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Audrey Hepburn: Beauty, Class & a Kind Heart

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lindsey's "Serious About Skicare" Routine

I have people compliment me on my skin quite often! (Thank God b/c it makes me feel better as I age!) Combine that w/ the fact that quite a few people know how much I love skincare & that I'm planning to go to school to become an aesthetician & believe me, I end being asked about my skincare routine quite often. So, since my creative juices weren't flowing as far as what to blog about today, I decided I'd fill you all in on my strict skincare routine. Yes, strict! I follow this routine religiously & it seems to be doing the trick. I've mentioned in a previous post that from the age of 13 up until just a couple of years ago I was a serious tanner! I went to the tanning bed 3-4 times a week, sometimes more. I had a bit of a skin cancer scare back in 2008 & that's all it took to put that nasty little habit behind me. I was pretty much addicted to going tanning so when I first quit going, believe me, I wasn't liking what I was seeing. I felt nasty b/c I didn't like not having a tan color to my skin. Then, to top it all off, I noticed that any lines &/or wrinkles I had were now more noticeable. So, that's when my quest for figuring out how I could make my skin look younger & give it that youthful glow I seemed to be lacking really started forming. I started really taking note of all the skin tips I read about in all of the magazines I love to read & started playing around with different products. Some products came & went at first but some stayed around. I REALLY fell in love with the Philosophy brand. They have some phenomenal products. They aren't cheap but the ones I use work... for me! A few months ago my favorite cosmetics line, Benefit, put out a new skincare line so I just had to give some of these products a try. I really fell for a few of the products in the line so I rearranged the skincare routine just a bit by replacing my nighttime moisturizer, adding a scrub twice a week, & replacing one of my day/night eye creams. (yes, I use 2 eye creams each AM & PM) I've been following this routine for a few months now & I swear, I get compliments on my skin all the time. So, here's how it all goes down... or maybe I should say, on!

~~ Every A.M.- Wash w/ Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash. (it smells WONDERFUL) I could seriously bathe in this stuff b/c it has the prettiest smell to it.  $9- $22 at http://www.sephora.com/
~~ Every Tuesday A.M. & Friday A.M.- After washing my face, I apply Benefit's b.Right! Refined Finish Facial Polish. Because the scrub contains seaweed & clay, instead of immediately washing it off I let it sit for 3-5 minutes so it can work as a mask & help vacuum out my pores.  $22 at http://www.benefitcosmetics.com/

~~ Every A.M.- After washing my face (& using polish Tues. & Fri.), I use Philosophy's Miracle Worker A.M. pads. The "juice" that these pads are soaked in is full of good for your skin antioxidants. These help defend skin from free-radicals that are all in the environment. Free-radicals are just one of the things that cause skin damage/aging. Aside from helping fight off free-radicals, these give your skin such a pretty, health glow. $58 at http://www.philosophy.com/

~~ Every A.M.- After using the pads, I apply either Philosophy's Eye Believe or Philosophy's Eye Hope eye cream. I only use Eye Believe on days I wear makeup. The reason for this is b/c the velvety texture of it feels amazing & it's perfect for layering concealer over. It's great at filling in lines too! It's more of a balm then a cream so that's probably the reason makeup goes on top of it so well. The Eye Hope cream helps w/ lines, wrinkles & dark circles. It's also very hydrating & I find it's good for sensitive skin. I was using another eye cream for a while but it was starting to dry the delicate skin underneath my eyes out. I switched to this & it's working just as well & it doesn't dry out my skin. It does just the opposite! $30 for Eye Believe & $48 for Eye Hope at http://www.philosophy.com/
Eye Believe
Eye Hope

~~ Every A.M.- After applying the Eye Hope, depending on if I am going out of the house or not, I then use  either Philosophy's UBER FAMOUS moisturizer Hope in a Jar (it was even on Oprah's annual "Favorite Things" list for the last 10 years or something crazy like that!) or Hope SPF 30 (it's the same formula as the regular Hope in a Jar w/ the added benefit of UV protection) My skin seriously drinks this stuff up. The cream has a whipped texture to it & it's super light as well as oil free. It kind of smelled weird to me when I began using it 3 years ago but after a week I was used to the smell & now, I don't even notice the smell at all. Basically, I'm saying that this stuff is so good, I just made myself get over the smell. It's that freaking awesome! And to be fair, not everyone who uses it thinks it smells weird. To many people, the smell is "botanical". To many others, the smell is, well, "wet dog"! Those are the 2 ways I always hear the smell described. I know, it's crazy that I willingly put something on my skin that I thought smelled like a wet pooch but again, the way it feels just makes it that damn good! If the whole smell thing has you kind of thrown, just go to Sephora, Ulta or Macy's and smell the sampler! If you find that you don't like the smell, I really must say that you should give yourself a week to try the product b/c I promise, you won't even notice the smell after a bit! And most stores will allow you to return beauty products that have been opened & used! (I'm always surprised how many people don't know that. If you buy a mascara at Walgreen's only to find that after 1 use you hate it, take it back to them & you'll get a refund!) $15- $105 for the original Hope & $38 for SPF 30 Hope at http://www.philosophy.com/

~~ Every A.M.- After applying Hope, I tap a layer of Benefit's b.Right! It's Potent eye cream on over the Eye Hope. I've already done a product review of this stuff on a previous post. It's one of my absolute favorite products! It feels amazing & it has not scent to it. I keep this in my fridge which makes it feel even more amazing when I put it on. The cold temperature really helps w/ any puffiness you may have under your eyes. Plus, your creams will stay good for a longer amount of time when you keep them in the refrigerator. $32 at http://www.benefitcosmetics.com/

~~ Every A.M.~ I then apply a layer of Philosophy's Hope in a Tube Eye & Lip Firming Cream around my lips.Tell me you've never seen women who have those awful wrinkles around their lips from smoking!! I don't smoke but the point is, your mouth & lips age right along w/ the rest of the face. (& body!!) Then, I put on lip balm! I love Smith's Rosebud Co.'s Strawberry Lip Balm. I know they're famous for the Rosebud flavor but I don't like anything rose flavored! BLAHH! $33 for Hope in a Tube at http://www.philosophy.com/ & $7 for Rosebud's Strawberry

