttime routines are still filled with a relaxing Mad Hippie ritual even 4 months later. I love using Mad Hippie so much that I use the entire line. Mad Hippie fills my shelves, I have backup products ready, and I’ve deemed that this wonderful brand was worthy of the “Heather Ione stamp of approval” for all of my readers. I also want to add that the customer service at Mad Hippie gets 5 stars as well, I’ve had to reach out to them for a few random issues and they always helped me and been enormously friendly.

Cleansing Oil

The Mad Hippie Cleansing Oil is made from pumpkin seed oil, safflower oil, rosehip oil, ginger, white tea, and squalane. It works by softening and smoothing the skin, while also removing makeup and impurities. I use this product by gently massaging it all over my face each night. It helps to start breaking up the product on my face and removing more impurities than I would be able to remove with just one face wash overnight. It also helps get rid of my super stubborn eyebrow and eye makeup that clings to my skin with strength I will never understand. I then take a cotton pad and whip the oil and makeup off before I start cleansing.

Cream Cleanser

I’m a huge fan of the Cream Cleanser in this line and it’s definitely one of my favorite products. It’s made from jojoba oil, orchid extract, macadamia oil, sodium hyaluronate, algae extract, sesame oil, green tea, sodium PCA, and shea butter. I use it morning and night and it’s my favorite step in the skincare routine because it’s so soft and creamy. It feels more like I’m massaging a moisturizing cream into my face than a face wash, so I usually gently wash my face for several minutes to clear out each and every pore. (Also it’s so relaxing that sometimes I have to tell myself “OK Heather, stop rubbing your face and wash the cleanser off already. You’ve been washing your face for a weird amount of time”).

By the time I’m done cleansing, my skin already feels soft. Normally after I use another face wash, my face is left feeling dry. Other face washes leave my skin feeling squeaky clean and exfoliated, but also very bare at the same time. After washing my face with another product it feels as if my skin has been stripped down and I have to rush to moisturize my face after. But Mad Hippie Cleanser leaves it feeling fresh and healthy.

Exfoliating Serum

After cleaning my face at night, I then use the Exfoliating Serum. This product is made from glycolic acid, lactic acid, apple stem cells, gigawhite, matrixyl synthe ‘6, sodium hyaluronate, white tea, goji berry, and ceramide. I use this product by removing the dropper and place a few drops onto the palm of my hand and then use my fingertips to place some of the product on my forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Then I gently massage the product into my skin for at least a minute. One thing that Mad Hippie shares about their product line is that it works better the more you massage the product into the skin, so I do that with each step of the routine, especially with the serums. By massaging the product into the skin it allows the product to penetrate deeper into the skin rather than sitting on the top layer.

I can always tell that this product works well because every time I use it I wake up the next morning and the palms of my hands have dead skin all over them from applying the serum to my face the night before. For this reason, I do take a break from the Exfoliating Serum once in awhile.

Vitamin C Serum

After cleansing my face in the morning, I then use the Vitamin C Serum. This product is made from vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, konjac root, chamomile extract, and clary sage. This is another one of my absolute favorite products from this line because it literally makes your skin glow. It might make you believe in magic, just saying. How Mad Hippie is able to create a serum naturally that makes your skin glow is beyond me. Applying this serum to my face is one of my favorite parts of the morning. Instantly my skin looks brighter, even, and beautiful, and the glow stays even after I apply makeup.

For this reason, the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum has a bit of a cult following and I received several messages from people obsessed with the Vitamin C Serum after sharing on Instagram that I bought the Mad Hippie Skincare line. If you haven’t tried this brand before and you’re looking to test it out, I would recommend this product to you first.

Eye Cream

After the cleansing and applying serum to my face, I always put on the Eye Cream next. This is my other obsession with this line and I’ve probably bought four of the Mad Hippie Eye Creams in the last few months. It’s made from matrixyl synthe ‘6, Regu-age, SunEye, chamomile extract, pomegranate, vitamin C, wheat protein, vitamin B3, argan oil, white tea, ceramide, and vitamin E.

I have tried many eye creams since I was a teenager. I used to buy new beauty products each and every week, and trying out skincare products was a full-blown obsession at one point. I’ve tried A LOT, and this Mad Hippie Eye Cream is my favorite I have ever used. It’s extremely soft and creamy, and when I wake up in the morning I can still feel the cream on my skin. However, it’s not at all heavy. I’ve used eye creams that irritated my eyes, weighed them down, made me look tired, and felt heavy. This one doesn’t do that. You’ll still feel the product on your skin but not in a way that bothers your eyes, rather it just says on through the night so your skin will stay soft. The Mad Hippie products are created with the ingredient ceramide to form a light barrier on your skin to hold in the moisture and protect the skin.

