Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Writer Confessions and #Goals

I have to admit that I haven't been the most committed writer lately.  With school and work and etc. etc. etc., it's been challenging to find the time, energy, and inspiration to actually sit down and write anything worthwhile that isn't actually due for a class. I can't help but to feel bad about this.  I mean, if I'm not actually committed to writing, then I should probably stop identifying as a "writer." But I'm not ready to do that, so I'm going to try to recommit to writing.  No more slacking.  Obviously, studying and end-of-year projects will probably consume the next few weeks of my life (and graduation is coming up!), but I'm promising to myself that I'll do a better job of avoiding the distractions that normally steal my few moments of free time that should be spent doing something more productive than Pinterest-ing.  (Not that Pinterest is bad, of course--it's actually a wonderful tool for finding inspiration.)  

Image result for writer meme

Anyway . . . I suppose that I'm writing about this here to make my commitment to writing feel more "official" than it would if it were just something I mulled over privately in my mind.  And I also wanted to take the opportunity to encourage everyone out there (you, yeah, you, lol!) to set some fun goals for yourself for the spring and summer!  Make them positive goals that will help you expand your life and make the most of each day.  Write more.  Read more.  Learn dance choreography.  Learn a language.  I know this stuff all sounds sort of cliche and is mentioned all the time, but it can be meaningful in the long-term to commit yourself to making a positive life change.

Hugs for Wednesday!

<3 Frances



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Link Loves and Must-Reads 4/20/17

School work has entered full on crazy mode.  The end of the year is always this way, with deadlines and exams and presentations and after-hours obligations, and I'm so so so grateful for every minute I have that's not booked by something. There's nothing quite like those ten minutes between when the alarm goes off and when I actually get out of bed in the morning, LOL.


  • Affirmations Are Powerful by Julia Grigorian 
    • I love Julia's blog (Drops of Jules), and this post on affirmations is something I've been going back to ever since I first read it. It's so easy to get caught up in worry trails and negative thinking patterns, but by being mindful of how we're talking to ourselves and perceiving our situations, we can really improve our overall mental health.  Julia's three-step affirmation process (acknowledging negativity, recognizing irrational thoughts, and empowering truth) is a very helpful tool, too.
  • Meet This 7 Year-Old Syrian Girl Writing a Memoir About Life Under Siege by Kareem Shaheem
    • This Book Riot article is about Bana, a seven year-old Syrian girl who has seen more suffering and hardship than many of us can imagine. And she's writing about it now. She. Is. Amazing.
  • Among My Swan (Full Album) by Mazzy Star
    • I have this on repeat right now.

<3 Frances

Friday, April 14, 2017

TGIF Playlist and Music Talk

Last night was a late one with Holy Thursday service carrying us into the darker, cooler hours of the night, but it was beautiful, and I actually set the alarm for 6:00 AM instead of 5:45 AM this morning to ward off fatigue.  Anyone who gets up early knows the difference that 15 minutes can make.

Today's Friday playlist is a bit of a mish-mosh of different decades and genres.  I've found that, for whatever reason, listening to the Bee Gees has helped me make progress with my writing projects lately. It's funny because disco-era music has nothing to do with what I'm writing about, but certain songs remind me of mixed-tapes played by my grandmum and mum.  My mum loves a lot of the music my grandmum listened to (Stevie Nicks, Nick Drake, etc.), and my grandfather always liked the Bee Gees, so those artists always show up on our playlists and tapes.

Stieve Nicks (source: en.wikipedia.org)

In middle school, I did a project on music history and famous artists (yes, I had a very fun teacher), and one of my best memories is of the day my mum took me on a musical history lesson using her CDs and our old desktop computer.  She had so much work to do for her job that weekend, but she devoted a few hours to helping me with my project, and the memory of us doing that together will stay with me forever.  I particularly enjoyed our journey into the 1990s. She was in college then, and despite many of the sadnesses she experienced in that time (losses, autoimmune illness, etc.), the music she found in the shelves of hole-in-the-wall record shops really had a big impact on her. Because she's so Jane Bennet-like, most people can't imagine her working at a college radio station decorated in Nirvana and Hole posters, but why subscribe to only one style when you can appreciate Beatrix Potter and Courtney Love at the same time?

