Shopping with The Fierce 50 and Brunch at Chico’s





What could be better than shopping? How about shopping with good friends, sale prices and a Chico’s brunch to boot!  Thank you, Chico’s Santa Monica, for a wonderful time and the perfect cap to our weekend.


I had so much fun with these lovely ladies!  Karen of Wear with Passion, Nancy Duncan, 80s supermodel with new project almost ready to unveil, Catherine of CatherineGraceO and founder of The Fierce 50 Revolution, and Cindy of the great trio that is Fashion Trends and Friends. On Catherine: Poncho • Chico’s | Striped Top • Chico’s | Dot-Print Pants • Chico’s  | Shoes • Similar Miu Miu

Okay, it’s not all diet-worthy, but boy was it good!

Karen of Wear with Passion, Valerie of Maple Leopard and Val’s friend Jonie.  I really connected with these women.  They’re so much fun and so sincere and supportive.  They’re the epitome of The Fierce 50 Revolution and women supporting women.

On Karen: Jacket • Similar Express | Jeans • Chico’s | Shoes • Michael Kors also here


How cute are these cupcakes? Chico’s had them made just for us. If you’ve looked inside a Chico’s shopping bag, you’ll see the cupcakes are an homage to their leopard signature print which lines each bag. Shopping, friends, sale prices and leopard print – truly a fashion blogger’s paradise!

Jodie from Jodie’s Touch of Style and husband Rob share a sweet indulgence.  Jodie keeps us together and in touch with group emails and up-to-date information about The Revolution.  Rob was such a sweetie, stepping in to photograph me for Tuesday’s post since Andy couldn’t join me.  Thank you Rob, so very much!

On Jodie: Gingham Top • here and here | Jeans • Chico’s | Fun in the Sun Hat c/o • Chico’s

Michelle, on Instagram as @michellerodborough was my car buddy through the weekend.  Although every event was within 30 minutes of our home base, the fabulous Redondo Beach Hotel,  I was happy to have Michelle and her fun sense of humor keeping me company.  She is hilarious and so witty!  Check out her IG account, where she’s determined to wear and photograph every item in her closet.

On Michelle: Lace Top • Chico’s | Lace Crops • Chico’s | Metallic Sneakers • Superga, similar here | Tassel Necklace • Chico’s


Barb of Southern Blonde Chic  with yours truly.  Barb is awesome!  She’s drop-dead gorgeous with a wicked combination of southern charm and sharp wit.  She’s definitely a fashion influencer – I’ve already ordered her fabulous deconstructed jeans!  And talk about hair and make-up goals!  Barbi, you’ve become my beauty muse.  Thanks for the inspiration!

On Barb: Flare-Sleeve Top • Chico’s | Destructed Girlfriend Jeans • Chico’s | also here | Shoes • Franco Sarto
On me: Top • Chico’s | Floral Print Crops • Chico’s | Necklace • Chico’s | Earrings • Chico’s | Shoes • VANELi

This weekend members of The Fierce 50 Revolution got together for fun event after fun event. Many of us had been online friends for months, if not years. This was our first opportunity to meet face-to-face and did we make the most of it! We wrapped up the weekend with a shopping brunch at Chico’s, Santa Monica. What a pretty and delicious spread they set out for us!

At the beginning of The Fierce 50 Movement, Chico’s sent these pretty powerbead bracelets to each member. This weekend, we also received their Just Beachy totes and adorable Fun in the Sun hats. My daughter hijacked mine for an upcoming trip to the Carribean. I hope she’s planning to give them back. 🙂 Thank you, Chico’s, for the wonderful gifts and a fantastic Sunday morning.

I’ve got more in store about this great weekend.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts.  If you’re interesteed in becoming a member of The Fierce 50 Revolution, check us out on Facebook and join the party.  This inclusive group of supportive women would love to welcome you!

Thank you so much for visiting today!

In Quest of the Perfect Brow: My Microblading Experience




I’ve always had full, dark brows until recently, where I’ve been experiencing the Case of the Missing Brow. What in the world happened?  It would seem eyebrows aren’t immune to the aging process. I’ve gotten tired of penciling them in as part of my morning make-up routine so it seemed like a good time to look into microblading.

Microblading is a rather involved process which creates the look of a full brow by tattooing brow “hairs” to augment what you have naturally. If you’ve been curious about the process please join me as I share my recent experience with the amazing Emily Peare of Bombshell Beauty as she creates my new and improved eyebrows.


