40 Radical Acts of Self-Love

40 Radical Acts of Self-Love

In the age of crippling college debt and chaotic headlines, showing yourself love is harder than ever. It feels impossible to find inner peace in a world full of pressure.

Who can pursue passion projects when the rent forces many of us to have multiple day jobs? How can we appreciate our own bodies when society continues to support the idea that some of them are not good enough?

Capitalism sets us up to always want more, and this affects our mental well-being. We are not supposed to be satisfied with what we have and who we are; we must always try to be better, richer, known. If we’re not productive as possible, we’re useless. If our latest post on Instagram doesn’t get any likes, we are failures. It’s an endless loop that is exhausting.

Screw all of that.

In fact, I think you should screw that with a nice dose of radical self-love.

Practicing self-love in a significant way can be the ultimate middle finger to the societal constructs that aim to limit us, particularly for people of color, trans folks, differently-abled people, and women.

I believe that self-love is radical in various ways. It challenges the white patriarchal standards that define our culture. It empowers us to think about ourselves and other differently. It causes us to act out of kindness instead of fear or anger.

Don’t confuse radical self-love with basic self-care. This isn’t about brushing your teeth. Radical self-love is deeper. It is performing actions that are purely for your mind and spirit. It is selfishness that helps you own and celebrate yourself. This selfishness leads to you feeling your best in a culture that wants you to struggle.

I’ve been consciously practicing radical self-love for the past few months. It all started in March with a solo trip to Paris in the midst of heartbreak. That journey was a gift to a weary soul: it made me think differently about how I deserve to be treated by myself and others. It helped me believe that I have an inner-power that can guide me through dark times.

Since then, I’ve been striving to prioritize radical self-love. It isn’t always easy, but practicing it more consistently has continued to help me heal little by little.

I strongly encourage you, unique reader with lovely personal qualities, to consider how you treat yourself. What is the tone of your inner thoughts? Do you judge yourself? If you realize you’re kinder to strangers than you are to yourself, then maybe you should give radical self-love a try.

The best part about radical-self love is that it can be practiced in various ways. Acts can range from minuscule to grandiose. Your personality and interests will dictate what types of radical acts will be impactful for you.

Get inspired by this list of forty possible acts of self-love you can try. I’ve tried to include a huge range of activities ranging from physical to mental, free to expensive. Try one that immediately to speaks to you or maybe one that you’re afraid of. Practicing any of the radical acts of self-love could change your view of yourself and the world around you:

  1. Start a new journal and write down at least one good thing that happened daily
  2. Spend some time in nature, whether that be for a walk at your local park or a longer camping trip
  3. Compliment yourself every time you look in the mirror
  4. Prepare and eat your favorite meal
  5. Exercise with the intention of enjoying it instead of doing it because you have to
  6. Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes and look at the list whenever you’re feeling down
  7. Listen to your intuition and act on it – do what feels right rather than what is expected
  8. Turn on some up-beat tunes and dance
  9. Hang out with your pet or visit a friend who has a pet you can hang out with
  10. Express your feelings openly
  11. Sing with the car windows down
  12. Stay in bed when your body wants to rest – push that snooze button
  13. Book a solo vacation and do whatever you want once you reach your destination
  14. Meditate a little or a lot
  15. Visit a nearby beach, river, pool, or lake and take a swim – feel the water hold your body
  16. Say no when you want to and don’t feel sorry about it
  17. Donate clothes or items that have negative feelings attached to them – keep anything that brings you joy
  18. Sit outside when it is sunny and soak up the rays (with proper sun protection of course)
  19. Write yourself a love letter and read it
  20. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers
  21. Turn off your cell phone for an hour, day, week, or longer
  22. Write down your regrets on a piece of paper and proceed to light that paper on fire in the safest way possible (or rip it into tiny pieces to avoid the pyro aspect)
  23. Give yourself a pep talk when you need one – think about what you would want a coach or mentor to say to you and say it out loud
  24. Pamper yourself with a massage, facial, or pedicure (maybe do all three if you’re feeling fancy)
  25. Stretch in the morning, in the evening, and whenever you want to in between
  26. Enjoy a favorite childhood movie or book
  27. Cuddle your pet or say hi to a friendly dog on the street (with permission from the owner of course)
  28. Talk to a therapist often or occasionally when you’re suffering, thriving, and existing
  29. Leave an encouraging post-it note for a stranger to discover and let the good vibes flow
  30. Cry unapologetically
  31. Learn a new craft and make art for yourself and others
  32. Buy yourself a scoop of your favorite ice cream and pay for the next customer’s order as well
  33. Look at old photos and feel the nostalgia
  34. Send a thank you letter to someone who has made a positive impact on your life
  35. Watch a comedy special or funny video online and laugh out loud
  36. Cease communication with someone who makes you feel bad
  37. Improve your sleep with a new pillow, mattress pad, or relaxing essential oils
  38. Give meaningful compliments to others and accept the compliments people make about you instead of shrugging them off
  39. Complete a nagging task that has been on your to-do list – feel relieved when it’s done
  40. Live in the present and do what you want now – not tomorrow, not this summer, not next year – now

