3 Lessons From My Husband

Today is my husband’s birthday. I’m up at 5am to write while Kanan sleeps so we’ll have the day to spend together once he wakes up. I know that I haven’t given much history about our relationship, and rarely divulge details about his life specifically, focusing mainly on relevant information for our topic at hand. So today, in an attempt to shine light on the person that my husband is, I’m going to share three big lessons that my husband has taught me about life in our last (almost) six years together.

If there’s one thing about Kanan’s personality that has always perplexed and fascinated me, it’s his ability to consistently be one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to matters of “zen.” I use that term loosely and metaphorically to mean calm, collected, and unchanged by his surroundings. When we first met I mistook his disinterest in most things as aloofness, dismissiveness, and an overall indifference or dispassion, but I know now that my husband cares more deeply than anyone I’ve met, he’s just remarkably good at choosing what few things he cares about.

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Lesson #1: “Structure Your Life Differently.”

If I had a dollar for every time this phrase exited my husband’s mouth or came through to me via text message, I’d be rich, and I wouldn’t need to structure my life differently.

Over the years Kanan has seen me grow from a mid-twenties employee with undefined dreams to an early thirties small business owner with fairly clear goals for our future.

I’ve discovered that when I have an end goal in mind I will work relentlessly toward it regardless of the time and energy that it takes to get there, even if it means depleting every resource I have in the process. Sometimes this takes years to complete. Sometimes the “end goal” is so obscure and far off in the distance that it’s almost impossible for anyone else to see, let alone support. But I see it.

Kanan may not notice what I’m able to predict. He observes my chaotic life, chalk full of work and stress. I see myself lay one more brick down each day I wake up with intention. It may not look like much now, but someday I’ll build my castle, revel in it, then move on to something new. I thrive on accomplishment and projects. I find happiness in the process of building, not necessarily the “finished” result – consequently this means I’m never really done and I’m almost never satisfied.

He watches me struggle and sometimes doesn’t realize that I share his same vision. Laying a brick a day will get us there, I promise, but you need to trust me. A decade later, and the foundation is complete. Still a lot of castle to build, but it’s got something solid to stand on. Structuring your life differently takes time. Great things aren’t built overnight. Strategies take trial and error to perfect; systems take years to run smoothly. I’d work seven days a week, and teeter on the precipice of burnout – he’d say “structure your life differently.” I’d be at the end of my rope spending every “personal” moment on my phone working. What should I do? Structure my life differently. To him, its easy. A simple answer to any of those parts of my life I am not satisfied with.

His point: When I’m “done” I’m never done. So I may as well create a life I love to live in the process of building. Structure my life differently. 

It’s not that I didn’t understand this concept before – I feel like I have quite a clear understanding of what it takes to create a life you actually want, basically full of work I enjoy, people I enjoy, and activities that give me joy, purpose, and meaning. But for me it will take years to even define what that looks like, and I imagine it will be fluid and constantly in flux. But I feel like when he emphasizes that point to me, it’s his subtle and effective way to reiterate that I am the creator of my life and I do have the power to change it, and make it however I dream. It’s up to me, and he knows I can do it. After all, if I’m not happy with something in my life, all I need to do is do it differently.

Lesson #2: Leveling up is hard, but a great partnership will force you to level up constantly, and forever.

I resist what my husband tells me to do. My husband resists what I tell him to do. Together we end up stubbornly encouraging each other to become better people.

What I’ve discovered is that my husband and I chose each other for big reasons, and each one of us has greatly valuable qualities to bring to our table. So when we resist each other because of our strength and stubbornness, eventually one of us will rise to join the other. And when we really clash, it’s because one of us just hasn’t quite figured out how to get up to that next level yet. But with enough encouragement, we will.

This happens in small ways, like snoozing my alarm. I used to be that person. Snooze the alarm every single day for however long it takes to get out of bed in the morning. Kanan explicitly hated this behavior because it disrupts his sleep, and we had many arguments about it, until stubbornly and angrily I made it a point to get out of bed immediately, every single day as soon as my alarm went off. Annoyed and stubborn, I now am a more productive person who loves the morning and looks forward to quiet time alone with my coffee, my books, and my computer. Why would I want to waste that wonderful peaceful time snoozing?

