How not to see RED on Black Friday

One of the busiest and most exciting shopping days of the year is just around the corner. Along with that day comes the rallying cry of, “Charge it!” and a whole lot of stress. Some of it is self-imposed and some of it is the retail industry knowing just how to get us amped up. The ads for Black Friday are starting earlier and seem to get more exciting every year. The sales even start earlier too! Midnight? You’ve barely cleaned the kitchen or come out of your turkey coma with enough clarity to drive the car and you’re expected to have your shopping head on?! And how many “sales of the century” can there be? Sure we just changed over to a new one but at least give us a couple years to forget about the last one and for gosh sakes pace yourself.

Whatever it is that makes our individual eyes light up, they always seem to find something to start us down the path of mass retail hypnosis. Like zombies we march to the malls with glazed eyes and the mantra of “must shop” only to snap from bliss to stress the moment we pull into the parking lot. From fighting for a parking spot, to getting in to a tug-of-war over the last sale item on the shelf, to finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists, we seem to find ways to make our blood boil.

A lot of the stress we feel is self-imposed and can be avoided. The keys to surviving possibly the best shopping day of the year are preparedness and perspective blended with a few of my favorite things~

  1. You can start mapping out what you want to accomplish by making a gift list and charting the sales you want to hit well in advance. This is not the best time to be swimming through manic crowds of pre-dawn discount shoppers looking for gift ideas. Plus, it’s not only a great way to get more done in a short period of time but can also help with budgeting. If you know what you want and get what’s on your list it could cut down on impulse buying. While we all want to take extra special care in getting the right presents, but excessive spending around the holidays is another place we put pressure on ourselves.
  2. You can even use that gift list to route your buying journey to have a nice flow so you’re not bouncing from store to store feeling confused and anxious.
  3. Get a ride to the stores or take a taxi to cut down the stress of finding a place to park. You can also use the fact that you have a designated driver as an opportunity to have a little a pre-party. Speaking of parties, get a shopping buddy.
  4. Remember, if we don’t get everything done we still have over 3 weeks to work on it. If we do cross most everyone off our list we can rest easy and stay out of the frenzy that is sure to build throughout December. We can go back to stressing over what to wear to the company party.

If all else fails and you want to cash in all the great deals and have the fun of shopping without ever leaving the house. Have your shopping buddies over to buy online. You can party hearty and when you shop til you drop you can drop on your own comfy couch.

Thanksgiving Dinner – The Sitcom Sit-down

The holidays are almost here and in theory they should be a time of great joy as we spend precious moments with the people we cherish. Unfortunately for a lot of us that time falls squarely between a sitcom and full-blown horror flick. If they were still making Peanuts cartoons but with a more modern feel, for many of us it would probably be something like, “It’s a dysfunctional family dinner Charlie Brown.”

Whether you are hosting the family dinner or just attending somewhere else, for some reason what should be a safe haven of love and support gets turned into a place you have to emotionally toughen up before walking in the door. If it’s not the delicious aromas of turkey and pie that makes you take a deep breath before ringing the doorbell, what is it?

For starters, you have relatives or friends that can’t be invited at the same time as others, you’ve got an uncle who it’s in everybody’s best interest if you water down his drinks, and there’s always at least one person you know is going to pick apart your life like a buzzard working on a piece of emotional roadkill. The latter can be particularly disturbing when most of us are not facing the easiest of times. All of this leaves Thanksgiving with the potential for the turkey to be stuffed with massive drama!

Before you give it all up and resign yourself to the kiddy table, let’s look at some ways to make the most of these times with family and friends.

First, let’s remember that it is just that, time with the people that mean the most to us. These are people that we know will be there for us through thick and thin. As for Uncle Larry, continue to sneak in the watered down drinks, and if family members are feuding, remember-it’s not your problem. Like I tell my kids, don’t get involved in the drama, and move away from any negative situation.

As for our own worry about being shamed for some of our unfortunate situations, let’s start by not making this a day of playing make believe. It’s time for a little honesty. I’m not saying decorate your house with your dirty laundry but if you’re going through hard times of any sort be honest about them. We stress ourselves out so much with the energy it takes to be “perfect” for the people who should understand us most. To get through any crisis in life we need support. As much as family can tend to judge us and be critical they are there for us. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Don’t’ be afraid of your family, they really do want to see you succeed. If you are really anxious about the inquiries that will be made by some people who are really labeled as “judgmental” in your tribe, pick up the phone before the big day arrives and let them know what you are going through. While you’re at it, tell them that you are hoping to gain their support and understanding. Many times the people closest to us think they are taking care of us by “fixing” our problems. Let them know if you are just looking to vent, a shoulder to lean on, or maybe not fixing but some positive ideas to guide you through the situation. Hopefully this will lead them to support you in a positive direction and help them keep their negative comments to themselves.

If we can set boundaries and remember what and who are really important in our lives we can get beyond the drama to the love and laughter that should fill our lives more than that extra scoop of mashed potatoes ever could. That said, remember to take time to go around the table to give everyone a chance to talk about what they are truly thankful for.

