Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, Sunday Confessions, That girl in the red coat

Sunday Confessions

Here we are. Day whatever of social distancing. This past Friday I ventured out to the grocery store. For the first time in I don’t know how long I didn’t put any makeup on. Didn’t even fill in my eyebrows… the nineties thin brow was not my friend. Who knew it would take a virus to finally be comfortable with my looks, to let go off whatever ideals I had created in my head. Yep. Sorry to say, I have been known to think of myself as ugly, fat, take your pick of self deprecating thoughts or phrases, I have used them. Hell, when we were first engaged, my husband took me to see Phantom of the Opera and I had a freak out, total meltdown thinking I was too ugly to go. … yes, I see the irony in this… I was about to see a show about a dude with  a burned face wearing a mask. So, going out without make up on is a big deal for me. Since the breakout of COVID-19, I have felt a shift. Sometimes anxiety, sometimes sadness, but mostly a true sense of what matters and what does not.

I used to wake up every morning thinking of my “to do’s”, my “gotta haves”. I would practice meditation and proper breathing, or so I thought. It wasn’t until this outbreak that I realized I never took a moment to actually check myself. I find myself checking my breathing everyday, throughout the day. I stopped focusing on my weight and am now focused on my health, mental, emotional and physical. *Confession – I am still smoking, keeping it real. I find myself waking up to thoughts of loved ones and friends and wondering what I can do for them, if they need anything, not the usual “I look puffy today”, “did I drink enough water yesterday”, “I really gotta exercise more” thoughts. I find myself finding reasons to laugh and spread some happiness instead of just going along with the status quo. I have always been someone to find the good… drives my friends and family nuts most of the time. This past week, I have made it my mission to find the good, all the time, and when found, share the shit out of that sucker. You tube video’s, my favorite songs, jokes, Sir Patrick Stewart reading sonnets on Twitter, Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello on Facebook, TankGoodNews fabulous posts on Instagram, you name it, if it’s joyful or positive, I’m sharing it.

I know things are scary right now. The unknown always is. The lack of control can be overwhelming. We may not be able to control what’s happening but we can control ourselves. Check on friends, loved ones and neighbours. If allowed, take a surprise care package, leave it at their door and call them to let them know there is a surprise for them at their door. Write a letter. Call them, many people are alone in this and would love to hear another voice other than their own. Send thank you’s to health care providers. When you are out getting ONLY the necessities, be sure to thank all the employees you see, ask the cashier how they are doing, smile and say hello at everyone you see. Social distancing does not mean ignoring people. Stay home if and when you can. It’s not about you as it’s about everyone else. Having trouble staying put? Think of it this way… when someone gets sick and has to be hospitalized, they are alone. No visitors or loved ones allowed. Stay home.

 

Social distancing is the new norm. Many are in self isolation. Many are in quarantine. No matter which country you live in, whatever your political view or your spiritual practice, all of that really doesn’t matter anymore. We are one. We are all in this together. We are all in the same boat and it’s time to throw some life preservers.

Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

2020 Vision

Here we are. The first day of a new year and a new decade. Every time I scroll through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter I see post after post of the decade challenge, descriptions and memories of the past ten years. Achievements, celebrations, life changing moments, you name it, it’s been posted. Few posts celebrate the lows, the struggles, the set backs.

Over the past week, all I could think about was writing again. All I could think about was how I started this blog, all that had transpired in my life, professionally and personally that steered me away from writing. No matter how hard I tried to place blame on any and all events, I came to one irrefutable truth. I was the reason I wasn’t following my gut, my passion, my calling…name it what you will, it was me and me alone that allowed my circumstances to control my life, my actions or lack there of.

