The Enchanted Outlook



Investing in Rest (Investment Charms Series)


Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty. I’ve had my first summer break in about eight years and it’s delightful. Naturally, I’ve been wanting to make the most of it. Instead, I find myself sleeping more than I mean to and spending much of my time prepping for school, making annual appointments and check-ups, or up-keeping things that have been neglected during my busy school year. If not doing that, I’ve mostly been laying around reading, watching TV, and browsing things in Pinterest.

After a few weeks of feeling guilty, I ordered a new planner and made a few lists. I made a list of things I needed to accomplish, things I wanted to do for fun, and things I was needing to purchase prior to starting school in the fall. I filled in my planner so that I would have an approximate timeline to accomplish things. However, I also left time to rest.

Rest is essential to our well-being. It allows our bodies and minds to recharge. It helps us to be more resilient and ward off illness. It can even make us more creative and productive. Currently, I’m resting in three different ways: I’m sleeping more, I’m laying around doing “nothing” more, and I’m organizing my affairs in preparation for the fall. I hope to start school feeling very well-rested and having a clear mind.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling guilty for resting, remember that you are investing in your own health, your mental wellness, and your future creativity and productivity. Resting isn’t an escape from productivity; it’s an essential part of productivity.

What is your favorite way to rest?

Is Wellness “Alternative Medicine?” (Wellness Spells Series)


I’ll admit, nothing quite grinds my gears like a conversation about alternative medicine. I think this is largely because I usually take a middle line between extreme approaches to the subject and… people don’t like that. So I get grief from both sides. In fact, I’ve gotten to a place where I generally avoid conversations about alternative medicine altogether. I guess we all have our Achilles heel; alternative medicine conversations seem to be mine. But what better reason to talk about it, right?

First off, what is alternative medicine? I think this is part of the discrepancy, at least for me, as I seem to run into two very different definitions online:

The first definition is any medicine that has not been scientifically proven to be effective, or has been scientifically disproved.

The second definition is any medicine that is not considered part of mainstream medicine.

Here, I think, is where the issues begin. I’ve heard it said so many times: “Alternative medicine that is scientifically proven is just medicine.” That’s all good and well, but where do wellness practices that have been scientifically-proven to be effective, yet are not incorporated into “mainstream” medicine fall?

To give just a few examples:

  • Meditation has been found to reduce anxiety.
  • Yoga has physical and mental health benefits.
  • There are a number of natural herbs and remedies that have been effective for literally thousands of years against various ailments.
  • And let’s not forget the importance of a plant-based diet in terms of our health.

Sure, in fairness, there are plenty of alternative practices that have not been scientifically proven or have even been disproved, and are being marketed by naive-but-well-intended salespeople at best and snake oil salesmen at worst. Who wants to fork over tons of money for a “remedy” that doesn’t work or is even harmful to us? Then there are herbal supplements that are largely unregulated. Certainly it makes sense to avoid those and stick to traditional medicine, then, right?

Here’s the problem with that plan, though. Traditional Western medicine tends to be illness-focused. It’s primary goal, at least as it plays out in the healthcare system, is the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

Traditional Western medicine tends NOT to be wellness-focused. There is not a strong focus on prevention, or on improving our wellness, or on looking at the body as a holistic system, at least not in practice.

If you are like me, most of your doctors visits follow this trend:


I can count on one hand the number of times I was asked about my diet, or asked about the stress of my lifestyle, or if I rested when I felt ill, or really had any treatments or practices recommended to me other than medication. It’s happened, but it’s been rare.

If we are always only focusing on illness, we are essentially playing a game of wack-a-mole with our health, beating down diseases when they arise, but not looking at the full picture of what we can do to be truly healthy.

Now, I will point out that this varies significantly depending on what part of the world, or even what part of the US, you live in. I live in the American South, so I can only speak to my own experience. I have had others in different parts of the world say their experience is completely different. If you do live in an area that incorporates lots of wellness practices, great! I think -or hope- we will all be headed in that direction eventually.

