Being a Woman in a Man’s World

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I act confident because I have to.

The men at work say I’m “cocky”, or “a bitch”, because I act as if I know what I’m doing.

Do I know what I’m doing? They sure don’t make me feel that way.

At a leadership conference, we all have to get up in front of the room and role play. The same demeanor a man has that is described as “spot on” is looked down on when I adopt it.

When I was younger I thought sexism no longer existed. I felt that in this time, in this place, with someone as competent as I am, it could not survive. And it does not survive. It FLOURISHES.

Someone might ask me how I can feel that way, how can I verbalize this. You’re in “leadership”, you’ve been promoted. You’ve been recognized.

But when I look around that room of “leaders”, and realize I am the only one with two x chromosomes, my very presence there feels like a slap in the face. Am I here because I’ve earned this? Or am I here as a show that this company promotes fairly? Just this little seed of doubt can foster doubt in myself, in my abilities. Am I a joke to be tossed around when all the guys sit around and talk about their little experiment in affirmative action.

And when I get angry about something, it’s labeled “emotional”. I’ve never cried at work, in front of my co-workers, or even in the general vicinity of the work place. When I speak about things that issues I can become animated, loud, forceful, but I would not call it an emotional outburst. You certainly wouldn’t call it an emotional outburst if it were being done by someone with a penis. It would be dedication and passion. These things are valued traits in someone, but by no means would we ever want someone who was emotional in any real position of power. I’ll take the passionate guy with the anger issues.

I bet a man has never been asked at work, “don’t you wish you could be home raising your children?” I didn’t know that going to work every day and providing for my children both financially and emotionally was neglecting to raise them. All these years I’ve been just letting them raise themselves! Thankfully there are wise men such as yourself to show me where I’ve gone wrong. Forget this paycheck, I better get my little butt home (yeah the one you’ve been staring at all day) before the kids start swinging from tree vines like in the Jungle Book!

I can finally see the inequality. When people who have less seniority, and are less qualified are being given positions that should have been mine. When co workers speak in a group of “leaders” and they are listened to, and when I speak I am indulged. The only difference between these people and myself is they are men, and I am a woman. And because of that, I take my job less seriously. It’s something I do because of the economy and the need for a two person income.

I come home and I look around and think, I wish I could stay home and raise my kids. At least I know I’m good at that because no one is telling me that position is out of my league. No one is making me feel guilty for wanting to be a mother, or clean a house. We want to think, as strong women, that our own belief in our abilities is enough. No one will keep me down. You tell me I can’t have something, I’m going after it harder.

But what happens when you go after it hard, when you keep trucking up that hill and keep getting pushed back down. How much strength do you have to exert before you just stay down. Because our own confidence is going to run out eventually. We are all human beings; men, woman, child alike. We all need SUPPORT, we all need AFFIRMATION from someone else so that we can continue to replenish our self confidence and our strength.

So I stand in my house after a long day of working twice as hard as everyone else to prove I deserve to be there, even though I’m not sure I even do anymore, I realize that I’m down. And even if I don’t stay down, even if I gather what I have left and try to venture up that hill again, I let them push me down. And they’ve already won. The second I questioned why I was sitting in that room of pinstripes and wing tips, they won.

I don’t even think sexism is a purposeful choice for some or most people. I think the old roles are hard to break, and when a woman is both a good mother and a good leader, she is an anomaly and therefore scary. When something is scary, we are threatened. When we are threatened we seek to keep the scary thing in a safe place, like a closet or under the bed, so it doesn’t creep up on us unaware. I can’t blame men, and even some women, for having this horribly inaccurate and counter productive outlook. But I don’t have to forgive them either.

I am only curious as to where this is all going to go in the future…

I have to go get my kids. They haven’t been raised very well apparently and I’m sure they’re looting a gas station or something by now.

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My Karmic Retribution (what did I ever do to you, karma?)

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When I was 15 I left my mother. Packed a couple of my things and left.

Now my 13 year old daughter is doing the same thing to me.

I suppose it is the most basic and direct form of karma the world has ever seen.

In hind sight, my mother was not BAD to me. She was not abusive or negligent. She was a tired, over worked single parent and she leaned on me for a lot because I was all she had. My older brother was in the Marines and then working in New York City. She was trying to keep a house hold and two young daughters afloat with very little help and even less sleep.

But I was selfish, as young girls are. I was thinking of myself. How my social life was suffering because I had to come home directly from school and baby sit for my little sister as my mother went from her first job to her second. I felt alone because she worked so much and no one else was really around to tell me otherwise. And I was angry because I saw my friends with regular, fully staffed house holds who were allowed to go to the mall and to the movies and didn’t have to check to make sure they weren’t on little sister duty that night.

