I had the pleasure of coming across a brand new, very special gem in the middle of Soho. The Follain store on Mercer Street is a one-of-a-kind, healthy beauty shopping experience. Follain goes beyond just offering men and women a wide selection from 60 of the healthiest, high-performance, non-toxic beauty brands. The store also has a mission . . and that’s to change your outlook on the beauty industry, which is far from beautiful once you really start to do the research. But in this specific case, you yourself don’t actually need to do the research. Follain already has that figured out for you, and they make a point to keep their customer knowledgeable about all the reasons why they should be making the switch to a clean, organic, all natural beauty routine. This was just my first visit to Follain, and I’m already switching things out of my beauty cabinet!
After speaking with Follain’s founder Tara Foley, I felt much more up-to-date on the current crisis of the beauty industry in the United States. Did you know that the US only bans has 11 ingredients in beauty products? In Europe, that toxic list is made up of over a thousand ingredients. That means the regulations in the US are much more lenient. But what does that mean for our skin and bodies? It gives much more freedom from big beauty brands to put whatever the heck they want in their products, and label it as good. In reality, it means we are feeding our bodies the bad stuff such as chemicals that they don’t actually know how to process. In turn, this causes build up, which has the high possibility of linking to health issues including cancer. How scary is that?!
Follain does all the dirty work for you, filtering through the best of the best brands that meet every safety standard (meaning everything in the store is 100% non-toxic) and have gone through major testing for high performance. Follain has a strict Restricted Substances List (RSL), and it is one of the most strict in the industry. It is a list of un-safe ingredients that you will never find in an Follain products. This way their customer is ensured that every product purchased is a healthy, wholesome product. Currently the store carries 60 passionate brands. Each brand’s products are categorized in the store by type, as opposed to brand. I LOVE this concept, and it’s actually super rare in my experiences shopping beauty. It really makes the process so easy, I have a problem or a skin problem I want to target, and I know exactly where to go to look for the solution. But not just one solution, multiple ones within the category. The staff is so knowledgeable, narrowing down the brand within the type is as easy as 1-2-3.
I was fascinated learning about all the ways we can help the environment and most importantly our own bodies by going completely non-toxic and all natural with my beauty regime. It only makes sense. I spend so much time on my fitness each week, looking forward to that dewy after glow after a really good workout. I make sure to cook at home as often as possible with fresh fruits and vegetables because they make me feel great. I listen to music and focus on creative endeavors to feed my mind and soul. Why was I never making smart choices with the products that I use on my body? With the amount I layer on in the morning and night each day, it adds up A LOT.. And then think about the amount of years . . . well, the effect from that is a very scary thought. But I have realized that reversal is a thing, and that it’s never too late to make changes. Follain taught me that. Not just skincare, but this goes for makeup, too. The makeup application area at the back of the store is made to help you feel and look like a movie star. Makeup artist included 🙂
And the store is so, so gorgeous. Inspiring in every way as soon as one walks in. It for sure grabs the attention of every aesthetic seeker. Pretty plants. Non-toxic, luxuriously scented candles. Little touches here and there that make you feel right at home. Or make you wish it was your actual home (trust me, it was hard to leave). If you care not about the ingredients as much, then at least this is a place you can go if you care about the presentation. Follain has all that, too.
Stop in to shop and get holiday-ready. Follain is offering makeup and skincare consultations in store, makeovers by appointment, and lots of new non-toxic ways to shimmer and shine.Their Soho calendar is also quickly filling up with lots of events you will love, from wreath-making classes featuring Follain ingredients, to in-store yoga to help you unwind – and more!
Stretching is one of my favorites things to do. Right when I wake up, before an intense workout class, at the end of the day. It helps clear my mind, and takes away all the tension in my body. I had back issues growing up do to my scoliosis, and ever since my surgery, stretching has become such an important part of my life. It keeps my body feeling free, and when it feels free, I feel like I can do anything. It’s easy to overlook on a daily basis until the end of the week and your back is killing you. I just remind myself that it is the best way to get things flowing in the right way each morning. Now body craves it on the regular. When I’m not stretching, I love taking classes at B Studio, Flex Studios, Fly Barre and Physique 59. Here I am wearing a workout top by Outdoor Voices, and leggings and sneakers by Nike.
