Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy AMERICAN Thanksgiving

I wanted to take a few minutes to pay tribute to my American cousins for a blessed, happy, peaceful thanksgiving celebrated with good friends, family, and good cheer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My beauty basics

I remember being in my 20s and intrigued by my mother-in-law and mother's beauty regime always starting with moisturizer.  After all, who'd be thinking of wrinkles at that time.  I do recall marvelling at they both had remarkable skin and discovered they used the same daily moisturizer:  Oil Of Olay.

By the time I was 40, I was well into a daily regime that started with a gentle facial cleanser and moisturizer, both morning and night.  I was cursed with sensitive skin that resulted with acne whenever I attempted to change the products.

I've gone to the home parties, Mary Kay and Merle Norman, where you get together with friends and try out new products.  Mine often resulted in break outs.  I've poured over the Avon catalogue, being tempted to try out the  latest beauty wonder.

Now that I'm in my 50s, I realize that just having a daily routine and sticking to it is what is important.  There are rules we should all follow, namely one that often is ignored:  don't go to sleep with the day's makeup left on, a residue that can be left on your pillow, to attract more dirt which can create a cycle of poor hygiene and detrimental to beauty.

We're pretty lucky that the cosmetic companies are always trying to get us to try their new miracle cures for acne, wrinkles, and any signs of aging.  I've simply come to the understanding, that my skin tells me what it needs.  If I stray from my basic Oil of Olay for Sensitive Skin wash and moisturizer, I am not surprised when a break out occurs.  I have learned that regardless of age, a strong routine will pay dividends in years in advance.  I also know that the most expensive is not necessarily the best.  

So here, I found other great products that solve beauty ails.  One of the best are these convenient wipes.  I live in a two story house and when I get home, I feel my skin screaming at me for some nice cleaning - it is so refreshing.  Like removing the day's dramas, hassles, I want to wash that traffic blocks away.

I keep a package of these in my downstairs bathroom to have a handy clean.  I don't just use the wipes alone.  I fill the sink with steaming bearable hot water.  First using the wipe to take the make up residue away, then soak it in the hot water and cover my face, and pull it gentle down.  Repeating a couple of times -- I can tell when my skin is saying thank you.  The last swipe takes it down past my chin to my neck.  We forget our necks when that is where age is rarely disguised yet often ignored.

I have tried Neutrogena products, tempted by their ads and beauty promises.  I do like the the Grapefruit Oil-Free Cleansing wipes, especially in the summer time.  The smell alone is rejuvenating and feels very fresh.

I used to work in business development and it would take me a good 30 minutes or more to get ready in the morning between showering, beauty cleanse and moisturize discipline and then make up with a blow dryer and curling iron.  We had friends over a few weeks ago for dinner, and I decided to paper myself getting ready.  It shocked me after 45 minutes that I used to do this every day.

One thing of contention I have with ladies as they age, drop any beauty aids altogether.  I've discovered that you don't have to spend 45 minutes getting pampered up, just 5 to 10 minutes and you're all set.

First thing I've gravitated towards is easy style so it is easy to do.  You don't have to look made up in order to look fresh and crisp.  Light colors as back drops illuminate our skin and bring out our best feature, our eyes.

I found it is smart to invest in a decent foundation.  Not a mask.  Something gentle that smoothly glides on, hiding our natural uneven skin tones.  My favorite comes from Lise Watier where I can match my tone.  Remember, it is suppose to glide on and blend in.  Don't make the mistake of going a shade darker or with red tones if you think that is going to brighten your face.  Quite the opposite would be the result.  What we're trying to do is create a quick look that takes 5 to 10 minutes max.  Looking naturally made up, not a clown effect.  The following image I found is certainly a much younger lady, however, it shows how just a simple routine with cleansing and foundation can show the slightest difference:

Au natural with a barely there is the key.  Like many of us, as we age, our lifestyles and life experiences have a way of being reflected in our faces.  I'm not suggesting miracles.  I'm simply showing how you can present a cared for appearance from slump.  I believe that even if you want to look natural, you can manage looking cared for.  In principle, if you care about how you look, you will care about many more things like relationships, career, wellness.  