 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your favorite acts of self-love in the comments – I’m always open to new suggestions to try!

 

Why Disneyland is My Happy Place

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I’ve been a Disney fanatic for as long as I can remember. I wore out VHS tapes of The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Cinderella throughout the 1990’s and my mouse love was cemented during my first trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in 1999. I’ve been back to Florida several times and even visited Disneyland Paris this past spring.

So when I started planning my solo trip to California, I just knew I had to visit the original Anaheim park. My two previous stops at the Disneyland Resort had only lasted a couple hours each, so this time I purchased a three-day hopper ticket and booked a room at a nearby motel.

Unsurprisingly, I had the loveliest time. Maybe it was because it was my first time going to one of the Disney parks alone, or perhaps my broken heart simply needed the magic more than ever… For whatever reason, that little park in Anaheim charmed the heck out of me. While Disney World will always be my first park, my recent experience at Disneyland was so wonderful that it just might be my favorite one now. Here’s why it’s my new happy place out of the Disney resorts I’ve been to:

It Has the Classics

Since Disneyland is the first Disney park and the only one Walt lived to see, celebrating the history seems to be more of a priority there than at any of the other parks. Old staples that Walt himself worked on have longer lifespans than they do at other parks (though they have received some updates and seasonal overlays over the years.) In general, attraction changes seem more likely to happen at the newer California Adventure (Tower of Terror turning into Guardians of the Galaxy, Pixar Pier’s arrival for example.)

Many of the opening day and early attractions are still running, and it was neat to experience a few of them in near original condition as a Disney geek. They might not be the most technologically advanced (the animatronics in the Enchanted Tiki Room are practically antiques), but the magic is still there and the nostalgia is palpable. It was particularly exciting to go on some of my dark-ride favorites that are no longer at Disney World, like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Snow White’s Scary Adventures. Who doesn’t love the classics?

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It’s A Manageable Size

Disney World’s size is great in terms of being able to house multiple, large parks but it can also feel pretty intimidating if you’re spending less than five days there because there is just so much to do. It can be a hassle to park hop, and I always leave feeling like I didn’t make enough of a dent on my to-do list.

Disneyland Resort, on the other hand, can be fully experienced in two days (even a one day visit is adequate) and it is very easy to go between the parks. The main gates for both are directly across from each other, and Downtown Disney is only a short walk or monorail ride away as well. Only the parking lot requires bus transportation, but I avoided that by walking to the parks from my motel. It was very convenient to get around.

I was able to experience more rides and entertainment over three days than I typically do in Disney World over six days, and I attribute that to the smaller size. I bounced back and forth between the parks each day with ease (I even booked fast passes for rides in a park I wasn’t in, but more on Max Pass later.) Walt may have regretted not obtaining more land for his first park, but bigger isn’t always better. Disneyland is accomplishable, and the quaintness adds to the charm.

