Five Easy Ways to Conquer Holiday Stress

Managing Holiday Stress

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hanukkah – joy abounds! Wherever and whatever you are celebrating in the world during this time, I wish you peace and love.

As relaxing as holidays claim to be, they often cause lots of unnecessary stress and grief. Traffic, traveling, finding the “perfect” gift, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Stress is a tricky thing. It seems easy to accumulate but so hard to get rid of. It can pop up out of nowhere and snowball into total havoc if we let it.

If you feel bouts of stress creeping in and tainting your happy holiday high, maybe try these simple techniques to ease your energetic self. These exercises can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours, see what you have time for and what your body truly needs. Sometimes it’s the moments when we think we have no time for ourselves that we need it the most.

 

Restorative Yoga

You know by now that a consistent yoga practice can help increase your flexibility, muscle tone and cardiovascular health, but the additional mental benefits of yoga can also be pretty stellar. Try some of these restorative yoga postures to counteract the hectic holiday energy.

Supported Child’s Pose

A yoga bolster works best here, but if you don’t have one you can use a few longer pillows and folded blankets. Just find  a height that’s comfortable and will support your body! Sit back on your heels and spread your knees wide. Snuggle your bolster in between the knees and take a deep breath in. Lengthen through the crown of the head and slowly lower your belly down to the bolster. Find a comfortable, neutral position for your hands. Rest one cheek on the bolster and take nice deep breaths. Close the eyes if you feel comfortable. Settle in. after 4 – 6 minutes switch the direction of your neck so the other cheek is face down. Repeat on this side. Slowly come back to center and sit back up when you’re ready.

Supported Child's Pose - The Local Mystic

 

Supported Fish Pose

Move your bolster so it sits right at the base of the spine and the top of the sacrum. Extend your legs out long and let the spine fall back on the bolster. You can roll an extra blanket up as a pillow for extra head support if you’d like. Let the shoulders fall to the earth as the heart opens towards the sky. You can keep the legs stretched out long or bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees open up. Close the eyes and take deep, steady breaths. Remain here for as long as you need to.

Supported fish pose - The Local mystic

 

If you’re interested in trying a full restorative yoga class, there are some awesome, free, online classes from Yoga by Candace, Allie the Journey Junkie and tons more. Or you can come check out the restorative classes we have to offer at Balance in New Orleans.

 

Rest-and-Digest Breath

Pranayama is the ancient art of breath control used in yogic traditions to extend one’s prana or “life force.” While there are pranayama techniques to increase energy, we’re more interested in stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system or the “rest-and-digest” function.

First start with a natural breathing rhythm. Find a comfortable, upright position and close your eyes. Release any force or manipulation behind the breath. Just allow it to flow naturally and smoothly. When you feel you are ready to begin, take a big breath in for a count of four. Allow to belly to fill up first, then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale, hold your breath for a count of three. Then slowly begin to exhale for a count of eight (double the count of the inhale). If you have a greater lung capacity, you can increase these numbers to a practice that suits you. No matter where you are, always try to make your exhales twice as long as your inhales.

Repeat the exercise 7 – 10 times, breathing smoothly and deeply. Once you’ve finished return to your normal breath. Keep your eyes closed and take a quick scan of the body and the mind. How do you feel?

 

Find Your Ritual

Ritualistic practices look different for everybody. The most important thing is that it makes you feel calm and centered. Pick activities that light you up inside – that seem to come from a place deep within you. Whatever you choose to do – make it a big she-bang. Give yourself the time to do it fully. This is your time to come back to yourself and recharge your batteries. This is your gift to yourself. This is your ritual.

First remove yourself from your distractions. Put your phone in the other room, ask your roommates not to bother you, dim the lights, light some candles, maybe play some of your favorite relaxing music. From there it’s all up to you. Maybe you want to take this time for your yoga practice. Maybe you’re a dancer / hooper and make this your movement meditation. Maybe you’d like to set up an altar – a special place of sacred energy for you to come back to. Take a bath, write a poem, play your instrument, draw tarot, write in your journal, color, sing, meditate – do whatever your body is telling you to do.

