Five Great Finds That Make Me Really Happy

I was going to spend my evening writing a post explaining my opinions on a political issue that makes me very angry, but I decided instead to spend the evening having some fun by pooling together a few of the things that make me happy and help me get through my day. Because clearly, the constant turmoil of our political situation keeps me in a pretty angry state most of the time…and sometimes it makes me hangry. Oh, and don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll charm the pants off you with my political rant in a later post.

But for now, here are five things that make me happy:

  1. The artist Pogo. He makes songs out of autotuned clips from your favorite movies. It’s amazing, and they’re great songs to write to. I’m listening to him right now. In fact, they’re great songs for every occasion: House party, chill get together, running, shopping, driving, breaking out of prison…you know, all those necessary music-accompanying tasks.
  2. The website Padmapper. They’re tagline is “Making apartment hunting suck less.” And they really do. They really do. On padmapper, you’re able to search apartments in the city/location of your choice according to whatever criteria you have: # of bedrooms, bathrooms, price range, etc. The site pulls together listings from a number of other housing sites, including craigslists, rent.com, and (if you live in LA, Westside Rentals).
  3. The photo editor Pixlr. I have photoshop and sometimes I still choose to use this free online photo editor instead. For a non-techy like me, it’s a user-friendly web application that allows you to edit photos in three different applications: A full editor (similar to photoshop, but on a smaller scale), a moderate editor with pre-set filters (think a cross between photoshop and instagram), and a filter editor (similar to instagram).
  4. F.lux is an app that adjusts the color of your computer and/or phone/tablet screen to act more like natural sunlight, so that if–like me–you are up late browsing the interwebs, your brain doesn’t get confused and think it’s still daylight out. That way, it’s easier to fall asleep and stuff. Just read about it.
  5. Tea Tree Oil: I have pretty oily skin, but I’m also really self conscious not only about the chemicals I’m putting on my skin, but also about the cost of said chemicals (gotta stay practical here). So, about two years ago, I decided that using bar soap instead of a bottled gel would not only be more natural (if I went with one that had natural ingredients) it would also be cheaper. And then I found tea tree oil, and my life was made. Tea tree oil (and black charcoal as well) are great skin cleansers, and a bar of soap lasts me three times as long as a bottle of shower gel, and is way cheaper than a facial cleanser. Yay for poor people solutions!

And that’s it. Nothing else in the world makes me happy. JK, a lot of things make me happy but this is a short list to remind myself that there are many, many positive things in this world. I hope you’ve discovered something you think is awesome from this list, too, but if you haven’t, I hope you at least take away the idea to start making your own list. It’s good to have a list of positives to refer to when you’re down. I know it helps remind me that there are still things to appreciate about this life, and technology, and people.

Enjoy!

-tlc

My Origin Story

I had to put the soundtrack from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on in order to write this post.

So on the day that I am writing this, I just found out–thanks to the interwebs and this new-fangled thing called Facebook news–that Taylor Swift’s mother has been diagnosed with cancer. And because all of the decisions in my life are based on celebrities, I decided I needed to write this blog post.

You’re probably a little confused right now. How does my origin story tie into Taylor Swift’s mother having cancer? And, more importantly, why do people “need” to know my origin story? How is my “origin” story any different from anyone else’s? We were all conceived and born pretty much the same way, right? Nothing too impactful there.

Well, maybe (though the story of my birth is pretty interesting), but when I say “origin story” I’m not talking about my birth. Yes, technically, my birth would be the story of where I began. But where I really began life? No, that came almost a whole decade later.

When I think back to it, I feel pretty lucky to have started life so earlier into my *ahem* life. As I observe the world I realize that most people don’t really start living their lives until well into their 20’s and 30’s. Some people never start living their lives. Me, though? Living my life started the day my mother was diagnosed with cancer.

I was nine years old, and it was September 11, 2001.

I was absolutely terrified. My parents and I had just moved to a new town, my only brother and sibling had just started college, and I thought the world was ending. No one was safe, outside–and even inside–of our bodies and homes. The year that followed was the most difficult year I’ve ever lived through emotionally.  I honestly don’t remember a lot of it.