This also happens in big ways, like eating more plant foods, a significant and long-term lifestyle change. Over the years Kanan has resisted my dietary choices being “pushed on him” and has explicitly made it clear to not tell him what to eat. It turns out, the squeaky vegan wheel gets the grease. When I see my husband packing his mostly (if not entirely) raw, plant based lunches for work everyday, coming home for his post-work kale, ginger, celery smoothie it does two things. It instantly makes me happy that we’re headed down this healthy, long path together, but also makes me realize that I can do better too. I don’t eat kale everyday; there’s always room to improve and grow.

When my husband and I seem to disagree, I now try to step back and look for the lesson inside the clashing of two stubborn individuals. We both want what’s best for us, so who needs the boost up to the next rung? The other one of us will be more that happy to provide it.

Lesson #3: Protect Your Time.

This last lesson I’ll share with you wraps back around to the initial idea of my husband as the “zen master.” Kanan is not a meditation expert. He doesn’t do yoga. He’s certainly not Buddhist. He has fairly liberal beliefs but is in no way carefree or someone I’d call a free spirit. He has not reached enlightenment. Nor is he wearing a poncho and selling beads in the park. My point: he’s neither a true zen master, or a wannabe zen master. He’s just himself.

He is an adamant nonconformist in his own way. He’s so punk rock about his time that it fascinates me and encourages me on my digital minimalism journey. Simply put, Kanan understands with no degree of uncertainty that his time is his own, and he is allowed to selfishly protect it. He can exist amongst the chaos and remain himself, a calm center.

Social media? Not worth the time or energy. Texting? Only if absolutely necessary, or to appease his text-happy wife. Facetime is a solid no. Calling is a sometimes and only for the most important in his life. He refuses to make plans if he even has an inkling he may not want to participate in something or may want to just relax and do what he wants. He doesn’t feel the need to answer to anyone about how he spends his personal time, and most of the time that philosophy does apply to me. And while this can frustrate me sometimes as his behavior can appear to be noncommittal or selfish (which it is), he generally encourages me to live the same way. Selfishly with my time, even when it pertains to matters involving him.

This has taught me that being selfish with my time is okay, and that respecting each other’s time is important. It’s taught me not to dole it out indiscriminately, and to really decide if something or someone is worth letting into my life and space. My husband is basically a minimalist at heart, and someone so confident in himself that he can live his life from his own center, allowing in only the things that mean most to him. That is a skill most of us have to actively cultivate with things like exercise, meditation, learning – strategies. I joke that Kanan has had it figured out since I met him. I thought he was antisocial and afraid to commit. It turns out he just wanted to make sure I was someone he wanted to give his most precious resource to before he decided to marry me. What a way to live.

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Wedding Photos:

https://www.hennygraphy.com

My Top 10 “Holy Grail” Cruelty-Free Makeup Products

Glo Skin Beauty Moisturizing Tint SPF 30 $44

1) Glo Skin Beauty Moisturizing Tint SPF 30. This product is my go-to every single day whether I’m wearing full coverage makeup or not. It adds a sheer hint of color and moisture on days I’m not wearing any foundation, and provides an oil-free base that will help face makeup apply flawlessly and last when I am going for a more full-coverage look. Wearing SPF is a must, and this formula feels and smells amazing. If I were stranded on a desert island, THIS is the one product I’d take with me.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit

Shade I use: Light

Available: At Two Beauties, and at https://www.gloskinbeauty.com/moisturizing-tint-spf-30

Glo Skin Beauty Under Eye Concealer $32

2) Glo Skin Beauty Under Eye Concealer. This concealer offers a dual pot- one peach shade to color correct and one more neutral shade to blend and brighten. I apply this under my foundation using the Glo Dual Camouflage brush for full-coverage color correcting and concealing all over the face (not just under eyes). It can also be applied lightly for more sheer coverage on days I do not wear foundation. This product is easily blend-able, does not badly crease when blended and set, and can be used as an eyelid primer in a pinch.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit

Shade I use: Beige

Available: At Two Beauties, and at https://www.gloskinbeauty.com/under-eye-concealer#pdp-description