So, in looking back, she was actually a super mom. A mother who still found time to make dinner (sometimes four at a time) and stick them in the refrigerator so I could warm them up for myself and my little sister Sam. On the days when she had off, although I’m sure she was beat from her 70 hour work week, she brought us to do things so we could still have family time. She made us cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and hearts for holidays, she made sure I had hand sewn Halloween outfits and that we always had everything we needed, even though money was tight and time was even tighter.

But I left her anyways, in pursuit of more freedom and less responsibility. Funny thing is, I ended up crashing at my boyfriends house, becoming pregnant, and found myself with LESS freedom and MORE responsibility.

So now, fast forward almost 14 years later, and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off. The many years of moving myself and my daughter from apartment to apartment, job to job, searching for the right place and time, we have arrived. I’m married, have a good job and we just bought our dream house. I was able to rest easy for once knowing that I was going to move Nev into this house and it would be her HOME from then on. Even when she went to college, she would always have her room to come back to in that house. And when she got married and had kids of her own, she would bring them to that house and they would walk around the same floors she walked around when she was a kid.

As I was breathing easy, she had plans of her own. Plans of maybe going to live with her father, because living with us has become a stressful place to live, and she isn’t happy.

This obviously hit me like a blow to my stomach. All the years that I had worked two jobs while going to school and still doing the best I could for her just so I could one day give her the life she deserved. The youth that I had sacrificed so I could be the kind of mother she deserved. How could all of that not mean anything to her at all? How was she so ready to turn her back on me when I had spent the better part of my life NOT turning my back on her.

So we fought. I took my hurt and frustration out on her with my words; biting, cruel words.

I don’t think that her logic is right or good or that it makes any sense at all, but it is her logic. My reasoning for leaving my mother when she had done so much for me was not sturdy. But when I left I wasn’t thinking about what she’d done for me, I was thinking of what she wasn’t doing for me. I was thinking of my friends who had mothers that seemed to constantly be around, interested in what they were doing in school, waving from the side lines at the soccer game. I was too young to grasp that she wasn’t at the soccer game because she was at work so we could have food that week.

And I almost have to laugh through my tears now. Your mother always tells you, “just wait till you have kids, I hope they give it back to you as good as you gave to me”, almost like a curse.

I’m getting it almost exactly as I gave it. And it hurts. Imagining that little baby girl who I held in my arms when she was born, knowing I would never be able to do anything less than give her the world. This is the type of hurt that I can imagine will never go away. The kind you have to get medicated for in order to not have it creep into your brain while you’re falling asleep.

Maybe I should let her go… I just always figured it was the two of us. No matter who came and went, it was us. We had been the original two, living together and creating our own routines and dynamics. Like a modern day Gilmore Girls, we did our own thing and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about it. I guess I felt that even if the dynamics changed, she would still have my back, she would still stand beside me, she would know the ways that I had sacrificed and loved her since the moment she was born.

So… maybe I should let her go. This is my current problem. Finding a way to let go of person who has always been my motivation and drive for everything I do. If she feels like she needs to be somewhere else, for her own best interests, how can I argue with that. Lock her up, throw away the key… sure. I’m thinking of it.

But, maybe I just need to let her go.

There Is Comfort In The Vicious Cycle

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I sat in the middle of our bed. Of our marriage bed. But I was alone. So completely and utterly alone, even though I knew he was downstairs in the garage taking his frustration at me out on his car.

My legs were crossed, my nose was running and the tears were falling. I wiped my nose on the baggy purple shirt I liked to wear when I was lounging around, and something about the runny nose and the indian style seating choice made me feel like a little girl again, not the 31 year old confident and strong woman that I had become.

I had just told my husband I wanted a divorce. No. SHRIEKED at my husband that I wanted a divorce, and since when had I become a woman who shrieked about anything. Since when had I become that needy, nagging woman who SHRIEKS out a series of profanities and accusations which essentially surmounted to the plea of “see me, I’m here”.

And now, sitting in the middle of the bed, feeling like a preschooler waiting for story time, I waited for what I knew would come next.

See, the realization had just hit me that this relationship was bad for me. Whether it was my fault, or his fault, the path we were on was the wrong path for ME. And when you have that kind of clarity, placing blame becomes less important than you ever though it would be. Because, this man whose life you tied to yours not only willingly, but happily, this man is never going to change. Even though he wants to make you happy, and he knows that in order to make you happy he has to be different. Even though he tries to be different, but who can blame him that he just doesn’t know how to be your way when he’s been his way for thirty years.

