And that laugh, wrinkles your nose (so you need a new moisturizer)

And that laugh, wrinkles your nose (so you need a new moisturizer)

I’ve made the executive decision if I can only take four comfort items to the post-apocalyptic United States we are surely headed for at this point, they would would most likely be coffee, champagne (the good stuff), unlimited access to books (that might be cheating), and skincare.

But it must be grown-up size bottles. I have a love-hate relationship with a certain kind of sample. I dig almost anything for free dollars, but single-use samples are usually garbage. Unless it miraculously takes off 30 pounds and all my sunspots overnight, it’s hard for one to properly evaluate a product on a single use.

That’s why the VIP bags at Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) are a goldmine. Prices vary by city, with New York being the most expensive. But it’s well worth it; we walked away from it like bandits – with at least $1,000 in product, at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention free booze. Never forget to acknowledge the free booze.

The items I will discuss are all discoveries from IBE, highlighting those available in the fall sale at Flora Beauty Bar – which started TODAY. I repeat: it’s happening TODAY. And only through Monday. Get on it.

Launched a few months ago, Flora is a glorious curated marketplace for independent, natural beauty products. I attended IBE Dallas and NYC with the founder, so I know first-hand how much passion she has for and knowledge of brands she chooses to sale. You won’t be disappointed in any of them.

AveSeena

AveSeena

AveSeena is non-toxic, science-backed cruelty free products with 100% naturally derived ingredients. The founder, Dr. Ebru Karpuzoglu, MSc, PhD, is a delightful woman. I felt like I won the skincare lottery when I found a full-size Ageless Perfection Cream in my VIP back from NYC. This is one of the best moisturizers I’ve ever used. I don’t use it often, as I am trying to make it last FOREVER. But lucky for you, it’s 25% off in the Flora autumn sale! If someone wants to buy me one for Christmas, I won’t stop you. I am on skincare lock-down for…awhile.

 

Social Paint

Social Paint

Having struggled with Celiac Disease since childhood, the founder of Social Paint decided to develop her own line of cosmetics that are “clean/natural/organic, certified gluten free and cruelty free, anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.” So basically, everything you could ask for and healthier than 90% of what’s in your fridge right now, don’t lie. But wait, it gets better. The lip gloss is fantastic. I received Cha Cha Cha in my NYC bag, but my true favorite is Real Housewife. It’s that neutral you’re always searching for but can’t exactly find, looks great on everyone, and shines for days. The only reason I’ve not ordered it from Flora is because I already own an embarrassing amount of lip color. But this weekend it’s 15% on Flora, so what’s just one more?

 

Svati

Svati Organics

Here goes my Svati love fest again. Having met Lindsay and discovered Svati at IBE Dallas, her booth was one of my first stops in New York. I love buying from someone who genuinely cares about her business, her products, her customers, and making a difference in women’s lives (we certainly need more of that). She has such a great energy. I want to peer pressure ALL of you to buy these products. Renew Hydrating Facial Serum is still a favorite in my arsenal. As mentioned before, I alternate it with acid products, to give my skin a refresher and extra dose of luxurious hydration, and it’s worked out so well.

If you are just now adding serums to your routine, I suggest starting with the Balance Soothing Facial Serum. Regardless of which you choose, all Svati products are 25% off during the Flora sale – just go ahead and buy them all. #treatyourself

 

There are a lot of other great products featured in the sale. Many of which I’ve not had the chance to try, but will one day when I am no longer skincare grounded. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here and I will get you answers from Flora ASAP.

 

 

 

These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray

These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray

My first trip to New York was in summer 2001. Yes, that 2001; it was barely six weeks before it happened, but we’ll get to that in a second. Two years prior to this particular trip, my friend Leslie and I visited Nova Scotia. You’re probably thinking “why Nova Scotia?” That’s…a long story; I will save it for much later. It was a fantastic trip and where I picked up drinking, but most important, it’s when we discovered a Canadian band called Great Big Sea. It was love at first sound. A couple of years later, they started touring in the States, and NYC was one of the first stops.

