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

Tips from a pre-Internet Mom

Today’s tale is for all the parents out there who are realizing day care providers are saints and teachers deserve a raise.

No matter where you are in the world today, you are most likely at home with your children. COVID-19 has created a new normal for us all. I am 47 and my daughter is 23, so I am not facing nearly the amount of stress that many of my friends and the women I know that have children aging from 1 week old to 18.    …that being said my husband and daughter have taken to creating a new language. No words, just sounds…so there’s that. As I was having my coffee this morning, waiting on the muffins to bake, my mind flooded with memories of when my daughter was little. I was a stay at home Mom until she went to school. There wasn’t much daycare around and the daycare that was available, well, lets just say, any money I earned would have gone to her care. To be completely honest, I really hadn’t thought it through. I was 25 when I had my daughter and life was going good. My husband was working his ass off to provide a good income. Then life threw us a curve ball. Lesson learned – things change in the blink of an eye, so you gotta have a plan B, you gotta. So my husband and I decided I would stay home. So there we were, one income, one vehicle and limited funds for extra’s. … oh, and no internet. So I had to get creative.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your kids and about to run down the street screaming “I don’t care if your bored!”, I feel you and I got your back. I’m going to give you some ideas of what to do. They may seem a little corny, remember, I am a pre-Internet Mom.

  • hide shiny objects around the house and have a treasure hunt
  • add food coloring to water and VOILA! Water color paint.
  • put down a blanket in the living room and have a picnic
  • build a fort. Drape old sheets over all the chairs and table in your dining room or kitchen. Use books to weigh down the corners. Put the chairs on their sides to make tunnels.
  • if you own Lego, have a Lego building competition. Put a timer on for 45 minutes. …this way you get 45 minutes to sit your ass down.
  • make muffins or cupcakes. Have your child count out loud the number of liners, teaspoons, cups of water, hell even how many times you have to stir the batter. They are learning and creating.
  • I once had my daughter see how many sticks she could find in the backyard.
  • pop some popcorn and have a movie date – at 10 in the morning. Trust me, it’ll blow their minds.
  • have a dance party
  • pull out the good dishes and have a fancy lunch
  • play dress up with your kids, let them choose your outfit.
  • have your kids do your hair. Scary, I know. They want to take care of you as much as you want to take care of them.
  • go for a walk. Ask them what they are thinking about. Trust me, they’ll tell you.
  • get them to help with chores. Age appropriate chores of course. I would always start with “Could you help me?” when my girl was young. Now it’s more like “Go do that.”.
  • fill the tub and have a pool day
  • play catch, with anything.
  • teach your child a card game
  • play a board game
  • do a puzzle together, or separate and see who finishes first
  • if you have a teen, may God be with you.

I don’t know if this will help, I hope it will. You gotta think outside of the box when you are entertaining/taking care of kids. When it comes down to it, they just want your time and your attention. Just like us, they want to be seen. They want to be heard. They want to know they matter. As my Gramma Leah used to say “It’s long days and short years with children.”. I know it’s frustrating and even tedious at times. I promise you, you will look back on this and be grateful for these times…well most of them.

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

It’s been a time

Here we are. March 22, 2020. I work in the Ladies department at a local shoe store. The shop finally made the decision to close up shop last Thursday evening. Let me tell you, it felt like 20 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t think I’ve meditated or gotten “right with Jesus” so much in my life as I did everyday last week. Every morning I would be getting ready to go to work with a sense of dread… not the usual retail job dread. Trying to quiet my mind from all the what if’s, what’s happening, it is safe questions swirling around in my head. I cannot even begin to imagine how all our beloved health care workers are feeling. My hat goes off to them and my heart goes out to them.

