SELF-CARE A to Z: CLEAN HOUSE

For me, if I make it to the third day of forcing a new habit, then I know there is a really good chance I can make it to the finish line. So here we are, the third time in a row that we’ve focused on self-care. The third chance to put ourselves first. …or, maybe after the job, the kids, and the pets, but we remembered to take a few moments in the day for us.  If you’re already like me and curious to see just how far this can go… I have a book for you. 100 Ways to Love Yourself by Taura Stinson – a woman strong enough to be so vulnerable with her words that you can’t help but be moved. Not only will you be moved by her story but you’ll be moved to action on your own behalf.

Full disclosure, I have not read the entire book yet. I’ve flipped through and skimmed the ideas and love where Taura went with the book. It’s like one of those amazing all-inclusive kid activity books that I loved growing up that features stories, lessons, puzzles, and brain-twisters to entertain me no matter what mood I’m in.  The difference is that this book not only presents amazing examples pulled from Taura’s life, but amazing suggestions and lessons to help you get closer to you.

The true reason that I have not gotten through the entire book yet is because I don’t want to rush through this book. I am taking advantage of our stay-at-home order to linger over each exercise and ponder my responses to uncover parts that have been buried or hidden. For once, I’ve got the time. Sure, I’m still working and caring for my family, but with no commute or going out, I have the time. I am giving myself a makeover, starting with making myself a priority.

Before any makeover, one must assess what they like in their space, what they hope to change or get rid of, what they hope for in their beautiful new space.  Then, you move everything out that you won’t be using so you may start with a clean, open space. This book refers to cleaning your spirit house.

You know you’ve felt the burden of carrying around things for years that don’t serve you. I know I have. It’s true, I don’t know what to do with all of my spiritual, emotional and mental tchotchkies but knowing that we’re going through things together with Taura’s voice gently guiding me from the page, it will be a smooth exercise.

So think to yourself, sort things into 3 piles: Keep, Giveaway or Trash. If you can figure out what to giveaway or trash, you’ll only have the things that you want to keep in the end. Be generous, give away the lessons you’ve learned in life – good ones or bad ones. You’ll possibly save someone a hard lesson, you’re freeing up mental space, and when you’re helping others, that alone already lifts your spirits.

Then, with laser-focus, relentlessly grab things and throw them away with vigor!  Everytime you’ve second guessed yourself or replayed something in your head wishing you’d said something different. Every person you’ve crossed paths with that didn’t end well. As Oprah says, “Give up the hope that the past could have been any different.” Let it go. Slam dunk into the trash.

I’m not going to lie, turning the mirror and microscope on ourselves challenges us. But do a thorough job, be honest with yourself, feel the emotions that may get shaken loose, and move forward. Only 99 lessons to go! So grateful that Taura wrote this book!

What about you?
Do you have any exercises, mantras, or meditations that you use for introspection?
Have you read this book or Taura’s other book: 100 Things Every Black Girl Should Know
If yes, what was your favorite exercise?
When was your last a-ha moment?
What is something about you that others would be surprised to learn?
When was the last time you surprised yourself?
What are you doing to make yourself a priority while staying-at-home?

This is a month-long self-care #AtoZChallenge blogging project, so follow along and please join the conversation!

 

SELF-CARE A to Z: BREATHING & BOUNDARIES

I’m so grateful that this stay-at-home order means no driving through LA traffic to get to my job and no sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store each night wondering what the heck I’ll prepare for dinner. I know how fortunate it is that my job translated so easily to my home and I hope it will stay relevant with this new normal. I easily spend less money on eating out, clothes and gas.  But I’d be lying if I told you this staying home in our PJs all day felt like the best comfy cozy day on repeat.

The first week found my two kids and me stumbling all over each other in our tiny home. I imagined that from the outside, our apartment must have been sighing and expanding as we struggled to renegotiate real estate in our home. Some daily rituals fell in easily like me making coffee for my son and me each morning. I now make bacon a Monday ritual. I make sure each of the kids’ comfort food is for dinner at least once a week. But other rituals wore me down and distracted me – kept threatening to knock me off the course I struggled to remain focused on. 

 

Also trying to teach my cats boundaries…

Starting the second week at home, for my own self-care, I immediately set boundaries. If this is the first time you’re reading my blog, you may not know how bad I’ve always been with boundaries.  This birthed another hill for us to climb as a family who were not used to me drawing such defined lines, but we also learned that on the other side of those boundaries, the physical and the mental, we found room to breathe.

BOUNDARIES
We’ve set both physical boundaries limiting our workspace to our desks with the goal of being able to walk away from our desks when we finish work and not turn in a different direction and see something new we need to work on. Still, our desks also hold our recreational or home management stuff as well but I’m careful to keep my work even more organized than my bills and taxes. We obviously have strong invisible boundary around the house right now that we’ve learned to live with. 

Although my work and my kids’ school exists online now, after the first week of sleeping in a little bit, I set time boundaries returning to my regular work hours and insisted the kids do the same with their school. They now know that if they want my assistance on something (including meals) it needs to be outside of my work hours.  Most days I do stop to make lunch, but if the kids want something else, they make it themselves. I’d give us a B- on this with an E for effort.  

