Why You Should Document Your Life OFFLINE

I spent the bulk of the weekend looking at old pictures when I really should’ve been organizing files to keep or throw away. I’m sure this happens to everyone, right? 

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Anyway, I learned a few things while I was at it, so it wasn’t a total waste of time — even if I ended up making an unholy mess and driving my OC husband insane. 

1. Paper pictures are such a trip. I never really print pictures out anymore, so physically handling paper photos is such a strange experience now. 

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I mean sure, digital is more convenient, but there’s something about actually touching paper, and not having a ton of other things competing for your attention on a screen that makes you focus more, and appreciate the pictures better. 

2. Youth really is wasted on the young. My mom says this all the time, and she’s totally right. You have no idea, when you’re young, of just how good you have it. This applies to lots of things, but in this particular instance, I refer to looks. 

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Young women, you may not believe me, but this is true. No matter how you look, or how you think you look, you are an enviable type of beautiful. Just by virtue of being young. So stop putting yourself down, stop wishing you looked different, and stop slathering on makeup and whatnot to try and make yourself look older/better/hotter. Believe me, you don’t need any of that. 

There’s a certain quality to youth, a wonderfully lovely sort of freshness, that even the most well-preserved older women can never compete with, and that no amount of expensive creams or plastic surgery can recreate. Enjoy it while you can. 

3. Old pictures are THE BEST. I’m sure we all think we know this from our weekly #ThrowbackThursday experiences, but if you’re a youngun who thinks party pics from 2 years ago count for #TBT, then please… Just stop. You know nothing.

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When I say old pictures, I mean OLD. And the older, the better. Like this pic of my dad and uncle playing by the sea around 1940 or so (?) which is ALL SORTS OF AWESOME. 

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How cool is this? It blows my mind. 

I’m actually planning to have a series of “Look at Old Pictures” parties with my friends sometime soon, because (1) How fun is that??? and (2) the next lesson on my list… 

4. Old pictures may be the best, but after a certain age, YOUR MEMORY IS NOT.

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Seriously. After 20 years or so, you don’t remember SHIT. And you can’t even depend on your friends to help you out, because I swear to God their memories are even worse than yours.

I found some photos I took of a scrapbook my sister Bambi, my friend Troy and I made as a going away present for our friend Ofer…

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…and here’s how the convo went when I attempted to remind Bambi and Troy about it. 

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OMG. THEY’RE THE WORST.

And because you and everyone you know will be pretty useless when it comes to piecing memories together… we come to the 5th and most important thing I learned.

5. You really need to DOCUMENT things. And by this I mean write shiz down.

I really loved looking through my old scrapbooks because they had written commentary in them which showed what I was thinking at the time. Like I actually found this note beside a picture of me and a boy I used to like.

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Of course I have NO idea what I meant by that, so umm… whatever. Thanks for being cryptic, yester-me. But hey, whether I meant it in a good way or a bad way, we’re great friends now so I guess I did change my mind eventually. Good to know. 

Write your thoughts down! Write down your plans, your dreams and perhaps your nefarious plots too, because those are always fun to review after a decade or two. Here’s a funny note I found in that scrapbook for Ofer:

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LOL! I didn’t even remember that I was trying to get them together. Oh, and incidentally, neither did they. They barely even remembered Ofer. 

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What did I say about my friends and their memories?

So yeah, DOCUMENT. And if you want to do it well, do it offline — in a secret diary or scrapbook

Posting stuff online is okay - and much easier, I’ll admit - but the problem with documenting stuff on Facebook or Instagram or your blog or whatever is that you tend to do it with an audience in mind.. so it’s never 100% honest. Admit it. 

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Things always seem more fun, more successful, more hilarious than they actually were. Some pictures - no matter how great - never even make the cut because one or two people look less than perfect in them and will hate you for posting. Your captions and comments are edited to protect your pride or someone else’s. And some (if not most) of the genuine feelings and sentiments that accompany the pictures you took somehow get lost in all the editing and censorship.

When you document in private, just for future you and whomever future you might choose to share it with — you don’t have to worry about that stuff. A secret scrapbook lets you just be you. And it should make for such a fascinating reintroduction to yourself, later on down the line. 

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So go do it! Start your secret scrapbooks now! Don’t wait. I promise you won’t regret it. :)

What If Now Is All We Have?

It occurred to me that I’ve been saying no and putting a lot of things off for a really ridiculous reason… I want to do them “when I’m thinner.” 

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You have no idea how many plans and invitations I’ve replied to with my standard “Okay, cool! But let me lose some weight first.” It’s idiotic, I know, but there you go. 

