Our Obsession with Perfection



Yesterday I had a regular dentist appointment for your run of the mill cleaning.  After I had my cleaning with the hygienist, the dentist (AKA salesman) entered the room.  Now we discussed one issue that I know I have to address and haven't because other things have taken precedent and if you have ever had any dental procedure done you know its costly and mostly never covered by insurance.  Now that being said, he pivoted and started discussing Invisalign as an option (another costly out of pocket expense) he said and I quote, "Your teeth are pretty straight but we can perfect your smile by fixing the top row." Now I will admit I do have some fang action going on but I never, ever hated that about my smile, I actually considered it one of the many things that make me me.  After our "consultation" I started thinking about how obsessed we are made to achieve perfection and what IS perfection anyway?  Is it looking like everyone else?  I thought of a scenario where everyone had the exact same, engineered teeth and I know its silly but how boring would that be??  Now listen I realize braces are necessary for many, many people.  My son had braces because he had a severe overbite, now thats different obviously and I am not casting judgment on people who pursue procedures that make sense for them.  I only question our reasons why?  Why should we all be "perfect", is it for happiness? For self-love? I challenge the idea that a nose job, straighter teeth, liposuction etc can lead to happiness and fulfillment.  I started thinking about social media and the pressure to post perfect, flawless, filtered-to-the-gawds photos idolizing thin bodies,  long wavy hair, heavy makeup and perfect locations and it makes me sad that we aren't allowed to love and value ourselves as we were made, flaws and all.  I am writing this because I have, of course, become victim of these same standards of perfection and it weighs so heavy on me some days.  I think as I become more public and share my life with you on the blog and Instagram I feel the pressure to look thin, unwrinkled, pressed, not a single fly away hair, no blemishes and I have analyzed the photos my husband has taken and started to critique them and think they didn't measure up to what I was seeing on the gram.  But when I found myself spinning down that rabbit hole I stopped and thought about the many years I have put into building my confidence and my self-love, it was a particular mission in my 20's, and I didn't want to undo all of that work because I wanted to pursue a passion project, this blog.  I mean my whole premise of creating this space was to promote self-love and self-care at any size, any age, any financial situation.  I want to inspire women and tell them they are perfect just the way they are.  I actually HATE putting on a "production" to shoot for the blog.  I have started to include on my gram me, everyday, without the extra effort of a blog shoot, you know living life!  It has been liberating.  I challenge this quest to be perfect!  Perfect, I challenge you to a duel! lol  



Where am I going with this?  I feel most beautiful when I am happy and being myself,  dressing the way I want to dress, no makeup, hair combed or not, ok this might not be coming out the right way.  My point is that accepting yourself is the best investment you can make.  Pursue a happy, healthy life that starts from within, meditate, work to quiet the negative voices in your head, surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, who make you laugh and enjoy being alive.

READ. Read a lot.  It is important to feed your mind and imagination with perspectives and stories of lives not like your own.  Reading expands your world. I can't stress enough how important it is to read.

Eat to nourish your body not to fill an emotional void that only leads to more self hate.  So often we treat our bodies like garbage receptacles feeding it unhealthy crap that don't serve any purpose only an impulse.  Eating that way doesn't add value and only leads to lethargy, moodiness and unhappy thoughts.  Practice mindfulness when feeding your body.  Don't eat what is quick and easy.  Plan.  Have good options available in your home, at work and in your bag when you are on the go.
Sidenote: When I am in a terrible mood one of the first things I focus on is nutrition.  Picking food and preparing a meal that will give me energy, balance and make me feel happy because I have chosen to make good out of bad. 

Workout as an expression of love for your body.  Workout to see your body evolve and become stronger everyday, not to punish and abuse it.  Our bodies are amazing! I mean what we can do with our bodies is nothing short of a marvel.  It doesn't have to fit a mold, seriously.  Wrinkles, rolls, stretch marks all of it, work to change the recording in your mind that your body isn't enough, that it's ugly and unworthy of love and acceptance.  Work to build a relationship with your body.

Practice mindfulness, take moments throughout the day to process feelings, surroundings I mean REALLY be mindful of all that surrounds you and how it makes you feel.  That is a tough one for us.  We are on the go and so distracted.  There are sooo many distractions that keep us with a very shallow understanding of who we are and how we feel.  We are taught that if we look good on the outside then we will be happy.  Not true, our mind is way more complex than marketing campaigns lead us to believe. We rarely take the time to really dive deep, silence the voices, the endless to-do's, repeating conversations and interactions that make us unhappy, to measure where we are.

Put more effort into your relationships with others.  We are social beings, we were built to live among and connect with other humans.  That's the deal.  I think people and relationships give our lives purpose.  I believe when you are pursuing purpose and not perfection you will anchor yourself to the world and not to the superficiality of exterior concepts of societal beauty standards.

So, what did I say to this dentist who tried to appeal to my vanity and persuade me to invest in a "perfect smile"? No thank you kind sir, I actually really like my smile and only want to have healthy gums and healthy teeth.  Perfection is not my quest; happiness is. (Ok I didn't say that last part to the dentist, that would be weird) but I did say I don't want perfect teeth, I never have.

Adventures in Paris

Hi guys!  The hubby surprised me with a 5 day trip to Paris for my birthday(I know, right!).  While your mouth is hanging open by how incredibly romantic this gesture is I am going to dive right into our trip and hopefully offer you so lessons learned so you can plan your trip to Paris, so here we go.

1) Flight

We flew AirFrance on a non-stop flight out of JFK.  I highly recommend getting a later flight so you are in the sky at night, land in the a.m. and have the whole day ahead of you for exploring.

