A Few Life Lessons…on the Eve of the Eve of my 30th Birthday.

Well, the time has come. In roughly, 1.25 days, I will now be officially 30. So long 20s; thank you for being so kind to me!

In preparation for the big 3-0, I began working through the five Kubler-Ross stages of grief months ago. At first I was in serious denial that I was going to be 30. Not because I associate turning 30 as a bad thing but because I feel like I JUST graduated from high school. I then struggled with anger every time I would see a freshly 21 years old gaggle of girls. For I knew the next day, after a handful of drinks, I would want to die while they would be celebrating Sunday Funday with a vengeance I once had. I feel like the bargaining and depression came hand in hand as I laid in bed screaming to the heavens that I would donate our entire savings for one more year in my 20s! (Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration…maybe just half our savings…). But then, I accepted it. I am truly to the point now where I just want to get it over with and move on. I want to tear it off fast like a Band-Aid.

But all that being said, I would like to think that I have a good head on my shoulders and have learned a thing or two about this wild ride. So here a few grains of wisdom I wanted to share:

1. Good relationships do not keep score.

This applies to all of life’s relationships. You do things for someone because they are important to you and you want to. You don’t do something for someone because you owe them or feel in debt to them. And conversely, you should not be the person who feels like you are owed. Be selfless. Be giving. Be a good friend, sister, daughter without expectation.

2. It’s never too late.

This. Whether it be to start over, to make things right, to apologize, etc. You are not dead. You are, however, living on this Earth for a finite amount of time. So when you come to the realization that you need to change, to man up, to go out of your comfort zone, to let go of the past, etc., you need to do these things. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. Trust me, it is worth it.

3. You may never have your shit figured out. And that’s ok.

Where in the metaphorical Book of Life does it say you have to have accomplished X by the age of Z? We are all doing our best. We are all struggling to find peace and happiness. This looks different to everyone and some people’s paths might be a bit rockier and longer than others. But their journey is still valid. It’s still important. And there is nothing that says they need to complete that journey by the time they are 20 years old…or 30…or 50.

4. Hard times will be helpful to you someday.

So true, but so hard to realize at the time. We’ve all been there-feeling alone, devastated, your plans of what you thought would be are no longer. You’re pissed. And it’s so hard to think about anything other than the here-and-now. The future seems daunting. And at the time, you want to slap anyone who tells you “this too shall pass.” But they are right. It will pass. And you will come out of it, on the other side, stronger, more confident, knowing more about yourself than you did before. And one day, you will look back at those times and be thankful for them. And you will feel proud of yourself for where you are today.

5. You will never make everyone happy.

Plain and simple. I learned this when Lance and I were planning our wedding. Everybody, and I mean everybody, had an opinion on something for our day. We had to agree and decide, very early on, that we were not going to make everyone happy and that was fine. It may sound selfish, but for our sanity, we had to.

Let your freak flag fly, people! At the end of the day, you need to do what you need to do to be happy. When your soul is at peace, you don’t have the need to care what others think.

6. Life is far too short to spend it with people who are not worth your time.

I hope every single one of you reading this is surrounded by a support system that will always make your life infinitely better. If there is someone in your life that does not make you a better person, cut ties. Simple as that. I know it is so much easier said than done, but it is exhausting to be with people who make your soul exhausted. And the messed up part is that these sad people take up exponentially more of your time and energy and focus and love than those who truly deserve it. So find the people who deserve it and celebrate them. Love them. Thank them.

7. Dogs really do make everything better.

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My darling Maxwell.

 

‘Nuff said.

Until next time…

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The Price of Beauty…

As I religiously have my hair thrown up with little or no makeup on, I wouldn’t blame any of you for thinking I don’t know a thing about beauty. And no, I am not being modest. I don’t, in all reality, style my hair in a “messy” bun that took a half hour to painfully achieve. I don’t spend an hour doing my makeup to result in “makeup-free” perfection. I truly spend 20 minutes TOPS getting ready each day before work. That includes teeth brushing, a much needed pee and putting my contacts in. (And a solid hand wash after aforementioned pee and prior to aforementioned contacts being put in.) I am lazy and not the least bit ashamed to admit it.

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“Guys, I just threw my hair up.”

I am, however, somewhat manic with a serious obsession for skin care. A few years ago, it hit me. I had the stark realization that I couldn’t continue to sleep with my makeup on, lay in tanning beds for hours each week, and consider a Pond’s face wipe my daily skin routine. I wasn’t 20 anymore. I had to buckle down.