And how can I blame myself that when I fell in love with him, he was a different person. He was a more easy going person, he was a more attentive person, he was a nicer person. HE was the person I walked down the aisle to on that Fall afternoon. HE was the person who I spent nights wrapped up in; late nights and early mornings running my hands over the length of his back, feeling the raised spots where he was tattooed, tracing those raised spots as if they were a map to my ultimate happiness, to my very existence.

Because although we feel old, we are very young, and very naive. Although we feel like we’ve been through a lot together, it is the tip of the ice berg. We have a son together. A beautiful, curly haired cherub who represents the best of us both. Seeing his face reminds me of the two very distinct individuals we were when we came together and meshed together, at times peacefully and at times kicking and screaming.

For a small moment in time it was just the two of us, and that was when we were at our best. Discovering each other, feeling that every touch was exciting and new, but laced with a familiarity you only encounter when you begin to see a real future with another person. Not a fantasy future with beach houses and European travels, but the kind of future that consists of cooking dinner together, bickering over what color to paint the kitchen, celebrating holidays together, growing old together…

And now, fast forward five years. A million smiles and kind words turned into a million dirty looks and well aimed insults. Staring into each others eyes transformed into staring at our respective smart phones. The weight of being responsible not only for ourselves and sustaining our romance, but for the actual well being of other human beings resting firmly on our shoulders. Instead of making the load easier for each other, we argue about who has it worse. I think he’s distant and cold, he thinks I’m crazy and irresponsible. And we turn to each other for nothing.

Still cross legged on the bed, still crying, still waiting for the inevitable footsteps to ascend the stairs which signify he has had enough time to think and ponder on what a life apart from each other really means, as I am doing the same. Separately, instead of together.

And then he will come into the room, settle himself next to me, look me straight in the eye and say “I’m sorry”, and try to pull me into his arms. I’ll resist, my heart still broken, my eyes still burning with tears. We will talk about how “sorry” is an empty sentiment coming from him now, preceded by so many other apologies and promises to “do better”. I will tell him that a temporary change is not enough, a week of good behavior does not forgive the months of bad behavior that came before and will most certainly come after.

But he will be persistent and focused, one of the things I absolutely loved about him when we first met. I’m not sure when his focus shifted from me to everything else but me. I’m not sure when his OCD and ADD became an ongoing frustration for me instead of something cute I taunted him about. All I know is that now, with his arms circling around me, his familiar scent surrounding me, and his comforting words washing over me, I want so badly to believe that THIS TIME things will change. That when I say “this is what I need”, he will give it to me. I’ve never asked him for anything that he wasn’t capable of giving. I’ve never asked to be the center of his universe, only a part of it.

And although this cycle, vicious and disappointing as it is, is comforting. Because on the most basic and emotional level, I don’t want to be without this man. I want to spend every night for the rest of my life running my hands over his back as his hair turns from brown to gray.

There is that wicked hope that snakes through your resolve that if we engage in this dance enough times, we will begin to change our steps.

I want to change our steps.

Photo credit: Stephanie Vindigni

The “Reminiscence Bump” and How It Hurts Us All

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Have you ever wondered why it feels like your days melt into each other? Why you lose track of what day of the week it is, sometimes what month it is?

I remember being a kid and it felt like it took FOREVER for Christmas to get here. From Thanksgiving to Christmas morning felt like a million years, and now it feels like Christmas hits in a split second and I’m usually not ready for it. Is time actually moving faster than when I was eight years old, or am I just perceiving it that way? And if it’s my own perception, why is that happening… and how can I make it stop!

I did a little research on this strange phenomenon, and came up with some interesting information that will cause me to live my days a little differently from now on. I hope it does the same for you.

When you’re a child, or a young adult, everything is new to you. Every day is a new experience because you’re encountering things you probably have never encountered before.This is called the reminiscence bump. We even remember more from books we read and films we saw in those formative years. This is possibly because memory and identity are so closely related. We hold on to those experiences from our youth because that is when we were developing our identity, who we are and who we wanted to be. These are the years when we had our first kiss, our first love, our first notable achievements; the things that are highly emotional and like book marks in our memories.

Then we get older. We have all our shining moments filed away in our mind; high school graduation, college, first real job, getting married, having a baby, buying a house… all the milestones that we talk about when we’re old and gray. And the worst thing EVER happens. We fall into a routine…

We get up in the morning. We get our coffee from the same place every morning, we take the same route to the same job we’ve been working for five plus years. We sit at the same desk and we see the same people and our brain, well it just stops recording these events because it’s seen them so many times. Hence, it feels like our days and weeks fly because because our memory has taken a vacation. Nothing noteworthy is happening, it doesn’t feel it has a job to do.

