Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scribble Away the Pain

I'm a bit slow on the uptake. It was not until recently (very, very recently) that I finally labeled myself with the lofty title, "Writer." Especially since the follow-up question is "Where have you been published?" Online blogging (obviously) does not count. 
I used to only write—and fiercely enjoy it—for school. In my dim-wittedness I did not know that I could do it, you know, for myself, maybe one day professionally. Once out of college and devoid of required papers, my writing ceased. 

This blog was originally established to be about the fetishes of the stereotypical Hungarian—fashion, skincare, makeup, really scrumptious recipes. But there is only so much one can post about face cream ("Elta MD is still my favorite SPF for summer!"). As I began to write, I also branched out in my reading, which in turn broadened my mind. My education has not ceased after leaving academia. 

I also feel pretty good. Is it that when writing, one can purge oneself of negative emotions? Tara Parker-Pope reports ("Writing Your Way to Happiness") that studies show that writing definitely helps: 
The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.
The mind can replay upsetting situations in a hopeless light. By writing it down, seeing the situation outside of one's brain, can awaken self-awareness, changing the perspective, finding solutions. 
“These writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself,” said Timothy D. Wilson . . .
Dr. Wilson, whose book “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” was released in paperback this month, believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,” he said.
. . . “The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said Dr. Pennebaker. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”
The health benefits are quite surprising, even extending to the romantic realm. In "The Best Way to Get Over a Breakup," Anna North writes about how writing exercises assisted the heartbroken. 

When one is in a relationship, "me" morphs into "we." When the other half leaves, one could have forgotten who one is. Writing about it can reclaim the lost sense of self. The sensation of loneliness lessened.
But one can journal about problems too much, ruminating almost as much as thinking about it. Write it out, find some revelations, get to comprehend motives and emotions, but don't wallow.   
For many, the key may turn out to be some self-reflection, but not too much: writing about your feelings, “but then not necessarily mulling over it or doing any more. Just write it, talk about it, leave it, do it again.”
“There’s a really delicate balance between avoiding and getting over-involved for every stressful event,” Dr. Sbarra explained, “and so you touch on it, you think about it, you put it out there, you reflect, and then you sort of create some distance.”

Monday, June 29, 2015

I'd Do Anything For Love

"She didn't!" 

We sat, immobilized, stammering in hushed tones. You know that girl, So-and-So? Well, we all know that she and Such-and-Such were dating, but they were young, no one thought it would last, and then they want to get married, but her parents said no, while his were okay with it . . . 

The next step being, that the couple married, while her parents and siblings did not attend. 

I come from a long line of the non-confrontational and family-oriented, so when I hear such tales I can't get my head around it. The pain! The heartbreak! What do you think the problem was? For weeks we try to formulate hypotheticals, why, for all intents and purposes, a child would hurt her parents in such a way. 

I am all too aware that halachically, one does not need parental approval to marry. One can very well marry against their parents' wishes. But looking down the road, how many times was that defiance worth it? 

I read the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset, the first book published in 1920, the last in 1922. Kristin, the main character, is a Norwegian girl of a good and noble family born in the 14th century.
If you plan on reading the books, there be spoilers ahead, since it is necessary to make my point. 

When Kristin is of age (meaning just entering her teens) her loving and caring father betroths her to steady, reliable Simon Darre, who is neither handsome nor dashing, but a good man. Kristin is not excited by him, and finds herself resigned, as opposed to happy, to marry him. 

Sent to a nunnery for a visit, she meets in town Erlend Nikulaussøn, who is both handsome and dashing. Love at first sight, yadda yadda. They manage to meet on the sly more than once, and eventually Kristin's honor is out the window. 
Simon finds out, but makes her promise not to tell her father, since it will kill him (that just shows what a decent guy he is). But Kristen still stubbornly stays by Erlend's side, even when she discovers all sorts of unsavory things about him. Simon, not wanting an unwilling wife, breaks the betrothal, but Kristin's father needs a lot of coaxing before he is willing to ally his daughter to someone of Erlend's bad reputation. 

Eventually they wed, at the point where Kristin's nerves are frayed as she attempts to hide the signs of pregnancy. Her father knows that Erlend is a good-for-nothing, at it pains and saddens him to marry his daughter to such a one. 

