Eyes On The Horizon

Spring is traditionally seen as a time of thawing, when the things we’ve buried in the snows of winter are released in the renewed warmth of the sun. Our bones creak out as we shake off the cobwebs of hibernation. We move easier, dream larger, and strive to complete the tasks that appeared insurmountable in the short daylight of the colder months. It is the dawn of our time.

I started this space one year ago, with a post about what self-care means to me, because there was a beating in my heart that I couldn’t ignore. It was the pull to create. The desire to make a space that felt good, and useful, and safe for anyone who stumbled upon it. So, I started doing the only thing that made sense – I wrote. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

And Then I Lived has pushed me to meet new people, discover new ways to take care of myself, and create the world I want to occupy. It has only been one year, but in that time I’ve thawed out a piece of myself that had been in hibernation for long enough. My space has a humble following, but if you are part of it in any way I want to thank you for coming along on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for what comes next!

Today, in honor of Spring, I want to share some beautiful images which capture the essence of freedom I feel in the sunlight and when I’m writing. These monthly mood boards have been excellent tools for directing my goals and intentions. Organizing my thoughts has always been a struggle, but through this exercise I’m able to hone in on what I want to convey for the month. As I go forward with my space, I want this month to be focused on brightness, self-discovery, and fearlessness in any endeavor. I hope you find some inspiration among the images.

Onward, ho!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jonathan lipkin captures the ocean's fleeting nature in composite photo series

Sleep inside my Soul ღk

 

 

 

 

 

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What does Spring mean to you?

How To Bounce Back From A Self-Care Extravaganza

I had the pleasure of traveling across the country to New York City for the weekend with my good friend, Jesse, for a girls’ trip.  We ate great food, marveled at the beauty of human creations in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and walked all over the Upper West Side until our feet felt like they’d been stomped by elephants. It was glorious. It was the kind of caring I could only ever dream of, but got to experience thanks to my phenomenal friend.

The Met, Egyptian Art
Amelia, Yours truly, Jesse
A happy tourist (Me)

The trip also got me thinking about what comes after something so great. What do we do with ourselves after the dust settles and we must return to our regular lives? You might not be flying for hours, spending money wildly, and luxuriating in a hotel like an heiress, but what if you take all the time you need to replenish your defenses only to come home feeling even more spent?

Taking care of ourselves can be just as exhausting as running our bodies ragged in the normal days of our lives. So, I would like some of my tips for bouncing back in your return to normality. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my access to travel, self-care, therapy, and wellness options, and I have found that even with the best of times I still need a little help finding my equilibrium. Below, I’m listing my tried and true habits for not only maintaining the good vibes of self-care, but also maintaining healthy expectations for who I’ll be afterwards.

Sleep!

tired jet lag GIF
Disney

Sounds obvious, but is it something we let ourselves do after vacation? Or after a yoga session, or a hike, or a round of face masks and Judge Judy? Nah, didn’t think so! Think of it this way: you’ve just pumped your body full of that good stuff, like endorphins, adrenaline, and other sciencey things. Thus, your body is going to need to power down. I hate to sound like Morpheus in The Matrix, but at the end of the day we’re all walking and talking batteries. We need to recharge even if we’ve just been doing another form of powering up. Catch some zzz’s!

Ease back into your routine

Spinning GIF
Giphy

I know most of us use the weekend for our self-care extravaganzas – it’s just the way our work lives function. We feel guilty missing work, so we hold out until Friday evening to get down to business. That leaves us with going back in on Monday to face the monotony. This goes counter to everything we’re taught, but I would challenge you to not take on big projects right away, or act like the superhero you are first thing Monday morning. You’ll be feeling unstoppable, no doubt, but you’re going to be regret biting off more than you can chew. This isn’t about avoiding work all-together, but rather not falling prey to the urge to do it all. Take your time.

Don’t throw all the internal work out the window

relaxed yoga GIF by Hannah Bronfman
Giphy

This is really the tough one for me. I was super zen in New York, but that’s easy to do when you’re far away from responsibilities, stressors, and a regular routine. I was able to unwind and be introspective without being bogged down with the minutiae of life. When I go back I was understandably tired and sore from walking, then flying for 6 hours, but I was instantly unhappy when I set foot through my front door. So, what gives?

