How to Get the Most Out of Ulta aka Why I Prefer Ulta to Sephora

Dear Mimi,

When you become old enough to start buying makeup, you may think Sephora should be your first stop. But nay! Steer towards Ulta. Always steer towards Ulta if possible, unless there’s a specific brand which ONLY Sephora carries, and Ulta doesn’t (which aren’t relatively many). Otherwise, Ulta all the way. And here’s why.

Not too long ago, I received the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette ($49), Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette ($42), Tarte Shape Tape Concealer ($24), and an eyelash serum ($50) FOR FREE!!! (Well, I payed $7 for the eyelash serum, but still!) How did I do it? One word: points.

Sephora and Ulta both have a points system that works in similar ways. You sign up for their rewards program (this has to happen in order for any of this to occur) and you get one point for every dollar you spend. However, Sephora only allows you to redeem your points on samples or sample sets, never on full size products.

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The Marshmallow Test

Dear Mimi,

Let’s just get this out of the way. 2016 sucked. Sure there were a few good things scattered here or there, but the majority of it was just crappy.

But life isn’t all good things. There are ups and downs, good and bad. Some years were better than others, and unfortunately, 2016 wasn’t one of them.

Personally, 2016 was rough. There were some very depressing family issues I had to deal with, and some members I didn’t get to see at all. It’s astonishing to think that sometimes these issues were there all along, but the innocence and liveliness of childhood does such a dang good job of masking them. Seeing all of these things in a new light made me wish I wasn’t getting older. It wasn’t that things didn’t work themselves out, they did, but I didn’t get to be a part of it like I had hoped for so long.

Then, my career plans came to a standby. Again, it was a test of patience. I got into medical school, but not the one I wanted. I had to question and re-question whether it was something I really wanted to do. I had to take another year off and apply again since the school offered me a spot for Fall 2017. Some people rejected me for choosing to follow my dreams. It was so bizarre for me. Everything I had planned out so perfectly the year before was thrown back at me in my face and fell at my feet. As a Type-A personality, this was the hardest thing for me to swallow.

After that, I had to face realities with places close to my heart, countries I thought would always welcome me with open arms. This year I learned that majority of the world chooses to hate instead of love, chooses to separate instead of combine, chooses to destroy instead of build up. Whether I went back to my parents’ home country, or stayed in mine, I felt isolated and on edge, that someone might say something, that something might happen. Neither place felt like home anymore and neither place completed me, when once upon a time, both did.

And finally, for the first time in my life, I had my heart cracked, if not broken. I gave someone my heart who did not want it, and sometimes, if I’m being honest, I still think about what life would be like if he had just given me a chance. But more than that, even the rishta process was exhausting. In the past 12 months, I’ve had 18 rishtas. It’s not fun, it never was. I hate going through these profiles, one after the other, like I’m buying a house or a new car. At this point, my heart not only has walls around it, but an army guarding its safety. I just wish someone would be brave, strong, smart, and kind enough to break through everything and take care of it forever.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford, conducted an experiment, which has been repeated many times over. The premise is very simple. You give a child a marshmallow and give them 2 options: 1) they could eat it now, or 2) if they waited until you came back, they would get another marshmallow provided they hadn’t eaten the first one already. One treat now, or two treats later. Keep in mind that these children don’t know how long it will be til the adult comes back. It seems like a very easy test, but the results were astounding. After continuing to do long term follow ups and analysis, Mischel found that children who waited for the second marshmallow proved to be more intelligent and successful in life. They had higher test scores, lower obesity rates, better social skills, and higher paying jobs.

Similarly, our whole lives are a series of marshmallow tests. God is always testing us and life is full of curveballs. But, if we are patient, things will get better. Yet, patience is not just about waiting. It’s about trusting in God’s plan and having a positive attitude while waiting. A lot of the kids who waited trusted the researcher that better things were coming and found ways to keep themselves occupied whilst waiting. We have to keep going, actively trying to better ourselves and have faith that good things are coming. Without hope, we have no purpose, nothing to look forward to. It’s said time and time again, however clichĂ© it may sound: good things come to those who wait.

Overall, 2016 was filled with many sleepless nights and even more tears. I worried I would fall back into depression, and sometimes, I got really close. But this year also strengthened my relationship with God. For the first time in a while, I had to trust Him with every ounce of my being and rely on Him completely, which I’m trying my level best to do. And who can be any better to trust than the One who knows what’s coming? He’s the One that has a plan, the One that makes no mistakes, and the One that knows the reason for everything.