Mentally, we’re setting boundaries between work, family and alone time. We’ve picked the show Brooklyn 99 to binge watch as a family and committed to take a short walk walk each day. I forced me time with this #AtoZChallenge to blog more and the kids love playing their games. I’ve tried other self-care boundaries by not working over the weekend and on Sunday focusing on a fun cooking challenge while avoiding news and really limiting my social media.  This change especially extended my weekends and fills my spirit, spilling over to Mondays. 

BREATHE
In my mind, my wellness fantasy includes meditation, yoga, breathing and yoga pants. …and, coffee. While I’ve joined the sisterhood of stretchy pants, I’m nowhere near mastering the rest. Once, while attending a yoga class led by @yogawkala, I embraced breathing because of the attractive learning curve – like, I already know how to breathe, right?! Turns out, the first time I did this, I thought I may pass out or suffocate. But after doing the cycle twice, I felt such an immediate difference that I was hooked. Additionally, I do it anywhere, silently without anyone knowing it. If anything, people usually know when I need to take a break to breathe because when I’m intensely working on a project under a strict deadline, I’ll forget to breathe then suddenly suck in a ton of air or start singing songs without the tune, just breathing the rhythm.  

Another area I’ve found that focusing on breathing really makes a difference is with exertion. This can be when you’re lifting something heavy and exhale to help your muscles get that extra surge of energy. Or if you’re out walking or running and purposefully breathing to make sure your body gets enough oxygen so you can go farther and exhales enough CO2 to avoid cramps.  Now that I think of it, maybe I mastered a bit of a moving meditation because while I’m walking, focusing on my breathing and trying not to trip or get too close to someone, it takes my mind off of work and other stressors. Especially right now when breathing sounds scary, filling up your lungs with air then releasing it makes me feel more alive than anything.

What about you?
How are you with boundaries?
Has it been easier or harder while the stay-at-home order has been in place?
What boundaries do you set that you absolutely won’t budge on?
Are you better at setting mental or physical boundaries – or both?
If you live alone, you still need boundaries – are they different or the same?
How does your body let you know when your boundaries have gotten too relaxed?
Have you tried any breathing exercises that you like or feel like it’s all in our heads?
If you have any breathing exercises that you like, share them here!

This is a month-long self-care #AtoZChallenge blogging project, so follow along and please join the conversation!

SELF-CARE A to Z: ART & AFFIRMATIONS

For many of us it’s been about three weeks with our outside-the-home lives uprooted and shoved into a corner or taking over our houses. Did you ever think you could cram your work office, your kids school, their daycare, your animal farm and an aisle of Costco into your place and make it work? Well you did, so give yourself a pat on the back! 

You’re not seeing double, that’s two laptops.

The sudden derailing from my precisely scheduled life, hurtling straight for the shapeshifting unknown, rattled me. I’ll admit that I was in shock for the last three weeks just pressing on and celebrating little wins like “I didn’t leave the house today” or “I finally got an Amazon Fresh delivery time!” Now we’ve turned the corner into the next month and our lockdown, or its rhythm, has finally started to feel familiar. Still, with no end-date in sight, I am staging an intervention on my own behalf to stop worrying about all of the things I cannot control and focus on what I can – caring for myself.

My dream Me Time is spent reading!

I constantly dream about self-care – crave it, strive for it, plan it into a busy weekend, but am not the best about following through. So this month, I’m challenging myself to focus on it for 30 days and will share what I find through an #AtoZChallenge – plus will include a few bonuses at the end of the month. I don’t expect you to try everything every day. That sounds exhausting!  Try one, or a few, let me know if they helped or not. Did you do them alone or with friends? My goal here is to connect people who deserve to take some time for themselves – especially through a stressful time like this – and just check in with each other, start a conversation! Most posts won’t be this long, I just had a lot of ‘splaining to do.

 

My kids got in touch with their creative sides last weekend.

ART
As always, through the fear of the unsettled and unknown, rays of positivity peek through. With everyone essentially being sent to their rooms, they’re being forced to play with their toys, or dive deep into their imagination. I’m seeing more creativity during this confinement whether it’s finding a new way to exercise or teach the kids, or learning creative ways to connect. Seeing blocks of European families sing or exercise together warmed my heart.

We’re also shaking loose our shells that we used to present and protect with. What’s left underneath feels raw but allows the sunshine to reach those hidden ideas. In her book Big Magic*, Liz Gilbert shares the story of a professor who asked his writing student, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes!” Sometimes expressing ourselves through art feels easier than verbalizing the emotions rocking our body. Then, when you do, the dose of courage will carry over to all parts of your being. 

#TheKindnessRocksProject #RedondoRocks

You don’t need an overflowing art supply closet in your home. Grab a pencil and paper and doodle. Use water and a paintbrush on the sidewalk. I’ve seen adorable colored chalk mosaics! Make card castles with playing cards! Walk around your neighborhood and take photographs to document the quiet streets!  Cook! Paint kindness rocks! So many ideas!

#boldmoves

AFFIRMATIONS
Why do people feel guilty scheduling time for themselves? Often, especially during stressful times, people drop anything that feels like a luxury, instead focusing on the necessities. Besides checking in on your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, don’t forget to check in with yourself. Be your own best cheerleader with affirmations!

