Spring Self-Care Ideas!

Hey friends!

Spring is here, and it’s time to shake off that seasonal depression and get back into our normal routines. This last winter was hard on all of us, I’m sure — between COVID lockdowns, the usual seasonal depression and all the other craziness in the world, it’s been a bit of a wild ride. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m personally ready to start feeling a little more normal again — although, I feel its going to take some work to get there.

One of my favourite ways to improve my mental health, or just my life in general, is to plan and take part in a little self-care. Personally, I’m of the belief that self care is more than just spa days and movie nights (although those both count as self-care as well, and I love both very much!). In my eyes, self care is anything that improves your life, really. However, I truly believe the best form of self-care is self-discipline. Holding yourself accountable, staying on top of things, and knowing when to take breaks are all important to living a healthy and balanced life. That being said, I’ve compiled a little spring-specific list of self care ideas ranging from healthy lifestyle choices, ways to keep yourself organized, to good old-fashioned ways to relax and unwind. That way, no matter what kind of self-care you’ve been needing in your life this spring, you’ll find something just for you on this list!

Go For A Walk

Maybe I’m a hypocrite for adding this one first, since people are always telling me to get out of my house and go for walks more but I opted to avoid doing so all winter long — until now! It can be kind of hard to motivate yourself to get up and head out when you’re feeling crappy (trust me, I know) but spring is such a beautiful (and short) season, so you might as well take advantage of it while you can! This year, since we’re all still locked in, it’s kind of easy to totally miss the whole season entirely if you don’t make a point of going outside and enjoying it — which happened to me last year. I’ve decided to promise myself I won’t miss it again (cherry blossom season is one of my favourites, after all — no point in missing out on it two years in a row!).

Have a Self-Date in the Park

This is another great way to take advantage of spring weather, even if you’re not feeling up for walking. Next time there’s a particularly nice and warm day where you live, go ahead and plan out a nice day out for yourself! Pack a blanket, some lunch, some fancy drinks such as tea, mocktails, cocktails or whatever it is you love, and activities and anything else you want to spend your day doing! If you’re really feeling like going all-out, you can even dress up a little or do some fancy makeup — you don’t get many opportunities to do either anymore since lockdowns began, so you might as well, right?

Treat Yourself to Some New Spring Clothes

One of the best forms of self-care is retail therapy, IMO. Not only does it feel great to have some new items to look forward to wearing out, but if you shop online it’s always great to have something to look forward to when your package arrives. I’m really looking forward to adding some new items to my wardrobe this spring, personally — it’s been a while since I felt really, truly nice when I’ve left the house honestly, as I never get to dress up much anymore. When I do, a lot of my clothes feel pretty old and tired — especially since a lot of them have gotten a little tighter over the last year. I can’t wait to get a couple nice, new outfits and hopefully get the chance to get all dressed up and feel my best for the first time in a while sometime soon. Of course, whatever you feel like treating yourself to is up to you — maybe its clothes, or perhaps it’s makeup, home decor, accessories, shoes, wigs — whatever it is you’ve been needing in your life!

Spring Clean Your Home

Yes, okay, I totally posted about this one last week — but it really is a great way to feel you’re getting a fresh start. Its a good way to reduce the stress of clutter, be productive — and it can be fun, too! If you’re in the mood to do a big clean out of your home, feel free to make a day of it — complete with a playlist, some snacks, and whatever else makes cleaning fun to you. And of course, feel free to check out my ultimate spring cleaning guide if you need a good idea of where to start!

Take Up A New Form Of Exercise

Working out is arguably one of the best things you can do for your mental health (and, obviously, your physical well-being) — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to start. For those of us who’ve spent this winter being a little (or very) sedentary, or for others who are looking to switch things up, why not give a new workout a try? Depending on what COVID lockdowns are looking like in your city, you can get yourself a gym membership or take a couple classes somewhere local — or you can just try something new at home! Even if you don’t have in-person workout options right now, there’s plenty of instructional videos out there you can follow. Whether you’re hoping to try yoga, HIIT, Zumba, dance, calisthenics, or whatever comes to mind, you’ll be able to find a video to help you get started and shake up your regular (or non-existent, no judgement here) workout routine!

Try A New Hobby

What’s a skill you’ve been hoping to try your hand at, but haven’t gotten around to yet? Perhaps you’ve been looking to get into art, photography, writing, dancing, music, reading, baking, candle-making… who knows, really? If you’ve been thinking about trying something new and have been putting it off, no matter what your reason, this is your sign! Start it now. Why not? If you start today, you’ll have one day’s more experience than if you started tomorrow. Just go for it. (And if starting is a little daunting, you can always check out my post on Three Steps To Mastering Any Skill to help set you on the right path!).

Start Meditating

If meditating is something you haven’t tried out before, I’d totally recommend giving it a go. A lot of people don’t really see the point until they try it for themselves. It really does help to ground you, release anxiety and clear your mind. It may take a couple of tries to really get the hang of it, but I’d recommend keeping at it — what’s the harm, right? There’s endless guided meditation videos on Youtube, meditation apps, on Spotify, and more — so there’s no shortage of free resources, especially if you’re new to the practice!