Happily ever after? Well, no. Erlend is the thoughtless antithesis of Simon. Kristin struggles to establish her position amongst Erlend's sullen household, while he cheerfully rides off when he needs some entertainment. When her child is born, she swiftly passes on her adoration to him, leaving Erlend resentful. He always manages to pick the wrong side in a political skirmish. He grows no wiser with age. 

Kristin is forever haunted by the shame she brought on her parents, and always regrets that love affair with Erlend. When Kristin suspects that Erlend's illegitimate daughter (born before they met) by a married woman is sneaking around with a married man of the household, she tries to warn her: 
"My Margret, bitterly have I repented—never could I joy fully in any gladness, though my father forgave me with all his heart for all that I had sinned against him—you know that I sinned against my parents for your father's sake. But the longer I live and the more I come to understand, the heavier it grows for me to remember that I repaid their goodness towards me by bringing them sorrow. My Margret, your father has been good to you all the days of your life—" 
Margret does not heed her, and makes the same mistakes as her father and Kristen.

Kristin and Erlend's courtship may have been the stuff of romance, but their marriage is no better than anyone else's. It could be said that it is even more bitter, since it all went downhill from the original ecstasy. Whereas, if she had been content with Simon, she could have discovered affection in time as well as enjoying a more honorable position and comfortable household.
She had chosen him herself. She had chosen him in a frenzy of love, and she had chosen anew each day of those hard years at home at Jorundgård—chosen his wild reckless passion before her father's love that would not suffer the wind to blow ungently upon her. She had thrown away the lot her father had shaped for her, when he would have given her to the arms of a man who would surely have led her by the safest ways, and would have stooped down, to boot, to take away each little stone that she might have dashed her foot against. She had chosen to follow the other, who she knew was straying in perilous paths. . . 
So there was but one way for her—not to murmur or cry out, whatever should befall her at this man's side . . . Unworthy is it to murmur at the lot one has chosen for oneself. 
While the two never doubt their love, their marriage is another story. From the beginning, it was never happy, and Kristin takes a "I have made my bed, now I must lie in it" dutiful view as opposed to that of pleasant cohabitation. Kristin, in the end, was raised to be considerate and generous; Erlend has no such sensibilities, as opposed to Simon Darre, her ex-fiance. Kristin is all too aware of Simon's goodness; her younger sister recognized his sterling qualities and married him, so she and he are then in-laws.

Kristin and Erlend separate from time to time, usually when she gets the best of him in any argument and his ego can't handle it. They were at odds for months, until his premature death, which was, of course, brought murderously about by his own unending mindlessness. 

I observe couples who look the same as any other, harried, absorbed in day-to-day duties, ever-after a distant memory. I know of a few who married against their parents' wishes, or caused such war before one side finally succumbed, and they are not happier than anyone else. Do they always look at their spouse and think, "S/He was worth it"? They actually seem pretty annoyed right now. 

There's a reason why Romeo and Juliet die at the end of the play. If they lived, they would have concluded that this undying love is all too mortal. 

"Yeesh, for this I scaled your balcony?" 

"I didn't ask you to!" 

"Whatever, I'm going for a drink with Benvolio." 

"I should have married Paris!"
There is no ever-after. If there is a marriage out there that thrives without effort . . . I believe that is the stuff of unicorns.

But marriage is a tough enough adjustment that casting off near and dear ones (at least wait a bit!) is not a good idea.

As the Meatloaf song goes, "I would do anything for love/But I won't do that."       

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Elliptical Won't Save You

"So, like, how much do you exercise?" 

"Exercise? No, not me. I try to walk as much as I can, that's it." 

"What, you don't go to the gym?" 

"The gym? Feh! I spit on the gym." 

"Wait, really?" 

"Yeah, really." 

"So how do you . . . " 

"I watch what I eat." 


Conversation is dead in the water. 
I am adamant: When it comes to weight, exercise is not the way to go. Yes, exercise is necessary for health. Yes, exercise can tone. But exercise won't be the way to kick those pounds to the curb. 

