Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Brief Note on Depression and Suicide

A lot of great things have been said online in response to recent events.  Since this is an emotionally draining topic for me, I won't rehash what's already been said online and just share some of my favorite articles below.  However, I will toss in this brief bit:

"Victim blaming" when it comes to mental illness has always infuriated me.  However, when such behavior comes from someone in the medical field, I can't help but question the quality of education this person received in medical/nursing/social work/allied health school.  When caring for a severely depressed or suicidal individual, statements like "Look what this is doing to the people around you" and "This is a call for attention" do not help the situation. Neither is calling a family member to confront the patient (which is a potential HIPAA violation).  As medical practitioners, our focus is to provide care, not judgement.  My advice is this:  If you're not going to try to be understanding of a patient's predicament, then step aside and let someone else take over because you are doing more damage than good.

As I said, I wanted to keep this post short so I will leave all of you with links to some easy reading on the topics of suicide and depression:
There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide
Robin Williams's death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish
Best Ways To Support Someone With Depression
21 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Depressed

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stitch Fix Review #3

For those of you unfamiliar with the Stitch Fix shopping service, please go here first: Stitch Fix Review #1

Shortly after writing Stitch Fix Review #2, I received a really nice e-mail from Kate of Stitch Fix.  She apologized for my Fix not working out and offered tips on how to improve the next one.  It was really nice of Stitch Fix to reach out to me personally, so I decided to give them one more chance!  Here's how my third Fix turned out:

Item #1: Emperia Murphy Two-Tone Stud Detail Crossbody ($38)

Stitch Fix
Nice quality vegan purse with gold hardware, which I like. However, I recently stocked up on a bunch of bags from various Little Black Bag (now Pose) sales and really do not need another. I'll have to add a request for no purses to my profile.

Item #2: Ace Swiss Dot & Floral Tie-Waist Blouse ($68)
Item #3: Pink Martini Joshua Colored Ankle Jean ($64)
Stitch Fix
I wasn't really a fan of the dot/floral pattern combinations, which seemed too busy for me. This blouse seems like it would work for a taller person since the waist basically landed on my hips. Also, it arrived with detached button, making me wonder about the quality and craftsmanship.

As for the pants, the fact that I received them in the first place was a problem because I specifically requested NO PANTS on my profile. While I liked the color, they sat way too low on my waist.  Such a huge disappointment and made me wonder if the Stitch Fix staff actually read my profile before putting together this Fix.

Item #3: Ark n Co Ashlie Graphic Knit Sleeveless Cardigan ($68)
Stitch Fix
This knitted cardigan was really soft and well-constructed.  Perfect for a summer/fall transitional piece.  Unfortunately, this was way too long and billowy on me.  The high/low cut also made my hips look huge.

Item #5: Under Skies Rho Mixed Chevron Sleeveless Dress ($58)
Stitch Fix
Once again, I was down to my last item.  Fortunately, this dress was super comfy and the perfect length and fit, though my mom commented that it seemed form fitting.  I may be blind, but I don't think it's form fitting at all, and my scoliosis seems masked by the pattern.  While rather expensive at $58, I decided to keep it as a work dress to avoid losing my $20 styling fee yet again.

Honestly, this may be my last Stitch Fix for a while. Part of the appeal of the company was receiving products based on your personal style preferences. With the inclusion of pants in my most recent Fix, I question whether Stitch Fix even takes my requests into account.  Maybe Stitch Fix's algorithm simply doesn't work for someone like me with scoliosis and non-traditional proportions. While I did have some initial success finding clothes, I'm not sure I want to continue risking $20+ dollars a month only to settle for something I'm not completely happy with.  Sorry, Stitch Fix!

If you are interested in trying out Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link here:  No, I am not affiliated with Stitch Fix in any way, shape, or form.

Friday, June 20, 2014

TSG.TV's Pokemon Marathon for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

pokemon marathon

Between work and travel, it's been a pretty eventful summer for me thus far!  This week, I am in Texas helping my TSG.TV buddies with their latest video game marathon!

Also known as TheSpeedGamers, TSG consists of a group of friends with a passion for video games who host marathons for charity throughout the year.  Since 2008, they have raised over $460,000 for organizations such as ACT Today, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Heifer Internation, and Mercy Corps.  Marathons typically consist of gamers alongside commentators who engage the chatroom and perform various stunts (i.e. singing songs or eating disgusting concoctions) for donations.  I became involved with TSG back when I was in graduate school thanks to their Final Fantasy Marathon (one of my favorite video game series of all time) and consider myself lucky to be associated with such a great group of people.

