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Beauty Expert Guest: Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

In Beauty, Blogging, Contributors, Lifestyle, News, wellness on June 24, 2016 at 08:20

As told to Laura Sgroi 

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Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

My name is Autumn Whitefield-Madrano and I am a beauty blogger. I try to make it clear from the start that I am not a beauty blogger who writes about makeup tips—I am a beauty blogger who looks at why we are invested in beauty as women and the role that it plays in our lives. I started The-Beheld.com when I was 34, therefore I had some sense of what I wanted out of life in terms of who I was, and that enabled me to start this blog in the first place.

When I was a kid, my mother didn’t wear makeup at all—maybe mascara but nothing else. But whenever I would visit my grandmother I would sit at her makeup table and I would play for hours. I just loved trying on the different lipsticks and the different eye shadows, it was just this world of fantasy that I loved engaging in but I didn’t know how to do it because I didn’t learn firsthand from my mom. So when I started working in women’s magazines in my early twenties, even though I wasn’t in the beauty department, my heart was there—I always loved the beauty pages, and loved talking to beauty editors. Beauty is literally the face that we present to the world. I am more surprised when people are not interested in beauty. You are interested in beauty in some way even if you don’t ever wear makeup. It’s what you are showing the world, and that says so much about who we are. That is how I got attracted to the subject of beauty, and I’ve engaged with it as long as I can remember.

Most women become more comfortable with who they are as they get older and that shows in the way that they present themselves. The way they do their makeup or the way they don’t do makeup, the way that they style their hair or the clothes that they choose. When I was younger I was a lot more experimental. I wouldn’t even leave the house wearing wild eye shadow or other things, I was playing around. But there wasn’t the sense of joy about it, it was almost a searching of identity: Who am I? Am I someone who wears bright red lipstick? Am I someone who has short hair? Do I have long hair? Do I have highlights? I was trying to put my identity on who I was physically and we all do that. What happens as we get older is that we understand the variety of identities that any of us have, so instead of searching for “Oh! That’s our one identity!” you understand that sometimes you want to wear your natural curls flowing and other times you are going to want to have your hair sleek, and I am the same way. I go through phases when I want to wear my hair long, and luxurious and puffed out—and other times, like during the summer, I just twist it up with a pencil and that’s it. I understand that there are different faces that I am showing to the world. I’m not looking for my identity, I am presenting various sides of myself.

My approach became a little narrower in a certain sense now that I know what works for me, and that is something I didn’t know fifteen years ago. I didn’t understand what my features were, I didn’t understand what my strong points were, what you should be emphasizing and that is something that you just learn with time. Some ladies have a knack for it when they’re younger but I was certainly not one of those. I also have become more comfortable with what I do have to offer and learned to trust those things that are worth showing off and that was something I had to learn with time. I never thought like that when I was a teenager, I knew that I had nice big hazel eyes but I was afraid to show them off because I thought it might be seen like, “Oh, she thinks she’s all that” if I tried to emphasize them with eyeliner. As I get older I tell myself: Everyone has these things about themselves that they know are beautiful and they should show them. That is something I became more comfortable with as I got older.

I also spent so much time when I was a teenager thinking I had bad skin because of some pimples, I thought bad skin, bad skin…Yes, I had some pimples but I had elastic, smooth skin, except for those occasional pimples, and I wished I had been able to recognize that for myself as good skin instead of always saying “bad skin,” because it was just teenage girl skin—it was in general pretty nice.

Something that helped me in my early thirties was looking at some old pictures of myself and I saw how nice I looked. I was never one of those stunningly beautiful women, but I looked at pictures of myself in college and I saw that I just had this glow, I saw that my hair was shining and bouncy and healthy and I saw this vibrancy that I had. I also saw that I didn’t know how to dress myself and other things that were “wrong”, but I saw all these gifts that I had that I didn’t let myself believe when I was younger and it dawned on me: That means there are still things within myself that I don’t know, there’s still something lovely, there’s always going to be something lovely there even if I don’t recognize it; I have to trust that is there. I try to remember that when I have a day I don’t feel so great. I try to think that whatever I saw yesterday that I liked is still there, and in ten years I’m going to look back at a picture of myself now and wonder why I didn’t see some quality.

One of the biggest things that helped me make peace and make friends with my image was understanding that when I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t seeing what I looked like—I was seeing what I felt like. Once I understood that, I didn’t take the mirror as the final truth about how I looked. I still sometimes wake up and my skin is puffy or my hair just isn’t working, but as long as we are taking care of ourselves and getting enough rest, we look the same most of the time. The biggest problem I see with women in our age, who are a little more comfortable with ourselves than we might have been in our twenties, isn’t so much that they don’t like what they see or that they think they are hideous—it’s that their self-esteem fluctuates a lot. One day they might feel “Hello, I’m Miss Thing” and the next day they feel terrible. I would like to see more women be able to do instead is have trust in those days when you look at the mirror and you feel like you got it going on or you don’t even need to look at the mirror at all, you just have that feeling, have a certain faith that that is what you are showing the world. On those days that we see something we don’t like, more often than not, it’s about mood or something internal—it’s not about “Oh, my eyes looks smaller today than usual” because your eyes do not get smaller, I promise.