 ~~ Every P.M.- I wash face w/ Philosophy's Purity Made Simple while using the Clarisonic Mia. I honestly do not know how I ever lived without my Mia! "She" goes on every single trip out of town I make. Now, before you go thinking, "I can't believe she'd spend $149 on a facial brush when there are cheaper ones on the market!", let me just stop you! Before getting my Mia, I DID try a "cheaper" $70 facial brush. Big mistake! It hurt like Hell. The brush fibers were so damn scratchy on my face. It felt like it was tearing my face at times! Clarisonic's brush fibers are super soft! And I use the "deep pore" brush head. I can't imagine how soft the, "Normal", "Sensitive", & "Delicate" brushes are! So seriously, don't waste your $ by going out & buying a cheaper knock-off. If you, like me, are a fashion & beauty magazine junky, you've heard them ALL talk about the Clarisonic brush. The Mia's been out for a couple of years now & still, every single month I see it mentioned in at least one of 6 magazines I subscribe to! Every celebrity under the sun uses the brush & it's highly recommended by dermatologists! There's a reason you only here the Clarisonic mentioned: IT'S THE BEST! Now, you may be wondering, "Why do I need to wash my face w/ a facial brush anyway?". First, you won't believe how much makeup this thing removes. After getting my Mia, I did a little test I saw done on TV simply b/c I figured it was too go to be true. First, I washed my face like I normally did, just using my hands, a washcloth, & water. Then, I washed it again using the Mia. I was SHOCKED to see how much makeup was on my brush head. It amazed me to see how much makeup & dirt gets left behind when you just use your hands! Another reason this product is so worth it's price is b/c the brush vibrates which means any skincare products you put on your face afterward get absorbed better. If you don't understand how that's possible, just go onto Clarisonic's website or do a web search & it will help explain it. Clarisonic also makes a bigger brush which can be used not only on your face, but your entire body. I love my Mia & I'm able to use it on my face, neck & chest so it's the biggest size I need. Philosophy's Purity Made Simple is another product they make that has won numerous awards over the years. It smells amazing & it cuts right through any makeup, even waterproof mascara! For most people, it's gentle enough that they are able to use it to remove their eye makeup. I'm able to keep my eyes open when I use it b/c it doesn't cause me any stinging. I turned my mom onto this stuff a little over a year ago & it's now 1 of her beauty staples as well. $10- $47.50 at http://www.philosophy.com/ & $149 for Clarisonic Mia at http://www.sephora.com/ or http://www.ulta.com/

The Clarisonic Mia comes in a fun assortment of colors!
~~ Every Wednesday P.M.- After washing my face I use Philosophy's Oxygen Peel. I love how this feels on my face. It really cleans out your pores & helps to brighten up your face. It's also very gentle so it shouldn't cause any stinging on your skin. It's kind of fun too b/c you get to mix the enzyme gel before each use. Once you have the gel on your face you put the oxygen foam on over it... it feels really good when it foams up. It's almost like you can feel your pores being cleaned out. As an added exfoliating step, the kit comes w/ a little spatula that you use to scrape the gel/foam off of your face. $50 at http://www.ulta.com/
The Oxygen Peel

~~ Every Sunday P.M.- After washing my face I use Philosophy's Mircodelivery Peel. Now, this one may not work well for people w/ really sensitive skin b/c it contains Vitamin C & for some people that can cause a stinging sensation. If you don't have sensitive skin, definitely try this stuff. This is yet another of their award winning products. It does such an amazing job of exfoliating. Even after using it for 2+ years, it still amazes me how soft & smooth my skin feels after using it. $40- $65 at http://www.philosophy.com/

The Microdelivery Peel
~~ Every P.M.- After washing my face (& doing my Wed. & Fri. peels), I apply RoC Retinol Deep Wrinkle Night Cream. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that retinol is THE holy grail of anti-agers! Go open a beauty or fashion magazine & try not to find it mentioned somewhere inside! Not only does retinol help as an anti-ager, it's also great for keeping skin/pores clear. They now have a version of this out for sensitive skin too. $22 at Target, CVS, Walgreen's & http://www.ulta.com/

~~ Every P.M.- After applying Roc, I again use Philosophy's Eye Hope.

~~  Every P.M.- After giving the retinol cream a couple of minutes to sink in I apply moisturizer. I use a different moisturizer at night than I do during the day. Your skin really benefits from all of the products you put on your face while you sleep so I use a night cream that's a bit rich. I like Benefit's b.Right! Total Moisture Facial Cream. It makes my skin feel so soft! I did a post of this stuff a month or so ago so I already explained the things I like about it. $38 at www.benefitcosmetics.com

~~ Every P.M.- After applying Eye Hope I use Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough Neck Cream. All of those years of going tanning gave me the lovely "necklaces". Ladies, I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about... those lovely horizontal lines you get. This stuff is also really great to use on your decollete. I like that it's really thick b/c a little really goes a long way. It's full of peptides & antioxidants that help hydrate & firm the skin in this area. You may think that using your face moisturizer in this area is good enough but believe it or not, the skin on your face is NOT like the skin of your neck & chest. I always get the big 4 oz. size & I order it on the QVC website b/c every 3 or 4 months I get a new tube automatically shipped to me. So, basically, 1 oz. will last you approximately 1 month. Remember, you just need a tiny bit! $25- $55 at http://www.qvc.com/

~~ Every P.M.- Next, I go back to 1 of my favorite products: Benefit's b.Right! It's Potent eye cream. Can't get enough of this stuff. On those days where I didn't get enough sleep & my eyes look like I've been smoking meth or something, (okay, I've never done that so maybe that's not the best example) this stuff gets used about once every hour. That lets you know it's gentle though!

~~ Every P.M.- Right before I turn of the lights to go to sleep, I again apply Hope in a Tube around my lips followed by a layer of my Rosebud Strawberry lip balm. Obviously, it's always good to do this after you brush your teeth.

I know that sounds like a ton of stuff but seriously, it takes me about 10-15 minutes in the morning. When I do my night time routine, I usually take a bit longer but I enjoy doing all of this stuff so I just take my time with it. I usually do it while I'm watching Frasier reruns so there are usually some pauses between all of the steps.

