The four elements
Unboxing beauty items
Beauty boxes, they’re one of these do I really need this? dilemmas. They’re often filled with mauve lipsticks and glittery eyeshadows that you tuck away for years in some messy, forgotten drawer thinking “I might use this for Halloween.”
But then there’s the unboxing excitement. The hopes of potentially finding a new holy grail. And the fact it’s curated without you having to do any work (I hate weeding through “Best day cream for mixed skin” search results).
So I signed up for Goodiebox*. Only during quarantine, I told myself. Maybe 2-3 boxes.
The first box was 50/50. It had 2 great items (which isn’t bad for a €20 box):
- The Karmameju HERO pH solution: a clear, serum-like liquid to balance properties and optimize the skin’s natural immune system.
- A cocoa & coconut mask by Dr. Botanicals that smells super good!
And some random glittery eyeshadow I used for my work’s virtual wig party.
My beauty regime is 80% skincare and then my 4 all-time favorite items:
- The L’Oréal Infallible foundation in radiant honey
- The Too Faced Born This Way concealer, which I’ll keep buying until I die
- A €3 Essence Lash Princess mascara that’s bomb
- This contouring palette from Sleek. I say contouring but I still don’t really know how that shit works.
Signing up for a beauty box secretly wishing that it will contain no make-up products at all is, well, a battle you’ll surely lose. Or so I thought…
*Ring* *Ring* 📦 There was the second box.
To my own surprise, I was VERY impressed. I opened the box and saw ONLY skincare products. AHHHHHHH LIFE IS GOOD! 🙌
- Ecooking – Cleansing Gel
- Dr. Botanicals – Lemon Superfood Rescue Butter
- PAESE – Argan Micellar Solution
- PESTLE & MORTAR – Pure Hyaluronic Serum
- Naobay – DETOX Oxygen light cream
- Masque Me Up – Spot On Pimple Patches (not shown because, ugly packaging)
Hell yes for that Naobay cream, it has this nostalgic Play-Doh smell and supposedly contains ingredients of the “legendary living fossil Ginkgo biloba” (the who?).
Dr. Botanicals wins again with this thick lemon cream that’s perfect for cracked elbows, lips and feet. The smell reminds me of my Neogen peeling pads (a must in your Korean skincare routine).
The serum was an adventure to figure out (apparently it’s breaking the lid, then pressing against the bottom) but after a week of using 2 drops day and night, my skin did feel a little plumper.
And finally, the cleanser and toner are nice to haves.
IG live talent shows
Ever since we collectively got bored, I feel like I’ve been living in a massive creative hub that’s on 24/7.
I got invited to online women circles, reiki healings, yoga sessions, group meditations — you name it. On Instagram people are hosting contests, doing TikTok dance challenges and promoting their newly created courses. It’s so damn much.
Just scrolling your socials for 10 minutes already sparks hundreds of new ideas that I couldn’t possibly finish, even if we’d be locked in for the rest of 2020.
I’m feeling pretty busy already with 40h of weekly work, my friends’ voice notes that I have yet to answer and 15 new Kindle reads. Which is why I’ve been semi-MIA on the gram.
Except for one occasion: Instagram talent shows!
First I followed Inayah Lamis’ IG live talent show that runs every Tuesday and Friday. Here’s where I discovered Cardazzle a.k.a. Carvena Jones — a gorgeous singer whose aura will immediately ground you. This woman’s voice is angelic and oh so soothing (slide right below to listen).
Not too long after, Carvena started hosting her own talent show. Complete with a $100 prize, prerecorded audience clapping and a 30-second spotlight rule.
Carvena’s audience is only a fraction of Inayah’s, but for a talent show that totally works in her benefit. In the first edition, she managed to handpick only beautiful voices and surprising acts (like magic card tricks) from the many requests.
Here’s a compilation of my favorite moments:
LOFT ART sessions with Douniah and more great artists
I remember Berlin, Autumn ’18, when suddenly Hotel de Rome was all the hype. People kept talking about this epic new jam session called Woodblock, which started at a much better hour than Swag Jam’s weekly Tuesday jam, where things first got going around midnight.
The upscale hotel opened its doors to the creatives of Berlin. It was a much-needed fresh take on an old concept. Ten visitors turned into 50 and then 100. Which is when the manager decided that a lounge full of diverse urban youth was a little too much for his snobby rich hotel. He introduced a €10 entry fee on top of the overpriced one-sip wine servings and soon enough, the entire thing was dead.
But it was there that German singer Douniah performed an absolutely beautiful acapella revision of one of her own songs. I’ve been fangirling ever since.
Through her, I found out about LOFT ARTS — a live concert series where German artists get to perform their songs unplugged with an 8-piece band.
Listening to Douniah’s mellow and jazzy performance, I instantly felt major post-FOMO for not having had the opportunity to experience this magic live. I guess there are downsides to skipping winter on a beach in Asia.
As YouTube’s autoplay mindlessly kept going, I discovered the many other great artists that took part in this series. Light a scented candle, press play and enjoy.
