Life thru the haze of cat hair.

Category Archives: beauty

I have arthritis in my neck and spine. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that.

Part of what my physical therapist recommended was a smaller purse. One that wouldn’t put a lot of pressure on my shoulder, or cause me to walk with one shoulder higher than the other trying to keep it on my shoulder.

*blink blink*

I’m sorry. What?

I love nothing more than a big bag. Huge. I love knowing that I can carry anything I need and it’s always handy. How do I go from that to something smaller? How can I carry a book with me always??

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I decided to go see what else I could find.

Le sigh.

In the meantime, I was using one of those big clutch/wallet things. I didn’t love it, but stopping the pain became more important.

I was shopping in January in my neighboring tax-free state (and of course I kept records of anything I bought, for IRS purposes….). I went into this little boutique that had shiny things in the window. I am a kitten around shiny things.

In this shop, I found the most exquisite little vintage clutch. It was black, and satin, and boxy, and sparkly. I carried it around with me while I looked. I opened it and petted it a little. (Don’t judge!)

But, in the end, the exquisite little clutch went back onto the display. I could not (and believe me, I tried) justify spending $217 on a little clutch. Even a tax-free one.

So I went to Etsy.com. There must be something yummy there, right?

My first stop was at ME2Designs.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ME2Designs?ref=seller_info
Pretty, right?

It’s gold, missing some beads, heavy and allegedly from 1950’s Japan. I just know that I feel very girly with it.

 
Then I went to PoppyPunch, and I found this:

 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/PoppyPunch?ref=seller_info
It’s even prettier in person!

This shop is in Thailand. They packaged everything beautifully, shipped it right away, and even with a delay in customs, I got it quickly. There were a bunch of others I wanted to get, but I’m trying to not be greedy.

 
And the best part? Both of these together cost me less than $40. Win!
 
So, there you have my latest addiction. Cute clutch purses that allow me to carry next to nothing, but also don’t aggravate my spine.
 
(There are a few more, but they aren’t as fun.)
 
No, I didn’t get paid or asked to post this or link to the shops. I liked both of these sellers a great deal and wanted to share them with you. That’s all.

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Yesterday, as I scrolled through my reader, I found this post by Jana. She is talking about how she uses her “fine” china for every day use. Because, it really is silly to have such beautiful china, to have spent so much money on it for your wedding, or whatever, and to never use it.

It got me thinking.

I am pretty sure I have a set of china in my cellar that belonged to my grandmother, or something. I might have to check it out.

We have all read those articles about how we need to treat ourselves and to use the good china, etc. Who does that, though, really?

But, Jana’s post got me thinking. A while ago, my mother gave me a few antique tea cups and saucers that I had considered too fancy or fussy and thought about selling them on eBay. Now, I think I am going to rinse them out and use them for my evening tea. Or my morning coffee.

And I think Jana is right. I am worth it.

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Tonight, while at the hockey game (We sucked, we lost) I had a very enlightening experience. And this time, it wasn’t the fights. And there were a bunch. Good ones.

I digress.

Early on in the game, I’m there playing on my phone, and I notice 3 people coming in to sit in the row in front of us. Normally, I will look and move on. This time, there was a young-ish man helping a woman down the stairs. Naturally, I started to wonder – what happened to this girl. Was she mentally handicapped? Was she ill with a progressive disease? Was she in an accident?

I resumed watching the game. Occasionally, I would notice this girl flirting with the guy that helped her to her seat. And I noticed a modest engagement ring. My mind? Oh, I wonder if she got sick after they were engaged? I wonder if she had an accident after they were engaged? Either way, I thought, what a lovely man for not “giving up on her”. I had no idea.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking “My arthritis is acting up. This rots.”

Jump to the 3rd period.

Our team scored (that in and of itself was a miracle – did I mention they sucked tonight??) and the woman – who, I might add, had never stopped smiling and enjoying herself – turned, smiled at me and shook my hand. Then she turned and did the same to Herb.

Then, in short succession, 2 pucks came flying into the crowd, very close to where we were sitting. I noticed the woman flinch – understandably under the best of circumstances – and sort of lean in to her fiance’. She turned around to me and took off her hat and lifted her hair. Right along her hairline, she had a horrible scar. It was somewhat faded, but still very visible. Then she took my hand and put it on her head. I could feel the lumps and bumps of where the bone healed.

