Momover Lady’s Library: For some reason, I’m on a big ol’ “books about heaven and the afterlife” kick

This pic says 'heaven,' right?

This pic of fluffy clouds and a rainbow says ‘heaven,’ right?

Before I get rolling, please allow me to dispense with two quick housekeeping matters:

1. TGIF my lovely Momoverettes! (I just had to say that…it’s been a long, work-y week chez moi.)

2. “Afterlife” is one word, yes? I hope so, because I’m about to use it as one word about 95 times.

Anyway, I have no idea why, but I’ve somehow stockpiled four (!) books about heaven, written by spiritual types who say they’ve been there and want to tell us all about what it’s like.

Having recently organized Momover Lady’s Library into specific “Zones,” it was easy – albeit freaky – to see all those heaven books wind up in my Crunchy Zone.

I have scads of Zones, btw.

There’s Art History Zone (chock-full of books about Warhol, Picasso, and my favorite painter of all time – Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.) There’s Knitting Zone, and French Zone. There’s Tech-Spaz Zone (featuring “WordPress for Dummies,” “Digital Photography for Dummies,” “Turning On Your Computer for Dummies,” etc.)

Ironically, one of the biggest book buckets is Organizing Zone. Although every single organizing tome I own tells you to get rid of stuff, I just can’t bear to part with a single organizing book. Wack…

Here are the four afterlife books I own:

1. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, MD. Oh my lordy. I’m sorry, but this was off-the-hook fantastic. It is fascinating. Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon, and, at least for me, wholly credible. Spoiler alert: The “earthworm” bit scared the bejesus out of me, but I was really comforted by about 95 percent of this book. Read. It.

2. Waking Up In Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski. Honestly, I haven’t read a word of this yet. And I don’t really remember what compelled me to pick it up on one of my many Target outings. Maybe because it says on the book jacket that McVea is from Oklahoma? I’m a proud Okie, even though I haven’t live there since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

3. To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD. I started this, but then got side-tracked by the considerably more zhushy Eben Alexander book. (I’m like that…fickle and despicable.) Neal is an orthopedic surgeon. But maybe, just maybe, not the zhushy-iest writer. I’ll probably get back to this at some point. I think.

4. Life After Death by Mary T. Browne. I’m reading this right now and it’s adorable. How can a book about death be adorable? I don’t know. It just is. Take my word for it. You don’t want to take my word for it? Okay then, Miss Huffy Puffy, I’ll give you an example: Browne, a famous psychic, says there’s a nursery in heaven – which she’s seen – filled with happy babies. “It was enchanting,” she writes. “Children were singing songs and laughing. I am certain that anyone who has had a child pass on in infancy would be overwhelmed to know the care its soul was being given.” Sweet, non?

Full disclosure: I’ve met Mary T. Browne. I’ve even had lunch with Mary T. Browne. And my copy of Life After Death is inscribed, thusly, by Mary T. Browne:

May 15 2008

Dana,

I predict that we will be friends. My good thoughts go to you.

Mary T.

And since I’ve hopped – firmly – on the TMI train today, I’ll say that it was actually the concept of ‘thoughts’ that lead me to pick up Life After Death again.

I’d been reading another one of Mary’s books – the teriffic 5 Rules of Thought – earlier in the summer. And while I am completely paraphrasing here, she basically says, in 5 Rules, that we’ll basically be held accountable, in heaven, for every thought we’ve ever had.

Yowsa. How does she know this?, I’d wondered.

The answer, as I would come to find out, lay in my rickety old copy of Life After Death. While unpacking a few post-move-to-FLA boxes in the garage, I found it and snatched it right out of the pile.

And now it’s in heavy rotation on my nightstand.

Which Mary T. Browne knows, of course. She’s psychic. And she’s been to heaven.

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Beauty Armoire Monday: Meltproof Tinted Moisturizers

Liking these glam, effective  numbers.

Liking these lightweight, skin-perfecting numbers.

Wait – there’s no way in hell I’ll get to experience some kind of actual autumn in FLA, right? Some slight change in the mood and mindset that might push me out of my trusty vegan Birkenstock Gizehs and into real shoes?

(Sidebar: Before we start talking war paint, I just want to make a quick note of this: Shockingly, given its place in the Crunchy Pantheon, not all Birkenstocks are vegan. If you want to avoid leather, as I do, you need to track down the ones made with Birko-Flor. I have no idea what Birko-Flor is, except that it’s cruelty-free and comes in oodles of purty colors. Yay!)

Okay, back to beauty…

Even if the answer to that earlier question is – No, Momover Lady, it is Eternal Summer down here. Suck it up. - I’m feeling vaguely fall-y anyway.

And I’m officially O.V.E.R. running around with an almost-naked face.

Which doesn’t mean I’ll be breaking out my beloved Marc Jacobs Beauty Marvelous Mousse Transformative Foundation  anytime soon; it’s still a little too muggy and clammy around these parts for that.

