personal · zero waste

my menstrual cup experience (TMI warning!)

If talking about periods makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this post ;). Otherwise, prepare for some TMI.

I was first introduce to the menstrual cup about a year ago from a friend who was just starting to use it. She showed me this video, which does a pretty good job of highlighting what to expect.

Even though menstrual cups aren’t that expensive, I wasn’t ready to spend $25 on something I had a high chance of giving up on after one try. I knew it would take at least a couple of cycles to perfect and I wasn’t ready to make that commitment.

When I turned 30 this past August, I decided to kick my zero waste efforts up a notch by working on having zero waste periods. So I finally took the plunge and bought the pink LENA cup in small.

My first time I using it was a disaster. I had a really hard time getting it in – I couldn’t get a good grip on any of the folds so sometimes it’d pop open before it was completely in. And once it was in, I couldn’t really tell if it opened all the way or if it was positioned correctly. But when I’d see how much blood had leaked onto my pantyliner, I knew I was doing something wrong. Taking it out the first time was just as (if not more) challenging as putting it in. I remember it was suctioned so securely and so far up, I started to panic a little. But once I “bared down” (i.e. relax as if you were going number 2), the cup lowered enough to where I was able to grab the stem and wiggle the cup down even further. Once I was able to reach the bottom of the cup with my index finger and thumb, I squeezed the bottom to “pop” the suction and slip it out. I rinsed it with warm water and slipped it back in for another try.

The next few cycles were pretty similar. Some days it wouldn’t leak much (or at all) and I’d think I was getting the hang of it. Other days it would leak so much I’d have to keep changing my pantyliner. I couldn’t consistently get it to not leak.

The breakthrough came during my last cycle. I finally decided to try to find my cervix, which I was really squeamish about. I didn’t expect to feel it because I assumed it was really high up (inside me) but when I reached in, I was able to feel it pretty quickly and clearly. Feeling it helped me visualize what my cup would look like if it was suctioned properly below it. Between my last cycle and this cycle, my friend (the same friend who introduced me to the cup) also showed me this video, which helped me realize I was always trying to insert the cup straight up instead of at an angle.

During my most recent cycle, I only had one instance where I leaked and I’m pretty sure it’s because I inserted it straight up again so it didn’t suction properly. Once I reinserted it at an angle, I didn’t leak any more.

For those of you who are going to be trying a menstrual cup for the first time (or if you’re having a hard time perfecting it), my main tips are:

  • Try it for the first time when you’ll be at home for a long period of time. It makes dealing with leaks and reinserting it over and over again a lot easier. You don’t need the stress of someone wondering why you’re in the bathroom so often or for so long.
  • Try to find your cervix when you’re on your period so you have a better idea of what you’re try to work around/contain. Yes, your hands will get dirty. Yes, it’s kind of gross at first. But you’ll get over it pretty quickly. The reason why I say try to find your cervix when you’re on your period is because I think it’s lower during your period (at least for me it is). I can’t reach my cervix when I’m not on my period.
  • Try different folds. I like the punch fold the best.
  • Try to pop it open as soon as the tip is in. I feel like doing this makes it impossible for your cervix to be outside of the cup.
  • Slip it in at an angle, NOT straight up. When I tried slipping it in straight up, it was very difficult and not very smooth (almost like I was trying to force it in). Now that I have the angle down, once I get the tip in, the cup literally gets “sucked” up.
  • My biggest tip is: DON’T GIVE UP! I don’t think anyone gets it perfectly their first cycle. I think part of the reason is because we’re not that comfortable touching our lady parts (especially when we’re on our periods!) so the first few tries are more about getting more familiar with your body.
personal

my birthday

{photo credit: ahthatslove}

Today is my 30th birthday.

I wish I had something really deep to share but honestly, these last few weeks have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to really reflect. So I’ll just keep it short and sweet with this:

My 20s was filled with several major milestones: graduating from college, getting my first real job, becoming a Christian, getting my CFP, buying my first property, discovering minimalism, getting engaged, getting married, etc.

A milestone I want to hit in my 30s is becoming debt-free and achieving financial independence. (You can track my progress here.) A kid or two would also be nice :).

So goodbye 20s! You were filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I don’t regret any of it but I am ready and excited for a slightly less dramatic decade.

 

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Valentine’s Day tradition

2011
{Valentine’s Day 2011}

Back in 2011, James and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition: rent a movie and eat pizza (usually Dominos) and sushi at home. We didn’t know it would be a tradition at the time. But it worked out so well, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day this way ever since, with exception to 2012. In 2012, James got his first paycheck right around Valentine’s Day so we went to a nicer restaurant to also celebrate his first full-time job.

I got the idea to stay-in for Valentine’s Day when I realized how stressful this holiday was for so many couples, especially couples who were semi-long distance. James was living in Irvine at the time while I was living in Los Angeles. So we lived justtt close enough where it didn’t make sense to NOT spend Valentine’s Day together.

That night, instead of showing up frustrated like he usually did after sitting in 2 hours of traffic, James showed up relaxed, knowing that that was his one stop for the night. And when he’s more relaxed, he’s also much more romantic, which makes me feel happy and relaxed. We enjoyed a relatively inexpensive dinner, which still felt indulgent because who eats pizza and sushi in one night?!