Although lazy, I don’t do anything half-assed. This new panicked obsession resulted in me creating a skin care routine that involved at least 10 not cheap products (lip care cream, retinol, face serum, lactic acid face wash, toner, night moisturizer and daytime moisturizer, vitamin C powder, eye cream…oh my God, I am embarrassing myself and need to stop). You get the picture.

In a shockingly short period of time, I was wielding a much-revered Platinum membership to Ulta. I was somebody. I was operating under the “more is more” philosophy. When in reality, I should have been more focused on “quality, not quantity”. Ah, such a rookie mistake.

Enter Erin at Rejuv. My sweet brunette angel who righted my wrongs and led me down the path of skin care righteousness. If you live anywhere near Fargo and you need a skincare “place”, Rejuv is it. Everyone who works there is like a little beautiful fairy who obliterates any wrinkle or brown spot with her mini wand. It’s my version of heaven. Yes, that sounds vain. I realize that.

Erin convinced me to try their Visia facial analysis system. I thought to myself, ‘Sure! I have good skin! I bet my “skin age” will be that of a 20 year old.” Woof. I was in for a rude awakening. Guys, when she showed me the slide that shows sun damage I about died. I wasn’t looking at my face. That couldn’t possibly be me! I was looking at a brown blob. There were hardly any freckle-free spots of skin to be found. As I looked at Erin in sheer horror, she reassured me all hope was not lost and we frantically set about creating a plan for me.

Each month, she puts me under a large glorified magnifying glass (which is a bit unnerving) and advises what treatment she thinks would be best, whether that be a typical facial, a silk peel or chemical peel, etc. No, she doesn’t pressure me into anything I don’t want to do…she isn’t a teenage boy. I have yet to have a laser or needle touch me.

She also hooked me up with a few tried and true products that work rather than bombarding my poor facial cells with every known chemical created. SkinMedica products are genius. I have linked a few of my favorites below. They are affordable and seriously, they work. Believe me. I have nothing to gain from me sharing my gifts with the world.

All this being said, I will wrap this up in a pretty wrinkle-free bow: skin care is important. It’s never too late. All you beauts out there deserve to feel like your pretty little selves. And the easiest way to start is to take care of that porcelain complexion.

Until next time…

PS. I promise I’ll have a more gender-neutral post next time 🙂

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Total Defense + Repair Sunscreen

 

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Lytera Skin Brightening Complex

 

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Retinal Complex 0.5

 

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Facial Cleanser

 

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Redness Relief Calmplex

 

 

Dear Amanda: Episode 2

As many of you know, I cannot (I repeat, CANNOT), stand the advice columns in magazines. For starters, do the people who write in not have GOOGLE, YouTube, or any semi-intelligent friends that can offer semi-legit advice? Are my girlfriends the only ones who sit around, drink wine, stuff our faces and listen to each other’s problems…followed by caring advice (“maybe making babies isn’t the best time…keep the IUD in for now”) or synonymous bitching about people we don’t even know, but don’t like because our bestie doesn’t?!? At what point do you resort to writing into a magazine for advice? Secondly, the advice the readers get is so politically correct that it makes me want to gauge my eyes out. It’s advice that is in no way, shape or form aligned to the average person in the world today. As a result, this is the column where I relay to you questions that actual readers wrote in to magazines, the advice they got, and then the advice I would give (aka the real advice).

“Ask E. Jean” is the supposed expert for Elle magazine. How a middle-aged, wealthy  British woman was determined to be someone who you would go to for general life advice is beyond me. Instead, she is someone I would want for my (possibly one day) child’s nanny. But here we go…

The real E. Jean herself.

          The real E. Jean herself.

The Question: “Standard Model” writes in stating she is an average woman living in NYC. She believes she is simply too average to attract any “romantic interest from men and establish a good career”. Her mother suggests she move to a rural town where there will be less competition in all aspects of life. Bottom line: She is questioning if she should move and if her mediocrities are keeping her from meeting a partner. 

The Response: E. Jean’s response is that it doesn’t matter where you live, the confident, flirty women win every time. She suggests that Standard Model’s mother may be onto something in that she may feel prettier, smarter, more accomplished in a smaller town.

My Response: Stop the pity party. Aside from Gisele and various other Victoria’s Secret models, we are all average woman. Get over it. Your own insecurities are what are preventing you from landing a man or the career you want. Also, may I be so bold as to state that your life and your awesomeness are not defined by whether you have a husband or a six figure salary. Next step? Tell your mom to get stuffed. Then, stop going to her for advice EVER AGAIN. What mother thinks that telling their clearly insecure daughter who is already struggling that this is sound advice?!? Good Lord. Are you a heathen? Don’t give your mom’s suggestion a second thought. Put yourself out there, do things you enjoy, step outside of your comfort zone and when you least expect it, the perfect guy and/or job will sneak up on you and take you by surprise.

