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.

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

Reminder

I woke up this morning with words and phrases swirling around in my head. Conversations I’ve had with friends, words that were spoken out of haste or anger, from me and directed at me from strangers, family and friends. Snapshots of memories, past and present playing like an after school special. I’ve been reading more than one book at at time this past month before bed, jumping between Unfu*k yourself! – Gary John Bishop, The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson, Life will be the death of me – Chelsea Handler and Girl Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis, which is probably the reason for this morning’s array of thoughts, visions and emotions, all before 8 a.m..

As I shuffled into the kitchen for my first of many morning cups of coffee, I went to my “mug shelf “. Yes, I have a mug shelf. There’s just something wonderful about pretty mugs, or a mug that makes you smile or says something sassy or inspirational. Say what you want, side eye me if you will, we all have that something that we like. I like pretty things to look at when I start my day, because you never know what life is going to throw at you, so why not start your day your way. Enough about my mugs, As I reached for my “you did not wake up to mediocre” mug, a story that is not mine to tell popped into my head. Then another, and another. What I realized is all my stories and the stories from friends and family alike all had two things in common. #1 = Fear. Fear of not being enough. Fear of not being loved. Fear of not being able to love. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of the opinions of others. Fear of not measuring up. The list of fears is endless. #2 = we all have the same fears. Not always at the same time or to the same extent, but we all feel the same way. The sad part of this commonality? More often than not, no one talks about it. We all are guilty of acting like everything’s fine, everything’s great, nothing to see here. Instagram posts with the “fun in the sun” hashtag, but the fight before the picture and the silent treatment after the picture didn’t happen. The “love your spouse” posts on Facebook, all the while your husband is sleeping on the couch. I am not the guru on the mount, nor am I an expert, but I’ve been around the block a time or two, and in my not so humble opinion, everyone showing the highlight reel of their life adds to everyone’s fear.

Life can be easy, beautiful and wondrous. It can also be hard and a shit show. We cannot control anything or anyone but ourselves. Most importantly, almost everything that is happening in your life is not about you. Your boss is a jerk to you, your child is struggling with life, your parents didn’t hug you enough, your friend isn’t texting you back, plans are cancelled – whatever it is, more often than not, I’m sorry to say, it’s not about you, it just feels like it is. You are overweight and don’t like your body? That is about you. Your friend is overweight and doesn’t like their body? That is not about you. In the past, and sorry to say even in the present I have been and am guilty of making the reactions and words of others personal. Hearing their words and automatically thinking about myself instead of listening and thinking about them. I would hear the words that fit my mood or my fear if you will, to solidify my reasoning of self doubt and to prove my fear was relevant. In the end, all that was left was two or more people feeling frustrated, ignored and scared.

What I have learned and am continuing to learn is this. It is okay to have fear, it is not okay to let that fear define you. Let yourself feel it, then face it. If you can’t do it on your own, ask for help, from a friend, a coworker, a counselor, your minister – take your pick. We all make mistakes, we all fear making them. Mistakes are going to happen. You will stumble, you will fail, you will forget to pick your kids up after school, you will miss a deadline. It may feel like the end of the world, trust me, it’s not. Take a breath. Take a hard look at the situation. Assess it. Look to see where there may be another answer or room for improvement. Ask yourself “what am I to learn from this?” instead of asking “why is this happening to me?”. I know, easier said then done. Trust me, I know. I. Know. One other thing I know, you and I did not wake up to be mediocre.

 

 

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

Take the time

Yesterday yours truly was treated to a spa afternoon. My lovely friend invited me to join her for an afternoon of pampering. I put aside my reservations of an afternoon at the spa. You see, after being in the beauty biz and running a Salon, I know the health standards and the health codes, I know how spa tools are supposed to be cleaned and sanitized, hence my reservations. In the past I could never relax enough to enjoy the services, I found myself seeing the spa through the eyes of a manager instead of through the eyes of a client in dire need of some self care. I spent the morning getting myself into the proper head space so I could enjoy myself. …and let me tell you, I did.

We started with pedicures and I chose the color “self love” by SpaRitual for my toes.

