Saturday, October 18, 2014

7 ways to balance life in Fall

Fall is a beautiful season and extremely rich in every sense. While it leads you to a slower life pace, it is also full of activities and happenings. Hence the reason I call it "the season of balancing". You ought to create an equal spread of your energy, establishing slower rituals and adding uplifting ones step by step. While most people enjoy a slower morning this time of the year, there is so much to be added to the daily routine and often guilt and stress won't let us enjoy the real benefits of the season. Days get shorter and we feel the urge to stay in more often, but the social catch ups and responsibilities never fall short on our lists.

So how do you keep the right balance during this incredible season, in order to enjoy everything without letting your to do list pile on?

1. Enrich your wake up routine

Megan just shared an amazing post on making your mornings better. I swear it made me look forward to waking up, even being a night owl my whole life. Prioritizing the most important things for you and make time for them in the morning routine sets the bar high for the whole day, meaning you put yourself first. Feeling confident to tackle your day is a result of knowing yourself and your habits, making it easier to find inspiration even during hard times. Also, don't forget the small things in between, they make such a big difference in living your days beautifully.

2. Dig a little deeper in the problem areas of your life

Fall can be considered a deep season in many layers, so find the appropriate time for you to search a little bit deeper into things that seem not quite right. For example, search out for the real cause of things getting out of control at home, study those anxiety attacks coming more often lately or start tracking your expenses one by one until you are 100% clear where all your money goes. It is a pretty good time to go into this deeper route, between the easy going fun of the summer and the moody winter days coming soon.

3. Evaluate all the things you do every day

We can do so many things each day and we can accomplish much more than we thought we could, if we stretch ourselves a little further. But do we really have to do all those things? 

Try this short but effective tip with yourself. Before doing each of your daily tasks, even the smaller ones, ask yourself why you are doing it. Most quick answers will be "Because I have to", but after some time you will get in the habit of doing a longer analysis and finding the true reasons behind all actions. 

Hopefully, you will get more in tune with your inner self, your mind will get clearer, you'll get rid of extra anxiety and get back a lot of your time after realizing how many tasks can be avoided / postponed / delegated / spread out / automated.

4. Treat your shopping urge

With so many offers and holiday collections coming out, Fall is such a spending urge accelerator. It is so hard to avoid temptations and the more you do, the worse you feel because you can't afford new things or because you assume you don't work hard enough to allow yourself indulgences. 

This cycle is going to become a roller coaster by December, so be sure to pay attention to this area of life now if you feel any pressure. Truth is you can afford everything in this world. It is not a metaphor, really. You can cut money on groceries to buy a new pair of boots this month. You can use credit card loans to buy a designer bag. You can take a bank loan to buy a car or you can even use all your life savings to buy a bigger home. If you want to buy something badly enough, you can make it happen. But do you really want to? 

Next time you feel the urge to buy something or you can't sleep after browsing a 50% sale online, tell yourself you can have all you want, but you choose not to. Think about the reason you choose not to and pick up the most honest one, otherwise that little bad voice inside your head will trick you into "you deserve this" and the next day you will feel miserable upon looking at the cost of your indulgence. On the other hand, if you want or need new things and you feel good about buying them, go on and enjoy, as long as you find real value is added to your life with your purchases.

5. Plan your meals and your treats

If you take control over your everyday eating habits and make sure to always have a good option of food for every meal, especially when out of the house, you will feel more energized and less stressed. When you know what you will be eating you avoid unnecessary spending, food that makes you feel bad / sleepy after consuming and cut down mindless eating.

Think of planning meals as an overall check, not an elaborate and super fancy organizing system, or it will never happen. Start with taking mental note of what's in the fridge or panty, so you don't forget about what you already have. Think about what your mood is these days and what you'd like to eat most. Consider your trusted recipes and if you need inspiration, pick up a couple of easy to put together dishes from Pinterest or food blogs, with the ingredients you have at home. Don't forget your your snacks and possibly pack them to take with you every day.

