XIII: What’s A Day-Cay Like In The Bay?

This weekend Bree & Anete decided to spend a total of 12 hours in the Bay Area. Here's what resulted:

We started our weekend with a hockey game! Now, ice skating is a love of mine, but never have I actually been interested in hockey (odd because I prefer hockey skates over figure skates, but I digress). After watching my classmate play, I am absolutely certain that this will not be the last time I watch a hockey game. Great job NorCal Ice Raiders & excellent job, Simon!

 
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Thank you so much, Simon. You are beyond amazing! 

Thank you so much, Simon. You are beyond amazing! 


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San Francisco, Ca.

Union Sqaure

Museum of Ice Cream

Bota - Tapas and Paella Bar

Next stop: The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco! Now, people have been ranting and raving about this place and for good reason. The location is perfect, parking was not the nightmare that I thought it would be, and there was ample food and shopping nearby. 

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Clouds & Cherries.

 

 

Neapolitan Near the Ice Cream Vault.

(Check out the beautiful gold utensils in the background)

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Lollipops & Gummy Bears, Anyone?

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Orange Dreamsicle.

I just wanted to bring it home.

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Sister, Sister!

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Ever Lay In A Pool of Sprinkles With Your Bestie? 

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Saying Our Goodbyes to the Ice Cream Museum. 

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Next Stop... 

Food!

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final Stop while in S.f.:

Bota, Tapas & Paella Bar


We had an excellent time while in San Francisco. I hope you all had an excellent weekend as well!

XII: Makeup Monday? I Think So!

Hello Makeup Enthusiasts!

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As I previously mentioned in my introduction post, I absolutely LOVE all things makeup.

I didn't fall in love with the art of makeup until around 2013. This occurred shortly after graduating from college and becoming exposed to different makeup brands. It was not until recently that I made the decision to venture out and begin applying a full face of makeup. For the most part I've stuck with doing eyebrows, light eyeshadow and eyeliner. Now I've branched out into wearing foundation, lipsticks and even lashes. So, let's get into this week's look:

The look you see was a 'just because' face and I've been working diligently on perfecting the “cut crease” technique (that small section in the fold of the upper eyelid). I've listed the products I used for inquiring minds and if any of you beautiful readers have suggestions on ways I can improve my overall face and application techniques, please feel free to comment.

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By no means am I a makeup professional -- I didn't go to school for it, but I like to try my hand at varying makeup techniques. That being said, all you MUAs out there, be nice!

 


Here's how I created this look: 

I start off with a freshly washed face, clean, and then apply a face primer or a pore eraser (product list below). I apply foundation to my entire face and then, using the dipbrow pomade, draw on my eyebrows. I use a mix of the listed concealers to clean up my brows and use enough product to cover my lid to act as an eyeshadow primer.

I apply the base eyeshadow to the lid and then, using the same concealer mix, apply concealer to my eyelid ONLY. This is essentially “cutting your crease” -- giving that dramatic transition from the crease of your eye to the eyelid.

After cutting the crease, I apply eyeshadow to the lid where I applied the concealer -- along with liquid eyeliner, white liner on my waterline, mascara and false lashes.

After I finish with my eyes, I then highlight and contour. Some people highlight/contour their entire face. For this look and the majority of my makeup, I only apply the concealer mix to highlight under my eye and contour the cheekbones. I sometimes apply a gold shimmer highlight to the cheek area and use a loose powder to lock everything in place. However, for this particular look, loose powder wasn't used.

Eyes

Morphe Vegan Brush Set for application

Morphe 350 Palette

ELF liquid eyeliner in Black

Maybelline Scandal Eyes Mascara

Eylure Lashes No. 126

Salon Perfect Dipbrow Pomade in Dark Brown (Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart!)

LA Girl Pro Concealer in Toffee and Toast (I mix these)

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NYX pencil in White for Waterline

 

Face

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

MAC liquid foundation in NC 50

Makeup Revolution Contour Palette

LA Girl Pro Concealer in Toffee and Toast (I use for highlight)

BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel Palette for highlight

 

Lips

NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Club Hopper

NYX Liquid Lingerie Lipstick in Ruffle Trim

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The Cut Crease

Here is a more dramatic cut crease. 

I hope you've enjoyed my first dive into our Let's Be Creative section of the site (coming soon). 

XI: Sleigh Bells, Snow, And... Living Single?

Ah, the New Year… A time of engagements, winter weddings, kisses with that special someone, and picture-perfect Instagram posts of smiling couples celebrating these joyous milestones.

Do I sound bitter? I hope not, because I’m genuinely happy for those people as long as they are genuinely happy. Or at least I try to be happy for them while I lounge in sweatpants, ugly-eating a Chipotle burrito and either Netflix binging or reading smutty novels. But I digress.

On the opposite side of the relationship coin you’ll find people like me—the ones who are just trying to find that ultimate happiness, but are dealing with struggles of their own in the process.

You know how there are different tax brackets in the hierarchy of society? Well, relationship statuses seem to have developed their own social order with singledom shoved down toward the bottom. Singledom quickly becomes the ‘black sheep’ of the relationship family, especially as we age and our friends settle down. I can’t help but wonder why, though. Is it truly such a shameful thing to be alone, at least until you find your special someone?

"How are you single?"
"You could have any guy you want—why not give [so-and-so] a chance?"
"I know someone you might like."
"You should get back together with [so-and-so]."

NO. Just, no. I’ve grown tired of hearing these comments, even if people mean well by them, so I’m using 2018 as the catalyst for a fresh start in dating. These coming years will be a time for change in the romance department, for me personally, and hopefully for anyone else out there who feels the same level of frustration. This is my plan for effecting that change:

1) Self-evaluate. Reflect on your own truths and embrace them, even if it hurts.

Bree once discussed the process of conducting “Self Check,” and how it can help you stay on track and avoid the lonely spiral down the hole of negativity and cynicism. Well, I believe this concept can also be applied to our notions of romance. For a long time, I wondered why I felt so unsettled; why I couldn’t just be content in my long-term relationship and get married; why I broke it off only to launch a bad luck streak with other men. Then I realized I needed to step back and engage in some serious introspection. What are my expectations, and how am I portraying them to the world?

During a recent dinner outing, after I poked some lighthearted fun at my perpetual singledom, my date made a thought-provoking comment.

“I know why you’re single,” he said. “When people see you, they see that you have this goal set out for yourself, and you’re just really going for that goal.”

I didn’t quite understand why that would influence someone’s dating potential, but then the lightbulb gradually came on. He was right. My intense focus in other areas, like my career and my schooling, made me unavailable to a certain portion of the dating pool. But in the process of conducting the dating “self check,” I realized that my intensity and ambitious nature were important parts of who I am, and whoever I ended up with would have to accept that. Remember what you value most about yourself, and don’t compromise those qualities to appease someone else.

Unfortunately, my own personal quirks and my desire for independence and solitude sometimes overshadow my ability to show another person that I actually crave his closeness. I rarely initiate outings, concerned that I might be ‘bothering’ the other person by doing so. If I stay at someone’s house overnight, I’ll rush out of there the next morning for fear that I’ve overstayed my welcome. Even my own long-time struggle with mental illness has clouded my ability and desire to be open and vulnerable with other people (you might read more on this later).

We all have areas where we can improve. These happen to be the areas I need to work on, because they are products of my own self-consciousness and inner issues.

2) Learn to let go when you know it’s not going to work. Don’t force it.

In her list of lessons she learned in 2017, Nicole emphasized that at some point you just have to let go of relationships that are past their expiration date. “The proof is in the pudding,” as the saying goes. If you’ve been sleeping with someone for a long time hoping that he’ll finally make you his girlfriend, it’s probably not going to happen. If your marriage or relationship is past the point of repair and you’ve tried absolutely everything to make it work, it might be time to let go. The list goes on, but the concept is the same. Stop watering those dead plants.