2) Lodging

We stayed at the Hotel Eiffel Blomet, located in the 15th district and as the name might suggest, it was a short ten minute walk from Eiffel Tower.  It is centrally located with just a 3 minute walk to the metro and around the corner from a bustling Parisian main street, lots cafes and shops.  We absolutely LOVED this hotel.  The staff was friendly, they had a great spa and our room had the cutest little balcony.  We never did get to enjoy a cup of coffee on said balcony but I digress.  Now, price, I didn't pay for this trip and I believe my husband booked it using trivagio, so it was a flight+accommodations bundle.  A standard room is about $120-$135 a night for a standard room, well worth the cost.


3) The Paris Pass

Ok, the hubby and I didn't plan this trip together and I found out two days before we flew out so there was really no time to plan what we wanted to do and see.  That being said I am going to jump in to what we decided on in Paris.  So there are a lot of different versions of these all-inclusive sightseeing packages and you can get a 1 day pass, 3 day, 5 day etc.  We were in Paris for 5 full days and we decided to purchase the 3-day Paris Pass, what that included was an unlimited metro card good for three days, a 2 day museum pass and a huge selection of attractions all for free with the flash of the card, a day on the hop-on, hop-off bus (you know the kind where you watch people living their everyday lives while you ride around on the top of this huge double decker bus snapping pictures and gawking at them like they were on display at a zoo?? lol). Oh, another plus, you can skip the line with your Paris Pass and that came in handy at places like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

Cost: This was pricey and given the time constraints I can't say for sure that it is a bargain it just depends.  You see if you are married to my husband you are going to conquer the day and see at least five attractions a day, at minimum 😕, this worked out to be a good deal for us. Ok, so now the cost, $382 for the two of us.


4) Tips on Eating

We did not have a bad meal, I repeat not a single bad meal! With that being said hindsight is 20/20 so our loss is your gain.  If you are trying to watch what you spend I would be mindful that the restaurants located closest to popular tourist attractions hike up their prices and that doesn't translate to a better meal just a bigger bill.  There are PLENTY of restaurant choices in Paris, PLENTY, so wander off the beaten path.  Try restaurants that are a little outside the attractions, get a belly full of yummy food and keep some of the euro for a espresso.


So, if we had to do it all over again here is what we would do differently:

Cluster attractions you want to see.  When you have a short amount of time and so much you want to do it is important to manage your time wisely.  Our first two days we were hopping all over Paris and wasting a lot of time on travel, we picked up on the waste on the third day and that helped a lot.  Not only in time but energy!  All of that walking did a number on my body and mood (don't say anything Michael, lol).



Figure out the Euro/ Dollar exchange rates. Now this is tough, I still don't fully grasp the concept but it wasn't uniformed across exchange agencies with varying service charges and fees.  We exchanged the first $200 at the airport (I know, it always costs more there but we had no choice) and got back $158 euro, another $200 at a Western Union by the Arc de Triomphe and got $168 euros, the best rate we received by far.  It pretty much stayed in that ballpark the rest of the trip.  We did, however, run into an exchange kiosk that tried to give us $138 euro for $200 by the National Opera House, we asked for a return of our american dollars and tried another place.  We did think about just using our credit cards instead of carrying cash, but thought that might cost us more and preferred having money in our hands, it helped us keep tabs of how much we were spending.


Paris is a beautiful city, I mean just wandering the streets of Paris can be a real treat, throw in all of the history, beautiful architecture, attractions, museums and culture and it can be a lot. Pace yourself! We were super ambitious the first day we landed, we walked for hours exploring the city and all it had to offer. I paid for that the first night and the second day, I was limping around with knee pain and had blisters, not pretty.  I guess what I would recommend is back to the first point, which is plan what you want to see.  We were overwhelmed with it all.



Traveling with a partner or friend or spouse can be tricky.  We each have our own ideas of what a vacation should be, some prefer a more leisurely approach, with stops at spots off the tourist path.  Others might want to have the real tourist experience and visit as many tourist traps as possible.  There is a middle road people! So my hubby, as I mentioned, is the energizer bunny, with endless amounts of energy and really a thirst and curiosity for life, something I really love about him.  The fun and good times never ends with him.  I mean, hello he threw a surprise birthday party and had me read a card that announced our trip to Paris!!!  Check out the announcment video here.  So here is the middle, I rallied and hopped all over Paris with my husband BUT when he wanted to climb the 400 steps to reach the bell tower of Notre Dame, I bowed out and patiently waited below.  He was able to check it off his bucket list and I was able to power up again with the down time.  My husband also went off our last day there to visit another attraction and allowed me to sleep in.  He was only gone a few hours but it meant the world to me, I was able to rest, write and just soak in the experience.  I needed that alone time and I am so grateful he gave it to me without a complaint.   Its all about compromise people, marriage, vacations..everything.




Here is the list of attractions we managed to sneak in on our 5 day trip:

Eiffel Tower (more than a few times)
Arc de Triomphe - you can climb up and my husband wanted to but we didn't get a chance to do it.
Wine Tour
Louvre
Picasso Museum - LOVED this place!
Notre Dame
Saint Chapelle
Montmarte
Bascilica Sacre Coeur
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Pantheon
National Opera House by Charles Garnier- complete with an 1 1/2hr guided tour. It was AWESOME!
The City of Paris - it was a film house that only looped the history of the city.
Boat tour down the Seine River




Thanks for reading!  Want to see more? Check out my very first travel vlog below.



Don't forget to like and share if you want to see more like it.

Until the next post, with love,

LifeStyledbyErica





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