Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday friends! On the off chance you’re facing some free time this weekend and don’t know what to do with yourself (besides nap!), I’ve compiled a list of my current favorites in entertainment!

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Reading: The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

This novel is about the women of a family coming together to solve their individual problems by spending a month at their old beach cottage. Old romances are rekindled, loved ones are lost, and former feuds come to a head. It’s the perfect fluff-book reading material you need for a day at the beach!

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

Watching: Grace and Frankie

This Netflix original series is about two women who strike up an unlikely friendship after their husbands leave them – for each other. It’s incredibly funny, heartwarming, and sometimes outright bizarre. My roommate and I binged this in a week flat. Check it out on Netflix!

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Listening To: Jekyll and Hyde by the Zac Brown Band // The TED Radio Hour

Musically, I’m checking out The Zac Brown Band’s new album, Jekyll and Hyde. Be forewarned: it’s country music. They’ve got some unusual tracks on it which feature guest artists; it’s a break from their usual country-folk-reggae sound. My personal favorite: Loving You Easy.

Podcast-wise, I can’t get enough of ‘The TED Radio Hour’. It seems like every time I throw on an episode of the gym, I learn a lesson or find new motivation. The host, Guy Raz, takes the highlights from every talk and sits down to interview each lecturer. I promise you’ll walk away having learned something new!

A happy weekend to all, and to all – a nap.

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Standing Standing Everywhere, and Not a Place to Sit

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There have always been – and most likely, will always be – health crazes and fads. From early tonics that promised instant cures, to the Shake Weight, there are new trends starting every day. This time around, I’ve decided to board the bandwagon on one.

At work lately, there have been a string of my coworkers who have begun to use standing desks. It started with one guy in the creative department, M, who claimed that he preferred standing to sitting when he drew. He propped up his laptop and accouterments on some cardboard boxes and voila! A standing desk was born.

M’s desk remained homemade until work hired a new executive, who had back problems and couldn’t sit for long periods of time. And as an executive, there was no way he was going to be greeting clients with his desktop sitting on a Goldfish box. Several standing desks were purchased, along with some mats to ease the pressure on their feet.

The craze was moving along at a solid pace when my coworker, B, and I finally thought we wanted to give it a try. I

My homemade standing desk, don't mind the mess!

My homemade standing desk, don’t mind the mess!

actually prefer to stand to work – it makes it easier to dash out the door when anything arises (and let me tell you, a lot arises).

Because we were only testing the waters, we took the homemade route; my keyboard is resting on a paper holder, while my mouse is on a plastic drawer set. B’s setup involves several boxes at key heights. Luckily, the company had ordered some extra mats for us to stand on.

After a week of no-sitting, B and I agreed on a few things:

  1. Our legs weirdly feel more toned. Though in my case, I emphasized they were a little more stiff.
  2. It does make it easier to walk in and out of our office to do tasks.
  3. We don’t feel as sluggish and bloated in the afternoons following lunch

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 6.34.45 AMSo far so good. Then B texted me the link to an article one night about the real health benefits of standing desks, versus the hype. It spells out that standing desks aren’t the magic antithesis to sitting. In reality, too much of anything will kill you, and standing too much can be painful and cause heart problems and varicose veins. Yikes.

Standing desks can be apart of a solution, though, when placed into a life routine that additionally include
low-intensity physical activity. The key is to make sure you’re doing it correctly! After reading the article, B and I adjusted our setups to make sure our standing – and sitting – positions were correct.

As she and I begin week two, we’ve begun to allow ourselves to sit whenever we feel uncomfortable or tired. The key is balance, balance, balance.

Until tomorrow, when B brings in her new weighted hula hoop for us to try. 😉

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The Day I Forgot My Boulder Holder

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There’s a funny story in my family that recounts the time a friend’s daughter had to have her father bring her a pair of underwear at high school, because she’d forgotten to put them on that morning. Endless laughter was brought forth in re-imagining the scene of the father, red faced, having to discreetly bring his daughter her favorite thong between classes. What a hoot! Who could be so forgetful?

I may have just topped this anecdote.

Flash back to this past Thursday. I’ve just finished a really kickass workout at the gym – I’m dripping with sweat, ready to shower and get ready for work. Normally, I pack my gym bag the night before, making sure I’ve got my towel, clothes, and makeup. That way, I don’t have to pack it in the morning at 5AM when I’m sure to forget something important.

I root around the bag for my flip flops and towel, and that’s when I realize what I haven’t got: a bra. And of course, this is the day I wore my workout shirt with the built in padding. And of course, I don’t have a single alternative.

My heart is beating in my ears as I ponder my options in the shower. There’s no way I can run back to my apartment, the LA morning traffic would guarantee I’d be late. Maybe I could stop at a store on the way?. I’d probably have to wait until a few hours later, when the Target down the street from work would be open.