It was a little off-putting, but she was sweet. Then she took out her phone, and showed me a text. This woman? She had been driving when she was 16 and was hit so hard by a drunk driver that to this day? She has no memory of the accident. Her left side was crushed and she still wears a brace on her left leg and left wrist. Her vocal cords were damaged, so she cannot speak well. She is now 30.

Then she showed me a picture of herself with her fiance’. They looked very happy. She pulled up another text. (These weren’t really texts. It was more like her story, saved to her phone.) Anyhoo, this one said that she and her fiance’ had been dating for 2 weeks, when he found out he was being deployed to Iraq. So he asked her to marry him.

I KNOW!!

I said to him that he was a really good guy! He said he was just a really lucky one.

I KNOW!!

She showed me a few more pictures and was all girly. It was so cute.

Then her story said she didn’t remember the accident, and would love to find out who did this to her. Her family knows, but won’t tell her. Her fiance’ said it was because they don’t want her upset or to do something to the guy. The other driver was only 17, so I guess it is hard to find out anything about him.

I find that part odd. I can see the family keeping all the horrible details of the accident itself from her, but the other driver? They didn’t do anything to him? That’s odd.

The fiance’? He doesn’t know who the other driver is either, because he didn’t know her back then.

So. What have we learned? This woman, at 16, basically had her life taken from her. And yet, she is out in the world, living a happy life, and engaged to a lovely man. Who met her 2 years ago.

He didn’t see the “damaged” her. He saw a lovely woman who obviously has a love of life. She is in love.

So, while I sat there whining to myself about my arthritis, this couple and their friend were out, living. Sure, she is still angry about what happened to her. Sure, she would love to do something to the guy who did that to her. But she didn’t let that stop her. And he didn’t let it stop him.

It was really beautiful.

So the next time, my arthritis is acting up, or my tea is cold, or I slip on the ice, I need to think about Kelly and Bob*. The next time things don’t go really my way, I need to think about this couple.

Things in my life could be SO MUCH worse. But in all actuality? I have it pretty good. Compared to some others? My life is a  virtual fairy tale.

Thank you Kelly and Bob for teaching me that tonight.

*not their real names


“It’s the friends you can call up at 4am that matter.”
– Marlene Dietrick

So, this morning, I pulled up my chair and my coffee and opened my reader to peruse the blogs that have been updated. I do this most mornings. Why would today be any different?

It was.

I met Debra via Twitter. I don’t even remember who followed whom first. But I found her to be engaging and honest and lovely. We hit it off and we became part of each other’s lives, as much as is possible when we live more than 1,200 miles apart.

For a long time, Debra and I spoke via Twitter, or on the phone, daily. We heard about each other’s successes and hardships. There were well-wishes and hugs being sent through the ether, back and forth as needed. We both knew that if a 4am call was needed, that would be okay too.

At the end of 2010, Debra made a trip out to meet me. I met her in person. And she was just as lovely as I had imagined. She did spend a good amount of time stalking a giant lobster while she was here, but even that was endearing.

At the start of 2011, we had both been through a fabulous class together. (I was only able to attend due to Debra’s generosity.) We both started 2011 full of the desire to make significant changes in how we approach life. Sadly, my desire waned and, while I did make some changes, I ended 2011 not too differently than how I ended 2010.

Debra, however, made lasting and wonderful changes. It was exciting to watch the change which was visible in the tone and content of her Tweets and blog posts. It is my opinion that in 2011, she became fully Debra last year. The changes she displays are profound and noticeable and inspirational.

So, what is my problem today?

This. This is my problem.

And before you say it, I *know* this post isn’t about me. The decisions she’s made aren’t about me in any way shape or form. They are decisions she’s made to continue her own growth and happiness and (jeepers, I hate this word) journey.

And all of that? I am applauding and cheering and I honestly cannot wait to see how it all turns out.

I couldn’t even leave an appropriate comment to that post. (Sorry, Debra.) And for a while, I couldn’t even figure out why.

