Life Lately

...and excused absences

jeff synder hallway

Please excuse Victoria from the last week and a half of total blog silence. Life, very certainly, got in the way. Here, background into things that have been on my radar and proving that behind every screen are a multitude of untold stories.

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finishedREADING // Over the weekend, I finally dove headfirst into the book The Rocks. What I thought might be a slow burn ended up being totally captivating. It’s a love story told in reverse — we know two of the main characters are divorced, living on the beautiful island of Mallorca, but have barely seen or interacted with each other in almost 60 years. As the story progresses, we move back through time to learn what transpired and how their story has impacted their (unrelated) children, who grew up on the island together. A great read, and especially perfect if you’re wishing for a summer beach getaway — the Mediterranean landscapes described in the book are transporting.  Buy from Amazon

amazingTHAI // Earlier in May, we had some friends set up a double date with us and suggest Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant off Union Square. Imagine my surprise when we arrived and found a small little restaurant in the lobby of the Parc 55 Hotel. Hotel Thai food? What was this place? Only the best Thai food I think I’ve ever had in my life. If you live in SF or are planning a visit here, you must check out this mostly-locals joint with affordable, diverse, and crazy delicious Thai food. Don’t let the lobby’s fluorescent lighting scare you away. 55 Cyril Magnan, San Francisco

smellsGOOD // I discovered two new-to-me candle brands over the weekend, and they’re so delicious (and not yet ubiquitous) that I had to share. I was browsing around ByGeorge in Austin and happened to pick up this beautiful candle made with black wax. The fragrance was intoxicating — gingery, warm, woody. Not something I’d normally pick up based on description alone, but after one whiff, a must have. It’s now living in our bedroom. The candle is a collab between the denim brand imogene+willie and Apothia, two brands I wasn’t familiar with but was glad to discover (imogene+willie’s backstory is pretty cool!). The other candle brand is called Tatine — have you heard of it? I scooped up two of their “Tisane” votives; one in the Kensington Garden scent, and the other an addictive scent called Bron Yr Aur (it’s Welsh). This fragrance is so good, I feel like it would be the next Diptyque Baies if more people knew about it (so actually, I hope it stays a secret between you and me). I only wish it came in a bigger size — all the Tisane votives only come in small formats that burn for 16 hours. But maybe that’s part of their charm; the scents are meant to be “a lyrical interpretation of memories, moments, music and emotions,” so perhaps like a song, they transport you for a short time, then they end.  i+w x apothia candle, $55; Tatine Tisane Votives, $19/each

inAUSTIN // So yeah, I bought all these candles in Austin. Unexpectedly, I took a trip back to my hometown over the weekend, leaving on Friday morning and returning to SF Monday night. Do you remember when I alluded to cancer really sucking, a long time ago when we were still in New York? Well, last week I found out my family member’s journey with the disease nears its close, so I headed home to provide support, say goodbye, all the difficult but necessary things you can imagine. I don’t really want to get into the background of the who’s and what’s dynamics of the diagnosis, prognosis, and the loss because I would probably end up writing my entire life story (posts for another blog, someday), but anyone who has experienced any measure of grief and sorrow knows it’s rough. Last week, in anticipation of going home, and early this week, upon my return, I didn’t really feel like I had much to chat about here (I’m sure you can imagine), which is why my Ask Me Anything got put on the back burner (among other things). To be honest, I don’t really know what else to write about this that won’t be a total brain dump, but if I’m in and out more than usual, now you know why. Which leads me to…

reEVALUATING // Before I got the call and ever went to Austin, something that’s been on my mind a lot recently is self care. It might’ve all started when about six weeks ago, I developed this weird rash on a small part of my face. It wasn’t especially noticeable, so I didn’t think much of it — I slapped some heavy moisturizer on it and called it a day. But then I began to notice that when I was super stressed (like more so than usual), or not eating well, or drinking too much, or not sleeping enough, it would flare up and get worse. My body was literally sending me a stop sign on my face to tell me when to slow down. I’ve seen and heard about this type of thing in friends, when stress leads to all types of inflammation and your immune system freaking out. It was a wake up call when it happened to me — me, who has a really hard time slowing down, turning off, and letting things go. So I’ve been reevaluating and thinking about how I can practice better self care. I thought I was doing it already, but apparently, not very well. Recently, for me, this has included sleeping until I am no longer tired (even though I naturally still wake up around 7, recently I’d wake up and feel completely exhausted), drinking very little alcohol, doing a lot more yoga at home, eating well, and probably most importantly, working on silencing the nagging in my head that always pops up when I’m worried I’m not doing or working hard enough. I think this was one of the first times in my life where I felt like, “Man, I must be getting older and I really can’t do everything anymore.” It’s put me in reevaluation mode, thinking about how to form new habits, and has been yet another kick in the pants to ruminate on how I’m prioritizing time, relationships, energy, all that stuff. I’m curious: what do you do to practice self care?

