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Lifestyle

The Five Most Devastating Brands Permanently Closing Due to Coronavirus

June 9, 2020

Many stores and businesses around the world have been deeply affected by the current pandemic. Some of them will make it while others simply can’t survive the devastation.

With a heavy heart, we’ve rounded up a few treasured gems we’re truly sorry to see go. Grab your tissues and keep scrolling.

(via Unsplash)

Pier 1 Imports

We’ve always admired Pier 1 for their charming seasonal decor and decorative centerpieces, so we were more than saddened to hear that they’ll be permanently closing their doors. The silver lining, however, is majorly inexpensive furniture deals. They’re currently accepting online orders and will begin blowout sales once stores can reopen for business. Now’s the time to pounce on that nightstand or coffee table you’ve always needed but haven’t found the extra cash to snag yet. 

Souplantation

‘Tis a dark day when you find out your all-time fave buffet is a goner. We would like to take a moment to properly mourn endless salad, soup, crispy bread sticks and, most importantly, mouth-watering pizza bread. It was fun while it lasted 😩.

Victoria’s Secret

As you probably already know, Victoria’s Secret has low-key been on the decline for a while now. The lingerie retailer recently announced that they’d be closing 250 of its U.S. and Canadian stores over the next several months to help strengthen their business. Luckily, you still have the option to buy online, but we’ll definitely miss their adorable giant pink dog in-store displays 🐶😔.

J.C.Penney

Another deep sigh for beloved department store J.C.Penney who’ll be axing 242 locations as part of the company’s bankruptcy. Although they won’t be completely liquidating their assets like Pier 1, we’re not sure what this means for the future of the company. Department stores have taken the biggest hit amidst the panic of coronavirus, but we’re hopeful that Penney’s will be able to rally and push through. Where else will we able to find affordable bedding, furniture and Sephora items all in one place!?

J.Crew

While J.Crew didn’t necessarily fit our SoCal style, we’re still bummed to hear the apparel provider filed for bankruptcy. It’s been a solid mainstay for as long as we can recall, and we really do appreciate the remarkably soft, rich and comfortable fabric of their pajamas, loungewear and sweaters. We’ll remain hopeful for an amazing summer sale to come through. 

Lifestyle

The Best Wellness Practices Suggested by Experts During Coronavirus

April 2, 2020

Although there’s no lack of health and wellness information going around right now, it can still be difficult to discern what’s right for you, specifically.

To help navigate this particular problem, clean beauty brand MARA, luxury beauty supplement brand Hush & Hush and The Jane Club and The XX Project recently hosted enlightening webinars on how we should nourish our minds and bodies during self-isolation.

girl in white athleisure workout set does yoga
(via The Form Fitness / Unsplash)

Hush & Hush’s Wellness Wednesday discussion featured adept inner health education from founders Dr. Marc Ronert and Janna Ronert, while MARA Beauty’s roundtable-style Positive Perception panel highlighted the importance of listening to your own body’s needs. Meanwhile, The Jane Club and The XX Project hosted a calm-inducing Interactive Intuition workshop, led by Mindset Mastery Coach, Stephanie Kwong, and Personal Development Coach, Laura Greenberg.

Find the best wellness practices to incorporate into your routine from each seminar below!

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Take 4 per day to keep hair loss at bay.

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Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Schedule

This seems like such a simple task, but many people get so caught up in fear that they forget how vital it is to go out and stretch their legs. Dr. Ronert suggests a 30-minute workout in the morning and another in the evening—whatever that may be for you.

Journal at Least Once a Day

During MARA’s roundtable, Natural beauty and skincare writer, Jessica DeFino, strongly recommended taking the time to journal every day. It’s imperative to prioritize our mental health during this time and remember that it’s absolutely okay not to feel okay all the time. Getting your thoughts out onto the page will help you process your emotions in a safe (social media-free) way.

Add More Supplements to Your Diet

If you didn’t already get the memo, vitamins are major key right now. Holistic chef and co-founder of How You Glow, Tara Sowlaty, shared with MARA audiences how important it is at this time to incorporate more vitamin D and C into our everyday diets. Because many are spending more time inside, that means far less sun exposure, which can cause lower back pain and fatigue. Regularly taking vitamin D should help counteract this, along with immunity-boosting vitamin C.

Avoid Meat If You Can

According to Dr. Ronert, meat increases inflammation in the body, which can compromise your immune system. Although we know it’s unrealistic to completely cut meat out of your diet, try eating extra fruits and vegetables or buying impossible meat instead. As tough as this situation is, it can be an amazing opportunity to clean up your diet and discover new, likable ingredients you otherwise wouldn’t touch.

Rethink Your Beauty Essentials

Now that health is a top priority, DeFino reminded us that it’s time to reconsider what are really our skincare essentials. Use this as motivation to check the ingredients in your face wash or foundation, as you might be surprised how many of them are not as organic as you’d like. Now’s a great time to trash those synthetic products and try a new holistic beauty line you think is right for you.

Set Limits For Yourself

We know this is a challenge when those Doritos are sitting five feet away from you all day long. However, periodically creating boundaries with your diet (especially alcohol consumption😅) and news intake will work wonders for you. Instead, stock up on protein-rich snacks that keep you fuller longer, and disconnect from electronics for a while.

Try Cupping at Home

Our favorite piece of guidance came from VIE Healing owner and Chinese medicine practitioner Mona Dan. For increased blood flow and a boost in immunity and chest health, try at-home cupping. VIE Healing offers a guide on this via their website and is also offering TeleMedicine sessions. They’re designed to help you build your own customized wellness kit at home that you’ll receive in the mail.

Practice Breathwork When You Experience Peak Anxiety

Our emotions are bound to get the best of us during these trying times, but when you feel your angst come to a head, Kwong suggests the 4-7-8 technique. Put your tongue behind your teeth in your upper mouth. breathe in for four seconds. hold it for seven seconds and breath out for eight seconds. Do this until your heartbeat slows and you feel more at ease.

Lifestyle

I Started Dating My Boyfriend a Month Before Coronavirus—Here’s How We’re Dealing

April 1, 2020

In the wise words of Avril Lavigne, “He was a boy. She was a girl. Can I make it anymore obvious?”

And that about sums up the story of my boyfriend and me.

Prior to being a couple, we’d been friends for years. We met at a concert way back in 2012/2013, which should not come as a shock to those of you that know me. What’s even less shocking is he was in a band at the time.

We kept in touch here and there. But it wasn’t until 2017 we became really good friends. We texted regularly and I’d go to his shows as often as possible.

There was a point in 2019 when I could sense he had deeper feelings for me, though I was very scared of this being anything more than what it was. I have a terrible track record when it comes to dating. In fact, he’s my first “official” boyfriend, so there’s that. Still, I always wondered, “What if?”

Then 2020 rolled around and we started hanging out constantly, so much so that I knew I couldn’t be just friends with him. In late January, we finally kissed and the rest is history.

silhouette of man and woman about to kiss on beach during sunset
via Unsplash

I know that was a lot of lead-up, but it had to be done. I’m trying to paint a full picture here, alright?

Anyway, back to my relationship. Things have been going really well. In February, I was gone for two weeks on a solo trip through New Zealand (yes, it was magical), and we stayed in touch every single day. He even drove me to and from the airport. That might not seem like a big deal, but I have been with many guys who wouldn’t drive over to my house to hook-up, because they were too lazy. So yes, my boyfriend’s a gem.

Those two weeks away were really tough. Even though I was having the time of my life exploring the north island of New Zealand, I missed him so much. I don’t think it helped that we had finally expressed our feelings, only to have me jet set across the world a week after the fact.

Once I returned, we were pretty much inseparable. We hung out as often as possible, texted, and chatted on the phone whenever we could. So when the coronavirus really started to make its way around the states, we had to decide the safest social-distancing measures for our new relationship.

At first, I stayed with him at his place, as to prevent my anxious thoughts surrounding the pandemic from spiraling, and to also be with him. But, some members of his household were still working, as they were deemed essential. This is when we made the difficult decision to physically stay apart until it was safe to see each other once again.

I was the one to initiate the plan, and while he agreed it was for the best, I know he wasn’t happy with it. It’s not that I was either, it’s the safest thing to do right now.

woman on bike reaching for man's hand behind her also on bike
via Unsplash

That was about a week and a half ago, and boy do I miss not seeing him in person regularly. Our time spent apart while I was in New Zealand was nothing compared to this. Obviously, what made those two weeks easier was how far apart we were and a set date on when we would see each other again.

Social-distancing during corona is tough, given we’re not that far from one another and we don’t know when we won’t need to be quarantined anymore. It could be days, weeks, months, years—who knows?

During this time, we’re staying in touch a lot more through technology. I literally just paused writing this for a sec to respond to his text and Instagram DM. We also make it a point to talk on the phone or over FaceTime at least once a day.

Some days are way easier than others. There have been times where either he or I want to ignore this whole quarantine protocol so we can see one other, but we both know that’s not what we need right now. We’re doing our best to fight those urges, so thank goodness technology exists to help with that.

One thing I really find helpful that we do is go on virtual dates. On these virtual dates, we get ready (I’m mainly talking about me, as I’ve been wearing the same sweatpants and sweatshirt combo for over a week now) and enjoy lunch, dinner, or a nice conversation over FaceTime. It honestly is so much fun, though we’ve only done one so far… well, two, if you count… never mind.

