Greetings From Disneyland & Treat Yo’ Self Thursday {link-up #33}

California Adventure sign
Greetings, friends! Today I’m treating myself to Disneyland and California Adventure! This is the first year since 2005 that I haven’t had an annual pass to the parks so I’m pretty excited to run around for a couple of days. I’ll be treating myself to best that Disney has to offer: hour-long lines, screaming children, and 100 degree temperatures! Okay, I’m half joking. But you can be sure that I’m going to stuff myself silly on churros.

Treat Yo’ Self Thursday!

Welcome to the 33rd Treat Yo Self Thursday!

Meet Your Co-Host!

Erika | All Things E

coffee-date-2All Things E is my online home for celebrating life’s adventures and promoting creativity, personal expression and reflection. I blog to chronicle my twenties, work through my struggles and inspire myself (and others) to take more chances, explore and create their way through life.

1 Adventure in 2014: My biggest adventure was a solo trip to Portland for a writing workshop! That has passed already, so my next big adventure to look forward to is planning a float trip with friends in September and traveling to Seattle (also in September) to knock a few things off my bucket list.

2 Posts You Need To Read: 1) On Making Friends As An Adult. 2) Like What You Like.

3 Words to Describe All Things E: Life is short.

Treat Yo’ Self, ErikaMorning Starbucks runs, buying entirely too many candles, spontaneous trips with friends, brightly colored manicures and pedicures, fancy cheese and red wine.

connect with Erika: blog | bloglovin‘ |  twitter  |  instagram | pinterest | facebook

How to Treat Yo’ Self:

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10 Things To Do In Cape Town, South Africa

10 Things: Cape Town, South Africa

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to have dinner with two of the professors I worked with while in Cape Town (they visit California about every other year or so) and I realized that it has been 7 months since Matt and I left South Africa. I am honestly shocked that we’ve been back in the states for that long and have officially spent more time back in CA than we did in Cape Town. As difficult as that time was, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here are my top favorite things to do when in Cape Town (or within one-two hours driving distance from Cape Town).

10. Catch Some Theatrical Dining

Visiting Stardust Theatrical Dining was a highlight of my time in Cape Town. The concept of the restaurant is pretty simple: they provide delicious food, a variety of drinks, and singing / musical performances throughout dinner. Like full-blown performances with spotlights, loud music, and flashing lights. At first I was a little skeptical but I really, really enjoyed myself (how often do you get to do the Time Warp during dinner). All of the servers are also the performers and were able to switch back and forth between the two roles with ease. Furthermore, I was pretty impressed with the food. I loved it sue much I ended up going twice.

9. Experience Rocking the Daisies

rocking the daisies
I love going to music festivals in California, so I jumped at the chance to experience Rocking the Daisies, a great music festival just outside of Cape Town. The festival is a greta way to be introduced to some awesome South African bands as well as see some international favorites like Alt J.

8. Experience the V&A Waterfront

V&A-Waterfront-Ferris-Wheel
The V&A Waterfront is a beautiful little shopping area located on the Table bay harbor. From incredible restaurants, fun shops, and the most amazing aquarium, the you have to take at least one quick trip to the Waterfront.

7. Go on a Sunset Cruise

When walking around the popular Waterfront area in Cape Town, you’re going to hear 100 offers for sunset champagne cruises. I had always ignored their calls until my mom came to visit. at roughly $25USD, it is actually a great way to spend a few hours in Cape Town. You get a couple of glasses of champagne and an incredible view of the sunset. But beware: this is NOT a romantic cruise: It is very windy in Cape Town, so you’re going to get wait from the spray of the ocean (they provide ponchos).

6. Visit Robben Island

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I happened to have been living in Cape Town when Nelson Mandela passed. I was so honored to have visited Robben Island only a few weeks before. Robben Island is the prison were Nelson Mandela spent most of his time in prison (18 of 27 years). Both Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma (former and current presidents of South Africa) were imprisoned there as well. Make sure to add Robben Island to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to Cape Town. Just make sure to book well in advance – space on the boats fill up quickly!

