Happy Anniversary!

Today, WordPress notified me that my account was six years old. SIX YEARS. How crazy is that? So funny to think that I’ve been blogging for six years, and how much my writing has grown in that time.

Well, this little notification felt like a great time to come back again, probably only for a while because we all know how good I am at this. Though, I’ve drafted about 4 posts in the past few weeks, so perhaps this time will be different.

So, this is basically just a note to let you all know to expect posts soon. I’m looking forward to sharing some reflections about my last semester, my growth with God, and pretty design work with you! So, get excited! Party! Clean your screen so you stop seeing punctuation that doesn’t exist. Oh, wait, is that just me?

Space to Grow

My freshman year, I arrived at school mostly single – I truly wanted to try casual dating and “being free” or whatever. But I had also just gotten out of a serious relationship, and was still hurting. As a result, I spent way too much time with boys I knew I had no future with because I was lonely. And when I got tired of that, I spent way too much time watching tv and napping. I had all this space, but wasn’t doing a lot of growing.

I know that makes me sound really dependent on being with someone, but I’m not. Being in a long distance relationship, I know how to be incredibly independent. But I came into school heartbroken, which led to being lonely and depressed. And it’s hard to make friends when you’re depressed. And no amount of strangers with video games was going to fix how lonely I was.

Why put yourself through that heartbreak and depression, when everything else around you is already going to be so new, just so you can have “space to grow”? And, how long do you stay single once you get to this new place, so that you can have enough time to grow?

One of the most beautifully supportive and constant things in my life these past few years, both as a friend and a sig other, has been Sean. With him I feel like I can truly do anything, and I have someone to pick me up and push me forward if I don’t succeed or if I’m just feeling discouraged in that moment. Motivating yourself can be difficult, and failure can hit hard. Having someone who believes in you and encourages you can be the difference between marathoning Orange is the New Black or marathoning internship applications. Between spending January learning underwater basket weaving or studying abroad for two weeks. (Be with someone who encourages you to grow by studying abroad, not encourages you to stay because they’ll “just miss you too much.” Find someone who knows your wildest dreams and pushes you to make them happen, even if it means only talking via email for two weeks.)

As you prepare to go to college, graduate from college, or take whatever other big step you are taking in your life, when you have people telling you it’s best to break up with your sig other so you can grow at your new school or new job, please remember that you can do just as much growing with a significant other who encourages you. A relationship doesn’t have to hold you back, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Fulfilling A Person’s Needs

Yesterday while browsing Facebook, I came across this post from HoNY. What struck me first was his line, “we don’t have enough of what the other needs,” because that’s such a relevant part of any relationship. A lot of people are arguing that a relationship isn’t about you and your needs, but to me this phrase speaks to both people’s needs – they weren’t able to fulfill each other. I mean, that’s the reason why my ex and I broke up – he was in the Navy and with the distance we couldn’t love each other how we needed to be loved. I think it’s the basis for a lot of separations.

What caught me next was a comment that read, “I don’t know why people insist on their partner being the one person to meet all their needs. No one person can do that. It’s unrealistic and unfair.”

I have heard this sentiment on other occasions, generally in support of open relationships. Honestly, I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s naive of me, but between my ability to control my own happiness, satisfaction, basic needs/desires, and Sean’s willingness to do all these things for me, I don’t need anyone else. I choose to have friends because they are enjoyable to spend time with and they give me more people to talk to, but on a deeply emotional level the only relationship I need is with Sean. And advocates of open relationships have told me that I’m wrong to feel that way, that I can’t possibly be wholly satisfied. But I have been, for two and a half years (and if you tack on the period of time that Sean was my best and closest friend, and the only person outside of myself and family that I relied on emotionally, probably another two years). As a self-aware and independent individual, I don’t foresee my needs changing too drastically, and as they do gradually change, Sean is always willing to accommodate. And vice versa, of course.

I guess, whenever I hear this statement, I can’t help but feel like the people who feel that way are settling. Perhaps they are tired of unsatisfying relationships so they settle for multiple relationships that fulfill each of their needs separately, and tell themselves that it’s the most realistic solution. Or maybe they are unbalanced between taking and giving, which makes a monogamous relationship unfulfilling because they spend too much time doing one or the other.

Now, don’t get me wrong – if you want to have multiple partners and they are all okay with that, more power to you. It’s not my job to judge you or tell you you’re wrong, and just because that’s not what I want/need doesn’t mean it is wrong, just different. I just don’t understand this reason for it – I know divorce rates are high, but I don’t think long-term couples separate because they can’t possibly fulfill each other’s needs; it’s because they don’t want to try or change or adjust anymore.

Maybe instead of giving up on the idea of two people having a strong fulfilling relationship, deeming it impossible, it’s time we step up and start putting that effort in?