Ugh, they're so hideous. Look away.

                                                 Ugh, they’re so hideous. Look away.

The Question #2: (Guys, this one is a keeper. I hope you enjoy it). “Confused and Used” writes in stating that she and a guy she works with ended up confiding in each other and getting a bit too close emotionally. This was then followed by her giving him oral sex (maybe I’m niave, but what is the rationale for stating you had an emotional conversation after the fact that his penis fell into your mouth? Pretty sure that overrides the conversation that took place, but anyway…). She then writes “He let me know I was too young for “us to have a relationship,” because he said I would “leave him when I found someone my own age.” I’m 21. He’s 37 and married. Yesterday I saw him, succumbed to temptation, and gave him oral sex again! Afterword he said he was “putting his foot down” and ending it “forever”.” Bottom line: She is questioning what she did wrong and if she should wait for him to make the next move.

The Reponse: E Jean actually gives some legit advice. In a nutshell she tells this ridiculously insane woman that she should never have fooled around with a married man, that his excuses aren’t how he really feels (he is actually afraid his wife will leave him when she finds out this 21 year child has been giving him blowies at work), that this will only hurt her career and not the dude’s, and that she needs to transfer to a different job ASAP.

My Response: Stop. Stop right now. What exactly do you feel you are getting out of this? He is getting blowies left and right, but all you are doing is setting yourself up to be hurt, be fired, or to get an STD. Don’t ever fool around with a married man ever again. Don’t ever fool around with a man you work with ever again. And don’t ever work at this place of business ever again. Leave and find a different job today.

Well, folks that is all I have on the agenda today. IF you ever feel that you have nobody to ask for advice, do yourself a favor and do not write into a magazine. Instead, ask your good ol’ friend Amanda who will tell it like it is.

Until next time…

I’m being poisoned. I think I’ll write into a magazine for advice.

I remember being  fifteen or sixteen years old, sitting on the couch, reading the advice column in Teen People (when your biggest worry was how to get rid of your raging bacne and how to avoid lipstick getting on your braces) and thinking, “What would possess someone to write into a magazine for advice?”

Years later, I find myself thinking the same thing. The questions are not much different (some adults still have bacne) and even more so, I find myself feeling sorry for those who write in. If you had any substantial problems, questions, etc., wouldn’t you go to your family, friends, significant others, therapist, random guy on the street corner, and ask them for advice first? Albeit, I can’t guarantee how great the advice would be, but ya get what I’m sayin’. And now, in a world where you can access any topic on the internet, wouldn’t you try that? Type in to Google any physical concern IMAGINABLE and you will not be disappointed in the discussion forums that come up. Do it. I dare you.

So as I was reading the advice column in ELLE (previous readers may recall my complete and utter annoyance of the Ask E. Jean column; E. Jean being their resident advice giver who looks like the last person ever I would turn to) I encountered a question that was unlike any I had ever imagined finding in a magazine. In a nutshell, this woman was writing in because she was convinced her husband was trying to poison her. She believed her husband was putting something in her coffee and/or in her lotions and beauty products that were resulting in her skin becoming discolored, dry, cracked, and her hair becoming dry and tangled in knots. My initial thought was, “If that’s the case, then Lance poisons me every winter” in the freezing tundra of North Dakota when my skin feels like sandpaper and my feet get so dry that they’re reminiscent of the Mojave desert.”

But she then went on to say that, as a “resolution”, she has started drinking tea instead of coffee (Why didn’t I think of that?!) Problem solved.), and has left “decoy” beauty products around and hidden her real products from her husband. Some resolution. Idiot. She tried hiding a camera in the bathroom, but believes he found it and deleted the files. It results in her desperately asking E. Jean, “Do you know a good lab where I can send the products to have them tested for tampering? Should I go to the police before I have proof?”

You guys. Where do I even begin? For starters, who is this Prince Charming she’s married to who she believes could be potentially poisoning her? Secondly, regardless of if he is truly pulling a Lifetime movie stunt on her or not, WHY, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WOULD YOU BE WRITING TO A MAGAZINE ASKING WHAT TO DO?!? Get out. Go to the police. Hide at a friend’s house (with new beauty products, might I add). Do anything, but take the time to sit down and write into E. Jean. By the time your letter is published and you are able to read the answer, you could be dead. Finally, why would you need proof? If you THINK, for even a second, your husband is poisoning you, why do you want to stay married to him? Isn’t that the proof enough right there?

