Archive | December, 2011

Rebirth/Retrospect

31 Dec

Fair warning: I know this post is a tad lengthier than normal, and not the usual “blog fare,” but it’s about something significant in my life and it would be very meaningful to me if you took the time to read it today.

Today being the last day that will ever exist of 2011, I had the full intention of sitting here and typing out the 3 pages worth of new year’s resolutions I wrote down the other night at 3am when I was having trouble falling asleep. Instead, something important happened and I need to tell you about it. But for you to understand its significance, I have to start at the beginning.

This past semester was really hard for me for a multitude of reasons. Although I definitely experienced some of the best moments of college so far, including new memories with old friends and now classic memories with new friends, there were also several elements which made it the worst semester I’ve ever had. It started when for the first time in my life I had to drop classes due to feeling impossibly overwhelmed. Taking the fewest number of units I’ve ever taken in my college career, I still had more work than ever before and harder material in each class; not to mention a plethora of group projects, a repetitive cycle in which I’m always the one who gets stuck doing all the work.

The intense academic strain coupled with my sorority responsibilities (which don’t get me wrong, I love to death) left me no time. Plus I was stressing about a crazy landlord situation and worried about a few close friends who were struggling with problems of their own. All these things began to build up and take their toll on me not just mentally, but physically. I went through periods of having zero appetite, insomnia, not being able to lay in bed because the knots in my back hurt so much, and experienced a resurgence of the severe migraines that I’d rarely felt in years. Overall, at times the physical problems were completely debilitating. But I refused to take a break and stressed myself out even more perfecting every single assignment.

That being said, there were also many amazing moments this semester. I really expanded my friend group and came to appreciate my sisters ten-fold. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and balanced a pretty active social life while working hard enough to pull a 4.0, despite the difficulty. I also took a strong leadership role in several of the clubs/activities I’m involved in, and feel very rewarded by and proud of what I have accomplished.

I had been looking forward to the beginning of winter break as a fresh start without responsibility where I could reset and start over. However, for some inexplicable reason, the stress and anxiety seemed to follow me home and physically I’ve been feeling unwell. (Well, that’s sort of an understatement.) It has slowly been dawning on me that something has to change. I can’t keep living my life with the anxiety that weighs me down and hurts me.

In 14 weeks I turn 21, and there are plenty of other wonderful things I’m looking forward to about next semester. I’m really looking forward to all of the classes I’m taking (except Spanish) and I can’t wait to start my new officer position as Scholarship Chair of my sorority, as well as get involved with a local youth group I’ve really been wanting to work with. Oh, did I mention I also have a very cool role in a truly awesome play that starts rehearsal in 2 weeks? (The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.)

(Side note: I hope my blog doesn’t get sent to the spam folder for all you 200+ subscribers now that I included the word “vagina.” Oops, haha.)

I was sitting on the couch late the other night, feeling sick and lethargic, listening to the screeching and shrieking howls of yet another re-run of Toddlers & Tiaras and the sound was grating on my brain. I knew there had to be something more productive, worthwhile, valuable that I could be doing, should be doing, at that moment to stop the blah.

I scoured the house gathering up a handful of vanilla candles, scrounged up an old bottle of peppermint relaxation bubble bath, drew a hot bath, and just laid in the water. I listened to an entire album (Ma Fleur by The Cinematic Orchestra) and closed my eyes and breathed in the soothing, comforting smells. Cheesy? Maybe. But when I got out, I felt like a whole new person.

Tomorrow is the first day of 2012. And I have a feeling know it is going to be the most wonderful, absolute best year yet.

*crickets* Is anyone still reading this? If you’re out there in the blogosphere and you made it this far, please take a moment to leave a comment and tell me something lovely :)

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Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao: A photo travel guide

29 Dec

Well, I’ve officially been back in the country for 48 hours now after a whirlwind 8 days on a cruise to the Dutch Lesser Netherlands Antilles. Here are some photos from my trip and a few tips and suggestions if you ever find yourself 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela!

We cruised out of Ft.Lauderdale for 8 days on Holland America’s Westerdam. It was our first time on the cruise line, (though my 16th time on a cruise ship,) which was definitely adequate though not our favorite ever. Highlights were the casino, spa, and daily poolside fajita bar, lowlights were lack of nightlife on-board and no drink specials.

My 88-year-old Grandfather and I enjoying the private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

Overall, we were a bit underwhelmed by Aruba. The city itself is pretty filthy and not too enjoyable. The beaches, however, did not disappoint. We took a short ride on the #10 public bus ($2.30 roundtrip per person) to the Amsterdam Hotel and walked across the street to their stretch of Eagle Beach. The sand was soft, water warm, chairs free, and drinks flowing- definitely a must! My cousins and I also spent time in the city later at night at a little dive bar which made for extremely interesting people watching.

Curacao was definitely a quaint little town, very clean and pretty. We walked all over the shopping district looking at beautiful jewelry. We also passed through the floating market, a collective of junk boats from Venezuela that commute back and forth selling fresh produce and handicrafts. Definitely walk along the historic footbridge across the channel, or take the ferry :)

Bonaire was probably our favorite port of call. With just over 2,000 citizens, it’s truly an unspoiled paradise full of amazing snorkeling, gorgeous beaches, lush greenery, and colorful native flamingo and donkey populations. The island is quiet and vibrant, and the kindness of the inhabitants is contagious. We took a taxi to the south side of the island to Sorobon Beach, where I sunbathed and my cousins played around in the water and attempted to learn to windsurf. My mom enjoyed visiting the local craft market as well!

Grandpa and I heading to the formal dining room for dinner.