I learned a great secret to having a easy and natural makeup look is having the right tools.  I realized this only the past 10 years or so:  so toss away the makeup pads in the eyeshadow kits and invest in a few nice brushes:  Eye makeup brush, eye definer brush and rouge brush.  Think of it as a nice Christmas gift for your mother or daughters.  Something that they may not buy themselves, but appreciate when received.  

We all have blotchiness, perhaps acne, and dark circles, imagined or real.  I think I probably take this step more seriously than required.  Having a concealer is important, but only if it is of good quality.  Dotting it around your bones around your eye is more important than the crayon types or the ones that dry too easily.  There are so many choices out there, it is going to take some trial and error to find one that looks natural, without appearing caked on.   

I've tried the wheel types and find they dry out really easy and cake on enhancing wrinkles more than disguising them.  My pick doesn't require your fingers to touch or dab, when this kind gives the same effect.  The packaging allows it to stay moist for dabbing on.

When you are being shown how to put makeup on properly by the professionals at Merle Norman, Clinique, they always convince you that you need something you don't have:  a finishing powder.  A light dusting to seal the look.  I found that Pure Minerals has the best one.  I slightly swipe it all over my face.  I keep it in my purse in case I feel my skin becoming oily.  A quick dust along with refreshing lipstick will carry you for hours.  It carries a lightness and coverage that allows your skin to breath while avoiding that oily look.

Face it, we all feel and look tired more readily as we age.  We have to use the tricks to portray a barely there ensemble that still gives us a refreshing and natural look.

I've discovered a finishing touch for those blah days: Light pink concealer gently applied under eyes to create a more bright eyed look.  I don't know why they don't just have the pink one on its own because I don't use the other colors.  Yes, I break the rule of using my  finger for this little dab finisher, being careful to wash my hands before and after -- no point adding micro yuck since we've been so careful so far. 

Now we're starting to round the corner to half way there and this should have only taken 2 or 3 minutes max so far.  Next up is the eye shadow to accentuate our beautiful eyes -- not to appear goth or over the top glam -- keeping it fresh and simple.  A light pink color should look great on any eye color.  

We're bringing out the eyes instead of making them water .... where others blink with dismay at the dramatics.   (We all see those whom we want to pull out our Fashion Police badge and arrest them for all their efforts, when makeup at best should appear effortless).  Anyone who tells you it looks good at the office or as a check out clerk, is lying to you!

Forget the cream eyeshadows if you're 35 plus.  They just end up in the creases as the day progresses.  What we're trying to achieve is a just made up look for the entire day.  More so on the right than the left.  The optics shown to emphasize a light dusting is better than a plastered on look, and that green, blue or brown eyes can go this direction.

Maybelline does the trick:  not expensive, easy to buy anywhere with the extra amount of the soft pink and a contrast for the eye crease.  Ignore the lid color and replace it for the crease as this shows to create a softer essence.

I did find GOSH in neutral tones glides on wonder-fully, doesn't appear caked on and will last all day. I have found that the shadows with a little bit of a fleck of shimmer, seem to stay on longer without creasing.

I start out by putting the base color (left) from the eyelid all the way up to the eyebrow bone.  It works in a pinch, and you don't have to create that 70s look where the eyebrow powder is shimmering white.  I am apply a second coat on the eyelid so that there is a bit more contrast.  Then take the second from the left which is a bit mauve taupe that compliments my green eyes, yet would go with any eye color I'm sure.

A slight deviation now:  let's talk about eyebrows.  One of the best money you can spend on your beauty regime is going to a salon for a brow wax and shape.  How many .... ewwwwww .... when you see a tattooed eyebrow or a sharp pen gone amuck drawing eyebrows in because they've been plucked so mercilessly.  Do yourself a favor and take the time to enhance your eyebrows.  They are the finishing touch that speaks that you care about your appearance without being made up.

I think I have dramatized my point here.  They can make or break your look, enhance or detract from a pretty face, regardless of age.  The best product I've ever found was by MAC for eyebrows.  I have fair eyebrows, so it would look stupid to try to make them too dark.  Trust me, I've been there and tried that and it looks silly and trying to hard.  MAC's Waterproof Brow Set goes on effortlessly and fills in the gaps.  It takes only a few minutes.  So dramati-cally different, I've turned my sister and sister-in-law on to this awesome product.