Keep on trekking Mimi. I have faith 2017 will bring 2 marshmallows.

Love,

Didi

This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year…

Dear Mimi,

With 2016 being a mediocre year for almost everyone, maybe it’s time to wake up and really get to know ourselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in others and the world around us, that we forget to self-reflect and really understand who we are as people on the most individual level.

That’s why, for 2017, I invested in this book.

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You can get it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or even Target, and it’s just under $10.

I’ll be starting it tomorrow, December 31, 2016, and it contains 365 journal prompts, one for each day, that will make you look deep down inside yourself, face your fears, reaffirm what you believe in, question your thoughts, and understand your desires.

I’m hoping that throughout 2017, I’ll continue to grow and that this time next year, December 31, 2017, I’ll have a new perspective on myself, so 2018 and beyond, I can live my best life.

Love,

Didi

Rishta Report: What Aunties Don’t Tell You

Dear Mimi,

Welcome to my new little tid-bit, Rishta Report. As I continue to go thru this tumultuous journey that Nani is convinced is actually one of the best things I can do, might as well share them all with you, so that you know what to expect when you’re older. Or you can wallow with me in your misfortune when your time comes. Either one, your choice.

Starting now, I’ll “report” (see what I did there) on the ups and (hopefully not many) downs of this process, and we’ll see how it goes. Better than being on ‘The Bachelor’, right?


Rishta Report: What the Aunties Don’t Tell You

Once you hit 20, all the aunties automatically know. It’s like they have an alarm so that they know when they can start pestering you about getting married. Where these alarms are, I have yet to find out. But when I do, I will destroy them all. I promise.

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Anyway, so now all the aunties are telling you how great it is to be married and automatically deem themselves the matchmaker lady of the world, so they’re all throwing these guys at you and you’re just existing, feeling like this:

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I swear to you, it’s in the auntie handbook. Page 1: ‘First Rule of Being an Auntie: Encourage marriage at all opportunities. Heck, don’t even wait for an opportunity. Just bring it up always and often. And continuously have different rishtas to suggest’. There you go.

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Learning to Let Go

Dear Mimi,

I wanted to write this post a while ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now.

Several months ago, I met this guy. And yes, throughout life, you will meet many guys etcetera etcetera. But this guy was different. He was everything any girl, and more specifically I, would ever want: tall, handsome, smart, funny, kind, responsible, caring, trustworthy, successful. He was beyond my wildest dreams. I had lost hope that guys like him even existed, let alone having the pleasure of meeting one.

We were introduced by mutual friends and things proceeded smoothly. We talked, I met his parents, he met mine. Just the thought of him made me excited for the future and there was no doubt in my mind that he was ‘the one’. I didn’t even deserve him. He was too good for me. I considered myself lucky just to be able to get to know him. Things were going great.

Until they weren’t. Continue reading

4AM Friends

Dear Mimi,

Awhile ago, I met this guy who was absolutely incredible. Smart, tall, funny, handsome, and more, he was everything I had ever wanted. Naturally, what is the first thing I did after I met said guy? I’m a girl, so obviously I’m gonna tell my best friends.

Now, here’s the thing about our friendship. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we hang out for hours and talk about everything. It’s like there was never a break in between. Sure, sometimes we text each other, and talk on the phone, but nothing beats in-person conversation.

So one night, after getting frappĂ©s from McDonald’s, we sat in her car in my driveway, as I told her all about him. I vented to her about my insecurities, how I was excited, yet terrified, eager, yet cautious. After listening to me get giddy over some dude I had only met a few times, she asked me a question, “How much do you think it’ll wreck you if it doesn’t work out?”

At the time, it was a slap in the face. I paused out of shock and she repeated herself. I answered honestly, but I was baffled. Why would she ask me something like that? Shouldn’t she be excited for me? I know she wasn’t jealous since she was already engaged, and I was so confused. Why would she think about that? Even I hadn’t thought about that. And why would she choose that as the first question to ask? What kind of person does that?

Well Mimi, a true friend does that.

You see, she was asking me the questions I was too afraid to ask myself. She was protecting me from getting hurt or getting too entangled by making me consider a possibility I didn’t want to. She, in her own subtle way, was reminding me to ground myself. If she had told me straight up, perhaps I wouldn’t have listened so attentively.

