the vernal equinox: time to cleanse

At long last, we have reached the Vernal Equinox. As equinoxes always go, today the earth’s hemispheres receive the sun’s rays equally, resulting in a day and night that are seemingly identical in length. The term equinox literally means ‘equal night’ when translated from Latin (aequus means equal and nox means night).

To me, the equinox– like all others seasons– stands for more than the amount of sunlight and moonshine we receive. It’s a time for self-reflection. A time for deep emotional and physical cleansing. Like the flowers spring back to life after a dormant winter, we too, can dust ourselves off and bounce back with grace.

Frankly, I don’t think you need any excuse to hit the reset button, but a new season is a great opportunity to do just that. A season, in and of itself, essentially symbolizes a fresh beginning. So as an ode to spring, I’m doing some spring cleaning- of my feelings, my belongings, and anything else that no longer serves me. I’m also doing some spring striving, but we’ll call them resolutions. You should try it, too.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been documenting the return of various flowers and plants. It was amazing to see them come back to life right before my eyes.

Springing into Action

  1. Simplify
    • I’m talking about my closet, all my cabinets, and my feelings, of course. I want to get rid of any stale feelings or thoughts of mine that don’t do a damn thing but weigh me down.
      • I want to get rid of impulse purchases, unflattering pieces, or anything else that I haven’t picked up in over a month. If you haven’t worn or used it in 1-2 months, chances are you don’t need it. Make some extra cash by selling ’em. Or donate ’em.  Either way, it’s better that they won’t be taking up space in your dresser drawers.
  2. Self-love
    •  Exercise. Go outside. Wear sunscreen. Read. Be kind to yourself. Dry brush. Eat chocolate if you want chocolate — try to stick to dark, but if you want milk, by all means, eat the damn milk chocolate. Eat greens, too. Sleep in late sometimes. But also get up earlier than usual sometimes. Challenge yourself.  Journal. Don’t be too critical. Draw. Paint. Write. Write some more. Think. Dream. Plan. Cry. Laugh. Be a human. Accept that everyone’s journey is different. Listen to music! Breathe.
      • No more negative self-talk! Ignore the internal dialogue that tells you ‘you aren’t good enough’. Or you ‘can’t do this’ or ‘do that’. Because you can. And I can, too.
      • This point is probably the most important. Creating a healthy relationship with yourself, for some people, is a lifelong battle. That’s okay. As long as you’re taking the necessary steps to accept and love yourself,  you’re on the right track. There’s no timeframe or finish line. Be patient.
  3. Zero-waste
    • This is a new thing of mine. I’m trying my hardest to live a zero-waste lifestyle. No more plastic. Buy in bulk. Reusable bags, duh. A glass coffee mug.  It’s a change that will take time, mostly because it requires investing in several different reusable items, which I will elaborate on in an upcoming post.
  4. galtruism
    • Moving forward, galtruism is my priority. After simplifying, I’ll have more brainpower to dedicate to posts. I want to create a space that people can come to for advice, inspiration, tips… anything about anything (but mainly fashion, living, etc.). If there is anything in particular that you’d like to see or learn about, let me know. I’m always open to ideas.

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I’m not sure how I forgot to say it, but happy spring to one and all. It’s one of my top four favorite seasons. The vernal freshness that fills the air can’t be beaten. On the real, though– go sit on a park bench next to some blooming beauties to expedite your self-reflection process.

Your Gal, Shaye

 

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art as therapy: a day at the MOCA

The Therapy Part

I believe there are two universal languages: love and art. Despite what your native tongue is, you are born with the innate ability to feel, a sensation evoked by both love and art. They’re both capable of drawing out emotions that may have otherwise remained suppressed; they possess the genuine power to heal. Because of this, art can and should be used as a form of therapy. It really helps and I can tell you this firsthand.

Sometimes my moods are all over the place. It took me a while to fully understand why but I think I have it figured out: hormones, stress, and overthinking, which, funny enough, causes stress. Anyway, in order to get myself back to equilibrium, I’ve found that turning to art helps me the most. I use that term loosely, though, because I don’t always do the creating. Yeah, I journal and sometimes pick up a paintbrush, but aside from that, the opuses of others are where I find the most consolation. The emotions that fueled them to write those lyrics and mix those colors on that canvas were raw. For a girl that feels all the feelings, that resonates with me on a very personal level. I get it where they’re coming from because I’ve been there. I’ve felt it all: confidence, confusion, optimism, pessimism, love, heartbreak; knowing that I’m not the first to feel ‘this way’ or ‘that way’ is super comforting.

