Love is a 1000 Piece Puzzle

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I've never been in (romantic) love before but like any optimistic heroine in a Katherine Heigl-style romantic comedy, I am lovesick. I am intrigued by love--it's complexities, it's vulnerabilities, it's enigmatic nature. No matter what I learn about love, I still don't have it figured out. But after reading Rookie on Love, the newest book to come out of the RookieMag universe, I felt more excited about love than I had in a long time. What the book does particularly well is immediately establish that there is no one story about love. While that seems fairly obvious, it can be hard to believe when every movie about love (even the "indie" ones) follows the same formula and pattern, and rarely captures the nuance of the emotion. The writers in Rookie on Love are a diverse group of people with different experiences of love so the lessons that come out of their experience are varied. Because of this, I felt like I was being guided by 20+ older siblings all armed with a beautiful and relevant lesson to teach me. This is the magic of the book: it is both a guide and companion--it made me feel understood and cared for in a moment when I felt like pain was just pain, and life was hopeless. Essays like Danielle Henderson's "You First" reminded me of the importance of saying yes to myself (and my future and my happiness) as an act of self-love. In Gabourey Sidibe’s insightful and hilarious essay “Karma”, she writes about making mistakes in love and finding love that you deserve. The book is not about figuring out a definitive statement about love--it's about saying "I'm figuring it out" and being ok with that.

February Faves

February was a sort of difficult for me--I felt really untethered and lost, and desperately wanted to drop everything in my life and lay in a bed made of pizza. In an effort to break through the fog, I focused on evaluating what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I had to reevaluate all the things I’ve come to accept as unchangeable. In addition to the conversations I had with myself, I also had a few conversations with people I trusted to be straight with me and who understood what I was going through. 

Here are some of the things that got me thinking this month, that intrigued me, and made me feel that I'm capable of creating my life.

Watch

Mary in Lonely Swim by Greta van der Star (ANYONEGIRL)

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise/Maya Angelou (Netflix)
It doesn't need to be said: Maya Angelou was a phenomenal force of nature. She's always been an inspiration to me, as a writer and as a black woman but there was so much about her I didn't know! This documentary shows how much she loved and was loved, her commitment to activisim and her bravery and resilience. I've been recommending it to everybody. 

Browse

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I'm always looking for book recommendations (even when I still have lots to finish) and Girls at the Library not only provides a cornucopia of book recs but they're also paired with great interviews with amazing women who discuss the importance of books in their lives.

Read

“Let me teach you what the world thinks about us, and let me teach you what we’ve seen the world do to girls who look like us. And let me teach you why they’re wrong.” 
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding #MeToo and from the think pieces to the opinion essays to the open letters, it can get overwhelming. This Guardian profile on Tarana Burke, the founder of Me Too, was one of the best things I’ve consumed on the topic. Burke gets back to the foundation of the movement, what she started it for and what she thinks is the benefit of it. She also recognizes the sensationalization of the movement and how that can divert from the purpose and importance of the movement.

Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller

"Sexual violence may not be eliminated by a more nuanced and open conversation around consent, power and pleasure, but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t critically important". 
The Conversation I Wish We’d Had After Aziz Ansari

 

Listen

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the New Yorker Festival

Oprah's Super Soul Conversations. This has easily become one of my favourite podcasts, not only for the openness of the guests but for their certainty and their optimism. The interviews with Paulo Coelho, Gretchen Rubin, and Maya Angelou are my favourites.  

My February playlist! I usually make a monthly playlist and listen to it (almost) every day. February was particularly moody with lots of Angel Olsen, Lana del Rey and a track from Mitski.

What I was reading, watching and listening to in January

 

My Skincare Ritual

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When I think about the word ritual, I think of magic. Of manifesting a desire, of making space in my life for a myriad of possibilities. So when it comes to my skincare routine, I'm less concerned about how well the products are doing and more concerned with how using them makes me feel. Am I satisfied? Do I feel like I could be a glowing beast worthy of Kira Kira? My current skincare routine is making me feel so confident that the only makeup I've been wearing lately is a flick of liquid liner, some mascara and seven seconds worth of Boy Brow. Here's the lineup...

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Cleanser. I'm not married to any cleanser--all I need is a deep clean and moisture. My current favourites are Drunk Elephant's Peekee Bar and Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser

Toner/Essence. I love the Mamonde Rose Water Toner and Missha's First Treatment Essence. They both leave my skin feeling moisturized and prepped for the rest of my routine. Both are Korean brands, so they're a little harder to get but they're completely worth it.

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Serum(s). I'm really bad at taking my daily vitamins and it never seems to make a difference, but with serums, it's a whole different ball game. I've tried a bunch in the past, but I found the game changer last September when I started using Drunk Elephant's C-Firma Daily Serum. It's the second Vitamin C serum I've tried and it's worked amazingly. I actually see a difference in my skin when I use it and when I don't. I use Sunday Riley's U.F.O. Clarifying Oil at night, and it's amazing for fresh breakouts. 