I look back on myself and my life 10 years ago. It began selling shoes, missing the beauty industry I adored and the shop I had run for many years. Then the powers that be gave me an opportunity and I grabbed it! Managing the Salon/Shop I adored. Soon after, I began my blog and opportunity after opportunity came my way. Writing for beauty sites and online magazines, consulting Salons on how to improve their retail presence and sales. Being invited to Beauty industry galas. Things kept falling into my lap. Sadly, in 2016, the shop closed. I tried to keep writing, but the fire within was slowly growing dim. A dear friend of mine had a cheese shop and she was looking for some help over the lunch hours. I thought it would be fun, so I said yes. 15 hours a week turned into 40 and I was enjoying it. Learning new things, helping increase the retail presence and forging relationships with the regulars. Yet I was still longing for something. I felt like the world was spinning around me and I was standing still. Sadly, the shop closed. I took a few months off from working. My husband has supported my writing and my drive from the start. He said “take this time to focus on your blog, your consulting, whatever it is you want.”. I found myself staring at my computer, re posting old blogs. I had no idea which road to take. Do I continue to consult? Do I continue to write about Beauty? Do I continue to review products? Do I write about parenting? Do I write about lifestyle? Do I write about kindness? Do I write about how not to be an asshole? …. exhausting reading this huh? Try thinking it all…the…time.  All the while having real life staring me in the face. Husband having a heart attack in 2012 at 39. Father having a heart attack a week later. ( I told them both to stop competing for my attention). My lovely, beautiful, intelligent daughter struggling with mental health issues and trying to get her the help she needed. Be a good wife. Be a good daughter. Be a good Mother. Laundry to be done, child to raise, marriage to keep intact, pay the bills, get the groceries. …this is how I know there is a higher power…god, the universe, the smurfs, whatever you call it, it’s real. I know it’s real because I firmly believe that is how I got through this past decade. There was many a morning I did not want to get out of bed, many a day I did not want to leave the house, but something helped me. Something got me moving, and I may think I’m all that, but even I’m not that good.

Even though I had the support of my family to focus on me, there were bills to be paid. My old employer at the shoe store heard I was free and offered me a job. Whatever hours or days I could give. So here I am, 10 years later, back where I started from. Funny thing, most people find that sad. I get many a “Oh…so you’re back there again huh?” comments. To be honest, I felt the same way for the first few months. Once again, a higher power knew what I did not. That this is exactly where I was and am supposed to be right now. My life for the last 18 months was turned upside down and all around. … a tale for another time.  Being back at this job allowed me to change my day off at a moments notice. Being able to tell my boss “I gotta go” in the middle of a shift and him responding “Do what you gotta do, see you tomorrow.”. It also gave me the time for me. I had time to read, to educate myself, to take a hard look at my life and my responsibilities. To take a hard look at myself, to be accountable about my part in how my life was going, professionally and personally, to own my shit if you will. I may physically be back where I started, emotionally and mentally, far from it.

I have no idea where my feet will land next. I do know this. It is up to me and me alone to decide. To do the work. To put forth the intentions AND the effort. No one, I mean no one is going to do it for me, nor is it anyone’s fault I am unfulfilled but my own. It is up to you and you alone to fill your cup, and today, it may just be a small drop, but my cup is beginning to fill.

 

Beauty, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Who knew?

Those of you who follow my blog and those of you who know me personally know all too well I always look for the positive in everything. I search for the underlying lessons. I seek out the light in the darkness. These past few months have been a true test to this. Someone dear and precious to me has been struggling…a story that is not mine to tell. Watching them struggle, seeing what it was doing to them and in turn to me and others was getting too much to bear. I found myself not being myself, or feeling like myself. Knots in my stomach, sleepless nights, lack of appetite…you name it, I had it. After a night of almost no sleep I reached a breaking point. Here I was, sleepless, bed head to the tenth degree, having a mental breakdown and it wasn’t even 7:30 a.m. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on to help spark my pilot light. I even reached for my bible…to no avail. Seriously, someone has to write a cliff notes for the bible. I scoured that sucker and couldn’t find any comfort. I am a spiritual person. I do believe in a higher power, and energy. There is something or someone greater than us. Call it God, the universe, the Smurfs, whatever. It’s there. In my frustration and down right tantrum I almost threw it across the room. Instead, I reached out to the husband of one of my best friends. He is a pastor. I asked him for guidance, for a scripture that may help me regain perspective. Within minutes, I mean minutes, I had a response. This was it,

