November 19, 2014

Ultimate Cash Giveaway with Oh My Gosh Beck

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My blogger friends and I have teamed up to bring you another fun giveaway! One lucky winner will win a $750 cash prize (via Paypal) and it just might be you!

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Prize: $750 cash (via Paypal)
Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

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The D Word: A Brief Missive from the Front Lines

While the above quote in it's entirety isn't wholly applicable today, it is my own personal motto, and I find it incredibly reassuring in times like this.

See, this was not the post I wanted to write today. The post I wanted to write was filled with pretty pictures of sweaters and candles and debates over which red lipstick I liked best for winter. But that post is just not the truth today.

I've been avoiding this topic for the longest time, while fervently reading any declarations by braver bloggers than I, chronicling their struggles. And it was not because I was afraid of what people would think, or how they would react. It's because it meant admitting something to myself in writing on the internet that I wasn't sure I was brave enough to face yet. However, recent events in my life and the lives of those I love more than life itself, have prompted me to speak up, at last.

I'm not doing this for attention or for pity, because believe me, that is the absolute last thing I want. I'm doing this because everyone has the right, if not the responsibility, to tell their story. Life isn't always pretty, it isn't always Disney. And if I can help one person in some way with this, then that is more than I ever could have hoped for. So, here goes nothing:

I have depression. I am capital-D Depressed. Earlier this year, I was officially diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder, though I've had both for a very long, possibly since I was around 12.

So this was a scary thing to know for certain about myself. It's terrifying to have your worst fears about yourself confirmed by a concerned looking man in a leather chair, wearing a sweater vest and thick glasses. 

I've been fortunate that my friends and family have been supportive. And, sad as it is, many of those same people know what I'm going through and have been a source of help and support for me since.

Though I have received a variety of reactions from various people, which I'd like to take the time here to officially address in their entirety:

"But you don't look depressed!"

 1.) What does "being depressed" look like, huh? Like, what does it actually look like? Is there an official brand ambassador for depression? Can I like, get a free depression uniform with my next refill of Zoloft? That'd be pretty neat, actually.

2.) No, I don't "look depressed." Because that's not what I show you. What you see is cheerful Instagram selfies, half an hour of makeup, perfectly styled hair, and cute clothes. Do you know why? Because those things make me happy sometimes. And because that's what I want you to see. And that's why I love social media so much; you can show exactly what you want other people to see. So, you can take a picture of your new hairstyle and get 100 likes, but they don't see the sweatpants you've been wearing for three days, or the fact that you slept for 14 hours, or the fact that you're supposed to be in class right now but you couldn't get out of bed. Isn't that swell?

"Are you sure you're not just sad?"

Oh, sweetheart. I've been sad. See, sad is a reflex reaction. Your dog dies, so you're sad. Your boyfriend cheats on you, so you're sad. Those make sense, they're easy to accept because there's a tangible reason. But when you're laying on the floor of your dorm, silently sobbing from a panic attack on the middle of a bright sunny day in May, you might want to consider that something is a bit off.

"What does it feel like?"

It feels different for everyone. It feels different to me depending on the day, honestly. One day it will be crying constantly for no reason. The next day, it will feel like there's nothing but television static in your head, like you can't feel anything properly. Sometimes it's not being able to get out of bed because of some invisible, unnamed terror lurking in the back of your mind. Most of the time it feels like winter. My hands and feet are always cold, even when they're warm to the touch. It's the sneaking suspicion that you are absolutely alone in the world, even when you're surrounded by people who say they love you. But enough with the poetics.

"Why don't you just snap out of it?"

Hello, yes, clearly friend you don't understand how mental illness works. This isn't me being in a funk. This is me legitimately having something wrong inside of my brain. That's like telling someone to snap out of their diabetes or high blood sugar. #ByeFelicia

"Have you tried _____?"

Yes. I have. I have tried the teas and the vitamins and the herbal supplements and the stupid diets and the exercise and the meditation and the yoga and the breathing exercises and some of them help. But in my particular case, they are not enough to help me manage it.

*Do you want to know what you should say to someone with depression or mental illness or really an issue whatsoever? You say: "How can I help you?"

This is the best thing you can say to anyone who is hurting for any reason. It shows you are there for them, you are ready to help, you are willing to do whatever it takes for them to feel better. Because a lot of times, someone that has depression or anxiety or another mental illness just wants someone to listen to them, to validate their feelings, and to offer support (which does not always mean offering suggestions such as above).

So this is what I would like to say to my younger self, my current self, my best friends, strangers, enemies, and anyone who is or has or will suffer from depression:

You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not broken. And most importantly, you are not your disorder. You are a person with hopes and memories and flaws and wishes and fears and secrets, and a past and a future. Do not define yourself by your depression. Define yourself by your favorite songs and your worst memory and the pile of paperbacks on your bedroom floor. Define yourself by your hair color or your shoe size or which coffee chain you prefer.

