Slaying the Green-eyed Monster

“Mine!” was among the first words I’d ever blurted out. Not “Mommy,” not “Daddy;” but a claiming word declaring that something belonged to none other than me. I was never one for sharing. Selfishness mixed with a penchant for competitiveness, a dramatic imagination, and a fear of abandonment gives you my long-time companion: the green-eyed monster.

The green-eyed monster endowed me with special powers. I could sense a threat coming from a mile away. Take one glance at my object of affection, and you had just imprinted yourself on my radar for life. Come near us, and I’ll smile; but I would be plotting ways to make you go away forever. Now, don’t fret. This isn’t an article disguised as a murder confession; I never took jealousy that far (only in my head). Rather, take this as a cautionary tale from someone who knows what it was like to have everything to lose and what it was like to live in fear when everything that I claimed as my own was up for grabs.

One of my earliest memories is of me standing at the bottom of a staircase, mourning the imagined death of my parents and dreading that most unwelcome day when they would die and abandon me. I stood there weeping for hours while my parents were in the next room watching TV.

The fear of abandonment followed me throughout my life, causing me to become all the more insecure as I grew older. I took quick emotional possession of friends, attaching to them for dear life so they might never leave me. Third-party friends weren’t ever welcome. But it turned out that things just didn’t work like that. My friends wanted to hang out with other friends, which baffled me because they had me. Why would they want anyone else? I eventually came to the conclusion that I was unworthy. Those third-party friends, in all their coolness, unwittingly had me believing that I was inferior. I obsessively compared myself to them, and I was always the one who came up short.

For self-preservation, I eventually began to befriend people only to neglect and dismiss them before they could find me out as the undeserving person that I thought I was. I did the same thing with romantic relationships. I created a predictable system in which the relationship was under my control. I decided when the relationships ended, and therefore, no one could take anyone away from me because I would have already detached myself. If it so happened that they left me before I could leave them, I would remember that it was only right that they did. I had already predicted that that day would come anyway. My self-fulling prophecy proved I was right each time. And always being right was a wonderful feeling.

Self-fulfilling prophecies nourished my green-eyed beast and it thrived well into courtship and even marriage with my husband. Passions were at their highest, and the monstrosity of my jealousy was at its worst. The very same qualities that drew me to him, such as his sense of humor and warm nature, when directed towards other people, became ones I resented. In my eyes, he was flirting.  Even when I myself knew that I was imagining his deviousness and plans to leave me, I made it plain that I was on to him and accused him of infidelity. He would deny it, but I remained happier in my delusional world. Predictability was a necessity, and my preoccupation of his leaving me provided a familiar and safe place in my mind. I further justified my jealous behaviors by telling myself it was because I loved him so much.

Years passed, and I knew that the monster was roaring with laughter at me. Couples’ therapy only seemed to point out all of my flaws, an opportunity that the monster feasted upon. It saw me continue my accusations, destroy our pictures and souvenirs, and turn over and break our furniture.

And yet somehow, we were still together. I was confused by this, and confided in a friend one day. As I got around to embellishing my suspicions of his cheating, my friend grasped my hand, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Stop it. If you keep doing this, he will leave you.” That was the end of my tale.

I went home that day and found a cloth bracelet upon which I wrote the words, “Stop it,” to remind me to take control of jealousy. Wearing this bracelet was one of the first steps I took toward having compassion for myself and slaying the monster.

When the bracelet started to lose its effect, I was determined to treat jealousy as an emotional and mental infection and return to reality, which proved to not be all that bad. I was proven wrong for I hadn’t been abandoned, and I hadn’t left, either. Our new furniture remains in tact, and I found a vast field for my wild and creative imagination to frolic through writing. Instead of conjuring up stories about where my husband could be or whom he’s with, I’ve chosen to focus on how secure he makes me feel. I also rediscovered the joy of hiking and taking my dog out for adventures.

I know that the monster lies dormant somewhere. From time to time I feel it stir and must ask my husband for reassurance. But as I look over at him who’s now laughing at the TV with our son, I remember that I’m not alone.

 

You Will Never Find Love

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Love is kind of an asshole if you think about it. Love is a selfish, scheming creature that has its own timing and agenda with absolutely no regard for your feelings. It’s never there when you seek it, no matter how much you want it or how deserving you are.  