Even though we were poor college students, we found a way to make it up there. Plane tickets weren’t quite as obnoxious as they are now (not to mention, miles went a LOT further then) and Leslie had a friend who was conveniently working there for the summer and had a place we could stay.

We did a lot of the typical “first time in New York” things, at least the ones we could afford. But the whole reason we were there was to see Great Big Sea. Who, eerily, played at an outdoor summer concert series at the World Trade Center, on a stage right between the two towers. Clearly, this is an experience we will never forget and she and I always exchange texts on 9/11. Our biggest regret from that trip was not splurging on the tickets to go to the top. Always go to the top, friends.

Take away the tragedy that occurred right afterward, my first trip there, albeit super fun, left me wondering how in the hell anyone could live there. It was crowded and dirty and at that time of year, hot as balls, which means it was full of stank. I didn’t not like it, but I wasn’t in a rush to go back.

But back I went in winter 2005 because I have A Problem. I have many amazing friends in my industry. The best of them have even helped me stalk Jake Gyllenhaal (and for any of them reading this, I still haven’t met him; let’s keep that in mind going into next year). So that December my friend Haley and I flew up, tickets in hand to the Brokeback Mountain premiere.

I confess, there is nothing like New York at Christmas; it is genuinely magical. I loved every minute of that trip, despite they seedy room we rented (still poor) and the fact Jake was of course not at the premiere (don’t get me started on this). But we did have the chance to meet Heath Ledger, which in hindsight was extra meaningful.

Haley decided to move to NYC after this trip, which she did a few years later. And as much fun as it was, I…still didn’t get it. I was (and still am) West Coast ryde or die. But stick with me here, East Coast, friends. It gets better.

I didn’t go back for 10 years. TEN YEARS. In 2015 I flew up for my 35th birthday to see – wait for it – Jake Gyllenhaal in a play (#AProblem). Make fun of me all you want. I wore a hockey jersey on heavy rotation in high school – I am used to people thinking I am bonkers. Anyhow, one of my girlfriends was supposed to go with me, but couldn’t at the last minute. So this was my first non-work-related trip on my own. I would absolutely do it again; in my opinion, traveling alone is a meditative experience. I went to the 9/11 museum, had lunch at one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite places, saw two plays (my first Broadway experience), had yummy Thai with my NYC bestie, and indulged in a truly decadent birthday dinner at Babbo. It was great.

And it was the first time I GOT IT.  The energy and the vibe, they completely sucked me in and I at long last understood the appeal of living in New York. But I would have to fall into a gazillion dollar gig or marry super fucking rich to live the life I would want there. As imaginative and resourceful as I can be, I am quite certain it doesn’t actually work like in the Sex and the City, Friends, and definitely not Younger.

I’ve now had the privilege of visiting NYC twice this year. Once for all work and once for a little work and a lot of  fun. The second was a girls trip to, among other things, attend Indie Beauty Expo New York. If you think the one I wrote about in Dallas was amazing, my god…New York was Skincare Wonderland. I’ve planned that as my next post, stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few of my favorite places I’ve experienced during these last few trips. I know my friends who live in New York or travel there often are LOLing at this. However, I also know a lot of people who haven’t yet had the opportunity to go. And, as I discussed with one of my girlfriends who does live there, you don’t always get to play tourist in your own city. Especially THAT city.

Continue reading “These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray”

So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again

So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again

I could lie my face off and say I don’t know how three months have flown by without writing a single word on here. But I know exactly how it happened. I’ve debated for quite some time about whether or not to share my experience from the last 90 days. It’s super personal and I am sure many will feel I am just looking for attention or being dramatic. If that’s how you feel, so be it – you get your opinion. Otherwise, I’ve always believed if sharing my story helps even one person, especially as we have an increasing awareness and concern for mental health, then it’s worth facing judgement and criticism.

In previous posts I talked about being in a pseudo funk I couldn’t really shake off. I would have several fine or even really good days, then it felt like someone had kicked one of my dogs for two or three days. I tried everything I could to get this mood to permanently fuck off, but she stubbornly dug in her 6-inch heels and poured another cocktail.