Even before Aaron Carroll's article ("To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercise") was actually printed, it became the most popular e-mailed online, to the point that CBS This Morning picked it up. Tack that together with Aseem Malhotra's Washington Post article, "Take Off that Fitbit."

Carroll begins by referencing The Biggest Loser, in which morbidly obese individuals are mostly clobbered in the gym as they attempt to lose the weight. But as Carroll and Malhotra point out: 

1) Exercising burns less than one thinks. Sure, you can be lying there post-workout, wheezing and steaming, every muscle screaming, but you probably only burned off a cookie or two. 

2) Exercise makes you hungrier. I knew a gal whose trainer would put her through hell, and she would fall into the fridge whenever she got home. Kinda defeats the point.

3) When losing weight, the metabolism can slow as the goal gets nearer. Many erroneously believe that the metabolism will get a burning boost through exercise. Research shows there is no correlation between the two.

4) Despite busy schedules, the determined manage to ration time and effort to get to the gym, work out, clean up, drive home. But there would be better results in utilizing those same hours in planning healthy meals, shopping the perimeter of the supermarket, and cooking up some vegetable-based lunches and suppers. 
Carroll: Many people think of dieting as a drastic and rigid change, with a high risk of putting the pounds back on. What is more likely to succeed is gradual change, made in a much more sustainable way. I also don’t mean to make it seem that weight loss with diet is easy and exercise is hard. They’re both hard. The challenge of a slowing metabolism, and the desire to eat more, occurs in both cases, although dietary change still works better than exercise.
That's how I did it. Starting small, reprogramming my palate, shunning certain foods and embracing others, learning that whole stupid portion-control thing, which I still struggle with. But I'm a work in progress.

It's happened to me very, very few times: 

"So how do you do it?" 

"I eat vegetables, mostly." 

"Can you type it up and send it to me? You know, what your plan is?"   
For me, exercise is the devil; altering my diet is a much more attractive option. Very few others want to hear that exercise is not the messiah. I challenge you, then: Change one bad eating habit. Tell me that you don't see results in a month. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wishful Thinking

I'm not a particularly optimistic person. Whenever others wave a debonair hand and insist, "Oh, it'll all work out," I look at them with a jaundiced eye. Really? Why? 'Cause you said so? 

La-La Land. Some have vacation homes there. Others are full-time residents. Matters will end happily, just by believing it so. 
Yet I don't think that being negatively realistic is the way, either. When it comes to matters within my control—yes, I try to be on top of things. Skincare (to prevent wrinklage), sleep (to ensure sanity), grocery shopping (to keep healthy), and so on. But "getting real" about other matters isn't particularly helpful. Like trying to winkle out one's soulmate.

Gabrielle Oettingen's "The Problem With Positive Thinking":
Why doesn’t positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals.
The more sanguine women were about their weight loss goals, the less weight they lost. But it's not about being cruelly realistic, either. That also drains us of energy. A fatalistic "What for?", if you will. 

The key is to balance the two with "mental contrasting." See the goal in your mind's eye, bright and shining. Oh, it looks so pretty. Now, see what's in the way. Is it possible to remove or lessen those roadblocks? Yes? 
Can we do it? YES WE CAN! 
When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles.
When participants have performed mental contrasting with wishes that are not reasonable or attainable, they have disengaged more from these wishes. Mental contrasting spurs us on when it makes sense to pursue a wish, and lets us abandon wishes more readily when it doesn’t, so that we can go after other, more reasonable ambitions.
Interesting. If one sees that the goal is not gonna happen, then one wants it less, and moves on to something that can be attained. 

I wonder how that could apply to my dating life. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Battle of the Bulge: Staying Strong?

The universe is conspiring against me. 

I nearly wept in joy as I saw the never-before-seen number where the scale needle parked triumphantly. But as soon as I launched into a victory dance, I was clobbered with a terrifying thought: How am I going to maintain this? 

It was Sunday morning, and my stomach's exploits on the Sabbath day had yet to register, but I was basing my hope on being a good girl for the rest of the week. 

That afternoon was a family barbecue. 

I'm not going to fall on my food, I sternly told myself. I am going to chew slowly. I am going to let my meal register . . . 

