6 Tips for Surviving a Trip to IKEA With Your Partner

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My boyfriend and I recently took a trip to New Haven, CT to IKEA. Beforehand, numerous people warned us of the arguments we’d have there. It’s almost an urban legend at this point, with dozens of articles and horror stories about ruined relationships across the web.

Now we’ve only been together for a little over a year, and were buying furniture and various other items for our first apartment together. That it itself sounded like a recipe for disaster. We’re also not prone to arguing–we have some minor spats here and there but we’re very diligent about talking things through, so it’s never progressed further–and were told that IKEA would be the place where we’d have our biggest argument yet.

He’s very level headed, I am sometimes irrational. He has never been to IKEA before, I’ve been countless times. We feared stress, tension, maybe even tears, but magically avoided it all. Here’s how:

Talk home decor

Months before we actually embarked on this trip, we talked home furnishings. The way my home is decorated is INCREDIBLY important to me, and I expected my boyfriend to be indifferent, like most of the men I know. He is not. He cares just as much as I do, but has pretty different taste. Whereas I’ve always been fond of white furniture (probably because I was never allowed to have it as a teen), he is ardently against it and prefers dark wood. I live for marble accents, and the occasional gold, and he finds both tacky. If it weren’t for having these discussions in advance, this would’ve definitely caused some tension. We’ve not only learned each other’s likes and dislikes, but come to terms with them. At first, I would get so angry about these things, like “How dare he have an opinion?!” but now I fully understand and even agree with most of his points, and vice versa. Don’t assume your S/O won’t care. Ask ahead of time and gauge where they’re at. Doing that made this trip so much easier for us–he got his dark furniture, I got my decorative pops of color, and we both left super happy.

Plan

We figured out when, where and how. My parents, who are big IKEA fans themselves, graciously offered to take us in their pickup truck. They even insisted on going to the larger New Haven location (an hour and a half away) rather than the closer Stoughton, MA store. We went on a weekday after 3pm and luckily there were very few people in the store, helping ease any potential stress.

Have a budget

I’m lucky enough to have received some money from my father as a Christmas present this year, so my goal was to spend no more than what he gave me. I ended up with $120 left over (which I’ll surely spend on our second IKEA visit).

Utilize the Shopping List

IKEA graciously offers this tool, which I found much more convenient than the typical shopping cart option. It allows you to check in-store availability beforehand, and gave me a total for all my items, too. It was super handy, and helped me keep my spending in check. There were a ton of things that I wanted, of course, so I added each and every thing to the Shopping List, and slowly narrowed it down to necessities and a few cute decor items that I couldn’t resist. Once I made it into the store, I checked my list and made sure to find everything on there. Not all of the pieces ended up in my cart (a pair of curtains there didn’t live up to the online-hype and we weren’t 100% sure we would need cutlery or dinner plates) but I was so glad to be fully prepared. One of our main concerns had been that I would get overzealous and spend a bunch (it’s happened many times before), but this helped keep me aware.

Discuss, but don’t overwhelm

Knowing this was my boyfriend’s first time in IKEA, I was prepared for him to be overwhelmed by all of the options and my need for his opinion on things. We had talked about it a lot before, but weren’t quite sure how things wouldn’t shake out IRL. In the store, there ended up being no need for concern. While there was a lot of discussion, it was all light and agreeable. We didn’t push each other in any certain direction, since we already knew each others’ limits. We knew our needs, accepted each other’s wants and left it at that. There’s no need to beat a dead horse.

Remember why you’re there in the first place

You and your partner came to IKEA for a reason. In most cases, it’s to build a future together; to build a home and some reasonably-priced Swedish furniture. The end goal is to spend the rest of your life together in a beautiful home of your own. Don’t let these minor things tear you apart, especially not in the middle of the lighting section of a giant furniture store. Be understanding. If it does feel overwhelming and pressured, step away and take a breath. If you’ve gotten to this point, you most likely know that your partner doesn’t have ill intentions. Trust each other.

I hope these tips help you and yours when you make that first IKEA trip, and let me know how your adventures go! Good luck, friends!

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Manifesto for A Happy Life

Aim Hbostonigh + Challenge Yourself
Always create new goals, both long and short term. Challenging yourself, creatively, physically, mentally, etc. is a great way to keep yourself in check. Rather than looking at past mistakes with regret, use them as a tool to improve yourself.

