Thursday, October 26, 2017

Coffee & Moonlight: How I Deal With Anxiety

| "Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows |

I once wrote a blog post that I ended up never publishing, as I felt it was too personal and too much for me to be posting after having just started blogging. Realistically, that post was nothing more than the continuation of something I started doing late last fall, after I had fallen into a growing depression. More often than not, I would spend late nights writing out how I felt, without thinking about it, and for only myself to ever see. For months in the latter part of last year, writing out how I was consistently feeling was the only thing that kept things bearable. It makes sense, then, that in June I was tempted to continue that technique - only this time I had the option of sharing it with others.

The only thing is that my writing was never intended for anyone other than myself. I didn't plan it or limit myself or focus consciously on what I was choosing to write out; I simply said it as I felt it. Thinking about posting those kind of thoughts on my blog seemed just a bit too strange for me, and I decided not to publish it.

But mental illness, depression, anxiety, emotional hurt -- these are things that I care about far too deeply to keep my thoughts about them to myself for the sake of risking my pride or image. I have more compassion for those suffering from a war within their own heads than I do for anything else, because I have been there, I am there - and I need others to know they are not alone.

So, on that note, the little unpublished piece I wrote that June night went like this:

|| I don’t know why I feel everything so deeply. I can feel happiness in distorted highs and then crash down into a breaking heart and an aching soul within minutes. I’ve always felt things with a weight that seemed more than normal, a heaviness that seemed odd. When I love something, it is not just a piece of my world that I appreciate. I feel a pressing need to embrace the overflowing passion I have for whatever it is I love, to ensure that it is as prominent in my life as it deserves to be, to surround myself and immerse myself within it.

They say this is something that I’ve been blessed with, that it’s a mark of the innocence of the youthful heart and that I should hold onto it with pride. There are times when I feel so incredibly grateful to have been blessed with such a curse. My heart breaks at the slightest word, but it causes me to look at the pieces of a shattered world with a desire – a need – to seek out the beauty and the dazzling tragedy and the crumbling brilliance of this bestowed existence.   

Yet other times, I am crushed. This curse, a curse to feel, wholly debilitates me. Perhaps it is because I have lost what I have loved so terribly much in my past. Perhaps it is because what I have loved before has stolen all of me and then shown me it wants none of me. With growth comes an increasing difficulty to uphold this curse of passion. 

Maybe I cannot say exactly why it has become so absurdly hard for me to enter the real world day after day, or why I do this in fear. Each moment is a short breath and subtle reminder to myself that I must continue as I tense up in defense against what is hurting me. Sometimes I do not even know if that thing that is threatening my steadiness is outside of me or within me. The one thing I do know is that I refuse to let this weight I have been given take the life from me. It cannot control me, for I must take hold of it and use it to channel the fervor and presence within me into goodness and beauty and enhancement of the world. 

So I live on in this hell. I continue under this curse. ||

Now you know. 

I read recently that you should never think about what you need to say when you are writing, or think about where you need to point out what, because it takes your focus off of the writing itself. You should simply write. What you need to say will come as an inevitable result of your choice to just write. Perhaps this is why for months some of my best writing happened in the notes on my phone; it was just the raw result of
 what I felt. 

In one of those notes, from sometime in the spring of this year, I attempted to explain what anxiety actually felt like. I debated whether or not I'd be able to add that into this post, too, but if I am going to be completely unedited and honest, I feel that I should share it as well:

 || It's like 

Picture you're in a tornado. There's wind everywhere. It's ripping at you. Everything is being blown to ruins. Chaos. Engulfing you. You can't see. You can't think. Your heart pounds. You want to scream but you're too weak. You want nothing but for it to stop - to be somewhere safe.

It's like that, but the other way around. That scene is inside of you. You feel all of that in your chest. It debilitates you. You want to cry, but no tears come. You are perpetually exhausted, but you can't ever sleep. Shaky. Desperate. Paranoid. Sporadic. Angry at everyone. Angry most at yourself. 

And the world sits calmly and passes by you. And makes it so much worse. ||

One of my favorite quotes says that "if you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you." That, to me, explains why writing is so important - so necessary - in my life. If I'm not writing, the hurt and the fear stay within. I'm not sure if it's ever possible to actually release all of the internal turmoil through writing, or through any form of catharsis, but I do know that it makes it significantly more bearable. Beyond that, it brings feelings of accomplishment due to the fact that you have created something. As I always like to say, I believe people are happiest when they are loving and living for what they love.

The other main way I've soothed overbearing anxiety I discovered in the early weeks of last January. After the culmination of a very hard few months the previous fall, I had gotten to the point where my depression and anxiety had become truly debilitating, in every sense of the word; I was living in such deep fear and hurt, such physical and emotional instability, that I was considering taking a break from school and moving back home. I would wake up literally trembling and wonder how I would possibly channel enough strength to make it through the day.