It doesn’t have to be serious, it just has to be sincere and intentional. Notice what you’re doing, how it makes you feel, and how it may affect how you go back to your normal routine.

Ritual - The Local Mystic

 

Destress with Herbs

Herbal tea is a great way to gently settle the body’s energy and get some natural medicine in you. Chamomile tea is a great tasting and naturally effective way to promote relaxation and fight anxiety. If you don’t have time or aren’t in a position to sit and drink a full cup of tea, try an herbal tincture.

Tinctures are herbal distillations made with grain alcohol. They can be used quickly and easily at any time. Some of my favorite and trusted herbal brands are Rowan + Sage and my local apothecary.

 

Give the Gift of Presence

The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration, spending time with loved ones and relaxing. Pagan traditions see this time of the year as a time of hibernation, collecting our energy back to ourselves, and honoring our blessings and loved ones. Somewhere along the way we interpreted that to mean commercialized madness and self-induced anxiety over one specific day.

There’s a lot to be overwhelmed by, but try focusing on all the magickal goodness that comes with this time. Those little moments of peace and joy that might otherwise have slipped away – relish in them. Give yourself fully to the people and events that are in front of you. Take note of your stress – but ask yourself if it’s truly serving you.

You can let the impermanence of stress sweep you away, or can you step aside, take a breath, and see yourself in the bigger picture.

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful and stress-free holiday.

xX Blessed Be Xx

 

A Witchy Playlist for an Epic Samhain

We celebrate the witches’ New Year on October 31st

Samhain, Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve – whatever name your tradition calls for – is time to put all to rest. Samhain acts as the end of the calendar year for many ancient cultures. This is the time of year when all the fields had been tended, the herds were drawn inside and everything else was left outside for Mother Earth. It is the role of death in the life and rebirth cycle. It is the crone in the triple goddess entity. It is a time of tying up loose ends and putting all else to rest. We say goodnight to the Sun god and prepare to draw inward until his return at Yuletide festivities.

Old Celtic lore says Samhain is the time when the past, present and future are all one. The veil between the physical and spiritual world is thin. Traditional rituals include honoring the ancestors and preparing their souls for a peaceful rest on the other side. Divination, séances and “dumb suppers” are common practices for this extra magickal evening.

In a more tangible sense, Samhain is a great time for breaking bad habits, journaling on endings and honoring all the life lived and yet to come.

For our Samhain magick making music, we ran with the energy of darkness and endings. Deep, alternative tracks set the tone for the lengthening nights ahead of us. Ethereal ballads from Cocteau Twins, Lykke Li and Mazzy Star calm the spirit, maybe creating a slightly hypnotic effect. And of course the obligatory Stevie.

Happy listening and magick making, my loves.

Which asana class is best for me?

Not sure about the different types of yoga? Here are the styles I’m currently teaching:

 

Vinyasa:
We break down traditional movements like the Sun Salutations and other popular poses to inspire stillness and grace within the body. Expect to build strength and endurance. In Sanskrit, vinyasa means “to place in a special way.” You sync your breath with your movement, as you honor your mind, body and spirit. You’ll leave feeling energized, calm and balanced!

Restorative:
A slow, easy pace makes it easy to unwind and focus on the breath. Relax and renew with this lovely class that uses props to help you hold relaxing poses for longer periods of time. Allow your body to melt a little deeper in to the mellow side of each posture. This class is gentle and for all levels.

image by Vita Social

Basics:
If you’re new to yoga, getting back into your practice, or craving a more detailed exploration of yoga, Balance Basics is the perfect class for you. This class focus on the fundamentals—how to do key postures, correct breathing, and how to use props for a pleasant yoga experience. Balance Basics provide a warm, safe and supportive environment for new and more experienced students to learn together. Building on a foundation of safe alignment, you’ll develop the strength, stamina and flexibility that will guide you along your path.

