Friday, September 04, 2015

Have a relaxing (long!) weekend

Well, it looks like someone is ready for the long weekend! Harry's got the right idea! What are you doing on this last weekend of summer? We're staying close to home and relaxing, probably enjoying a hot dog or two. Hope you all have a great weekend, and here are my favorites finds from the wonderful Web...

Fall totes.

Life advice -- thanks, Tiffany!

Great workout wardrobe inspiration.

What do you think of Google's new logo?

Pantone colors as delicious smoothies!

This monthly blog maintenance checklist is a great resource.

Cotton clouds wallpaper would make for a dream room!

Every episode of Breaking Bad in poster form.

Masterpieces with updated titles for 2015. Hilarious!

"Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse."

I'm a sucker for a pretty tote.

Refinery29's Love Stories section gives me all the feels.

The Confidence Game.

Einstein's advice on dealing with trolls.

Dream Vacation: Waves of Nantucket.

11 women who are redefining beauty. #GirlCrush

My mouth is watering over these milk chocolate cookies and cream cookies!

I should try this anxiety breathing technique.

This soft serve window display is genius.

What a great wedding idea: A food truck pre-elopement party!

**Don't forget to enter the BIC Back-To-School Giveaway! You've got two weeks and lots of chances to win! :)

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now YouTube! See you there, friends! xoxo

Guest Post: Simple and Easy Skincare Tips for Moms on the Go

Ever look at celebrity moms like Halle Berry, Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson and wonder how in the world they have effortlessly flawless skin with such busy schedules? Sure they have a "glam squad" that can help them whip their skin into shape, but there are plenty of tricks to the trade that you can tackle on your own. The best part about it is that many of these tips are affordable! Whether you’re dealing with specific skin issues or you just want to achieve healthier skin, try these tips on for size...

1. Drink Plenty of Water
If it’s a clearer complexion you’re after, instead of caking on the foundation to cover up discolorations, all you need to do is drink plenty of water. By drinking about two liters of water a day, you can help the body to naturally release toxins that can cause common skin issues like acne. Water also keeps the skin naturally hydrated, which is important to keep the skin from becoming dry and flaky. It oxygenates the skin, allowing it to give your entire body a natural glow.

2. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
When you’ve got a busy schedule, it can be pretty tempting to grab something from your company’s vending machines and keep it moving. The only trouble is that eating snacks that are high in sugar and fat content can really be bad for the skin. Instead of consuming foods that you don’t need, try to have a healthy snack on hand. Eating the right types of foods gives the skin the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Some yogurt, a handful of nuts or even some fresh fruit can do the trick.

3. Take the Stairs
Did you know that exercise is not only great for your waistline and health, but it can be great for improving the skin? Exercise that increases heart rate (aerobics) can help to oxygenate the blood, reduce levels of stress hormones and improve blood flow circulation -- all important for that effortlessly flawless skin you want. Even if you don’t have the funds or time to hit the gym, doing something simple like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or walking a few extra steps to and from the grocery store parking lot can be enough to boost the heart rate and improve your skin.

4. Buy Dual-Purpose Products
If you’ve looked at the various skincare products on the market, you’ll see that many of them require more than one step. From washing to exfoliating and moisturizing, a full skin-care regimen can be somewhat time-consuming. Rather than waste the extra time (that I’m sure you’ll need), you can purchase dual-purpose products. For instance, buying a lotion with sunscreen protection in it saves you time on treating the skin properly.

5. Take a Vitamin
The skin needs certain vitamins to give that youthful glowing appearance. If you’re not consuming enough vitamins and nutrients through the foods you eat, then it is probably a good idea to take a multi-vitamin. They can help to give the body the supplements it is lacking. Ideally, there are also vitamins that are specifically said to improve the appearance of skin and give you healthier, longer hair and nails. Taking one of those a day is pretty simple so that you don’t skip a beat.

6. Shop Online for Skincare Products
When you’re dealing with especially troubling skin issues such as skin tags, moles, eczema, or acne, then purchasing a skincare solution is the best option. However, if you’re known to have a busy schedule, finding the time to get to the store and make a purchase can be all but time-consuming. Instead, consider looking for your skincare products online. You can find natural mole removal products as well as products for skin tags, eczema and other skin conditions you may be experiencing. Shopping online allows you to compare prices, search consumer reviews and make the most effective choice while also saving you time and energy.

Time management is one skill that most moms need to hone in on daily. While there are sure to still be things that consume a better part of your day, finding quick and easy solutions to daily routines such as skincare is one way to manage stress while caring for your health. Try all of these tips on for size and see if you don’t begin to see a real difference in your skin.

--Sara Stringer is a freelance writer who most enjoys blogging about lifestyle, relationships and life as a woman. In her spare time, she enjoys soaking up the sunshine with her husband and two kids. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article.