And then my grandmother died. For reasons about which I won’t go into too much detail, I’ve dreaded her passing for quite some time. Not only because it meant the loss of my last grandparent, but also because I knew very well it was going to have quite a bit of uncontrollable collateral damage within my family.

Not too long after that inevitable shit hit the fan, I encountered some repeated issues at work. AND I lost my mind and decided to try dating again. I don’t think I need to explain why that was a terrible fucking idea. Mix in the ever present, albeit annoying, issues and struggle with my weight, and well, I kinda went violently downhill. At first, the indifference set in – the hours at home alone with Netflix because leaving the house for anything other than work sounded horrible and required entirely too much energy. Then the sadness took over and the physically exhausting crying started. Unfortunately I’ve seen and lived through this show before.

The bottom fell out when I had to watch Beautiful Boy for work. I started crying 10 minutes into it and didn’t stop until two hours afterwards. While bawling in in the drive-thru at Whataburger afterward, I realized I had officially lost control. Because who cries at Whataburger?! Luckily, I had a therapy appointment the next day, at which I quickly discussed the need to go back on meds.

I was diagnosed with depression for the first time when I was in middle school. It manifested itself as physical pain in my right knee. After several rounds of doctors who obviously found nothing wrong, I was referred to a psychologist at Scottish Rite. I couldn’t tell you how long I saw her (most likely not long enough), but I ended up missing so much school I was home-schooled – if I remember correctly – for a good portion of seventh grade.

The second time was in my late 20s. I went through my divorce and started dating again in 2008. My head was not on straight whatsoever. I look back on those days and want to crawl under this desk and stay there till all the memories go away. Don’t get me wrong, there was some amazing times that year. I mean, I was only 28, lived in LA, had some fantastic friends, and did my best to drink all the vodka in Southern California. But my god I made some horrible decisions when it came to boys.

That Christmas I started dating someone I had known for awhile from Texas. It was super fun and provided a much needed distraction during what was a very emotional time. But it was not meant to be. My divorce was final in April 2009 and the new relationship ended about a month and a half later. I was heartbroken. I think it brought up about 10 years of all sorts of additional issues with which I hadn’t wanted to deal while going to college, starting my career, mistakenly getting married, and finally fulfilling the dream of moving to LA.

Luckily, I had a terrific therapist in Woodland Hills, close to my office. I worked with her for awhile before the aforementioned breakup happened. When it did, I emotionally fell apart and she alone couldn’t put all my pieces back together. She referred me to a psychiatrist and was brutally honest with me that our work together would do absolutely no good unless I was chemically balanced. This was the first time I went on anti-depressants and the only time I went on a mood stabilizer. I didn’t hesitate to take them; no one should feel the way I did at that point (or ever eat that much Chinese food).

I eventually came off the mood stabilizer, but due to my history and genetics, I stayed on the anti-depressant pretty consistently for several years. I came off it when I lost insurance (yay for the American healthcare system!), and in 2013 faced my third depression; it was a pretty nasty one. I was unemployed for the first time in my career, as the company for which I worked and helped build sold. And I had gone through yet another horrific breakup, which, I found out later included being cheated on for the first time.

Once I was re-employed, I went back on meds but because I am dumb, stopped taking them about two years ago because I didn’t think I needed them anymore. Don’t ever self-diagnose, friends, especially when your DNA makes you prone to any sort of mood swings and/or depressive episodes.

Thankfully, I’ve not been officially diagnosed as depressed since then. However, I’ve definitely had a couple of mild episodes. One late last summer and then recently. I knew the signs this time and just did not want to believe them. I ignored it for entirely too long. When my therapist and I decided I should go back on meds, I sadly felt defeated. I felt like I had failed myself, my friends, my life. I felt like if I had just tried harder and done better, I wouldn’t be forced to go back on those pills.

It took me until now, about four weeks in, to get over that feeling. The crazy part is, I don’t see anyone else as a failure for taking anti-depressants; I applaud them for it. Except myself, of course. Cause why would I ever feel good about myself, right? Who would do such a thing?

I am a lunatic, I know.