I started getting up before the sun had risen over the skyscrapers surrounding my apartment building and spending hours alone trying to calm myself down. Whether my early mornings were a result of insomnia or a conscious decision I made to ensure time on my own, I cannot remember. All I know is that those few hours every dark morning before the rest of the world had risen became the best thing I could have possibly done for my emotional state at the time. I started routinely brewing a fresh cup of coffee, grabbing a blanket, and sitting on my couch to do homework or write while listening to music that I found calming and meaningful. Soon after I began this, I created a playlist of these songs and named it after my secret little solution:
Coffee & Moonlight.

Some of the songs in this playlist are a few of the most precious gifts given to me in my life, and I love them more than I can explain for their heart and for how they have gotten me through very dark places. I would highly encourage anyone seeking to soothe their soul to listen to them and let them speak existence. The following is the list of song titles that I spent every morning listening to and reveling in.

Coffee & Moonlight
Tenenbaum - The Paper Kites
Way Down We Go - Kaleo 
All I Want - Dawn Golden 
5AM - Amber Run
Time Is Dancing - Ben Howard
Delicate - Damien Rice 
And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop - James Vincent McMorrow
Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons
Don't Go Slow - Benjamin Francis Leftwich 
Songbird - Josh Garrels 
The Yawning Grave - Lord Huron
Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low - James Vincent McMorrow
Northern Wind - City and Colour 
I Forget Where We Were - Ben Howard 
Emmylou - Vance Joy
After The Storm - Mumford & Sons
Lonelily - Damien Rice
Sensible Heart - City and Colour
Burgh Island - Ben Howard 
Angela - The Lumineers
Lovely - Sara Haze
Fire Escape - Half Moon Run
DNA - Lia Marie Johnson 
All The Pretty Girls - Kaleo
Anchor - Novo Amor
Holocene - Bon Iver
Medicine - Daughter
Tilikum - Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Silhouette - Aquilo
My Arms Were Always Around You - Peter Bradley Adams
Be Still - Canyon City
Wastelands - Amber Run
Smother - Daughter
Re: Stacks - Bon Iver
Losing You - Aquilo
Cursive - Billie Marten 

I don't think anyone having to suffer through a war within their own mind should have to go through it alone. It's exactly why many of these songs and a few of the artists I have discovered because of the harder times have become some of the most important parts of my life.

| And at once, 
I knew I was not magnificent. -Bon Iver |

If you struggle with mental illness, that horrid maze within oneself, I hope this has provided some relief and encouragement. Please know you are loved and you are never alone.

xx Erin Nicole

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's In My Bag

| "Hand me my purse, darling. A girl can't read this sort of thing without her lipstick." -Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany's |

Recently I decided it was just about time for me to jump on the blogger bandwagon and create a post on my handbag essentials. I definitely don't feel the need to emulate all the same content on my blog as whatever is currently popular in the blogging community, but this is one trend that I can get behind any day -- not only do I have a severely unhealthy obsession with bags, but I also have very specific necessities that I always make sure to carry around with me wherever I go. Living in New York City has especially taught me what I need to take with me on a day to day basis (as otherwise I will be dying without, you know, actually dying).

And I don't want to be dying. Rule #1 is take Ibuprofen with you literally everywhere. Please. Your feet will thank you.

Aside from that (very major) necessity, I am also always carrying around obvious general everyday items such as my wallet, keys, phone, headphones, and pack of gum (it's gotta be spearmint). As for my personal favorite daily items, I have a handful of recommendations!

First off, how GORGEOUS is this Pailey tote from Ted Baker? It's fairly new in my wardrobe and I am so in love with it. It's big enough to fit lots of little everyday items inside but still structured and chic. Also, it embodies my style (primarily as it is the prettiest shade of pale pink), so it's perfect as an everyday bag!

One of the things that I try to always carry around with me where I can is this little Victoria's Secret clutch with a few roll-on perfumes: these two are Chloe Love Story and Elizabeth and James Nirvana White. These are so convenient as they are thin and lightweight, and they're perfect for a bit of fresh scent while on the go!

I always have hand lotion on me, as dry skin drives me crazy and it's so comforting to me to have little containers of gorgeous-smelling moisturizer when I want it. The main two I carry around are Soap & Glory's The Righteous Butter and Hand Food. These are super cheap and incredible and can be picked up at Walgreens or Target (or, in my case, Duane Reade). I also love this Victoria's Secret Sheer Love hand lotion that I've had for a few years, but I usually prefer to take the smaller ones! Sometimes I will also carry a bottle of nail polish in case mine chips, and as my nails are usually light pink, I like to keep a shade of it in my bag.

