Summer Academia (What I Read for Class Last Year)

I really haven’t done any actual literary posts yet so I thought, as an English student, I should probably get right on that! This summer, I am taking a break from the the really tough academic reading and focusing on some fun stuff… like reading the Harry Potter series for the FIRST TIME EVER. Yes, I know this is long past due but I am in it for the long haul… or at least until class begins again on August 20th.

But since many of you are NOT academics, or at least not professionally, you may be interested in what I am reading during the school year. I will periodically post on what I am reading through the school year and what I have already begun reading.

Dreams of Interpretation was taught by our English department head, Dr. Angela Hunter. It was a challenging honors course focusing on psychological narrative themes. Much of the literature that was assigned surrounded topics on prophetic dreams, visions, and even drug-induced hallucinations. 41vFaFBXl1L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud- Although this book is often studied in psychology departments for the purpose of learning psycho-analysis, it was fascinating to read it from a literary perspective. I suggest reading small sections at a time. It can be a little overwhelming. 41gyTOy2sjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Stigmata by Phyllis Perry- Not to be confused with the major motion picture, Stigmata is written by an African American author. By far my favorite read of the academic season, Stigmata follows a woman haunted by her enslaved ancestry as she experiences supernatural phenomenon. My final paper for the class was written on this novel and the research behind it was captivating. 51Cw7IxxhxL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincy was a complex look into the life of an opium addict in the nineteenth century. De Quincy experiences visions/hallucintations due to his drug involvement and we are able to peer into his thought process in real time  as he experiences various memory recalls and large lapses in time and space.
51vVrWChriL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Kubla Khan and Christabel by Samuel Coleridge are dream-vision poems written by one of the greatest romantic period British poets. Some say these are prophetic, others say Coleridge was simply another opium addict. You decide.




New Color

You know it’s probably not a good day to get your hair done when the sky has that brooding, I hate you and I’m gonna murder your hair appearance. I have curly hair. Really curly hair and it’s ultra-fine which is an incredibly rare texture for curly hair. So when humidity strikes, it is time to break out a bucket of humidity control hairspray.

And sometimes that doesn’t even work.

I braved the foreboding clouds anyway, however, and made my way to Studio 2121 here in Little Rock, where Taylor Mayhood broke out a new color for my ill-tempered locks. I wanted to go a little darker with maybe a slight hint of red. Taylor mixed an ashy chestnut color with a deep mahogany.


At first I thought the color might be a little too dark for my pale, white-girl skin but I think it was just a shock to my system because it is a bit of an attention-grabber. I think the contrast actually works nicely.




Taylor put some pretty waves in my hair and as she worked with it, she made a comment about how healthy my hair was and that she could tell I took care of it. This was shocking indeed since my hair has always damaged easily. I try to keep it moisturized, don’t wash it every day, and am very particular about the products I use in it. I also acknowledge that nutrition plays a vital role in healthy hair. So putting collagen powder in my coffee every morning has definitely helped to improve the strength of my hair.



I do have kind of a recipe I use in my hair to make sure it doesn’t fry from all of the heat styling I use on it. Some of you may laugh but some of the products that many people of color use are fantastic for hair, especially if it tends to be dry. I use Africa’s Best Herbal Oil first to provide moisture to any damaged ends. I then spray It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner generously on my hair and finish it off with Matrix Miracle Creator. After I blow-dry my hair with a large round brush and either straighten or curl my hair, I touch up any dry spots with Bedhead’s After Party Smoothing Cream.


And what am I wearing? (Black blouse, comes in 4 colors) (Whisper Tee) (Beadhead After Party) (Matrix Miracle Creator) (It’s a 10 with Keratin) (It’s a 10 without Keratin– lower price) (Africa’s Best Herbal Oil) (Collagen- reduced price)

My Favorite Youtube Yoga Channels

It used to be that yoga and meditation and mindfulness were a little too “woo woo” for me. I’m a Christian so, at the time, I associated Yoga with pagan religions which is, well, a little taboo in my world. And I suppose it does originate in the Hindu tradition but your version of Yoga doesn’t have to be Hindu. I came to the conclusion, after the convincing of a few friends, that Yoga doesn’t have to be all sun salutations to some kind of Hindu entity. It can be simply your body helping your mind to be focused and at peace. It can even be prayer– prayer to Jesus. It’s also excellent exercise and wonderful for your joints and muscles, whether your body is used to a lot of physical exertion or can’t handle much strain at all.

