For my very first ‘Seoulfull Conversations with…’ starring bloggers I especially love, I chose to feature the lovely Payal, @questforglow. Payal lives in New York with husband Vikas and 4-legged baby Cookie (you probably get glimpses of Cookie and that enviable sumptuous NYC skyline on her stories!) We initially bonded on Instagram over a mutual love of Kbeauty back mid 2017 and I feel her skincare journey really mirrors mine, gradually evolving in a keen interest in the green, indie realm but still open to trying pretty much anything. Payal is more than just someone I follow for her gorgeous photography and skilfully written reviews, she’s someone I can truly call and friend and confidant and knows a hell lot about what’s going on in my world and life. That is the true beauty of IG online friendships, that transforms into real life friendships. (I’ve even met her on my last trip to NYC for my birthday and I cannot wait for a reunion at some point when the world is back to business as usual!)
In today’s feature, Payal tells us about how she’s coping with being on lockdown, what she’s getting up to, experimenting with her cooking (even whipping up doggie treats for Cookie) and finding a silver lining in this (there always is one!) She’s even introduced me to a great podcast that I’ve been obsessed with (think two skincare junkies discussing general life things). I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.
Also, give Payal a follow here.
A little bit about me…I’m Payal, an IT Consultant and I previously worked for one of the Big 4 Consulting firms. I’ve been on a break from work for the last two years. I just got my work permit renewed so I was looking forward to getting back to work right before this crisis began. I’m from India and have been living in the US for the last 9 years, currently residing in New Jersey. I’m married to my best friend, Vikas and we have a 4-legged child, Cookie (a Jack Russell Terrier mix that we adopted in 2015). I’m a home body and my husband and Cookie keep me company so isolation has not been as difficult for me. I only miss the freedom and security of going outdoors when my heart desires. I used to travel for work every week so having spent most of my time away in a hotel room, I treasure the opportunity of being at home now. I just wish I lived in the suburbs where I could go for walks. I have Asthma and considering the large numbers in NY/NJ, I have not been stepping out of the apartment and really miss my daily walks.
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning… isn’t too different to what I’ve done for years. I message my Mum and we have a quick chat. This year, I started taking Meditation lessons at a local Buddhist centre and have been journaling and meditating every morning. I needed a phone reminder initially but now it is a habit and one that I really lean on for mental clarity.
My morning skincare routine…isn’t the same everyday, but it’s rather simple and follows a similar format of cleanse, tone/essence, vitamin c serum, additional antioxidant/peptide serum, balm/moisturizer followed by sunscreen. These days, I’m opting for Ranavat Luminous Ceremony cleanser, 3 layers instead of the 7-skin method of IOPE Bio Essence, Skindewi Helichrysum Vitamin C treatment, Naturallogic Elemental Milk Vitamin Peptide treatment, Skindewi Gingko Biloba Moisturizer and finally Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen (even when indoors).
Routine or no routine at the moment…? I don’t have a set routine anymore. I’m taking it one day at a time, every day is different. Some days, I’m very productive, ticking off things on my to-do list while other days, I’m really low. My husband’s work schedule takes priority so my days are planned around it. Since my husband is home, we’ve been indulging in elaborate Indian breakfasts – yummy dosas and idlis. I’ve also been trying new dog food or treat recipes for Cookie. All the tail wags and kisses I get after make the effort so worthwhile plus I don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. As long as it smells of meat, he loves it.
How I’m keeping fit right now...my friends and I have a whatsapp group, where we pick one activity for the day and keep each other accountable. This week, we’ve been trying Pilates by Ellen Barrett. I quite like it.
My OOTD is…casual always, I don’t really use makeup but I’m realizing that using lipstick really does make me feel better. Something to do with a pop of color, I guess.
Something new I’m trying these days…growing my own plants. I’ve never been into plants but on Day 1 of isolation I planted a few coriander seeds and now in two weeks I have Cilantro (coriander for you Brits) sprouts. Does that count? Other than that, job hunting and a few certification that I’m studying for have been keeping me busy. I was among those that did not stock up and I’ve been struggling since then to get groceries, so daily cooking is like being a participant in ‘Chopped’ (show on Food Network). With the available items, I end up improvising and cooking something. Challenging and fun but also frustrating for someone like me. Not a big fan of cooking really.
How I’m really feeling…I was really anxious, I wasn’t sleeping well and was constantly worrying until I spoke to my friend who is a doctor working in emergency wards. She sounded so positive, so strong and uplifting despite being exposed to patients and everything she was going through. My mindset really changed at that point. Now, no matter how bad the numbers in NY/NJ look, I tell myself that everything will be ok. Plus my husband is an eternal optimist and having that positive force in the house really helps.
