Vintage Market Days 2019: McKinney, TX

After about 6 months of consistently working at blogging, I’ve come to really develop an interest and newfound love for my hobby. I used to always look at bloggers and think I could never go into blogging because blogging requires you to essentially be a one person team. Bloggers often have to be their own stylist, makeup artist, photographer, retoucher, writer, and do their own social media marketing so for someone who struggles to get out of bed, blogging seemed like a very daunting task to take on. One thing I’ve been struggling with for the past 7 years is productivity so anything that requires me to do a lot of work is not really my cup of chai, but then I started struggling with this IBD and IBS flare-up so I needed a hobby. Initially, I had to take some time for my symptoms to get a little bearable before I really started getting into blogging in January. I’m still relatively new to blogging and have a lot to learn, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made with learning more about the blogging world.

I was invited to a preview of Vintage Market Days in McKinney, Texas, which is a suburb of DFW. McKinney is an area that I go to often so I decided to accept the invite, and I was super excited to attend my first real influencer/blogger event! Although my blog is primarily travel and art focused, I spend a lot of time in my home base, which is Dallas so attending Dallas events more often is something I am attempting to do more of!

Vintage Market Days is a farmhouse and vintage themed event full of vendors from all over the country! When I first entered the Vintage Market Days, I was transported to a world of Southern charm and farmhouse flair. The rustic charm, country feel, and authenticity of the vendors made the event a very unique experience. Below are some photos of the event as well as a list of the vendors websites. I wasn’t able to get the name of every vendor I visited or took a photo of so if I have left off a vendor, I will update it if I find out the name in the future!

Some of the vendors pictured below:
-Paula’s House

-Mad Dash Mixes

-Stillwaters Farm

-The Cat’s Pajamas

-The Rustic Angel

-Flash & Trash

-Tastebuds Coffee

Because of the event, I got to meet this wonderful vendor by the name of Tastebuds Coffee! Their coffee is fair-trade and organic, which makes it great for conscious consumers. I am working towards becoming a more conscious consumer every day so knowing how a product is sourced and whether it contains pesticides or not is important to me! As someone with chronic gastrointestinal issues, coffee is something that I cannot have without experiencing cramps, pain, nausea, and many other symptoms. I thought coffee was something I was forever done with until I discovered Tastebuds Coffee! While I cannot speak for others with chronic gastrointestinal issues or caffeine sensitivity, Tastebuds Coffee seems to agree with me so that makes me quite happy! This coffee does not have a bitter aftertaste, which helps a lot with how my body processes this coffee, and I haven’t experienced nausea, queasiness, stomach cramps, or a stomach ache due to the lack of the bitter aftertaste. While I have never experienced feeling sick to my stomach after drinking Tastebuds Coffee, but I am NOT a doctor or medical professional yet so please note that this is NOT a medically proven statement, this is just my opinion and experience with Tastebuds Coffee! My favorite flavor so far is “Almond Mocha Crunch” (pictured below), but I also like “Sinful Pleasure”. Below are some photos of their booth and other content related to their brand so you can learn more! If you intend to check them out, please let them know Kal sent you, and I am sure they will be happy to give you the best possible assistance as they gave to me! You can check out more on their official website and Instagram!

My Birthday Post: Why I Dread My Birthday + Snap 151 Photos

Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up with anxiety over getting older every day because getting older means more responsibilities, more bills, and more problems. I’m not too worried about the responsibilities, I say bring it on! However, I’ve been living with an IBD flare-up for almost 11 months that I haven’t been able to get under control, which has changed the course of my life and career path. Had my health cooperated with me, I was supposed to be in another country, living independently and working on building the career I had dreamed about for my whole life. IBD and IBS took that away from me. I am now 25 years old and trying to start my life over while I watch my peers are smashing their goals, achieving new heights in their careers, getting married, having children, having full-time or well-paying jobs, traveling the world, living on their own, and able to afford to pay for their meals. My list of worst fears got longer today because a year from now, I will not be on my family’s health insurance plan–which is scary for someone who has lived with multiple chronic illnesses her whole life and has to work multiple odd jobs to make a living. I have to worry about gathering money for private insurance and being denied or charged a higher amount due to my pre-existing conditions.