This is a product that I actually buy two of at a time so I never have to worry about being without it. Yes, I have separation anxiety with my eye cream. Don’t judge me.

Facial Moisturizer

Of course, after cleansing and serum, I finished my routine with moisturizing my face. The Mad Hippie Facial Moisturizer is made with matrixyl synthe 6’, Syn-Tacks, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, green tea, niacinamide, aloe vera, coconut oil, argan oil, acai berry, and pomegranate. I love this product because just like the other products, a little goes a long way. I only have to use a small amount of my entire face to wake up with soft, smooth skin in the morning. Just like the eye cream, the product forms a protective layer on the skin so it holds in the moisture all day or all night. I use this product in the morning and at night to moisturize my skin.

Facial SPF

During the day, after I’ve applied my moisture, I use a little bit of SPF over my face. The Mad Hippie SPF is made from zinc oxide, red raspberry seed oil, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid, shea butter, jasmine oil, and sodium hyaluronate. It’s a 30+ SPF and it lasts a long time. I used a small amount of this product on my face every morning for the last 4 months and it’s still nowhere near gone. It works incredibly well because of the zinc.

I’ve noticed that the product is tricky to rub in I think because the moisturizer or the SPF starts to peel off if you rub it too much, so I usually rub the SPF into my hands and then pat it all over my face. It works so well that even when I accidentally got sunburned all over my body (because I apparently forgot that I’m Irish and Canadian and that I need to use sunscreen like a motherf*cker) my face was still its usual vampirian color. White. As. Sh*t.

Thank you, Mad Hippie!

My little skincare experiment is now over, but I’m officially hooked on Mad Hippie Skincare products. I still have yet to try the Vitamin A Serum, the Facial Mist, or the Antioxidant Facial Oil, but those are on my list!

I fell in love with this brand because it works so well and is completely natural and healthy for your skin. Mad Hippie doesn’t believe that women (or men) should have to sacrifice their health for beautiful skin. We shouldn’t have to lather our body in foreign chemicals or “fragrances” just to wake up with soft skin and prevent wrinkles. This line has also been raved about by Think Dirty, saying that they’re “Mad for Mad Hippie,” and just about every fashion and beauty magazine you can think of. It’s been talked about in Allure, Women’s Health, the Today Show, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USA Today, Forbes and more. It’s not just me who’s obsessed with Mad Hippie.

Like I said in the beginning, I will never come to this blog and promote a crap product to my readers. This is a platform that I use to discuss my passions, my favorite things, my obsessions, and my beliefs. Everything that I shared in this post is my own opinions and beliefs. This post has NOT been paid for, however…

It’s GIVEAWAY Time

Mad Hippie has generally donated two products for Lost Online to have its very first GIVEAWAY! I will be giving away one Cleansing Oil and one Antioxidant Facial Oil on my Instagram very soon! All you have to do follow me on Instagram @heather.ione, find my photo of me with these two special products and tag THREE of your beautiful friends for a chance to win!

Go enter to win on my Instagram for a chance to receive the Mad Hippie Cleansing Oil and Antioxidant Oil! And as always let me know what you think in the comments and scroll to the bottom on this page to subscribe and have all future Lost Online blog posts sent directly to you!

Have you tried Mad Hippie before? What did you think? Which products did you try and which ones were your favorites? Or do you have another natural, fragrance-free skincare brand that you’re obsessed with! Let me know, I’m always interested in trying new things!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How to Find Balance & Inner Peace as a Busy, Working Woman

Lifestyle

Sitting at my desk I can feel my mind racing a million miles an hour. I have 500 product listings to manage at work, 30 blog posts that all need Pinterest graphics, 20 New Year’s Resolutions, at least 10 blogs I’m working on at home – Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to go vegan?

This is how the modern era is, thanks to technology, social media, and our own amazing aspirations, the calendar is always full of stuff to get done. Personally, I find that color-coordinating my calendar helps the most. Red is for the important sh*t; Blue is for fun things and social events; Purple is the random stuff like errands; Yellow is anything related to my blog; Pink is for the doctors’ appointments… you get the idea. But that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about balance. How do we find balance during a time when we have at least 100 goals for ourselves, a full-time job, side hobbies, friends, and a boss to keep happy – all while trying to get to the gym and eat healthy? How?

I may seem like the last person you would take advice about this from, and until last month, I wouldn’t have believed that I would find that balance myself. Fortunately, after a full night of journaling and reflecting on my last year and my aspirations for the New Year, I wrote the words to myself that I most needed to hear. “You do not need to do it all.

