“Turn it up until you think it’s too much—and then turn it up.”
I’m back in the game! I started my job in November and promptly stopped going to the gym. But in February, I was tired of feeling stressed and guilty, so I started going again, and it feels so good. I’ve been consistently heading to spin 3-5x/week, and the mental wellness I’ve gained from it might be the greatest reward. Check your thoughts at the door—or bring them in with you and fight them.
A part of me loves that improvement is so quantifiable at the gym. Did you work harder? Longer? Faster? Can you turn the resistance higher than last time, can you stay with the beat, accelerate on the beat? What is your RPM, heart rate? Track and celebrate the small victories.
Are you also trying to get in shape? Record your workouts with me on myfitnesspal. Think stronger, get stronger. ☯
My mom and I were born in different places. She was born into a very modest and conservative culture. I was born over 6,934 miles away from where she was, into the American culture.
Living in the United States is still new to my mom. This world of cheap fast food, complicated coffee-ordering terms, and corny daytime soap operas still throws her for a loop each day. But I never minded accompanying her to Taco Bell, the grocery store, or the mall to break down the language barrier or provide moral support; I was her shopping buddy since I could ride in a stroller.
For us, America isn’t always the land of (maternal) peace. Sometimes her modesty got in the way of my Western surroundings as I was growing up: no sleepover birthday parties for me (you don’t have your own bed to sleep in?), no allowance (chores are duties, not jobs), no relationships (it’s better just to be friends). We might disagree about the value of a pair of the shoes at the mall, and I may never understand why she must take hours searching for bargain pots and pans at Macy’s. We might argue about how much I go out, and she may never understand why I spend so much on a bottle of craft beer. Over the years, my mom and I have progressed from a love-hate relationship to an agree-to-disagree understanding.
Despite our differences, I will always be grateful for my mom. I am forever thankful for her sacrifices and efforts. She taught me the virtue of being frugal and told me to stop comparing myself to everyone else. But I wish she would pause from grocery runs take a page from my culture playbook sometime: splurge on yourself, because you deserve it.
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Earlier this month my friends and I visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The day was blustery and sprinkling, leaving dewy water droplets on leaves and the ground springy with purpose and energy. Everything seemed bright and green against the wet pavement and grey skies. In a way, it was perfect.
As my friend Esther and I used to remind one another when we were in our teaching programs: mental wellness, mental wellness, mental wellness.
What are your escapes? How and where do you take time for mental wellness? ❖
There is barely a day that goes by in NYC that I walk to work without being catcalled or jeered at, and I know this is true of my friends’ experiences too. We hate “that seedy walk” from the train to our office, and when I’m feeling particularly annoyed, I take a 2 block detour to avoid the clusters of men.
It’s that time of year when we’re thinking about a fresh cut and color for spring/summer. Just like fashion and beauty, hair trends come and go. Here’s a quick guide to the possibilities for your locks:
Undercut - A section of the hair shaved close to the head; the rest of the hair stays long. See this entire Tumblr for examples.
Lob - A longer version of a bob in which the hair falls between the chin and collarbone. A great cut if you’ve had long hair for a long time and want a change! See here for celebs who went from long to short.
Bob - Hair cut right to the chinline; face-framing; shorter than the lob. Pinterest inspiration here.
Layered - Hair is cut in progressive lengths, creating volume at the top and movement throughout. If you have thick hair like me, you might want to keep the back one length and only ask for layers at the front, around your face. Here is Pinspiration.
Side bangs - Long, side-swept bangs cut and parted to one side. Great if you want some fringe but can’t commit to full bangs. See examples here.
Lowlights - Sections of hair dyed darker than all-over hair color.
Ombre - The hair is highlighted from mid-shaft to the end, creating a gradient effect.
Halo - A single layer of hair is dyed another color; creates visual interest when the hair is styled or in an updo. (I did this in college!)
Dip-dye - Ends of the hair are highlighted or dyed a bright hue.
Statement - A single section of the hair is dyed; funky and dramatic. For example: a red streak through the bangs and front.
All-over - All the hair is dyed another color.
Highlights - Sections of hair dyed lighter than all-over hair color.
Conditioning - Nourish your hair from the roots to ends with a deep conditioning at a salon.
Straightening - Chemical straightening to achieve a sleek ‘do every day.
Body wave - Ask for a chemical or digital perm to achieve tousled, beach waves without the curling iron every morning. I’ve had a body wave for the last year.
As for me, I just cut blunt bangs - hello, round brush! - and I’m considering color.