“Don’t worry about anything;instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Well, let me tell you. The tears ran down my face, ugly face, snot nosed crying for over 30 minutes. A peace came over me. I cannot explain it, nor do I feel I have to. All I can tell you is reading that passage catapulted me back to myself. After I stopped crying and somewhat regained my composure, I started to feel that knot in my stomach again. I literally stopped walking through my living room, took a deep breath, and said a prayer about what I was worried about. I asked for strength and courage. I stated what I wanted for myself and others. I made myself picture it in my mind before I took another step…if I have a peeping Tom, he got quite a show. The knot went away. On my way to work that day, as I pulled into my parking spot, the knot came back and my mind flooded with all the what if’s and the memories of the past events. I put my car in park, shut of the engine and stated out loud to myself, the universe and the dude waiting at the bus stop what I needed. The knot went away. It’s been over 2 months now, and guess what? The knot went away.

I am not a guru on the mount, nor am I an expert. In the words of the beloved June Carter Cash, I am a woman who is “just trying to matter”. Praying, positive affirmations, whatever it is, only work if you do. Yes, the scripture made me feel better. Yes, praying made the knot go away. I also had to do the work, walk the walk and talk the talk if you will. I had to own my shit. Own my part in all the craziness going on. When you are honest with yourself, it may not be pretty, but trust me, you will feel beautiful.

Beauty, Hair Care, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, writing

Seven Year Itch

 

Yesterday as I plopped into my favorite chair with my morning cup of Joe I heard the all too familiar bottle cap notification coming from my phone. It was an email alerting me of my 7 year anniversary as a blogger. 7 years. Within seconds my mind was flooded with images from the past 7 years. Nervously circling the table, staring at the computer, deciding to just go for it and write. Coming home from work to find a laptop waiting for me, given to me by my hubby with a “Happy Birthday” screensaver (which is still my screensaver by the way). Kristen Johnston reading my blog and retweeting it. Wynonna Judd sharing my “Kindness 101” blog that ended up getting over 700 views within hours. https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/07/21/kindness-101/    Major hair companies following my tales. Magazine editor’s and Hollywood stars following my blog. Writing opportunities coming my way. Strangers thanking me for my hair advice. Strangers laughing at my “Tales of Truth” series. My blog being read across the globe. The list of memories is endless.

Fast forward to today. For those of you familiar with my blog, you are well aware of the struggles I have been having trying to decide which direction my blog and I should take. I began this blog while managing a Salon/retail shop and once the shop closed I felt I didn’t have a platform of which to write. Every single fear and anxiety reared it’s ugly head and I am sad to say, more often than not, they won the battle, not me. I was having coffee with a dear friend yesterday and when I told her of my blogging anniversary I received a high five. During our conversation I came to the realization that I started this blog to spread information and to educate and enlighten, not only for hair care, but for all aspects of daily life, from business to self care to parenting, speaking my truth in hopes that it may give others the courage to do the same. As a reminder that a little kindness goes a long way.

When I woke up this morning, I found myself wondering if my blog related trepidation was due to the 7 year mark. We’ve all heard of the 7 year itch where relationships/marriage is concerned. Maybe it’s the same with goals. It’s all nerves and excitement at the beginning. Lots of new and exciting things happen. Milestones are reached. Celebrations seem to be every other month. Then things slow down, hit a plateau. It doesn’t seem to be as exciting, the shine is off the diamond if you will. It begins to feel like a chore. Other avenues are catching your eye. You feel like throwing in the towel. At least that’s how it felt for me. What I have come to realize and accept is that things change. Who I was when I began this blog I will never be again, and that’s okay. 7 years have passed and I have more experience, in work and in life. I have more of an understanding of who I was, who I am and who I intend to be. I feel I am a good writer. I enjoy it. It’s cathartic. I came to realize my lack of posts for the past 12 months was due to one thing – I was trying to be something and someone I am not. Writing blogs with others opinions in mind, not my own. I began this blog without any thought of what people would think, just the hope that someone would enjoy it and get something out of it. It’s time to get back to that.

