September 30, 2013

Most Beautiful When...


Beauty means so many different things. It's an ideal that changes over time, cultures, individuals, and trends. Ultrathin, curvy, "toned," pale, tan, tall-- I can't keep up with it, and that doesn't even take into account fashion trends that say what the right look is, how I should wear my eye make-up, and how I need to wear my hair in bouncy yet contained waves. All of these "shoulds" start to pile up in haphazard piles in my mind, and as they threaten to topple over and skid across the ground, taking out a few chairs along the way, I start to wonder when the heck we're going to stop "should"ing all over ourselves. 

Sure, I felt totally glamorous on my wedding day as I floated around in my sparkling, body-hugging gown and batted my enhanced eyelashes at my new husband. I was especially proud of my giant hair and of how my stylist had created those perfect curls we see in the bridal magazines. I felt pretty hot, to be honest, and also romantic and beautiful. I was a happy bride, and I know that I resembled the image of what a bride "should" look like on her wedding day. It didn't bother me then, and it doesn't bother me now.

But the thing is, I can't put in the effort to fit some sort of beauty ideal on a day-to-day basis. Perfect outfit, perfect make-up, perfect hair? That sounds exhausting. And since the idea of putting that much time and effort into my appearance makes me feel dizzy, I have to believe that maybe that idea of "perfect" isn't really for me.

Wedding day aside, I think that I feel most beautiful when the outward stuff doesn't factor into my mind. I might be wearing jeans and the green Chucks that I've had since I was 18, or I might be wearing my chambray and Minnies-- but it just doesn't matter. What matters is how I'm feeling, and when it comes to beauty, that feeling is simple: I'm beautiful when I feel happy. Sure, I probably won't feel particularly alluring when I've just woken up in the morning and have crazy hair or if I've been working out and have sweat dripping down my beet-red face... but other than the extremes or anomalies, I really don't think that my day-to-day "look" should be a factor in how I view myself and my beauty.

I am my most beautiful when I let stress slide away forgotten under the floorboards, and I can throw back my head and laugh loudly up to the sky. I am my most beautiful when I smile and look into the eyes of the people I love and know that we understand each other. I am my most beautiful when I practice kindness and love and feel that curving back towards me and out into the universe.

My beauty is about being consistent with my values and honoring the people I love. My beauty is about letting who I am, not what I look like, shine through. My beauty is about smiles, laughs, and happy sighs. My beauty is about being empowered, not belittled. My beauty is about being true to myself and not having some clumsy external standard placed over my self-worth. The physical stuff will change over time, and if I let myself believe that beauty is dependent on something so fickle, then I would never find happiness. I've had enough with those lying "shoulds" and am making my own rules: Beauty is about values, kindness, relationships, and actions. Beauty is who I am at my core.

That's a standard I can live with.

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September 29, 2013

Sunday Currently : 38

Yawn, streeeeetch!  Blink. Sigh. It's Sunday morning.

This weekend has gone by too fast, which always happens when I spend my Saturdays at school doing work. +1 for productivity, -1 for less leisure time. Oh, adulthood as a student, you really are so tricky. I still don't quite know how to strike the balance sometimes, but I'm trying. It's harder now that I'm also working full-time, as all I want to do is have some quiet time and relax at the end of the day, yet I should be trying to slip some work in there, too. But I'll figure it out, I suppose. For now, Sunday is all about the quiet and the peace. Things are supposed to be easy on Sundays. Ommm.


 reading : Last week's blogs. I'm finding it hard to stay in the loop during the week when I get home from work, but I'm going to try to set aside a little bit of time this week and experiment with a slightly different routine.

writing :  Lots of Lancaster posts! Our little weekend getaway was so much fun, and I love reliving it through all of our photos. Stay tuned!

listening : To morning sounds.... chirping birds, cats running around the house. 

thinking :   About the fun October things that I want to do in the area. The hubs and I picked up our first pumpkin of the season in Lancaster, but I want to go pumpkin picking with friends, too. Hmm, perhaps an e-mail chain to suggest some outings?

smelling :   Cold air. I opened up one of the kitchen windows for O'Higgins to lounge in, but he promptly squeezed himself between the glass and the screen and popped the screen out of its frame for about the twentieth time. Oh, little one.... at least now we know how he's been doing it.