Rather, I’m on the hunt, and fishing around in my Armoire, for super-lightweight tinted moisturizers, foundations and CC Creams. Ones that I can slather all over and not feel like sticking my head under the garden hose five minutes later.

Here are four I’m liking – and why:

1. Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm This one is oil-free, so if you have super-dry skin, I suggest layering it over a bit of moisturizer. I can hear you now: I thought this WAS a moisturizer. Well guess what? It really isn’t. It’s makeup. But it is lightweight, and it does give the skin a chic, “I’m on my way to work, so get outta my way way” look. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you want. (Minus the heft of a heavier foundation, bien sur.)

2. Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Laced with “30x Vitamin C of an Orange,” this is an antioxidant powerhouse. Is Peter Thomas Roth known for makeup? No, he’s a skin genius. And that’s why this makeup is really good for your skin. Bonus: The texture is glide-on fantastic.

3. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Compact SPF 25 Sensing a CC cream theme? Good. Because I highly recommend them, especially if you’ve blown out more than a few candles on your recent birthday cakes, as I have. While BB creams – which, at least in the U.S., are multi-purpose “beauty balms” that allegedly do everything from camouflaging enlarged pores to filing your tax returns – CC creams are more targeted. They primarily “color-correct,” i.e. impart radiance and, over time, reduce age- and sun-related hyperpigmentation. So now that you know the difference between BBs and CCs, know this: Clinique makes a kick-ass CC cream. But then again, Clinique makes a kick-ass everything.

4. By Terry Light-Expert Perfecting Foundation Brush The glamorous French broad of the bunch, this is one of those combo brush / foundation numbers that you click until the product starts to push its way to the top. If you’ve never applied your complexion products with a brush – and trust me, lots of mamas haven’t – I urge you to try it. Especially with this luxe-but-light formula. You’ll be taking your look to the next level. And what mommy-person wouldn’t want that?

 

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5 e-mail processing hacks. (No one needs em more than me. OK, maybe a few people need em more. But I do need em.)

A machete. (Kind of.) Get it?

A machete. (Kind of.) Get it? For slicing thru your inbox?

I’m desperately trying to forget something my crunchy-crush (Leo Babauta) recently wrote on his Zen Habits blog:

He tries to keep his email inbox under 50.

Can you imagine? He’s such a beloved dude – such a beacon of light for his faithful flock – that I’m sure his inbox is bombarded / pelted / inundated with pleas for his attention every single day of his bright and shiny, self-disciplined life.

I want to get to that 50-email limit, too. But right now, I’ll settle for getting mine down to 500 from – gasp – today’s count of…9,108.

So let’s figure out how to do that, shall we?

On y va. Allez-y. Let’s go!*

* (NOTE: Most of this post will be Gmail-centric; as much as Hubby urges me to use the classic Mail program on my Mac, it just doesn’t “speak” to me the way Gmail does.)

5 Solid Strategies for Zapping Email

1. If  ”unsubscribe” isn’t working, let big, bad Gmail help you out. I get frustrated (read: ballistic) when I’ve taken the time to unsubscribe from email lists and new ones keep springing up like those loathsome critters in Whac-A-Mole. So I’m thrilled to have found the “Unsubscribe and report spam” feature in Gmail. When you click on an email from a list you want to remove from your life, pan your eyeballs up to that row of action icons on top. Look for the one shaped like a stop sign with an exclamation point in the center. Clicking that will in turn allow you to hit “Unsubscribe and report spam.” Though I feel bad for playing the spam card with companies I’ve ordered products or newsletters from in the past, I gotta move on and seize control of my inbox destiny.

 2. Take full advantage of Gmail’s new-ish organizing buckets: “Primary,” “Social” and “Promotions.” Obvi, when it comes to ruthlessly deleting emails and reducing the size of your inbox, you wouldn’t start with Primary, as that’s what mostly “real”: It’s either responses to emails you yourself have sent, or it’s incoming from people you actually know, or might want to know. For me, Promotions is the primary get-rid-of-it hunting ground, because I don’t want or need 99.9 percent of what’s living in that bucket. In a perfect world, I’d have the time to marvel at the sheer wittiness of J. Crew’s daily missives, but I don’t live in a perfect world. And since I’m not very (electronically) Social, I’m okay with zapping most of that stuff, too.

3. Accept that you can’t possibly read all the completely awesome newsletters you’ve subscribed to. Plug the newsletter name into your email search tool, do a quick scan and save 5 for later reading. Okay, 10. Now highlight the rest and send them off into the ozone. Try to do this regularly. For the most part, you can probably visit the newsletter’s website of origin and read back issues until the proverbial cows come home.