You’re lonely, and on some days, desperate; but love won’t come to your side. You were voted “Best Looking” in high school and you still have a rocking bod; love has no interest in aesthetics. You enjoy a successful career, give to charity, and have a heart of gold. Love just yawns and shrugs.

If you’ve already discovered the nasty nature of love and you’re now over it and focusing on other things in life, then let me be the first to congratulate you. You, my friend, have bright days ahead because you’ve outsmarted love, and you’re saving yourself from much regret, heartache, and frustration.

As for me, I was on to love’s crafty ways. In fact, I figured it out a very long time ago in my puppy love days. One might ask, what does a child know about love? A lot. Sure, my experiences with it were short-lived with a different love each day. Nonetheless, I feverishly chased those boys as if it were a matter of survival, and didn’t think twice about professing my love to them. It was excruciating; but, it was real love. Alas, unrequited love; still, love.

Call me a romantic or a masochist, or just plain idiotic, but even though I already had tasted love’s torment, I persisted in my hot pursuit of love. It defined my twenties, all summed up as monthly boyfriends, blind dates, meetups disguised as volunteer and recreational groups, and online dating websites. I even devoted myself as a student of love, literally. I chose interpersonal relationships as the emphasis of my communications major, and wrote my last scientifically researched college essay on breakups. My idea of recreation was studying the art of seduction and devouring books and podcasts on relationships. I thought that if I worked hard for love and wanted it badly enough I would eventually obtain it, like the American dream or something. But, love proved unpatriotic.

Dating was exciting at first, but the thrill of dressing up and going out with someone new grew stale and eventually all of the time and effort I invested became downright embarrassing. It wasn’t just that these guys, almost simultaneously, were making up their minds that I wasn’t the one for them. It was also having to deal with the strong suspicion that even the universe was rejecting me in its ignorance of all my good intentions and noble proactiveness. Dating became a source of pressure because after meeting the eleventh guy in two weeks, there just had to be some kind of cut off point before someone stepped in and created a happy ending with me.

By 28, I was done with the chase. I decided to put love on hold (as if I were going anywhere with it). I was as lonely and cynical as ever, and I felt extremely compromised. And what’s a girl to do when love doesn’t work out the way she had planned? Dye and chop off her hair, prioritize career goals and re-discover herself. I took it a step further and decided to skip the country.

The plan was to continue my teaching career and start afresh in China. While love was uncooperative and difficult to acquire, the job market in China was merciful and sympathetic to me. I immediately got hired by an elementary school, had all of my documents verified, and I was set to go in a month’s time.

And then, one Friday night, I went to a bar and met my future husband. China never happened.

I didn’t necessarily have my life in order nor did I make a significant improvement on myself before meeting him. What is significant, however, is that love found me when I finally learned to turn my gaze from it, and focus elsewhere and inward. When my husband found me, he didn’t have my beefed-up online profile to reference. He didn’t catch me sending him come-hither looks while I pretended to pack food for the hungry. He saw me, in all my imperfections and emotional baggage, but as someone in love with herself.

Love, in its supreme selfishness and lack of respect for plans, found me. There are but a few guarantees in life, and I’m about to share one of them with you: Love will come upon you, uninvited and unannounced. It will tap you on the shoulder while you’re occupied with working on the relationship with yourself.

Search for love, and you’ll end up with its imposter. Love has a target on your back. Not the other way around. Let it find you.

Now, what to do with love afterward is another story.

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My Favorite Cruelty-free Skincare Products (for Mama and Baby)

Minimalist wardrobes. Zero-waste packaging. DIY skincare. Such things interest me, but alas, one will never see me taking up a no-spend challenge. There is a whole planet of eco-conscious, vegan, cruelty-free, and natural brands that needs exploring. Products that need testing…by me!

I can’t say that the journey has been arduous –on the contrary, it’s been really fun trying new products — nonetheless, it has been long. And coming from someone who has very little brand loyalty, I can safely say that I have finally found skincare products and companies that I can feel great about purchasing from and supporting.

 

Boo Boo B Gone by Butter Me Up Organics

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the radiant creator and owner of Butter Me Up Organics: A Modern Apothecary, Jillian Haddad, who makes lady bossing look just so fun. Her products embody everything that is ideal when it comes to consumerism: organic, effective, cruelty-free, zero waste, and plant-based.