Woman on FaceTime with string lights surrounding phone
via Unsplash

I’ve also been making it a point to do cutesy, romantic things here and there. For example, I made him a playlist the other day of songs that reminded me of him or our relationship. Though entirely cheesy, he truly appreciated the gesture.

The rest of my romantic antics have been much simpler, like sending him texts as to why I appreciate him or passing along sweet relationship quotes on Instagram. He’s dong the same, though I still haven’t received my playlist. Babe, if you’re reading this, please send me a collection of songs that remind you of me.

For now, we’re making do with what we have. It helps that I trust him and am very secure in our relationship, which hasn’t been the same with past flings. Still, it’s so tough being separated. I want nothing more than to hold his hand and kiss his cute little face right about now.

What really puts me at ease is knowing where I stand. We’re both pretty open with our feelings and unafraid to share whatever we’re experiencing with one another. Communication is always key in any relationship, but moreso now than ever before.

This has really pushed me out of my comfort zone, especially given all my past relationships have centered around sex, so I never felt entirely comfortable sharing my feelings with the person I was seeing at the time. I do now, which has made a world of difference.

For other new couples out there who are struggling by being separated from the coronavirus, I feel your pain. My advice would be to communicate as openly and honestly. Keep the conversations fun and flirty, but don’t be afraid to have serious talks every now and then, too.

Still plan on having date nights, as long as they’re virtual or you can maintain a six foot distance at all times. Do cute, spontaneous things for one another like sending a spontaneous “I love you” text or Venmoing them some money for groceries. Now’s the time to really get creative with showing your partner how much you care.

man and woman sitting on rock near body of water and mountain during daytime
via Unsplash

Quarantine (hopefully) won’t last forever, but you can start building the foundation now to make sure your relationship does.

Lifestyle

Your Definitive Guide to the Best FREE Online Workouts Amid Coronavirus Chaos

March 18, 2020

With the coronavirus outbreak causing many gyms and studios to close nationwide, now’s the time to step outside our comfort zones and find innovative ways to stay in shape.

via Pixabay

Many instructors and fitness gurus on Instagram are using this opportunity to provide outstanding new workouts that still work up a sweat, but are easy to do at home and, most importantly, are free.

Below, you’ll find our definitive guide to the best online workouts that will keep you active amidst the chaos.

Hot Pilates

What: A full-body workout in 10 minutes from one of the most challenging mat Pilates studios in Los Angeles.

How: A YouTube class led by the studio’s founder Shannon Nadj

Cost: Free

CorePower Yoga

What: Yoga classes for both beginners and seasoned yogis.

How: A full list of their videos can be found on demand HERE.

Cost: Free

305 Fitness

What: HIIT classes that livestream every day, which you can also watch later if you don’t get the chance to tune in.

How: You can tune into the livestream on their YouTube channel HERE.

Cost: Free

P Volve

What: A long and lean Pilates-inspired workout. You can choose what areas you’d like to focus on, the ability level and more.

How: Follow along by going to pvolve.com or downloading their app.

Cost: 30 day free trial with no credit card required.

Classpass

What: On demand studio fitness classes

How: Visit their website.

Cost: Free with unlimited access for the time being.

 

Bar Method

What: Barre fitness classes that combine ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga and strength training.

How: livestream on their IG-TV at various times during the day (their IG has more information).

Cost: Free

Lia Bartha

What: A fitness instructor offering free, Pilates-inspired workouts.

How: Tune in at 10 A.M. PST daily on her Instagram Live.

Cost: Free

 

Tone It Up

What: Total body workouts on their IG-TV and app.

How: Tune into their IG-TV or download their app.

Cost: Free

 

The Betty Rocker

What: A certified trainer posting ab sculpting, yoga and HIIT workouts on IGTV.

How: Watch on IGTV or her website.

Cost: Free

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Today’s Pre-Challenge Workout is ABS 🔥Work your entire core in this fun flow with Team Betty Rocker Coach Nikki! . You can do this 10:00 flow 3 times, or use the link below (open this video in IGTV, then tap the drop down arrow description to see this link, which will be clickable there) to do the full 30 min flow: . 💛https://thebettyrocker.com/yoga-sculpt-your-abs/ . Are you following along with the daily plan? We’ve got you covered here at Team Betty Rocker! . Yesterday’s workout was in my live stories, but you can still watch/do it on my Facebook page, or from inside Rock Your Life if you’re a member of our online home workout studio. . Plus there are tons of Betty Rocker home workout options on my Youtube channel that are from the blog. Along with free workouts, the blog also has great workout, fitness, health and body resources, healthy recipes and more! . Next Monday I’m starting an all new 5-Day Home Workout Challenge – I’m writing it now! Can’t wait to do it with you, here live on IG and FB! . This is Day 2 of your pre-challenge workout plan – follow along daily for what to do! . Here’s a link once again to the full follow along (it’s too long to post on IGTV but you can click over to the blog post): . 💛https://thebettyrocker.com/yoga-sculpt-your-abs/ . We love Coach Nikki! She is a certified yoga instructor, ERYT200, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer and Mat Pilates Instructor. She teaches weekly classes inside Rock Your Life (30 day pass to join us there at https://theBettyRocker.com/coaching/) and you can find more of her workouts on the blog! . . Keep moving, stay hydrated, eat whole foods and give yourself lots of love, grace and kindness. We are all in this together ❤️❤️ . . Xoxx

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Jabs By Gina

What: Fitness instructor Gina DiNapoli posts 15-minute boxing-inspired workouts.

How: Visit her Instagram for a full schedule of her workouts posted live on her IGTV daily.

Cost: Free

 

Erika Hammond

What: At-home boxing workouts.

How: Watch live on her IGTV daily.

Cost: Free

Angelenos

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Is More Prevalent in L.A. This Year—A Mental Health Expert Explains How to Deal

January 19, 2021

Traditionally, winter months have been joyous for me. Growing up in Southern California, a rare rainy-day was a welcome reprieve from the blistering heat we experienced on the reg. All I have are fond memories of not leaving the classroom all day, or bundling up under the covers after school. Seasonal Affective Disorder in LA (OC) wasn’t a thing for me—not in the slightest. In fact, I’d never even heard the term.

Well, fast-forward to college and I learned its meaning within weeks. Upon embarking on a four-year experience at the University of Oregon, everyone warned me that it would rain more than I could probably handle. I laughed, adamantly believing it would be great. I was sorely mistaken. It rained almost every day, and it was dark and dreary—not fun and carefree. The air smelled like white bread and body odor—not campfires and bliss. This was definitely no singing in the rain-type experience. Days were o-k, but the moment the invisible sun set, I fell into a deep depression. It was a foreign feeling, and I couldn’t imagine where this was all stemming from. To make it worse, the waiting list for on-campus therapy was months long.

(via Unsplash)

After plowing through four dreadful winters, I made my way back to California, where I relocated to Los Angeles. Much like many residents of the sparkly city, weather-induced depression is masked by gifting suites and red carpet events at the hands of Awards Season. My career for as long as I can remember has had me wrapped up in endless events (whether big or small)—all of which keeping me busy and unaffected by the dreary outdoors that take a toll on so many people.

Well, as we approach almost a full year of coronavirus restrictions, Seasonal Affective Disorder in LA is hitting people a lot differently than in years past. Being stuck indoors without the distractions of typical LA events and other celebratory gatherings makes the realities of short days and extremely dark nights more prevalent.

If you struggle with this issue like so many people do, LA-based counselor and on-air expert, Sarah Michael Novia, is here to help. Keep reading for Sarah’s further explanation of the common disorder, and what may ease its negative impact.

(via Unsplash)

skyelyfe: What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and where is it most commonly experienced?

Sarah Michael Novia: SAD is a recurring form of depression caused by lack of light, and it’s mostly experienced in geographic areas where it gets (and stays) cold and dark for long periods of time. Oversleeping, weight gain, lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, and increased sadness are pretty common symptoms.

SL: Why does it tend to be less common in LA?

SMN: In LA, we have fun in the sun year ’round, so we’re less likely to be seasonally affected. 

los angeles
(via Unsplash)

SL: Do you expect this to rise in LA this year, given lockdown circumstances?

SMN: Yes! COVID is keeping many more people indoors, mostly due to fear of catching and spreading the coronavirus. We’re lucky that the sun still shines, but it’s so important to get it on your face!

SL: What are the best ways to combat feeling low this time of year?

SMN: Exercise, exercise, exercise! There are thousands of free HIIT videos on the internet that are under 20 minutes. I love Joe Wicks (The Body Coach TV on YouTube). All you need is a yoga mat and yourself. Get that body moving every day, no matter what. Also, the healthier you eat—greens!—the better you’ll feel. Great sleep is essential as well. And get out in the sun, whenever you safely can. 

(via Unsplash)

SL: Does SAD typically require therapy or medication?

SMN: SAD can require therapy and/or medication. The first step is usually light therapy. You can purchase a lamp online—it works best when you use it right when you wake up. And medication may be necessary, but that’s something to discuss with your personal doctor. It can help you get back to functioning, in order to help you make positive changes in your life. It’s time to let go of the stigma and do what’s right for you. 

SL: Is there anything else you want people to know about this issue?

