life update

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Well, hello there.

It’s been a good while. Two months to be exact since we last talked. A lot has happened. A lot of bad. A lot of dark times. A lot of weird moments where my head just wasn’t where I wanted to be. But in the last week, a ton of good stuff has happend! The whole purpose of this blog was to be honest, to show that not every blogger is dowsed in rose gold and maxi dresses. (While that’s super cute, that’s just not me.) While I’m happy to be back, there are no promises that I will be blogging regularly, like I used to. I now work full-time, I’m still a full-time student at SCAD, and balancing my mental health with my social life. But for now, let’s have a chat about where I’ve been.

anxiety + mental health

This semester–or junior year in just general–has been a whirlwind for my mental health. As you guys know, I struggled a lot in Hong Kong with my mental health. Then during winter break, I was diagnosed officially with Neurotic Excoriations and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (I was published by Vocal Media, and was fortunate to share my story.) After that, I went off the grid. I promised myself that I was worthy of seeking more treatment with my mental health. I enrolled in the counseling services at school, I began a daily poetry journal, and I expressed myself openly with my friends about my panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and depression spells.  Everything was fine, until it wasn’t. It was around week four of the semester when everything started to spiral out of control. Without going into too much detail, I gave someone my heart, only to have it crushed. In the process, I lost an entire friend group, as well as myself.

This sent my anxiety into a full on tizzy. For about three weeks, I couldn’t focus on much other than my mental health. I stopped talking my medication because I thought that I was relying on it too much. I kept writing though, and that became my new therapy. I reached out to my grandma, and began filtering to her about all that was going on. I’m glad I did, because then my life turned around fully.

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I don’t think college will ever be easy. But, it’s all a learning process. I’m currently in two photography classes, where I’m working on semester-long projects. (Below are some examples from my Seminar II class, where I’m continuing my project about my mental health. The project is titled Generalized Anxiety Distortions. For this project, I shoot through found objects in order to distort the subject of the photo, replicating feelings of anxiety and depression.) I’m also in an English class about Beat writers/poetry. There are days where it seems as if I cannot look at another photograph or turn another page of an Allen Ginsberg writing, but I push through. Currently, my grades are where I want them to be. But because of my mental health recently, participation–which is a huge part in these seminar classes–has affected my grades, making me a little apprehensive about my final grades since we are so close to the end of the semester. Nonetheless, I am comfortable, and I feel as if I’ve worked to my best ability this quarter, while learning about technique, time-management, and concept exploration.



I am the type of person that hates stagnation. Stagnation in my social life is really irritating, if I’m being honest. I hate not seeing my friends grow around me. I hate going to the same places over and over and over again. Hanging in the same spots. Talking about the same subjects. Spending nights downtown knowing that I had a million things to do, and end up shivering in the cold, was no longer how I wanted to spend my weekends. So once I cut the group of girls out of my life, I realized how easier it was to breathe without them. Now, that I am living for me, things are starting to fall into place. Now, I’ve found individuals who bring me happiness. I no longer care about the amount of people I know, but the quality of them. I’ve also learned to enjoy alone time.

Sidenote: I met a boy… 😉

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I’ve been starting taking iPhone snapshots recently, becoming obsessed with an app called Huji. It makes your photos look as if they were taken in the nineties. With these Huji pictures, I can take in the little moments. I’ve been taking night walks recently with Huji and snapping away at the reflections the rain leaves, and it’s so satisfying. With these reflection pictures, I’m able to reflect on my own life–where I stand in the world: am I a stagnant puddle or am I a flowing current? Taking pictures of the sky help ground myself. When I take these pictures, I repeat the same phrase: “my life is beautiful,” and it’s been helping me a ton with my anxiety.

