What I Learned Last Year (Even Though Last Year Ended Three Months Ago)

I'm not usually procrastinator, but I'm well over two months late in posting this. More like three. I have no good excuse as to why my yearly reflection required three months of additional, well, reflection. I have friends that are professional procrastinators. No really, they would be the first to tell you how good they are at it. Their procrastination skills really are quiet impressive. My procrastinating friends would be proud that I too have stumbled upon something worth procrastinating about. But I digress...

10 Things I Learned in 2016:

Safer Beauty: What's In Your Hair Color?

"Being a girl is a lot of damn work," I told Derek.

"It really is," he replied in total agreement. I had just finished coloring my hair ALL BY MYSELF and I was exhausted. I had colored my hair and what hair I wasn't coloring I was plucking and/or completely removing, covering my body in lotions and anti aging creams and serums. A lot of damn work, yes, but also totally worth it.

I haven't colored my own hair since college. All it takes is turning your hair an unattractive shade of orange one time to make it a bad idea. But college is a time when you're willing to take all kinds of chances, including those involving hair color.

I started turning gray several years ago and have been coloring my hair every six weeks ever since. And every six weeks I sit in the stylist chair feeling light headed from the color soaking into my head. I usually left the salon feeling high, and not in a good way. I don't know much, but I know that can't be good for you.

Minimizing My Life: No Room for Luck

This morning, as my swimmer who has a meet today walked out the door, I wished him good luck. Seemed appropriate on St. Patrick's Day. Wishing someone luck. Good luck. The best of luck.

Luck seems to be a big deal in our house. Just the other day my car told me that one of my tires was low. The dealership told me there was a nail in my tire and I would need a new tire that would cost me $285. Ten minutes later after driving with a leaky tire to the local mom-and-pop shop down the street, I was told they could patch it for a quick 15 bucks. When I called Derek to tell him he said, "Good. We needed some good luck." Whenever Derek leaves for a tournament, I always wish him good luck before he leaves. Seems like a jinx if I don't. Yesterday as we sat outside near the pool on a beautiful afternoon in sunny California, Derek and I both mentioned how lucky we are to live here.

We seem to talk a lot about luck, but do we even know what it really is?

Safer Beauty: Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish

Once your eyes have been opened to the importance of using safer beauty products, there's no way to close them. You start to question everything you put on your skin. Is this deodorant okay? What about my perfume? What about my hair color? How about my nail polish? Is that okay?

Here's the truth: Because of lack of regulations, those products you use every day don't have to disclose their ingredients, don't have to be transparent, and are getting away with using potentially harmful and toxic ingredients because there is no one telling them not to. That means you have to do the work. You have to be your own researcher, educating yourself, making sure you understand what exactly is in the products you are using.  

But nail polish? What could possibly be wrong with nail polish? I mean, it's just on your nails. You don't have to worry about what you put on your nails, right? Wrong.

My Pretty Skin Juice

My mom would always tell me, "Drink your milk. It'll make you pretty." I don't know if the milk worked or not, but I drank it anyway. Nowadays I don't drink milk every night at dinner like I used to. (Wine every night for dinner? Yes. Milk? Not so much.) So instead I have tried my best to eat and drink lots of other things to make me pretty. My Pretty Skin Juice is one of them.

Stressors, both internally and externally, effect our skin in a big way. What you eat and drink, medications that you take, pollution, UV rays, harsh climate changes, all have consequences when it comes to our skin. Only 20% of aging is due to genetic factors. That means that 80% is under our control. (Being a person who likes being in control - yes, I own that flaw proudly - I love this percentage!) Making sure we were sun protection every day, having a regular skin care routine, using safer and highly effective products from companies like Beautycounter, and consuming skin-friendly foods like those in my Pretty Skin Juice can make a huge difference.

Why Juice?

My girlfriends and I just had this discussion. What's the difference between juicing and just throwing everything into a blender?

Juicing: If you aren't a fan of pulp or thick drinks, this is the way to go. Juicing removes all of that and because it is less dense, it makes it easier for your body to absorb all of the nutrients. You get an instant infusion of vitamins and minerals from whole, raw vegetables. If there's a negative it would be that juicing does require a lot of produce to make enough juice to drink. Juicing also makes it easier for you to consume a large quantity of fruits and veggies. Lets be real, none of us are getting the recommended amount that we all need. Juicing makes it easier to do that.