This isn’t to blame doctors, or other healthcare professionals, either. I think there are several reasons for this mindset. For one thing, it’s the way we have always viewed and practiced health. It’s hard to change an ingrained system attached to a trillion-dollar industry. For another, healthcare is expensive for patients. We often don’t go to the doctor unless we have tried several home remedies ourselves, if even then. For another, there are lifestyle issues. I can’t hold American doctors responsible for the American diet when many of them fight so hard to oppose it, and we as patients don’t always take the time to ask questions about our wellness. And then there are just legal issues, like needing a diagnosis for insurance reasons or having limited time to spend with each patient.

One top of that, some of us received more quality health education in schools than others. Some of us live in food deserts where we don’t have access to healthy food. Then the surge of issues like heart disease and diabetes can be so overwhelming that a wellness focus may seem like a distant dream. And we are all inundated every day with ads and commercials for unhealthy food. So, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

On the flip side of the illness-focused industry are those who have jumped on the wellness bandwagon and have become opposed to traditional medicine altogether. Let’s be clear: medication is not bad; far from it. Many medications, like insulin, are essential in keeping people alive. Vaccinations prevent the spread of deadly diseases. Anxiety medication can curb severe chronic disorders. I would never, ever, advocate not following a medical professional’s advice, especially with regards to life-saving medication. Furthermore, it isn’t helpful to deny legitimate scientific findings, whether they support the evidence of traditional medicine or more alternative methods.

The “wellness bandwagon” can become especially problematic when it comes to mental illness. Yes, diet, exercise, and sleep have a positive impact on mental health. However, there is often an impression that if a person with severe depression would “just exercise” they would feel better. Here’s my tip: if you wouldn’t suggest something to someone with a life-threatening physical illness, please don’t suggest it to someone with a mental illness. That person with severe depression may need their antidepressants to live just as much as a cancer patient needs chemotherapy. In the quest towards holistic medicine, persons with mental illnesses seem to be the first to be demonized. It’s important to trust that those persons with mental illness have worked through a treatment plan with their doctors, just as we would for someone with a physical illness.

Ultimately, I think what we need is to move away from the term “alternative medicine” with regards to scientifically-proven wellness practices and to use terms like holistic medicine, preventative medicine, and complementary medicine. In that way, we can distinguish between valid, but underused, practices and those which truly have no scientific validity. From there, we can begin to address our bodies as holistic systems that might need a combination of diet, exercise, meditation and other wellness practices, and sometimes traditional medications as well in order to optimally function.

So, a few tips:

  • Consider finding an accredited, holistic medical practitioner who is willing to discuss the wellness of your body as a whole, including diet and potentially non-traditional practices like meditation or home remedies. Or, if your traditional family doctor doesn’t bring it up on their own, express an interest. Who knows? They may be thrilled that you are trying to be proactive about your health.
  • If you use a wellness method, consider doing some research on your own to check the scientific validity or your practice. Some practices, like acupuncture, or massage, have produced some limited results but may or may not be helpful in treating your particular ailment.
  • Consider the cultural history of your wellness practice. “Exotic” does not automatically equate to more effective and in turn may be disrespectful to other cultures. On the flip side, be aware of how making fun of other cultural practices may come across to those within that culture. For more on this, check out my post on Elitism and Wellness. 
  • Don’t shell out tons of money for something that promises to be a miracle cure. You will get much better results from good sleep, moderate exercise, and eating a largely plant-based diet.
  • Don’t quit taking any medication, especially life-saving medication, because of alternative medicine. Don’t avoid important preventative practices like vaccinations. Discuss any concerns about this with your doctor. If you have a wellness practice that is helpful to you and you have a serious illness, it may be that you can incorporate your practice with your traditional medication for a more holistic approach.
  • Don’t judge or blame others who need traditional medication to live or to have a good quality of life. This is especially important for “invisible” illnesses such as depression or chronic pain.

Today’s Wellness Spell is:

Be your own advocate.

