Monday, September 29, 2014

A Beautiful Surprise....(A deeply personal blog entry...and departure from biz talk)

A thought has been swirling in my head for the past few days. Whenever I used to make my “bucket” lists, at the top of each and every one would be, “To raise my children to adulthood.” Another one would be “See my future grandchildren grow up.” I realize that these may not be common “bucket” list items but they always were for me. This is because my mother didn’t get that chance. She and I never got to discuss menstrual cycles, plan a prom, attend a graduation, pick a wedding dress or chat when I was a new mother. No, she didn’t get a chance to raise me because I was only 10 when she died.

Fast forward to 2014. My teenage daughter tells me that she is pregnant. What? “But, you’re studying to take the SAT, you’re supposed to leave for college next year! What do you mean?” I nearly screamed. But yes, this was the news and there was no changing it.

So, I cried for days, immediately made my first appt. with a counselor through my company’s EAP and started to journal like a mad woman. I have always been an avid journaler but I started carrying this one around so I could capture every thought related to this shocking news. I poured every angry, sad, disappointed thought into that little book so I wouldn’t pour out hot lava on everyone. I don’t have much of a temper, never been violent. I’ve always been someone who took the turn in the road and tried to make it a comfortable ride. But, whew, this was a BIG, unexpected turn.

I held the information close for a long time and worried how I would feel when she started showing. It was all I could think about, amidst my 9 to 5, my business and my homelife. My mind raced non-stop. I was outwardly calm, set about the tasks at hand, but my mind was moving constantly.

However, interesting things started to happen. While always someone who earned good grades, my daughter was a procrastinator, a “wait til the last minute to do the assignment” type of chick, much to my chagrin, a woman who, as a teen, had once earned the name, Nikki the Nerd. Her laziness drove me bonkers. But now, with the news that her first child was on the way, she got focused. She did well on her SATs, she got ahead of assignments, she was inducted into the National Honor Society. Once summer hit, she worked two jobs. She was a nanny during the day from 7:30am to 6pm and would immediately go to her McDonald’s job until midnight. She worked this way through her entire pregnancy, even when school started again in August. At the mall, she bought things for her son, instead of herself (HUGE). She wanted to buy all of the big items for him since this had been HER choice so she bought the crib and the stroller system. I was seeing a different person. For her 17th birthday, she asked me to pay for her Infant CPR class and her breastfeeding class. Who is this girl?

On 9/18/14, at 3:07 am, her son, my grandson, entered the world, in a room with a mother who had loved him the entire time and a grandmother who fell in love on sight. God knew what I’d always put on my “bucket” lists and Lord willing I’m not going anywhere anytime soon but I have to say, now that he’s here and I can rock him in my arms, I’m extremely thankful for His plan. It’s as if God knew that getting the opportunity to see my children through was of utmost importance to me. A dear friend from high school said that this child came right at his appointed time, to the family he was meant to have. I believe that with my whole heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lashing our lovely guest, Zora Foote--Beauty and Fashion Correspondent