Some people think that if they are unhappy they need to mask it somehow and maybe put in a little more effort those days. I don’t think that is the best way that beauty can relate to happiness in our lives. First of all, there is no evidence that beautiful people are happier. There are also statistics about how the conventionally attractive ones earn more money—more so for men than for women, but that is another story. They might be seen as more competent or more likable but there is no evidence that they are happier. Science has shown that as we get older we do get happier, which is contrary to what some people think but when they look at their lives that is what they see. I’d like to see us applying the same thinking to beauty, recognizing that most people look how they feel on a day-to-day basis, and they do feel better at this age and possibly even more as they continue to age so they will also look better. I would like to see women trust their instincts more and draw on their real life experience instead of looking at what the media and advertising are telling you with all these messages about youth being something that we need to cling to. Our real lived experience shows the genuine connection between our own form of beauty and our own happiness as well.

Women learn to trust more what they have to offer just on a pure physical level—the more that they learn to highlight that, the better they feel. Maybe sometimes you do mask, because some days putting on lipstick transforms the way that you look at yourself and that can be an important tool towards shifting your mindset. I remember talking to an Iraqi war veteran not long ago, and she said that in the Army you learn how to apply camouflage makeup, and that after doing hers, making her face blend into the background, when she looked in the mirror she saw herself as a soldier. It changed the way that she view herself and she now applies that to the way she wears makeup in her daily life. When we put on our face, our “war paint”, it transforms the way that we see ourselves, and that could be something joyous there for women to draw on.

The concept of mature beauty in women around the world and from many different paths of life is interesting. For example, I haven’t interviewed women from France yet but from what I understand from just talking with French women and women from some other European countries is that the age range in which women in the media are considered beautiful is much larger. There is a scene in “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, where she goes to Italy in her late thirties and she is surprised that men aren’t chasing her down the street like they did when she was 20. And another character says something like, “It’s not like France, where they dig the old babes.” You look at French movies and mature women play the leads and they are seen as beautiful and sensuous. That is happening more in America but we have a ways to go still. Other cultures have a stronger holistic view of beauty. Many Asian cultures revere the elderly—for them it is a given that you would take in your parents and/or your grandparents as they age, there is an understanding of the respect that accumulated years of life give you. We don’t understand that yet in our culture; we understand it intellectually but we don’t value aging that way; at least our generation doesn’t.

In the past twenty years there has been a change of our roles in our society, which is wonderful for women for the most part. Our grandmothers could only be housewives and mothers, maybe career women but they couldn’t have children, or they had to choose. Women from our generation have so many more options, which is wonderful, but that can also be overwhelming. In America, we are looking to beauty as “here’s a role that we can fill”—certainly it’s the role that women are told to fill. What I would like to see happen is, as America and the West in general become more comfortable with the variety of roles that women can play now, that we can opt-in and opt-out of, that beauty will become one of many roles we will begin to see in a more holistic sense. I’m not trying to say that Asian cultures are doing that already but there is more understanding that a 65-year-old woman has a lot to offer to the world and to the younger and maybe more active members of society, and I don’t think we get that fact yet. Once we get closer to that, it will help us understand a holistic concept of beauty.

We are the first generation that has had the opportunity to see women we considered starlets in our twenties, grow in to be who they are now. Julia Roberts, is still on magazine covers after her mid forties, Helen Hunt is in her fifties. Julianne Moore, who is a mature woman who is still seen beautiful, is 52, the same age that Rue McClanahan was when she was cast in the Golden Girls. When you think of that—McClanahan was a beautiful woman but she was seen as a senior citizen, she was an “old woman”, while Julianne Moore is a sex symbol! But there is a counterargument to be made: At what age can women stop trying to be seen as beautiful? That’s another discussion; as far as understanding that women over 25 are sexual creatures, that’s a positive move for us to be seeing, we’re lucky that we get to see that now in our lives.

There is no secret or magic bullet. If you eat healthfully, exercise, get enough sleep, drink a lot water, don’t smoke and don’t drink much alcohol, that will show up in the way that you look. You can dye your hair if it starts to go gray but there is no way to fake that natural glow that comes from taking care of yourself, and I certainly did not understand that in my twenties, not at all. I thought advice telling us to take care of ourselves was a trick to get us to do the healthy things—I felt fine no matter what I did in my twenties. Now, the difference is amazing—if I’m in a heavy work schedule and I can’t get to the gym for a few weeks, I can tell in my energy, I can tell in my face. It’s not that I look ugly is that I don’t have that natural glow that you get when you do everything you should be doing. Women in our age understand that a lot more.

