Your next date-night movie awaits
Many people don't know this, but the reason I started writing romance when I got into publishing was because of Nicholas Sparks. Ever since I was in junior high, his stories just spoke to me. I loved watching couples from different situations and circumstances grow together, help each other overcome obstacles, and find the beauty of love.
For me, my favorite story and movie of all time has always been The Notebook. There's just something about the setting of the 1940s that I fell in love with. Couple that with the imperfect yet perfect for each other match that Allie and Noah are, and you have the perfect love story. I adore how the two are stubborn, fight, and challenge each other, yet they also clearly are better together.
For me, this movie is about two things:
1. Social class doesn't matter.
2. A promise is a promise.
First of all, I love how in this story, it is very clear that social class is an obstacle for the couple. However, by the end, Allie learns from her mother and for herself that social class does not guarantee happiness. We also see that although Noah lacks wealth, he has something the other suitors of Allie do not--grit. He isn't afraid to work hard for what he wants. The iconic house from the Notebook becomes a symbol of this. When he buys the old house he's always dreamed about and takes the time to fix it into his dream home, it shows that he has determination and, more importantly, can see beauty where others don't. It's one of my favorite things about this movie, and I have often told my husband my dream home looks a lot like this house. If you're daydreaming about this fixer upper ultimate story, I love that you can check it out in this 3D version here and relive the renovation as well as the symbol.
This movie also demonstrates that in love, a promise is a promise. Noah promises to love Allie forever--he does. He promises to set up a painting room in their dream house. He does. And when she is older and can't remember, he carries through in his promise to still love her and to help her remember. The loyalty he shows Allie is something so many of us dream of.
So many romances out there send bad messages about what love is or isn't. They're all about six-pack abs and sexy getaways and the things of fantasy. For me, The Notebook will always stand out because it is grounded in a simple, sweet reality--love can make us whole, and real love stands the test of time.
I feel myself fortunate to have found my own Noah in my life at a young age--a man who keeps his promises, who has grit, and who is loyal to our love story. As a testament to his love, one Christmas, he actually bought me a signed copy of The Notebook because he knew it was my favorite. It is proudly displayed about my desk in my writing office, and it reminds me that no matter what, love is something to strive for.
Have you checked out this movie? Is it one of your favorites? Tell me below!
Exfoliation should be an important part of your health care routine. It is a process that everyone should do as it removes the dead skin cells from your body. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is constantly replenishing itself. It’s estimated that we lose about 30,000 skin cells a day!
Many of these cells simply fall off. But, if they don’t they can cause your pores to become blocked. This increases the likelihood of an outbreak. The dead skin cells also create a layer over the new cells, preventing them from breathing properly. If you don’t exfoliate your skin can look dull. You’ll notice the difference as soon as you have exfoliated.
In addition, regular exfoliation can help to remove blemishes and give your face a more natural glow, even without other products.
As a bonus, it can actually make your skin look younger.
What products should you use?
This is a difficult question as the products that work well for one person won’t necessarily be the best for someone else. In short, you need to try different options to find the one that best suits your skin and complexion.
However, it is worth noting that quality exfoliation products, such as the Murad range, use natural ingredients. Regardless of your skin type, you’ll find that natural products are much kinder to your skin and less likely to give you unpleasant side-effects.
Frequency of Exfoliation
Exfoliation is important to eliminate dead skin cells and improve your natural glow. However, it is also possible to do it too much. Exfoliating every day is more likely to damage new cells and cause you additional issues.
That’s why most experts recommend you exfoliate two or three times per week. As with most procedures, it is a personal choice. You will have to assess how effective your exfoliation is and how well your skin tolerates it.
The bottom line is that it will be different for everyone as your skin is unique. It should be noted that exfoliation is not something just for women. Men can benefit from exfoliating the dead skin cells away just as much as women, if not more.
Use the Right Type
As well as natural products being better than those loaded with chemicals, you should remember that there are physical exfoliants. These include face scrubs and clay masks. They are very effective and generally quick and easy to use.
But, you can also get chemical exfoliants. These are peels and acid serums. You need to approach these with considerably more caution. While they can be effective, they can also damage the new skin underneath, especially if left on for too long.