I don’t think I’m unlike many 20-something women my age. I have high expectations for myself, I never say no to new projects and my computer is open to 12 tabs at any given moment. I have gotten so immersed in this digital age that I sometimes feel like I expect myself to be a computer. To be productive all the time and to stay healthy and functioning, even if I’m running low on energy. That mindset is what created the person I was in 2018: a person filled with stress and anxiety, who still couldn’t meet my own expectations. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

I could see while reflecting on the last year that I became so involved in graduating, in running my blog, in my personal goals and in my new job, that I became a wreck (and a rather unpleasant person to be around). So, there I was journaling away on my computer in late December thinking about how overwhelming (but still wonderful!) the last year had been. Although I still had tons of aspirations for the New Year, I didn’t want to bring that same stressful energy along with me.

And I kept writing because it’s medicinal to me. I wrote all about my high standards for myself and how cruel I had been to myself in the last 365 days, all because I wasn’t superhuman. I realized that even on the good days when I accomplished the most, I still beat myself up and thought, “I could have done more.I could have done one more paragraph, I could have run one more mile, I could have made one more graphic, I could have written one more post… but in the end, I realized that all that did was make me feel terrible. All that negative self-talk and the stress I was putting on myself didn’t benefit me in the slightest. Because at the end of the day, who really cares if I couldn’t do it all? No one is ever going to know that I didn’t create some Pin that I thought up. No one is ever going to know or care that I didn’t stretch that day, or that I only ran one mile on the treadmill. These were goals I set for myself, so why have I been taking them so seriously? No one, no matter how productive and energetic they are, can do everything. It’s just not possible.

In those late hours of typing away, I was discovering for the first time what should have been common sense: I am not a computer; I am not technology; I was not born to be productive; it’s OK if it all doesn’t get done. Moving forward, I wanted to spend 2019 feeling proud of myself. Spending that time embracing every moment of growing my blog, becoming healthier, getting stronger, and learning more. At the end of the day, I want to feel happy with myself because I’m working so hard to improve.

Somehow in that one journaling session, that became my intention for the upcoming year. In 2019, I would end the day feeling happy and feeling proud of myself for what I got done. Even if I hadn’t checked off everything on my to-do list. Even if I hadn’t done all of my self-improvement rituals. That’s how I stay grounded and stay balanced this year. Even though the world continues to demand things from me, and even though I still have a to-do list, none of that is worth my mental health. I am not computer software that been designed to work 24/7. I need sleep, I need days off and I need to treat myself with respect. So do you.

Now whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, whenever I don’t complete my self-made to-do list, whenever I don’t have the energy to work anymore–I let it be. I remind myself that it’s OK. I’m doing the best that I can. Yes, sometimes I forget to do that. And when that happens, I also let it be. Because you and I, we’re human. You can’t update us like computer software and we’re completely fine for a year. It’s OK if we slip up. The best thing that we can do for ourselves in this digital age, is to feel comfortable just being. To be OK with sitting in silence eating without the TV on and without checking our phones. To feel like we can turn it off in the evenings and relax. To make the thought, “It’s OK if I don’t get this done immediately,” become the knee jerk reaction instead of letting our minds run wild. This year I made the decision to remind myself that I’m a human being, not a human doing. I think that you should too.

I’m not here today to offer you “10 Tips for Finding Balance” or “5 Ways to Relieve Stress.” Because isn’t that just another to-do list? I’m here to give you, and me, permission to just be. To just relax and unplug for a moment. That’s the way you find balance and treat anxiety today. Get comfortable with quiet, with rest, with days off, with being unplugged. Remember what it was like before you had a blog, a business, a smartphone, and social media accounts. Remember what it was like before you had a million responsibilities–and sit with that. When you do, you’ll finally find that balance and that inner peace you’ve been craving in the chaos of modern life.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you found it difficult to stay balanced? What were the biggest challenges for you? How have you coped with this even as life continues to make demands? Do you have any mantras, journal prompts or habits that make it easier? Or maybe you’re a badass and don’t have this problem at all! Congrats! Tell me your secret below!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Love Finds You When You’re Not Looking

Lifestyle

I’m writing this blog post today because it’s June 12th, my one year anniversary. This day last year, Matt and I became boyfriend and girlfriend at the top of the Saint Augustine Lighthouse. With it being our anniversary, it has made me reflective about what it was like when I was dating around and trying to find “the one.”