Thank you to all my readers, my followers, my family, my friends and those who have shared my tales. More are on the way… hope you enjoy them.

 

Beauty, Fashion, Women

… if the shoe fits

As some of you may know, and some of you may not, yours truly has returned to my old stomping grounds. Years ago, I managed the Ladies section of a shoe store. It’s not your run of the mill shoe store – a slow day is 250 pairs. This past July, the manager and owner and I sat down and I was asked to come back, and on my terms. Four shifts a week, only one late night and no management responsibilities. Just selling. Go in, do my job, go home. I explained my long term goals for my blog, my writing, my consulting and my life. I came to realize a while ago, do what you gotta do until you can do what you want to do. Plain and simple.

I have been back in the Ladies section for 6 months now, and although it was over 8 years ago when I ran the section, one thing has not changed. Women are insecure about their feet, their shoe size, what they look like and what people think. Too many women are forcing their foot into a shoe that is too small, or refusing to try on a pump because they are “too old for those now”, or, the saddest of all, buying a shoe they do not like because their partner says they like it. I may not be able to help you out of a bad marriage, or help you get your boss off your back, or get your kids to behave. What I can do is give you the “what’s what” about shoes and footwear. Here we go;

  • the average size of shoe sold in the Ladies section in 2018 was a Ladies size 9 – 10. Yes. You read that correctly. 6 – 7 is no longer the average size. There is no longer any need to be embarrassed about your size 10’s ladies.

 

  • Many companies offer an array of sizing, from size 4 to size 13. …and yes, the size 13’s are just as cute as the size 4’s.

 

  • European Sizing – this always throws ladies for a loop.  Here’s your go to chart;

                                                                         35 = size 4 – 4.5

                                                                         36 = size 5 – 5.5

                                                                         37 = size 6 – 6.5

                                                                         38 = size 7 – 7.5

                                                                         39 = size 8 – 8.5

                                                                         40 = size 9 – 9.5 

                                                                         41 = size 10 – 10.5

                                                                         42 = size 11 – 11.5

                                                                         43 = size 12 – 12.5

                                                                         44 = size 13 – 13.5 

  • Here’s a little helpful sizing tidbit – * many children’s shoes and men’s shoes are the exact same style as Ladies shoes.

A child’s size 4 is a Ladies 6

A child’s size 5 is a Ladies 7

A child’s size 6 is a Ladies 8

A men’s size 8 is a Ladies 10

A men’s size 9 is a Ladies 11

A men’s size 10 is a Ladies 12

 

  • Unless you have always dreamed of having bunions and hammer toes, or both…NEVER purchase shoes that are too small, EVER. Think about it. If the shoe is too small, with every step you take, the joints of your toes have no where to go but up (hammer toe) and out (bunion). Unfortunately, for some of us, bunions and hammer toes may run in the family – try not to give them any more help.

 

  • Unless you are on the beach, going barefoot is a no no. The older we get, the more support our tootsies need. The tendons supporting your arch run from the base of your big toe to your heel, and then up to your knee and they need your support. If you have ever had heel pain, or gotten out of bed and felt like you stepped on broken glass – that’s your arch begging for support. I have suffered from the evil Plantar Fasciitis and quickly learned that walking barefoot around the house was no longer an option. So I wear my Birks (Birkenstock) instead of slippers.  For those of you who just can’t imagine wearing these, give this brand a go – Vionic – created by Podiatrist’s. Their selection of sandals are cute and colorful.  I have to admit…every once and a while I wear my fuzzy slippers – I’m Canadian and our winters tend to be chilly.