SMN: Talk therapy is always essential. Even if you aren’t currently experiencing SAD or any other mental health issues, working with a mental health professional can help you set goals and work your way through them. In my experience, therapy can be the most helpful when we aren’t bogged down with other concerns. Most people wait until their situation is untenable. And this makes the therapeutic process more difficult because you have to deal with the presenting issue before you can get to the core of what’s really happening.

If you struggle with your mental health, you’re not alone. HERE are six habits that help clear my head when I’m feeling low.

Lifestyle

2020: The Emotional Rollercoaster of Rollin’ Solo Amid a Pandemic

December 30, 2020

Each December, I reflect on where I was 12 months ago—and over the last few years I feel like I continue progressing. To presently add to my self-growth? I’ve been living alone during a pandemic. Much more on the novel coronavirus below, but first let me set the scene for what led up to it.

Quick Flashback to 2019 for Context

2019 was a really important year for me. Nothing big happened, necessarily, but there were a slew of little things that added up in a very big way. It was the first time since I can remember that I took care of my mind, body and soul, collectively and consistently, and I felt like I was finally growing into the person I wanted to be.

Each new year, we always say with great hope, Oh, I just know 20– is gonna be the best year ever! And while some years have certainly been rewarding in their own right, it’s been quite some time since I’ve had one of those remarkable best years ever. That is… until 2020, or so I presumptuously thought. And theoretically speaking, it was supposed to be—for everyone. There was the whole 20/20 vision outlook, all the major holidays fell on weekends, it was a new decade, potentially a new president… all that good stuff.

But for me, personally, I spent all of 2019 laying the groundwork for truly a well-deserved best year ever in 2020. Last year was spent in grueling workout classes, eating remarkably well, limiting my alcohol, emanating positive energy and truly being the best version of myself—inside and out. To top it off, on New Year’s Eve day, I announced my plan to launch a T-shirt brand following a fresh trademark for the line.

In the past, I thought time naturally created blessings and opportunities for us. I sat around just waiting for things to happen. In recent years, however (namely 2019), I realized you really did have to work for what you want, and I was putting in the time.

2020 Kicks Off

As I envisioned, 2020 was off to an amazing start. Traditionally speaking, January has been a really strong month for me, regardless of the year. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air or the start to a new year, but I do find my energy more heightened, with opportunities more aptly infiltrating my life during this month. And 2020 was no exception.

Everything was so right up until mid-February, when Joyce, a longtime friend, colleague and mentor to many passed away. While the cause of death was unknown at the time, it was a serious wakeup call to everyone. The partying among myself and everyone I knew went on a massive decline—and for me, personally, I took it as a sign to keep putting in the work and being my best self because we’re not here forever. Losing Joyce left an immense hole in my heart, and in that of so many who she touched throughout years of being such a prominent figure in the media world I’ve been a part of. She was the first person I met when I started working in entertainment reporting.

Her passing in her late ’40s was a reminder that life is short. In the past, I found myself living for other peoples’ approval and caring way too much about what they think. Now, I was finally developing the confidence to just live my life. I stopped focusing on past mistakes, and instead put my efforts into plowing ahead with gratitude, worth and drive.

Little did I know, one month later, everything would change—in a way no one in my lifetime could have predicted. I’ll never forget the day before coronavirus sent everyone into lockdown. I was fresh from visiting my parents in Orange County—at a now-long-gone Souplantation, for that matter. I raced back to L.A. to sneak in one more Hot Pilates class with a friend of mine, oddly looking forward to being forced inside our living spaces later that day. Working from home was a dream for years—who knew it would take a pandemic for my then-employer to understand people can function away from their cubicle (more on that in a bit)!

Quarantine Life Kicks In, as Does My Personal Empowerment Journey

Closing my apartment door behind me for what would go on to be days before even stepping outside for air, I felt amazing. Like, the best I’ve ever felt in my life. I was certainly not at ease with the way of the world and the businesses being affected so abruptly and unexpectedly. But internally, I was incredibly stable. And as the days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into cold, gloomy months, living alone during a pandemic continued to be a positive experience for me. I cooked all of my meals; spent my days working out and writing, as opposed to wasting away with a bottle of wine; I thought about the future and how much promise it held. I was so optimistic and really enjoyed my own company. I never felt bored—I had everything I needed.

I physically didn’t see anyone for a month and a half. I also kept my social Zoom activity to a minimum (so glad I never hopped on that trend), so the virtual hangs were also few and far between. I continued working on myself, working out or walking up my strenuous hill regularly. The lack of regular drinking also helped me maintain a clear head, and I kept myself busy with my full-time job, freelance job and revival of this blog. I became so comfortable with quarantine life that there were points when I firmly said I never need to hang out with anyone again. People asked me time and time again, are you ok? Would the single, social butterfly survive a pandemic, holed-up solo in her one-bedroom apartment? Oh, I was better than ok.

While people lamented over their weight-gain, gluttony and binge-drinking, I just kept my eyes on the prize, assuring myself and others that by the time quarantine were to end (during what was initially predicted to be summertime), I’d come out of this cocoon a butterfly. Heck, even my homemade manis were on point.

Losing Steam

While filled with so much hope, confidence and motivation, I began to notice things around me that perhaps weren’t as vivid before. These things were always present, but they never fazed me because I was always fortunately occupied with work and an active social life. Now, however, no matter how content I was in this totally alone predicament, I couldn’t help but think about the couples in my friend group who were able to sneak away on road trips together, or cozy-up on stormy days. During these locked-away months, so many people I knew were getting pregnant, having babies, launching businesses, strengthening their relationships. All the while, I was taking cute mirror selfies and posting my home-cooked meals.

The pandemic has been a strong reminder that I’m single—with no near end in sight. It’s not even to say that I mind being single. But my goodness, it would be nice to have the option otherwise. I went on a few nice dates amid the pandemic (that didn’t lead to anything), but I miss hitting the local spots and letting the vodka-sodas coax me into talking to, like, the literal tree outside. No, but seriously, it was fun getting dolled-up and socializing out and about. Especially right before lockdown, there was a magical energy in the air. Life felt particularly exciting in all aspects, and then—.

What started out empowering, motivating and life-changing slowly spiraled into time that felt wasted in retrospect. Now, by no means was this my fault—it’s just how timing decided to play out. I still maintained a relatively positive disposition, but it was growing tiring.

The motivation to work out from home was lessening by the day. I really miss ClassPass and the structure provided by doing in-person workouts. Cooking all my meals? Ha, forget it! Only drinking on Sundays? Nah, once outdoor dining was reinstated, all bets were off! I previously put so much effort into my life—and while I enjoyed it internally, it would have been nice to experience it with someone else (friend, romantic partner, whoever!).

While I still had a good chunk of the initial confidence left in me, I will say the 24/7 happy-go-lucky mindset of March/April/May/June was dwindling. Happiness dwindling, workouts lessening, sleeping—well, that may as well not even exist.

As the year continued—and especially from the end of August, on—I felt myself growing further and further away from that bright light I associate with who I was earlier in the year. I promised I wouldn’t compare myself to others, but boy was I ever. It was unstoppable. It seemed like everyone I know did something remarkable amid the pandemic. I really thought this would be my time, too. Instead, I could feel my vibrations lowering. I’m really big on vibrations and energy, and when they’re low, they’re low. It can take days to heighten. And it was visible (without being visible) via social media. People can seriously feel your energy behind the screen. My posts lacked the vibrance and excitable engagement that transpired months ago. And I’m not a fake, so I couldn’t just make things seem perfect.

(no, I didn’t actually post this on social media – but it was in my camera roll)

I know I’ve grown as a person through this whole experience. I mean, I was able to enjoy my own company for at least six weeks without seeing a soul, and then plenty of alone time thereafter. I honed in on my cooking skills. I took some cute Instagram pics (priorities, priorities). I stopped standing for toxic behavior in other people. I have a strong head on my shoulders and I know what I want in life and from others. I just wish I could get myself back to the same mindset of months past.

My new lackluster reality was ever-present once fall found its way to the calendar. Traditionally three months of internal butterflies and unconditional bliss was in fact three months of scorching hot weather, sleepless nights and lonely days. There was plenty we were banned from doing this year, thanks to the pandemic—but nothing hit like not gearing up for my 8th annual fall party, not hitting the bars the night before/after Thanksgiving, and not getting dolled-up for holiday parties. The last three months blurred together. Even fall scents gave me a headache this year. I’ve never said that.

Blessing in Disguise

In an unexpected turn of events, I got laid-off from my job in September after more than 4.5 years with the company. Before you feel sorry for me, know that it was a blessing in disguise. Our salaries were already cut by 40% at the very beginning of the pandemic, and I was totally stagnant at this company. Of course you want to leave on your own terms, but screw my pride—I received the news and never looked back. In fact, most of the brands and publicists I worked with prior continued their professional relationships with me immediately as I pivoted over to my blog and freelance job. I felt appreciated, and it made the transition that much easier.

While not the happiest news in financial terms, energetically, this freed up so much space: space to look for a fulfilling new job that makes me feel valued and respected; space to put serious effort into my blog; space to finally launch the T-shirt line I put into existence exactly a year ago. I gave away so much of my energy at this job and got minimal amounts back in return, so when I received the news, that was the instance amid the pandemic when the timing felt so right.

