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Butterflies, Body Art, and Bittersweet Memories

Butterflies, Body Art, and Bittersweet Memories

My butterfly tattoo is a tangible reminder of who gave me wings.

My freshman year of college I got a tattoo.
It was my first tattoo ever and my mom was pissed. My friends thought it was “basic”. Some of them even thought it was cool.
It is a simple black butterfly on my back shoulder with some scribbles underneath
Gigi
It was perfect.

butterflies
The last time I saw my grandmother before she died, she told me she wanted to be reincarnated as a butterfly. I didn’t know she was dying and that it was my last chance to say goodbye.
I just remember picturing her taking flight, continuing to be a presence in the world.
When she passed, there was no question that I would be getting a tattoo to commemorate her.
I also knew that I had to go to Thailand.

butterflies
About a year before she died, I had started planning my first trip abroad. It was going to be a mission trip to Thailand and Laos for a few weeks. Neither one of my parents had ever traveled except one trip to Costa Rica when we were kids. I was excited to go off on my own and “make a difference”.
Except I had no idea how I was going to pay for it all. I was only in high school, after all. My mom and stepdad ran a small landscaping business that was barely scraping by. I accepted that the Thailand trip may just be a far-off dream.
I wrote my grandma a letter and at some point she called to tell me that she would fund my trip. I was excited of course, but it felt a little surreal. I wasn’t so sure I would have the courage to go. At least I had one person rooting for me.

Gigi passed away shortly after that. I forgot my trip completely as I dealt with the anguish of losing someone I was so close to. She had always been my role model.
She was the one that taught me how to use makeup, what books to read, and the importance of education.
She was the first feminist I ever knew.

butterflies
I remember yelling out, wishing for one more moment with her. If only I had had the chance to say goodbye. To tell her how much she meant to me.
It has been nearly seven years since then, but the passion has not left me. It is because of her that I went to college, became an activist, and have a passion for travel.

My butterfly tattoo is a tangible reminder of who gave me wings.

butterflies

But at the same time, I knew I needed to do something greater. I needed to take a trip to Thailand on my own, in memory of her.

This past September was my first solo trip abroad. I went to Thailand for an entire month, with no plan and completely on my own. There are a million things I could say about Thailand and my experience there, but there are not enough words to explain the emotional importance and meaning of this trip.

butterflies

I have struggled with self-confidence issues for most of my life. I have anxiety, OCD, and have bouts of depression. I grew up in a low income household and had struggled to support myself through 5 years of college.
By traveling on my own, relying on my own strengths and abilities, I was able to prove myself. Mostly to myself and to my grandmother who passed on. I felt more secure in my femininity, intelligence, and capabilities. I was able to fulfill what my grandmother always said I would be able to do.

As cliché as it sounds, I felt like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon: reborn.
I feel more confident, capable, and courageous.

butterflies
I also feel closure. Even though I wasn’t able to say goodbye, I still get the sense that my grandmother would be proud of my journey.

All of this came together as I walked along a beach on Railay Island.
The walkway was being kissed by the waves on my right, flowers and foliage to my left.
I reached the end of the trail and I found myself surrounded by dozens of butterflies.
They each fluttered by with their wings of blue and white and green. I felt at peace.

butterflies

At peace with my grandmother’s passing, and at peace with myself.
In the end, I felt fulfilled by following my heart.
Even though the call to travel solo seemed daunting to me, I simply KNEW I had to go.
And I believe that going to Thailand in Gigi’s memory was my purpose all along.

butterflies

 

 

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My “No Poo” Experience: A Year Without Shampoo

My “No Poo” Experience: A Year Without Shampoo

Ever since middle school, it has been a constant battle trying to tame my frizzy, curly mane of hair. In 6th grade, I opted to cut all of it off, but the result was me looking like one of the Beatles rather than a cute pop singer with a pixie cut.

no poo

In high school, I flat ironed it to oblivion, which left my hair straight but severely damaged and ultimately limp on my head.

By college, the “messy bun” started to become popular, and this was my go-to up-do. I had resolved to do nothing with my hair, simply washing it and tying it into a bun before it was even dry. It was definitely a mess.