Fall Skin Care Tips

The changing weather can wreak havoc on your skin. During this time it is important that you take the steps to make sure your skin is protected from the cold weather to prevent premature aging. Below you will find a few tips to help you through the transition from hot to cold. To do this…your first step is to exfoliate

Tip 1: Exfoliate, Exfoliate!

Too much sun exposure from, the summer sun, can often lead to dry, flaking skin – even if you have been diligent with UV protection. Regular treatment with exfoliating face and body washes, scrubs and lotions can work miracles to improve the tone and texture of your skin.

Moisturizing helps to deliver hydrating ingredients and keep your skin’s barrier system intact. Look for products with a slightly thicker moisturizer than what you were using in the summer, even if your skin is naturally oily. If that’s the case, just find non oily products that are a little more substantial. Consider a range of effective products containing retinol, alpha hydroxyl and antioxidants ingredients to help improve hydration and the texture of your skin.

Tip 2: Don’t Forget The Sunscreen

Pay attention to sun care. Protecting your skin from the sun isn’t just for the summer. Just because the weather is colder doesn’t mean that you can’t get sun damage. If the SPF products you were using in the summer were too harsh for the colder climate, switch products. But definitely don’t skip this step.

Tip 3: Show Hands Respect

Try as you might, it’s difficult to keep hands out of water and the elements. Even if you’re diligent about using gloves, frequent hand washing and life in general, can cause hands to dry and crack. If you’re like me and can never remember to wear gloves then it’s a good idea to strategically place hand cream around. I always keep a tube in my purse, in the car, at the sink and on my bedside table. You really can never have enough!

Tip 4: Dull Hair

Hair exposed to the sun and water can appear dry and lack lustre. Go easy on the heating elements such as flat irons and other treatments that can damage hair further. Consider switching to a gentle line of shampoos, minus harsh cleansing ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate which strip away oils and can irritate sensitive skin

Baby It’s Cold and Flu Outside

It’s getting colder across the country and that usually signals the start of the season between fall and winter, cold and flu. I’m sure if there’s one thing we can all agree on, there is never a good time to be sick. At the first sign of a sniffle the number one thought that comes to mind is, “Oh not now!” If you’re like most people you have a million things going on; job, family, and heaven forbid a hobby or two. The last thing you need is to be down for the count and fall a couple days behind when you’re living day to day to begin with.

You feel that you are doing everything in your power to avoid catching colds but nothing seems to work. We are all told that if we eat right, take our vitamins, and have a tube of anti-bacterial hand goo in every possible place we have a better chance at avoiding catching the dreaded cold and flu. Somewhere in the back of our minds, if we have kids, we even consider putting them in a plastic bubble during the school year.

It’s inevitable though, you touch the handle of the grocery cart and touch your face or get on a plane two rows over from the hacking, wheezing guy in seat 12C and the virus is on its way in to your system. The interesting thing is this, I’ll bet very few of you have been privy to this factoid; stressing out about the potential of catching those dreaded germs is as bad for you as the germs themselves!

Research shows that stress hormones lower your immune system’s ability to fight back invading bacteria and viruses. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (1991), supported the hypothesis that the more stress you are under the greater the likelihood of catching a cold. I know right, first you have to worry about viruses and bacteria, now you have to worry about catching a hypothesis!

So what can you do to boost your immune system? While you may not be able to create a total immunity, the best immune system defense is a good offense. The first step to conquering any problem is to identify it. Figure out what is causing you the most stress and nip it in the bud. If there is something at work or a friend or relative that is causing your blood to boil write it down and set up boundaries to distance yourself from the problem.

Practice relaxation techniques. Work through your stress throughout the day and as it happens. Go for a walk, journal your frustrations, take a yoga/meditation class, or talk openly with a friend about what is bothering you. Blowing off some steam will not only have a calming effect on you overall but will help you get some much needed sleep. After all, isn’t that one of the first things they tell you to do when you get sick? Try doing that before you are forced to do it by Dr. Nyquil.

Eat right and exercise. Well duh? But seriously, why do we always wait until it’s too late to take good care of ourselves? Eat a wide variety of foods including fruits and veggies so that you are getting natures multi-vitamin. Also, exercising will help blow off a lot of that stress that may have you down to begin with. Do you have a crabby boss? Try a nice kick-boxing class. You’ll fight off your demons and your colds at the same time.

Finally, take a healthy dose of PMA. What aisle do you find that in you ask? That’s sold inside you. It’s Positive Mental Attitude. A 1990 study by Lin & Peterson showed a direct connection between an upbeat outlook and a strong immune system. Write down your negative feelings and then take a look at how you can turn them into positives. There is always a way. It just takes a little effort to see the good in everything. As for seeing the bad, that zaps the energy right out of you. Apparently when you’re head is held high it’s harder for the germs to get in!

Overall it seems that not stressing out before or after you start to get sick is the key to staying healthy and recovering faster. Don’t let your head drama work its way in to your nose and chest this flu season.