wishing :    For more in-between fall weather. I love my fall jacket and want to wear it all the time! Isn't fall fashion the best?

hoping :   That the hubs is winning his soccer game this morning. I was too deeply asleep to go watch his game, but I'm rooting for him from the kitchen table!

wearing :   My regular summer PJs, but I'm realizing that I'm going to need to wash my warmer PJ sets pretty soon. I sense some wardrobe reorganization....

loving :   My new job. I've been there for two months, and while I know my schedule isn't 100% full yet, I've found a great flow. Even the stressful days seem manageable, and more than anything, I just love what I do. Yay!

wanting :    To check out J. Crew today to try on some new jeans. I still haven't replaced the ones that ripped over the summer, and I don't think I want to keep wearing my mint ones through the fall. I need some basic blue jeans!

needing :  To also clean the house today. I spy some dust bunnies gathering, and I just want to knock it all out so that everything looks and smells good.

feeling :   Good! Excited about some future possibilities and pleased with the present. Life is pretty darn nice.

clicking :   On all of the blogosphere today in my attempt to catch up on what you all have been up to!


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Last week on The Quixotic Chica:

September 24, 2013

Project DC: Old Town, Part 2

Old Town Alexandria is cute. There is just no denying it. But as the hubs and I looped through the colonial streets, the sun started to set, and we found ourselves in golden hour. Suddenly, the streets seemed a bit more still, and everything pulsed with a soft, warm glow.



Eventually, we made our way to the waterfront, passing by the seafood restaurants and dining crowds. It was a bit congested, but still a pleasant way to end the day. There's something wholly soothing about looking out at the water in the dimming light. Even with the throngs of people everywhere, it was nice to watch the ducks splashing around and enjoy the warm, end-of-summer air.


Is Old Town a must-see? I think so. I'm glad that we went and walked around at our leisure, and I am especially relieved that for the most part, we avoided tourists crowds. It's a cute little place to spend a few hours, and it's nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city every now and again. I think that was the magic of Old Town-- the fact that it seemed very content to exist on its own and could carry its own history. And the sunsets aren't too bad, either.

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A Compass Rose

***

Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.

September 22, 2013

Sunday Currently : 37




reading : Driving directions and history tidbits about Lancaster County. It's fun to learn about a new place!

writing :  Not a whole lot. I'll probably do some writing when we get back to DC this evening, but otherwise it's just this post, and then on to more adventuring!

listening : To the clinks and sounds of our cute B&B. We heard the horsedrawn buggies on the street earlier this morning, which is such a typical Lancaster sound. 

thinking :   About my summer camp years spent here in Lancaster and how life-changing it was for me at that time in my life. Lancaster might not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it holds so much meaning for me, and I am so grateful for that.

smelling :    The faint citrusy scent of the homemade soap our hosts provided in our room. We have encountered a lot of homemade soaps here, and the scents are so strong and fresh. Mmmm.

wishing :    For more getaways in our future. Living in DC, we have so many easy getaways around us in every direction, and it would be nice to do more of this.

hoping :   That I find my lost sunglasses and sunglasses case. I thought that I left them in our B&B room, but now they are nowhere to be found. I sense a trip to Target in my near future....

wearing :   Jeans, Chucks, and a green-and-blue plaid shirt. I'm ready for the countryside!

loving :  That the hubs, who is on the phone checking in with his mom, just described my outfit from last night as, "She looked like she belonged in a J.Crew catalog." Oh, hubs, you really do know the way to my heart.

wanting :   Nice crisp weather for our walk around the F&M camps this morning. Also wanting to recognize spots around campus from my camp days.

needing :   To zip up our suitcase and get moving!

feeling :   Happy about our weekend! As much as I love the city, I do love the quiet and openness of the countryside. I'm excited to share parts of it here soon. :)

clicking :    "Publish," and then that's it for today. :)


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Last week on The Quixotic Chica:

September 20, 2013

The Comfort of Memories

Today is my 28th birthday (yay!), and this evening after work, the hubs and I will head up to Lancaster County for a quiet Pennsylvania weekend. I don't know what it is about growing older, but each year I have less desire for a raucous evening celebrating at bars. I would rather go out to dinner with friends or have a nice meal at home with the hubs, not because I want to hide from my birthday, but because when it comes down to it, I love the quiet.

