Radical Self Love Salon, Plotting a Beautiful Revolution with Gala Darling

Buried under old clothing and long-forgotten textbooks, I recently found two stray pages from an old journal. It was my habit to “introduce” myself to each new notebook, explaining a little about who I was and why I chose to write there–there was a certain romance to journaling, as if each notebook was not only a time capsule, but a public one, unearthed decades or even centuries in the future and transporting someone else into my life. These two pages were my introduction. I wrote about how I was likely perceived by others, who I was from an entirely detached perspective. Not even half a page in, one thing became absolutely clear: the girl who wrote this journal did not love herself. She didn’t even like herself. There was nothing blatantly self-loathing written, no mention of body hatred or bullied shame, just the complete and total detachment of someone entirely uncomfortable in their own skin. “I am completely unremarkable,” 19-year-old Me wrote. “I have no delusions about my identity. There is nothing that makes me special.” I actually cried, not because of any memories stirred up or hurtful words written, but because I genuinely felt bad for the girl who penned these pages.


Somehow, though, those had been feelings that persisted throughout my life. In fact, up until very recently, the idea that I could love myself was fairly repulsive to me. Why should I love myself? What have I done to deserve it? Maybe, if I accomplished this or finished that or adhered to this or became that, maybe I could love myself. But not now. I put all of my self-worth into my accomplishments, and the fact that I didn’t have a glittering professional resume or tales of globe-trotting adventures or my dream apartment in a breathtaking city meant that I hadn’t done anything to prove my value–not to society, and not to me. I was unremarkable, and worse yet, I was downright boring.



I don’t know when it happened. I can’t tell you what day it was that the sparkling little feeling crept into chest. I’m not sure the exact moment it started dancing in the throat, tickling at my brain. I’m not sure when I started to have hope. But suddenly, after nearly thirty years, possibly a third of my life in the rear-view mirror, I started to matter to myself. Big time. It’s no longer about what I’ve done or haven’t done–there are other measures of a person, and I’m finally starting to register on my own radar.


Yesterday, in a room filled with pink rose petals and bright July sunlight, I heard this sentiment echoed seven times over. It was fresh, exciting, magical–as so many other groups before us, we had gathered together to discuss a revolutionary concept, joining forces to break new ground. Unlike the salons of my childhood history books, however, we weren’t discussing the fate of the nation or the latest schools of contemporary art: we were discussing Radical Self Love. To the uninitiated, Radical Self Love is Gala Darling’s revolution–it’s about remembering who you are and falling in love with that person, over and over again. It’s about being your own greatest love. “Isn’t that just a serious case of narcism?” you may ask–the answer, truly, is no. As Our Lady RuPaul would say, “if you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” And sadly, too many of us trudge through our daily lives hating everything about them–our jobs, our families, our friends, our cities–when the source of all that unhappiness really is self-loathing.


In a sunny white room nestled deep in New York City, the eight ladies of the first ever Radical Self Love Salon sat on mismatched pieces of furniture, pulling oracle cards and consulting each other’s opinions and experiences as we plumbed the depths of the fears that opposed us. We meditated and grounded our energies, imagined our best selves and showered our heads in magenta rose petals. And when we finally figured out just what stood in the way of being those magnificent creatures we had envisioned, we burned those hurtles to a crisp. We left that room as stronger people, women fully aware of our capacity to shine brightly. The world is our proverbial oyster, but we aren’t just specks of sand in a briny soup–we are all ready stunning pearls. Radical Self Love is knowing that. And while 19-Year-Old Me might have felt unremarkable and defeated, I know now that nothing could be farther from the truth.


Not Your Average Academics: the Blogcademy

Sometimes, progression is logical: I knew when I needed to move my writing from Livejournal to my own host. I’ve been blogging at this address for about three years now, and every step I’ve taken has felt like the logical next step. I’ve changed layouts and rebranded when I felt I had outgrown the ones before. But sometimes, it’s not that simple. It’s okay to ask for help, but when it comes to blogging, it can be hard to find sources. We would all love to ask our favourite bloggers how it’s done, but how often do we actually get the opportunity?

