HuffPo: The Problem With ‘Waiting for Marriage’

“If people feel compelled to wait, that’s their choice, and as a sex-positive person, free-choice — regardless of whether I’d make the same decision — is important to me. But spreading the idea that physical love must wait for marriage puts a restriction on the way people express love. It makes women and men seem like they’re incapable of making their own sexual choices and being happy with them. Or that it’ll be impossible to pick themselves up if and when a long-term relationship doesn’t end up as they’d planned. The argument to “wait until marriage” puts sex so high on a pedestal that love and exploration — what sex is truly about — are lost to fear and uncertainty. It makes any kind of sex before marriage experience (good, or bad, or ugly) look like a failure when, in reality, those experiences can teach us a lot about ourselves, our wants and our desires.”

- from The Problem With ‘Waiting For Marriage’ by Mandy Velez


My first month using a Clarisonic

About a month ago I bought a Clarisonic because my skin was really annoying me. It’s always been problematic, but suddenly I had teenager problems and aging problems. I finally felt like it was worth investing in something beyond a tube of sensitive skin face wash, a bottle of witch hazel and a jar of coconut oil. I also have an occasional facials with a fantastic aesthetician, but since I can’t always go as frequently as I’d like, I wanted a home remedy too. So I got the Clarisonic because it was supposed to be able to transform my skin.

The Mia 2 model was on sale at Ulta that weekend in about eight different colors. Too many options. My first impulse was to grab a blue one, so that’s the one I bought. After charging the brush overnight, I began using it the next day.

After only a few uses I noticed results – smoother skin, smaller-looking pores with less overall irritation. I have discovered that I get better results from using the brush at night, and letting my skin rest, than using it in the morning right before I want to apply makeup.

Here’s the basic routine I follow. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. I was already using every product listed below, the only real change is that now I’m (usually) washing my face at night and (always) using the Clarisonic.

Every night: remove makeup with a makeup wipe. Cleanse face with Clarisonic and Alba Botanica Good & Clean gentle face wash. Moisturize either with coconut oil if my skin feels extra-dry, or with Simple Skincare night cream.

Every morning: rinse but don’t re-wash my face in the shower. Use witch hazel as toner. Moisturize with Garnier Rescue Refresh gel cream. Apply makeup as usual.

Products I currently use:

  • Alba Botanica Good & Clean cleanser
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Oil
  • Simple Skincare Vital Vitamin Night Cream
  • Garnier Moisture Rescue Refresh Gel Cream
  • Witch hazel
  • Clarisonic Mia 2 cleansing brush

You can pick up the Clarisonic Mia 2 (and other models) at Ulta or Sephora. Make sure you choose a store with a good return policy just in case the brush is not your face’s new best friend.

For me, the investment has been completely worthwhile so far and I would definitely recommend giving the Clarisonic a try if you are looking for smoother, healthier skin!


Writing for the hell of it

Like many people who write blogs, I have a pretty love/hate relationship with blogging (and I’ve succumbed to the temptation to write about that relationship from time to time). This website was originally intended to be a portfolio for my freelance writing, but my day job has taken a turn that’s really kept serious freelancing on the back burner for the last year. Someday that will likely change again, but until then, what to do? There are days when I feel really self-conscious for writing online at all, and there are days when I really just want to write online anyway.

After waffling a bit, I decided to try something new: turn off comments, turn off the pressure in my head to be any certain way on the internet, and just write for the hell of it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want this blog to generate conversation – not at all! But there are lots of other avenues for those conversations – Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. so for now, I’ll give this a try and see how it goes. Honestly, it’s not like I ever had many comments, or a consistent posting schedule/readership/topic anyway, though those of you that have commented on my posts have made me smile every time times, and I have really appreciated every time someone has taken the time to say they enjoyed (or disliked) something I wrote. For now, writing for the fun of it seems like the way to go – and I can’t wait to see what grows from there.

Remember when you were a kid and had a hobby you were completely into? Maybe it was photography or riding mountain bikes or reading or skateboarding – for me, it was writing. I never went anywhere without a notebook and pen or pencil, and my preferences of notebook, pen, and/or pencil changed over time, but they were always very specific. When I was 13, I loved marbled composition books – in bright colors, if possible, but classic black was always a good choice. Sometimes I was really into mechanical pencils and sometimes I favored gel pens.

People used to ask me if I was writing in a journal. Usually, the answer was “no” – I was writing stories, or ideas for stories, or outlining characters for stories. I used to just go for it. I’d write homages to my favorite books or movies, silly little copies that we could have a good laugh about today. But I was writing, every day, all the time. When I was 13 I hand-wrote a chapter story in which the not-so-fictional narrator (me) bumped into her celebrity crush (Leonardo DiCaprio) who was shooting a movie in town and they ended up dating. (Presumably in this work of fiction, either the fictional me was of legal age or the fictional Leo was also a minor; I can’t remember which, although I do remember chuckling to myself at whatever point in adulthood I realized we could totally date and the ten-year age difference would be no big deal. You know, if we bumped into each other on the street.) I have since searched my parents’ basement for those acid-green marble-cover composition books, but couldn’t find them, which is somewhat disconcerting.


It’s a habit I never outgrew – carrying a notebook and pen everywhere, not writing my celebrity crushes into my fictional romances. There’s always a notebook and pen in my purse, but as an adult there’s just not the same joy in it as when I was a kid. Or there hasn’t been, anyway. I spend too much time telling myself my writing is shit, or it will never be published anyway so shouldn’t I just be focusing on something practical, like cleaning the kitchen, or catching up on my Hulu queue? But then recently, a couple friends and I were talking about submitting our manuscripts to a local e-publisher and I realized, well shit, guys, I don’t have a manuscript. All these years I’ve been toting notebooks around acting like I’m a writer and I don’t even have a completed first draft of a book, let alone a manuscript I could submit to a publisher on a whim.

So if there’s one place I’d like to start in changing this weird and dysfunctional relationship I have with actually being a writer, it’s this: remember that there’s no such thing as an arts emergency, and just write for the hell of it.

Run across the tightwalk


It took me many years after Eat, Pray, Love‘s worldwide success to actually read the book, but when I did, I found myself laughing and crying through Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey with her. Now I’m reading Committed, and The Signature of All Things is waiting patiently for me to dive in, and after reading her work, and having the opportunity to meet her at a book signing, I just adore Liz. She has lived so many adventures and exudes both wisdom and warmth. (Did you know the movie Coyote Ugly was inspired by her account of working at the real Coyote Ugly Saloon?)

Last fall I went to a book reading and signing she did in Portland, and she was just wonderful, talking and laughing with the audience as if we were all old friends. I was nervous meeting her, but she squeezed my hand in both of hers and was so very kind.

One of my favorite things Liz said that day was this:

“The real life stakes are nothing really – there is no such thing as an arts emergency! So why not just run across the tightwalk?”

Isn’t that lovely? Now when I sit down to write I like to remind myself, just run and don’t look down. Even if you fall, nothing is really lost.

PS – I’ve shared Liz’s first TED talk before, and you’ve probably seen it elsewhere, too. But if you haven’t watched it, or haven’t watched it in a while and are feeling stuck in your creative work, it’s well worth watching (and probably bookmarking). She recently spoke again at a TED conference, and I have yet to find a video of that talk, but when I do, you know I’ll share it here.