[Illustration via We Heart It]

Thursday, September 03, 2015

In The Pursuit of Happiness: Bindi Irwin on Making Her Dad Proud

I've talked about the universal need to make our parents proud, how that need is still present in adulthood and how, especially since my father's death, I've wondered if he'd be proud of me.

Well, it looks like I'm not the only one who feels this way. Bindi Irwin recently chatted with US Weekly about her famous dad, the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 following a stingray attack...

I hope he'd be proud. That's my end goal. He was like our living, breathing superhero. He was so passionate and clever...You never knew what to expect with Dad. He was like a living hurricane. But it was always fun and it was always an adventure. We [Irwin's family] try to surround ourselves with love and light. You have to be there for each other. As a family, we are trying to make sure everything Dad worked so hard for carries on into the future. We'll continue to expand the zoo and try to spread his message. It's a big job, but we're hoping to make Dad as proud as possible.

I do often wonder if my own dad would be proud of where I am in life and what he'd say about the person I am today. It's weird, but in my eyes, I'm still sort of that little girl when I think of my father. Time has stopped at the point of his death and everything is frozen. We're not going to be making new memories and we won't get the opportunity to see our roles reverse. For all intents and purposes, I'm still a "kid" in the context of my relationship with my father. That is something that will never change.
Is that how all adult children feel when they've lost a parent at a relatively young age? I wonder if we're forever trapped in that regressed role. Sometimes I actually imagine the conversation I'd have with my father, how we'd talk about everything that's happened, and I'd finally get the chance to say everything I've always wanted to tell him.

10 Photos of New York in the '60s




After the heaviness of yesterday, I thought we all could use a bit of happiness on this lovely Thursday. Enter: These awesome vintage photos of New York City in 1969. The shots perfectly capture the time period, and I half expect the characters of Mad Men to come strolling by!





Ahh, one of my favorite decades! Don't you wonder where these people are today? And what their story is? xoxo

P.S. Remember these Woodstock photos? :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

On Facing My Depression

Back in 2010 and 2011, I chronicled my bout with depression. Needless to say, it was a pretty dark and confusing time in my life; weirdly enough, it was far more traumatizing than any of my surgeries ever were. I just remember countless appointments with my psychiatrist, waiting in her office and feeling the waterfall of tears start to gush. I was so afraid, to put it mildly. I had zero idea where these feelings were coming from; all I knew was that they weren't going away. No matter how much I tried, these feelings were like an immovable roadblock I just couldn't get passed.

I was at my lowest during one of those appointments. Everything seemed so bleak and I remember feeling so frustrated about everything that was happening -- or, well, not happening, I suppose. It seemed like I'd been on every medication combination known to man, and nothing was working. So my psychiatrist prescribed two meds in addition to my antidepressant (no shame, remember?!?!?).

A day passed. And then a few more and then a few more after that. Slowly but surely, I began to feel those dark clouds passing. For the first time in months, the fog was actually lifting. I enjoyed things again. I was singing with wild abandon again. I could concentrate long enough to write a coherent blog post. In short, I started to see -- and feel -- my life again. It was all coming back to me, that old life that I used to know and love. I couldn't have been happier.

So when I developed some health issues over the summer (I won't go into detail about these "lady issues" -- is even that TMI...?), I didn't think they could possibly be related to the medicine I've been taking. A chat with my psychiatrist, as well as a few frantic trips down the Google rabbit hole, revealed my anti-anxiety meds could be causing the symptoms I'd been experiencing. Plus, this wasn't the type of medicine that should be taken long-term, and I've been on it for almost five years already.

Hmmpft.

As much as I hated to admit it to myself, the time had come.

I needed to get off this medicine.

I'll be honest: Just looking at that sentence scares me. Going off a drug that helped me come back from one of the scariest times in my life. Yes, I know I also did the work in therapy, as my therapist is always telling me, and I am a different person now and more emotionally sure of myself, but part of me is so scared to take that chance. I'm afraid of going off the medicine and having a relapse, of sinking back to that depressed place. Those who have experienced depression know the feeling -- that feeling of invisible hands pulling you down farther and farther and farther. It's like you're in the bottom of a well screaming at the top of your lungs and all the while, no one can hear you. It's a very desperate, depleted and defeating feeling. I don't ever, ever want to feel like that again. I feel as though I've come too far to risk it, you know?

Or maybe I'm just clinging to those pills as a sort of crutch. Is it easier to put your trust in a pill than in yourself? Maybe staying on the pills would be like taking the easy way out, aside from the health issues, of course.
But now that I think about it, and as I'm reflecting while I write this post tonight, I AM A STRONGER PERSON than I was five years ago. A lot has happened, and like I said, a lot of that change has been the result of me -- nut just a magic little pill. It's sort of ironic it took my having to go off the medicine for me to realize that.