Many of us grow up believing that we’ll be settled into our careers by 23, happily married with a house by 25, and have babies not long after, but strangely enough I never expected that to happen to me. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted that to be me, honestly. And now, at 26, I can openly admit that this timeline just wasn’t meant for me. I’m a late bloomer, I suppose.

Deep down I’m definitely a hopeless romantic who dreams of being swept off her feet by the proverbial ‘Prince Charming,’ minus the white stallion, because that would just be SO extra and I would feel bad for the horse.

But in all seriousness, like every other red-blooded woman out there, I want to experience that spark with someone—a palpable chemistry where I just know it’s mutual. Unfortunately, reality has not yet subscribed to this wishful storyline. The rare times that I felt that ‘spark,’ it turned out that he did not want me the way I wanted him, or a relationship just wasn’t feasible for one reason or another.

Does the one really exist? Or do we encounter a series of ones throughout our life, depending on what stage of self-discovery we are in? I have no clue, but from personal experience I can definitely say that one universal truth remains: You can’t force it. Chemistry with another person might come once in a lifetime, or it might happen with multiple people. It might be apparent right away, or it might manifest during the get-to-know-you phase. Regardless of when or how it happens, I know I need that chemistry in order to go all in, and I intend to carry this train of thought with me into 2018 and beyond.

I’ll confess that I’ve given my body to the wrong people under the guise of ‘hookup culture,’ hoping (naively) that it would lead to something more.

I’ve sacrificed my time for people who wouldn’t do the same, hoping it would spur them to reciprocate.

I’ve failed to follow my intuition even when it screamed at me to let go and move on.

But that’s the good part. It’s a new day, a new year. I won’t make those mistakes again, because I’ve learned from them.

3) Make peace with the inevitable. Focus on your own life, and the rest will fall into place.

Our social media-dominated culture and dating phenomenons like “ghosting” and “benching” have made it more challenging than ever to find something real between all the bullshit. The ‘grass is greener’ mentality has only become more prevalent in this era of endless options. Sadly, this dynamic is here to stay, but from now on I choose to remain optimistic and cling to the belief that true relationships are not a lost cause.

Even being engaged to my long-term ex, I always felt off kilter, like something in my heart was sorely missing. Unfortunately, one thing no one ever tells you about love is that it hurts just as much to break a heart, as it does to be the one getting it broken. Sometimes I still wonder if I made the right choice—whether I should have just stayed in that safe zone. But I’ve also learned unforgettable lessons during these few years of singledom, which have allowed me to mature into the woman I am now and break away from the common path. This change in my life was inevitable and necessary, even if it was painful to go through at the time.

I’m still figuring myself out and figuring out what I need in a partner. Contrary to the pressures imposed on us by societal norms, there is no mandatory deadline for ‘putting a ring on it.’

Am I crazy for giving up a potentially ‘safe’ and comfortable life in favor of being alone and searching for that greater something? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone is crazy for following his or her intuition, both in love and in life.

It’s time to accept that not everyone is set up for the characteristic pattern of engagement, marriage, kids, grandkids, and so forth. The nuclear family is not a requirement, and people don’t have to follow the same curriculum. Tying the knot is not the be-all-end-all, and having children is not a biological imperative.

By no means am I saying I don’t want those things—I do—but I don’t think they’re necessary in order to lead a fulfilling life. If I do get married, and if I do have children, then it likely won’t happen until I’m well into my thirties. And you know what? It was a hard pill to swallow at first, but I’ve come to terms with that revelation. Making peace with the inevitable is crucial, otherwise you’ll always carry around the weight of your unhappiness while watching everyone else move forward.

Put simply, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for relationships. To those who have found that long-awaited chemistry with your ‘one,’ I wish you all the best and I hope that happiness lasts a lifetime. But I hope you can also return those positive vibes for people like us, the ones who are still searching, still hoping, still dreaming.

To anyone who shares these sentiments, let’s embark on this journey together and make 2018 a fresh start. Don’t settle, and don’t waste your time on people who don’t deserve it. Just keep focusing on doing the things you love and being with the ones who bring you joy.

Everything else will fall into place.

No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another’s happiness.
— Graham Greene

A Little Christmas Fun For Everyone?

Happy Christmas to all!

Because I am so against flooding social media during the holidays instead of flooding your family members with love, I've decided to keep this week's post fun, short, and sweet.

This week, I am posting 25 questions that the ladies of Let's Be Breef will answer simply and honestly. I have placed a letter next to each question so that the readers know who is responding to what. (B) is for Brianna J., (A) is for Anete, and (N) is for Nicole. So, try not to judge us for whatever happens next: 

1. What is your favorite past time? (N)

Reading

2. What is your favorite color? (A)

Red, with purple as a close second. 

3. Whales or Llamas? (N)

Whales.

4. Favorite Movie? (B)

Peter Pan, Wolverine, & Les Miserables. I cannot pick just one. 

5. If you could be any animal, what would you be? (N)

Cheetah

6. Favorite movie snack? (A)

Popcorn, of course!

7. Make-up "must have(s)"? (A)

Mascara and lipstick. Even on a plain-face day, they bring life into your look. 

8. What is your shoe size? (B)

Huge. Just kidding, but not really! I wear a 10 in Nine West heels (my go to heels), and a 9.5 in Vans, Nikes, and Timberlands. Those are basically the only shoes that I wear, so I have no clue about my sizing with other shoe types. 

9. Vogue or Elle? (N)

Neither. 

10. Favorite clothing brand? (B)

Worthington at JC Penney's, Old Navy, and Zara. 

11. Guilty Pleasure? (A)

Reading smutty romance novels.

12. Marriage and kids vs. Single and career? (N)

Marriage and kids.

13. Big house vs. little house? (A)

Somewhere in the middle, but more on the little side. I want my house to feel like a home, not a museum. 

14. Future son and daughter names? (B)

Jazale Lynn ___ & Joel Kylo Kendricks ___.

15. Hard wood floors or carpet? (N)

Hardwood floors.

16. Dream destination? (B)

Anywhere, I just like to take in new surroundings, new people and new things.

17. What podcast are you currently obsessed with? (A)

I'm not really a podcast person, but "Serial" was a good one. 

18. What book are you currently reading? (N)

The Bible. 

19. Best movie this year? (B)

The Greatest Showman, hands down. 

20. Song/playlist of the year? (B)

21. Favorite TV show? (B)

Living Single, I am pretty sure that I am Maxinne Shaw.

22. Michael Jackson or Prince? (B)

Both, I win.

23.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? (A)

My penchant for overthinking everything and second-guessing my decisions.

24. What do you want for Christmas? (B)

To eat, smile, and spend time with family. 

25. Favorite Star Wars Movie? (B)

Episode Two - Attack of the Clones


Thank you so much for reading and Happy Holidays to you all!

The Greatest Showman (Review)

With such a great film, it is difficult to decide where to start. This movie was flawlessly done, from the cinematography down to the imagery and the costumes, this movie exudes excellence! Because it is so difficult to find a starting point, I suppose we can start with the beginning:

Opening

There's something about that classic 20th Century Fox Films Fanfare at the beginning of the movies that just tells me that I will thoroughly enjoy what's to come...

We open the official movie with the upbeat opening number "The Greatest Show". The image of Hugh Jackman posing with his back to the screen, long lapels, and a cane in a beautiful red coat. This creates an intense feeling of anticipation. The audience of show-goers ready to be handed happiness by none other than P.T. Barnum himself! All of this, a day dream, of course, of young P.T. Barnum staring into a shop window at the beautiful three-piece suit and top coat that he would one day wear.

The costume design by Ellen Mirojnick for this movie was insanely brilliant. The long lapels, double breasted coats, undone bowties and thick threading of every trench coat, pea coat and three piece suit fit flawlessly with the old-timey feel of the movie. 

One of my absolute favorite costumes of this movie belonged to young Charity Barnum while in boarding school. It was a Tiffany blue school girl uniform with a black neck-tie and white accents. 