I only realized how silly I was being after I wrote that post about not being a stranger

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Because of it, I’ve really been making an effort to quit being such a hermit and get out and connect more. So despite the fact that this meant less blogging and online time, I think you should all be proud of me. Because we all know what I’d be doing otherwise, right?

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So yeah, lots of fun reunions recently. On the one hand, it’s been wonderful to catch up with different groups of old friends. As an extrovert. I really do get an energy buzz from being around people (especially people I genuinely like/love), so social gatherings are always great for me. 

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But on the other hand, I have to say… it’s always a little distressing to see people from your past when you’ve gained a ton of weight since you saw them last.

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Even when they’re tactful enough not to say anything (or awesome enough not to even care that you’re a big ol’ balloon now), there’s always that brief eye-widening that happens when they set eyes on you for the first time. 

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That’s the problem with late onset fatness, I think. Not only do I actually think I’m still Skinny Chinie in my head — until I am rudely reminded otherwise by my motherfrakking mirror

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I think ‘Skinny Chinie’ is the picture of me that other people carry in their heads as well. Hence their initial shock upon being presented with the suddenly chubby version…

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It’s a bit of a bummer, sure, but what I realized in the past couple of weeks is that those first few seconds of shock that I dread so much pass pretty quickly. 

After the initial wide-eyed, “Whoa! Wh…what happened?” expression — and me usually squealing “I know! I know ok? I’m fat!!” — people’s pupils eventually normalize and we’re like “Oookay, show’s over. Let’s move on and talk about other things.”

And that’s it. No biggie.

Now that I think about it, I’m a little pissed off about all the time I wasted, waiting for a day that ummm.. might never come, to be honest. As the Oatmeal pointed out in a recent comic, I could very easily be this chubby version of myself forever. 

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MFF indeed.

I think we’re all a little guilty of waiting for some future (real or imagined) day to go and do something we want to do. If it’s not “when I’ve lost some weight” it’s something else. When I’m older… When I get married… When I’ve saved enough money… When I have more experience… When I have more free time. 

What we don’t realize is that in most cases, we really don’t need to wait at all. And we shouldn’t. Because what if that future day never comes?

What if NOW is all we have? 

Stop waiting. That thing you want to do? Whatever it is, do it now. The time to be happy, the time to be fulfilled, the time to find what you’re looking for… that time is NOW.

Go for it. :)

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Why Wallow? 7 Simple, Scientifically Proven Ways to Turn a Rotten Day Around

Some days just seem destined from the start to bum you out. Take Monday, for example. I woke up WAY before my alarm after only four hours of sleep…

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…terrified and all sorts of stressed by a crazy all-star nightmare about zombies.

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I guess you had to be there. I swear it was SCARY. And super stressful. 

And I couldn’t for the life of me fall back asleep, so BAH. I went through the rest of that day looking like a zombie myself. 

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Not the best way to start a new week. And then Tuesday? Right as I was about to set off for work… BAM! MIGRAINE.

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…which, as I explained before, is basically hell on earth, inside your head. Bummer, man. 

It’s easy to let a bad start (or any random sucky moment, for that matter) mess up your entire day… but you know what? It’s actually just as easy to turn a rotten day around. 

You just have to want to.

The truth is that when a day turns craptastic, your initial irritation (or anger or dejection or despair or whatever) wears off after a while. In order for a rotten mood to remain intact, in all its growly glory, at some point you need to feed it.  

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If you’re going to expend all that energy anyway, might as well use it to climb OUT of the pit of despair rather than burrow deeper into it, right?

There are lots of things you can do to turn a rotten day around, but here are 7 that are backed by science (and some of my older blog posts :)). 

1. Smile

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Just fake it ‘til you make it. Studies show that your facial expression can actually influence your mood, so if you want a mood lift, try turning that frown upside down. 

You may look like a bit of a psycho, but whatevs. 

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Do it anyway.

2. Stimulate your senses

If you’ve ever had a strong feeling triggered by a sight or song or scent…

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…you’ll know that our senses can affect our emotions and mood as well. You can actually use your senses to trigger memories that make you happy.image

So when you’re having a rotten day, surround your senses with happy stimuli! Look at heartwarming or funny pictures. Listen to songs that bring back good memories. Brew some coffee, bake some bread, fill your home with happy scents. Let your senses help your mind remember that life isn’t all that bad. 

3. Say Thanks

Several studies have shown that grateful people are happy people, so learn to say thanks and try to turn the day’s negatives into positives. 

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As I mentioned in an old Rappler post, there’s something to be gained and/or learned from every negative experience. Find it, and be thankful. Sometimes the only difference between a curse and a blessing is your attitude.

4. Scribble (or  type)

Never underestimate the power of the pen. Writing is a great stress-reliever. For a quick fix, you can try the write-and-toss bad-mood-busting technique…

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Or just vent on paper, or write about something that makes you happy. 

