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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Worst One? No, I Am!!!

I read a funny blog last week about a woman who claimed to be the worst Mary Kay salesperson ever, and I know I am running the risk of turning people off with this post, but she is wrong.......I am.  I admit it, I sell Mary Kay but with a codicil.....The reason I signed up is pretty easy, we were having real financial reversals and I knew the first thing to go would be make up and skin care. Looking like the bottom of my shoe was scary.  I wasn't roped into it, I already used it and I liked it, but I wanted to sell it on my own terms.  That is a luxury I don't have in other parts of my life.   I looked for the right woman to sign up under and I found her, she is very good at what she does because she has a Mary Kay Kar, I mean car.  I have never signed anyone up....I have never even asked anyone to sign up, I don't go to sales meetings or wear the pin.  I offer it, so buy it, don't buy it....I think (Oh please I hope!!!)  no one runs when I send out an email that I making an order.  For my friends who buy it,  it is just a convenience which is all I am trying to do.  They order I bring it to them...that's it, and I do discounts often (like now 30% off)

I have used everything from Chanel to a bottle of olive oil, and I know skin care in completely personal and unique to them.  This product has everything I need and I have pared down my needs.  I have a hard time doing anything complicated, scratch that, I don't do anything my "regime" is so simple.  A dear, dear friend is a make-up artist and skin care specialist.  Together we went through all the products and she made these recommendations for me...Easy peasy

Cleanser -  I use 3-1
Serum - whatever line you use make sure you find one with a collagen serum, it protects your skin, keeps your skin from sagging and has helped with age spots.
Moisturize - my skin is so dry - I use an intense moisturizer during the day (seriously that is what it is called) and find a night time moisturizer with retinol for the night.
I cannot go without extra firming eye gets rid of the bags under my eyes...not kidding.
And lately I have loved the CC cream (correct and cover - get it?) as my foundation, it has a great sunscreen in it which I have to have since I use the retinol.

I send everywhere in the country through an incredible service they have and I never charge for shipping right to your door within a couple of days.  So if you need anything, take a stroll through my website, it's a good day since I am offering a great discount.

Everyone needs mascara right?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Where I Stand Today...

One of the best things I have done lately is join a Facebook page called Women of Midlife.  One of the writers I regularly follow is Carol Cassara and her daily blogposts.
The reason I do is simple, I read her blog and think.  I don't read and get mad....I don't read and feel guilty....I read then think.
Unfortunately some bloggers do want to make you mad or elicit some gratuitous emotion.  Their blogs are the equivalent of train wrecks, hoping a lack of actual writing skills will be disguised by images and feelings that simply lure you in and then add nothing to your life.  It's the "Housewives of....."  You fill in the blank.  There was a time no one admitted they read the Enquirer, and then they got it right on the John Edwards story and suddenly closet readers came out from a kind of witness protection program and said, "see the Enquirer has been getting a bad rap all these years!  I knew it, they are actual reporters."
Right.....but then a whole new genre of "got'cha" appeared.

My son once told me, if you are good people will find you.  Regardless of what you do excellence will come to the surface.  Just be authentic and as my good friend Winston Churchhill once said, " I am easily satisfied by the very best."

Carol writes today about insecurity and I found myself in, around and through the entire blog.  She represents thinking that wasn't in my universe or so I thought.  After I read many of her blogs I realized we were talking about very similar things...with just different words.  She is a reminder to incorporate more critical thinking into my little Studebaker of life.  And if we don't agree...she doesn't care!  Unlike some bloggers Carol doesn't withhold pen pal friendship simply because we don't agree on the same color of grey.

It has taken years to confess, and yes I am using the word confess, that I want to be a writer.  The tapes of "who do you think you are wanting to write, everyone thinks they are a writer!" play loudly in my head.  I need to read the words of fearless women, women who are routinely jumping off cliffs.  Because I am jumping off cliffs, and sometimes I am being pushed off cliffs.  I need people to test my ropes, catch me as I fall or just clean up my scratches and bruises after a fall.