Every costume and outfit was clearly thought out to match the character's back story. From Lettie Lutz's décolleté, dark satin purple dress to Phillip Carlyle's torso-hugging pure white button-up shirts with a perfectly laid white bowtie, undone of course. Mirojnick considered it all, and it shows. 

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This Is me

This powerful cry, better yet, scream could bring tears to the toughest person in the movie theater. 

This number was a testament to those who have ever been looked down upon or treated negatively for the things that made them different. 

Every time I hear this song, I can imagine the cast walking through the grand room of the theater with the upscale show-goers staring at them in disgust. Lettie leads her fellow showmen with her voice and her confidence which, in turn, creates confidence in them as they all stomp past those that do not understand them. The power of this scene is euphoric. I feel its power every time I hear this song. Keala Settle is a powerhouse and I hope she continues to create magnetic bliss with her voice the way she has in this film. 

Themes

You can tell how great a film is by how well they can tie many themes into one storyline. This film was full of meaningful themes. Some that I did not even catch until my second viewing, and many that I probably still have not caught. 

This film covers racism, classism, discrimination, love, humanity, and so much more. Each theme subtly tied into the other. The forbidden love shared by Anne Wheeler and Phillip Carlyle dealt specifically with racism, classism and insecurities. It was beautifully shown in the eyes of Zac Efron and Zendaya in scene after scene. 

We even learned a lesson or two from the theater critic himself, James Gordon Bennett played by Paul Sparks, but I won't spoil that story for you.

Dancing

Every dance number was memorable! When does this happen? NEVER. 

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Ashley Wallen of Queensland, Australia has created musical magic once again

The up-to-date dance moves in this film were insanely brilliant and memorable. From Anne Wheeler's hair pat in the final number to the footwork in "This Is Me", Wallen created modern musical gold.

Each number had fast paced footwork that hit every beat of the music. The intensity and energy of the characters in conjunction with it was vibrant, to say the least. I can never listen to "From Now On" without at a minimum giving it a solid shimmy (I owe this much!). 

For this movie, and so many more, Wallen should go down in history as one of the best choreographers to ever do it. This may just be my opinion, but when I go see a movie over and over (paying full price, mind you) just to get down the choreography so that I can properly dance to it at home, I think that is the impact that many choreographers strive for when they create a number. He managed to do this with every dance number in the film. Never have I been so inspired to figure out how to move these two left feet of mine! 

 

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Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler:  I initially had no idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for this long.  Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.   Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable.  Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle).  Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler: 

I initially had no idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for this long. 

Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.  

Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable. 

Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle). 

Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Rebecca Ferguson & Loren Allred

"Never Enough" was performed by Jenny Lind when P.T. Barnum brought her to America based on her reputation. He had planned their national takeover but when it came, it hit him like a ton of bricks. All of the fame came to be based on one song, "Never Enough".

This song, sung by Loren Allred, is another one of this movie's powerhouse songs. It was very unexpected as it was not one of the heavily advertised numbers, but it was one of the movie's best kept secrets. 

The emotions that went through me each time I watched this movie, this scene in particular, were vast in variety. We can start with the chills that you get when watching the flawless lip-syncing by Rebecca Ferguson and we can finish with the angelic voice of Loren Allred. This number will make every hair on your body stand on end and bring tears to your eyes. It did for me.   

Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron

Finally, I want to discuss our two musical veterans. I will start by saying that I love these two together. Not just because they are both handsome with amazing voices, but also because they are both passionate about every project that they do. 

Hugh Jackman literally becomes each and every character that he plays. Two out of three of my favorite movies have Hugh Jackman in them and he is completely transformed in each movie. That type of versatility in one person, one creator, one actor -- is timeless. 

What also stood out for me, since Les Miserables is another favorite movie of mine, was the fact that Hugh Jackman sounds differently in each film. His vocal range and ability is stunning, to say the least. Along with that, his acting is always exactly as it should be. He is P.T. Barnum through and through just like he is Logan and he is Jean Valjean. 

Zac Efron, you have come a long way from your Summerland days, but that is how I knew you best. When I saw Efron make the move to the Disney Channel and into musicals, I was nothing short of shocked. I fell into the High School Musical craze just like everyone else and have probably watched that movie a million times. Efron went on to make more films aligned with his age, but, in making his return to musicals this year, he leaves everyone questioning why he ever left.

Phillip Carlyle, a well-to-do and handsome young man becomes partners with P.T. Barnum and his circus. Carlyle shocked me the most because he turned out to be the complete opposite of who you would have expected him to be. His heart was as big and beautiful as his eyes throughout this movie and if you are able to watch this movie and not fall in love with Zac Efron doing musicals then you can knock me down with a feather because I believe he was born for this. 


I find it difficult to put this movie into few words (as you can see). And I have so much more to say on it, but I'd rather you see for yourselves. 

 If you wait to see it, you will regret having waited. If you rush to see it, you will see it time and time again. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will be happy.

The noblest act is that of making others happy.
— P.T. Barnum

Because I was interested in the man behind the film, I purchased and began to read the autobiography of P.T. Barnum. 

Read with me and let's all discuss: 

X: Could We Have Saved Them?

Consider me lucky... 

When I was younger, I was so sheltered that I had no idea what suicide was. I knew the basics: you need this to survive, you live "right" by doing that, be kind, read the Bible, respect your parents and your peers. 

If I went online, my grandmother monitored me closely to make sure that I did not stray away from Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network's website. When I watched television, it was Naruto (which, come to find out, was more "adult" than we thought), Psalty The Singing Bible, Veggie Tales, Diff'rent Strokes, or The Nanny. I was watched very closely and, for that, I am now grateful.


Suicide is the act of taking one's own life intentionally. It is planned. It is calculated. It is deliberate. It is unbearable to think of an adult forming the thought of suicide, and now children are exposed to and also committing suicide at higher rates than ever before. My heart breaks when I hear yet another story of a child taking his/her own life before he/she has even lived. 

It is difficult to shelter your children from the bullies at school, the bullies on social media, and even the bullies under their own roofs, but it has to be done. With puberty hitting boys and girls at earlier ages and hormones, emotions and dating placed on top of that, these young children struggle with keeping their minds at ease. This is where the parents work must begin. 

Now that we have adequately been placed on notice of the threat of mental discourse, emotional instabilities and overall thoughts of suicide of these teens, the conversations must be had. Discuss bullies/bullying, discuss self-love, discuss something with your children to help them value their own lives and the lives of others. Children that bully learn this behavior from somewhere. If they learn it at school, then they are not learning to refrain from falling prey to that behavior at home.

As parents, you are the first teachers in your children's lives. You have the job of teaching them compassion, love, manners, respect, and the list goes on. If you drop the ball, then everyone else suffers.

To families like those of Mallory Grossman, a teen who took own her life due to bullying; Tysen Benz, who hanged himself after hearing news that his girlfriend committed suicide (which happened to be a horrible joke); and to the family of Imani McCray who committed suicide after being placed on timeout and seeing it done on the news, we owe much more than our condolences. 

Parents, you owe a watchful eye and lessons of love. Children, you owe it to yourself to ask for help. Peers, you owe respect, at the very least. Humans, you owe humanity. We have to do better.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has an easy-to-use website that provides warning signs for those potentially at risk of committing suicide as well as counseling for those assisting someone with thoughts of suicide. This is a 24-hour lifeline that you are able to call and/or chat with to receive suicide prevention help. 

I encourage all to use the readily available resources. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Blessings to all on behalf of the Let's Be Breef team.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/teen-girls-committing-suicide-alarming-rate-article-1.3384601

IX: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2017? (Part Three)

This has been a year where I sat back, observed and did things for me. I usually spend my years thinking of others, being with others, and doing for others, but this year, I took time with just me in mind. In my observations, I've learned a few things: 

Positivity Is Not the Only Key

A year or so ago, the trend seemed to be "positivity". Everything was "positive vibes" this and "stay positive" that, and I hate(d) it!