New York City isn’t New York City without brunch. Brooklyn and the West Village are two of my favorite places to hunt for a good brunch spot. It’s a cozy feeling walking into an inspiring space where you can get delicious food to fill your tummy with. I love food that is made well. Food that I can analyze every taste and appreciate the work that goes into it. The presentation, as well. This day in particular we checked out Bluestone Lane and I got the Green Baked Eggs. It is my favorite dish on the menu, but I was also eyeing my friend’s Bacon & Egg Roll. Damn, that egg is cooked perfectly sunny side up. Just thinking about it running is making my mouth water. Those Australians know how to do brunch, that is for sure.
EARLY EVENING WALKS
Because a sunset is my favorite color. Hehe. I don’t mind taking a little break near the end of a busy day to enjoy some fresh evening air and a hint of sunset. Maybe I’ll spend even more time out to catch that sunset all the way. And I love to watch everyone else out on the streets, those in route to the subway, tourists taking photos around every corner, people walking their dogs . . . stop as well to watch a little magic in the sky happen. Deep down inside, I know that no one can pass on a good sunset. It’s one of those experiences that we all love unconditionally. At least we can say we agree on one thing. Here my coat, purse and shoes are all by Kate Spade.
END OF DAY UNWINDING
Another one of my favorite parts of the day! I look forward to this time so much, because I can finally kick back! Organizing my room, even the things on my bedside table, relaxes me. I just light my candles and get at it. My bed becomes my late night work space when I have slow evenings with nothing else on the itinerary, so I take advantage of the extra time to fit in some editing work, which doesn’t actually feel like work at all. As you can tell, I like to light as many candles at once as I possible can. A little lamp lit up in the other corner, and my room is light enough to read another chapter of my book, but it is dark enough to feel soothed. I very much savor my time alone at home, since with my busy schedule, these times are rare. And I make sure to make the environment as calming as possible to make the most of it.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
I found this quote online somewhere, and it really stuck with me. It’s quite fitting since I’m always thinking about happiness and the amount of times it fluctuates in my life. Throughout the month. Throughout the week. Throughout the day. I have come to realize that just because one can feel a whole lot of other emotions that are a far cry from anything remotely close to being called happy, that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of happiness has to be put on the back burner. Society has molded us into a type of people that far too easily allows the negative in our lives to overwhelm and hinder our overall wellbeing. The news. Expectations from our parents and our career goals. We allow stress and anxiety to conquer us in a swift second. Our jobs. Our rent. Our commutes. Our relationships that have gone sour. New relationships that make us walk on eggshells. Just choosing a damn place for dinner. Yes, all these things get the best of me sometimes, but not as often as they used to. And it wasn’t a mindset that changed overnight. It was actually something I worked towards. I worked to regularly remind myself to stay conscious of my feelings, and I forced myself to keep tabs on the positive side of things for a change instead. Slowly over time, it got easier to see things on the brighter side. And I always try to remind my friends and family the same thing. I want to enjoy and experience the best parts of the people in my life, as I hope they are able to enjoy and experience the best parts of me. It just makes sense. But it isn’t always an easy task. So now allow me to make some lists.
Things that make me unhappy:
Crowded subways Unkind actions
Shoes that make my feet hurt
People who never smile
War and death
Things that make my happy:
My family and friends Pizza
A really spectacular hamburger
The Manhattan skyline
Dance parties on rooftops
Skype sessions with Mom and Dad
Peach nail polish
Cheap Chinatown massages
Pictures of Cuba
Sheer cotton peasant blouses
The feeling of sand beneath my feet
Now that I look back on this list, I can see that a lot of these things on the lists are tangible and material. This quote is a reminder that despite the things we literally have in our hands (or don’t), it can never measure up to the experiences that are impressionable on us for far longer than a quick moment, or a trip to the shopping mall for that matter. I have a place to live. I have pretty clothes to put on my body. I have money to fill my belly with wonderful things. I have access to a lot of THINGS. Which is nice, but it’s not what is the source of my happiness and inspirations. Especially since I didn’t always have some of these things. The true source of happiness I have come to find, comes from the people who have made an impression on my soul and life decisions. The people I love unconditionally and have gotten to know personally. Who have gone through the ups and downs with me, and have reflected on them with me. Those who I will be paving my future with and looking back on where we came from with fond feelings of both heartache and joy. Those who have joined me on travels to wonderful places and have made memories to laugh and cry about forever and ever. Those who make me want to smile more, follow my heart, do better and go above and beyond the ordinary.
When something has me feeling down, irritated, annoyed, unhappy, nervous, lacking in confidence, bored, like I’m missing out or just completely off balance, I just think of these people and these experiences and the feeling of love that I get from them on a daily basis, and everything else fades. Even on my shittiest days full of long subway rides and obnoxious people and heavy air. Only the good remains, and the good is what keeps me going. The literal things don’t matter. It’s spiritual connections and the gratefulness for the strength if these connections. I hope these are the types of good things that keep you going, too.