FX Photo Studio_image

I had the chance to attend the Blogcademy’s Portland class in March: run by Nubby Twiglet‘s Shauna, Rock n’ Roll Bride’s Kat, and Gala Darling of her eponymous blog, three true “industry vets,” it covered every aspect of the blogging world and beyond! Clearly, these ladies have spent a lot of time putting together their curriculum. We wasted no time diving straight into some of the harder-hitting issues facing bloggers from start-up to monetizing, geared towards every level of blogger. The class was kept small to make sure everyone in attendance got some individual attention and ensuring everyone got their every possible question answered. Some of my classmates had been blogging on their own for several years, some had just decided to add a blog to their business page, others had yet to register a domain space. Regardless, each and every one of us got an individual report card, filled out with personalized tips for improving our sites, our voices, and how to move forward. At the end of the two-day workshop, we were all bursting with new ideas and inspiration, and completely and utterly exhausted from the incredible experience. I’m proud to say I graduated the Blogcademy with the diploma to prove it!

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I don’t get the opportunity to travel often, but absolutely love to when I have the chance. Portland is a beautiful city and I packed my four days there with as much exploring as I could. I’m lucky to have some wonderful friends in Portland to share in my adventures–rummaging through import and novelty stores, getting (and giving!) facials, bubble tea lattes, and midnight indulgences at Voodoo! I would have loved to stay longer, but as I shared the cab ride back to the airport with one of my awesome Blogcademy classmates, I knew I had my work cut out for me back home. As soon as my plane touched down, I got to work organizing my thoughts and planning my course of action. Hopefully, there will be a lot of changes to come, not only here but in my personal and professional life as I apply some of my Blogcademy lessons in the time to come.

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If you’re considering one of their upcoming classes, you’ve probably thought long and hard about the blogosphere and your place in it. Look at what they’re offering and read their testimonials. Look at the Headmistress’ sites and look at all they’ve accomplished. –then, realize it’s all that and then some. You’re not only investing in your site, your career as a blogger, and getting some first class help, you’re getting a wealth of inspiration, renewed energy, and some incredible memories. I left the class with the wonderful feeling that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and that if you love something enough that you absolutely need it in your life, you can have it.

Events, Illustration

A Little Recognition: March 2013 Art Show

Art can be completely thankless. Luckily, artists love what they do and gladly produce massive bodies of work without any recognition whatsoever. When an outside source takes interest, it’s absolutely thrilling. Finally, someone else understands even a fraction of the joy you get from putting pencil to paper, from turning the barest of lines into concrete visions, from turning the scenes of your imagination into painted realities.

I have always thrived on challenge. If presented with a concept and told to create around it, my mind always races with solutions to the problem. So it makes sense that some of the work I’m proudest of was completed around guidelines for a class. Last week, some of my school work was exhibited in a show. They took five of my paintings and a collage, three of which were exhibited for sale. The gallery reception was Friday, March 29th, during the time I was away, but I managed to see it upon my return.


As it turns out, they mis-hung some of my pieces. All three of the above paintings (all part of a triptych) are meant to be shown in portrait. I wasn’t sure who to speak to about rotating them, but I figured there must have been a reason for turning them on their sides. The triptych above was created for an assignment where we needed to recall an emotional memory. Obviously, it was inspired by Bob and the events surrounding his passing, though viewers not familiar with my life read some rather interesting interpretations into them.


Also mis-rotated was my collage. Created entirely of cut paper, this was a graphic design assignment to create an advertisement for a cause in the form of a poster in black and white with text. When hung horizontally, the text is more evident, but the lipstick that dissects the rabbit gets a little lost. This was also meant to be hung portrait-style.


These were done as studies in complimentary and analogous colours and seem to be the only pieces hung as they were intended. I took photos of some of the objects on my school grounds, zoomed so far in that it became difficult to tell what they actually were, and translated the colours to comply with the assignment. My classmates actually had no idea what the subjects were until I began to call them “Ugly Tree” and “Fruity Pebbles” respectively, but they’re both labeled “Untitled” for the purpose of the show.

I recently began reading a book called Art & Fear, dealing with the problems of production and identity in modern artists. In the first chapter, they point out that some of the most prolific artists in history worked under a patron who dictated the subject and context of most of their pieces. When artists have specific parameters to work within, it becomes easier to produce a piece we feel comfortable completing and displaying. Without a definite direction, we put too much of ourselves into our work and it becomes difficult to finish a piece because it will never be good enough, much less show them to others who might judge us based on our work. Obviously, the book is geared towards visual artists but artists of any medium can benefit from the ideas presented in the text. I know I have avoided finishing novels, showing people my fiction, even this very website for fear of being judged for it. The text was incredibly motivational but not in a sticky bubblegum cheerleader sense: the authors’ experiences confirm that all artists experience a sense of dread in their own work, regardless of how much they love their craft. Getting around that paralyzing fear of judgement is the only way to continue working and to make yourself a name in any industry.