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

I’ve heard of a lot of different ways that people do affirmations. Some people call it a mantra, or a theme song, or even a soundtrack. Some people cut inspirational quotes out of magazines and put them on a vision board, others write them in a bullet journal or stick them on post it notes on their bathroom mirror.

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Start small. Think of your favorite movie quotes, your favorite song lyrics, your favorite authors or inspirational speakers. You’re bound to find favorite 1-2 line statements that cause you to pause and ponder the meaning. If you still can’t think of any, check out these statements that have helped me.

 

Take time to smell the roses…

I’m determined to use this period to live life differently. I’m going to do morning pages, more often than not. I’m going to listen to podcasts and read books. To force me to commit to myself, I’m going to schedule it in. 

 

  • Mondays I’ll share a little burst of inspiration over coffee.
  • Wednesdays I’ll read inspirational and motivational book excerpts that helped lift me up to celebrate making it halfway through our week.
  • Fridays We’ll gather, rant and rave about the week, about the new self-care things we tried, and kick off the weekend feeling the strength of our own presence.

Details will be on my social media so follow along if you are hope to find a self-care ritual simple enough to fit into your life.
Instagram: @WanderWithSarah Twitter: @WanderWithSarah
Facebook: Makes Me Wander   Pinterest @MakesMeWander^

*The two books I referred to were Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (tonight’s book read on Instagram) and Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough.

Note: These afflinks provide you a link to buy but it won’t cost you any extra money – though I may earn a few cents towards my next book.

WHAT’S THE END GOAL HERE?

Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a podcast-holic. 

My line up of favorite shows contains equal parts writing or online entrepreneurial advice, inspirational motivators and true crime podcasts – that my kids introduced me to.  

podcast good life project

Today, while listening to the Good Life Project, host Jonathan Fields and special guest, author Geneen Roth (from the 12/29/20 episode), discussed “You don’t need to be fixed.”  Jonathan brought up a thought that totally made me stop and think.  He mentioned how fascinated he is wondering whether people truly seek to improve themselves through  transformation or liberation? …and now I am curious too!

I’ve headed out on such a transformation journey as someone who loves to learn new things every day. I love making small adjustments and seeing how they feel the next time something comes up. I love feeling like I’m improving, and when something goes the other direction the promise of a new day gives me hope.  However, now that I’m reconsidering my stance, I see that transformation may never end. I may not ever reach the finish line and feel successful.  But, I’m a progress, not a perfection kinda gal.

Yet, I see the freeing goal of liberation – shedding that which no longer serves us.  It’s a larger commitment to focus in on the trouble areas and draw boundaries. That big elephant is no longer welcome in the room. Then, when the weight lifts, we soar! Perhaps our acceleration has a steeper curve since we grow unencumbered. To me the downside feels as though this may require a stronger commitment. I’m not always strong enough for that.

As Geneen pointed out, as she worked hard on herself, things that used to bother her no longer would. …Until they did. Be patient with yourself. Neither transformation, nor liberation, offer a money back guarantee. Perhaps it boils down to what makes you feel most like you’re in control of your life?  Thoughts?!

If you, like me, love taking those tests to find out what Friends character you are, what personality type you are or how old you are, why don’t you check out what SPARKETYPE you are! I call it a light-hearted self-improvement activity that makes you think introspectively with a quick test that may give you some captivating insight about yourself! Once you know better,  you do better!

What about you?

  • Which approach do you believe in – transformation or liberation?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • Who are your mentors?
  • Have any tips?
  • Can you see the argument for the other option?
  • What is your favorite podcast – I’ll check it out!
  • If you want to know what other podcasts make me go hmmm, drop your email in the top right box on the page to wander along with me!
    (I have no relationship with the Good Life Project other than being a fan!)

THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO CREATE A VISION BOARD

It’s that time of the year when people set their intentions, make goals and plan out the next few months! Now that you know what Vision Boards look like and learned the basic ideas behind how they help us attract success with our dreams and goals, how does one make a vision board? There is no wrong way to create a vision board… What a relief! 

Two varieties of vision boards
Super Simple (& Inexpensive) Supplies

Honestly I got most of my supplies at
Dollar Tree (#afflink) which offers free shipping to a store near you! I got such a good deal that I purchased enough to invite friends. I’ll share more on hosting a party in an upcoming post. If you use any favorite supplies that I forgot to mention, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

  • BOARD can be poster board (I started with 14” x 22”), foam board, canvas, index cards, journals or even adhesive note squares
  • Piles of old magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks/clear tape
  • Stickers or printed out affirmations
  • Pens

Gather magazines, scissors and glue
Super Simple Instructions
While the internet overflows with templates and classes, I personally wouldn’t pay a significant amount of money for them unless they serve wine or plan to check in with you from time to time to help you shape your goals. A few dollars for templates helps shape your board, though I prefer the potential of a blank sheet to start.