Glossier Groupie

Glossier Groupie

Moisturizer. If there's anything in my routine I'm really picky about, it's moisturizer. I once had a bad reaction to a Nivea face cream and since then I've been super careful about my moisturizer, avoiding thick creams. However, I have recently fallen in love with Glossier's Priming Moisturizer Rich, which gives me tonnes of moisture without making me face feel like it's being smothered. Honorable mentions go to Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream and Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream.

Eye Cream. I have a love/hate relationship with eye cream. On one hand, the dark bags under my eyes say I desperately need them but on the other hand, my experience with them hasn't been exactly revolutionary. So far, most of the eye creams that I've found to be somewhat successful are mostly good for hydration and not much else. None have reduced the darkness or depth of my under-eye bags, so I don't feel the need to invest that much into it. The best one for hydration is Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

Sunscreen. I honestly hate sunscreen, especially on my face, but the EltaMD UV Daily is the best one I've tried and I don't want to try any others, because I know it works.  

What products do you use? Do you think investing in skincare is a total sham? Or are you slowly working your way through Creme de La Mer? Let me know!

Paris Has My Heart

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When it came to planning my 20th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something special. My family didn't celebrate birthdays as a kid, so I've only had a few actual celebrations. But I love birthdays and I think you should always have fun on your birthday, no matter what. If you don't go all out, did the birthday really happen? 

This year, I decided that I was over club nights or sit down dinners. I wanted to do something that I had never done before and I to do it on my own. Travelling particularly stood out to me because I'm always looking for an escape from my sleepy city and I had never really been on vacation before.

But once I had decided to travel I didn't know where to go. Should I go to New York, where I had dreamed of going ever since I picked up my first Gossip Girl book? Or L.A, where the sun's always shining and the green juice is abundant? None of those felt right. And then I landed on it. Paris. Paris. The City of Lights. Of art and food and culture. What better way to start my twenties? 

I was really nervous about going to Paris. There were so many mixed reviews and I hadn't been in a big city in a long time, so I thought I would get overwhelmed really quickly. But all my worries weren't necessary. After only being there for two days, I felt at home, despite my inability to speak French well and the fact that I depended on Google Maps a lot. But I never felt panicked or scared. 

Originally I had planned to go on my own, but my older sisters ended up joining me on the trip, which I'm pretty grateful for. I think I would have been mostly fine on my own but having them there made the trip even more special.

The Dior Exhibit at Le Musée des Arts Decoratifs

All that Dior! I wasn't expecting to be so swept away by this exhibition but it was so beautiful. The history of Dior is so rich and varied, and it was such a special treat to experience it.

Breakfast at Republique of Coffee

Breakfast at Republique of Coffee

A cute cafe spot near our hotel, Republique of Coffee is a popular Paris spot to get freshly pressed juices and acai bowls. I got a mango juice that was truly magical.

Le Musée d'Orsay

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The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

To Eat...

Claus Paris. Went here for my birthday breakfast and ate so much I could barely get up when I was done. It was raining that day and it's so cozy and cute I felt like I was in a film. 

Mon Coco. This was a popular bistro and cocktail bar near our hotel that we went into by chance. It was the only place we went to twice and both times the staff was super friendly, and the food was amazing.

Cocoricco. Another accidental find. We got on the wrong bus and missed a lunch reservation, so decided to walk back to the Louvre. We randomly chose this place and were lucky to get the last seats during a lunch rush. Our waiter was gorgeous, the food was delicious and I was happy to have (accidentally) missed our original reservation.

To Shop...

Merci. A popular department store (and tourist stop), Merci is full of everything from cute and simple homewares to contemporary designer brands. They also have a café and canteen, both of which we loved. 

The Frankie Shop. This cute little shop is exactly the kind of boutique all the cool Instagram chicks go to. They have a NYC location but the Paris location will always be special to me because I found the best pair of pants there, and I swear it was fate. 

Le Labo. The staff here was really friendly and eager to talk about the various perfumes. I convinced my sister to get me Vanille 44 (the Paris scent) for my birthday and every time I wear it, I feel exceptionally Parisian.

Shakespeare and Company. It took us almost two hours and lots of walking to find this iconic bookstore but it was worth the effort. I’m usually happy to be in a bookstore but I really couldn't temper my excitement at being here. Of course I had to buy some books, if only to get the S&Co stamp in them. 

If there's one thing I learnt from this trip is that as much as you can plan, sometimes the best things are found spontaneously. Paris is a pretty walkable city--but you've got to wear comfortable shoes--and is best discovered on foot. My favourite moments were genuinely just walking the streets.

There's still so much discover and I can't wait to get back.