I am now officially employed and I’ve somehow managed to secure my own apartment. I can’t share with you how proud of myself I am that I have achieved full independence. When I was talking with my counselor, she asked me, “what is it that you want the most out of this life.” And I answered, “I want to make my younger self proud.” There were days, when I was a kid, that were so dark that I would zone out and daydream. Daydream of the day when the chains of my anxiety, depression, and insecurity would break. I’d get out of my stupid small town. Away from horrible family members. Liberate myself. Though I’m not fully there, my younger self is beginning to smile. I’m on the path to self-actualization. It’s a slow journey, but I’m getting there.

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Apologies for being away for so long, but as you can see, a lot has happened in my life since I last logged on. (Including a company reaching out to me TODAY, for a collaboration.) I hope this update wasn’t too vague, and you got a solid idea of where I’ve been. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or a DM.

thanks for reading,






etsy shop



anxiety eczema: coming to terms with constant itching and red patches

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I remember my first panic attack:

It was 2007. (Or maybe I was seven.) It was probably too late for me to be up still, but I wanted my mom’s attention. At the same moment that I wanted attention/someone to talk to, she had a “personal visitor” paying us a visit. I couldn’t talk to her, and I just waited and waited for in front of a closed door.

When it all became too much, I broke down. Wringing my hands, Tears streaming down my face. Heart racing. Looking at the words being typed now, it sounds like I was being dramatic. But in my young mind, my mother was never going to be reached. I wouldn’t be able to talk to her until that door opened. I went downstairs to my grandma and told her that I was nervous and couldn’t breathe. She gave me a hug and told me to calm down. Ever since, she’s always told me to calm down. My response would always be “Okay, but I’m nervous. I don’t know why.”

It wasn’t until college that I realized I had anxiety.


As a kid, I would always scratch my forearms when a big test was coming up, when I felt like I was trapped, when one of my friends was hurting, any uncomfortable situation. (Even now, I’m scratching because I’m looking at this giant pile of mess in the middle of my floor because I have to be moved out by the end of the week, and with finals to complete, this makes me anxious. I’ve been avoiding the mess all day, and realizing now when it’s too late at night to move it all to storage, I’m beating myself up about it.)

My friends are constantly asking, “why are you always scratching?” Those who know why immediately tell me to stop. Even though its painful, I continue to scratch. Most of the time, my skin bleeds, and scabs, and dry patches form on my hands. I wish I could wear gloves and cover them. But being in art school, I always have to use my hands. I can’t stop scratching. It’s soothing, but agonizing. It’s the only way to keep from having a full on panic attack.


While in Hong Kong, when it was at its worst, I visited a doctor who told me that my mysterious rash I thought I’d gotten from the bedsheets, was actually an adult form of eczema. Its foundation was stress and being overwhelmed. (If you’d like to know more about my experience as a study abroad student, click the link!) The remedy: zinc, but it would never go away, and some flare-ups would be worse than others.

Over winter break, I gripped down on getting my skin together. I started using pure oatmeal in the bath. Taking more self-care days. Exfoliating my skin. Before the quarter started, my skin was beautiful and glowing.

Then the semester hit.


A million things were constantly running through my mind. Trying to balance a personal life and projects seemed harder than usual. I was making and severing connections with others almost everyday. This entire semester, I’ve felt as if I’ve been lying face up in a whirlpool. Luckily, the semester ends this week and I get to go home for a few weeks. But, I have to vacate my dorm at the end of the week in preperation to move to another campus. SO, my eczema is not doing well.. My skin hurts a lot. I spent 90% of my day digging at the patches on my hands. There’s always something going on in my head.

It makes me so insecure when my friends point it out and say, “you need lotion.” Little do they know that lotion does NOTHING for my skin. Yeah, it gets soothed for two seconds, but then the thought train comes, and I’m back to where I started. Scratching. Digging Scabbing. Bleeding. It’s on my neck. My hands. My legs. In the bend of my arm.

I seriously want to get more help  on this. I’m researching. Taking zinc. Trying to keep my skin hydrated. It’s a long and sometimes excruciating process, but I refuse to live with this forever.