Cut out motivational phrases

Cut out anything that gives you a little surge of positive energy when you look at it:

  • Mantras: Your theme word of the year, words you live by, or motivational phrases
  • Resources: Books, courses, role models or mentors that could prove resourceful
  • Visuals:  Homes you love, a snapshot showing people with the attitude and feeling you strive for, vacation destinations, or career goals

Bottom line, anything you cut out should be intentional and meaningful to YOU, not anyone else’s version of you.
Organize your vision board into zones

Organize the board into zones (again, no wrong way – do what makes sense to you):

  • Short-term vs. Long-term goals: Perhaps half of the page features short-term goals that may be done this year, while the other half shows long-term bucket list items
  • Personal vs. Career: Personal goals (health, wealth, wisdom) seem independent but then tend to overlap career goals (career path, starting your own company)
  • Dreams vs. Goals: Dreams help divide your board into sections with smaller goals in the corresponding section: For example: The dream to do a marathon starts with the goals of buying running shoes then committing to running 10 minutes a day.
  • Personal vs. Family: Some goals involving other folks in your life may creep into your board. Of course they would – your family or friends are important to you! Make sure your dreams occupy a prominent position on your board.

Bottom line, if you’re still feeling scrambled, start with the big pictures, try to fit on page in zones, add little pictures around those zones, sprinkle with motivational phrases and mantras and embellish if you want to. Having white space around your pictures helps create pause in your thoughts so don’t feel you need to cover every centimeter.

Advanced challenge: You could create a sunburst-shaped board with each ray being a different dream or goal.  Or, perhaps, a tree-shaped board with roots being goals to ground you and branches being dreams and things that help you grow.

Artistic vision board

I don’t know who made this but this example and many more are on Pinterest!

Revisit often:

  • Grab a coffee or tea and instead of jumping onto email or social media, look at your vision board first thing in the morning.
  • Post your vision board in your workspace to enable you to glance at it often.
  • Digital pictures or versions of your vision board could be posted as your desktop or phone background so your eyes fall on it regularly.
  • Some people suggest last thing at night so that your dreaming mind can play with the ideas while you sleep.

Digital pictures of your vision board can be used as computer backgrounds or headers

When to make a new one:

  • Create a new board annually, but consider bi-annually or even quarterly.
  • Sometimes when facing a large project, significant change or new challenge, a board specific to this new challenge helps organize your thoughts.

What if you’re still stuck:

  • Consider some self-reflection: Ask yourself what you would do if you could not fail or if money was no object. Ask yourself what you would volunteer to do if you didn’t have to have a job.
  • Journal: Some people swear by morning pages to jostle your dreams loose – 3 pages of free writing first thing in the morning. Write anything dancing through your  mind.

If you make a vision board, please share! I would love to get to know you better through your boards!

Be true to who you are

What about you?
Have you made a vision board before?
Will you try one now?
Do you have additional tips for vision boards?
Do you follow templates or let creativity guide you?
Share your best example of your vision board helping you attract something in your life!

#VisionBoard #SetYourGoals #HappyNewYear #Visualize #LawOfAttractions #MakesMeWander

#Afflink means if you purchase your supplies using this link then I may earn a few more pennies towards next year’s vision board party – at no extra cost to you.

WHY YOU NEED TO CREATE A VISION BOARD

As always, I’m SUPER excited and counting down our last 20 minutes until we roll over into a new year. While every day presents a new opportunity to walk in the direction of our dreams, I love the feel of a measureable new start! January 1 feels malleable and untarnished no matter how late I celebrated the night before. But, a few weeks ago, someone reminded me that not only would it be a new year but a new decade and I immediately felt a twinge of anxiety crawling up my spine. 

I immediately turned inward for some quick introspection (does that really every work if you rush it?)! I’ve spent every living day since then simmering on my word for 2020 and wondering how that would shape my vision board!

My vision board and why you should make one!

My 2020 Vision Board balancing myself, family, and my side-hustle!

WHAT IS A VISION BOARD?
In the most basic terms, vision boards represent your long-term and short-term goals and dreams plus offer a way to set, track and motivate you towards your goals. 

HOW DOES THE VISION BOARD WORK?
By creating a visual reminder of our dreams and goals, it helps create our intentions. Intentions create our reality. If we think we’re too busy to tend to our dreams then we will be too busy and blame it on work, our kids, or our spouses. But, if we live our life only for everybody and everything else, we’re not living ourselves. It’s not until we decide to make something a priority that we will commit time to it.

Oof there’s that word, commit – commitment. Setting a wide goal to write a book carries with it a big, scary commitment. However, if I put on my vision board the specific action goal, “Write 15 min. a day” then the task doesn’t seem as frightening. Plus, we reason with ourselves that we deserve at least 15 min. of our day to grow our dreams, right? I’m a big believer in baby steps and celebrate each one! Also include at least a few reach goals, try something new – the results may thrill you!

My 2018 vision board was hectic but I get to make a new one whenever I want to!

My 2018 vision board was 2-sided and way too hectic but it still served it’s purpose!

Visualizing helps train our brains for success! When I used to run foot races, we’d train only up to a certain distance but never the full mileage of our race. Part of preparing for our opportunities involved physical conditioning (forming the habit and getting our bodies used to the action). The last portion simply involved the mental belief that we’d make it. Just like the athletes who mentally visualize being successful in their match or events before competition day, if we create a board visualizing our dreams, we start thinking in terms of us reaching our goals and dreams. It will happen because we’ll start to feel like we’ve been there all along. 