Have you ever been to any of these islands? What did you do? Did you go anywhere else this holiday season? I had so much to catch up on all of your wonderful blogs, tell me how your holiday went! And oh yeah, happy new year too :)

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Favorite New Beauty Products!

16 Dec

I’m always hesitant and a little nervous to try out new beauty products. Simply put, I like my products and I like what they do. But, you never know what else is out there unless you’re willing to give it a shot right? Right. So with bravery and an openness to trying new things and mind, I was absurdly excited to get a “voxbox” in the mail from Influenster. The box was full of samples of fun health and beauty products that I can’t wait to try! Here’s a rundown of all the goodies I found inside: (Click images for more info!)

I received one set of imPRESS press-on nails. With nail designs being totally trendy right now, I can't wait to see how these compare to other at-home speed manicure kits! I received the color "Over the Moon."

I was ecstatic to see the New York Color liquid lipshine lipgloss in "Nude York City." I've been wanting a nude-colored gloss and this is going to be perfect!

I received Mentos PURE gum in "fresh mint" flavor. I love that it's made with green tea extract, and comes in a nun-crushable plastic case- perfect for my backpack or carry-on!

ProActiv has a new product, X Out, which is a low-maintenance face wash which promises to help eliminate acne. I personally (luckily) never had too much of an issue with this, but the bottle also says it can be used as a spot treatment, so I'll be trying it out next time I get a pimple.

I'm always on the lookout for a great new snack bar that is tasy, filling, and healthy. My voxbox contained a coconut cream pie bar and I know it's going to be delicious! I also want to try a few of the chocolate flavors :)

I've always been a fan of the Softsoap brand, and I'm sure I'll love their new exfoliating body bar. Plus, I'm a big coconut fan.

Not gonna lie, face masks kind of scare me. But this European company promises a smooth result, and I love the special note on the back emphasizing that the products are all natural, vegetarian, and never tested on animals!

What are some of your favorite health and beauty buys? Anything you would suggest I try? Have you ever tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them? I can’t wait to share my experiences with you!

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Aruba, Jamaica, oooh I wanna take ya…

14 Dec

I can’t believe it’s here already, but this coming Sunday I’ll be headed on a cruise with my parents and extended family to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, all islands just north of the coast of Venezuela, in the Lesser Netherlands Antilles. Although we travel to the Southern Caribbean every Christmas, I’ve never been to any of these three places before and I’m so excited! Have any of y’all ever been there before? What are the best things to see/do/eat?? Help me plan please! I’ll be off the radar for about 9 days, and I was wondering if anyone’s interested in guest posting here while I’m gone? I’ve never done this before, not sure if any of you are even out there reading this. But if so, shoot me an e-mail and let’s make it happen!

*Title courtesy of The Beach Boys

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Daily Gratitude Part 2

12 Dec

Here are the last of my silly pictures from this semester that accrued on my phone. Enjoy a few random pretties :)

A surprise bouquet from my best friend from high school to cheer me up after a long week of exams

Most of the time the desert is sunny, but this was just one of several freak torrential monsoons that popped up more than usual this semester

The Christmas tree in the formal living room of my sorority house! Made even better by the fact that the ornaments are Hannukah themed (not just for me, but I like to pretend) and the fact that we all will buy toys to go underneath that are donated to the local children's hospital :)

Hot cocoa. No, not in a red Starbucks cup but even better-- courtesy of sorority chef Tommy. Bomb.com

Football perfection: Hooter's wings and beer. Not pictured: The chocolate mousse cake we devoured in .5 seconds.

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Sisters and Rivalry

9 Dec

No, not of the sibling variety… more of the football type. A few weeks ago, a couple sorority sisters and I roadtripped it up to ASwho Arizona State in Tempe for the annual Thanksgiving week rivalry game. Our record hasn’t been too hot this season, and we were expecting the worst. But a miracle prevailed and we ended up sending the sundevils back to— well, you know where. It was a fabulous end to the conference season. Even though we aren’t eligible for a bowl game, we went out with a bang. I had a great time tailgating with my sisters, seeing a few alums who now work in Phoenix, exploring Mill Ave, and sampling the best wings Tempe had to offer. Beardown Wildcats :)

Sisters who tailgate together stay together :)

Me and my grandbig (an alum) repping U of A at a tailgate

Sorority family fro-yo run

Me, my grandlittle, and my little... can't you see the family resemblance?

 

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Daily Gratitude Part 1

7 Dec

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays and new year’s up ahead, it’s important to remember the little things in life that are truly the most important. I was cleaning out my phone the other day and thought I’d share a few photos from this semester (which literally flew by at an alarming rate of speed) that make me smile :) P.S. more to come in another post as well, don’t want to overload you with too many silly things at once.

Neon roller skating mixer with PIKE fraternity

New Vince Camuto gold glitter heels being purchased

Late night Sonic runs with the roommates to make it through term papers and studying for finals

Sisters being silly in the rec room. (My sister Jaelyn is about 4'10" and my sister Liz is about 5'10"... and wearing heels, ha!)

The same silly sister Liz and I goofing off in the movie theater lobby while waiting for Breaking Dawn Part 1 to start!

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Holiday Outfit Post :)

5 Dec

Dressing for Thanksgiving is always a little tricky. My family always goes on the casual side, but I still wanted to look festive. Leggings are a must, obviously, because they save you the embarrassment of having to unbutton your pants after the meal (ha.) I scored this southwestern print dress at Buffalo Exchange a few weeks ago for under $20, but I’ve seen it at a few stores online recently for 40 bucks, #win! (Note to self: must get spray tan before heading to Aruba in 2 weeks.)

P.S. I don’t typically wear my hair back… but I kind of like it. Thoughts? It’s different.

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