A Case of the “What Ifs”

Isn’t it incredible how fear can nearly paralyze us and it isn’t until we really hit a major crisis that we see how strong we are? Strength comes from many different things. Mainly from going through a lot of negative experiences and through the process of overcoming these experiences we gain more strength and learn how to be tough, be strong, and plow through.

However, a lot of us still have fear to take the next step in life that is needed to go in the direction that we truly want to go in. This does not involve the type of strength that appears suddenly when hit with crisis. Most of us don’t take the steps necessary to go for our dreams because we think we are not going to be strong enough to take on what it involves to go there. Or we are afraid of failure? Or success? What if? Attached to outcomes…we all want things to turn out exactly the way we see them…but what if they don’t? Do we have the strength to handle that outcome? Do we have the strength to make it through if it is harder than we thought? What if people around me think I am crazy? What if my spouse doesn’t like me anymore because I am doing things differently? What if I can’t pay my bills? What if I take time away from taking care of everyone else? What if I appear selfish? Am I being selfish?

First of all, stop and think of all of the things that will be positive about the changes you will make. Write them down. What if it does create everything you have always wanted? What if your journey takes you in a different direction than anticipated, yet it is still better than where you are now. What if your new experiences create such positive energy and excitement despite the difficulties that come with change? What if you find that you are an even more incredible person than you ever thought you were capable of becoming? What if you do have the strength to handle anything that comes your way? What if people turned around after you started your journey and noticed how incredible your life is becoming because you took a risk, believed in yourself, and no matter what, the process made you stronger, created positive change and now your friends and family are coming to you for advice on how to improve their lives? YEAH??? Well, I can tell you that most likely the positive things that I just mentioned will occur. Now are you scared? If you only knew what you truly are capable of…you would never fear again.

PERIMENOPAUSE! YAY!

I want to share with you my favorite new book!

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

I have suffered from major PMS symptoms for years. It got worse after having my third baby. To help my symptoms subside, doctors suggested birth control (which I don’t need cause one of us is “fixed”) and for my mood swings…which I swear I never have LOL…wink wink, Prozac was suggested for a quick fix!

I have no desire to be on hormones or anti depressants so I decided to just deal with my monthly “icks”! Now that I am in my 40’s, I have to say, it has been getting a bit more difficult because I am in the perimenopause stage and other crazy things are starting to occur.

Last Spring I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Northrup’s AMAZING daughter Kate at a Hay House workshop in Boston. I was invited to join she and her friends for lunch during the break. It was interesting, out of all the people attending this workshop, that I would meet Kate. My best friend, Lori, had been begging me to read Dr. Northrup’s books for years, and I never had. It was if there were angels above saying “you ask for help and you shall receive”. Here she is! After explaining, to Kate, my crazy struggle with trying to find a doctor who could help me deal with my symptoms naturally, she suggested that I read her mom’s book.

It has taken me quite a while to read her book…because I have very little downtime to read …however it is SO WORTH IT! I have a whole new outlook on what I am going through! The great thing is – it is NOT A NEGATIVE ONE!

After reading her book, I am embracing the change, feeling blessed to be at this point in my life, and realizing that a lot of the “ickiness” can be alleviated naturally. Already I am feeling better. You have to read it for yourself to understand. Menopause may entail some uncomfortable physical feelings that come and go…yet it is so worth it when you realize what this time of our lives is really all about!

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause is a groundbreaking book that is long overdue! Christiane Northrup, M.D., delivers a breakthrough message that will help millions and millions of perimenopausal and menopausal women just like you understand that at menopause . . . life has just begun! It is the beginning of a very exciting and fulfilling time, full of pleasure beyond your wildest dreams!

By Rob Fowler

One leg at a time

One of the questions that anyone who works with celebrities hears is, “What’s he or she really like?” As a celebrity make up artist one of the most frequent requests for dirt I got was, “What do they look like without their make up?” I can tell you for the most part everyone I worked with was nice, or at the very least, they were all professionals. On the fact or fiction behind America’s fab faces, they were all beautiful. The reality behind my experiences with celebs was that we were there because we had a job to do.

Whether they were there to make a TV or live appearance or we were on the set of a photo shoot, I gave them room to study their lines or get emotionally settled before going on. They in turn let me do my job, putting on their faces and getting them camera ready. Sorry gang, no tell all here, quite the contrary…

Inevitably, once the vast number of celebs got comfy in my make up chair, they did want to chat but not about a tawdry behind-the-scenes affair with their co-star or how the caviar was at Cannes this year. Nope, most stars wanted to talk about their kids. They wanted to talk about whatever they were involved in outside of work that they were truly passionate about. More than anything though they talked about how hard it was to keep it all together every day while they juggled kids, work, fashion, and passion. The more we talked the more I realized they are just like you and I. For some reason, whether it’s warranted or not, we hold celebrities to a higher standard. We put them up on a pedestal that is both making life more difficult on them to maintain, and on us to attain. The reality is, whether they do it themselves, or their personal assistant does it for them, celebrities put their pants on just like you and I, ‘one leg at a time’!