In addition to that always important emotional healing business, art also introduces you to artists from all walks of life. By strolling through the galleries, you’re exposed to dozens of new techniques and customs from different cultures. Basically, art cultivates you into a more well-rounded person and who doesn’t want to be well-rounded?

No. 61 (Rust and Blue) [Brown Blue, Brown on Blue] by Mark Rothko (1953)

Let’s tie this all together…where can you go for a therapy session with a side of enlightenment? You guessed it: museums.

Visiting museums in person *gasp* is extremely fulfilling. It’s sort of the equivalent of holding a book vs. reading a Kindle. Kindles are convenient, sure, but the act of flipping the pages is what creates the authentic experience. Similarly, scrolling through a digital gallery is cool and all, but being up close and checking out all the fine details is what it’s about.

Whenever I’m in a new place, visiting a museum or art exhibit is always a priority on my list. It’s an easy, fun stop that familiarizes you with the local culture without breaking the bank. Oh, and you get to see some impressive works of art. Added bonus: museums also serve as houses of inspiration- especially useful for those times that you feel you’ve hit a creative wall.

So naturally, upon moving to LA, I had to check out one of their [many] museums.


The Art Part

Museum of Contemporary Art– Downtown Los Angeles, California

I think I’ve done enough talking so I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves. The MOCA is lined with unique and wonderfully bizarre pieces that are totally up my alley. And yes, I know I just went on about how you shouldn’t just scroll through digital galleries, but this will do until you have the chance to check out the MOCA yourself if you haven’t already.

These were my favorites:

White Cigarette by James Rosenquist (1961)

Fountain, Sunset, Hollywood by Edward Ruscha (1999)
I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art by John Baldessari (1971)
Unsure of title- believe it is from Anna Maria Maiolino’s Drawn Objects Series (1975)

The next time you’re feeling a little ‘bleh’, get on the internet and Google: “museums near me.” It’s a foolproof way of finding an exhibit or museum in your area that you haven’t heard of. Or maybe you have heard of but haven’t made an effort to check out. Either way, make the time. You’ll leave with lifted spirits, a lil inspiration, and a tidbit or two of knowledge that you didn’t have before.

Your Gal, Shaye

Ayurveda P2: dry brushing

As to avoid overwhelming you, I’ve decided to break my follow-up post into a couple of separate pieces, rather than cramming too much info into one post. This will help you digest all of the delicious knowledge I’ll be throwing your way. The first Ayurvedic practice up to ‘wow’ you with all of its benefits is dry brushing.


Brush it off

Dry brushing, known as garshana, is just as it sounds. It is quite literally the act of brushing your skin when dry. It sounds harsh, and maybe even slightly off-putting, but dry-skin brushing can reap you major benefits. It promotes lymphatic cleansing and is very effective when it comes to ridding the body of ama (cellular waste products). Modern-day dry brushing is typically conducted using a brush with natural bristles, though silk or linen gloves are the more traditional tools. The process takes no longer than 10 minutes (if you’re feelin’ the self-love) and within seconds, you feel the exhilarating results.

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(Top Brush, Bottom Brush)

So…why and how?

WHY:

The skin is the largest organ, so it should come as no surprise that paying it some extra attention goes a long way. It is responsible for eliminating up to one-third of our body’s toxins and by brushing off the dead skin cells, it helps expedite the process.

Often times, internal deficiencies are reflected externally in the shape of dry skin, acne, rashes, bumps, etc. There is a proven correlation between your skin and what’s happening on the inside. You can even go as far as to trace where the root of the problem is coming from, depending on where the skin issues are arising (for example, pimples between the eyebrows can be linked to the liver, so after a weekend of drinking you might notice a few new friends have popped up).