5. See The Penguins at Boulders Beach

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Question: Who doesn’t love penguins? Answer: Nobody. Just a short drive away from downtown Cape Town you can find Boulders Beach filled with penguins. These African penguins spend the day running around the beach, climbing on the boulders, and frolicking in and out of the water. Visitors can pay a small fee to go walk down to the beach to get an up close look at the funny little creatures. I suggest bringing a camera with video capabilities: I took several videos of these cute little guys attempting to waddle around the beach and swimming in the water.
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Don’t Try So Hard

Being a minority really fucks with your perception of beauty.
I’m convinced that my hair has a mind of its own.
I wore make up about 20 out of the roughly 200 days we lived abroad. And it felt wonderful and weird and wrong and lovely all at the same time.

Don't Try So Hard

I took this picture of myself last November. As I mentioned above, I didn’t typically wear makeup while I was in South Africa. Instead, I found myself happiest when I was sitting in the sun with a bare face and free hair.

*edit to clarify: I forgot to mention that I no longer struggle with any of these feelings but rather battled them primarily when I was a teenager and young adult. I assume that the internal battle was very similar to someone who was concerned about another personal feature such as weight, height, or being ‘feminine enough’.*

This is one of those posts that is difficult to start writing. This is one of those posts that end up very different than how they originally started. This is one of those posts that is terrifying to publish.

I wasn’t sure how to start this post so I decided to just list the three things that popped to my mind when Kate first contacted me about this link-up. When I first watched the Try video I was truly touched. While the whole “you don’t know you’re incredibly beautiful” song and video has been done before, something about this video was different. And it reminded me a lot of John Legend’s video for You & I (Nobody In The World), which was released the same week. Both videos encourage women and men to embrace their natural beauty just as other campaigns have done in the past.

But what struck me about these videos is how they embrace diversity, because beauty and diversity are so closely related in my mind. Both videos feature women from a range of races/ethnicities. Both feature women fighting/surviving cancer. Both feature women young and old. Both encourage women to feel comfortable in their own skin and stop trying or hoping to be different. In my opinion, John Legend’s video is the more powerful of the two since it beautifully incorporates aspects of beauty that we often don’t talk about such as mastectomies, vitiligo, and disabilities. It also includes voices from the LGBT community by featuring comedian Tig Notaro and actress Laverne Cox.

Yes, the messages of the songs are important, but in my opinion, the impacts of the videos are much stronger. As I mentioned before, being a minority (whatever that means to you) really fucks with perceptions of beauty. Like it or not, the mainstreamed message of beauty for women is feminine, thin, white, and able-bodied. And yes, that is beautiful! But it isn’t the only kind of beautiful. This idea of beauty, however, is casually reinforced with almost every magazine we see in a checkout line, each commercial, TV show, movie, billboard, etc. It was very confusing as a child to not see women who look like me in the media. Or, when I did, they are labeled exotic. It is confusing as an adult to continue to see diversity in the media somewhat ignored, stereotyped, or photoshopped to look more like the mainstream ideal of beauty. It is confusing to see women conforming to the mainstream ideal of beauty. The most confusing, however, is when I’m asked why I do not do things (like straighten my hair) that conform to that mainstream ideal of beauty.

If I’m being honest, and apparently I am, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in large part to what I mentioned above. And I know I’m not alone. One of the blog posts recognized this year at BlogHer14 was a piece titled: Sometimes, I Still Wish I Was White. One line of the post really struck me: “I never saw my Asian features as anything beautiful, but a hindrance to any kind of advancement. Once people saw that I was Asian, I felt like it was a huge strike against me. I felt foreign and exotic in my own home country.” Although the author self-identifies as being Asian, if you were to replace “Asian features” with “biracial features” you would have the tagline of my childhood and most of my time as a young adult.

I truly appreciate these videos showing a range (but obviously not all) of people. And giving girls, ladies, and women examples of beauty to which they can relate; showing me examples of beauty to which I can relate.

Don’t Try So Hard Link-Up

Treasure Tromp
Here’s how the link-up works…

1. Let your picture take center stage on your blog and remember to include at least one thing that you find beautiful about yourself. (Use the hashtag #donttrysohardlinkup on Twitter & Instagram to share your pictures and posts!)

2. Follow your hosts and link-up your post!

3. Click around to others who have linked up and show them some positive feedback in the comment section. Do you love their eyes? Do they have cute freckles? Maybe they naturally have a beautiful glow! Let’s soak the blogosphere in positive thought and self confidence for one day!

4. Sit back and remember that you don’t have to try so hard. While it’s nice to do our makeup and hair, wear trendy outfits, etc., it is so much more important to remember that you are beautiful just as you are! Cheers!