Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Staples: Vitamins and Coconuts

In the summertime, skin is in...

the spotlight.

It's all out there. No, really, I can see your skin.  I'm not telling you to put it under wraps--don't do that! You'll have a heat stroke on the way up the subway stairs or to your car in the mall parking lot--but, you should be treating it with respect. 

Our skin is on display, fully exposed.
Exposed to people, and even more importantly, to the elements around us. These elements--sun exposure, pollution, even stress-- obviously take a toll, evident by all of the preventative and reparative products and services being touted.  Our environments, external and internal, directly affect what we're all walking around in-our skin. Clocking in around 20 square feet a person, it's the largest human organ. A glance down, and you'll notice that we're covered in it, so we might as well protect it, considering it's the first thing that people see. 

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Think to yourself in a creepy voiceover:

"It rubs the lotion on the skin."

-Appropriately named "Buffalo Bill" from Silence of the Lambs
That guy could appreciate a nice and smooth epidermis, don't you concur? 

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 Now, let's make this about me. I mean, us. I have a lot of products. When I say A LOT, I mean an embarrassing number. But, my primary ride-or-die wingman who consistently delivers my Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Brightening Moisturizer. While I take my daily multi, fish oil, Biotin, and attempt to receive the weather gods' Vitamin D, I need a little boost. A jolt of the C. Vitamin C, proper. 

We first met when my former roommate brought home some leftover products that a PR company had given him. Working for a major executive at ABC Disney had its perks. Before he sadly ran from frigid New York toward the sunshine of Los Angeles and a job promotion, he gifted me several items. Tommy, my roommate, may have abandoned me, but fate led me to Peter Thomas Roth (Unfortunately, PTR doesn't contribute to the rent).  

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Formulated with an Amazonian berry Camu Camu, it contains thirty times(!) the amount of Vitamin C as an orange, which we typically associate it with. The orange and Vitamin C's relationship is a little over-hyped, if you ask me. It's the Kanye West/Kim Kardashian union of food and nutrition. Unlike that media storm, this moisturizer is the real deal, supporting natural collagen production, firming skin, improving uneven tone, and most visibly, brightening. I slather (yes, slaaaaaather) it on in the evening before bed and then, dab it on after a morning shower. Ok, FINE! You caught me. I don't shower EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. BRIGHT & EARLY...guilty. But, when I do shower, I dab Peter on afterward. Daaaaaaab. 

You can't have Calvin Harris singing about how he met you in the summer, and the leaves weren't the only things browning, dulling, and cracking. 

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It's easily an MVP for me in my skincare and beauty routine.  But, if you're purchasing retail, although it isn't cheap at $72, it is worth it. I don't always support paying full price unless I am convinced (and there are no sales, discounts, or online roundabout ways of obtaining item in question). Peter Thomas Roth products are available at major retailers like Sephora and Ulta (both online and in-store), BUT (Yes! BUT!) I found huge deals HERE on Ebay and also HERE on Amazon, that save you almost 40%. Don't be daft. Saving money is always in. I already did the legwork for you. You're welcome

And, that brings me to coconut oil.  Don't roll your eyes just yet. Coco-yawn-oil. After the saturation of Buzzfeed and blog articles on this "cure-ALLLLL elixir," it's natural to feel annoyed and even distrusting. There's always something, right? Always some touted "miracle" AKA tend-driven product that you simply have to try?  
  My relationship with her may have initially begun as infatuation turned curious fling, but we've taken the next step. We're girlfriends now. You can try oil pulling. Swish it around in your mouth to strain toxins from your body, whiten teeth, etc. I've tried. Eh, maybe I should give it another go, but I'm not completely sold...yet. Cooking? YES. Emphatic, YES. For the skin and hair? MUST. Deep conditioning for your scalp and dead ends after chlorine-filled brunch parties and saltwater backstrokes at the beach (even Rockaway Beach counts, folks). Cover and leave in for a few hours and/or while you sleep. Even more so, coconut oil improves skin quality, moisturizers, heals and soothes. I've covered my face and body for some intense hydration, covered wounds to prevent them from scarring, and even layered it on that occasional itch or skin irritation. Need to read about the health benefits to believe them first? Just one example. Come on, you have Google.

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Go organic, extra virgin, pure, unrefined and cold pressed. Yes, that's a mouthful.
 There are way too many uses for me to list (101 HERE), and in fact, people are obsessing so ridiculously (?) much, that this "list" never ends. It's being added to right this second as I type. Just wade through the muck and try a few out. Stay safe or experiment. I can't comment on all of them, but I know what I know from experience. Whole foods, health stores, and now, most grocery stores offer this beauty queen and most popular kid in the aisle...or at least, most popular kid on the Internet... for now

What do you deem a necessity? 
Good gracious, it's hot out there. Don't go it alone. You need a wingman (or woman). Find yours. 

