How I Tamed My Frizz

Again with the hair issues! What’s a girl gotta do to get a good hair day around here, amiriiight?!?

Yes, I also face the battle against frizz. And I’m not talking about the two or three floating hairs that people complain about. I’m talking Hagrid-hair, no exaggeration. So Hagrid-hair is cool and all, so I tried owning it for a while, but really just preferred it to be smoother. My mother kept telling me to “comb my hair” which I would respond “that’s not how it works” with a litany of reasons. Anyway, let’s get into it:

This is my hair type: Thin and lightweight, looks brittle, frequent washing from exercise, flatter on top and poofs at bottom in a triangular formation somewhat, also baby hairs that poof at hairline, slightly wavy curls/waves and loose curls. Did I say thin???

I found a routine that gets my hair looking smooth, with a little more volume, and pretty much straight with some body.¬†I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT!!! THIS HAS BEEN A FORMULA 8 YEARS IN THE MAKING Y’ALL.

Here it is, you’re welcome:

  1. Once a week, apply VO5 Hot Oil Therapy. It’s pretty cheap, and I can see the difference. Apply on wet hair.
  2. Wash my hair with Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Shampoo So Smooth Gardenia and Conditioner.
  3. Use my little microfiber hair turban thing. It soaks up the moisture in your hair and prevents the humidity that causes frizz. It also preps for drying your hair.
  4. Apply the “Light” Moroccan Oil–1.5-2 pumps.
  5. Use Tresemme Heat Protectant spray. Any heat-protectant is probably fine, this is just the one that I kept seeing recommended everywhere that was a drugstore item.
  6. Dry hair with a good blowdryer until bone dry. I never really get there, but I basically do, nearly. As much as I can without roasting the tiny baby hairs off my head and making me even more bald.
  7. Lightly coat hair with some sort of serum or hair spray to hold in place.

That’s basically it! This doesn’t make hair perfect like I just stepped out of a salon or something, but the difference is so significant and it barely calls for a little more effort! So good luck and smooth sailing!

Combatting Hair Loss for Women

I’ve had a running joke with my friends about Maude. Occasionally she will pop up in photos and I’ll tag her. Some days she is extra visible. Yes. Maude is my bald spot.

Okay, it’s not a bald spot per se, but the hair by that part of my hairline is definitely thinner and sparser than the rest of my head. This leads to photos where my face and head ends up looking oddly shaped. It’s just not cute.

I’ve been searching for SO MANY methods to solve this. Then, I watched this¬†YouTube of AlexandrasGirlyTalk on her postpartum hair loss. The comments were flooded with advice. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling with this!

There are SO MANY different methods for hair growth that I want to try out, but here are a few tips I’ve tried or am about to try that you can give a try! Say that three times fast haha.

  1. Don’t put so much strain on your hair.

This means don’t put it up in tight up-dos like buns and ponytails. I have, oddly, worn my hair up everyday for basically more than the last 12 years of my life. My hair is also thin. When so much strain is put on the strands, it causes breakage and receding.

What you can do to combat this is to wear your hair down. Another option, if you must wear your hair up, is to wear it lower, or in looser hairstyles. You can do this by transferring the strain to other thicker parts of your hair, and utilizing bobby pins and clips.

2. Biotin and Hair, Skin, and Nails Supplements. 

Making sure you get the proper nutrition you need is extremely important because your hair is an indicator as to how healthy you are sometimes. If you eat healthier, your hair will be healthier and more will grow. If you aren’t getting the nutrients you need, then your hair and nails may grow less, or be thinner.

However, we’ll just go over the shortcut of taking these supplements.

Biotin (aka Vitamin B7 or H) supplements are readily available. You might have seen the SugarBearHair or Nature’s Bounty vitamins recently. Most dosages targeted to hair growth will have 5,000 mcg, but some like the Nature’s Bounty “Biotin” supplements are 10,000 mcg. The adequate intake is 30 mcg/day for an adult, by the way (!!!).

It has to be said that there is no real evidence that this would help most people, because most people do not have Biotin deficiencies. Our body needs very little Biotin, and enough is usually found in our diets. Doctors may prescribe this to people with conditions like Alopecia (for example)–but this is rare.