As someone who has struggled with severe anxiety over the years, I can assure you Yoga was a welcome surprise and the beginning of a journey toward recovery of my peace. It was a place where I had to force myself to become quiet before God and listen. It became a place where I had to be quiet with myself, as well. Contrary to what many of you think, being quiet with ourselves is not so easy, especially if we are filled with self-loathing, fear, and depression.

Although I’ve taken a few wonderful classes here in Little Rock at places like Barefoot Studio and Clubhaus Fitness (best gym in town, in my opinion), I usually prefer the quiet space of my own home. I found a couple of great Youtube channels that celebrate the home practice of yoga.


Yoga with Adriene  is the channel I use most often for my own practice. Adriene is constantly updating her yoga video. She has sooooo many of them. Yoga for runners, Yoga for those in the Service Industry, 30 Days of Yoga, Yoga for Flexibility… I mean I could keep going for days. I could be wrong but it seems like she posts a new video daily and she’s had her channel for several years now.


One of the things I appreciate the most about Adriene is how down-to-earth she is. She’s not going to freak you out with weird crystals and other hippie trinkets and she’s not pretentious and “new-agey”. She films her practice on the hardwood floors of her cute, older home in Austin, Texas with her dog, who sometimes lays down haphazardly on her yoga mat during filming. She occasionally makes corny jokes and then promptly apologizes for them. She will break out into a song, sometimes Dylan, sometimes 80’s hair metal. She’s pretty much… adorable.

Another important key about Adriene is her yoga instruction, itself. She encourages you to have patience with yourself during your yoga journey, reminding you not to force your body into a position that will hurt you, giving you adaptations of more difficult positions, and helping you understand that nothing about what you’re doing is a competition.

If you’re yearning for something more faith-centered, Caroline Williams might be more up you’re alley. Caroline practices a version of Yoga called “Holy Yoga”.NYC-Holy-Yoga-Christian-Yoga-Caroline-Williams-Yoga-Yogi-BreatherSpaces5

Holy Yoga uses a kind of contemplative prayer during their practice emphasizing intimacy with a loving Jesus. I’ve watched several Christian yoga videos and Caroline Williams is the only one I can get through without cringing. Out of all of them, she seems to be the most sincere, the most calming and centered, and even somewhat “hip”. Her music selection is fantastic. In fact, I have her Yoga playlists saved on Spotify.

The setting for her videos are urban but peaceful as Caroline guides you through prayers of letting go and urges you to ease into spiritual change as well as into the difficult yoga positions. Her practice is somewhat advanced for the beginner so you may have to learn a few basics before starting the journey with her. One of my favorite videos is “Holy Yoga for When You’re a Hot Mess”. That seemed to be the video of the hour for me during my first year of yoga practice.


It would’t be a yoga post without touting my favorite leggings, right?

Affiliate Links These Beyond Yoga leggins are handsdown my favorite. SO SOFT and high-waisted. And also, see how much school spirit I have for my university!!! Go Trojans!


Others? (Edgy Alo leggings) (Zella leggings– less pricey and a great basic for every day)

 Trip to River Market Books in Little Rock

I love indie bookstores. Love them. So it still surprises me that I haven’t yet been on the hunt for some good ones here in Little Rock. I think I love used books the most. They have been passed from hand to hand and loved well. The edges of the pages are browning with the oil from fingertips (and maybe spit) and every magical once-in-awhile there is a little notation scribbled on a page from someone who thought long and hard about what the author had to say. So since I’ve had a bit of a slow week, I decided to head downtown and visit River Market Books in downtown Little Rock.

But let me say first… I picked a bad day to go downtown because I discovered, once I landed upon Rivermarket Drive, that tomorrow would be the beginning of River Fest. The roads were crammed with cars and traffic was miserable. It was also a ponytail day. I wasn’t expecting that heat. Stupid weather app.

I drove through several free public parking lots, not able to find a single place to park my car and finally found a parking meter spot a few blocks away from the River.


It was relatively calm where I parked. Most of the riffraff was concentrated closer to the River Market. So I enjoyed the beautiful walk and discovered some cute places on the way that I didn’t know existed, like Strattor’s Market.


This quaint little place has some fun European delicacies, cheeses, and pastries as well as a small selection of local produce and a huge collection of fine wines. Unfortunately, they were re-doing something in the deli so the meal and coffee portion of the store was temporarily closed.


