Wanting to Be Someone Else: Turning It Around

Not so long ago, I experienced something I haven't felt in years: the intense desire to be someone else.

I don't mean the general, "I wish I were anyone but myself," but seeing someone's life through the window of social media and thinking how perfect their life must be. I started to look at their Instagram and Twitter, looking at all of the cool things they were doing and loving their style, thinking that this woman's life must be amazing and problem free.

Of course, as an adult, I know that's not the case. This person, like the rest of us, puts their best foot forward on Instagram. And additionally, that's this person's job. So, of course, she leaves out the bad days, the frustration, depression and heartache of the human experience.

It was as odd thing to experience, as I don't think I've felt that way in at least 10 years, or perhaps more, as I've grown far more comfortable in my own skin as I've aged.

However, it isn't surprising, given this weirdo limbo I've been in. 2 years of undiagnosed interstitial cystitis with 8-10/10 daily pain and a cocktail of pain meds will do that to you.

I've lost so much of myself during this time. I've gained a little weight. I've slept like a koala. I've skipped out on more social events than I can count due to the pain. I've put off the travel I love so much.

To say depression has set in is probably an understatement.

So I've decided to use this mild jealousy over another person's life to add fuel to the things I can do in this strange state.

Since I've started a course of procedures, I've started to actually feel a little bit better for the majority of the day. That means no (or fewer) pain meds, which means not nodding off for most of the day, which means having time to do other things aside from struggling to get through work before feeding and walking the dog and then snoozing again.

It's difficult to plan things, such as committing to volunteer somewhere or getting another job (outside the house) while I'm still waiting to see if this treatment actually sticks, so instead, I'm filling my days after work with activities that improve me as a person.

My Limbo Goal List includes:

-Writing Entangled, the sequel to Unravelled. I'm working on making it both a sequel and able to be read as a standalone novel to possibly try my hand (again) and traditional publishing. That's the one big professional goal I haven't hit yet (aside from finishing my PhD, which is imminent).

-Taking two classes on Coursera. I selected a course on Dog Behavior, because duh, and a course on Historical Fiction (a combination of two of my favorite things).

-Going to the gym and doing gentle exercise 20 minutes per day as long as I'm not in pain

-Finishing my Chestnut Tree website, which will be a comprehensive site about Holocaust education and resources for students, teachers and survivors and their families.

This is why I don't make New Year's resolutions, because I can resolute right now!

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TV Shows I'm Watching This Autumn (And Ones I'm Not)

If there's one thing I can write about lately, it is all of the TV shows I've been watching! I never really thought of myself as a big TV person, but lately, I've definitely been into a huge variety of shows.

Here are some of my fall favorites:

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Making the Team
Although this one's technically over, it's still one of my all-time faves and I watch it every year. Maybe it's the former dancer in me, but the suspense of finding out who makes it and who doesn't is almost too much. It, however, does make me feel incredibly fat and inflexible, so there's that.

The Exorcist
I'm a huge horror fan (well, mostly a fan of movies that deal with ghosts and demons, not that slice 'em up stuff), so I had to give this one a try. I was half-watching it for a while and wasn't super into it, so bored on a train journey, I decided to actually focus on one of the episodes. Now, I really like it, though it's a shame its on at a bad time (Friday night). I really like how they captured some of the essence of the original while still making fresh and modern characters.

Real Housewives of Orange County
Judge away, but these are my girls. I've been watching this franchise since 2006 and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone else, but I'm having fun with it. Ooooh, that Kelly.

Teen Mom: OG
Again, I've been watching this franchise since Day 1, so I feel slightly committed, even though I find myself losing interest. I guess waiting to see what Farrah will do next is reason enough to come back every week.

American Horror Story: Season 6
The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a change. So I guess that makes me crazy to continue with this series after it went down the pooper after Season 2. But I'm surprisingly not hating this season and kind of enjoying the ties to history. Though, I'm sure there is still time to disappoint me...

Dance Moms
Yes, I'm a loyal Dance Moms viewer. Judge if you must, but I'm still watching the girls. The show seems to be taking a dive lately, but I'm still along for the ride until the end.

