Wednesday, January 8, 2014

you are beautiful: my guest post for "strong figure"

Happy Wednesday!

A few weeks ago, I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to write a guest post for the AMAZING fitness and nutrition blog, Strong Figure.  The very talented and inspiring Stephanie Wimer reached out to me a few weeks ago asking me if I would be willing to write an article about The Beauty in You Campaign, a wonderful project founded and run by my friend and classmate, Jade Enders.

The subsequent article went live today, so be sure to follow this link over to Strong Figure and check it out! And please take a moment to like both The Beauty in You Campaign and Strong Figure on Facebook!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

we're jammin'

A twentieth century British conductor named Sir Thomas Beecham once stated,

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought."

This sentiment really hits me.  When I listen to music, I am taken on a journey that can be likened to the other-worldly adventure that one has while reading a book.  I dance in the notes, I take in every lyric as a piece of poetry, and I am amazed at its eclecticness and universality.  I adore everything about music.

Because I love music so much (I mean, I do study it), I tend to listen to it pretty often.  I have spent hours combing YouTube or Spotify listening to the most obscure and unique musical cast album that I can find and digging up vintage tracks made by my favorite artists (no shame).  I have worn out many a set of earbuds listening to the myriad of playlists that eat up my poor Droid Razr M's memory and slow it down.  I have lost sets of earbuds, broken sets of earbuds earbuds, and demolished sets of earbuds all in the name of listening to my music.

I was so sick of my toxic relationship with earbuds, that I asked for a pair of old school headphones for Christmas.  I didn't get them.  So the next day, I went on Amazon to scout out their headphone selection.  I found the following pair near the top of my search:
They were simple, sleek, and to the point.  I wasn't a fan of the bright red color, but the $8 price tag (and Prime shipping option)  won me over (remember, I'm a poor college student).  Ever since they arrived, they've exceeded my expectations in every way except aesthetically.  Naturally, this called for a DIY facelift.

This project was absolutely simple.  To redesign the cheesy red plastic, I grabbed a tube of white Tulip Brand 3D paint and went to work, freehandedly painting whatever the spirit moved me to paint (mostly just simple symbols like dots and squiggles that I knew I could paint well/easily fix whatever mistakes I made (aka musical symbols)).  Here is the finished product:

Other options for making headphones over include wallpapering them with stickers (and then sealing with a neat coat of Modge Podge), stenciling words or designs on with paint or Sharpie, covering them completely with Washi tape... the possibilities are endless.  I'm pretty darn happy with my improved headphones though and I'm excited to start jammin' with this unique (and hopefully less destructible) pair!
I'm lovin' it.
Questions? Comments?  Concerns?? Just want so say "Hello"?? Post it in the box below!

I hope that your 2014 has been going swimmingly thus far!

Until next time. <3

Love, Leaza

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

a new day: bright enough to help me find my way

In my head, I always make New Year's Resolutions.  I make so many, that since I don't write them down, I
usually forget the majority of them rather quickly.  This year, I decided not just to write my resolutions down, I am going to write them down on this blog; I'll be much more likely to hold myself accountable this way.

To start, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on 2013:
This was a good year for me.  I spent a lot of time being happy, doing things I love with people I love.  I found a new sense of freedom and learned a lot about the importance and craft of self-reliance.  I became more disciplined, more focused, and more driven.  I learned to not settle for less than I deserved.  I met so many wonderful new people who opened my mind and expanded my horizons infinitely.  I grew much braver

So what's next?  In no particular order, here are my 21 resolutions for my 21st year of life:
  1. Continue to stay focused on my goals; don't let petty things in life interfere with what I hold dear.
  2. At the same time, don't have my blinders on too tight.  There is a world out there, full of love and adventures, family and friends.  Don't forget to enjoy it.
  3. Make more, spend less, save more.
  4. Don't obsess over minor details.
  5. Wear my hair curly more often.   Maybe actually commit to growing it long for once.
  6. Sleep more at night.  Sleep less in class.
  7. Eat as few processed foods as possible (but don't beat myself up when this isn't possible; I am a college student after all!)...make a conscious effort to ensure that my vegetarian diet does not leave me nutrient deficient.
  8. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend more time outside. (Vitamin D!!)
  9. Stay healthy.  Being sick is the worst.
  10. Stop dreaming as much, start doing more.  This is the time I have to tackle all the small things that post-grad life will limit me from in future life.
  11. Geek out more.  Spend some more time reading about the adventures of my friendly neighborhood Spider-man.
  12. Write more.  Read more.  These are a few of my favorite things that I never seem to have the time to do.
  13. Going along with #11, keep a journal.  I used to carry one to write down any ideas or song lyrics or thoughts that entered my head.  It was a useful habit that I need to pick up again.
  14. Color. Coloring is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress and I don't do it often enough.  Maybe I can even start a Coloring Club at CUA...?
  15. Play my instruments.  I definitely am not the most talented guitarist or ukulele enthusiast, but I love to learn to play better and I really enjoy practicing.
  16. Hold myself accountable to the million lists and schedules that I make for myself.
  17. Make time to dedicate to others, but don't sacrifice time that I need for myself in the process.
  18. Workout.  Stretch.  A lot.  Often.  (My ballet teacher will appreciate that).
  19. Give back to the community in a variety of ways.  I am more blessed and lucky than even I could possibly realize.  I want to do more for others and have so many ideas and projects that I can't wait to execute.
  20. Be spontaneous.  I am someone who innately likes plans and gets anxious when those plans are changed or altered.  I want to let go of that anxiety and live more on the edge in all aspects of life.
  21. Always keep this quote in mind: "Sometimes, all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.  Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery.  And, I promise you, something great will come of it."  Live by that mantra.
What resolutions do you have for 2014?  Are you glad that 2013 has come to a close? Are you excited for any major milestones coming your way within the next year?  Let me know in the comments!