Strattor’s Market in Little Rock houses European foods, local produce and a great collection of wines and cheese.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Rivermarket District if there wasn’t a cute yellow trolley to greet you as you patiently wait for it to turn so you could cross the street.


But let’s talk books now. Afterall, this is a Lifestyle and Literature blog. River Market Books ,which is a part of the Central Arkansas Library System , smells like all used bookstores should. Like ancient paper, dust, and the roaming eyes of a thousand men and women. Or something like that. It just smells old but not in a bad way. And that is totally what you should expect from a used bookstore.


Charming, isn’t it? So charming!! It seems like every bookstore I enter has a shelf with employee book suggestions and cleverly handwritten cards in front of each one. At River Market Books, however, the “staff picks” shelf had a more rustic appeal. This little cart graced the front entrance and added to the ambiance of the place.


I have to say, though, as cute as this place was, I didn’t find much of a selection there, though I did almost swipe Annie Dillard’s For the Time BeingI read one of Dillard’s essays last semester. That woman sure can write a beautiful sentence. I could learn something from her. And oh yeah, I did. Annie won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and her book, The Writing Life  is a must-have for any fiction or non-fiction writers. Oh. And there were comic books. One of them was titled Lois Lane. If I were ever going to read a comic book, which I never have, it would be that one.


On the second floor was a meeting room for book clubs and knitting clubs and whatever else might go on in a bookstore owned by a library.


I think it’s places like this that remind me that bookstores are still important. Yes, we’re going to still buy online. Small businesses are also found online. That is how people are making a living, now. But independent bookstores still serve a purpose. They are a place for community, a place to learn something new, a place to find pathways to escape and adventure. Find your nearest used bookstore and go support them, as well.

Skirts Over Shorts

I wear shorts, I do. I wear them out of absolute necessity because I live in the sweaty armpit of America. If I had to choose, though, I would wear skirts all the time. On more active occasions… yes, shorts, but skirts are just pretty and feminine and way more comfortable, not to mention nice and ummm… very well ventilated.

So I got this skirt in the mail yesterday. I’d been eyeing it for weeks.


It reminded me of something my mom would have worn in the late 70’s early 80’s, which is one of the reasons I loved it. So hipster. So thriftstore-esque. Nevermind that a lot of yuppy uppercrusts, who have spent way too many hours in a sorority sporting matching blazers, probably have it. I could spend hours sifting through all of the Goodwill  racks in Central Arkansas to find something similar to this but I just don’t have the time. So I waited for the 40% off sale at J Crew Factory and snatched that puppy right up!

I really don’t know what to wear with it except some t-shirts and tank tops. I might show you a lace blouse with it later on (also from J Crew Factory). Add some funky beads and some cute wedges and it’s on like Donkey Kong. This Madewell Whisper Tee is seriously the softest shirt I have in my closet. LOVE IT SO MUCH. I own 5 of them in different colors.

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Ok, so let’s talk about the shirt below. What can I say about this guy? Everyone loves him. I get so many compliments on him (or her… I think it’s a her). I mean everyone from my super young twenty year old classmates to the tenured professors at my university combust in ecstatic joy at the presence of this t-shirt. My introverted self is a little scared to go out in public wearing it. It attracts that much attention.

It does run very small though. I wear a small in most t-shirts and in this one even a medium is a little snug on me. ALSO… wear something under it. It’s pretty sheer.

And what tha… DID I MENTION IT’S ONLY $8.99?????!!!!!

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What better way to end than talking about shoes. Did you know TOMS makes wedges as well as sneaks? This humanitarian company seriously makes some of the most comfy denim wedges EVER. And as always, when you buy a pair of shoes, another one goes to someone in need. I wear these constantly. They come in 3 colors!!

Commissioned Links (Skirt, size Small, 40% off!) (V-Neck T-shirt on left, Small)

Necklace from Buffalo Exchange thrift store in Dallas (Shoes on left in Cognac, Target) (Cute face tee $8.99, Medium, Runs SMALL) (TOMS wedges, 3 colors) (Lipcolor, Patina) (Phone case)


Wild in the City

One of my favorite places to go for a run is less than a mile from my home in West Little Rock. You would think I have been transported out of the metropolis that is Little Rock into some kind of wilderness but no, parks like these are plentiful in my city. Arkansas is a beautiful place. They don’t call it “The Natural State” because of unshaven armpits.