I guess the most important issue at hand is not the science of WHY it happens, but how do we prevent life from becoming one blur of commutes and tv dinners. Here are some tips I’ve integrated into my own life recently, and they have actually made a huge impact not only on slowing time down a bit, but my personal happiness.

1. Wake up earlier:

Even if you have nothing to do and no where to go. Wake up about an hour earlier than you’re used to. Have your coffee at home instead of on the go. Sit outside and watch the sun rise or spend a little snuggle time in bed with your puppy and the paper.

2. Talk to different people:

I’m not saying avoid conversation with your office mate, but seek out different people to talk with. Standing in line at the grocery store? Lift your head up from your smart phone and engage the person next to you. If you go to a party or work event, don’t talk to the people you already know, talk to their guests that you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. For me, I travel around a little bit for work, but even so I find that I stick to the same familiar people in each location that I know. The other day I struck up a conversation with a new co worker that I hadn’t really talked with yet and found out we had a whole lot in common.

3. Expose yourself to different music

If you’re like me, my music exposure is usually limited to my Spotify playlist of about 1,500 songs. There is an area in Spotify that is labeled “Discover” and I’ve been trying to go into it at least once a week and listen to different genres, even different languages of music. It activates a part of my brain that has been laying dormant due to familiarity. Sometimes I cringe at what I hear, but I have found a couple tunes that I really dig, and have added to my old faithful playlist.

4. Change your route

Give yourself some extra time, and take the scenic route to work today. The weather is warming up, it’s time to turn your new music up, roll your windows down, and check out the town you live in. Hopefully get into some less populated areas if possible. Drive by some water or farmland. See how different the sky looks and the air smells when you aren’t surrounded by buildings and cars. This has probably been the tip that has worked out for me the best. I’ve taken to snapping pictures of the scenery and looking back on them later with a smile.

5. Turn the television off

This was the hardest tip for me. I’m a big TV watcher. I have Netflix, Hulu Plus, cable, a DVR… I can’t MISS anything. And it’s pretty much a waste of time but it makes me happy. With two kids I’m not getting out the movies a whole lot, so the television has become my entertainment. But it has also begun to kill my brain. I have three or four books I’ve purchased but have not yet cracked open. I used to devour books like they were Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. That was when I was younger. Now, reading sometimes feels like too much work on my already tired mind. I’d rather just sit in front of the TV and let Law and Order do the work. Recently, I’ve been trying to cut the cord and turn off the television. I’ve been weaning myself slowly. An hour a day that I want to watch something, I’ll pick up one of those books and get lost in it. I’ve rediscovered my love of books and the worlds they transport you to, and I couldn’t be happier.

If you aren’t a big reader, do something else. Make a model airplane, if you’re into that. Go take a walk around the neighborhood. Call an old friend, or hey, your mother. Go through old photographs and start making that memory book you’ve been swearing you would for years. We don’t realize how much time we waste watching TV, but let’s do the math quick.

Two one hour shows a day, doesn’t feel like much… at the time. But that’s 14 hours a week, 90 hours a month, 1,080 hours in a year…that is 45 days a year spent watching television. Over a month of your precious life a year is wasted. Ouch. I don’t want to do the math anymore.

6. Get Active

I know some people aren’t gym people and I’m not going to sit here and say you should be. I go to the gym often and I still don’t really LIKE it, but I know I feel better after I’ve gone, and that is something that is important to me.

You don’t have to go the gym, though! Play with your pets, throw a ball around with your kids, take a brisk walk, bring your kids to the playground and run around like you were ten again. Swing on the swings, burn your legs on the slide, climb around on the jungle gym. (This is a little harder to do if you don’t have kids as a cover, but I still highly suggest it) Bringing yourself back to your childhood when things were sweeter and simpler can only make you feel that way again. I’ve done it, I still love doing it. I love pumping my legs to swing as high as I can and imagine jumping off, but I don’t because my 30 year old legs can’t withstand the shock my ten year old legs could have. I love feeling freed, the wind whipping through my hair. It is priceless, and indescribable, although I’ve tried. So don’t take my word for it, DO IT!

Let’s not allow ourselves to walk through life without living it. The worst thing that will ever happen to you is for you to open your eyes, realize your 75 years old and you’ve spent the last 50 of those years taking the same route to work, drinking the same coffee, watching the same programs in the same mind set. Even a small change can make a HUGE difference.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your life. And pass it on.