I dried myself off and dressed, trying to get used to the feeling of being…bare.

Here’s my lo-down on bras:

  • I, like most women my age, have been wearing bras since puberty, even though I told my mother at the onset that there was no way in hell I was ever going to grow breasts, because they were horrifying.
  • The boob gods heard my prayers, because I check in at barely a B cup
  • Just because I don’t have much going on chest-wise doesn’t mean that it isn’t absolutely obvious when I don’t wear a bra
  • I don’t wear them to bed, nor sometimes on early morning runs to the coffee shop

As I continued prepping for the day, I kept reminding myself that bras are not a necessity! Shirts and shoes, yes. Bras? Nope! There are no rules dictating when or how to wear them. Over hundreds of years they’ve come in and out of fashion, and many women put them on every day tumblr_nlvbso3h5Y1se6x8po1_500without much thought. For some, it’s for support; for others, it’s to create a different illusion of what a we as a society think a breast should look like. Seeing a woman’s nipples through her shirt isn’t the rage right now. Bralessness is instead thought of being something indie or hipster-ish.

“I’ll look just like Kate Moss,” I tittered to myself silently as I walked out of the gym, conscious of the way my girls were moving wildly around with every step.

At work, I was even more self-conscious, arching my shoulders so my shirt would hang away from my body. I was sure everyone would look and see and realize. I went back and forth between feeling liberated and part of my own “social experiment” – if my coworkers saw, would they think any less of me? Would someone pull me aside to talk about ‘appropriate work attire’? Why is this bothering me so much? – to feeling almost naked, exposed. I didn’t want anybody seeing this nonsensical, jiggling production that was my chest. I wanted everyone to be able to focus on what I was doing and saying, rather than my appearance.

Two nerve-crushing, unbearable hours later, my social experiment was done. I was stressed out, thinking about what I’d do if I had to go up or down another flight of stairs, and was having trouble focusing on work. My co-worker and friend, whom I’d confided in about the whole stupid thing, finally pulled me aside and handed me two pieces of gauze and medical tape. I thanked her profusely before booking it to the bathroom, where I was able to tape down the more noticeable aspects and stabilize the jiggle effect.

After this, my day did a complete 180, and I nearly forgot about the whole thing until I came home and changed into my PJs.

What can I take away from all of this?

I got a cold dose of American culture, that’s for sure. In forgetting my bra, I was confronted with how bodies are so hyper-sexualized that seeing my silhouette through my shirt felt incredibly wrong and unprofessional. We wear these things daily, even when someone like me (who doesn’t need the added support) has no good reason to.

The whole scenario has got me thinking about all of these invisible aspects that guide women’s lives and dress codes daily. For now, though, I’ll stick to my Aeries and my Victorias Secrets, and will be sure to check my gym bag twice.

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That Grey Area: Why I saw 50 Shades

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At first, I wasn’t going to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, I’d read the books (sadly, that’s plural) when they came out. Yes, everyone and their mother has been simply agog about the titillating teasers that have been gracing the net. But I wasn’t going to do it. Why not? Because suddenly my Facebook feed was blowing up with posts like this:

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“‘It’s domestic violence dressed up as a sexy fantasy.'”

Yuck.

So when my best friend called me up and asked if I wanted to see it, I said no thanks. It wouldn’t feel right to give them my money. But as I was speaking these words to her, my brain started kicking into gear.

I won’t know unless I actually go and judge it for myself.

Then:

And I could write a blog post about it, so it could count as research.

In the same breath as saying no, I said yes, I’d go.

We ended up sneaking into a later showing than we’d bought reserved seats for, seeing as we arrived 30 minutes late. We didn’t want to miss a second of it. The lights dimmed, the previews were shown, and two hours later, we were walking out slightly dazed.

Here’s what I thought. As a side note, let’s focus solely on the movie, and put the books aside for a second.

** Warning: The Next Section May Include Plot Spoilers **

The Bad

  • Don’t count on this movie winning an Oscar anytime soon. The lines were sometimes laughable, and as I’m racking my brain, I can’t think of the plot as being anything more than their love story. What was Ana trying to do with her life? Not much, I guess.
  • Christian Grey is a controlling man with some seriously creepy ideas of romance, such as letting himself into Ana’s house without her knowledge.
  • Additionally, he does get her a computer and a car and follows her on her visit to her mom’s place. Like I said, controlling. And off putting.