Yes, we're just about done and it has taken what? 5 to 10 minutes like I promised you (without the time invested to shop or have your eyebrows shaped or waxed).  

If you read my previous article about my eyelash extension misadventure, when I imagined that my eyelashes would end up full, wash and wear, without any fuss.  Instead, it was more horrifying to find clumps missing and less than stellar replacement to the good ole fashioned stuff called mascara.

You'll be as relieved as I am thrilled to have found THE best product out their to plump and lengthen those eyelashes, without putting yourself through eyelash extensions which I found to be expensive and a hassle to maintain.  (Way worse than nail gel fills every few weeks.)  First you apply the white base coat, let it dry for a few minutes and then apply the black stuff - voila!  C'est magnefique! If you want even fuller, thicker ones, you can add a more volumizing mascara afterwards.  Just be sure not to lay it on so thick that it appears crusty.

Finally, we're getting there.  Towards makeup heaven where we embrace our maturity not a full out battle to hide anything.

It is much more pleasing to the eye capturing the essence of you that says "So what, I have a few miles on me, but I feel fantastic." 

Bring it on!  Smile.
You have taken no more than 10 minutes to look fresh, light along with the smarts and life momentos we call wrinkles.  

The finishing touch or piece de resistance is lipstick.  I'm envious of this look that the youthful gals can have.

Well we can't all be born with Angelina Jolie's plump lips, nor should we subject ourselves to the knife or needle or whatever it is that some use to inject to get a boost for a more youthful yet unnatural look.

I'm embarrassed for women who think that it is is better to falsely improvise than to take what you've been given and make the most of it.

I don't know if it is age or skin type or what, but I can't wear faint lipstick and I can't seem to go without a lip liner to seal my lipstick.  Fair shades tend to fade or a plain waste of money.

I've been a loyal fan of Rimmel lipstick since forever.  Mostly because they seem to moisturize while adding color for me.  I don't like the pencil lip liners that are so sharp and contrast significantly, contradicting the hardly trying scenario I've tried to recreate.

I do like the new pencil crayon lipliners/sticks in one.  They can be applied all over with a lighter glossier lipstick in the middle for sheen.  They are a brilliant idea and it is no wonder they are so popular.

I don't have the fullest lips, but they're not thin either.  Colorblur LIPSTUDIO by Maybelline is a wonder find for mature lips that tend to bleed.  Keeping the outline natural and easily filled in for that polished professional appearance.  

Bordeaux luscious for winter.  I use Mabelline's COLORblur as an outline for Rimmel's 124.   Lipstick contained by  thicker than average liner filled in with creamy lipstick.  Heavenly.

There you have it.  Some of my basics and favorites all rolled into one.  The secret being not trying too hard.

Let me know if it takes you longer than 10 minutes.  I would be interested in knowing what took you so long!

p.s. if you are a major brand and want to contribute to this blog, that is great. However, my reviews and recommendations will never be influenced by monetary gain.

The color for winter 2015-16:  bordeaux lips.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Footprints in the soil

I was first given the gift of the poem "Footprints in the sand" when I left a company with many friends, advocates and supporters about 15 years ago.  It was the image from the same poem.  Not long after, this poem was chosen by my mother-in-law for the keepsake for a man whom she had been married to for 40 plus years as her farewell gift of love:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking
along the beach with the Lord
Many scenes from my life flashed 
across the sky.  In each scene I
noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of
footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed in low
periods of my life, when I was suffering
from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could
only see one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord: "You promised me
Lord that if I followed you, you would
walk with me always.  But I noticed that
in my most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints
in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most
have you not been there for me? 
The Lord replied: The years you have only
seen one set of footprints, my child,
is when I have carried you."

How lucky and amazing it is that one's farewell in unique circumstances and miles apart were given as a gift, as a send off to someone beloved or held dear.

I was thinking,  how lucky one is when there is someone who wants to follow in their own unique path, with the imprint of your wisdom imparted to them.  Really, footprints in the soil.

The soil, because of the wisdom can become deeply rooted in the receiver's philosophy to bloom at times of despair, discouragement and perhaps depression.  We dig deep to find the wisdom of those before us to provide inspiration when we are grasping at something that we are unaware, yet desperately seeking. 