  • I make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you don't keep your body hydrated, your skin is going to look dull! PERIOD! And drinking soda all day does not in any way substitute water!
  •  Get enough sleep. When you're tired, a lot of times your skin will also look tired... especially your eyes!
  • Use a really good body lotion. Your face & neck aren't the only things that show age! I personally love Philosophy's body emulsions, mainly, b/c they contain antioxidants & ingredients that help firm skin. I also LOVE that they make lotions to match all of their wonderful Grace fragrances. Amazing, Pure, Baby & Inner are my favorite scents. Anytime I wear the Amazing Grace fragrance, I get compliments. It's so light & beautiful. My dentist LOVES it so much he had me tell him the name of the scent & where to purchase it so he could buy some for his wife! My mom also uses it along w/ Eternal Grace & Inner Grace. Oh, & when I want something more flirty, I use Philosophy's Falling in Love body emulsion. I love the scent so much that I often spray the perfume on my chest when I put my PJs on.
I'm always amazed at the people who are my age or younger yet look 10-15 years older than me. I'm not talking about any of my close, personal friends but I do have acquaintances like that. It's usually really easy to spot the people who indulge just a bit too much in things like alcohol, drugs & cigarettes! I'm not trying to sound like a bitch but I mean, stop & think about all of the things my body's been put through! I've been as close to death and being in a coffin as you can possibly get without it actually happening. I take a ton of pills a day, including an opiate to help w/ my pain level. For you to be the same age as I am & look 10 years older than me, you're definitely not doing something right! I drink occasionally & yeah, I may do some other things that I shouldn't from time to time but I know how to keep myself under control. I know that if I wasn't so religious about taking care of my skin my health issues would literally be written all over my face. I think it just shows that taking care of your skin is really that important. With all that I deal with, I really am in the position where I don't want to look like I feel most of the time! My skin definitely helps me with that issue. Now, I need to get this strict about working out!! I'm working on it! Actually, it's 10 P.M. so I'm about to go do my night time routine right now so I can go read & watch the Golden Girls in bed!
Only Audrey Hepburn could look this gorgeous "sleeping" w/ an eye mask on!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's a Tough Job but Somebody's Gotta Do it!

The view of the St. Louis arch from my hotel room.

This month, I was able to work 3 events for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. I love doing motivational speaking b/c for me it's almost like therapy... only they pay me! I spoke at 2 events in the Detroit area, one on 6/14 & the other on 6/15, & one in Little Rock on 6/22. To be honest, I actually couldn't tell you where Novartis is based but I know it's not in Memphis. So, I'm only around people who work for the company when I go on trips. It's always nice to meet the different Novartis reps. in different cities. I've seriously met some of the nicest people doing this job. The events I've worked have had anywhere from 10 to 100+ people & they always take place at a really nice restaurant. It's usually a 3 course dinner type of deal so a lot of times these things take place at restaurants I'd never be able to afford to eat at if I were the one who had to pay the bill. All of the events I've done have started at 7 P.M. so I always try to get there at least 30 minutes early so I can have a glass of wine before I get up & speak. As many times as I've done public speaking there are still times when my nerves start getting crazy & the alcohol usually takes care of that issue!! As much as I love speaking & eating at the nice restaurants, I have to say one of the BEST parts of the job is that there's always a car service that drives me around everywhere. Now, I'd never personally want to buy a Lincoln town car or a Cadillac but they sure are nice to be driven around in. Of course, they're always black & have the tinted windows & all of that good stuff & they always have leather seats. The backseats of these cars are seriously too comfortable to even put into words. I've taken some of the best naps in the backs of some of these cars. Sometimes the drivers can be a bit out there & they'll want to talk the entire time. That can get a bit annoying but I hate being a bitch so I never tell them to shut up. There have been a few times where as soon as I get in the car I'll make a comment about how exhausted I am & let them know I'll probably end up dosing off. That usually does the trick! I've heard some interesting stories from a few of my drivers. The guy who drove me around the first night I was in Michigan told me all about his daughter & how she was a drug addict & her husband had been shot & killed and b/c she was so bad on drugs her family was having to take care of her baby... it was pretty depressing. I was a bit shocked that the driver told all of that to a complete stranger but I guess sometimes it's just nice to tell your problems to someone else. Having a driver in all of these cities has spoiled me a bit... okay, more than a bit, b/c now, I HATE driving! If I had the $$, believe me, I'd hire a driver in a heartbeat! If I ever get rich, that's one of the things at the top of my list of  "Must Haves"! I usually get put up in pretty nice hotels, so I guess that's another plus. There have been one or 2 that were a bit blah but for the most part, I can't complain about any of the places I've stayed... especially when I'm not paying for it. The nicest place I stayed at was actually when I worked my very first job w/ the company last Summer. The job I did was in St. Louis & the hotel was literally next door to Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play). The room I was in overlooked the Mississippi River & the Arch so the view was just breathtaking, especially in the evening when the sun would start to set. As glamorous & exciting as a lot of that sounds, there is one big drawback: AIRPORT SECURITY! I've been flying since I was a baby so planes don't bother me much, although, I wish they'd quit making them smaller & smaller. I do hate going through security though! I don't know what my deal is but no matter how early I get to the airport, I always feel rushed until I get through security. I don't really understand it! Since I can't walk the entire distance of the airport, I always fly with my wheelchair. Now, I do have to say one plus about flying in the wheelchair is that since I don't go through the scanners & all that crap & since they have to take different steps with me, I never have to wait in line! I'm always checked by a lady who basically feels me up & gets so up close & personal with me, I feel like she needs to take me on a date after it's over! Plus, they have to swab all over my wheelchair & my prosthesis to make sure I'm not somehow hiding explosives in them. You can't be one of these idiots who takes offense to any of this though. If you want to gripe & give the security agents a hard time, stop & remember this one day, back in September of 2001! When you realize what these people are trying to prevent, it's kind of hard to get upset w/ them for doing their job. Still, I've seen more than my fair share of people getting an attitude when they go through security. Anyway, once that part's over & done, I always relax. All in all, I'd have to say this is a pretty sweet job! It's kind of hard to find anything to complain about when you're getting paid to go to a nice restaurant, eat a yummy dinner, drink wine, get up & tell your story & then go home! I actually have no clue how long this job w/ Novartis will go on for but I obviously know it's not going to last forever. The vaccine I'm promoting is Menveo & it's still relatively new. I'd think that once it starts being used a lot & has been on the market for a while that they probably won't need me anymore... & to be honest, that's fine! As nice as it is getting paid to do this, it's even better to know that what I'm doing will probably help to save lives & keep other families from going through all of the mess mine has been through since I got sick 10 years ago! If I didn't really need the money, I'd probably do it for free. (but believe me, I need the $$!) I've thought about whether I'd want to keep doing motivational speaking or not once this gig is up. At one point I thought of making a career out of it but now, I don't really think that's what I want to do all the time. I really want to go to beauty school & become an aesthetician. Skincare is just something I love! Don't get me wrong, I love motivational speaking & helping others but I don't think I want to have a career where I have to talk about & am forced to think about everything I've gone through every single time I work. It does feel good to tell your story but there are times when it can also emotionally wear you down b/c you're going back to this dark place in your life over & over. Believe me, I do that enough when I'm not doing this job! Skincare is a lot more fun for me to think about & it'd definitely be an atmosphere that would just be a bit more, eh, happy! It would be awesome to continue to do this on the side though. I'd like to start doing some public speaking for the 2 school systems, well, I guess 3 when you count private schools, here where I live. I figured the kids would probably relate to me b/c to a lot of them I'm not yet at the age where I'm considered "old" so right now, I still know everything, like all teenagers do! (not really but I'd want them to think that) I know once they start viewing me as "old" I probably won't be able to get through to as many of them b/c by then I'll be an idiot who knows nothing! So, that's a bit about what I'm doing right now. As I said above, it's definitely not the kind of job you complain much about! I don't know if I want to call myself "lucky" for having this job b/c if I'd never gotten sick I wouldn't have been considered to fill this position BUT, I'd say I'm pretty close to it!