Looking for a new job, however, is a huge challenge. I’m not gonna lie. For all the experience you have, there are 100 people younger than you with far more skills. It’s not easy getting back into the grind of writing cover letters—cover letters! I know, right? Filling out just one job application can sometimes take up to an hour. Having a professional update my resume cost more than $100. But this is part of life, obviously. And I was far too comfortable in my position anyway. This has definitely given me a much-needed rattle.

2020 Reflection, and Transitioning Into the New Year Ahead

Moving forward, I will say this: I’m extremely blessed not to have contracted the virus up to this point. I’m blessed that none of my close friends or family have been severely affected by the virus in any way up to this point. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head (with a beautiful view of the city that helps keep me sane); to have close friends I’ve kept in contact with consistently over the course of the past year; to have a new laptop that’s seriously my go-to and best friend; to have a family who supports my future and believes in endless possibilities for me; to be alone with my own thoughts (and be ok with them); to have launched a small business at the tail-end of the year, with the drive to make it take off in 2021.

I do have many blessings and I don’t take them for granted. That said, it’s only normal to think what if?. I’m sure that’s a thought on a lot of peoples’ minds this year. But there are many things that did happen because of what held me back. My mindset improved tremendously not having to commute to and from work each day. Being home gave me the extra time and energy to focus on more important things than driving. And being let go from my job was the unconventional gift from the universe that I needed. I can only continue doing my best and giving myself the life I deserve, being the person I want to be. I gave this year my all, and I truly have no regrets outside of things that weren’t in my control.

Now, as we embark on a new year, I find myself in a focused headspace. I’m embracing lockdown restrictions and staying in my apartment. I’m back to cooking most of my meals. I can’t remember the last time I stopped in the alcohol aisle at a grocery store. I’m doing daily face masks and lighting winter candles that are putting me in the best mood. I’m doing the best I can. While I’m nowhere near where I was in the heightened month of June, I’m realizing that this year wasn’t a waste, and that everything I took away from it will go into something bigger in time to come.

I think the challenge lies in what’s next. As noted above, January has always been a strong month. It’s full of new energy and opportunity. There are always fun events and a ton of birthday parties. I honestly don’t know what to anticipate this time around, since much of that will be nonexistent. I’m trying to stay positive—ebbs and flows are a part of life—but I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching the ball drop in my head live and direct from my couch this year. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t spend NYE with people who are important to me. It’s always been a really special date for me personally, even though a lot of people hate the holiday.

Ultimately, when I look back on it all, I’m fond of my experience living alone during a pandemic. I feel strengthened from it, and I’m proud of the positive outlook I maintained amid the vast majority of this experience. I kept myself busy and focused. I loved having the time to explore whatever I wanted (whether that be in the kitchen, with makeup, with my writing, with TikTok, with whatever). And while I initially dressed up, oversized sweatshirts and leggings are where I’m at now—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t say I know where my life is headed next, but energetically speaking, I’m welcoming positivity with open arms.

2021 will be my year. I’m putting that out into the universe!

If you want continue on this path of reflection, click HERE for skyelyfe’s definitive ranking of the 20 best songs of the 2010s.

Music Featured

15 Songs You Never Knew You Needed This Winter

December 18, 2020

Over the last several years (and, of course, presently through stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic), I’ve dug far and wide to find beautiful melodies that extend the radio or New Music Friday. This year is no exception. Enter: the best winter playlist.

As chilly months loom ahead, I figure a peaceful selection of relatively unknown songs can not only ease people through their workdays as background music, but also pique their curiosity when it comes to unfamiliar sounds.

woman with hoop earrings has apple headphones in while she sits casually at a coffee shop, listening to music
(via Unsplash)

Winter is a spiritual, cleansing season of renewal, and I think the soundtrack of the time needs to match that energy. There may be some classics that hit home for you, personally, but hopefully I can introduce you to some future new favorites.

The 15 songs in the playlist below set a special tone for me. Nothing complements the scent-ual experience of your favorite winter candle burning blissfully, quite like the perfect melody playing in background.

Scroll below for the best winter playlist, featuring 15 personal favorites you probably haven’t heard. From LAUREL to Hortlax Cobra, Harri Agnel and more, these tunes will hopefully help you seek solace in these unprecedented times.

Staying true to the mellow musical mood, click HERE for 10 introspective albums to listen to during the cold days ahead.

Angelenos

The Happy Place Just Launched as an Immersive Drive-Thru Experience in L.A.—Here’s What You Can Expect

November 20, 2020

With COVID-19 cases rising as we near the end of 2020, our activities are becoming more limited than ever. With all of the madness in mind, The Happy Place drive-thru launched as a way to temporarily distract us. In doing so, the pop-up provides a safe, interactive, family-friendly L.A. experience at the beloved outdoor Westfield Century City mall.

I was invited for a sneak peak of the attraction just before today’s official launch (Nov. 20). I invited Identify LA‘s Meagan Sargent to join me—we grabbed our masks and hit the road!

Keep reading for everything you can expect at The Happy Place drive-thru.

1. Getting Situated on Site Is a Seamless Process

As mentioned above, THP is located in Westfield Century City’s parking structure (on the third level, to be exact). Before arrival, you’re instructed to proceed through the Avenue of the Stars entrance. From there, you’ll see easy-to-follow signs that eventually lead you to the exact start of the attraction.

Prior to arrival, you purchase tickets on the website for $49.50 per car. Yes, you can have as many (fitting) attendees for just one fee. When you go to purchase your ticket, you’ll also see a calendar that lists open slots to attend. Your ticket includes two hours of free parking at the mall, encouraging you to shop and dine before or after if you want to make a full day of it. The experience is currently listed through Jan. 10, 2021.

2. The Experience Is 100% COVID-Compliant

Despite the multitude of stationary attractions that make for perfect photo opps, no one is allowed outside of their vehicle. Masks must be worn at all times, and any photos must be taken from inside the car. While this part is a bit of a bummer (the decor is just begging to be photographed with you in front of it), we appreciate the extreme safety precautions taken to ensure this lives up to its worry-free-zone message.

3. Kids Will Especially Love It

While my friend and I are definitely drawn to every Instagram photo opp, kids will be more than satisfied just cruising through each of the 18 (!) attractions (50,000 sq. ft.), which include everything from a simulated car wash, to a candy row and “Christmas tree” line. Additionally, upon arrival, we received a box with goodies that coincided with some of the stops. Kids will without question dig the freshly baked cookie, bag of Hershey’s kisses and other sweet treats packed to perfection.

4. It Won’t Take Much Time Out of Your Day

While I can’t speak for how the experience will go on a busy day, our drive-thru lasted all of 20 minutes. Granted, it was just us two, so perhaps if other people had been with us, it may have taken longer. But not being able to get out of the car certainly cut the time down a bit.

5. A Lot of Effort Went Into This Production

From the way we saw it, no expense was spared for this experience. From the lights to the intricate detail, to the variety of attractions, there really is something for everyone here—and it doesn’t appear cheap. You’re basically taken on a simulated road trip, hitting various points that include a beach, a camping area, the super bloom, San Francisco and plenty more.

The experience was conceptualized by Jared Paul, a live entertainment veteran, who has managed the careers of New Kids on the Block, Sabrina Carpenter and Lea Michele. He’s also responsible for America’s Got Talent Live! and GLEE! Live.

Curious about what else is going on in the City of Angels amid the pandemic? Click HERE for the best L.A. lifestyle newsletters to keep you afloat!

Lifestyle

4 Important Self-Care Tips You Probably Don’t Think About

September 10, 2020

When we think of “self-care,” what initially comes to mind are doctor and dentist appointments, working out, cutting out toxic people and meditation—to name a few.

While indeed our mind and body are of utmost importance, there are actually a handful of lesser considered actions that will not only make you feel better about yourself, but will exhibit to others that you value who you are and how you’re presented. After all, caring about yourself encompasses how you treat the things you own, too.

Because self-care is crucial now more than ever, keep reading for four important self-care tips you probably don’t think about (but should!).

1. Ditch the Cracked Phone

We’re all guilty of walking around with a cracked phone at some point. It’s kind of a rite of passage. Have you really lived if you’ve never rocked a shattered iPhone? But part of “self-care” is properly looking after your belongings (especially expensive ones!). Your phone is almost as prominent of an accessory as your hair. There are times it’ll be tucked away in your handbag, but let’s not kid ourselves—for the most part, our phones are always on full display. Not only does a cracked screen probably stress you out each time you look at it, but it exhibits to others that you may be lazy and careless. Keep your screen (and its accompanying case, for that matter) clean and pristine.

(via Unsplash)

2. Keep Your Car Clean (Inside and Out)

Think of your car as an extended version of your bedroom. Depending on how much you drive, you could spend almost equal amount of time in both! When your living space is cluttered or dirty, it stresses you out, right? Well, likely same for your car. Get rid of the empty soda cans, the old piled-up papers, books, cups, weird cords, whatever the case may be. It doesn’t matter if you drive a brand new BMW or a 2001 Honda Civic—keeping your car completely decluttered clears out energy and gives you a more relaxed mind while you’re on the road, which is stressful enough in itself. And while you’re at it, give that bad boy a regular exterior wash as well. Does it ever feel good looking like you just drove through the Dust Bowl?