The Food is Superb

Disney World may have many more options and variety in their dining (Epcot alone is culinary experience), but the food at Disneyland is special in its own right. The corn dogs from the Little Red Wagon are perfection, the Dole Whips are in an league of their own, and eating in New Orleans Square should be a requirement. That Beignet Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans (pictured) rocked my world. The sweets at Pooh Corner, a bakery tucked away in Critter Country, actually tasted homemade. The restaurants and snack options at California Adventure are pretty creative too.

The dining team has had over sixty years to perfect some of these dining staples, and it shows in most baked goods and savory snacks. I’m thinking about hot churros as I type this.

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Easy Riding with Fast Passes & Max Pass

Disney World may have digitized fast pass first, but I’m a firm believer that Disneyland currently has the best Fast Pass system stateside. Disney World guests can reserve fast passes up to 60 day in advance as part of FastPass+. This is great for planners and anyone staying at a resort hotel but really bad for Florida residents and other on-the-fly visitors.

Some of the more popular Florida rides, like Toy Story Mania, are nearly impossible to reserve day-of because most passes are already taken 60 days in advance. Toy Story Mania in Disneyland is a lot easier to get on, and that’s because the California parks only allow day-of fast pass booking. I believe this is generally fairer to all park guests, particularly considering that many visitors are annual pass holders and California residents. They shouldn’t be blocked out from attractions.

Guests can upgrade their fast pass experience, however, by purchasing Max Pass on the Disneyland app. Max Pass introduced digital fast passes to the California park at an additional cost of $10 a day per guest or $75 per year for pass holders in 2017.

The cost is a bit obnoxious (and it could be prohibitive to larger families on a multi-day stay), but I found it to be really worthwhile, especially considering that WDW’s FastPass+ privileges depend on whether you’re staying on or off site. As soon as I entered a park, I was able to book three fast passes on the app, and all rides that offered fast passes were fair game (no tiered rides like FastPass+ has.) Throughout the day, I would receive an alert whenever I could book a new one, and it was more often than I expected. Max Pass also includes additional perks like unlimited access to Photo Pass.

I was actually surprised at how many fast passes I managed to use throughout the day. I rode e-ticket attractions like Hyperspace Mountain, Radiator Spring Racers, and Splash Mountain with fast passes multiple times, which would never happen at Disney World since they limit the amount of top tier rides you can book. Less waiting, more magic!

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The Weather is Ideal

Anaheim’s weather makes visiting Disneyland pleasant. It’s often sunny and warm, and precipitation is rare. It can be a bit cold in the mornings and evenings, but I was fine with just a sweater and didn’t need any additional layering.

Compared to Orlando’s humidity and seasonal hurricanes and the chance of snow in Paris, the weather at Disneyland is a happy medium. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen (even if it’s overcast!)

Most of the Visitors are Annual Pass Holders

As I mentioned above, the California parks tend to have more annual pass holders visiting than out of state tourists (though this can depend on the time of year.) While overall guest behavior wasn’t noticeably different between the resorts, it was a treat to meet and chat with Los Angeles area locals at Disneyland.

Ranging from young families who visited on a monthly basis to senior citizens who lined up for rope drop every morning, I was among various pass holders while waiting for the gates to open and for Fantasmic! to start. I quickly sensed that Disneyland has a homey, comfortable vibe that makes it truly unique. This makes moving to the west coast and becoming an annual pass holder myself all the more tempting!

I’m so glad I included a multi-day stay at the Disneyland Resort on my California trip. If you haven’t been to Disneyland yet, I highly encourage you to check it out! It may just become your new happy place too.

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Exploring Coastal California: My To-Do List

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I’m beyond excited to embark on my first California solo trip on Wednesday, May 30th! Visiting California as an adult has been a deep desire of mine for the last few years (I visited Los Angeles and San Diego when I was a kid), and it’s finally happening!

