stephanie morillo | blogging from planet earth

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September 24, 2014 at 4:09pm
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There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help on that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’

— W. H. Murray, Leader of Mt Everest Climbing Expedition

September 12, 2014 at 9:45pm
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Sensation

Today after reading my second or third book of the week (all of them were started at different times, but I’ve been struck with a NEED to read lately), I thought back to Alan Watts and other things I’ve come across this week which is:

What am I?

They say it’s the oldest question and frankly maybe the only one that ever really mattered. And maybe the reason as to why we are here lies in that very question. No one truly knows what we are, at least not in a way that can be put into words. I remember reading a few years back that we are the Universe trying to know itself. That harkens to an Alan Watts video I saw earlier this week and he said something along the lines of it makes sense for the Universe to not know itself because it doesn’t experience itself, much like how fire doesn’t burn itself, therefore fire doesn’t really know itself. Yet it makes absolute sense. You can experience me and being with me and around me but I will never experience myself as the object.

Then I think of Mooji. Mooji once said if you let go of your story, of what you believe you are, what remains? And there’s a small pause. And I remember thinking OH. Me, I remain. You always remain. Yet we still don’t experience ourselves.

But then in living, we experience a lot, we go through so much, some of us lose a lot, others not so much, and we do this in a finite amount of time. These bodies hold such depth. These bodies which, as far as we can see, hold way more than their limited surface areas suggest. That’s precious.

May we all come closer to putting into words that which we are.

September 11, 2014 at 10:44am
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Books and Inner Universes

I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage and I don’t know what to do with myself now that it’s done.

I love that feeling. 

I almost completely wrote Murakami off after 1Q84. It was, by far, my least favorite book that he had ever written. The amount of loose ends that remained unabashedly loose by the end of the 1,000 page novel straight up pissed me off. No other way to describe it. I found it lazy and far beneath what I expected of him.

Colorless did have a few loose ends that weren’t ever resolved - especially as they related to the characters Haida and Shiro - but what I did like about the novel was the emotional transformation of its protagonist. I love how we were left wondering what would happen for him the next day. That felt intentional and well-crafted. 

This post isn’t a review. It’s just about me expressing a feeling that I haven’t felt in a while.

Lately I’ve been rather scatterbrained. I find it almost impossible to watch a TV show or a film. I don’t have the mental capacity for it anymore. I will pause and then go on Twitter, check my email, whatever. It doesn’t draw me in. For a while, I thought there was something really wrong with my attention span (could still be the case), because it extended to the books I’d been reading lately. I haven’t been able to finish Rita Indiana’s Papi; suffice to say, I’m not a fan of the work. Martin Prechtel’s Secrets of the Talking Jaguar is another book that I currently don’t have much patience for. To his credit, the book is as impenetrable as the Tzutujil culture and the surrounding rainforests in Guatemala that he describes. Maybe that’s supposed to be the point. But if so…why write a book about it. I’ve since put both books down.

What I appreciate about Murakami’s work is how inviting it can be. There’s always a soundtrack. Even if you haven’t heard the songs he describes in his books, your mind will create something in its place. There’s always a male character who is impeccably neat and “colorless”, enough so that he always stands in stark contrast to the very colorful world or people around him. Murakami’s world is vivid. You just want to stay in it.

So after I put the book down (I intended to read it only after finishing Papi and Talking Jaguar, and even then only during my morning and evening commutes), I was sad. Now what. I don’t have any books that can take me into a place quite like he did. What do I read? Who do I read?!

The past few weeks, I’ve begun to think to myself that I’m devouring literature because I seek myself and my world in the books that I read. Desperately. I’m not always sure how to write it myself, so I seek it elsewhere.

I’ve not yet tapped into my inner universe. 

Speaking of which; I’ve been watching a lot of anime lately. I love that art form. What I love about it, especially, is the equal importance that the music holds with the story/animation. Yoko Kanno is easily my favorite composer - ever. And she works in a medium that allows her work to seamlessly get incorporated into something else. And she can both disappear and be omnipresent at the same time.

It’s genius.

So here’s to inner universes and to discovering my own.

April 27, 2014 at 2:53pm
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Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a load of experimenting with my curly hair. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a “hold” of my hair (no pun intended) what it needs and how to just go with whatever it wants to do.