I am no longer a status quo girl. I want to embrace the fact my life doesn't look normal to me or anyone else, but it is my life.  Everyone's secret is we are dealing with the same things......different to be sure, but the same patterns.

And we have got to be fearless.

The enemy is fear.  We think it is hate; but it is fear.  Gandhi

I am almost 60 years old for hell's sake, when do I think my life is going to start anyway?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


So my husband and I were offered an opportunity to sit through a time share presentation for the sole purpose of 2 airline tickets to...wait for it...anywhere in the United States....sounds great doesn't it?

Well there is extensive initial pain...3 hours of being reminded everyone in the world is traveling and having fun and, well, you aren't.  Three hours of well intended salespeople trying to find ways to convince you to pay $20,000 for a vacation time share.  We don't have $20 extra dollars much less $20,000 so we were very passive, assured them it was a great idea...but kept one eye open for the door.

I felt like a hostage.

They had the first go offer is made to the first one who wrote a check for $20,000.  They would get an entire extra year of airline tickets.  One did...I watched him write out the check.  He was triumphantly escorted out, his salesman all smiles.  I wondered what the heck they did with him after the door was closed.

And then there were the rest of us, we obviously weren't as smart as the first buyer but we would have to do.   A very serious salesman in a red shirt stood in front of us and spoke very slowly, as though the reason we didn't accept his first offer was because we were too dumb to know what was going on.  But wait this offer was exactly the same as the first one but for $!0,000.  I suddenly felt so badly for that first guy, he pulled the trigger too fast. After that deal was revealed another couple jumped up screamed, "we'll take it!"   That happy couple was ushered out and I swear the wife turned and gave me a smirk.  A smirk?  Wow competition is alive and well no matter where you are.

Now there were the rest of us.  The salespeople looked at us as though we were the biggest losers ever and offered us "kind of a deal" for $2,000.  Keeping score?  It has gone from $20,000 to 10 to 2.
I kept thinking to myself, we are here for the tickets, we are here for the tickets.  They made one last sweep through the room and finally believed us that we would have to "think about it".  Euphemism for not in a million years.  Escape was so close....I could feel freedom.

After extensive paperwork, we ran to the elevator and kept running until we got to our car.  We didn't stop breathing hard until we were safely down the street.  Even then I kept looking behind us thinking the guy in the red shirt was going to be chasing us down the street.

Clean getaway...we did it!  And we had the paperwork in our hands for the tickets.  We had a plan for those tickets.  We were going to visit my husband's family in New Jersey for the family reunion.  With no extra money for anything in our household (what recession?) visiting Ray Ray's family hasn't been an option.  So this was a complete blessing.

I had jumped through every hoop...the paperwork was tedious to get the tickets, a $100 was required, but we finally got our activation number.  All that was left was to give them a date and an airport.  We are caterers and we can't make any vacation plans until we know what events we may have.  I looked at the paperwork a hundred times and I swear it said the departure date had to be 30 to 45 days in advance.

It didn' said I had to make the request for at least 60 days before departure....or...wait for it, the entire offer is void.  the 30 to 45 days was how long they had to respond to your request.

So this morning I received the following email

The Travel Service Center Processing Department is unable to accept your travel request because you have submitted the information within 60 days of your departure date.  Per the terms and conditions of the certificate which you have agreed to, all travel requires a minimum 60 day notice prior to your requested travel dates.  Any travel request forms received with invalid dates or destinations will void the offer.  

They said they would refund part of the $100 I paid them to activate the offer.

I called this nasty little outfit to find out what the heck had happened.  A nasty woman answered the phone and just kept talking over me.  That's when I realized I wasn't the only one who had made this grievous mistake.  Donna's wisdom - Whenever you speak to anyone on the phone about a problem and they start talking over you...they do not want to hear your side and want   you    off    the    phone.  So they start to filibuster.  To them you are just too stupid and didn't read the fine print of their well written contract.  I didn't have a chance.

