Ask Adam: COVID-19 Related Therapy Questions (Part II)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

Let’s be honest, life is incredibly tough and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it tougher on us. With unemployment at 6.7%, pandemic fatigue hitting a new high, and our loved ones becoming sick with the virus, 2020 is not all that we expected- and 2021 appears to be its evil twin. I thought that it was only necessary to interview Adam on questions regarding our current global pandemic. Although Adam disclaimed that there is no “one size fits all” solution to every one of my questions, he helped me to share his guidance on some of the most common questions we are all wrestling with over the course of the pandemic. I hope that this dialogue will be as helpful to you as it was to me when I sat down with Adam for this interview!

Adam, have you seen an increase of patients during COVID?

b625d5e2796629128c2d64b2d7dc636f-removebg-previewYes. Speaking for myself and what my colleagues tell me about their practices, our client books have become very full. However, these sessions have had to be modified to adapt to our “new normal”. Primarily, therapy sessions right now are actually taking place on Zoom. From a therapist perspective, the more information you have of the person that you are working with the better, so video communication is generally preferred to telephone. For example, it helps a therapist to see physical signs, for example if a patient hasn’t showered in a long time, in order to derive meaning from the interaction. From a patient perspective, if a video call is better for the therapist, it will be better for the patient in terms of receiving guidance and attention. Phone sessions are also completely fine if video isn’t an option or isn’t tolerable to a client! Whatever both you and your therapist agree on and are comfortable with is always the right way to go. 

What are the main topics on a lot of clients’ minds during the pandemic?

There are a few things that my clients are concerned about right now some of them being an increased sense of job insecurity, concerns about getting sick and even dying, and worries around the repercussions of losing a job or family member. Tangentially, people have been thinking about their pasts a lot and reexamining their current relationships, given that so many people have more time to reflect on these aspects in their life. Marital and relationship problems have arisen, since people have been living in such close quarters. Some of my clients in their time off, for example, have also even wanted to talk through instances of childhood abuse that have been suppressed. It’s amazing that, when we stop to reflect and process, so much can become unraveled that we don’t even know we are suppressing. 

How would you consult people that have anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and are even afraid to leave the house? 

968073__39661.1564753443-removebg-previewFor people who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, the best treatment is a combination of medication and therapy. Medications are not by any means cure alls, but they can make all the difference for many folks. Exposure therapy is also a great treatment for OCD, however, the troubling part of exposure therapy in this case is that the effects of getting COVID-19 are very real. In other words, having an extreme fear of germs is quite adaptive right now, so we certainly wouldn’t go for a walk and touch railings. I think that the most important thing, overall, is for those suffering with extreme anxiety or OCD to recognize the issue that they are facing and being open to treatment of some sort. 

How do you combat pandemic fatigue?

EntrelacKnittingTutorial1-ef838add67064bceb8b12a43ce1973d6-removebg-previewI recommend people can get outside if they can to take walks and be in the fresh air. If being social is something that you are struggling with, try to join a pod with others you trust, such as neighbors or close friends you can see on a more consistent basis. If that isn’t an option, make a point to check in regularly via Zoom or over the phone with friends and family. Zoom fatigue is definitely real, but it can make all the difference seeing those we love over just hearing them. I personally make it a point to make eye contact and say hello to those that I see out on my walks. It is easy to hide behind your mask, which is why engaging even in the smallest ways can make the most difference. The pandemic has also presented a great opportunity to try new things or do something that you have been putting off because you couldn’t find the time. Make learning a new skill a priority by setting aside some time in your calendar. Practice knitting, learn how to play the guitar, or speak a new language. Time is on your side. 

What are some strategies for not seeing an end?

What helps me to have hope is doing a historical analysis. We have overcome pandemics before and we didn’t have a fraction of the resources or knowledge we do today. Vaccines are here to help lower the rate of infection and spread, but it’s going to take educating people on the vaccine to ensure its effectiveness. Help is on the way! We just have to have patience and hope for the future. 


About Dr. Adam Brown

Follow Adam on Twitter @adamofbruce

Screen Shot 2020-12-13 at 2.15.18 PMAdam Brown, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, City University of New York and a psychotherapist in private practice. His research has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including “Children and Youth Services Review,” “The Journal of Interpersonal Violence,” and “Sexual Abuse,” and he is an invited presenter multiple times annually at clinical and scholarly conferences internationally. His research has been featured in Rueters, Yahoo!, and Fox news, and he has appeared as an invited expert for comment on events in a variety of media outlets, including for “The City” in New York City, and the “Shanghai Media Group” (SMG) in China.

Dr. Brown is an expert consultant for Park Dietz and Associates in Newport Beach, CA, and a consulting clinician at the Institute for Sexual Wellness in Weymouth, MA. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and his Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work.


Stay tuned for next week when Adam answers more pressing questions on therapy, life, and navigating our world’s current challenges. 

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Tanya Garg on Finding Artistic Inspiration

Finding inspiration in the past, present, and future.

The works of Tanya Garg can be described as many things- fanciful, delicate, whimsy, colorful, energetic, inspiring- the list goes on. Tanya creates genuine art pieces that are full of beautiful perspective, not only in the form of paintings, but also in the form of clay mushrooms and beadwork. Tanya finds inspiration wherever she has been, goes, or is going, whether it be the past, present, or future. Her works are intimate and incredibly detailed- pieces that I knew needed an audience like the blog! Scroll, read, and immerse yourself in the works of Tanya and how she finds artistic inspiration.


Tanya! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Tanya Garg, I am 26 years old, and an Aries. I went to school for painting and currently I live in India. I have a LOT of hobbies- including (but not limited to) cooking, traveling, dancing, playing with my nephews, online shopping, hoarding things, organizing, making crafts, cycling, gossiping with my friends, watching niche documentaries…the list goes on.

What has your journey as an artist been like and how has your art changed overtime?

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 3.43.34 PMWhen I was in school, the only things I made were photorealistic portraits with pencil. The only reason I went to art school was because I thought that was the only thing that I was good at, and I loved the idea of being an “artist.” I really can’t explain why I picked painting, because prior to college, I had never really painted. The first semester I was really awful at it—I knew what I wanted the painting to look like but I could never figure out how to do it. The only parts I liked about the class was going to museums, or galleries. Up until then, my perception of art was still very academic, and I only looked at the great masters of European art for inspiration. I started going to gallery openings on the first Thursday of every month because of the free wine, but it really opened up my eyes to different artists, art styles, mediums, and most of all to the fact that you could have multidisciplinary approaches to express yourself as an artist. 