There are certain things that you can do like using retinoid creams, which are the only thing that has been proved to work on fine lines and wrinkles. They’re a little expensive but they last for months and with that I’ve seen a difference in my skin. I can’t recommend them enough, they work wonderful. I wasn’t great at eating a lot of vegetables before—eating a salad takes a long time and I just don’t have the time to sit there and eat twelve ounces of greens, so almost every day I have a green smoothie and I get all my vegetables for the day. I get other vegetables throughout the day as well, but if I don’t have a chance, it falls under one smoothie. That’s my biggest trick: the green smoothie. As far as muscle loss, I’ve been going to the gym regularly for ten years, but I only started seriously strength training a few years ago and I feel amazing, I can tell the difference in my body. I don’t want to say I look younger because I don’t, but I look better than I did five years ago, even though I look five years older, so I can’t recommend strength training enough. I see a lot of women in the gym just spending all this time in the treadmill, running is good for you but only until certain point; if you want to keep your metabolism up you have to strength train and you will feel and see the difference in your body. It’s been a wonderful journey for me. I wish more women weren’t afraid to pick up heavy weights—you are not going to get big and bulky. I lift the heaviest weights I can and I got some muscle there but I’m not the Hulk or anything, so you are not going to get too big.

Understand what your features are. If you are insecure about that or you are not genuinely sure, there are makeup artists that can help you identify your best attributes, like “you have these amazing lips let’s play them up by doing this”. Most women in this age know what their gifts are, we all have times that we look in the mirror and we feel amazing. I see this more and more as we age, and I just want more women to be able to embrace what is striking, unusual, or just sexy about them. This sounds cliché but is true: Confidence is attractive, confidence is sexy, and there are no shortcuts to that. Those times that you just don’t feel it, meditation helps bringing up a sense of calm that accompanies confidence. I can’t say that it directly translates, that when I’m doing a good job at meditating every day, or as often as I can, I’m more beautiful—it doesn’t work like that. But we live incredibly stressful lives and stress does show up in our faces and our bodies, therefore doing whatever you can to find some center is very helpful. In my personal case, exercise, meditation, and recognizing my need for alone time are key. I am friendly but essentially I am very introverted and I know I need a lot of time to myself. I wish I recognized that when I was younger; I spent a lot of energy putting that outward. A lot of these things come naturally to women, as they get older.

No one is going to think that you are more beautiful than you at your best believe that you are, there is a truth to that. Of course everyone looks at us and sees something different and we have no way of controlling that, but as long as there is some part of you somewhere in there that believes that you have something special to offer, people will see and respond to that. You don’t always have to feel it, but learning how to access that can be a great gift.

I was at a baby shower a few years ago where I was one of the mother-to-be’s oldest friends, and she was the oldest of her friends. It was interesting to be there with a group of twenty-three year olds. We were talking about age and I mentioned my age—I was thirty-seven then— and these women turned around and said: “You’re thirty-seven? But you look so good!” And I was like: “Thank you!” But I don’t look any better or any younger than any of my friends who are in the same age group; we know that you have to take care of yourself. When you are young you have this notion of what being thirty-something or forty-something looks like and that’s an outdated idea. Those twenty-three-year-old will see in fifteen years, that being thirty-seven doesn’t mean that you are writing yourself off, it’s the beginning in a lot of ways.

I want those twenty-three -year-old women to be reading this. I want them to see what we have done with our lives and that there is so much to be looking forward to. That sentiment is out there and growing but you still hear women who think thirty is old…Oh Gosh, not thirty! When I was twenty-three, I couldn’t wait to be in my thirties, I was so excited to turn thirty, and whenever I hear women say the same, I smile and think: Right on!

About Autumn Whitefield-Madrano: 

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Author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, and more. She created The Beheld, a blog examining questions behind personal appearance. Her work on the ways beauty shapes women’s lives has been covered by The New York Times and the Today show. She lives in Astoria, Queens, and will tell you her beauty secrets if you tell her yours. 

Author’s Photo Credit: Siouxsie Suarez

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How I Feel About Being in My Thirties

In Beauty, Blogging, Contributors, Family, Finances, Health, Lifestyle, News, Quotes, Relationships on January 20, 2016 at 09:00

By Sonia Young Yim

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Here are some of the things that get better with age: wine, cheese, art piece, and designer handbags.

How about biological age? – I guess you can argue both ways.

Here are some benefits:

You have higher self-respect.

You are wiser in life.

You have a greater sense of well-being (*cough* money *cough*).

Or, perhaps, you are naturally better at things with more experience (sex anyone?).

 

But there are also some drawbacks:

You have more wrinkles.

You don’t lose weight as easily.

You keep on forgetting (what was I saying?…).

Or, perhaps, suddenly reading small print becomes a challenge.

 

So, what does it mean to be in your thirties?

Here’s what I really think — It doesn’t matter.

But this is what aging taught me:

In anything, there’s always a good side and a not-so-good side.

You can’t ever bring back your past no matter how much you delve on it.

You can’t reverse anything that already happened to you.

And, most importantly, if you can’t be happy today, you certainly won’t be happy in the future.

 

“The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.” – Hervey Allen

So, let’s celebrate our thirties to the maximum — Shall we?

 

About Sonia Young Yim:

A wanna-be writer who’s still finding her voice. A once disgruntled employee who’s all about non-conformity. And a minimalist gal who advocates a life of simplicity. Please visit her blog www.startsimplifying.com to know more about her. And it’s her birthday today! Show her some love!