There are no known negative side-effects for taking too much Biotin, as there is no “too-much” that has been specified. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with a doctor.

I use Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails supplement and I do feel like my hair has been growing faster, as I looked at my leg hair growth, which was more measurable. Also, I don’t like to eat gummies (I like the pill form instead) because there really is no reason to ingest all that extra sugar and food coloring. However, I think that you can also just eat more foods naturally containing biotin.

Also, this is water-soluble, and I suggest you drink more water with it. People have claimed that they started to break out after taking biotin, so it’s recommending to drink more water, or discontinue use if the breakouts are too intense.

3. JASON Thin-to-Thick Hair Elixer

The jury is still out on this one, but this is a serum you apply to the balding spot and it gets good reviews. It smells good, but the instructions are to leave it on at night and rinse it out in the morning, which is not always convenient.

There are lots of DIY home methods for applying things to the scalp, so I would suggest digging around the internet and YouTube for people’s methods they believe in.

 

What To Do While Waiting For Hair to Become Luscious 

  1. Get a ‘Hair Powder’

In the YouTube video, Alexandra mentioned dabbing in a powder that matched her hair color into the parts of her scalp that were showing. The effect was great, but you can level up!

I read about how celebrity hairstylists and makeup artists fill in the hairlines of celebrities for the red carpet (they also don’t have perfect hairlines, people!). There are powders specifically for hairlines. One of the brands recommended is Toppik. They come in many shades. Another product that is great is by Kristofer Buckle. He had a makeup line that sold out, but the idea was a brow enhancer, that was a pomade then a powder to set.

2. Find a hairstyle that works.

This is a really underestimated tool. I was not expecting it to make a huge difference, but I got a blowout one time, then I got my hair cut and styled, and WOW. You could barely see my bald spot, Maude, or at the very least were not focused on it at all.

I just didn’t pay much attention to how I was pushing Maude front and center when I wore my hair in a bun, or I parted it a certain way.

I bought a heat-protectant spray and started to blow dry the hairs framing my face down (instead of randomly and ending up looking like Hagrid), and Maude was much easier to cover up, or at least appear more demure.

 

So there you go! At the end of the day, hair loss or thinning is natural and nothing to be ashamed about. These are all easy ways to feel better and more confident, but you are beautiful with or without a Maude!

How To: Make the Best Decisions

From all of my posts, we know that I’m a pretty indecisive person. The questions move from: What is the best choice? to How can I make the best choice?¬†and then to¬†What do I mean by the best choice?

The best choice, after some thought, I think is the choice that I would be the most satisfied with. We try to weigh different factors so that we can lower negative effects, and increase possible positive outcomes. Many times, we make the false assumption that this means that there is a “right” choice and a “wrong” choice–one choice that is objectively better than the other. We think that by our attempts at prediction, we will come to be the most satisfied.

However, I propose that this is not the whole picture. First of all, we are terrible at predicting what will bring us the most happiness. Study after study in psychology and economics shows us this. We obviously can’t predict the future, and if we can’t even predict what we actually want, it seems that we are paddling up sh*t creek (so to speak).

What do we do in this case? We have to reorient the premise of this question and turn it on its head. What if there is no objectively “better” choice? What if the choices within themselves were arbitrary? This is not a premise so far off the mark, given the factors mentioned.

Therefore, it seems as though the choice that will bring the most satisfaction is the choice that we find the most satisfaction with–and not necessarily the outcome.¬†

Of course, this is restricted to more personal options where cost benefit analysis makes no sense–What should I major in? What career should I pursue? Should I get married? Should I take that trip? Write this book? These are all questions where we could attempt to make some kind of pro-con list, but we know this doesn’t work at bringing us closer to an answer usually. The only situation in these cases when it would, would be if it gave the decision-maker more peace of mind.

Being content with our decision may just have to do with being content with our decision, no matter what it is.

The happiness that we get from our decisions are not from the choice we make, but by choosing our choices–fully embracing them and letting the rest fall to the wayside.¬†

 

Should You Plan Your Backpacking Route?

