Ten of Swords: My new tattoo

I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old. It was the summer I was living in Sandusky, Ohio — working at a major amusement park — and my roommate and I thought it would be a fun way to end our summer. It’s a Caribbean reef shark. Sharks had been my favorite animal since I was a kid, and I wanted one that was beautiful, powerful, yet wasn’t this misconstrued killing beast.

I got my second tattoo 5 years later. I was visiting home, and my mom and I decided at sort of the spur of the moment that we wanted tattoos. So my mom got her first, and I got my second: the hummingbird from my mom’s Gibson guitar.

Since then, I had been wanting another tattoo. I had plenty of ideas, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted. And for such an investment, I wanted to be sure.

Last month, I was.

“A whale’s mournful cry echoes across the star-speckled water,”

The Ten of Swords is a hard card, a painful one. It a card that represents great misfortune and sudden, overwhelming disaster. Betrayal. Loss. You might wonder why I would get such a dark, sorrowful image permanently etched on my body…

The Ten of Swords also represents the end of a cycle — “It is the lowest point before a new beginning.” Wisdom can be found through this pain, and mental clarity can be found. More-so, the reversed, which is the way I see my tattoo based on its position, reminds us that though we may have hit rock bottom, may have experienced terrible pain, healing can happen. The swords begin to fall away, slowly, as healing will be a long process. But mostly, the pain is going away, and there is only one way to go: up.

This card was one of the first cards that drew me to the Ostara Tarot deck. There was — is — something so beautiful about this image.

My artist, Samantha, did an amazing job interpreting the card’s artwork — done by Krista Gibbard.

The appointment only took maybe an hour. Like any tattoo, it hurt, but it really wasn’t as bad as I remembered. The next days were fine. However, after a few days, the scabby part of healing began.

If you’ve ever had a tattoo, you’ll remember this phase. It’s terrible. Your tattoo itches, and you cannot, under any circumstances scratch your tattoo. What saved the day? Hustle Butter. I bought a small packet from my artist, but ran out! Hustle Butter kept my tattoo perfectly moisturized without being greasy. Helped the scabs heal. After it was completely healed, I switched to Lubriderm daily tattoo care.

As each day passes, I love my tattoo more and more. I see it, and remember that I am so much stronger than I know. My plan is to get a complimentary tattoo on my right arm, a different card. I’m not sure which one at this point, but I do know I’d like Samantha to create it for me. Hopefully it will have as much significance as this once does.

Do you have any tattoos? Tell me about them!

This post does contain affiliate links for Amazon.

I’m an adult, but…

My 35th birthday is fast approaching. Which doesn’t bother me as much as just how quick this semester is going.

However, recently there have been a few things come up where I’ve just been left feeling like “nope, no idea what I’m doing.” It’s been A+ 10/10 adulting over here.

Makeup + Hair

My most recent “attempt”…

I was never a girlie-girl growing up — to my mom’s credit, dealing with two kids on her own, it was a struggle just to get my hair brushed some days. I tried experimenting with makeup in high school, but…

I’ve tried YouTube tutorials now. Most of them frustrate me because I don’t want 20 steps with 38 products to get a “natural” look. I realize there are simple ones out there, but I don’t know. YouTube isn’t really my thing. I’m a minimal person in the morning for my routine. Even today I realized I left the house without anything on my face, only having brushed my hair and pulled it back into a quick ponytail.

Mostly now I go to Ulta and hope to get one of the nice employees who will show me what to do. (And also that they’ll show me products I can afford!) I have no clue what colors to pick, and as much as I love some of the more bold looks on others, I find them very hard to pull off myself. And when I do try new colors… my coworkers are quick to point them out. Which, I don’t know. I guess it just feels weird to have it be something made a fuss over.

I’ve kept my hair short for so long because I really do not know what to do at all with my hair. I can straighten it. I can put it in a ponytail or pig tails. Beyond that? Nope. I bought a curling wand a couple weeks ago and have still yet to get my hair to actually curl using it.