  • When it comes to winter boots – water proof means water proof. The boot has a water proof membrane between the soles of the boot. I want you to imagine an Oreo cookie. The cookie parts are the soles of the boots, the cream center is the water proof membrane. *** Temperature grading on a winter boot means that your foot will stay cozy and warm if you are moving or not.

 

  • We all can walk in heels. We can. You have to walk like the models on the runway. Plain and Simple. Put one foot in front of the other and sway your hips and VOILA! You are walking in heels. * Walking with your feet side to side like you do in sneakers is the reason why you waver and look like a baby deer learning to walk or feel unstable. Imagine you are on the runway in Milan and strut your stuff sister!

 

  • For those who wear Orthotics, do not fret. You are not doomed to wear “old people shoes” for the rest of your life. Many companies offer and array of Orthotic friendly foot wear, from sandals to heels, knee high boots to slippers. …and they are cute too. Clarks, Aravon, Biotime, Romika, Ugg…just to name a few.

Something I want you to remember Ladies. If you like the shoe, buy it. Stop worrying about what others will say or think. Stop worrying you are too old to wear certain shoes. If you like sparkles on your shoes, BLING! away. If you like the way you look in stiletto’s, wear them like you’re on your way to your personal Vogue shoot. It’s like I tell my Ladies that shop in my section, if people are looking at your shoes instead of you, you need to tell them to get a new hobby.

Be your own beautiful. …and if the shoe fits, wear it.

 

Beauty, Women

Sunday Confessions

 

I woke to the sounds of birds chirping and the faint glow of the sunrise peeping through my window. It’s Sunday morning on my part of the globe. As I sit in my kitchen by my window, I feel the warmth of the summer sun, the  morning breeze cooling my shoulders. I see the steam rising off my fresh cup of coffee in my favorite mug and all is right with the world. As I was gazing out my window, wondering what to write about today, my mind was flooded with all the conversations I had with customers this week. As you know, I decided to take the offer of returning to the shoe store I once worked at. In the past I was in charge of the Ladies section. This time around, I am once again in the Ladies section, without the hassles of management. I go in four days a week and all I have to do is focus on selling and helping the customers, and it’s wonderful.

This past week, I lost count of the women who spoke poorly of themselves, and unfortunately of others. Women of all ages. Thinking their ankles were too thick to wear a strappy sandal. Women who thought they were too old to wear red heels. Women who thought their bunions were too ugly so they only wore running shoes so no one would see their feet. Women who thought their feet were too wide for the gold ballerina flat they adored. Women who thought their calves were too big or too slender. Women who thought their baby toe looked weird. What it all came down to was they were all worried about what others would think, never once giving a thought to what they themselves thought. Almost all of the women who were concerned about their “problem area” had one thing in common, someone had told them it was a “problem area”. One woman in particular stands out. She found a pair of sandals, flat with a little bow. I told her they looked really cute on her, because they did. She looked up at me, eyes sparkling, smiling ear to ear and said “I love them!”. Minutes later, I saw her putting them back in the box and returning them to the shelf. “Did you need another size?” I asked. “No. My friend said they were too young for me and I just look foolish.”. No smile and the sparkle in her eyes had vanished. She ended up sitting in a chair waiting on her friend. She didn’t want to look anymore or try on anything else.

First and foremost, Ladies and Gents, don’t do that. Don’t. One of the cruelest actions is putting your own insecurities on someone else. When you see that someone is happy or excited about a decision be excited for them, celebrate with them. Secondly, for all those out there, Ladies and Gents alike, stop worrying about the size of your ankles, your calves, your bunions, whatever it may be, stop worrying about what other people think. Trust me, no one is looking…and for the few who are, give them a copy of Knitting for Dummies and tell them to get a new hobby. Seriously, if they have time to look for thick ankles and bunions, their lives must be pretty empty and their self esteem and image is dwindling to say the least.