Andddd I'll leave you with one of my favorite things that comes with the end of each year... a new DJ Earworm United State of Pop Mashup!! The 2013 version is called "Living the Fantasy".  Enjoy!

Love, Leaza

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

live it up: my response to "23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23"

I normally don't usually post articles like this, but I had a few views that I felt were important to be shared.

DISCLAIMER: You don't have to agree with me.  This article is based off of my own opinions and life-experiences.

Lately, my Facebook NewsFeed has been full of happy couples getting engaged.  Everytime I see a new engagement, I'm super happy for the couple, in awe of how many people I see that are engaged, and excited for the amount of weddings that I'll get to attend in the near future.

Occasionally, I'll see a "We're engaged!" post and I'll be kind of shocked because, not only do I know at least one-half of the couple, at least one-half of the couple is my age (give or take a few months to a year).  However, I'm not shocked because I doubt their decision-making skills; I just could not see myself, at 21, ready to make that major commitment to another human being.

Yesterday, this article entitled "23 Things to Do Before Getting Engaged Before You're 23" from the blog Wander Onwards started going viral over my interwebs.  In this article, the author, Vanessa, illustrates several key reasons why she is against the constant influx of engagements that seem to be occurring more frequently between college students and recent graduates.  She cites "inexperience" as a major reason for the marriage surge and also says that many individuals are using a significant other as a " admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own".  She then advertises her alternative list of things to do to live it up before you tie the knot.

Naturally, tons of strong women (and some men too!) started sharing this article on Facebook as well as other forms of social media proclaiming their loud and proud agreement with Vanessa's thoughts and ideas.  I was one of them.  However, after mulling over her argument a little more, I realize I agree with parts of her argument, but not all.  Looking at the comments for this article, I saw many upset posters, saying that her way of thinking was "judgemental" and "single-minded", citing their own life experiences to supplement their contrary arguments.

After a lot of thought, I realized that I can see both sides of this debate.  I know so many happy couples who are my age and younger who have dreams and goals and a life to live, yet they still talk of possible engagements and future marriage; heck, I used to be one of them.  I was really happy for the majority of my 3 and a half year relationship and a future together was always talked about.  When we had those conversations though, it was never as a cop-out, a fear of being alone against the world; it was because we loved each other and each other's company and didn't want to be without it or each other.  (Side note: part of why Vanessa's article was so controversial was because she mentioned that she had never had a serious boyfriend.)  I will agree that inexperience did contribute to the demise of my relationship, but also, the realization that people grow and change and come into their own so much during their college years... sometimes, people just aren't as compatible as they used to be.  But honestly?  If I had gotten engaged this holiday season to my ex, it very well may have worked out and flourished.  Who knows? Nobody can predict what may have been.

On the flip side, I totally agree with Vanessa's idea that we absolutely need to live it up during these years, the so-called "best years of our lives".  I know that had I not gotten a chance to have my single college experience, there are so many opportunites and experiences that I would have missed out on that have proven integral to my growth and development as my own individual person, a chance for which I have been profoundly grateful.  I have discovered just how big and exciting and beautiful this world is.  I have definitely hit some of the things on her To-Do list over the past few months and I am so glad that I have.  I have come to know myself infinitely more than I would have had I been in a relationship and to me, that is priceless.  Personally, I think that self-knowledge and awareness is the best ammunition we have for taking on this world and fulfilling our dreams and goals, whatever they may be.

I also agree with the divorce statistics cited in the article.  She points out that divorce rates for young couples are a full TWO TIMES the national average.  Now, I know that all of these young couples won't get divorced, nor do I put too much stock in statistics like that since I believe that each and every situation is unique.  However, I do know and have experienced the backlash of divorce from those who have married young--don't worry, my parents are happily married.  But I have felt the aftershocks from many other separations and divorces, and I wouldn't wish even the secondary pain that is felt on anybody.

So what is my view on the issue?  I think that being single and living and learning alone is amazing.  I am having the time of my life flying solo.  I also think that making a commitment to someone you love and care about and honestly want to spend the rest of your life with is beautiful, commendable, and amazingly brave.  These are two completely different types of lifestyles and as always, to each his or her own.  Every situation is unique to the individuals involved, and I think that as long as you're smart, ready, and fully committed with NO DOUBTS (or very few), get engaged!  Get married!  If you want to happily date without long-term commitment, do that!  And if you want to be single until you're absolutely ready not to be?  Do it.  Want to be single forever? More power to you.  There are so many ways of living life, just make sure that you live it up happily. :)

Love, Leaza