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When you are planning your backpacking trip, you might find it hard to decide whether to plan your route, or to freeball it and go where the wind takes you. Both are great methods of travel, and you won’t really know which you prefer until you do it! Here are some pros and cons to each decision, and some questions to help you make your decision:

I’M A PLANNER!

+Go and stay everywhere you want to go

+Certainty

+You can focus on where you are, instead of planning where you are going next

+Cheap flights, rooms, deals and discounts

-You might meet people you want to travel with, but can’t

-You might learn about different things to do and places to see you didn’t know about, but may have to miss out because of your schedule

I WANNA FREEBALL IT!

+Serendipitous events happen more frequently

+You can join whoever you want traveling anywhere

+You can shift your priorities and do what you want to do!

+You can plan the rest of your trip with information you gather on location with possibly local people, rather than from a limited scope of a computer screen.

-Might be forced to miss out on a hostel or opportunity you wanted or discovered because its too busy, maybe pay more for flights you may have to take.

-In busy season and depending where you are, you may not even be able to get a place to stay for how much you have! Don’t let it get to this point, but it is possible.

-Having to worry about planning while visiting a city, which may be only for a few days

*Note: when looking at this list, the number of pros and cons don’t really matter, it’s about how much weight you put to each one, or whatever weight you put on your own reasons!

WHAT DO I NEED TO CONSIDER, MUGGLE STUDENT???

Q: Who the hell am I????

A: We don’t need to get too existential, but if you know you are someone who can’t deal with too much uncertainty, if you’re someone who needs to know, if you’re someone who changes your mind often…all things that you know about yourself that would rule out one option.

Q: What do I want from this trip?

A: Do you want to see specific things? Do you want to go through an experience of being a “traveler” and seeing where the wind takes you? What is your main objective? And which option will help you get there or stifle you?

Q: Am I traveling with someone or yourself?

A: If you are traveling with someone, you might have to make some concessions. If they are more comfortable with a plan, you may have to go along with it–not all the time, but more than you might want to. Likewise, you may have to bend more and be more flexible if your partner wants some unpredictability.

Q: How much money do I have?

A: Sometimes you can get discounts and deals last minute, but not all the time. Sometimes you can get really cheap deals if you buy tickets in advance through Ryanair etc., usually this is the case.

Q: Do I have a strong back?

A: Haha silly question to a real concern–if you don’t plan in advance, you will probably be walking around with your backpack a lot, sometimes for hours, not knowing where you are going, in the middle of the night. If you are a heavy packer or can honestly say that you are weak, planning to get from place to place with the lease amount of effort and time is probably the best bet for you.

Q: Do I have access to wifi or a data plan?

A: Having a data plan is extremely helpful in finding your way around, booking hostels, booking flights, booking busses, etc. If you are going somewhere with limited wifi, or even if you just don’t have a data plan and are not sure of when you will have access to the internet, of course it is better to plan in advance, because you may not even be able to make plans on the fly.

Q: Where are you going?

A: Although it is technically possible for you to just freeball wherever since I guess people do it, but let’s be real–some places are not the safest and you may not want to put yourself in a situation where you have even less control than you already do. Does this place have the resources for you to make plans on the go, or will you be stuck out in the street in the middle of the night? You may not want to chance that.

Q: Do you have a Eurail (Euro Pass, Eurorail Pass) or an equivalent?

A: If you do, it will probably make it a bit easier to go wherever (pretty much) you want to go on a whim.

Q: Is this the first time you are going backpacking, are alone backpacking, or the first time for both you and your partner?

A: Going alone or without experience may mean that you may be more comfortable planning things out in advance. Having a good planned out experience this time may encourage you to go out and do an unplanned trip in the future.

Q: Are you flexible?

A: You need to be for both. When going unplanned, you definitely need to be flexible. But even if you plan your trip, you need to be flexible enough to say that I may have to put that ticket and room booking to waste because I found something better to pursue–because that will be what makes your trip.

THE VERDICT

In the end, what is most important is that you do what you are most comfortable with. Both are great methods to try out. And let’s be real, if you are out and about traveling the world, can it really be ruined by what method of preparation you choose? No.