It’s better to use a natural exfoliant two to three times a week and enjoy the results. Again, there isn’t a perfect solution for everyone, you need to find the one that suits your skin best and gives you the results you want and need. Then everyone will be asking you for tips!
How to get your passion back
You’ve done all the things to bring that spark of life back inside of you. You’ve watched the podcasts, bought the inspiring quote pillows, and taped notes all over your mirror. You’ve done the face masks, the exercises, and more meditation than you thought possible.
Still, deep within, the truth resonates: The fire is gone.
Maybe it’s a fire for the career you once loved or the life you lived. Perhaps the spark has simply dulled for the things you used to know. Whatever it is, you know the torch has died down and the zest for life has been usurped by a bleak gray color. Nothing shines vibrantly anymore.
Life feels monotonous and draining. Suddenly, you understand those rebels without a cause who disappear into the vast wilderness, hitchhiking across the country. You understand that thirst for wanderlust, for adventure, for a life that is wildly unfamiliar.
Because behind all of the daily routines and monotony that leaves you feeling dead inside, you just want to feel something again.
The past months haven’t helped things, certainly. With COVID-19 has come a slew of new anxieties and a brand-new meaning to the word boredom. Life is both terrifying and dull in some new paradox of life we have adapted to as the “new normal.” But the foreign sense of normalcy we’re told to get used to brings little if any comfort. In fact, if anything, it makes us all question who we are, what we want, and what life really means.
As a woman who lost her fire, you feel a sense of dread when you confront what your life's purpose is now.
You used to walk into a room and see possibility. You used to revel in the spotlight and in the journey you were on. Your feet couldn’t hit the pavement fast enough as you joyously ran toward that goal, that dream, that destination.
Now, all you feel is stuck in the swampy mud, wondering if you’ll ever feel that buoyancy again.
To the woman who has lost her fire, I say this: I see you. I feel you. Because I think if we’re being honest, many of us have faced this, too.
Adult life is tiresome and difficult. Everyone talks about what hard work it is and how confusing it is, but few talk about the very real monotony we all face at some point. No one talks about how to handle it if suddenly your dreams don’t light you up anymore. We all shy away from the truth of that because our quote pillows and our inspiring podcasts tell us that we should be grateful and make our own joy.
But sometimes that advice makes it all worse—because it encourages us to cover up and mask the very real hardships we’re facing. Sometimes, when we lose our fire, it makes us feel like we are alone in that misty, murky water. It makes us feel like we should already know where the life jacket is and how to paddle out of it.
To the woman who has lost her fire, though, I also say: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for help from other women in your life because I know for a fact so many of us mask this hardship, and there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if the fire has been put out for too long or if the days and nights just feel too dark to handle by yourself. There is nothing wrong with admitting the fire has turned to ash and that you need someone to help you find the matches again.
You have one life, and it is too short to waste it experiencing guilt for how you feel. It is too cold of a world to live without that inner flame that keeps you warm, keeps you exuberant, and keeps you healthy.
Finally, to the woman who has lost her fire, I also want to say this: Maybe that wasn’t your true fire all along. Maybe what you thought was your eternal flame was only a spark to give you sustenance for the road ahead. If you can walk far enough away from the smoke signal of your old fire, perhaps you’ll see that in the horizon, a bigger blaze awaits. It can be scary to venture out from the comforting glow of what we’ve grown used to. However, sometimes we have to walk a while in the cold to get to the fire where we truly belong.
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3 Ways to Overcome Pandemic Weight Gain
As a high school English teacher, I am on my feet all day. Moving around the classroom, running to the copy room, and just the general responsibilities of teaching kept me active. But when Coronavirus shut down our school in March of 2020 and I became one of the many people worldwide who found themselves in a remote working environment, suddenly my life became very sedentary.
I wasn't worried about it, in truth. With all of the anxiety and fear of a world pandemic, it didn't seem important to worry about my waistline anymore--plus, leggings make it easy to forget about the scale. So I continued on for months working from my desk in the corner of my living room and eating all sorts of comfort foods. This sedentary lifestyle and constant snacking, however, led to some unwanted consequences I'd face in 2021.