Scream Queens
Season One was epic. Season Two, eh. I'm still going to keep watching until it gets to a point that I can't handle it anymore, but this new premise makes pretty much zero sense, even in their crazy world. And why are they abusing Chanel #5 so badly?! Poor Abigail Breslin.

What are your favorite shows this fall? Any recommendations, based on my awful TV show taste?

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Finding My Way Again

I've spoken on my blog before about the trouble I've been having with my blog in general. I started this blog as a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, but I quickly found that I didn't enjoy that as much as I thought.

One of the biggest issues I kept having with fashion and beauty blogging is the amount of STUFF you are sent. Last Christmas burned me out with reviews of free things. While it may sound glamorous to some, these items are often things I wouldn't want to use anyway, and I always found it difficult to say no to people.

So there I was, last Christmas, stuck with tons of things I didn't really need or want. Most of it got donated to a shelter for refugees from Syria, as I'm sure most of them didn't come with make-up and it might make them feel a bit more like themselves.

I've felt stuck with my blog for a while. Largely, I think, because I started doing more YouTube videos and I was still struggling with my intersistial cystitis pain. Lovely blogging companies still invited me out for things, but I often just didn't have the energy to go....and to be honest, I still don't.

It's depressing, and difficult to be a lifestyle blogger who doesn't have an enviable life. That's what people want to read about, anyway, isn't it? Not someone who is stuck in bed watching Netflix and working from home.

In April, I found veganism and thought that might be something I could turn my attention toward. It was a bit more meaningful than piles of clothes and make-up and something I hoped I could build a community with.

Unfortunately, it turns out that online veganism is simply a circus and I got caught up in some weird plot whereby a big YouTuber tried to lie about me in order to take down my channel and drive me off social media. Wow, what a compassionate community online veganism turned out to be...NOT.

So here I am.

This past weekend I met Doug the Pug and for some reason, that has motivated me a little bit more to work on my blog. I'm not sure what kind of posts I will have going forward, but I am hoping to get maybe a little bit more back into the swing of things.

Maybe I'll show you guys a glimpse into the two vacations I took this summer and neglected to blog about. We'll see.

I'm sure I won't be updating as often as I used to, but I still want to be in the game.

Thanks, Doug, for your pint sized inspiration:

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Two Easy Tips for Booking a Four Star Hotel at a Two Star Price

One of my biggest hobbies is getting cheaper fancy hotels. My friends and family often look to me to help them scout out accommodation before they go away, so I've decided to share some of my secrets with you. A lot of this is trial and error, so you have to be prepared to do some of your own work.
Tip #1
 Book Early
As soon as you know you're going on holiday, start looking for your accommodation. The prices only rise.
Tip #2 
Compare Websites
This is probably my biggest tip for you. There really isn't much of a science to it, but I typically go to Hotwire.com first. This website is one of my favorites, as it offers you really deep discounts on unsold rooms. The catch with Hotwire is that it doesn't tell you the name of the hotel until you book, but you are told the class of the hotel and where in the city it is located before you book. Sometimes this information can help you figure out what hotel it is, but often it does not. It doesn't really matter, though, because I've only been disappointed by them one time in the over 50 times I've used them. That one time came before they had updated their system in Europe, and since then everything has been absolutely fine. 
The only downside of Hotwire is that if you need to cancel your holiday, you will lose all of your money.

Expedia.com Secret Saver Deals
These are surprisingly sometimes better than Hotwire, which has always been my old standard. The Expedia Secret Saver Deals operate similarly to Hotwire in that the name isn't revealed until you've booked. This is typically my second stop if Hotwire is too expensive. Like Hotwire, you cannot cancel.
I usually hop over to Trivago if nothing seems like a good deal on Hotwire or Expedia--or I need to be in a specific area of town and/or need to know what hotel I'm booking before I do it. This site compares pretty much every single site and allows you to choose the lowest rates. Cancellation policies are variable depending on the site you've booked with.
Find your ideal hotel for the best price with Trivago.
Booking.com is also one of my stops when I need to be in a specific place or hotel. Booking.com often offers low rates or special deals, and they specifically offer a service that allows you to reserve beforehand and pay at the hotel. This is perfect if you need to reserve a room in advance and lock it in at a lower rate. They offer a flexible cancellation policy as well (I believe you can cancel up to 48 hours in advance, but don't quote me on that!) so that even if you book your room in advance and find out you can't go on your holiday or suddenly don't need it, you won't be penalized. 