Plan A Classic Self-Care Day

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, why not take the day off? If you’re hoping to make the most of it, you can plan out a full day of relaxing activities that you know you’ll love. (After all, I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of spending my days off lying around doing nothing if I don’t have ideas in mind). This is a classic option that’s always a great way to deal with built-up stress. If you don’t really know where to start, no worries! You can check out my previous Fall Self-Care Night Ideas, but I’m sure you already have an idea or two in mind of what you’d like to spend your next day off doing anyway!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. The last few weeks have been a little rough — COVID restrictions have been a little on-again, off again — perhaps I was getting a bit ahead of myself, but I did think things were going to be a little more normal by now than they are. I’ve also been getting busier, though, so life is slowly returning to normal (finally, right?). Apart from that, life has just been continuing on as normal… sometimes I feel a little ramble-y around the ends of my posts, since I honestly never have too much news to share. I did, however, spend my entire week binge-reading Attack on Titan (as I was too impatient to wait a whole year to find out how the show ended, since it is my favourite) so I guess there’s that! Apart from that though, things are just about the same as always — but is that really a bad thing? It may not be exciting, but I guess it’s better to have things be boring than it is the have them be bad. At the end of the day, we have that to be thankful for, right?

Much love,

Meredith

Stay-At-Home Valentine’s Ideas For Singles and Significant Other’s!

Hey y’all!

So, it’s finally February, which can only mean one thing — it’s almost Valentine’s Day.

I’m definitely in the minority on this one, but personally — I’m actually pretty indifferent to Valentine’s Day. I feel like it’s a holiday that causes a lot of heightened emotions for a lot of people — there can be crazy high expectations for those in relationships, and feelings of absolute dread for those who are single. It’s kind of sad, however, to see a holiday that’s supposed to be love turn into something that causes so much stress in others, though. Which is why, since starting my blog, I’ve made it a mission each February to make posts to help alleviate some of the stress surrounding February 14th.

In all honesty, I really couldn’t tell you what I’ve done on Valentine’s Day the past few years — I’ve been single for a while now, and I guess my apathetic attitude towards the holiday makes me kind of lucky, since it doesn’t really cause me any trouble. However, I did used to be a bit of an Edge Lordtm about the whole thing a few years back, so I do know how much it can suck to feel as though everyone is rubbing their happiness in your faces.

Truth be told, however, the one time I actually was in a relationship on Valentine’s Day was actually kind of crappier than any year I’ve spent single. For a holiday that should simply be about celebrating your relationship, it sure as hell comes with a lot of extra baggage. This year, however, all of our expectations for just about anything have gone out the window — so I’m hoping that with stay-at-home restrictions, limited open public spaces, and all the other crazy stuff going on in the world, we can all take it back to the basics and remember why Valentine’s Day should be celebrated in the first place.

So, whether you’re in a relationship and looking for some COVID-safe activities for the 14th, or single and looking for a way to celebrate yourself this Valentine’s Day, here are ##### ideas that work for singles, couples, AND friend’s this Valentine’s that will help you celebrate love and happiness in a safe and stress-free way!

Make an Elaborate Meal

If you’ve been taking up cooking since COVID began or have really been missing going out to fancy restaurants lately, this is the perfect Valentine’s plan for you. Rather than just eating whatever you’ve meal prepped for the week, plan out a multiple-course dinner for yourself, your significant others or your household complete with a little menu, entrées, desserts, and maybe even some fancy drink pairings. If you really want to go all out, make a Spotify playlist for the night, decorate your dining area and dress up to the nines — why not, right? Even if you live alone and you’re celebrating by yourself this year, I’m a big believer that you don’t always need an excuse to dress up or treat yourself. Going all-out to recreate the fine dining night-out experience in your own home is definitely a night you’ll remember — and you’ll be able to cater your own little restaurant experience perfectly to your own tastes, too!

Have a Spa Night

I know I suggest this one a lot, but it’s a great way to treat yourself, and works well as a night in with your SO or friends, as well. If this is the vibe you’re feeling this 14th, go all out and plan an elaborate self-care night, tailored towards your personal plans! Feel free to decorate, prep some snacks, make some tea (or grab some wine), light some candles, and set up a Spotify playlist full of some chill vibes. To really relax fully and enjoy your night, plan out what you’ll be doing in advance so when the time comes, you don’t even have to think about it! Some great ideas are face masks, mani/pedis, warm baths, a little meditation — it’s all up to you!

Plan a Movie Marathon

For a chiller night in with a less planning, the best way to go is often a good old-fashioned movie marathon. Order a pizza, grab a bottle of wine and some snacks, and you’re basically set for the night. One of the best ways to make a movie marathon feel like an occasion is to choose a theme, or franchise, to stick to for the night. As for what that is — it’s up to you and whoever will be joining you this Valentine’s Day! Some good ideas may be classic Golden Age Hollywood movies, Rom-Com’s, cheesy horror movies, animated films such as Disney or Studio Ghibli, or fantasy franchises such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the MCU.

Explore the Outdoors

Depending on where you’re located (and weather-depending), spending the day outside can be a great way to spend Valentine’s Day by yourself or with those who are special to you. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with nice enough weather, you can plan a picnic or spend the evening watching the sunset — and for those of you in cooler climates, you can always try out heading out on a walk or hike, or taking some time to drive somewhere isolated and go stargazing. Outdoor activities really vary depending on where in the world your located, so if this sounds like something you’re feeling down for, give your local outdoor attractions a quick google and see if you can find something special!