If I Didn’t Have Kids

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Every so often, as parents and adults, we will ship our children off to their grandparents (or another responsible party) for the night so we can as romantic partners and adults go to dinner and maybe a movie.

There have been a couple of those nights for us recently.

The first night that both children were away for home, we came home and kicked off our shoes. There was no little bodies to bathe or get into pajamas, the only person I had to worry about getting into pajamas was myself. There were no bed time stories to read or songs to sing, no last minute glasses of water or lunch money to lay out for the next day. I took a shower, got right into bed and watched THREE episodes of Orange Is The New Black in bed with my husband, alone, for the first time in a long time.

We looked at each other and laughed because we had both had the same thought. Is this what it would be like if we didn’t have kids?

Tonight we both had a work event so the kids were spending the night elsewhere, and I walked into my house after a long day of work and craziness expecting to feel a relief that I had no one but myself to worry about. I did not feel that relief.

The house was dark and quiet. There was a plate of chocolate chip muffins on the counter that Nev had made when she got home from school because she knows their my favorite. And I wanted to go up to her room to kiss her forehead and tell her thank you, but she wasn’t there of course.

I did not hear the pounding of little feet running towards me, or feel a little toddler body throw himself into my arms because he could not contain his happiness that I was once again within his reach. No, “I love you mama, I missed you mama”, just myself to worry about.

There was no bedtime stories to read with a curly little head still damp from his bath tucked under my arm. No songs to sing while I cradled a creature who holds more value to me than everything else in this world. No pajamas to put on while he tells me a story about a dragon and a princess with wide, expressive eyes. Those kind of eyes you find only on very young children who haven’t seen the worst the world has to offer yet.

And when I got into bed there were not two mini human beings clamoring to find a space near me just to have one more song, one more story, one more glass of water which really means one more minute together.

THIS is what it would be like if I didn’t have kids. I would only have myself to think about, but thinking about yourself doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of your day.

I have so much more to think about while raising children. Does she have lunch money? Did she do her homework? Is he making friends at school? Do they need new socks/underwear/toothbrushes? My days are filled with an infinite amount of questions swirling through my head that I am responsible for answering and acting on.

And while I’m thinking of them, they are thinking of me.

Nev bakes brownies and muffins when she gets home from school and leaves them for me. Aidan tells me one hundred times a day that he loves me. I am not being neglected, I am not sacrificing myself to care for others. I am very, very well cared for. I am very loved.

Skin Care 101… and beyond

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Typically, I like to muse about more meaningful topics.

In recent months I’ve been asked a lot for skin care advice, as well as for information about what kind of make up I use and how I apply it. Each time I would type out an email or message with all my tips and tricks, it would take about an hour and soon after someone else would ask. Wash, rinse and repeat…

So, I am going to throw everything here in one place, and just refer all further inquiries to this blog post from now on. First, I will post a picture of me.. yes, it’s a selfie. Yes, I am ashamed that I take them. But, I think it showcases my skin and my make up, and my hair is pulled back in this picture which it rarely is in real life.

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Okay, so does my skin look like this when I wake up? No. The goal is to make my skin look flawless, airbrushed and youthful without it looking as if I’ve spent a ton of time, money and make up doing so. I think I’ve perfected my routine at this point where the cost financially is minimal, it only takes me about 15 minutes to apply in the morning, and although there are a large combination of products that are used, it doesn’t look caked on.

First, let’s start from basics. Skin care. If you aren’t taking care of your skin, there is no amount of make up or creams in this world that will hide THAT. I refer to this skin issue as “party girl syndrome”.

Party girl syndrome happens when you are a social butterfly. You are going from work to the bar, stumbling in at 2:30 am and passing out in your stilettos AND your make up because you have to be awake at 8:00 AM for work the next morning. You’re probably consuming alcohol and possibly nicotine. You aren’t getting a lot of sleep, and you certainly aren’t concerned with exfoliation and moisturizing before bed at night.

This causes many issues. Acne from not washing your make up off at night. A dull, dry complexion from excess skin build up and improper circulation to your face because of the lifestyle you’re living. Combined with under eye circles and an overall malnourished look. It’s not cute.

These are the things you MUST do.

1. Wash your face EVERYDAY! Twice a day. First thing in the morning I wash my face, and before bed at night, I wash my face.

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2. Exfoliate. I use the Clarisonic which I will take more about later, as well as a face wash with beads in it to scrub all the dead skin cells off my face. It brightens your skin, makes it looks healthier, and makes it feel softer.