Know that, above all, you are loved by someone, by many people. Remember that, as alone and isolated and unlovable as you may feel, you mean the entire world to someone out there, be it your parents, your friends, your children, or your cat. There is help available to you, loads of support and comfort and kind words. Just reach a hand out, and someone will grab it. It's not giving in, it's being strong enough to ask for help. That takes a completely different kind of bravery.

Take care of yourself. No class or job or commitment is more important than your well being. Learn to put yourself first sometimes. Eat something healthy even if you aren't hungry. Call your mom. Pet your dog. Put on real pants and shoes and go for a walk if you've been in bed all day. Take your meds like you're supposed to. Make something beautiful. Take a shower, you'll feel better.

Most importantly, I love you. You are brave for every single day you get out of bed, and braver still for every day that you don't. Keep battling on.

November 12, 2014

November Beauty Routine

Autumn is by far my favorite season for fashion and beauty - cozy sweaters, berry lips, cowls, bold brows, it's all the best. And when the weather gets darker, so does my makeup! I thought I'd share my general everyday fall beauty routine today, because it's been a long time since I've done something like this.

The first step to any beauty routine, or really any endeavor in life should be: coffee. We've got some serious Beyonce-style "I woke up like this" vibes going on.

First up is skin! I start off with Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Perfecter - it's like a primer, but it sort of blurs your skin so that it covers up pores and lines, it's like Photoshop IRL. Don't ask me how it does it, I'm pretty sure it's black magic.

Then I have Covergirl Tru Match foundation in i1. I just got it this past weekend, and when I first tried it I wasn't too sure, as it was much thinner than the makeup I had been using before. But after I applied it all, I decided I loved it! It gives me this creamy, soft, dewy complexion. 

Next I finish up with Maybelline Dream Wonder powder in Porcelain Ivory, and brush a bit of Mary Kay mineral blush in Shy onto the apples of my cheeks.

After that it's time for the eyes! I decided to go big or go home, so I'm doing a sort of smokey eye with a mini palette I found in my makeup kit. It's just Wet and Wild, but it's surprisingly nice! It's called the Icon Shadow Trio in Silent Treatment. I used the bottom color all over the lid, then put a tiny bit of the middle color in my lower crease for definition. 

The mascara I'm using right now is L'oreal Miss Manga in Blackest Black, and I quite like it! I would recommend letting it dry out a bit by letting it sit in your cabinet or wherever for a few weeks when you first get it. I like it much better now that it's had a chance to mature a bit, it was a little too eager at first.

For my eyebrows, I used a combination of Maybelline Brow Drama (which I love, and is a total dupe for Benefit Gimme Brow!) in Soft Brown and a bit of shadow in Sexpresso from my Too Faced palette with an angled brush. I've been loving bold brows a la Cara Delevingne recently!

All that's left is lips - I like to put some lip balm on when I first start doing my makeup so that my lips are soft and moisturized by the time I get around to my lipstick. I got this Softlips Cube balm from Influenster a couple months ago and I love it! I honestly like it way more than any Eos balm I've used. This is so smooth and silky and weightless. I've always felt Eos was heavy and waxy.

My lipstick is Elizabeth Arden in Autumn, fittingly enough, and I've been loving it this season. It's closer to a cinnamon than a berry, but it's still darker for fall and goes well with most skin tones.

And the finished product!

I can't even believe my hair right now. Less than two years ago, I had a cropped pixie cut. My hair was like 2 inches long. And now... THIS. What even?!

Not really sure where the blue tint came from in this one, but I'm kinda digging it. 

What is your go to makeup look for Fall?

November 11, 2014

Girl Online: Lessons Learned Sharing My Life on the Internet

While it may not always seem like it, I have a lot of self doubt and insecurities, which was something that stressed me out about starting a blog. It was also a big factor that prevented me from sharing said blog with anyone I knew IRL for several months. I've always been nervous about sharing creative endeavors because, when you put your heart and soul into something, it hurts even more to  be judged or ridiculed for it.

I've seen the side eye, been the subject of comments about "constantly" being on my phone or computer, heard the jokes about how "Selfie" was practically written about me (I still need to see that for my girl Karen G). Though I have been fortunate enough not to experience much of this, I know other bloggers that have received ridicule, harassment, and worse just for sharing their opinions, thoughts, and lives on the internet.

I'm blessed by the fact that, as far as I know, all my friends and family members think that what I do is pretty cool. And I'm not ashamed or worried about it - I love it, otherwise I wouldn't do it. I obviously don't share every minute of my life with you guys, that would be pretty ridiculous. But I have noticed some things that have changed in the recent past, for better or worse, since I've started blogging on the regular.

>> You can get wrapped up with perfection.

I've now noticed that, with moderate success, I feel pressure to take the perfect photo for a post or for Instagram. Which, in some ways, is not a bad thing - looking at the photos and graphics for my old posts makes me cringe now. I do feel that I have a higher quality of graphics, posts, and content, which is never a bad thing. It means that I've grown and evolved and figured out what works for me as the past 2-ish years have gone by.