The Good

  • I saw consent throughout the movie. He goes over the safe words they use more than once, and they even have a formal meeting about what she is and is not comfortable with. Anything she axes, he agrees to.
  • Dakota Johnson brought a life to Ana’s character that was refreshingly unexpected. Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘drunken call scene’, it was one of our favorites!
  • When she says stop, everything stops. She says leave, he leaves.
  • It was steamy. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Let me state here that I am not an expert on BDSM practices. I do know consent, though, and while Christian could be creepy, he seemed to follow the rules when it came to ‘yes means yes and no means no’.

As for being controlling? I don’t want to defend the character here, seeing as control is usually a factor in domestic abuse. However. Part of the whole premise is that Christian comes from a bad past. His birth mother was a drug addict and he saw a lot of messed up things in his childhood. Then his adoptive mother’s friend raped him when he was 15. Thus it seems only natural that he – as a character – craves control in his life. When and what he eats, how his company is run, his exercise routine. And it makes sense that this would carry over into his relationships.

Again, the controlling aspect is not okay, by any means.

And Ana balks at it! She hates it! It makes her feel trapped and kept and uncomfortable. She doesn’t like it when he chases her down to her mother’s house. She has an incredibly hard time trying to accept Christian’s tastes in the bedroom. It’s screwed up – all of it – and they both acknowledge this and try to work through it. He starts to change a little for her (several times the notion that he’s never let anyone else sleep in his bed with him before comes up).

Ana, on her end, tries to be open to his BDSM. At one point, she wants him to show her what the worst case scenario could be, so she can fully understand what she’s signing up for.

And you know what? She hates it. She doesn’t understand. She tells him he will never do that to her again. And she leaves. And that’s that.

This movie is imperfect – very imperfect – and in many ways lives up to the hype of being “mommy porn”. In it, though, I saw two worlds colliding and struggling to stay together, despite their differences. I saw a young woman stand up for her body and her wants, and that alone earned my $15.00 AMC ticket.

 

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Wanted: {Inspiration}

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Well hello everyone, and welcome to 2015! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been struggling to get your head back into your typical routine. I had such a magical time on the East coast with my family that it’s been surreal being back at work trying to remember how to do my job (the key, really, is to make sure the executives have caffeine).

It wasn’t until I picked up my copy of Grace Helbig’s The Art of Pretending to be a Grown Up (a really funny, relatable read by YouTube personality Grace Helbig) that I realized that I was lacking inspiration! In her chapter on balancing work and play, one of Grace’s points is that in order tokeep motivated in any capacity, you should seek inspiration. Grace’s suggestion was to look up child prodigies on YouTube. In case that isn’t doing it for you, I have a few ideas of my own:

  1. Follow your idols on social media. I’m on Instagram everyday, and someone I’ve subscribed to is Reese Witherspoon. Her account is positive, bright, and chock full of inspiring quotes/photos (every Monday she posts a #MondayMuse). Seeing her accomplish her goals makes me want to do the same!
  2. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. When decorating your bedroom or cubicle at work, or even picking out a desktop for your computer background, think in terms of what is going to bring out the best in you. Maybe it’s photos of family and friends. Maybe it’s a vision board covered with photos of your goals. Or, it could simply be a quote that energizes you.
  3. Find someone who is better at something than you, and use it to motivate yourself. I went to college with a young woman who is a perpetual volunteer and defender of women’s rights. My volunteering record is sketchy at best. Learning about her exploits and reading her blog make me want to be on her level.
  4. Celebrate your accomplishments! Sometimes I look at my to-do list at the end of the day and am disappointed by all the things I didn’t get to. It’s then that I have to remind myself to be proud of everything I did do! Life is short, chores stink, and we’ll never get them all done. We might as well celebrate what we did manage to accomplish.
  5. Be your own best cheerleader. As adults, we don’t always have people patting us on the head and saying, “Good job!”, nor do we always have a personal trainer egging us on to do better. At the end of the day, you are the only one responsible for how you feel and how much you get done. I used to rag on myself whenever I didn’t get up early enough to go to the gym – it would ruin my entire day. Then, I decided to adopt a more forgiving attitude, one where I would cheer myself onward towards waking up during the wee hours of the morning. And if I decided to back to sleep? Not the end of the world.
  6. Immerse yourself in activities that make you excited to jump out of bed every day. Read Amy Poehler’s new book. Look at this article about celebrating women’s bodies. Listen to a song that makes you want to jump up and down. Try your hand at creating something. See a pretentious art film that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. The possibilities are endless, but what counts is that it makes you happy and re-energizes you to take on the world!

Also…don’t forget the cheesy Pinterest quotes!

At any given moment you have the power to say:  This is not how the story is going to end today.     #motivational - you have the ability to make a difference in your life.