 I sometimes cringe when describing myself as an artist, partly because I have a horrible case of imposter syndrome, and partly because I feel the formal education I received was quite academic and Euro-centric, and made me blind to the innumerable art forms that existed outside of the “art world,” or in some cases were not considered art at all. 

 The biggest struggle for me when creating work before was transcending my personal preconceived notions of what a painting should look like—what is the right way to paint a vase or getting the perspective right. It took some time to realize that the right way for me to express myself is not painting it the right way, but instead painting it the way that is most ideal to me. What objects can I put in, what colours can I paint, and what materials can I use to make this painting one that I enjoy the most. 

 What mediums do you primarily work with?

Again, I started painting with oil, because in my head that was the “proper” way to paint. I really appreciate oil painting. My favourite brand is Gamblin Colors, because I feel like they are innovative, and not stuck in the past, and they focus on developing contemporary solutions to oil painting, however, I recently switched to acrylics. I love the Golden Acrylic mediums, but now I try to just use whatever I can find.

Apart from painting, I hoard many things. I love making crafts, even though that is a bad word in the “Art World,” but I think that is just because historically women made crafts and the Art men were too insecure to give them the respect they deserve. Only now, people are waking up to all the genius women that were creating masterpieces. Obviously, I am not creating magnificent masterpieces (yet), but I like using materials from my childhood—play dough, papier mâché, beads. I have shelves filled with crap like that. I love collecting tchotchkes, and it is also one of my favourite words. I collect handmade toys, embroidery books, buttons, basically anything that looks pretty.

I also make iPad drawings because I’m bad at keeping a sketchbook. I use Adobe Sketch because I find Procreate too complicated. I only use one kind of brush but it’s so nice because I can work with different layers to have endless possibilities of the finished product.

What does your artistic process look like? What do you use as inspiration for your work and how do you find inspiration?

I don’t have one singular process. Sometimes I paint from photos, sometimes I make it up, sometimes I scroll through houses on Airbnb, sometimes I take inspiration from a book. I like having the tv on in the background when I paint, especially food shows. I am very inspired by my house and garden. I am a big consumer and a major maximalist, I love household objects, I love old things, I love antiques and really quirky objects, so I like to place them in my paintings.

Memory is a big one, since I am a very nostalgic person. Not only for the past, but also in a way trying to preserve memories for the future, and in some ways, I feel as our possessions are the only witness to time changing.

screen-shot-2020-12-10-at-11.50.57-amIn contrast, I do have a profound love for nature, and woodsy things- flowers, mushrooms, butterflies etc. I love painting on a cloudy day, in diffused light. My studio overlooks the kitchen garden, and it makes me feel like I’m painting somewhere in the countryside.

I don’t really draw out the composition with a pencil before painting. I always tint my canvas an outrageous colour and use another outrageous colour to paint out the general picture of where things will go. Throughout my painting life, people have been telling me to paint bigger, which I always resisted, but now I have started painting on the wall, and it has been really fun, and liberating to just put silly colours on the wall. My nephew got in trouble for colouring the wall once, so he keeps yelling at me, “Bua, you better not be drawing on the wall.”

What are some of your favorite pieces of art?

Some of the works that stand out are “This is not a Fountain,” by Subodh Gupta, “Non-Stop Conversation,” by Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy, where she covers a last remaining traditional building in a light pink quilt. Let’s see… I love everything Nathalie Lete does because I feel like she is the true definition of an artist- she is constantly making. I find conceptual artist Sophie Calle really funny- one of her works “Take Care of Yourself” was created when she received a break up email from her boyfriend at the time, and got it analyzed by 107 women in different occupations. Another time she went undercover and worked at a hotel for three weeks, and photographed all the guest’s belongings. I like her work because it focuses on the intimate lives and people and the possessions they own. I also really like her because she’s a little bit like a detective and I really wanted to be one when I was a kid.

If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would it be and what would you eat?

Salma Hayek because she is so kind, generous, confident, cultured, hot, funny, and rich and we would eat whatever Salma wants because she has good taste and likes eating healthy. She also doesn’t like to diet or exercise so I think she’s the best.

 What do you find the most challenging when working on a piece of art?

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I take forever to finish a painting because it’s the least enjoyable part.

What do you enjoy the most about the creative process and creating your art?

Having an idea for a piece…starting it. The second I finish, I take a photo and post it on Instagram, because I love the validation. But also, because I want to be prolific in whatever I make and so I love posting regularly because it motivates me to make work in abundance. I feel that the more I make, the more I discover and that inspires more confidence and happiness in creating works.

 What is your ultimate dream in terms of collaborators, exhibitions, museums for your pieces to be in?

I worked at a gallery briefly and I really enjoyed being there, but I didn’t love the art world. So many of my friends, and also my mom, majored in fashion so I am always in awe of what they make. I really want to learn how to sew and embroider and those are mediums that I want to explore in my work. I don’t know about collaborations, because I don’t work that well with other people, but I like working with my mom.

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As for showing at galleries, I don’t love the idea of my paintings hanging on a white wall in a row. I imagine them in an environment, and that’s why installation art is so fascinating to me. I despise pretentiousness in art, and sometimes galleries can feel very cold and inaccessible. I make things that are familiar and comforting, so by displaying them on a cold white wall seems very lazy on my part.

I don’t like to take my art seriously, because then it wouldn’t be fun. I would like to work on a bigger scale and make works and objects that vibe with all kinds of people, even those outside the art world.

I feel like I have a lot of learning to do, but I think the ultimate dream would be to always be making and exploring. I don’t like limits and I like to imagine and make generously.

Ask Adam: Finding a Trusted Therapist and More (Part I)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

For Dr. Adam Brown, the path towards receiving a doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and becoming a consultant, professor, and licensed clinical social worker was anything but straight. 

When Adam graduated from Colby College with a degree in English, his goal was to become a professional working actor. With this in mind, Adam moved to New York City, Boston, and finally to Los Angeles in order to chase his dream. Shortly after arriving in LA, he also began performing stand-up comedy and eventually working as a comic. Approaching 30 years old, Adam began to reevaluate what he was striving for, imagining his future working in the industry. To Adam, it boiled down to becoming famous and acquiring the privileges of those with whom he rubbed shoulders. Thinking about it further, having known members of the rich and famous personally, Adam did not see them as any happier than he was. Adam realized that even if he did achieve the fame he was looking for, it would only make him more unhappy if he didn’t feel fulfilled internally. 