Jillian introduced me to one of her personal favorites, Boo Boo B Gone, when I mentioned a stubborn diaper rash that my son had at the time. The endless globs of diaper rash creme that I was applying to Lionel’s raw bottom for the past week were to no avail. However, with just a thin layer of Boo Boo B Gone, the miracle balm proved its effectiveness immediately, and the rash was gone the next day. Since then, the whole family has been using it for our various boo boo’s, and just like that, they B gone.

 

Sun Bum Face Lotion SPF 50

Most of the sunblock lotions that I’ve tried have required some elbow grease when applying. They take ages to absorb and leave a white cast behind.

Sun Bum Face Lotion, on the other hand, is lightweight, non greasy and absorbed easily. I apply it on myself and my son, making sure to include our hair line and eyebrows.

 

Wet n Wild MegaPlump Waterproof Mascara

You can consider me heavily mascara-dependent. I never feel quite myself when I need to leave the house without mascara. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to find a cruelty-free mascara that didn’t cause my lashes to droop.

Wet n Wild MegaPlump Waterproof Mascara seems to be the only cruelty-free mascara that will work on my stick-straight lashes. If you also share in my plight of stubborn, hard-to-curl eyelashes, look for the waterproof formula.

Pure Rosehip Oil by Poppy Austin

While I was on the hunt for a new face moisturizer, I stumbled upon rosehip oil. I couldn’t resist trusting the rave reviews and before-and-after photos of people who swear by this product.

Two drops of this rosehip oil by Poppy Austin was all it took before I uttered the words, “game changer.” The oil has transformed the texture of my skin and even serves as a wonderful, smoothing makeup base. It melts into the skin without any greasiness or lingering fragrance. It’s luxurious while remaining light.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed the reviews and my experiences with the products. Please share your cruelty-free favorites!

All Hail Baking Soda!

It deordorizes, it cleans, it makes awesome baked treats, it relieves insect bites and heartburn, it’s natural, multi-functional, eco-friendly — oh, yeah, and it gets rid of acne.

Moving out of state was no easy feat. I think I handled labor and my kid’s birth more calmly and gracefully than that move. My complexion certainly didn’t appreciate the stress that I was under and responded with large, painful lumps all over my face.

My skin was really suffering, and talk about a real cramp in my style. I couldn’t stop complaining about it. Having been the recipient of my complaints for weeks, my mom came over one day with a box of baking soda. She told me to make a paste using a half teaspoon of baking soda and water, and massage it all over my face. As weirded out and reluctant as I was, my desperation found me following my mom’s directions and trying it out that night. The results were immediate, and my face was clear of active pimples in just one day.

Baking soda is truly a jack-of-all-trades product, and I will never stop singing its praises. Fancy, expensive skincare products — serums, toners, oils, creams, and even acne treatment — just don’t compare to the performance of baking soda. While I’ve been lucky enough to try out various high-end skincare products, I always find my way back to my faithful baking soda.

Through gently exfoliating my face, it calms any skin eruptions, clears away blackheads, and rinses off leaving behind no residue or drying tightness.

To avoid keeping a glaring box of baking soda out on my bathroom counter, I keep it in a cute bird-shaped creamer.

 

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4 Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Home With Your Child

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice; once for herself and once for her child.” -Sophia Loren

As a stay-at-home mom, my daily goal is to remain mindful and present among the activities of my son as well as my own. By doing so, I keep things fresh despite the looming redundancy that being at home can pose.

Here are 4 simple ways that have helped me find calmness, joy, and mindfulness throughout the day:

