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I was at it again yesterday.
"Bangs or no bangs?"
It's something I ask myself once every 4-6 months. This time was different, though, since the question wasn't accompanied by the tandem query, "long hair or short hair?" (At least I've finally reached the conclusion that I prefer long tresses.)
Instead of pestering friends and family for the gazillionth time for their opinion on what is, frankly, a pretty boring subject, I looked to the interwebs for help. Boy, did it ever deliver!
I spent hours (embarrassing but true) on the first site I found, going nuts and bananas with the hair-dos (and -don'ts). Gwyneth Paltrow drag? Not for me. Katy Perry in her pink up-do phase? Not a winner either, but after applying a thick coat of pretend mascara to my lashes, I think I discovered a hole in my beauty routine. (I've never worn the stuff, but plan to now!)
So, bangs or no bangs? No idea! But I'm thinking of giving blond highlights a try.
Back in 2009, I was in rut. I’d grown bored with my job as a magazine editor, and was craving intellectual stimulation and an escape route from the 9 to 5 (more like 9 to 9) grind. A good friend had recently applied and been accepted to grad school, and I thought I’d give it a shot myself. After settling on English Literature (“I love reading, so this will be perfect!” was my logic at the time), I applied, was was surprised when I was actually accepted into the program.
With excitement and a sense of adventure, I re-entered academia and quickly discovered that … I hated it.
Going to class was borderline torture. I had naively assumed class-time would resemble the fun, casual ambience of a book club meet-up, imagining a gaggle of lit geeks sitting around drinking tea and discussing plot and character. There was some of that (with booze replacing the tea in one particular theory class), but foremost, we were each expected to contribute to the body of knowledge through presentations and other public displays—something this wallflower with self-esteem issues felt neither prepared for nor particularly interested in. Three semesters in, I gave grad school the heave-ho. Six years on, I’ve no regrets.
Now, I’m back at post-BA, pre-MA square one, reading books for the sheer pleasure of the experience. I’m currently on a autobiography kick, pulling inspiration from the lives of some extraordinary women who share several traits in common: Courage, creativity, and authenticity, among others. If you could do with a dash of inspiration coupled with some good laughs and maybe a tear or two, too, add my recommendations to your summer reading list.
And tell me, what are yours?
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
by Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine played guitar in a late-‘70s band called The Slits, which, contrary to the vibe of the name, wasn’t as punk rock as it sounds. What is totally punk rock is that Albertine survived (and thrived in) the male-dominated, rough-and-tumble art and music scene in ‘70s and ‘80s London. Her DIY attitude, her sensitivity, and her uncompromising creativity bring this book to life, and her humanizing portraits of the company she kept back in the day (Sid Vicious, Mick Jones, John Lydon) add depth and perspective to an era often portrayed in the mediain a one-dimensional way. I’m still reading this one, and will be very sad 10 pages from now when I have to say goodbye!
Girl in a Band
by Kim Gordon
Maybe you’re like me, and grew up listening to Sonic Youth, enjoying the band’s unique brand of weird(ish), experimental pop music and trying decide whether or not you actually really liked it. The history of the band is only one part of this book; Gordon’s fascinating childhood and young adult years are juicy and revelatory, and the introduction to her non-musical artistic side is an unexpected bonus. Yes, she dishes about her breakup with Thurston Moore, but this book is less about him/them than it is a very personal look at the life of a quiet, creative soul on the brink of a new phase of her life.
by Tina Fey
Ok, this one’s been out for a while, but it’s a real gem. I never considered myself a true Tina Fey fan (sorry, Tina, but your movies and TV roles don't do it for me), but I became one after reading this smart, extremely funny, poignant, sassy memoir of growing up Greek, hyper-intelligent, and creative in mainstream America.