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Hair Care – Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

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Last night I tried my first ACV conditioner/rinse. I’ve been extra oily, due to my washing-less transition, but I’m trying so hard to stay away from the herbal essence products I used to use.

First, I shampoo’d with my Minty Mix Organic Shampoo from Henna Color Labs. Then I rinsed with ACV! I did a mixture of 1 part ACV, 2 parts water – however, this left my hair feeling a little dry. I think next time I will try 3 parts water. I also added a few drops of peppermint oil, for smell and to help stimulate my scalp.

Even with the dryness, I love the results. My hair is oil free, and so so soft.

Next week I will be starting my rye flour shampoo trials! I’ll keep you updated!

What is your hair care regimen? What works (or doesn’t work) for you? What else should I try?

Taking Things in Stride

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

A lot of stuff happened this school year. Like, a lot. My parent’s divorce was finalized, I had another big health scare, my father and I fought a lot, my father got engaged and remarried in the week following my birthday, and most recently my sweet kitty had to be put down and I lost a friend to a car accident.

Of all the things the happened this year, the biggest one to process was the fire.

On April 25, at 2:30 in the morning, I struggled out of sleep and grasped for my phone.

“Are you awake?”
“Not really.”
“Well, I need you to wake up and listen to me.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“The house is on fire.”

I sat up, in shock. It took me a long time to form a response to my father’s words, and when I did I was surprised by how calm I was. I asked if everyone was okay, if we knew how it started, and, finally, I asked if he needed me to come home. He told me no, we got off the phone, and I laid in bed for a long time, just thinking. Processing. Finally, after about an hour of silence, broken by periodic thoughts that I shared with Sean, I emailed my boss to let her know I wouldn’t be coming in to work, laid down, and tried to sleep.

FireThe following day I stayed in bed. Sometimes I would cry. I would remember things I wanted, things I may never see again. My mom dug out the old photos of my dad and I, when I was just three, “building” the house. I called her, and we cried. She didn’t live in the house anymore, but it was her home for 21 years just like the rest of us.

I spent a lot of time listening to people tell me why God did this. I spent even more time talking to God myself, trying to gather what His plan was from Him.

I realized how blessed I was by the people in my life. The friends and family who came together, who offered support emotionally and financially, who donated clothes and food. One friend offered to drive home with me for a weekend – a 6 hour drive – even though it was just a few weeks before finals and we barely knew each other.

Imagine making the drive home, a drive you’ve made more times than you can remember. You turn on the road you’ve lived on for at least 20 years. It’s a familiar place, right? And then, as you come up over the last hill, you see the cleared remains of your home. Part of the foundation is still standing, charred, but that’s about it. And suddenly this place you grew up, the only place you ever remember living, is completely unfamiliar.

after fireIn that moment I sobbed uncontrollably. I stopped my car, and as my father opened the door I basically fell into his arms, overwhelmed by grief. We walked around the yard. The garage was a pile of ashes. The house’s foundation stood, but the roof had fallen in. My cat climbed out of the crawl space, her meow raspy and her fur covered in soot.

My oldest friend helped me sort through and document my belongings. We spent hours in the basement, saving what we could, throwing everything else aside for the dozer that would inevitably be brought in later. I was fortunate, many of my belongings were boxed away before I left for college, and were protected by the water damage that plagued most of the basement. I cried as I found memories that could be rescued, and as we threw out a large crate of old notebooks that were once my closest friends.

It wasn’t until a few hours later, when he and I came back to the house once last time, that I realized what God was doing for me. We walked through together, so I could say a final goodbye, and take a few picture for my poetry class. I saw Amy (my dad’s wife)’s furniture in the living room, I saw her clothes in my mother’s closet, her lotions on my mother’s side of the bathroom counter. And for the first time in months, I was unbothered by this. The anger inside of me had subsided with the recognition that the place my parents shared was gone. Whatever took it’s place would be Dad and Amy’s, together. It would not hold traces of a time when my parents laughed together, would not have memories of a time when things felt normal.

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God had blessed me not only with peace, but with the opportunity for a new normal and a new home. He had absolved me of an anger I thought would never end, and given me what I needed to begin moving forward.

My sophomore year of college, when I got mono and a uti and began having intense stomach pains all at once, while my parents were working on their marriage, I remember thinking that it was one of the most eventful years of my life. Now I’ve come to realize that part of the transition to adulthood is events. The older you get, the more things that happen, because there are more things that affect you. I’ve also come to realize that each of those things is just another opportunity for God to shape you and move you forward, even when you don’t see it.

Red Hair, Don’t Care

This is the most recent image I have of my natural hair color. The roots down to almost my chin show my brown; the lighter bottom half is a faded out dye from last Spring Break.

This is the most recent image I have of my natural hair color. The roots down to almost my chin show my brown; the lighter bottom half is a faded out dye from last Spring Break.