(via Unsplash)

3. Don’t Wear Clothes With Stains, Tears or Wrinkles

How you dress is up to you. While not everyone has the budget to dress to the nines, nor does everyone even enjoy dressing up, there are some things in everyone‘s control. Whether you rock a casual tee and jeans or you’re decked out in designer duds, put in minimal effort by avoiding items with obvious stains, tears or wrinkles. Again, part of self-care is looking after your belongings, not just your mind and body. Your clothes are a part of you, so wear them well. Put in the extra work by dropping things off at a dry cleaner or tailor—and most importantly, always keep a hand-held steamer by your side. These on-the-go gadgets work wonders—wrinkle-free is the way to be!

(via Unsplash)

4. Make Your Bed Each Morning

You hear this one all the time, but it’s easy to overlook. Based on our hectic schedule or the fact that we live alone or don’t expect anyone to see our bed, we let this task fall to the wayside. But next time you consider passing it by, try making your bed (it doesn’t have to be perfect), and pay attention to the difference you feel when you get under the covers that night to go to sleep. Everything’s in the right place, allowing you to slip under the sheets and rest easy. Additionally, it really throws the whole room together. A clean room with a messy bed is simply a messy room. You don’t want that, right?

(via Unsplash)

 

For more tips to bettering yourself, click HERE for best wellness practices suggested by experts during the pandemic.

Angelenos

This Is What UCLA Sorority Recruitment Will Look Like Amid the Pandemic, According to the VP of Membership

September 5, 2020

Hitting the books again can be a major drag, but one of the perks of going back to school in college is rush week. Especially at an L.A. university, with so many students and so many things to do, Greek life reigns supreme. But as we’ve learned, coronavirus-tainted 2020 is making things quite different in all aspects of life—sorority recruitment included.

Because of the importance this plays at prominent L.A. schools, we just had to know how the process will go down this year. So we reached out to Ryley Holdridge, Vice President of Membership, UCLA Panhellenic Council.

Keep reading to learn about all the changes prospective (and current) Panhellenic sorority sisters will experience during rush this year.

skyelyfe: What is the present living situation with Panhellenic sororities? Given the pandemic, are people currently staying in houses together? 

Ryley Holdridge: The housing situation will differ depending on the sorority. Some have decreased the amount of women living there, so that less people share a room. Others have decided to close the chapter facility entirely, so that no members will be living there in the fall.

SL: Will 2020 recruitment still take place during the normally scheduled time of year?

RH: Fall 2020 recruitment will take place during the normally scheduled time, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4.

SL: If so, what will that process look like now compared to “normal” years in the past?

RH: Clearly, the biggest difference is that recruitment will be virtual. Besides that we are mirroring the same four-round, multiple-theme structure, and emphasizing a values-based recruitment as in past years. The first round is the only significant departure from normal recruitment, and will consist of interview-style videos from both the chapters and the potential new members, answering the same five questions.

SL: What other changes will there be with Panhellenic sororities in general, given the present times?

RH: UCLA Panhellenic has prioritized creating a community of inclusivity. We want to hold ourselves accountable, continue to educate our members, and progress towards a more diverse and welcoming organization. For example, we created an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Led by two of our Panhellenic Executive board members, they are working on a recruitment recommendations letter, in addition to having regular meetings to discuss crucial issues in our community. Furthermore, for recruitment this year we are providing implicit bias training for all chapters, potential new members, and recruitment counselors. These actions are only a small part of the long term change we are hoping to make in the UCLA Panhellenic community.

SL: Has interest in joining a house decreased due to the present circumstances?

RH: The number of women registered for recruitment is lower this year, likely due to the lack of in-person events and UCLA closing the dorms. However, a virtual format makes it accessible for more women to go through the process and has allowed us to significantly lower the registration fee, which may help spike interest. 

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it’s ALPHA PHIcial ♥️🌹

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SL: How are houses ensuring safety at this time?

RH: As mentioned above, some chapter facilities are completely closing, but even ones that are staying open are limiting who can enter the house, only allowing members living in to eat meals, and other safety measures. For events, chapters are abiding by UCLA and L.A. County regulations, and will hold mostly or entirely virtual events this upcoming fall.

SL: Is there anything else you’d like readers or perspective pledges to know about this matter?

RH: Although the Panhellenic community looks drastically different this year, there’s a reason we’re still operating and engaging our members. This organization is much more than our in-person social events—we strive to empower our women, providing them with a support system as they navigate the challenges of college life, in addition to academic, and professional opportunities. Especially in these uncertain times, I believe Panhellenic will continue to impact the lives of our members and the larger Bruin community.

For more coronavirus-related content, THESE are the five stores we’re most devastated about closing permanently due to the pandemic.

Food

Best Instagram Captions for All Your Margarita Mischief

July 24, 2020

Margarita Monday is absolutely a must… and Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Okay, but seriously, all days should be margarita days. Although you may be spending less time out and about this season given coronavirus conditions, it doesn’t mean you have to skimp on what’s truly important in life.

Scroll down below to find Insta caption inspo for all your tequila-infused shenanigans this summer!

For every Taco Tuesday post with your trusty marg in hand: 

“Life isn’t always tacos & tequila, but it should be.”

 –Unknown

For when you’ve had one too many cups of coffee leading up to cocktail hour:

“Coffee keeps me busy until it’s acceptable to drink margaritas.”

–Unknown

When you realize your late night margs turned into early morning regret:

“I didn’t text you, tequila did.”

–Unknown

For a fabulous Friday kick-off post:

“Take life with a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a really big margarita.”

–Unknown

For a cute and classic saying, but make it tequila:

“But first, margaritas.”

–Unknown

For when you have no qualms about really kicking back after a long work-from-home day:

“Know when to give up and have a margarita.”

–Unknown

For when you’re feeling preachy, but not judgy:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but two margaritas usually do.”

–Unknown

Music Featured

Skyelyfe’s Quarantine Soundtrack, Featuring All New Songs Since Lockdown

July 7, 2020

Since coronavirus-induced lockdown, there’s clearly been much more spare time to dig through new music press releases and Spotify playlists. So, naturally, I’ve been adding and subtracting to my “April 2020” ever since. Therefore, I came up with a playlist of the best new music releases during quarantine.

As of today, I decided to officially change the name to “Quarantine Turn-Up” and post this overdue list of songs. This has literally been the soundtrack to everything I’ve done in the last four months.

If this song is on the list, that means it made it through all the ups and downs leading to this publish date. I will continue to update the list as the months of quarantine continue, so feel free to continue checking back for new tunes.

For now, here are almost 30 brand new songs that make up the soundtrack to my quarantine experience. From The Magician and Aluna, to Kaskade and even some Migos and Tyga, scroll below for your listening pleasure.

 

Now that you’re in tune with the best new music releases during quarantine, HERE‘s how quarantining with your significant other will affect your relationship in the long haul!

Lifestyle Featured

Relationship Expert Explains the Longterm Effects of Quarantining With Your Significant Other

July 7, 2020

Quarantine and social distancing has done a number on every relationship (romantic or otherwise)—but more than ever, couples who just started dating, or who didn’t necessarily plan on living together just yet have been put to the test.

When lockdown demands first came into play, not only were people quick to cohabitate unexpectedly, but even longtime couples were given their own set of hurdles. Adapting to being with someone literally 24/7 is challenging for anyone, especially depending on the demands of work, allotted living space and individual lifestyle.

More than three months into social distancing and people are reflecting on where their relationship stands. For better or worse, is how you dealt with your partner amid quarantine an indicator of where you stand longterm? We reached out to Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®), a professor at Oakland University in Michigan, who explains what the outcome of your quarantine means for your relationship. Keep reading for what she had to say.

(via Unsplash)


skyelyfe: What kind of relationships thrive in quarantine conditions with their partner?
 

Terri Orbuch: There are relationships that were already distressed or not doing well before quarantine. When these distressed relationships are stressed from things outside the relationship—like the coronavirus pandemic, this stress can exacerbate the issues and problems. Also, when distressed relationships are stressed, the stress makes it more difficult to connect with each other, less likely to see the positives in each other and the relationship, and less likely have empathy and understanding for the other partner. However, people who were in relationships that weren’t already distressed—those relationships can survive and even thrive if they do some simple strategies.

SL: What are keys to making these situations work effectively?

TO: A) Share your anxieties, concerns and fears with each other. Whether you’re living together or not, you can share your concerns with each other, because otherwise, the anxieties fester inside of you, and then work on your physical health. Don’t talk about the fears nonstop 24/7, but instead set a specific time to share.

B) Accept that you and your partner may have different reactions to the stress and quarantine. One of you may watch the news all the time, the other partner may not. These differences in how you handle or react to the situation don’t mean that your relationship is in trouble or should end. These differences are common to all romantic relationships.

C) Find fun activities to do together. These are very challenging times, but couples who do fun things together are more likely to thrive. Take a virtual cooking class online together, start a puzzle together, play board games, do an exercise class together online. Or if you’re not living together, make regular virtual dates where you do something you both enjoy together (e.g., take a virtual tour of the local zoo, play Pictionary, watch a movie “together” on Netflix.

D) Give each other space. It’s important in any romantic relationship that each of you have time, space and privacy from one another, particularly now. Don’t say “I need space” because it sends confusing signals. Instead: “I need some time to do X this afternoon”. Enjoy your space and don’t feel guilty.

(via Unsplash)

SL: What does it mean if you and someone you truly love aren’t cohabitating effectively amid quarantine? 


