Common Senses

Speak to me

Not select parts

That deem me ‘weak’

Hear me

When I speak

And when I say,

“I am okay”

It’s not a facade

To find peace

In the face of adversity

See me

Not my confines

But the living soul within

In a world where

There is no definitive definition

Open your eyes to possibility

Feel me

My heart beats

Just the same as yours

Taste

Your words

Before you speak

The unequivocal “cure”

Lay in the scope of society

And as the wheels go round

Life goes on

Shopping Ethically On A Budget

Shopping ethically can seem like a rather expensive feat. I know when I first started looking on ethical websites my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets looking at the seemingly outlandish prices. I found myself caught in a battle between my wallet and my conscience. After watching The True Cost, I knew I no longer wanted to support the fast fashion industry, but what options did that leave me with? I have always loved expressing myself through fashion, and my sense of style seems to be ever-changing. Last year I tended to be attracted to vibrant colors, while this year I’m drawn to darker colors and floral prints.  So how have I built up my wardrobe to something that suits my current style without breaking the bank?

 

  1. Start with the basics. This is an easy place to start when shopping ethically, as nearly every ethical shop offers basics (in fact, some only offer basics). Rather than overwhelming yourself with replacing your entire wardrobe at once, start with just replacing the basics. I started off by ordering some plain neutral colored tees to replace the ones I already had. These are great wearable pieces that are staples to any wardrobe. My personal favorite ethical shop to purchase basics from is Pact Organic. Their site is full of basics and I especially love their leggings, tees and tanks. They also often have bundles so you can buy more at once without paying as much…
  2.  Get on mailing lists. When shopping ethically, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of sales, and how do we learn about these sales? While some may be a shopaholic like me and practically stalk their favorite websites, it’s a whole lot easier to join mailing lists to be notified when sales are going on. You can find some real steals on ethical sites when seasonal or holiday sales come around!
  3. “Can we go thrift shopping?” The thrift store is like a treasure hunt. I have found some of my favorite pieces at the thrift store and the memories of how I came across them makes them all the more special. While there are certain brands I try to avoid, if I find a piece I love, I would much rather give my money to a thrift store than to a brand that is mistreating workers and harming the environment in the process of making their clothing. Thrift shopping is great because you can still purchase items for a rather low price and they are often quite unique as they aren’t necessarily following the current “fashion fads”.  I sometimes like to think about who previously owned the pieces I buy and what they could have been like. When I shop at a thrift store I feel inspired to have more fun with my fashion and I start to experiment… I tend to buy my printed tops, dresses and bottoms from the thrift store as those pieces are items I may not want to keep forever but that I love for the time being. I found that my sense of style comes through so much more when thrift shopping and I absolutely love it. If you have never been thrift shopping, I highly recommend giving it a go.
  4. Save up. Shop less. If I find a piece that I absolutely love but can’t afford at the time, I will gradually start saving up for that special piece. So naturally, I have to cut back on my overall spending. While I do love to shop, at the end of the day I would rather spend my money on one item that I absolutely love than a bunch of items I only bought because they were “good enough”. An important point that is mentioned in The True Cost is how the fast fashion industry makes us feel like we can and should buy so much. And because we’ve become so accustomed to this idea that we can afford bulks of clothing at once, we look at items that are ethically made as “overpriced”. But I have found that the satisfaction of purchasing a piece that I fell in love with and saved up for is far more rewarding than coming home with a pile of clothing that wind up in the back of my closet months later.
  5. Recycle clothing. In addition to shopping secondhand, I found that donating or selling clothes I don’t wear helped me understand what my style actually is and what pieces I was actually looking to add. Going into a shop without a plan, often leads to unnecessary purchases, which then amounts to clutter. When you know what you have and what you’re looking for, it becomes so much easier to shop wisely. Donating clothes is such a wonderful feeling as it helps someone else in the process. I personally donated five bags of clothing and it was an amazing feeling. Selling clothes you don’t wear anymore is also an option and a good way to make some extra cash. While I haven’t done much selling, I do know that there is a popular app called Depop where you can sell clothing, accessories, and much more. Regardless of how you choose to dwindle your wardrobe down, I do think this is an important tip because not only could you potentially earn a bit of money to put towards ethical purchases, but because it allows you to have a clearer understanding of what you want in the first place.