4. Archive….sparingly. I’ve read many “helpful” blog posts that suggest that you not worry about teeming, 10k-plus email inboxes. Just archive them, lock, stock and barrel, these experts tell us. Gmail has plenty of storage space. (Actually, I think it’s even Gmail itself that tells us that…) But IMHO, that’s just sweeping the problem under the rug. Like when I beg the Wee Lass to clean up her room and I find her shoving stuff, ad hoc, into what she calls “random” boxes. “You’re the one who told me it’s always good to have a ‘random’ box,” she’ll say, when I call her on it. Oops! Still, she’s an 8-year-old collector/hoarder. You, on the other hand, are an organized, thoughtful grownup with self-discipline.

5. Set aside a specific chunk of time to process email. You’re checking email 50 times a day, but are you processing email 50 times a day? Probably not. I have a personal philosophy, one that I most definitely don’t adhere to all the time: Do what you’re doing. So when you’re in “process” mode, really, truly process. And that means taking one further action besides just quickly scanning. Really read it, then either respond to it, archive it or delete it. Keep taking that next step until it becomes automatic.

And on that note: My next step is out the door to pick up my sweet little collector / hoarder from school. Bon weekend, chere Momoverettes.

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Remember my pledge to spike 9000+ emails by September 1? It didn’t work. Like at all. Sigh…

I desperately want an empty one of these.

I desperately want an empty one of these. ASAP. Now!

While I seriously, actively fret about the amount of beauty products I own (and purses, and books, and ancient fashion mags…), I never really thought of myself as an email hoarder.

Until this past weekend, when I tried to make good on my pledge to reduce my electronic inbox to 500 emails and barely made a dent.

I’m no math whiz (understatement of the century), but if I’m starting with close to 10k, and want to get to > 500, that means 9000+ need to be kicked to the virtual curb.

I promised – right here on this itty bitty blog – to do it by September 1. But then I blew it off, and went on my merry way. Until Friday afternoon, when I had a mini panic attack and started spiking, spiking, spiking.

But this is where it got weird: No matter how many I thought I’d zapped – hundreds and hundreds! – the total count didn’t really budge.

So then I got the brills idea to empty the trash.

Maybe, I thought, if I did that, the count would plummet. After all, I’d spent the better part of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning obliterating everything even remotely junk-y or spam-y in my path.

And still here we are, a few days later, and my inbox is reading: 9095.

Let’s run the numbers. When I first posted about this dilemma in August, I had 9760 emails. Since then, I’m sure another 200 snuck in through the back door. (I’m on a lot of mailing lists…)

So let’s amend that count to 9960. And now I’m at 9095. That means that even with alllllllll that weekend spiking, I still only zapped 905 emails.

Maybe because I sensed I was failing miserably at the clutter-busting goal I’d set for myself, I did some reading about managing your email inbox.

(When I wasn’t watching the U.S. Open, that is, and doing fun stuff with the Wee Lass like visiting Busch Gardens and Great Explorations Children’s Museum.)

In my next post, I’ll share the email hacks I gleaned in my sleuthing. Right now, I need to tackle my Tuesday To Do list.

But before I scoot off, let’s recap why reducing my inbox is so important to me. And why it might benefit you, and that mama over there, and all mamas everywhere:

According to the core tenets of feng shui, jam-packed inboxes – the virtual or actual, touchable kind – restrict the flow of communication.

I think we’d all agree that an open flow of communication is more ideal. Feel me?

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Wait – when was it decided kids – adorable, awesome kids – need their school photos retouched???? Gack.

Me, as a snaggle-toothed Okie tot.

Me, as a snaggle-toothed Tulsa tot-lette. Those swoopy bangs!!!

Momover Lady has a big ol’ bee in her bonnet, one I would now like to share with the world at large.

Yesterday, as the Wee Lass and I were speeding thru our Before-School To Do list (eating breakfast, making beds, brushing, combing, fluffing, buffing, huffing and puffing), I was filling out a purchase form for school photos when my eyes seized on this “upgrade” to the portrait packages:

CUSTOM RETOUCHING

Basic Retouching…$6

- Eliminates Blemishes

Premium Retouching…$12

- Whitens Teeth

- Evens Skin Tone

- Removes Blemishes, Scars & Flyaway Hair

************

After I picked my jaw off the floor, I became incensed.

Yes, I traffic in extreme superficiality in this blog. (“On” this blog? I never know whether blogs are an “in” or “on” proposition…)

And I’ve been a Beauty Director, at three separate magazines, for a massive chunk of my career. (Or more a massive chunk of my “life”; I never know where my career ends and my life starts…)

But even I draw the line at Photoshopping the bejesus out of school photos.

Apart from extreme situations – and my heart 1000 percent goes out to any child who is wildly self-conscious about some aspect of his or her appearance –  we have to let our kids look like they look.

We also have to let them know that no matter what they look like, they can be a beautiful person if they’re kind and loving to others.

White teeth, even skin tone and frizz-free hair shouldn’t live ANYWHERE on a tiny tater tot’s list of stuff to fret about.

And on that note, I’m flying off on my broomstick to get back to my day. Merci beaucoup for letting me vent.