Well, I think I was looking for reasons to be stressed out.  If I were to go deeper, I would discover I was hunting for reasons to rob myself of the goodness that felt unearned. Self-sabotage is real, especially after something bigger than what you normally allow yourself to have.  So remember this, first and foremost: You have earned the good things that you get. We deserve the cakes, face masks, rest, hikes, movies, hours of conversation with loved ones, vacations, therapy sessions and joys of this life, no matter what.

Whether you be traveling far, or taking a weekend for yourself at home, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest without worrying about what comes next. We’ve got memories to make, after all.

Celebrate Make It Rain GIF by Captain Cuts

The Magic of Authenticity

Do you have a hero? If so, what is it about them that has earned your admiration?

Like most kids, my heroes were big and flashy. They wore capes, they could sing, they could act, and they had the love of millions of fans. I never questioned why I seemed to only look at celebrities and superheroes as the best of us, because their fame spoke for itself. If you’re popular, then you must be perfect. But is that true?

As I began to take better care of myself, a key piece of the journey was coming to terms with my identity, with who I wanted  to be. I had a long list of heroes I wanted to emulate, however as celebrities with carefully crafted images, superheroes, and film characters, they represented a type of unattainable perfection that made me feel stuck. So, I began to look at things another way: rather than trying to become a copy of someone with status, power, and control, I decided to explore who I am already, in order to discover my authentic self.

By definition, “authentic” means “of undisputed origin;genuine”.

Distilled down for a regular person like myself, I believe authenticity means existing as you are without regard for the molds others want you to fit in. For example: I’m a survivor. I’m a Black woman, a Kansan, a right-handed singer with allergies. These are all facts, but in between those societal molds are the details and experiences that make me LaKase. I might not be exactly like Brandy (one of my earliest heroes), nor do I have the power she wields, but my authentic self is important and good in its own right.

Nowadays, my admiration is rooted in more abstract concepts: kindness, bravery, and authenticity. There are many ways to define each, whether it be through a cultural lens, a personal preference, or how I might be feeling in the moment.  But what remains constant is the work we have to put in to live our lives well. I broadcast who I am to others in the way I dress, how I speak, and in what I value in this world.

When I think about the people I admire now, it rarely has anything to do with the number of friends they have, how much money they make, or how beautiful they are but what they put into the world. The folks who continue to inspire me, and unwittingly push me to better myself, have been decidedly, radically themselves. Being yourself can be difficult, even dangerous depending on where you live or what you look like, but living your truth gives others permission to be who they are as well. That’s the magic of it all.

The videos below feature two women who make me so happy and encouraged about walking my path on my own terms. I hope you enjoy their words as much as I do.

 

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Unknown

Self-care 101: Journaling

I may be just a little biased about this, but I think writing is one of the coolest ways to take care of yourself. It only costs as much as a pen and paper, you can do it anywhere (within reason), and no one can do it like you doThere’s truly no downside.

In my opinion, If you don’t have access to therapeutic services keeping a journal is one of the best ways to get your emotions out in a healthy way. It goes beyond the bubble baths and face masks to help you get to the root of your emotions in order to grow, which is imperative on this journey.

The benefits of journaling

There are so many benefits that go along with keeping a journal. From improved confidence to beefing up your memory, the practice of wrestling with your thoughts is worth the time it takes to get it done. By putting your emotions down on paper – both good and bad – you’re freeing up your mind to start healing. Instead of keeping everything bottled up, only to explode at inopportune times, you’re carving out a space to be unfiltered and honest. We’re more likely to open up when we aren’t going to be judged, so what better place than a book no one gets to see unless you trust them to read it?

How to get started

Journals don’t have to be what they were in the past. Sure, they can be pretty, leather-bound books you save up for, or they can be your thoughts scribbled in a $2 notebook. You can do it digitally on your phone or computer if you please, as long as you carve out time to sit and let your mind flow. Your journal is your safe zone. It’s your place and your time to work out the knots messing up your day, or to gush about how fantastic your dinner was. It’s your reward to yourself for doing the damn thing.