Flash-forward almost fourteen years in the future, and my mother is alive and kickin’. I’m one of the lucky ones, thank God. However, that year down the rabbit hole, with death on our door step, taught me a lot of things. It taught me humility and the futility of our efforts to run away and hide from life. It taught me how brief life is. It taught me how precious our time spent together on this earth truly is.

I felt I needed to write this post because the year my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and survived, is the year that I learned to really live my life. It was the year I realized that every moment, every person, and every memory is precious and important. It’s the year that I learned that our actions and our decisions ripple through out our lives, and though they might feel insignificant now, our choices will forever affect who we are and how we live. It’s the year that I learned that loving others with your entire being, and letting them know that you love them that much, is the only reason to live, and will be the most important thing you do in your life time.

So, if you or a loved one is waging a battle for health and life, I just want you to know that you are not alone. We are in this together. And you are loved. You are loved so very much. Cherish every ‘now’ that you get to share with those around you. As the saying goes, there’s a reason the present is called the present.

And start living your life, now.

-tlc

 

Things That Every Twenty-Something Should Know

Okay, so a couple weeks ago I did a post on missing home and how I’ve come to realize that the only thing that is truly important in your life–and subsequently the only thing that will really make you happy–is the people and relationships that you surround yourself with.

That’s lesson number one.

But there are a few other things that I’ve picked up as time has gone on. I won’t list them all out here because that would be a long post, and I don’t think I could possibly think of all of them off the top of my head right now anyways. Besides, I have to have something to write about for future posts, don’t I?

So here are a few things that I think every 20-something should know:

  • Travel
    • Live outside of your comfort-zone/Travel box: Everyone has a travel box; those cities, states, and places that they’ve visited before, lived before, or have family and friends residing in. Move outside of that, even if it’s only for a year. You’re in your 20’s, you’re probably already poor, and hopefully you don’t have too many obligations to other people at this point in your life. Now is the time to go and explore the world, see a different place, and make new friends that grew up in a life different from your own.
    • I might not always love living so far away from my family, but I’ve learned so much and grown so much by moving away. I’ve discovered that I can rely on myself to get through almost every situation that I’ve come across. It’s really empowering, and in a lot of ways freeing. It’s shown me that the world really is full of possibilities, and that you can do the things you put your mind to. If you stay in your box forever, you have to learn to settle for the things that only your box can offer. Get out and explore. Learn something about somebody completely different from yourself.
  • Feed Yourself
    • Cooking, even if you aren’t great at it, is not only a life skill that everyone should be made to learn, it’s also the only way you’re going to be smart about saving money and about what you’re putting in your body. I don’t care how healthy a restaurant makes itself out to be, there is no telling where your food has been and what all is used to cook it. The only way to know this is to do it yourself–and frankly, it’s a whole lot cheaper, too.
    • It’s also an extremely satisfying and rewarding feeling to be self-sufficient and provide a meal for yourself. The less people you need to rely on to survive, the more empowered you will feel. Besides, coming from a family of farmers, I believe everyone should support small businesses and farms by shopping as much as possible at your local farmer’s market.
  • Clean Yourself
    • A clean home is a happy home. Take a little pride and ownership in the place where you live and take care of it! Not only will your everything last longer–we’re talking clothes, furniture, appliances, everything–but you’ll feel better and more relaxed because organizing and cleaning up after yourself won’t feel like a permanently unchecked box on your to-do list. BONUS: Things like vacuuming and dusting are actually great workouts that burn an impressive number of calories. Google it.
  • Keep Your Plans
    • Flaking is an easy rabbit’s hole to fall down. Check out this article that gives a pretty good observation on this plight that’s plaguing our generation of 20-somethings. This one, I’ll admit, I’m a bit hypocritical on because I’m definitely guilty of doing it. But when you make plans with someone and you don’t honor that, you only dig a shallow grave for that friendship/connection/relationship. If you don’t really want to hang out with someone, don’t make plans with them. If you make plans with someone but think there’s a chance something better might come up, 1) don’t think like that because that’s douche-y and 2) don’t commit to things on nights that you might want to do some other activity.
    • Personal relationships are so, so important. And I think as you get older, it becomes harder to meet new people and make those friendships that will truly make you happy. This is because as you get older, you get more set in your ways, more set in your routines, and old friendships take time to grow. So start young. Start now. Meet people, and be genuine. Put the stupid cell phone away and go out to dinner to talk. Close Facebook and plan a day/night out. Call instead of text. Be a little bit old school. Don’t let yourself become isolated by your technology.
  • Create
    • Nick Offerman calls it “Finding a Discipline,” but whatever you want to call it, find some way to spend your time that isn’t Netflix. Think of it as a physical way of investing in your future. If you love to craft, make things! (If you get good, you can sell your art on Etsy.) If you love music, make music! If you love to exercise, work out! If you love to help, volunteer! You get my drift. Then find a way to share your pass time passion with others. Who knows, it might wind up being a means to a living. Even if it’s not, you’ll be happier having something to take your mind off  the stress around you, and having a purpose to look forward to in your free time.