I hope that if you are trying to cope with anxiety eczema, you know that you are not alone. Even though it’s painful, it’s possible to get through it. It just takes time.

stay as you are.

-hello ninety seven





etsy shop

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i went makeup free for a week and here’s what happened…

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Over a year ago, I created a photo project about how makeup affected me from childhood to college. The project chronicled my love-hatred-and love again for makeup and all things beauty. Through the project I expressed how I makeup had destroyed my self-image, constantly causing me to feel like I needed it to be beautiful..and without it, I was not. I didn’t wear makeup my entire sophomore year, that summer, and the fall of my junior year. My skin looked great. It was clear. Free of concealer and mascara. Yet, it wasn’t until the winter break of my junior year, I realized that makeup shouldn’t shape how I feel about myself. It was the things I was telling myself, the harsh words I mumbled in my head when something went wrong, the pang of anxiety I felt when I didn’t finish something in time, the guilt of making mistakes, were the things that caused me to not have any confidence in myself. It wasn’t the makeup at all. It was me. 

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So, I began wearing makeup again. Investing in high-end products I knew wouldn’t damage my skin, and leaving behind the drugstore makeup products that just sat on my skin, and made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d watched enough makeup tutorials in my life now to know to buy a blending brush and to use eyeshadow primer. I had tools under my belt now. Every morning until midterms, I sat at my desk in my dorm room, applying, blending, and setting, making sure I had a perfectly made face before class. I wasn’t falling back into my anti-makeup ways, but I was starting to feel a little consumed by makeup again. It started to become a task. Sitting there and just waiting for it to be over.

So, I stopped.

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The next week, week six of classes, I started practicing mindfulness. I stretched in the morning. Took longer showers. Slowly ate my breakfast instead of shoving it down while beating my face with a beauty blender. I realized that makeup was taking over most of my morning, and I was abandoning more important things, like eating or hydrating. By the end of the week, I felt refreshed. I felt like I’d regained myself.

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From this “experiment” I learned that sometimes choices become a necessity, and when they do, it’s time to stop. As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can make you sick (or maybe it’s bad. I have no clue.) I learned from not wearing makeup for seven days, I can be comfortable with my appearance with or without makeup. I can wear it or not wear it, and still have friends, my intelligence, my personality. Wiping away makeup does not make me less of a person, less pretty, or less of a woman. On the first day, I thought, “I hope [my crush] doesn’t see me because I’m not wearing makeup,” but then I was like, really Courtney? By the end of the week, I’d seen him at least three times, and each day was better than the last. So, in the end, people (particularily your crush), don’t really care if you wear makeup or not. It’s about how you present yourself, the energy you exert, your work ethic, and being kind is what matters. (I’ll start wearing makeup again this week, but if I don’t feel like it, I wont’ force myself to.)

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I actually loved writing this post. Thank you all for voting in my Twitter poll! I really appreciate hearing how open you all were open to reading this post.

Comment down below when you started wearing makeup!

stay as you are,






etsy shop

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6 ways to self-care + take a mental health day

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Happy February, everyone!

As I start writing this post, I’m watching an Alfie Deyes blog, and remembering his famous quote: do more of what makes you happy. When I was writing goals for 2018, I always kept this quote in mind. Even though 2018 has just begun, I have a feeling that this year will be the year that I do more of what makes me happy. I’ve only been to class one day this week due to snow, but I’m using these off-days wisely to self-care, release stress, and re-energize for whenever I do go back to classes. I’ve been drinking more water. Listening to new music. Re-vamping my art journal. Learning to let go. Cherishing those around me. All of these were goals for 2018, and it’s a great feeling to know I’ve already accomplished a few of my goals for this year. Winter is the perfect time to self-care because on cold days, we need a little down time…or at least time to ourselves to rejuvenate. Here are six tips that I’ve been following weekly (if not daily) on my self-care journey. 