Yin:
Long holds channel energy into your body’s meridians, or subtle energy channels. Yin yoga helps you to experience the depth of yoga postures when you hold them for longer periods of time. You’ll experience a deep sense of calm and stillness in each posture. Yin aims to open the hips, free the spine and pelvis and quiet your mind. You’ll leave class feeling a new sense of freedom and release.

 

 

A Fall Equinox Playlist Perfect for Magick Making

September brings Mabon blessings upon us. This Fall equinox means the lengthening of night, a procession into stillness, and a time to rest and respect all that Mother Gaia has brought to us. As the elements of light and dark being to balance in our external world, so does the aspect of equality begin to come forward on a subtler level. How are you balancing work and play? Are you taking time for stillness, or are you caught in an ever-turning vortex of activity?

Traditionally a time of celebrating Celtic harvest queens and feasts of Avalon, Mabon is a time for gratitude and fruition. The sunlight is beginning to mellow. The wild flowers are pressing out for one last, glorious hello. The harvests are ready to be prepared, and all the world settles into the energetic cocoon of early fall and into the winter.

In Dorothy Morrison’s The Craft, she describes Mabon as “a time to reflect on the joys of community, personal freedom, and the wonders of the human species as a whole, and a time to count many blessings and give thanks to everyone who’s made them happen.”

For our Mabon playlist, we chose a mix of relaxing tracks to suit whatever magickal work you might be doing. The duality of light and dark plays out in two very different tracks from Irish songwriter Hozier. We travel through some lush, moody, folk-inspired tunes and around a revamp of a witchy classic before settling in to an ambient ending.

Happy listening and magick making, my loves.

 

Aromatherapy for the Root Chakra

The root chakra is the body’s most fundamental and primal energy center. In the traditional, Eastern chakra system this center lies at the very base of the spine. This chakra is known as Muladhara or “root support,” and it deals with lessons related to the physical world. It houses our “fight or flight” response and gives us a sense of how comfortable we are in our given environment. Money, safety, security, stability, control – all these are energies influenced by the root chakra.

It’s also tied to our sense of tribal power: how we relate to our community and our status in groups around us. We are all connected through our Muladhara chakra and its attitudes to our culture. It is our sense of loyalty, honor and justice. It opens our hearts to the pervading truth “All is One,” (Anatomy of the Spirit, Caroline Myss).

Image via www.chakras.info

Signs of an imbalanced root chakra can include: mistrust of others, need for control, burnout, anxiety, binge eating and obsession with money, to name a few.

Aromatherapy is one of the best – and more popular – ways to work with energetic healing. For soothing the root chakra it’s best to choose oils that are warming, grounding and slightly stimulating.

If you’d like to experiment with some root chakra stimulation and aromatherapy, try some of these herbs and oils to get the Muladhara energy flowing.

Rosemary

Traditionally used as a symbol for remembrance, rosemary has a very uplifting and energizing scent. On an anatomical level, it increases blood flow to the area where it’s topically applied. It’s energetically used to lift one’s mood, increase mental performance and fight fatigue. Its stimulating components can help fight exhaustion, weakness and depression – ideal for a sluggish root chakra.

Vetiver

This is another good scent to help improve focus. Its earthy aroma is often used to heal the nervous system after initial feelings of shock and anxiety. Because so many causes of anxiety have roots in our lower chakras, these types of smells are great for nourishing them. If you’re feeling anxious or unsure of your surroundings, vetiver can be a nice, calming ally.

Cedar

Besides having a wonderful woodsy aroma, cedar is another powerful grounding oil to use. It’s said to help clear and fight off negativity, and its notable sedative affects can also help to soothe an overactive root chakra in the onset of anxiety or shock. It’s also commonly used during yoga or meditation practices to help create a peaceful atmosphere.