Hole: "Doll Parts"

Bee Gees: "Stayin' Alive"

Stevie Nicks: "Landslide"


NIirvana: "About A Girl"

Mazzy Star: "Fade Into You"



<3 Frances

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Realistic Health Goals and Letting Go of Control

Hi, friends <3.  I'm more awake this morning than I usually am, which is saying a lot because I'm typically out of the apartment by 7:20 every weekday.  Don't think that's because I like getting out that early, though--if I had it my way, work wouldn't start until much later in the day, even though I'm much more of a "morning person" than I am a night owl.  I used to be a night owl, and I still really love TGIF movie nights, but work obligations have forced me to adapt to a morning-oriented routine. I've found that getting up and dancing on Saturday and Sunday mornings has helped me to adjust because it gives me a positive association with earliness.

dancing + chocolate + books = happiness

Anyway, with my increased energy this morning (which I assure you will likely fade before my first class, lol), I got to thinking about control and societal expectations and ideas surrounding control. There's no doubt in my mind that most people have some sort of innate desire to be in control. It's comforting to feel like you've got a grip on what's going on at all times, and that makes a lot of sense given evolution. I mean, when in survival mode, control can be beneficial. It provides reassurance that things will work out at least enough that you and your family will live another day. But, like everything, control has a "shadow side," and sometimes the very things you think you need to control/are controlling end up controlling you. 
I know I've definitely struggled with control.  I'm a "creature of comfort" and really, really like routine and predictability.  Chaos = anxiety = ugh, and, as I mentioned earlier, society really does like to amp up the whole "be in control and everything will be fine!" mentality.  I'm still just "seeing the light" with these messages, too, so I'm by no means immune to them, but it's been helpful to be more aware of them.  I mean, look around you . . . so many magazines, articles, ads, etc., feature actors and models talking about their rigid fitness regimes or diet plans or daily schedules.  Don't get me wrong--I'm all about feeling healthy and happy and making life a happy, relaxed place for yourself, but I've been slowly realizing over the years that sometimes giving into all these media messages is really unhealthy.  Everywhere we look, there is a celebrity describing her "typical day.":
She gets up around 7:00, immediately drinks warm water with lemon, oil pulls, stretches, and then hits the gym for an intense session--weights and cardio, five to six times a week, with one active recovery day thrown in for good measure. She avoids sugars, additives, and salt, and she limits her carbs to 1/4 c oatmeal at breakfast, a sweet potato at lunch, and 1/2 c cooked quinoa at dinner (which doesn't happen any later than 7:00 because #digestion, right?).  Oh, and then there's a piece of dark chocolate (JUST A PIECE) at night if it's a Friday or Saturday. 
Okay, so now that we've read this, it's time to examine our own lives.  Just like with everything, there's a light and shadow side to this.  On the light side, we can say, "Oh, okay, maybe instead of staying up till two AM and then getting up at six AM, I can try to go to bed earlier.  That will help me feel less exhausted, and maybe my skin will clear up.  And maybe I'll try lemon water in the morning and that dance/Pilates/etc. video I saw on YouTube when I have time after school.  That sort of thing might energize me."  But on the shadow side, we can say, "Okay. No more rice. Ever. And only a 1/4 c of oatmeal, even if I'm hungry.  And I need to incorporate weights into my training now, and I can only rest one day a week, and then I need to walk for 60 minutes to make up for it . . . " This sort of thinking might make us feel "in control" temporarily, but whenever something interferes with our plan, we feel like everything is falling apart.  We become dependent on our routines and our rules, and if we can't live up to our expectations of ourselves, we fall into negativity and self-criticism.  

Is this healthy?  Trust me, darling--it isn't.