By this I mean, take your health into your own hands. Do the research and check your sources carefully. Look at the original studies. Come to your doctor’s with a list of questions. Put in the work needed to make your body healthy. Don’t turn away from a truth about health simply because it makes you uncomfortable, whether about traditional or less traditional practices. Recognize that your body is a system and treat it as such.

Any additional thoughts that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below.

When Our Choices Aren’t Clear (Wellness Spells Series)


Sometimes we come to a place in our lives where our choices just aren’t clear. This can be debilitating. I think this is because we can sometimes take our lives so seriously- and for good reason. Who wants to mess up? Who wants to make the wrong choice and regret it?

When I studied abroad in college, I noticed something strange. Choices that I had never even considered suddenly came before me. It was as though my creativity had increased ten-fold. I started fantasizing about all sorts of life options. Opening up a gift shop? Why not? Driving across the country by myself? Sure! I think this was because I was in this liminal place where I was removed from my culture and from my usually very strong (too strong?) sense of reality and expectations. Whatever the reason, anything seemed possible.

Now, it does pay to be realistic, don’t get me wrong. However, as I have gotten older, I have come to realize the importance of experience. If we are not in this life to fully experience it, then what is the point? And there are only so many experiences we can truly have if we are always standing at the crossroads. So, if the consequences of failure aren’t too very high, I think there is also a benefit to just making a decision and running with it. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in our old age still standing at a crossroads and wondering, “What if?” Not to mention, pondering choices is stressful in and of itself.

I mentioned in an earlier post in this series the importance of taking a small step. So long as failing won’t cause us severe harm in the long-term, why not take a step towards one choice and see how it feels? Want to go into fashion but unsure about leaving the security of your job? Why not take a class or two to learn more about it? Want to move across the country but worried about the consequences of taking that leap? Why not book a small vacation? Always thought about adopting but unsure if you want to go through the process? Why not request more information? Need to leave a toxic situation that you feel trapped in? Why not take a short reprieve if you feel safe in doing so? Sometimes putting ourselves out there in a small way can have huge results because, even though it’s a little thing, we go from being stagnant to being dynamic. Then it becomes easier to commit to our choice because what was once scary and foreign to us has become a reality.

Today’s wellness spell is:

Get off the crossroads. 

By this I mean, don’t let your life be stagnated by indecision. If the risk isn’t too high, go for it. If the risk IS high, then maybe there is someone you trust, or even a licensed counselor, that you can talk it over with before you make a choice. Either way, none of us deserve a half-life on the crossroads.

My Favorite Wellness Resources (Wellness Spells Series)

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Today, as part of the Wellness Spells Series, I would like to share a few of my favorite wellness resources. Some of these resources are well-known but a good launching point for a beginner; I hope that I may have also added a new resource or two for the more seasoned wellness explorer that are more off the beaten path.

For Food:

I am a huge fan of Michael Pollan. Pollan is a food writer known for his mantra of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s so simple it almost makes healthy eating too easy. Check out his Cooked Documentary or his book, Food Rules.

For more healthy inspiration, check Youtube channel, Pick Up Limes. Sadia of Pick Up Limes is a certified nutritionist who happens to be vegan. She’s got lots of tips on how to stop yo-yo dieting, avoiding late-night cravings, and more, for vegans and non-vegans. She also has a very soothing personality and her videos are just so pretty!

For Fitness:

I’m a big fan of Yoga With Adrienne, also on Youtube. She brings a sense of lightheartedness and self-love to her classes which makes you look forward to getting on the mat. Now, I will say that while she does have episodes on mind, body, and spirit connection rather than just “fitness”, she specializes in a more Westernized style of yoga and I have really been wanting to get a better understanding of the traditional foundations of yoga, so if anyone has any resources to share for that please let me know in the comments below.

I would also recommend Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessWhile not specifically fitness related (though there is a chapter on sports) it looks at how the way we think about ourselves and our skills can affect our ability to grow and improve, which can be huge in terms of meeting our fitness goals.