I’m Dominican and I have multi-textured hair; 3b, 3c, and 4a around the edges (note: the above photo is me rocking day 4 curls in mid-April — this isn’t the curliest it gets!). Growing up, I got blowouts once a week at the local Dominican salon, even going so far as to have had my edges relaxed once every few months for a couple of years. I wasn’t taught - and there wasn’t anyone around me - who encouraged me to learn to appreciate and take care of my curly hair. I was told my hair was very dry and the only way to keep it moisturized was by going to the salon every week and adhering to the regimen and products my stylists used. As a result, my hair would look glorious after a blowout but parched as a desert whenever I decided to keep it curly. 

My hair never could pull off the “wet curls” look that many girls in my neighborhood sported. Gel would dry out my hair and leave my hair in a giant poof. I was also discouraged by people around me to not sport my curls as it looked unkempt and didn’t reveal how “truly” pretty my hair really was. When I went to college, I stopped going to the hair salon as frequently, but I started flat ironing my hair and experimenting with different curly hair products to achieve the look I desired.

Many curlies and naturals know the process of transitioning to just natural curly hair very well, and finding out what works by trial and error. I discovered Tres Semme’s Curl Care Mousse which became my go-to styling product for the better part of ten years (going so far as to having friends send it to me when I lived in Malaysia!); nonetheless, the dryness of my hair was becoming a huge issue.

The first time that I tried in earnest to maintain my hair naturally curly was when I lived in Malaysia. The high temperature and high humidity made it impossible to maintain a blowout, yet did a number on my hair when curly. I started conditioning my hair with coconut milk and cut out conditioners with synthetic ingredients. I would seal in moisture with coconut oil. Still, with infrequent hair cuts and constant exposure to the elements, my hair was very dry and I had to cut a few inches off upon my return to the US. 

Starting last fall, I decided that I would once again try to stay naturally curly, with few periods of self-straightening in between. The process began with using organic, natural products ONLY which, while sometimes more costly, made my hair much, much more healthy. This also meant cutting out any styling products I’d used in the past that were in effect drying out my hair. My current regimen also includes eating healthy (seriously - lots of veggies, calcium, iron), drinking a lot of fluids (mostly water and tea) and sleeping well. Here’s what I currently use:

Shampooing:
- Honey-based natural shampoo (purchased at a bazaar in Chile, but Oyin Handmade’s Honey Wash works as well!)

Conditioning:
- Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp conditioner
- Argan & Almond Cowash by Whipped Goods (discontinued; and only in between shampoos).

Rinse with cool water and apple cider vinegar.

Leave-in:
- Herbal and Aloe Leave-in by Whipped Goods. I’ve even made this into a spritz by mixing in some purified water and leave-in into a bottle.

Seal:
- Coconut oil or Monoi Oil by Whipped Goods

Styling:
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
- I use a diffuser to dry out my curls to cut down on the amount of time needed to dry. I dry my hair to about 75% dryness and let the rest air dry. 

Also important to note: I get my hair trimmed every 8 - 10 weeks to promote healthy ends and steady growth. 

I recognize that this may not work for everyone, but for someone with multi-textured hair such as myself it has worked very well. I’ve worn my hair curly for weeks now with lots of pride and amazement at what my hair is capable of. 

Have fun experimenting! 

Brands I love:

Whipped Goods: www.whippedgoods.com

Oyin Handmade:
www.oyinhandmade.com

Kinky-Curly
www.kinky-curly.com

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a load of experimenting with my curly hair. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a “hold” of my hair (no pun intended) what it needs and how to just go with whatever it wants to do.

I’m Dominican and I have multi-textured hair; 3b, 3c, and 4a around the edges (note: the above photo is me rocking day 4 curls in mid-April — this isn’t the curliest it gets!). Growing up, I got blowouts once a week at the local Dominican salon, even going so far as to have had my edges relaxed once every few months for a couple of years. I wasn’t taught - and there wasn’t anyone around me - who encouraged me to learn to appreciate and take care of my curly hair. I was told my hair was very dry and the only way to keep it moisturized was by going to the salon every week and adhering to the regimen and products my stylists used. As a result, my hair would look glorious after a blowout but parched as a desert whenever I decided to keep it curly.