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Adam soon packed up and moved back in with his mother in Rhode Island, taking a job from his uncle who owned a construction company. In taking this job, Adam had access to health benefits which he used to pay for psychotherapy, hoping it would help him in figure out his next steps in life. To Adam’s surprise, the therapist recommended that he come more than once a week, his visits turning into regular occurrences 3 to 4 times a week. Adam cites his experience in therapy as being such a transformative time that it helped him to realize a lot about his priorities, perspective, and values. More than that, Adam saw himself as being interested in doing the work of his therapist. 

Adam felt compelled to go back to school, attending Smith College School for Social Work to get his Masters of Social Work (MSW), which has an outstanding reputation for training psychotherapists. After Smith SSW, Adam worked at a foster care agency, which had an opening for a clinician to work with kids as a psychotherapist. Through this experience, Adam worked with many children and adolescents that committed sexual offenses. Adam became troubled by the way in which the system treated the youth, as perpetrators more than victims, and found that he wanted to become part of the solution to the systematic problems that he saw.                                                   

With that in mind, Adam went to get his doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Now, Adam is a professor of clinical social work at the Silberman School for Social Work Hunter College. He is a sexual abuse prevention researcher who focuses his research on youth and young adults who have committed acts of sexual harm. Adam also has clients that he sees regularly for general therapy. 

It is safe to say that Adam is the expert when it comes to social work, which is why I have enlisted him to answer some therapy questions on the blog. So, let’s jump right into it. 

How do you know that you need or should see a therapist?

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Everyone in some way could benefit from seeing a therapist, but some specifics include individuals that could need help getting some perspective, are stuck in a job or a relationship, it could be anything. Going to therapy is not going to solve your problem, but it will shorten the process- maybe even shave off some years if not months. It is all about getting you somewhere where you are already headed in terms of problem solving. A therapist does not give advice, they really help you ask yourself the good questions to enable self-discovery. 

What are things you look for in a good therapist? What makes a therapist a good one? 

Even though it’s hard, it is really important to take at least two to three sessions to decide how you feel about your therapist. A good therapist will encourage you to do that and shouldn’t make you feel that you are pressured into seeing them. Therapy is such a personal journey, if you are uncomfortable after the first session, it may be that the therapist is pushing you to confront the tough questions. It might be a good test to say to your therapist on your next visit “I almost didn’t come back because… XYZ reason” and see how your therapist reacts to this statement. If you feel ashamed, sad, uncomfortable, or don’t want to tell the truth to your therapist, that is a different story. Then, you should consider looking for another therapist. 

It is a therapist’s job to provide a “holding environment” for you, where even if life is uncomfortable you feel like you are in a safe place. 

What is the average duration of a relationship with a therapist?

It really depends on the presenting issues and on your readiness. If you come to a therapist with a very specific and identifiable issue or goal to address things might take a shorter time, like three months. It is more common for therapy to last a year or longer. Sometimes, many years. There is really no definitive way of knowing when you start. 

What is the best way to prepare for a therapy session?

To not prepare. You really need to go in and be ready to be yourself in a therapy session. When you first arrive, your therapist is going to say things like “how can I help you” or “what brings you here”, don’t over think what it is you are supposed to be doing there. If you have a specific goal in mind then that’s always great, but there is no need to “prep” necessarily. 

What are some resources you recommend for people that are looking to seek help?

If you have a very specific issue, a good place to start can, surprisingly, be Google. You can use your zip code to find support groups and specialists in your area of need oftentimes. Most of the therapists I know have a page on www.psychologytoday.com. I don’t have a page there now because I only work on a referral basis, but if I were going to accept more clients, I would. Another place to find a therapist is to ask a friend that has been in therapy. In some cases, your friend’s therapist could talk to you about what’s going on and act as a referral. 

If you are not ready for in person therapy, there is online texting therapy. 7cups.com, betterhelp.com, and talkspace.com are good ways for people to dip their toe in. You can pay one month at a time and see how it goes. 

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For resources, Brene Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us” could also be a great resource. She talks about many things related to mental and behavioral health that most folks can relate to. Additionally, these are books I always recommend to those I work with:

“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book provides really wonderful models for having difficult conversations and how to engage with people that are typically hard to engage.

“Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher is also an incredible resource.


Stay tuned for next week when Adam answers more pressing questions on therapy, life, and navigating our world’s current challenges. 

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CEO Sit Down: Anna Bilha on Activly

Activly, a company mobilizing millennials to get active and fit on their own terms.

Anna Bilha was born and raised in Brazil and moved to The United States for high school and to attend Babson College. Throughout her education, Anna hadn’t focussed a lot on studying entrepreneurship, which is what Babson is most well-known for, being the #1 college in the nation for entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until Anna went to study in San Francisco for a semester that she was exposed to a realm of entrepreneurship that she found herself extremely passionate about, involving design, fitness, community, and technology. From an initial idea in San Francisco to a full blown start-up, Anna’s new company Activly has just launched its first beta version of what will soon be a fitness community app geared towards millennials. 

Anna at Ned's Point-23 2Activly was inspired by Anna’s personal fitness journey. Being someone who struggled with weight and body image issues, fitness has always been a priority in Anna’s life. Yet, in college, Anna found it difficult to establish a routine and be as active as she would like. However, when Anna did make it to the gym, people would reach out to her for recommendations for how she was able to be more active and fierce in the gym.  

At first, Anna considered starting a blog that she could point people to for her tips, but quickly realized that making videos and living that “influencer lifestyle” was not so much her speed. Anna cites GymShark as being one of her biggest influences, which has a loyal community of passionate individuals that she truly believes in. Anna also mentions that Karina Elle is another fitness expert she looks up to, who, in many ways, has broken the status quo when it comes to representation within the fitness space.  Anna knew that she wanted to reach more people to offer them tips from her own personal fitness journey. “Fitness is about being happy and comfortable with your body and being healthy, not necessarily about losing weight or building muscle,” Anna mentions. “There is an aspect of going to the gym that is about challenging yourself and being mentally healthy as well.” 

