May Update: New Music, Skincare & Self-Care.

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I wanted to do a little monthly update to keep things fresh! I’ve been crazy busy trying to juggle everything (which I’ll touch on shortly), but a lot has happened in the last little while that I wanted to write about.


I came across this new compilation album from OWSLA while “training” for the Bay to Breakers 12K footrace on May 21st. I say “training” because B2B is technically more of a moving block party than a real run haha, but I just wanted an excuse to get into the gym! I just started on May 1st—so far I’m up to 9K at a steady pace—and I’m hoping to test the full 12K this upcoming Sunday. My SO and I are considering running an actual footrace with the San Francisco Marathon in July, which would be awesome (shoot, just as I wrote this, I checked and saw that the first half of the marathon, which was the one we were looking at, is now sold out).

Ah well, there’s always next year! Anyways, check out HOWSLA below, full of catchy bass house tracks curated by Chris Lake and none other than OWSLA label founder Skrillex himself. I found it was the perfect tempo (and almost perfect timing!) for a steady 9K run. My personal favourite was Freeek by Alex Metric and Confessionals, although I didn’t skip a single song on this entire album—a pretty rare feat!

Ole Henriksen.

So I’ve never really been into skincare, simply because my skin has always just been really sensitive to any kind of product. I’ve tried samples here and there, but tend to stick to the simplest and least amount of products to avoid irritating my skin. I’ve actually used the super plain Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion for the longest time, which I’m pretty sure isn’t even supposed to be used for your face haha. But otherwise, even the most “fragrance-free” moisturizers formulated for sensitive skin usually cause redness and blemishes, or make my T-zone feel oily.

That said, I redeemed some of my VIB Beauty Insider points at Sephora a few months ago for the Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders & Balance Oil Control Deluxe Sample set. I didn’t really think much of it—I only got it because I rarely ever redeem my points and Sephora usually runs out of all the decent samples halfway through the month—but finally tested it out a week before Coachella.

All I can say is wow. My skin tends to freak out in new environments, and moving down to California was a huge change in climate that affected it terribly. Nothing helped, whether it was washing my face more or less, or moisturizing more or less. Not only did these products help calm my skin down, but it even made a noticeable difference in smoothing it out and generally improving its appearance and tone.

I’ve held off from making any big purchases for awhile, but Sephora recently brought back the same sample set in addition to a special weeklong promo code for another Ole Henriksen product—the Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator. I also found out that the 3 Little Wonders products come in one convenient little travel set, so I bit the bullet and purchased it along with the freebies above! It might seem little, but it’s an act of self-care that really boosted my mood this week and will for the next little while. I don’t really want for much on a regular basis, but sometimes it’s the little things you do when you really need it that matter (for example, last month’s self-care act was finally replacing my beat-up, holey, yellowed Converse).

Take care of yo’ self.

Steph Keay Ole Henriksen 3 little wonders

Speaking of self-care…

One thing I’ve learned a lot about over this past year is managing emotional health. It’s always been something that was on my radar, since I think balance is extremely important to overall happiness, but I was always fortunate enough to not experience some of the tougher hardships many others have faced. Even when one thing might be stressful (work, for example), it’s usually outweighed by the other positive aspects in my life (e.g. friends, family, relationships, exercise, social events, etc.).

I don’t usually speak so candidly about the things that are going on in my personal life, and it always pains me to ever admit that I’m not able to fix something. Instead of taking pause, I feel the need to try harder, do even more, and relax even less. I attempt to do everything at once and throw myself into helping other people. But, the more pressure I place on myself, the more likely I am to fail and the closer I get to burning myself out. Between juggling developing my new website, job applications, interviews, volunteering gigs, making new friends, staying in touch with old friends, moving to a new country, navigating relationships, playing house, meal planning, finances, and trying to succeed at the typical adulting activities of staying up-to-date on current events, eating healthy, and working out, I’ve been struggling with my usual organized plan of attack.

The last little while I’ve been faced with a lot of changes—basically in every single area of my life. As such, it’s been hard to find equilibrium, with so many different factors in a state of flux. Only recently have I felt able to get back to my roots, and feel better equipped to face all these things at once again, although I won’t lie…I definitely still have days I feel stressed or doubt myself.

And that’s perfectly okay.