1. Shower

This may sound weird, but showering is so refreshing. And in the shower, you don’t have to just shower. You can wash your hair. Exfoliate your skin. Take off a face mask. There’s so many things that you can do in the shower for self-care. Hoping that I’m not the only one, but if I don’t have a shower until late in the day, I feel so gross and that I’ve wasted my day. But, showering in the morning gets me pumped for my day!

2. Listen to Music

I’ve just made a new playlist for a novel that I’m writing and I’m obsessed with it. One of my goals for 2018 was to discover new music, and while writing my novel, I’ve done just that. (I’m writing a new novel, and it’s something unlike I’ve ever written.) I made a chill music playlist that features Troye Sivan, Alessia Cara, The Internet, Bryson Tiller, and a few more good vibes artists. A great way to discover new music is to go to your favorite artist and then scroll through the “more like this” section! I’m constantly listening to music, always having my headphones in. There’s nothing like your favorite jam to lift your spirits!

3. Read/Journal

As you guys know, I’ve returned to art journaling, channeling my emotions and becoming more in-tune with my anxiety and how to control it. I fully recommend starting an art journal. Art journaling has really helped me process my emotions, as well as keep me focused on my goals–whether they be personal, academic, or with blogging. Journaling has upped its game since our middle school days, and there are now more ways to get creative with journaling!

Ideally, my self-care days involve lots of reading. Though, since I’m very active in my junior year of college, finding time to read for fun is pretty hard. (But with all these snow days, I’ve been having plenty of time!) This week, I finished Every Day by David Levithan. If this book sounds familiar, I was raving about this book back during Christmastime last year. (See: what i got for christmas 2017) I felt a little teary when I finished the book, very sad to see it end, because I wanted it to keep going. I wanted there to be more adventures and more characters. I am over the moon that the movie comes out NEXT MONTH!

4. Go to the Movies

Movies and popcorn can instantly brighten my mood. On sad days, I go to the movies. On happy days, I go to the movies. On in-between days, I go to the movies. Last week, I headed to the movies alone to watch Paddington 2. The theatre was full of children under the age of ten. But it was the cutest story ever. There were moments that I did almost cry. But, I think attending Paddington 2 alone will probably be one of my favorite memories. I felt very independent, even though I was at a kids’ movies. Going to the movies takes your mind off of daily stresses, and for two hours, you can relax and laugh.

5. Shop

I know that being in college it’s important to budget, save money, and be careful not to overspend. Though, a little splurge on a little H&M is okay…every once and a while. While I don’t recommend every self-care day be dedicated to swiping your credit card (and most likely, I won’t be buying clothes for the next month), if you see something cute on your one-day-a-month shopping spree, pick it up. You deserve it. New clothes always help my confidence, and make me feel good about myself as I go throughout my day.

6. Hang Out with Friends

And the least expensive self-care method of all, hanging out with friends. I always find that hanging out with friends, or even talking to them while chilling in the dorm, can turn my day around. Vent to your friends. Tell them about what’s going on in your life. Laugh. Cry. Rant. Expressing yourself to those who’ll understand you is so crucial during college. It’s easy to neglect having social interactions, while the term papers and projects pile up. I’ve learned that planning hangouts are okay, because it’s the ones where my friends and I are like, “okay, let’s just go” are the more memorable ones. I recommend taking advantage of hanging out with people while you’re face-to-face with them, because you have them in that moment with no prior engagements. If they’re busy with homework, you can always find someone else in the school coffee shop or library to chill with. It certainly beats waiting around for their text, and then getting that, “sorry, can’t make it” message 5 minutes before you were supposed to meet.

Hope you guys enjoyed this post! My goal for February is to write a mental health post each week. February solidifies winter, a time where the cold weather might bring you down. So, I was thinking to write three more mental health posts, sharing more tips and personal stories to let you know that you are not alone!