If we want results, we’ve gotta work for ’em, or in this case, brush for ’em. Adding dry brushing to your morning ritual will only tack on a few minutes and will leave you with all of this:

  • Improved lymphatic circulation- The lymphatic system is the network of vessels through which lymph (a fluid that contains white blood cells) drains from the tissues into the blood. By stimulating the system through brushing the skin, you promote the efficient removal of metabolic waste.
  • Improved immune function- Dry brushing helps circulate white blood cells and rejuvenates the nervous system.
  • Major exfoliation! – Helps unclog pores and improve skin texture by removing dead skin cells. Unclogged pores also help your skin absorb all the good stuff- nutrients! Regular exfoliation also helps slow done the aging process… wrinkles and fine lines, be gone.
  • Prevents and/or reduces the appearance of ingrown hairs- This is something I have always struggled with and can personally vouch for. Since I started dry brushing, I have seen a dramatic decrease in ingrown hairs, both under my arms and by the bikini line.
  • Increases muscle tone and aids in the even distribution of fatty deposits- Dry brushing activates the nervous system, which in turn stimulates muscle fibers that improve muscle tone.
  • Boosted energy-  Dry brushing gets your blood pumping, which leaves you feeling tingly in the best ways. As your blood circulates, your energy levels naturally increase.
  • Less stress-  If you make dry brushing a morning ritual and do the deed in a relaxing atmosphere (think: candles and ‘Nature Sounds’ on Spotify) it becomes highly meditative. Knowing you’re doing something that your body will thank you for inherently de-stresses you out.

Now that you know why you should do it, I’m sure you’re dying to know how to do it. That would probably help, huh?

HOW:

As I noted earlier, dry brushing is as easy as it comes, but following the ancient Garshana techniques closely is imperative.

  1. Brush in the morning before you bathe or shower to remove dead skin and get your day started on the right foot. Dry brushing in the shower or bath is a good idea, as it avoids a messy clean-up (skin cells will be shed).
  2. Begin brushing at your feet and move in long sweeping motions, working your way up. Give extra love to your inner thighs and underarms, as both closely help the lymphatic system. Always brush up, toward your heart.
  3. After feet and legs, move in this order: arms, back, abdominal, behind. For abdominal and booty areas, work in a clockwise motion until you reach a tingly feeling and your skin becomes a rosy color.
  4. Save the chest and neck for last. Both of these areas are more sensitive, so in the beginning, brush delicately. Over time, your skin will adapt.
  5. Let the water flow and cleanse yourself of whatever doesn’t serve you.
  6. Once you’re squeaky clean, it’s time to moisturize. Your pores are open and ready to receive some quality nutrients after that detox. My beauty regimen consists almost solely of natural oils, so I choose to lather up with coconut oil and Argan oil post dry-brush and shower.
  7. Put your dry brush somewhere dry and within reach. The next dry-brush sesh in on the horizon.

That’s it! I told you it was easy. It might not sound like much, but I can promise you will feel the difference.


Garshana based on your Dosha

If Ayurveda isn’t for you, and you’re just here for the technique, feel free to move on to another galtruism post that better tickles your fancy. All dry brushing basics have already been discussed, I just want to offer some extra Ayurvedic knowledge to those interested.

  • Vata:  2-3 times per week.
  • Pitta: 4-5 times per week.
  • Kapha: Daily.

These suggestions are based on the typical energy levels, deficiencies, etc. of each particular dosha. None of these are definitive or proven, they are simply suggestions. I, for example, associate myself with the Vata dosha but I dry brush 4-5 times per week. In the end, it’s entirely up to you and what makes you feel good.

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Whether or not you’re an Ayurvedic supporter or believer, the proof is there. I know that adding another bullet to your morning routine sounds grueling, but dry-brushing is a worthwhile addition that you should consider. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t truly believe in it.

Ayurveda P2: Dry Brushing – done.
Ayurveda P3: Tongue Scraping – next up.

See ya there.

Your Gal, Shaye

Ayurveda P1: the ancient medicine you should know about

In this ‘Part 1’ post, I will introduce you to the magic that is Ayurvedic medicine (if you aren’t already familiar with it). You can expect a follow-up blog post that will highlight a few popular Ayurvedic practices and touch on their particular benefits (woo!).