For Anxiety/Meditation:

I know it’s a classic suggestion, but you can’t go wrong with Thich Nhat Hanh. This Buddhist monk has created several books on meditation, mindfulness, and happiness. They are accessible and understandable to anyone of any religion.

And sometimes, when things aren’t going our way, we just have to laugh. That’s why my second recommendation is Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh, for a take on life’s stresses that we can all relate to.

For Minimalism/Simple Living:

I really love the book Simple Matters by Erin Boyle. It takes simple living beyond just getting tidy and looks at long-term solutions for a life of beautiful calm. The book is filled with photos of design ideas that are doable, affordable, and magazine-worthy all at once.

Also, this may be my particular taste, but I really enjoy Jenny Mustard on Youtube. She has a beautiful channel full of inspiration for simple living, minimalism, wellness, and more. She has laughingly described herself as an “acquired taste” though, so make sure to watch a few episodes before you decide how you feel about her.

Today’s Wellness Spell is:

Sharing perspectives increases our paths.

By this I mean, sometimes we get stuck in a particular way of doing things, but someone else might have new ideas. Whether through a different knowledge base, a different life experience, or just a different perspective, taking time to see how others face a problem may help us to see a way we didn’t see before.

Is there a wellness resource that has been especially helpful to you?

Inner Dialogue Mindfulness (Wellness Spells Series)


I hope you are enjoying the Wellness Spells series so far.

I would like to talk about our inner dialogue this week. Have you ever had a moment where an unexpected thought crept into your inner dialogue and surprised you? After seeing a photo of myself recently in the height of my dancing years in high school when I was thin and toned, I found myself inadvertently thinking, “I should focus more on weight loss and less on health.” When I realized this thought passed through my mind, I was stunned. I’m a huge advocate of health. Furthermore, I’m in a healthy weight range, have good blood pressure, good sugar levels, eat well, and exercise regularly. There is no problem with my weight, but in that moment, I perceived a problem.

Now, I’m not someone who ordinarily thinks things like this about weight, but I think that made it all the more shocking. I would be willing to bet that a lot of us -and especially women- have a thought that slips into our minds like this from time to time. It’s just a sign of how pervasive this kind of rhetoric is in our society that even with the best of intentions, it still creeps in.

This week, I would invite you to take close notice of the things you tell yourself. Are you practicing self-kindness? Does this kindness extend to your innermost thoughts? Or are some thoughts intruding that are unkind? You spend more time with yourself than you do with anyone else, so you might as well try to be a good friend to yourself. Would you want to be around someone who is unkind to you? Who tells you that you need to lose weight when you are healthy? Or that you have done a poor job at what you do? Or that you should try much harder when you are already trying? We don’t often think about the things we tell ourselves, but they can be harmful, especially if we don’t acknowledge them and let them have their way, so to speak.

I don’t know about you, but I try not to be around people who say things like that and treat me that way. And yet, if I’m being honest, I sometimes find myself being that kind of friend to me. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this (ahem, perfectionists of the world, I’m looking at you). There is a big difference between encouraging ourselves to grow and improve and being hard on ourselves. It takes a very conscious awareness of our own inner dialogue to be able to improve our own self-talk.

So, if you haven’t done this before, I invite you to listen to the inner dialogue you tell yourself and make sure you are being a good friend to the most central person in your life: you.

Today’s Wellness Spell is:

Be your own friend.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking something unkind about you?

Elitism and Wellness Trends (Wellness Spells Series)

Tea wellness

Before I get too deep into my Wellness Spells series, I would like to address something that has been on my mind. Lately, I have seen a lot of very thoughtful posts that are critical of wellness or lifestyle trends. The particular ones I am seeing getting a lot of flak lately: minimalism, veganism/plant-based living, yoga, and the tiny house movement. There have been others, but those I have seen the most. The general critique is that such practices make a lifestyle that is common or compulsory for some into something glamorized, expensive, and/or culturally insensitive and accessible only by the elite.

