LULU LINDEN

How Are You Feeling?

I can’t say with any real certainty that I know how I’m feeling, or what I’m doing, or where I’m going. Not at this very moment, anyway. Not for lack of trying, mind you. These are my thoughts most of the time, and usually, I have answers. Not to brag, but good ones, too. Honestly, it just might be that I’m momentarily exhausted, but not of the world (although there are plenty reasons I could be) — of myself.

 "...I am a bit over being in my head for the time being. So tell me: what are you up to? How are you feeling?"

This could be high-level avoidance or, maybe, just maybe, as someone who spends a lot of time to herself, thinking about her place in the world, what she can contribute, and sharing her options accordingly, I am a bit over being in my head for the time being.

So tell me: what are you up to? How are you feeling? Are you feeling at all? What shows are you watching? What was the last thing to make you cry? Were they tears from laughing so hard you could burst, or from a years-old heartache you thought you'd long buried coming out in ways you least expected? What did you have for breakfast? Tell me something.



Warm, Cozy, Yet Provocative

 Certain scents can make you feel things, and I think that’s powerful. It’s both a testament to the mind and its ability to conjure up emotion, but also, to a really great perfume. I’d never really thought about this until I found out I could make my own at a small perfumery called Olfactory. Given the chance to make my own custom scent, my first thought was that somehow I would figure out a way to bottle myself. Which notes yell, “Hello world! Audrey is here!” But as I mixed different bases with custom accords a new, more intimate thought began to form: “How do I want to make people feel.”

I began to see each new scent I created as way to connect rather than to announce, and I found that’s the difference between a good fragrance and any other one. Some yell at you, overstating who they are. Others invite you in and let you figure it out for yourself.

I thought about my favorite people, and my favorite feelings and how I could create a scent that would embody what I loved about both. After about 15 mixes I landed on this: a Riley base with accords of Madagascar Vanilla and Sandalwood. According the the site, the Riley base it this: Warm And Cozy, Yet Provocative. Hazelnut Is A Surprising Addition To The Skin-Like Smoothness Of Sandalwood, Musk And Vanilla. And while I don’t know the sensory science behind why all those scents work together to create the feeling I wanted, I do know that they do. It feels like a hug you hoped would never end.




There’s a special cocktail of Palmer’s cocoa butter and Jean Nate body splash that is distinctly my mother’s. It starts off rich and warm, turning into a bright burst of a scent that I can only describe as rubbing alcohol and citrus (but in the best way). I doubt I will ever smell this anywhere else but on her, but if I did, I know that memories of watching her get ready before work or church would come rushing to me. I would remember how sitting on the corner of the bed, I watched her turn into someone other than just my mom. How it felt to hug, kiss, and hug her one more time before she left to wherever it was she had spent the time getting prepared for. Love would come rushing back to me — all because of cocoa butter and Jean Nate body splash. 

Hurry Up And Wait 


Pardon me if this sounds a little too woo-woo for you, but I’m a firm believer that life speaks to you if you listen. There are times when she speaks to you so loudly it hits you like a book to the face and you can’t help but listen. There are also times when the message is a faint whisper and the only way you can hear is by quieting the world, your mind, and being still with silence until you can hear.

"...the confusing this about both of these is that there’s merit to both. On any given day, one just makes more sense than the other."

Whichever way it comes to me, I always try to take note. Oftentimes, though, if the message is one I don’t like, I don’t. This is a whole other issue I’m trying to dissect, but the one that’s causing me the most inner turmoil these days are the mixed messages.

The sign that says, “Yes, you should take action now! You have everything you need. You are enough. Go! Do! Be! Live! Love!” is the same one followed by a message of “Patience is a virtue. Don’t rush the timing of life. Relax. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” And the confusing this about both of these is that there’s merit to both. On any given day, one just makes more sense than the other.

So what do I do? Which path do I take? I've always resented the feeling of being paralyzed by choice so instead what I've been doing is...both. I'm hurrying up and I'm waiting. I'm meeting people then I'm hiding out in my apartment for a whole weekend. I'm basically becoming someone who seems rather inconsistent, and I can't say I like it. I want to stand steadfast in my choices — one choice. THE choice. But maybe that's the issue life is trying to whisper to me: we're allowed to change. You don't have to be a steadfast pillar, ever sure of all of your decisions. Nothing is ever as black and white as you'll hope to make it.


This is what we have left


Whether by design or out of simple necessity, humans forget a lot. Not just where we last left our keys or a friend's birthday, but bigger things. Like how a few days of a sleepy Indian summer can trick us into keeping our sweaters packed away, forgetting the true chill of fall is right at our doorstep. How one argument with someone can make you forget how much you truly do love them, or vice versa, how one breath-stealing moment with someone can make you forget how miserable they've made you.