In the words of my favorite girl band, First Aid Kit, “And it’s one life, and it’s this life, and it’s beautiful.”
Oh . . . dating. In NYC. In your twenties. It all kind of makes me cringe, and blush, and smile, and cry, and scream, and then cringe some more. It’s a topic that I haven’t really ever touched upon on this blog before! Why? Probably because everyone I’ve dated knows I blog, and . . . well, you know how that goes. But hey, I promised to be more honest on here, and all my friends have been telling me to start blogging about this topic more. And I’m not going to lie, I have some pretty rad/funny/sad/outrageous stories to tell. I probably can’t give all the details. But let me throw one known fact back out there . . . dating in NYC is whack. But without the whack, there is no fun, and no good stores to share and grow from. So here we go. Dating. ugh. ha. Where to start?
Once I entered the real working world and made all these goals for myself and put my career before anything else, I made a promise to myself to never be the type of girl who would ever really NEED a boyfriend. I’ve always prided myself on being independent, driven and fully self-supportive. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE GUYS. Good guys. Someone who can make me laugh with a smile so beautiful that it makes me feel like my best self. And I have a lot of fun on dates (most of the time). But being in a relationship was never the END ALL, THIS IS IT for me. My world of work, friends, travel, creativity . . . as long as I had that, a guy not fitting in with the situation was just fine with me. There would always be a boy on the back burner when I needed one, but anyone who verged close on serious . . . I’d always end up finding something to make him less and less perfect. And a lot of times my friends would tell me, that that was my problem. This guy would be perfect, but I’m not giving him the attention he needed or wanted. It just flew over my head. And then done, the relationship was over. Maybe because I was selfish. Maybe because I was scared. Maybe because I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my space and parts of my life that have always been taken my full dedication and focus and passion. No matter how great the guy was, how thoughtful, how wonderful, how giving . . . he could never be as great as whatever else I had going on. Or he didn’t really get or understand the other things I held high in my life. Or it’s the other way around from how it usually is . . . where I’m really into someone, but I’m not high enough on their priority list to feel like pursuing any sort of actual commitment. So I just give up and let it die. I’ve been in many a situation where I gave up a lot for a person, and in the end received nothing back. Just unfulfilled hope and promise. And I would grind into my head the idea that it wasn’t worth it to fully put myself in that position again. But then, when will I ever really know if it’s worth it? Will I ever allow anyone to be THE ONE? I’m still trying to figure that one out.
But still, the idea of TRUE LOVE ignites me. Always will. I’ve always been very open to it when it flat out presented it to me. And despite the independent woman chant that I stick by on the regular and with much vigor, I do (often) at times fall under it’s spell, fully taken and gone. A whirlwind of days or weeks or months of being starry-eyed and so much less focused on myself but only on the other person. But so far, from my experience living and falling in and out of love in NYC, I have yet to come out unscathed. One of us steps back, one of us gets hurt, or we both are fearful of losing ourselves and our time to what we are giving to each other. Or I just come out feeling like I’m lacking in something and that’s why it doesn’t work out. Maybe I wasn’t prettier than his ex. Maybe I was too introverted. Maybe I was too outgoing. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. Maybe I wasn’t so, so many things. So as of right now, I love LOVE, but I’m also fearful of LOVE and allowing myself to say that I probably do actually need and want it. Maybe not right now, but hopefully someday. “Someday sooner than later!!!”, my mom will always say (A single daughter is every Chinese mother’s greatest fear). So now let’s back away from the topic of love, because so far that has just been going to shit for me. Not that dating hasn’t been a shit show either, but it’s so much more fun to talk about. So let’s start with online dating. The horror. The embarrassment. The eye-rolling. The OMFG how am I going to get through another beer with this dude. I didn’t even attempt the world of Internet dating until I quit my full-time job just about exactly a year ago. I finally was free of the chains of corporate desk life, I was tired of meeting Midtown dudes in suits during happy hour near my office, and I was able to accept that fact that trying online dating wasn’t the freakiest idea out there. I was ready to start fresh and see what the Internet boys of New York City had to offer! And then it goes . . .