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3. Change your pillowcase every three to four nights. You don’t have to change your sheets that much (if you don’t want to)Regularly-change-your-pillowcase-300x168

4. Don’t touch your face!!! I know we all want to, and it took me many months to break the habit of resting my chin in my palm, but the oils and dirt from your hand transfer to your face and clog your pores.o-TOUCHING-YOUR-FACE-570

5. Steam your face once a week. This could be slipping into the sauna at the gym or just heating up a big bowl of water and putting a towel over your head so the steam stays under. This opens your pores and all the gunk that’s trapped in there can now come out a lot easier. It also brings a nice glow to your skin because of increased blood flow.

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Okay, so those are the five things that must be done. Now here is my skin care and make up routine.

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First I use a Clairsonic Mia 2. I don’t think it matters which one you use, Adam got me mine for Christmas and it’s teal and it says “I love you” on it, awwww. They come in all sorts of colors, shown above is the pale pink, they have hot pink, white, blue, purple, and so on.

I use it in the morning and at night in the shower. It comes with a little sample of the Clairsonic face wash which I did use one or two times, but I like a little bit of a stronger face wash. In the directions it says you should not use it with exfoliating face wash because the beads in the face wash will get stuck in the head of the Clarisonic. But I did some further research online and if they beads are very small and fine, it’s fine. So I do use an exfoliating face wash with it. In my humble opinion, you cannot exfoliate enough. It makes your face softer, smoother, reduces acne as well as fine lines.

There is something I should warn you about when beginning to use toe Clarisonic, which the products site does state clearly. If you have acne, it will GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER.

There are pimples and impurities in your skin besides the ones you can see. Look at your pimples like an iceberg. You can only see 10% of the iceberg, the other 90% is hiding behind the water. With your skin, especially if you have break outs, the biggest problem is hiding underneath.

When you start to use the Clarisonic, it will begin to dredge up all those hidden impurities and clear out pores that have been clogged for months, maybe years. All the pimples that are hiding will come to the surface, but then they will go away and there will be no more secret break outs or hidden clogged pores. It does get better. Not only that, but your skin will look smoother because you have cleared pores instead of dirty ones.

This can be a little pricey initially, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Not like that juicer I bought when I was going on that fast, only to find out that kale tastes just as bad when it’s juiced as it does when it’s not. So Gross.

The Mia 2 can be bought for $99 on line, there is also a Plus model that looks to be about $250. I have not tried it, it looks fancy, maybe one day. For now mine works just fine.

I highly suggest it. I’ll never stop using it. It’s worked wonders for me.

With the Clarisonic, the face wash I use is Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Stress Control Power Clear Scrub. It uses Microclear Technology, which whatever that means, I like.

This has salicylic acid in it. A lot of acne medications have benzoyl peroxide in them, but I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide. Very, very allergic. When I was going through puberty that was what I used and I would wake up with my eyes swollen together and hives all over my face.

A lot of people prefer the benzoyl because it’s more effective and stronger, but I like the salicylic acid because it gets the job done and it’s more gentle, which means your skin won’t get red as it’s healing. Anyone whose ever had an angry pimple knows that the last thing you want is for it to become MORE red. Yuck.

This is okay to use with the Clarisonic because the exfoliating beads are small enough. It smells like cucumber and doesn’t dry your face out even though it’s oil free.

 

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This face wash will run you about $7.99 at Walmart or Target.

 

 

After I wash my face I use Aveeno Clear Complexion Moisturizer. This is a little bit more expensive than your Clean and Clear brands, but it is the one facial lotion I found for your face that does not compound the break outs. It does have salicylic acid in it as well, but all the other ingredients are all natural. It has a total soy complex additionally that smoothes out the skin. You can get it at Target for about $13, my sister told me she found at it Walmart for cheaper. I’m sure Amazon sells it for even cheaper if you don’t mind the wait.

The scent is no unpleasant, it smells very clean. It never burns, doesn’t make my skin peel, and makes my face very soft and smooth.

 

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So the wash and moisturize before bed. Go to sleep on a clean pillow case. Repeat in the morning.

When I do have a break out, or one stubborn pimple during highly stressful times, I use Clean and Clear Rapid Clear Acne Spot Eliminating Gel. I put it on the pimple as many times a day as I can. On days off I won’t wear any make up at all and I’ll apply it through out the day probably four or five times.

I like this because it not only takes care of the pimple, but of the spot that sometimes gets left behind by the pimple when it is healing. It reduces redness immediately and usually clears the pimple up within three days after it appears. If I get a little tingle which notifies me a blemish might be getting ready to rear it’s ugly head, I throw that on it and the spot usually never makes an appearance.p0cf0c5dd42371a3ec7881cdc81f245642e1b0944

This will run you anywhere from $8 to $10 bucks depending on where you get it and if there is a sale going on.