You’d be amazed at how different my wardrobe is now compared to how it used to be. I am still learning and working on building a wardrobe that I feel reflects who I am. I can say, with utmost certainty; I am closer now than I have ever been before. I am shopping consciously and mindfully while still expressing myself through fashion. Fashion is powerful. It leaves an impression on others without a single word uttered. It can make us see how beautiful we truly are and help us find the confidence inside. If you are someone who wants to start shopping ethically, but may not know where to start, I hope this article finds you well and helps you!

 

Some of my favorite ethical shops:

Pact Organic

Everlane

Reformation

People Tree

Alternative Apparel

 

Quote of the Day:  “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” –Mahatma Gandhi

 

Question of the day: Past or present, which fashion icon inspires you most?

 

Please, Read This.

The news about Chester Bennington yesterday, really hit me hard. I feel this inclination to do something, anything at this point in time to help those who are suffering. Depression is real. Mental health issues can be so easily dismissed in the world we live in today. The pressures of society can sometimes feel too much to bear. It is easy to feel like we don’t belong. But I’m here to tell you… You do.

 

The past few years, I have been fighting depression. At first I didn’t even realize it was depression, to be quite honest. Doctors told me I was bi-polar. I hesitantly took to medication, and while I do believe that when you find the right  medication it can do wonders, the wrong medication can worsen things to an immeasurable degree.

 

This eventually led me to my first outpatient experience in therapy. The program taught me a lot and there was a noticeable difference in my overall demeanor. As soon as I felt on track again, I was eager to get back to my regular life. The problem is… that wasn’t the switch. The switch comes from within, and I was not there yet. I was not resuming the coping mechanisms I was taught and I was back to bottling up feelings. Sure enough, my problems resurfaced, even more intensely than the last time. I was admitted to the hospital because I couldn’t bear the feelings I felt, the life I lived… I was in agony. Feeling all too much and nothing, at the same time.

 

You may be wondering what was so bad in my life that made me feel this way. There is no answer to this question, because all in all, my life was pretty grand. There were and are so many blessings around me, and the difference between now and then, is that now I can see them. My ego created a story that led me to my own suffering, and if I let it, my own demise. I think one of the key things is to notice the separation between your ego and your being. The ego that’s creating all this pain and suffering within you, is not you. The ego that’s fighting you through the past and future, is not you. You, are right now.  If this sounds familiar to you, then maybe you have read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This book has inspired me in so many ways and has helped me work through my depression.

 

I am not saying that everyday I wake up feeling wonderful. I still have days (sometimes even a week or so) where I find myself sinking to that dark scary place again. But each time I am a little less scared. Sometimes I even carry a light with me. How? I guess you could say I found, the switch.

 

Here is a poem I wrote while I was hospitalized. This experience changed my life more than anyone will ever know. (Note: I do reference a nursery rhyme by John D Rockefeller in this poem called ‘A Wise Old Owl’. I do not claim that line to be my own, it was just a very significant quote that I incorporated in the midst of writing this poem.)

The Switch

Behind the fluff

The arts & crafts

Soul searching distraction

Time elapsed

The battle rages…  on

Behind watered down eyes

In unfamiliar places

Sharing your truths to unrecognized faces

Hear yourself say the words aloud

Voice trembles

Lip shakes

Tears dripping down your face

The battle rages… on

Behind cracked doors

When your mind gets quiet

And your own heartbeat – so loud

You can’t deny it

You hold the key

To the cage

Should you choose to release it

The battle rages… on

Behind every shadow

A story unfolds

And like “the wise old owl that lives in an oak”

You choose to listen

Listen without judgement

Nor with pity in your eyes

Listen with compassion

Open up your mind

There’s a lesson to be learned here

Nothing left to compromise

You look out your window and see cotton candy skies

The battle rages…

Take off your armor

Lay down your weapons

And stare the enemy straight in the eye –

Only to see your own reflection

You’re at war with yourself

Only you can decide

Can you find the will to survive?