When life started to somewhat return to normal this spring in my area and schools opened back up, though, I found that one of the side effects of the pandemic was an unexpected one: my work pants no longer fit. And suddenly, all of the anxiety and fear from the past year turned into something else--frustration at myself for letting my health take a backseat to everything else.
If you, too, are feeling frustrated that your pants no longer fit like they used to and you've found that, like so many Americans, you've gained weight during the pandemic, I want you to know two things.
1. You are NOT alone. According to Market Watch, 40% of Americans gained significant weight during the pandemic.
2. Cut yourself some slack. You lived through a pandemic, for goodness sake. No one has been through anything like this in our lifetime.
I've always been a proponent for loving yourself no matter what. You are so much more than a number on the scale or a size on your clothing tag, truly. And especially in 2020 when so many of faced seemingly insurmountable hurdles in our relationships, workplaces, and health, you need to give yourself grace.
However, I also know that to be happy and confident, we have to feel our best. For me, the extra pounds not only meant a hit to my confidence level but also a hit to my energy levels. Losing my pandemic weight gain in 2021 is not about feeling sexy; it is about feeling good.
If you, too, are looking to shed not only the anxiety of 2020 but also the pounds that came with it, here are three quick tips I've found to be helpful as I navigate the newfound optimism I've found for 2021.
1. Get active again
Even if you are still working remotely, find a way to bring activity back into your life. It doesn't have to be a gym membership that gets you back into a routine of being physically active, and you don't have to run a marathon each day. Thirty minutes a day keeps me feeling alive and healthy and has definitely helped me shed some of the weight gain from those sedentary days early in the pandemic.
Go for a walk with your dog. Find a fitness channel on Youtube that offers free workouts, or even try some free weights. Just getting back into the routine of doing some exercise every day can help you feel more confident in yourself. Don't be afraid to get your children involved, either. Studies have shown that the pandemic has also led to more sedentary behaviors in our children due to remote learning, so take the kids out to the backyard for a game of catch or soccer. Moving your body helps alleviate stress and also helps you feel more energetic, allowing you to accomplish more of your goals in general.
For me, the addition of a three-month-old Great Dane puppy has been a huge motivator to get moving from my desk and get outside. He has definitely helped me shed some of the pounds gained during 2020--although he has also wreaked havoc on my sleep schedule, but that's another post entirely.
2. Keep track of your eating habits
When every single day felt the same, it was easy to fall out of healthy eating patterns. For me, food during the pandemic was a comfort and something to do. Furthermore, while I was working from home, it was much easier to grab all sorts of food during the work day. More accessible food led to more frequent snacking. This combined with my days spent in front of the computer was a toxic combination for my health.
Thus, in 2021, I'm getting a better handle on my nutrition. I know there are so many diets and fads out there, but I've found the best solutions to getting your eating under control are:
1. Eat plenty of foods that are good for your body, like vegetables.
2. Keep track of what you're eating.
For many of us, working on the "honor system" of just eating what you want can be problematic. So many of us use food as a way to soothe our emotions. By actually keeping track of what you consume, you can keep better track of what you are consuming, when, and how it is affecting your body.
I do not believe in starving yourself. I do not believe in restricting yourself. However, I do believe that my knowing what you are consuming and keeping track of your eating habits, you can better finetune your patterns to give you the best energy and best version of yourself.
One of the places you can start is by figuring out how many calories you need to fuel your body. So many times when we find we've gained weight, our tendency is to go into starvation mode and cut as many calories as we can. However, this can backfire and lead to all sorts of negative consequences as well. Thus, start by figuring out how many calories you need to fuel your body. A calorie calculator can help you analyze just how many calories you need to be your best self.
Once you know how many calories you should consume, keep track! Use a food diary, or find an app you love that you can input your food into. Don't forget to adjust your numbers for any exercise you are doing as well from tip one. It's helpful to know how many calories your activity is burning so you can adjust your diet to account for calories burned.
3. Be kind to yourself.
It has been such a hard year in so many ways. We've all dealt with fear, anxiety, health issues, and financial insecurity. Most of us have lost something, whether it be a loved one, a job, or our peace of mind.