I do think it’s important to acknowledge that writing isn’t easy for everyone, no matter how much you’ve been forced to do it in school. For many of us writing was a task,or sometimes a punishment for bad behavior, so it’s understandable if you can’t relax enough to let the emotions flow. Here’s a tip: if you approach your journal with the mindset that no one will see it – like no one, not even your cat – the process can become exponentially easier. Don’t worry about grammar, how your script looks, or if it even makes any sense at all ; this is purely for the release of your emotions. You can do it however you want to do it. It doesn’t matter if you want to use bullet points, write in short hand, or draw – it’s all the right way! As long as you are giving yourself freedom to be unfiltered you are going to flourish.

With that said, why not give journaling a go this year?

A Nightly Winter Skincare Routine (That Has Saved My Face)

I used to find my face so inconvenient. It scars easily, it’s too dark to some, I get pimples in crazy places, and hair removal makes it explode into an atlas of bumps. There was nothing great to me about my own personal flesh suit, so for years I just avoided it all together. You might be wondering, How can you ignore your face? Well, for me that meant never taking the time to nurture it. Beyond slathering on lotion I mostly worked around acknowledging how my body was doing, especially on the surface.

In 2017 I decided to recommit earnestly to my own mental health, self-care, and wellness through therapy first, but then it began to bleed into other aspects of my life. Now, I’m in a place where I don’t see my face and skin as an inconvenience, but a monument to who I come from. It’s all mine and mine alone, which makes it more precious than gold. I began to experiment with all manner of skincare essentials from oil cleansing (good in moderation for me) to a knock-off Clarisonic exfoliator (too harsh on my skin). Along the way I’ve picked up some really good habits and products that have helped me to see the fun in loving my face.

facial massage GIF
Refinery29

Today I want to share what products I’m using this winter to aid in keeping me looking fresh. I live in California where it isn’t nearly as cold as other parts of the country, but I’m still battling the dryness that accompanies a drop in temperature. As someone with naturally dry and sensitive skin, these products are helping to keep me from fully transforming into a mummy. I currently do this routine at night only, and so far it has helped to keep me hydrated a full 24 hours. The best part? Each product is under $50, and some under $20.

The details are below!

 

Target

First up is the bliss  in the honey mask. After a good cleansing with my generic face wash I will apply a quarter-sized amount of this yummy smelling goo all over my face and onto my neck. I let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.  This mask is hypoallergenic (great for my sensitive skin parts), phthalate free, paraben free and cruelty free, so I feel much better about myself in addition to getting skin like butter.

Amazon

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop singing the praises of rose water. I’ve written about my obsession before {here} when it comes to using it on my hair, but I’ve since learned that rose water also works great as a toner! After I’ve rinsed off the majority of the honey mask, I spray my face and neck with rose water, let it sit for a few minutes then jump to the next step. It makes me feel like I’ve just rolled in a field of (thornless) flowers.

 

Sephora

The Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb  was part of a splurge I gave myself at Christmas, and I am so glad I did it. I had been in the market for a good eye cream for quite some time, because I am not exactly gentle with my peepers. I rub them, strain them, and have all around neglected the skin under my eyes for too long. I’m predisposed to saggy and dark eyes, yet I wanted to help them look their absolute best. This product has helped me tremendously. After the rose water has settled I will use my pinky finger to apply a small dab of the product under each eye. Then, I gently massage it in, mindful not to get it into my eye, which I did once and instantly regretted! All in all, I love this little bomb of power.

Sephora

Last, but not least, in my nightly routine is the Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb. This product is the truth and the way for my prolonged facial hydration. At first, I was slathering it all over, but now I’ve learned that a little goes a long way. You truly don’t need much to reap the benefits of this moisturizer. After I’ve applied the eye cream and let it sit for a minute or two I will then apply a quarter-sized dollop of moisturizer to my face and neck. I again let it sit for a few minutes before I head to bed.

 

There’s one other secret weapon I only use after a particularly drying day – like after a hike or a flight:

Sephora

The Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask from Belif is a great alternative when you’ve put your face through the ringer. I use it in lieu of the moisturizer after a particularly rough day. All I do is skip the moisturizer, apply a very thin layer to my face and neck, go to bed, then wash it away in the morning. I have to admit I was worried about my sheets, but it didn’t create any lasting damage. If you keep the layer light the effect will be the same as applying the moisturizer

 

facial harvey beaks GIF by Nickelodeon
Giphy

 

That’s it for today, kids! Enjoy your week and moisturize!

 

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.