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Casting Notice in Miami: Telemundo is looking for women 35+ for a makeover segment!

In Beauty, Career, En Español, Family, Lifestyle, News, wellness on June 17, 2015 at 11:21

2000px-Telemundo_logo_2012.svg I love helping brands that want to connect with our community!

Attention Miami:

Telemundo is looking for Spanish-speaking women over 35 with compelling stories of why they need/deserve a makeover. Are they single moms? Are they always putting themselves last? Are they hard working and need a little help to feel empowered? Hair is key for these segments, so please include what hair conditions they currently have. Whomever is selected must be willing to travel to Los Angeles, CA in October (more details will follow). Please contact me or email directly at: katherine.Soffia@nbcuni.com and/or lissette.Mejia@nbcuni.com

Thank you for your attention and please feel free to pass on!

Your fan,

Laura

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¡Me encanta ayudar a las marcas que quieren conectar con nuestra comunidad!

Atención Miami:

Telemundo está buscando a mujeres mayores de 35 años que hablen español con historias convincentes de por qué necesitan/merecen un cambio de imagen. ¿Son madres solteras? ¿Se dan siempre el último lugar? ¿Están trabajando muy duro y necesitan un poco de ayuda para sentirse empoderada? El cabello es clave para estos segmentos, así que por favor incluyan la condición actual de su cabello. La aplicante seleccionada debe estar dispuesta a viajar a Los Ángeles, California, en octubre (más detalles próximamente). Por favor contáctenme o escriban directamente a: katherine.soffia@nbcuni.com y / o lissette.mejia@nbcuni.com

¡Gracias por su atención y por favor siéntanse libre de compartir esta invitación!

Su admiradora,

Laura

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“To the Girl I once Was”

In Beauty, Career, Contributors, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships, Spirituality on September 3, 2013 at 08:44

By Nena Ubani aka Duchess

Nena Ubani aka Duchess

I spent my teenage years and my 20s trying so hard to fit in. Energy I feel should have been spent more productively. Now in my early 30s, I feel most comfortable with myself and sometimes wonder if I was given a chance to communicate to the girl I once was, what would I tell her?

To the girl I once was

If I had a chance to meet you,

I would tell you to ‘chill’

Life is not a competition

Do not put too much pressure on yourself

Aspire to be happy and do the things you love

It’s impossible to please people all the time

Beauty is truly from within, so it’s ok to go out without make-up sometimes

Designer bags and shoes are not investments

Keeping up with trends does not define you

True friends would love you just as you are

Fulfillment comes from living the life you want

Living a life of laughs, love and spirituality.

About Nena:

Born and raised in Nigeria and now based in the UK, Nena Ubani aka Duchess is a multitalented presenter who has had the opportunity to interview so many leading African and international names for Voice of Africa Radio and Guess radio, and she is also a columnist for Africa world newspaper Ireland. Later founded Duchess TV and the Igbokwenu radio with the aim of providing a platform for promoting talent and positivity in her community. She has also worked in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police London as a youth mentor, engaging young people as a way to combat crime. Nena continues to do her work in dignity representing the new face of the African woman wherever she goes.

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“Preparing for 30”

In Beauty, Career, Contributors, Family, Health, Lifestyle, Relationships on August 15, 2013 at 09:00

“A reflection from a girl who wanted nothing more than to be 30”

By Kimiko Hosaki

What did I do in my twenties? What did I learn by 30?Kimiko

I spent most of my twenties…

…Rushing to grow up and awaiting my golden age 30 when I thought everything would be clearer.

…With the wrong guy and somehow knowing all along but trying to make it work.

…Trying to find the “love” I had before.

…Working extremely hard on a career that I would later walk away from.

…Stressing about the past and why bad things kept happening to my family and me.

…Trying to find myself by packing a bag and traveling the world.

…Trying to make myself feel beautiful with make-up and hundreds of hair colors.

…Seeking acceptance from my friends.

 I learned at 30…

…That things don’t get clearer once you hit 30, the decisions often get harder but you face them with a stronger sense of self and more knowledge and understanding to make the right decisions.

…It’s ok when relationships don’t work out! Accept that it’s just not meant to be and don’t waste all your good young years with someone that does not enrich your life. Don’t settle!

…When I finally found love, I realized I never really knew what it was before that moment.

…That it’s ok to change career paths, each one sets the building blocks and builds skills for your next step.

…Don’t stress about the past, learn from it.  Life has a funny way of showing you when you are headed down the wrong path. Let hard times teach you lessons and build strength to face the world head on.

…That traveling in my mid-twenties and leaving all my influencers behind was the best thing I could have ever done to find and accept myself.

…That you should always get into a good habit of exercise in your twenties because make-up and hair colour doesn’t hide cellulite.

…That you learn who your true friends are by 30. If you feel like you have to work for acceptance, they aren’t really your friends.

 But the best lesson I have learnt and live by everyday is:

 If you wake up day after day and don’t feel happy about something in your life, whether it is a relationship, a job or the place you live, change it. Everything will work out in the end if you face the world with a positive attitude and acceptance.