And finally, an old familiar face: Peter Manns. A Frankfurt by way of Boston rapper whose 2018 song Comparisons is still as good now as when I heard back then.
Celebrating self-worth and passing tests
We met in Berlin. I was longing for a decent dude in an era of fuckboys and he just relocated to study music. We were inseparable from the moment we met. My eyes sparkled every time I would see or talk about him. At last, I found love.
And then shit hit the fan. In modern-day romance, this is barely a shocker.
We went from meeting every day to practically never. I was insecure about him not texting back and couldn’t stand his ever-repeating empty promises.
I was in so deep that I could hardly contain my emotions when things were bad. I cried in the subway, on the street, at my parent’s dinner table.
I sobbed loudly as he held me close, that time he stepped into my home after weeks of radio silence. I had my back turned against him, fiddled with the radiator. He awkwardly observed me for a minute and then offered to help: “NO, I can do this myself, I’m so fucking mad at you!”
I was. But I wasn’t. I was weak for him. It only took one gaze into his puppy-like eyes for my big-girl shield to come crashing down.
I knew we weren’t right together, but I kept being pulled back because of how amazing he made me feel when he was around.
A few months later he moved back to the States, which finally gave me space to heal. This healing came with tweaking our rollercoaster love narrative. Or: chopping out all the hurtful memories and leaving only the dream-guy scenarios to reminisce about.
Fast-forward 2 years later and my forgiving-self and him got reconnected.
It’s now late summer, 2019. We’re texting on a weekly basis. He says he wants to give us another chance, I say fine and he takes a 30-hour flight to come see me in Asia.
Should I have given it to more thought than merely saying yes? Arguably so. But in my defense, him taking on my invitation made the entire thing feel very “I’ve changed, you’re it for me!” I was still single, and very flattered. So yes, it was a yes from me.
It’s a Saturday night, we’re chilling in our beautiful 23rd-floor apartment in Kuala Lumpur. I’m laying on the couch watching the skyline sparkle with its thousands of tiny lights.
“Babe, what would you say if we go to Berlin next?” he asks.
I was mindlessly scrolling the gram but this brain fuck certainly caught my attention. Is this dude is for real?
“Berlin? Germany? As in, let’s fly halfway across the world only to come back to Asia one month after?”
KL was our second stop, we were supposed to travel Asia for another 4 months or so.
I knew he wanted to finish his EP but last time I checked, his Spotify bio read “emerging artist” so I was having a hard time figuring out what recording session could be so important that we needed to spend a grant to attend it.
But it wasn’t the EP. It was the first sign of many that he never wanted to be with me in the first place.
The next weeks gradually became more tense.
By the time we arrived in Bali, we barely communicated and tried to maneuver around the big elephant that clearly took up our tiny room.
One morning we attempt to talk things through. Our conversation was laborious, yes, but aren’t roadblocks part of the package when you’re deciding to build together?
At noon, I go outside to grab a bite and reflect on our earlier discussion.
When I return to our room, I don’t see him on the bed. Or at his desk. Or in the bathroom.
In fact, where the FUCK is his luggage?!
In the few hours I was gone, he packed his bags and headed to the airport. He never spoke a word to me again. Gone with the wind.
And that’s how things ended.
Now yes, that one is a shocker, I’ll admit.
Was I devastated? Completely. I collapsed right there in the doorway. I went into a full-on panic attack and all I kept thinking was “omg omg omg this isn’t happening, this CANNOT be happening.”
Yet it was.
I thought about taking the next flight home, but it was my mom who finally convinced me to stay strong and stick around. She watched me break down and climb back up enough times to know I’d rise above this one too. And I was on an island known for its pretty epic transformation powers, after all.
So I embraced what Bali is meant to offer. I became fully spiritual and crash-coursed in manifesting, self-worth, boundaries, unblocking and all of that good stuff. It was amazing.
Looking back now, it’s crystal clear that everything exactly needed to happen like this. That he was blocking my biggest manifestations to date: a women collective that taught me what self-worth really looks like and a love so pure I’m still pinching myself it’s actually happening.
I was fine with us never speaking again. Stopped looking for answers I’d never get. And then…
*Buzz* *Buzz* 📲
You have got to be kidding me. Fucking quarantine. This is the fifth ghost from the past that feels the need to get back into my life. Can y’all just get a hobby or something?
My heart did race for a second when I saw the notification. I was shocked and confused.
And then I got angry about the non-existing effort that was (not) put in crafting this message. You’re a fucking artist, write me a damn song if you’re serious about showing remorse. Do something, anything, that isn’t a 5-second text. Not because it’ll make things right, but because it shows respect.
And finally I felt completely calm.
I’m so proud of how I’ve grown and flourished these past 6 months. I’m grateful for the many memories I’ve collected and how all these new experiences and learnings led to being much more grounded, in my worth and clear about who I am. I now thank him for leaving because if he would have stayed, I would have settled.
Now I’m reaching for the stars.
I just had 1 final test to pass.
*Press send* 📲 Boy, bye.