TO: It’s challenging to live with your partner 24/7 amidst quarantine. Most couples have never spent this much time together, just the two of you, with no other distractions or people. This is a very different time. It takes great patience, understanding, empathy and understanding that relationship challenges are inevitable, no matter how much you truly love each other! Remember to share, accept, find fun activities to do together, and give each other space.

SL: What are some ways to take a break from your partner amid quarantine if you’re cohabitating? 

TO: You can walk outside separately. You can read a book in your room or on a couch. You can listen to a podcast, watch a movie, exercise, do an online course, or FaceTime with your friend—separately. It’s okay to take a break from each other, even if you’re living [in a small space].

Beauty

5 Pride Makeup YouTube Tutorials Anyone Can Recreate

June 12, 2020

We’re almost halfway through June, so if you haven’t already shown your support for Pride Month, we’ve got just the thing.

Whether you’ll be celebrating at home or out in the streets, these Pride makeup tutorials on YouTube are the perfect way to let your LGBTQIA+ flag fly.

No matter your makeup skill level, you’ll find one you can recreate. Scroll below now!

1. ’70s-Inspired DIY Pride Looks

This video is perfect both for people with basic makeup skills and those who consider themselves experts. There are a few different ’70s-inspired looks you can create, so find the one that speaks to you.

2. Neon Pride Makeup Tutorial

Not for the faint of heart, this tutorial is a look. You’ll definitely need to put your skills to the ultimate test to recreate this rainbow neon fantasy. Think you have what it takes?

3. Rainbowscale Pride Makeup Tutorial

Drag queen Miss Fame created this rainbow look two years ago, but it’s still one of the best we’ve ever seen. Miss Fame makes it look so easy, but this look takes plenty of patience to recreate on your own.

4. Unzipped Rainbow Pride Makeup Tutorial

Another oldie but goodie, this unzipped zipper tutorial is easier to create than you may suspect. And, it’ll help you stand out amongst all the other rainbow-inspired looks during Pride.

5. Dramatic Rainbow Eyes Pride Makeup Tutorial

For those looking to rock their pride with a relatively simple look, this one’s for you. Almost anyone can create this look on their eyes. The best part is, it can even be worn year ’round. Who says we can only wear rainbow-inspired looks in June?

Do you love celebrating during Pride? HERE’s why LA Pride is our favorite weekend of the year!

Angelenos Featured

5 Ways to Show Support for L.A.’s Black Community If You Don’t Feel Comfortable Protesting

June 3, 2020

We’re living in unprecedented times of uncertainty, but more importantly, times of beautiful and powerful change

Although we at skyelyfe never condone violence, we see this as a time for the world to truly usher in greater levels of awareness, social justice, peace and harmony on this earth. It’s difficult to see the light when it feels like darkness is closely around us, but we’re here to tell you to keep the faith. Darker energies what’s been hidden in the shadows are now being brought to the surface for healing as the planet is flooded with light. Transformation is uncomfortable and it’s easy to get pulled into pessimism, but now it’s more important than ever to remember where we’re going. 

The black community of Los Angeles is facing major challenges, but if you don’t feel comfortable protesting, there are still ways for you to champion this cause. Scroll through below for a few fun and easy ways to provide assistance.

(via Unsplash)

Participate in Los Angeles Brand Valfré‘s NAACP Fundraiser

Rebellious and fiery L.A.-based clothing and accessory brand Valfré is standing in solidarity with the black community by donating 100% of the proceeds from orders placed within the next 24 hours to NAACP Legal Defense. This civil rights organization provides assistance to people of color that can’t otherwise afford legal counsel. Valfré has plenty of adorable items to choose from and you’ll be backing movements for change and social justice in the process.

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The Madeline Backpacks ❤️🖤💛 #valfre

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Donate to the People’s City Council Freedom Fund

The People’s City Council has a top priority of voicing the concerns of the people of L.A. They’ll aid with bail fines, medical fees, and legal assistance for protestors and community medics during this time through a GoFundMe that you can contribute to HERE. Excitingly enough, the fund has reached almost two million dollars! Help them further reach their goal by donating and sharing on social media.

Donate to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles

Show your support for the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, who has dedicated themselves to organizing non-violent protests and compiling demands to help the black community, which has been severely impacted by coronavirus. Their vision, drive and passion for building a just and free society is something we deeply resonate with and admire. Donate to their chapter and cause HERE.

Order Food from L.A. Businesses Supporting Black Causes

Provide even more support for NAACP, Black Lives Matter and the ACLU by hitting some of your favorite local food joints. Many restaurants are giving a portion of their current proceeds (others donating 100 percent of them) to these causes, making it easier than ever for you to indirectly be of service to these organizations. To name a few, Highland Park’s Block Party, vegan Cuban pop-up Señoreata and Offshore Tea will dynamically contribute to these valiant causes.

Order From and Support Black-Owned Businesses Directly

Indirect support is always great, but make even more of an impact by ordering from black-owned businesses directly. Shoutout to incredible food writer Kat Hong for putting together and sharing a Google spreadsheet of restaurants owned by people of color in L.A. The list is broken down by area, Instagram, website and phone number, and can be shared on all social platforms. Grab some takeout from these places, be sure to tip generously and share the spreadsheet with friends and fam!

Lifestyle Featured

Hello Sunshine’s Zoe Fairbourn Shares 5 Ways to Manifest Your Dream Career

May 5, 2020

Creating and manifesting your ideal career takes practice, perseverance and, most importantly, dedication.

Many of us feel restless and want to take concrete steps toward our dreams, but the current health situation requires us to have much more patience than usual. Luckily, in the meantime, The XX Project’s Thriving During Crisis series has been helping us cope by providing weekly webinars that are both engaging and valuable.

This week’s speaker, Zoe Fairbourn, head of partnerships for Hello Sunshine (founded by Reese Witherspoon), spoke about what you can do to create your ideal position and future, even in uncertain times. Scroll below for her tips.

(via Unsplash)

Look For a Niche

One of the most important things you can do for your professional growth is ask where you can truly make an impact. Finding the right position for you can be tough, but start by asking yourself what strong qualities you posses and how you can make a difference with them. Once you narrow that down, it will guide you in calibrating to the right field and niche for those skills.

Ask For What You Want

This piece of advice applies if you’re currently looking for work or unhappy in your current job and seeking a greater challenge. Asking for what you want seems like such a simple task, but many people forget that it’s most often what will illuminate the path forward for you. Reaching out to your network, cold emailing or asking for advice on LinkedIn can get you much further than you ever imagined.

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Find joy in the little things today. 🔑

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Know What You Don’t Want

The key to discovering your dream career comes from knowing what you don’t want to manifest most of all. It may seem counterproductive, but this actually opens the door to more inspiration on what you are looking to build. What don’t you like about your current team, boss or position? Knowing your own personal dealbreakers can cause major light bulb moments on where you’re looking to put your energy, passion and efforts.

Find an Industry, Role or Company You’re Passionate About

If you’ve been laid off or are using this time to contemplate a completely new direction in your career, start by writing down your personal passions. This is a perfect jumping-off point to then research industries, roles or companies you’d love to be a part of, using your skillset to pursue a new avenue.

You Can Learn Something From Everyone on the Job

Challenging coworkers and bosses can test your patience like no other, but remember that there’s something to be learned from everyone on the job. Your most valuable position isn’t always your dream one, but the one with more difficult energy surrounding it. Learning to deal with unpleasant people and situations is an important lesson to overcome before stepping into your dream career. Keep the perspective by remembering that you’re only growing better, stronger and sharper from these experiences.

Lifestyle

4 Things I’ve Learned About My Relationship From Quarantining With My Boyfriend

May 5, 2020

Before coronavirus came into play and turned our lives upside down, I was living a happy existence.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend, Mason, for almost a year, so it’s safe to say I know him pretty well. While we don’t share an apartment, we do spend at least five nights a week together at one of our places, cooking, drinking red wine, hanging out with our friends and of course, having the occasional fight.

(Chermiti Mohamed / Unsplash)

Enter: coronavirus. Initially, I completely freaked out, asking Mason to stay at my apartment for fear I’d be stuck in L.A. all by myself. Once news of an official lockdown came into play, we talked it over and decided to quarantine together at his apartment in Newport Beach.

Turns out it was the best decision we could’ve made. There’s just no way either one of us would be able to handle a “long-distance” relationship. I’m so grateful to be quarantined with Mason. He’s willing to be lazy with me and lay in bed all day, but he also has the power to get my butt moving and work out. We’ve found the perfect balance for our little quarantine life, and I love it.

This whole experience has given me a preview of what life would look like living together full-time. Every day, he asks if I’m sick of him yet, and I answer with a resounding no. I think that’s a sign you’ve found your forever person… when you don’t mind being around them all the time (like, literally all the time). 

But aside from knowing for sure that Mason is the love of my life, I’ve gotten to look at our existence together from the view of a microscope. Here are four things I’ve learned about my relationship from quarantining with my boyfriend.

I Miss Him in Those Few Hours ‘Apart’ While Working

Even though we’re together every waking second, I find myself missing Mason when we spend any time apart. Obviously in quarantine we don’t really get to be alone. So, when we’re working, we give each other space, which is sort of like our time apart.