Make a DIY Cocktail Bar

This is basically the same idea as making an elaborate home meal for those of us looking to have a boozier night on the 14th. Instead of planning out a meal, search up some recipes for some of your fave fancy cocktails and gather up all the ingredients you’ll need. Plan out a little menu with a couple options, and you’re good to go! Some ways you can really help create the atmosphere of being out at a classy bar establishment is setting up a little charcuterie or cheese board, decorating your space, getting all dressed up, and making a playlist for whatever vibe you’re going for.

Bake Some V-Day Treats

If you’re one for baking, skip the chocolates this year (or not — why not both?) and bake your own Valentine’s treats. There’s all kinds of ways to pull off this little Valentine’s Day plan — depending on what you and others in your life enjoy, you can either surprise the important people in your life with some homemade Valentine’s snacks, spend the day baking with your SO, friends or family — or just bake up a bunch of treats for yourself!

Have an At-Home Wine and Paint Night

This is a super fun and cute idea if you’re looking to spend your Valentine’s doing an activity that’s a little more elaborate and hands on, IMO. It’ll take a little bit of prep — you’ll need canvases/paper, paint, paintbrushes (and wine, obviously) to really pull this idea off. If you’re really looking to go all out, make sure you also pick up some snacks, maybe even a little decor, and prepare the perfect Spotify playlist to set the mood. The best part is, this activity actually works perfectly, no matter who you end up spending your night with (even if it’s yourself!). As a bonus, afterwards you also have a sweet little keepsake to help you remember the night forever (even if you may not remember it yourself! I won’t judge.).

No matter how you guys end up spending your Valentine’s this year, regardless of who you end up spending it with, I hope you all end up having an amazing day (even if this Valentine’s is just going to be another Sunday for you). No matter what, just remember that while Valentine’s is a lovely holiday meant to celebrate happiness and love, it isn’t the be all to end all — and just because it doesn’t end up going the way you pictured it being doesn’t always mean it was a total bust. My hope for all of you is that this year, no matter what your circumstances are — Valentine’s ends up being fantastic at best, or just another day at worst. Even if, for whatever reason, you really are dreading Valentine’s this year — at the end of the day, it’s just another day and you will get through it.

Happy Sunday, everyone! For those of you big on sports, I hope you all had fun this Super Bowl Sunday (I personally could not care less as a non-American, non-sports fan who used to work at a sports bar — but that’s just me!). If you did something really fun and COVID-friendly today, drop a comment below and let me know how you spent it! I’m always looking for new, fun, stay-at-home friendly ideas to use in my own life.

Much love,

Meredith

The 10 Best Items I Received From FabFitFun Last Year!

Hey y’all!

I hope you’ve all been doing well! This week definitely has me feeling a little unmotivated, but I was pretty excited to write and share this post with you all, so I managed to pull it together and get it all ready to go for you guys! I hope you all enjoy it — it was a really fun one to plan out and write.

As many of you know, I’ve been a MAJOR fan of FabFitFun since well before I ever started my blog. For the uninitiated — FabFitFun is a lifestyle subscription box that sends out four boxes per year (which equals one box per season). In their own words, “the FabFitFun box includes a selection of full-size products across beauty, fashion, fitness, wellness, home, and tech – delivered each season. In addition to the Box, FabFitFun members receive access to year-round perks including FabFitFunTV, a streaming video service that offers on-demand wellness content, the FabFitFun online Community, members-only shopping experiences, and more.” Between the sales, being introduced to new products and brands, as well as receiving little surprises in each box that have become absolute staples in my life — FabFitFun is all-around one of my fave brands and the only subscription box I receive (and need).

Each box contains about 8-10 products, and without an annual membership, each individual box costs $50USD — however, the value per each box is usually around $200USD, making it well worth your money. I’ve been a subscriber since 2018, and I’ve honestly never let a single product go to waste — everything I’ve received has been so fantastic, and I’ve discovered MANY of my favourite products and brands through their boxes.

Today, I wanted to share with you all my ranked top 10 products I received in my 2020 boxes! All of these items I’m sharing with you are things I use frequently and absolutely adore. Everything I’ve listed is a personal 11/10 for me — but enough about that, let’s get into each individual product!

1. NATURELAB. TOKYO PERFECT HAIR TREATMENT MASQUE

Received In: Fall 2020 Box

This product ranks #1 on my list because frankly, not only was it one of the best products I received — it took me completely by surprise, too. I’m really picky when it comes to hair products (perhaps even more so than I am with skincare) after years of bleaching my hair blonde damaged it to the point that it needed constant care and attention to maintain any semblance of health. Even though my blonde hair has long since grown out and been chopped off, I still have a strong need to maintain a completely regular hair routine, complete with the same shampoo, conditioner, hair masks and a wide array of protective products to keep it looking and feeling it’s healthiest. Essentially, I have a bit of an aversion to trying new products as I’m (somewhat unnecessarily) worried they’ll end up damaging my hair. However, I was running out of my usual Ouai hair mask when I received this product and I certainly wasn’t going to let it go to waste, so I decided to give it a try. You guys — this may be the best hair mask I’ve ever tried. I love Ouai, but I’m seriously contemplating switching over (the only problem being shipping from the US). This mask leaves my hair feeling SO soft, it’s actually insane. My hair is usually pretty soft — after all, I put a whole lot of effort and care into it — but this mask has taken my hair to another level. I’m legitimately in love.