 

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How to “do you” and not worry about what anyone else is up to. (Hint: It’s challenging, but life-changing.)

This chow puppy is way off-topic. But so cute!

This chow-chow puppy is waaaay off-topic. But so cute! Swoon.

The upfront disclaimer: This post is pretty crunchy. On the Crunch-O-Meter, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. If you’re not up for a little touchy-feely action, move along little doggie…

Sidebar: My beloved Rafael Nadal is sidelined from this year’s U.S. Open for a wrist injury. Faithful Momoverettes know I’m obsessed with the brilliant Spanish tennis player. Let’s all send him our get-well wishes, telepathically, to Majorca. Om…

Okay, onto the topic at hand: Putting on your people-blinders so you can focus on being the best you, not a patched-together, fuzzy version of someone else. The version-of-someone-else bit never, ever works.

I did mucho reading over last weekend, and the following resources helped me flesh-out this blog post:

1. Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power In You to Achieve Happiness and Success by Russell Simmons. I’ve owned this book for a while, and really just need to read it all the way thru already rather than surfing in and out. So good. I also heart Uncle Rush in a massive way because he’s a vegan. I am not a vegan, and have a lot of guilt around that. Maybe I’ll get to it some day – or at least a 50 / 50 split. In the meantime, I will give many public shout-outs to actual, awesome vegans like Russell Simmons. Oh, and on top of all that, Simmons is wildly successful. Yay!

2. Brain Pickings. Am I the last person on the planet to know about this? Such a great site, and beautifully designed. Love. It.

3. This incredible essay – How to Do What You Love – by Paul Graham, which I found via Brain Pickings. I think Paul Graham is some kind of tech god? Anyway, this is longish by World Wide Interweb standards, but absolutely, without question, worth taking the time to read.

3 Tips for Putting On Your People-Blinders

1. Reframe, reframe, reframe. Let’s say you’re on Facebook, and someone in your peer group posts about a major work accomplishment. Not vacay snaps of a Champs-filled trip to Paris, or a boozy stopover in Berlin, or some other place you’re dying to visit. I’m talking about a genuine career win, or an amazing new job. Instead of feeling envious, pivot to one of these two thoughts: A) Sally Sue must have busted her ass to make that happen. Or B) Sally Sue will really have to bust her ass in that gig. Why this works: By shifting your thoughts to the effort it took Sally Sue to nab whatever it is that’s making you envious, you’ll remember that ass-busting is the key to achieving anything worthwhile in life – and everyone can do it. That means you; you’re part of ‘everyone.’ (Apologies for all the swearing…)

2. Limit feedback-soliciting to your inner circle. In Graham’s essay, he recommends worrying only about what your close friends think about your future plans, not the other 8 billion citizens of the planet. I loved this tip so much my head almost split open when I read it. It just makes so much sense. Your pals really “get” you. They know your strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully they aren’t shy about gently steering you down the right path(s). And btw, Significant Others can also be part of your mini focus group. Every time I cook up some bizarre career plot twist – like “Maybe I’ll be a coder!” –  Hubby shoots back: “You would hate that. Coding isn’t you.” Bingo, baby. Why this works: You’ll have clarity. And just as important: higher self-esteem. Wanna be miserable? Spend your day fretting about what everyone else thinks of you. Blech times a billion.

3. Plan your day, your week, your month, your year: This gets right back to ass-busting. And learning. Whoa – learning. Sooooo crucial to the feeling-good-about-yourself equation. I defy you to really master a new skill – or even get a tiny bit better at it – and not raise your “Yay! Me!” quotient exponentially. For me, this summer was all about upping the ante with my cooking and driving. (I’ve been knitting, too, but haven’t yet moved beyond my signature stitch. Stuck in a big ol’ rut…) Why this works: When you actively schedule your take-over-the-world plan of attack, not only will it build confidence, it will crowd-out all the “What’s Sally Sue up to?” hooey. Sally Sue doesn’t matter. You, however, do.

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Momover Lady’s Library: The Tidy Closet by Marie-Anne Lecoeur (I know, I know…the endlessly smug French)

Couldn't find a "real" pic, so voila.

Couldn’t find an official book pic, so voila, a low-tech one.

There was a piece in the New York Times recently – which I thought I’d stashed in my subscribers “Save” folder, but of course now can’t find – that boldly posited that the French might be losing a soupçon of their “we’re better than you at just about everything, so go crawl up into a little ball somewhere and get over it” smugness.

I pinkie-swear that such a piece exists. And if and when I finally find it, I’ll link to it right here on this little ol’ blog.

Until then, let’s take an in-depth gander at this helpful number, subtitled: “Tips From A French Woman: EASY STEPS AND MOTIVATION TO DECLUTTER YOUR CLOSET AND ORGANISE YOUR WARDROBE.” (Please forgive the all caps; I’m just typing it as I see it…)

Faithful Momoverettes know that I recently had my new FLA closet professionally tricked-out, and that, despite the tricking, I’m still having a devil of a time trying to fit (read: cram) all my cherished belongings within.

