Why I Like Being “Simple”

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Photo by Khai Sze Ong on Unsplash

It’s been over a month since I’ve last written and I just want to thank you all for giving me that time! My last post went up three days before I started my new job and then it was a whirlwind of travel and learning and bonding and total, absolute exhaustion. But I am happy to report I feel like I am settling in nicely and I am so excited to be challenging myself in new and interesting ways.

A younger version of me would have pushed myself to maintain the blog, the poetry, the novel, the social media presence all at once, even while trying to learn a new job. This time around I said no to overwhelming myself. I said no to setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I said no to torturing myself about “not being enough”. I wrote when I could, I slept when I needed to, and I took a break from obsessing about every little thing. I focused on my new work, I got to know my team instead of hiding away in my room to write (they made that easy) and I am so happy I did.

Maybe it’s because I am older and I’m finally learning a thing or two about life, or maybe I’ve changed for another reason, but I can tell you this: allowing myself to be simple kept me happy, healthy and sane these past six weeks.

I’ve never wanted to be simple. Simple was a sin in my book. If I wasn’t multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-stressed out, then I was failing. A typical day would have been an intense weight workout, a full day of work, writing all night, responding to piled up texts, walking the dog, cleaning the apartment and then passing out totally exhausted. I got sick a lot. I wasn’t productive. My writing was… well… shitty.

Simple felt wrong, simple felt too easy, simple felt like I wasn’t doing my best.

What I’ve found is that SIMPLE allows me to excel. What I’ve come to realize is that my other talents, my other interests, and loves? They’ll still be there. This blog is still here. My poetry is still waiting for me to edit it and share it with the world. I’ve found other simpler workouts that don’t require me to travel to the gym every day. It’s all there and I will get to it. (When I can!) When I focus my attention to one or two things, I kill it. I sleep. I am not sick all the time. When I am simple I am a better, calmer, version of myself. It took a million and one tries, but I finally saw the pattern.

Now that the travel is done for a bit, now that I am finding my rhythm at work… now is when I can pick up the pen again. Write this blog post for you. Take some new photos for the IG. Make special plans with my friends. And when I do all of these things I will be more engaged because I won’t be tired, or worried, or thinking about the next task. I can simply be present.

I know there will be days when I want to go back to the way I was. When I want to pressure myself and push myself and overwhelm myself. And maybe I’ll need the extra encouragement. But knowing that it’s ok to take a step back and breathe is going to make all the difference. I mean, how often do you let yourself be simple?

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First Time At Home Teeth Whitening: Does it Work?

Hey everyone! As you know I occasionally take a break from waxing poetic about life and all its twists and turns to share with you the products I have been using and enjoying. And it’s time for one of those reviews with Smile Brilliant!
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Why Smile Brilliant?
For the past couple of weeks I have been using Smile Brilliant’s whitening system. Let me start by saying I have never whitened my teeth before. Ever. Outside of a little whitening toothpaste, it was never a world I explored or felt necessary. And then BAM! Here comes my 30th year on this planet and everything (I mean EVERYTHING) is changing.
My skin is different, my hair is different, my energy levels and yes, my teeth. I started to notice that my teeth weren’t as white as they always had been and I realized it was probably the addition of coffee and red wine into my diet. When I was younger I didn’t drink either and so the change in the condition of my teeth was really noticeable.
It was starting to bug me which is why I was so glad the team at Smile Brilliant reached out to offer me a test drive of one of their whitening kits. The time had come to brave this brand new world and I chose Smile Brilliant as my whitening partners (and gurus!)
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The Experience 
Smile Brilliant is pretty unique, especially from the strips you buy at drugstores, because the system uses custom fitted trays to perform the whitening. That’s right, you gotta mold your teeth. The first step was a little scary, I am not going to lie, but everything turned out ok. Smile Brilliant sends you the mold making kit via mail. Following the instructions very carefully you make molds of your top and bottom rows of teeth. You let the molds dry and the ship them back in the provided envelope.
A week later my custom-fitted trays arrived and they matched my teeth exactly. (Science, right?) Included with my trays were my tubes full of whitening solution and the desensitizing gel. This gel was my lifesaver during the process. There are a couple steps to get your teeth whitening ready but you’re given detailed instructions on how to accomplish each step and achieve whitening glory.
The short version is this: you fill the trays with the whitening solution and then pop them into place and leave them in anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on your sensitivity. Pop them out, wash the trays, and then pop in the desensitizing gel for about 20 minutes. It can be a little time consuming so make sure to start your whitening journey when you are ready to commit!
For me personally, I have fairly sensitive teeth. The first couple rounds of whitening left me extra sensitive. To fix this I merely shortened my sessions down to the bare minimum and also put a day in between each session, using the desensitizing gel on the off day. This really helped keep them feeling safe and not as touchy. I noticed results after my very first use of the system which was crazy! As I went on I noticed more change and started to really be impressed. Of course, I snuck in some coffee during this period which I regret a little, but Smile Brilliant was strong enough to put up with my weakness and still provide me with some great results.
I always did my whitening at night when I was done eating for the day. I timed it so I was done whitening just before bed. While I had my trays in I’d watch TV, read, walk the dog, and do my skincare routine. I was still able to talk to my boyfriend and chat on the phone with my mom, so don’t worry about them being too bulky. They really do fit and form to your teeth so well!
The Takeaway
If you’re looking for an at-home whitening option, check out SmileBrilliant. The custom-fitted trays really do make this a whole different kind of experience and provide great results. (Goodbye gross drugstore strips!)
Here are my side-by-side comparisons:
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The best news is you can get a KIT FREE (valued at $149) by entering my giveaway here!
Contest is open to Australia, Canada, US, and UK. And ANYONE can 15% off store wide with my code ‘cheapcourage15’.