How to Grow Up
by Michelle Tea
Messy, honest, and loaded with very personal San Francisco memories that mirror many of my own from the same grungy epoch, this book felt like a good, tea-soaked gab session with my best girlfriend on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If you’ve ever felt out of control of your life or that your problems were beyond repair, this marvelous memoir will rekindle your faith in your own resilience and inspire you to trust in your own amazing abilities.
and up next…
Not That Kind of Girl
by Lena Dunham
Have you read it yet? What did you think? Would you recommend it?
Never have I felt more worthy of a vacation than the one I just returned from. The previous few months were a blur of nose-to-the-grindstone days and late nights, consumed by multiple work-related deadlines, the heartbreak of a couple of deaths in the family, and the usual everyday stresses of life. Once I’d met my last deadline, I’d promised myself a vacation to my “happy place”—otherwise known as anywhere that’s hot, humid, and close to the sea. Like writer Heather Goodspeed-Walter suggests in her Rewilding story, we can all benefit from the healing power of the outdoors, and I was definitely overdue for some quality nature time. After debating between India and Thailand, I settled on the latter because I knew it would easy (no visas!), that the food would be divine (coconut curry, 24/7!), and it ticked all the “happy” boxes.
On departure day, I was relaxed and ready to roll. I knew I deserved this trip—and the daily massages I was about to indulge in—and I was also utterly lacking in pre-flight anxiety because my low-maintenance travel style supports easy, fluid mobility.
For me, successful travel begins and ends with the bag: As you can see, I travel light! Tucked inside that one little carry-on bag (A fabulous Parisian thrift-store find) are all the necessities for a fun-in-the-sun holiday. Specifically,
- a pair of sandals
- a sun hat
- a stainless-steel water bottle
- bathing suit
- two sleeveless dresses
- a one-piece sleeveless jumpsuit
- a sheer beach cover-up
- undies and bras
- a cloth shopping bag
- travel journal and second notebook
- backup pair of sunglasses
In my purse, I carried my Kindle, a small notebook, passport, pen, wallet, glasses, sunglasses, and a toothbrush. Sounds like a lot, right? It was! In fact, each time someone made a comment about how light I was traveling, my immediate response was “I’m actually carrying more than I’d like!” Next time, I’ll pare it down by eliminating the extra dress, ditching the belt (I can use the scarf to cinch in my waist if need be), and maybe carrying just one notebook instead of three.
What does your packing situation look like for an average vacation? Do you stuff a suitcase on wheels or load up a backpack? What are some of the indispensible items you carry with you when you ship off? And most importantly, where are you spending your next vacation? Please share!
Yesterday, we lost a beloved member of our family. It wasn’t altogether unexpected, but the news still came with its own kind of heartbreak—a sadness rooted in the permanence of death, and the pain and joy of the memories we have left
In the past, the experience of loss always triggered a “I need a glass of wine” response. Now, I reach for gentle support to get through the grieving process instead of trying to blur its rough edges with a glass of Bordeaux. Crisis Cooler is a flower essence preparation designed to “help people and animals get through the event with the trust that everything is going to be fine.” This was what I reached for when the news came, but it’s just one of many possibilities for people who need a bit of gentle support to get through tough times.
Ignatia Amara is a homeopathic remedy that’s specifically formulated for the anxiety that accompanies loss and grief. It is gentle, and many people claim to have benefited from its health-supporting properties. (I just bought some and will report back on its efficacy.)
The easy-to-grow herb Lemon Balm has nerve-calming properties that can be really helpful when dealing with shock or bad news. It is very gentle and subtle, but if you need something stronger, valerian root is really effective. It does have slight sedative properties, so it’s better taken at night. It will help you fall asleep and get through the night.
Have you ever used herbs or another natural remedy to get through a tough situation? What did you reach for, and how did it help? Please share!
I'm Aurelia, creative director here at Swell! This is my space for sharing thoughts and ideas with readers on more topics dear to my heart: Travel, wellness, veganism, and style, and living creatively and compassionately.
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