Glo Skin Beauty Satin Cream Foundation $50

3) Glo Skin Beauty Satin Cream Foundation: 1.4oz. I have been wearing this foundation for over a decade. This formula is full-coverage, has a satin semi-matte finish, and color corrects amazingly. I use a damp beauty blender to achieve an air brushed look, or the Glo Flat Top Kabuki brush if I need more coverage. All Glo foundations are talc-free, non-comedogenic, and contain green tea, and vitamins A, C, and E. The shade range is moderate, but from my experience fairly inclusive.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit *Great for Photography

Shade I use: Natural Fair

Available: At Two Beauties, and at https://www.gloskinbeauty.com/satin-cream-foundation#pdp-description

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder $39

4) Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder: 1oz. On days that I would like a full-coverage look I use this powder to set my foundation. It lasts all day and night, creating a more matte, but crease-free finish that photographs well. I apply it using a beauty blender, and then buff it out with the Glo Skin Beauty Pro Kabuki Brush for an airbrushed look.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit *Great for Photography

Shade I use: Translucent

Available: https://www.lauramercier.com/translucent-loose-setting-powder-prod12321001.html?cgid=cat310002&dwvar_prod12321001_color=Translucent

Glo Skin Beauty Brow Powder Duo $28

5) Glo Skin Beauty Brow Powder Duo. This brow powder is the most pigmented and long-lasting I’ve found. Etching brows out with this formula is effortless with the Glo Dual Brow Brush. I typically will fill my brows in with the lighter shade toward the center, and the darker shade toward the tail, then set with either the Glo Brow Gel in clear or the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel in auburn.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit

Shade I use: Brown

Available: At Two Beauties, and at https://www.gloskinbeauty.com/brow-powder-duo#pdp-description

Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette $38
Too Faced Natural Face Palette $44

6) Too Faced Natural Collection. I know this is cheating, but this entire collection is now “holy grail” for me, so I picked out my two favorites to include here. These palettes come in beautiful hard-shell packaging with high quality mirrors. They are compact and easy to travel with- these are the two (and only) palettes I brought with me to do my wedding makeup and all my honeymoon looks. I love that you can create so many eye looks with a simple set of neutrals, some satin and some matte. And the face palette is my absolute favorite since it contains two highlights, a beautiful bronze/contour shade, and three blushes. The rest of the collection is also beautiful, and the pigment and blend-ability is highest-quality.

Use: Personal

Available: At https://www.toofaced.com/shop/face/face-palettes/natural-face-palette/70239.html?cgid=face-palettes#q=Natural%2B&start=1

https://www.toofaced.com/shop/eyes/eye-shadow-palettes/natural-eyes-palette/41040.html?cgid=eye-shadow-palettes#q=Natural%2B&start=1

Urban Decay Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Long-wear Liquid Eyeliner $22

7) Urban Decay Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Longwear Liquid Eyeliner. This liquid eyeliner is the only one I’ve found with a traditional, precision brush tip that is deep black, dries down matte, and does not budge. It comes in a variety of colors, but I only use it in black for days when I do cat-eye liner. Unfortunately, it is currently on sale and the black is hard to find so I’m hoping they’re reformulating or repackaging and not discontinuing!

Use: Personal

Available: At https://www.urbandecay.com/razor-sharp-water-resistant-longwear-liquid-eyeliner-by-urban-decay/ud776.html

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick $18

8) Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick. This formulation is highly pigmented, and for me, lasts almost all day with no need to reapply. I love that there is a huge shade range with a large portion of nudes which are my go-to shades.

Use: Personal

Shades I love: Can’t Relate, Mannequin, Christmas Cookie

Available: At https://jeffreestarcosmetics.com/collections/velour-liquid-lipstick

Glo Skin Beauty Precision Lip Pencil $18

9) Glo Skin Beauty Precision Lip Pencil. These are just your standard lip pencils, but the formula is incredibly creamy and long-wearing. The shade range is minimal, but there is a tone for every look you’re creating.

Use: Personal & Pro Kit

Shades I love: Soulmate, Natural, Moxie

Available: At Two Beauties and https://www.gloskinbeauty.com/precision-lip-pencil

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water $32

10) Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water: 3.9oz. This is my personal favorite setting spray. I prefer a full-coverage, but very dewey look and this spray gives me that finish I’m looking for and pairs wonderfully with my Glo foundations.