It seems to always be a good idea to carry around a small makeup bag with a handful of products useful for touch-ups throughout the day. Some of those products for me are the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer, a blush (recently I've been loving Milani's baked blush in Luminoso), mascara, whatever lip color I'm wearing that day, and my staple everyday lip liner, Jordana's Easyliner in Rock N' Rose. Depending on the day, I'll sometimes also carry around a gloss or extra lip color (as it is my favorite part of makeup!).

On the subject of touch-ups, I love using a little spritz of this Mario Badescu Facial Spray with rosewater to hydrate my skin and give it a bit of luminance both when I first do my morning makeup and then again throughout the day. It's not very expensive, so if you're looking for a facial spray for touch-ups or even for just skin care, I recommend trying this out!

Some of my other essentials that are always helpful to keep around include an everyday pair of sunglasses, hand sanitizer, and, again, ibuprofen - it is by far the most important necessity, I swear.

One last item I want to mention is this lovely little planner; I think it's a great idea to carry around a small planner or notebook and a pen just in case there's any need to jot some thoughts down throughout the day. In my case, it helps me to remember things, because I do try to plan out all my blog posts before the upcoming month and I often get ideas randomly!

Thanks for reading! I hope this has provided a bit of pretty inspiration and encouragement to get out of the house during these beautiful colder months! 

xx Erin Nicole


Sunday, October 15, 2017

As If There's No Midnight

"Art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed... because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of events... by the way they behave, the way they think." 
-Leonard Bernstein |

My absolute favorite thing about fashion is how it enables people to be completely, abundantly, unapologetically themselves. The clothes we choose to wear are a strength given to us, something that allows us to communicate to the world who we are and what we love. I believe the two are interchangeable; our identity comes from what we love and what we choose to do with our love. Truthfully, personal style is no exception. Each choice someone makes when it comes to fashion is a statement to the world around them. And while some prefer not to place too much significance in style, I adore the fact that what I choose to wear can empower me and make me feel so incredibly more like myself. 

I think this is true of all art; creating art gives us a sense of self in a way nothing else can. The pictures I want to create for my blog go beyond just an outfit; they are about the outfit within a specific atmosphere, and the entire picture communicates a story. This shoot reminded me of quietly classic nights downtown, and seems almost cinematic to me. The innocence but quiet power about the look reminds me of the timeless stories we grew up listening to, such as Cinderella. It is a reminder that there is strength in gentleness.

| "You have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body, and it has power." -Cinderella |

Stories such as Cinderella emphasize to us the importance of quiet strength and kindness. They encourage us to go after what we want and live for what we love- after all, we should be living as if there's no midnight.

The stunning dress I am wearing is from Missguided, and has already become one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe. Its ruffle detailing around the shoulders and checked pattern are two of my favorite trends put together perfectly. I just had to pair it with my over the knee boots from Nature Breeze, because the combination is so effortlessly timeless and chic. The gorgeous bag is by Ted Baker, who is probably the love of my life. Small, structured, light pink, and with rose gold hardware- it has my heart. To lightly finish off the outfit, I added my beloved Return To Tiffany silver pendant necklace with rose gold detailing.

I find myself thinking often about how we should be living consistently in search of the things that fuel our souls. For me, that is always art. It's creating art and appreciating art, looking at beauty and watching others live for their passions. It's what brings energy and fire into my life.

| "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." -Georgia O'Keeffe |

xx Erin Nicole


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Favorite Fall Drugstore Products

| "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." -L. M. Montgomery |

One of the greatest fortunes when it comes to makeup is that there is such a large amount of quality drugstore products available. I sometimes think I actually prefer drugstore makeup over high-end, regardless of the price. For one thing, there are so many dupes for more expensive products that do the job just as well. Beyond that, I've found that at least a few drugstore brands have more quality, pigmented makeup than their significantly more costly competitors. Personally, I love looking at all of the drugstore finds, hauls, and monthly favorites -- you know, all of those bloggery things that bloggers do -- because it gets me so excited to experiment with new, quality makeup without spending a fortune. Also, it's so fun to look at. Don't fight me on this. Makeup is SO fun to look at. Ugh. Yes. Just so much yes. 

I've put together a little guide to some of my all-time favorite drugstore products: *Fall Edition*. (The best kind of edition.) These are all drugstore brands that I highly recommend and believe offer some of the best products on the market. For my fall favorites, I picked a few specific products that I have been using a ton lately and colors that I love playing around with in autumn.

This first brand is one that I will always, always recommend. Although it's not offered in a lot of stores, ColourPop is one of the best drugstore brands out there. Their Super Shock eyeshadows in specific are so pigmented and absolutely stunning- and each shadow is only $5! If you're looking for a specific fall color that's super pigmented and got a hint of glitter, this is the place to look. These three shades are "Bubbly," "Drift," and "Game Face." All of their products can be found here.  