For this year's annual summer marathon, TSG will be playing 168 hours of Pokemon and catching them all! All proceeds will go towards St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, known for their work with pediatric cancer.

If you're a fan a video games, or someone who enjoys seeing others use their passion to help others, then definitely check out the TSG.TV Pokemon Marathon from June 20-27!  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Best/Worst Graduation Speech I've Ever Heard

You know it's graduation season when your social media feeds are inundated with videos/text from various graduation speeches. A number of well-off engineers I know shared this particular speech, which resulted in strong, conflicting mixed reactions on my part. I haven't felt this uncomfortable reading something since the Any Chua Wall Street Journal article.

Here's a copy of the "speech" here: Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre) 
I can't decide if this is the best or most arrogant commencement speech I have ever read. Basically, author Tim Donovan states that people should err on the safe side when making career decisions and not pursue non-financially lucrative dreams because they will most likely not succeed. In his opinion, it's better to live a stable life than risk failure, and that passions should be relegated to hobby status.

To a certain level, I can understand where Mr. Donovan is coming from. On one hand, not everyone can succeed as an artist, musician, writer, [insert humanities field here]. The author himself worked as a waiter for many years before making it big. Even fields in the social sciences (such as social work) don't always provide livable incomes. Safe degrees in fields like computer science, engineering, medicine, and business generally guarantee enough disposable income for people to pay their bills and live comfortable lives. On the other hand, I find it ironic that a humanities major who ultimately became successful by following his dreams is telling the rest of us to simply take the safe route.

Tim Donovan targets the general student population in his "speech" - the mediocre. A question I can't help by ask is this: Who are the true mediocre in this situation? Is it people who play it safe and potentially live mundane yet stable lives, or those who risk their financial security in hopes of doing something great or achieving their dreams? While some of the biggest risk takers I know could have higher incomes and larger nest eggs, these individuals are the ones who seem to be having the most adventure, seeing the world, and making the most out of life.

On a personal note, I'm someone who tried to balance dreams (studying music) with stability (a college counseling job) but ultimately erred on the side of practicality (a job in the medical sector). My job is fine, but I regularly wonder if I'd be happier if I pursued something even less financially pragmatic than social work. Maybe I'll get that music degree someday (to the horror of my family/friends), but for now I'll be part of the mediocre.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Obama Says He Wants More Young People To Become Social Workers

It's been a while since I've made a social work related post!  I'll try to do a better job of throwing in social work related material among my product reviews and shopping/deal/travel articles.  I am still a social worker after all!

Nice feel good article from Social Workers Speak, but certainly easier said than done:

Obama says he wants more young people to become social workers | Social Workers Speak

Let's face it, despite the increasing demand for (geriatric) social workers, there is decreasing incentive for students to go into the social work field.  In this economy, why would a practical student take on loads of debt to get a graduate degree in a field with low returns?

If we want more social workers, then we need to provide financial incentives for students to enter the field.  For me, that would include reducing student loan debt (which President Obama touched on) and higher wages.  It's a deterrent to pay someone with a masters degree and a license the same wages as someone with a 2 year degree.  As I've stated many times on this blog, the best way we can ensure this is to pass federal title protection laws so non-social workers can't take our jobs.

It's great to see the social work profession acknowledged by the President.  However, we have a long way to go before we receive the respect and compensation we deserve.

Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask


My skin was not in good shape last week. The combination of Amtrak/bus travel, lack of sleep, and new products tested on my face has caused me to break out so badly that I was questioned at the dinner table, despite wearing concealer. It was time of an intervention, even if meant a mask so I could eat my dinner in peace. Going through my Generation Beauty haul, I found a sample of Proactive Skin Purifying Mask.

I've pretty much struggled with acne for as long as I could remember. My childhood consisted of numerous trips to the dermatologist, tubes of various creams smeared on my face, and bottles of antibiotics down my throat. Recently, I've gone as far as having costly, painful, but effective acne extractions to keep the pesky red bumps at bay. Given the cost of acne facials and topical antibiotics (which I must pay in full thanks to my health plan), I've been looking into lower cost over-the-counter options. The Proactiv mask seemed promising because it uses sulfur, an ingredient I've had success with in the past.

Sulfur, also known as the 16th element, has been used since ancient times to treat various skin ailments due to its antibacterial properties. While sulfur usually has a pungent smell I could barely detect it, possibly because I'm desensitized from all the sulfur-based products I've used in the past. In fact, I found this product to have a refreshing, clean scent!