I'm slowly realizing that, though, and I suppose that's the most important thing. I've started going down on my dosage, so I'll keep you posted on any new developments.

Have you ever experienced this, friends? I'd love to hear about it. Thanks so much for listening and always being there -- don't know what I'd do without this AWESOME community! xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]

Tip: Coloring Is (Still) Good for You!

Quick question: When was the last time you broke out a box of Crayola crayons and started coloring? Last week? A few years ago? The last day of elementary school? Can't remember? BBB Turns out, coloring isn't just child's play anymore.

I'm sure you've heard all the statistics and research by now -- about how the seemingly simple act can help you de-stress, relax and generally just put you in a better frame of mind. It can help you recharge your batteries for taking on the world later.

"I recommend it as a relaxation technique," says psychologist Antoni Martínez. "We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state," he assures. We can also use it to connect with how we feel, since depending on our mood we choose different colors or intensity. "I myself have practiced that. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow."

I've long been a fan of taking crayon to paper. There's nothing like a fresh box of crayons and a crisp new Disney princess coloring book. Sure, it may be a bit juvenile, but it made me happy and brought a huge smile to my face. I may not have been the most talented (who really wants to stay in the lines anyway?), but it was fun and I was relaxing, which was the whole point in the first place. Now my sister? Oh, she had the talent. Each page was practically a work of art -- so meticulous and pretty!

And with the popularity of adult coloring, we've got even more options than ever these days -- options that far exceed the Disney set. Here are a few examples of my favorites...
*Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns, $10.26.
*The Coloring Cafe, $10.
*Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, $9.57.
*Folk Art coloring book, $9.99.
*Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book, $9.
*The 1990s Coloring Book, $7.22.

Are you a big fan of coloring, friends? Do you find that it relaxes you? I challenge you to go forth with your favorite color crayon in hand and paint the world any shade you want! xoxo

P.S. Remember this Ryan Gosling coloring book? Le sigh... :)

[Photo via We Heart It]

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.





"This one's for the girls...Who've ever had a broken heart...Who've wished upon a shooting star...You're beautiful the way you are..." --Martina McBride

[Photos via That Kind of Woman]

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

BIC Back-To-School Giveaway!


I'm SO excited to be partnering with BIC on a Back-To-School giveaway today! For the fourth year in a row, I immediately fell in love with everything BIC has to offer (they are the leader in school and office supplies, after all), including pens and pencils, markers, sticky notes and erasers.

BIC is continuing its Fight For Your Right campaign this year, which seeks to educate and energize parents, teachers and students about the importance of lifelong writing. During 2015, you're invited to visit BIC Fight For Your Write and sign the online petition. For each e-signature collected, BIC will donate pens and pencils to students in need across the country.

"Parents play a key role in a child’s development and can act as ambassadors for their right to write," said Pam Allyn, Fight for Your Write spokesperson and founder of LitWorld, a global organization that advocates for children’s rights as readers, writers and learners. "BIC’s mission shines a light on the crucial role of writing in our lives, and more importantly, gives parents and schools the tools they need to join our movement."

This year's Back-To-School prize pack includes an awesome futuristic highlighter and colorful pencils. Here's a closer look at what you'll be adding to your office arsenal if you win...

BIC’s 2015 Back-To-School Line Up...

*BIC Xtra-Fun #2 Pencil: The only #2 pencil with two-toned color barrels. The product features ultra-solid, break resistant lead and is easy to erase with its latex-free erasers.

*BIC Xtra-Craze Mechanical Pencil: The BIC Mechanical Pencil is celebrating its 30th birthday in style with new, fun, custom-designed patterns that are sure to make any student stand out this school year. Whether taking a test with its strong, #2 lead or simply doodling, this pencil is perfect for any type of writing!

*BIC Brite Liner Erasable Highighter: The BIC Brite Liner Erasable Highlighter features a highlighter on one end and an erasing ink tip on the other end for fast and easy edits. The florescent yellow ink makes bold, vivid highlights; perfect for the diligent, note-taking student.

*BIC Cristal Stylus: The BIC Cristal Stylus gives you the best of both worlds! One end features a lightweight stylus that easily glides across tablet and smartphone screens, providing fingerprint-free precision and control. The other end is an iconic BIC Cristal pen!

*BIC Atlantis Ultra Comfort Pen: New to the popular BIC Atlantis pen franchise for 2015 is the BIC Atlantis Ultra Comfort Pen, which features BIC’s exclusive ink system for even smoother ink compared to BIC’s classic ink system. Students will find their ideas flowing freely with this pen, which also includes an extra soft silicone grip that conforms to your hand for the ultimate writing experience.