I’m not writing this post for anyone to feel sorry for me nor am I here to complain about my life. I just want to write a blog post that is more personal in nature so that there is more awareness raised about the struggles that people living with chronic illnesses and mental health disorders have to face. Society stigmatizes chronically ill individuals and individuals with mental health disorders on a regular basis as we as a society somewhat covet the idea of having a secure job working under someone else. Earning money, having a solid job, being able to have reliable transportation, and living independently are some truly empowering things for an individual, but when your independence is taken away from you through no fault of your own, what do you do?

To answer that question, I would need to present some more information first. According to RAND Corporation, almost 60% of American adults are living with at least one chronic condition, and 12%, which is roughly 30 million, are living with 5 or more chronic conditions. The AARDA reports that around 50 million Americans, roughly 30 million of which are women, suffer from an autoimmune disease. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has estimated that 46.6 million adults living in the US experience a mental illness annually, but 11.2 million adults in the US experience a severe mental health disorder that limits major life activities. These numbers may not mean much to you, but as someone living with a plethora of debilitating invisible disabilities, these numbers somewhat define my life. I wake up every morning hoping that maybe today will be a good mental health day, and that maybe today, my health issues won’t bother me to the point where I only have enough energy to focus on healing.

To keep this post relatively short, I won’t go into detail on every chronic condition I have, but because there are millions of people suffering with a similar reality I have to face every day, I think it’s important that more people speak up about it so we can shed some of the stigmas surrounding being chronically ill. I spent my 25th birthday crying about how many important years I’ve lost to battling a chronic condition, whether it be mental or physical. My freshman year of college was lost mainly due to epilepsy. What was meant to be my sophomore year of college was lost to respiratory issues, specifically asthma, and the freakish hell of depression. I’ve been living with weird gastrointestinal symptoms for a long time, but it’s only been this past year that all of the gastrointestinal issues came down on me hard. Despite losing almost a year to IBD, IBS, SIBO, and other gastrointestinal issues, I wouldn’t say this is the most difficult battle I’ve fought considering that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has claimed 7 years of my life.

I have never gone into detail about my struggle with PTSD on my social media due to the stigma that comes with being someone with PTSD who was not in combat. I spent 5 years out of the 7 years that I’ve had PTSD pretending to the world and lying to myself that I don’t have it and that it went away. My PTSD relapsed in August due to being triggered heavily, a month after my gastrointestinal issues began to take over my life so it wasn’t until this year that I started acknowledging my PTSD again. I remember on my 18th birthday that I felt afraid to go out and I was not able to celebrate my birthday, let alone anything for that matter. 7 years later, I never thought I would reflect back on a day that I never thought I would be reflecting on my 18th birthday and feeling as if not much has changed.

Disorganization and chaos are two common themes in my life, and I’d be lying if I were to say that PTSD wasn’t the reason behind it. I won’t go into detail about my struggle with PTSD because it still is a very personal subject for me, but I will admit that I miss the hyper productive person I used to be. Of course, I long for the day that I will be able to eat without pain and fear of diarrhea, but I long for days where I can work all day and accomplish goals even more. Looking back, it seems like that person is gone now and has been replaced with what is now the new me, with little direction and an unsure future. I have spent so many years fighting suicide ideation, which I’ve only had relief from for 7 months, that I didn’t think I would make it this far.

The reality of it is that I did make it this far, and the only thing I know how to do is rebuild. I don’t know where to go from here because I’ve had to change my direction with every obstacle life throws at me. Given all the confusion and change, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I feel so lost. I feel as if I’ve lost so many battles and continue to lose more battles every day, but I’ve definitely been able to adapt to everything life has thrown at me over time. Through all of the failures and trauma I’ve experienced, maybe I am a bit weathered, but I am definitely not the loser that the stigma from society combined with the monster that is depression tell me that I am.