Audrey Hepburn: "Happy girls are the prettiest." (Image from smooth.com.au)

One of the best pieces of advice that I've ever received (and I admit that I need to do a better job following it) is balance.  Balance and moderation.  This advice came from a loved one who has passed on recently, and I've been trying to focus on it more because of how true it is. Complete carelessness and excessive control haven't ever benefited anyone.  Find a happy medium for yourself--a place where you can just exist and lead a full, happy life with things that you look forward to, manageable responsibilities, and some sort of meaning. The best thing about this happy medium is that you can start striving for it RIGHT NOW. You don't need to order any fancy products or sign up for a service. All you need is yourself.

<3 Frances 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dedications, Jane Austen, and Writer's Block


Yesterday, my great-grandmother--someone that I wholeheartedly love and admire--passed on to be with my grandmother.  Along with my mother, they are my biggest influences in life, and they inspired inspire so much of what I write about. I don't feel at the liberty to call myself "a writer" because, quite frankly, I haven't completed anything that wasn't a school assignment (or a blog post, lol) in a while, but I'm working on being more prolific and efficient and trying to get less distracted. I think one of the things that makes writing so difficult for me is my inclination to write about very heavy topics.  Historical fiction is the genre I spend most of my time working with, and the historical times I focus on are typically depressing and tragic, and I tend to feel incapable of writing anything meaningful enough to capture all the pain and suffering of the past.  But I'm working on that.

Of all the literary worlds to disappear into in times of heartache, Jane Austen's remains one of my favorites.  Sense & Sensibility got me through turbulent airplane rides and homesickness, and quoting Lizzy Bennet lets me pretend to be much more independent and self-assured than I actually am. And Austen's stories are markedly less depressing and dark than some of my other most-loved reading selections (i.e. the works of the Bronte Sisters, wartime tragedies, etc.).  Because of this, I'm incredibly excited to be reading Pride & Prejudice as my last novel of my last semester of high school. I started it once when I was in fifth grade but never finished it, and I'm determined to finish it all the way through now.  With that in mind, here is a little springtime style inspiration straight from Miss Austen's universe:


janeaustensworld.wordpress.com

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."                                                                                                                                                      More:
ceciliaroselee.blogspot.com 

Regency-Women Set 8 | Richard Jenkins Photography:
rjenkins.co.uk

Regency Wedding Dress by Andrea Galer - Handmade.  "Designed by Andrea Galer, Award -winning designer who has created the costumes for ITV's Persuasion (2007), BBC's Miss Austen Regrets (2007) and the film Mansfield Park (1999) to name but a few." So floaty and ethereal and romantic!! love it!!!:
dianegaston.com

Movie Costumes I’d Actually Wear: Part 1 » Formidable Courage:
formidablecourage.com 


<3 Frances

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Matching Foundation

I haven't written anything here in a while, but I've managed to write elsewhere.  Short stories and essays and homework have gotten most of my attention this spring break, but that's been really nice for me because I'm not exactly the "let's make a lot of plans for spring break!" type.  The thought of packing a suitcase or venturing somewhere over this seven-day respite period exhausts me, and if anyone else feels that way, know you're not alone! 
One interesting (albeit insignificant) discovery this week has been that my foundation doesn't exactly match my skin tone.  The foundation I use is lovely and sweet and feels very good, but my pale skin has some yellow undertones that make me pull orange, and since I've been trying to get rid of my scars with retinoids, my skin has been very dry and all the orange has been exacerbated.  My mum took notice of this, and we found that, wow, there is a foundation shade that works with my face!  I'm a very pale "neutral," apparently, and now when I cover my scars up on my face, I don't have to worry about oxidation or color-shifting or scar visibility.  Yay!  If you're struggling with acne scars or cover-up issues, too, I strongly recommend making sure that you've got a foundation that matches your skin tone. It makes a very big difference, and I feel a lot better now even despite insecurities brought on by peeling retinoid skin.
Also . . . here are two songs for today:


Florence + the Machine: "St. Jude"
 
 
The White Stripes: "Blue Orchid"


<3 Frances