As I’ve stated before, I’m really bad at this whole beauty thing. I don’t have the patience for makeup, I’m getting better at dressing nice, but overall I’m pretty simple. The one thing I will put a lot of time and effort into is my hair. Hair is great because just a few small changes to your normal routine can make it look and feel great, without putting huge amounts of extra effort in on a daily basis!

This hair journey started about a year ago, when I hacked off 8 inches, cried and felt self-conscious for a few months, lathered my hair in oils once every week, and began growing it out all over again. All I want in the world is long, glorious hair. But I want it to be healthy, so that I never feel the need to cut off 8 inches again.

However, I’m not a fan of my natural color. I don’t hate it, I don’t feel ugly when it’s showing, I just don’t feel like light brown suits me. When my hair is it’s natural brown, I feel boring.

When I first began growing out my hair, I was determined not to dye it. I made it about 4 inches before the itch for red hair came back. I ignored it until a long hair blog I was reading suggested henna dye. I did some research and found an awesome vegan, cruelty free, all-natural online shop, Henna Color Lab. So then I did some more research. I researched colors, looked through social media where people had posted photos from/to Henna Color Lab, read about others’ experiences with henna hair dye. And, finally, I purchased their wine red dye, along with a trial size shampoo and conditioner.

I opened this as soon as I got home…at 12:30 in the morning.

I opened this as soon as I got home…at 12:30 in the morning.

My mother helped me, as she has with many box dyes in the past. I washed my hair twice with the Minty Mix Shampoo and, while I towel dried my hair, changed into old clothes, and covered my hairline with Vaseline, Mom mixed the henna with warm water, commenting on how bad it smelled. True to many other reviews, it smelled earthy, similar to wet grass, but not nearly as satisfying.

The worst part was definitely application. Chemical dies are very liquidy – they come in a squirt bottle and are easy to comb through hair. Henna dye is thicker, muddy. Mom had a hard time working it through my hair, and a lot of pulling and apologies happened. We were using medical gloves instead of the flimsy plastic gloves that came with the dye, which definitely didn’t help. Next time, we will buy something protective (my mom is a waitress, having henna stains on her hands would probably cause some concerned customers) but less grippy.

After the application, we piled my squishy hair up into the shower cap that came with the dye. My hair felt heavy at the nape of my neck, which worried me, so we wrapped my head in plastic wrap as an added precaution. I quickly wiped down my ears, hairline, and neck, then settled down for the two hour wait. progress

At the hour and 45 minute mark, things got a little scary. I reached back to rub my neck and pulled out a small piece of hair. With that piece of hair came a chunk of henna, which my mom quickly wiped away. But after that I just couldn’t stop fidgeting – I was worried about staining my skin, dripping henna on furniture, and so on. Finally, after about 5 minutes of suffering and holding a towel tight against my neck, I hopped in the shower.

The henna was globby and it really did feel like I was trying to get mud out of my hair as I stood under the hot water. Once the water began running yellow, rather than bright red-brown, I turned my head upside down or to the side and rinsed more. This process took about 15 minutes (which is a lot when you just want to see your new hair so bad), and, five days later, my hair still rinses a little yellow when I shower. After my scalp felt mostly clean of henna, I used my Minty Mix Conditioner twice, as a final rinse.

Mom blow dried my hair after my shower, and we watched excitedly as my hair dried to a beautiful vibrant red.

A collage of photos, because for the first day my hair looked a little different in every photo I took.

A collage of photos, because for the first day my hair looked a little different in every photo I took.

Mom and I with our new sunglasses - Henna takes about 48 hours to set, and in that time it got a little darker and richer!

Mom and I with our new sunglasses – Henna takes about 48 hours to set, and in that time it got a little darker and richer!

 

Conclusive Review – Store, Henna, and Shampoo/Conditioner

Overall, I was very happy with this product. The day before I made my purchase I emailed in a question, which Henna Color Lab answered quickly. Shipping was fast and my package arrived in good condition. The shampoo and conditioner were both taped shut so they didn’t accidentally open in transit. The packaging was also great – the writing for instructions was humorous and human; I loved that.

While the henna was a little more work than a chemical dye, I feel it was worth it in terms of overall outcome and hair health. My hair feels thicker, stronger, and softer than before, due to henna’s natural deep conditioning qualities. And my hair is an intense shade of red that I have never been able to achieve with box dyes. I also loved that the dye didn’t cover up the differences in my hair color. I don’t have any natural highlights or lowlights – my hair is a very mousy brown – but the faded dye gave my hair an ombre look, which the henna maintained  in a less extreme fashion. Basically, my tips are still lighter than my roots, and I like it.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the shampoo and conditioner. I love the way they smell and how refreshed my hair feels from the mint oils. I also love that they are natural, and sulfate/silicone/paraben free. However, the shampoo feels very heavy and the conditioner is so light that I feel like I need a lot more of it than I probably do. I think once I adjust to the different feel, I will be very happy.