Fasírt! Ooooh, they are so good!
Via rantotthuswokban.bmintbalazs.com

I went home groaning with a uncomfortably swollen belly. My overdoing the situation was so bad that my stomach felt as though I had swallowed a pillow for two days, so painfully stretched was it. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, I sternly told myself. I can fix this. All I need is a week or two . . . 

But happy birthday to my niece, to be celebrated with an impromptu . . . barbecue. 

I sigh in resignation. After all, there are baked beans! Oh, I love baked beans. I suppose one hot dog can't hurt, chased by constant bean refills.
Via sharonsbakedbeans.com

Back to a really angry malformed stomach.

The days following these two indiscretions were strict damage control, with two basic strategies: 

(1) Butternut squash or green soup for two meals and 
Via divaliciousrecipesinthecity.com, and it tastes much better than it looks.

(2) Even more liquid in water and green tea (decaf, and it tastes so nasty)

My menu is usually devoid of sodium; ergo, when I wake up the morning following, let's say, a barbecue, I am dying of thirst, due to excessive quantities of salt in the processed and over-spiced offerings. Now my plan is to flush all that water-retaining sodium out of my system. 

Additionally, soup has worked out well for me as the means to stay on weight. Committed the sin of gluttony? Soup will be thy savior; when solids are blended with water, they keep one fuller longer, meaning less indiscretions.

The moment of truth, ladies and gentlemen, as she approaches the scale several days later . . . 


I bow ecstatically to my invisible audience as they hail my achievement. 

"I would like to thank the fruit store, for always being there for me; the pots and pans, of course, without you none of this would be possible; tupperware, for carrying my lunch with me, you have been my most dearest friend—" 

Ring. Another barbecue, this time for an upsherin. Great. 

Off to chop some cabbage.        

Friday, June 19, 2015


Thursday, June 18, 2015


Karl Lagerfeld's model of choice, Brad Kroenig, leads a surreal life. While jetsetting across the world for runway shows where luxury is pouring from the bathroom faucets, he also has the alter ego of suburban husband and father. 
This passage:  
Several times a day I caught Brad fussing with his hair, which turned out to be a head massage that Nicole explained stimulates hair growth. Nicole approaches her role as Brad’s partner with the diligence of an athlete’s wife, helping to manage Brad’s low-carb, high-protein diet and replenishing his various supplements, like Viviscal and Biotin (which also promote hair growth). “I get so frustrated because people always see the glamorous side,” she said, “but they have no idea what he has to do to stay at this level.”
Obviously, I have now incorporated scalp massage into my daily regimen (not difficult, as I usually awaken before the alarm clock beeps). 

Being gorgeous—heck, being barely presentable—doesn't just happen. I do the work, happily, as I enjoy the confidence that results from that effort.

But I get annoyed when some think it is spontaneous, that I just roll out of bed with two shades of eyeshadow on my lids. (Well, I do, on Shabbos morning.) Then there are those on the other side who dismiss my kind as being "high maintenance." You go mountain climbing. "High maintenance" sounds more apt a label than what I do.

Quite thankfully, however, unlike Brad, my livelihood doesn't rely on it.   

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shabbos Face, Circa 2015

Whenever I apply makeup, I find myself reciting the steps as though I'm recording a Youtube tutorial. 
Not going to do that anytime soon—I hate public speaking, for one—but as my makeup routine changes along with new information I hear, I should keep this audience updated. I'm going to barf a lot of information at you; even I feel overwhelmed. Try to scroll through it in parts.

I'm sharing the products and tools that have so far worked for me, and that changes as I discover something new or another method that lasts longer. (Got any tips? Tell me!)

Here's my current Shabbos Face. When I'm pressed for time or I know that I won't be leaving the house, I opt out of eyeshadow and eyeliner application, relying on overdone mascara. I'll also skip contouring. 

It may appear that my steps go all over the place. That's because some products need time to set. I rotate over various facial zones, giving creams, primers, and mascaras time to sink in and settle. 

I begin with a completely bare face, Friday's eye makeup removed, the skin cleansed and patted dry post-shower. 