But when it comes to the point where I'm rearranging my entire apartment to get the perfect shot, or taking pictures that make my life look oh so picturesque when in reality I'm in second day sweat pants laying in bed watching Netflix, it's like - when do I draw the line? And then there's the reflex of wanting to delete posts that don't get a lot of engagement for whatever reason, especially on Instagram. I don't know why all my insecurities revolve around Instagram, but whatever. 

>> Sometimes you need to unplug.

While going a weekend (or a day, or an hour) without internet or your smartphone seems like the first cardinal sin for bloggers like me, it's something that is absolutely necessary. I've found that, when first dragged away from the 'net, whether forcibly, circumstantially, or purposely, I get severe anxiety and stress from the thought of not being connected.

But then, after a half hour or so, I relax, I notice more things, I feel more connected to the people I'm with. While things like vacations, parties, brunches, or girl's nights can be perfect fodder for  Instagram photos and blog posts, you can't always view life through a telephoto lens. If you're constantly concerned with snapping pics or scribbling down ideas, you're going to miss actually experiencing the event that you want to share.

>> Material possessions can consume you if you're not careful.

Okay, I'll admit: I've always been a material person. And I'm not saying whether that's a good or a bad thing, all I'm saying is that some people love material, tactile things, for various reasons. It doesn't necessarily mean you are shallow or vain. I just love clothes and makeup and shopping. I also love philosophy and politics and classic literature and ballet. It's called being a three dimensional person.

But I've noticed lately that the urge and desire to live a certain lifestyle, or to at least give off the impression that I'm living a certain lifestyle, has become more and more prevalent. It's hard not to get wrapped up in designer labels and status symbols when you watch a video of a beauty vlogger putting $300 worth of makeup (that she probably got for free) on her face in the span of 10 minutes. It's hard not to get jealous when you see beautiful photos of other bloggers designer duds and brand collaborations. It gets to a point where you feel like you have to have certain things to sit at the "cool bloggers" table. 

But let me tell you right now: things do not define us. Not as bloggers, not as people. Don't let anyone make you feel like you have to have expensive clothes or makeup to fit in. Most of us learned this in middle school, but it's important to reiterate.

>> If you want something, go after it.

It's easy to sit around and wonder why you're not getting any offers for collaborations, jobs, relationships, etc. Sure, it would be nice if those things just fell into your life like that, but hey, opportunities don't grow on trees! If you want something, you have to go out there and work hard to make it a reality.

If there's someone that you like, tell them. If you want a job or a promotion or a raise, just ask. If you want to work with someone, or sit by someone at lunch, or borrow something - JUST ASK. Literally the worst thing that could happen is that they could say no. And if they do, then you pick yourself up and move onto the next thing.

>> Not everyone is going to love you 100% of the time.

Like I said, I've been lucky - everyone in my life has been incredibly supportive about all this, at least to my face. But I know that other bloggers don't have it as easy. Whether it be friends, family members, or mean internet strangers, it's a fact of life that not everyone is always going to love everything you do. You can pour your heart and soul into something and be extremely proud of it, and that's great, but there's going to  be someone who doesn't like it.

One of my favorite sayings goes something like "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will still be someone who hates peaches."

At the end of the day, you have to make sure you're happy with what you've done. You can't rely on others for validation.

So - what lessons have you learned from blogging?

November 4, 2014

October Instagrams + News

1// I got this beautiful dress from eShakti, and I'm in love with it. It's so soft and heavy duty, and it made me feel like a Lemony Snicket character.

2// I felt the need to color code some of my books one rainy Saturday afternoon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

3// I DRANK SO MUCH COFFEE. It has recently come to my attention that like 75% of my Instagram posts feature a cup of coffee.

4// Also pictured: cinnamon rolls and candles, a close second to the cups of coffee.

5// SPEAKING OF COFFEE, I got this adorable fox mug at Walmart for only $3!

6// And I also got one of my favorite albums, Plans by Death Cab for Cutie, on vinyl courtesy of my bff Daina. I really need to work on building up my vinyl collection!

<< C O M I N G   U P >>

There's been a lot of new and exciting stuff going on around here lately, and I'm so excited to share it all with you!

>> Have you heard about #YearOfHappy yet? Allison Leighann and I are teaming up to create a year-long, community centric monthly link up to promote happiness and positive lifestyles. We're going to have a new prompt each month for participants to reflect on, complete, and blog about! You can read more and sign up for the mailing list right here!

>> Another exciting venture is my new Etsy shop, WhateverMargo! At the moment, I'm offering lots of a la carte options for blog branding and design, such as custom logos, blog headers, social media icons, and more! They're all really affordable, as I believe everyone should be able to access (what I think is) quality designs without breaking the bank. I've already got a couple clients, and I'd love to add you to the list!

>> And last but not least, I don't want to make too many promises or let the cat out of the bag, but if I have my way in the next few days/weeks, I'm going to start vlogging and posting videos on Youtube! I have a lot of ideas for makeup and hair tutorials, as well as a few other miscellaneous things. If there's anything you'd like to see me do, let me know in the comments!