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So that’s the latest from over here. I went with the essay format for this version of Life Lately because it’s been hard to drum up a ton of creative energy the last two days, and (in self care mode!) I felt like I had to save that for client work. I’ll design something pretty for you soon, I promise ;) With all that being said, I will be getting to the AMA answers next week, so keep your questions coming (comment, or email) and I’ll give you alllll the answers very soon.

And maybe it goes without saying, but take a deep breath today, give a loved one a big bear hug, and namaste.

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25 Comments

  1. shannon wrote:

    Are you sure your rash wasn’t something a dermatologist could fix? I had something similar happen to me not that long ago and I tried everything and it never went away. I finally went to my derm and she diagnosed it as periorial dermatitis – apparently a very common affliction of women in their 20s & 30s. It wasn’t going to go away on its own. Anyway, that’s now a step in my self care. Seeing a dermatologist regularly, just to make sure those little annoying things aren’t just little annoying things.

    8 Jun 2016 · Reply
    • It probably is PD, but for inflammation based issues like this, I try to treat it holistically first vs. going straight to a topical or oral treatment (I think in PD’s case, it’s antibiotics which is ugh for me). I’m gonna give a few other things a try before resorting to the antibiotic big guns. Thanks for letting me know tho! I hadn’t thought about it being PD but I think that’s totally it.

      9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  2. heather wrote:

    Hello–just wanted to say a) love the new design, b) totally going to check out that book, c) as someone who is also dealing with a close family member dealing with a quick cancer diagnosis and decline, I feel you and know you’re not alone…it totally sucks d) when it comes to self care, I started taking my makeup off at night. Baby steps.

    8 Jun 2016 · Reply
  3. Maggie wrote:

    Take your time, we’ll be here when things calm down.

    8 Jun 2016 · Reply
  4. Monica wrote:

    Keeping you in my thoughts and sending you a huge hug! Sounds like you are on the right track to helping alleviate some of that stress, but it’s always easier said than done. Also I seriously want that Bron Yr Aur candle but the $12+ shipping is turning me off! If you ever hear of them having a free ship code, will you share? :) Have a great weekend!!

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
    • Thanks, Monica! Eek, sorry about the shipping, I hadn’t noticed that else I would’ve totally added some more resources. They sell all over the country (unfortunately, doesn’t list any spots in DC but you could maybe call the company and see?). Anthro also sells a few of the scents currently, just not Bron Yr Aur, but keep an eye out — maybe they’ll begin to stock more? Jayson Home in Chicago also sells the candles, so if you ever purchase from them for other home decor items, you could perhaps toss a few Tisane votives into your order too (though they clearly mark up the price slightly). I’ll let you know if I ever notice Tatine offering free shipping though — my guess is around various holidays they might offer deals! Hope that helps :)

      9 Jun 2016 · Reply
      • Monica wrote:

        You’re the best! I hadn’t heard of the brand so good to know other retailers carry them as well. I’ve heard only good things about Jayson Home so maybe it’s time to place an order (or make a trip to Chicago, because why not? ;))

        9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  5. Julie wrote:

    I’ve learned all too well this year that emotions like grief, uncertainty, stress and anxiety, in extreme doses, will find a way to physically manifest themselves. You’re totally right – your body is telling you something is wrong. Prioritizing fitness, drinking tons of water and eating less sugar seem somewhat obvious to say, but that is a great start. A great sweat session (I’m loving hot yoga right and long runs right now) can work wonders. But I also had to admit to myself (a long process) that I needed help. Therapy, acupuncture (kind of a crazy, cool thing to try) and meditation have also helped me a lot. I highly recommend the app Headspace. It’s like meditation for beginners. Sending you good vibes as you cope with your situation. You are not alone!

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
    • Thanks, Julie, I really appreciate the good vibes. I’m totally with you on all the advice — I’m really big into integrated medicine/care, so I’ve been super careful about diet and drinking tons of water. Interestingly, in the late spring I switched from a HIIT style fitness routine to doing something more gentle, but I’m not sure if that actually helped or hindered (maybe the intensity of the former workout was a better stress release…but man, I always felt so tired!). The therapy is a given, it pays for itself these days :) I’m lucky enough to have been seeing someone for the last 4 years (and to anyone reading this, if you’ve thought about working with a therapist, you absolutely should. Nothing has impacted my life more positively). I’ve actually never tried acupuncture and have been thinking about it — did you go in and describe any specific symptoms, or just explain overall goals for the session? Thanks again!!