Be your own kind of beautiful, today and everyday. Be kind. Celebrate others achievements and choices, for they are theirs, not yours to deal with. Oh, and buy the shoes.

 

Beauty, Business, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, Women

…don’t ask…don’t get

As of late, many of those that I hold dear are feeling inadequate, feeling like they are missing out on something, wondering “is this all there is?”. Between loss of their job, their business closing, their marriage ripping at the seams, their kids struggling to find answers to questions they don’t even know how to ask, you name it, the struggle is real.

For those of you who follow my tales, you are all familiar with my past and present struggles. For those of you checking yours truly out for the first time, let me shine some light for y’all. I have been the girl who felt like she didn’t fit in. I have been the new wife wondering what my role was to be. I have been (and still am) the Mom wondering if I am screwing up my kid. I have been the woman who couldn’t look at her own reflection. I have been the woman who hated her hair and her body. I have been the woman who lost her job because of a store closure. I have been the wife of a husband with health issues. I have been the daughter of parents with health issues. I have been the sister of a wonderful gal who’s life was turned upside down. I have been the woman who found herself thinking on more than one occasion “now what the hell am I gonna do?”. I am here to tell you that no matter how dark the day may seem or how overwhelming life can get, sooner or later, the light begins to shine and you will once again feel in control. You will. Seriously, you will. You want to know how? Ask. Plain and simple. Ask for help. Ask for advice. Ask your business contacts if they know of any opportunities. Ask for a glass of Chardonnay if you need, just ask.

I know. I know. You’ve heard this before. Tony Robbins makes you walk on hot coals. The Secret tells you to put it “out there.”. Vision boards are all the craze. Everywhere you turn someone is telling you or pushing a Pinterest post in your face or sending a kitten meme telling you “when you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!”. I for one believe that the mind and your perspective have a HUGE impact on your life’s outcome – here’s the little nugget that seems to get lost in translation – you gotta ask and you gotta do the work. You gotta. Walking on hot coals may remove something from your bucket list, if you don’t follow through with the tools bestowed on you, you will just have sore feet. Putting your desires “out there” is a fantastic idea, if you don’t put your plan into action, the universe will deliver to the wrong address. Creating a vision board is fantastic, I have one of my own. If you just look at it all day without speaking to anyone or leaving the couch, it’s just going to be something you made and look at.

We cannot control everything. We may not be able to reverse a health issue for a loved one or stop a toddler from throwing a fit in the parking lot. One thing I know for certain is, although we cannot control our job status/career, we can damn well have a say in it. The point of today’s tale is to give you the proof you need that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In the big scheme of things, my accomplishments may seem tiny, to me, they are huge. I have been blogging over 6 year now. The last year I did not write as much as I wanted to. I thought my blog should change – I was listening to fear…big mistake…huge. (Pretty Woman reference…love the movie). After the shop closed, instead of asking myself what I should do, I let people tell me what I should do. Not their fault, that’s on me. Long story short, shit happened and the universe, the powers that be, the smurfs…whatever you want to call it gave me a wake up call. Gave me the opportunity to realize that my blog is fine just how it is. That it grew and opportunities flooded in when I was doing what was true to me. It gave me the back up to ask. To take take chances. I asked and took a chance and ended up on http://www.salonmagazine.ca 7 times. I had my tales followed and retweeted by Hollywood and Grammy Award winning stars. I had companies agree to have me write for them, review their products. I made new business contacts that have now become friends. I have been referred by said contacts to give Salons retail consultations to help them build their business.

Over the past few weeks, yours truly has been an asking fool. I didn’t get all I asked for, but I did get a few things. I have an opportunity coming my way – not telling yet! You are going to have to stay tuned, all because I asked a question. I didn’t just put it out there, I put myself out there. I did the work, I followed up, and low and behold, it worked out in my favor.

Here’s the deal. Ask. The answers are there. The answer may not be the one you wanted, in my experience, it’s the one you needed. Don’t ask…Don’t get. Plain and Simple.