I’ve taken other steps to put myself back on track. Ultimately, lack of consistency is my biggest downfall. I get to a good place and I completely self-sabotage. Therefore, I started working with a trainer to stick with my health/fitness goals; a transition coach (who trains with Gabby Bernstein) to work on my writing/career goals; and of course, consistent therapy appointments to work on my insanity.

I must mention, as an expression of pure gratitude, seeing so many of my favorite humans this week in Miami helped officially turn the corner, as well. Ridiculously, I actually dreaded that trip. I didn’t want to deal with clothes and feeling horrible about myself and my weight every day. Didn’t want to know if the long hours and having to be “on” all the time was going to turn me into a crazy person. But in the end, it’s exactly what I needed. But it would be a lie to say I would have gotten to this point without the meds.

No one should be ashamed to take care of themselves, whatever that means, not even me.

 

 

Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Every time I hear Miranda Lambert sing Mama’s Broken Heart, every time Patricia Clarkson opens her mouth on Sharp Objects – I immediately think of my maternal grandmother. For most of her life, she defined the perfectly coiffed, passive aggressive Southern woman. I hear her lecturing me every time I go out in public in yoga pants with a messy bun and just a swipe of lip gloss. She would not stand for that.

Granny had her flaws. But I didn’t see them as a kid. To me, as a child, she was perfect. She had the makeup, the perfume, the jewelry and oh my god, she had all the shoes. My most favorite, vivid and honestly, consistent, childhood memories were at her and Papa’s house with my cousin, Jacob. I remember the feel and sound of the window AC unit while sleeping on the foldout couch, the smell of their backyard that can be found nowhere else, snacking on honeysuckle, chasing the countless feral cats and kittens (a few somehow ended up in my house), eating pot roast for Sunday supper, Papa tricking people into trying the hottest peppers ever, Granny making me put lotion on my elbows and knees, and always wanting to punch Jake in the face.

As of yesterday, all three of them are now gone.

After what seemed like a very slow, very painful battle with dementia, Granny is finally at peace again. I am happy for her, because she suffered so long. And there was solace in having the entire family together at the end. She might have been in a coma, but I know good and damn well she was laying there with a roll call sheet, checking off all our names before she would leave. No matter how long we/I knew this was coming, it still wasn’t easy. And watching someone take her last breaths was a first for me. It’s equal parts relief and devastation.

This was my last grandparent; I lost all four in almost exactly 10 years. That’s the biggest part with which I’m having an awkward time coping. It’s more or less the last piece of your childhood laid to rest. I can’t fully explain the emotions yet so I am writing this, as the sooner I write about something, the sooner I can process it. For now it’s just discomfort, strangeness, and the usual feelings that come with death. Like utter regret, self-judgment, and the need to go do something bold and totally crazy because you’ve been reminded that life clearly doesn’t last forever.

This is an end of a chapter in my book. And it’s the end of our family as we know it. I am uncertain these days if there is a heaven. But if it does exist, the first thing she did before letting literally anyone else already living their best afterlife see her, was get her hair set and fix her face.

You pulled up in a rescue truck, showed up with a master key

You pulled up in a rescue truck, showed up with a master key

The pseudo funk I wrote about last still kinda lingers. I know what’s causing it, some of which is completely out of my control, which is the worst. I am getting myself in order, but it’s not always easy. Outside of Jake Gyllenhaal showing up at my door or someone handing me a check for a million dollars, there’s zero anyone can do to make this go away. But when I get like this, ultimate comfort can typically be found in books or TV.

The summer of 2009 was one of these times. My divorce was final that April, at which time I was in my first somewhat relationship post-marriage (note, I hate even using the word marriage, because it was anything but that). Unfortunately, that relationship also went down in medium-sized dumpster fire shortly thereafter. This person is still within my friend circles and I have no ill-will towards him whatsoever, he’s a really good dude and married now, to a woman completely different than me, which is evidence we were genuinely not a match. Which helps now. But back then, because of the place I was in at that point in life, I did not handle it well. Not that I handle any break-up well.