For your chance to win, simply visit BIC, and leave a comment below telling us your all-time favorite back-to-school memory. For additional entries, you can (please leave a separate comment for each entry)...

*Fan BIC on Facebook
*Follow BIC on Twitter
*Fan So About What I Said on Facebook
*Follow So About What I Said on Twitter
*Follow So About What I Said on Pinterest
*Follow So About What I Said on Instagram
*Follow So About What I Said via GFC

You can also Tweet about the giveaway -- just make sure to mention @melissablake + #BICBackToSchool in your Tweet!

A winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, September 15th, so you've got two weeks to enter. Have fun, friends! xoxo

**Please note: The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

(Thanks again to BIC for sending me an awesome Back-To-School package and thank you for continuing to support So About What I Said's wonderful sponsors! Have a great year, friends!)

Etsy Love: Ceramic Face Planters




It's only September 1st and my work space is already cluttered with papers, magazines and the occasional red sweater. Translation: It's too early in the "school year" to be this disorganized.

I'm thinking one of these ceramic face planters would do wonders to brighten up my space and keep me on track. Can you imagine him saying (in a cartoon-y voice, of course!), "GET BACK TO WORK!"? It'd be even better than a boss! And the green foliage would be the perfect mood booster too! #WinWinWin

Monday, August 31, 2015

When You Become the Parent (Or, My Advice for My Mom and Her Sprained Wrist)

There comes a point in all our lives when we experience the Great Role Reversal. We start to notice our relationship with our parents is changing, maybe ever so slightly at first and building as time goes on.

At first, it can feel like an odd place to be. Instead of following the rules, you're the one making them. You're the one saying, "don't forget to take your pills." You're the one doing the remembering when passwords and phone numbers are forgotten. You're the one doing the check-in phone calls.

And you're the one putting on the scrubs and assuming the caretaker role. I'm not exactly sure when I first sensed our roles beginning to change, but ever since my father died, I've just felt this need to take care of my mom. I'm sure there's quite a bit of psychology behind the whole thing, but someone needed to watch out for her, you know? It's a good thing, too, because I woke up one morning last week to this text...

"So I am at Urgent Care. I tripped and sprained my wrist. Klutzy."

Oh, no, I thought. What could possibly have happened? When I talked to her on the phone a couple hours later, I got the full story. As she was walking into school, she tripped on an uneven patch of sidewalk and landed on her wrist.

Ouch!

It wasn't too long before long I found myself asking those parental sorts of questions.

How did that happen?

What were you doing?

Were you watching where you were going?

My mom proceeded to beat around the bush for a few minutes, which told me everything I needed to know: This woman was in need of my guidance and advice. Quite desperately, actually. So, Ms. Bear, I hope you're reading. Here are my three pieces of healing wisdom for you...

1. Slow down: I've lost count of just how many times I've told you this. You move faster than the Energizer Bunny, and no, that IS NOT something to be proud of. Going, going, going is certainly no way to live, and life isn't one giant race. Walk slower, don't do things so fast; it's OK to do things at your own pace. Sometimes I think you've been around your students too long and picked up their "Must-Do-It-Now" mentality, and what I once saw as you being bossy might just be an overwhelming need to see that things are done as quickly as possible. But be careful not to confuse quickly with efficiently because they're most definitely not the same thing. You can be quick, but that doesn't guarantee you'll be efficient. On the flipside, just because you may take your time with something doesn't mean it can't be efficient. Keep that in mind.

2. Ask for help: I feel like we've been over this many times before, but a little refresher can't hurt, right? Asking for help IS NOT a sign of weakness, which is something you taught me, ironically. We all can't do everything on our own, nor should we have those high expectations for ourselves. The world can be a scary and complicated place; why not go through it with people right by your side? Things will go a lot smoother, trust me. Like I'm always reminding you, people want to help, so reach out and grab their hand. You'll be glad you did.

3. Don't forget to have fun: Leave that pile of laundry for another day -- it's not going anywhere. Stop and smell those metaphorical (or literal!) roses. If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that your entire life can change in the blink of an eye so you've got to make every single moment count. I'm not saying that you should do anything too wild or crazy (or illegal!), but something to shake up your routine -- even something tiny -- might bring a much-needed smile to your face. And as we all know, when Ms. Bear smiles, the whole world smiles!
Well, there you have it. I do hope you'll consider my heartfelt advice. You know I have nothing but your very best interest at heart, and I'd be remiss as a "parent" if I didn't say, "you'll thank me later." Because you most certainly will. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon. After all, there's only one of you, so please make sure you take extra-good care of yourself. Sit down. Put your feet up. The world won't end. And you'll probably even avoid some cracked sidewalks while you're at it. xoxo
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