I literally watched people put on airs all over social media about how positivism will get them through all types of preposterous things. Earthquakes, 'Oh stay positive, it'll never happen again.' Death in the family, 'Well you know, you guys should have just been more positive.' Wanting a promotion, 'Oh, I'll just stay positive and it will come.' 

I have learned that "positivity" is just another thing that people use as an excuse or a crutch. Anything to keep from actually having to work hard, right? But hard work is what gets you across that finish line and then to the stars.

Positivity is just another minuscule thing that helps you towards the finish line, but it alone could never get you to the heights that you could reach with hard work. 

Not All Rings Are Worth the Wringer

Throughout college and post-graduate life, I watched friends and family members rush to marry who they thought was the 'love of their lives'. I've even watched old friends marry people who they know aren't the loves of their lives. And so begins the trend of marrying just to marry.

The sad part about this is that one person will always end up hurt, devaluing themselves, and putting up with a ton of things that will only leave them bitter in the end (because it will end). When marriage happens just because you both can afford rings and are both off on Monday when the courthouse will be open, you should know that it will not last. In these instances, there may be pain, infidelity, and more pain, but you have to also know that you are worthy of more than what he/she has decided to put you through. If you take the time to know yourself and love yourself, then you will know when you are truly able to know and love someone else. 

Putting yourself first is lonely, but it is necessary. We’ve said in posts prior to this one, take the time to be alone, and appreciate and learn You before you try to become “One” with someone else. Without the proper foundation, you are not able to compromise, to emphasize, and to love selflessly the way you should in a marriage and neither is your partner.

Rushing into marriage just for the title will lead to pain. Take time out for You before attempting to give yourself to someone else. 

There's No Way That One Is The Loneliest Number

Again, do not be afraid to be alone. There are plenty of movie scenes and television shows that depict the model "popular girl/guy" surrounded by a group of people only to learn how lonely and misplaced she/he feels inside. Being surrounded by people does not make you feel any less lonely especially if those people are not truly your friends, or if they do not truly support you. 

I have embraced being alone because it has helped me weed out the majority of the bad and fake friends in my life. I am now left with about four people that I can actually count on, and I would not change that at all.

It's not always the numbers that matter. Get to the meat and potatoes of the person and decide whether or not they are aligned with who you are before calling them 'Friend'. Let's all strive to not be the lonely person amongst a group of people. 

Nothing Is More Toxic Than Remaining Close To The 'Victim'

This one is fairly self-explanatory. I am sure that many of us have encountered at least one person in our lives thus far who lives in a state of "Woe is Me". This person wants to be the victim in every possible situation and it is, in my opinion, sad. However, we have to also take a look at what brought us to be in this type of person's line of communication to determine what we are doing wrong. 

If we are, essentially, a reflection of who we surround ourselves with, then how did I end up with a Chronic Victim as a friend? That is certainly not my title nor is it my role, but I did find that I enabled this person to play the victim around me by either coddling this person or giving the dry nod and "mmhmm" that I do all too well. These types of friendships and relationships are toxic for both you (for enabling), and the Chronic Victim (because you are neither helping them nor changing them). 

If you are not going to help this person out of the Chronic Victim role and into a better role then you are hurting them and yourself. The choice is to either help them reflect on why they choose this role, or leave them be completely, but do not remain in this toxic space because it will surely bring you down as well. 

You Cannot Learn & Grow With Your Mouth Open

My parents always say, "I cannot tell you anything because you always think you have an answer". This may be a typical Black parent thing, or it may just be a typical parenting-past-the-teens thing, but either way, I hear it all too much and it leads me to my final lesson from 2017.

Now that I have seen this first hand, I can fully agree with my parents when they talk about how annoying it is to not be able to talk to a "Know It All". This type of person only listens enough to pick out their favorite word from your sentence so that they can then turn around and tell you their opinion and then everything that they know about that word! It's annoying, to say the least. But, most of all, it keeps that person from learning. 

As someone who is constantly on a mission to grow, change, and inspire this is an important lesson for me to keep in mind daily. It is difficult, in many instances, to actively listen because a lot of the times people's opinions cloud the actual facts. But, still in all, it is more necessary to listen than to talk. 

A closed mouth may not get "fed", but it does allow for an opened ear. 


In closing, 2017 may not have been the most memorable year for me, but it was full of lessons. All it takes is a little time to reflect on them, a little application and a lot of hard work to ensure that, next year I am learning bigger and better lessons, and not these same ones all over again.

Thank you all for reading our first three-part series. Thank you for adding to the reason that we continue to create content, and thank you for providing a listening ear and a hand of support.

 

VIII: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2017? (Part Two)

As we near the end of the year I find it benefits us all to reflect and more importantly, self-evaluate. What did I learn? What are the areas that I need growth? How can I better handle unexpected situations going forward? These were just a few questions I ponder before deciding to create this post.

For me, 2017 has but nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and throughout all the pain and joy I’ve experienced, I’ve learned a lot about myself and even adjusted my perspective on life. Here are just a few of the things that I chose to focus on:

Parenting 101

I’ve accepted the fact that there is no way to learn how to be a parent. There’s no rulebook or self-help guide that can mentally and emotionally prepare you to tackle the task of parenthood. As delicate as the lives of our children are, unfortunately, parenting is trial and error. You learn as you go. I think back to my potty training stages. I read several blogs, joined support groups and purchased books that were supposed to help me successfully potty-train my daughter. That was a mistake! All it did was stress me out. The authors were basically putting deadlines on when your child should have grasped the concept of using the bathroom on their own. There were schedules and intricate techniques on ways to get your child to use the bathroom. Luckily, I had my mother to guide in the better direction which was to let my daughter get it on her own. “Stop trying to force her and get yourself frustrated when she doesn’t perform like everyone else says she should. Society establishes these timeframes but you don’t have to ensure she follows suit. She’s a baby.” That’s what my mother would tell me. I was so overwhelmed with trying to train her, I finally decided to just let go. Let her get it on her own. She’s perceptive, she’s articulate, she will get it eventually and sure enough, she did. Slowly but surely, she would tell me she wanted to use her own potty and that she no longer wanted her “diappy.” So, I’m encouraging the parents out there to accomplish the child-rearing milestones in your own time. Be patient. Enjoy the journey with your child. Don’t be so hard on them, they’re children. I know there’s a lot of frustration that comes along with the job, but I’ve also learned to release the stress in the form of laughter. It takes less energy out of you in comparison to disciplining.

Sometimes, It’s just Over

“Stop trying to breathe new life into dead things”, a quote that resonated with me from Bishop T.D. Jakes. I am so guilty of trying to bring back things from the past, trying to relive them again, or trying making it work. You know, ‘make things how they used to be.’ Unfortunately, some situations and some relationships are just dead and over with. I’ve learned that, as hard of pill as that is to swallow, I have to let go. People and opportunities will continuously enter and exit our lives, and I’ve come to accept that as a necessary occurrence of life.

As it pertains to people, most come for a reason and a season – after that, they’re gone. Same with opportunities, they come and they go. The key is learning to adjust. Learn from that relationship or that opportunity, grow and continue to move forward. I have truly struggled with letting people go and trying to make things right or to make them okay, but I learned that it won’t be. That relationship/opportunity served its purpose and now I need to move forward. So, if you feel you’re continuing to entertain a relationship – be that a platonic or romantic, if it’s lingered a little longer than it should have, let it go. Move on and look forward to new possibilities.

