My Life Secrets or What I’ve Learned So Far…

Image by VH McKenzie

I’m not thirty yet, but I have learned a few things in my short life that I wish I had learned sooner and am thankful to know now. They’re tips for greater health, knowledge, beauty, and creativity. Just little things that may be helpful to you too.

  1. I swear by Deva Curl and Miss Jessie’s. I have multiracial hair with many different textures. After more hairstyles and hair products than I can count, it wasn’t until my mid-twenties, after going to the excellent curly hair salon Madusalon, that I learned about the products Deva Curl and Miss Jessie’s. I also learned that curly girls shouldn’t dry their hair with towels (squeeze it out and air dry it), shouldn’t shampoo more than every two weeks, and should use a lot of conditioner. Curly girls know how much time and energy hair care can take, so it’s awesome to learn these simple do’s and don’ts. Go natural!
  2. My survival guide to living abroad… I lived in Hong Kong for almost a year. It was my first time living in another country. At first it was as shocking as it was wonderful. But I learned some techniques that stabilized me, and that I still do every day even though I’m back in the U.S. Things like joining a gym, jogging, and meditating. Blogging is a great way to organize your thoughts when you’re abroad. Watching comedies from your home country is a tip I got from Anneli Rufus, the author of Party of One: A Loner’s Manifesto. She and I struck up an email correspondence while I was in Hong Kong, and she recommended this to cure homesickness. Her argument is that comedy doesn’t translate easily. I caught up on the films of Woody Allen in Hong Kong. Similarly, when I was lonely, I’d read. Kurt Vonnegut was a big favorite. Also, take a lot of photographs. It helps to really see things. Plus it’ll help when you get home and start feeling homesick for the place you just left, which definitely happened for me when I left Hong Kong. Choose a few things to learn about the new city you’re in like it’s a class assignment. In Hong Kong, I learned about the street art scene and local music. And last but not least, try new things and new foods like it’s your job!
  3. How Stuff Works is awesome. As a lover of learning, I listen to a lot of podcasts. No doubt you’ve heard of This American Life and RadioLab, which are excellent. I also love the podcasts on the How Stuff Works site. There’s the general knowledge one Stuff You Should Know, the gender-based one Stuff Mom Never Told You, and the history one Stuff You Missed in History Class. They’re all great, and the hosts are incredibly entertaining.
  4. Coconut Oil is the stuff. I’m pretty skeptical about beauty products that have long, chemical-sounding names in their ingredients list. So I’ve started moisturizing with straight-up coconut oil. It smells really good, it’s natural, and it keeps my skin smooth. I sometimes put in a drop of lavender for another nice scent.
  5. A drop of rosemary oil is magic. Aromatherapy is something I’m just learning about as I get more interested in natural, DIY products (see #4). I’ve learned that the scent of rosemary can lift your mood and effect your circulation. Some say it can effect your memory too. I occasionally rub a little rosemary oil under my nose and whether it’s psychosomatic or not, I feel like I’m a little more clear-headed then. But be careful, because too much can cause epileptic fits (yikes)!
  6. The Artist’s Way and The Creative Habit are highly recommended. A year ago, I read and did the activities in the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Yes, it’s a little new age-y, but it really opened up my creativity. After reading it I started writing more, drawing more, making music, and living life in a more open way. More than that, it helped me to stop judging my creative output and convinced me of the importance of doing rather than over-thinking. I tried to re-do the process again this year, and it didn’t feel right. This doesn’t mean anything against the process. I think it just did it’s job the first time. But I realized I didn’t need any more help opening up. I needed help refining my artistic process. Which brought me to Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Twyla Tharp is an amazing artist, and there is nothing new age-y about her book. It’s all practical advice like avoiding multi-tasking, creating a daily routine and sticking to it, and more.
  7. There are no rules in art. There are guidelines in any craft that have been perfected by talented people who have come before you, and you should learn and respect them.  But then once you do, you need to lose the inner censor. When you do it for the love of it and from an honest, true place than the rules don’t apply to you. Everyone who accomplishes anything does so with a healthy dose of audacity.
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