The same way you choose your balanced meals, choose a couple of treats. It's the only way to enjoy things you really fancy and not just stuff yourself with anything just because it's a sweet.

6. Bring back the joy in getting dressed

Dressing up in Fall is such a pleasure in theory. Colorful tights, riding boots, cozy socks, thick cardigans, relaxed dresses and chunky scarves. But sometimes in real life, dressing up in Fall becomes such a frustrating experience. Too many days have crazy low and high temperatures that require taking half your closet with you for each outing. Some places experience a lot of wind and rain this season, so leggings and wellies is your daily uniform for three months. Also, activities vary extremely for everyone, so pay close attention to yours and notice how you feel during each of them in your current outfit. It takes so much practice, trial and error, but once you have it figured out you will be ready to go any time.

Consider creating a capsule wardrobe, a concept that varies vastly in meaning, as Ariana has a 10 piece capsule wardrobe, while Caroline always chooses 37 pieces. Look a little around for inspiration (but not too much) and start planning your own capsule wardrobe.

Consider your everyday activities, the current climate you live in, the outfit layout that flatters you the most, colors that compliment your hair/skin and all the things you feel good in. After that, go pick up everything you love from your seasonal clothes and try to put together different outfits with all the pieces you chose. Experiment with the outfit proportions, colors and texture until you are pleased with the result. Accessorize and don't forget shoes, a maker or breaker for every outfit. Try to include different options, in order to maximize your capsule potential.

Now that you have some fall outfits figured out, start wearing only things form your capsule wardrobe. Give it a month and if you like it continue until the end of the season. For deeper understanding of the process head to Anuschka's blog, which is the empire of capsule wardrobes.

7. Declutter and consider all you already have

Forget about Spring cleaning and start decluttering right now, before the holidays bring in more fuss. Sort and toss, organize and store. Everything you don't use, box it out of sight. The less you have to clean, the more time you have for your life. 

Cleaning up is such a scary time waster, with results that last a few days at most, until everything has to be done again. Think about it - even if you clean up every day, if you have a lot of stuff hanging around, the house will look messy. But if you have fewer stuff, even dirt won't show up that much. For your mental tranquility, it's better to look at a dirty organized space than a clean mess or worse - a dirty mess. 

The good thing about decluttering now and being determined about it, is that you can make an inventory of what you already have, which will probably include a lot of stuff for future gifting (if you are like me and gift shop all year long).

... ... ...

I hope you are feeling the urge to go get the balance you are lacking in your life right now. If you don't take care of your body and mind at this moment, you won't be prepared for the craziness of the holidays and chances are you'll get burn out before you know it.

Tell me which is the first thing you will do and what other tips do you have for this gorgeous time of the year?

| Love, Lisa |

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why blog comments are not dead

Blogging has changed dramatically since its first years, just like anything else changes these days, but quite differently than anyone had anticipated. While many bloggers and people working with them are still creating content the same way, there are quite a few who have started thinking about paths to get ahead of the changes in the blogsphere. I absolutely admire that. To be on top of current technologies and to brainstorm according tomorrow's possibilities is strongly professional. 

Amongst the ones adapting to changes and trying to establish future wise strategies, there are bloggers who accept that comments in blog posts have decreased dramatically and are often useless to indicate a post's success. It is because of the spread and effect of social media and because of the new content creating possibilities. Likes, shares, thumbs ups, tweets and hashtags seems to be taking over them in no time. 

I have to agree to some degree...

Well, no more than five people have commented on my most popular post of all times (according to Blogger stats).
-Does that mean the rest 3549 readers found the post useless?
I doubt that, as I have tried to answer questions I had myself before starting shopping at Asos. So at least most of them had a few questions answered.
-Did they make it to the end of the post?
Perhaps yes, perhaps not, it's 30 points after all. 
-Did they find it poorly written?
Who knows, English is not my native language and I don't have an editor, so mistakes happen often. 
-Did they click my blog to look for more information?
They could have, but I have not been posting regularly, so it's my fault for not engaging them further. 
-So, why would they not comment?
Frankly, why would they comment? If they came from Pinterest looking for answers, they found them and went away doing their own thing. 