Let’s take minimalism as an example. Criticisms of the minimalist movement are that it glamorizes a lifestyle that is compulsory for many (by limiting spending), that it simultaneously is inaccessible for persons living month-to-month due to an emphasis on making expensive, quality purchases rather than smaller, more frequent purchases, and that it is mostly taken up by people of a certain status.

I think these criticisms are definitely worth addressing and am grateful that someone has done so, but as someone who spends a lot of time promoting wellness, I would like to take a closer look at them and address a few issues with the criticisms. First, I do think that these criticisms tend to come about in the height of these trends, after they have, essentially, been turned into commercial commodities, marketed, and after the most extremist forms of these lifestyles have been highlighted:

  • A critic of the tiny house movement is rarely looking at the baby boomer unemployed during the recession who lost his home, had no money left for retirement, and hoped that downsizing  and turning away from conventional ideas of “more square footage is better” would allow him to live peacefully; they are looking at the 100K deluxe mobile tiny home with the sauna and the heated floor they see on TV or on Pinterest.
  • A critic of yoga isn’t looking at the early Eastern yogis who sought to spread their practices to the West when they felt that people here were lacking wellness practices and spiritual connection; they are looking at the expensive classes, pricey workout clothes, and an emphasis on appearance with no spiritual, cultural, or historical understanding.
  • A critic of minimalism isn’t looking at a young graduate who is loaded with student loan debt and is trying to simplify and prioritize her spending habits to save money and invest in what she truly wants out of life; they are looking at the glossy minimalist loft apartments in magazines and the corporate executives who chose to ascribe to a simpler lifestyle after becoming highly successful and who only own 100 things.

It should be said: to be able to focus on our self-actualization is a privilege in and of itself. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it falls at the top of the pyramid. When we are concerned for our safety or we have nothing to eat, we will not be able to prioritize nourishing our own potential. Even wellness in and of itself is hard to focus on if illness is an issue. So, in that way alone, I can’t in good conscience say that there isn’t an aspect of elitism in wellness trends that we should be aware of.

We are all in different places in terms of what we need in life. That doesn’t mean, though, that taking the time to address self-actualization if we are fortunate enough to be able to do so is a bad thing; in fact, I would argue that it is the responsible choice to make. This kind of emotional growth can and should come with an awareness of the disparities in the world and a drive to help rectify that.

Along that line, I also think that people are realizing that even the most privileged lifestyles have their downsides. I once heard an explanation to justify minimalism that went something like, “Excessive consumerism is a first-world problem, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.”** I truly believe that living an overly-consumerist lifestyle is toxic, both to our own well-being and to the world at large. We are consuming too many products, too much meat and junk food, too much television, too much plastic, too much of our own time and money, just too much of everything. All of this distracts from focusing on our well-being and having a deeper awareness of the world around us. Taking the time to re-assess and prioritize what we really want and need to let into our lives and what kind of person we want to be is necessary.

I have two suggestions:

First, if you yourself follow any kind of trend, be it a wellness trend or something else, consider looking a bit more into its foundations and stripping it down to the essentials. Does this trend have an important cultural history and are you aware of what that is? Have you given thought to what this trend means to you, personally, and how it has changed your life? Are you caught up in the pricey goods, the bells and whistles, because you feel that you need those things in order to follow this trend? Does the reality of the trend truly match the fantasy that is being sold? Does the trend have scientific validity? Have you thought about where you purchase the products for your trend and if they are made ethically? Have you thought about if the way you talk about the trend is sensitive to others?

And secondly, for the critics, I would also suggest stripping these trends down to their essentials. Pay less attention to the designer stores, TV shows, and extremists and more to the everyday, heartfelt stories found online, the people trying to make the best out of bad situations, working with what they have, and finding hope in small changes that bring them joy. Research where the trends started and why. Ask yourself why the trend bothers you; is it because the trend is inherently insensitive, because you just don’t like it, or maybe even because you feel uncomfortable with the idea of personal growth? Whatever you do, by all means don’t stop bringing up valid criticisms, just please do so respectfully and with a comprehensive understanding of the trend itself.

