I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror this morning and it caught me by surprise. I hadn’t seen my face in a while. Since I don’t wear makeup and my hair doesn’t listen to me anyways, my morning routine doesn’t have me looking in the mirror very often.
My strategy for staying body-positive in our social media world has been to ignore how I look.I work out because I want to be strong and my capsule closet is an insurance plan to cover clashing so there’s no reason for me to spend much time examining my features.
Here’s what I discovered:
Looking at my face isn’t as scary as I thought
My eyes really are more green than brown
My hair really is out of control
I’ve found myself with more time for reflection (both literal and figurative) during this time in Russia. I don’t plan on becoming a millennial selfie queen but I am very grateful to be forced to take life a little more slowly.
In high school, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my college applications.
In college, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my resume.
In California, I studied and worked to fulfill my duties as an employee and make a living.
Here, I’m finally free to take a deep look in the mirror and learn more about what I actually enjoy doing. There are no more applications to live for, no more resumes that cry out to be updated.
For the last 10 years I’ve been running away from not being enough, not doing enough to get where I thought I needed to go. And now I’m finally able to look forward and whisper “Onward and upward!” and mean it. I walk slowly and cautiously as I explore what the future could look like.
The first official to-do list I ever made was in January of 2006 at age 12. I broke my day
into 15 minute increments and dutifully filled each minute with a task or activity. I know this because in addition to be a neurotic list-maker, I am also a neurotic archivist of my own life. The biographers will have plenty of material.
Sometime in college, I realized that scheduling out every minute of my day wasn’t healthy for me and I returned to the traditional to-do list. Problem was, I kept it on my computer’s sticky note application which liked to spontaneously self-destruct, destroying my beautiful lists.
I’ve spent the last 3 years experimenting with various alternatives for the best to-do list tools out there, here are my top 4 for list-making bliss!
Todoist is an app that integrates across all devices, has a super clean interface, and breaks projects down with sub-tasks. It’s meant for simple to complicated to-do lists and does allow for collaboration, but I wouldn’t suggest it for a major project management.
Pros: simple user interface, unlimited lists, gamifies the to-do list by giving you a productivity score and tracking your productivity streak, creates recurring tasks
Cons: have to purchase premium to access labels and filters, no visualization of a project moving through multiple phases, clunky integration with Gmail
Trello sets the golden standard for robust and fun project management. Yes, I said fun. Trello goes way beyond your basic to-do list with Kanban boards that let you drag tasks through a pipeline of progress, which is super satisfying.
Pros: free version is robust for all household/freelancing projects, 100s of templates from wedding planning to job searching available, great for collaboration, color-coding, and integrates with everything
Cons: bit of a learning curve, overkill for basic list needs, doesn’t integrate well with calendar apps
I use Google Keep for temporarily tracking special expenses, planning upcoming trips, and reminding me to send invoices and reconcile my accounts. It’s a simple and clean as Todoist and integrates wonderfully with all things Google (of course). You can create reminders from e-mail and Google automatically adds them to Google Keep.
Pros: create recurring tasks easily, collaborate with others, color-coding and labeling for free, cross-device integration, simple to use, chrome extension to save things from the Internet, integrates well with Google Docs and Google Calendar
Cons: no desktop app, not a robust project management solution
#1 Pen and paper
While there’s a lot of great electronic to-do list options out there, I wanted to be able to check out where I was with tasks for the day without opening up my laptop and inevitably end up watching cooking videos for 4 hours on Facebook.
I used sticky note style lists for a while, which are great for daily to-do lists, but not great for longer term planning. Luke got me a Nomatic planner + journal last year for Christmas and I’m in love. It makes it easy to create daily repeating tasks and helps break down monthly and weekly goals into day-sized bites.
Pros: non-digital option, satisfaction of physically checking things off, handwritten goals are more likely to be accomplished
Cons: might spill coffee on it, no device compatibility, zero integrations
I can’t be my true self around my husband. I can’t say whatever I want, do whatever I want, or act however I want.
And that’s a really good thing.
Because my true self is selfish and way too worried about schedules and spreadsheets (I would have made an excellent railroad operator). My true self doesn’t think about the fact that she’s living with another human being who may not want to get dumped on about the day’s littlest details the moment she walks in the door. My true self has sky-high expectations for her husband’s every word, thought, and action without holding herself to that same standard. My true self is careless about feelings, quick to offend, and slow to forgive.