How lucky one is to have someone who seeks your advice and an ear to listen as they sort out their feelings, their goals and struggling for a path or confirmation we are on the right one.  We all wonder.  We all seek guidance.

As we grasp for understanding for what unsettles us, we are seeking that one person who can understand our restlessness.  Fortunate are those who find that person, whether it is a parent, a friend, a sibling, a mentor, spiritual guider or willing advisor.

When we realize that there is someone reaching out to grasp your hand to guide you upon  self reflection and seeking understanding.  Some people don't have that gift to receive.  Others, don't appreciate that they have that gift to give.

Recognize that you have had agony, frustration and strongly desire to extend that guidance.  When it is before you, take it.  Similarly, don't disregard the kind words of encouragement or discredit the accolades that person extends to you.  Remember you are not in the best frame of mind or self-belief.  They may not be bias by love, but objective in understanding.  You just may need those words of encouragement when you find yourself at the bottom of the valley with a mountain of optimism before you that you cannot climb on your own.

Help others plant themselves in the soil of your wisdom.  Don't force upon them your passion for wanting them to avoid the same pitfalls you have found yourself in.  That exuberance may alienate the opportunity for them to absorb your wish for them to avoid the same pain you have experienced.  They have to be willing and accepting of your inspiration.  They will not accept any words of encouragement until they are willing to embrace them.  You may need to repeat those words more than once until they can see it for themselves.

Frustrating as that may seem, the want to clear the soil so that optimism may bloom, patience may be needed.  Hold on dearly to their need to reach out as a small bud would in soil.  You can nurture that need and wet their appetite to your desire to help them bloom.  Reach their fullest potential.  

You cannot force them to see.  No matter how hard you try.  No matter how much you want to help them avoid the pain that you have had.  They will only accept the advice when they are open to it.

Don't take it as disappointment or a sign that your experience isn't worth listening to.  Understand that it will sprout and bloom on its own accord and in its own time.   Sometimes it is delayed, sometimes immediate.  You nor them can bend it to your will.  It happens at the right time.

Yes, you see the flower that is before your eyes. It may be that the flower does not see itself as such because it is merely a sprout and cannot see the beauty that is unfolding.

Patience is wisdom.  Understanding is enlightenment.  When they both meet, wonders can happen.

Neither can embrace it or help it to be without understanding the other's role in footprints in the soil.

Be thankful that you have someone seeking your guidance.  Appreciate that you have someone whom you can reveal your deepest desire for them to reach their maximum potential.  Together, you can uncover what may be hidden in a seed.  Ready to bloom.  Likely to flourish.

"Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.  To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A woman on a mission

This blog has been evolving since it first started in March 2015 as a result of not always wanting to write about business, leadership or sales as I do on my optioneerJM blog.  I am thankful for those followers, and want to keep on track to write the articles there that many of my foundlings started out getting to know me.

However, as a self-described "fabulous fashionista fighting fifty" I realized that sometimes I just wanted to write with abandon and be freedom of self-expression or reflection.   It stemmed from loving to assemble great finds, whether it be art, photography, beauty tips or fashion statements.

"I want you to experience this Blog.  It would be great to be a vision for Baby Baby Boomers' experience and perspective.  Helping and entertaining is just a byproduct of doing what you love."                         
 I like to ramble on about what is concerning me in my world.  Least to say lately, that would be what happened in Paris.  I will probably dedicate writing about that on its own because it bothers me what happened.

Not to be conceited or to blow my own horn, but over the span of my lifetime, I have been noted for having a strong style sense.  At 5ft0in (rounded up from 4ft11in), busty, with more of a muscular build than a swelt frame, I have to work a little harder at finding what suits me.  

I have been a major fan of accessories, with a weakness for shoes that MUST have purses to match, that should be coordinated with the rest of the assemble, I think about what I'm going to wear.  
I passed a pink moonstone ring by the other week, regrettably.

Jewellery captures beauty by creations with masterful artisans or gemologist that make me almost drool.  I have a pretty fair collection, but nothing that would threaten the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, famed for her diamonds.  I'm innocent in that regard.  Born in April, diamond is my birthstone, and a privilege to own.  I don't selfishly collect it.  I just spoil myself once in a while when something attracts me, of less rare stones, while still beautiful.  