Love Yourself

I believe that we are all out here in search of someone to love who will love us in return. I did discover however, that it’s impossible to love another properly if you don’t fully and unconditionally love yourself. I know I can be extremely hard and critical of myself. Not liking certain aspects of my appearance because someone else decided they didn’t, or feeling like a failure because I didn’t accomplish all I should have based on society’s rules. Or even, not liking like my own character or things that make me me, because someone else has continually condemned those things. I have also succumbed to allowing other people to use me as their punching bag because they don’t like themselves either. All that has done is tear down my self-esteem and self-worth. I wasn’t loving myself when I continued to tolerate emotional and verbal abuse. I literally had to check myself I had to learn to love myself enough to say ‘no’ and walk away from those situations. It was hard. We, as humans, get comfortable and we romanticize certain situations in the hopes of creating a better outcome than what we’re really experiencing. I had to literally tell myself, “No.” “No Nicole, you will not settle and you will not tolerate mistreatment. You’re going to love yourself.” I had to tell myself, “I love me” out loud, throughout the day. As crazy as it sounds, the more I said it the more I believed it. For the things that I didn’t like, it became a matter of accepting them or doing what it takes to change them. Under no circumstances was I ever going to neglect myself the way I had ever again. If you’re experiencing or have experienced similar situations, I don’t care who it was from – whether it be from a spouse, friend, family member, or whoever, just tell them “no.” Walk away and learn to love you.

As the New Year approaches, hopefully you all will take time to reflect and focus on those areas that we know require improvement. If nothing else, here are a few things I encourage all of you to do. Learn to be gentle. Be kind. Be patient – with not just others but also yourself. Run your own race. Love freely.  Experience new things. Learn to let go. Laugh often. Set your own timeframes for accomplishments. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!

VII: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2017?

Resolutions never meant much to me. The last time I made a resolution, I was 16 years old and vowed to quit drinking soda for an entire year. I managed to avoid that delicious carbonation for all 365 days (minus one accidental sip of Sprite—oops!), but it really didn’t make much of an impact on my life. While I may not subscribe to the “New Year, New Me” mentality, I do believe in the constant growth and wisdom that only come from time and experience. Every year brings new lessons for us to learn, and while not all of them are good, they are all equally important. So, without further ado, here are five essential lessons I learned in 2017:

1) Trust should come slowly, but it can disappear in the blink of an eye.

The truth is, people are going to let you down. Friends, people you thought were your friends, romantic partners, even family—some of the people you hold closest to your heart will end up compromising their loyalty (assuming they had any to begin with) and losing your trust. It’s an unfortunate, but inevitable, part of life.

I’ve learned that it’s best to keep your circle as small as possible because not everyone has pure intentions. Only let in the ones who are deserving of your trust and have proven that they are worthy of knowing you on such a deep level. This is easier said than done, especially in a time where people have become frighteningly talented at hiding their truth behind a façade of care and compassion, but just be careful. Have as many acquaintances as you want, meet new friends, and enjoy life, but at the end of the day remember who is really there for you in thick and thin. 

2) Stop giving chances to people who don’t deserve them.

I'm going to be completely honest here. I am SO guilty of this. With men, with friends, and with people in general. But I’m finally learning that being too patient is a real thing. One of the biggest mistakes I made was believing in people's potential, when I should have been looking at what their actions were communicating instead. This year, I reached my breaking point when I realized how much crap I was taking from someone who had absolutely no regard for other people’s feelings. Something inside me finally clicked, and I thought to myself, WHY am I putting up with this behavior and allowing it to influence how I feel? 

Yes, it’s OK to purge toxic people from your life. If someone is bringing negative energy into your world, or constantly letting you down with no apologies and zero regard for your emotions, then let that person go. Take care of yourself, and stop condoning the behavior. YOU ARE IN CONTROL.

3) Keep reaching for the stars, even if the people around you don’t have your back.

Not everyone is going to be happy for you when you succeed. This is just an unfortunate fact. I wish we lived in a world where life wasn't viewed as a constant competition, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I try my hardest to be happy for everyone in my life when something great happens (whether it be a new career move, a new relationship milestone, or their latest travel adventure), but not everyone returns the favor.

The green eyes of envy can put a chink in even the strongest armor if we let them. Remember that life is not a contest. Be happy for your friends when something good happens to them, and hopefully they will offer you the same support. There is already enough negativity in the world without the added pressure of tiptoeing around our accomplishments, just to appease the fragile egos of others.

4) Take calculated risks, because they might pay off in the future.

Life begins at the end of our comfort zones, right? This can be applied to anything, whether it be dating, fashion, travel, food, or careers. Taking risks can sometimes bring its own rewards. This year, I took some chances in all those areas and so far I haven’t regretted them! Did all of those risks pay off? Perhaps not right away, but sometimes we don’t see the benefits immediately. Delayed gratification is the name of the game here.

So, that person you have feelings for, but you can't seem to get the words out? Tell him or her how you feel, even if you get your heart broken. Go on that date, even if you're nervous. Wear that daring, colorful dress you've been eyeing. Take that new job, even if it's in a different city. End the relationship if it's destroying you, even if it means being alone for a while. The lesson here is, whatever you are hiding behind, whether it's your own fear of the unknown or your worries of embarrassment, just STOP. Stop thinking about the what-ifs, because they will drive you crazy. Do the things that take you beyond your wheelhouse, because they might bring you exactly where you are meant to be.

5) That trip you've been talking about for years? Stop talking about it, and be about it!

This year, I finally put an end to my travel excuses (not enough money, not enough time, blah, blah, blah) and I booked a long-awaited trip to the beautiful country of Italy. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I met an awesome Italian student in my second year of law school, we became inseparable during her time in the U.S., and she and I finally put our heads together to plan my summer trip to her home country.

Just to be clear, I realize how difficult it can be to pack up and go. There is a lot to consider, like finances, childcare issues, or work obligations, but I also believe that where there is a will, there is a way. I used my tax refund for plane tickets, I saved money from each paycheck, and I planned the logistics far enough in advance that the pricing worked in my favor. It was one of the most AMAZING experiences of my life, and while it pushed me out of my comfort zone financially and physically, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Life-changing and unforgettable, in more ways than one. Take that trip, and satisfy your wanderlust.

Sometimes we learn things the hard way, but each lesson is a valuable stepping stone on our path to enlightenment. Thank you, 2017, for teaching me exactly what I needed to learn, and for giving me all the right tools in this journey of self-improvement.

VI: What My Thanksgiving Will Look Like... ?

FAMILY

Imagine this:

The kids are attempting to cook, the turkey is raw, the cranberry sauce has touched the ground multiple times and cream of mushroom soup is going into things that cream of mushroom soup does not belong in. Just kidding, that’s an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  During the Holidays, all of the “feel-good” shows and movies are in heavy syndication and running on all of my favorite networks all day long. My Thanksgivings are shaped and moulded by the shows and movies that I finally get to sit down with family and watch around the Holidays. All I have to do is grab a blanket, snuggle up next to whoever is taking a break from cooking at that moment and indulge.

If I’m next to my uncle, then I’m either watching Star Wars or The Peanuts; if I am next to my aunt then I am either watching The Nanny, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or something on the Lifetime Network; if I am sitting next to my mom then we are definitely watching Martin talk about his Mama’s biscuits; if I am next to my sister (who doesn’t let me get too close) then we are watching the Macy’s Day Parade while she plans out her Black Friday Attack; and if I’m sitting next to my dad or grandpa then I am watching football, Walker Texas Ranger, Andy Griffith or old Westerns.

Oddly enough, the television is the way that I remember the Holidays the most. We are all basically gathered around the television with loved ones up until it is time to gather around the dinner table with loved ones. Thanksgiving for my family happens in two parts: the first part is with my father’s family (usually at my grandparents house) and the second part happens with my mom’s family (now at my cousin’s house). The flavors of the day are insane. I go from eating dressing, ham, yams, greens, turkey, fried chicken, and pie at one house with these flavors to eating the exact same things at another house with completely different flavors. How they do it is pure magic (Black Girl Magic), and all I want to do is learn so that I can, one day, host the Thanksgiving festivities.

LOVE

As I got older, my Thanksgivings were spent sharing a lounge chair made for one while watching television, eating Chinese food, laughing until we cried, and drifting in-and-out of sleep until we got the phone call that the food was ready. At that point, we’d get up and hit as many houses as possible just so that we could fill our bellies, laugh with family we hadn’t seen in months, play board games/video games, and then leave just to end up right back in that lounge chair. No matter how I spend my Thanksgivings, there are two things that are always a constant, family around the television and love.