Cinnamon

What a wonderfully stimulating oil for when you (or your root chakra) need a little pick me up. Cinnamon aids in the healthy functioning of the adrenal glands – which play a big part in root chakra reactions. Avoid use of cinnamon essential oil during pregnancy. If using, choose cinnamon leaf oil over cinnamon bark oil and use in very low dilution. Try to avoid placing it directly on the skin.

 

If you’re interested in more aromatherapy healing options and you’d like to check out some of my homemade chakra-healing oil blends, consider exploring my herbal shop.

 

Sent with love,
Sierra

DIY All-Natural Bug Repellent Spray

Summer heat means there’s probably an onslaught of flying critters hanging around your house. Mosquitos, house flies, fruit flies, it’s a wonder something so small can be such a nuisance!

It’s tempting to reach for a bottle of powerful store-bought repellent, but they’re loaded with chemicals that are toxic to the environment and yourself. Studies have shown prolonged exposure to DEET – one of the most commonly used chemicals in pesticides – can be damaging to the nervous system. If you’re trying to keep to pests at bay – but in a natural way – try making this all-natural insect repellent. It’s even safe for the canine or feline members of your family.

Ingredients:

Distilled Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a natural astringent derived from the flowering plant. It has a nice cooling effect that will also help relieve any preexisting bug bites. It’ll give the base of our bug spray recipe an extra kick.

 

Basil Leaves

Commonly used as an Italian cooking herb, this “queen of herbs” gives off a wonderfully sweet aroma. Turns out, it’s an aroma that mosquitos and flies can’t stand. Basil contains four of the naturally occurring volatile compounds that repel mosquitoes. When flying pests get too close to the scent, their senses are hindered, adequately deferring them from you as a potential donor.

 

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint is a hearty garden plant that is best known for its signature, minty aroma. It’s been a staple in folk medicine for generations for its wide variety of medicinal uses. It can be used to remove ticks and repel all kinds of unwanted guests. In addition to our bug spray, you can dab a cotton ball with some peppermint oil and leave it in a corner of your home to deter spiders, ants, and mosquitoes. NOTE: we’ll be using less of this oil because excessive topical use can be an irritant to the skin.

 

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Officially a CDC-approved insect repellent, eucalyptus oil is one of the more well known of the repelling oils. A study done in the plant’s home country of Australia found that it provided more 95% protection against mosquitos for three hours. It is also commonly used to fight other common skin irritations and insect bites.

 

Lemongrass Essential Oil


You may not know that the common citronella component of insect repellents is actually harvested form the leaves and stems of the lemongrass plant. Of course you could probably figure it out as soon as you smelled it. Citronella is another one of those naturally occurring volatile compounds we mentioned earlier.

 

Process:

  1. Harvest and clean your basil if you’re using some that you’ve grown on your own. We’ll use about 4 – 6 ounces of big leaves and stems for the one cup of spray we’re making. Place the leaves in a glass mason jar.
  2. Bring some water to a boil, cover the basil with 1/2 cup of the hot water and then 1/2 cup of witch hazel. You can use cold water, but then you’ll have to let your decoction sit for a longer period of time in order to get all the medicinal properties out of the basil leaves.
  3. Cover your mixture and let sit. I’d recommend letting it steep for a minimum of a few hours, if you have time to leave it overnight that’s even better.
  4. Remove the lid, and add in your essential oils. I started with 30 drops of lemongrass and eucalyptus and 15 of peppermint. If you find you want yours more aromatic, feel free to add more. Just heed the peppermint! Other good essential oils to add could be lavender, rosemary or geranium.
  5. Funnel into a portable spray bottle and you’re good to go!

A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga in New Orleans

If you’re looking for quality chaturangas and down-dogs while you’re staying in the Big Easy you don’t have to go far. Yoga in New Orleans is blossoming. Traveling community groups and neighborhood studios offer fun and fresh classes every day of the week.