About Kimiko:

Born and raised in Canada, Kimiko feels like the hard lessons learnt through her 20s shaped her 30s and give her more clarity and passion to succeed.  She credits her strong character and fun loving personality to growing up at the racetrack with her racecar driving father, as well as the life-changing experiences she encountered while traveling the world. Her favorite hobby is cooking for friends.  She has a deep passion for entertaining, and travel, loves to slow life down with a good scotch and has a dream to put all her recipes into a book one day. In her spare time away from her position as Business Development Director for Mombacho Cigars, she is the founder and director of 82 Reasons and K.H. & co. Consulting, as well as an enthusiastic Pilates instructor. Her 30s excite her, with all the endless professional possibilities and big life decisions to make and feels confident facing the years ahead with her husband and biggest supporter, Dane by her side. 

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“What list?”

In Beauty, Contributors, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on August 9, 2013 at 11:14

By Michelle Fairweather

Michelle Fairweather

Something happened to me during my 29th year of life…I started to feel old. I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I saw the increasing number of grey hairs in the rear view mirror each morning. Maybe it was when I was tagged in that photo that was clearly taken to show my ever-deepening wrinkles. It may have been that fateful Sunday when I realized it was taking me a whole weekend to function after a not so heavy Friday night. Or maybe it was when I found myself realizing that certain body parts who normally enjoyed a rather ‘north’ vantage point had started to migrate south. It could have been when I stopped going to weddings and started attending baby showers and, ever increasing in popularity, divorce parties. It might even have been when my 16-year-old godson, the godson whose nappies I remember changing, called me for relationship advice…No, stop the press, now I remember…The sinking feeling that life was well on the down slide to aging occurred when a good friend pointed out that my days of a 20-something-year-old female were numbered. I won’t lie, turning 30 was horrendous. I put on a brave face and told everyone it wasn’t that bad but really my trained counsellor self was only easing others’ fears, because deep down I was dreading it.

Why was turning 30 such a dreadful experience? It was because something, someone, somewhere was making me take stock of my 30 years and measure them against a ‘list’ of expected accomplishments. I don’t know how this list exists, it’s not written down anywhere, no one tells you, no one hands you a secret envelope that self destructs after reading, and it doesn’t arrive in the mail in disguise as a birthday card. However, let me assure you, the list is very real and it appears to be available in any language. It exists inside every 29-year-old and is screaming out at you with every dwindling 29th year sunset. It’s the list that determines how successful you are. It determines how proud you can be at your high school reunions and it gives you a method in which to measure the productivity of the past 30 years. If you score well you can kick back, relax and hold your head high whilst you blow out those 30 candles. If you score badly, well, huff those candles out before you set the place on fire with the knowledge that you’ve got your work cut out before you get to the next marker of 40.

So, what did I find when I sat down with pen and paper and the list?

Well, in regards to housing I didn’t have a picket fence, I was still house sharing. Under relationships, I noted I wasn’t married and I certainly didn’t have children. I was yet to work in my field of study and against assets, well, even if you let me count my pushbike, I was pretty much asset-less.

So, what section of this mysterious list could I check off? I’ve travelled. In actual fact, I’ve travelled a lot. I uprooted my life at 27 and have lived in three different countries. I’ve seen the gorillas in the mist in the depths of the Congolese jungle. I’ve watched the fireworks over Paris as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’ve eaten a champagne breakfast in the Masai Mara and I’ve laid in-between two sleeping tigers in a canyon in Bangkok. I’ve stood over the grave of the mighty King Henry and I’ve learnt what a joy blackcurrant and true Irish Guinness is. Last but not least I’ve clocked up enough frequent flyer points to possibly do it all again. Yet, when compared to the list I am left with one measly section marked off.

Who is it that determines what the list should include? Who states what makes a successful 30-year-old? When compared to a mother and a wife who is on maternity leave from her dream job why should I hang my head in shame and feel the need to explain that I had been out of the country for 3 years? Why did I feel the need to uproot my life again at 30 and head home to my country of origin in search of ways to mark more items off the list? Really what I should have done is asked my two 30+ housemates to help me look for the originator of the list. That way we could have sent them a lovely gift basket full of food that they may, possibly, one day, choke on.

My advice to all those 29 year olds…If the positive in your life outweighs the negative, hold your head high and scream from the rooftops that you embrace the wisdom that being 30 brings. When that doesn’t take away the dread, just remember a celebrity such as Jennifer Anniston. At 30 she was still not married, not yet divorced, was childless and had a dreadful haircut? Success is what you make of it. Ignore the list at all costs!

About Michelle:

Born in Adelaide, South Australia to British parents, Michelle grew up with the aim to one day travel the world. When rapidly approaching 30 and after exploring the track farless trodden in places such as Africa and Asia, Michelle settled in the UK for three years. However, when the need to buy furniture and fancy cutlery became too strong, she returned to her hometown to determine if it was still home. A graduate of psychology, Michelle knows this move will not be easy but is excited about what’s ahead on the other side of 30.