So I’m hoping this author, who also has a blog – howtobechicandelegant - can help me. And by extension, you. The entire raison d’etre of Momover’s Lady Library is to extract excellent intel from my crazy-huge book collection. If there’s nothing good for all of us – this mama, that mama, the mama over there – off it goes to Salvation Army, never to be heard from again here.

On y va. Allez-y. Off we go…

Helpful Intel From Every Chapitre 

1.Chapitre Un: You’re probably a clutterer, not a bonafide hoarder. Perhaps you weren’t worried about this, but I most definitely was. Lecoeur says only 1 percent of the population jumps the fence from pack mouse to pack rat. Still, I didn’t know that being a “clutterer” was an actual thing. She says it is, and that about 30 percent of us are in this camp. (Don’t you love how I say “us”? We clutterers like company.) Best Takeaway Tip: Change your shopping habits and go for quality over quantity. You knew she would say that, right? That’s classic French thinking. But just because it’s classic French thinking doesn’t mean it isn’t 100 percent – not 1 percent or 30 percent – spot on.

2. Chapitre Deux: You probably only wear 20 percent of your wardrobe. No doubt you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, aka the 80-20 rule. A business example of the Pareto Principle is “80 percent of a company’s profits come from 20 percent of its customers.” Here, Lecoeur applies it to our closets. Hmmm….I might wear a bit more than 20 percent of my wardrobe, but that’s only because I’m much less of a clothing “clutterer” as I am a purse and jewelry clutterer. Best Takeaway Tip: Don’t buy anything that won’t integrate seamlessly into your wardrobe. If you’re weeding out all the dead wood in your closet – i.e., that 80 percent that never sees the light of day – the remainder needs to work together.

3. Chapitre Trois: Feeling bummed every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. Okay, maybe this chapter wasn’t so useful. It’s titled “The Disadvantages of Clutter” and is kind of a downer. We get it; tidy is better. Best Takeaway Tip: Until you have a full set of kick-ass classics, steer clear of trendier pieces.

4. Chapitre Quatre: Feeling Zen every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. At about this point, I began to think to myself: Is this book, by any chance, self-published? And lo and behold it is. Listen, I’m sure there are many fantastic self-published books out there. But I’ve been buying a lot of them electronically lately, and many of them could use a good editor, someone to help the author see that you don’t need two chapters to do the work of one. Again: we get that tidy is better. But how do we “do” tidy? That’s what I want to know. Best Takeaway Tip: This is super-crunchy, but I think it’s important – a smart little gem in a not terribly insightful chapter. I like it so much that I’m quoting Lecoeur verbatim:

“Unused or unloved objects have a stale energy. Once you declutter, your home, your relationships, even you will feel so much better because positive energy is allowed to circulate.”

5. Chapitre Cinq: Buck up and just get on with it already. Doing things right the first time – like putting everything back where it belongs right after we use it – saves us tons of time and energy later, when, say, we’ve overslept and are rush, rush, rushing out the door for school drop-off and / or work. Best Takeaway Tip: Clean as you go. Which basically what I just said, but a little more succinct. That mindset works when you’re cooking dinner, too. Btw and FYI…

6. Chapitre Six: When cleaning your closet, empty it COMPLETELY and put everything on your bed. I kind of freaked-out when I read this – so extreme! –  but it makes a lot sense. If you do it this way, you won’t get tempted to quit and sneak off to the den to watch “Ladies of London” or some other Bravo TV bullshit. (Um, that’s actually my problem, not yours…) Why? Because unless you want to check into a hotel, you’ll need to sleep in that very bed later. Best Takeaway Tip: Move quickly. The longer you “dither” on an item, deciding its fate, the more likely you are to keep it rather than get rid of it.

7. Chapitre Sept: Your closet is a key place to express your design sense. Which doesn’t mean spending gobs of cash. Unless you want to, of course. Right now, in my new FLA walk-in, I’m honing in on gray – gray round hat boxes and smaller gray square boxes that I’m using for clunky, chunky cuffs and bangles. Best Takeaway Tip: If you’re painting your closet before you move your newly pared-down wardrobe back into it, opt for a pale neutral hue. This will help your clothes and accessories pop.

8. Chapitre Huit: Arrange clothing by type AND color. Maybe you love Momover Lady Pink. And because you love Momover Lady Pink, you have dresses, sweaters, shirts and pashmina-y things in Momover Lady Pink. Do you group them together in some gigantic Momover Lady Pink section of your closet? No, because it would take you 10 hours to get dressed every morning. I think you get my point. Best Takeaway Tip: Those little loopy things on dresses? Don’t cut them out as soon as you get the frock home from the store. Instead, use them to help maintain shape. Zipping and buttoning helps too.