Gorgeous view from my hotel room of the Arch & the city lights reflecting off of the Mississippi River.

I was serious when I said Busch Stadium was literally next door to the hotel I stayed at. I took this while sitting on the porch of the Starbuck's in the hotel lobby.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Must-Have, Especially for Summer Months!

Here's a shocker... I'm going to review a Benefit Cosmetics product that I LOVE! If you haven't noticed from the 3 previous product reviews I've done, I have a SERIOUS love affair with this company. They have too many great products & they do the most adorable packaging I've ever seen. What can I say? I'm a sucker for girly, cutesy stuff, especially when the stuff works. Anyway, this product is called The Porefessional. It's a primer that does the most amazing job of making pores invisible. I was blessed w/ good skin & I really do enjoy taking care of it (that is basically why I want a career as an aesthetician) but my T-zone has an issue: My nose & chin get a bit shiny, especially when it gets warm & humid out. This is a velvety smooth balm that feels amazing on your skin! It's super lightweight & the color is translucent, so it blends right in w/ your skin. I don't know how exactly this stuff works like it does but I do know that as soon as you put it on, your pores become invisible. I guess the finish on this would be described as matte since it makes any shininess on your face go away... but in a natural way, not an "I'm wearing pressed powder" kinda way. I only put this on my nose & chin but there are times I want to put it on my entire face & even my body because of how wonderful the product feels. Another great thing about this stuff is that while it fills in your pores so they disappear, it doesn't clog them up or break you out. Now, I've never had acne prone skin so I don't know if it will do the same for every skin type. I always put this stuff on after moisturizer but before my bronzer which leads me to yet another great thing about this stuff:  You can put it on under or over your makeup. It comes in a small tube so during the "hot months" here in the South, I pop mine into the case I keep all of my lipsticks in so I'll have it with me if I need a touch up. A tube of it will cost you $28. I realize some people don't like spending a lot for makeup & beauty products but what can I say... when it comes to stuff I put on face, I usually like brands that fall into the more high end categories! (& I absolutely do not mind paying a bit extra for Benefit's super cute packaging)This stuff only came out last year & I bought my first tube of it during Summer 2010. Even though I've only been using it for a year, I can honestly say I do not know how I lived without it. I'm definitely glad that I don't have to worry with that now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cousins... God's Way of Giving me Sisters While Allowing me to Remain an Only Child