Sadly, I don’t know how this poor woman’s story played out. She could still be married to Mr. Rat Poisoning. She could have met her demise. Or she could still be writing to E. Jean asking for a good divorce lawyer. Regardless, I can guarantee you that she has destroyed my hope in all of humanity. And for all those out there who have any questions that you believe warrants writing to an advice column, don’t. Put the pen down. Instead, ask me.

Until next time…

Thank you for being a friend…

The-golden-girlsDon’t even get me started…I start singing this song and before you know it I’m tucked in my bed with all the seasons of “Golden Girls”, in their neatly packaged DVD sets (yes, my sister owns every season, knows pretty much every word & has an unhealthy obsession with the show; she’s amazing and I’m jealous), busted out and am suddenly the 5th member of their Florida home, wearing the most atrocious jewelry and ensembles you can possibly imagine while still being cool.

Clearly, this post is about friends. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but BEEP-fricken-BEEP! I have some pretty spectacular friends and I’m quite certain that mine are better than yours. Neener neener neener. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize just how important each and every one of them are to me. There are those you see far too much and then there are those you rarely see but when you get together it’s like you were never apart and you’re suddenly sharing a humiliating sex story without even the slightest bit of shame. There are the friends who come to you for advice and there are those that you turn to for advice when you get dumped or when you need to know which sweater looks better with the black pair of skinny jeans you just bought (life or death problems here, folks). There are those that stand up for you and are your protectors, yelling at random drunks at the bar for you while others you feel like you have to take under your wing and risk all humiliation by buying them countless pregnancy tests from Walmart in the middle of the night. Whatever the case, each of them is your friend for their own special unique reason and you have been friends for as long as you have because those reasons are keeping them in your life. You need them.

So when I came across a Modern Manners section in yet another REAL SIMPLE magazine (you all know how much I adore this mag…sarcasm is underlying this statement, if you really didn’t know) titled “Is it ever appropriate to spill a friend’s secret?”, I immediately thought of my bizzos that I love and adore. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always kept friends’ secrets. Am I proud of it? No. But as I have gotten older, that has changed. Sitting here now I can honestly say that no, I would never spill a friend’s secret UNLESS (and this is the mental health worker in me) that person was going to hurt themself or others. Aside from that, no, I wouldn’t. I swear.

Now when I think of my friends’ secrets that have tested my ability to keep my mouth shut, I think of them telling me they slept with so-and-so or they are pregnant or they are planning on ending their relationship. Stuff that REALLY matters, people. So what does REAL SIMPLE bring up as an example of spilling a friend’s secret? Hand to God, I couldn’t make this stuff up….the secret ingredient in a beef barley soup recipe. First of all, gross. Who wants a beef barley soup recipe?! Second of all, who the hell cares if you tell someone that your friend buys chicken stock instead of making their own? Ugh. Rich people.

Anyway, that brings me to another friend-themed article I came across. This past fall, GLAMOUR did an article about friendship DO’s and DON’Ts written by the ever-so-wise Snooki and J-Woww. Now, if I hopped in a time machine and wrote this article a few months back I would have slammed this article left and right. I would have shamed you for watching “Jersey Shore” and for perpetuating this show’s popularity by buying into it all. Yada yada yada. However, after getting sucked into the entire series on Netflix I now adore it. So what, my writing is completely opinionated and subjective. Don’t like it? Don’t care. Anyway, as much as I cringe at some of the housemates’ decisions (hello, Seasons 1, 2, 3 & 4 of Ron and Sam!), I do have to say that Snooks and Jenni have a true friendship. They get mad at each other. They fight. They may tell each other things you don’t want to hear. Translation: they are best friends.

Snooks and J-Woww all glammed up.

Snooks and J-Woww all glammed up.

Here are their list of Do’s & Don’ts:

DON’T lie. Ever-not even about looks. (Ok, I think this specific situation depends on the friend. There are some friends where I wouldn’t even bat an eye telling them, “O my God, you look ridiculous, go change now.” And then there are some where if they were wearing the same exact outfit I would say, “Hmmm, I don’t think that top looks very good with those pants. Let’s find something different.” and then go help them. Feelings, people. Know your friends boundaries and what does and doesn’t cut a little.)

DO respect each other’s opinions about men. (Yes, you should respect their decisions, but it doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.)