On this specific trip, I’ll be hitting up the Los Angeles area, San Francisco, and a few spots in between (generally near the coast) in a rental car. This trip will last for eight days with my return on the evening of June 7th.

I’ve only booked a few things and intend to keep it that way. Besides knowing what area I’ll generally be in on most days and having hotel/motel/hostel accommodations, I’m going to wing most of my plans and see where my feet take me. My spirit is the most engaged whenever I’m exploring a new place and following my intuition. This adventure, therefore, is a pure act of self-love. 

Check out my dreamy to-do list for this trip specifically. I know I will not be able to do everything on this list in eight days, but hey, there’s always next time! It’s chronological, so I’ll be starting in Anaheim first, looping up to San Fran, and ending back in LA. Anything in bold has been completed! Also keep in mind that I’m purposefully skipping many of the touristy LA attractions, I did them when I was younger aim to avoid them this time around. I’ll be sure to update this post upon my return!

My Los Angeles ↔︎ San Francisco + In Between To-Do List

Anaheim: Disneyland Park & California Adventure

  • Be at a park for rope drop/park opening – Done at Disneyland and California Adventure
  • Enjoy a dole whip at the Enchanted Tiki Room – Done, YUM!
  • Watch Fantasmic!
  • Go on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Take a moment to look at Walt’s apartment
  • Ride the mountains: Splash, Space, Big Thunder, and the Matterhorn – Did Space once, and all the others twice
  • Eat the Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans 
  • Touch the Apple near Snow White’s Scary Adventure
  • Get a queso cone in Cars Land
  • Explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
  • Befriend a cast member
  • Ride the monorail
  • Stay at a park until closing
  • Visit Downtown Disney late at night

San Luis Obispo:

  • Stay overnight at the Madonna Inn
  • Sit by the pool at the Madonna Inn
  • Visit Pismo Beach
  • Hike along the hills at sunrise and/or sunset
  • Check out Bubblegum Alley
  • Stop by Mission Plaza

San Francisco:

  • Say hi to the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Listen to the Wave Organ
  • Look at the Painted Ladies
  • Eat in Chinatown
  • Take a ride on the trolley
  • Climb the mosaic staircase in Golden Gate Heights
  • Visit the City Lights Bookstore
  • Hang out at Haight and Ashbury
  • Watch the sun rise at Marshall’s beach
  • Take a whiff at the Conservatory of Flowers
  • Explore Alcatraz
  • Check out the Mission
  • Go to the Walt Disney Family Museum
  • See the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Walk Land’s End Trail
  • Learn more about Harvey Milk in the Castro area
  • Drink an Irish coffee from the Buena Vista
  • Check out nearby cities like Berkley and Oakland
  • Stop by Redwoods Regional Park

Los Angeles Area:

  • Visit Marina del Rey
  • Stop by Venice Beach and explore the canals
  • Go to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Santa Monica
  • Ride the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier
  • Eat ice cream from Salt and Straw
  • Climb the rocks at El Matador Beach
  • Check out Little Toyko
  • Hang out in the LA Arts District
  • Visit LACMA, the Broad Museum, and the Getty Center
  • Watch the sun rise at Zuma Beach
  • Walk on Melrose Avenue

In Between Options:

  • Drive along parts of Highway 1
  • Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Walk around Davis
  • Stop by Solvang for a Danish experience
  • Visit Moonstone Beach Park in Cambria
  • Check out the County Courthouse in Santa Barbara
  • Watch whales in the Pacific
  • Walk through Ventura Harbor Village
  • Venture into wine country
  • Take a trip to the Channel Islands

Is anything missing from my list? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Banner Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely

Redecorating After a Breakup

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Breakups are particularly rough for couples who were living together. The state of your existence can drastically change when your significant other moves out and it’s painful. And let’s not forget the logistics: Moving is a hassle and an expense, and it’s no fun to have to divvy up your collective stuff.