As someone who is as anti-love as they come, something about the Holidays always lights the little love-flame in my heart. Nice gestures are in the air, giving feels good and manners have their rebirth around the Holidays. I am enchanted by it all. The colors and smells of the Holidays add a warmth in my heart that even Summer can't emulate. 

This upcoming Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for love, taste-testing the food, education, family, friends, creative minds and life. I am excited to spend my Thanksgiving with my loved ones eating all of the pies that I requested throughout the year, laughing, and watching television.

So to all I say, Let's Be Breef, but, most of all, Let's Be Thankful!


What Does My Thanksgiving Look Like?

Anete Millers

As a child, I always remembered waking up to a crisp autumn morning, with the heater providing a welcome solace from the outside November chill. The delectable smells of a Thanksgiving feast emanated from our home’s little kitchen, and when I settled into the living room, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade would be on TV while my mom prepared the turkey. For me, Thanksgiving has always been about one thing—family.

This is the time of year where our boisterous worlds quiet down a bit and life slows its pace. Hallmark movies and Christmas music start to make their entrance, and baking cookies and treats becomes a common pastime.

As the years go by, and my brothers and my sister get older, we begin to lead our separate lives. This sometimes creates a disconnect between the feelings of closeness we shared in our younger years. The holidays provide my heart with a chance to recover, not just from the stresses of everyday life, but from the emotions created by the slow, natural separation of family. When everyone is together again, it’s as if things never changed. I cling tightly to those feelings of warmth and familiarity, because as we age, the opportunity to experience them grows scarce.

The beauty of this holiday is in its simplicity. Most of us focus only on one thing—relishing our time with the ones we love most. Even when I was a teenager working in retail, I would make it a priority to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. The following day (the much-dreaded Black Friday), I would be called to duty, but the holiday itself was always about old-fashioned enjoyment—having dinner and watching movies with my mom, my grandma, and my siblings, while sharing laughter and memories. Until my dad passed away in 2000, spending quality time with him was also a significant part of our holidays.

My mom always put a clever Latvian twist on her dishes, but for the most part dinner would consist of the usual Thanksgiving staples—a perfectly juicy, seasoned turkey (and sometimes ham), potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn pudding, vegetables, and desserts like pumpkin pie and cobbler. The scents—spicy, sweet, savory—would swirl in perfect harmony and waft throughout the kitchen and living space while the kids helped set the table. Then, we would all come together, our mouths watering in anticipation for the meal sitting in front of us.

I look forward to this time of year because I get to take a mental breather and focus on the present, enjoying the company of the people I hold closest to my heart. I can sit on the couch and talk to my grandma for hours about random stories of her childhood, I can catch up with my siblings and see what is going on in their lives, and I can spend time with my mom, who is my best friend in so many wonderful ways. Not every family has the blessing of being so close for the holidays, so I always keep in mind that this is a time of gratitude—for everything and everyone we hold dear.

To our readers, I wish you a happy, safe, and beautiful Thanksgiving.


My Holiday!

Nicole Parker

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I find these are the most joyous times of the year. The majority of the year is spent in a daze because of personal endeavors. The demands of this life continuously draw us away from the things and people who are most important. We’re forever in motion – racing, trudging towards the intangible notion of success to the point that we have little time for fellowship with family. Thankfully, this holiday has become a tradition where families come together. I know for my own family, each year it’s a miniature reunion that is usually held at my Aunt’s in Sacramento, California. Family from across the U.S. comes to her home and we revel in what has essentially turned into a homecoming of sorts.

The women usually share in the task of cooking the Thanksgiving meal while the men handle the laborious odds and ends. We each play our specific roles – be it baking a cake, basting the turkey, grabbing last minute items from the grocery store, cleaning, or setting up the rented tables and chairs, it all comes together through collaborated efforts. A house filled with people, the aroma of an assortment of soul foods, and the combination of laughter and holiday music put a stamp of peace on my heart this same time every year. Rejoining with distant cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews and even old friends who’ve become family is what makes Thanksgiving a day of jubilation. Card and domino games, dance contests, delectable desserts, and photos with our grandparents that forever capture a moment in time with their lineage make all the efforts put into making Thanksgiving happen worth it.

As the holiday approaches, I wish ALL of you a Happy Thanksgiving and pray that you all find time to spend it with the ones you love!

V: Why Self Check As You Go?

As I feel myself sinking more and more into the depths of the “sunken place” (The Read reference), I find it necessary to stop, breathe, and initiate extreme Self-Check. 

The sunken place is that overly dramatic dark abyss that we see in cartoons. It is made out to be something like a void where you are sitting in the pit of this darkness with no visible way out. This place is what results when our circumstances all seem to be stacked against us. We may feel alone, like no one else can relate, and like we have no options other than to just deal with it.  However, when something horrible presents itself to us, we are faced with a choice. We can be Issa Rae about it and decide that it can't have our joy, or we can be Tyrese about it and let it consume and destroy us (i.e., the sunken place). 

As a third year evening law student, I am faced with the choice of succumbing to the extreme exhaustion, the feelings of being stuck in this place with what seems like no room for advancement, the stress of working full-time in a high-demand job, the worry about not having much of a social life, and everything that comes with watching everyone else live through that big glass window called social media. 

Yes, all of the sacrificed time, friendships and relationships will eventually pay off. People have been telling me that for years, but as I sit here and wait for said payment, I struggle with wanting to just walk away from it all. These are the times that I have to kick the Self-Check into high gear. 

Self-Check is simple. Here's what you need:

1. Acknowledgment

When I slip into these spaces, I definitely acknowledge that it is happening. I can feel it coming like a person with arthritis feels the first rain. But what do I do once I acknowledge its onset? If I sit there and let it take over, then I lose.

This downward spiral causes a significant amount of dissonance. I struggle with the fact that everything gives me negative feelings and also with the fact that there are days where I am fine with those feelings. On those days, I'm perfectly okay with seeing a guy at the coffee shop whose hands are full and not helping him with the door. I am also okay with not smiling at the woman at the grocery store who smiles as she passes me in the feminine hygiene aisle as if to say, "Girl, I understand." No! You don't understand. I am in a full struggle regarding whether or not I should be the woman that my parents and grandparents raised me to be! Don't you see? No, she doesn't see that personal battle, so you have the choice of putting on your best smile and adding a nod for measure, or of being the horrible version of You that's trying to takeover. Anete referenced the seven-second window of impression in her initial post and it is real. If you're going to put your best You forward, then the first step is to acknowledge when that version of You is slipping into the darkness and then fix it. 

2. Quick Disengagement

This is the fun step! It's fun for me because I know that this is the step most skipped and also the step that I, personally, enjoy the most. 

In order to get to a healthy spot mentally, you have to get rid of those things and people that cause the negative feelings (well those things and people that you're able to get rid of without getting expelled or fired). That means, log out of all social networking sites, put that iPhone on 'Do Not Disturb,' and just be!

If your build-up seems to be happening with your same old daily routine, then hit the switch and do a complete 180 (like Miley Cyrus, but not really!). I usually give myself one day to be sad about whatever is getting me down, but I am sure to use that Down Day as best as I can. On these days I am sure to keep my phone far out of reach otherwise I’ll find myself searching for things to pile onto my mountain of anger just to have something to complain about.

We often struggle on these Down Days with the anxiety that comes with not knowing what we may potentially be missing out on while we are away from our phones. We wonder random things like: will my crush text me, will Beyoncé announce a new album or tour, or will Kevin Hart finally admit that had a full blown relationship with this woman that has nothing on his wife (add thought bubbles where appropriate)? No, none of these things will happen just because you’ve decided to spend one day away from your phone, so disengage and embrace it. 