I was just trying to figure out what I was doing last Memorial Day weekend, and I just remembered that I went on my very first Tinder date in the Rockaways. He was smart. Taller than me. He had hair past his broad shoulders. He liked to plant and cook and travel and make his own tea. We had a mutual friend from Philly. He spoke fluent Spanish and wanted to teach me to speak it better after he found out I was a quarter Mexican. He liked all the same Williamsburg places I did. He was a little hippie but not so much. We spent 24 hours together. That last hour was the last I saw of him. But that was okay, because I got what I needed out of that 24 hours. I was at a turning point in my life career-wise. I had no attachments to anyone really at the moment of my life. I just went with it. I had fun. And I was ready to see what else was out there. Maybe if we didn’t do so much in those 24 hours, the relationship would have continued, and I always thought about that for a few weeks after our rendezvous on the beach and in his part of Williamsburg, but I was totally (and weirdly okay) with it ending just like that. Thanks for the salty memories dude.
Then there was the guy who played the mandolin. He was really cool but liked his mandolin more than he liked me. That is a fact. Then there was the guitarist who was at the same Haerts concert as I was just the week before we chatted online. He ended up still being into his ex-girlfriend. Ummm, then there were a handful of more musicians (yeah, I have a problem I know).
There was the cute Australian who had the nerve to wait a month to tell me that he had a girlfriend back in Los Angeles and that their situation was sticky, so that whatever we had going on currently was actually kind of okay. How does that make me feel? Asshole.
Oh shit. Almost forgot about the Swedish guy who worked at Spotify. He had really blonde hair and always wore a baseball cap. His glasses were really thick. He was such a nice dude and funny little accent. And we had the same taste in music which was cool. But I never had even an urge to kiss him! Not even once. So that didn’t last very long. LOL.
Damn, then there was that time I got asked out via Instagram direct message. And well, that was awkward. He still likes my pictures on Instagram. I wish he wouldn’t.
There was the smiley 33 year old, half-Asian in Converse sneakers who did sound for reality TV. He said his favorite part of his job was the fact that he could sleep for the majority of the time on the job and get paid for it. That kind of bothered me. He modeled for Terry Richardson once, which I should have taken as a sign to boot it the heck out of there asap. But I liked his side-swept hipster hair and free-spirit and that he kind of reminded me of a half-Asian Jim Carey (weird I know). We laughed a lot on that date and he wanted to take shots. I stupidly took two and ended up throwing up as soon as I got home and first thing in the morning. Who takes shots on a first date?!? Apparently I do (idiot). I’m also pretty sure he did coke when he used the bathroom, but I didn’t ask. That was the first time I semi-blacked out on a date. That was also my very last Tinder date. Ever. He wanted to take me to a concert three days later. I never replied. Sorry man.
The 35 year old filmmaker who juggled odd jobs. He believed in his “art” but wasn’t too happy about his situation. He was so good looking that I nearly died upon laying eyes on him, but that still wasn’t enough for me to look past his insecurity about his calling in the world. I told him he’d find his way, he’d just have to really commit to it. And then I told him that he should jump in his car ASAP and get the hell out of Brooklyn. Men are such lost little puppies sometimes.
And I can never forget the Dutch art snob and then the Australian marketing man who loved to meditate in his spare time (the most recent of them all). Both made me come to realize that I’m a little more worthy of being at least on the top 2 (or 3, but come on) of someone’s priority list if they want to pursue anything with me. That’s not really asking for that much is it? I don’t know why I allow myself to get into these situations in the first place and allow myself to stay in them for so long. Thank goodness for friends who tell me that “he wasn’t the one” so I can officially move on.
Then there’s the guy in a different state that I’ve been talking to on and off for I think just a little over a year. We have yet to meet and were meaning to meet. It should have already happened, it might happen soon, or it might never happen. It’s hard to explain, but I like talking to him so I’m trying to think of it as more of a modern pen pal sort of situation more than anything else before I get swallowed up once again in something that probably never existed in the first place. Does that even make sense? None if it makes sense.
Love makes no sense. Love. Like. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing to distinguish the two, and that’s why it’s so hard to pinpoint down when one or the other is really there. What is real. What is not.
I have quite a few more stories up my sleeve, but I think I’ll save those for another time.
Basically online dating in NYC has pretty much scarred me for life. But I also must say, that I learned a whole lot about what I like and don’t like when it comes to relationships from each and every single one of them. I still believe in love a whole hell of a lot. And hope keeps me going. But I also sometimes feel like I should book the next flight to Barcelona, Spain (a one-way ticket), find myself a sexy Spaniard to take as a lover and never look back.
As for now I’m just going to keep living and loving life, whether there is a man in my life or not. That’s the least I can do. I do believe that looking for a significant other is nice, but it’s not what drives my life. And I do believe that he’ll show up most unexpectedly and my world will change for the better.
Now tell me some of your crazy, wild, stupid, sappy dating stories!