(1) Vitamin C serum all over, including eye area. I don't like a day passing without some anti-aging treatment. It sinks in quickly, and doesn't hold up makeup application. I've used Oz Naturals, Pure Body Naturals, and Amara Organics, and found them all lovely.
(2) I have combination skin, which means I need moisturizer, but I can become oily. I have tried a number of mattifying moisturizers, but always go back to Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15.

(3) Lip balm to prep the lips. Currently using (but not with any particular loyalty) Caudalie Lip Conditioner. (I buff off dead skin cells in the shower while cleansing with a silicone cleansing pad.)
(4) Shadow primer keeps eye shadow in place, but it has to be dry by the time the shadow is applied. Tap it on with the ring finger. I'm currently using Too Faced Shadow Insurance, but regular face primer work well, too (like the Hourglass listed below). It is also dabbed beneath the eye on my dark circles, to hold onto concealer.
(5) Eye pencil on the lower lash lid, but not the waterline, or underneath the upper lashes as I would do in the weekday (to minimize smudging and running). Sephora Collection Contour Eye Pencil 12hr Wear Waterproof in 01 Black Lace is a pain to sharpen, a pain to apply, but does it stay. I use a flat, stiff-bristled smudge brush to buff it in, like this one by Bdellium.
{Note: For yontif, I use a different method.}

(6) Now that my various unguents have had time to sink in, I apply primer next. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer holds on to makeup for dear life.  
(7) Eye highlight first. With my ring finger or a flat eyeshadow brush, I pat into my brow bone L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow in Endless Pearl. It's completely matte, and a perfect brow highlight. 
(8) For the lid, I'm in middle of some experimentation. A light gray option is L.A. Minerals Matte Mineral Eyeshadow in Dove Gray
I have also used L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow in Sultry Smoke with my ring finger or brush. It's not matte, but the shimmer/glitter is kept to a minimum, so I grudgingly allow it. It's considerably darker. Some would prefer it for the crease, methinks.
{For warmer shades, consider Continuous Cocoa and/or Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadow in Tough as Taupe. Of course, if anyone loves shimmer then totally go for it, so all shades are open. But I do think that keeping the lid and crease eyeshadows in the same color family provides a cohesive look.}

(9) For the crease, I've been using my hoarded stockpile of discontinued Stila Mineral Matte Eyeshadow in Sajama. I buy it on Ebay or Amazon whenever I find it for a cheap enough price. A deep, true gray without purple or blue undertones is hard to find, especially one that stays on quite reliably. 
Because the primer makes buffing difficult, a fluffier eyeshadow brush is a better option. The Bdellium Tools Maestro Series Tapered Blending Brush does lovely work. I make sure to blend out the color into the highlight, to remove any harshness, with a Bdellium Blending Brush.

(10) Two coats of mascara primer. DiorShow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum has a combed brush which separates each lash, as well as getting them insanely long and plump. 
(11) While the primer is still damp, I apply a slow, wiggly, precise coat of Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. I've sampled many others, and keep coming back to it. 
This coat should be allowed to fully dry, so now I move on to foundation. 

(12) My skin tone is notoriously difficult to match, so I blend two shades of the Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation in Light 44 and Medium 52 with the Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki or bounce it on with a makeup sponge. I avoid applying foundation on my dark circles, since that tends to make the concealer crease. 
(13) Another coat of mascara. My Japanese favorite, Fairy Drops, went through another reformulation. I'm still using my old one, so I don't know how the new one performs yet.  But it's a false-lash formula. I like those.

(14) I have MONSTER dark circles, of Walking Dead caliber. The most top-rated concealer is also the most expensive, but it lasts lasts lasts. Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer in Ivory gets dabbed (not smudged) on with the ring finger. 
To set it, bareMinerals Broad Spectrum Multi-Tasking Face in Well Rested with a fluffy eyeshadow brush. Make sure to bring the powder up to the eye pencil on the lower lash line; that keeps it from smudging. 
(15) Another coat of mascara. 

(16) For contouring, Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder with the Precision Beauty Bamboo Angled Blush Brush to create angles down my cheeks, and up the sides of my face, into my hairline to minimize my large forehead.
I apply more than I would in the weekday since the cheek area gets ravaged by the nighttime pillow. 