Okay, I have to stop there before this post goes on forever and ever. Gotta keep it simple, right? Anyways, that’s my current two-cents on what 20-somethings should know. I’d love to get other opinions on this, though. Seasoned vets of life might have a different perspective and I always love to learn knew things. Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts on this.

Good luck in life.

-tlc

The Thing About LA

Okay, so there are lots of things about LA, but here’s one that’s really been on my mind lately: the wealth disparity that is rampant in this city.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been searching like a mad man to find an apartment I can FINALLY call my own (and afford), or maybe it’s the countless Ferraris, BMW Convertibles, and Teslas I watch speed past the street buskers, vagabonds, and tent cities camped out on curbs everyday, but hot damn if the immensity of wealth and lack thereof isn’t plastered on the billboards out here! (Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Orange Is The New Black lately, so the voice in my head has been coming out a little prison-queeny, if that’s a thing.)

I’ve struggled off and on for the last nine months to like LA, and I’m telling you, it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are fantastic things about LA: the weather, the beautiful people, the horizon, the beach, the beautiful people, the iconic landscapes, the beautiful people–but even the beautiful people have a tough time making me forget about the smog, the traffic, and the shame that there are probably hundreds of beautiful, big houses that sit empty around this city, while there are thousands who go cold and hungry living on the streets every night. Check out this article about how Jessica Alba is turning her old house (which sat EMPTY) into a vacation/travel home for renters. I mean, I applaud the woman for her business savvy and wanting to do something to fill a need she saw, but come on! I know she’s not the only one with property just lying around this city going to far less use. And even though LA is full of employment opportunities (not just in the entertainment industry) rent is still too damn high.

LA is difficult because it’s a lonely city, and the traffic issue bites residents in the butt in more than one way. Consider: yes, getting anywhere during high traffic hours is stressful and, frankly dangerous, but more so than that is the fact that you can’t go anywhere without a car (which costs money), you can’t park anywhere for free, and if you aren’t EXTREMELY careful, you’ll earn yourself a traffic or parking ticket of some sort, (which costs a BOATLOAD of money). Needing a car to get anywhere makes LA extremely isolating, but it also makes it difficult to split an apartment with multiple roommates–something New Yorkers have down to an art. Often, apartments in LA don’t come with enough designated parking to even match the number of bedrooms within an apartment–frequently, they don’t come with designated parking at all. And as I’ve just said, parking in LA is hardly ever free. If you live on a street where there is always ample street parking, count your blessings because you have found a gem, m’dear.

So, the need for parking and the isolating factor of the city’s culture and structure makes it not only difficult to meet potential roommates, but also finding that sweet balance of fitting the needs of everyone you live with and still being affordable. It’s hard enough for me–someone with a full time job AND side jobs (so I actually have some money I can put towards savings)–I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for someone who works a similarly paid gig while having to support a family, or someone who can barely afford rent but also needs a car for work–you get my drift. And all the while, I only have to look towards the hills to see those sparkling mansions with their private pools and 5-acre yards.

To get to the point, I guess what I’m saying is that I am starting to like LA. (What? That didn’t come across in what I’ve just mentioned?) No, really, it’s grown on me a lot since I got here, and that’s why I care so much (well, that, and also because social injustice). But the wealth disparity is a real hard lump to swallow.

So, if you want to move to LA, just know that there are still very visual injustices in this world. But the weather is nice.

-tlc