I was amazed that asking for a departure date 45 days out instead of 60 cost us the 2 tickets.  No do- over, no excuses didn't read the fine print and you are out.  It is hard for us to know when we can actually get away, if someone asks us to cater a wedding or a party, we do it.  So coming up with a date we could go was a challenge.  All of our children will be in New Jersey for the family reunion with all the other family, and we were counting on those tickets.  Nutz....

Experience is the best teacher isn't it?  I will read the fine print to the best of my ability from now on and not assume I know what is in a contract, even if it is for a couple of airline tickets.

I learned the hard way, but I am still ticked.

Can we stowaway?  Fed Ex ourselves there?

For all my enlightened thinking I realize yet again it is a lot easier to go through life rich and thin.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Writing and Writing again...

So here is how it went down.  I was 22 and was offered a job at the Houston Chronicle writing a kind of "gossip column".  It was to be benign, not a biting column, just tennis tournaments, parties, all the fun things that can happen in a big city.  I could not wait to tell my parents, this was the best!  My mother took in the news and said, "How much does it pay?" Well, it was a contingency thing, I told her, if it worked out pay would follow.  But in her one sentence I didn't just hear, how much did it pay, I heard loud and clear from a life time of listening to what I couldn't do...foolish girl you have no real talent, this is just a pipe dream, you need a paycheck, a sure long you will continue hoping this works out? Find a real job.  This is a waste of time, they are using you.   People like us don't do things like this, dreams are for other people.

I walked into my room and threw my purse through the window.

I didn't write again for a long, long time.  In fact....34 years.  My parents weren't bad people, they thought by steering me into a sure thing I would have an easier life.  And writing was not a sure thing.  Sometimes we have a kind of Stockholm Syndrome going with our families, just go along to get along.  It was so much easier to find a job and forget about writing, and it was easier....frustrating but easier.  But so much harder to ever start writing again.  I wrote here and there.....long letters, letters to the editor, letters to friends...never anything serious because I would not give myself permission to write.  There was always something more important to do and sitting down to write was a luxury I would not give myself.  If I would even get close to a typewriter (an ancient machine we used a while back) I couldn't do it.  I wanted to be a writer but never gave myself permission to try I would always hear my mother's voice and I agreed, dreams like that don't happen to people like us.

Then my friend Ann McMullin sent an email about a woman's column in a Utah newspaper.  She said she sounds so much like you and I know you will enjoy her writing.  I found her right away and her columns made me laugh, cry and think.....I was an immediate fan.  I went to the archives and read every one of her columns.  She was open and honest in a way I didn't even know could be done.  Her voice was so clear....I loved it.

We became cyber friends.  At least that is what my children called it.  I commented on her columns and she replied to me, which evolved into writing emails...lots of emails.  She was so supportive and kept saying to me, "you have to write, you have to write"  I cannot even explain the process I went through to just let go and do it.  My family was incredulous...what's the big deal?  Just write.  It did sound simple...but I was paralyzed with fear.  I was afraid I couldn't do it and besides there wasn't time to just sit down and write, so I convinced myself there was no point in even trying.

But my cyber friend kept encouraging me and it took a long, long time to believe her.  We wrote to each other for years...through some of my most challenging personal times.  And all through this she would continue to tell me to write.  And I thought, I will, I will....some day.  The longer I put it off the more I could say it was too late, and then I wouldn't have to let go and do this scary thing.  Facing fear is harder than anything I have done and I have a lot of fears.   I admit that right out loud.

Then one day I started a blog.  All the insecurities were there, all the reasons not to write were still there.  But I finally did it because Ann Cannon told me I could.  Even though thoughts raged in my head that I could not write,  I kept writing because Ann Cannon said I could. You can read her columns here, she is the most entertaining of this genre anywhere.
I wish I could do that cool thing where you just put in the name and the link is there when you click on it, but my computer skills have not reached that point yet. )

Along this journey I have encountered lots of people with the same thoughts in their heads that I had.  For all kinds of reasons. The greatest battles people fight are in their own minds when they cannot realize their incredible worth.  It is so easy to listen to the voices of the world telling you that you aren't good enough and that you literally cannot do it, so you might as well give up and not even try.  It is easier....but there isn't a single bit of worth in things that are too easy.