2. TOMS SYDNEY SUNGLASSES

Received In: Summer 2020 Box

Okay, I absolutely LOVE these sunglasses. FabFitFun has always been pretty on the nose with great sunglasses in their boxes, but these are the best pair I’ve ever owned. They’re so flattering and oh-so cool — as soon as I put these on, no matter what I look like, my confidence increases about 150%. They go with any outfit, and would honestly look good on absolutely anyone. I love sunglasses — they’re probably my favourite accessory — so these being my favourite pair says a lot. (Plus, who knew TOM’s made sunglasses? I sure didn’t, but they should keep on doing it).

3. SUMMER & ROSE COZY ROBE

Received In: Winter 2020 Box

This robe makes me absolutely never want to get off my couch. It is SO COZY. I actually don’t think I’ve ever owned something so warm and comfortable. If you’re looking for a good, soft robe for lazy days, check this one out. I’ve owned plenty of silk robes for wearing when I’m getting ready, but this one serves a totally different purpose and I’m so glad I received it in my last box — I’ve already gotten so much use out of it since then that I’d absolutely be willing to pay full price for it.

4. WEI TWO-IN-ONE PURIFY AND GLOW MASK COLLECTION

Received In: Spring 2020 Box

These face masks were some of the best masks I’ve ever owned. The mud masks in particular made me feel like I had a whole new face after each use. They acted as a sort of charcoal mask, but instead of being harsh or drying (as many charcoal masks often do) they cleared out my pores WHILE hydrating my skin and leaving it soft and fresh after each use. And while I’m not a fan of physical exfoliators, the exfoliating masks were gentle enough I didn’t worry about them causing damage and left my skin feeling SO SOFT and brand new after each use. Plus, I’ve gotten so much use out of the little mask-applicator brush ever since I received this mask set — making it an all-around win and one of my fave FabFitFun gifts of all time.

5. SUMMER & ROSE SNAKESKIN TOTE

Received In: Summer 2020 Box

This wasn’t actually something I received in a box per se, but an add-on I chose to receive alongside my summer box. For those of you who don’t know, FabFitFun offers add-on sales with each box that offer hundreds of different products at massive discounts. This year I decided to give add-ons a try, and I started off with this tote bag. Honestly, after looking through the options for add-ons offered I felt kind of silly for not checking it out before. I got this purse for only $30, and it’s become an absolute staple for me. I use this bag eery day — it’s so high quality, cute, and holds everything I need easily. Considering how long I’ve had it, I had kind of forgotten how cheap it was — when I went back to check for this post just now, it really blew my mind because of how well-made this bag is. (Moral of the story: if you have a FabFitFun subscription and you AREN’T already checking out the add-ons each season, you’re missing out!!!).

6. CHIC & TONIC SILICONE STRAWS

Received In: Spring 2020 Box

These straws, while not the most exciting thing I received at the time, have really proved their worth over the last year. These were an option I received randomly in my gifted items, and at the time I didn’t pay much attention to them — I already had some reusable straws, after all. However, all the reusable straws I owned were metal — making them bulky, tricky to transport and clean, and honestly kind of unpleasant to use. These silicone straws, on the other hand, are SO easy to carry around since they squish down pretty small AND came with a carrying case, are more pleasant to use than metal straws — and the fact that they’re super cute is just a bonus. I’ve been trying to add more reusable products into my daily life over the past few years, and especially in COVID when I don’t really want to be drinking out of glasses that may be contaminated, these straws have been a real lifesaver.

7. FLIGHT MODE SKINCARE HIGH-ALTITUDE HYDRATION MASK

Received In: Winter 2020 Box

This was another item I was honestly a little unsure about that I ended up loving (which really seems to be a trend with a lot of my favourite items!). I’m really picky about skincare, so I didn’t really know how to feel about receiving a mask from a brand I’d never heard of — especially since I already own some hydrating masks that I use pretty frequently. However, this mask is more so an extra moisturizer than a face mask — it isn’t meant to be washed off, so you simply leave it on overnight as you would with any normal moisturizer. It’s super-lightweight and is made of a gel-like formula, which is always my favourite way to go for moisturizing products as I have super dry skin but also hate products that are too heavy. Whenever I have days that my skin is still feeling a little dry after I’ve completed my routine, I just throw on a little of this mask and wake up feeling good as new the next day — it’s really been a new favourite in my skincare lineup.

8. SILKED SATIN PILLOWCASE

Received In: Summer 2020 Box

I’m sure I’ve made a post about the benefits of silk pillowcases before, but if you don’t already have one — you probably should. Silk and satin pillowcases are extra-gentle on your skin and hair, reducing overnight damage from tugging on them while you sleep. I’ve been using silk pillowcases for years, and I really noticed the difference immediately — especially for my hair, which used to be pretty damaged from frequent bleaching, as I mentioned above. I used to have 4 silk pillowcases that I rotated through between washes, but when I moved and redecorated my pink pillowcases no longer matched, so I stored them away for the time being and limited myself to one silk pillowcase a week up until I received this one in my summer box. As well, this pillowcase is specifically meant for travelling, meaning it’ll be extra convenient in a post-COVID world where I’ll finally be able to travel again.