I lived in CA at the time, in an apartment I absolutely adored in Studio City – and probably couldn’t afford now. I was walking distance to this fast casual Chinese food joint that would destroy Pei Wei (and I love me some Pei Wei) any day of the week, City Wok. I lived on orange chicken and fried rice during this time. And as I’ve written about in a previous blog, I also decided to watch the first Twilight movie to see what all the craze was about. And honestly, how obsessed I became with the books and the entire fandom after that was what helped me through that summer without punching anyone in the face.

This time around it’s been a re-watch of Sons of Anarchy. Which, if you follow me on Twitter, you know ALL about at this point. I’m on the next to last episode as I type this. I won’t tell you how fast I’ve gone through all seven seasons, it’s almost embarrassing. In my defense, Dallas has consistently felt like the deepest realms of hell recently, so it’s undesirable to leave one’s house right now.

Of all the wonderful shows we’ve experience in the past 10 years, SOA is without a doubt my favorite. When everyone was eyeballs deep infatuated with Breaking Bad, I was living for SAMCRO every week. Don’t get me wrong, I liked BB a lot, but there was and still is something about Sons. I just fucking love it. I told a co-worker this the other day, to which his response was “I can’t explain why, but that makes sense”. I will take that as a compliment. I think.

This is the first time I’ve re-watched the series in its entirety, so I wasn’t sure if I would still have the same feels. Be not afraid, I totally did/do. I think I love it even more. And I am counting down the days until Mayans MC starts in September. It won’t be the same, but it will hopefully fill a gaping void in my TV life. But having said that, some things about Sons remain the same.

One, Opie’s death and Juice’s downfall are the hardest story lines with which to cope. They both make me so incredibly sad. Two, as much as I love Chibs and Tig, Happy is my favorite member of the MC. He’s a hardcore soldier and my crazy recognizes and appreciates his crazy. Three, I am Team Gemma for LIFE. Because although Tara was fine for five seasons, I loathed her in six. Don’t bother to argue with me; I will proudly die on this hill. And seven, Venus will forever be my favorite non-MC-related character. Walt Goggins deserved all the gold for that performance. (And yes, I’ve seen Justified, he’s also stupid good in it).

But last and never least, Jax Teller. I’ve had a handful of beloved TV boyfriends in my life, including some Really Good Guys like Noel Crane, Ben Wyatt, Jim Halpert, Harry Goldenblatt, Tim Riggins and Jon Snow. But Jax is clearly in a whole other league here, kids. There will never, and could never, be another one like him. He may be a murderer and an outlaw, but he’s also an extremely complex human being caught between wanting to do the right thing and fulfilling an inevitable destiny. Kurt Sutter wrote the hell out of this character. On a much lighter note, Jax was even my first Funko Pop! My friend Fred, who actually got me into the show in the first place, sent him to me. He stays on my desk at work and I love him.

I truly believe TV is absolutely a form of self-care, which has even been discussed on Forever35. It might not be the most physically healthy activity to do for oneself, but spending a few hours on the couch with a solid binge is a at least healthier than downing the magnum of rosé you might actually want to drink. And if you’re single AF, a really hot guy to indulge in for seven season doesn’t hurt, either.

 

 

Well this time I done some thinking

Well this time I done some thinking

I have a terrible tendency to put off getting pedicures, and especially manicures, under the guise of “saving money”. Despite the fact I invest fair amounts in my skin and hair, and let’s not talk about how much I spend on wine. I tell myself over and over again I just need to carve out time on Sunday evenings to take a nice bath and do it myself.

Spoiler alert: I never do.

I started over-analyzing this habit a few days ago and realized getting a mani/pedi is pretty much THE easiest way to instantly feel better about myself.

Having followed her on social media for years now, I finally started reading Natalie MacNeil’s “She Takes on the World” earlier this week. Only 25% in, it’s inspiring on many fronts, but it’s re-emphasized something we all know to be true: you’re never gonna be what you want to be until you believe you can.

You’re probably thinking what TF does this have to do with nail polish, Nikki? I promise this isn’t as big of a stretch as you think it is. So stick with me.