Above: my thinning brows, sans makeup, a few minutes before their much-anticipated transformation.

I had my microblading experience this past Tuesday. The entire process, encompassing one or more phases, can take several weeks. In the first phase most of the brow is bladed in. Healing takes six to eight weeks, after which additional sessions may be needed to fill in thin or asymmetric areas. The total process took a little over three hours. Emily spent most of that time meticulously measuring, marking, remeasuring and re-marking. Using a combination of plastic templates, calipers and dental floss (yes, really) she drew in the proposed new brow to guide her work.






Marked, measured and ready to go!

Once she comleted her measuring and marking, Emily coated the area with Lidocaine to start a numbing process which takes about 20 minutes.  While waiting, she dotted my forehead with various inks to find the best color combination.  Just as your hair is a combination of colors, the best, most natural eyebrow results will take more than one hue. Mine took two.  I’d love to tell you what they are, but I’ve completely forgotten.  They were both named for coffee drinks.  Yours will be different, matched to your hair colors and skin tones.

And the magic begins.  With ink on blade, Emily begins making small, hair-like cuts in the eyebrow field, starting from the outer edge and working toward the center.  One thing I didn’t anticipate is the effect of these little cuts as they get closer to the nose.  I needed to sneeze a lot, and my nose was alternately running and congested.  The nerves are so interconnected it’s an almost universal reaction.  Have Kleenex at the ready!

. . .and the finished product. Well, the finished Phase I product. In six to eight weeks I’ll be back for any necessary fill-in work.

So you’ve decided to try microblading. What can you expect? Honestly, even with the numbing it’s toloerable but still uncomfortable. As I mentioned, there’s the issue of the nose. I had to stop Emily several times to sneeze or blow my nose, which she assured me happens with everyone, so be prepared for that. Later that evening the remnants of the Lidocaine wore off and my brows stung, much like a skinned knee or other skin abraision.  That stinging lasted that night and the next day.  As I write this 72 hours later, I can feel the brows are there, but they don’t hurt. They feel a little heavy, probably due to the scabbing.

I was concerned they would look disgusting as they healed, but to be honest I just see the dark brow. And that dark color will fade a bit over time and look more natural. There is red around the edges, which you get some sense of in the photo above. That red was a little darker the next day, the way scabs darken. I didn’t want to wait several weeks for complete healing to show that more finished product.  Keep visiting over the next several weeks and you’ll see how they’re progressing. Once this round has healed I’ll go back to Emily for any needed touch ups.

Meanwhile, post-procedure care is crucial. This is a tattoo, and your skin has multiple tiny cuts which can become infected without proper care. Your brows are not supposed to get wet for a few days. You need to avoid having them sweat or having sweat run down your forehead and into your brows. At issue is the potential to “sweat out” some of the ink.  The day after my microblading our local tempurature was 121F. Is that crazy? And I had to avoid sweating! I also needed to avoid any blowing dust and dirt. Needless to say, I’ve avoided the outdoors as much as possible. To ensure the best brow results possible I’ve also curtailed my workouts short-term.

More to expect: you’ll have some scabbing. After all, the brows were created with little cuts. If you’re a picker, you have to resist the temptation to scratch and pick, especially during the inevitable itching-while-healing phase.

All this but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I already love the fuller shape and darker color. I’ve received a lot of comments and compliments. Of course my hubby freaked out: “You got a tattoo???” but he’ll be okay as they heal and look more natural. It will be interesting to see how long they last. I’m told anywhere from six months to three years or more. So much of the shelf-life depends on the care immediately after the procedure. Miscare can cause the ink to fade prematurely, leading to less than optimal results. For my part, I’m following the instructions as closely as possible to extend the life of these wonderful, new brows!

Have questions? Please feel free to ask me here. I’ll answer as many as I can and find out answers for those I can’t. If you’re considering microblading, I hope I’ve helped cue you in as to what to expect.

Thanks for reading!