What I’ve found helps—for me, anyways—is taking a deep breath and taking it easy on yourself. We’re all struggling (some more and some less than others) but it’s an important part of life, and will continue to be. Remembering this, and then breaking things down and taking it step by step (no matter how small) helps.

When I wake up already feeling overwhelmed, I start by making the bed (I told you it could be small!). The truth is, there are some days I do wake up already feeling discouraged (it shouldn’t be such a stigma to admit this, but it is). And, sometimes that feeling is merited, and sometimes it’s seemingly not—which weighs even more heavily on you because you feel bad you’re feeling so bad, when you feel like you don’t have a legitimate reason to feel bad.

So many feels.

But that little act of fixing the bed, even if you don’t feel like it (or, perhaps, especially if you don’t feel like it) is productive and makes a difference in starting out your day. I’m sure some people may not identify with that at all, and perhaps it helps me more because keeping things tidy is something I personally find important, but I think that breaking things down and small acts such as these truly make a world of difference in self-care and improving your mood. During particularly stressful weeks, I even break down my tasks of the day into mornings, afternoons, and evenings, including everything from getting coffee, to taking a break to read the news, to doing the laundry. I find these lists help me stay on track—it may seem silly that I’d forget to do the laundry but having it on a list takes away the stress of potentially forgetting and also helps my mind feel more organized in terms of knowing when to do what and what step comes next. It also budgets time for enjoyable activities to look forward to, even if it’s just a 15-minute break to read the news. Routine—something I fought when I was younger—has become a quintessential factor to living a healthy, balanced life. Well, routine with a dash of spontaneity.

Another great way to combat negativity is gratefulness, something I explored a bit last year with the Happiness Journal. The topic was recently brought up again with a friend of mine from Calgary, who has also been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life changes recently. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re going through, that we lose the ability to see any good. I think it’s important to also focus on “the little things,” in terms of appreciating what we do have and what is going well for us in life, in order to deal with the areas that may be falling short at the moment.

We should never be ashamed to admit feelings of failure, self-doubt, or the inability to “do it all.” But we should be proactive in taking care of ourselves, and learning just how to do that—which may differ from person to person.

I don’t know who will read through this, but I hope some part of it resonates with you if you need it. There’s way more I have to say on this topic, but this already got much longer than originally anticipated. Please reach out anytime, whether you know me personally or not, if it’s something you’re interested in talking about. More than ever, I’m understanding just how little we are aware of what some people are really going through, and that you truly never know what obstacles they’re facing even if you assume you do.

Honourable mentions.

Just about done my new website! It’s been a labour of love…for the most part haha. I can’t wait to finally have it live and running!


Thanks to a tip on my Bumble BFF Facebook group, I found out that CycleBar is opening a new location nearby and offering free classes all week! It also happens to be right by a new friend’s place, so I snagged the last spot in a class for this Saturday before heading to her “25 Acts of Kindness” birthday party.

Exploring California

Last weekend, a work friend of my SO’s took us on an awesome ride around the area, stopping to show us all his favourite stops for food, photos, and scenery along the way. Unfortunately, I promised to keep my lips zipped regarding the lunch spot we hit up so I can’t give away that secret spot just yet…but look out for a post in the future about a few other awesome places we’ve been to—and, hopefully, reviews of a few more that are currently on our bucket list!

Steph Keay Aptos BBQ beer
#WhatIAte This Week
  • My go-to recipe for chicken, thanks to my BFF: Crispy and Tender Baked Chicken Thighs. I recommend rubbing the skin with olive oil before seasoning for crispier skin, and I also double (or even triple) the spice blend sometimes to ensure more flavour (and rub the seasoning in all over). I baked the chicken on a bed of chopped carrots, yellow onion, and roma tomatoes on the vine; and served it over a bed of farfalle and makeshift marsala sauce (marsala was substituted with the remains of a boxed red wine that was about to go bad—yup, we’re fancy).
  • Baked salmon with coconut brown rice and veggies
  • Homemade almond milk and almond meal cookies
  • This week’s dining out snack was a post-night out California Burrito from Muchos! Restaurant and Bar. The. Best. Burrito. I. Have. Ever. Eaten. In. My. Life. It’s stuffed with your choice of meat (I went for al pastor), french fries, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and pico de gallo. Take me back already, please.


Photo: Just a little floral graphic I made for fun!

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