Comment down below how you like to spend your mental health days! 

stay as you are,

-hello ninetyseven






january jams playlist 2018

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January has been quite the month: a month of self-realization, a new spark of creativity, realizing who to cut out of my life, trying new things, and constantly moving forward. The music for January has been chill R&B, easy electronic, and rap. Music this month helped me center, find stable ground, and defined both exciting and stressful moments that have occured this month. In January, I learned that I didn’t need people to define my success, my character, my ambitions, or my self-worth. I stopped seeking validation in those from my past. Instead of pondering about what went wrong, I reflected on the changes I noticed in people, and wished them all the best in their future endeavors. Many times this month, I had to stop, say positive things to myself, and realize that I was not the one who changed. It was instead those around me who’d lost their purpose. Therefore, I didn’t need them.

I worked hard in January–on both myself, my artwork, and my career. January brought a lot of firsts. This month was the first time I started printmaking, applied for a job outside of class, began dressing professionally, wearing makeup daily, and helping others in moderation. (This may sound harsh, but I had to learn the hard way that exerting yourself too much, and trying to help everyone at the same time, will only hurt yourself. ) On this journey of self-discovery, these are my top ten favorite songs that got me through.

  1. Lemon-N.E.R.D ft. Rihanna
  2. Meditation-GoldLink ft. Jasmine Sullivan & Kaytranada
  3. Winter-Khalid
  4. Middle of Things, Beautiful Wife-Sango ft. Xavier Omar
  5. Ninety-Jaden Smith
  6. No More-Pretty Much
  7. Goosebumps-Travis Scott
  8. Vivid Dreams- Kaytranada
  9. To the Max-DJ Khaled ft. Drake
  10. My My My!-Troye Sivan


While I’m not sad to see January go, I’m grateful that this month happened. It helped me focus. It helped me understand my purpose. It helped me realize the truth in others’ as well as my own truth.

Comment down below some of your favorite songs from January 2018. 

Also I’d like to announce that will be adding illustrations to my Etsy shop, which you can find here.

stay as you are,

-hello ninetyseven







how art journaling has helped my mental health + tips for starting your art journal

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It’s been a year this month since I started my art journal.

I first learned about art journaling back in my color theory class when I was a freshman. My color theory professor strongly stressed us to create one, since artists are constantly thinking and needing a space to brain dump. I searched online, scrolling through Pinterest and Tumblr, in search of how to create the perfect art journal. It was on Pinterest that I stumbled across Noor’s Place, a Pakistani art journalist who created beautiful pages. It was then that the pressure was on. How could I create the perfect art journal, with perfect pages, and perfect clippings from magazines? I couldn’t.

Though on winter break of my sophomore year, I decided to let go of the idea of perfection. Why did my journal need to be perfect? My journal was not Noor’s journal. My journal was not my color theory professor’s journal. This journal was all my own, and it was my choice to keep it private or share it. For a whole year, I kept it private, too myself, zipping it away in a blue storage bag until I had the creativity set a spark in my mind. A year later, I am now ready to share what’s inside my art journal…and how it’s affected my health.

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My art journal holds all of my highs, my lows, my moments of confusion, doubt, and even self-pity. At the beginning of winter semester last year, I aimed for my journal to have structure. Each page would begin with a cut-out quote, the date, and a drawing for the day. That lasted for about two weeks, until I gave up on trying to have the journal make sense. It was then that I vowed that my art journal was a more than a diary, and far from an artsy shareable Pin. I ditched my structure for the occasional poem, drawing without words, drawing with words, or sometimes a blank page. The poem above, The End of an Eon is an unpublished, brain dump poem I wrote after I’d just broke up with my boyfriend.

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When I first started my art journal, I’d read Milk and Honey over winter break. It was during this time that I was beyond with the words that Rupi Kaur had written and the gesture drawings she sketched. Above, I re-created my own version, replacing the head and breasts of a woman with boxes. This has to be one of my favorite pages in my art journal. Below, this is from when my crush (at the time) stood me up and I ate the pit in my heart away in rum cake.