My hair never could pull off the “wet curls” look that many girls in my neighborhood sported. Gel would dry out my hair and leave my hair in a giant poof. I was also discouraged by people around me to not sport my curls as it looked unkempt and didn’t reveal how “truly” pretty my hair really was. When I went to college, I stopped going to the hair salon as frequently, but I started flat ironing my hair and experimenting with different curly hair products to achieve the look I desired.

Many curlies and naturals know the process of transitioning to just natural curly hair very well, and finding out what works by trial and error. I discovered Tres Semme’s Curl Care Mousse which became my go-to styling product for the better part of ten years (going so far as to having friends send it to me when I lived in Malaysia!); nonetheless, the dryness of my hair was becoming a huge issue.

The first time that I tried in earnest to maintain my hair naturally curly was when I lived in Malaysia. The high temperature and high humidity made it impossible to maintain a blowout, yet did a number on my hair when curly. I started conditioning my hair with coconut milk and cut out conditioners with synthetic ingredients. I would seal in moisture with coconut oil. Still, with infrequent hair cuts and constant exposure to the elements, my hair was very dry and I had to cut a few inches off upon my return to the US.

Starting last fall, I decided that I would once again try to stay naturally curly, with few periods of self-straightening in between. The process began with using organic, natural products ONLY which, while sometimes more costly, made my hair much, much more healthy. This also meant cutting out any styling products I’d used in the past that were in effect drying out my hair. My current regimen also includes eating healthy (seriously - lots of veggies, calcium, iron), drinking a lot of fluids (mostly water and tea) and sleeping well. Here’s what I currently use:

Shampooing:
- Honey-based natural shampoo (purchased at a bazaar in Chile, but Oyin Handmade’s Honey Wash works as well!)

Conditioning:
- Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp conditioner
- Argan & Almond Cowash by Whipped Goods (discontinued; and only in between shampoos).

Rinse with cool water and apple cider vinegar.

Leave-in:
- Herbal and Aloe Leave-in by Whipped Goods. I’ve even made this into a spritz by mixing in some purified water and leave-in into a bottle.

Seal:
- Coconut oil or Monoi Oil by Whipped Goods

Styling:
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
- I use a diffuser to dry out my curls to cut down on the amount of time needed to dry. I dry my hair to about 75% dryness and let the rest air dry.

Also important to note: I get my hair trimmed every 8 - 10 weeks to promote healthy ends and steady growth.

I recognize that this may not work for everyone, but for someone with multi-textured hair such as myself it has worked very well. I’ve worn my hair curly for weeks now with lots of pride and amazement at what my hair is capable of.

Have fun experimenting!

Brands I love:

Whipped Goods: www.whippedgoods.com

Oyin Handmade:
www.oyinhandmade.com

Kinky-Curly
www.kinky-curly.com

January 2, 2014 at 2:15pm
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What Do You Desire? by Alan Watts

8:00am
2 notes

New Years’ Music for Food Contest

I’ve only been inspired to cook at certain points in my life, most of all when I’ve not been as busy at work. Even then, planning what I would cook was more of a chore than I was willing to work for and I didn’t know where to discover new recipes; too many websites, too many choices.

A coworker introduced me to Blue Apron a few months ago and receiving that package felt like Christmas. The only thing I needed was pots, pans, olive oil, salt and pepper. They provided everything else; down to the ketchup, mayonnaise, sherry wine vinegar, paprika and other herbs and spices used in the various recipes. The 15-pound box included food for three meals (2 servings per meal) and they promised the recipes would take less than an hour to cook. Not to mention the meals ranged between 500-700 calories (some of their salads being less than 500 cal). 

I’ll get my box on a Friday and for an entire weekend, my loved ones and I will make some scrumptious meals. Recipes are included in all of the boxes.

In the spirit of eating better, cooking more, & discovering something totally new, I’m giving away 3 free trials of Blue Apron Meals (a $60 value - an entire order) to anyone who buys just ONE of my songs ($1) from BandCampSupport an indie artist with just ONE DOLLAR, and get a FIFTEEN POUND BOX OF FOOD IN THE MAIL.