There is a quote by Marianne Williamson that I have used it over and over.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

This quote speaks to me in a way no other does.  I allowed my fears to shrink me and I stayed shrunken in so many ways for far too long.   It takes a concerted effort to do hard things and face fear. Start looking at yourself the way God looks at you and you will fly!!

Ann Cannon convinced me I could fly....I am so grateful I finally listened to her.  Love you Ann.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Isolation Is The New Black

I heard yesterday that Bowe Bergdahl was in insolation for 2 years.....2 years without seeing another human beings face.  I hadn't thought of it before but isolation is a true form of torture.

We don't need Al Queda to put us into isolation, we do that to ourselves every time we think we are the only ones with money problems, the only one with marriage problems, health problems, or children problems.  Even with bookstores filled with self-help books we find ways to isolate ourselves into thinking..."I am the only one."  (I guess I thought all those books were written just for me)

"No one will understand"

Further isolation....

"I am so stupid to have let this occur."

Then...."there is no help for me."

Which can only be followed by depression, more loneliness and true unhappiness.

If you are caught in the trap of negative thinking it is so hard to change those tapes, but it can be done.  Please know you are not alone in whatever situation you are in.  Books are great at helping, but people are better.  Find people who are going through what you are.....connect with them.  Support groups are there for a reason.  I had specialized my problem so perfectly that I was convinced no one else was going through what I was.  Therefore I would not be able to find help because it was a problem of my own doing and how did I expect there to be help?  Isn't that exhausting?  Thoughts are not real, and that thinking was not real.  I convinced myself I deserved to feel the way I did, to go through what I was experiencing...I deserved it.  Isn't that sad?  And exhausting?  There is no energy in that thinking.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a village to raise adults too.

Start with this....abandon negative thoughts .  All of them.  And not just negative thought about yourself.  Get rid of the ones you have about anyone or anything.  Positive thoughts create just does.  Negative thoughts will drain your energy and you will not be able to see the solutions. And there are always solutions....always.

Positive thoughts energize, negative thoughts drain.  You really are what you think.  The next time you go for a walk alone what do you think about?  Is it positive or negative?

What are you thinking?  No seriously, what are you thinking???

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cher and the Vietnamese Elvis

So the other day my daughter and I went to get a mani-pedi.  She got the mani I got the pedi.  The salon we went to has a different business model than what I am normally used to.  You don't have to make an appointment so you get whomever is available.  Sort of the HMO of nails.  Move in, move out!!

Fellini would get a headache from how many characters are in this one salon.  And the incongruity of the whole scene is so entertaining!  With a concert of Cher playing on a loop in the background to the salon manager who strangely enough reminds me of Elvis.  It is wild!!  I have only been there a few times but he always greets me with, "Ashleigh's mom!"  He is a slight Vietnamese man with a huge personality and a bigger belt buckle, pointy boots with an endless variety of costumes.
He is obviously in control of this salon from the way he orchestrates the whole room.   He turns you over to a woman who demands you pick a color.... quickly!  Picking a color isn't much of a challenge for me as my toes are always red.  But I am very particular about the shade of red, not pink red, not glittery red..but candy apple red.  The lights are very low so it is hard to discern color variations, and certainly not something I can do quickly.   My new guide was acting more like a warden than an affable nail technician...pick the color....pick the color....pick the color.  For some reason her insistence seemed to slow my polish picking ability which made her all the more impatient.  Sort of like slowing up when someone is tailgating.  I was very grateful for our language barrier because I did not want to know what she was saying to the nail person she turned me over to.  My third person.  We kind of stared at each other for a minute and then he handed me a hot towel and a cup of water with fruit in it.

Why the hot towel?  But I like the water with fruit.

After you are in the chair Elvis comes back to inquire if you need anything, several times.

