Health

On Friendship

Maybe friendship can be found in a 5-minute encounter or in those hours you while away with someone you’ve known for so long, you forget they are a friend.

Since moving to a new city, I realize that I took my friends for granted. There’s FaceTime and texting, but it’s hard to replace the real thing. A circle of friends collected over a lifetime simply can’t be replicated over 10 months in a place I’m still learning to navigate.

Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t found a sense of belonging, a familiar group of faces and stories to fall back on, but then I remember what someone said to me last month, “Maybe we’re asking for too much.”

I think about how my boyfriend calls out for me when he comes through the door. I think about the smiling faces at our grocery and how they genuinely care if I found everything I needed. I think about the handful of good people that have welcomed me to this good city.

Maybe friendship can be found in a 5-minute encounter or in those hours you while away with someone you’ve known for so long, you forget they are a friend. I found one of the truest definitions of beauty which is, “A sign of a beautiful person is that they see beauty in others.” Maybe being a friend is like that too and maybe that is enough for now.

P.S. A reflection on friendship and making friends in new places.

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Bike Essentials

Bike-Essentials_mini copyWhen pushed physically, my impulse is “Why?” not “You can do it!”

Since we moved to Austin I decided to give two wheeling a try. After testing a few cruisers, I opted for a hybrid that felt good and had multiple gears for climbing.

Here are the basics I needed to get started:

Pump – For keeping tires in shape. Make sure you get one that fits your tire valve (Presta or Schrader).

Helmet – I’m not one for flashy gear. The Giro Sonnet was the perfect fit – lightweight, comfortable and understated.

Glasses – One beautiful summer evening I was riding and a bug flew in my eye. I promptly bought these online. They come with interchangeable lenses for day or night.

Bottle Cage – It helps to not have to lug around your water bottle. Attach one to your bike instead.

Lights – Comply with the law and stay visible at night. Bright white for the front, flashing red for the back, and rechargeable via USB! Try reflective decals for extra safety.

U-Lock – Cable locks are easy to cut through. Be safe not sorry and get a sturdy U-lock to keep your bike secure.

Repair Kit – Strap this under your seat to patch tires and for other en route mishaps.

Chamois – After riding more than several miles, my butt was pretty sore. These will get you through those longer than usual trips and can be worn under dresses and capris.

This past Sunday I rode 10 miles and it wasn’t easy. When pushed physically, my impulse is “Why?” not “You can do it!” So much of life is like riding. You just get on and go, dealing with the bumps and hills as they come, embracing the curves and protecting against what threatens to overturn us. I will get stronger. I will be more confident. I will have my special underwear on. The important thing is to keep going.

P.S. More tips on buying your first road bike.

Natural Repellents

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Keep pests away without toxic chemicals.

The mosquito war is officially on in Texas and I’m not going down without a fight! I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to keep the pests at bay without using toxic chemicals.

Check out these natural solutions for a bug free summer…

*  Plants – There are a variety of mosquito-repelling plants including: ageratum, citronella, catnip, citrus, eucalyptus, garlic, horsemint, lavender, lemon balm, lemon grass, basil, marigold, mint, peppermint, rosemary, stone root, tea tree, thyme.

I went to my local nursery and picked up some french lavender, citronella geranium, catmint and lemon eucalyptus. They potted it for all under $20.

*  Natural Sprays – There are plenty of essential oil-based sprays that are as effective as those with harsh chemicals. Look for ones with citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, cedar and geranium oils or make your own.

*  Candles – For those backyard shindigs it doesn’t hurt to light a few citronella candles, ready made or DIY. Just make sure the candle has citronella oil instead of artificial fragrance.

*  Clothing Coverage – One of the easiest ways to protect against skeeters is to make sure your body is covered. There is even a BugsAway clothing line.

*  Remove Water – Standing water is often a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you must have a bird bath or water fountain, add a tablespoon of vinegar so your neighbors won’t hate you.

*  Eat Garlic – I really don’t need another reason to eat garlic, but apparently eating the stuff keeps the bugs (and your boyfriend) away.

*  Coffee Grounds – Sprinkling old coffee grounds or chili powder around your plants helps keep bugs, cats and other plant predators out of your yard.

*  Dryer Sheets – A natural spray + clothing coverage is your best bug-free bet, but for those days when you don’t want to smell like an apothecary, try sticking a scented dryer sheet in your purse/pocket or slap on this don’t bite me patch (pun intended).

*  Shut the Door – There have been a few buggers that weaseled their way into our apartment. One day I woke up with dozens of bites. Be safe not sorry, just shut the bedroom door.

So far the plants and natural sprays seem to be winners. Let me know what works for you, I can use all the help I can get!

Sun Protection

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New ways to shield against UV rays.

Besides a less than desirable tan, extended sun exposure can have more serious effects such as premature aging, a suppressed immune system, eye damage, and skin cancers. In my quest for the perfect sun hat, I stumbled upon some great finds to beat the heat this summer.

Sun Hat – Packable, washable, and stylish enough for a weekend getaway, this hat provides good coverage, a comfortable fit, and is better quality than most.

Clothing – This line of UPF 50+ swimwear, fitness, and everyday pieces ensures sun protection without the need for sunscreen. I love their wraps and cover-ups, especially this convertible dress/skirt.

Shades – I’m digging these eco-friendly shades made of 100% bamboo. They’re handcrafted, lightweight, and apparently float on water.

Sunscreen – With temps on the rise, I needed to step up my sunscreen game (especially for my face). This option is all-natural and small enough to pop in my purse for extra touch-ups.

Sunbrella – If you’ll be partaking in outdoor activities, this oversized umbrella will make a nice, shady retreat come wind, rain or shine.

I used to laze in the sun all day in my cutest outfits, but am starting to invest in pieces that do what I need them to do instead of following a passing fad. So, this very practical hat in practical black is going to be my new staple this summer.