In the morning I do all that over again, and then I apply my make up which is as follows.

First I put a Primer on. I do it immediately after the moisturizer because it goes on and sets best that way. I never used to apply a primer before my make up, and would notice that half way through the day it would start coming off or I would look shiny. The primer has really put an end to the half way through the day let down.

The one I use is Revlon Photoready Perfecting Primer. Revlon-Photo-Ready-Color-Correcting-Primer-Revlon-Photo-Ready-Perfecting-Primer-1

They have two. The one on the left is a Color Correcting Primer, but I don’t have a lot of uneven skin tones going on. I use the one on the right, and it works miracles. I have used both, they essentially do the same thing, so in a pinch they can be interchangeable.

Here is a picture I dug up on the internet of a girls face, one half without primer, the other half with. This will show you the differences.

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As you can clearly see, the side of her face that has the primer is more matte, and you can see less imperfections. That because primers use a reflective pigment which, when light hits it, reflects the light back instead of letting it shine on your skin.

I apply the primer all over, including my eyelids, because whatever make up I put on next will stick better with the primer. Putting it on your eyelids avoids that eye shadow crease you’ll see about an hour after you put the eyeshadow on. It’s not cute.

This primer is not cheap, there are cheaper ones out there and there are more expensive ones out there. The cheaper ones don’t work as well, and the more expensive ones work about the same. So you see the logic here. It’s about $12, I’ve found it at Target for $10 at times.

After the primer, I apply a liquid foundation. I use Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse Foundation. I have about three bottles all in different shades, and depending on my skin tone I will mix and match to get my skin color right.

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I like the mousse because it goes on really smooth and it doesn’t smear or streak. Some people use brushes to put on the concealer. I know I should, but I do not because I don’t use a ton. I put a couple drops on the back of my hand to warm it up, and use the tip of my clean finger to apply dots. One under each eye, two on my forehead, one on each cheek, and then one on my chin. Then I use the tips of two or three of my CLEAN fingers, and blend it all together.

At this point it will look a little dewey, which is fine. But I prefer a more matte, airbrushed look. So on top of this I apply a pressed powder. Clean and Clear Oil Control Clean pressed powder to be exact. This is a compact and it comes with one little circular pad to apply the powder. Clean and Clear also sells three refill pads separately which I also purchase because I switch out the pad every two weeks or so. That keeps it clean and also cuts down on break outs because I am not using the same pad that my face oils have built up on.

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The foundation will run you about $9.50, and the pressed powder about $7.00. Walgreens does a special a lot which is buy one Cover Girl Product and get one 50% off, and because I use some other products from Cover Girl I will often take advantage of that.

Next, I apply a little bit of blush. I don’t tan a lot now because it’s Winter and it looks unnatural if I am walking around Rochester NY with a Miami tan. I still don’t want to look like a Walking Dead cast member, so I need a bit of color. The blush I use that I have fallen in love with is Maybelline Master Glaze.

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I use the brighter pink one. My skin tone is naturally more pale, so the pink works well. Using this product, you will need a LIGHT hand. A little goes a long way. There is a line between looking alive and looking like a circus clown, and with this blush that line is thin.

I dab a tiny bit right on my cheek bone at the outside corner of my eye and sweep upwards and a little down on the apples of my cheeks.

This blush costs about $8.00, but will last at least three months.

Now on to the eyes, which I believe to be the most important part of any make up routine because that is where people look the most.

I use two eyeshadows. They are both from the Maybelline Color Tattoo Pure Pigments line. They come in cute little jars and you need a brush to put them on with. On my eyelids I use Barely Brazen which is a light cream color. Under my brow I use Breaking Bronze which is more gold tone and highlights your eye brows.

Pure Pigments Collage

 

These you can find at Target for $5 each, and they also last quite a while. The brush can be a little more expensive if you find the right one, but if you take care of it, it will also last a while. I use on from Avon, Ulta has many fine brushes, as well.

For my eyeliner, I have a trick of doing a winged look. It makes your lashes look longer, your eyes look bigger, and I think it’s more interesting than just outlining your eyes. It took me a while to perfect the winged look. There are YouTube tutorials to help you, getting the right eyeliner is also crucial.