The battle rages… off

 

 

Reliving this poem gives me a rush of emotion and suddenly I am back there again, but in a clearer and better state of my mind. While it pains me to see that I reached that point in my life, I realize that the experience was necessary and saved me from my ego. You should never be ashamed of asking for help. We are here on this earth to help one another. Trust me, I have spent much of my life relying on help due to my own physical challenges (but I’ll save that story for a future post). If you are going through a hard time, I hope this article helps you in some way. I truly believe this topic should be spoken about more, so I am doing my part. This isn’t an easy story to share but if this helps one person going through a hard time, I consider it entirely worth it.

 

Helpful Resources:

 

Crisis Text Line:

text ‘hello’ to 741741

 

National Suicide Hotline:

1-800-273-8255

 

Trevor Project

866-488-7386

or text ‘Trevor’ to 1-202-304-1200

 

Trans Life Line

877-565-8860

 

Quote of the Day: “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” -Eckhart Tolle

 

Question of the Day: What is one thing you are grateful for?

Top 5 Vegan Snacks to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

I have always been someone with a sweet tooth and going vegan hasn’t changed that in the slightest. In the past week my hormones have been going absolutely bonkers and I find myself reaching for sweets more than I care to admit. So I decided to write a list of my top five vegan snacks that satisfies my sweet tooth and will hopefully satisfy yours as well!

5. Fruit

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Ah, nature’s candy! If you find yourself craving sweets this is the first place I recommend you go. While it may not always do the trick, don’t discount it just yet. Fruit can be so satisfying, I personally enjoy my fruit in the form of a smoothie, but some of my favorite fruits to have plain jane are apples, watermelon, grapes, mangoes and honeydew melon. If I’m not particularly in the mood for something so basic I love apples and cinnamon (or peanut butter… mm…). And if you’re a chocolate lover, the classic chocolate and strawberry combo is always a solid choice.

4. LaraBar

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Larabars came into my life pretty early on in my vegan journey and I thank my lucky stars for this because, my oh my, are these bad boys good! My personal favorite is the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. Heat that up in the microwave or toaster oven and you get this glorious melty treat that satisfies the taste buds to a whole different level. There are so many different flavors to try so if chocolate chip cookie dough isn’t your forte (say WHAT?!), then you are bound to find a different flavor better suited to you… The best part is, this treat is in fact a fruit and nut bar so you are actually being pretty healthy in the midst of all this deliciousness. Keep in mind, these are pretty high in calories, so I wouldn’t recommend downing a box of them, but they are a delicious guilt-free splurge.

3. Oreos

I can’t begin to describe how incredibly excited I was to find that Oreos are in fact,vegan in the U.S. Sure, they aren’t the healthiest but sometimes you want to indulge a bit and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as it doesn’t become too much of a habit. Before going vegan, I loved Oreos and that love remains true to this day…

 

2. So Delicious Ice Cream

While there are many dairy-free ice creams out there I’m sure, my favorite has to be the So Delicious almond milk  chocolate ice cream. So Delicious has so many options when it comes to dairy free ice cream… Almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk… And many flavors to choose from! They also make creamers, yogurt alternatives and other frozen treats!

If you want to check out the options for yourself, you can check their website out here.

 

1. Ice Cream Sandwich

A recent find my sister came across at Trader Joe’s and graced into my life. These have easily become one of my favorite sweet tooth splurges and I must say I was quite excited to have the excuse to eat this, after photographing all it’s glory. Who doesn’t love a cold treat in the summer? While these sandwiches are rather small, I actually like that they are mini. I mean not only are mini things just utterly adorable to look at, but being someone who doesn’t necessarily love biting into cold things, this gives me just enough to get my fix and enjoy it!

 

So there you have it, my top five vegan snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth! Please let me know in the comment section if you try any of these treats! Also any recommendation are always welcome. 🙂  Also, I just want to say that it’s okay to indulge every now and then. I know that sometimes we are so focused on reaching our physical goals, that anything we do that could potentially hinder our progress can create this anger or frustration within ourselves. I think it’s so important to love ourselves and our bodies at every stage, and while I still struggle with this myself, I truly believe we should all be kind to ourselves and others. Please, be kind. xx

 

Quote of the Day: “and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.'” -Nayyirah Waheed

 

Question of the day: What is your favorite summer treat?

Mystic Aquarium

Last night was so amazing.

“Why?” You may ask…

 

My best friend and I took a trip to the Mystic Aquarium to partake in the South African Wine Dinner. This is an event they offer to support the conservation, education, and research of African penguins; an endangered species.