Another key component involves repetition, referring back to your vision board regularly so either post it in your home, save it to your phone screensaver, or post a mini version on your car visor. By consciously checking in with it regularly, you keep your dreams and goals in the forefront of your mind. Then, when opportunities come up in the form of a class, conference or person who could perhaps help you grow, you’re more apt to notice them. This isn’t magic or rocket science, but just like when you get a new car and suddenly you feel like you see a ton of the same car on the road… 

My first vision board ever

My first vision board! Remember, sometimes goals show up in a different way than expected. While I never made it to the Oprah show, I’m now a Brand Ambassador for her magazine!

Positive Mindset helps you move forward. Stress and negative thoughts put an anchor that either creates a lot of extra work to drag it around, or keep you stagnant. Ask yourself what you want to manifest. Affirm the things you want to see in your life. For example if you’re hoping to increase the number of books you read this year, don’t say “I’m too busy to read” say “I look forward to reading Sundays!” When you focus on things from the positive side, you’ll not only keep moving forward, but you’ll recognize the gifts as they arise.  So then when your morning commute took longer than usual in your vanpool it becomes less about the delay and more about getting to read an extra chapter.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the step by step process for creating your vision board.
(Spoiler: There is no wrong way to create a vision board!)

Subscribe with your email if you want to receive that notice and learn how to host a great Vision Board party!

What about you?
Have you done a vision board before? For 2020?
How do you arrange yours? On a board? On a Wall? On your computer?
What do you always include? What do you never include?
Do you have another way to explain how they work?
Do you believe in the Law of Attraction?
Do you believe that vision boards tie in with that Law?

#VisionBoards #HappyNewYear #SetYourGoals #Visualize #PowerOfAttraction #MakesMeWander

O WOW! OPRAH MAG 2019 FALL BEAUTY O-WARD WINNERS!

As a whole, I am a low-maintenance kinda gal. Primarily born out of necessity, coupled with the fact that I no longer like to wake up early, I have a very simple skin and hair routine – more than half of which I complete in my parked car before going to work. 

 

Usually using my phone light for better and brighter lighting!

 

So it was super fun for some of us #OMagInsiders and the magazine staff to play beauty queen and sample some of the products that O, The Oprah Magazine’s beauty editor Brian Underwood singled out for award consideration!  

Some products were classics, some were brand new. Some were high-end, many were more reasonably priced. All were deliciously and delicately scented, super effective and easy to use so they fit in well with my mornings! Here are my my longer (than the magazine) reviews:

JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS
FINE HAIR SHAMPOO WITH ROSEMARY & PEPPERMINT
This shampoo performed great! Because the shampoo ran thinner, I used less but it still permeated to my scalp. It left less buildup on my hair too. The peppermint smelled and felt wonderful, energizing me in the mornings. 
I recommend the shampoo if you enjoy treating your hair to a day at the salon! 

BEACHWAVER CO. GOOD VIBES
MOISTURIZING CONDITIONER WITH COCONUT OIL
I used a little bit of the conditioner – but I cheated and applied product all the way up to my scalp, not just stopping halfway like the instructions said. My knots instantly fell loose leaving smooth wavy hair! I didn’t need to apply a lot to my thick hair, and after I rinsed, I still felt the benefits without any residual buildup!

I used it at home and brought it in my beach bag for extra protection from the drying sun and salt! Transitioning from the beach to cafe just got easier simply by running my fingers through my hair.

ALTERNA
CAVIAR ANTI-AGING ANTI-FRIZZ AIR DRY BALM
I am extremely low-maintenance with the styling of my hair and this product worked really well with how simple I keep things. I used it both on wet hair straight from the shower, just running my fingers through my wavy hair and also on dry hair to seal my hair for a high ponytail! In both cases, it doesn’t require much product, spreads out easily between my two hands, applies clear and distributes evenly.

It does a great job holding my hair’s desired shape in both cases without tons of angel hair popping out (which is the norm with my wavy hair). I love that my hair doen’t feel waxy (dirty) by the end of the day, it doesn’t feel crispy when first applied. I just rub the rest of the balm into the back of my hands for extra moisture!

RODIN
LUXURY LIP & CHEEK OIL
The best feature of this product surprised me in that the oil didn’t feel oily. It applied to lips easily and didn’t leave huge glossy marks or come off in weird sticky blotches onto my coffee cup.

My tint-free oil absorbed nicely into my cheeks leaving a shimmer that looked more natural (to me) than the powdered highlighters do. This provided a more delicate, natural look that creates highlights better than the powdered highlighters or fine glitter lotions. I look forward to trying some of their tints!

ESTEE LAUDER
ADVANCED NIGHT REPAIR INTENSE RESET CONCENTRATE
Estee Lauder officially helped me turn the page from my aggressive younger blemish-fighting skin routine to a more caring, respectful mindful skin care routine! Advanced Night Repair felt richer and immediately relaxed and protected my skin. It felt as though this one product and I trusted each other to work together.