Screen_Shot_2020-11-19_at_3.03.01_PM-removebg-previewAnna did a lot of research into why people are not exercising and what the pain points are within the fitness industry in order to understand better why people were asking her for fitness advice. She soon discovered that ⅔ of Americans are inactive! This led her to developing the idea for Activly, an attempt at making the fitness experience more simple and community based. Activly is designed to be a centralized platform for fitness instruction and inspiration. Anna wanted to ensure that this app serves as a place for everyone, no matter where they are in their fitness journey- a community for everyone. 

What differentiates Activly from other workout programs and apps is that it serves to aggregate content from multiple platforms in order to provide the best for each user. “In this app, you are not limited to finding information from one source, which would leave you at a disadvantage if you enjoy all different types of workouts” Anna mentions. Activly also does not create its own content for sale and distribution, which makes it more unbiased in recommending content for its users. 

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Creating this app has not come without its challenges, however, both personal and professional. At the outset, Anna reveals that she suffered from imposter syndrome, where she was unsure if she had the ability to get the app off the ground running. Within the company itself, Anna also cites that building a platform such as this one involves complicated technology that she has had to learn a lot about throughout the process, something completely out of her comfort zone. “You have to be confident in your developer, they need to understand what you see and align with your vision” says Anna. 

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Nevertheless, these dark moments have allowed for bright moments to shine even brighter. Some of the most rewarding aspects of starting this company for Anna has been growing her team. Although the company is not profitable yet, everyone within her team is extremely engaged and excited for what is to come, something Anna had never dreamt at the beginning. 

Overall, Anna is excited for her new business to help people that need guidance that are already active, but, more importantly, help those who are not active at all in order to work towards creating a more physically and mentally healthy world. 

Claudia Hu on being a Professional Pianist

Inside the world of a lifelong professional musician.

There is a saying that goes “consistency breeds perfection,” a saying that professional pianist Claudia Hu truly embodies in her work. Starting her piano career at just 6 years of age, Claudia has refined her craft of piano through thousands of hours of practice, which resulted in invitations to play in renowned music halls, such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, as well as famous performance halls across The United States and Europe. Claudia recently graduated from Manhattan School of Music in May, majoring in Classical Piano Performance, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Classical Piano Performance at her alma mater with her teacher Nina Svetlanova.

Growing up, Claudia’s passion for piano was more than a hobby. Despite winning competitions and being invited to play at recitals, for Claudia, it was never about winning, it was about doing something that she loved. Interestingly, Claudia always thought that she would become a doctor, like many members of her family, yet she knew that if she went the academic route, she would never be able to play at the same level again. When she decided to apply to the Manhattan School of Music, she had the chance to meet her interviewer, by chance, before her audition and they just so happened to “click”. This allowed Claudia to feel more comfortable in her final audition, which landed her a place at the college among some of the most talented musicians in the country. 

Claudia admits that the prospect of attending the Manhattan School of Music seemed a bit daunting to her, however, she was more excited than anything, having the chance to study alongside some wonderful musicians. In college, Claudia viewed herself as a small fish in a big pond, which she saw as a positive, considering she wanted to learn the most that she could around high performing individuals that have the same love as she does for music. 

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One of Claudia’s favorite classes that she took was a conducting class, explaining that she loves conducting and views conductors as being the most intelligent in terms of both music and music history as well as art and life. Claudia was also eager to understand the theory and technical aspects of what it means to conduct. Another class she found to be particularly interesting was Historical Recordings of Great Pianists, which consisted of listening to old piano recordings. Claudia especially enjoyed listening to piano from the Golden Age or mid 1900s, as those pianists would play pieces that are not part of the typical repertoire and diverged from what we hear today. 

Claudia mentioned that some of her most memorable piano experiences came out of her college recitals Sophomore and Senior year. These recitals were the first times that it was just Claudia playing, with everyone coming to watch her perform the music she has been playing for the past two years. Claudia also enjoys these recitals because they act as milestones for how much she has learned in addition to how she can improve for the future. 

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Her experience playing has not always been smooth sailing, however, having suffered a physical injury two years ago. Claudia mentioned that she wasn’t too familiar with the “right technique” as a pianist and, as a result, her arms and back got so tense that she physically couldn’t play piano because it was too painful. This moment led to Claudia asking herself a lot of existential questions about her life without piano. Luckily, Claudia was able to see a physical therapist to correct the tension in her shoulders and breathing exercises. Now, Claudia is a more relaxed player, which has had a tremendous effect on the sound of her music and what Claudia regards as an overall triumph. 

When asked what Claudia finds as the most important quality in a pianist, she responded that being a good pianist is more than just reading music and playing it, it’s about a mental state of mind and your whole characteristic as a person. To be an incredibly proficient musician, you must work on being calm and introspective, getting to know the background of the piece and life of the composer. “A lot of composers were inspired by their political states or the popular literary works of their time, that is reflected in their music. I try to think about that while I am playing. It is a lot of mental work as well as physical,” Claudia points out. 

What excites Claudia most about the future is observing the shift taking place within classical music. The big question that is being asked nowadays in the music world is: Why do we keep sticking with the classical repertoire? A question that Claudia is eager to hear the answer to. Claudia is equally as compelled by the fact that modern classical musicians don’t have to follow one route in order to be a recognized pianist. She notes “you can find a career outside of that and with social media it becomes easier to become recognized”. It is my hope that everyone has the chance to hear Claudia’s music, a transportive experience, where sincerity and thoughtfulness can be both heard and felt. 

Malvika Sheth on Manifesting your Potential through Fashion

Fashion- a means for confidence, self-expression, history, culture, and so much more.

Fashion is instrumental in communicating who we are to the world. Throughout history, fashion has been used to convey unity, rebellion, solidarity, and so much more. A few days ago, Kamala Harris wore a “Suffragette white” pantsuit in her first address to the nation as Vice President-Elect, which many believe was a nod to women’s fight for equal voting rights in America. This is just one example of how our fashion choices can make a big impact on how we feel and what we stand for. A rainbow heart on our shirts to represent our support for LGBTQ rights, a pink ribbon donned to support breast cancer awareness, or a pair of tie-dye sweatpants to convey our fight for comfort during quarantine Zoom-meetings. Everything we wear exhibits something about ourselves. I had the chance to sit down with fashion influencer Malvika Sheth not too long ago to hear about her take on fashion’s personal impact as well as tips on how we can all be more confident through the pieces that we wear.