9. Chapitre Neuf: Stay the course. Sorry to be a huge buzzkill, but a great-looking closet requires ongoing maintenance. And that means daily spiffing up. Best Takeaway Tip: Watch your favorite TV shows on-demand, and zip-off to your closet to tidy up during commercial breaks. I just mashed two of Lecoeur’s tips together for a newly improved Super Tip. One that I need myself, btw. Holla, I watch a hella TV.

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Beauty Armoire Monday: Growing long, lush lashes with Latisse (How’s that for alliteration? So many Ls!)

Look at all these bootleg boxes.

Look at all these bootleg Rx boxes. Quelle scandale, non?

Patience: Not my strong suit.

Especially when it comes to sticking with certain time-intensive beauty products long enough to determine whether they will, in fact, change my life.

Thus, if I re-commit to Latisse  – and I hesitate to make that bold declaration right this second – it will be at least my third attempt at unbalding my poor eyeballs.

But I gotta do something. Because my once-lovely lashes are gone baby, gone.

Now that I’m living in beautiful FLA, I’m wearing a lot less war paint. In fact, I honestly don’t remember the last time I dabbed my mug with my precious Marc Jacobs Beauty Marvelous Mousse Transformative Foundation.

(I don’t get a commission for reco-ing the Marc base so often, btw; it’s just bloody fantastic, which isn’t even remotely surprising, because the MJ Beauty team tapped Brit makeup goddess Diane Kendal to help hone its airy, disappears-right-into-your-skin texture.)

But along with skipping foundation, I’m skipping other stuff too.

Like eyeliner. And mascara.

I really shouldn’t be skipping eyeliner. Mascara, maybe; I’ve never been a huge fan, and I honestly don’t understand how it’s such a “stranded on a desert island” must-have for so many women. Give me concealer and blush any day…

Whoa, I’m all over the place today. Time to focus.

The net-net: Skipping liner has made it abundantly clear that I should file a Missing Body Parts report about my lashes.

Because skimpy lashes are a byproduct of being une femme d’un certain age, I don’t berate myself for it in the same way I talk vicious smack to myself when I pack on the pounds pounding the new house favorite, Blue Bell ice cream. On the anti-aging front, there are matters within your purview, and matters outside your purview. No question, a paunchy mid-section reads “getting up there.”

How do I know this? Here’s how: On Sunday night, Hubby and I watched a docu on The Rolling Stones and a special 50th anniversary concert they played in London’s Hyde Park last year. Mick Jagger, who weighs maybe 50 lbs soaking wet, is positively age-less. Yes, he’s wrinkly. But he’s so, so, so youthful when he scampers around that massive stage.

May we all be as fabulous circa age 70.

Uh oh….once again I’m losing the plot of this blog post. Lashes, lashes….

To get back on track, I think I’ll break the Beauty Armoire Monday intel into special bite-sized chunks today:

Why lashes get shorter and sparser as we age

This concept is so basic, even Momover Lady can wrap her mind around it: The hair-growth cycle slows down over time. As a basis of comparison, when we’re young and sprightly, the hair on our heads grows, on average, .5 inches per month. Once we lift the curtain on age 40, however, that growth slows to .1 inches. Sadness.

How Latisse works

To speed lash growth, it deploys the prescription ingredient bimatoprost – technically, an anti-glaucoma medicine – in a concentration of 0.03%. When prescribed for glaucoma, it goes in the eye. Big difference.

The fine print on Latisse  

First and foremost: DO NOT use Latisse if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Pinkie-swear promise me you will not do that. Merci.

Beyond that, I just found a rather lengthy list (on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website) of not-great stuff that can happen if you use Latisse.

Here it is. Please read it. Merci encore.

Quite frankly, all those potential side effects have me a little spooked.

Previously, my biggest beef with Latisse is that it left my eyelids more than a little red. For that reason, I may – if I decide to try it again, which is a sizeable maybe after reading that scary list – scale back to a few times a week.

Or I could also try this genius tip I just found in skin doc Debra Jaliman’s great book: Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist:

“It’s best to apply it in the morning, when there is less risk of transferring it to the lower lid or your pillowcase.”

I sleep with an eye mask, so I think I was pretty much smearing the Latisse all over my upper lids and beyond. Not optimal. But making it part of my morning toilette, rather than evening, could make all the difference. Thank you, Debra!

Non-Rx alternatives you might want to try first

Actually, there are scads and scads of pricey lash serums. Here are few with the best reps. Although I have RevitaLash and GrandeLash in my possession, I’ve not yet tried them.

1. RevitaLash Advanced Lash Conditioner After hosting the RevitaLash team at my office in New York, I became convinced they might be onto something. Thus, I shipped a lifetime supply of it down to my new home in sunny FLA.

2. RapidLash Eyelash & Eyebrow Enhancing Serum Out of the vast sea of lash serums, Dr. Jaliman singles this one out in her book, describing it as “an over-the-counter product that appears to work almost as well as Latisse.”