While using this, I didn’t have to use as many skin-care steps during the day (extra masks; serum + lotions) because the impact of the night repair lasted to the morning – even after washing my face. I saw a difference in the fine lines on my face after a few days and overall, my skin looked younger and more supple, more elastic. This earned a permanent spot in my skin care routine moving forward. More than a fan, I’m an advocate.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How long does your morning routine take?
What about nighttimes?
If you could only use one product for beauty and one for cosmetics, what would they be?
What is your favorite product that you feel deserves an Oward?
What’s the craziest beauty product you ever purchased?
Did you try any of the products from the list?
They’re so reasonable for how well they work!

#OMagInsiders #OprahMag #BrianUnderwood #FallOwards #Beauty #BeautyBlogger #MakeUp #Skincare #BeautyOver50 #BeautyOver40 #Over40blogger #Womenover40 #blogtober #MakesMeWander

 

 

MY 2018 WORD OF THE YEAR

Every year and every day offers a new opportunity to start over, to learn, to grow, and to be kind – to ourselves and to others. After reading the title of Shonda Rhimes’ book, 2017 became my Year of Yes! [I hope to actually read the full book in 2018 because if the title alone launched one of the most amazing years of my life so far, the possibilities seem powerful]! Spending a year living outside my comfort zone, and at the same time, very much inside my head and heart, helped me contemplate and focus my goals, get in touch with my history and plot new paths for my future. [Cue the confetti and the marching band!] What word would be worthy to follow the Year of YES?!

Truth be told, at the end of the year, I felt like the inside of a spaghetti squash in that every time one scraped the internal surface, a whole new pile of stringy things spilled out all over the place giving a whole lot of goodness, but at the same time, making an even bigger mess. You can dress it up and fool the world into believing it’s as good as pasta, but truth be told, it’s still spaghetti squash. [I think I just nominated a mascot to accompany the Word of the Year!]

My 2018 Word of the Year:

Since I already felt a bit raw after everything that happened in my life and in the country during the last year [Who can relate?! Woo!], I yearned to bring things back to a level that I could control by forming deeper connections with people while also helping others strengthen their connections! To truly connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

Honestly, it just felt like the right year to bust everything open for inspection. I’ve always ended my job interviews by bragging about my ability to compartmentalize to ensure employers that my crazy busy home life won’t spill over into the workplace. This skill also helped me cope with yucky situations [aka: loss of control when knocked off track] like my divorce, times where I know I didn’t stand up for my goals, or the literal shit show – the flood of 2015, and put them away in a shoe box in my closet to return some normalcy to my life. By constantly rushing to stay ahead of the discomfort to prove “I’m fine!” I was not present in my life, nor was I living an authentic life. [#FineIsFake]

Now, More than Ever:
a) I’ve stepped into some new circles of amazing people:
Connecting with my tribe of Insiders, my family of Korean adoptees and working to deepen connections with my large circle of family by friendship, I’ve noticed that part of me loves to drop a joke, create a diversion and flee when people get what I deem “too close.” I’m calling my bluff.
b) I’m fixing to celebrate my 50th (in 2020) with an epic mid-life Personal Journey: …As opposed to a mid-life crisis [unless Elon Musk wants to throw a convertible red Tesla at me – even if it has 70 million miles on it]. Since a journey of that size takes time and I’ve already started the ball rolling – why NOT now?
c) I don’t want my quirks to spill over to the next 50 years, or to my kids: I want to contain the crazy to my first 50 years so that my kids can find their own colorful ways to go a little nuts. Plus it’s a great lesson to them that I can identify things in myself that I want to improve then find a way to do it.
d) I’m tired of putting myself last: My health depends on it. So easy for us to say, so hard for us to do, to say we’ll stop putting ourselves last. If you do this, just STOP! No, I have no idea what you and I will do with our scant free time, but let’s start by grabbing a green juice [I meant caramel latte with whip] and we’ll figure something out.
e) I’ve never been one to fight to keep up with the Jones’: That’s served me well, especially as a single parent, because it’s just not going to happen – and I’m fine with it. We want for nothing. …OK, maybe I tried to keep up for a hot second while in college. My son can tell you verbatim [rolling his eyes] about the time I bought myself an expensive watch. After wearing it for a day, becoming totally paranoid and squirmy in my own skin [rather than totally over-the-moon higher than “Fine”], I returned it.

So what does this mean?
Does this mean that as of NOW I’ll be wearing my spaghetti squash heart on my sleeve?… Corner you at the grocery store demanding to know your 5-year plan?… Buck any trends and purposefully go in an opposite direction?… No! I still would love to check out catchy new exercise trends [dance craze], hang out at relaxing travel destinations, or try the newest age-fighting lotions. I’ll admit though, without the help of my #OMagInsider role, I’m usually a late adapter. So, maybe don’t look for the latest trends here, but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now! You’ll get my in-depth reviews boasting about the obvious fun and the secondary benefits!

The Sparks of Inspiration:
My kids – I don’t think my kids feel I’m any crazier than their friends think their parents are crazy [sorry if that is news to you]. But, before I send the kids into the world, I want to teach them the value of human connections and being connected with your inner self.
Other’s truths – So many of the amazing people that I connected with this year trusted me with their truths and gave me the strength to follow suit.
Brené Brown – Having just dived into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts [since Summer 2017 – told you, late adapter…], Brené was the first one I listened to – hoping for a cliff notes of her books since I look forward to hearing her speak in May! Call it a bandwagon or call it a message from the universe. She’s got my ear now, so I will listen.