"There'd always be more life to live, more summers to come, more love to give and take."

I've been caught in a state of remembering and forgetting things. Trying to decide what memories are worth holding onto, and which memories I should let fall away. The things we have, we won't always have, and I forget that. It's easier to keep on moving through life without certain memories hitched to you, but the truth is when you forget everything, you lose the good right on with the bad. I've never minded this because I always knew I could create more memories. There'd always be more life to live, more summers to come, more love to give and take. 

But this thinking, while not technically wrong, I think, has made me ungrateful. When you assume there will always be more of something — friendship, money, days of summer — you don't regard what you have in the present with as much reverence as it deserves. And this is why I've been digging through my memories. I don't want anything back, but I do want to practice gratefulness for what I've experienced. Life has kept me moving and going and achieving, just knowing there'll be more of everything to come. The only thing is I don't know when and I don't know how, and this banking on the future has left me diminishing my past. 

I won't get any summer days back, but flirting with the few warm days between it and fall gave me a chance to mourn them, but also to be grateful for them. Now I can unpack my sweaters.

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What is the emotional equivalent of a blazer?


We are in what is known as the transitional time of the year. You’ll see the headlines everywhere — How To Transition Your Wardrobe For Fall or 9 Style Staples You Need To Take You From Summer To Fall — and they’re not entirely unhelpful. This summer I became enamored with grandma-inspired night slips and I would’ve lamented their loss if I thought I couldn’t wear them for just a little bit longer. Thankfully, an oversized blazer proved to be just the styling tip I needed to transition it from wispy summer goddess to office ready business lady.

But these couple of weeks, while the temperatures have been cooling and leaves have been flirting with changing their color, I’ve also been going through a more internal transitional stage: the one from a pessimistic worrier to a positive being of love and light. 

"The minute I feel myself about to go into a deep thought spiral, I literally say, 'okay bitch, this is not productive. You need to not.'"

You see, my brain has been at constant battle. I’ve always been one to let my thoughts carry me miles from where I am. It’s what helps me as a writer, but it’s also what leads me to my most negative thoughts. And, in an effort to, oh I don’t know, be a better, happier human, I’ve been trying to stop those thoughts before they lead me into self-induced bad moods.

The way I’ve figured to make this transition is by telling myself to shut up. The minute I feel myself about to go into a deep thought spiral, I literally say, “okay bitch, this is not productive. You need to not.” This is usually followed by me trying to insert a slew of positive, empathetic thoughts instead. Is this working? Honestly, not as well as throwing a blazer over a slip dress works, but that’s the thing about transitions isn’t it? They take time.


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Open up, buttercup


I've come a long way since I started blogging. I'm no longer the 22-year-old perfectionist keying away about what I hoped and planned my life would be or wearing outfits representative of who I thought I was meant to become. Now, I find myself keying away about what life actually is and who I actually am, fully embracing that all of this is subject to, and most likely will, change.  Being open to the changes of my life has made me more open in general — especially here. In a recent interview with Dame, I gave them a tour of my bedroom and shared a bit about my journey to self acceptance. Below is my favorite excerpt, but see the full piece here.

So, now that I don't have that regular validation of having someone directly in my life who's like "I like your body, I like the way you look, I like these things,” ...I have to do that for myself.


Women have complicated relationships with their bodies, but it can be especially entrenched for black women. I was wondering if you could speak a bit to the journey you're on within your own body, and maybe how you've had to reframe what society has dictated about beauty standards in order to better love yourself?

That's something that I'm only looking at now. I'm thinking big picture, like going back to puberty. Because the thing about becoming a woman and blossoming...is that it always happens through the eyes of someone else. That's why people say, "The Male Gaze." I knew that I had wider hips and that meant that I was "more of a woman" because men started reacting to it. So, one thing that I've realized, in terms of accepting my body, is now I'm accepting it on my own terms. This is the longest I've ever been single, aside from childhood. I had a high school boyfriend, a long term college boyfriend, and then after college, I've pretty much been single since. So, now that I don't have that regular validation of having someone directly in my life who's like "I like your body, I like the way you look, I like these things,” ...I have to do that for myself. And when I do that for myself, it's not the same way that a boyfriend would. Mind you, I totally like my ass, my hips, and my boobs...and yes, a guy can like that for his own sexual reasons but the reason I like those things is it makes me feel really feminine, and I'm really loving my femininity.



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