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Calling All Vegans with Chronic Illnesses

This collab is open to all vegans with chronic illnesses.

I would like to start a collab on YouTube that features other vegans with chronic illnesses. If you are interested, send me an email at annajamiescanlon@gmail.com and we'll get the ball rolling. With this collab, I aim to bring awareness to us in the community, as well as fight ableism at large.

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Larimar Earrings--Absolutely Stunning!

Larimar.com sent me some beautiful drop earrings that I just have to share with you all. I'm so bad at changing my earrings or wearing dangling earrings, that when they offered to send them, I was like, "YES PLEASE." Located in Miami, they ship these gorgeous designs all over the world--and these gorgeous earrings barely scratch the surface.

Larimar is a rarer stone that originates in the Caribbean. It's definitely not as popular as other stones, but is still stunningly gorgeous, and all have different qualities making each one truly unique.

I can't wait to wear my new earrings out!

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Bath & Unwind Cruelty Free Items

The lovely folks at Bath & Unwind decided to spoil me by sending me several lovely products. When they asked what I was interested in, I told them all products had to be animal product free (aka vegan) and cruelty free..and boy they delivered!

I can't say I've finished using all of them, as there were a lot of them. But so far, I've been loving the Real Techniques brushes, and the Badger Lip Balm, which I've been using every night before bed. The Argan Beauty Balm has also been amazing for me. I can't always use moisturizer, as it makes me break out. But this balm is fantastic, and not one zit in sight.

I still have to sink my teeth into the other products, but so far, AMAZING.

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Trying Cruelty Free Body Scrub and Dry Shampoo

I was generously gifted this amazing Hempz herbal extracts vanilla body scrub. Not only is it cruelty free and all natural, but it is absolutely amazing. I'm not always a big fan of trying new products, but Hempz's body scrub has huge beads that helps seriously exfoliate the skin--and it smells awesome (if you like vanilla, that is). Some body scrubs seem to have tiny beads, which makes it a bit more difficult to actually get a good exfoliation, but Hempz is amazing. Definitely recommend it, especially for those looking for cruelty free alternatives.

I was also generously gifted this dry shampoo. But if I'm totally honest, it wasn't my favorite. The pump isn't an aerosol, which, although more environmentally friendly, means that it seems to be constantly falling out. Although it works well on your hair, I simply find aerosol sprays easier and less messy.

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Lip Monthly Review

Lip Monthly has been so sweet to provide me with monthly lipstick bags--which are all cruelty-free. The great thing about Lip Monthly is that all of their products are full size, which not every beauty subscription service provides. Here are some of the goodies I got

Loving these beautiful colors as well!

Thank you so much, Lip Monthly!  Their packages are only $12.95 a month, which is an incredible steal as some of these lipsticks are probably about the same price.

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House of Florrie Watches

House of Florrie gifted me this gorgeous watch yesterday, and I couldn't be more excited to wear it. I had to show it off in a little post. I have been wanting a rose gold timepiece for ages, so being offered this was incredibly exciting.

While the watch is gorgeous, those of you who are on here as ethical consumers should be aware that all of the watches contain a leather strap on the inside--even the one shown above. That is a little bit annoying, especially as I'm trying to reduce cruelty to humans and animals with the items I buy. However, if that isn't necessarily an issue for you, then these watches are absolutely gorgeous.

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YouTube, Haters and Rambles

I haven't really known what to post on this blog as of late. Do I make it a vegan blog? What happens if I engage in recidivism? Most vegans I see online are horrific people anyway in their judgement and militant attitude, so do I really want to associate with it?

With my recent procedure and all of the med changes, I go through life where some days I feel great and some days I just want to sleep. I have intermittent pain in my bladder, but it is a lot better...I still struggle with energy in general. Because of that, it is hard for me to keep up with a full blog schedule, my YouTube, my PhD and the jobs I get paid for. There are days when I just want to curl up and not see anyone, and days when I want to get up and climb a mountain. It's hard to find a balance.