Yoga Events

Nomadic yoga clubs around the city offer classes nearly every day of the week in new and fun locations. NOLA Tribe Yoga is probably the most popular.

Headed by infamous Nola yogis Baye Elizabeth and McKensie Kirchner, the tribe offers various vinyasa classes throughout the city. Sunrise yoga classes take place Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday evenings there’s a $5 social yoga event hosted at the Tchoup Yard. Their newest event is their poolside series with The Drifter Hotel, $15 gets you an hour class, all-day access to the pool and a complimentary mimosa.

Image from NOLA Tribe Yoga Instagram

Yoga on the Bayou with Brooke Bailey is every Saturday at 8:30 and is free to the public. They meet on Bayou St. John under the oak trees, near the corner of Dumaine and Moss Street.

Brooke’s classes are great for students of any level and feature the beautiful backdrop of the historic Bayou. Brooke also runs an online yoga community platform named Yoga Lagniappe. You can get upcoming yoga event calendars delivered straight to your inbox.

Yoga in New Orleans Studio Guide

Mid City

Balance Yoga + Wellness: 120 S. Cortez Street

Swan River Mid City: 2940 Canal Street

French Quarter

Magnolia: 301 Basin Street #2

CBD

Reyn Studios: 725 Magazine Street

Metarie

Yoga and You Anywhere: 2628 Metairie Lawn Drive #205

Marigny / Seventh Ward

The Church of Yoga: 1480 N. Rocheblave Street

Uptown

Wild Lotus: 4842 Perrier Street

NOLA Yoga Loft: 2042 Magazine Street, Upper Level

Image courtesy of Balance Yoga + Wellness Facebook page

Yoga in New Orleans by the Week

Here’s a suggested weekly schedule for a well-rounded practice throughout the city.

Monday:

Discounted Restorative Yoga: 5:15 p.m. at Swan River Mid City

Tuesday:

Vinyasa and Vino: 6:30 p.m. at NOLA Yoga Loft

Wednesday:

Tribe Yoga at the Tchoup Yard: 6:30 p.m. with NOLA Tribe Yoga

Thursday:

Heated Hour Flow: 12:00 p.m. at Reyn Studios

Friday:

Friday Night Bhakti Flow: 6:00 p.m. at Wild Lotus Yoga

Saturday:

Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga: 9:00 a.m. at Balance Yoga + Wellness

Sunday:

Guided Meditation: 9:30 a.m. at the Church of Yoga

Let me know where your favorite studios are in the city! Or let’s meet up and practice together.

Beat the Winter Blues with these Five Essential Oils

Have the last, dragging weeks of cold weather been bringing you down recently? The wind is biting; your allergies are acting up; you can’t seem to fight your fatigue; it seems like spring might never come. If waiting for the coming warmer days seems unbearable, have no fear, the herbalists are here! Fight off a variety of wintertime ailments with these simple essential oil recipes.

Diffuse a mixture of warming oils to heat up the energy in your room

Clove oil has a fantastic, spicy aroma that can instantly warm your space. Commonly associated with the element of fire, clove is also very stimulating to the conscious mind and acts as a natural aphrodisiac. Commonly used as an anti-inflammatory, clove oil has been shown to improve blood circulation and naturally boost energy. As an extract from the evergreen trees, it’s still fitting for wintertime, but brings some refreshing energy back. It can also lower stress levels, alleviate respiratory issues and boost your immune system: winter wonder-oil number one!

Recipe: Try using a mixture of clove, sandalwood and orange essential oils in your favorite diffuser when you’re feeling chilled to the bone.

 

Make an all-natural citrus perfume oil to lift your spirits

Citrus oils are commonly credited for helping fight depression, and bergamot is a potentially less popular but amazingly scented oil. As a popular component in most commercial perfumes, bergamot has a characteristically citrus but slightly woody aroma. It’s also commonly used in skin care products for its natural ability to help heal scars and even distribute pigments. But be careful, applying bergamot oil can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight than normal. To avoid sunburn always dilute oils before applying them to your skin.