Use: Personal

Available: At https://m.smashbox.com/product/6038/34189/face/primers/photo-finish-primer-water/set-refresh-spray

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*I do not recommend purchasing these products from third-party websites. Please purchase directly from the brand website, or from a licensed, authorized retailer.

My Business: http://www.twobeauties.org

Our Elopement Part 2: The Honeymoon

We spent our honeymoon in Alberta, Canada, flying into Calgary and then driving to Banff. Neither of us had been there so we had no idea what to expect. All we knew what that our elopement ceremony was on September 28th so the rest of our trip had to be planned around the big event.

(My new Away, Herschel, and Lululemon travel gear)

Calgary has the international airport closest to Banff, so we flew into the city and decided that instead of getting in and immediately renting a car to drive the hour and a half to Banff, we would explore Calgary for a few days. The flight from Seattle was quick, and once we got there our Air B&B was a short drive away. Immediately I noticed all the beautiful yellow and orange foliage I was excited to use in our wedding photos, but for the end of September (even by Canadian standards from what I heard) it was cold. I had done quite a bit of research and picked the end of September for our trip because according to pretty much everything, it was supposed to be slightly less touristy after the peak summer months, and the weather would be fairly mild, cooling off but not yet snowy. I’ll just foreshadow by saying that Canada, you lived up to your weather stereotype.

(The view from our Air B&B in Calgary, AB)

Our Air B&B was everything I hoped it would be. Downtown, the penthouse condo on the 29th floor of the highrise overlooked the city with gorgeous panoramic views. I love having our own kitchen, laundry, and privacy, so our own apartment was fabulous. A well-stocked grocery store with tons of healthy and vegan options called Sunterra Market was right downstairs so we shopped there for the three nights to get essentials. We had access to a nice, full gym downstairs so we could easily get workouts in every morning. And we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go from our Air B&B – the best part is that it cost about the same as a low to mid-level chain hotel in California.

(Riverwalk, Calgary)

(Downtown Calgary)

(Downtown Calgary)

Essentially for three days in Calgary we worked out, walked around, ate food, and relaxed at our condo.

*Vegan food suggestions in Calgary: Ten Foot Henry, SaVeg Cafe, The Coup (for dessert), Tandoori Grill

(Vegan S’mores Dessert from The Coup, Calgary)

After our stay in Calgary we took an Uber to the airport and rented a car, a small SUV that would prove to be beneficial as the trip progressed. We drove the beautiful hour and a half into the Rocky Mountains to Banff Springs. The Fairmont Hotel where we’d spend the next three days and take many of our wedding photos sits on top of a hill, with the town of Banff below. It was completely different in person than I thought it would be. It’s beautiful and castle-like, gigantic and spectacular, but completely crowded and surrounded by tourists. I don’t know why I expected something a bit more quiet, or in the mountains, or whimsical and fairy-tale like (probably because of all the photos and blogs that portray it this way). But it’s more of a beautiful piece of history that’s become overly commercialized. The hotel is considered an international destination, so tour buses abound. It reminded me a lot of Disneyland, which I love, but am typically prepared for. Downstairs in the lobby, there was always a long line for coffee at their independent version of a Starbucks. The check-in lines always going like you’re at a hotel in Vegas. It was an amazing experience – I have once in a lifetime memories from there, and the hotel made the perfect backdrop for many of our photos, but I doubt we’ll ever stay there again, opting for a hotel that’s closer to nature and less loud in the future.

(The Fairmont, Banff Springs Hotel)

Over the next three days we would eat at every restaurant in the hotel, relax, shop (again in the hotel… I can’t emphasize how massive it truly is. We’ll suffice it to say that I was bummed the Lululemon in our hotel was closed for refurbishment) and spend an entire day taking photos, eating wedding cake, and enjoying our elopement ceremony.