So thank goodness that my husband draws out the best in me and challenges me to be my better self instead of my true self.
“But shouldn’t we be able to be vulnerable and open with our spouses? Shouldn’t our homes be safe places to share our feelings?”
Well, yes. Of course. But whether if you’re bound to someone in a marriage covenant or just split a rent check each month; you are no longer an autonomous being. Our moods and words effect our housemates and spouses. We should strive to build relationships that encourage truth. But those beautiful relationships aren’t just the result of throwing all filters out the front door and saying whatever comes to mind. Sometimes loving your spouse means shutting your mouth.
For me, it means checking my mood when I get home from work. Right before I turn the corner leading towards our studio apartment and right after making a few quick glances into the dark corners of the gardens to make sure our not-so-neighborly skunk isn’t waiting to sabotage me, I think “would I want to greet myself in this mood after a long day’s work?” If the answer is no (and it usually is, because even the best days at work end with a commute in Southern California traffic), then I pause and take a moment to reset my perspective on the day and stop dwelling over the little angsts from the past 8 hours.
My true self still shows up a lot. I say things that are unkind and worse yet, I really mean them. I am grateful that my husband and friends continue to shower me with love that appreciates me for where I am but also can see the better me and continually encourages me to become that person.
A quick glance out the window assured me that the day was bright so the cold kerplunk of a rain drop on my nose caught me by surprise when I stepped outside. A sunny rain shower is a rare phenomenon, even here in Southern California.
I’m an either/or personality. You can have things either this way or that way. Buy this or that. My favorite saying in college was, “You can’t have it both ways” which led me to cancel one of campus’ most popular events when no one volunteered to help put it on. It’s also why most progressive political policies ultimately fail (but that’s another blog post entirely).
But here comes the sunny rains and every little teardrop falling from the clouds holds the promise of a radiant rainbow as the sun doggedly perserves in shining through the showers.
How many beautiful rainbows in my life have I missed because I don’t see the both/and moments? Joy mixed with streaks of sorrow. Bad days with sparks of hope. The adrennaline rush of accomplishment tempered with a lazy afternoon. Having fun and investing in the future.
Both/and makes for messy spreadsheets and uncategorizable moments. I’m too quick to classify my days, weeks, and years with one predominent emotion instead of recognizing that it’s the mixture of many feelings that gives life its beauty.
It might not fit into my color-coded, tabulated life, but the next time life gives me the chance; I’ll take a little rain with my sunshine.
For the first 21 years of my life, I transformed into the Grinch every December. I liked Christmas, of course, but I didn’t love it. At least not the way everyone else around me seemed to.
From a young age, I had a natural distaste for knick knacks and clutter. So why in the world would decking the halls with snowglobes and messy tinsel and paper snowflakes be a good idea?
And of course it never quite goes away after Christmas. I threw innumerous death glares at my neighbors tacky Santa still living in their front yard in March.
On a more philosophical level; it bothered me that everyone put so much significance and pressure on one day. As if this one day of the year had to be the most special and the other 364 were just leading up to the one day worth living for. In my opinion, I’d rather have 364 really nice days instead.
Then I graduated college and Christmas wasn’t handed to me anymore. And I found myself inclined to hang up some (tasteful) decorations. And maybe bake a dozen Christmas cookies or two. When Christmas isn’t something that’s just guaranteed to happen whether you like it or not, I began to realize how wonderful it really is.
Fast forward to this afternoon when I got teary-eyed walking through the post office. And no, I wasn’t crying because of the absurd inefficiency created by one of the government’s largest beuracracies, but because the place was packed with people and their packages, all wrapped with care and being sent to the far corners of the country to loved ones.
And while I still aim to make the other 364 days of the year as pleasant and joyful as possible, I know now that special days and excuses to celebrate don’t come around all that often and we should take advantage of the time with loved ones while we can.
So this Grinch’s heart is slowly growing 3 sizes too. A very merry Christmas to you!
I once read that “Women who don’t wear make-up are lazy.” As someone who hasn’t worn make-up for 4 years, I can affirm that that’s 100% true. I used to wear make-up in high school, despite my complete inability to get eyeliner within 3 inches of my eyes.