Recipe: To make your own bergamot mixture, try combining 3 drops of bergamot with 3 drops of ylang ylang in a one-ounce bottle of your favorite carrier oil, use as an invigorating, all-natural perfume.

Feeling foggy and groggy? We’ve got oils for that!

Rosemary is more than just a superstar culinary herb, it’s also an exceptional brain and nerve tonic. Studies have shown significant correlation between a quick sniff of the oil and boosted neural activity. It’s often used in students to help increase concentration and can also fight against forgetfulness. As a winter wonder-oil, it also increases the strength of your immune system, reduces cortisol levels in the body (helping to decrease chronic stress) and also helps to fight against allergies.

Recipe: Mix 3 drops of rosemary oil with 1/2 of unscented lotion. Rub on your chest and the back of your neck to help increase neural function throughout the day.

Fight allergies with an all-natural defense

Commonly suggested by ancient Greek physician Dioscorides to help fight phlegm, hyssop is a natural expectorant, meaning it keeps the respiratory system warm and fights against the infections due to common colds. It’s also a good tonic for the nervous system and stimulates the body’s metabolism and circulatory system. If there’s a bug going around in your social circle, a bit of hyssop could help fight against the onset of viral infections. Warning it should be avoided by those suffering from epilepsy or those who may be pregnant due to its stimulating nature.
Recipe: Mix 5 drops of hyssop and 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oils with a common chest rub for a supercharged decongestant.

Keep dry, cracked, winter skin at bay

Frankincense oil has countless benefits – we may even go so far as to call it the holy grail of essential oils. Although it has common religious and ancient associations, it’s actually also really great for your skin. It helps lift and tone the skin, reduces scarring and promotes elasticity in the skin and the regeneration of healthy cells. All of this makes it the perfect solution to healing dry and painful winter skin.

Recipe: Mix six drops of oil to an ounce of your favorite lotion (or get an unscented one if you don’t want aromatic clashing) and give yourself a nice, moisturizing massage.

Goodbye, London

My time in London has come to an end, and I’m not sure it’s set in yet.

When you look forward to something for so long, you don’t believe it when it finally comes to an end. Life in London was far beyond anything I ever imagined.

I remember the first day we got here, anxious and jet-lagged, we stumbled down Hammersmith Road in search of caffeine. The different currencies, the accents, the “you alright?”: it all seemed so foreign. How the hell were we going to survive for 8 weeks in this huge city?

It took some getting use to, but after this summer London has become my home. I know the people at the Italian café down the road; I know the shortcut you take at the King’s Cross tube stop to get to the Northern Line more quickly, and I know what combination of sauces I like best at Nando’s. In two short months I’ve seen and learned so much, and I have London to thank.

I know I’ve been posting pretty regularly with my Joy Lists so some of this may be repetitive, but I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how much this summer has given me, and how much I’ve grown as a person because of it.

So thank you, London…

Thank you for introducing me to some of the most wonderful characters I’ve ever met with the most incredible stories. (the kind hearted street performer, the teenage producer with a passion for music, the Californian drag queen, the French au pair who snuck on to the red carpet, and the ex-football player who dreams of being a diver, just to name a few)

Thank you for teaching me that true travel isn’t taking guided tours every day. It’s about getting lost in the streets of a foreign country. It’s about eating the best food you can find & befriending strangers on a cross-country bus. It’s about walking 12 miles a day to explore, no matter how exhausted you are. It’s about laughing and learning with the people you love.

Thank you for teaching me that coffee should be about quality and not quantity. (Although that took some getting used to at first.)

Thank you for showing me that sometimes I’d rather go to a comedy club in Camden or a folk music pub in south London instead of going to a night club, and that’s ok.