Blending: This is definitely the easier of the two choices when it comes to cleanup. When throwing everything into the blender, your smoothies will be fiber-filled for sure. This is great for making you fuller for longer. Because you are using the whole fruit and vegetables you will make more and be able to put less into your smoothie (unless you're planning on passing them out to all the neighbors.)

You can't go wrong with either. I do both making my Go-To Protein Smoothie in my blender and my Detox Green Juice with my juicer. I have boards on Pinterest for both juicing and smoothies.

Pretty Skin Juice

Much like my Detox Green Juice, this is very easy to make. You will need the following:

  • 8-10 whole carrots (soak in water for 30 minutes prior to juicing)
  • 2 handfuls of organic spinach
  • 2 golden apples
  • 1 pound fresh/frozen cranberries (if frozen, thaw before juicing)
Place all in your juicer. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

How do these ingredients make your skin pretty?

CarrotsCarrots have beta-carotene that is a skin-friendly ingredients that converts into vitamin A inside human body. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that attacks free radicals which prevent signs of aging like wrinkles and uneven skin tone.

Spinach: Green leafy vegetables are great for your skin. Contains vitamins C, E, and A that have antioxidants that are great for your skin. Antioxidants help fight free radicals and all kinds of skin issues like acne, sun protection, anti-aging, skin repair and complexion improvement.

Apples: Contains toning abilities. Also rich in pectin which helps prevent acne.

Cranberries: Cranberries have more antioxidants than any other fruit. They also contain a lot of vitamin C which is important in preventing and reversing the signs of aging. Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen which helps replace dead skin cells and gives our skin strength and elasticity.

Because cleaning my juicer can be a pain, I often make big batches of juice while I have it out. My two favorites (Detox and Pretty Skin) are so yummy and good for you, they don't last very long!

Minimizing My Life: Giving Up Being Busy

As I've practiced minimizing my life, I have taken so much pleasure in less. Through the process I have discovered embracing self-care. I no longer feel even the slightest bit of guilt taking time to do things for myself. So for Lent this year, I am giving up being busy. I am freeing myself from any guilt associated with intentionally inserting peace into my daily routine.

Finding peaceful moments to quiet your mind and treat yourself to something enjoyable is essential in life. It's the healthiest and smartest thing you can do for yourself. I'm so tired of hearing about how busy everyone is. It's like this badge of honor that people wear proudly. "Oh, I'm just soooooo busy!" Why is that? Why is everyone so proud about being so busy? Sure, our calendars are full and our to-do lists are long, but that doesn't mean that we have to be busy. The word "busy" is negative. It implies that you have no room for the things that you enjoy. Lamenting about how busy you are implies that you have little time for joy. It's okay to not be busy. It's okay to slow down and have less to do. It's okay to say no to something that doesn't bring you joy in order to participate in something that does.

I don't want "busy" in my life. I want activities and moments and people who will bring joy and positivity, healthy and happiness. Here are a few of the things that bring those things into my life:

  1. Taking a hot baths with epsom salts and essentials oils. Including a good book and this is absolutely the best way to end my day. Sacred tub time is a must for me.
  2. Applying a face masks 2/3 times a week like these from Beautycounter. Putting a mask on your face is 10 minutes of slowing down. Masks that will detox, brighten, and plump your skin are always a treat. And of course I love Beautycounter because I know that these masks are both safe and highly effective.
  3. Escaping with an audio book while cleaning the house and folding laundry. People wonder how I find the time to read. One of the ways I do it is listening to audio books through Audible. Makes time fly by while sitting in carpool line and walking 18 holes on the golf course. 
  4. Putting my favorite scent in a diffuser every morning. Diffusing essential oils have replaced all of the candles in my house. I have always loved a good smelling candle, but I no longer trust the fragrances that they use. Instead, I scent my home with essential oils that not only make my house smell good but also give added health benefits.
  5. Giving myself a mani + pedi with a safer, non-toxic polish like these from Côte. (More about safer nail polish choices in a blog post coming soon.)
  6. Meditating. Breathing deep, letting go of all negative thoughts and energy, and focusing on what God wants me to hear. I need to be doing this twice a day but I'm good to do it once. There are different apps out there to help you with your meditation. I personally like Calm.
  7. Continuing my Pilates and Barre workout routine. Pilates has been a lifesaver for me. It has made me such a healthier person and has absolutely changed my life. And for a person who used to drone on about how much I hated working out, this is a HUGE statement.
  8. Reading an interesting article that will expand your view of the world. At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to start reading The New Yorker. I'm loving my subscription more than I ever thought I would.
  9. Making my own latte with a good frothier and just...sit. Peace can often be found in a latte mug and a quiet room. This can be a challenge when we are so used to being on the go all of the time, but nothing makes me happier than when I cozy up in my favorite chair with a blanket and a good book in one hand a my homemade latte in the other.
Perhaps your list looks a little different than mine. Maybe you found a few thing on mine that you want to add to yours. Whatever your list looks like, I hope that you will take busy out of your life and care for yourself with the things that bring you joy. 