Over time I started to think I was doomed to having kinky, dry, or oily hair. There were never any “good hair days”. I tried tons of products. I tried tons of styles. I was absolutely #done with it all.

no poo

Until, about a year ago, when I came across the No Poo fad while searching for solutions online. Let me clarify now that “No Poo” refers to using No (sham)Poo and has nothing to do with bowel movements. I still giggle a little using this term but that’s what the internet decided to refer to it as so for simplicity I will still call it the No Poo movement.

no poo

ANYWAY.

It felt like a last resort, so I decided to give it a try. There were multiple blog posts and even articles about it, so I picked one how-to guide and went out and bought the supplies. One of the most exciting parts to me was that all the ingredients seemed more environmentally friendly than the products I had been using, so that was a big plus. Throughout this process, I have come up with my own routine that works for me.

no poo

Everyone’s hair is different, and it’s not certain that the No Poo method will work for everyone, even with variations. All I can say is that it has worked very well for me and I have no desire to go back to using regular shampoo.

I started out with the following routine, based on tips I found online:

no poo

  1. Wet my hair thoroughly in the shower
  2. Pour about 1 Tablespoon of dry baking soda into my hand and work into my scalp at the center part.
  3. Rinse soda out of my hair.
  4. Spray apple cider vinegar through my hair, focusing at the tips. Let sit for about 2 minutes and rinse.
  5. Let hair air dry.

It was recommended that after each wash, you should go as long as possible until washing your hair again. In the meantime I tried dry cocoa powder in place of dry shampoo to reduce oiliness. This ended up being way too messy for me and just a pain, so I skipped using any kind of dry shampoo.

no poo

I went about 5 days between washes, and at the beginning this meant several days of oily hair. I read that this would happen, as your hair adjusts. However, I was used to shampooing almost every day, and if I went more than one day without a wash, my hair would become very oily. The explanation was that shampoos are detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils, so then your hair ends up overcompensating when you go without a wash. The result is an endless cycle of dependency on shampoo. I hoped to break this cycle and eventually go a week or so without having to wash my hair with product.

It took me about 3 weeks until the oiliness was no longer a problem. Again, it was important to resist washing my hair with anything but water for as long as possible. I was working at a summer camp at the time and getting dirty every day, so I just rinsed my hair with water and used the apple cider vinegar as a conditioner as needed.

 

Since then, my routine has changed, as I no longer feel like I need any kind of conditioner for my hair.

no poo

  1. Wet my hair thoroughly in the shower
  2. Pour about 1 Tablespoon of dry baking soda in my hand.
  3. Add a little bit of water to create more of a paste.
  4. Work paste into my scalp at the center part, the temples, and neck area.
  5. Leave in hair for about 2 minutes.
  6. Rinse thoroughly.
  7. Air dry.

I now find that even after my hair has air-dried, it is not frizzy like it used to be after using shampoo. I used to have to use a bit of hair oil to cut the frizziness, but now my hair has the perfect amount of oil right after wash. In fact, the following days are even better, as my hair is easier to style, isn’t shiny, and still feels clean. I used to get dandruff all the time, but I haven’t since I started the No Poo method.

no poo

*I want to make a note here that I have used shampoo on occasion when my hair really needed a wash and I didn’t have baking soda with me, like at a friend’s house or on a trip. Immediately I can feel the difference the next day, as my hair usually feels heavier and gets dandruff. In these cases, I go as long as possible until my next wash and am sure to use baking soda instead. Using shampoo doesn’t throw my hair totally out-of-whack if it’s only for one wash, but longer than that and I tend to have some issues.

My recommendation is that if the No Poo method works well for you, avoid using shampoo at all if you can.

Overall I am so glad that I made this choice to use this method, as my hair has never looked or felt better, and I get more compliments on it than ever before. I feel more confident, wear my hair down almost every day, and don’t have to pay out-the-nose for hair products. This method is definitely worth a try if you are fed up with your hair, or are simply a hippy that wants to avoid using lots of chemicals on your body (I also use baking soda as clothes detergent and body wash sometimes).

No Poo may be the best for you, too!

no poo

 

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