A lot of people use the internet as their source of happiness, so for those people, the quick disengage is about as much torture as dangling food in front of my face and telling me not to eat it. But, even those using the internet for happiness could use a break from it. Go outside, take a walk, go to the gym, play with your children, enjoy nature! I have not come across one person who is not able to find inner peace while alone with nature. 

The quick disengage is essential no matter where you are. If you skip this step, then you might as well skip the whole process. However, the good thing about this step is that it does not stand alone. Inward reflection is a concurrent step that should be taken alongside the quick disengage. 

3. Inward Reflection

It would be completely pointless to take yourself out of the situations that cause your stress or discomfort if you do not use that time wisely. 

Once you have finally put your busy mind at ease, you can begin to work on the deeper rooted issues. Whether it be through quiet meditation, a long jog with music, the soothing sounds of a Yoga instructor's voice, or maxing out your credit card at your nearest mall. Put yourself in a space where you can reflect on the reasons and things that have gotten you down. 

Arm yourselves by learning yourselves, your limits, and your triggers. Find out what gets you upset. Once you do that, find a way to control that situation and control the anger that it causes you. For example, I once had an ex that could not help but to lie. It was like he didn't have that thing in his mind that told him that lying was wrong. Initially, I would blow up about it because the lies would be about any and every small thing. But, after a while you will acknowledge that this person is flawed, you learn the ways in which they are flawed, and then you either get rid of them to keep your peace or you learn to deal with it while keeping your anger intact (I took the easy road and just got out of there!). Either way, without reflecting on what was happening to me and how it made me feel, I would not have learned that I have such a low tolerance for lies and liars. 

It took me a lot of pounding the pavement to learn that there was something other than hunger that could take me to that level of anger. But running outdoors was my only saving grace during those times. I learned that, when my feet are moving is when I can think with the clearest and emptiest slate. This finding created the space for me to think with a new type of clarity, breathe, and scream, if need be until I was more at ease and essentially un-phased by the liars that happen to be way too close for comfort within my life. And, with that space and that knowledge, I was able to avoid a lot of the situations that would have normally gotten me down.

Your quick disengage and inward reflection may look completely different from mine, but that does not mean that it is any less necessary. Find what helps you clear your mind, disengage from the things of this world, and reflect on the reasons behind your anger as well as the ways that you can better react to those triggers in the future.

4. Application

The home stretch in all of this is simply to apply all that you've done in the prior steps to your days going forward. I mean, why put in all of that work just to not apply it? 

Bad days are going to happen no matter how much you try to lead an angelic life. Hard times will strike, you may fail, divorces may happen, dishonesty will reign, but what you do following these events shapes who You are. 

If you want the You that is presented to the world to be the best version of You possible, then it is very necessary to Self-Check as you go.

These steps have been written time and time again. They've been written in this order, in different order, with additional steps, less some steps, and so on! You get the point. We've all said these things but, it sometimes takes another person's perspective or explanation of the steps before you actually take the necessary steps to apply this process. 

A Self-Check can happen in as quick as a 30-minute workout or even a 10-minute yoga session. If we make it a part of our daily routines to Self-Check, then when we feel ourselves spiraling downward, it will be much easier to bring ourselves out of it and continue living mentally-healthy and mentally-happy lives. 

 

Here are a couple of articles, websites and books that have helped me with my ongoing Self-Check:

Travis Bradberry: 7 Powerful Ways to Beat Burnout (Forbes)

Hey Fran Hey

Don Miguel Ruiz: "The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom"

Dr. Stephen R. Covey: "An Effective Life"

IV: What If I Am Not Good At It?

Welcome & hello ALL you beautiful souls!

I’m new to the blogging game and will act as a contributor on this site by discussing an array of topics – ranging from motherhood and relationships to marriage as well as my own personal growth.  Every now and again, I’ll discuss my love for all things makeup, art and hopefully my posts will provide both encouragement and inspiration to everyone who reads. All of us carry silent struggles, and sometimes we need to hear or read a gentle word to lift our spirit. As such, I hope my contributions will serve that purpose.

I was initially hesitant about contributing to the blog since cyberspace is ruthless and I’ve now made possible the opportunity to be openly criticized for my thoughts once they hit your computer screens. Nevertheless, I trudge ahead with the opportunity because far too often I find myself sticking to what is comfortable and safe.

Unfortunately, I believe that in doing so, we limit our experiences and in essence hinder our ability to grow. I can remember the countless times I opted for applying to law school programs that I just knew I’d get into, rather than applying for more highly regarded institutions where I wasn’t as confident of a favorable outcome. Who knows what opportunities I’ve missed out on by making the safer choice? Regardless of circumstance, be it applying for a new job/promotion opportunity at work, trying something new, choosing institutions to further education, or deciding to speak to someone you find attractive – give it a shot anyway.

Rejection is something that many of us fear and would rather not deal with, but it is a necessary component of life. I remember graduating from college and my mother would tell me to apply for all sorts of jobs that I thought I wouldn’t get because I lacked experience.

“Try anyway, the most anyone can tell you is “No.”

That’s what she would tell me. And I’ve taken her advice and applied it to several other areas where I lack confidence. The more that I actively put myself into uncomfortable situations, the easier it became to handle rejection and no longer allow it to discourage me. So, regardless of what it is - a job, an attractive man/woman, an opportunity for advancement, doing something you have a passion for but you’re uncertain of actual success – don’t limit yourself. Put your best foot forward, try, give 100% and let the chips fall where they may.

It’s this adaption to my own mindset that has caused me to leave shallow water and wade out into the deep. To place my thoughts on the canvas of the internet and invite you all into my world. If you’ve gone out and tried something new today or later on in the week, feel free to come back and let us know of your experience! We’d love to hear from you!  I’m excited and I look forward to your responses!

III: How Can Style Change Your Perspective? My Journey From Fearful To Fearless.

Hello, dear readers!

My contribution to this blog is meant to be a collection of my personal dreams and ideas. My posts will often feature fun lifestyle topics, like fashion and travel, but you will also see me delve into deeper subjects, such as the challenges that come with navigating today’s dating scene, achieving a work/school/life balance, or the existential crises that strike all of us at random moments.

Ultimately, my blog entries are intended to be as relatable as they are honest.


"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." - Rachel Zoe

I have always adored fashion, but not for the reasons you might expect. For me, fashion is so much more than a superficial desire to look “hot” or jump on the bandwagon of the latest trend. My style is an outward illustration of my personality. It allows me to express my identity in ways that I could never do when I was younger. 

So, why am I focused on bargain fashion finds, specifically?

Well, my parents were both immigrants from Soviet-era Europe. During my mother’s youth, she wore a uniform, and she never experienced the liberating feeling of using fashion to express herself. When she arrived in the United States, my dad took her to her very first discount store—Marshalls—and that, my friends, is where it all began!

My mom was always on a limited budget, so she relied on stores like Marshalls, T.J.Maxx, and Ross to expand her wardrobe. To this day, she is such a classy and elegant woman, and she proves that you can make a 20-dollar dress look like a million bucks. She instilled in me the idea that a person should always strive to put his or her best foot forward.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
“Your personality is not the first thing people see.”

Sound familiar? Whether we like it or not, our appearance is at the forefront of how we portray ourselves to the world. Psychologists say that when we meet people for the first time, we only have a seven-second window to make a powerful first impression. In those seven seconds, I want people to see that I carry myself with professionalism and grace.

It took a long time and a lot of confidence-building to get to this point. My younger years were a very uncomfortable time, as they were for many of us. I felt strange in my own skin, and I was constantly picked on for the way I walked, the way I talked, or the way I looked (nerdy, thick glasses, you get the picture). You can definitely call me a late bloomer.

Secretly, I dreamed of a future where I would shed my awkward outer shell and grow into the self-assured woman I am now. When I started earning my own money, I began building a legitimate wardrobe piece by piece. Years later, I finally breathed life into what has now become my “style."