Melissa, me, Julie, Hannah & Sarah
I am my mom & stepdad's only child... & believe me, I've ALWAYS enjoyed it! I've always kind of had the best of both worlds b/c when I was 2, my mom's older brother had his 1st girl. My cousin, Melissa, & I have been close our entire lives. When I was like 7 or 8, Melissa's little sister, Julie, came along. It was always so much fun to spend the night at my uncle's house on the weekends. Melissa & I would play together all night. Even when we were supposed to go to bed, we'd usually stay up & talk for a while afterwards. I stayed at my Nana's house quite often during Summer break & every so often, Melissa & Julie would stay w/ her as well. I would bring as much of my Barbie empire that I possibly could & Melissa & myself would play all day long. Since Julie was quite a bit younger, we'd be complete brats to her. I'd always bring one ugly Barbie for her to play with so that she'd kind of let us do our thing. We picked on her so much! It was pretty bad! Some days my Nana would take us all out to lunch & then we'd go get ice cream afterwards. With my Nana no longer here, those are some of my most cherished memories. Having cousins allowed me to have a sister-like relationship. I loved it b/c we'd play all day or all weekend but then when we were through, I got to go back to my house where I could be a spoiled rotten only child. Once I got into high school, b/c about the only things I had time for were school & pom, my cousins & I did grow apart. Again, it was kind of like w/ a lot of sisters... once you get into high school, the younger siblings aren't quite as "cool" to be seen hanging out with. After I got sick in 2001, my older cousin & I became close again. At the very beginning of 2005, we really started hanging out more. Now, Melissa & I are pretty much back to where we were when we were little. We both "get our hairrr did" by one of my friends & usually, we'll schedule out appointments for the same day. Afterwards, a sleepover always follows! We also started having our annual "Halloween Sleepover" where we rent a bunch of scary movies & eat a bunch of junk food. Because my mom & I are RIDICULOUS w/ our love for decorating during holidays, we spend the night at my house b/c not only is the front of our house decorated, my bedroom & the downstairs are also completely decked out. This past Christmas, we did a "Chrima Time" sleepover. It was seriously like being little girls all over. We both had on Christmas, sock monkey PJs & my parents drove us around to look at Christmas lights. My parents & I have been going to this place called Christmas City almost every year since I was 8 or 9. We took Melissa with us last year. SO MUCH FUN! It was awesome to have my parents drive us around while we snacked & listened to Christmas music. We even had our picture made w/ Santa (sock monkey PJs & all)! Julie is away at school in St. Louis, so she never comes to our sleepovers but unlike when we were little, Julie is ALWAYS welcomed!! Anytime there's a family gathering, the cousins usually try to go off where we can be alone & talk. We also have 2 more cousins but they're out in California. They came in town last June & it was a blast. We had a BBQ at my house & like we do when they're not around, all of the cousins went upstairs to get away from all of the "grown ups"... although, we did allow some of my uncles to be in the room with us. When they came to Memphis last June, it was actually the very 1st time I'd even met my baby cousin, Hannah. Her older sister, Sarah, had been to Memphis twice before when she was little & I'd actually visited her in California when she was a baby. I'm hoping that one of the next times I visit my dad in Southern California, I can fly up to San Francisco & spend a couple of days with them. Even though I'm now 29, I still do enjoy having Mom & Stu all to myself but it's also comforting to know that I have my 4 cousins. I don't really like to think about it too much but I do realize one day all of our parents will be gone & more than likely, the 5 of us will still be around. It's nice to know that I won't be alone when that does happen. To this day I think it's hilarious that Nana had NINE kids & out of those 9, only 3 had children. And all 5 of us are girls!! Sisters who I don't have to share with my parents!! Melissa & I are having a sleepover tomorrow night (well, it's 2 A.M. so technically, tonight) & I'm looking forward to this one just like I did the other million sleepovers we've had since we were little girls! =)

Melissa & me at Mom & Stu's wedding. I was 6, she was 4.

Melissa & me w/ Santa, Christmas 2010. I was 28 & she was 26.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6/22-6/23~ Little Rock

I JUST got back in town last week & I'm already getting ready to leave for another speaking event. Thankfully, I won't have to deal w/ airport security on this trip! I swear some of the TSA agents at the Memphis airport should be taking me out to dinner b/c they've had a bit too much physical contact with me over the last year! I don't know how some people go out of town every few days for work... unless they have a private jet! Tomorrow, I'll be making a quick 3 hour drive over the bridge (we here in Memphis refer to it as the Memphis Bridge but I think it's actually the Arkansas Bridge... not really sure) to Little Rock. Mom gets to come w/ me on this trip so of course, I'll be letting her drive. (hey, never pass up on the opportunity to get some beauty sleep) I still haven't posted anything on my Michigan trip last week so I'll do a post on both trips once I'm home from Arkansas. Hopefully I remember my camera this time b/c I got to Michigan & discovered I left it at home & ended up having to use my phone as a camera. I hate going anywhere without my camera! You never know when you will see something or someone you want to snap a picture of  !Anyway, I'm going to head to bed now. Have to get plenty of sleep so that I can get up, walk out to the car & go right back to sleep! See you in a couple of days. =)

Eye Love This Stuff!

Haven't done a product review in a while so had to blog a bit about one of my favorite beauty products. Like the previous products I've reviewed, this one is by Benefit Cosmetics. The product is: It's Potent! & it's an eye cream. If you're under the age of 25, you probably don't understand all of the fuss women make over finding a good eye cream... mainly b/c you don't yet have dark circles under your eyes or crow's feet. Well, give it another couple of years & believe me, you'll understand. Actually, I say start at the age of 25 or 26 even if you don't show any signs of aging yet! It's Potent! is so hydrating & super soothing. It's also very gentle. I use it in the morning & at night before bed. I also use a retinol eye cream & since retinol creams can be irritating, I'm only able to use it at night. I give it a few minutes to really sink in & then tap It's Potent! on over it. All the flying I do w/ my motivational speaking job can really takes its toll  on my skin. The air from the airplanes can dry out my skin & since I don't always sleep well in hotel beds, I do get dark circles under my eyes from time to time. This stuff ALWAYS does a great job of re-hydrating the delicate skin under my eyes & it helps brighten up the dark circles. I seriously have It's Potent! on me 24/7! I have a full size jar on my vanity in my bedroom & I keep a travel size of it in my purse. The cream contains apple extract which helps boost the skin's collagen & can help fill in those fine lines we get around the eyes. It's very gentle so I'd recommend it for any skin type, including sensitive skin. It doesn't really have a scent to it so it's good for people who can be sensitive to really fragrant skin care products. Benefit has REALLY done a super job with this skincare line & should definitely be proud of the products in the line. If you're in search on a good eye cream that will help hydrate & soothe, give this one a shot. It costs $32 which may seem expensive to some but you're going to pay just as much, if not more, for the brands you can get at drugstores. You only need a tiny bit for each eye so one jar will last you quite a while, even if you use it more than once a day. Your eyes are one of the very first places that start showing age so I'm serious about starting an anti-aging routine for the eye area while you're in your young to mid 20s. I was 26 when I started using anti-aging creams & I think my skin looks brighter & better now than it did when I was 25.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 2 Dads