So, today’s Wellness Spell is:

A critical eye with a joyful heart.

To me this phrase means to examine our passions in life to really get to the root of them, but to also take note of what makes us happy. We shouldn’t ignore the things that truly tickle our heart; in one way or another they are trying to tell us something. At times, though, this may mean finding a different method to reach that same feeling or digging a little deeper into just what it means to us and why.

I hope this has been helpful; I really value wellness myself and wish to continue promoting it in a respectful way. It is very exciting to me that so many wellness practices are coming to the forefront right now and I think that is great. If you have any additional thoughts on the matter that I didn’t cover, please let me know.

**If anyone can help me find this quote and credit it, please let me know! I think it may have been from a documentary but can’t find it.


One Small Step (Wellness Spells Series)

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Welcome to my new series, Wellness Spells! Like the name suggests, each post in this series will focus on a different aspect of wellness. I will also cover a few myths and misconceptions about wellness.

First off, what is “wellness?” defines it as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” In the West, we have for a long time seen our physical health largely in terms of illness, as in something that needs to be fixed or healed, rather than focusing on things like prevention and physical and emotional growth. Lately, though, I have noticed more people pursuing wellness, whether they are seeking out a healthier diets, coloring or practicing meditation to feel more calm, or re-examining their life choices in order to prioritize what they want the most. Isn’t that great?

Sometimes, though, starting a new wellness practice can be scary. We see a long road ahead of us and it can feel intimidating. That’s why today’s advice is to take just one step. This could be something as simple as adding one more vegetable to your diet today, visiting a website about a wellness practice you have interest in, swapping out one household product for a healthier or more ethical option, or even just putting on your running shoes. Don’t worry about steps two, three, and four; just get comfortable with the idea of step one.

Are you wondering where the “spells” part of “Wellness Spells” comes in? Each post in this series will have a “spell,” which will basically be a phrase or mantra to keep in mind that will help you on your wellness journey. Today’s spell is:

Once you have achieved step one, steps two and three are easily done.

Okay, okay, it’s a little cheesy, and I seem to be channeling Marry Poppins today, but I hope it will be helpful (and please let me know if it is).

Is there a wellness practice that you have always wanted to try, but just never got around to doing?


Stacey and the Quest for the Unicorn Elixir


So here’s what happened. Last week, due to a to-do list of things I have been dreading that has been hanging over my head, I had decided to take a week of “No Magic Fixes” and tackle one difficult task every day. They were all tasks that I absolutely hate to do and for some of them there was some big emotional involvement as well. I started this project on Saturday and some of the tasks weren’t going so well, so by mid-week I was… stressed. Okay, I was a bundle of maxed out brain cells attached by a spinal chord to a full-speed train wreck.

Now, if you have followed my blog for a while now, you might have guessed that I might be the kind of person who likes unicorns.

In truth, I don’t like unicorns. I LOVE unicorns. I even wrote a blog post about them.

And so, when I heard that Starbucks was coming out with a Unicorn Frappuccino, I just had to try it.

I had been anticipating this beverage for quite some time. I thought it was cool that, true to the magic of the elusive unicorn, the drink would be only available to five days. And, even better, it would change color AND flavor as you drink it. I mean, come on, I had to have one. I thought it would be a great reprieve in the middle of a difficult week and thinking of it was really helping me to get my tough to-do list done.

Day One: Before I try the drink myself, I share a post of a negative review, hoping against hope to get some positive feedback from friends (“Au contraire Stacey, it’s the best magical potion I have placed in my mouth!”). This did not happen. I receive a barrage of (mostly negative) comments, some saying they didn’t like the taste, some criticizing the drink for how unhealthy it is and urging me not to drink it.

Now, to be clear about the health factor, I do eat a largely plant-based diet and I don’t drink alcohol, juice, or soda (with very rare exceptions). I also try to avoid added sugar, other than in a small dessert now and then. I don’t usually drink Starbucks other than a plain iced coffee now and again with a little cream. I generally try to be a healthy person, so I don’t like to consume things that I know are terrible for me.