And then I did.

Friendships are fragile things and require as much care
in handling as any other fragile and precious thing.
Randolph S. Bourne

 

1,200+ miles is a long distance. For anyone.

Now that Debra is not on Twitter, I won’t see her smiling face in my timeline. I won’t see her smiling face on Facebook. I don’t really see the point of G+, so that’s not a big thing.

But the reason Debra’s post affected me this morning is that I am afraid. And a little envious. And afraid.

I am afraid that this friendship is going to end? I don’t know that that is the correct word. I think on some level we will always be friends. I think my fear is that we will become polite acquaintances. And that will make me sad. What makes me sadder is that if that *does* happen, it will be my fault.

Why?

Because I am a terrible friend. I am working on making that an invalid statement, but for now? It’s true. It stems from my own insecurities. It manifests in that I am rarely the one to reach out because, in my mind, the other person always has something better to do. The other person gets tired of always being the initiator. And understandably so. I would get sick of that too.

I have lost a lot of friends this way. Looking back, I know now that some of those people were not “friends” in the true sense of the word. But others were.

Reading Debra’s post affected me the way it did because I immediately went to that place of “I’m losing yet another friend! What is wrong with me??” In my self-centered mind, I immediately made it about me – how it would affect me, what that would mean to me.  Rather than celebrating that Debra is now fully Debra, and that she is out there, actually LIVING life, I internalized it just like I always do.

This is where the envy comes in to play too. I see how far she has progressed since we first met, how happy she is, how many positive changes she has made, and I think: Why not me? When will it happen for me? Why can’t I have epiphanies like that?

I know the answers to those questions, by the way. Debra has put in the time, and the work, and the effort. I haven’t.

“Some friends come and go like a season. Others are arranged in our lives for good reason.”
—Sharita Gadison

Debra – this is to you.

I have watched you grow and change and become happy, over the past few years. I think you are amazing and an inspiration. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life. I don’t think this will be the end of our friendship, but too often, we never say thank you to our friends. Or even indicate the role they have played in our lives.

Thank you for your post. It shook me. It showed me how wonderful life can be when fully embraced. It showed me to not rely on cyber-friends exclusively.

Thank you. You have set such an exciting path for yourself. I cannot wait to see where you go, where you end up.

Thank you.

 

These are the feelings I am having.


It’s December. 2011 has just flown by!! I’m already looking ahead to 2012.

About this time last year, I was on top of my game  – feeling good and ready to make 2011 my bitch! I started the year that way too. But then, as the year progressed, I slipped back into my old ruts and habits. My word for the year was Kind. But regressing back to self-destructive behavior isn’t very kind, is it?

I was kind to others. I was kinder to myself than I had been in years past. But I’m still a work in progress.

As I look to 2012, the word that keeps coming up for me is Wellness. I know some people won’t understand that I need to take care of myself. Since I’m single and have no kids, what else am I doing? How can I *not* be taking care of myself? Right? Well, in 2012, that is my focus.

How, you ask?

1. I’ve already started eliminating beauty products with chemicals in them. My goal by the end of the year, is to use homemade or organic products only.

2. My job at the Gas ‘n Sip – I will either get a new job or get promoted. Either way, by the end of the year, I will be in a different job.

2a. I reached my absolute limit at the Gas ‘n Sip Monday. Background: You already know I am the Slurpee Manager. However, there is an exam to become certified in Slurpee creation. I have been working towards this certification for years – it’s a combination of education and hours. You have to spend a certain number of hours making Slurpees before you can take the certification exam. I? Have completed all the prerequisites and now I just have to take it. But here’s the thing. The exam is ridiculously difficult. So, in order to help the Slurpee Managers at the Gas ‘n Sip pass the exam first try, the company is hosting a prep class. YAY! The class is being held in another state. BOO! My manager said I could go. YAY! But her manager said it was too expensive to send me there. BOO! What the phuck??????? Am I so dispensable? You can’t send me to a class to advance my career? I was so pissed. I am pretty defeated.