Human beings are mammals and are naturally focused on survival. I’ve gained so many new skills as a result of just trying to survive. Until I sat down today and truly reflected, it never occurred to me how hard society is on individuals such as myself that live their daily lives with their survival skills compromised by these various chronic conditions. Living with debilitating chronic conditions, whether they are mental or physical, is different for everyone, but most of us have to know many different skills and do many different things just to make our every day lives work. According to The Invisible Disabilities Association, roughly 26 million Americans are living with a severe disability, but only 26% of these people use visible devices to help them with their disabilities. A lot of adults with debilitating chronic conditions work 9-5 jobs, but some, such as myself, choose to become entrepreneurs or do freelance work. Whether those of us that are living with debilitating chronic conditions work a 9-5 job or choose to earn money in a non-traditional way, we still strive to function in society and not let our disabilities control us. Living with debilitating conditions is a task of its own and it is different for each individual so while some people’s conditions may give them the opportunity to do what society defines as “strong” and “working through their struggles”, not all of us are capable of doing such. Just because I chose to be an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean that I am less than someone else with a disability working a 9-5 job because circumstances vary on an individual basis. My point in presenting all of these numbers, facts, and anecdotes from my life is that you don’t have to be dealt the best cards to reshuffle the deck until you have a good hand.

With that being said, thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday! I hope I am able to work to the best of my ability for the next 364 days to report from a better place in my life next year! All of the photos featured in this post were shot by my great friend Jeremy LaRue at Snap 151. Below are the rest! Thank you to those of you that read this post, and I wish you love and light! ~Kal

Early Earth Day 2019: Tips to Change your Lifestyle and live Consciously!

Importance of Recycling; Photograph by Oh Jee Nam

March is a month full of events, festivals, and holidays celebrated all over the world. There are some holidays I’ve been dreading in March and some that I’ve been looking forward to, and one of the events I’ve been looking forward to is Earth Day.

I was maybe 5 years old when I first learned about recycling on a TV show called “Blues Clues”, and at that time, the facts I learned about recycling were pretty basic. We were encouraged to recycle in elementary and middle school, even given incentives like prizes for people that brought items to recycle as a class from time to time.

So how did my generation go from growing up on the notion of saving the environment to thinking caring about the environment is uncool? Well, it probably has to do with the media’s negative portrayal of people who care about the environment as nerds, outcasts, and in some cases, extremists. Yes, there are cases of environmental activists being radical, but caring about the earth and how it is affected by our actions shouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing. If we don’t make environmentally conscious decisions, we run the risk damaging our home forever, and for a lot of people that risk is not worth the reward—that is, if you consider living an ignorant lifestyle a “reward”.

I’m embarrassed to say that I used to not care about the environment at all and say that because others are doing enough, I don’t need to care as much. Looking back on it, I’m disgusted at my own ignorance, but it was because I wanted to appear as a cool badass rather than already adding to my low social status. I was a depressed loner who was bullied so the last thing I wanted was for people to ostracize me even more if I showed that I cared about the environment. I was already the sad, artsy girl in the corner with a love for volunteer work and activism, the last thing I wanted to be known as was a tree hugger.

10 years later–proud nature lover

And now, here I am, 10 years later, as a proud lover of all things nature. Hiking and exploration became a couple of my biggest passions and I started to connect with nature more than I connected with urbanized places. I fell in love with mountains, deserts, beautiful landscapes, bodies of water, and everything in between. I so badly want to say that my favorite state is California because I dream of becoming an actress, but California is not my favorite state–New Mexico is because of all of the open space and beautiful sceneries the state has to offer. I’d be lying if I told you I preferred living in Dallas, a city more suitable for my career as a glamour model, aspiring actress, and entrepreneur, over living in upstate New York where a lot of their grocery stores support local farms and traveling between state parks and natural sights is easy.

You couldn’t have caught me admitting my love for the earth a few years ago, but here I am proudly proclaiming it to anyone reading this post. Hi, I’m Kal, and I am a nature addict.