I first went to Amish Country when I was about 12 for a summer program at Franklin & Marshall College. I spent three weeks there, making new friends, being a total nerd, and falling for the charm of Turkey Hill lemonade and the freshly-baked cinnamon bread found at Central Market. When my parents picked me up to bring me home, I cried and looked out the back window, wishing that I could stay there forever. 

For the next couple of summer, I returned to Lancaster for my three-week haven. It held a magical essence of independence and safety for me, a time when I could venture out on my own (as much as a young teenage girl can really do so at a summer camp) and have an experience that was all mine. I didn't have to share it with the girls at school, I didn't have to be whoever others thought I was-- I could just run free through the quad, giggle with my new friends as my dyed our hair blue in the dorm bathrooms, read good books, and frolic barefoot at the weekend starlight dances.

(via)
Things were simple then. Isn't that what we all say about our youth? It's true. We were unencumbered then. Maybe not entirely, but certainly more than we are now. When is it that we started to drag our feet a little more heavily and lose the sparkle of adventuresome whims? When did our imaginations start to fade and wither?

When I think of Lancaster, my eyes close involuntarily, and I smile as I feel the warm sun on my arms and sing along to the phantom songs of those summer nights. I hear the click-clack of the horse-drawn carriages on the street and inhale the scents of the downtown market. Comfort still lives there, bathing those memories with the happiest of sighs.

I know it won't be the same. It's been over a decade since I was last there, and nothing stays frozen in time. But I hope that as we embark on our quiet weekend, we will be able to savor the magic, even if it has different tastes and scents. I hope that we open ourselves to simple joys and pure moments, soaking in every step and sway, and tuck it safely in our memories for future days.

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September 19, 2013

In Between in Brooklyn

Labor Day weekend was perfect. It just was. I had a marvelous time with two of my oldest friends, easing through the day without any hint of being rushed, enjoying small things like a root beer float, a much-needed breeze on a stifling subway platform, and a cheery flower stuck into a bottle-turned-vase. There was so much to be thankful for, and I think we all savored those moments. I saw parts of Williamsburg I didn't realize existed, and I was introduced to hidden pockets in parts I had been to before. There's something fun about playing tourist in the city I grew up so close to, and I had two very lovely guides to escort me around.





This was perfection. I know that so few things in life are perfect, but this weekend was. Friendships need attention, and it's too easy to say that friends will be there and ready to pick up where we left off. Will they really? Maybe. But so much happens in between, so much of our life is made up of those in-between moments, and when we miss them for our friends, it's a loss. I am so thankful that I've been able to fill in a few pages, even if it took a major kick in the butt to do it. Here's to more of the in-between.

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September 17, 2013

Project DC: Old Town, Part 1

When I first moved to DC in the summer of 2008, I heard a lot of people raving about how cute Old Town Alexandria was and how I absolutely needed spend time there. I also remember thinking, "Virginia? Ugh."

I can't help it, readers. Even though DC is nestled right beside the Commonwealth, Virginia seems so very far away. And rural. And Virginian. 

Still, though, it seemed silly not to check it out when so many people seemed to love it. I've hopped over to various places in NoVA over the past few years, and my trip to Old Town was long overdue. On a whim fueled mainly by the fact that we had a rental car to use for the weekend, the hubs and I took a drive down south for dinner in Old Town.


The rich colonial history is the obvious appeal. Every house seems to have a plaque posted outside proclaiming its connection to George Washington, and the streets are charming. The hubs and I ambled our way through town in the golden evening light, and I started to get it. The quaint historical town with all the beauty of Georgetown without the crowds? It's a keeper.



I could have walked around those brick sidewalks forever. But I have a secret. As enchanting as the old colonial homes are, the real beauty of Old Town comes alive as the sun starts sinking in the sky. The bricks turn a bit golden, the streets take on a bit of a sparkle... it's all very beautiful.

More on Old Town's secrets in Part 2. :)

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A Compass Rose

***

Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
5. Visit Old Town on a day trip.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.