I stopped fearing bright colors and shying away from bold patterns. In fact, I stopped being afraid, period! My newly discovered style helped shape my confidence, and vice versa. The bold, vivacious version of me was always in there somewhere—it merely took some introspection and courage to pull her out of her comfort zone!

Sharing my story and my style with all of you matters to me, because I want to show the world that you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to look presentable and put-together. Everyone has a style that suits him or her; what matters is that you wear your style with composure.

The bottom line: I believe in finding quality items at a fraction of the price—sometimes you just have to look a bit harder! I consider myself a bargain shopping connoisseur, and “SALE” is my favorite (appropriate) four-letter word! 

Pictured:

Trench Coat – New York & Co. ($69.00 on sale)*

*This is on the pricier side of my usual purchases, but when it comes to outerwear, you can really get your money’s worth when you buy a quality coat. It will last forever, as long as you take proper care of it!

Shoes – Impo ($19.99 at Ross)

📷: Brianna J. 


Pictured: 

Blouse – New York & Co. ($25.00 on sale)

Skirt - Forever 21 ($12.99)

Tights – Jones New York ($6.99/2 pairs at Ross)

📷: Brianna J. 


Pictured: 

Dress – Express ($30.00 on clearance)

Jacket – Zara ($69.99)

Shoes – Shoe Republic LA (Free from a friend! Usually $39.99)

📷: Brianna J. 


Pictured: 

Jacket – H&M ($20.00 on clearance)

Sweater – Ralph Lauren ($24.99 at Ross)

Pants – Express ($25.00 on clearance)

Shoes – A.n.a. ($9.99 on clearance)

📷: Brianna J.

I: Why Blog When Everything's Been Said Already?

Do you want to know what is so difficult about starting a new blog? 

Being willing to let just enough information loose to reach the audiences that you have set out to reach. Another difficulty with starting a blog is that, you literally experience a personal battle centered on whether or not people will actually read it.

This time around, I am putting my fears aside and choosing to unleash my "Creative" which is simply what I call the thing that each person has been blessed with (although everyone has a different idea of what their Creative is). Usually this thing has the power to touch people in ways that they need most. It could be a rapper that raps about things that you really relate to, a singer whose voice can calm the most hectic day, or even an iPhone photographer that can capture a moment ever so perfectly. Whatever that Creative is, if untapped, it's useless- it changes no one's life, perspective, thought process, or feelings. But if practiced, if harnessed, and if allowed to flourish, that Creative can be magical. This is mine. 

So, why blog? Because I have the mixed dreams of effecting change; challenging and encouraging others to aim higher; doing more and being more; and because I, too, have a voice that needs to be heard. The events that have created countless stories in my life are the things that I feel are the most relatable. Those are the things that I want to share, discuss and use as lessons. 

The internet is a huge whiteboard with an impeccable memory. Each person that signs on has the opportunity to tell a story in one way or another. I choose to tell mine through pictures of places and words of experiences. 

I refer to myself as a new student to the School of Blog and I hope to become valedictorian, but, most of all, I hope to connect to others with similar life experiences, similar interests, and, similarly, lots to say. I may find myself at a loss for words sometimes or there may even be days that I am unable to articulate things in a way that flows, but I am challenging myself to leave my own comfort zone and embark on this beautiful storytelling journey. 

So, welcome to my blog. I promise to keep it Breef.

Feel free to say hello!


II: Why Is It That We Cannot Resist Our Own Personal Destruction?

I recently had a conversation with fellow law students that reminded me of a couple of things: First, it reminded me of my age; second, it reminded me of the times; and finally, it reminded me that, along with technology, our responses to things like love, free speech, and friendships have changed.

Age:

Just a number, right? Wrong! These days, age no longer determines our maturity, age can no longer be used as a gauge of success or stature, and age is no longer as important of a factor as it used to be. Growing up, age was everything. We wanted to be older so that we could legally drive, or date, or see R-rated movies. Now, we sneak in, sneak out, and underage-date-online like it's a sport. We rush into to things just to have things, and you can forget about us learning from the mistakes of our youth. 

Age has become a joke and we can see that in the Kylie Jenner's of America who are 15 and 16 but look like 30-year-olds as far as clothing and makeup are concerned. Now, don't get me wrong, I have a huge appreciation for a properly made up face, but I also believe in the preservation of youth and innocence. Social media tells us to do this and do that, reality "stars" show us that if we eat at Nobu, we will look cooler and get more followers, and our friends tell us that selfies and likes are essential. But what happened to being young, going to the Jelly Belly factory or going out to eat with family without making it a huge social event? Why do we fantasize about the likes we'll get on a post at our grandfather's birthday dinner instead of living in the moment of our grandfather's birthday celebration? 

I am a victim myself of these changing times, but that does not mean that I agree with them. I indulge in the occasional family dinner post, but why? Is it because, if we don't post it, it did not happen? That is a real question, because I scroll down my timeline and see people that post every single day from their workouts down to them pretending to work (we know they're not, because they are just staring at a computer for the camera and I'll put 10 dollars on that screen being blank half the time). Could it be the attention that we crave? As I enter into a world where views, likes and comments will matter more, I have taken a genuine curiosity in this age's reliance on social media. 

I see the age gaps now more than ever and it saddens me that I now expect 90's babies to disrespect everyone around them. Age is no longer the indicator that it should be and people definitely do not act their ages... Whatever that means. 

The Times:

I am in the perfect spot as a 90's baby. I am young enough to be able to watch the millennials grow and old enough to have the 60's and 70's babies teaching me the do's and don'ts. Those before us will be quick to tell us to enjoy our youth and warn us not to take those times for granted. But as we near closer to the 2000's, we see more children disrespecting their parents on television and being praised for it, so that becomes the trend of the children coming up.

Today, we talk it out less, date and marry more, and speak up without facts like candy. We don't think twice about much of anything. It's like everyone is on a racetrack to be the most mature by making all of the immature choices that they possibly can. It seems as though we take the lessons, morals and values taught by our parents and grandparents and throw them out of the window on a daily basis.

In large part, I blame the advancement of technology and growing interest in reality television, but another great chunk of the reason why my generation of children forward seem to be so out-of-it would have to be that we are not getting the good dose of morals and values that our parents got. I am fairly certain that my generation started the trend of our parents being our "friends" more than being our parents. But, who could blame these parents, they worked their tails off just so that we could all have a great upbringing. So by the time we reach high school they are so tired and so ready to enjoy their lives that they relax the standards by a ton. Next thing you know, the children have become bold enough to not only talk back but also to yell and scream back.

I know that I am not yet old enough to say "back in my day," but back in my day, that type of behavior would have gotten my grandmother into a wide range of childrearing arguments with other parents and grandparents trying to teach their ill-behaving children and grandchildren a lesson. I am not advocating for the various controversial childrearing practices of the days before us, but I am advocating for parents taking back the throne and reinstating the morals and values that their parents, more likely than not, instilled in them. 

Technology:

Technology has created a huge rift in the way we communicate with each other. Instead of allowing ourselves the opportunities to use technology as a tool the way we should, we use technology as a distraction, a vice, a means for bullying, a place to pretend, and basically, as a junkyard. 

We swipe right, slide in DMs, poke, pinch, and paste all day. I have literally watched people go out to eat and spend the whole meal with their face glued to their phone. Now, you can either attribute that to me being boring in a social setting (which is completely believable) or to people being overly obsessed with technology. 

Call me old school but, if I am even going to venture out of my norm to be social, then I definitely expect you to do more than just stare at your phone, sing songs to your Snapchat, and record everything we do just looking for the next viral sensation. 

Now, I am not asking for us to take it back to side ponytails, high socks and Friday night dates to the movie theaters, but I am asking for genuine conversation that is not constantly interrupted, eye contact, actual effort, manners, chivalry, and connections deeper than surface matters. Restore my faith in people, help me not to be such a cynic! 

Let's be human again. Let's be social. Let's make eye contact. Let's grow together and not attack each other. Let's not be our own destruction. 

I would say Let's Be Breef, but this project, this change, could take a while.