I use Maybelline Lash Stilleto in Blackest Black. It’s a great dramatic, inky black. Most importantly, the tip on the liner is very thin which makes it easier to create the look I use. line-stiletto-ultimate-precision-liquid-eyeliner_pack-shot-crop

This eyeliner will cost about $7.00. I have to admit, eyeliner and mascara is what I go through the most of. So the less I mess up my eyes and have to start over, the better on my budget…

Mascara comes next, and I like to use a lot of it. I want my eyes to look dramatic and my eyelashes to be very long and dark. I’ve been using Cover Girl Lash Blast in Very Black for as long as I can remember, probably since it first came out. I’ve been interested in other mascaras, and who knows, I might branch out, but if it’s not broken I usually dont try and fix it.
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It’s not too expensive, only about $6.00 everywhere. I like it because it typically doesn’t clump and wears comfortably all day. It never flakes, which is a big problem I’ve had with mascaras in the past and one I cannot tolerate. I also use this mascara for darkening my brows, so it serves a dual purpose.

 

And there you have it. Everything I do, everything I use, and my routine from A to Z. This has taken many, many years of trial and error but I think I’ve finally gotten to a place that I’m happy with.

I hope this helps anyone, and if you have any other questions concerning skin care, please reach out to me. My husband always tells me I’m the “vainest” person he knows, so I do enjoy talking about all the trivial stuff that goes into getting there.

Remember, your skin will not transform over night. Do not give up, don’t get discouraged, and keep doing the right things and you will get there.

 

 

I Don’t Care For Your Fairytale…

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There was a time in my life, a simpler time, where being someone’s princess was the end all be all. That was my ultimate goal in life.

I was also nine.

Point is, I am not that little, simple girl anymore. Being someone’s princess is not enough. Knowing that another person values me is amazing, and necessary to a healthy relationship but I do need to value myself. It’s more important that I value myself. At a very pure and basic level, I know myself better than any other person will ever know, or could ever know me. I know myself better than I would ever let anyone else know me.

There is still a child inside of me, sitting in front of the television with a plastic crown on in Cinderella pajamas waiting with breathless rapture for the glass slipper to finally find my foot. Because although I am doing my best to be my own best advocate and champion, who doesn’t want to be loved at fairy tale proportions.

And it’s not just women. We all have standards, we all have expectations of what we want in a relationship. Whether it comes from a Disney movie, or the model of our parents as we grew up watching them interact. We know what we expect out of our counterpart, and we are hesitant to settle for anything less.

Are we setting ourselves up to be disappointed, or is it proactive and intelligent to know exactly what is going to make you happy in a long term relationship. In fact, there are certain deal breakers for everyone where they will truthfully NEVER be happy if they don’t have them. So, if we compromise our initial set of non negotiables, if we feel that maybe our standards are a little too high and lofty for a normal mate to reach, we are in fact setting ourselves up for disappointment… and failure.

They call it “settling”. I call it selling yourself short. Compatibility is amazing and sometimes initial, but there is no guarantee that this instant chemical reaction will evolve into the type of bond you want. The type of bond you NEED to find and feel fulfillment in a close relationship with another human being.

So if I want a relationship in which the other person is my best friend, the one I go to when I’m stressed, the one I go to when I am troubled and in turmoil knowing he will calm the hurricane whipping through my brain… am I going to ever be satisfied completely with the “bond” we have if he is not those things to me? Will I even feel that there is a bond?

In no time isolation develops. And it’s not one persons fault over the other. It’s not really anyone’s fault, because even though our initial spark burns brightly still and we still find our way back to each other, we are never the same as we were back then. Before we started disappointing each other, before things were said and done that ensure the slate never gets wiped clean. The spark does not burn bright enough to get through the brick wall that can build between two people over time.

We try to change each other. We vocalize our discontent hoping that the other person will love us enough, will value the relationship enough to adjust themselves to fit it better. But that’s not really fair. Any change this person would make would only be temporary as it goes against their nature to be the way you want them to be instead of the way they’ve been for x amount of years. When they revert back to their natural behavior, it just makes things worse.

So when do you differentiate between a “bond” that needs more work, or a bond that does not exist. Just because two people live together, sleep together and share a life does not mean they share a bond.

I don’t mean to pose these questions as if I have an answer. This is not an advice column or a self help blog. These are the same questions that every single one of us has pondered, and that I am pondering now.

It is not my goal to have a prince take my arm and lead me to his castle where I will forever be his arm candy and waltzing partner. It is my goal to have an open, nurturing, beautiful,. understanding relationship. It is my goal to have a BOND within this relationship which makes it unbreakable, whether it be from inside factors or outside factors I will no longer tell myself that I am idealizing what love is, or that I am expecting too much from my significant other. I will no longer sell myself short, or allow someone who is looking for something from me to sell themselves short.

And someday I will have the answers.