(Downtown Banff)

(Hike to Surprise Corner, Banff)

The day we checkout out of the Fairmont we drove down the hill into Banff Springs and checked in at the Moose Hotel & Suites, a well-appointed hotel decorated like a lodge, all wood, fireplaces and bears, in downtown Banff. We chose this place so that we could walk to all the shops and restaurants, and it was perfect for that. We spent our final three days in Banff walking around downtown, eating, and exploring many of the sites I had put on my list. Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise. Toward the end of our trip it started snowing off and on, so we took a couple spectacular hikes in the snow, one to Larch Valley, to see the beautiful Larch Trees in their golden glory, against the backdrop of snow. They only turn this color for a few weeks out of every year and we caught it.

(Lake Louise, Banff National Park)

(Little Beehive Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse)

I will say that each location we went to was also quite crowded with tourists – people getting married and people setting up tripods for perfect travel photos. We did find that the earlier in the morning you start your hike, and the farther and higher up you go, the people get very scarce. It seemed like most people just wanted to hop out of the bus, take a quick look around, take photos and leave. So as soon as you distance yourself from the crowd, it gets extra beautiful. At one point we hiked for a long while without seeing anybody aside from one other couple every once and a while and the prospect of running into a Grizzly started to really freak me out. So pack bear spray if you distance yourself from crowds anywhere in the Canadian Rockies.

(Peyto Lake Lookout, Banff National Park)

(Moraine Lake, Banff National Park)

(Hike from Moraine Lake to Larch Valley)

(Larch Valley, Banff National Park)

*Vegan food suggestions in Banff: The Fairmont made most meals special for me since they didn’t have many vegan options. But they were fairly accommodating. Downtown Banff lacked good vegan food and I ate a lot of things from the local version of Safeway. The only meals I really remember being good were at the Indian Curry House (Indian food is always a go-to because it is often times inherently vegan), I had moderately good tacos at Magpie & Stump, and the Wildflour Bakery & Cafe offered several vegan treat options which were delicious. Sometimes good vegan food is still hard to find- you gotta just go with it.

I will say that up until this point, our travel had gone smoothly, and we hadn’t had any significant issues or problems on our entire vacation OR with our elopement ceremony and vendors. So that’s remarkable. But as it does, the universe had to throw us a curve ball there at the end. We checked out out of the Moose Hotel & Suites early in the morning with plenty of time to drive the hour and a half to Calgary, return our car at the airport and catch our flight back to Seattle. It had been steadily snowing off and on with temperatures reaching lows (in the teens) I had never experienced before (I totally get the jokes about being from California now, even though it does get fairly cold… not Canada cold).

Since we had packed appropriately, rented the right car, and had been hiking around in the snow and cold for several days, it didn’t phase us that it was snowing when we left. We just figured it was a normal Canadian fall. Nope. Apparently it was a freak snowstorm that no one was prepared for. If we would’ve turned on the news we would’ve known to tack a day or two on to our vacation and stay put. But we didn’t. We ended up completely stopped on the highway about half way between Banff and Calgary for over three hours with several other cars because a semi truck had refused to go up the hill in the storm and blocked traffic. We didn’t know this, and had assumed it was a bad accident, until the authorities eventually showed up and started giving people the go ahead to drive over the pass. Being stopped in a legitimate blizzard, on the highway in another country watching inches and inches of snow pile up around you… is stressful to say the least. I’m positive I saw more snow in those hours than I’ve seen in the rest of my life combined.

(The road driving from Banff to Calgary. There are two lanes each way under there.)

Since we had four wheel drive they said we’d be fine, so we drove the rest of the way to the airport going extremely slow, passing countless accidents, almost running out of gas, and listening to the radio telling everyone to stay inside because the wait on a tow truck was about six hours. Kanan got us through it. I would’ve probably passed out from fear trying to drive in those conditions.

*Neat Canadian Moment: As we’re driving through what looks like a trail through the snow (really four lanes) I see these black dots moving closer and closer to the road from out in the distance. At first I think they’re cows, then horses, then I notice they’re black dogs. Beautiful against the completely white backdrop – miles of wilderness covered in snow. My immediate thought is that these poor dogs are out in the cold and what kind of owner would let that happen. Then I realize it’s a pack of wolves, running in unison along the highway.

Luckily we made it to the airport in one piece, but had missed our flight home and had to rearrange our travel plans. Apparently flying in that kind of weather isn’t a problem? And once we were in Seattle an hour later I was happy to be back to somewhat predictable non-Canadian weather, and then eventually, home with my husband.