Pink Salt Foot Detox

 

*FYI – SpaRitual is a Vegan polish. Cruelty free, free of any animal derived ingredients, gluten free, and free of Touline, Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl tosylamide, Xylene, MEHQ/HQ, MIT and Parabens.

We followed our pedicures with a Pink Salt foot detox and a session in the healing Salt Cave. Pink Salt is a powerful tool for rebalancing, revitalizing and gently cleansing the body and the mind. Salt Caves can help with breathing disorders, sinus infections and inflammation and many other respiratory and health ailments.

Enough about the services. The point of today’s tale is to come clean about something. After our pedicures, we were guided to the Pink Salt foot detox room and offered coffee, tea or water. I planted myself down in my tub chair, placed my feet on the Pink Salt and waited for my coffee. When our lovely guide came back, she gave me my coffee and said “this service will be 45 minutes long. No worries about watching the clock, we will come get you when your time is up” and left. I felt my stomach sink and for a brief moment I felt anxious and guilty that I was just going to sit down and treat myself, just to do it. I turned to my friend and admitted my feelings. I had a huge light bulb moment. I found myself thinking about all the women that feel the same way I did. How many times they and I put the needs of others before themselves and in turn began to resent others for it. I came to realize that some of my anger towards others wasn’t completely on them, it was on me too. More often than not, people have no idea that you have put yourself on the back burner to put them first. They have no idea of what you are feeling, thinking or what you need, because they are not in your head, plain and simple.

I know all too well life gets in the way and that finances don’t always allow for a spa day or even spa session. What I have come to realize is there is always time for self care, be it 5 minutes or if your lucky, an hour. Put down your phone. Boil the kettle and steep your favorite tea and take a seat and look out the window. Run yourself a hot bath with some Epsom salts (they sell them at Walmart…I know you go there). Give yourself an at home Mani, nothing fancy. Pull a Madge and simply soak your hands in Palmolive if need be. Grab your facial scrub and use it on your hands to exfoliate, follow with your favorite hand cream. Massage the cream in for two minutes. Most importantly, when doing any of these “self treats”, breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Breathe. Let go. Be present. …and put down your phone.

We cannot possibly control every aspect of our life. Life will still be hectic. Children will cry, pets will get sick, bosses will be well, bosses. Plans will fall through, dinners will burn, spouses will be late. Sometimes you won’t be having the argument, it will be having you. No one is perfect, nor will they ever be. You are not perfect, nor will you ever be. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed. You are allowed to feel you are over your head. You are also allowed to take time for yourself. We all are. It’s time to put down the guilt baggage and leave it there. When we take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to take care of others. As one of my favorite Queer Eye gents ( I adore them all) Jonathan Van Ness says “It’s not vanity. It’s self care”

 

Take the time.

 

Beauty, health and wellness, Women

Sticks and Stones

We all know the childhood chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”. Oh, how I wish that were true. There has been many a moment I would have taken a blow to the gut rather than an unkind or untrue phrase spoken. Physical bruises heal. Emotional ones, when it comes to healing, those suckers move at a turtles pace. I am 46 years old and there are still some words I cannot erase from my mind.

We’ve all heard them, I am sorry to say. We’ve been called a liar, useless, fat, ugly…you name it, at some point in our lives, someone has uttered these words to us, and sadly, we have uttered them to ourselves. What I find the most heartbreaking is when we let someone else’s words begin to define us. I admit, I have fallen victim to this, in the past and even in the present. I was beginning to listen to the shouts of self doubt that were unfortunately being boosted up by the words of others. Then one night, after a shit show of a day, I sat down in bed and looked over at a journal I had been given years ago. It’s Tiffany blue and embossed in gold were the words “be happy”. I reached over, cracked it open and began to write. I wrote how I feeling, what I was thinking. After, I felt better. My feelings were still hurt, I was still confused about what to do, but I felt better. The next night before bed, I wrote again. I have continued to do so each night. That’s the wonderful thing about writing in a journal, you get the questions out of your head and sooner or later, answers appear.