How to properly defrost/heat my car

This one… It’s more of I know how, but never really remember right away, so I’m constantly fiddling with all the knobs for far longer than I’d like, and always wondering if I’m choosing the most efficient way to accomplish this.

The defrosting is one thing: my car actually tells me how to do this. It says which settings to use, and then I basically just have to wait for it to work. But… if I don’t use my vent, and am just recycling the air, my AC turns on even if I have it set to heat… but I can turn that off. But… I don’t know if I should? I just want a warm car in the morning. Just give me a simple button for that.

Soon it’ll be even worse when it’s not freezing out, but my car starts fogging up because of the temperature differences… and then I’ll have no idea what to do at all.

Do you have things you feel like, as an adult, you should know how to do by now but just… don’t?

Oh, hi March.

I know February is a short month, but OOF.

FEBRUARY

  • Start brainstorming my trip to Europe – Nope. But I did start today!
  • Actually develop a writing schedule and stick with it – OOF. Also nope. My theory midterm and GA conference took over, and my thesis got put on the back burner.
  • Two 5-mile rides per week – Nope. I started well, then felt sick, then midterms happened…
  • Weekly blog posts – And another nope. I had two posts last month.
  • Clean the fish tank – *facepalm* My poor fish. I did order a small tank with a lid so I could house him while I deep clean his big tank.
  • 28-Day Challenge: Continue the 20/20 on my precis – Yes, but only because I still owe 2. Meet my morning Noom goals – NOPE. I’m kind of not liking the Noom program. Check in on my Q1 Holiday Council goals – Also nope; time slipped by.

Ouch. Just typing it all out… just.. ouch. I did at least finish my midterm, survive my GA department’s conference, and did well for a class presentation. So, not a fail. Just priorities shifted fast.

MARCH

  • Complete 75% of my thesis. This is a MASSIVE task, but one that has to be done.
  • Finalize my CV and apply to 3 jobs. I’ve found one that I’m so excited for, and will continue to look for more over spring break.
  • Outline my Europe trip. I have an idea of how the trip is going to go, but need to work out the details with my folks.
  • Weekly blog post and twice weekly bike rides. Going to pick this back up and hope I can stick with it.
  • Not miss any assignments for my classes. Since I’ll be doubling down on my thesis, this is going to mean long days of academics. Last thing I need is to slip on precis or assigned readings.
  • Not rush my upcoming new side project. I’ve got a little project I’m going to work on, but it’s definitely a SIDE project. I mostly just want it to pay for itself and be a little creative outlet. (Jewelry was fun, and I’ll likely continue with that later on, but as part of a smaller shop I’m looking at opening next year.)

Frankly, because my thesis is going to take most of my energy and focus — and is such a large task to complete — I don’t plan on overloading myself with other goals. Mostly I want to make it through this month on good footing for finishing my last semester.

How are your goals going? Keeping up? Overwhelmed?

Two weeks with Noom, the “millennial” diet.

I’ll be the first to admit, I really dislike Noom’s advertising as the “millennial” diet. The only reason they’re doing this is because they’re attempting to set themselves apart from programs like Weight Watchers.

Anyway. Chances are, you may have seen advertisements for the new diet program, Noom. They had popped up constantly on Pinterest for me. My weight loss had been kind of stagnate for a while, and wanted to try something else to kind of shake things up and see if it would make a difference.

Noom is an app-based program — everything is done through your phone and there really is no web access other than when you first sign up. Honestly, being app-based is the only thing that makes this remotely “millennial.” Though I haven’t been on Weight Watchers since Oprah bought into it, Noom is apparently pretty similar but with online groups rather than in-person meetings.

Noom offers a 2-week free trial, and during that time you’ve got a Goal Coach who is supposed to help you stay on track for your big goals as well as focus on weekly goals. Honestly? I didn’t really talk to my Goal Coach much.

The app is easy to use, and they definitely highlight how it really only takes a commitment of 10 minutes a day to get through their program. While that’s true for their content, it will take more than just 10 minutes if you actually want to lose weight. So what do those 10 minutes of content consist of? Mostly quizzes and their “psychology” tricks and tips. Noom definitely focuses on examining how you think about food and dieting. A lot of this was just stuff I already knew, and sometimes the tone of their writing seemed… They over use “nerd” for loving facts or anything remotely relating to science. For the most part, I really just skim through these sections.