This is something you should expect if you are willing to share free information on internet, so that's why you should love doing it and not feel pissed off when not given back much in return. Even those five comments are enough for me, because two of them thank me for sharing the information, two have questions to ask me and one is a spam promoter.

Now that is a simple example to show you that not a single comment should be taken for grated. If you post about things that catch your eye daily, like a piece of furniture or a newspaper article, most people would have a look and go on. A few might briefly comment phrases such as "Great!", "Cool!", "Wow!", "Awesome!" or some more cool stuff. Only a handful would ask questions or share a personal insight.

But when you blog about issues that are meaningful to most of us, you have more chances to engage with people, make them share their stories and interact with each other. I know many bloggers that are great at this. 

Joanna pops a bizarre question, like "What kind of underwear are you wearing?" and boom! 231 comments. Which is not at all random for her, because her writing is genius. She also asked "Where do you live" and got 773 answers. Not bad huh?

Bri would share a difficult moment of her life and you find 155 girls opening up their own hearts and showing compassion in the comments session.

Mara is a great writer, whose kindness and viewpoint for live, love, marriage have made so many people thank her from their heart in the comments section and share their stories like they were chatting with family. 

There are so many more people who are sharing helpful stuff and creating amazing content. And they deserve all the comments they are getting and more. But it didn't happen overnight and they have worked hard to craft their brand. 

So what about small blogs or special niches? Don't get discouraged. The world does not owe you comments or anything else for that matter. But try to make an impact and touch people in such a way that they would type faster than they can think just to share something with you. 

Make people choose you because the way you make them feel. Make them worry when you're not around. They will comment asking if you're alright. And they will chat and argue with each other, some will insult too but some would pray for you. Is there a better feeling? 

Comments are not dead!

Think of a blog as a plastic yellow in a bathtub. Cute, right? Now imagine that yellow duck in an ocean. You'd not even distinguish it in that infinite space. Blogs are becoming infinite and blog posts are created daily, hourly, every minute that passes by. Be the space to deserve comments and treat each of them as special, because no one owes you their time and kindness.

Also, be the change you want to see! If you don't like comments going away, keep making them. Respond to people leaving you a comment. I love writing a paragraph (or more) when I have something to say. Make genuine connections and say nice things you truly believe. Stand up if something seems wrong, but don't harass anything you don't like.

Because of comments people laugh, cry, feel less alone, make friends, keep in touch, fall in love, get inspired, find out new things, and maybe read someone's first or last comment ever.

How do you feel about comments? Are they going away soon? Should we keep them tight or let them go to welcome something else instead?

| Love, Lisa |

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to take care of yourself - End of summer edition

I am a pretty lazy example when it comes to fully taking care of myself regularly, but I truly enjoy the ritual every once in a while (especially after summer leaves my skin and hair thirsty for weeks). Whatever activities you might have been doing this summer and wherever you spent your days, chances are your body has been suffering (from too much fun or too much sun) and it's time to pay back showing some love.