I recently went to Austria and wasn't necessarily motivated to post about it, even though it was amazing. Part of me feels like I want some things to be just for me, especially now that my YouTube channel is getting more attention and I'm starting to attract haters.

It's not to say that I'm special for attracting them, as everyone does, it just can be difficult to deal with at times and very discouraging to say the least. Sometimes I wonder if its all worth it with all of the negative comments, but when I see those who enjoy my content, I do know why I continue to stick with it.

Anyway, this was a bit of a ramble, I just wanted to give you guys a little bit of an update.

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Finding My Balance Again

As you may know, the past two years have been incredibly difficult for me. I have been struggling with what I now know to be interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, which has been misdiagnosed over and over. I also have some endometriosis, but the painful bladder is what has reigned supreme over my life. It only took four surgeries, 6 hospitalizations and two internal bladder scans to figure it out. Sigh.

It's been a rough road, and often times, my blog took a backseat. And although it's been rough on friendships and my relationship, we've all made it through.

During this time, I think I became a bit disenchanted with blogging. I tried to keep it up, but I often felt frustrated. It became an endless stream of companies gifting me random crap to try out that I didn't have much interest in. I knew I liked to blog about beauty and fashion, but only blogging about that really felt shallow and ultimately, a little silly. I mean, if that's your thing, that's fantastic, but as much as I tried, it wasn't MY thing...and least solely.

Right now I'm easing myself back into blogging, trying to find a happy medium between saying no to people and only accepting products and services I'm going to really need or love. I'm also looking for ways to incorporate fun and frilly posts into more serious things that go on in my life and that I care about without alienating my audience. I don't want to make this blog exclusively about veganism, but it can't be completely left out. I don't want to make it only about beauty, but that can't be ignored either.

We'll see how this all goes, but I'm looking forward to my new journey, one where I'm a little more relaxed about blogging and excited to see where it takes me!

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Hamsa Happiness Boutique and 10% Off

Happiness Boutique in Berlin recently gifted me this gorgeous Hamsa necklace that I can't wait to wear out. The reason why I picked this, out of all of the others, is that the Hamsa is one of my favorite symbols. It reflects my Jewish/Sephardic heritage, as the Hamsa is a symbol of warding off the evil eye. It is also popular in both Jewish and Muslim art, which to me, adds much needed unity to two groups who are often at odds.

Happiness Boutique has been kind enough to gift my readers 10% off by using the code annainwonderland on their site until July 18! Go grab yourself something pretty!

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Finding Dresses for a Big Bust

Well, I'm awake and back to the land of the living. My procedure appears (key word APPEARS) to have been successful, and after a mild lupus flare, I hope I'm ready to take on the world. And that means actually wearing clothing.

 If you know me, you know I'm a huge fan of dresses. They've always been my favorite fashion staple simply because they are SO comfortable. I mean, how can you NOT?

In this post, I've partnered with Tobi to bring you some of my favorite summer picks for dresses...but not just any dresses, dresses that would look good on girls with big boobs.

When you have big boobs, there is just one key (aside from avoiding a backless nightmare): finding a dress with a waist or some shape, otherwise you'll just look like a blob. Of course, you can MacGuyver your way into a waist with a belt or ribbon, but here are some that are ready made to be flattering:

The Around About Tunic Dress in this refreshing mint color

The Level Up Dress in Navy (if you've got a good strapless bra!)

Which one is your fave?

Thanks to Tobi for collaborating with me on this post! Shop their other dresses (no matter your body type) here: Skater Dresses, Shift Dresses, Bodycon Dresses, Casual Dresses and more! 

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Eugene's June Pawsome Box!

So, I know this blog hasn't really been very exciting as of late due to me feeling like utter poop (I am on the up, though!). But, I am really excited to share Eugene's Pawsome box for this month. Little tyke deserves to be spoiled as much as possible after his health problems!

He's already hand a handful of those cheese and fish nibbles, been dragging around his carrot and helped celebrate Pride with his rainbow dog. Although I received this box free, Pawsome Box is typically around £20 a moth, and you can pick one that's perfect for your dog's size and tastes. Pretty cool, huh?

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Video Health Update

What's going on with my health? Let's get an update:

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