What about you?

  • Do you have a word or mantra for this year? #OneWord
  • What are your favorite podcasts for personal growth?
  • How do you take Super Soul Sunday? Watch it? Podcasts? Read the Book?
  • Do you have a better answer than “Fine” when someone asks you how you are?
  • Is this me subliminally whining about needing to wean myself off flour carbs?!
  • Do you have a favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes so SS & I can be on good terms?
  • Should I commit to this word and hammer my into a necklace?
    I’m thinking myintent.org

    myintent.jpg

    Click thru for $5 off your necklace or bracelet! It’s meant to be!

I BET I CAN STILL SP(+)(+)K YOU

You know that annual exam we women look forward to every year?

It’s our routine hour spent lying on our back trying to make small talk with someone who knows us more intimately than our significant others desire to. Ice-cold tools send a chill of anticipation up our pelvis as we’re waiting to hear those three words “You’re all done!”

If really looking for an escape from our 9-to-5 routine perhaps after the pelvic exam we double book appointments so that our top half doesn’t feel neglected. It’s always a smashing good time to visit the imaging center for a mammogram. We leave feeling like overworked supermodels after forcing our bodies through a blend of interpretive dance and yogilates for the perfect shot.


Thanking the staff for too much fun for one day, we wave goodbye, skip to our cars and return to our everyday lives. A few days later we hopefully get calls from our doctors saying that everything looks normal. I so look forward to that dance so this time I felt comfort in seeing their message on my phone, putting a happy ending to my annual exams.

When finally treated to a slower afternoon, I dedicated one ear to clear out phone messages.  As the forgotten message from my breast imaging lab began, the transcribed words caught my eye! They read, “We recommend you come back for further test…” Now fully engaged, I scrambled trying to get the message to play faster as if that would answer all of my immediate questions.

My heartbeat surged and the “What ifs” peppered my head like hot sparks. To tune them out, I focused on fixing this – though I still didn’t know what “this” was. I clawed to gain the upper hand by calling the lab, masquerading calm, to book an immediate appointment. My next call, to my doctor, actually preceded the paperwork from the lab so I chalked that as a small victory for me – staying one step ahead of the nasty order. Still, I had to wait 10 days until my next visit, so I needed to exist with the anticipation for that long before getting one step closer to a resolution or a plan. I am horrible with secrets but wanted to process my questions and concerns, not be overwhelmed by everyone else’s yet.

My brain immediately and incessantly drew conclusions between things that I’ve encountered in my life, giving me a few theories to check out. I researched the impact of cell phone towers and possible links to cancer since our work building supports a communication kingdom on the rooftop raining all sorts of waves that we don’t truly know enough about. After an information overload, I held off with the rest of my investigative research online until I could ask the nurses or doctors in person with their real-life experience. The Internet provided material to support any theory I wanted to pursue, but not always the truth, nor information specifically to help me.

I briefly dipped my toe in the irony of having just been picked for the most awetastic Oprahtunity of my life layered with my excitement to cruise with Oprah in a few months then felt frustrated that this could balance out that joy. I refused to live in those thoughts for long because, especially this year, I believe in manifesting our futures. If those negative ironies aren’t allowed to wander the universe, hopefully they couldn’t pick up speed. I remained defiant that whatever these future photos showed, they would not put a damper on those plans.

Realizing that my kids’ homework would still flood us and the morning rush wouldn’t lighten up, for the next 10 days, I buried the secret and lived life as usual. OK, yes, I’ll admit to the exception of not sticking my phone in my bra when I needed an extra free hand. Oh, and being still and talking to God a few more times than usual. Despite trying to keep my chin up, I did not sleep well. My mind wasn’t stewing on anything in particular, I just couldn’t sleep. It didn’t help my writer’s block either.  I’m not great with receiving surprises and this unknown had a strong possibility of delivering an unwanted surprise.

On the morning of my appointment, I chose to remain optimistic and focused on staying present. I remember the waffle texture of my starched white robe and how peaceful the waiting room felt with its natural stone walls. Enya’s voice filled the air while other women and I flipped through a library of beauty and fashion magazines. A snapshot of this moment might look like a lovely girls’ spa day.

When called into the first room for a few more smashing images, I suddenly appreciated all of the large machines it takes to stare at my chest. The images on the rocket control monitor looked like a foreign galaxy. I asked the technician what foreign bodies or alien bodies we hoped to locate and she indicated that it’s an asymmetry (I thought everybody’s boobs were asymmetrical). But it just means that one side grew something new.

The Carina Nebula, originally shown in The Telegraph UK

I recovered briefly in the calm waiting room, before a new technician invited to my next stop: Ultrasound. After having two children, I prided myself on my mad ultrasound deciphering skills (even if not my own). Nothing in the shading of these ultrasounds made sense to me. I made a mental note to never play cards with either technician because their poker faces held solid. Not unfriendly at all, but void of any discovery, definition or significance.