Quite often, I feel like a complete disaster. And when one, often inconsequential thing makes me feel like a disaster, I start to spiral. I can go from “my nails are a mess” to “I’m gonna die alone” faster than I can apply lip gloss.

So I finally realized this week that if paying for a mani/pedi every few weeks is one less reason to feel like shit about myself, I PROBABLY should do it.

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m not sure I know too many people who get to Almost Forty and think “holy shit, this is exactly how I wanted my life to be! all my dreams have come true!” If you’re that person and aren’t an Academy Award winning actor, a self-made millionaire, a politician no one wants to punch in the face, or anything else ridiculously successful and are just bursting with happiness, by all means, explain to me how you got there. Inquiring minds want to know.

The rest of us will be sitting here wondering exactly how many wrong turns we made, whilst also trying to be grateful for where we actually are and all that we do have. And maybe drinking a lot of wine.

I certainly didn’t think I would be 38, single, childless and still not have VP in my title. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, after all. My parents and all my siblings would probably argue that I am successful. And I am sure many people with whom I’m friends on Facebook would tell me I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I love where I live (though I miss LA every single day), I love my pets, I love that I get paid to see movies and work with Real Life Pals each week, I love that I finally got off my figurative ass and started writing again and most of all, I am filthy rich when it comes to friendship, and I love all my people so much it sometimes makes me cry.

But I am not where I thought I would be. Or should be. And I am not alone. I have a lot of single, childless girlfriends. And most of us agree, we are relatively okay with not having kids for a multitude of reasons. But the shitty part is getting to the age range at which that choice is taken away from us all together. Biology can be a real dick.

I have two girlfriends I’ve known since middle school with whom I still talk to quite often. One of them is my sweet friend Cathalee. We were super tight in high school, as we had a lot in common, most notably uncanny abilities to crush on guys we could never date and obsess over professional athletes.

Cathalee is in the top five of Genuinely Good Humans I’ve ever known. I love her dearly, which is why a phone call we had a few months ago broke my heart into a million pieces for her. After battling lady problems that came with excruciating pain and severe anemia for quite some time, not to mention a doctor that failed miserably to diagnose her properly (with whom I would like to have a not so lovely chat), she found out she had a fibroid that had grown to half the size of her uterus and the best option would be a hysterectomy. At 38.

I don’t want to totally speak for her, as it’s her story and feelings to share. She’s written some very personal, very candid blog posts about it herself here, here and here. If you have time to read them, I encourage you to do so. For a very good reason.

There is still spoken and unspoken discrimination against women who do not have children. You can argue with me all you want about it, but it’s there. It exists. We are still considered to be less than. We are still accused of being selfish. We are still told we will regret this and we are failing as women. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.

First of all, fuck that.

Second of all, not having kids is not always an actual choice we made. And by the way, if it is a choice we have made or decide to make, that is no one else’s goddamn business and it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s 2018. We don’t have to worry about re-populating the species or taking care of farms. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of having kids or not, but can we at long last stop hating on each other for it? This country and this world have lost their collective minds and we, as women, have much bigger issues right now.

Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Bow Johnson on Black-ish, one of my absolute favorite characters on TV, is 45 and not married and doesn’t have kids. She gave an AMAZING speech about her “situation” at Glamour’s Women of the Year event, which can be found here. This past week, an entertainment trade publication interviewed her and asked about this speech and if if she feels judged for neither being married nor having kids. I leave you with her answer. Because although I can write many poignant, colorful and not always ladylike remarks about this subject, none of them will be better than this:

You know, I don’t know if I feel judged, but that certainly is a paradigm that we’re all still breaking through. Both in how we language it…I mean, even someone today really, truly meant to be supportive in what she was asking, but unconsciously still framed it in a way that was, “I know that you’ve chosen your career over having a family.” And I was like, “No, I haven’t!” I was like, “There was no point in my life where I chose career over a relationship, or over having a child. This just happens to be where I’ve landed.” So I think it’s not the fault of every individual. I think it really is a systemic response to culture’s way of having an expectation of women within patriarchy and all of that. I think we are one of the first generations of women that have a lot more choices and that can actually make some of those choices [carefully]. You know? Which I find both daunting and exciting.