Homeopathic remedies have always been my chosen path to wellness, so naturally, Ayurveda is a practice lifestyle that I can identify with. There is an undeniable correlation between our minds and bodies, so keeping the two in tune is paramount to maintaining a balanced life. This idea, along with the notion that nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind, are the two principles that Ayurveda was founded on thousands of years ago (yes, thousands).

Ayurveda, which translated literally means science or knowledge of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge), was designed by Indian sages to help people realize their full human potential. It encourages awareness through meditation and consuming only natural foods, preferably cooked, as certain foods are easier for the body to digest when cooked.

*Balanced diet suggestion: Include the 6 Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent).


Despite my organic gravitation toward natural living, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I really learned about the mind-body health system. As per the suggestion of one of my friends, I ordered Sahara Rose Ketabi’s book, Ayurveda (Idiot’s Guides). As the title indicates, the book is for beginners and covers everything from doshas to daily morning/ nighttime routines. Super informative. Highly recommend.

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Other than being a warm lemon water enthusiast and sporadically sprinkling turmeric onto my lunch and dinner plates, I was a complete stranger to the ancient practice. I learned that Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health, and understanding your mind and body, is the key to achieving wellness. By this, I mean that everybody is different, so it only makes sense that our needs differ as well. To fully grasp this, it helps to familiarize yourself with the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.


The Doshas

In Ayurvedic medicine, doshas are the energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity. Sounds a little loopy, I know, but once you learn more about your personal dosha and see how much you relate, the wheels will start to turn.

  • Vata: Qualities reflecting the elements of Space and Air = cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, quick, changeable.
    • Physical Characteristics: Commonly have a light frame and very agile. Tend to experience roller-coaster energy, going from bursts to extreme fatigue. Dry skin and cold hands/feet. Sensitive digestion.
    • Emotional Characteristics: Driven by excitement and new experiences. Easily angered but quick to forgive. When balanced, Vatas are creative, flexible, and very outgoing. When imbalanced, they are prone to anxiety.

Sound like you? Learn more here.

  • Pitta: Qualities reflecting the elements of Fire and Water = hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, sharp, acidic.
    • Physical Characteristics: Commonly are medium size and weight. Warm body temperature, abundant energy, strong sex drive, and appetite. When imbalanced, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, heartburn, and indigestion.
    • Emotional Characteristics: Very powerful intellect and ability to concentrate. Great makers, teachers, and speakers. Sharp-witted and outspoken. When imbalanced, Pittas may be short-tempered and/or argumentative.

Sound like you? Learn more here.

  • Kapha: Qualities reflecting the elements of Water and Earth = heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, oily.
    • Physical Characteristics: Have a strong build and excellent stamina. When Kaphas succumb to excess, they are more susceptible to weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies, than the other doshas. When out of balance, may become overweight, suffer from depression, and sleep excessively.
    • Emotional Characteristics: Kaphas are calm, thoughtful, loving individuals. Loyal, patient, supportive. Sometimes have difficulty letting go of things that no longer serve them (material items, jobs, relationships).

Sound like you? Learn more here.


Since researching and reading Ayurveda (Idiot’s Guides), I have taken small steps to incorporate general Ayurvedic practices as well as those that specifically cater to the needs of my dosha, Vata. After reading Sahara Rose and The Chopra Center’s breakdown of each dosha, it was crystal clear that I was predominantly Vata with some Kapha characteristics. I am always cold, small-framed, and go from bouncing off the walls to napping in no time…Vata, Vata, Vata.  So, I started with simple lifestyle techniques, such as dry brushing, tongue scraping, and the continued use of organic oils and feel a noticeable improvement.

As far as the eating thing goes, that’s an area I’ve been gradually exploring on a shallow level. My boyfriend’s mom, Rary, gifted me an amazing Ayurvedic cookbook for Christmas, The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, so I’m really looking forward to taking the next step and giving my diet an Ayurveda makeover, which I will keep you guys updated on.

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In my following post, I will dive deeper into why dry brushing, tongue scraping, and oils are so important to include in your daily routine. All natural and designed especially for you may sound too good to be true, but it’s not! Changing your lifestyle is intimidating, this I know, but improving it shouldn’t be. Being your best ‘you’ is in your hands, and this is a step in the right direction.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Your Gal, Shaye