9. L*SPACE TIE-DYE TOWEL

Received In: Summer 2020 Box

Living in Vancouver, one of my fave summer pastimes is hanging out at the beach. This summer, especially, going and hanging out at the waterfront with friends became one of my fave summer activities, since it allowed me to meet up with others in a safe, COVID restriction-friendly fashion, enjoy the summer weather, and stay within walking distance of my home. For someone who loves the beach so much, however, I’ve never owned a cute beach towel (or, a lot of the times, I don’t even have a beach towel at all), so I was obsessed with this one from the moment I received it. Not only is it so pretty (and very on-brand with my personal aesthetic), but it ensured I always had something on hand for sitting outside to hang out with friends — and I cannot stress how much better that made my life last summer.

10. FOXYBAE 25MM CURLING WAND

Received In: Fall 2020 Box

As someone who’s really no good at styling their hair, but really wants to learn — I’ve been loving this hair curler. It’s high quality, easy to use, and creates great curls and waves that hold — even in Vancouver’s humid winter weather. While I don’t style my hair often (but always wish I did), buying a high-quality hair curler always seemed like a really expensive undertaking — I want to learn how to curl my hair well and style it frequently, but it seems like a lot to unload $100+ dollars on something I may not end up using that often. Receiving this hair curler in a FabFitFun box was a total game changer for me, since it’s IRL price is about $100 — making it something I likely wouldn’t buy for myself. I’ve been loving it, though, and I can’t wait to get more use out of it in 2021!

If FabFitFun sounds like something you’d like to try (which I honestly couldn’t recommend more), you can check out their website and upcoming Spring 2021 box over here — with box customizations coming up soon, it’s the perfect time to sign up and give their boxes a try! I’m personally VERY fired up to customize my spring box — it’s always something to look forward to at the start of each season, and receiving surprises every three months always feels like a little gift to myself.

If you’ve tried FabFitFun before, drop some of your fave products that you received in 2020 below! I’d love to hear why you love their boxes and what products you got the most use out of.

Happy Sunday, everyone, and I hope you’re all gearing up to have a happy February! We’re so close to spring now — just hold on a liiiiittle longer, and winter will be over before we even know it!

Much love,

Meredith

Quitting Toxic Blogging Positivity Culture

It sounds strange, doesn’t it? That positivity can be toxic.

However, over the last year, it’s really become increasingly clear to me that our culture has an unhealthy obsession with being happy, perfect and productive 24/7. We see it play out time and time again in media and advertising, on social media, and blogging in particular. But it’s more than that — it plays out in the real world, too, and has serious effects on our lives and mental health. This mentality wreaked havoc on my life in 2020 — and frankly, I’m done with it.

Now I don’t mean this in any sort of a bad way — especially since doing so would make me a hypocrite — but overall, the vast majority of blog posts that lifestyle bloggers produce have to do with productivity, goal-setting, or somehow creating the perfect life. Which I guess is sort of the point — if you’re a lifestyle blogger, you’re selling your lifestyle. It makes sense that you want it to look as good as it can possibly be. After all, everyone shares only the absolute best parts of their lives on social media and many (if not all of us) have exaggerated here and there every once in a while. The issue I want to talk about isn’t sharing the best moments and images of your life on social media, though. What I’m talking about — and hoping to fix in my own life — pertains pretty specifically to blogging.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a lifestyle blogger (myself included) share a post listing the numerous different ways you can change your life to be productive, or organized, or successful? Posts that create an image of a lifestyle that the blogger is living where they wake up early, work out, eat healthy, take perfect care of their skin, hair, and makeup, are successful and their job, with full social lives to top it all off? Maybe it isn’t spelled out directly, but it’s often implied. “Do this, and your life will be perfect.” While some people post practical guides, many of these guides are impossible to follow to a T. Simply put — the lifestyle depicted in these blog posts is not a realistic one.

I know I’m not the only one guilty of making posts like this. But do you really know anyone in real life who lives like that? I know some crazy successful people — but I don’t actually know anyone who can “do it all”. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and everyone has to pick and choose. I promise you, regardless of how it may seem online, absolutely no one’s life is flawless 24/7. I know some of you out there won’t believe me, and I know some of you know this in theory but often forget it in reality. But I promise you no one’s life is as perfect as it looks on social media. Not that influencer you love who seems to always look perfect, or Kylie Jenner, or the girl who seems like she owns everything you could ever want — not even the small blogger who seems to have their life 100% put together. None of them.

So why are we pretending that our lives ARE perfect? There’s a good chance that even if you think you’re not, you still may be. I want you to ask yourself if holding yourself to this standard is helping you, or if it’s actually hurting you. Of course we all want to put out a good image on social media — it’s not like I’m going to start posting pictures of myself without my hair washed and in my grossest old PJs on my Instagram — but what is up with going above and beyond lately? Why do we have to pretend like we’re productive and positive 24/7? Like our lives are busy all the time? Even a pandemic didn’t seem to stop the tirade of pretending to be productive all the time. So what will?