I had never been to the Mystic Aquarium before. My best friend had visited, but never participated in any of the events. Needless to say, we were both incredibly excited. It was about a two hour drive, but the time went by seemingly fast.

When we arrived there were far more people than we anticipated. The line to the front door was pretty long. We all waited eagerly to get inside, as the staff finished setting up for the event. I couldn’t help but think how cool it all was; we were going to an aquarium after hours!

The doors opened and we all filed in. As we were walking, we saw a beluga whale pop it’s head up from the water. I had never been to an aquarium this big (or even with an outdoor portion for that matter) so when my friend pointed this out to me, I was pretty much floored.

When we got inside, the first notable guests that we were greeted with were two African penguins! Two staff members told us all about them and it was amazing to see them up close.

 

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Now if you think that’s cool… imagine getting to pet one!

 

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They instructed us to pet the center of the penguins back, not the head. The feeling of the penguin’s back was strange. I can’t really pinpoint what the texture was like, let alone convey it correctly in writing. All I can say is that petting a penguin put a smile on my face that remained the whole night. Even now, reminiscing, I feel the excitement from last night building up once more.

 

In addition to meeting the guests of honor, there were so many cool creatures to check out in the room. We saw jellyfish, stingrays, sharks, eels, seahorses, crabs, a turtle… so many kinds of fish! I felt like a kid again as I looked at each tank in awe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the food and wine was wonderful (I even managed to find things my vegan self could eat!), I can’t stress enough how being in a room filled with so much life, made my heart soar.

 

The only thing that made the night better, was when we were walking out and saw that our whale friend was still there, poking his head up… We then heard the most magical sound; a beautiful call that was the most perfect “goodnight” I have ever received.

 

Quote of the Day: “Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of time.” – H.P. Lovecraft

 

Question of the Day: What is the best experience you’ve had so far in 2017?

 

 

 

24th Birthday

Last weekend I celebrated my 24th birthday. Before I go into the actual day, let me rewind so you can get a good sense of my mindset leading up to the big day.

 

Earlier in the week I was in what may be considered a state of shock.

 July? It’s June… uh… wait a minute… shit-zus are a breed of dogs… yep it’s definitely July… Well, it was nice knowing you summer…. 

 

Then after the initial shock set in, I guess you’d call my next phase; a state of skepticism. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with the number 24, but because it seemed ‘strange’ to me. Maybe there was some sort of miscount? 

 

Now the next stage is a bit painful to really bring up, because it’s not even remotely funny. I felt this sense of utter dread at the mere thought of my birthday. I can’t quite tell you why. I woke up the day before my birthday consumed by anxiety and panic, and it remained much of the day. I was crying uncontrollably and insisted that I did not want to celebrate tomorrow whatsoever.

 

The following morning I woke up and the world was new. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but if you could’ve put yourself in my shoes and felt the drastic emotional shift, well… you’d probably be saying the same thing. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily woke up with any sort of pep, more so with an open-minded attitude that today just might not suck (I know, how poetic…). This feeling then evolved into something so incredibly happy and bubbly, it’s as if the song Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys was playing on repeat in my head the entire day.

 

I started off taking a trip to the thrift store with my mom, a favorite pastime of mine to say the least. I found a rad dark-wash, beautifully faded, jean jacket and a Stevie Wonder album! Everytime I take a trip to the thrift store it’s like a treasure hunt and gives me all the good vibes my vintage soul desires.

 

When we arrived back home, my nephew came over. I got to spend the whole day with him, which is always a fun time. We watched The Office, played a riveting game of UNO and just had an all around, chill time. He’s honestly one of my favorite people on the planet, and one of the few pains in my butt that I welcome into my life willingly. 😛

 

That night, my mom came down to my humble abode to tell me that my sister had a surprise for me. Now keep in mind, I did not expect any sort of birthday cake. A few months ago I went vegan, and while I know there’s plenty of delicious recipes on the wild web, I thought we had agreed to have these amazing vegan ice cream sandwiches my sister had picked up at Trader Joes (expect a blog post on those magical treats very soon). Turns out, my sister went above and beyond and baked me an incredibly delicious chocolate vegan cake, with vegan chocolate chips and powdered sugar sprinkled on top. I feel that I can’t even put the magic into words… I was in chocolate heaven. I would’ve taken a picture of it, but I was far too busy stuffing my face.