  1. Take deep yogic breaths while blowing on hot food. This act never ceases to catch my son’s attention and create anticipation. After taking a deep inhale I blow slowly on the food (sometimes Lionel will join me) and express gratitude for the hot meal and nourishment that which will bring my son. By the time Lionel takes a bite, the food is cooled down and we’re both focused on the meal.
  2. Meditate while brushing your child’s hair or giving a massage. I heard author Dr. Shefali Tsabary say that we don’t need to wait to be on a mountain top to meditate. It’s true, folks. We don’t have to wait until our kids’ next nap time or when they’re engrossed in an activity; we can meditate anywhere at anytime we choose. I especially enjoy meditating while running my fingers through my son’s hair. I focus on the softness of his locks and its rich golden brown color. I watch him quickly settle down and bask in my love and admiration.
  3. Sit into a deep squat and open up your hips while picking up toys. Let’s face it; as parents, we spend a lot of time bending for our kids, figuratively and literally. We bend over to scoop them up into our arms, to tend to ouchies, to change them, and of course, pick up after them. So while we’re bending down to fetch whatever mess is on the floor, we might as well get a good stretch out of it. Instead of grumbling over the toys that are strewn all over the floor, I squat down and pick them up while doing a sideways crab crawl. Afterwards, my lower joints feel limber, and I feel more energized.
  4. Sit back and just watch. During playtime, I love getting down on Lionel’s level to see the world through his eyes. However, I used jump in, point things out, ask questions, and consequently interrupt his playing when I wasn’t necessarily invited. I’ve finally learned to hang back, keep my mouth shut, and just watch. Doing this has allowed me to catch my breath and enjoy some floor stretches. It has also let my boy concentrate, practice individual playing, and even reach milestones on his own.

It’s all about finding beauty in the simple things, isn’t it? When we open our minds to the grace and flow of parenting, whether it be from home or not,  we can tap into the wonderment that our children experience on a daily basis.

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Vegan ‘Tuna Salad’ Sandwich

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A pastime that my husband and I share is binge watching fail videos on YouTube. I don’t know about my husband, but each time we laugh at another person’s misfortune I secretly say a little prayer that I don’t end up in one of those videos. Nevertheless, I keep on watching and laughing.

One particularly memorable fail was on Wheel of Fortune when a contestant, hesitant yet convinced that he had the correct answer, blurted out a very bizarre phrase. I found the contestant’s heartfelt conviction of his answer especially hilarious. I shed tears from laughing so hard. It’s now a phrase that my husband and I spontaneously blurt out to each other for kicks.

This textured and flavorful “tuna” sandwich is dedicated to that Wheel of Fortune contestant. Props to him for believing wholeheartedly that “Fish Love” is really a thing. Because it really is! No fish were harmed in the making of this sandwich. Accordingly, this dish is called, “Fish Love.”

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bINIsdojt6o

This incredibly versatile, quick and easy sandwich has a similar texture to tuna salad, sans the fishiness. Spread the mixture on your favorite bread slices or gobble it up straight from a bowl!

Ingredients

2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained

8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 small red onion, roughly chopped

Handful of grape tomatoes, halved (for topping)

Avocado, crumbled (for topping)

4 Tbsp of vegan mayonnaise

Juice of a lemon half

Salt and pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

((Recipe inspired by Madeleine Olivia))

Instructions

Whirl the garbanzo beans, mushrooms, red onion, vegan mayo, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor to a texture and consistency of your preference. Season with salt, pepper and paprika to taste.

Spread the mixture onto bread slices and top with tomatoes and avocado. I recommend a few squirts of Sriracha for a delightful kick!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

The Handy Handkerchief

 

With my ever-runny nose and tendency to cry rather easily, I make sure that a handkerchief is always within reach. Handkerchiefs remind me of days past when nearly everyone had one on his or her person. For carrying around essentially snot-soaked fabric, they really had something going there. Not only was it proper to have handkerchiefs, but it was also very clever. They serve so many purposes; it doesn’t make sense to me why I don’t see more hankie-wielding folks around.

Handkerchiefs are:

Durable and re-usable. There is hardly a Kleenex that hasn’t seen the wrath of my nose-blowing abilities. Unfortunately, that means that I use up to three or four tissues just to blow my nose. I’d blow once, inevitably tearing through the tissue, and I’d need another one to clean my snotty hand and still another one to wipe the remnants off my face. Not pretty.

Eco- and budget-friendly. My hankie, on the other hand, is able to withstand the great force spewing forth from my nose. My hands remain dry, I don’t create further waste and essentially throw money away by requiring more tissue.

Multi-functional. My faithful hankie is always around when I’m in a jam: I’ve used it as a makeshift bib for my son. It’s cleaned up spills and messes, including makeup smudges on my face. Even just the sight of it has brought me comfort whenever I feel my eyes welling up in emotional situations; it’s been a security blanket of sorts.

Sure, handkerchiefs are old-fashioned. And, yes, I’m glorifying a napkin; but it’s certainly a classy one that makes sense. We could all use a little classiness in our lives anyway.