A Letter to Uncle Joe

Last week I lost someone very dear to me.  There are people who touch your life when you’re young, leaving an imprint on your heart forever.   From his hearty laugh to his unmistakable Brooklyn accent, from his warm heart to his nearly-impossible-to-meet standards, my Uncle Joe was one of those people.  Strong, fit and sure, Uncle Joe was a driver.  Later in life he suffered a stroke and became wheelchair bound.  Frustrating, I’m sure.  I had to chuckle when we visited him almost two years ago – he still managed to direct everything from that chair, even in his state of limited physicality.  Uncle Joe became gravely ill, and I began to compose a letter to him in my mind.  Sadly, he was gone before I had the chance to put it to pen and paper for him.

Those who know me know I’m pretty reserved.  I’m open to a point, but I keep so much inside.  Today my guard is down.  I’m writing the letter I wasn’t able to send in time to Uncle Joe.  I share it now for my Aunt Margie, my cousins Mike, Sharon and Steve, but mostly for Uncle Joe, who I hope in some way still has the chance to read it.

Dear Uncle Joe,

Time flies so quickly it’s hard to fathom.  It’s almost two years since our visit and I’m so sorry I didn’t get the chance to see you again last June as we’d planned.  A new job, things going on with the kids and grandkids, life in general – I know you understand.  Since our last visit I’ve started a new tradition based on your idea.  We had a mini “Camp Cousins” for the grandkids last summer  and we had so much fun!  As they get older I’m excited to expand it with fun games and activities, similar to the recurring week you organized so well.  I am hoping we build a tradition of wonderful memories for our grandchildren like you’ve done.

I’ve been thinking a lot of the times we’ve shared and the many ways you and Aunt Margie have expressed your love to us, from your coast to ours.  The fun times we cousins had together are some of my fondest.  While you, Aunt Margie, Mom and Dad visited and watched football upstairs, we kids were in the basement or outside exploring and getting into our fair share of trouble.  Were we as sneaky as we thought?  Or did you all know and turn a blind eye, letting us kids be kids?  How many times were we going to dip our toes into some pond or get our feet wet at some beach, yet came back completely soaked?  Or the five cousins riding in the “way back” of your Bonneville station wagon, not a seat belt in site, climbing around like it was a playground on wheels.  Those were such happy, carefree times for the five of us, punctuated by the occasional brushes with your temper when we took our fun a bit too far.

Mom and Dad’s 25th anniversary party would not have been complete without you.  They were surprised to see stretch limos picking them up in front of the house, more so finding you and Aunt Margie hiding inside, having flown out incognito to be part of the celebration.  I was especially thankful when you covered the large bar bill. 🙂

After we had to move Dad into assisted living, you and Aunt Margie were there again, a special gift for Mom’s surprise 60th birthday.  It had been an amazingly tough year for her, and there you were, giving her the love and support he needed.  You cannot imagine how grateful I am for that.  It meant so much to have you there.  I was making a 9-hour round trip every weekend to visit Mom and just be with Dad.  In your gruff and loving way you had your finger poking me in the chest, telling me to stop making that drive every week.  You were so concerned about what that travel was doing to me and what it would do to Mom if I were in a car accident on one of those trips.  I listened and backed off (to every other week.  Oops).

It was no surprise to have you make the cross-country trip once again when we lost Dad.  You gave us your characteristic love, strength and support and we needed it more than ever.  It had been the summer from hell.  Andy had gone through nine weeks of brutal chemotherapy and was still trying to recover.  Hugh was going through his own trauma.  Through all of those difficulties we added the heartache of watching Dad slip away.  Even at the funeral, when someone took our daughters’ seats with the family, you and Aunt Margie swooped them up and sat them in your laps.  How can I ever express my gratitude for that?  I was so absorbed in my own grief I couldn’t react, but you knew exactly what to do.

Before you attach your angel wings, can we talk a minute about the family Y2K Reunion ski trip to Tahoe?  We were having such a great time, and then you took 10-year-old Charyssa to a black diamond run on her third day of skiing.  What were you thinking?  But that was classic Uncle Joe: pushing, driving, setting that bar high and fully expecting it to be hurdled.  She and I spent awhile getting her down the mountain, and I remember telling you later you were perilously close to losing Most Favored Uncle status.  In the end she was safe and so was your status.  As if I could have ever felt otherwise.