This contest is open to US residents only (see here for states Blue Apron delivers to)

I hope you all join me in cooking and posting pics of your favorite Blue Apron dishes. Here are some of the meals I’ve learned to make:

 

December 29, 2013 at 8:34pm
1 note
52 Week Money Challenge; who’s ready to save almost $1,400 next year? How much you deposit into a savings account corresponds to when the week falls in the year: i.e, week 1 you put away $1. Week 2 you put away $2…all the way to the last week of the year, when you put away $52. Add all of the savings up and you get $1,378 in ONE YEAR. Who’s with me on this one??

52 Week Money Challenge; who’s ready to save almost $1,400 next year? How much you deposit into a savings account corresponds to when the week falls in the year: i.e, week 1 you put away $1. Week 2 you put away $2…all the way to the last week of the year, when you put away $52. Add all of the savings up and you get $1,378 in ONE YEAR. Who’s with me on this one??

December 21, 2013 at 1:48pm
4 notes

Curly Hair Don’t Care

(first time using a diffuser to help define my curls. The virtual zero humidity in the wintertime coupled by straightening my hair means that it will take a few washes before my curls spring back to their natural state.)

Most of my beauty rituals revolve around my hair. By “most” I mean 90%.

I have multi textured hair and my curl type is 3b (for the most part). The hair near and around my hairline is extremely thin and frizzy, unruly like nothing else in the world. If I were to apply no hair products to my hair, it would look like a lion’s mane in color and texture. While all of the girls in the Bronx were doing all kinds of cool things with their baby hair in the 90s, I was just trying to keep mine from sticking up and out. 

Weekly trips to the Dominican hair salon were the norm from the age of five or six until I was eighteen. My parents and other family members didn’t have hair like mine so I never learned how to take care of my hair in its natural, curly state. As time went on and I stopped perming (read: relaxing) my hair I started to experiment with different hair products to achieve a shiny, tamed, glossy effect. 

The biggest hurdle I’ve faced is keeping my hair moisturized when going natural for weeks at a time. When I was living in Malaysia I wore my hair curly all of the time more out of necessity than anything else; the high humidity and over 90-degree weather meant that my hair would frizz up if I straightened my hair. I used coconut milk and coconut oil to keep it conditioned but my hair was still dry and brittle. 

I give myself blowouts every week for various reasons: easy maintenance and to minimize the amount of washes I need to do in order to not dry out my hair. But blowing out my hair so frequently (once a week) means that the next time I wear it curly, my curls will be very limp. I’ve set out to mitigate this problem by doing a few things:

1. Deep conditioning (with heat) every wash.

2. Using a diffuser on my blower to help with definition and volume (and to avoid the elements drying out my hair).

~*~

For this look, I used a few products: Miss Jessie’s Creme de la Creme conditioner, Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery Treatment, Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Keratin Treatment and TreSemme Curl Care Mousse.

1. Before washing, I wet my hair a bit and applied a dollop of Rapid Recovery Treatment and Awapuhi Keratin Treatment. I then used a diffuser on my semi-damp hair for five minutes to help the products get absorbed into my hair. Then I washed my hair thoroughly.

2. I applied Creme de la Creme conditioner and detangled my hair using my fingers. I used a dime-sized amount of keratin treatment and put my hair in a butterfly clip for five minutes, then rinsed. .

3. I applied a bit of AG Hair Fast Food Leave-in Conditioner and then separated my hair into sections. Using my fingers to rake through, I applied mousse in each section from root to tip and at the tip I would shake the hair at the tip before moving on to another section. I did this to my entire head.

4. Using the diffuser and having my head turned down, I dried all of my hair until it was bouncy and not frizzy.

December 19, 2013 at 12:30pm
1 note

To love yourself as you are is the greatest gift of all.

December 18, 2013 at 4:52pm
2 notes

Anger to Write

I’m feeling a need to write, a need to share, a need to explore, a need to vent, a need to cry, a need to figure out, a need to manage my stress. I’m looking for words, I want to spew them out, just spew them but I want the thought behind the words to match the words I’m using. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m always listening. I’m always listening. I’m the earpiece to lots of venting individuals. I’m having to adapt. I just want to STOP for a minute. 

I miss manicures and pedicures. I’ve splurged on hair care products because doing my hair is one thing I can control. I want to write. I see the book. I see the piece. I see what I want to say. I want to share. I want to grow.

I’m traveling next year; just one trip planned so far. I want to love my body. I want to be kinder in thoughts and actions. Towards myself. I want to sleep. Get a lot of sleep. I want I want.

I want.