Many people are abiding by the new social rule of social distancing, self isolating and such… and many, I am sorry to say are not. This past week, with every world leader (except for Mr. Trump… yes, I said Mr., the buffoon has not earned the title of President… don’t get me started), radio station, television network and social media site declaring the rise of Coronavirus and what to do to decrease the impact and flatten the curve, there are still people out there that just don’t get it. Here are just a few things I personally heard and saw this past week;

  • Families with babies that aren’t even walking yet coming in to look at shoes.
  • People bringing their elderly parents, that have oxygen tanks in tow, in to shop for shoes.
  • People walking right past our sanitizing station.
  • Lady comes into the store. There are literally no customers, just her. I ask if she needs some help. “No. I was told to work from home, but I got bored so I thought I’d look at shoes.”.
  • Lady comes into the store, carrying her dog. Walks through the entire store, touching everything in her path. We ask if she needs help to which she tell us “Nope. Just looking. Just got off a plane from out West. I showered though, so it’s all good.”
  • A couple comes in looking for men’s sandals. They ask if this is all we have. I tell them “Yes. We will have more in April. We are closing until March 31st. to help flatten the curve.”. “Oh, well that’s good” the lady says. “If more people stayed home, the virus would get under control.”.  … lady…you are out of your house.
  • A lady came in the store, freshly tanned bragging about her trip that she just returned from. My coworker stood 6 feet from her and the lady laughed at her, going on about “are you doing what the news is telling you to do?”
  • A father and daughter… I think it was his daughter, came in looking for tall black boots… I hope it was his daughter. I passed them the boots then stood back. They asked how late we were open, and I told them our usual time that we close then added “it could change at anytime because of what’s going on.”. The Dad… I really hope it was the Dad, looks at me and laughs “I don’t get what the big deal is. I’m a nurse and I’m not worried. Everyone needs to calm down.” …sigh
  • A woman and her daughter came in to “look around”. I didn’t have the size she was looking for. She said she was going to go to the mall. I let her know all the stores in the Mall are closed until at least March 31st. Her exact words “Really? How come?”. I shit you not people. I had to explain about the closures to non essential services…then had to explain what non essential services meant.

I have also witnessed many acts of kindness and courtesy. Customers keeping their distance, telling me they can help themselves. Customers asking if I was alright and if my family was alright. Customers thanking us for putting a shoe aside for them to pick up and go. Maintenance workers thanking us for getting them the proper safety footwear. Nurses thanking us for helping them get new footwear. I even had a customer ask if I had my own hand sanitizer.

 

These days we wake up each morning to new stats, new “how to’s”, new rules. We may not be able to control much these days, but we can control ourselves. Our actions, our reactions, how we treat one another. Check on your neighbours. Check on your friends wherever they may be around the globe. Shoot them a text. Your phone does more than host your apps and filter your pics, it actually is a telephone. Once and a while, call someone. Let them hear a voice other than their own. If you hoarded toilet paper, redeem yourself and give out some rolls to the people in your building or on your street. Donate food to the food bank. Wash your damn hands. Take a breath.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Plain and Simple.

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, lifestyle, Women

My cup runneth over

More often than not, when you read the phrase “My cup runneth over” you immediately picture abundance. A happy, fulfilled life filled with blessing. As of late, when I hear “My cup runneth over” I picture an overwhelmed woman , emotionally, mentally and physically. Why do I picture such a woman? I picture her because I am her.

The last few years, especially the last 6 months, my life has been turned around, flopped upside down and all around. The events in my life have been affecting me 100%, unfortunately most of the reasons have nothing to do with me personally. That’s a tough thing to deal with – things in your life that affect you and you have to deal with that really don’t have anything to do with you. * my blog today may seem vague in some ways, that is because some of the stories are not mine to tell and I do not want to break confidences or name names, without permission to do so.

Someone I hold dear is battling an addiction, winning that battle these past few months, but battling none the less. Addiction is a ninja. It creeps in without you seeing it until it’s directly in front of you. It’s a thief too. It steals your trust, your self awareness, your sense of reality, your sense of truth… and this is what it does to those of us dealing with an addict…I can not imagine what it must be like for the addict themselves. I have gone through so many emotions, from empathy, to sympathy, to resentment, to anger, to rage, to despair. You name it, I felt it. With help from my circle, I am beginning to let the past go. I still have moments of all these emotions, usually one at a time. When they all congregate at the same time, well that’s a fun time.

The point of today’s tale is not to invite you to join my pity party, or to feel sorry for me, or to send me hug emojis. My goal for this blog is to keep it real. So here I am keeping it real. I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend who lets her cup runneth over, and that is the one thing that is on me and me alone. Taking on everything is on me. That’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s so much easier to blame everything and everyone else, or so we think. At the end of the day, the decisions, actions and reactions you make are on you and you alone.