You’ve been a part of so many pivotal points in my life.  I remember them with a smile even though I’m crying as I write this over our little paradise lost.  Thank you so much for the treasured memories, the encouragement, and your presence when it was most needed.  I love you so much,

Suzanne Bell – My Fierce 50 Sister

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Illustration: bethbriggsillustration

I’ve been so excited over the last few weeks for The Fierce 50 Campaign’s big day!  A brief background of The Fierce 50: women bloggers over the age of 50 join together on the 50th day of the year to celebrate our demographic – our age, our gender, our style, our experiences.  We are similar; we are diverse.  We are strong; we are vulnerable.  We are independent; we are connected.  We are in midlife; we are just getting started.  We are kind; we are Fierce.  We are celebrating all that we are and letting the world know we’re not ready to exit the stage – not by a long shot!

New to the Fierce 50 Campaign? You can read about the campaign at Thrive Global (HERE). While you are there, be sure to check out the list of blogs and websites at the end of the article.  You can also see the full collection of The Fierce 50 Campaign blogs here . I will be turning 56 this year, and it’s truly an honor to have been asked to be a part of this campaign, celebrating women at midlife.  You can find information here

As part of today’s celebration, I have the joy and the honor of introducing fellow Fierce 50 sister Suzanne Bell, who blogs at www.AskSuzanneBell.com.  You can also find her on Instagram as @AskSuzanneBell as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Doesn’t Suzanne look like someone you’d love to sit with and enjoy a cup of coffee, or maybe that interesting green drink she’s holding? With her warm smile and great sense of style, she is all #TheFierce50 embodies and then some. As I’ve come to know Suzanne I’ve found this is one beautiful and diverse woman!   Before starting a family, she worked in what many women would consider a dream job – a buyer and executive for Nordstrom.  As Suzanne says, “I was drawn to the fashion industry and never looked back.”  Even so, she set her career aside to be a mom, and is now raising her two children (“a teen and a tween”) while working with her husband as a successful real estate team.

Isn’t that enough?  Apparently not!  She and her husband have flipped over 50 houses and she still manages to express her creativity with her blog AskSuzanneBell.  The house-flips alone made her an instant rock star in my book!  She shows several astonishing home transformations on her blog.  Check out Home Makeover Portfolio under the heading Looking for More.  You’ll find serious inspiration and the faith that anything can be renewed!  Seriously.  The “before and afters” are amazing!

But she doesn’t stop there.  Suzanne’s blog is filled with everything from beautiful fashion to delicious recipes to a fabulous “how to” for closet curation.  Fashion is still in her blood, evidenced by the great style you’ll see there.  She’ll tell you she comes from a long line of fashionable women, including her 94-year old grandmother who is her favorite example of personal style.

Style to Suzanne is not a product of how much you spend, but how creative you are with where you look and what you find.  Her favorite haunts are thrift and consignment stores and places like Nordstrom Rack. Not only that, she loves helping other women find and refine their own personal style.  I wondered where she finds the time, and then I looked at the time stamps of a couple of our late evening email exchanges.  I mean late!  Like so many of us, she fits it in where she can, and does it with a gorgeous 100-watt smile!

As Suzanne and I have gotten to know each other, we’ve discovered a lot of common ground.  We were both born into military families and moved around a lot, although Suzanne spent time overseas and my family stayed stateside.  Interestingly, after all that moving around, we both settled into communities and planted 20+-year roots!  We both value family and enjoy time at home with those we love.  Saying we both love fashion is stating the obvious.  We even sewed a lot of our own clothes growing up.   Now that’s a great way to create style without breaking the bank!

Although Suzanne and I live hundreds of miles apart, I felt a closeness immediately.  Her warmth radiates in her smile and her style.   She’s a beautiful woman inside and out.  I’m thrilled to be a part of TheFierce50 with her!  Be sure to visit Suzanne at AskSuzanneBell and follow her on Instagram using @asksuzannebell and on Facebook at Ask Suzanne Bell  You can also join Suzanne, me and our other Fierce 50 sisters in a giveaway loop tonight on Instagram.  Find Suzanne or me tonight and join the loop.  We have some great prizes from a wonderful group of sponsors who believe in this fantastic campaign:

Onzie
Madison Reed
HSI Professional
Awe Inspired

A quick shout out to the women that put together this campaign to change the perception of what “midlife” means. Thanks Catherine Grace O’Connell, Cathy Williamson, Shauna Robertson, and Deborah Boland.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog post and learning more about The Fierce 50 Campaign, please visit this page http://catherinegraceo.com/fierce-50-campaign/ to see an archive where you will find each of the women that are participating in The Fierce 50 along with their blog posts. If you or someone you know is interested in either joining or supporting the movement, please contact info@catherinegraceo.com for more information. We have lots more planned for this year and beyond so, stay tuned everyone.