Tooth Whitening Gel

Letting Go of All the Versions of Me to Reveal… Me

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

I spent a majority of my life trying to be several different people, all at once. It maybe all started with what I call a success-hybrid I created as a kid. Someone would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’d say, “A doctor-writer-veterinarian.” As I got older I adored to try new things. I played soccer for a year. I played the clarinet for 3 years. Theater and singing lasted longer, almost 8 years. I took on International Studies as a minor for a semester and dropped it almost immediately. I am a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a best friend, I work during the day, and write at night.

All those years I always compartmentalized who I was. If I was in a relationship but my friends were single, I would insist we not talk about my boyfriend. I didn’t want them to think I was actually that sensitive. (But I am.) I wouldn’t talk about my writing with my friends at the gym. I hardly ever mentioned my outside interests at work. It could seem at times even wrong to do so. I operated each piece of myself on its own.

Which ultimately started to drive me crazy because it was impossible to balance my time. Sometimes being a girlfriend took up three more hours than I had planned for. And so I couldn’t be a writer that day. Or I’d have to work late, and not be a friend that day. I have no idea why I did this, but I did. It wasn’t until the last year, maybe two, that I noticed it and attempted to stop it.

I asked my friends to welcome my boyfriend into our friend circle more fully, I made very close and dear friends at work, I told my superiors when I had work published so we could all celebrate. Instead of one or the other I was getting closer to the idea of me that I had as a child, I could be a couple things and it would be alright.

By removing my own compartments, I am a much happier person. My time doesn’t need to be parceled out hour by hour. My planner has become less precious to me. I write in the same room as my boyfriend. I am writer-girlfriend. I share my poems with my co-workers. I am poet-coworker. I make friends at work and introduce them to my boyfriend. I am coworker-girlfriend-friend. The more I combine my passions closer to one another the more like myself I feel. Every time I do not compromise one part of me for another, I glow. The tighter I wind in, pulling it all back, the more complete and whole I feel.

It turns out that I don’t need to be one person for each scenario. I just need to be me, in my entirety, and I will be happy. The closer I can get to my own core, the closer I get to being truly happy with the life I have built.

 

My Rent the Runway Unlimited Review

This is a review I am doing on my own. I DID not receive anything from RTR to write this review. 

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Me in a Cinq a Sept piece from RTR.

HOW AND WHY I SIGNED UP

After considering it for OVER a year, I finally decided to take a stab at doing Rent The Runway Unlimited to see if it was a) worth the money and if it would b) make my life easier.

The short answer to both is: YES!

Listen, it’s a pretty expensive subscription ($159 a month) which is why I delayed signing up for over a year. I don’t even have a gym membership so to dedicate my money and energy to something, it has to be pretty impressive. Since I am always honest on here: I finally pulled the trigger one night after having a couple of drinks. I had been on the site earlier in the day helping a friend pick out dresses for a wedding and I saw that they were having a first month for $99 sale (they still have this btw!) so I pulled up the app on my phone and committed. I was riding the subway.

Definitely not the best time to make a big money choice, but that’s how it happened. 🙂 As soon as I signed up I was able to pick my first four items and start my magical journey through RTR Unlimited.

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Me in a Cynthia Rowley Sweatshirt from RTR

WHAT IS IT?

If you’re unfamiliar with Rent The Runway or Rent The Runway Unlimited, here’s how it works.