It wasn’t until last year that it really became abundantly clear to me just how damaging toxic positivity and hustle culture can be. While it’s certainly been a problem far before 2020 ever began, watching the world lock down due to a global pandemic really shone a light on how deeply ingrained and problematic this issue is within our society. I didn’t see it at first — in fact, for the first half of the pandemic, during the most emotionally challenging time I’ve ever gone through, I fell victim to it. No matter what life threw at me, I felt the need to “bounce back” as quickly as possible. In reality, though, it was impossible to keep up.

Tw: Death. I get into some pretty personal stuff the next few paragraphs, so if you don’t want to read it for whatever reason, feel free to skip past the italicized text — I promise I return to the main point afterwards!

Back in March of 2020, I was dealing with the grief of losing two very important people to me over the span of 5 weeks right as stay-at-home orders were put in place. I studying for my Biopsych final, which would decide whether or not I graduated from UBC, and on top of that, I was coming off what had been one of the most stressful and uncertain years of my life. In early 2019, I received the news that despite all the times I checked my graduation requirements, and my friends checked my requirements, and I had university advisors check over my requirements, I was somehow missing a class that I needed in order to graduate. I’d heard stories from friends of the same thing happening to them, but I’d been so careful — I figured there was no way it would happen to me.

But it did, and it was kind of devastating. Any plans I had went up in smoke, and ever since I’ve distinctly felt as though I’ve fallen behind in life, and that I wasted an entire year. For the first time in my life, I was kind of left alone without any sort of plan. Eventually, I picked up a job at a sports bar, often working 7 days a week, while I finished up my classes. My job often asked far too much of me, and took advantage of the fact that I was so capable of being the only host at such a large establishment during their busiest season. Could I handle it? Yeah, sort of. But just because I could push myself to my limits didn’t mean that I should. Yet, due to the very same culture that forces us to act productive and happy 24/7, I felt like I had to power through.

As the pandemic shut down the world, the pressure I put myself under while studying for my final was crushing. I spent almost every day for the first four weeks of lockdown studying from when I woke until bedtime. I struggled heavily with insomnia during those weeks. I was often so tired and overwhelmed with anxiety that I would physically shake for hours as I did my work — even though I knew that I was excelling in the class, and there was no need to be so hard on myself. I cried about losing my friend every single day up until the day that my Grandma passed away — but after that, I simply shut down. The following day after my grandma passed, I stopped crying. I barely remember what the two weeks between then and my final were like — all I remember is I stopped crying and I kept studying.

Through it all, however, I kept posting semi-regularly on my blog. I’d say I did everything I could to keep posting regularly, but I did more than everything I could — I was pushing myself beyond my limits. But so much of blogging revolves around showing others how to live their best life, based on how “perfect” your own life is. So I kept up the facade. One of my closest friends in the world passed away, and I only allowed myself only one week off from posting blogs. At the time, I thought I was taking it easy on myself — I missed a couple blog posts here and there, and while I felt guilty about it, I shared some posts mentioning I was taking a week or two off and did my best to not fall behind. However, every time I missed a post I felt as though I had failed. I felt guilty sharing my Spring FabFitFun unboxing three weeks late — as if it really mattered. Immediately after I finished up my final, I resumed posting twice a week — I didn’t even give myself the slightest break. However, it wasn’t good enough to pretend to have it all together online — I truly believed I had to have my life perfectly under control offline, too.

Back in early lockdowns (and even still now), we were constantly being bombarded with advertisements from companies about “being productive” now that we had the time, and “getting on top of things” while we could. And very quickly, we all bought into it as well. Once one person starts doing it, we all feel the need to keep up. Even though we were collectively going through an incredibly uncertain and stressful period in our lives, we felt the need to keep up with what we saw others doing online. Perfecting a new skill, daily workouts, cleaning your whole house, social media challenges, keeping up with all the biggest Netflix trends, finding a side hustle — I’m sure we all felt the pressure to do one, if not ALL of these at some point back in March/April of last year.

But why? Why did we all feel the need to be as busy as possible in a time when there was, objectively, nothing to do? Why did I feel the need to only take a week or two off before launching into creating a strict routine, sleep schedule, workout regimen and blogging itinerary when I was coping with so much loss and stress? At the time, I thought I was doing what was healthy, what was best for me. In retrospect, however, I can barely even remember what May was like. And while I kept it all up for about a month, it didn’t take long for it all to start unravelling.

After only a few short weeks of following my schedule and staying “perfectly” on top of my life, I had event after event come along and disrupt my newfound routine. Which is life, of course — things happen. It only took a couple little bumps to have my plan fall apart completely. By July, I began this perpetual game of catch-up that lasted months. I was late to post almost every single blog post I shared for two months straight, and every time a post was shared behind schedule, I felt as though I had failed. I had no motivation to keep writing, but I felt I had to — and forced myself to keep going. I couldn’t hold focus for more than a few minutes and I honestly didn’t feel I had anything to share at the time, but it didn’t matter. I had set goals for myself that I felt I had to achieve by year’s end, and I wanted to keep up the appearance everything was fine. I think I felt at the time everything WAS mostly fine — but now I realize it really, really wasn’t.