So many of my friends have been so hard on themselves lately for letting their health slide this past year. However, I encourage you to be kind to yourself. You've lived through so much upheaval and turmoil. You are still living through it.
I love the Lewis Carroll quote: "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." The person you were at the beginning of 2020 isn't the same person you are now. You have grown and changed. You have weathered storms. You have survived.
A few pounds on the scale or some tight pants may seem like the end of the world. It is not. If we've learned anything this past year or so, it's that life is never certain. You have to enjoy the present, and you can't take anything for granted.
You are still here. You are strong. You are a warrior.
In 2021, my hope for you is that you find a way to be kind to yourself and to stop seeing your changes as a failure. Do what you can to find your confidence again. Take charge of your body and your health. However, know this: No matter what the scale says after 2020, you are beautiful, amazing, and worthy.
I want to know: Have you struggled with weight gain through the pandemic? And if so, what have you done to take control?
It was eighth grade when my dad first taught me the power of owning your confidence.
Truthfully, he was building that inner confidence in me before I realized it, but coming home with the scheduling paper from the guidance office and hearing his advice was the first time I arguably understood it.
From the time I could speak, my father impressed upon me the importance of doing your best in education and learning all you could. Education didn’t make you better or guarantee a successful life, he reminded me frequently. However, it did open doors.
Thus, when I came home with my scheduling form for my first year of high school, he asked why I hadn’t taken all Honors courses. I was an academic and loved school. When I told him the counselor had advised that no ninth grade student should take all upper levels because it would be too challenging, he nodded, handed back the form, and simply said, “Well, that would make me want to do it more. I’d want to rise to the challenge when someone said I couldn’t.”
And that was when I realized the power of confidence. That was when I realized that, without pushing me, he had all the faith in the world in me, in my ability to succeed, and in my ability to rise up to those who thought I couldn’t do it.
To be clear, my dad does not call himself a feminist in any sense of the world. He is old-school, very blunt, and from a generation that does not value technology, change, or a cashless world. This is not to say that’s a bad thing—far from it, in my book. I have learned so many things from him and admire his generation for their work ethic, determination, and grit. However, it never ceases to surprise me that from this old-school attitude comes perhaps came the most influential ideas about my equality as a woman.
My dad never let me believe that because I was a girl, I couldn’t do something. In fact, the issue of my gender never even came up. With my dad, it was simple: work hard, do your best, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something you really want to do. His stubbornness and determination not only wore off on me, but also taught me lessons that I have carried well into adulthood: you have to own the inner confidence queen within you if you want to make it in this world.
Certainly, as a thirtysomething, I have my confidence wavering at numerous points in my journey. Who hasn’t? Life is a lot more complicated now than what classes to schedule in high school. Still, when someone tells me my dream is impossible or when someone tries to cut me down or tell me I’m worthless, I think of my dad’s stoic response to criticism or doubt—he simply did it anyway. He never let anyone else influence who he would become or what he would do. He kept his focus on what mattered to him, on what he could achieve, and on working hard.
Oftentimes, I look around and see women especially struggling with the power of confidence. So many times, I think as women, we are too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or rock the boat. Thus, we stand in self-doubt and stay small. We are afraid to go against the experts, the critics in our lives, or even just a co-worker with a loud bark and worse bite. We are too quick to back down from a challenge because that inner voice in us is always trying to shout that we aren’t good enough and that we can’t do it.
But to any woman who has ever felt weak, powerless, or anything less than confident, I hope you take a step back and realize that the confident Queen you are is always there. She’s waiting for you to own her when someone tells you to back down. She’s waiting for you to raise your voice when someone is challenging your beliefs or values. She’s waiting for you to take ownership of your schedule, of your path, of your life and rise to the challenges you know are worth it.
My dad is not a feminist, at least in his mind. Still, it was my dad who taught me the most feminist lesson of all—we are worthy. We deserve to be confident in ourselves, all of us.
And no label, no background, no identity should define what we can or can’t do. No outside source or party can decide, either.
Only we get to decide who we are, what we stand for, and what we chase in this life.
So channel your inner confidence Queen and never let anyone take her crown.
As seen in Harness Magazine.
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