Consume Culture
You don’t have to obsess over celebrities or even pay much attention to the world around you (though I think it’s healthy to keep up with the news). This could be as simple as going to a museum or reading a book. An active mind is a happy mind.

Cultivate Healthy Relationships 
Toxic intrapersonal relationships can have a major effect on happiness. Avoid negative energy and focus on friends and family who positively influence your life. Remember–it’s give and take, so if you’re not putting in the effort, why should they?

Self Care
Make time to be comfortable. If you like routine, create a daily regimen; if you prefer spontaneity, change things up regularly. Treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend–be sympathetic, understanding and patient.

Treat Your Body Well
Drink a lot of water and eat nutritiously. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with indulging, but bear in mind that food is fuel. Eating primarily sugary, carb-heavy foods is like putting sugar in a gas tank–no bueno. And don’t forget that exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!


Project Positivity

Even feigning happiness can improve our mood. In the negative times, seek positive aspects and focus on them. There are many situations where it’ll seem impossible to be positive, and that’s okay. In your daily life, however, it’s always best to be the most positive person in the room.sweetgreen

Express Yourself
Whether you’re creative or not, there are a million ways to express yourself. While creative expression is very important to me, the most important of all expression is open communication. Being honest with a loved one (and yourself) about how you feel can change a dynamic for the better and release tension from within.
Be Unapologetically You
Lastly and most importantly, having a strong idea of who you are (your values, goals, etc.) is incredibly important. Understanding your negatives and positives, constantly working on yourself, but remaining true to who you are–that’s crucial for a happy life.

Bathing is Fundamental

bath-cocktailI never understood the power of a bath until I became a LUSHie. They always seemed too time-consuming to be a part of my oh-so-busy teenage life. My life at 17, which I thought was so hectic and overwhelming, was really quite calm compared to my life now, at 21. I balance two jobs and work between 30-
50 hours most weeks, make time for my family, boyfriend and friends, complete my daily tasks and chores when I have time, and try to save as much money as possible through it all. By the time I get to bed at the end of the day, I’m way overstimulated and my mind is racing–at least 3 times a week I wake my boyfriend up by trying to sell him a moisturizer in my sleep. Baths have become one of my only respites from the beautiful chaos that is my life, and I find myself constantly planning out my next bathing adventure.

While regularly discussing the merits of each bath bomb and bubble
bar with customers may play a role in it, there are a ton of other factors that influenced me to reassess my point of view. I’ve also always been a huge proponent of self care, and to me LUSH is the quintessential “treat yo’ self” company. There’s something to appreciate in every single product LUSH creates; be it the heavenly scents packed in them or the beautiful colors that pour out. But whether or not it puts on a show is secondary to the immediate wave of relaxation one gets when they submerge themselves in the soft, warm water.

golden-wonderI recently took a bath in hopes of reenergizing–as well as to try as many of the new holiday products as possible. The focal points of my bath were Golden Wonder bath bomb and Snowie bubble bar. These are my 2 favorite holiday products by far. Golden Wonder is a super colorful champagne-scented bath bomb, while Snowie is inspired by David Bowie and made with my all time favorite essential oil, neroli oil, a natural seratonin-booster. I consider this the bath time dream team.

When I would attempt to take a bath back in the day, I would get in the tub and not know how to keep myself entertained for an hour or two. Nowadays, I am more than prepared, with a litany of products and reading materials at the side of my tub. The products I used are as follows:

  • Mask of Magnaminty face and body mask – for the ultimate skin detox after a long work week
  • H’Suan Wen Hua hair treatment – for smooth, shiny and strong hair
  • D’Fluff shaving soap – for clean shaven and razor burn-free legs
  • Buffy body butter – for deep fully body exfoliation
  • Bubbly shower gel – for citrus-scented skin
  • Pumice Power foot soap – for bright and soft feet

As you can imagine, this routine kept me busy for a solid 45 minutes. Once all of that was done I alternated between reading my book (Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizgoldenwonder1abeth Gilbert) and singing along to the doo wop playlist I was listening to. The Do Not Disturb setting on my phone was on, and I was at peace.