      9 Jun 2016 · Reply
      • Julie wrote:

        I think regarding exercise, it’s always a balance of what works for you. I mix up my routine a lot. If you need something in-between HIIT and gentle, I love barre classes, which are low impact but still tone and get the heart rate going! If you haven’t tried hot yoga, I you might like it. It’s gentle, but the heated aspect really ups the challenge mentally and physically. The amount you sweat is crazy, but afterwards you feel so refreshed/cleansed/detoxified. There really is something to literally sweating it out. :)

        Regarding acupuncture: I think most practitioners take a very holistic approach. So while I said my primary goal was to relieve anxiety, we talked about everything from my digestion, to physical aches and pains, to my menstrual cycle before she started treating me. As with a medical doctor, you answer a lot of questions about your medical history, etc. Acupuncture can help with a lot of different things (physical and emotion) all at once. So while she is working towards relieving my anxiety, she is also focusing on some occasional knee and lower back pain. My practitioner also does a mild version (leaves little to no marking) of cupping and Gua Sha. It was a little out of my comfort zone at first, but I am enjoying and seeing some benefit. My hope is that continues as my sessions continue. I find it really relaxing and it doesn’t hurt (I am a big baby, so I was concerned about this). I read a lot of reviews for practices in my area, and for me it was a balance of finding one that had great reviews, but that was also affordable for 6-10 sessions (usually how many people say you need to feel results). Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover acupuncture at all.

        9 Jun 2016 · Reply
        • So, fun story: inspired by your acupuncture adventure, I actually went to my doctor today and did a session (I use One Medical here in SF, which has both western and eastern approaches!). We did a session and I’ll go back in a few weeks, but the biggest boon from the discussion was realizing my adrenal glands are just totally exhausted. So I’m starting a host of supplements to help with this and also continuing to eliminate foods from my diet to help with inflammation. Excited to see how it goes.

          As to your hot yoga suggestion — no thank you! :) I HATE hot yoga classes. I don’t do very well in heat and I’ve never taken a single heated or Bikram yoga class that I found enjoyable. Vinyasa for me all the way!

          9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  6. Alexia wrote:

    I am often anxious so I include taking magnesium pills as part of my self care routine. They’re natural and over the counter- I’ve found they really make a difference, if you (or anyone else in the comments:) suffer from something similar. Only negative is that they loosen your bowels.

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
    • Very interesting. I recently had a stomach bug and couldn’t digest anything, and oddly, the unintended cleanse made my skin completely clear up. I wonder if the magnesium, in addition to having calming effects, help keep the gut clear since it’s a laxative, so you outwardly look healthier too. Hmm. Thanks for sharing this.

      (PS, it’s funny to me that here we are on my blog, talking about laxatives…ha!)

      9 Jun 2016 · Reply
      • Rose wrote:

        I have had stomach/GI issues ever since taking a strong antibiotic for a different issue a few years back; recently, I have been taking Epicor and a probiotic together each day and I have noticed a marked improvement in my digestive system. Still on the earlier side of things to tell if it’s really helping long term, but I have been breathing easier the last few weeks!

        10 Jun 2016 · Reply
        • Yeah, antibiotics always eff me up. It’s been almost a week on this probiotic I got (this one, in case anyone’s interested, but buy it locally as it needs to be refrigerated and I think Amazon’s refrigerated shipments are dicey) and I think it’s really helping. So much of our immunity comes from our gut — it’s incredible!

          14 Jun 2016 · Reply
  7. Iris wrote:

    Adding The Rocks to my reading list. I’m always on the lookout for new books.

    I had similar experiences when I get stressed out. The skin on the hands went through flare ups when a few bad life events happened. This second time, they are slowly clearing up.

    Take care.

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  8. Poperie wrote:

    I really like read your stories. They’re full of life. Really like your blog. Cheers

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  9. Jor-El wrote:

    Love the bit about self care. I’m always talking about this, whether it’s with clients or friends LOL. Aside from long walks around the city, baths and naps, I’ve been taking a natural Stress & Sleep supplement by HerbTheory which I like a lot. It’s become a staple in my self care routine recently.

    9 Jun 2016 · Reply
  10. Rose wrote:

    I have a pair of jeans from Imogene + Willie—I love them!

    Sorry to hear things have been sad and stressful on your end lately, but I’m glad to hear you are able to recognize that you needed some self-care. Love your posts, whenever you get them up!

    10 Jun 2016 · Reply
  11. Just seeing this! Big hugs to you girl. I can totally relate. I saw your comment about your adrenals, acupuncture, and figuring out your food sensitivities. So glad you looked into that! My adrenals were shot, too, and meditation, supplements, eliminating my food sensitivities, and just CHILLIN’ OUT have worked wonders for me!!! I hope you feel better soon! Thinking of you and your family!! xo

    14 Jun 2016 · Reply
  12. Caroline wrote:

    I just said goodbye to a loved one recently. It’s excruciating. Sending good thoughts to you and yours during this time. Xo

    14 Jun 2016 · Reply
    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Caroline. Sending you good thoughts too! xx

      15 Jun 2016 · Reply
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