Where’d She Go?

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Nike top (Other options herehere and here | Nike Running Tight similar here and here |  Nike Running Shoe | Nike Multi-purpose Shoe

I’ve been a little scarce here lately, I’ll admit, prompting friends and family to wonder, “Where’d she go?”  Between tax season, family events and our upcoming TheFierce50 campaign, I feel like all I do is run, run, run!  Finding the balance has been tough.  To be honest,  finding the balance hasn’t happened.  Is anyone else struggling with this?  I’m working to major in the majors, but all of these things are major to me right now.  The trick will be to do it all and do it well.

After knee surgery a year ago (my brother calls it “half-surgery” because I didn’t have my ACL repaired) I’m finally feeling like I can run a bit.  Things were going great but now my knee feels a little squirrel-ly.  I will first admit my brother was probably right, I should have bit the bullet and gone for the full repair.  The surgeon said with an ACL repair I would face a full year of rehab and that sounded so unappealing at the time.  And I’d lived with the tear for almost 40 years without noticing it.  If I’d realized it would take nearly a year to resume most activities with a meniscus repair I would have chosen differently.

I thought a meniscus repair would take me back to where I’d been moments before said tear.  Hmmm. . . .  A second surgery is not an option right now so I’m returning to strength training and stretching (yoga, Pilates and a fabulous combination of the two by Charlene Johnson called PiYo).  I’m praying (literally) that these are the steps I need for recovery.  Meanwhile, those wonderful moments I was feeling running with abandon may have to wait a bit for a couple of reasons.  First, the knee.  Second, the time.  Back to that tricky concept of balance.

If you’ve found success fitting everything in and making it work, I’d love to hear what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

Thanks for your thoughts!




New Year’s Resolutions

So here we are in a brand new year. To be honest, 2016 went by so quickly. I’ve included a couple of pictures of two of my granddaughters with thier great-grandparents (my mom and Andy’s dad) to emphasize that point.  Time goes by so quickly, doesn’t it?!

As I shared in my post on the last day of last year, 2016 was certainly a year of ups and downs for me. Although the lows are tough to walk through, they certainly cause me to appreciate the highs. This year those highs included some great time with family, the engagement of my youngest daughter, and a new granddaughter. Let the spoiling begin!

I always find the beginning of the year so interesting.  It’s just another day, and yet it’s also another year and therefore a clean slate.  In truth, we can hit “reset” whenever we want, but we do it collectively on January 1.  We write down our New Year’s Resolutions and prepare for the major changes coming our way.

I’m sure I mentioned the best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever heard.  First, my apologies to my Aunt Margie and Uncle Joe who hate the word I’m about to use.  It, and the resolution, came from my brother.  He started the year saying he was not going to suck at life. What a simple goal.  Not necessarily easy, but oh, so simple.  The idea is, whenever you’re faced with an option or a decision, choose the one where you don’t suck at life.  Choose the one that’s more fun, more fulfilling, creates more memories, enriches your life in some way.  That’s quite a Litmus test.

I think I need to clarify.  This doesn’t mean the option I choose is the one where I party the hardest or seek the hedonistic and irresponsible option.  Sometimes “not sucking” means not making an unwise move.  In the decision to save money or not, clearly saving is the wiser, “non-sucking” choice.  In the decision to watch TV or take a walk, I should probably choose walking more often than not.  It’s not about situational ethics, but it may be about situational decisions.

There are a lot of things I plan to improve this year.  I realize plans need to have quantifiable goals in order to measure my progress.  I can do that.  So can you.  To me, those aren’t resolutions; those are personal and business decisions that may or may not be made at the beginning of the year.  They may or may not need adjustment here or there. If you have anything you want to accomplish, you should be moving toward something measurable.  For example, rather than saying, “I want to lose weight this year,” I would say, “I want to fit comfortably into a Size X” or “I want to weigh Y lbs by March 1.  It’s a quantifiable goal.  I can measure my progress.

This year, I’m taking the different approach.  Rather than burdening myself with a long list of resolutions, I’m taking the cue from my brother.  I’m not going to suck at life.  How about you?

Thanks for visiting!