When I was younger, I heard my mother say something to a friend of hers that was going through a difficult separation “we hate in others what we hate in ourselves.”. I found myself writing that phrase in my journal. I also remember as a child being told “when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you.”. While writing last night, I finally got it. I stepped outside of myself and took a good, hard look at the lives of those around me who haven’t been the nicest as of late. They are all going through something. Be it trouble at work, trouble with family, battling some inner demon, even battling addiction. I came to realize that when they were pointing the finger at me, they were also pointing it at themselves. To be clear, there is no excuse for hurtful words or actions. What I am saying is trying to understand where they are coming from may bring you some peace. I am well aware that I am not a saint. I have had my moments that I took the low road and went for the jugular. Over the years I have made a commitment to myself not to behave that way. I do my best to listen and understand. I will take whatever is coming to me, if I deserve it.

We all get angry. We all get down on ourselves. We all get frustrated with life, family, work, you name it. I think we should all be allowed to feel whatever we are feeling. I do not believe we should be allowed to be mean about it. There is no reason for that, there is no honor to yourself or the other person. Saying hurtful things for the sake of argument is childish. Plain and simple. I have come to feel sorry for those who have been hurtful for hurtful’s sake. In the wee small hours of the morning, for the rest of their lives, they will have to live with the fact that they purposefully hurt someone they love. That is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

There is always a chance for kindness. As hard as it may be to do, we can stop saying something hurtful before we start. We can take a breath. When you feel like lashing out, take a moment to remember what you would do if you heard another person speaking this way. If you wouldn’t allow another person to speak in a hurtful way in your presence, maybe you shouldn’t either.

 

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

Your Blue Monday Motivator

It’s Monday morning. It’s cold, like minus 23 degrees without the windchill cold. As my feet hit the hardwood this morning, I remembered to buy a rug. After grabbing my coffee, I plopped myself into my favorite chair and started scrolling through my phone. I was bombarded by two posts. Posts of the lunar eclipse and blood moon – which I was able to witness from my backyard last night. Not a cloud in the sky, bitter cold air, but clear skies none the less. The other were posts about “Blue Monday”. I didn’t realize New Order’s song Blue Monday had it’s own day. Taking a closer look I came to realize that Blue Monday has nothing to do with New Order, it has to do with this Monday being the most depressive Monday of the New Year. I didn’t know this was a thing. Someone, somewhere at sometime decided this was the day that people felt bad about themselves, their New Year resolution short comings, their life choices, their shoes…you name it, it’s the day to feel blue.

I am not an expert, nor am I a guru on the mount. What I am is a woman who has been around, seen some things and survived some shit. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. I have had some awesome days and some pretty crap filled weeks. What I have come to realize is life is what you make it Beauties. Plain and Simple. That being said, I thought I would whip up a little list to help you out, on this bluest of Mondays.

  • Look up. The sun may be shining.
  • Help your neighbour. If it’s garbage day, see if they need help getting it to the curb. The snow plow went by, so help them dig out the end of their driveway.
  • Bake a cake. For no reason other to eat it. Smother layers of icing all over it and enjoy.
  • Write a letter to a friend. … not an email, not a text, a letter. Remember the feeling of receiving a letter in the mail? We need more of that.
  • Feed the birds. Go to the park or sit in your own back yard. Trust me, if you have bird seed, they’ll show up.
  • Find your favorite CD and blast it out of the speakers, in your living room or in your car. Sing your heart out and fill up your soul.
  • Instead of your morning shower, run a hot bath.
  • Wear that red lipstick that has been sitting in your vanity drawer.
  • Wrap your hands around your coffee cup, feel the warmth, and smell the delicious aroma.
  • Make a hot chocolate that would put Starbucks to shame. Lather that baby with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
  • Paint your nails, the brightest of pinks or the darkest of reds.
  • Take a moment to remember a favorite memory. We all have a few free minutes a day, even if it’s when you are in the bathroom. Trust me, this works. Your mind has no sense of time, so when you think of a happy memory, your body will respond as if it’s happening right now. …something to remember when you recollect the negative.

It may seem simple and even silly to some. More often than not, it’s the little things that make all the difference. As for yours truly, the only “blue” of my Blue Monday is the sky.

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.