Before I met Matt, I spent over a year casually dating and searching for that one person I wanted to be with. It seemed like everyone I knew was in a committed, long-term relationship, and I was their one “single friend.” And my friends loved nothing more than to give me advice about dating and tell me how I was doing it wrong. They always told me the second I stopped looking for someone, I was going to meet the love of my life. I thought that they were insane and that was the most ridiculous clique I’d ever heard.

Every time someone told me that, it irritated me to my core. Why does everyone make it seem like some magic trick where you stop looking and Voila, you’ve found your soulmate?! I didn’t want to be the single friend and I didn’t want to listen to people spewing cliques at me whenever they had the chance. So I worked even harder to find someone. I went out to bars to meet other singles, I Tindered, I had friends set me up, and I kept an eye out wherever I went thinking, “Maybe this is the day I’ll meet him.

Because of that, I went on one horrible, cringe-worthy first date after another. Then, something would happen. I would meet someone that I was interested in and infatuated with and we would casually date for about two months. But it would always end the same way. Every single time, just as we had gotten through the get-to-know-you part of dating, they would hit me the excuses about why they didn’t want to date. I heard it all…

“I really like you, but I’m just not looking for anything serious right now.”

“I really like you, but I’m still in love with my ex-girlfriend.”

“I really like you, but I travel a lot.”

“I really like you, but I just need to focus on my career right now.”

“I really like you, but you’re cool and I don’t want to ruin the friendship.”

“You’re just too good for me, you deserve better.”

“We live a half an hour away, it would be hard to make it work.”

“I just think it’s not natural for humans to be monogamous.”

“I’m just want to have fun.”

“I just want to be friends.”

Or even worse, they would completely ghost me and disappear altogether. They didn’t want to come up with a little excuse as to why they weren’t interested. Instead, they wanted to ignore me until I got the hint. So, after casually dating a long line of giant d-bags and having it end the same way, my thoughts on dating had completely changed. I thought that it was actually impossible for me to find love.

How on earth was I going to find someone who loved to travel as much as I did? Who was supportive? Who would deal with me when I’m at my worst? Who would tell me I’m pretty when I roll out of bed in the morning looking like a troll? Who would spend the day hopping around to different cafes or donut shops with me? Who would treat me the way that girls are treated in romantic comedies? Who would buy me flowers for no reason at all? I couldn’t even get a text back! There was no way on earth I was going to find “the one.”

I told myself that some people are just not meant to be in romantic relationships. Some people might just be destined to be on their own. And I’m happier being by myself with no dates lined up than I am on some quest to find that person. So, I made a sweeping declaration. I declared that I was not going to be dating anymore. I was officially done and exhausted by the torturous casual dating experience. I said that I would not be dating again until I was graduated, had a job, had a place of my own, and was at least 25. From that moment on I was going to “focus on myself.” That night I met Matt.

If that’s not cosmic irony I don’t know what is. I must have yelled at countless people for telling me “The second you stop looking you’re going to meet the love of your life.” I hated that clique with all of my being. So of course, that’s the way that I met Matt. Just hours after my sweeping declaration when I was downtown and his friend had made a comment from across the room that got us talking.

A year later it still amazes me that I found someone so perfect after I had sworn off dating. That night I met the most kind, supportive, genuine person on the planet. And all it took was for me to stop trying so hard.

The reason why I’m writing this is that now I’m watching other girls go through the same thing that I was. Who are struggling to find that perfect person, and who keeping looking for him wherever they go. And all I want to tell them is the second you stop looking, you’re going to meet the love of your life. I know you too have probably heard this from friends or family before, but it’s worth listening too. It’s one of those cliques you hear over and over again that are worth having faith in. So turn off the Tinder, pull yourself out of that bar you don’t want to be in, and stop looking. He’ll come to you.

Why I Collaborate With Photographers

Lifestyle

Every time one of my friends from school or work eventually follows me on social media, it takes about .2 seconds of them scrolling through my feed before they begin to notice my modeling photos. And what I’ve noticed through modeling with local photographers, is that everyone who doesn’t regularly collaborate and create content for the web is instantly confused by it. It doesn’t make sense to them that two people, who rarely know each other, would meet up on the weekends and take pictures. Friends and family ask me all the time, “How come they don’t pay you?” “Why would you take photos with a stranger?” “Isn’t it awkward?” “Why do you do it?” “What could you possibly be getting from that experience?” “Why? Why? Why?”

So I finally decided to write down a list of reasons for anyone who is perplexed. To anyone who thinks it’s strange for the models, photographers, videographers, and other content creators in the area to meet up and collaborate. At the end of the day, it’s just two people that are passionate about photography coming together and creating something they’re proud of. In a way, it’s similar to how you might network with people on LinkedIn and meet up to have coffee and pick each other’s brains… only you’re meeting up to network and make art!