2b. I spent Monday evening stewing and not sleeping and feeling like a loser. But then? I got up on Tuesday, and turned on the radio, like I do every morning. The song playing was that woman screeching “You are loved, you are loved, you are really really reeeeeeeeeeeeally looooooooooooved.” You know the one I mean.  The Universe has spoken. I stopped and listened. And then I realized, Slurpee Manager is what I do, not who I am. I have been beaten by them for the last time. If they don’t want to send me to a prep class? I’ll send myself to a prep class. I *will* get certified. And then #2 will be realized.

3. By the end of the year, I will have all but eliminated processed food from my diet. I can’t promise to give up pizza, because, c’mon. It’s pizza! I’m human, not a robot.

4. I won’t quit the group I joined. I still think it’s a tough group to get into, but everyone is so nice and I totally support what they do, so I’m going to tough it out. It’s worth it.

There will be more that I will add to this list before the end of the year. I may have slid downhill a bit this year, but I plan to keep trying. 2012 will help me regain that ground and move ahead again.


This morning, I was skulking around on the Interwebz, looking for new and lovely blogs to add to my readers. I have several now, but as my tastes change, as my interests change, as *I* change, the blogs I like change too.

Anyhoo, when I looked at the “suggested sites” that were listed on my reader, I noticed that there were several “bundles” available. A bundle is sort of a folder of blogs, grouped together by theme or category. Well, now, that is wonderful! So much easier for me!! There seems to be a bundle for every interest – news, sports, computers, gaming, writing – you name it. How cool is that?

Then I see a bundle called “Beauty”. Awesome!!

Only…no.

The blogs in this bundle included references to high-end clothing stores, expensive make-up brands, how to find the best shade lipstick, etc.  So, that means that only by making the packaging “pretty” can one be considered beautiful, right?

I am not so enlightened that I eschew make-up or nice clothes. I like how mascara makes my eye-lashes look. And I would be delighted to find that one perfect shade of lipstick. Maybe it’s societal pressure; maybe I’m just crazy vain.

However.

I don’t consider the wrapping an indicator of beauty. To me, beauty goes beyond me and what label is on my clothing. It goes to helping clean up the environment. Or to helping other people. Or smiling at someone. Or lending a hand/ear/shoulder to a friend in need. Or even saying “Good morning” on Twitter everyday without getting a response.

Beauty is teaching others how to live a more peaceful life, or to eliminate clutter, or to walk through this life gently, or making people laugh, by pointing out life’s absurdity.

Maybe this is a function of my getting older. Or more cynical. I know that I bought into advertisers’ ideas for fashion and beauty back in the day. How can a young person NOT succumb to the constant mental and visual barrage?

I like my idea of beauty better. I like to see a smile. Or to see the silver lining in a bad situation.

My idea of beauty doesn’t match up with Google Reader bundles. And maybe not yours either.

When  you think “beauty”, what comes to your mind?

(Also, if you have any recommendations for yummy blogs, please let me know.)


After 6. Long. Months, it’s official.

I am a triathlete.

Sunday, 7/31, I participated in the local triathlon, Tri-for-a-Cure. It’s a women’s only event and all funds raised go to further breast cancer research. On Sunday, we were told that unofficial totals were that we, the participants, collected over a million dollars for breast cancer research. Go us!!

I’ve written about this before. And if you have spent any time with me at all, I have no doubt that I have driven you absolutely crazy with my stress and worry and fear of not being good enough.

Sunday started for me at 7:30. I got to the venue and set up my transition area – where we dump the swim stuff and pick up the bike for that leg. I met some women and we were all feeling a great anticipation. Those of us who were first-timers had no idea what to expect.

I picked up my timing chip – it was an ankle strap that would record my time for each stage of the race. Then I picked up my wetsuit and wandered down towards the beach for the start of the swim.

I did, though, stop by the medical station to see what was in my eye. It felt like I had a small animal in there. And of course, I kept rubbing it.

I caught sight of my brother. He came to support me and represent the family. Mum and Dad were not able to come, so Bro was there. Then my friend, the K2Kid, and her husband came to cheer me on. It was a HUGE help that they were there. Since I had signed up alone, and trained alone, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone for this day.

All the athletes made their way over to the start area for opening remarks, etc. But since we were all in our wetsuits, we were also all cooking in the sun. It was SO HOT!! The event itself didn’t start until 10am, so the sun was high and hot.