I wanted to start from the skin (and particularly the face), because it is the most important one. If you can only take care of one thing, choose your skin without thinking twice. Even if you did your best to protect your face and body from dangerous sun rays and harsh waters, there's still a lot of risk with summer temperatures, strong sun, change of water and dehydration.
Start with your face. If you can afford a facial (or splurge only with this one and use natural remedies for the rest), go have one now. Leave your regular peeling/blackhead removing ritual for the colder months and instead opt for a hydrating treatment and moisture re-balancing. Crucial to those with sensitive skin and a necessity for every skin type, it will make your face and neck clear, bright and shining from within.
If a facial is far from your actual plans, treat your face at home with a mild face scrub. You can also use natural ingredients like coconut/olive oil mixed with a little sugar or coffee (don't use salt) to remove any impurities. Be sure to go through all your face and neck with circular movements and uplifting direction for a couple of minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Now it's time to apply a moisturizer for your skin type or a natural oil (such as coconut/avocado oil). Go an extra mile and massage the cream on your face gently for a minute or two. This helps the cream/oil to be absorbed better from the skin and avoid dry patches. If your routine involves serums, this period is perfect to apply them regularly, until you see balance and moisture come back to your skin. According your age and your beauty routine, don't forget eye cream (the skin around the eyes is extra delicate and suffers from dryness easily) and/or night cream.
If you are used to do face masks at home, apply one after shower and face scrub twice a week. In case you are new to them, do a little research on what ingredients are good for your skin type. A short guide would be : oils as the major base, coffee/sugar/oats for exfoliating, yogurt/avocado/honey/banana for moisturizing. Mix the most nourishing and fresh things you have at home and put them on to help your skin recover faster.
In case of a severe skin redness or rush it is always recommended to see a doctor. Until then, drink plenty of water and spruce a facial water on your face regularly to calm your skin and prevent scars.
After going back to your daily routine, take advantage of your tan skin and stay away from heavy make up as long as you can. Let your skin breathe and adjust to the changes in air and water slowly.

This would definitely be your second problem to take care of. Depending on how you spent your summer and what type of hair you have, the damage might be invisible to severe. In the first case, you just need to moisturize and re-balance your scalp and hair. In the severe scenario, your scalp might be red/itchy/flaky and your hair dull and dry.
Firstly, start with a good moisturizing mask. Again, if you have one at home, apply it generously after normally washing your hair. If you don't have any, go to your kitchen. Mayonnaise is a great one ingredient mask (because it's a mixture of olive oil and eggs). Especially good for light hair, it helps soften and shine them. Apply a good dollop of mayo straight from the jar to your hair, put in a bun or in a towel and let it work for at least half an hour. Then straight to the shower to wash your hair as usually. The same procedure can be done with coconut oil or other "magic" oils found in your kitchen. I have heard people rave about bananas and avocado too, but have never used them myself (check your hair type before putting anything - always!).
It's time to use a protecting cream/serum before blow drying your hair, but the best thing you can do is put them in a towel for an hour and then air dry. Stay away from styling tools too, as long as you can. Put your hair in a top knot and let your hair rest for a while. If you better die than not use hair tools and a blow drier, than be sure to use a very good protective agent before the heat.
In cases of dandruff, don't panic, it's just the scalp telling you "You shouldn't have left me under the sun without putting something on me". Buy a special shampoo and apply as required until all is gone.
To prevent further damage, keep a hat if you are out in the sun and keep your scalp and hair conditioned at the beach. The easiest way to do this is to prepare a spray bottle with half water and half pre-heat mask/antistress mask, mix well before each use and apply generously overall your hair. Also, wet your hair with clean water before entering salty water or the pool.

If you have spent too much time outside without reapplying sunscreen like a crazy person, then chances are your body is dry and it's showing. If you have achieved a beautiful tan (I'm so jealous of you) don't be afraid that it might fade away with every shower you take. Despite common logic, the color is deep in the skin and not on the surface, so no matter how hard you try not to scrub yourself, it will eventually fade if it is meant to. If your body produces a lot of melanin and your skin is well hydrated and clean before sun exposure, don't worry because you'll look brown until December. If you are pale, easily burn and your skin is always dehydrated, don't hope for a tan that is not even well developed to last long.
Two are the main procedures for the body: exfoliate and hydrate (same as the basic ones for the face). So don't be afraid and go for  a good scrub. Use the same natural one as the face if you like (you can add sea salt here, if you don't have sensitive skin, or bigger size grounded coffee). As soon as you come out of the shower (in two minutes really, not longer) slather on body lotion/butter/souffle/oil. The most hydrating the better. And do this everyday after shower, not whenever you remember to.
If you stick to scrubbing once a week and moisturizing daily, along with drinking plenty of water and eating as healthy as you can, your body will start glowing and you will notice. If you still worry about your tan, start applying a gradual tanning lotion to maintain your color without creating a big difference overnight