Here are ten reasons why I love to work with local photographers in hopes that it will eliminate some of the fears, negative energy, or confusion around “collaborating with strangers.”

1) It gets me out of my comfort zone

Collaborating with photographers was originally something that I started doing to get out of my comfort zone. Having to be incredibly photogenic and continue to pose and act un-phased while crowds of people stare at you sounded like a nightmare. But I did it anyway because I knew that if I did something that made me nervous and scared, it would help me to grow and not be so worried about trying new things in the future. After doing it a few times, I can say that without a doubt, it makes you much more self-confident in all aspects of your life. After posing front of hundreds of people in a very public place, suddenly the things that seemed scary before don’t seem so intimidating.

2) It helps me meet people

When I started collaborating with photographers, I had just moved to Saint Augustine and I knew absolutely no one. I’m also an introvert, so it’s usually a challenge for me to meet new people and strike up conversation anyways. I knew that it would take a while to get to know people in the area, but I wanted to start meeting people and feel like a local. So I started reaching out to photographers that had a great portfolio who might be interested in shooting. Just by reaching out on social media and asking people to collaborate I met dozens of people and made friends all over the area that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s expanded my network far beyond friends from school and my family.

3) The pictures, obviously!

Before I started modeling I hardly had interesting content to post. I remember looking at photos of all the “Instagram Models” who had amazing pictures to post of themselves every week. The only photos that I had were crappy selfies or something that I had to practically force a family member to take. Let’s face it, everyone likes having nice pictures of themselves that aren’t mirror-selfies…

4) It’s fun!

The first thing that I tell people when I’m met with aggressive questions about why I like to collaborate on my weekends, I tell them that it’s fun. I like to do it! Modeling on the weekend is much more fun than spending your day off eating Cheez-Its and binge-watching The Office on Netflix or going out to a bar. Since I started modeling I’ve shot at a Nasa rocket launch, the Saint Augustine Castillo de San Marco, created mock engagement photos, filmed cinema-graphs and YouTube videos on the beach, shot at a Jacksonville car show, and filmed for the Food Network. I’m so glad I got out of my little bubble and spent my free days doing that instead of laying around and being lazy.

5) It boosts my confidence

There was a time when I was terrified to model. I thought that it was something that only “prettier” girls or celebrities or rich people could do. I felt like it was something that was only meant for a certain kind of person, and I didn’t meet the criteria. But now, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and actually did it. I’m now doing something that I once thought was impossible for me because I was holding myself back. When I remember that I got over those fears and insecurities and I now model all the time, it makes me feel proud and confident of how far I’ve come.

6) It’s a form of self-expression

I’m not a professional model. Nobody does my hair and makeup or plans out an outfit for me to wear or tells me how to pose. I don’t starve myself to be a size two and I don’t do any shoots that don’t want to and I’m not comfortable with. I’m not someone that models for work or fame. I collaborate with certain photographers and create images because I want to. I plan my own outfits and makeup, I come up with my own poses and concepts, and I scout locations. I use it to express myself in the same way that someone uses their hair or clothing to express themselves. Once the shoot has been finished and the photos are edited and ready to post, there’s such a sense of pride. Together, the photographer and I were able to capture a gorgeous moment that will never be replicated. And we do it simply because we want to express ourselves.

7) The photographers are inspiring

Every photographer that I shoot with is completely different. They all have their own unique style of shooting and editing and have an eye that’s unlike everyone else. Some people prefer to take their time and set up specific poses, others shoot very quickly and try to catch movement and candid moments. Some prefer lots of colors while others shoot black and white. Each person that I collaborate with has their own eye and unique aesthetic, and each one of them an inspiration. Being able to be a part of such a supportive community of local creatives helped me learn from them, gain a deeper appreciation for art, and stimulate my own creativity and curiosity. I don’t believe I’d be the same person I am today without each one of them being in my life.

8) It’s an adventure

Every photo shoot is completely unique and I never know exactly what we’ll end up doing. Sometimes we have a plan, but once we start taking photos our creativity pulls us in a completely different direction. There are also times when we encounter problems throughout shooting such as lighting, or our location being closed, too many people in the background, etc. There end up being a lot of problem-solving throughout each shoot to overcome the obstacles and create a gorgeous something stunning. At the end of the shoot, no matter what, we always end up creating something that we love. Most of the time, the photos that we didn’t mean to capture end up being the best ones.

Do you like to collaborate with other creatives? What are your thoughts? Comment below! 

Photo by: Allen Fajardo @alewafeni