DON’T try to make the friendship a democracy if a dictatorship works. (Translation: if you’re totally content with the other pal making plans all the time, then run with it. If it bothers you and you want a say, speak the hell up.)

DO cultivate a Culture of Two. (Do special things for each other. Build your OWN bond which can be hard when you have a large group of friends.)

DO give each other nicknames. (Anybody who spends 1 minute with my friends will know our nicknames. Some are sweet, some are very un-endearing. The popular ones? Tits, Boo, Love, and Bitch. It’s real, people.)

DO make a display of your affection. (No, you don’t have to pull a Snooki and Deena and literally make out together. But be there for each other. If you don’t like your boobs being grabbed, then do not, I repeat, do not, hang out with my friends. Ever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

DON’T think short-term. Instead, plan [ahead]. (Totally acceptable to plan out where you will all live in a cul-de-sac together and how you will rotate carpool with your respective kids. Totally normal. Not weird in the least.)

Bottom line. Be a good friend. Even if it makes YOU uncomfortable, get over it. Work to create the friendships where you will be there for each other years from now. After the kids have left the house. After the husband has gone through his mid-life crisis and left you high and dry. After you both can’t live on your own anymore and need to check into a nursing home. And to all my loving, creative, beautiful, hilarious lady (and guy) friends out there…thank you for being a friend.

Until next time…

 

Dear Amanda

Today was a foul day. A co-worker got canned, who let’s face it, I didn’t care for much anyway, but now have her workload to deal with. Lovely. Perhaps it is because of this extremely unpleasant mood I am presently in that I picked the current topic for today’s post.

For those of you who have read REAL SIMPLE magazine, I apologize. So much money and time wasted…it’s a shame. For starters, the magazine is geared towards middle-aged upper class women who have an abundance of time and money on their hands to fix their “problems”. Translation: Somebody like myself should not even get within a 10 foot radius of said magazine. The only reason I have had the displeasure of coming across this publication is because my twin sister got a free subscription. True story. Ok, enough bashing (but it feels so good!). Moving on…

ANYWAY, I was reading an article titled, “How do I deal with coworkers who don’t respect my boundaries?” in the Modern Manners section. The first part of my rant will deal with possible situations one might encounter in their daily work day and how to appropriately handle it.

Potential situation #1: Over time, coworkers  become comfortable with you and begin to express opinions about your personal life. So what do you do if someone gives you unsolicited advice? Answer: Put your finger to your lips and say, “Shhhh. I don’t want the boss to think that we spend all day gossiping instead of working.” O God, gag me. Don’t all bosses know their employees spend all day gossiping and not working? Duh. Have you ever watched any TV show or movie? Everybody knows that nobody REALLY works but money just magically appears. Ok, but that wasn’t even my point for this situation. If someone is giving you advice that you didn’t ask for, or more importantly, find disrespectful, tell them. There, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? If that doesn’t work, I personally have found putting my ear buds in and turning around does the trick wonderfully.

Potential situation #2: Some colleagues tend to overshare. Someone starts to talk about their sex life with you. Answer: Touch her arm gently and say, “You should be discreet about what you talk about in the office. This is private information, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want someone else to overhear.” Ok, for starters, I work with a bunch of middle-aged women who’s biggest problems are remembering to take their BEAN-O before lunch, so let’s be honest, I do not care to hear about their stories. And let’s face it, we all know that people over 40 don’t ever have sex. Right? Right, guys?!? Ew. Anyway, let’s get real. If I hear homegirl in the next cubical chatting about what homeboy and her did last night, you can bet I’m gonna pull out those ear buds and listen. No question about it. Who doesn’t want to hear this stuff?! Hey, in my opinion what I can hear over those cubicle walls might as well be spoken directly to me. Totally rational.

“Say whaaaaaaat?”

Anyway, moving on from the workplace. The column then went on to answer other “everyday” questions. Read this little kicker: “Recently my friend found a great babysitter. I asked if she would share the sitter’s information with me. To my surprise, she refused, saying I should find my own child care. I feel offended. Am I overreacting?” Now let’s just skip what the columnist responds with and go to the good choice: my response. NO, you are not overreacting! Your friend is being a gigantic biz and needs to be kicked in the face. If that doesn’t make her give up the contact information, look on Craigslist…I’m sure you could find a totally reliable and safe option on there. And no, you don’t need to worry about meeting them beforehand. So what if “Maggie” the 16 year old you hired shows up at your door as Fred, a 58 year old balding man? No big.

Totally harmless.

Until next time…