Currently binge-watching and totally addicted to…Panchayat on Amazon Prime. It’s an Indian show based in rural India. I dream of retiring in a small village/town in India, teaching at the local school and living in a house with a big yard for all the stray dogs. So, this show is an eye opener for what life could really be like in a small village. I’m watching episode 3 and really liking it so far.
My favourite Youtuber and podcast…is Tucker Budzyn – a super cute Golden Retriever. Tucker is goofy but the videos are so well edited. He has 1.8M subscribers, if you haven’t watched any of his videos yet, give it a try. It’ll bring a smile to your face
I can’t get through a day without Bollywood (Hindi/Indian film Industry is called Bollywood) music/movies. Tried&Refused Productions on Youtube does great movie reviews. Most of the times our thoughts align so I always look up a review before giving 2-3 hours of my life to any Indian cinema.
As for podcasts, I recommend Forever 35. It features two friends who love skincare but discuss a range of women-related topics. It’s like having a lunch date with your girlfriends plus you always learn something new.
What I’m looking forward to everyday…having breakfast, lunch and dinner with my husband every day. Since I was constantly travelling for work, we’ve had a long-distance marriage for 6 out of 8 years that we’ve been married. Really loving all the time together right now
My guilty pleasure right now is…spending way too much time on Instagram, does that count? I’m loving the stories and IG Lives right now and find myself spending most of my time on Instagram. Clearly, I have more important things to do but IG is more enticing.
I’m grateful for…my health, my family and financial security (so much but these are at the top the list right now).
My preferred ways to connect with friends or family I’m not seeing at the moment…Whatsapp or Google Hangout calls. Physical distancing has really made us socially close.
When I’m craving comfort food, my preference is for…dal, rice and a mango pickle I got from India. I’m rubbish when it comes to cooking, my husband disagrees though and I think he is being nice. I don’t enjoy cooking really. I do it because I have to.
For my night time skincare routine…I take my time with my night routine, double cleanse (Lovinah Power and Ranavat Luminous Ceremony), mask sometimes (I’ve been loving powdered masks and playing mixologist. Favorites right now are Siam Seas Skin Revolution Mask and Wabi Sabi Botanicals Valley of light), toner/essence (IOPE Bio Essence), followed by a few serums (currently using Monastery Made Aloe Serum, Siam Seas Twilight Be Calm and EWB On a swing among trees and Resiliency), then a facial oil and finally a moisturiser (Skindewi Gingko Biloba Moisturizer or Lovinah Royal Jelly Mask).
One skincare product I absolutely love right now...I’m going to cheat, I can’t pick one. Ranavat Luminous Ceremony cleanser, Earthwise On the swing among trees and Resiliency Serum, Monastery Made Aloe serum, Lovinah Royal Jelly Mask, Siam Seas Twilight Be Calm Serum, Wie Magie Mystify Balm, Skindewi Vitamin C treatment; I love them all!
A luxury item I cannot live without…is the Aromatherapy roll-on by Votary called Drift. It’s a blend of Lavender, Chamomile and English Roses. I find really calming and keep it on my night stand and tend to use it before I go to bed.
I’m currently coveting…nothing really. When I quit my job in 2018, I started reading ‘The life changing magic of tidying up’. So, I’ve managed to Marie-kondo most of the areas of my life except for skincare (you know I’m no where near a minimalist in that department!) and dog toys (I can’t make myself give away any of Cookie’s toys plus he is super manipulative. The one I pick to throw is the one he wants to play with). I haven’t purchased a single item of clothing, shoes, bag or jewelery in the last two years and I’m really proud of that.
I need nothing but I definitely want Honey Mud by May Lindstorm (I blame Zarah @seoulfull_star and Emily @glow_upyourgame for it) and the new launches by Lovinah this year
After isolation, I cannot wait to…travel to India, I haven’t seen my parents for over two years now. I was supposed to travel in April for my birthday. Can’t wait!
What’s keeping me sane at the moment…having my husband and Cookie with me. Cookie has always been my therapist, he can put a smile on my face irrespective of the time and place. Staying away from the news, journaling, meditation, working out and staying connected with friends is really helping so far
One piece of advice I want to share with everyone right now...I constantly remind myself that I’m really privileged and the only advice I have for others and for myself is to remember to count your blessings, take a deep breath and know that this shall pass too. Until then, stay home and stay positive.