Housing matters worked out in my favor during my recent breakup. I was lucky enough to have the lease of our Harlem studio under my name. The rent is not ideal but manageable for the time being, so I decided to keep paying for it solo. The best part is that my ex moved out while I traveled to Paris and left the key.

When I returned stateside, it felt odd to come back to what was now my apartment. It quickly became obvious that I had to redecorate a bit. More importantly, I needed to revitalize it. The studio felt like a dark cave of toxicity for the entirety of the bitter New York winter. It was time to drastically change the vibes.

My other goal was to establish that the space was all mine. Obviously the memories from when the place was ours won’t disappear, but I figured I could make some adjustments to the decor and spacing to really suit me and my preferences. I wanted ownership.

Redecorating was one of the only activities that truly brought me joy in the midst of heartbreak. Read on for tips on how to change up your space after a breakup.

Donate or Sell What You Don’t Want

My ex left a lot of stuff at the apartment. I was pretty frustrated by this, but I also wasn’t there while the moving happened, so I didn’t want to judge. What I cared about was getting the objects I didn’t want out of my site as quickly as possible.

Donate or sell whatever you don’t want. Of course it is considerate to check with you ex about the belongings, but this is not always feasible depending on the terms of the breakup. Follow your gut on this. I knew that my ex truly didn’t care about what was left, as it was mostly old clothes I had never even seen before. I donated a huge pile and felt relieved.

If you’re not ready to sort through the stuff that was left, then simply put it in a box, close it up, and put it out of sight for the time being. I did this for a few items from our relationship that had sentimental meaning. I didn’t want these objects displayed at the moment, but I wasn’t ready to part with them completely either, so they’re now living deep in the back of my closet.

Buy New Sheets

One of the most intimate parts of a relationship is sharing a bed with someone, which is why it was SO important to me to transform my bed. The first shopping trip I made was to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy a new set of sheets and comforter.

My previous set had been dark red and gold tones that my ex really loved, so I went with bedding on the opposite end of the spectrum: Cream, white, with green palm leaves. I even got a cute decorative pillow that made the bed even comfier.

Picking out this set established the calm tone I wanted for my whole space.

Rearrange the Furniture

I would’ve replaced all the furniture if I had an infinite budget, but simply shifting the position of the furniture I already had worked well enough. Rearranging furniture can be annoying, but it change the shape and functionality of a room. I changed the direction of my bed to face the kitchen instead of the window, and doing so created a nice amount of extra space in the desk area.

If your furniture is adjustable, consider messing with it a bit. I lowered my bed closer to the ground and am glad I did. When we were sharing the studio, we desperately needed the under-bed storage space, but having th

e closets to myself eliminated the need. The new height of the bed is awesome: no more jumping up and panicking whenever my phone fell off!

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Paint the Walls

This step is only necessary in some circumstances, like when there is a giant mural painted by your ex on one of your four walls (ahh the joys of dating artists.) I felt a little bad about painting over it, but I knew that I had to in order to truly reclaim my space. Besides, the mural would’ve been painted over by the management company at the end of the lease anyway.

My walls are back to a fresh off white and they feel like a clean slate. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders!

Change the Smell

Excite your olfactory system with a new or favorite scent, particularly if the smell of your ex is still lingering in your place. I like relaxing scents like lavender or transportive ones that smell like a salty beach.

Lighting a candle or trying aromatherapy can shift the vibe of your place in a new direction.

Add a Few Touches that Make You Smile

To me, it’s the little details that make a place feel like home, like plants, tea towels, ring holders, posters… Sure, these aren’t essentials, but adding a couple of your favorite objects or decorations will bring you joy in a time of darkness.

I secured a few of my Paris postcards on my refrigerator with magnets and they remind me of my wonderful trip all the time. The picture frame I bought for my engagement photo now houses a picture of me and my childhood best friend. Fresh flowers make me happy, so I try to keep the vase full often. These little touches really did make a difference.

Thanks for reading! Huge shoutout to my parents who majorly helped me with this redecoration task.