Thank you for stroopwaffles, Rekorderlig, Yakult, tarte à la fraise, Dairy Milk bars and all the other snacks I’ll be heartbroken over losing when I go back to the States.

Thanks for the multiple passport stamps, because even though it’s slightly materialistic, it makes me happy to see them all.

Thank you for the wonderful batch of journalism nerds I was able to share this experience with, and thank you for Jimmy K, his selfie game is always going to be so much better than mine.

Thank you for showing me the beauty of traveling by train.

Thank you for teaching me that my age should not be an inhibitor. Ya, I’m a 20-year-old writer, and you know what? I’m a damn good one.

Thank you for always keeping me mesmerized. The day I become jaded in London is the day I’ve seen it all.

Thank you for giving me impossibly high standards for my future colleagues, and showing me your coworkers can be some of your best friends.

Thank you for Nando’s, it was rather cheeky.

On that note, thank you for Bailey’s, Pizza East, Byron’s, Picca and all the other great restaurants. I won’t even be angry you made me fat.

Thank you for your fantastic markets with vintage records. You’ve done immeasurable things for my collection.

Thank you for your unbelievable live music scene. You’ve made my heart incredibly happy.

Thank you for letting me take part in a week of love, acceptance, confidence, and rainbow cupcakes.

Thank you for giving me the chance to do what I love every day, with amazing people in an amazing city.

Thank you for the 50 minute bus rides home from Camden at 3 in the morning. Because even as painful as that sounds, I’d always meet the nicest, most fascinating people.

Thank you for showing me what I really want to do with my life. I’d convinced myself that I wanted to go in to fashion journalism, but now I know it has to be music. It’s always been music.

Thank you for the Sony Offices, Samsung Events, the UMAs, 5-star dinner reviews, professional interviews, and other opportunities I was probably woefully unworthy of.


Thank you for showing me that it’s ok to go without a phone for a few days. It’s liberating, even.

Thank you for showing me the glory that is street food. Food that is made from a tiny shack really shouldn’t taste that good, but OHMYGOD it does.

Thank you for making me laugh harder, sing louder, scream higher and dance weirder (I made up a word for the sake of symmetry) than I ever thought I could.

Thank you for showing me the unparalleled benefits that come from traveling. It’s more than Instagram photos and Bucket Lists. It’s about expanding our horizons and challenging ourselves in ways we never thought possible.

Thank you for making something so great that it hurts to say goodbye.

Goodbye, London. Thank you for everything.

Pride Week in London

I feel like I don’t have words to describe how amazing these past few days have been. That hurts me to admit as a writer, but the sentiments behind it are well worth my wounded pride.

I was sitting in class in Russell Square when I got a news notification on my phone from The Guardian. It was relaying the news that thousands of miles away, in my home country, the Supreme Court had just legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

Thankfully I  was in a class with 20 other journalism nerds, meaning we all got news notifications from our various media platforms of choice, and the whole class lit up with exuberance. I’ll admit that I may have shed a few tears of happiness, and my attention span was completely shot for the rest of class.

On a completely coincidental and romantic note, it was also the first day of Pride weekend in London. I already had plans to go out for the parade on Saturday, then to Pride in the Park on Sunday afternoon. But the exciting news from back home was the cherry on top of the already beautiful weekend.

In light of some of the terrible things that have happened lately in the U.S. – including the sickening RFRA that was passed in Indiana not too long ago – I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of my country.

Now that Pride weekend is over, I can honestly say nothing compares to the energy of a Pride Weekend. I wish the entire world could find the love, compassion and acceptance that you find in the LGBTQ community.

You may not neccessarily agree with it, but just becaue you don’t understand something doesn’t mean you have the right to take away someone’s basic human rights. If everyone could just learn the total acceptance and happiness that London found this weekend, I think the world would be a pretty awesome place. LOVE WINS.

 Happy Pride Everybody!! So happy that love wins this weekend.