Wandering around vintage boutiques, thrift shops and charity stores, I love to find treasures that have been glazed over by others.  I have kicked myself for not buying something that I knew was beautiful and a one of a kind ... to me.

I make beauty mistakes, whether it being a hair color that is too dramatic for me or make up that isn't always so flattering.  I've written about my eyelash folly and discovered a better natural way to plump up the volume since then (stay tuned).

I have learned over time what suits me and don't mind being the most over dressed at an event.  It is not to show off.  Sometimes it is merely by luck to assemble the right outfit with the right accessories, the right footwear with a matching purse.  

Having a blog like this, I can fantasize about wearing something quite off-the-wall or not age appropriate.  That's the beauty of having an outlet like this blog to express myself.  Not necessarily by what I'd want to wear, but a look that would suit others of other generations or age groups.

I'd wear this but with a colorful scarf and accessories to match ... the boots with heels a must for me

Perhaps others can learn some tricks or looks that I've come up with.  There is always Polyvore, that allows someone to create fantasy looks, that may not compliment their frame, personality, or age.  That's good.  We need a place as adults to go beyond dress up dolls or Barbies.  

Be sure to wander back to my page as it strikes you.  The page itself may have updates on a great movie I recommend, art that has resonated with me, or images that strike my fancy.  It's chalk full of stuff.  Images.  Reading recommendations for books or blogs.  It is ever changing and constantly evolving.

One of my favorite places in Calgary during winter, skating with music in the background

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lest we forget .... or NOT

Happy Remembrance Day to my fellow Canadians and anyone else who takes the time today to honor the bravery of all soldiers who fight for freedom and peace.

My father passed away 5 years ago and up to his last breath, was proud of who he represented, after 35 years with the Canadian Armed Forces. In our home, we were unable to forget.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae, author of the famous poem 'In Flanders Fields,' wrote the iconic work after the death of a friend during the second battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915. (National Archives of Canada/Canadian Press) SOURCE CBC Canada 

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of one of the most well known poems "In Flanders Field" by Lt-Col John McCrae.  

The poem is a poignant reminder to us.  If not for the bravery of many men and women, our lives would not be the same today.  It reminds us that those people were brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who gave up their lives for others.

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders Field.

In peacetime, we can all assume that the life of our military personnel are laid back, living day to day in simplicity and beyond the toils of having a corporate or artistic path.  Yet, those who are given glimpses, with guarded privacy and confidential, there were and are still many who are sent on missions or tasks to uphold our freedom.  They are not heralded as heroes and are obscure from the media eye that they too have done much to keep the evils of war at bay.  Our safety taken for granted.

These same men and women should also be honored because they are behind the scenes to keep us safe daily.  A day like Remembrance Day should also celebrate those who are never credited for what they encounter, what they do, in order to keep our lives safe and carefree.  

As the daughter of my father, I know he went away for days, weeks or even months on assignment.  It was the way of life, without questioning why.  Unlike those who drive into an office, maybe work late, and come home at the end of their day, our military is often tasked with going away to do exercises, safety missions and peacekeeping.  Some don't come home.  They are a statistic and number who don't come home.   Only the family and loved ones left to grieve.  While politicians, media may have a glimpse of their bravery, they often go unheralded for what they continue to represent.

I am not minimizing the cause or bravery that stemmed the poignant poem of "Flanders Field".  I just want to acknowledge and pay tribute that there are far more unofficial acts of bravery that go unnoticed, while we contently live our lives in the arrogance of safety.  Sometimes, there is a mention by name, but more often grouped in a category that doesn't distinguish them from what they contribute, or the sacrifices their families encounter.  

My skin crawls and the back of my hair stands up whenever someone wants to call me an "Army Brat".  I find it distasteful and disrespectful to what my father had done.  In his twilight years, he wanted to exorcise his memories and told us more stories of his life than we could possibly have known.  The burden my mother had, raising four kids, primarily alone.  My father's return quiet, unassuming and without fanfare.  It was a way of life.  Not anything I would have given up.  I owe it to my father, to celebrate his contribution to our peaceful world.

I love you dad.  I still miss you.  You have not been forgotten.