 

Now maybe you’re thinking my day doesn’t sound like anything too extravagant, and that’s because technically it wasn’t; but it was honestly everything to me. I got to celebrate with family, have some good laughs, do some of my favorite things… I couldn’t have asked for a better day and I am so grateful to have experienced such a gift.

 

Quote of the day: “This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” -Maya Angelou

Question of the day: What is one beautiful thing that happened to you today?

 

 

 

Fireworks

Gather around

It’s about to begin

The summer night air has fallen

With all its star inhabitants

A captivated audience

Music plays

Flag silouettes

Dancing in the wind

And for a brief moment

All is silent

 
Until all at once

The sky speaks

And we find ourselves gazing up in wonder

Through the eyes of the naive

And in that brief moment

It all makes sense

Why I Quit Fast Fashion

A few months ago, my wardrobe was filled with “trendy” brands such as Forever 21, Fashion Nova, and other affordable clothes that met the aesthetic requirements led by social hierarchy. If I sound a bit cold, please don’t mistaken this as any ill feelings towards the current fashion trends. Being a nineties child, I’m totally stoked that some of the fashion influences of my generation are making a comeback. The reason why that opener leaves a slightly bitter taste to the mouth, can be traced back to one specific word: affordable. Sure, ‘fast fashion’ and ‘affordable’ are known to go together like peanut butter and jelly, but does it?

The Fast Fashion Facade

Honestly, fast fashion fools us in more ways than one. How many times have you gone into a fast fashion store with one particular item in mind, only to buy ten? It’s because everything is so cheap that we decide it wouldn’t hurt to get those few extra pieces. This justification encourages us to go back and do this time and time again. It gives us an excuse to mindlessly shop often times for items that we don’t even love.

Fast Fashion deludes us into thinking we live like kings and queens, as we walk up to the register with an armful of clothing. But it’s not just our ego that wants more. We live in a world where society essentially makes us think we should be living like royalty and that we need more. In order to follow trends and “stay relevant” we need to keep up with the ever changing world of fashion, even if the outfit is only for an Instagram post.

Imagine that you are wearing a pair of foggy glasses. Do you have a headache yet? That’s how fair trade, sustainable shops can look when you’re accustomed to shopping in the fast fashion industry. Why would I buy a $100+ dress when I can go to Forever 21 and buy something for $15, sometimes even less…? Here, let me give you some lens cleaner. Yes, fair trade/ sustainable products can be quite expensive. However, when you shop sustainably, a LOT more thought goes into it. You aren’t buying for the sake of buying. You are spending your money only on what you love, and if nothing satisfies your want, you are saving. That is the personal gain. In addition, you are investing in items that will last you far longer than anything you could get at a fast fashion store. Remember fast fashion’s main priority is quantity over quality. Above all else, by shopping sustainably you are contributing to a much larger cause at hand; which is supporting a company that provides good working conditions and fair pay for their workers. This in itself, gives a whole new meaning to quality if you ask me.

-Mena xx

If you are on a budget, I will be posting about shopping ethically on a budget very soon! I can entirely relate and will be sharing my top tips and stores, so stay tuned!

Also, I highly recommend watching ‘The True Cost’, as that documentary provided a great deal of insight and inspiration to myself and many others who strive to shop more consciously. It should be available on Netflix and you can watch the trailer here.

 

 

Ventilation

Measure lengths

Of time and space

Bridge the gaps

Time elapse

The burden of knowing

I can hear Greed crowing

The connotation of ‘need’

The merciless feed

Insatiable means

Sacrificed identity

Buried next to originality

While Greed preys on the remaining parts of me
Breathe…
Bright screen

Dull reality

The Dreamer

When will you make your dreams a reality?

Perhaps when the stars align?

Or maybe when pigs begin to fly?

The tick tap of your sole

The irrelevance of time…

How will you make your dreams a reality?

Through the twiddle of your thumbs?

The unprecedented magic wand,

That leaves all fair and benign?

A cryptic fantasy

Where the restless dreamers never die

 

And in the stillness of the night,

Answer me this – without quiver;

What is the dreamer’s reality?