By September, it all fell apart. After months of holding myself together with nothing but guilt and the belief that I had to keep going, I was too burnt out to continue. I only had energy to coast through life until December came around. However, after a real, proper break — a month at home where I essentially expected nothing of myself, nor did my family — I’m finally starting to feel a little better. I’m trying to get my life back on track — but it’s for myself this time. I’m taking it slowly, and adding things back in with time instead of rushing myself back into a full schedule. Do I still struggle with having heightened or unrealistic expectations for myself? Yeah, of course. However, I’m trying to identify these expectations and why I feel the need to set them for myself nowadays to help myself determine what’s a healthy goal that pushes me forward, keeps me motivated and makes me happy; rather than something I’m aiming for that’s detrimental to my mental health and well-being.

Of course, my example is a little different, and fairly extreme. Who knows why I reacted the way I did to everything last year — it was a difficult year for me, and perhaps it was just the only way I knew to react to such an unfamiliar situation. I’m not here to psychoanalyze myself — although I guess I may be trying to analyze society as a whole. What I’m really trying to say here is — you don’t need to do it all. Choose what you WANT for yourself, and focus on that. You don’t need to work out every morning to have your life together. You don’t need to work through the weekend to be successful. You don’t need to always be busy to be happy.

And not just that — not everything has to be for the sake of being productive, too! Perhaps it’s just some capitalistic belief that the things we do aren’t valuable if they aren’t somehow profitable. But that isn’t true! When was the last time you had a hobby just for the sake of having a hobby? Something that you, perhaps, aren’t even good at? Why do you have to be good at it, after all, if it brings you joy? Balance is key — and while I’ve definitely said it before, you need to balance giving yourself a break, too. But not just cute blogger self-care nights — sometimes you just need a night to do nothing and a nap. Not everything in life has to be picture-perfect — contrary to what I or other bloggers have made you believe.

As lifestyle bloggers, we get sucked into following a bit of a formula — a particular aesthetic, a particular lifestyle, and particular interests. Following April, almost every single post of mine had to do with productivity, routine, schedule, or lockdowns. I didn’t even know what else to write about, as I had pretty severe writers block from all the issues I was facing. So I just kept forcing myself to be productive, and wrote about being productive — as if I were someone who had it all together when really, I had no idea what was going on. But we don’t need to adhere to an aesthetic. Life is more than that! Of course, if your blog is your business, you want to build a specific brand. But just because you’re starting out, doesn’t mean you need to fall into the trap of narrowing yourself down into the very particular lifestyle blogger aesthetic. While the minimalistic, cute, and elegant themes are absolutely gorgeous, there’s no need to wedge yourself into them if it isn’t what fits you. If the typical blogger aesthetic is something you aspire to, or is one that comes to you naturally — go for it, obviously! It’s majorly cute and refined, and I personally adore it — even though it isn’t my personal vibe.

As for what my vibe IS exactly — I honestly don’t really know. I’m working on it. I want to be able to fit every part of me into it, without cutting parts away simply because they don’t match. I feel as though I’m a very different person that I’ve perhaps lead you all to believe — either directly or indirectly. It’s not intentional — after all, I do love makeup, skincare, online shopping, subscription boxes and staying organized — but I also love art, and anime (Attack on Titan fans HMU), and BLACKPINK, and Animal Crossing, and I don’t think these things have to be mutually exclusive. But who know — it’s not like I have to figure it out on a deadline, after all!

When I started writing this post out, I had no idea where it was really going to go, honestly. I had a vague idea in my head, and an issue I wanted to discuss, and past that I just let it take me wherever it needed to go. Writing all this out was kind of therapeutic, in a way — really just sitting back and letting your writing take you wherever it will is a great way to discover things about yourself and your story. So I hope you’ve all learned something here today — because honestly, so did I. It may be difficult to let go — I don’t think it’s a change I’ll be able to make 100% overnight — but I’m hoping to put in the work and identify these beliefs and behaviours when they come up in my life, in order to challenge them and make some positive differences in both my life and other’s.

I guess to sum up what I have to say — it’s not like I’m going to stop trying. I’m not going to stop trying to better myself, to be successful, to look my best, to surround myself with happiness. I’m still going to strive forward towards these things. And whatever advice I learn along the way I’ll absolutely share with you all. But I’m done with preaching advice I don’t take myself, or acting like some know-it-all with a perfect life. I’m not. You’re not. None of us are. Life is messy and while it can be beautiful, it isn’t perfect. So this is my little pledge — to stop forcing myself to fit a standard and chastising myself when I don’t reach it. To take real breaks, and not just push myself further after falling behind. And to always be honest with all of you, and share honest advice, and not just what I think sounds good on paper.

Love you all, always,

Meredith

Setting Realistic Goals For 2021

Hey y’all!

First and foremost — HAPPY NEW YEARS! We’ve finally made it, and 2020 is now nothing more than a memory. I know that realistically, the issues that plagued us (no pun intended) in 2020 don’t magically disappear just because of the calendar change, but it DOES feel nice to have a fresh start.

While I am hoping that 2021 will help bring me out the funk that 2020 left me in, I know I have to be realistic. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and setting colossally large goals for the new year without a plan on how to achieve them often leads to disappointment, or simply forgetting your goals all together. Not that you should avoid dreaming large, of course — it’s important to know what you want and go for it. However, especially when the world is so unpredictable, managing expectations can be a useful skill.