(17) My adored brand, Illamasqua, is now no longer sold in these United States, so I have been keeping my eyes open for a matte pink blush backup. (I have hopes for the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Dollface.) A loose powder option that I like is L.A. Minerals Blush in Cheerleader.
Via makeuploversunite.com
Blush goes above the contour and below the highlight, and further forward in the apples of the cheeks. I like using a brush that's wide and fluffy, such as the EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush.

(18) With an e.l.f. blush brush and Sephora MicroSmooth Baked Luminizer in 01 Stardust, I create a "C" shape around my outer eye and long my upper cheekbone. (I also blend a little with an eyeshadow brush into the inner corners of my eyes.) 

(19) Defined brow, with the trusty assistance of Tarte EmphasEYES for Brows High Definition Eyebrow Pencil in Taupe. This provides shape without darkening. (I'm eager to try the Waterproof Brow Mousse next.)
(20) Another coat of mascara. 

(21) Line lips with pencil (mine is Smashbox Always Sharp Lip Liner in Shocking Pink). 
(21) Long-lasting lipstick comes down to this: Apply. Blot. Apply. Blot. Apply. Blot. Apply. Blot. Apply. 
I begin with two or three coats of Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Electric Pink Matte with a Revlon Lip Brush, blotted in between. Prior to yontif I would apply even more layers. 

I then top it with Maybelline Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick in Perpetual Peony. The Maybelline tames the Smashbox, and the Smashbox heightens the Maybelline. A beautiful partnership. 

{Note: While there are longwearing formulas available by a number of companies, I opt for lipstick instead. Longwearing formulas go on bulletproof, then gradually and painfully flake off; lipstick, however, gradually fades away without such unsightliness.}

(22) Another coat of mascara. 

(23) Set the face with powder of choice. I'm currently using Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder with an EcoTools Powder Brush.
(24) For a final measure, setting spray. I'm using Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Setting Spray. It leaves a tacky, tight finish for just a few moments, but then my face frees up.       
Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to take a nap. Telling this over is more exhausting than applying it all.      

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kick the Habit with Passwords

Stupid passwords. Every time one thinks they have finally, finally selected an uncrackable code, it doesn't meet the website's criteria of being strong enough. Then it turns out a bunch of Eastern European hackers chewed right through it just three days later with an app.
"The Secret Life of Passwords" by Ian Urbina made me rethink the whole concept in a more loving light. The opening segment is heartbreaking in how the dead infused their passwords with their loved ones and memories.
I had come to believe that these tiny personalized codes get a bum rap. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.
But after watching a Law & Order: Criminal Intent when a murderer guessed that an e-mail password of a proud papa was "wyattsdad," mine have been as generic as "94staples."

Urbina tells over many touching tales and how passwords are their reminders. Because of their constant use, they can stir up meaningful memories that could otherwise be forgotten. 
The article continues how passwords can provide an added impetus.   
For some people, these rituals are motivational. Fiona Moriarty, a competitive runner, told me that she often used “16:59” — her target time for the 5,000 meters in track. Mauricio Estrella, a designer who emailed me from Shanghai, described how his passwords function like homemade versions of popular apps like Narrato or 1 Second Everyday, which automatically provide its user with a daily reminder to pause and reflect momentarily on personal ambitions or values. To help quell his anger at his ex-wife soon after their divorce, Estrella had reset his password to “Forgive@h3r.” “It worked,” he said. Because his office computer demanded that he change his password every 30 days, he moved on to other goals: “Quit@smoking4ever” (successful); “Save4trip@thailand” (successful); “Eat2@day” (“it never worked, I’m still fat,” Estrella wrote); “Facetime2mom@sunday” (“it worked,” he said, “I’ve started talking with my mom every week now”).

We all have our tripping points, and the only way to overcome them is with awareness. But we forget. Yet we can't forget our passwords, especially ones that we use multiple times a day. 

To make our passwords secure, and to make ourselves better, find a bad behavior that must be annihilated, and alter a oft-used password to help crack that bad habit. Like "KibbudAv@Eim" or "3xDaven" or "Bnice2crzycuzn." 

We've all got our weak points. Yet by infusing humanity into tech, we can remind ourselves to be "strngr" (that's "stronger").