Memory Cross

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As parents, we often found ways to keep our children occupied so we could get things done.  Ideally, we were engaged in activities with them.  In reality, that wasn’t always the case.  With both Mom and Dad often working out of the home, finding ways to juggle it all was such a challenge.

Now that my children are grown, I find myself at times reflecting on ways I might have done things better.  I don’t beat myself up about it because, like many working moms, I did the best I could. However, I always felt like each area suffered a bit.  Whenever I found an activity my girls enjoyed that didn’t involve the TV, I was thrilled.   For whatever reason they were never really into dolls, so keeping them busy usually involved cards, puzzles and crafts.

Now I’m a grandma watching my girls dealing with the same issues.  I was so happy when Memory Cross approached me with their Bible-based crafts.  The cards are cross-shaped and continually fold and unfold origami-style.  The cards have messages children can read, books of the Bible they can learn, and pictures they can color.  Languages available include English, Spanish and Creole.  Memory Cross coloring cards include Bible stories tied to the pictures, so children can learn while coloring.  The idea is for children memorize, or at least remember, the Bible verse associated with the picture they’re coloring.

If your family is based in the Christian faith, the Bible-based Memory Cross cards provide an activity you feel good about sharing with your children or grandchildren.  With so many “children’s shows” skipping along the edges of inappropriateness, it’s nice to know there are things for children you don’t have to pre-screen.

If the idea of the cards intrigues you, but you would prefer to avoid Bible themes, not all cards are Bible-based.  There is a great set on nutrition, making it fun for children to learn about healthy eating habits.  There’s also an adorable set of alphabet cards.  Memory Cross has many seasonal packages and cards for grown-up occasions as well, such as weddings, cards to send in support of our troops and Gospel tracts for adults. You can see the many options by visiting memorycross.com and visiting the memory Cross store.

Thanks for reading!

Helen

Thank you Memory Cross for sponsoring this post.

Counting My Blessings

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Thanksgiving, the holiday that causes many of us to reflect on and be thankful for our blessings.  As the saying goes, “Count your blessings one by one and you’ll see what God has done.”  I can’t tell you how often I need to revisit those words.  Even at 55, I have issues with contentment.  I have a habit of comparing myself to others who seem to be enjoying greater happiness or greater success.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m being honest here.  When I feel that way, it’s time to step back and remember what is really important.

If I count my blessings, I can be thankful first and foremost for my salvation.  If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know my faith in Christ is paramount.  I’m also thankful for my great health and the health of my family members.  Of course I’m thankful for those family members.  Every Wednesday night is Family Dinner Night.  We host dinner for my sister-in-law, my niece, her husband and my grand-niece, and whichever of our daughters and their families are in town.  It’s a time to connect, enjoy each other’s company, tease each other a bit and strengthen our family bond.  When we get the extended family together for our annual Easter brunch it warms my heart.  I love watching the “littles,” our grandchildren, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, running through the lawn looking for eggs.  Some of the best times ever.

Whenever we can, Andy and I head over to California to visit my mom and brother.  No one makes me laugh like my brother.  We were raised in a military family, which meant relocating often.  We relied on each other for friendship and entertainment until we made friends in each new city.  As a result, we have so many inside jokes it’s almost as if we have our own language.  His daughters, my sweet nieces, have definitely inherited his warped sense of humor.  I always have fun with them when we have time to connect.

My immediate family – my hubby, my four daughters and their families – constantly give me joy.  With two new grandchildren on the way I couldn’t be happier.  I enjoy time spent with our four girls.  As we all know from blogging, there is nothing like the bond between women, and the power of women lifting each other up.  When those women are also your daughters, it’s so amazingly special.

All that and I’ve talked mostly about family. Clearly they are my greatest blessings.  It’s important that I remember that not just once a year on a holiday designated for giving thanks, but every day, because I’m blessed every day.  Black Friday is just a day away, ushering in  “Shopping Season.”  As a fashion and lifestyle blogger it’s a great time to make money by promoting merchandise, but I’m not ready to do that.  I want to take some time reflecting on the things that really matter.  I hope you’ll take time to do the same.

Count your blessings one by one and you’ll see what God has done.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends,

Helen

Are You Ready to Vote?

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 Vote Tank  | Grey Vote Tee | White Vote tee | I Voted 2016! Oversized Tee | Kiss Me I Voted Tee

 

May we get serious for a minute?  Tuesday is Election Day.  Are you ready to vote?  Have you already participated in early voting?