Rent The Runway Reserve – This is how RTR got started and is what most people are familiar with. Most shoppers use it for important events when they want to up their game, but not break the bank. Shoppers select their dress from a literal OCEAN of dresses, go through detailed sizing notes and order. (With reserve you’re allowed to pick the same dress in a size up or down for a small, additional fee to guarantee fit.) The dress comes, the shopper can hang on to it for 4 or 8 days and return it. Most rentals fall around $100 per rental. This is how I was introduced to RTR, renting dresses for a wedding or two, and New Year’s Eve.

Rent the Runway Unlimited – Unlimited is a slightly different beast. These shoppers pay a monthly subscription fee ($159/mo as I mentioned) and have “unlimited” access to RTR’s giant selection of clothes including jeans, slacks, blazers and dresses. Shoppers get 4 at a time and can keep them for as long as they want, returning and getting new whenever. Most Unlimited users use it for work clothes as well as those special events and trendy pieces. Shipping, dry cleaning, and insurance are included always.

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Me in a Derek Lam Romper from RTR

HONEST REVIEW OF RTR UNLIMITED

Now that you understand how Unlimited works, I’ll share a little bit with my experience so far over the past month and a half.

I have enjoyed it so much it almost makes me feel guilty I didn’t sign up previously. Seriously! I also feel like I am SAVING money this summer because with 3 weddings and various fancy work events, I would have had to use RTR Reserve a number of times, or buy dresses that end up hanging in my closet for months before being worn again.

I have used RTR Unlimited primarily for work. I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to pull out a brand new dress for work 2, 3, 4 times a week. I get endless compliments and I always feel really professional and put together for probably the first time in my life. And I’m 30! The clothes are from incredible brands and of incredible quality and are updated constantly so nothing I’ve received has been overused, ratty, or outdated. When I’m at work I finally feel like I’m dressing “for the job I want” and I feel fabulous at events.

What I’m saying is: RTR is a huge confidence boost. I have always loved clothes but I hate shopping, this relieves a lot of that stress. I had always heard that the right clothes can change how you feel and your outlook on life (blah blah blah) but oh my god, I am really a believer now.

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Me in a Tory Burch Skirt from RTR

TRICKS, TIPS, AND DOWNSIDES

While I haven’t run into too many problems with RTR so far (by the way their customer service is great) I have heard of a few out there. For instance, I live in New York City, where Rent the Runway is headquartered so I get my stuff lightning fast and I also have the option of doing any last minute swapping at the store in Manhattan. For women living further away in other states, I’ve heard that the shipments can drag and it feels like you aren’t really getting your money’s worth. So beware if you are not in New York!

There are a lot of articles out there about Unlimited Hacks, like this one from Cosmo, but I’ve found that by doing it the traditional way (get 4 items, return 4 items, repeat) I am a much saner person. I only have to remember one shipment at a time instead of multiple and since they do come to me fast, I don’t ever feel cheated.

That said, my two favorite “tricks” are kind of obvious but I still feel like I should share:

  1. Heart shit like crazy.  I am constantly going through the New Arrivals page and liking stuff. I also go through different lists they’ve put together, regardless of what I have coming up. By having a massive pool of hearts, there is always something I like available to throw in for my next order. I think obsessing over a couple pieces and waiting for them to become available would drive me insane.
  2. Read the reviews! I know some of you are rolling your eyes like “DUH” but in the beginning I didn’t take the time to do this. I got a couple items that didn’t fit right and all of them could have been corrected if I had read the “size up” and “size down” notes. They really do help.

THAT’S ALL

Ok! That’s it. My honest Rent the Runway Unlimited review. There are a lot of other reviews out there and I definitely recommend you read them. Some women are pickier than me or more impatient than me–which is totally fine! But if you think you’re a little bit more high strung than I am with your clothes, I’d read those reviews too. Just to be safe.

 

 

 

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work

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No shade to Women’s Running, but… I was so excited for last month’s cover story: “How to Eat Healthy While Traveling”. I really needed some new tips. Of course, I was disappointed to find that the article was one page and super generic. Stuff like: drink water, eat almonds. Definitely tricks that work in a pinch but if you’re someone who travels A LOT for work, you can’t sustain yourself off of almonds and water alone. And when you’re traveling with Celiac’s disease like I am, it can be even harder.

I often find myself in airports with incredibly few options (MIA I am looking at you and the one Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand) and I’ve come up with a REALISTIC guide to eating well when you find yourself in airport terminals all the time.

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Photo by Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

PACK SNACKS

This one is a no-brainer and when I say snacks I mean SNACKS. I read a lot of posts where the author recommends you make your own salad or meals in Tupperware and bring them on board. That sounds lovely if you’re traveling on a vacation or to a house with a place to wash your dishes. But when you’re traveling for work, you are often running straight from the tarmac to a meeting. It’s stressful enough to waltz into an important meeting with your luggage, but add on an entire tote bag full of dirty tupperware? No thanks. Also my bag is usually full of documents, folders, and my laptop, which doesn’t leave much room for meals.