Since today was Father's Day, thought I'd talk a bit about both of my dads! There's my "Dad" dad. My mom & he divorced when I was 2 so it's hard to ever imagine them together. Since my mom & dad are both from Memphis, when my mom & he got divorced, Mom moved back to Memphis where a good percent of our family is located while Dad stayed on the West coast. He's either lived in Arizona or California my entire life. While I spent my entire life growing up 1000s of miles away from him, we've always been close. He's been a big part of my life since day one! He used to come back to Memphis at Christmas when my Granddad was still alive and my Grandmother still lived here. I also used to spend my summer vacations with him while I was growing up. I started flying by myself when I was 7 or 8 for that very reason. When I got sick in 2001, as soon as he got the call from my mom telling him how bad my condition was, he was on a flight out here. I can't imagine what that 4 hour flight must have been like for him. He didn't know if I'd even still be alive once he landed in Memphis. During those 3 1/2 months I was in the hospital, he made several trips out here to be with me & to help support Mom and Stu. He caught the 1st flight he could on the day I went into cardiac arrest in 2008. He came to see me for my birthday 4 months later. So, as you can tell, we're close! I'm thankful to have him. Now, there's my stepdad aka Stuatee (it's a long story). I've pretty much known him my entire life. While growing up, he was best friends with one of my mom's younger brothers. He used to come over to my Nana's house to hang out with my uncle and I'd always try to follow him around. When I was 4 or 5, he & my mom started dating. They got married when I was 6. They're still married today. We knocked heads quite a bit when I was in high school, but we've always had a good relationship. I'm his only child and he's always taken care of me like I was his own blood. He still does help take care of me to this day! I know that he never HAD to do any of the things he's done for me, so he's definitely a great guy. I'd have to say I'm a lucky lady to have these 2 dads. They couldn't be any more different as far as their personalities & it cracks me up at times to think of how different they are. No matter the differences, I love them both so much.  Happy Father's Day, Dad & Stuatee... as well as all of the dad's out there.
Stuatee, me & Dad at a fundraiser Mom's work did to help w/ some of my medical bills. I was pretty sick at the time. I actually was in the hospital & had to let them allow me to leave for a few hours to attend this.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Ten Years of Surviving, TO ME!

Today (6/19) is the 10 year anniversary of the day I went into the hospital w/ Meningococcal Meningitis! It's weird b/c I can remember a lot of it like yesterday but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. Although the majority of these 10 years have been spent in & out of hospitals and operating rooms, I am so thankful for each and every day. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to this life since I lived 19 years as a healthy, "normal" girl. I almost don't want to ever get used to it b/c I don't ever want to forget what it was like during those 19 years. I know some people have never had the experience of living w/ good health so I never want to forget how blessed I was to have had those 19 years! If I had a chance to go back & re-do the night I got sick, I can honestly say I don't know what I would do. There have been so many times I've thought to myself, "God, what I wouldn't give to go back in time to that night! I wouldn't have gone to that party & I never would've gotten sick!". BUT, I also think about all of the wonderful people who have come into my life b/c of the fact that I got sick, I just couldn't imagine my life without them as part of it! I hope each & every nurse and doctor who has taken care of me at some point during these 10 years knows how absolutely grateful my family & I are to them! It's getting late & I'm pretty tired, so this is going to be a short post. I'd like to ask that if you never read my post from 5/18 that you please take 5 or 10 minutes to do so!! It could save your life or the life of your child. If you don't feel like looking through my blog for the post, here's the web address:  http://beautyandthedisability.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-hope-you-will-all-read-this.html . Also, even though it's completely unrelated, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

6/14-6/16 ~ Michigan

This is just a super quick post to let everyone know I will be out of town working for the next few days. For those of you who don't know me, b/c of what I've been able to survive, I do motivational speaking. Right now I work for the pharmaceutical company, Novartis. They make a vaccine, Menveo, which prevents Meningococcal Meningitis (what I had). Obviously, I really want to do as much as I can to see more children & young adults get vaccinated so, when Novartis asked me (along w/ 2 other girls from the nonprofit I'm part of) to do some work with them, of course I jumped on board. Basically, they fly me all over the country & I get to speak at a dinner that's attended by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, & others in the medical field. I really enjoy it. It's such great therapy to get up in front of 50-150 people & just tell your whole story! I guess if you have a fear of public speaking it may not be too fun but luckily, I don't have that fear. I always meet the nicest people at these dinners too. I love that I get to go out for a swanky dinner, have a couple of glasses of wine & just blab. Doesn't really feel like work but apparently, it is! So, the blog probably won't be updated for the next few days but I'll be sure to write a post once I get back on how the 2 events I'm speaking at went. I'll try to get some pictures to share as well. Hope everyone has a wonderful week! See you guys in a few days!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some of my Smartest Friends Need an English Lesson: The Battle of You & I vs. You & me!

Mom and ME!
Okay, today I will be discussing one of my BIGGEST pet peeves! I'm always amazed at how many of even my smartest friends don't know when to properly use, "I" & when to properly use, "me". We're talking friends that took honors courses in school. What's really sad is that some of them might be reading this right now & thinking, "Well, I'm absolutely positive that I know when to use "I" or "me" so she's not about to teach me anything I don't know already!". So, nothing annoys me more than logging onto FB, looking through some of the latest pics posted by friends & seeing the incorrect caption below a photo! I swear, it seems like 80% of my friends will post a picture that will be of them & oh, just as an example, their mother. Okay, trivia question time! Pick the correct caption for the picture of said friend & their mother: "Mom & I" or "Mom & me"?? If you picked, "Mom & I", you are..... W R O N G!!!!! Would you like to know why you are wrong? Okay, let's take your mom out of the picture. Now you're left with just a picture of you. Would you put "I" as the caption of just a picture of you? NO! You'd put "Me" as the caption for a picture with just you in it! So, just b/c you start adding people into the scenario, why in the world do you feel the need to suddenly change the correct pronoun? If you don't believe me, feel free to ask an English teacher. I will bet every single possession I own that I am correct. I sucked at Geometry & Chemistry, but I was always good with English! So, let's continue with this English lesson, shall we? Obviously, there will be times that using "I" will be proper & "Me" will be wrong. Let's do another trivia question. Okay, pick the sentence that uses proper English:  "Grandma & me went to the store." or "Grandma & I went to the store.". If you picked, "Grandma & I", you are CORRECT! A lot more people probably passed this trivia question than did the first one, but still, let's explain why the sentence using "I" is correct. Take "Grandma" out of the equation. You would say, "I went to the store.", not, "Me went to the store.". People who got the last trivia question wrong actually don't bug me as much as people who got the 1st trivia question wrong. I've literally seen 100s of pictures on FB that have something like, "Mom, Suzie, & I" as the caption underneath. I seriously feel like pulling my hair every single time I see it. It's not a picture of "I', dammit, it's a picture of, "Me"!!!! I've tried so hard to hold my tongue & not correct people, but it's been a couple of years since I've really started noticing just how many people get this wrong & I can't take it anymore. I will now start being an asshole & correcting people in the comment box below the picture. I don't care if it makes you mad or annoys you! It makes me mad & annoys me to see super intelligent people using the wrong pronoun... especially super smart people in their late 20s and beyond! And, as I mentioned somewhere above, if you still think you're right & I'm wrong, ask an English teacher or someone who majored in English. If you've read this post, had an "A-ha!" moment, & now believe that you have a million pictures on FB with the incorrect caption underneath it, PLEASE, go correct them! All one million of them! Seriously! I'm surprised I haven't started getting gray hairs over this. It's so annoying. Reading those incorrect captions are the visual equivalents of the sound of nails on a chalkboard to me! Now, before ending this, realize that I'm not saying my English is always perfect & proper. I'm sure in this post alone there are a few commas placed in incorrect spots but, incorrect use of commas is not my pet peeve! Incorrect use of pronouns is! I bet it would hurt your ears to hear someone say, "Him went to the bank." instead of, "He went to the bank."! Well, that's improper use of a pronoun. What you're doing is the exact same thing so technically, it's just as bad! Now, if you'd still like to yell at me because you believe I'm wrong, feel free to message me & I will gladly send you the email address of one of my high school English teachers. He'd be happy to know that I paid attention in class when he taught this lesson!
Elmo and ME!!= CORRECT    Elmo and I!!= INCORRECT
Ahh, just to help you out with this topic once more, take the picture of Elmo and ME, above. Okay, now, take Elmo out of the picture. What do you have now? Do you have a picture of I???? NO!! You have a picture of me! The pronoun remains the same, doesn't matter how many people you want to add to the picture!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Family, Gotta Love em