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Above is a replica of the pattern my first true boyfriend’s hoodie, which I wore all the time until we broke up.

My art journal is a place where I can understand my feelings. For me, it is like talking to a therapist, but there is no response needed. I’ve written in my art journal during panic attacks or spells of deep sadness. It’s brought me out of my worst moments, and I’m forever grateful for stumbling upon Noor’s Place because I think I am my happiest when I’m art journaling. Art journaling is a release. I no longer hold things in and let them fester. Instead, I turn my brain on auto-pilot and do whatever comes to mind. Suddenly, the stress becomes a pattern, and that pattern marks a time I successfully endured. After journaling for a year, it’s truly amazing to see how much I’ve grown since I first started the journal.


Don’t invest too much into your art journal

So, you’ve decided that you want to art journal? Fantastic? But where will you get your supplies? I would recommend Target, because they always have the cutest stationary and art supplies. I am fortunate enough to attend an art school, where there are art supply stores galore in my area. Though, I do regret purchasing a TON of supplies from the school store at an expensive rate, versus investing in more inexpensive at stores like, Target or TJ MAXX, for example. It’s easy to feel the pressure of buying the highest quality of markers and pencils, but this is not about the look of your journal! Art journaling should be more about self-expression.

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Your art journal is your property

You don’t have to share your art journal with anyone. No one even has to know that you have one. If you do choose to start an art journal, you don’t need to post about it every time you make a new page. If you’re feeling something intense, draw it out, write it out, and close the journal. Unless you feel comfortable enough to share your pages, you don’t have to. Like with the supplies, there will be a pressure to Instagram your pages to “fit in” with those who are a part of the art journaling community. But sharing your feelings is not required when you start an art journal. Make your art journal any way that you want, personalize it, and cherish it.

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Treat your art journal like a diary

Remember in middle school when you would write down what would happen in during your day? Art journaling is just the same. It’s okay to keep your pages general, like above where I quoted Taylor Swift’s Dancing with Our Hands Tied. But those days when I flip through my art journal, I appreciate the quotes I saw on a friend’s Instagram, or heard someone say, or said to myself more. Write down exactly what happened that day or what you felt in that moment. Before I made new pages for this month, I was able to reflect on who I was when I first began the journal, and it was truly a journey for me.

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At the end of the day, what should be most important is establishing a connection with your journal. I journal for my mental health. I journal because I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, and most of the time, I am too afraid to talk about the jumble that’s happening in my mind. I believe that art journaling has strengthened my confidence in battling with my mental health, as well as my confidence as an artist while attending a competitive art school. So, start your art journal today, and let me know how it goes!

Comment down below if you are familiar with Noor’s Place OR if you have your own art journal!!

I hope that you enjoyed this post!

stay as you are,

-hello ninetyseven






what hong kong looks like in black + white


I first want to thank Alys for nominating me for the Black and White Tag (here is her post). I was honored to be considered for such an artsy tag! So, thank you Alys. Unlike most of my blog posts, this one will not have many words. I want this post to be left to interpretation. I will not caption every photo and tell you the meaning. Instead, I want to tell you how you feel when you look at them. (I will say, though, that if you want to find these cool spots, they are all in Hong Kong in Mong Kok. Or you can read about my experiences in Hong Kong here.) In art school–specifically at my school–we have critiques on every project, an open discussion opportunity to share with the artist how their work has impacted us, what we get from it, or sometimes, what we don’t understand about it. So, this is my first critique with you…


Who I Nominate:

Miss Curly Gal


Missing in Sight






I would also like to announce that I officially have an online Etsy store, where you can purchase all of these prints and more! If you are interested, you can click the link below. Even just clicking the link and letting me know that you visited my store would mean everything to me because I truly love photography, and being able to share it with others, is something I’ve been wanting to do for years!


Hope you all had a fun winter break and are enjoying your new classes! Today, my college closed for rain and wind, because they thought it was going to snow. LOL

stay as you are,

-hello ninetyseven