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“Stop creating problems you don’t have”

In Beauty, Contributors, Health, Lifestyle on July 22, 2013 at 09:00

By Joline MatikaJoline

A wise gal pal of mine once said to me “Joline, stop creating problems you don’t have”. It went down like this:

Tanya: Did you get eyelash extensions?

Joline: Yes, and I hate them.

Tanya: Why?

Joline: Because they are uncomfortable and when they fall out, they take one of my real eyelashes with them.

Tanya: Joline, stop creating problems you don’t have.

Tanya is right. My eyelashes are fine just the way they are. Why did I do it? Because I didn’t want wear make-up on vacation but still wanted my eyelashes to look long and luscious. So at least it was a somewhat logical decision. Right.

Eyelash extensions, really? If you would have told 10-year old me that one day, women would be gluing eyelashes to their eyelashes, I would have laughed, laughed, laughed. 10-year old me would’ve said “uh-huh, next you’ll be telling me that in the future people will drink water out of bottles that they purchase, at a grocery store.” Exactly.

Anyhoo, back to lashes. Women are bombarded with these types of “problems” at every corner. You’re too fat, you’re too skinny, your hair isn’t shiny enough, your teeth aren’t white enough, your lips are too thin, you NEED shellac, your shoes are so last season, she’s a 5, she’s a 10, she looks good, for her age.

So this is a tough one for us, to stop creating problems we don’t have. We are told 3,000 times a day that we have 3,000 problems.

I have taken this wise piece of advice from my wise gal pal and have since applied it to many more aspects of my life.

Now that I am in my 30s, I don’t create problems I don’t have. There are enough real problems in the world and they deserve more attention than all these superficial problems directed at women who are beautiful just the way they are.

Now that I am in my 30s, I am happy with me, just the way I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no granola sister. I will continue to have fun with beauty and fashion but on my own terms. I have put aside feelings of competition with other women and instead celebrate their beauty and accomplishments. And no more eyelash extensions, ever again.

About Joline:

Born and raised in Canada. Toronto based Account Director in advertising & marketing. Social butterfly. Loves animals and trees. Her initials spell JAM.

30 Things I Know About Health Now That I’m 30

In Beauty, Great Articles Found Doing Research, Health, Lifestyle on October 16, 2012 at 10:27

30 Things I Know About Health Now That I’m 30

By Meredith Melnick-The Huffington Post

I’m turning 30 today and, as has become HuffPost tradition, I wanted to share some of the health lessons I’ve learned along the way. There is a fundamental irony to writing a health-themed “things I’ve learned” blog at the age of 30 when, medically speaking, I’ve already been mature for more than half my life. Leaving my twenties is a cultural milestone rather than a biological one. And while it may seem glib to compare the two, there is an undeniable disconnect between our biological and social expectations for people, especially women.

But first, a caveat: I still have yet to go through the major health issues that face large numbers of women: giving birth, having a major health scare or developing a chronic condition of any kind. I’m sure that one or more of these will change over the next 10 or 20 years, but as I stand now, I don’t feel as though I inhabit a dramatically different body than I did five or 10 years ago. I’m approximately the same weight. I have relatively similar anaerobic capacity and strength.  I continue to vacillate between a plant-based and omnivorous diet. Sometimes I like the way I look and sometimes I shake my fist at the universe that I was not born Penelope Cruz’s identical twin. I’m a pretty normal woman, in other words.

Except that, apparently, living in a normal woman’s body in America in 2012 is remarkable in the truest sense of the word: a part of the public discourse. I can’t control how we examine and devour the female form in the celebrity culture. I can’t stop the cynical political machine that jeopardizes the medical rights of young women through devastating legislation and willful misinformation. But I can tell you what it’s like to navigate from within one human body, from behind this set of secondary sexual characteristics. And how, more than anything, becoming an adult is an exercise in self care. I am the steward of this thing, the murky depths of which are unknown even to the most advanced medical minds. I’m doing my best and this is how:

1. You are the only expert on your body
Doctors are your most important resources in your mission to take care of yourself, but they are only as useful as the information you give them. That doesn’t mean you should give equal attention to your Aunt Phyllis’ creative ideas on antibiotics or your own home remedies, but it does mean you need to be an active participant in your own health. Make sure you’re keeping track of symptoms, patterns and lifestyle factors. Don’t lie about risky behavior like unprotected sex or drug use — your doctor isn’t the school principal, she isn’t there to scold you. But she does need the full picture to offer you the best care.

2. You will now have peers who are doctors and that will be crazy
That friend from your freshman dorm who lived on cold pizza and cigarettes? He could be a neurosurgeon by now. Turning 30 means that all your friends who started medical school after college are now charged with caring for your hospitalized love ones.

3. It is your responsibility to be scientifically literate
You can’t rely on health news alone (thought it’s a good place to start). To truly understand the latest developments in health, you need to learn how to read a study. That means boning up on things like what constitutes statistically significant data, the difference between in vitro and in vivo lab research, what “confounding factors” refers to and more. That way, the next time you see a headline like “Eating Unicorn Meat Causes Cancer,” you can evaluate the study and realize that, actually, the research found something much less definitive and far more convoluted like: a compound found in unicorns, when applied directly to mouse cells in a petri dish, resulted in an increase of cancer cell division.