3. GrandeLASH-MD Eyelash & Eyebrow Formula A makeup artist mentioned this to me at a press event, so I promptly went to fish it out of the beauty closet as soon as I got back to work. I also shipped to FLA, so it must be here somewhere…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Okay, so now the closets have been done. Now comes the really hard part: Editing what goes in them

I asked for shelves. I got shelves.

I asked for cabinets, drawers and shelves. I got ‘em. 

Fact: We keep buying 2k square-foot homes, when I think we’re actually 3k – at least – kinda people. When we try to squeeze all three of us, plus those damn cats, who are simultaneously adorable and a complete pain in the ass, into a 2k square-foot space, we always need an offsite storage unit or six.

Obvi we’re not the sole members of the bursting-at-the-seams club, even down here in FLA, where they grow the houses a lot bigger than they do in New York.

And not to be even remotely judgy, but in my new ‘hood, I’ve noticed a specific phenomenon: When a family parks its cars in the driveways, it’s usually because their garages are packed – packed! – with stuff.

We’re hoping to avoid that fate, and to be able to shelter at least one of our motor vehicles in the space for which it’s intended.

But right now, we’re so not there yet.

Earlier this week, we had all seven closets – plus the laundry room – tricked-out, an event that I’d been anxiously awaiting all summer.

And they look seriously good, which I’m thrilled about.

Still, there are limits to what professionally designed closets can do for a family. Sure, you’ll have better places to tuck your stuff, and the space will be sliced and diced in a manner that makes stuff-keeping more efficient.

But if you’ve just got too much stuff, it doesn’t matter how tricked-out your closets are. You’ll still have to pare down.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday trying to figure out what will get to live in my new walk-in closet, and what will have to make its way elsewhere.

OMG, so so so so hard. For a few reasons: One, we’ve only been here a few months, so I really want to get through an entire year before I decide what is truly ridic to hang on to.

For example, I had a pretty massive coat and jacket collection up north. And while I donated quite a few, at least six or seven, before we headed south, I kept several. Like a new navy J. Crew peacoat Hubby gave me for Xmas (awwww….), multiple down vests and a vintage faux leopard number that I’ve had for years and is still wicked cool.

Will I wear any of that outerwear here? My closet designer says no. “You’ll see,” she chuckled.

Two, although I’m working from home now, I may just surprise us all and git myself a job. If I do git myself a job, I’ll need outfit cuteness. And purses. Lots of purses. I’m one of those broads who switches-out her bag every day to go with her ensemble.

Three…actually, there isn’t really a third good reason why I’m stalling on making the painful decisions regarding my wardrobe. I think those two are sufficient: 1) I want to get through a whole year down here to see to what extent, if any, the seasons change. And 2) I don’t really know yet how social I’ll be, and whether I’ll eventually find myself in an office setting again. In other words, I’m not clued-up about how awesome I’ll need to look on a daily basis,

But that’s just clothes and accessories.

I have several other pockets of mayhem on the too-much-stuff front: Beauty products, books and work-related files. Grrr…just thinking about all that makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.

Instead, I think I’ll try to find something more pleasant to do. It’s a beautiful day, my family is happy and healthy, and if having too many things I love is my biggest problem, I need to count my blessings.

 

 

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Special Blog Guest: Ed “Equinox Über Coach” Gemdjian, on regaining your August workout mojo

This is Ed. Ed's very fit. Ya think?

This is Ed. Ed is very fit.

I first met Ed Gemdjian when I interviewed him for a pushups story I was writing for BRIDES. Or maybe it was a diet story. Or maybe it was for InStyle, not BRIDES. Whatever, just take my word for it: I interviewed him for a story and he’s smart.

Here are Ed’s other credentials besides being smart. (And fit. Very, very fit.): He’s the founder of New York City-based Team Awesome, LLC, a health, wellness and life-coaching business; a nationally certified personal trainer and Equinox Fitness Global Personal Trainer of the Year. He’s certified by NESTA and is a Functional Movement Systems Professional. He has a Sports Nutrition certification from Precision Nutrition, and is also a C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle and Nutrition Coach, specializing in optimizing health and wellness outside the gym.

Whoa.

Now that I feel like a totally useless slacker (i.e., not a member of Team Awesome), let’s hop right into this git-your-ass-in-gear Q + A. Warning: He’s really into smiley-face emoticons.

1. DANA: It’s August, which means…a lot of things, actually: A. Almost anywhere you live in the U.S., it’s crazy-hot and humid. B. Many families are trying to cram in last-minute vacays before school starts. C. Bikini season is almost behind us, so there isn’t as much incentive to look like a mom-babe at the town pool.

Given all that, please give us a polite kick in the pants to stay on track. Why is it important to keep on trucking at this time of year?

ED: When it comes to true health, the kind we all really want, whether it’s bikini season or not, it’s best to keep your body and mind from drastic changes. We could make excuses for slacking every time of year. But instead, I like to work with my clients on solutions to keep them feeling confident and healthy year-round!