While bored on the table, hindsight started my highlights reel. I recalled that my left breast sometimes felt different, but not in a lumpy way. When I did my breast self-exams I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, it just felt different. Occasionally, I felt a brief pain, too small to set off an alarm, but I chalked it up to mid-life sagging or ill-fitting bras and hoped for an Oprah bra intervention. Perhaps I felt a slight connectivity within the tissue where I hadn’t before. But now, after smashing and poking and prodding for a closer look, I centered in on the area in question!

It gets serious fast when you see things in writing!

The technician asked me to get off the table and hang out for a minute while, I assumed, she made sure the slides captured clear enough images to send to my doctor. When she walked back into the room, the full color of the emotion on her face filled the room as she announced: Benign! I avoided making eye contact with a paper reading “malignant” or “benign” that emphasized in what felt like 75pt bold font just how much weight this answer carries. Then I got dizzy trying to remember which word I wanted to receive, or not. Benign!

Turns out it’s just a little cyst. Bodies make them sometimes, my body seems better at this than most. Because of my delight and previous pixie dust use, I immediately pictured the cyst as a friendly Disney character (It’s weird where our mind goes in times of stress). I thanked her profusely, wished her a wonderful weekend, returned to the dressing room to change back into my normal clothes, and cried. Relieved.


Take Aways:

  • Get annual exams – I’d fallen off my regular schedule after a work event competed for time last fall. After the urgent reminder of a friend who hoped to get even one friend to make her appointment – I called.
  • Do monthly breast exams – Just do it!
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors – Don’t be scared to go to the doctor because you’re afraid of what they’ll find. They are trained to know how to fix you so you can focus on being or getting well. Often, the issue is smaller and treatment is less scary than your enthusiastic imagination or Web MD says.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – Even if they have similar diagnosis, their treatment style could be different. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with.
  • Consider finding your family history – Doesn’t mean you will get something or guarantee that you won’t. But when faced with a health challenge, I feel the more knowledge we have, the less irrational fear occurs. If nothing else, it helps knowing there is someone else who understands what you are facing.
    • Relax – Remember that hopefully your story will be less crazy than people who came before you thanks to progress made in medicine during the last decade.
    • Be Confident – Consider too that these days, technology advances with DNA may allow us to someday change the negative DNA we’ve been gifted with.

What about you?

  • Please share tips or resources that helped you get through a health challenge or scare.
  • Please share your ideas for gifts that patients and their families really enjoy.
  • Do you use your bra like a pocket too? Keys, credit cards, loose change…
  • Did you do your annual exam this year? Go! Call! Now!
  • Do you have any fun rituals like treating yourself to a spa day afterwards?
  • Bonus points if you remember what movie my title came from!

(C) Disney

#Breast #PelvicExam #BreastSelfExam #Mammogram #Ultrasound #Health #Healthscare #Symptoms #Cure #Care #OBGYN #AnnualExam #BeHealthy #WomensHealth #Diagnosis #Treatment #Assistance #OMagInsiders #Cocktail #WaltDisneyPictures

15. DRINK AS MUCH WATER AS COFFEE FOR A WEEK

8 glasses a day minimum

8 glasses a day minimum

Many victories in a little 30-day Healthy Eating challenge:

  • Finding new ways – hidden or not – to incorporate more fruits/veggies into my kids’ diet
  • I drank more water than coffee every day and didn’t scar anyone else psychologically
  • Our complexions cleared up Day 5 and remained more stable overall
  • 90% of fruits/veggies were fresh, not frozen (besides me freezing bananas for smoothies)
Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

A little discomfort:

  • Shocking reality that fresh produce may be a luxury item – No wonder we battle schools for improved menus or health issues as a country. Adding good stuff in addition to filling stuff adds extra money to the bottom line. Grow your own or check out the 99c store – who knew?
  • It’s all in the presentation – After stuffing 6 cups of fruits/veggies into my son daily, he still won’t eat a chicken sandwich with 1 slice of lettuce and tomato on it
  • Hiring dishwasher/sous chef: I’ll wean my kids into it gradually, I didn’t want to incorporate the discomfort of cut fingers or broken glasses to the challenge.
6 cups of fruits and veggies

6 cups of fruits and veggies – WTF: Way too full!

The real success story was how easy it was to adopt this lifestyle (despite all the whiny debates from when I announced our challenge):

  • Early adopters – The first 3 days of diets usually suck until you embrace the idea and feel benefits to motivate you – Sept. 1, we started with a bang and never slowed down. I’m sure the $1 a day bribe I offered helped, but bottom line, $1 isn’t going to make kids eat anything they don’t want to.
  • Doing it together rocked – Mom’s kitchen is not a restaurant with multiple entrees per night.
  • Didn’t feel deprived – Nothing was off-limits, we ate all fruits/veggies before dessert.  If we had parties, we were aware and got in the daily allotment later. If anything, it was hard to get it all in. The only thing the kids vocalized was drinking less milk to get water in.
  • Super easy-to-visualize plan – “Deck of cards” or “Fist-sized” portions confuse me but eyeballing ½ your plate filled with fruits/veggies – no matter how much you eat –  is easy

The true success will be how long we keep going in October, but at this point, we’re really optimistic!

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