Malvika, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi readers! I’m Malvika Sheth, and I’m a digital content creator who believes in the power of fashion and beauty to empower driven dreamers to unleash their potential. Stylebymalvika, my platform, started as a hobby in college, but I started to spend more time on my blog than I did focusing in class. Slowly I started to monetize, and I had to take a leap. I decided to graduate college a year early, and take on Stylebymalvika full time. This has to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to travel to fashion weeks across the world, work with my favorite hotels, and some of my favorite brands as well!

Have you always been interested in fashion and beauty? Do you have any early memories of experimenting with styles or looks?

I have! As a little girl, I was always infatuated with the makeup and jewelry my mom would wear, especially when she was getting ready for Indian events and festivals. Speaking of my heritage, my earliest memory would have to be wearing makeup for stage Indian Classical Dance performances. A quick, important fact: I’m a Bharata Natyam Dancer and have been since the age of 6!

How has your relationship with fashion and beauty changed over the years? Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 12.19.21 PM

Growing up, I was a bit on the heavier side, had oily skin, and unruly hair. I used to look around me, and feel super insecure. I let what peers and family members say to me really impact my relationship with myself and my body. This body dysmorphia that I went through made me look to fashion and beauty as a cover of sorts–I figured if I could get people to focus on my clothes rather than my weight, hair, or skin, that would be better. Looking back, this wasn’t ideal at all. All the while I was looking to clothes to change how others perceived me, I also went through a period of unhealthy dieting and exercising which led me to faint twice and the first time, fall and get stitches on my chin. Today, I’m a changed person. I know the true potential of fashion and beauty is in the way it allows you to channel your highest self, and not in trying to fabricate something for others to see and accept. 

What do fashion and beauty mean to you personally? 

Fashion and beauty is a means of tapping into your highest self and bringing out a greater deal of confidence within you. It’s a direct tool that works towards manifesting your goals and dreams. If you dream of being a boss lady entrepreneur, wearing pajamas all day doesn’t necessarily align that well, and it doesn’t send a signal to the universe that will work in the direction of your dreams. Funny enough, all my career changing moments have been tied to some of my favorite outfits, and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.

Do you have a go-to look that you wear to help you feel confident?

Blazer, crop top and/or sports bra, and high waisted jeans with some gold accessories. 

Who are some of your fashion and beauty inspirations?

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Both Audrey Hepburn and Iris Apfel. I like to consider my personal style as a cross between the two. Classy like Audrey and colorful like Iris.

What is some advice that you would give to someone who wants to embrace fashion and beauty more, but is hesitant to or feels that doing so would be out of their comfort zone?

The key to being able to express yourself freely through fashion and beauty is having a great relationship with yourself. When you’re comfortable with who you are, you’ll understand that fashion and beauty is merely a tool to bring out what’s inside of you–and the many facets you have. 

What do you recommend someone wear for a virtual interview that they might be nervous about? 

There’s no one-size fits all. Personally, my go-to look for confidence that I mentioned above works really well for me, whereas for someone else, it might mean playing more with beauty and a bold red lip–not really worrying about what they’re wearing. It’s honestly about what makes you feel the most comfortable and confident. If you’re not sure, experiment and play around!

Lastly, what excites you about the future of fashion and beauty?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 12.19.13 PM

What has always excited me about the industry is the intersection between fashion and awareness of super important topics. Fashion informs culture and vice versa, so it’s great to see that as our world champions for more diversity, sustainability, and several other important causes, fashion and beauty trends change. Too, it’s super cool to see how fashion and beauty brands’ actions can inform the masses, and inspire change within society. It’s really a cycle, and both a spectator and active participant in the industry, it keeps me inspired and on my toes. 

Hugh Thompson on Becoming a Doctor during COVID-19

Hugh on answering the call to step into the field of medicine.

Entering into the field of medicine is a noble act, which only very few are cut out for. Hugh Thompson, however, is just one of those people that was born to practice medicine. Having grown up visiting and engaging with doctors, Hugh knew that he wanted to impact the world in the same way that medicine had impacted his life- for the better. Hugh’s story is not one without its challenges, but one that is inspiring because of its challenges. If you have ever considered becoming a medical professional, this article is definitely for you. If you are interested in the field of medicine and healthcare in America, this article is also for you. Hmm… if you have ever seen a doctor, this article is just for you.


Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 3.16.32 PMHugh, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello everyone! First of all, I want to say that I am truly honored and humbled that you would ask me of all people to chat!

In terms of a little bit about me: I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2017. After graduating, I moved back home to central New Jersey for 3 years to build up my resume and save up a little bit of money before going to medical school. During those 3 years, I volunteered as an EMT in my hometown as well as worked as a scribe in the Saint Barnabas Emergency Department, ultimately becoming the ‘lead scribe’ for the final 2 years of my time there. I was offered an acceptance at New York Medical College in Westchester County, New York in the Spring of 2019 with a deferment – meaning that instead of starting in the fall, I would start in the fall of 2020. And here we are!

What made you decide to go to medical school?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.37.24 PM

I can’t say there was one of those “ah-hah” moments that made me decide to want to pursue a career in medicine. For as long as I can remember, having the opportunity to care for others has been something I have wanted to make my life about. I was born with a genetic condition that meant I was around medicine quite a bit as a child, and what child wants to be in hospitals or at doctors offices? One of the moments that has stuck with me that represented the power that medicine can have on an individual arose from one of those trips to the hospital. 

Preface: I am incredibly lucky to have parents who stopped at nothing in their pursuit of ensuring that I received care from world-class practitioners of all sorts, and for this I will forever be grateful. After a variety of hospital trips, tests and the like, my mother ultimately settled on following up with a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We had only been there a couple of times and I was probably only in 5th or 6th grade when I was visited by another practitioner during my regular visit. I was- and still am- a huge baseball fan, and I must have had a copy of Sports Illustrated with me, because the practitioner noticed and told me that he couldn’t wait to see me playing third base for the Phillies when I got older.