These are the friends we need Mimi. Friends who see things that we don’t; friends that understand us, sometimes, better than we understand ourselves. Friends who will always want the best for you and will do whatever it takes to make sure you get it, even if they know the truth will hurt you.

Find these friends, and hold on to them. Those who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. Those who will support you even if they don’t agree with you. Those who make you think about what you really want. Those who push you to your limits and encourage your dreams. Those who make you think about all the possibilities. Those who will lift you up when it seems everyone else is pushing you down. Those who see the light in you when you’re convinced that it’s gone. Those who include you in their futures. Those who you can spend hours laughing with. Those who are your soulmates before any guy ever was. Those who feel lucky to have a friend like you. Those who already know your deepest and darkest fears. Those who you can spend forever with and still not run out of things to discuss. Those who make you feel like together, you can rule the world. Those who you trust. Those who you can call at 4AM.

One of my favorite sayings (hadiths) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says that “souls that recognize each another unite in harmony, and those that do not are at odds”. This means that we knew our friends in heaven, and God has blessed us with meeting them again on the Earth. May He grant us all friends that we will reunite with again in Heaven, and until then, make the journey on Earth a little more enjoyable.

Love,

Didi

Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness. ~Euripides

True friends say good things behind your back, and bad things to your face.

 

Fly the W: What I Learned from the Cubs Winning the World Series in 2016

Dear Mimi,

Where were you when the Chicago Cubs won the world series in 2016? Just kidding, you were sleeping since it was midnight, but you get my point.

In an ah-mazing, nail biting, jaw-dropping, game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland, Chicago’s mortal midwest enemy, the Billy Goat curse was finally broken. 108 years later, on November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs were World Champions of baseball, a historic event to say the least. What a time to be alive.

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Now, personally, I’m a Sox fan myself, but seeing the excitement in Chicago was exhilarating. It’s a thrilling event for Chicago and I love this city, so I’m happy to partake in the festivities. Watching the game was a rollercoaster ride, but there were so many lessons to be learned from this whole experience.

  1. Patience is Key: 108 years is no joke. The last time the Cubs won, women didn’t have the right to vote, neither of the World Wars had happened, cars were just invented, and Thomas Edison was still alive. It seemed impossible, but good things come to those who wait. If you’re willing to be patient, miracles will happen.
  2. It Ain’t Over til It’s Over: The game was 6-1 until the 5th inning, and everyone thought the Cubs would have it. Then, all of a sudden, it was tied 6-6 in the 8th inning, with only 1 inning left! The nerves were up like no other. That just goes to show, don’t take any chances or take it easy until it’s actually over. See it through til the end.
  3. Never Give Up: Finally, finally, in overtime, Cubs had two more home-runs and brought the W home. During this whole season, they could’ve given up, and even during the world series, they were down 3-1, and came back to win it all in the last game with an extra inning. Keep working hard Mimi, and never give up. You never know what can happen and with hard work and effort, things will all fall into place. The world will become yours.
  4. Don’t Let Your Failures Define You: In the 8th inning, pitcher Chapman made some mistakes which allowed the Cleveland Indians to have 2 runs and make it a tie game. But, he came back again, determined to do better, and he did. And the Cubs as a whole didn’t let that little mishap affect them. We all make mistakes; we’re not perfect. But, we have to overcome those wrinkles and work harder, better, and smarter. Mistakes teach us lessons and what not to do next time. So learn from them and move on.
  5. Always Have Hope: Cubs fans are some of the most determined fans I know. Every year, facing grueling losses and disappointments, they were still hopeful, claiming “next year” would be their year. And finally 2016 was it. Even during this game, when it was tied and things could go either way, they still hung on. The game was in Cleveland, but so many fans were gathered around Wrigley Field in Chicago to show their support. Hope is what keeps us going Mimi. Without it, even the sunniest of days look dark and cloudy.
  6. Be Humble: As I watched the interviews with the coaches and executive members of the Cubs after they won, they still took the time out to congratulate the Indians and let them know how much they were still a great team and respected them. This shows grace and class. Whenever there is a winner, there is always a loser. Be humble. Remember the other party, and take time out to thank them. Be gracious in everything you do and people will respect you more.
  7. Celebrate Your Achievements: Last but not least Mimi, don’t be afraid to enjoy and treat yourself for a job well-done! You deserve it! When all the hardwork, patience, and effort pays off, make sure everyone knows it! I’ll be going to the victory on parade and it’s sure to be epic, which is exactly what the Cubs deserve!

Love,

Didi