Speaking of work, he takes his very seriously. Mason is typically super laidback, if not on the more quiet side (we’re very similar in that way). However, during quarantine, I’ve learned that he’s an extremely loud talker when it comes to work. On every single Zoom call he’s taken, I’m convinced the walls are shaking because of the sound waves he makes. Since he’s rather noisy on his Zoom calls, I’ve been able to hear every word he says on them. He works in Facebook advertising, and the conversations I’ve heard him have with his coworkers sound like complete gibberish to me, leading me to believe he’s the smartest man I’ve ever met.

Adeolu Eletu / Unsplash

I Pick Up on His Moods Immediately

Everyone has different ways of revealing their vibe is off, so whether your significant other didn’t say good morning or make your A.M. coffee, there are clear indications of their mood change, no matter how subtle they may be. I’m realizing how easy it is to learn when he’s excited, happy, sad, mad and everything in between.

You also learn to navigate through behaviors that are just them versus actions that are personal to you. Before quarantine, there were times I’d try to have conversations with Mason, and I was under the impression he was ignoring me because he wasn’t interested in what I had to say. Now, however, I’m realizing it’s because he can’t multitask. If he’s driving, playing around on his phone, looking at the computer, watching TV—I won’t get a response out of him.

I’ve also learned he gets cranky if he doesn’t work out. I sort of already knew this about him, but not to the full extent. He usually goes to a boxing gym a few days a week, but since those are now closed, he’s been way crankier than usual. He’s been relying on weights and my Peloton (which we brought to Orange County from L.A.), and it’s definitely cooled him down.

Victor Freitas / Unsplash

I Love Doing Nothing With Him

Sometimes, all I want to do is lay in bed all day, watch movies and eat junk food. And you know what’s better than doing that? Doing it with the person you love. Even in complete silence, Mason and I are able to enjoy each other’s company, and it doesn’t get old even doing it together all this consecutive time.

I Love Doing Everything With Him

Even amid quarantine, we still find ways to be adventurous and try new things. Whether we eat a new dish, watch a scary movie or something else, I’m happy as long as I have him by my side. Even though we’re obviously limited with resources, there are still many firsts to be experienced and we’re savoring every minute together.

In fact, spending so much time together has made his quirks fall to the wayside. He sets no less than 50 alarms in 15-minute increments. I only noticed this during quarantine. I mean, it is a little odd, but I’ve learned how to laugh it off—kind of like how he gets dressed up for work, like super serious, amid quarantine. He wears jeans sometimes! Meanwhile, I’m perfectly cozy in my sweats, and don’t understand going all out every single day from home when you can spend more time sleeping. But I guess I admire he’s drive to look his best at all times. Mason, if you’re reading this, I love you, and I know I’m way weirder than you.

Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Lifestyle

5 Simple Things You Can Do at Home to Manifest Your Dream Reality

May 5, 2020

If you’ve been feeling restless or agitated during quarantine, now is the ideal time to redirect your energy toward aspirations and goals for the rest of the year.

You can create a brand new reality for yourself just through the power of position intention, energy clearing and tapping into the flow of abundance already present in your experience. Scroll through for five simple things you can do in the comfort of your own home to manifest your new life.

Use the Law of Attraction

There’s an extensive amount of information out there on the law of attraction. With everything from The Secret to Notes from the Universe, it may seem overwhelming to try and harness this powerful yet simple principle. We’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be in the slightest. Although there are many different teachers on the subject, the basic steps are always the same. You can manifest anything you want into your reality by shifting your thoughts and vibration into a positive one. A great place to start your journey is by watching manifestation success coach Amy Westmoreland’s YouTube channel.

Incorporate Simple Feng shui Into Your Space

The Feng shui Collective (mother and daughter Feng shui experts with 30 years of experience) share many adjustments you can make to your room for allowing the right kind of energy into a space. Even something as simple as covering your large mirror at night can help you get better sleep and feel more uplifted in the morning. Follow them for first-rate tips and valuable info.

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Let’s talk about Feng Shui and SLEEP!😴 Recently, a client of ours complained about nightmares and waking up at the same time every night, unable to fall back asleep. THE WORST! Here are some things that might be helpful: -Mirrors: do you have a large mirror in your bedroom? Bedrooms are for sleeping, yin energy! Mirrors are yang energy and reflect/excite the chi. If you have a mirror in your bedroom, simply place a scarf of cloth over it at night to calm the chi. – Electronics: most of us charge our phones next to our beds. It’s best if you charge your electronics outside of your bedroom. If you can’t, just place a handkerchief over them at night and make sure to turn Bluetooth off! Also, don’t watch TV in your bedroom. Bedrooms are for sleeping. If you can’t make this modification, place a cloth over it at night as well. – Under bed: keep the space under your bed clean and clear of storage. We know this can be challenging for small spaces so if you must keep things below your bed, go through everything and make sure it’s tidy, necessary and in working condition. The goal is to have the chi swirl above and below you like a fluid circle while you sleep. -Poison arrows: do you have beams in your ceiling? Are they vertical or horizontal over your body when you lay in bed? These can be harmful to restful sleep and your overall health. If you have beams, hang a flute or a crystal on them to lift the energy off of your bed (we have flutes in our store, link in bio). -Workout equipment: don’t keep workout equipment in your bedroom. If you do, you may feel worn out and tired all the time, again, bedrooms are for yin energy. -Dream catcher: buy or make a dream catcher and place it over or next to your bed with the intention of inviting healthy, restful sleep and pleasant dreams. -What’s over your head when you sleep? Heavy items like shelves, hanging plants and decor can represent the feeling of something falling on you while you sleep. Try replacing them with something lighter. • There are so many Feng Shui cures for sleep and they depend on your unique space, let us know if you’re having trouble sleeping and let’s turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.❤️ 📸 @zebodeko 📸

A post shared by The Feng Shui Collective (@fengshuicollective) on

Make a Gratitude List

Remind yourself of everything currently going well in your life. Making a list of people, places and things you’re immensely grateful for during this time will help you keep perspective. Although the situation is far from ideal, it’s important not to overlook the fact that you’re healthy, safe and have support from friends and family. We know it isn’t easy to do this, especially if you’ve lost a job, but do your best. You’d be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.

Practice Visualization

Never underestimate the power of visualization. Visualizing is a huge part of the manifestation process. Even if you’re feeling a little hopeless or stuck at the moment, envision exactly what you want your life to look like for 5 minutes every day. Holding this mental image is going to bring inspiration to take right course of action and find creative solutions to your current challenges.

Create a Vision Board

Make use of your current down time by creating a vision board. Many have reported it as a major success tool when looking to build a new aspect of their life. Acquire images from magazines, the internet or even Instagram that just speak to you on a soul level. Whether you’re discovering your life’s passion, or just planning how to get out of debt, it’s an incredible road map that will illuminate the path forward.

Lifestyle Featured

L.A. Job Recruiters Share 5 Ways to Turn Your Layoff Into Your Next Major Career Move

April 14, 2020

We’ve discussed the of impact of coronavirus on mental, spiritual and physical health, but what should you do if your work is also in jeopardy or you’ve already lost your job?

Getting laid-off can be a traumatizing experience on its own, but now it’s even more challenging with the added layer of market uncertainty that comes with a pandemic. Luckily, the Los Angeles career experts at Eleven Recruiting held a webinar last week offering advice to those whose careers have been halted by coronavirus.

Scroll below for their top five tips to turning your job casualty into your next major career move.

1. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Although this may seem like basic, even elementary advice at this point, it’s still extremely important. Keeping your resume up-to-date and revamping your LinkedIn may just be what lands you the job. If you have certain special skills you’d like to highlight on your profile, see if a few friends are willing to endorse you for them. It can make a world of a difference.

2. Add Highlights to Your Resume

We know by now that hiring managers are looking at thousands of resumes per day, each for only about 10 seconds. Adding a “Highlights” section is a considerable way to set yourself apart from the crowd. This can include everything from your strongest skills (campaign building, influencer marketing, etc.) to a summarized version of any meaningful and relevant career accomplishments.

3. Find Out What Skills Are in Demand

Because we now have more downtime than ever before, make use of it by researching what skills and career experience are in high-demand right now. Making yourself more marketable is the key to landing an interview for any position. A few skills Eleven Recruiting mentioned as a hot commodity are writing, editing, graphic design and web development.

4. Utilize LinkedIn’s Certification Program

In case you didn’t know, LinkedIn also offers one-month free trial access to their certification and higher education programs. Now’s an excellent time to take advantage of these opportunities to further your training in areas including management and software development. There’s also the option to learn Photoshop, WordPress and more.

5. Create an Organized Spreadsheet With Leads and Application Statuses

This may not seem like the most important aspect to focus on, but staying organized and proactive during the job search is absolutely crucial. How many times have you lost track of the applications you’ve sent out or if you’ve already applied to a position? Keeping a spreadsheet will help keep you on track, while feeling accomplished for all the energy you’ve invested in your overall career advancement.

Lifestyle Featured

My Friend Set Me Up on a Blind FaceTime Date—Here’s What Happened

April 8, 2020

Remember when swiping to find your soulmate was a foreign concept? Welp! That’s way old news.

Enter: dating in the era of social distancing. As the coronavirus has everyone quarantined, we’re becoming much more resourceful with how we “get acquainted” with people. It’s like we’re all adults living (hopefully only temporarily) as teens, refusing to communicate by any means other than video chat—dating included.