4. Internet symptom databases are only sort of your friend
Yes, reading up online is important. But checking each symptom you have on a database will inevitably lead to panic and misinformation. Yes, a headache can indicate a brain aneurism, but chances are that’s not what you have. What’s more, diagnosing yourself using a search engine could delay your visit to a doctor, who can offer you a proper diagnosis.

5. As a scientifically literate person, you must learn not to call your gynecologist “the lady doctor”
It isn’t cute. Let’s train people to hear real, adult words from real, adult women. We have vaginas and those vaginas are sometimes cared for by gynecologists.

6. And once you can say gynecologist, find one you can trust 
Many women see their gynecologists as often or more often than their GPs, so in many ways this is your primary doctor relationship. I think my gynecologist is one of the best doctors: he’s flexible, involved and careful. He takes everything seriously, offers suggestions and backs them up with research. Decide what your criteria are and make an informed choice. Shop around!

7. Birth control is medication and medication is a Big Deal
Perhaps because it is extremely common, birth control is often overlooked as the ongoing, long-term medication that it is. If you decide to take it, you could be on it for decades. That means there’s no settling: find the absolute best method for yourself. Don’t suffer through intolerable side effects and make sure you know what all the options are. Talk to your doctor and read up about all the methods out there.

8. Yes, your fertility is on the decline
We may be engaged in a culture of prolonged adolescence, but our ovaries are unaware of that fact. By 30, your ovarian reserve will have begun its decline (the height of fertility is in the early 20s) and that decline will become precipitous by 35. That means, if you want to give birth to biological children, it requires a bit of planning.

This necessarily introduces a new dynamic: you are biologically compelled to act out a social behavior (planning a family, looking for a mate) in a way that your male and non-child-seeking peers do not. Yes, it’s unfair, but what can you do? As Cole Porter wrote, “We’re merely mammals.”

9. Speaking of mammals, smelling like a human is healthy — and sexy
Don’t smell like flowers or like a poundcake. There’s no reason to stop bathing, but ditch the heavy, synthetic fragrances. Smell like you. Not only will you cut down on the number of potentially harmful endocrine disrupting compounds you are exposed to (common beauty product ingredients like phthalates and parabens), but you’ll also make a statement. It’ll be attractive to some people and it will offend only the sort of people who reinforce that tired old social expectation that women should rise above their earthly bodies — shouldn’t have bodily functions or smells or imperfections. And why would you want to cater your grooming habits to someone who wants to deny your humanity?

10. Facial moisturizer: 
A lot of beauty products include pseudo-scientific advertising terms that make them seem like medical remedies. As someone who is deeply skeptical of anything that is advertised with digitally enhanced models, I have previously dismissed many skincare products. But moisturizer not only protects the hydration of your skin just at the age when it begins to lose moisture, lotions that carry sunscreen are a necessity for every day.

11. Start protecting yourself from the sun now, if you haven’t already
Skin cancer is still the most common type of cancer in America. The sun damage that often causes it may start accumulating early, but a lifetime of sun exposure contributes to the risk. That means wearing a daily sunscreen, covering up with hats and clothing in direct, prolonged sunlight and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes. And just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk.

12. Accepting your body might be hard, but it’s also really fun
Unsurprisingly, as a teenager I struggled to accept my appearance. I managed to drop 20 pounds during my first semester of college by living exclusively on garden salad, miso broth and fat free frozen yogurt (and midori sours, because I was a teenager unleashed on the public with a fake ID). Thanks to a hearty Mediterranean metabolism, the extent of my disordered behavior was largely hidden by a more-or-less healthy BMI, but I can tell you that I was grumpy. I was moody and spaced out, but most importantly, I had the same love/loathe relationship with my appearance as always. Now, reunited with my 20 pounds, I’m a great deal happier with how I look. And I’ve given up the exhausting habit of thinking about it all the time.

13. Find a physical activity that you love
Preferably one you can do for a long time. Everyone of every age needs to incorporate daily physical activity into their lives, but that will be infinitely easier and more enjoyable if it’s something you truly love. It doesn’t have to be conventional and it doesn’t have to be focused at a fitness center: find a passion in tournament volleyball, folk dancing, horse-back riding or a bike commute and you’ll be a healthier, more youthful adult later on.

14. Run a race
As a preternaturally embarrassed person, the idea of running en masse filled me with dread and was long filed under the category of public spectacle (see also: parades; the ‘Happy Birthday’ song). But one weekend, a friend convinced me at the last minute to join her for a small 5k race near my house. I quickly realized that there is something primal and energizing about running in a pack — something that makes race running an entirely different experience than a solo jog.

15. Grow your own food
Even if it’s just a basil plant on the kitchen windowsill, having food that you’ve grown yourself will help inspire more whole food recipes. Because if there’s one thing that doesn’t go with fresh produce, it’s processed junk. And even if you put those hard-earned basil leaves on a frozen pizza, training yourself to appreciate the taste of fresh, whole foods will help in the long run.