One of the things we sometimes take for granted in these great United States of America is the right to vote, to make our voice heard.  You may feel your one vote makes no difference.  Do you know one of our presidential elections came down to 573 votes?  573!!  Isn’t that enough to get you to the polls?  You may feel your state is already in the bag for one presidential candidate or another.  That may be the case.  With our electoral college the majority does not, in and of itself, elect our president.  Even so, vote. The popular vote within your state will decide how those electoral votes are cast.  Additionally, your U.S. Congress seats may be up for vote.  You may need to vote for your elected officials at the state level.  Judges and school board members may be on the ballot.  Closer to home may be City and State propositions for which you’ll feel impact as well as your City and County officials.  Read the background information on the candidates and propositions and get to the polls!

We talk a lot of politics in our family.  At times we talk politics with friends.  People often seem to have an opinion at cocktail parties and sporting events, so I’m stunned when some of the more vociferous ones admit to taking a pass on Election Day.  Really?  You clearly have an opinion – why note make it count?  My hubby went so far once to tell a particularly mouthy non-voter that he didn’t want to hear from someone who didn’t exercise his polling place privilege.  Just like your mom telling you as a child to eat all your dinner because there were starving children who didn’t have dinner that night,  I’m urging you to vote because men and women died to give us that right.  Men and women are dying to achieve that right in other countries around the globe.  They would love to have the opportunity to show up freely at their polling place and put their vote on record.

When our daughters were young we’d take them with us on Election Day, bringing them right into the booth with us.  We’d talk about what we were doing, why we were voting the way we were and why the process was so important.   We even took a couple of their friends to register.  I was so proud when my girls voted in their first presidential elections. One of them waited several hours in line in the last presidential contest.  They truly understand the importance of the privilege.

You still may not think your vote matters.  You may not think your church donation can do much either.  You know what?  Both matter, if for no other reason than because you participated in the process. What if your donation represented the last amount necessary to help a family in need?  What if your vote was the tie-breaker?  It could happen.  November 8 is the big day.  Won’t you please make your voice heard?

Helen

 

Body Image, Part 2

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The last time I talked about body image here, my ramblings took me to health, especially healthy eating habits.  I’m a firm believer that what goes into your body is more important than what goes on your body.  I also believe body image is intertwined with self-love.  I’m not talking about narcissism – this is about wholesome self-respect.  No one is perfect.  That doesn’t preclude us from accepting ourselves as we are.  Choose to love yourself, faults and all, then seek to improve.

The order of the process is critical.  Love yourself first.  You are absolutely worth it and you need to believe that.  If you have challenges with that, list your positive attributes.  Write down five of your best qualities.  Everyone can find five.  Do you have a body feature you like?  Maybe your work ethic is par excellence.  Are you fluent in a second language?  Write these things down.  Now, take a week to celebrate your amazing attributes.  Really.  If your self-esteem has taken a beating lately, you need to do this.  Take your list and tape it to your bathroom mirror.   Read it in the morning when you put on your make-up and again at night when you wash it all off.  Oh, one more thing to add to your list: “I am worth loving.”

Only after we’ve spent some time in self-affirmation are we ready for self-improvement.  Don’t get crazy here.  I think one goal at a time is a good idea.  Or one goal per aspect of your life, for example, one fitness goal and one professional goal.  Goals should be attainable; life should be enjoyable.  Goals should also be measurable.  How can you attain something you can’t measure?  “I’m going to get into shape” isn’t a measurable goal.  Try, “I’m going to work out four days a week for the next four weeks,” or, “Within one month I’m going to run one full mile without stopping.”  Measurable.  Attainable.  Allows time for life to be enjoyable.

The idea of loving yourself may be foreign or uncomfortable.  It is not being self-centered or self-involved.  In our family, we describe that as, “Me, me, me, me!” to the tune of Beethoven’s 5th.  That is not at all what I am advocating.  Loving yourself is simply the act of respecting yourself enough to take care of yourself.  Respecting yourself enough to form and maintain healthy habits.  Caring enough to take time to look your best.  Loving yourself enough to know you’re worth the investment of time and effort.  Taking a look at where you are in life and saying, “Well done,” even if you’re not where you want to be yet.  Accept where you are, love yourself for it and build from there.

It’s Monday and it’s time.

Helen