Another ride or die eye product of mine is the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara. I have tried so many mascaras over the years, both drugstore and high-end, and the best two I have ever used are this one and the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. I actually use the Maybelline one more often and have been for months now. However, I have heard that L'Oreal now has a dupe for the Better Than Sex so that's the first thing on my list of products to try!

Ok, you guys. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say Wet N Wild may be my top favorite drugstore brand of all time. I could write an entire separate blog post on how much I love Wet N Wild's existence. Not only are they probably the cheapest you will find in the drugstore, but they are also incredibly pigmented, quality products- much more pigmented than tons of high-end stuff I've tried. I use the MegaGlo Contouring Palette in the shade Dulce De Leche every day, and when I say this stuff is pigmented, I'm not lying- you actually have to be sparing and careful with how much you get on the brush. It retails for $5, so there's really no better deal. This blush in the shade Mellow Wine is less than $3 and another one of my favorite beauty products of all time. I also recommend their eyeshadows! Again, they're all so pigmented and so cheap -- the makeup lover's dream.

As for brushes, I am a firm believer in that the best in the market are drugstore. Real Techniques rules the world of makeup brushes. I can't put into words how much I love them, but just know that they are incredible and all you will ever need. This is their blush brush, a staple in my everyday makeup routine. Other than everything by Real Techniques, I also recommend the (relatively) new brushes by Wet N Wild, of course. This is their flat top brush and it works so well for contouring!

My favorite fall lipsticks this year are both by Maybelline, in the shades Divine Wine and Untainted Spice. Maybelline lipsticks are absolutely perfect; they don't smudge onto anything, which is so rare for any kind of lipstick, and they stay on for hours and fade so naturally. Sadly, this picture doesn't do my two autumnal shades of choice much justice, but Divine Wine (left) is a deep plum color while Untainted Spice (right) is a dark brown nude. I've been using both of these nonstop lately! 

Factually, Soap & Glory gives me life... enough said. Their products smell like flowers and candy from heaven in a container. Every time I use The Righteous Butter lotion (which is, you know, always) I get compliments on how great it smells. You have to try this and the other incredible products by Soap & Glory; I am absolutely in love with them!

Lastly, I want to recommend two nail polish brands that I have sworn by for years. The first is Essie, which has a great variety of gorgeous pale neutrals and pink shades. The one pictured here is in the shade "Brides To Be." The other nail polish brand that I'm obsessed with is Sinful Colors, as they are only a few dollars each and last so well. This one is in the shade "Starfish." As you can probably guess, I prefer my nails to be pink always and the fall makes no exception. I do like to play around with a bit deeper and darker of pinks and neutrals in autumn, so these shades are perfect!   

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed browsing through this as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

xx Erin Nicole


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

To Paris, With Love

| "There is but one Paris... the French air clears up the brain and does good - a world of good." -Vincent van Gogh | 

If I had to choose one word to fully describe my ideal style and what I find most beautiful, I would choose the word Parisian. I'm not from France, nor do I have French ancestry, but I am absolutely convinced that my soul was formed in Paris. In another life, I grew up as a French girl wearing long, airy skirts with heels who spent the majority of her adolescence twirling her hair and reading as many novels as possible in quaint coffee shops off to the side of winding cobblestone streets... I'm sure of it. 

There is, I believe, an elegance and sophistication in Parisian fashion, architecture, and lifestyle that is unparalleled within the rest of the world. French women place a strong focus on femininity and possess a deep love for classic, timeless trends in style. And although we sadly could not have all been born in Paris, its dictation in fashion set the rules I follow before any others. As Sacha Guitry so eloquently stated, "To be Parisian is not to have been born in Paris, but to be reborn."

With this outfit, I combined together a few of what I consider to be classically Parisian staples, perhaps the main of these being the striped top. Mine is by Pink Rose and is one of my favorites due to its thin, light design. Of course, I had to add a pale pink necktie scarf, as I think this just adds so much of a French feel to the outfit. The leather jacket is another staple that accomplishes the classically Parisian-chic look.

To finish the outfit, I added a simple black a-line skirt from Forever 21 and my favorite faux suede booties from Aerosoles. The Kurt Geiger tote is one of my two everyday bags, so it is what I chose to bring along when I styled the outfit. However, as an alternative I would recommend adding a red crossbody bag if you have one, because I think that would look so Parisian and fabulous (I'm a little sad I didn't incorporate a pop of red into the outfit, but I do just adore my Kurt Geiger bag so I'm not complaining too much, ha). Also, adding a beret to this look would be so, so perfect! I think a sleek, straightened hairstyle looks so sophisticated and chic; it's been my favorite lately!

Oh, Paris, how I love you. Until I can call you home, I will continue dressing to pretend that I do.

xx Erin Nicole

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