I have been moving towards an eco-friendly lifestyle this past year. I realized that since I visit so many natural sights and state parks as well as national parks that I needed to change my lifestyle to truly stand by what I do. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the world as it is. I’m a big believer in living ethically so I have always talked about being ethical in my choices and decided to really live for what I stand by and be more proactive in how my lifestyle affects the world around me.

Think about it—we are taught to keep our living space clean, whether it’s our rooms, houses, apartments, etc., so why shouldn’t we do the same for our environment? We are all living on Earth so it is our home, and we need to take care of the Earth just as we would our own houses or living spaces because if something in the environment went wrong, it just might affect our lifestyles and convenience that we covet.

For example, how would you feel if someone dumped heavy plastic items and trash that you weren’t capable of moving in your shower or room? Of course, you could ask for help with moving these items and try to clean up the trash, but what if no one was available to help you? What if some of the items contained toxic substances that you weren’t aware of? That is the sad reality that a lot of animals face due to littering. Littering doesn’t only affect animals, it affects us too because it means that the rivers that we love to visit for recreational activities like tubing and beaches that we love to sunbathe on are covered in trash. Although some of the photos below are by cardboard waste and “trash”, those photos were a planned concept so I doubt people would want trash in the background of their vacation photos.

It’s easy for us to dismiss climate change as unreal and say that caring about the environment will ultimately not help, but even if you don’t believe in climate change and environmental conservation efforts, you won’t lose anything by doing something good for the world.

Here are a few simple tips and lifestyle changes you can make that will reduce the negative impact your lifestyle might be creating for the environment:

-Reduce the use of single use plastic. Start throwing away your single use plastic utensils and cups and refrain from buying them! Biodegradable cups are readily available in the event that you need some for a party, and you can also use silverware to eat with. 
-Invest in a flask and/or travel mug. There are plenty of options available now so you can get your coffee fix while helping the environment out at the same time! I’m working on getting a travel mug myself because I drink a lot of tea and prefer to drink hot or warm water for my digestive issues.
Use a bidet. In the US, we use millions of trees to meet our annual demand for toilet paper so not only is washing and using a bidet healthier, it is also more environmentally friendly!
Go vegan or reduce your consumption of meat. Livestock consume a lot of water and plants. Livestock farming also occupies a lot of land that could be used to plant trees so veganism is ultimately better for the environment.
Use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags.
Take your own cloth or enviromentally friendly grocery bags when you go grocery shopping.
DO NOT LITTER! This is so important, even for your own pets! Animals are always curious and can accidentally pick up toxic and harmful materials if you leave trash on the ground! Take the opportunity to save an innocent life and stop littering.
Use a bamboo toothbrush.
Replace as many plastic items as possible with sustainably made items, such as swapping your plastic hairbrush with a wooden brush.
Recycle your clothing and invest in sustainably made clothing items!
Avoid products that contain palm oil. Rainforests are being replaced by palm oil plantations, which is affecting the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as well as taking away the homes of orangutans. There is an app called the “Happy Orangutan App” that you can download and learn more about here that will help you find products free from palm oil. (This is not sponsored)
Move towards a zero waste lifestyle. You don’t have to be 100% zero waste, but you can always move towards having less waste.
Use mason jars as cups and for storage! If you avoid buying grocery items in plastic containers, you can get the ones in glass jars or glass containers instead and after finishing whatever product you have bought, you can wash and reuse them! More bang for your buck

These are just a few tips and examples of how you can change your lifestyle to help the environment a bit. I’m working on following these tips myself and don’t follow all of them just yet, but I’m putting this information here for anyone that may want to use it!

And I know I look different over the years, but change is good. No, my weight loss wasn’t for a good reason, but I have learned to embrace it just as I have learned to embrace my love of nature. Change is possible so keep on moving in the right direction! I have so much hope for the world and want to keep seeing positive changes happen. Happy Earth Day, ya’ll!