The swim portion was broken up into waves so that 1,100 women wouldn’t be plunging into the water all at once. We were all given color-coded swim caps so that we knew when we had to go. The first wave is reserved for Survivors – women who have won their battle against cancer. It was so cool to see all these incredible women who will NEVER give up. After they go, there is a 5 minute wait before the second wave went. Then, every 3 minutes after that, each consecutive wave entered the water for the 1/3 mile swim.

I was in Wave 3, so thankfully I didn’t have too long to wait. One lady beside me told me to just relax and take my time and look around for the experience of it all. So that’s what I did. When it was my turn, I walked into the ocean with 100 of my sisters, to begin. I didn’t start swimming until I knew I wouldn’t get kicked in the face. Then, I did just what my new friend told me. I took my time. I passed some people. Some people passed me. Despite having a stitch in my side from about 2 minutes in, I finished that portion with ease.

Bro was there to take my wetsuit, and give me a clean shirt. Others were sprinting up to the transition area for their bikes. I was taking it all in.

I got to transition, got my gloves and helmet and an energy snack and started out on the 15 mile bike ride. Bro and I had ridden the route once before, so it wasn’t completely foreign. I was going along pretty well – don’t get me wrong, it was HARD! But, again, I was passing some, and some were passing me. It’s all good.

The volunteers along the route were amazing – yelling encouragement and cheering. There were homeowners out along the route too, yelling encouragement. I don’t care what anyone says, that REALLY helps!

Right about mile 3-ish, I got a flat tire. GAH! I had a spare tube, sat down and started changing it, trying not to get frustrated. A race official stopped to help me and I was on my way in about 15 minutes. Great, yeah?

Jump ahead to mile 7-ish. Flat tire number 2. AYFKM?? There was another route official there, picking up a couple of women with a medical issue – they would not finish – and he stopped and helped me. This almost made me lose it. But, I just kept remembering why I was there.  20 minutes later, I’m back on the bike.

I was cruising! It felt great! I was coming up to mile 12 – almost there!! WOOHOO!!! I look down. Front tire flat. (The first 2 were the back tire). Oh. Em. Gee. WTF is going on??? I found a group fixing tires and made it to them. They fixed that, I get ready to go – Um, did you know that your back tire is flat too??? Flat tire #4. Awesome. Oh! And? At this point, I ran out of water, AND the small animal in my eye? Yeah, that was a torn contact lens, which had scratched my eyelid, thanks to all my rubbing. Let’s tally this up – so far? 4 flats and I’m down to 1 eye.

Assured that I was almost done, and that *this* tire would hold me until the end. The same guy fixed my tire twice so far, and he kept behind me making sure I was okay. Bless his heart, he offered me his water bottle, which I took gratefully! About 1/2 mile from the end of the bike…yup, you guessed it. Flat tire number 5. Even the guy fixing it couldn’t believe it. I carried the bike back to the transition area. It took me FOR. EVER. to finish the bike portion. All that time, sitting on the side of the road, counted against me.

By the time I was done with my bike, I noticed that almost everyone else was done. With everything. I still had a 5k run. I filled up my water bottle, and started out. Bro was there with an icy bottle of water, and an energy bar. Did I mention how awesome he is?? He walked with me a little way and then I got to a “non-spectator” area. I caught up with another lady – we were both walking – so we walked together.

She was from NY and had come up to participate, along with her sister and sister-in-law, in memory of their dad, who died from cancer in February. We walked almost the whole rest of the way together, just chatting. Right at the end, I jogged across the finish line.

The. Finish. Line.

My time was horrible. But that wasn’t the point, right? I, myself, raised $870 for breast cancer research, thanks to the generous support of friends and family. I set myself a goal to finish the race, and I did. And I did it all on my own.

My life will never be the same. I don’t think I can every say “I can’t do that” and really mean it. Apparently, I can do it. No matter what “it” is. I’ll stumble. I’ll end up with 5 flat tires. I will scratch my eyelid with a torn contact. And I will run out of water. And you know what? I will finish. And still be smiling.

I am a triathlete.