Now, my condition has never been life threatening or even significantly debilitating, but it does ensure that playing sports at more than a recreational level is not really possible for me- and this is something that that practitioner would have known. Nonetheless, the fact that someone like that took the time to express interest in me and in doing so, communicate a genuine and profound kind of empathy was an incredible confidence boost as well as an eye opener for me. I am sure that the practitioner doesn’t realize the kind of impact such a small statement made, as there was no way for him to have known that the child he engaged in was at the time having self confidence issues. I am less sure whether that practitioner was consciously aware that his positivity and empathy made more of a difference in my care than any medicine could have. Either way, having had the time to reflect on my experiences as a patient including moments like these, I have come to realize that it is positivity, a smile, even just a shared interest with a patient that can change a persons day, week, or life. By definition, for a patient to be a patient, something likely has gone wrong and the patient has made the decision to entrust their vulnerability to said physician. This trust, this faith in the physician’s ability, this hope that is inextricably linked to the patient-provider relationship is a privilege, and personally I can think of no higher honor than having the opportunity to improve the lives of others through medicine. That is all just a long way of saying that being able to possibly impact someone in a similar manner as I was has been a dream of mine for quite a while. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how you view medicine and the healthcare industry at all?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.38.39 PMI was able to witness the work that emergency providers put in during the height of the pandemic in our area firsthand and it was truly inspiring. To watch providers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs band together to fight for our communities made me wish I was through medical school and able to fight with them. From my viewpoint, Saint Barnabas never reached the depths that many hospitals in New York City experienced, but we were pretty overrun and hard hit nonetheless. Single use masks were being rationed and reused several times over. The hospital was out of hospital beds, almost out of ventilators, and short on capable providers. A lot of the providers weren’t allowed to return to their homes while they were in the middle of the pandemic, at the risk of infecting their loved ones. And yet, everyone came to work day in and day out, ready to fight with and for every single patient that came through the doors. I can honestly say that being able to witness the compassion, resilience, and strength of the providers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center was one of the most inspiring ‘moments’ in all of my living memory. So while the pandemic has been saddening on many levels, it has reinforced my faith in and desire to be a part of the medical community.

Is there a lot of discussion in the classroom about the pandemic and, if so, what is the conversation about?

Honestly, there has not been quite as much discussion in our academic classes regarding the pandemic so far. However, I have no doubt that once I transition into our classes regarding disease processes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will get plenty of airtime in our lectures. 

Laboratory_art_print_cimestry__laboratory__vintage_science__flower_print__wall_art__vintage_print_on-removebg-previewI will say that beyond the classroom, the pandemic has definitely been a significant talking point. The school itself seems to have made concerted efforts to address how the pandemic and all of its side effects (isolation, Zoom classes, etc.) has affected us as students. Specifically, my school has what is called the “Resiliency Curriculum Committee” which existed even before the pandemic as a means for training the medical students in healthy emotional and psychological choices. I obviously cannot speak to what the topics covered in prior years Resiliency Curriculum were, but the discussions during the small group sessions this year have had a distinct COVID-19 pandemic flavor, which I think is extremely important. The pandemic is the elephant in the room here: a year ago, it would have been absurd to think that students would be attending lectures given by professors sitting in their home offices. To that end, the fact that the school wants to address how this is affecting its students and try to guide students through such a stressful time is something I appreciate. 

What is one thing that you wish you knew before you committed to going to medical school?

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Hugh along with his co-workers

I can’t say there is a particular piece of advice that would have changed how I did things. The one thing I find myself wishing for was an advisor – none of my family are involved in medicine of any kind, so at times I did feel as if I was flying in the dark in terms of building my resume for medical school. I never knew what types of jobs to apply to, when to take what classes or tests, how to make myself a better applicant, etc. The pre-health advisory system at my undergraduate college was great – they were more than happy to provide specific answers to many of my bigger questions, but because they were dealing with literally hundreds of students, there was really no way to go to them with little questions or concerns. I ended up relying on the two or three of my friends that were also planning to go to medical school for guidance, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without their patience and advice so I am lucky and grateful to have them around (shoutout Ryan and Mike!).

What excites you most about medicine in general?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.40.18 PMHmm, thats a great question. At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I am super excited about a lot of the science behind medicine. It is truly amazing how ‘well designed’ and finely tuned the human body is. And then when things go wrong, the creativity that scientists and physicians have implemented in coming up with solutions and treatments is incredible. Being able to spend the rest of my life learning about all of this and implementing it to help patients is super exciting. 

That being said, the reason I wanted to go into medicine is for the people. I love people and their stories, and medicine provides a great way to simultaneously build relationships with a huge range of people, while also having the chance to positively impact the lives of those people. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to being able to ‘fix’ everyone’s medical issues. I realize that often, physicians do not have the answers, can’t solve the problem, or have to be the bearer of bad news. But where I feel that physicians make an impact is in how they are able to handle these types of moments. I recently finished reading both Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and one of the sentiments that really stuck with me from those books was the importance of physicians in speaking candidly with their patients, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time. Being able to help guide patients through these tough moments is just one of the ways that I hope to be able to make an impact down the road, and it is these types of moments that I am excited to play a role in one day. Though admittedly, I could go on and on about everything I am excited about with regards to becoming a physician… 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in going to medical school?

Don’t let anything stop you. If you know that you want to be a physician, you can become a physician. 

So many people get discouraged by the amount of work that the application process takes: the pre-requisite classes during undergraduate years, studying/taking the MCAT, school application essays or fees, or any of the other barriers. If you want it bad enough, none of that matters. Hard work and passion for the field of medicine are the single two most important factors in getting into medical school, because they will always help you overcome the barriers that are put in place. 

One last thing on this question: one of the best physicians I have had the pleasure of working with applied to medical school 3 times and had started podiatry school before he was ultimately accepted to medical school. 

Lance Svendsen on Beginner Running Tips

You’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the run of your life!

Lance, tell us about your background in running!

I started really running in 2012 after my Uncle Roy passed away because I was determined to run the NYC marathon in his memory. But I was always a solid runner. I ran a bunch of 5k’s for fun and did some tough mudders and spartan races when they were first introduced. I like the self competition the most, like how you can run the same distance on different courses and it’s a completely different race. I was always trying to beat my own times and push myself to the next mile marker or the next lower minute. It always always helped that I was the fastest kid I knew. That helped keep my interest 🙂

What is some advice you would give someone that is a beginner and thinking about starting to do some long distance running?

It’s almost annoying for beginners to hear from someone who has run in a 50 mile race but literally the way you start is to just start. Everyone can run, you just have to find if you actually want to do it. And the want can be either out of need or frustration. What I mean by that is some people need to run and work out for health so they will do it to get or stay fit. And then there are those who decide I’m done not hitting myself goals and starting now, I am doing what it takes. I was that second group. I always wanted to run a marathon but would come up with excuses. Then I decided enough is enough and I’m going to do it. I went out for that first long run and it was terrible and exhausting and I could taste blood I was so tired. But I realized I was in a new place that I’ve never been. I was a distance runner – not a good one yet – but I knew I could do it. 