The Nerdy Girl Who Lives Inside

My father took me to the Clinique counter when I turned 13. Not my mother. My father. He had been told by my grandmother that he should do this, that he needed to to this for me when I turned 13. That as a young lady I needed to know the correct way to wear makeup and care for my skin. I wasn't privy to their conversation, but knowing my grandmother I'm guessing there was very little discussion about the matter. She was telling him to do it and therefore it had to be done.

He made a weekend out of it. By that time, my parents had been divorced for close to four years so it was only my father and I who headed south to Ft. Worth for the weekend. I can't remember much about what all we did, can't remember all of the details (these are the moments I wish I had been better about keeping a diary), but I can remember the Clinique counter visit as clear as day.

With my father awkwardly hovering, I remember the lady showing me the three steps to clean my face: the big yellow cleansing bar that slid in and out of the mint green tunnel, the tall glass bottle filled with pink liquid that I was to put onto fancy cotton pads, and finally the creamy jar of butter yellow moisturizer. She explained in detail how I was to follow this routine morning and night to keep my skin young and beautiful. I listened intently and vowed I would.

Then came the make up. She showed me how to apply blush by drawing a C from my cheek bone to my temple and how to use my ring finger to apply a little foundation underneath my eyes for coverage. She allowed me to apply blue eye shadow (it was the 80's after all) followed by liquid eyeliner that was applied carefully with a tiny brush. Each product seemed so pretty and shiny and I loved all of it. The packaging was so pretty I remember not wanting the silver cases of the eye shadow getting scratched. They were prized possessions.

I wish you could see the transition when you look at my middle school year books but it's just not there. There was no evidence of an ugly-duckling-into-a-swan type of transformation. If the pics weren't black and white I'm sure you would see the sudden onset of blue eyeshadow but that would be about it. Next to most of my yearbook photos I have words written like "ugly" and "gross" leaving no doubt about how I felt about myself during my middle school years. If you look closely enough at the above picture you can see a faint "X" that I had made over my own face. It makes me sad for the girl I was then.

I am confident enough now to share. I was the girl that wanted nothing more than to be pretty and popular and loved by all the boys but struggled to overcome her bad hair and nerdy book club participant status. I was a pitiful 80's cliché. I believed that one day there would be a boy who would fight for my honor like in "Karate Kid" and find me in his red Porsche like in "Sixteen Candles." I'm sure I'm not the only girl who had those dreams.

In truth I think my father and grandmother had hoped that taking me to the Clinique counter would deliver me from my unpolished ways. But nerd genes run deep and I had an abundance. A three-step skin routine wasn't making that disappear any time soon. Throughout middle school I had a combination of braces, glasses, a bad perm, and bangs that I had no idea what to do with. I wore trendy 80's clothing that did nothing for me. I had no skills when it came to the beauty and was livin' on a prayer that I would eventually grow out of the awkwardness.

Perhaps this is why I still love beauty products so much. Back in 1986 I put a lot of hope into those Clinique products. It was a lot of pressure to put on a big bar of yellow soap and some blue eyeshadow. Clinique did nothing more than teach me to have a good skin care routine, and for that I am grateful. Growing out of the rest of it required more time than I ever realized.

It wasn't until I was in my forties, only over the last four years, that I finally feel like I have come into myself. 90% loving myself exactly the way I am and 10% not giving a shit. Some days those numbers are reversed, but either way it's okay. I like me. My husband seems to like me although he showed up in an old white BMW instead of the red Porsche.

But sometimes, late at night after I've finished washing my face and take my contacts out and put on my glasses, that middle school girl reappears. Sometimes I see her in my own boys as they go through their early teen years. She occasionally shows up on bad hair days or in an unflattering picture that I didn't know was being taken. No one else notices her but she's there all the same. I think she always will be.