The real core to Noom is the food tracking, just like any other diet plan. According to Noom, no food is off limits. However, they do code food into Green, Yellow, and Red categories. Everything is focused on caloric density. At this point, this is the main factor in my decision to stay with this plan past my 2-week trial. (That and an 80% off discount I received for my four month plan.)

I’ll admit I kind of hated this tracking for the first four days or so. Especially because so much of what I eat ended up in the red. Tracking every. single. thing. also sometimes feels more like punishment than working towards a healthier me… But I stuck it out and honestly it’s not that bad right now. And honestly, I give myself more grace than the app assumes. If I go over? I’m ok. I don’t think I’ve ruined my progress or anything. Eating under 1200 calories each day doesn’t really seem like a great long-term plan anyway. (Despite the app thinking I’m fragile and will distress over any indulgent foods.)

Now that I’m passed the 2-week trial, I’ve been placed in a group of other “Noomers” where we can post messages and encourage each other. We’ve got a Group Coach, too, but they’re really just a community manager. (At this point, none of the Noom coaches really have more than a few months training program it seems.) My first concern with getting into a group was that if this really is a “millennial” diet, I was going to be surrounded by young twenty somethings whom I really had nothing in common with. The members of my group, however, are across the spectrum of women (so far I haven’t seen anyone identify as male or NB in our group). I don’t know if I’ll really connect with any of these women, and I don’t know how active I’ll be in this group. While I do want to lose weight, my goal is to be more active and to start having a life beyond my couch and desk.

The TL;DR?

Pros:

  • The app is pretty easy to navigate. All of your daily tasks are right there on the home screen.
  • It syncs with whatever pedometer you use. It even will take my weight from my Fitbit app if I log it there first. No fitness band? It’ll use your phone as a pedometer.
  • For those who don’t care about step goals, like me, you can “do more” and log your daily exercise. (Which adds in more calories you can eat if you’d like.)
  • Helps you re-think how you’re eating (and also what and when). You can even set reminders for meal tracking if you’d like. As someone who could use more veggies in their diet and less carbs, this is actually helping.
  • Accountability — I’ve got it set up where if I don’t log my weight for 3 days in a row, it’ll send me a text to check in on me. When I get further into this program, I will probably turn this off.

Cons:

  • The cost. The four month program is $240. And while they do offer discounts (and FYI — any of the Noom links you use on this post will give you 20% off), it’s not the cheapest for what it is.
  • Daily weigh-ins. They seem to think that the more you do it, the easier it’ll get… but for some people this can be a terrible experience, setting off their anxiety.
  • Personally, I don’t really find a benefit to any of the coaches. They’re young, not professionally trained (more than just a few months for a certificate), and there more to just check in rather than actually coach or help you with legitimate things. Definitely would not be an appropriate source for anyone with medical issues.
  • Meal tracking isn’t logged into one nice section. If I want to see what I ate the other day or how I did for a whole week, I have to look at each individual day.
  • That accountability feature? If I want to turn it off, I have to go alllllllllll the way back to the second or third day in my program to find the specific part that covers this. It’s not just in the settings.
  • Quizzes. There’s no real grade for this, and yes, they’re using this to reinforce their lessons. I just roll my eyes at a lot of them.
  • This might not bother others, but they really focus all of this as though you have zero nutritional knowledge. So sometimes the lessons and quizzes just kind of feel like a waste of time. However, I do feel like they will be useful for those who don’t have that knowledge.

If I didn’t have the 80% off, would I use Noom? Eehhh. Probably not. I can track my calories through free apps or even with my Fitbit. Am I seeing progress? Slowly. My in-take survey seemed to think I could reach my goal by May. We’ll see.

My bottom line — do I recommend it? If it’s something you think you’d use, and you can get your way to a discount… then sure. If food tracking with a group is your thing, Noom might be a good fit for you.