Instead I pack snacks that are DIVERSE and I know won’t upset my stomach. The worst thing is trying a new granola bar and then 30 minutes later fighting bloat in a cab on the way to a meeting. The worst. Always go for real ingredients and different flavor profiles. The different flavors is CLUTCH for me because I know that if I bring only fruit based bars, I am going to feel sick eating just fruit all day. Here’s a sample of what I usually pack for a typical work trip, it’s enough to cover all of my flights as I usually have no time for myself to go grocery shopping anywhere I go:

RX Bars, an Apple, Beef Jerky, Trail Mix (w/o chocolate, ok), Clif Bars, G-Free Crackers, PB packet.

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AIRPORT MEALS

The dreaded airport meal. Even the airports where I fair pretty well (JFK) it’s still not something I look forward to.

1. In airports with few options or when you are crunched for time, the best item to look for is a salad. But do your best to find a place that actually knows how to make a salad. Do not go to the Sam Adam’s Brewhouse and ask for a salad, I promise you it will be heavy and kind of gross. Instead look for small cafe’s or even the tiny Grab N Go stations. I know the salads are pre-made but most Grab N Go’s tout a commitment to vegan or organic produce so you know you’re getting pretty decent goods.

2. And while yes, I am trying to eat healthy while traveling for work, I do my best to avoid eating some usually good proteins in airports (fish, steak etc.) because of how they are prepared (though one time I did get airport sushi)… but if I need the protein I pick chicken. It’s lean and easy to tell if it’s cooked right. You don’t have to guess much with chicken.

3. that annoying person who asks for dressing on the side and side salad substitutions for fries. It seems like you’re making a big deal but you’re not. If you’re nervous about it, you can ask your server upfront if they make substitutions or changes. It’s polite and your server will be prepared to help you and you’ll be prepared to order.

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AVOID CARBONATION & GUM

Part of eating healthy while traveling for work for me is keeping my gut happy. I love gum and I love seltzer but oh my god… the BLOAT isn’t worth it. It took me forever to realize the connection between these vices and my painfully bloated tummy on a flight. High altitude can already cause bloating, don’t help it out by adding bubbles. Opt for flat water (and a ton of it!) and mints. I know they aren’t sugarfree, but honestly a little sugar is better than being so painfully blown up that you can’t eat dinner later or sit through a meeting properly.

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

 

YOGURT IS KING

Unless you have a dairy allergy, yogurt is an amazing friend. If you have a hotel mini-fridge grab extras at the hotel market (most of them have these now) and toss some in there for breakfasts and late night snacks. And if you can find yogurt at the airport — YASS! The key to eating healthy while traveling for work is making sure you are full but also getting the same key nutrients you would on a regular day. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and also contains natural probiotics that keep your digestive system on track while you travel. Gut health = your health.

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Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

STARBUCKS HAS BANANAS

Bananas have a ton of fiber and you can find them at almost any Starbucks. Did you notice that there are Starbucks literally everywhere? I hate their coffee so I am often the girl who has a banana and water and who says “No” to “Anything else?” but I am okay with that. In a rush at the airport, hotel, meeting space, whatever, I can grab a banana and know that it will help me make it to my next meal. Bonus points if you packed the PB packet like I told you to.

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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

DINING OUT

There are so many variables when it comes to dining out while traveling for work and sometimes the worst culprit is yourself when you’re alone. I’ll be honest and say that I have had a lot of burgers and fries in bed, (the days are long and I like burgers.) But 98% of the time I aim to keep my dinners as clean as possible. This is because dinners are typically the only time I am at rest, sitting down, and have a higher price point (meaning a better selection) on food. If I know I am going to be struggling at the airport, and during lunch in between meetings, I rely on my dinners to be the staples of my day. I think about what key vitamins and nutrients I missed and try to plug them in. If I haven’t had a leafy green all day, I’ll make sure I get a giant salad. If I haven’t had any protein, I’ll aim to get a nice piece of salmon. It isn’t ideal, and you shouldn’t typically eat a big meal before bed, but for surviving on the road, this is necessary.

MAINTAIN ROUTINES

The last thing I’ll say is this: do your best to maintain any and all routines while traveling for work. If you typically work out in the morning at home, work out in the morning at the hotel. If you have tea before bed while reading a book, have tea and read even just a couple of pages before bed in the hotel. I always pack face masks because I like to do them after flying. It also just makes me feel more at home. Keeping yourself as calm and happy as possible will keep your stress levels down and you much healthier.


Let me know if you have any of your own tips and if any of these were brand new to you! I am always looking to create content that is actually NEW and helpful, instead of regurgitating what you’ve already read.