The show runs through the end of next week, and while I currently don’t have plans to exhibit again it was a fun experience I’d consider again in the future. I’ve been working furiously on new pieces inside and outside of class as well. While it wasn’t a massive or important show, even a little bit of recognition is enough to reassure an uneasy mind and add fuel to the creative fire.

Cosmetics, Events

Metamorphosis 57.0 – Beautylish Spring Trend Preview 2011

In addition to the IMATS, I had the privilege of attending the Beautylish Spring Trend Preview on April 9th. I was thrilled to receive an invitation to view demos of the latest Spring make-up and hair trends as well as welcome Beautylish’s new Beauty Director, Ning Chao (former Beauty Editor for Marie Claire).

Ning Chao, Beautylish Beauty Director

If you’re interested in the beauty industry, use beauty products, or just want to meet some beautiful friends, you really need to join Beautylish. Not only is their news feed a great leg up on trends and other beauty-related information, they also host wonderful forums, great videos, and thousands of product reviews. Before I buy a product, I usually log on and check the reviews, and after I use a product, I log on and write a review. It’s one of my favourite things to do. Beautylish is an active, growing community and I am happy to be a part of it.

Needless to say, I was deeply honored to be invited to this event. I had seen photos of previous events held on the West Coast and honestly thought that my location precluded me from taking part in upcoming events. –and honestly, guys, I’m still not used to being “recognized” online as a part of any community, be it blogging, beauty, beauty-blogging, or anything else.


The Spring Trend Preview was held at the Crosby Street Hotel, in their Spring and Price Private Rooms. The set-up was chic, elegant, and understated, perfect for showcasing the products and trends (and beautiful people!) we would be viewing that evening. They even served a signature drink–the Moscow Mule, which appeared to be made from a vodka/lime base and a spritz of Izze Grapefruit. H’ordeurves and cupcakes were also served, but I obviously did not partake.


Sponser Display

I was pleased to meet the Beautylish team, many of whom I recognized from their site profiles while others introduced themselves as more technical, behind-the-scenes people. They are all wonderful people (and know how to make a very shy, completely awkward girl feel more at home)! –I do, however, need to say a particular thank you to Sameer for chatting with me and introducing me to lovely people I would have been too shy to approach otherwise.


Tarte LipSurgence Table


The evening included demos from Wella, Tarte, and Bare Escentuals. Wella debuted a line of hair care products to complement their extensive range of dyes and demonstrated how to create the slick, sleek looks popular this Spring. Tarte used their LipSurgence line to show guests how to pull off the bold lip trend (one of my favourites!), and Bare Escentuals used a variety of their lovely products to touch up and transform attendants’ makeup into elegant pastel smokey eyes.

Bare Escentuals demo the Pastel Smokey Eye

I went to the event in full makeup, so I didn’t participate in any of the demos, but I definitely eavesdropped as they consulted other guests and snapped some pictures while they worked. Also, my hair looks like I got caught in an electrical storm on the best of days, so I figured I was too lost a cause for Wella. –but it was nice to watch them work on other, less ridiculous and colourful, manes!

Crowd gathers for a hair demo by Wella

In all, the event was a complete blast and I am still so thrilled that I was able to be a part of it. I deeply and sincerely hope that they will remember me the next time they put on an East Coast event! I feel that I need to extend a heart-felt thank you to the Beautylish team for hosting such a wonderful event and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of it!

Amazing gifts from the event's wonderful sponsers!

An additional thank you needs to go out to the event’s sponsers, including Wella, Bare Escentuals, Tarte, Dior, StriVectin, Urban Decay, Guess, ELF, Too Faced, Borba, Sally Hansen, Reveal, the Balm, Milani, Victoria’s Secret, myfaceworks, Physician’s Formula, Talika, Immunocologie, and Somme Institute. Each of them contributed amazing products for the gift bags, and I could only sit back and marvel at everything when I got back to the hotel. Obviously, I will be reviewing each and every one once I get a chance to use them!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

PS: You can sign up to be notified when there’s a Beautylish event in your area! Also, if you join Beautylish, don’t forget to follow me! There’s a widget in my side-bar to redirects to my profile–I’ll see you there!