Then sophomore year of college hit and I was literally running around campus in my business professional outfits trying to make the next meeting. I condensed my morning routine into an efficient 10 minute process that involved me sprinting to the community bathroom to get ready and eating most of my meals while in class (sorry, professors). The application and removal of synthetic materials on my face simply didn’t make the cut of essential activities. When you’re at the point when you’re choosing between sleep and dinner, you’re not worried about aesthetics.
My initial break-up with make-up was because I was lazy/way overbooked, but I haven’t incorporated it back into my routine because I just like my face better without it. As an added bonus, my skin is 100% better than it ever was with make-up.*
Confession time: I now use absolutely no products on my face. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Adios lotion, sayonara face wash, see you later exfoliating scrub.
It took my skin a solid 2 years of adjusting to the make up free life before it learned to self-regulate oil and dry patches. In the meantime, I’ve become a huge believer in the idea that the body can take care of itself better than all the aisles in the beauty section of CVS put together.**
If you’d like to save 10 minutes in the morning or are just grossed out enough by my facial product free lifestyle to be curious, here’s how I did it:
1. Switched from medicated products to cleansing ones (big fan of Cetaphil)
You might be thinking that using no facial products is fine for someone with naturally perfect skin, but believe me, my skin had its fair share of puberty-induced acne, irritation, and dry spots. I tried Proactiv and even went to a dermatologist for some heavy duty cream. But honestly, it never made sense. The internet told me that drugstore solutions were designed to addict your face to them so that you could never go off of them without breaking out again and the prescribed variety actually said on the tube that it would make your face break out MORE for the first 6 months. No, thank you!
2. Reduced how often I washed my face
3. Started switching from store-bought products to homemade ones
Instead of lotion, I started using coconut oil to moisturize my face once a day. I ditched the astringent for a witch-hazel & apple cider vinegar combo that not only cleans without drying your skin, it also reduces redness and irritation. Let me know if you’d like the recipe!
At this stage I still used Cetaphil to wash my face.
4. Ditched store-brought products entirely
I ran out of Cetaphil once and decided to wait a few days before buying more. The craziest thing happened. Nothing. No new pimples, no oily skin, nada. I still used my homemade astringent since the apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and does a great job cleansing.
5. Went to every other day
Instead of applying astringent every day, I started only doing it every other day. This time, my skin actually started to improve!
6. Committed to au naturale.
No products, no problem. My skin produces the perfect amount of oil to keep it from drying out without causing my face to break out. I still shower every day, so my face does get rinsed regularly and I wipe it down with a wet towel after I work out so the sweat doesn’t soak into my pores.
On the rare occasion that I find a blemish, I simply go back to using my homemade astringent and it disappears in days.
Of course, everyone’s skin is different. This worked great for me who had combination skin. It’s also worked great for my husband who trends on the more oily side.***
Has anyone else made the leap? I’d love to hear what worked (or didn’t work) for you!
* I am not at all anti-makeup. I’m super impressed by all the women out there who have mastered what is truly an art of applying eyeliner on the actual eye area of the face and I think it looks great. It’s just not for me at this time of my life.
**This journey all started with my hair, when I stopped washing it in high school. But that’s another blog post entirely
*** Disclaimer: This will NOT work AT ALL if you have the habit of picking at your blemishes. It does everything you’ve been warned about–spreads bacteria, creates scars, makes it harder for your skin to heal.
I’ve been sharing my thoughts, fears, and musings on this web log (blog for short) for over 6 years. If you’ve been following along, you’ve patiently bared with my 16 year-old angsty self, saw me navigate the perils of my freshman year of college, fall in love with my husband, move to San Diego, and read all the laughs & losses along the way.
I started this blogging journey on Blogspot, moved it to Wix over a year ago, and finally took the leap and bought my own domain name. After months of painstaking copy & pasting, I have my whole history of blogging under one happy blog roof called chloejsayers.com.
I’ve been slow to announce this change because if you followed my blog while I was moving posts over, you’d be getting 5 annoying e-mails a day. Now that everything is in its place and the dust has settled, I’d be honored if you’d follow my blog (see the button on your right). You’ll get an e-mail when I post a new blog, nothing more and nothing less. I’m fanatical about keeping my inbox clean so I promise not to clog up yours.
Since I’ve been on a blogging fast while getting this one set up, I’ve got lots of thoughts bursting to get out. Stay tuned & thanks for joining me on this journey.