What advice would you give beginner runners who think that they are too old, out of shape, or “not built” for running? 

I would say to someone who says one of those excuses that unless running causes you pain that would hurt you over the long term, then all the other things are just excuses. God built us to run.

Any of those excuses are because they are comparing themselves to other people. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is yourself last week. I bet if you train this week, you’ll be a better version of yourself next week. 

What is some advice you would give a beginner who has just started their running training?

Do not confuse being in pain and an injury. Injuries are one thing and if you have one, you stop running and recover. But pain, pain is something you feel when you are pushing yourself beyond what you are currently capable of. Pain is something you can push through and be better on the other side. Weak people stop when they feel the slightest bit of pain and it’s a mistake. 

What sneakers, clothing, or accessories do you recommend beginner runners purchase to help in their running journey?

Screen Shot 2020-10-04 at 4.03.26 PMThe main thing is train in whatever you are going to race in. It’s almost cute when a beginning runner will try something new on race day. It’s like “Oh no, that time has passed.” Don’t do anything new on race day. You’re training your running habits along with your legs and lungs. For purchases, I like running shorts with a lining and pockets. I always use the pocket for my phone. It’s just easier than fumbling with a runner belt for the phone, when you use it to change songs or select the next podcast. But in the longer runs I do wear a runners belt for the gels and snacks. I like to bring along pretzels and gummy bears. You can use money on performance snacks but if you look up the active ingredients, the same stuff is in rold gold pretzels and haribo gummy bears. And personally I choose Asics. Always Asics.

What are some good stretches or exercises that you do to help your body perform well on runs and prevent injury?

For me I have to make sure my achilles are being taken care of. After longer runs they feel almost crunchy which is as painful as it is gross sounding. And oddly enough I found my shoulders can get tired on runs so I like to make sure I move them a lot before and then while running relax them every few miles so they don’t tighten up. 

How would you advise beginner runners to set goals or milestones to track their journey?

Find out what motivates you. If it’s time or miles or weight lose or beating someone else’s time, then do that. Don’t try to motivate you by someone else’s standards, that’s not fun and won’t get you excited. But if you choose it and get excited by it then you will keep wanting to go out and pursue it. 

What foods do you recommend runners incorporate in their diet for optimal running?

Chia Seeds. Those things are amazing. They retain water in your body. And water is no joke, it’s so important. I put chia seeds in smoothies mostly. Also, it’s actually way more important the things you don’t eat than the things you do eat. If you can eliminate something potentially bad from your diet and don’t really miss it then do it that way. I’ve found that has helped me more than adding things that I know could be good for me. Like get rid of things that are obviously bad for you like soda and bacon, and then limit the things you really want to small portions like french fries and ice cream. Unless you’re training for an ultra, then you can eat pretty much anything. I’ve eating pizza while training for an ultra as I was running. There’s a saying, “If you run the engine hot enough, it will burn anything.” But again that’s at high miles over hours. 

What advice would you give beginner runners who feel discouraged in their progress or running outcomes?

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Running is something to be enjoyed so find ways to enjoy it. You’re most likely discouraged because you set an unrealistic goal for yourself and missed it. Setting small reasonable goals, although may not seem as exciting, are way better for you mentally. There’s something about being able to celebrate an accomplishment, that will keep you going for longer. Also, find a running mate. Someone to go on runs with and/or talk about running with. Some of my favorite training runs are the shorter ones where the goal is to talk the whole time, which works the lungs and gets you used to being uncomfortable and happy at the same time.

My Journey as a Runner

Not all races end at the finish line.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I recruited my friend Lance, an incredible human and marathoner, to give you his expert tips for beginner runners!

I have always loved running since I was little. I remember being one of the fastest kids in Elementary School and every year appointed the captain of the girls relay race at our annual field day. Sprinting was a strong suite of mine, which got me involved in track and field and field hockey when I entered High School. However, it wasn’t until I was a Junior in High School that I decided that I wanted to run cross country. The supportive environment of the team was something that I always loved, despite the sport being relatively individualistic. Running these long distances was something that I was never proficient at, but I knew that I wanted to push myself- if I was able to compete on the team I would be showing myself that I was capable of doing something I had never thought I could do. A few races into the season, however, I was out of commission. At one of our 5k races, I left the start line feeling O.K., pacing myself and focusing on my breathing. Yet, as I entered the middle of the race, I could feel a sharp pain in my left ankle, as I was entering the steep woods portion of the race. What I thought was mere tightness in my ankle, I would later find out was a stress fracture in my left Fibula bone. I was out for the season after that, having to walk in a boot for several weeks. I remember dreaming of running again every day I drove past our school’s vast fields going to and from school. 

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Upon entering college my Freshman year, I remember the gym as being a place of solace for me. My college gym had an indoor track on the second floor that I would frequent and found an immense stress relief. Whenever I felt bummed about not having plans on a Friday night or could feel my anxiety creeping up on me, I would shuffle my way to the gym for a run, music blasting on high. Sometimes, it was the only way that I could make it through the week- a way for me to just be present. When Sophomore year rolled around, I became incredibly busy with a new on-campus job and friends that I put off my regular running for a bit. Yet, when my anxieties ramped up again Junior year, I knew I had to return to my running for some much needed sanity. But, I needed a way to stay committed. I decided to sign up for the New York City Marathon, something that I never thought that I could do, but was on my bucket list. I began training in January of 2019, knowing that I would need a head start if I was going to complete this thing. I spent hours training, going on runs in the pouring train, indoors on the track, and outside in the Boston Spring air. As the summer came, I was really hitting the ground, coming home from my internships in New York City to run in the summer heat or running along the West Side highway after work. I went from barely being able to run over two miles without stopping, to running eight miles in one shot. I became the runner I never believed I could be. Until I hit a wall. After many bouts of heat stroke, constant stress in trying to balance my two internships, and an ankle injury, I knew enough was enough. I was going to have to put my dream of running the New York City Marathon on hold that year. I would complete the marathon at another time, and that would be O.K. 