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Phenomenal Women

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I am who I am for many different reasons – because of where I grew up, who my friends were, who my parents are, the decade in which I was born into – the list goes on and on. There is, however, one group of people that I am especially grateful to, and that is the collection of strong and amazing women I have surrounding me in my life. From my friends, to my aunts, to mentors I’ve had at school, these women have been my inspiration and role models.

I currently stand at 5’11” and weigh more than any of my shorter friends ever have, and because of this I’ve always felt more gangly than pretty. Being painfully shy at times made me feel out of touch with others. At times, I thought my glasses were the strongest feature in my face, and all I had going for me were my grades. When those didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I felt like I had nothing to offer anyone.

Each time I’ve fallen and stumbled, I’ve had these aunts and cousins and friends and grandmothers and mentors to rally around me and pick me back up. They taught me that I shouldn’t – couldn’t – compare myself to others, that I was powerful and articulate and funny, and that in the darkest of times we are our own best ally.

These are the women I aspire to be more like on a daily basis. I would name them for you here, BUT in case they’re following along with this post, I won’t. This is because today, I wanted to write to each of these women individually and thank them for being apart of my life.

I would, though, like to start with a letter to my cousin Jess, with whom I share this blog ❤

 

Dear Jess,

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that we embarked on this blogging journey together! I’ve secretly been your biggest fan since probably the day I was born. Sadly, though, my favorite way of expressing this when we were younger was by joining up with Corey and making your life more difficult.

I have always admired your candor, your strength, and the way in which you’ve always wholeheartedly chased your passions. You were a chef and an athlete, an RA, a dancer, a blogger564339_10153213174785157_43783420_n, and so much more. Know that I have always looked up to you and wished that I was half as personable (and thrifty!) as you are.

I especially want to thank you for consistently having made me feel like I mattered. You were the first person I went to with all of my angsty teenage questions, and you never failed to answer them. You were there to prep me and send me off to my first prom, attended many of my interestingly staged school plays, and welcomed me to real adulthood on my 21st.

I love you, and I look forward to all the future adventures we have in store together. I know that at times, the future seems pretty uncertain, but I know you’re going to come through it unscathed & unfazed. Never stop being so honest, caring, and beautiful inside and out!

Love,

Aubrey

 

 

 

Bring on the Bras

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Bras – we love ‘em or we hate ‘em. They rank among the top five things I like to immediately strip off after a long day – what better than to hang loose while you relax at home? No wonder they burned them in the 60’s. Admittedly, I don’t have much to free, but nothing’s more uncomfortable than a bra that doesn’t fit quite right.

For most of us, bras are that one thing we don’t leave the house without. Many articles suggest that a majority of women are wearing the wrong bra size. This doesn’t only affect how you look, but it can play a major role in your health as well. Bad-fitting bras have been linked to headaches, sagging, back pain, indigestion, shoulder pain, and more. Yikes!

Some may be inclined to measure themselves for a new bra, which experts recommend you buy every 6 months (yeah, okay). Well, whenever you’re ready for a new one, I highly recommend checking out this video by  Caty135 – she does an excellent job of explaining bra fitting:

Otherwise, you might ask the helpful associates at somewhere like Victoria’s Secret to do the measuring. As Caty warns, though, it’s not always entirely accurate. You know your body best – if something doesn’t feel quite right, then don’t buy it.

On Tuesday, I just so happened to have some leftover money on an Aerie gift card and a burning desire for a new bra. I even got up early to go the gym, so I’d have an evening free to shop. Now that’s dedication.

I found the closest Aerie in the Citadel Outlets Mall (which actually looks like a castle!). After work, I zoomed on over and found photomyself in bra heaven. A sales associate took pity on me as I fumbled my way around the store, and I explained I was looking for something with support, but not too much padding. She pulled me over to the Charley bra, and I was hooked! It was cute and fitted with a shape that allows for V-neck shirts and hooks in the back to make it a racer-back.

I scooped up two with different band sizes (it’s been a while since I’ve been bra shopping, but I kind of know what size I am). The larger size felt amazing as I ran through the checklist that Caty advises: the straps weren’t digging in, the band wasn’t riding up, and it comfortably conformed to my shape.

But I wasn’t sure, because it was so fitted. My old bra was stretched out beyond recognition at this point, and I couldn’t remember if it fit like this new one did at some point. For a second opinion, I paged the sales associate back. I threw back the door and asked her, did it look like it created back rolls? She couldn’t quite meet my eyes afterwards, but she said no. Unconvinced, I called my mom (it was 11PM EST by that point) and woke her up to send her a grainy selfie. Sleepily, she said it looked like it fit. Plus, it would stretch out as I wore it.

Success! I scooped up one Charley in a lacey nude/light pink – and in the spirit of BOGO, another Charley in hot pink for breast cancer awareness (all proceeds benefit Bright Pink)!

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The Charley in hot pink!

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