For me, planning weeks or even months in advance was not my thing, and I change my mind pretty often, so I set off on my backpacking trip not knowing where I would be in between landing in Edinburgh and getting reading to return home from London. Sometimes, it was exhausting to have to plan where I was going to go next at the end of a long day and scrounge around for a ticket or a room and sometimes ending up in places I didn’t really want to be, but it was all worth it for me because the best parts of my trip were things that I could never have planned!

Good luck on your journey!

 

Reverse Engineering “The Meaning of Life” Question

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At some point, most people today have been confronted with the elusive question of the meaning of life. Recently, this has been bothering more so because I couldn’t understand the meaning of my life–or rather what to do with my life–and wanted some sense of direction that I couldn’t seem to find. So when I was browsing around my local bookstore and spotted Terry Eagleton’s¬†The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction, I snapped it up despite the tiny size that didn’t seem to justify the $11.95 price tag. But this is the secret to the universe here, people, so I relented.

Well now I’m done with it, and surprisingly I wasn’t bestowed with the secret knowledge of time and the cosmos. However, I was presented with the next best thing: a different way of thinking about it.¬†Eagleton compiled information from so many great thinkers on this subject throughout history in a neat little package. What I talk about here is just what I found the most interesting, and my thoughts on that. I highly suggest this book to anyone who has struggled with “the meaning of life.”

Before anything, it is useful to provide the context surrounding this entire inquiry: the meaning of life is not some sort of question that has plagued all peoples in all societies for all of time. For example, most ancient Hebrews would not ask this question because the answer is given through their religious beliefs, and the matter of meaning is woven into the society just as much as the religion is. Now that most of us live in a world where one religion is not a given, even those who do follow a certain faith are not immune to feeling adrift when it comes to meaning. The idea that we ourselves can determine the meaning of our lives can at once be empowering, but also lessen that very same sense of meaning. I also know that even my parents, who are only one generation ahead of me, are not harassed by this question as much as my peers are. They give little thought to it if any, as even asking this question seems foreign to them. Although there are always people who have this question in whatever time, the finding meaning or finding your “passion” are like epidemics nowadays, where once there was barely a whisper of it. One might think of the question presently more as a litmus test for the society that we live in today, rather than something that can objectively be “solved”.

The problem with trying to find an answer to the meaning of life is that there is no answer. At least, not one that we can possibly know of. Someone once said (as vague as this all is) that if you can’t find the solution to a problem, change the question. On one level, this seems like a blatant avoidance of the question and moving on to something else more easily solved. However, in many cases, the problem is not the problem–the real problem is a poorly framed question!

When people ask the meaning of life, they are rarely asking the same thing. Sometimes you could be asking about what is the meaning or direction of your life, other times you could be asking if the progression of the universe is moving towards something, and other times you are asking about the meaning of the suffering in your life if there is one at all. What are you really wondering about when you ponder about the meaning of life? Simply rewording the question could lead to an answer.

Beyond that, the question of the meaning of life could be a question of semantics. Eagleton sources many, most prominent to me Ludwig Wittgenstein, that ask what is actually meant by “meaning” and “life” and comes to various conclusions. When it comes to meaning, it could mean (ha) intention, significance, and “the act of intending to signify something” (35). Even these categories are not mutually exclusive and the edges of their definition are blurry. So then comes the question of if life is in a sense predestined and moving towards something and that is the “meaning”, or if it’s all accidental, but there can still be “meaning” attached to that.

Then we have the nebulous word, “life”. This may lead to questions like, “What is the good life?” But even then,¬†the good life may not be¬†a good life, objectively. What is the meaning attached to the actions we take? Is there an overall narrative to our lives that “makes sense”? Many people like me would tell you, no, our lives are just a series of unfortunate events. I’m just kidding. Sort of.

This only begins to scratch the surface. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case one word is worth ten thousand words and then some. Eagleton covers far more than this and I would venture to say that there is no superfluous words in his 101 page book. Each page packs new ideas and findings into every free space. 