06D70FBC-F6C3-4BCD-A1E8-3BF3AF7D5816I share my story because I want you to know that, even if you think that they can’t, you can become a runner too. Even during my runs, I would question how I could be doing all of this running. How could I mentally, physically, and emotionally get up and run almost every day? But, I just did. Forcing myself into my workout clothes also helped!

It is important to recognize that any progress is some progress. Every run of mine was hard in some way or at some point, which is a reality that is important to grasp. If you know that at some point the workout will be hard and you will want to quit, it becomes an inevitability that you know will pass once you get over that wall. And once you do that is where the magic is. Sometimes I would surpass that mental wall and find myself being able to run for miles- feeling a “runners high” that was altogether unexplainable. 

It just starts with one small step, then a leap, then a jog.

 

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Remind yourself that you will hit a “wall” on your runs- acknowledging this is half the battle. Once you get over the “wall” of sluggishness you will feel amazing. You have to convince your body that you are deciding to spend your energy and calories on this run, the sluggishness comes from your body wanting to preserve the energy and calories you are spending. Basically it’s your body asking “Are we really doing this?”. 
  • Get a fanny pack to store your phone and keys while you run. They are way better than arm bands, as the weight is equally distributed to your center. 
  • In your mind, set a goal before you start and commit to it, you can surpass the goal or slightly modify it, but try to stick with it every time.
  • Keep track of your progress, this will motivate you when you are feeling down and show how much you have accomplished so far.
  • Share your progress with someone that can celebrate the small wins with you.
  • Take it slow, progress in running can take a long time and ramping up too much in the beginning will only lead to discouragement and injury. 
  • Get good running shoes, the less that is inhibiting you from being comfortable, the easier it will be to get out there and run.
  • Find a go-to song that will get you hyped up and energized when you are feeling sluggish in the middle of your run that can activate some much needed energy to help you get through. 
  • The best thing about running is that you can always convert the run to a walk and still be exercising, its O.K. to slow down sometimes when you aren’t feeling too hot.
  • Go for time not for milage if you are aiming to run long distance. My goals were running for an extra 5 to 10 minutes at a time, slowly increasing as I was able to run farther. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I recruit my friend Lance, an incredible human and marathoner to give you his expert tips for beginner runners!

It’s Candle Time with Nadia Kim

When it comes to candles, Nadia has got you covered.

When I think of my friend Nadia Kim, I think of how she smells- does that sound weird? Yes. Nadia is my go-to in terms of who to ask when it comes to anything scented, especially candles. When Nadia and I were roommates, I always admired her perfectly curated selection of candles on our window sill. Although we are roommates no longer, as she has traveled back to her home country of Korea, I still admire her selection of candles neatly placed on her apartment window sill from afar via Instagram. To give you the scoop on all things warm and beautiful, Nadia has weighed in on her favorite candles and the best way to burn them.


In Korean, Hyangsoo means both perfume and nostalgia. Although I’m sure it’s a coincidence, I associate memory with scent a lot, and thus I consider it the most personal and intimate sense. Having moved at least once a year to at most three times a year, I longed for a method to make my room feel more homey. Out of all home fragrances, including sprays, diffusers, and incense, candles are my favorite. The scent and the flickering warm light give me the relaxation I love at the end of the day. 

My favorite scents are floral scents that are good to use all season and basically foolproof. But, I stay away from overly artificial and sweet fruity scents, since they give me a headache. I also recently started to get more items with woody scents like sandalwood and vetiver.

My current favorite is Le Labo Santal 26. I first met this scent when using a tester for the perfume. It reminded me of a mix of a library and a cozy bonfire. Although this is a unisex fragrance, it was a bit woody and masculine, and I didn’t have the courage to use it myself, so purchased the candle. Since September, this has been my absolute favorite. The woody note gives it the perfect coziness for fall nights, and the hint of vanilla balances out without making it smell too intense.

 

The candle is made of soy wax and is hand-poured. So don’t be alarmed if you see imperfection- even in the image, a bit of wax is lifted off the glass but don’t worry. The smaller size candle is in a tin can, which is also manually distressed, so each container is different. Even the labels are manually attached, and you can customize the message that you want. A sweet message for a gift would make it extra personal, and funny messages for your sister to not use it without your permission could be the perfect message too.


Nadia’s Favorite Candles 

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Soohyang Secret Garden

If you want a candle that gives off a strong floral scent.

 

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Diptyque Londres & New York

If you want a candle that you can use as an interior decoration item as well.


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Boy Smells Hinoki Fantome

If you want a candle with an incense-like scent making you feel calm.

 


How to Best Burn a Candle

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1. Get a candle warmer lamp.

Something new candle users often mistake is to blow out the candle before the wax has melted evenly. Candles remember where they are burned until and only burn wax in that small area, resulting in wax around the edges left and wasted. This is referred to as tunneling. To avoid tunneling, manufacturers advise to let the candle burn for two hours or more for the first use, depending on how fast the wax melts. 

While we want to use every bit of wax we paid for, we’re always worried if we’re using it too much. Situations like this are when a candle warmer comes in handy. The bulb emits light and heat that evenly melts the surface of the wax. Thus your candle will always have an even surface, not to mention no tunneling whether you’ve burned it for ten minutes or the whole day. Also, there is are no actual flames! Although not ideal, it would be safer to leave a candle warmer on all night rather than a candle.

2. Trim the burnt wick 

Screen Shot 2020-10-22 at 9.18.25 PMHave you ever heard popping sounds after you lit your candle and a thick black smoke? It’s because of the already burnt part of the wick, that popcorn looking round tip. So, before you light your candle again, trim this bit. It’s also more convenient to do this after the wax has hardened from your previous use, so if the cut bit falls into the candle, you can just hold the container upside down to get it out. 

If you want to be extra and go all out, niche brands like Diptyque sell wick trimmers, but you can use ordinary scissors for it. 

3. Don’t blow out the candle. Instead, use a lid to cover it.

So, we’ve just made the room smell all nice, but when you blow out the candle, it quickly makes the room smell smokey- not in a good way. Instead of blowing out the candle, cover the candle with the lid. Once there is no more oxygen, the fire will extinguish soon with a minimal amount of smoke contained under the lid. Just make sure that the lid is safe to use with fire. Avoid ones made of plastic or paper, or any other flammable material.

4. This is also another item that might make your bougie collection a bit more boujee *wink, wink*

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When the candle jar is too deep, this lighter does the trick in lighting your candle without burning yourself and its definitely a show stopper, sure to impress your friends.