 

 

Healing My Heart in Paris

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I began planning a small vacation to Paris in January 2018. One of my dear friends from college was living there, and I wanted to visit her before she moved back to the states. The main point would be to see her, but I would also get to have my last solo getaway before our September wedding. I booked my flight for the end of March and made lists of destinations I wanted to visit. The trip would be a highlight in a lovely year leading up to my nuptials.

But the best-laid plans oft go awry. My fiance was acting odd, and when I prodded them about it, they admitted to me that they wanted to call off the wedding. After learning more, I decided we needed to break-up. It was a whirlwind of heartbreak and I was in utter shock.

The wedding was cancelled five days before my departure flight to Paris. As I struggled to comprehend the events that had just unfolded, I had to decide if I still wanted to go ahead with my travel plans. Was it a good idea to be in the city of love at this moment in time? How could I enjoy such a trip while I was feeling so broken?

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Definitely cried during my layover in Munich

After a lot of contemplation, I decided to go ahead with my trip and even extend it by a few days. Why stay home and pity myself while I could be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? I couldn’t foretell what I’d be feeling once I was there, but it couldn’t be worse than how miserable I was already. Traveling is an activity that usually gives me joy, so I hoped going to Paris would raise my spirits.

Furthermore, I knew having one of my best friends there would help. I wouldn’t be completely alone when I was feeling so vulnerable, and I looked forward to being able to talk to her about how I was feeling.

It also made sense to go ahead with the trip for a few logistical reasons. My ex-fiance could move out of our apartment that was under my name while I was abroad, and I didn’t have to lose any money if I just forged ahead. I packed my carry-on and had nothing to lose.

I cried at JFK’s international terminal with big, black sunglasses on as I waited for my flight. That’s when I realized this vacation was as a radical act of self-love. After years of putting my wants and needs aside for my ex-fiance, this trip was going to be solely mine. paris selfie eiffel tour grey skies

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle many hours later, I was feeling pretty shaky. I was happy to see my friend and her fiance, but I felt like my usual traveler confidence was missing. All I could think about was the trauma I had just experienced at home. Had I made a mistake by coming? Would I enjoy any of my nine days there?

Thankfully, my mood began to improve by the end of my second day there, and it’s because Paris is so darn charming. Every building is pretty and the streets are clean. The food is superb and it’s tempting to try one of everything at a patisserie. There are numerous sites, museums, and stores to keep you entertained for years on end. The culture and beauty of Paris was a perfect distraction.

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Sacre Coeur

My friend wined and dined me, and it felt lovely to be pampered. She taught me how to get around on the metro and brought me to less-touristy restaurants and sites. Her fiance ordered for me and showed me how to play poker. With their support and love, my confidence began to come back. I felt a little better with each passing day.

My daily itinerary was full and I felt very accomplished by the end of my trip. I avoided some of the larger sites I had seen on my last trip to Paris and found splendor in simply wandering. I walked at least ten miles on most of the days I spent there, so the dopamine must have been flowing.

Expectedly, the big sunglasses covered my teary eyes more than a few times. Paris wasn’t able to completely distract me, but I’m glad it didn’t. Various places in the city served me well as I processed my feelings. The moments of self-reflection on my trip were powerful. There was something so special about thinking about my ancestors in Notre Dame, writing about the ordeal in a journal while I nibbled on a croissant at a sidewalk cafe, and crying about my trauma as I walked along the Seine. These moments combined with the wonder of traveling all made me feel a lot better.

As I boarded my flight back to the states, I felt proud of myself for saying yes to an experience of a lifetime. Paris became the city of self-love to me. Nine days in Paris didn’t completely heal the hurt of my break-up, but being there reminded me of how beautiful the world could be. I felt so loved by my friend and she helped me more than she will ever realize. My unknown future felt scary and full of possibilities as I watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle after sunset from a river boat.

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Thanks for reading. I’ll be sure to post my favorite sites and more pictures from my magical trip soon.