This specific park is called Two Rivers. There are three fantastic pedestrian bridges that cross the Arkansas River in Little Rock, and this happens to be prettiest one with some of the most lush, resplendent trails. I mean just check out those trees. IMG_1836


Someone please remind me that I should probably use the restroom before I take my daily jog. I’m not sure if I ran down the trail or… danced. It was painful.


Despite my pain-induced choreography I managed to complete a slow jog. I’m not a fast person. I have tiny legs and sort of resemble an albino pygmy but I’ve been using a great app called Couch 2 5K that has been given me a pretty good workout. The app paces you so that you aren’t completely and suddenly overwhelmed with an intimidating workout that you couldn’t possibly finish. What did I do today? Well let’s check my Fitbit Versa.


Awwwww yeah.

But now comes the other (usually) painful part of my day: the aftermath. I’m in my thirties and am already suffering from joint pain so I’ve been taking this little product for the last couple of months. I cannot begin to tell you how much it has reduced my joint pain. It’s also fantastic for muscles, skin, hair, and most importantly our brain.


This is a totally grass fed, pasture raised product and is COMPLETELY tasteless. That means you can put it in your coffee or tea without tasting anything. It’s been a great addition to my bullet-proof coffee every morning.

Bullet Proof Coffee Recipe:

  • 8 oz of coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of grassfed butter
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 Scoop of Biooptimal Collagen Powder

Put it in the blender for a few seconds and it comes out like a lovely whipped latte. Great way to start your day!

Commissioned Links (along with a $2 off coupon!) Biooptimal Collagen Powder Fitbit Versa Smartwatch



The Old versus Versa (See what I did there?)

I tried the Fitbit thing before. I owned (and still own, however unused) the ChargeHR. This version was fun… at first. I loved the step challenges I had with my friends. I almost never won them (I’m pretty sure some of them cheated) but they kept me motivated to stay active.


However, after awhile I noticed a few annoying issues with the ChargeHR. For one, as you can see in the photo below, it was very difficult to clean. You were supposed to use Cetaphil to clean it but you couldn’t use water. How does that even work? Well you could use water, I suppose but if you did, the plastic on top of the Fitbit would bubble up. I went through two or three before I just quit using it. It also seemed to run out of energy quickly so after a while I thought… what’s the point?


So I quit. For a little while anyway. But then things got reallllly hairy. I started back to school as a non-traditional student, pursuing my Bachelor of Arts in English, and I just didn’t feel that I had time to work out anymore. Well… until I got onto the scale that I had been avoiding all school year, that is. It turns out I had gained more weight than I ever have IN MY LIFE.


Suddenly, getting back into shape became a major priority. I wanted to use my ChargeHR again but there was no going back to that dirty, gross piece of plastic. I didn’t want to pay for the Apple Watch. Just too… much… money. And then I think there are data charges?

But even without data charges


That’s when I found this beauty: The new Fitbit Versa.


See how fancy it is? If it was in a Fitbit beauty contest, it would definitely win. Don’t worry, guys. It comes in black and gray and all of the other boring colors. And if you really want to spruce it up, you can order different bands for it. Mine has a rose gold face frame because rose gold is basically thee metallic of the season.

But on to more important things. What can it do? Well, I for one, love the fitness tracking. You can choose between swimming (yes, you can use it for 50 meters in the pool), cycling, running, strength training or any other workout.

Other features?

  • You can link music on your phone and control what you listen to from your watch.
  • You can set alarms.
  • YOU CAN RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES (Obviously, the most important feature).
  • They have a fantastic Relax app that helps you wind down when you’re stressed out.
  • Easy to clean with a silicone band (unless you get the leather or metallic)
  • You can check the weather.
  • They have like a billion watch face designs. Really. Like a billion to match your style. Look at all these pretty things!
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But really. There are so many apps that you can link to it. The Walgreens app lets you earn points toward purchases, you can stream Pandora, link your Starbucks app, use a calculator, read the New York Times, link your calender and SO MUCH MORE. It’s a great alternative to the Apple Watch and soooooo easy to use. Go buy it. Here I am with my new Fitbit Versa.


(Affiliate Links)

Peach/Rosegold Versa

Black Versa

Special Edition Versa

Lots of Versa bands!

T-Shirt Currently on SALE in Cargo Green