Everyone that was able to make it to the BBQ Shop for dinner.

Julie & Melissa w/ Kacky.
1st Row- Julie, Melissa & me.
2nd Row- Uncle Mike, Uncle Rog & Uncle Tim
First off, sorry I haven't done a good job of keeping up with the blog this past week. It's been a bit crazy/hectic around here. As I mentioned in my last post, I lost a good friend last week, so there was that to deal with. Also, my mom's family has had several "gatherings" so I've been busy doing the family thing. My mom comes from a VERY large, Polish Catholic family. She has 6 brothers & 2 sisters. I love that I have so many aunts & uncles. Our family get togethers are NEVER dull. My mom's brother who is right below her (in order) was in town last week from Denver. We had a BBQ @ my aunt's house last weekend to celebrate him coming to town. Even though we were having record high temps. last weekend, the BBQ was a blast. My aunt literally had an A/C on the back deck that we were all sitting in front of. That's how hot it was! My Uncle Tim (the one from Denver) ended up staying with us for 3 nights so I wasn't on the computer as much last week. (which was a good thing) I'm a night owl so usually once the rest of my house is in bed, I get on the computer. With my uncle here, I actually had someone to stay up & talk to. My mom had another brother come in town on Wednesday night. My Uncle Jeff is back in Memphis for at least a couple of months, so it'll be nice to have him here for a while. He lives in Portland, OR, so he's usually quite a long way from us. I went w/ my Uncle Tim to pick up Uncle Jeff at the airport. We then went to my Uncle Mike's & had dinner there w/ one of my cousins. Thursday night was a BLAST! We got everyone together for dinner at the BBQ Shop... you know Memphis, we love our BBQ! It's always so much fun to get our family together for a dinner at a restaurant b/c they always end up putting us in our own private room off in the back so that we can be just as loud & crazy as we want to. And believe me, we do just that! Unfortunately, that night, my aunt (Kacky... one of the best things about being the 1st born grandchild was that whatever names I came up w/ to call everyone were the names that they got stuck with!!) & her husband weren't able to make it to dinner b/c my uncle wasn't feeling well. But, she did have last weekend's BBQ at her house, so we have been able to spend time with them. My Uncle Tim left yesterday to drive back home to Denver. Always sucks to see people leave! BUT, we have Uncle Jeff here for a while, so hopefully we'll have some more family gatherings soon. One of my favorite things about getting all of us together is that it always feels like my Nana is with us in spirit. She died in April of 2004 & we all miss her like crazy!! I know she'd be SO happy to see that we've all remained close & that we are still keeping certain traditions alive. My family is always there for each other during hard times! They've stood by me through so much since I got sick in 2001. Even when my Nana passed away, I know that 8 of Nana's 9 kids were in the room. I was lucky enough to be there as well. As sad as it was to lose her, I couldn't imagine her leaving us in a better way. We were all crammed in her hospital room, surrounding her bed. It was very peaceful. Definitely one of my most treasured memories. Getting off of that subject a bit, I always find it hilarious that Nana had 9 kids & out of those 9 kids, she got 5 grandchildren.. all girls!! Only 3 of her 9 kids ended up having kids. Perhaps growing up with that many brothers & sisters was more than enough for some of them! I love that I kind of have the best of both worlds... I'm my mom's only child, yet I have a huge family that I can count on. My cousin, Melissa, who is right below me as far as the order from oldest to youngest goes, is only 2 years younger than I am. We spent so much time together when we were young. We're both creeping up on 30 & we still have sleepovers once every 6-8 weeks!! I love it b/c I think it helps keep us young at heart. Anyway, this post is just me kind of rambling. I'm trying to get back in the habit of posting stuff on here several times a week. Unfortunately, my blood pressure's starting to act up again, so I'm not feeling too hot at the moment. I am sure that if I read this post in a few days, parts of it won't make sense to me. My blood pressure's gone back up a bit but so far, it's still not getting as high as it was when I 1st began having issues with it. So, fingers crossed, it won't get back to that point. Also, I have an abscess tooth that I'm dealing with right now. It hurts like a mofo!! I'm on an antibiotic to knock out the infection AND I'm on Vicodin (or Lortab... some form of Hydrocodone) to help with the pain. I already take Morphine twice a day for all of my nerve pain in my legs, so I'm sure having the Vicodin mixed in is another reason this post will sound crazy. I'll do my best to correct that problem on my next post. Hope everyone's enjoying their Saturday!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

OHH, the Irony!