I am very unlucky with my feet and get a terrible flaky heel as soon as I wear sandals for the first time in summer. When I put on the first pair of close shoes come Fall, the problem is gone. I must admit I have not found the perfect solution or cream out there, but do your best by using a pumice stone daily in the shower and moisturizing as often as you can. Choose a non oily based cream so you won't dread moving around after applying. If heat is not a problem for you, go for applying plenty of coconut oil before sleep and wearing cotton socks overnight at least twice a week for a deep conditioning.
It's also time to retouch your toes' color if you had painted them, change nail polish color if you wish and shorten them to prepare for close shoes or wellies in case of unexpected rainy days. Nothing worse than your toes hurting after popping them from sandals to shoes!

Hands tend to feel pretty dry and itchy this time of the year and a lightweight cream would be perfect for daily use. If you can't go for a full manicure, limit yourself to shortening, filing, buffing, cuticle pushing at home in under an hour. It would be good to let your nails breathe and not paint them for a few days. Or at least go for a light base, as rich colors tend to have more chemicals. If you fancy, do an overnight treatment by slathering a rich moisturizer on hands and nails, or only apply as a cuticle oil.

Don't forget that no matter what you rub on your skin, the major ingredients work from the inside out. So watch out what you eat, drink and your stress levels, to give your body the best pampering it deserves after a full summer. 

And please notice that all the above advices and rituals I mention are based on my own experiences, advices my own hairdresser and esthetician have given me based on problems I have faced during the years. Please learn about your skin/hair type before going for natural remedies as they might prove stronger than the sun damage if not applied with caution and trustful advice.

Let me know if you have any secret rituals to pamper yourself and re-balance your body after an amazing summer!

| Love, Lisa |

Friday, February 28, 2014

Links to bring Spring faster

I had planned to post a picture of the first almond trees in bloom, as I saw them since last week and couldn't believe my eyes. But the sunny days of February brought some rainy friends along, so let's wish for clear skies and warm rays to come visit again.

Meanwhile, here are some interesting things to help rush the coming of the new season:

Are you doing anything fun to feel the Spring come faster? Please do share in the comments!
Have a great weekend!

| Love, Lisa |

Monday, February 24, 2014

The small things we overlook

What we overlook, does not come to light easily, not even when we see others emphasize preference towards them. I think we understand what great things we were not paying attention to when we take the time to know our self more, when we pay attention to what makes us really content. And the truest joy often comes from surprising sources, small things or little acts. There are so many, but our attention sometimes misses them or/and they might even change with time (true for me).

Here are 6 random things that make me happy lately:
  • Changing my computer's desktop background often (because apparently I get bored pretty fast)
  • Cute utility items around me (supplies, furniture, tools, everything matters) 
  • Having a personal photography or art framed (or 10 of them)
  • Fresh flowers at home (from the balcony/garden/neighbor/street sellers or flower shop)
  • Opening my closet and finding things I know I will feel good and comfortable wearing (this means wearing the same pieces more often - not necessarily bad)
  • Finishing reading a book and looking forward to buying the next one (signing them with my name too)

Now its your turn. What are the random things that make you happy? Were you always aware of them or did it take you some time? Do you find they change with time?

| Love, Lisa |

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Easy tips to make choices faster

I'm terrible at choosing only one thing between many and I feel like chocking in the depth and width of possibilities and the results of picking or not picking every single item. I read this article today who made me feel a little bit better knowing other people fight with this issue too.