It’s not that I don’t respect my body. I just respect unicorns MORE. Because magic.

So, I am reading all the negative comments and articles hating on the mythical unicorn beverage, and somehow, I can’t be quite sure how it happened, but somehow, I went into full meltdown mode. With tears. (Remember, I was in the middle of a “scary tasks” desert and unicorn magic was my only oasis. Or at least that’s what I told myself.)
So, yes, I was literally reduced to tears over a Starbucks drink. I don’t even usually DRINK Starbucks. It apparently wasn’t even a GOOD drink, according to the reviews. I decided to pull myself together, take a bubble bath, and leave the Unicorn Frappuccino for another day when I was more able to appreciate a magical elixir.

Day Two: I realize that a guest is coming into town and the house is a wreck. Frantic cleaning and errands ensue to get things somewhat passable. This guest works for another gourmet beverage company, and was very critical of the Unicorn Frappuccino. (I.E. proceed with caution). By the time I finish chores and errands, I realize I still haven’t gotten my unicorn goodness and it’s really late. Was Starbucks even still open? I decide to go in the morning before work.

After all, there was no rush aside from my own desire; it would be available for five days, right? Right?!?

Day Three: I find out that I need to meet with two clients today instead of the one I had planned. I don’t have time to stop and get my Frappuccino. I don’t consume sugary stuff on the job so as not to be a bad influence (I work in in-home care), so I decide to stop by after work.

Then I remember I also have other errands to run after work on the other side of town. I run those errands as quickly as possible and then FINALLY pull up in the Starbucks drive-through in eager anticipation.

ME: Yes, um…I would like a UNICORN…latte?

BARISTA: I’m sorry, we are all out of Unicorn Frappuccinos.

ME: Oh no! Um… uh… um… I’ll come back later. (Drive off slightly panicked and feeling somewhat dumb and guilty for not ordering another drink. Start calculating closest distance to next nearest Starbucks, which is 20 minutes away. Decide to go home and maybe coerce husband and guest to come with me, since I’m already late. Would guest come? He works for the enemy. Is this allowed?)

I get home, and my husband tells me that several Starbucks around town have run out of the drink. I decide to go in the morning, figuring they would re-stock by then.

Day 4: Okay, now it’s full-on panic mode. MUST find the mythical unicorn drink of goodness before it is gone!

I go by the other Starbucks, where I learn that the entire town is out of frappuccinos. The barista herself didn’t even get to try one. And they would not be re-stocking. I spiral into a tunnel of sadness. I might never get to try the mythical drink of my hopes and dreams. Guest is trying to console me by talking about the benefits of using real mango in drinks rather than fake mango flavoring and how mango leaves a certain sheen when blended that is not found in other fruits. Guest, it turns out, is a mango connoisseur. I sadly nod along, trying not to think of my terrible misfortune.

Day 5: I awake in a world that is still full of icky gross things to be done but devoid of magical unicorn drinks. I start to wonder if they ever truly existed. Were they just a myth? If they once existed, does that mean they still do? Or are they, like their counterparts, not actually real anymore? (And yes, if you are calculating, I am now on day eight of my week of no magic fixes and still not done.)

But then it occurred to me: I could make my own.

unicorn frappuccino

I decided to use it a reward for finishing my awful to-do list, which would be done on Monday. And I decided to make it out of some of my favorite things rather than follow an online mock recipe. I started with a base of Nutella. (Was it a statement about the dark sadness of my unicorn journey? Was it unicorn poo? Do I just really, really like Nutella? Hint: it was the latter.) Then I added a milkshake made with gourmet salted caramel ice cream and added a food coloring swirl. I topped it off with whipped cream, pink sugar, and a candy garnish. There was no coffee in it, but I heard the original didn’t have any either, so I was okay with it being basically a milkshake. After all, I figured if it was my own unicorn fantasy, I could make it however I wanted. It did kinda sorta change color from pink and blue to purple, but the flavor didn’t change.

drinking unicorn

I learned many life lessons this week. The early bird catches the worm. Don’t put all my eggs in one basket. Don’t procrastinate on the tough stuff. The biggest one, though, was one that Glinda taught Dorothy years ago; to paraphrase: I always had the power to make unicorn magical goodness; I just had to learn that for myself.