The question of life must be juxtaposed against the fact of death, something which we all face. The fact that our time in this life that we know of is limited, yet all we know of is this, urges us to find the significance of anything. The question of the meaning of life would not exist if we were one of the immortals and had a cycle of events continuing on for all of eternity. Our limits are what cause this question to become pressing or of any interest. It could be said that this question is just asking what our lives are adding up to. Of course, another nebulous statement.

With proper framing “The Meaning of Life” question however, the necessity for some sort of one answer fades away, as Terry Eagleton is able to do. To me, I don’t want to spend my time turning over ideas in my mind that I know will lead to nothing. Therefore, the most important thought I can take away from this conversation to bring to action in my life, as the act of living life is arguably closer to the meaning of life than thinking of the meaning of life, is that any sense of meaning (or whatever it is that allows us to live our lives with a sense of contentment or fulfillment) lives in between people. The meaning of our lives are not singular to us, it cannot exist only within ourselves. Rather, the meaning we can take from life is from the relationships that we have, and how we impact those around us and how they impact us. It is about the collective efforts of people and finding your place in society.

When you look at nature, everything has a purpose or a reason. However, it could also be said that they do not exist to move something towards something else. It is all happening in time, in this moment. There is a reason a mountain looks purple from a distance or stars twinkle at night. However, they are not doing this to fulfill some sort of role. They are doing that because that is just what they do. You do not question if it is necessary, it is just something that you enjoy.The trees have their role to fulfill in the ecosystem, but they are not doing it for any reason, they just grow. The reason trees are what they are is because of time and the surrounding ecosystem, but also the surrounding ecosystem is there because of the trees. That’s why I think children rarely ask themselves the “meaning of life,” or rather the meaning of their own life–because they are having too much fun! And they don’t question it too much because they are too busy enjoying it.

Therefore, although it seems trite, it seems to be that the best thing to do is to live a life in which you don’t reach for answers from some outside meaning. Rather, in living a life with and for others, the feeling of meaninglessness disappears. And the best way to live a life with and for others is to delight in the world around you and what others bring to it, while using the best parts of yourself to contribute to that delight.

Happiness Should Not Be Your Goal

“Happiness is not a goal‚Ķit’s a by-product of a life well lived.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Truth be told, Eleanor’s quote is not what inspired this revolutionary thought in my life, but I felt that it added a bit more punch to the statement when coming from “The First Lady of the World” than from a self-proclaimed confused college student. The instigator of this revelation within myself was the proverb:

“Sunshine all the time makes a desert.”

After having a stressful time in school, I had supplemented my personal research with a wave of self-help books and articles whose genres ranged from biographical, scientific, new-age, religious, etc. It was fortunate that there was such a large wave of burgeoning writers going through their mid-life crises, so I didn’t find myself at a loss for reading material. Happiness was and continues to be one of the trendy topics in research–it’s what we are all looking for and can’t seem to have enough of. Like John Lennon, I decided that all I wanted to be was happy.

One day I was thinking about my obsession with happiness and realized that life isn’t about that. All of life is beautiful no matter what is happening. We prefer the good moments, but we really would not be able to appreciate that without the bad. I’m so happy because I knew what it was like to be in the exact opposite situation and I knew how to appreciate what I had. And life is about the balance and the existence of opposites. Not only would we not be able to appreciate without the opposite, the good would not even exist without the opposite. Our willingness to feel the beauty of life comes with our acceptance of how things are.

Because of the nature of reality, we cannot really want just happiness, we want something else. I believe that that is fulfillment–fulfillment from a life well lived. That is the eternal questions–How can we live life well? I cannot say I know the answer to this since each person is so different, but some things I think are generally true. As children, we have dreams of what we wish to be or things that we feel compelled to do with our lives. It is in the striving of stretching ourselves to be these new visions of ourselves that makes life worth the living. The goals that we each have within ourselves–the dream of the champion within us–is what propels our actions in this life.

Once we can let go of the idea that happiness is something to strive towards, we can appreciate life in its fullness. Only by accepting what is can we move towards genuine improvement. The fulfillment of having lived our lives our way and to the fullest of our capabilities is “a life well lived”.