Beside the funny notes and great advices you can find in the article, there is a little trick I mastered all by myself while pinning hundreds of engagement rings in a Pinterest board that was supposed to be an inspirational board for my fiance to look at. He is the guy who needs an A and a B to choose from, put a C there and he looses track. Not only I was choosing different types of rings (from baroque to modern), but I was pinning similar cuts and many colors of the same style over and over. After noticing my craziness, I stopped. Here is what I did before pinning every single image, although I felt like I loved them all at first sight.

1. Asking myself "Would I be happy if he got me this particular one?" If the answer was yes, in the board it goes. If the answer was dunno or maybe, it gets out. So, I only had to be honest with myself and taking the choices one by one, treating them as the final one, which felt less overwhelming. This can apply in many cases, like when pinning for a project inspiration, shopping, choosing details for an event, choosing furniture, decorating etc. Sometimes I only like a detail or two in an image and I make sure I emphasize that (in the description if it is a pin or by circling the detail with a pen on paper or by cropping out the rest).

2. Also, going back to your choices after a couple of days or even months, will decrease their number for sure, because there will be items you don't feel still positive about. I do this when I come up with ten versions for a design project, interior choices or items on the online shopping basket.

I repeat, I'm still struggling to be a fast decision maker, so any tried tips from you experts out there that can choose your future house in 5 minutes are more than welcomed :)

On another note, if you are in the looking, here is a guide I put together for choosing the perfect ring for you...

| Love, Lisa |

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What will get you through Monday (or any day actually)

I don't have a big issue with Mondays and actually I like them more then Sundays (reason why). If it wasn't for everyone out there calling Monday names and making me feel like I need to be a superhuman to go through that day, I could even call it my favorite day, who knows.

The deal is, most of us like the idea of new starts, fresh opportunities and possibilities, but we never relate Monday with this bright side. New Year and Spring and Fall are for the above, but Mondays are for the difficulties, the "getting back to reality", the "I hate everyone today", the "give me another late morning", the "I have nothing to wear" and "I don't feel like washing my hair today". Truth is Mondays could be all these and maybe much worse in cases. Many of you out there only have a day or two at most to pause from the monotony and daily schedules, to fit in all the rest and fun and to do list accomplishments you can. And maybe because I spend most of time part time working, collaborating and working for myself, I don't go perceive the shocking transition too badly.  Any day can be hard, sometimes an hour can be hard, so hard you cannot wait for it to be gone. And whatever "5 things to do on Sunday evening to feel great on Monday" advices you follow and no matter how much outfit and meal planning you do for the entire week, tough times feel bad psychologically more than they actually are on the practical aspect.

It seems to me that I have been doing this unintentional thing a few times, but not especially in difficult moments or harsh days. As I have been driving by the river that runs in the middle of our city, I have been dreaming of passing by Seine and its romantic lights. While having a coffe at a random bar I have imagined myself being in a cute little cafe somewhere in the alleys of Portugal or Greece. At times I am working in my messy room at night, I pretend I'm in the middle of a beautiful tidy space. See where I am going with this?

Own your senses and direct them. Don't let them perceive the bad and ugly stuff and transmit it to you. Instead feed them with beauty, travel, dreams, plans, cakes, whatever makes you escape the reality and make your heart quietly happy. I have a vivid imagination and I can easily travel wherever I want, but if you need a little help, go with visual stimulation like looking at pictures or reading.

Here is an essay that feels like a page from a classic novel and the way the writer describes their morning ritual might make you appreciate yours too. This is an instagram feed that you can check when you need to leave reality right away, because roséline is very consistent in her dreamy style in every picture (at the blog too). These are some tips I put together to find inspiration and happiness. And finally this tumblr will make you laugh, if all else fails to occupy your senses.

In the end, do all you know best and what works for you, but having an extra tool feels powerful enough to rock any hard time, even if you don't actually use it.

Have a great Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday my friends!  
(See what I did there? I occupied your eyes to read all the days' names and forget about your unwashed hair for Monday)

| Love, Lisa |
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