For the first year of dating, my now husband and I communicated almost exclusively through hand-written letters. You might assume that we were separated by a great body of ocean or some other romanticly difficult situation. In reality, we lived on the same campus the size of 3 football fields.
Eventually, we both were connected to cell phones and discovered that e-mail is a valid form of communication. One thing led to another, and now we are married and live in the same house so communicating is a tad faster than the snail mail days.
While it was mildly frustrating at the time, I wouldn’t do have started our relationship any other way. Now, I have multiple shoe boxes full of meaningful letters from my beloved. And I’ve often taken the habit of letter-writing to my other relationships. Just this week, I received a beautiful note from a long-time friend. Writing a note doesn’t take long, but that one made my entire week brighter. Totally worth the 49 cents.
The company I work for is a huge proponent of sending out personal notes to serve one’s customers better. It was the first time I had heard of them being used for professional purposes, but the hundreds of notes and letters that I still cherish are a dust-collecting testament to the fact that the written word is alive and well, and emojis haven’t completely killed all communication.
A photo posted by Chloe Sayers (@chloejsayers) on Feb 1, 2016 at 3:43pm PST
I was actually in the middle of writing this blog when I came upon this article about Peyton Manning’s habit of writing hand-written notes (verified by comparing his signature on an autographed helmet) to football players and figures who had inspired him over the years–even if they were bitter enemies on the field. If you know me, you know I know nothing about football. But I do know that celebrity sports players don’t have a lot of time, and if Peyton could make space in his schedule to appreciate those around him, so can we.
If you haven’t guessed already, I process through the written word. Which is basically the reason for the existence of this blog, and my old one (guys, I’ve been blogging for SIX YEARS. I’m not old enough to have a half-dozen anniversary for my blog!). Anyways, I also process through extended e-mail conversations. It was during one of these electronic epistles that I found myself typing this absurdity:
“If I don’t do something perfectly the first time, I feel like I failed. Even if I go back and make it better, it still doesn’t feel good enough because it wasn’t PERFECT. THE FIRST TIME.”
When I see my words staring back at me, I realize I’m probably certifiable. Because I would also eagerly and honestly tell you that at 22 years of age, I don’t know everything (or much of anything), and I love learning new skills and perfecting old ones, and I want to be a life-long learner. Which is mutually exclusive with viewing imperfection at the first try as failure.
This isn’t a new internal paradox, of course. I was that sickeningly annoying college student that actually wasn’t happy unless I got 100%. It didn’t matter if I got an A, I wasn’t satisfied until I could prove that I had absolutely mastered (or memorized) the material. And once I hit the 100% level–I wanted more. See, this sick cycle NEVER ENDS. If there was extra credit on the table, I’d better get over 100%, otherwise, I was a failure. I’m sharing this in the hopes that there are others suffering from the same incompatible mindsets: trying to learn and grow while accepting nothing short of perfection.
If you’re like me, can we make a pinky promise together? That the next time we aren’t perfect in our first attempts, we’ll stop telling ourselves we’re failures? We are learners. We are brave souls willing to make mistakes to do better next time. Even if better isn’t perfection.
The very first word that I spoke as a 9-month-old wasn’t so much a word as it was a phrase:
Evidently, I skipped over the basics of “Mom” “Dad” “Sis” and “ball” and went straight to informal greetings. And I’ve been introducing myself every since.
I met my wonderful and recently wedded friend by randomly introducing myself at a Swing Club because she vaguely looked like a girl from high school that I didn’t even know that well but the “soul rejoices in the familiar.”
I met my recently wedded husband by introducing myself in line for a freshman informational meeting because, hey, he was cute, in my Old Testament class, and clearly interested in leadership. Can you say spiritual leader spouse material?
Don’t worry, I just thought he was cute at the time.
A few weekends ago, I headed back east to see that dear friend get married. Waves of nostalgia and longing rushed over me as I gazed over neat fields of Lancaster corn and farms. Was it really last summer that I lived and loved here? Why did we move to California?
I was caught between two Lands of Lonely. In Pennsylvania, I was with friends and families and humidity and all things home reminiscent. Yet I was separated from my forever love. At the same time, I dreaded returning to So Cal with all work and very little play and no friends. I started regretting all our decisions–except the marriage one.
But as I re-crossed the country for the 3rd time in two months, I realized that I’ve been looking for the wrong things. I’m searching for my childhood and college friends amidst strangers.
I’m going to stop searching for my past in the present.