My hope is this will bring someone some clarity or serenity to their day. To know that they are not alone. To know it’s okay to be angry, to be resentful, to grieve for the life you had planned that didn’t turn out. What’s not okay is to live in it. Let yourself feel it, let it sit with you a while, then say your goodbyes. There is no shame is life’s ugliness. There is only shame in hiding it. …and remember, pain is pain. You have your pain. Others have theirs. It’s not about competition, it’s about compassion.

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, That girl in the red coat, Women

Brushes! Flat Irons! Blow Dryers! Oh My!

This month marks 3 years since the Salon/retail shop closed. Even though 3 years have passed, everyday I am asked about hair products. At the grocery store, in line at the bank, even at work, from coworkers and customers alike. Sure, I live in a relatively small town, 150000 people…in comparison to Toronto…it’s small, so it’s not a big surprise that the shop’s old clients & customers run into me from time to time. What is surprising is the lack of product knowledge and advice being given by their stylists. At least once a week I am approached by a woman asking about a product, how to use a product or where to purchase a product. Most of these women are at a loss because their stylist told them, I hope you are sitting down, to go to the drug store and grab shampoo or hairspray off the shelf. We all know my opinion on that. For a reminder;

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2016/01/26/yes-there-is-time-for-that/

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/08/15/if-you-dont-wanna-play-get-off-the-field/

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2016/07/05/hair-surance/

 

Since it’s Thursday morning on my corner of the globe, I thought I would give you all some Throwback Thursday Tales about brushes, flat irons and blow dryers. A “what’s what” if you will. Feel free to share.

The Wet Brush = life changing!

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2015/07/20/monday-motivator-the-wet-brush/

 

A breakdown of blow dryer motors, wattage and more

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2013/03/18/blow-out/

 

There are many flat irons on the market – these 3 brands will give you what you are looking for and if you want to try a new brand, at least you’ll have the knowledge of the desired features.

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/07/11/would-a-flat-iron-by-any-other-name-still-be-as-good/

 

For more great hair tips, just enter any key word, such as hairspray in my “What can I help you find?” search bar, up on the right hand corner of my blog, hit enter, and read away!

 

 

 

Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, writing

Merciful Monday

Mercy – noun;

 

compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

 

I came across a beautiful sentiment yesterday. I was watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Elizabeth Gilbert and one of her beautiful insights into life was mercy. Mercy for others, most importantly, mercy for yourself. Her statement about showing mercy towards yourself about your failures, your short comings, your bad decisions resonated within me. I felt a calmness wash over me the instant she uttered that word. Mercy.

It got me thinking. How often we forgive others, show mercy to them and for them, yet we seldom offer ourselves the same gift. When someone we hold dear stumbles and falls, we offer a hand to help them up. When we hear of a friend’s failure, personal or professional, we listen with an open heart and open mind. We try to help them figure out where a wrong turn was made and help them get back to the right road. Funny thing is, when we stumble and fall, we continue to kick ourselves when we are down. When we fail in life and love, we stop looking for a way out. Why is it what we will do for others, we seldom do for ourselves?

Over the years, there are many regrets. I found myself wondering “what if”, or “I should have” or “why didn’t I”. Who knew that a five letter word would clear all those thoughts away. Mercy. I gave myself some mercy. It was 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night. I went outside, sat in my backyard, looked up to the heavens and got myself some mercy. When I woke up this morning, I have to admit some of my regrets woke up with me. Today was a little different. My regrets were followed by “you did the best you could at the time”. One of my favorite quotes is by the beloved Dr. Maya Angelou “When you know better, you do better.”. I came to realize that I couldn’t have done better in the past, I didn’t have the tools, I didn’t have the belief in myself, I let fear and ego drive my decisions and reactions. I didn’t have mercy. I now know that I do know better, so I can do better.

We all make mistakes. We all have dreams that didn’t come true. We all have been a pain in the ass teenager to our parents. We all have made mistakes as parents. We have all hurt people. We have all hurt ourselves. We all deserve to show ourselves some mercy.