Spread it: 
peace, love and coconut oil. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gone Missing

Something has been lost. Some things have gone missing. These things are gravely important. They're lived. Lives lived by human beings all around.

    I haven't been writing as much recently. The creativity, that need to's flowing ever so slowly, if at all. It's not necessarily been totally and utterly missing without a trace. But, let's just say that it's been quite difficult to locate, dodging me just when I think I know where to find it.

    I've been experiencing some sort of warm weather blues, and it has nothing to do with sunsets on the roof. It's summer, and that offers so many wonderful opportunities. Come on, pool parties, picnics in the park, beach getaways, roadtrips upstate. The possibilities are endless, and I've been taking advantage of the season, no doubt. But, I've been under a cloud of loss, creatively, for many around me that live no longer-- from artists to actors and now, the fashion industry, as a whole, has been hit several pretty ugly blows:
Kick to the gut- Jay Scott's disappearance...and as of last month, his found body in the East River.

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    Seeing missing posters on every post, every corner, every store window in my neighborhood, scattered through every subway station of my daily commutes--well, that flyer never leaves me. It follows me. It can be ignored. It can't be escaped. That was the idea, of course, behind the campaign of his loved ones: to find Jay, or at least, to receive any word or tidbit of information regarding his whereabouts, and/or how it all led to this. Cold trail.

From March to May 8, I'd been constantly scanning strangers on the sidewalk, side alleys, etc. for any sign. Any sign that will point us to what and to who we're looking for. We're looking for life.

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    Jay Ott lived in Bushwick, just a neighborhood east from mine. He was last spotted walking past a bodega 2 blocks from my apartment at 4:45 A.M. I've been there and at nearly that hour as well (oops!). Who doesn't want an egg and cheese with avocado at that time?!  Jay then continued to walk to the Williamsburg Bridge , where I myself have also been countless times. After that? Nothing. The sightings, the story, the man, son, the friend, and fashion designer cuts there. There was an ellipses in his biography. Not a period. There was no grand finale. No continuance and no ending. Of course, he exists in the hearts and minds of loved ones, but this wasn't how it was meant to unfold, right?

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That, readers, is not an easy idea to fully fathom, much less, to be satisfied with.
It isn't acceptable.

    None of these are, per se. They're all unacceptable. But, what can we do to prevent these endings by our own hands? How can these instances be prevented? Can they? There must be something, some way, right? I refuse to believe that we're helpless when it comes to matters of the mind: depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, and other mental disorders. Something must be done. Something, someONE must be reclaimed. 

    Now, Mr. Ott's conclusion has been discovered...his final sentences written. His body washed up in Sunset Park on May 8. Cause of death hasn't been officially disclosed, but they have ruled out foul play. We can all speculate, but nothing is certain after reports of his long struggle with anxiety and depression surfaced.

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    This brings up much of what I touched on in my piece, spotlighting the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Being Uncool." It grabs at something inside of me. The focus here, though, is the overwhelming power of the mind. These mental illnesses, or chemical imbalances, if you will, have the ability to crush every other ambition, fond memory, natural talent and life goal. It needs to be addressed rather hidden, as if some dark and repulsive flaw that should be stowed away in a storage unit. We can't pretend that it isn't staring us in the face as we walk down the street, pay the deli guy for our soda, and grab a seat at the bar. We must as a society demand open eyes, ears, and mouths. These issues continue to surface over and over again with devastating endings, from suicide to violence against others.

According to the World Health Organization,  "more than 350 

million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is 

the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major 

contributor to the global burden of disease. "

Without a doubt, mental disorders affect those all around us. It could be you yourself who is reading. Friend, family member, co-worker. Don't pretend you've never felt the ripple. There is nothing shameful about this: it's a plagueMost recently and publicly, mental health was once again brought to the public's attention in the wake of the atrocious USC tragedy. There's an infinite amount of conversations that we could have about this vast subject, but we'd be here all day. I'll save my ramblings for a later date. But, how much longer are we going to wait? How much longer must we remain hush, hush about these very real, very painful, and potentially very dangerous thoughts, feelings, and issues? There are many facets, and therefore, millions of faces that represent the mental health battle. There's no standard--and this is far more complex than one-dimensional . This discussion must not only continue but escalate. Get angry, dammit. We cannot ignore the beast that is robbing us of friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. Whether we lose them physically, or just emotionally/mentally...we're losing. I'm sick and tired of being stolen from. You should be too.

   Oddly enough, I had no real desire to write a few minutes ago when I began this. I've stumbled upon something that I was terrified would also go voice. It was here all along. I was looking for a scream, when I really just needed to whisper for awhile. And, you know what? That's ok. Take your time. We're just sad that you don't have any more of it, L'Wren, Michele, Jay, and countless others. 
Rest easy now.