     It's been a rough week so I've got some serious rambling to do! Just preparing you. I know this is going to be long & maybe confusing to keep up with so I made this bad boy an essay!
     It's so funny (well, maybe funny isn't the right word) that when we (not all but many of us) were still in school, we couldn't wait to get older so we'd have all the freedom we wanted. So, we got older & what happened? First, we start to wonder where in the Hell all this time has gone b/c it went by WAY too fast. Then, we think, "Man, I'd give anything to be young again!". We thought going to school was just torture! Oh, how can they make us get up at 6 (I actually got up at 5:30) & go to school for 7 whole hours? We just couldn't wait to be legal adults so we could be on our own & do what we wanted to. Guess we didn't realize what you have to do to be able to live on your own.
     If you're like me, you're 30ish (I'm 29) & now you're starting to feel the physical "side effects" of getting older as well. I mean, I am like the freaking weatherman b/c my arthritis & I can tell you when to expect rain! My back is all messed up now too. Thank God for chiropractors & massages! Of course, as we continue to get older, most of us will begin having issues w/ all sorts of areas of our health. I'm already taking more pills than my 80 year old grandmother (seriously) so I don't want to imagine what my pillbox will look like in another 15 or 20 years!
     BUT, perhaps the cruelest thing of all about getting older is that you start to lose more & more people you love! You come to the realization that either you're going to outlive many of the people you love or they're going to outlive you! It sucks any way you slice it. I lost a good friend this week. He was only 10 days older than I am & now he's gone! It's just crazy how one day someone is in your life & the next day they can be gone. It's so easy for people to forget that we're all here on Earth on borrowed time... & none of us know just how much time we've been loaned! It's so crazy for me to stop & think about how many friends that were around my age I have lost. I lost 3 while I was in middle school, 3 while I was in high school & another 4 (including 1 of my absolute best friends) since graduating high school. And good Lord, don't even get me started on how you start to see more & more of your family go, the older you get. I realize that's an obvious "duh" kind of thing but still, until it starts happening, you don't realize just how much it sucks! And this crap about time healing all wounds... PUH-LUH-EASE! No, time makes it easier for you to deal w/ the loss but it never makes the pain go away or get much better. As a matter of fact, I miss a lot of people now more than I did the first year or so after they died. You stop & think about how long its been since you've hugged or kissed someone that you absolutely love & believe me, you're going to feel a ton of emotions. My Granddad died way too young... I mean, at 63, he wasn't exactly young, but most all of us have grandparents who lived well into their 70s, 80s or even 90s. I was seriously a little princess in my Granddad's eyes. There have been plenty of times where I've been angry that he wasn't alive when I got sick b/c man, he sure could've helped me through some of the Hell I've been through. I obviously don't think he could've prevented any of it but there were times in the hospital that I would be really scared & just wish that I could have my Granddad w/ me to tell me everything would be okay. At this very moment, there isn't much I wouldn't do to have just 2 minutes w/ him! And it's not just my Granddad that I feel that way about. I'm just using him as an example. Don't even get me started on my Nana, my Uncle Geoff & my Grandma Farmer.  I think I feel most robbed over losing Daren. (my best guy friend) It's so funny b/c guys always try to come off as tough & able to handle any situation thrown at them, but I learned REALLY quick that men are not too good at handling illnesses & hospitals!! Talk about wusses! Daren was not one of them though. I met him when I was 14, so he knew me for the 5 years before I got sick. He never treated me any different after I got sick. I think a lot of it had to do w/ the fact that he was a type 1 diabetic & had some personal experience w/ hospitals & being sick. I miss being able to pick up the phone & call him when I want to bitch about something. It's funny how you're more comfortable talking to your guy friends about certain topics you don't want to get into w/ your girlfriends! I really wish he'd of been around during the 3 1/2 years I was w/ my ex b/c he would've made sure that relationship ended MUCH sooner! I had only been w/ my ex for about 4 months when Daren died & although Daren never met the ex, from the things I'd told him about said ex, he already knew he didn't like the guy & told me to get out before I got in too deep! Guess who ended up being right about that situation? Here's a hint... NOT ME! My friend, Greg, who passed away this week, was another guy who was really able to deal w/ my situation for what it was. Anytime we'd be out somewhere together he'd be protective of me. I still have other guy friends but there are only 2 (maybe 3) who I feel can really handle all the fun stuff that comes w/ being a close friend of mine. It's so funny to me that none of my girlfriends EVER had issues w/ my situation. That's another story though! One of my favorite quotes can relate to this topic so I'll throw it in before wrapping this up:   "It has been said, 'Time heals all wounds.'. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them w/ scar tissue & the pain lessens. But it is never gone."~ Rose Kennedy.
     And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, once you get older, you stop & wonder why time is going by so fast. It's almost comical that when we were little & wanted time to fly by, it went by SO slow. Now, it's the exact opposite. The more you wish time would just slow down a bit, the faster it seems to get. And I'm noticing every single year it seems to speed up more. It's like b/c I'm really in no rush to get to the middle or end of my life, time kind of throws it's head back, laughs, & shows me that it's in control, not me!
     I know I'm completely rambling now SO the point of this blog is that getting older & being a grown up isn't quite as much fun as we thought it was going to be when we were younger! If you're reading this & you're still in high school, PLEASE, don't be in any rush to grow up! Believe me, it's going to eventually happen... there's no getting around it. Usually, by the time you realize what's going on & think that perhaps you will slow down & enjoy the pleasures of being a teen/young adult, it's too late! In the meantime, try to enjoy the simple pleasures that come w/ being a kid. Savor every single moment of your childhood & make memories that will last you the rest of your life! Try to breathe in as much of every single moment as you possibly can! If you're spending time at your grandparents, really absorb how everything smells & sounds. When you get older, you may be out doing something one day & all of a sudden you'll get a whiff of something that reminds you of the smell of Nana's house. Believe me, you'll be so glad that you can remember that smell! And hey, take tons of pictures along the way so that if you do have trouble remembering all of these memories when you're older, you'll have photos to help. Ahh, life... it really is a bittersweet symphony!