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While you write about a happy or positive experience, your brain actually relives it. 

5. Snuggle

Okay, this might be a bit difficult depending on where you are or who you’re with…

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So maybe just give or get a hug from someone suitable. 

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Hugging heals all sorts of ills, boosting happiness levels by giving us an always-welcome fix of oxytocin (aka “the love drug”). Find out more about the healing power of hugs here.

6. Sweat it out

This might sound a little funny coming from me, considering my pathetic track record when it comes to exercise…

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I mean seriously, I tried to plank yesterday and almost passed out. But it doesn’t change the facts: Exercise = endorphins = euphoria. 

So go get sweaty, work out that depression / aggression and let the endorphins chase your blues away. 

7. Sleep

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As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing that a good night’s sleep (or at the very least a Dali-esque micronap) can’t fix. Done right, a midday nap can calm you down, lift your spirits, improve productivity and completely reset your rotten day. So get snoozing.

Aaaand that’s it. 

Oh wait, almost forgot, one more… Suck it up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Whining and wallowing will get you nowhere. And there are worse tragedies than today’s tedious inconveniences.

Remember that on any given day, we are as happy as we decide to be. No matter what happens, we always have the power to turn a bad day into a better one. 

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So have yourself a happy day, my friends! If it isn’t happy on its own, then go and make it so. Cheers! :)

Story of my life. (Art and animation by sarahj-art)

Story of my life. (Art and animation by sarahj-art)

Stop Listening to the Stupid Scale

Because I talk about dieting so often, people are always surprised to find out that I don’t even own a scale. Well I do, actually, but it’s ummm… broken. 

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HEY. It just broke by itself, okay??? Stop assuming. And snickering. 

So yeah, I pretty much gauge my weight loss/gain by how my clothes fit and what I see in the mirror, and only weigh myself when I go to see the doctor. And even then I tend not to pay the scale any mind. Well, not much mind anyway.

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If you’ve ever seen this Steve Maraboli quote I drew and posted a couple of times here and on the Fabstagram, you’ll understand why. 

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Here’s the full quote from Dr. Maraboli’s book Life, the Truth and Being Free, which I came across today and thought was worth sharing.

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Yup.

Definitely something to read (and reread, if necessary) the next time you let the numbers on a stupid scale ruin your day and/or self-esteem. 

You are beautiful, my friend. Never let a mindless machine tell you otherwise. :)

Don’t Be a Stranger

It occurred to me this weekend, as I sat in the middle of a roaring, World-Cup-watching pub crowd, how easy it is to become more and more of a hermit, the older you get. 

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Honestly, if it hadn’t been a dear cousin’s going-away party, I would’ve been outta there in 5 minutes. And I swear it had nothing to do with the fact that I am probably the only person in my family/group of friends who cares nothing about the World Cup. 

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Bars and pubs and clubs just really aren’t my thing anymore, I guess. It’s hard to enjoy them when (1) you no longer smoke

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(2) your last experience with alcohol made you swear off drinking forever…

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and (3) when you enter a bar, the waitresses seem a little flummoxed to find you there.

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BAH. 

I do realize I need to get out and socialize a little more, though. Maybe not in smoky, noisy pubs, but elsewhere. Because as yesterday’s slightly morbid Life Countdown infographic showed, we really don’t have all that much time. And it would be nice to spend the time we do have making and maintaining meaningful connections. 

For some terrible reason I’ve had to go to quite a few wakes and funerals this month, and I came across so many people I hadn’t seen in ages…

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…and the one thing I found myself saying over and over again was “It’s so great to see you! I just wish it were under better circumstances.”

People say that a lot, I think. But here’s the thing…“Better circumstances” actually present themselves EVERY DAY. And we so rarely take advantage of them. That is such a shame.

There’s a saying by Warsan Shire that I came upon once.

While it’s really NOT the saddest thing in the world (a little exagg there, Warsan. There are much sadder things.) it’s still pretty sad.And it made me think about people I’ve actually called and considered BEST friends at one time or another, who are now barely a blip on my Facebook feed, and I was like “Omg. What the hell happened??” 

No blame, no grand betrayal. No drama. Just time, I guess, and life changes, and maybe a little bit of laziness. 

Perhaps not everyone in your life is meant to be a big part of it forever. But hey. There’s no need to lose touch completely either.  And as much as your lazy body or too-busy schedule or aversion to traffic might try to tell you otherwise — seeing each other on Facebook is NOT THE SAME as seeing each other in real life. 

So let’s go! Let’s get out there, climb out of our hermit caves and comfort zones, and make a call. Connect with an old friend this week, and spend some quality time catching up. There are too many strangers in this world already. Don’t be one of them. :)