Once I finished all my difficult tasks, I slept easier than I had in months. Never again would I put off important things just because they were difficult or scary, and never again would I fall for some commercial marketing ploy, even if it played into my love of magic. Life’s magic, I realized, couldn’t be found in some external source; it must come from within.

But then today I found out Katy Perry is launching a limited edition MERMAID MAKEUP line!

Game on.

New Year’s Resolution: Five Things Learned So Far

bud growth new years resolution

I am now on my third month of my resolution to invest in growth, both in my personal growth and in the world around me. Here are a few things I have learned:

1.Investments come in all shapes and sizes. I was a bit worried about investing in growth this year because my budget is tighter right now than normal and my life has been pretty chaotic lately. There are a few things, like purchasing a news subscription, that I have decided to hold off on. BUT, I have realized that there are so many things we can do to invest in ourselves and the world around us that cost nothing or can even save us money. I have enjoyed consuming a more plant-based diet, simplifying my cosmetic/beauty ritual with more versatile and ethical products like shampoo bars, purchasing re-usable products rather than disposable ones, learning new things through Youtube and Netflix, and becoming more politically active. I know that when I do have more flexibility in my budget again, I will be able to save more money because of these budget-cutting changes.

2. Not everyone gets on board. I’ve shared a lot of my changes with friends and family, with varied results. I’ve had one person ask me why I would shop at a co-cop or farmer’s market when Kroger was so much cheaper. I tried to explain that I shop healthier there and purchase less junk food and less meat, so I actually save money, both literally and in healthcare costs down the road. Got a blank look from that one. I’ve shared some Facebook links encouraging a call to action that got very minimal responses. (Having worked for a nonprofit before, I expected that.) But, sharing information isn’t so much for all the people who don’t respond as for the people who DO find the information useful or inspiring. That makes it worth it.

3. You learn what people DO want to invest in. For all the moments I thought people would respond and they didn’t, there were some that surprised me, like the time I shared the $10/month Mighty Fix subscription I bought back in September and got a HUGE response with tons of comments and even people texting me for more information. Another time, I asked for documentary recommendations for me to watch so I could learn new things and got so many responses I still haven’t watched them all. So, sometimes the things people do get involved with can surprise you.

4. Perfectionism is a thing. Because so much of what I am doing involves self-improvement, I do sometimes feel a little hypocritical when I fall short of my own expectations. I eat fast food with a client about once or twice a week and I am still beating back an insatiable sweet tooth daily. I’ve been wanting to reduce my trash, but have thrown away a lot of trash lately since I’ve been cleaning out my house. I’ve found myself questioning things I say or how I present myself if it isn’t “growth-oriented” and have to remind myself to invest in self-care and authenticity, too. I’ve second-guessed a few purchases that were not the most ethical or the most prudent choices. When these things happen, I just try to remind myself that growth is not linear. The important thing, I think, is not to restrict ourselves or think about what we “should” be doing but rather to enjoy the process of growth and to realize all the ways our lives are enriched by making positive changes.

5. Growth is a mindset, not a temporary change. There is actually a wonderful book that goes into this in much more detail by Carol Dweck. In this process, I have realized that it is not so much about the physical changes I am making, though they have certainly been impactful to me, but in nourishing my ability to affect change in myself and to share that with others. It’s had a huge impact on my perceived self-efficacy. Things like learning new facts that have completely blown my mind, getting responses to emails I have sent out to political leaders, having people contact me to ask questions about changes I am making, figuring out simpler ways to perform everyday tasks- those things have made me realize that investing in growth is a lifestyle change that could potentially have ripple effects within myself and maybe even in my community as well. It’s that realization, even more than the actual changes, that has had a huge impact on my outlook in life.

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