For those interested, I went to Rena at Samara Hair Salon (875 8th Avenue, NY, NY 10019) and my bang cut cost $12 (+tip). Big change, for little change. ✥
What are you thinking of doing to your hair this season? What hair styles are you seeing in the city you live in? Let us know in the comments section or tweet @etrethegirls.
Photo courtesy of Pinterest
This week, we are loving two sites dedicated to ethical fashion. Ethical fashion is concerned with the sourcing, production, and distribution of goods: Is your purchase good for the environment? For people? Can the fashion industry do good?
HELPSY is founded on the principle that the fashion industry doesn’t have to be ruinous; fashion can have a social impact “100% of the time”. The site is curated with beautiful, unique goods that are equal parts fashion-forward and ethical (i.e. made of eco-conscious materials, fair-trade, philanthropic, local). Every product page includes a list of “HELPSY Qualities” that details why and how the product made the HELPSY cut. Rachel Kibbe, Parsons graduate and former apprentice at Alexander Wang and Jack Spade, runs the site out of NYC.
We also love Well Spent, a site that scours the internet for “honestly crafted” goods at an accessible price point. Well Spent’s definition of “honestly crafted” is broad; you’ll find products that are fair trade, certified organic, sustainably produced, or simply high quality.
In order for a product to appear on the site, founder Brad Bennett vets that it is attractive, affordable, and made in the US or similar conditions. Many of the brands featured on the site are small and independent labels that we wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.
Photo courtesy of GOOD
This Mother’s Day, we asked friends and bloggers to tell us what they love about their moms. This is our tribute to the superwomen in our lives. Thanks, Mom. ❤
“I love my Mom because she’s the most interesting woman I’ve ever known. She embodies everything I want to be and hope to be. She is brave, a fighter, a gentle soul, a wonderful friend and leader. She is an incredible human being and I’m so proud to be her daughter!”
— Beverly Lwenya, http://www.theafropolitanshop.com/
“What do I love about my mom: Everything! I do, but I guess I should answer seriously. I love how she tells me like it is. She doesn’t shy away from telling me what I need to hear, no matter how much i try to deny it. I love how she knows me better than I know myself. I love that she is comfortable in her own skin. I love how she doesn’t apologize for the past and manages to keep everything in perspective and still stay positive. I love the fact that she looks 35. But most of all I love that she is my rock. She is the glue that holds me together when I want to break apart. And as I try to navigate this post-collegiate world, I know she is only a phone call away. I am blessed to be her child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
— Paris W., http://backspacepen.wordpress.com/
“What I love about my mom is that she teeters between a tough love ‘tiger mom’ approach, and a ‘I am going to spoil you,’ approach. She expects a lot from me, but she also loves me fiercely. She tells me to push myself, but she also tells me how proud of me she is. She also always tells me to be a lady, because she is a lady, and that being classy will get you far in life.”
— Tiffany T.
“I love the fact that she has supported me in everything I’ve done. Whether performing or running a show, she always makes a point to come out and watch. She is my number one fan and couldn’t ask for a better mom.”
— Andrea P., http://atimeforeverythinginlife.tumblr.com/
“I love that my mom for her conviction that she can accomplish anything she sets her sights on, from redoing the basement to fostering great danes to designing her own crocheted stuffed animals. I love you for all that and more, Mama!”
— emma sullivan
“I love that my mom is the most selfless person I know. She gives so much of her time and resources to care for others without complaint. Also, she’s an amazing cook.”
— Jessie H.
“I love my mom’s strength, courage, and the ability to love selflessly. Also, she starts laughing before she finishes telling a joke. It’s quite adorable.”
— Karen H.
“To the woman who gave all that she has to her children. She is my superwoman.”
— Caroline S., Instagram: so_caroline
“I love her devotion to our family and the remarkable sacrifices she has made to grow us into who we are today. She is a strong and beautiful woman who has overcome so much and continues to strive for her best so that we are able to be our best, and I cannot thank her enough for it. Love you, 媽媽.”
“I know that my mom will always love me, and even though we go through tough times in our relationship I am assured that she will always listen, be there and help in whatever way she can. That undeniable motherly love is what makes my mom so great.”
— Susan F.
“Mama is the testament to human resilience and the living testimony of faith. She loves as fiercely as she rebukes. Her gaunt shoulders have bore much tribulation but in spite of it all, she is the epitome of strength to me. And I love her for that and so much more.”
— Cherrie C., about.me/cherrie_chen
Thank you all for your submissions! Have a wonderful Mother’s Day. Check back soon for updates to the new Mama Said series.
This week, we love the Tumblr NPR: She Works Note To Self. As part of a series called The Changing Lives of Women, NPR asks women this question: What’s your note to self — a piece of advice that’s helped you at work?
Learn from the best, ladies; we are each other’s best.