The stress of small talk with the nail technician is certainly not a problem, he never looked up once, so I watched Cher's concert, and you know what?  It was very, very good.  I saw her at Caesars twenty years ago in her first farewell tour, but this one was much better.  I don't know how old it was but I do know she used every bit of her talent, which beside all of her songs, included scenes from her movies and variety shows.  She hired great dancers to perform while she was off stage changing her costumes and the choreography was wonderful.   I read that in a recent concert she addressed her age with the audience by saying, "what's your grandmother doing?"

You gotta love that...

Meanwhile back to the salon, nails are done, time to!!!

Cher and Elvis in one afternoon.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I am afraid I made a mistake

Nothing happier than dog with his head out the window!!

Here is how it started, "I need to tell you there was an unfavorable review...."


OK, so we have all had those moments.  That kick in the gut moment when you made a mistake, or did something someone didn't like.  That know that moment.... Yikes!  We hate that moment!

But guess what boys and girls it happens to everyone!  Isn't that wonderful?  You are not the only one.  However our negative default emotion goes to, "I am the only one."  You fill in the blank;

I am the only one to.....

Have money problems
Have children problems
Have marriage problems
Have health problems

Here's another...

I am the only one struggling with something new that I cannot figure out and I am doomed to be a failure...I can't do it.  

Then we are surrounded by Pinterest-ish quotes like, "if you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."  So now that means everyone is figuring it out but you.  Obviously people are reading this and saying, "I can do it!"  they are going forward losing weight, running marathons, having picture perfect children and successful husbands or adoring wives......

If that is you, you are listening to the wrong tapes.

Let's discuss my change.

I didn't fall apart when I read that sad email, but I would have last summer.  Just last summer I was finishing up a full 10 years of experiencing horrible fear.  Fear of had chased out any bit of faith or confidence I had.  I was so unhappy...So horribly unhappy.

But then I met a woman who helped me look fear in the face so to say.  I did a lot of work changing the way I looked at things and especially how I think.  I began to see life is a series of choices.  I needed to stop choosing fear.  She asked me at our first session what I wanted to get out of our time together.  I sat there a puddle of goo and told her I wanted to be happy.  I did not think it was possible...but it is.

I know it sounds so easy....just choose happy....but like almost everything important it is easy.  

So when I received that email I spent a moment feeling terrible.  I had offered what I thought was my best and they didn't like it, I was rejected.  Rejection is an emotion that will leave us with a void.  And that void is often filled immediately with fear, self-loathing, lack of confidence, depression.  Those were my default responses so I had to work hard to change my thinking.  I couldn't listen to the voices that were telling me I wasn't good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough.  And the topper voice...."What makes you think you can do that?" 

 I have found better voices to listen to.  But it requires remembering.

Remembering God wants me to be a success.  

I have learned to do my best and let it go.  I imagine great things now..I "see it"  before it happens, just like Tom Brady.  Whatever I am doing I see the whole thing, the preparation, the process and the result.  Anxiety disapates and confidence has a place in my head.  I already saw it, it can happen.  And then peace..... 

I have also incorporated 4 agreements...I love the fearless attitude of Miguel Angel Ruiz who wrote them.  These 4 agreements do not conflict with my Mormon faith...they prove we are all looking for the same thing.  The one thing all people want is to be happy, and following these simple steps have helped me.

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

With my unfavorable review I chose to use the four agreement as a transparency to put it right over it.  This is what I did.

1.) I emailed her immediately and told her I was sorry it hadn't worked out.  I said I would incorporate the changes she wanted, and then thanked her for giving me another chance.  

2.)I remembered I was good at what I do.  It was just this one thing that didn't work.  

3.)I didn't assume she was without taste anyway so how could she critique me?  

4.)I reassured myself that I do try hard to do my best.  But that doesn't mean everyone, every time, is going to like "my best".  That's ok, there is plenty of work for us all.

I slept just fine last night.  

Quite a change from last year, I am so blessed to have found help.  So my advice to you is when you start to feel fear...Stop!  Those negative thoughts are not real, they are just thoughts and you can be a success.  Exchange those thoughts right away.  It takes practice, but it works

Choose happy!!

Your welcome.