While I did work on breaking down goals last year, I set my sights high with what I wanted to achieve in 2020 — and while some of my goals still pushed me to improve myself (whether I achieved them or not), others were left incomplete by the end of 2020. Whether it was simply a little out of my reach, effected by unseen circumstances, or due directly to COVID — it doesn’t really matter, as they incomplete either way.

So, this year I’m switching it up and taking a different approach. I still want to push myself to move forward and be able to track my progress, so I’ll still be setting goals for myself. But a lofty new years resolution? Not so much.

Breaking It Down

This year, I’m taking a bit of a different approach. I’m setting a couple of “wishes” for the end of the year (things that I’d like to work towards that can be changed or aren’t set in stone). In terms of goals, I’ll be setting them monthly based on what my life looks like. In the past, I used monthly goals as more of a to-do list, but this year I’ll be using them as more of a monthly resolution. For instance, whereas in the past I would list out things such as number of blog views I wanted to achieve or Instagram posts I wanted to make in a month, but this month I’ll be setting more holistic goals, and I’ll be focusing on getting back into a regular workout/yoga schedule and meal prepping.

Letting Life Lead Me

Right now, everything is far too up in the air right now for me to ever even predict what my life may end up looking like by the end of the year. Rather than limiting myself based on my expectations a year out, I’d rather play things by ear and see where life takes me. Considering how many ways my life could go from the point I’m at right now, making set life goals for the end of the year may only end up limiting me or blinding me to new possibilities. So, I’m taking it one month at a time. While this month I’m hoping to perhaps find a job and get back into a regular routine of working out and eating, next month my goals and needs may be totally different — I’ll see when I get there.

Not Playing The Numbers Game

In the past, many of my goals were based on numbers — gaining so many new followers, achieving so many blog views, etc. However, not only does setting number-based goals start to drive you crazy with the constant counting, it isn’t very motivating in the way I need it to be. Not only does it focus on the wrong side of things, but it’s easy to ignore until you start to fall behind — and then you just end up in a cyclical game of catch-up. I’d rather set more holistic goals that help improve my life as a whole, and watch more number-based results materialize as a result.

Not Making Everything About Productivity

This year has really shown me our culture’s toxic obsession with productivity. I know this shouldn’t really be a radical concept, but really — you don’t need to be pushing yourself 24/7!!! In the midst of a global pandemic, in a time that was stressful for all of us, it seemed almost every single piece of media out there seemed to be telling us how to keep busy, start our life-changing project, fix up absolutely every little thing around our homes, and become this theoretical best version of ourselves. Even our self-care had to be cute and perfect. I won’t lie — at the beginning, I kind of fell into this trap too. Everyone else seemed to be out there being to most productive they’d ever been in their lives — I didn’t want to be the only one taking a break. However, I can pretty much guarantee that all the other bloggers and influencers who make their life seem 100% perfectly in order 24/7 are lying to you (or at least enhancing the truth). You don’t need to have it together all the time. I’m honestly experiencing some of the worst burnout I have in years from trying to be perfect during such a stressful year. So next year, no matter what 2021 sends our way, I’m allocating some of my goals to legitimate self-care, hobbies and happiness — just for the hell of it. Not everything needs to be about being productive 24/7.

Using Goals to Check In With Myself

While I want to make sure I’m not pushing myself too hard in 2021, I still want to be checking in with myself to make sure that I’m on the right track. While it was a bit of a necessary break, the last new months of 2020 I kind of found my life falling apart — and it’s taken more effort to get back on track than it would have to simply maintain it. I’m hoping that in 2021, I’ll be able to turn my life around a little and get myself back on track. I’m hoping to build a routine, get ahead on my blog posts, start working out and feeling a little normal again — BEFORE I start a new job. So instead of setting goals with the aim of pushing myself, I’ll be setting goals to check in with myself and make sure that I’m keeping everything on track — no matter what ends up coming in 2021.

Happy new years, everyone! I know it can be kinda scary staring down a whole new year, especially since we really don’t know what this year will hold. I have hope that it’ll be a better year than 2020 was, but I also know that nothing much is going to change without putting in the effort. This time last year, I had a plan that was meant to push me tony limits and help me become my “absolute best self”. I thought I was being realistic — and who knows? Maybe if 2020 hadn’t turned out the way it did it may have been. But it wasn’t, and it’s caused me to reevaluate and hopefully make 2021 a better, more successful year.

So fingers crossed — 2020 was absolutely brutal, but with any luck 2021 will be our year. I’m keeping my expectations small and realistic — maybe I’m just a little jaded, but I don’t want to dream too big and end up disappointed. But hopefully with this plan, a vaccine, and a little luck, 2021 may just be my year.

Are you guys setting resolutions this year? If yes, how are you doing it? Are your goals similar to what they were in the past, or are you taking a whole new approach? Perhaps, even after reading this post, you’re feeling a little inspired to set goals monthly and forgo a resolution this year. Or maybe you’re just over it and not setting goals anymore after 2020 (which is totally fair). No matter what your plans are, drop a comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear all about your goals, and what’s changed for you in 2021. Hopefully, within luck, we’ll all end 2021 on a better note than we started it on.

Much love,

Meredith