When I finally emptied the tub and got out, I felt rejuvenated. Every inch of me was relaxed and my soul was happy. I was ready and excited to take on the upcoming work week. What my newfound love of baths has taught me is that many of my problems can be solved
(or momentarily sidelined) by spending time alone, slathered in a variety of products, and thinking pleasant thoughts. LUSH proudly proclaims that “Bathing is fundamental,” and I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

I have spent the better part of the past 21 years writing. From short stories, to screenplays, to articles, writing is my preferred form self-expression. I have spent the better part of the past 21 years learning my voice. Years of therapy have given me strength and confidence to open up. I have opinions and (sometimes) know what I’m talking about, so I have chosen this blog to share with you the remarkable, important and beautiful facets of my life.

The Difference was created to give me a platform for creative release. I’ll share my daily activities, my ideas and opinions, my favorite things, my thoughts on media and pop culture events, the things I make, and so much more. My ultimate goal is to celebrate the millions of things that make life so special, and spread as much positivity as possible.

I don’t quite know what to call my tiny little section of the web. It’s not a beauty blog or a lifestyle blog or an art blog. I think maybe it’s just a piece of me; a little bit weird and possibly a little bit intriguing.

Enjoy.

How To: Keep an Art Journal

[Reposted from the archives of my previous blog]

 

I’ve kept an art journal for a little over a year now, and I love it! Nothing feels better than curling up in bed after a long day and writing, taping, gluing and doodling anything your heart desires. My art journal is a source of inspiration, a boredom killer and a safe space to put down my every thought. Here are my tips on starting and keeping an art journal filled with every colorful facet of yartjournal1ou and your life–Enjoy!

1. Find your inspiration: Pinterest is full of art journal inspiration! I love searching the boards and finding beautiful and clever new ways to journal; there’s always something out there you haven’t thought of yet. When I’m in a journaling rut, I search ‘art journal prompts’ and find a plethora of great ideas to get me started again. Follow my journaling board here and check out other pinners’ work as well.

2. Gather your supplies: A large Moleskine journal or medium-sized sketchbook are perfect for journaling. You can literally put anything in your art journal. Chipboard, washi tape, pattern cards, fabric swatches, paint chips, anythinggggg. Even when I don’t have a drop of inspiration in me, simply gluing magazine or newspaper clippings to a page feels oh so satisfying.
3. Put Le Pen to le paper: I recommend using a font website, like this one, to inspire creativity. It’s fun to try out new lettering (practice makes perfect!), plus you’ll have a new trick up your sleeve when it comes to sharing quotes in your journal. If writing it yourself doesn’t appeal to you, most of the fonts you’ll find are downloadable for free!

4. If you’re stuck, doodle: I’ve always been a doodler. I find it relaxing and fun. If nothing on Pinterest is speaking to you, just get out your pen and draw something! It doesn’t matter if you’re drawing a self portrait or a series of zig zags, putting something on that page is all that matters.

artjournal
5. Don’t forget to write!: Write about your day, how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, who you’re seeing. Anything that comes to mind, really. Art journaling is as much about creating as it is about telling your story. Whether you tell it through a photo series or a quote that describes your mood is all up to you–just don’t forget to incorporate a bit of yourself into your masterpieces.

6. Do a 30 day challenge: If all else fails and you’re desperate for inspiration, find a 30 day drawing or writing challenge online and stick to it! You don’t have to be Picasso to draw a cactus; you don’t have to be Kerouac to write about your favorite childhood memory. Challenge your creativity.

Hope you’re feeling crafty today!

In Defense of Selfies

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[Reposted from the archives of my previous blog]

Hey y’all.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of negativity on social media regarding selfies, and the people who take them. Not only do I find it rude, cruel and unnecessary, but it’s just invalid!

There’s nothing I love more than when I get a text from my best friend saying “peep insta.” When I do peep insta, I see a beautiful selfie of my bff killin’ the brow game or wearing a super cute outfit.

See, the thing about selfies is that you’re seeing a person in control. You’re seeing a person who is so confident in their appearance that they’re eager to share their beauty with the entire world. You’re seeing a person who has probably (given society’s beauty standards) felt ugly or ashamed of themselves in the past, and has now overcome that. You’re seeing strength and happiness and self love. Selfies are actually pretty important.