I was not born beautiful, nor was I raised in a household that put value or emphasis on looks. I remember my mother had a beauty ritual that included Neutrogena bar soap, water and a towel. Soap up, rinse, dry off. She had one tiny pot of deep, brick colored rouge that sat atop her dresser. When she had a wedding, funeral or family pictures she would apply it hastily, in broad strokes then return it to the exact, dustless circle, where it would remain until the next family tragedy (yes-weddings and family pictures count as traditions that evoke tears, fights and sometimes dead bodies). Growing up, when all the girls were getting into make-up, I was getting lessons on why I was named for the first published feminist writer, or attending protest rally “sign decorating parties” as opposed to face decorating lessons.
 It was my childhood filled with these “beauty” gaps that lead me to the world of lashes. To this day I cannot apply a full face of make-up. My blush always appears clownish, my lids are never properly blended, my foundation is generally two shades off, and I’m still not sure if concealer goes on after or before everything else.  I can’t draw a straight line on paper-why could I possibly do it on my quivery eye? Just because I have not mastered the art of make-up does not mean I do not appreciate it. In my late teens I met a gay man who decided to take me on as his project. He would do my hair, “beat” my face mercilessly, try to bring me to my full 5’10 frame and give me tips on what the people outside of Sacramento (my hometown) were wearing. While I could not, and still can’t hold the Minnie Mouse coffee cup he kept his brushes in, I can appreciate a contoured nose, a properly done smokey eye, hollowing of cheeks.  I loved the way I looked “made up” and others did too.
I’ve long since left the bathrooms of my childhood home that were used strictly for relief of bodily functions and not perfecting the female face. I’ve also lost ties with the man who introduced me to the world of beauty but I have not lost my yearn to look “made up” without actually having to apply make-up. And this leads me to lashes. Wonderful, wonderful, lashes. High heels, a perfectly made mojito and a great set of lashes belong in the same category-things that make you happy and feel beautiful-and sometimes miserable at the end of night. Which is why I am here to discuss them with you-as lashes are the quickest way to an evolved face without having to have a degree from Estee Lauder.
Semi Permanent extensions- These are awesome and what I rock daily! I pay my lash lady like I pay the light bill! I get them done once a month-although they will tell you they can stay on for 2-3 months-they sometimes fail to mention that you will need a touch up. You can swim, sweat, and have sex with them on and have no worries of them coming off! I don’t put mascara on mine, but it is perfectly acceptable and safe to do so!
Pitfalls: Semi permanent lashes can be a little pricey. The first set ranges from $150.00 to $400.00. Touchups can be anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00.  Also, beware of uncertified people! Nova Lash and Xtreme lashes are the most popular. Find people who have attended their classes as they get the product directly from them. Other places, nail salons, alleyways, night club bathrooms, have been known to use hair weave glue which can blind you! Another caveat is they aren’t great if you have allergies or sinus problems.
Strip lashes: You have seen these fluttering beauties wink and seduce you from the aisles of drugstores, department stores, and dollar stores. They come in pairs and are one thin strip of lashes. The colors vary from the mundane, “off to work” or the ready for Vegas or a pole-or both! Recently I saw a pair that mimicked old lace patterns, it was as if your eyes had a sexy see thru veil.
These are best self-applied, by a steady, sober hand. Some come with glue, others you have to buy separately. Their prices range from $1.00 to $20.00. They are one time wear-try to make it last and they will pop off at the most unfortunate times. And never leave them on your bathroom counter after a night of going out-I guarantee the next day they will scare the morning coffee out of you!
Pitfalls: You sometimes have to have an artist’s eye or be an architect to get them on straight before the glue becomes overly tacky. They have lash holders,  that look similar to a lash curler-they are supposed to help keep the lash steady as you adhere it to your lash line. Some designs look very fake  therefore careful selection is a must. They can take you from Princess Kate to Madame Drag Queen.
Individual temporary lashes: These can also be found in the beauty section of a variety of stores. These are cousins to the temporary strip lashes only these are “bunches” of lashes. Each bunch has 3-4 lashes bundled together. They are meant to be applied to the top of the natural lash, then continue across. Again, a steady hand is needed, and patience. These suckers can slip, get lost, get glued to your ear, etc.
Pitfalls: The price on these are in the same range as the strip lashes but these take longer, and are more difficult to apply. Not for a beginner.
Latisse (and other chemicals that promote eyelash growth): These came on the market 10 years ago. It promises longer, fuller lashes in months, if used consistently and frequently. It is a chemical that is applied to the lash line nightly. If used correctly it does work. The price is around 150.00 per .5 ounce bottle which can last 4-6 weeks.
Pitfalls:  Latisse can only be found at a doctor’s office or medical spa. It can be pricey, and the results will go away if you stop using it. My personal experience was the product worked, a little too well, as I had a fine fur growing on my upper cheeks. This side effect is quickly mentioned as a possibility. Once I stopped using the product my furry chipmunk cheeks went away. Results typically take 8-16 weeks to show.
If eyes are windows to the soul then lashes are window dressings designed to highlight, entice and show off the eyes. If you are one of the lucky souls who only need a swipe of mascara on your full, natural, thick lashes then promptly ignore the above BUT if you are one of the weak lashed souls who need plumping and lengthening then we have options. Which option is best for you is a journey you must seek out yourself based on your beauty routines and needs. Be it a bar of Neutrogena or a face full of Laura Mercier, you will be the deciding factor on what your windows say about it.