16. Learn to meditate
Choose your reason: many people meditate as a way to center themselves and set a focus and intention for their day. But if that sounds new age-y to you, there are plenty of research-based reasons to take up the practice: it reduces anxiety, helps treat trauma, increases empathy and may help prevent the onset of age-related dementia.

17. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN
Sorry for yelling. But please: pay attention to the people around you. It’s bad for your brain and bad for you eyes and bad for your relationships to text and instagram your social interactions away. Even if they don’t say so, even if they don’t seem to notice, your loved ones will benefit from your shift from half to full attention. If I’ve been too shrill and brief on this topic, a good place to learn more about the psychological and social costs of our smartphones can be found in Sherry Turkle’s brilliant book, Alone Together.

18. See a therapist
Visiting a therapist has probably been the nicest thing I’ve ever done for myself. You don’t need to be dysfunctional to go — you just need to be interested in learning more about yourself and the dynamics you have with other people. There isn’t anybody who doesn’t get stuck — who doesn’t fall into rote patterns in professional and personal relationships. And there’s nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional to help guide you through a deeper understanding of yourself.

19. Learn to cook
Cooking for yourself is the best way to control what goes into your body. You will use less oil than a restaurant, fewer ingredients than a fast food meal and it’ll be easier for you to modify dishes to make them more healthful.

20. Know when to splurge on organic
There are differing and passionate feelings about the importance of eating organic produce. Given its higher cost and lower availability, it’s not surprising that many people choose conventionally-grown food instead. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing: some foods tend to have higher pesticide loads than others and so it is possible to choose a combination of cheaper, relatively clean fruits and veggies and more expensive, must-be-organic foods.

Here are some things to try:

21. Veganism
Try it for a week or a month or however long you’d like. It’s useful to know how your body feels without animal products. You’ll be a more creative chef and adventurous eater afterwards and you’ll be forced to consider your nutrient intake — on the modified diet and off. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a primer on what to consider.

22. Yoga
Because flexibility and muscle mass diminish with age and a strong yoga practice can help retain and enhance both.

23. Surfing
Physical courage, like flexibility, diminishes with lack of practice and with age. It’s important to remind your body of what it feels like to be on shaky ground. It’s important to use your brain to problem-solve different landscapes and spatial surroundings. If you’re not near water, many other activities, like rock-climbing, can also accomplish this.

24. Fermenting things
Taking produce at its peak season and learning to preserve it for later is a healthful way to keep veggies on hand in the pantry. When a salty snack craving hits, you’ll be glad to have pickles instead of chips. And, like many single 20-somethings, it might take a little longer than the shelf life of a cucumber to work your way through the fridge — making fermentation an easy way to keep food waste down.

25. Sleep isn’t just for wimps, it’s for you too
I’ve gone to high-pressure schools my whole life full of determined children, influenced by their equally ambitious parents. What I noticed is a certain machismo about forgoing sleep for schoolwork. And that, frankly, backfires. Not only do studies show that losing sleep harms overall school performancechronic sleeplessness is associated with a host of health problems — from cancer to heart disease. That chemistry midterm, on the other hand? You’ll probably forget about it.

26. On that note, stress is just as insidious — and just as dangerous
It’s associated with some cancers, poor memory and learning acquisition and more. It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of school or work, but it’s also important to find a healthy, productive way to de-stress. De-stressing is also your job.

27. You don’t need “study drugs”
Enthusiasm for “study drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall was just reaching a fever pitch as I graduated from college. I admit it — I took a couple of pills, mostly out of curiosity, to see if it would help with my papers. But my experience was similar to what’s born out in the research literature: you might have more fun in your library carrell, but you won’t do better work. And you’ll feel like your head’s stuffed with cotton balls the next day.

28. People you love will have health scares and it won’t be okay
During one 18-month period about five years ago, three people who were close to me were simultaneously diagnosed with different types of cancer. I thought I was handling everything pretty well. I could rattle off all the medications everyone was on (my chemotherapy puns are to die for). I could give injections. I had the stamina for marathon bedside sessions. But also, I couldn’t remember anything. Words escaped me. I couldn’t focus: I would forget what a conversation was about midway through. I was literally browning out from the stress.

29. Caretaking is hard
The cancer wasn’t a blessing in disguise. It sucked. And while it sucked most for the people going through it, it wasn’t great for the caretakers either. Being cancer-associated is its own kind of exhaustion. And, as a young person, you are far more likely to find yourself in the role of caretaker than you are patient. So please realize that what you are doing is not for the faint of heart and it requires a great deal of energy and emotional fortitude. Go easy, don’t forget to do nice things for yourself and, above all, ask for help.

30. Listen to yourself
At this point, you’ve been around the block a few times. You are a better judge of character than you used to be. You know your body and its reactions to things. You have a sense of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Don’t deny yourself what you know that you need: time alone, a nap or even a few days without heavy meals. You are the expert, don’t let anyone else tell you how you are.

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