What’s great about our tradition is that it takes the pressure off. No more deciding on where to eat, what to wear and what we’re going to do to make this day “special.” And without pressure, Valentine’s Day is a lot more fun for both of us.

So if you haven’t made any Valentine’s Day plans yet, why not considering making a night-in your new Valentine’s Day tradition?

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2017 (looking ahead + goals)

Twenty seventeen is already shaping up to be an eventful year.

First off, we have at least 8 weddings to attend (possibly more). And since one of the weddings will be in Boston, we’ll be taking advantage of the short flight to New York and visiting the City right after.

In addition to our Boston/New York trip, we also want to travel in the Spring – perhaps an Alaskan cruise or a trip to Europe. And because we had such a great time celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas, we’ll either go back again for our two year anniversary or visit another tropical island – Turks and Caicos, maybe.

Aside from weddings and trips, we also have new condo issues to deal with. We’re still in the renovation process, which is projected to be done at the end of March (hopefully sooner). Once it’s almost done, we’ll have to start looking for a tenant. Our intention is to move in eventually (most likely when we have kids). But we’re renting it out for the time being to save money. And frankly, we just don’t need the space. Our current 480 sq. ft. studio is perfect for our current needs and lifestyle. The thought of moving into an 1,800 sq. ft. 3-bedroom condo actually overwhelms me!

With the new year comes new goals. I used to focus on habit changing goals like exercising more and drinking more water. But I find goals like that to be way too vague and difficult to track/quantify. So now I make what I like to call “one time goals” – goals that you only really need to achieve maybe once in your lifetime.

For instance, last year, I made it my goal to finally complete my citizenship application. I had been a permanent resident for 20 years and was eligible to apply for citizenship the last 15 years. My mom never got around to it when I was younger and when I became an adult, other things took priority (finishing college, getting a job, getting married, etc.). After the wedding and honeymoon was over, I decided it was time to finally get this thing done once and for all and 2016 was going to be the year. (This was accomplished back in May!)

For 2017, one of my goals is to finally post that studio apartment tour video I’ve been working on.

Another goal is to scan all printed photographs that don’t have digital copies. So pretty much all photos prior to college. The thought of losing all my childhood photographs, especially the ones with my parents, to a fire or earthquake gives me a lot of anxiety. I know I will feel a lot better when I have a scanned copy of every photo as backup :).

What are some of your goals for 2017?

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2016 highlights

I didn’t think 2016 could be nearly as eventful as last year (with our engagement, wedding and the death of our two dogs…) but it definitely was.

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights in chronological order:

  • meeting one of my favorite bloggers
  • having my voicemail played on The Minimalist’s podcast
  • traveling to Taiwan where James and I introduced one another to our extended families for the first time and did a wedding photo shoot
  • becoming a US Citizen (and voting for the first time)
  • attending the Selena Gomez concert
  • continuing the tradition of an annual Palms Springs trip with my college girlfriends
  • driving to SF (stopping by Fresno on the way up & San Jose on the way down) and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • doing the Bridge to Nowhere hike and bungee jumping for the first time
  • attending my first UCLA football game
  • being featured on Miss Minimalist’s blog
  • getting a raise at work
  • buying our first condo
  • celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas

The one major negative event that took place in 2016 was having to put my bunny of 9.5 years to sleep.

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Otherwise, what an amazing year 2016 was.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Real Life Minimalist

Ever since I stumbled upon Miss Minimalist’s blog a few years ago, I’ve toyed with the idea of submitting my own Real Life Minimalist story one day.  But at that time, there wasn’t much of a story to tell.  I was living in a stuffed (but organized) loft and even though minimalism definitely appealed to me, no one would have associated me with the term “minimalist”.

Fast forward to present day, a lot has changed.  After three years of consistent decluttering and a life-changing move last year, my family, friends and even colleagues now often refer to me as a minimalist.  Twenty sixteen was the year I finally felt like I had a minimalism story to share.  So I started drafting my post.

Multiple drafts later, I was finally done… kind of.  For some reason, I wasn’t quite ready to submit it.  Maybe it was because I was still very insecure about “putting myself out there”.  The only people who knew about my blog that point were a handful of my closest friends.  I was afraid of criticism.  There are a lot of trolls roaming around the world wide web.

In hindsight, waiting to submit my post worked out for the better because it gave me the opportunity to add one more paragraph that wouldn’t have existed until very recently.

After I discovered this YouTube channel, I started caring a lot more about ethics and sustainability.  As I ran out of beauty and skincare products, I started replacing them with vegan and cruelty-free ones.  This newfound awareness and concern even trickled into my eating habits.  I replaced my half-and-half with soy milk and stopped cooking meat at home, for instance.

Once I added this unexpected side effect of minimalism into my story, it felt complete.  At the same time, I didn’t feel as insecure anymore.  Sure, a mean-spirited comment from a total stranger would still hurt my feelings.  But I try to remind myself that I am the expert of my opinion and my journey.  And if my story could help, encourage or inspire another person on their minimalism journey, like how so many others have inspired me, then I shouldn’t let fear stand in the way.

So.

I finally submitted my story.  It was published this week  :).