Woman on FaceTime with string lights surrounding phone
(via Unsplash)

I had my debut bout with the 2020 era of digital dating on the first official weeknight of isolation. A happily married friend of mine has a flowing pool of singles she knows through a variety of avenues. She’s set me up on dates with her friends before—ones in which she eyed as potential matches. This time, however, she said from the get-go this wasn’t someone she necessarily saw me running off into the sunset with. More time on her hands means more energy to arrange things like this apparently, and she thought it would be fun to set some of her friends up on very random FaceTime dates.

After a little bit of thought, I agreed to it. Honestly, what do I have to lose? There aren’t really any ways to meet new people at this very moment, and, for lack of a better word: YOLO. Next thing I knew, my friend sent me *Evan’s phone number, along with a reminder to dress accordingly” and “have fun with it!” I chuckled. Thanks, coach!

Evan’s number had a 503 area code, which was perfect because I went to school at the University of Oregon, so if all else failed, I could ask about… living in Oregon? Boring. But anyway, I made it through my typical WFH office day, but had angst all throughout. I texted a couple girlfriends about my jitters, while nervously getting ready (trying to look nice, but not too nice). Time was ticking. Cue the stress.

On top of that, I did Whole 30 all of March, so there’d be no White Claw to help ease tensions. When 7:29 approached on my phone, I totally felt like I was calling a potential employer for a job interview. I’ve gotta be exactly on time, I thought.

The scariest part of this experience is those three insanely long seconds where it says “Connecting…”—you have so many thoughts running through your head. What will he look like? How should I hold the phone? Should my hair be in front of my ears or behind? Can he see my stray greys through the screen? It’s also important to note that I despise video chats and avoid them at all costs. With the exception of an occasional mandatory work Zoom, you’ll rarely spot me sitting in on these now-common gatherings.

At long last, our faces both made their way to the screen. I was greeted with a jolly, “Hi!” in that “I-know-this-is-awkward-but-here-we-are” tone. While yes, indeed awkward, Evan seemed gentlemanly and could hold a conversation. We shared some laughs, but as FaceTime would have it, sometimes responses and reactions are delayed or have weird echoes. Additional awkwardness.

girl poses with white phone at home with pomeranian dog
(via Pexels)

There’s really only so much you can do on these first-time FaceTime dates. Especially sober. And you really only get a pixelated, headshot-version of the person you’re talking to. Our convo didn’t hit any lulls, but after a while, we both wanted to get to the rest of our evenings. Before I knew it, an hour had gone by. I was shocked! We ended with a lighthearted mutual agreement to hop in the kitchen and whip up a home-cooked meal—one we each sent to each other via text when finished.

I was so relieved when the call was over. Not because of anything he did, but because these things are scary and uncomfortable. Body language is 55% of communication, so there was a lot left undetermined without it. That said, the discomfort was just what I needed. Sometimes (a lot of the time), my nerves get the best of me and I play things too safe.

In case you’re wondering, we agreed we’d meet for a drink in person once we’re set free from quarantine. To be honest, as my friend predicted, I don’t think Evan and I will be a romantic match—but, meeting someone for drinks who I don’t have a lot in common with will be that much-needed step out of my comfort zone!

*name has been changed to protect privacy

Food

Most Refreshing Instagram Captions for When You’re Sipping White Claw

April 3, 2020

With coronavirus-induced quarantine in full effect, many of us are doing the unthinkable—gasp—drinking alone.

But if you’re like us and trying to maintain some sense of responsibility during these haphazard times, you’re sticking to good ol’ White Claw.

The crisp and delicious hard seltzer has captured the hearts of many in recent years—so much so, that it inspires more-than-impressive quality photos of the beverage on Instagram. And what’s a gorgeous photo without a cute, clever caption to go along with it?

Regardless or whether you’re quarantining or finally able let loose in a group, below are the most refreshing Instagram captions for when you’re sipping White Claw!

For that photo of your girls night in:

On weekends, we drink White Claws.”

―Unknown

For when your crew starts to get greedy:

“Catch these Claws!”

―Unknown

For an exceptionally charming pic with your pup and a White Claw:

“Please keep your paws off my White Claws.”

―Unknown

For when you’re double-fisting:

“Nothing can stop the claw.”

―Unknown

For when the overused ‘hot girl summer’ caption needs a revamp:

White Claw Summer.”

―Unknown

For an extra rowdy bachelorette party:

“Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws.”

―Trevor Wallace

For when you’ve had two too many😅:

“White Claw wasted.”

―Unknown

For when you need to finesse a White Claw into your healthy diet:

“Low sugar, no spice, but everything nice.”

―White Claw

Food

The Only 5 Main Ingredients You Need to Make It Through Whole 30 Successfully

March 31, 2020

Doing Whole 30 during coronavirus-induced quarantine is quite the divisive topic.

Some say it’s the best time to do it because you’re locked away in your home with no outside distractions or temptations, and nothing to do except cook. Others say you’re bored out of your mind and all you want to do is drink, while sitting on the couch, eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, watching Tiger King. Another big issue of discussion is obtaining the necessary ingredients to cook appropriate meals for the program. With grocery stores scarcely stocked, it can potentially be a big issue.

(via Brooke Lark / Unsplash)

But as someone who completed the program (for the fourth time!) all of this March, I can tell you it’s completely doable. Not only did the clearheadedness brought on by the experience help me get through this first month of isolation, but because I cooked almost every meal from scratch, I really got acquainted with my most commonly used foods, what’s most versatile, most flavorful, most immune-boosting and what can last you the longest.

Sure, there are plenty of fun ingredients to have around that you don’t necessarily need. For example, I had a several cans of pumpkin puree lingering from fall. I hopped on to Pinterest (as I did with pretty much all my ingredients) and found out ways to make use of what I had. Suddenly it was a springtime Thanksgiving in my kitchen. But ultimately, there were only a handful of staples I felt it necessary to have on hand at all times.

With the exception of spices (you must carry an array of spices—they’re a game-changer), below are the only five main ingredients you need to make it through Whole 30 successfully.

1. Cauliflower

This versatile veggie is the ultimate breakout star of Whole 30. I went from attempting mashed potatoes cauliflower my first time doing the program, to making cauliflower smoothies and mastering the art of cauliflower rice during this fourth go. The best thing you can do for yourself (mid-Whole 30 or otherwise) is stock up on bags of pre-diced cauliflower. Trader Joe’s has aplenty. I recommend non-frozen if you want to make rice or mashed cauliflower. And then purchase a bag of frozen if you want it for your smoothie. This veggie blends with everything seamlessly, so your smoothie won’t smell like anything but berries!

2. Broth

This brings me to my next ingredient… if you hop on the cauliflower bandwagon, you’ll need broth of some sort by your side at (almost) all times. I personally opted for chicken broth, but really any full-flavored broth will do. This ingredient is crucial to mastering cauliflower rice. I posted a lot about this on Instagram Story, as it’s a very underrated, overlooked necessity. In the past, like many others shared with me, I depended on olive oil to cook my tiny cauliflower pieces, but it was never enough to cook all the way through, and always left the pieces burnt. Additionally, broth can make a fantastic addition to a homemade sauce or sauté recipe, a soup, a mash, you name it. If you have plenty left over, just pop it into Pinterest and see what you can strum up with what you’ve got.

3. A Protein or Mixed Veggies

This is a given, but important to note anyway. Having a meat of some sort or mixed veggies will make up the crop of your heavier meals. These are great to soak up the sauces you make, to slather with spices, to place atop coconut rice or mix in with zucchini noodles. It’s important to remember that soy products aren’t allowed, so if you don’t eat meat, grab on to the most versatile, flavorful veggies (mushrooms, onions and bell peppers were my go-tos this time around). Also, you can use any meat, so take advantage of that freedom (though some are encouraged more than others and you still need to read the labels for nitrates, sugars and other unapproved ingredients). I didn’t touch beef or pork, but I ate a lot of chicken and turkey bacon.

4. Eggs

Much like No. 3, it’s probably a given that eggs are key to this plan. But you’re forbidden from (most) baking, so it’s not like you need eggs for your favorite paleo banana bread loaf. Eggs, during this eating regimen, are like an old reliable friend you can call on either when you’ve got nowhere to turn, or you want to spice up the party. I had my standard moments of whipping up a turkey bacon, mushroom, onion omelette; whereas, other times, eggs were great to place atop cauliflower rice and stir-fried veggies. I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to sit here and explain all of eggs’ uses—just be sure to keep ’em handy!

5. Full Fat Canned Coconut Milk

Much like cauliflower, canned coconut milk isn’t necessarily something we actively seek out at the grocery store unless a specific recipe calls for it. Well, take on a month of Whole 30, and this coveted item will be at the top of your list. If you’re making any rendition of a cream sauce, this is your go-to. But I also found that even an unnoticeable drop here and there was called for in so many recipes.

It’s important to note the difference between Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk—they’re indeed similar, but will alter your recipe if you get the wrong one. If you can’t get both for whatever reason, always go for the milk because sometimes the top layers of the can will have the creamy consistency you can use if a recipe calls for the cream. Also, emphasis on canned and full fat. Full fat cans of these consistencies are what’s required for the majority of these recipes, so make sure you stick to them because they differ immensely from what you typically add to your coffee.