2. DANA: Let’s say, like Momover Lady, you’re addicted to running and don’t want to give that up – even in these last dog days of summer. What recos do you give clients for switching-up their running routines now?

ED: Reduce the distance or time you run and increase the intensity. The less time you spend in the elements the better; dehydration becomes a big performance factor the longer you’re out there.

3. DANA: Do you advise them to go earlier in the morning? Or in the evening?

ED: The earlier the better! If you’re an early bird like me – 4:15am 5 days per week –  (NOTE FROM DANA: OMG) get your run in before sunrise. The humidity and overall temperature will be far lower. This is also a good time of year to have some fun running through a summer rain shower :-).

4. DANA: What about scaling back on distance or pace?

ED: Try cutting your distance in half and aim for faster mile splits, or sprint repeats on the local track. Your return to distance running in the fall will greatly improve with some speed work now.

5. DANA: And drinking more H20 before and after?

ED: Hydration is a must, but water alone won’t do it this time of year. At the very least, add a couple of grains of Celtic Sea Salt to your water to aid in absorption. We sweat a lot of sodium out of our bodies as well as water and it is integral in the rehydration process. Coconut water is a great natural alternative to Gatorade and it has potassium as well as sodium to help avoid cramping.

If you want to train like the pros, Precision Nutrition recommends a 10% solution of simple carbohydrates and amino acids in 90% of water and a total of 3-6 liters of water per day, depending on your activity level.

6. DANA: I’m ashamed to admit this, but I often skip wearing sunscreen on my face when I run because it gets in my eyes and stings like a mo-fo. What “sweatproof” sunscreen do you, Mr. Tier 4 Coach, swear by?

ED: I recommend wearing a running hat ;-). My wife, Cathy, swears by Zinc sunscreen, but since most of us don’t want to look like a china doll in public, she loves Coppertone Sport Broad Spectrum for active days outside. It smells nice, rubs in well, and doesn’t move when you’re doing something as simple as mowing the lawn or as complicated as super burpees on the beach. An SPF of 30 will be good enough. Just remember: For those prolonged workouts under the sun, reapply often. The collagen in your skin will thank you, and so will your 50 year-old self!

7. DANA: Okay, now for moms who aren’t addicted to running. Let’s say they’re willing to carve out 30 minutes to work out at home, perhaps while their tiny tater tots are taking a nap. What would you suggest?

ED: The two most important things are 1: Start at your own pace and progress slowly. Too many people begin too aggressively and become discouraged. 2: Consistency is key. I have a 55 year-old female client who is a two-time Boston Marathon qualifier and state champion runner. She began exercising at age 40 by walking around the block three times a week! Have patience and be consistent – I promise the results will come.

8. DANA: Are there cardio DVDs you like?

ED: There are tons to choose from for intermediate or advanced exercisers.  A current fave of mine is “The Brazilian Buttlift, by Leandro” ;-).

9. DANA: What floor work would you recommend?

ED: Planks, yoga and Pilates are great for beginners. For intermediate to advanced exercisers, I personally swear by Animal Flow, which is a floor, body-weight based combination of animal movements, yoga and break-dancing.

10. DANA: Free weights: Yay or nay?

ED: Ladies: weight training is what will keep you toned and slender long term; I promise none of the following exercises will “bulk” you!  Start with body-weight basics like pushups against your couch, climbing your stairs two at a time, walking lunges. Use dumbbells for exercises like bent-over rows for your back, tricep extensions and shoulder presses. But back to the body-weight stuff: Have fun by involving your kids, throw them up in the air, swing them around, wrestle on the ground, they will love you for it and you’ll get a heck of a workout!

11. DANA: As long as there’s enough space, how do you feel about jumping rope indoors? To me, that seems like the all-over wonder workout. If someone is a jumping newbie, do you have any tips for them?

ED: Jumping rope is a great workout for intermediate to advanced exercisers with no previous injury history. Unfortunately, because of its plyometric nature, it could cause impact injuries in the hip, knee and ankle for those who don’t have a training base established.

For the beginner I would recommend starting with basic planks, yoga, Pilates and single-leg balancing exercises to develop the stability required to withstand repetitive absorption of your entire body weight.

12. DANA: I have a pool at my new house in FLA, but my swimming skills are not brills. Is it possible to teach yourself to swim? How would you even attempt that?

ED: I love swimming and take advantage of every pool I come across! It is a highly cardiovascular, but very low-impact exercise that can have you shedding body fat in no time. I recommend taking a basic swimming class at your local YMCA.  Swimming is tons of fun but can be dangerous, especially if you’re alone with no lifeguard around. I took a lifeguard course – and failed miserably (!), but it was a great learning experience on the dos and don’ts of swimming.

13. DANA: How about watching YouTube swimming videos?

ED: Funny! No. No YouTube videos.

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