 On a more upbeat note:

    While we're on this subject of creativity and the need for sporadic reflection, a few weeks ago, a friend who works for John Doe PR invited me to a cocktail hour and short film event that she assured me was "right up my alley." I'd had a long weekend, and truth be told, people are generally encouraging me to attend this or that. Don't mistake my attitude for pretentiousness. I'm grateful for the opportunities, but it's easy to constantly feel pulled in every direction, leaving little time for myself. But, my friend was right, thankfully. Set at the stunning Crosby Street Hotel and hosted by illy, a deliciously divine Italian coffee company that represents "much more than coffee."  Literally, they provided coffee liquor cocktails beforehand. A beautiful marriage, if I say so. The global company's CEO, Andrea Illy explained, "It's an experience. It's not just about getting your caffeine. For true coffee drinkers, it's the whole process." This thinking was translated into the illy-sponsored short film entitled "Inspiring Creativity," directed by the arts and culture organization Liberatum. illy and Liberatum's collaboration resulted in a beautiful montage of interviews that explore the concept of "creativity," what drives it,  how its effects manifest in the world around us, and once again perpetuate the inspirational process.

    Running only about twelve minutes long, this film packs a punch with commentary from various artistic, musical, and talented leaders from painters and composers to actors and directors. Give it twelve minutes of your day. I think you'll feel the way the audience did about it: a film that beautifully demonstrates its namesake. Oh, boy! You should have heard the panel discussion that followed the film. Five contributors from "Inspiring Creativity" took the stage  to debate, lecture, and even argue with one another about this highly-charged term, creativity. Let's just leave it at, to each, their own. Entertainingly enough, they can agree to disagree, but their diverse opinions and methods of expression proved that our differences provide the basis for some of the most interesting work we can imagine. The process begins again, giving birth to the new.

Create and cultivate-- even if it's simply understanding or kindness toward others...

and even more so, toward yourself. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Maine Elements

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It happened. 
The unexpected, the unexplained, the unthinkable:
I've been converted into a Mainiac. No, that's not a typo--not a maniac, you fool (although that could also be up for debate later)--But, a real, live MAINIAC! 

Last weekend, I was taken on a whirlwind 3-day tour of the coastline of Maine. From Cape Elizabeth, to Booths Bay Harbor, to Camden, to Bar Harbor (referred to by locals as Bah-ha-bah), to Portland and Peaks Island. That's a mouthful. Both literally and figuratively. A mouthful of lobster, in my case. For 72 hours, I believe that I consumed lobster with every single meal. EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. Do the math for me. Obscenely excessive or ridiculously delicious? Your call. Perhaps, It was a liiiiiiiiittle excessive, but lobster (beginning in childhood--blame my parents!) has continued to remain at the top of my favorite foods list. That's tough to do, considering the competition out there. The views, the harbors, the expanse of ocean all was all so overwhelming. I hiked through the Acadia National Park to the very top of the summit (see below--it was breathtaking!), sailed at sunset with champagne in hand, took ferries galore, and peddled around an entire island (Peaks!). Full of outdoor activities, honestly real folks with their "honesty boxes" (where you choose how accountable you wish to be when paying for services rendered-crazy trusting, yes?!) and some damn fresh seafood directly off of the fishing and lobstah boats, Maine delivers. I need it to deliver all the way to my doorstep stat, though. 

Oh, dear. Just typing this has instilled a burning desire to return. As in, who needs work? I'll live off of the sea, right? 

Style talk: I was warned- "Don't bother bringing heels or anything dressy." Although I typically ignore this useless tune of advice in regards to dressing myself on vacation, I strangely adhered...for once. Don't get accustomed to that. The weather served up mild and sunny days as well as chilly, clear evenings. I brought tennis shoes and athletic wear, loafers and boat shoes (seemed appropriate), hoodies, some hats, and one pair of short-heeled booties to wear with a billowy maxi-skirt and casual tee for a night out. Absurd (for me, at least), I know, but it was all that I needed. It's generally casual. Well, most areas of the country are in comparison to New York City, but heed my recommendations on this. Oh, and beauty? Pack your cosmetic case lightly. Toner and moisturizer with SPF, followed by a dash of mascara and a swipe of lipstick. Overall, it's a preppy yet understated destination. Don't try too hard. It's naturally quaint but stunning, so go with what feels right for you in that setting.  
That may just include elastic waistbands, if you're like me. 

 Maine-ly Essentials: 
-tennis shoes
-hoodies and cardigans for boat rides and evenings
-light scarf wrap
-loafers, boat shoes
-ball cap, fedora
-comfy maxi
-slouchy tees
-casual shorts that transition from day-to-night
-sling backpack, crossbody purse 

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More selling points, you say?
Visual highlights continue. 

But, I always like to say,
Go, do, and see for yourself. 

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