The nice thing about this product is that it can be used as both a mask and an overnight spot treatment. I ended up doing both, and while I didn't wake up with miraculously clear skin, the acne on my face did diminish in size and redness!

Overall, I'd recommend Proactiv's Skin Purifying Mask if you have oily, acne-prone skin. Currently, it's only available as a free gift if you buy a kit on Proactiv's website.  I hope they start selling this product individually as I'd like to add to my weekly skincare routine!

*Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with Proactiv in any way, shape, or form.  I just happened to receive a free mask and felt like sharing a review!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thank you, LUSH Cosmetics!

I love getting mail!
As mentioned in my previous post, I won LUSH's #freshnewlush contest during Generation Beauty.  My prizes came in the mail, and I thought I'd share some pics and thoughts on each product!

LUSH sent me 6 full-sized products!  So generous of them!
LUSH sent me a total of six products: African Paradise Body Conditioner, Zeste Medium to Short Hair Gelly, D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap, Granny Takes a Dip Bath Bomb, and bar soaps in Parsley Porridge and Mangnificent.  Since LUSH products tend to have slightly shorter expiration dates because they have no preservatives, I went ahead and opened them up!

Granny Takes a Dip
Granny Takes a Dip is an invigorating bath bomb with lemon oil, ginger, and pepper.  Its psychedelic look reminds me of a bubble gum flavored popsicle I used to eat as a kid!  I still need to clean and disinfect my bathtub before I try this out, but in the meantime check out this video of it fizzing here: Granny Takes a Dip

Magnificent (left) and Parsley Porridge soap bars from Generation Beauty for reference
Mangnificent and Parsley Porridge soap bars were also in my swag bag during Generation Beauty.  Mangnificent, made with natural ingredients such as mango and various fruit oils (including neroli) has a candy-like citrus tropical smell.  Perfect for aromatherapy after a stressful day at work!  Parsley Porridge, on the other hand, is made with ingredients such as tea tree oil, aloe vera, thyme, and parsley and has a refreshing herbal scent.  Intended as a detoxifying soap, I'm looking forward to see if it has any clarifying effects on my skin! 

D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap
D'Fluff has a sweet floral chocolate covered strawberry scent.  Makes sense since the product is made with strawberries, rosehip oil, and cocoa butter.  While I usually epilate (saves on the cost of razors and shaving), I gave D'Fluff a try and found that it made my skin slippery enough for a smooth shave.  However, be careful that none of the product accidentally washes off prior to shaving!  I'd turn off the shower before using this.

Zeste Medium to Strong Hair Gelly
Zeste is made with avocado and citrus oil and smells like guacamole according to my boyfriend.  Personally, I like the avocado citrus scent, but it may be too strong depending on your environment/workplace.  This will be a product I use when I'm not in a hospital setting.

Zeste on my hand
At first, I was confused as how to use Zeste because I couldn't seem to get any on my finger.  Then I read the directions and dumped the entire container onto my hand, which came out as a dense, conglomerated blob of gel.  Passing the blob between my two hands coated them with just the right around of product.  Zeste does provide decent, non-crispy hold, but I'd recommend not using too much to prevent oily, bogged down hair.

African Paradise Body Conditioner
African Paradise Body Conditioner is chock full of moisturizers (aloe gel, shea butter, cocoa butter), natural oils (almond, moringa, marula, baobab, Kahari melon, ylang ylang, clove bud, and sandalwood), and mango juice.  Its complex scent is something I can best describe as an earthier version of a moringa shower gel I use.

At first, I had trouble getting the product on my body and made a huge mess in my shower.  This is definitely another product where I'd recommend turning off the shower or stepping away from the water stream before using.  However, a quick rub and rinse of African Paradise reveals smooth and glowing skin that eliminates the need for lotion.  Also 24 hours later, I still can't believe how soft my skin is!  As someone who hates applying lotion after a shower, I plan on repurchasing this product (and all its iterations) over and over again!  By far my favorite prize of the bunch!

I will admit that LUSH is not the most affordable cosmetics and body care company out there.  However, they are certainly one of the greenest with their use of natural ingredients, recycled packaging, non-animal/human testing practices, and environmental activism.  This, coupled with the quality and longevity (especially in the case of their solid shampoo) of products makes it worth the occasional splurge!  Thank you again for the prizes, LUSH!  I will see you at next year's Generation Beauty and really soon at my nearby mall!

*Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics in any way, shape, or form.  I am simply an excited fan who won a prize from them!