Posts tagged with dailyinspiration:
Near the end of my pregnancy I’d ask myself that. Where was my REAL FACE? I barely remembered what it looked like. The water weight, the weight-weight and the general all-over bloatedness of pregnancy turned my face into something that now, looking back at photos, seems hard to believe was real. When I was admitted to the hospital for the high fever, they pumped me full of fluids. We watched as an IV bag flowed into me, at Brandon’s count, every 30 minutes or so. This went on for over 30 hours before Isobel was born. I remember asking if anyone had a needle. Pop me like a balloon!
Above: 30 hours after being admitted. Immediately post-epidural. We both slept for two hours after this. Come to think of it—that was probably the last time I slept for a week. -_____-
My face changed quickly after Iz was born. The IV bloat and water weight went away fast. Those were replaced by dark circles that stuck around for nearly a year. I wore makeup occasionally (when I left the house, ha), but when I did, it was heavier than I’d worn it in a long time. I was compensating for a lot of insecurities and the best (and most immediate fix) was more makeup. But I ended up feeling like a fraud. My makeup was done, hair was done, but I was wearing clothes that barely fit me while pretending to be a *normal* person. I felt like I had huge neon signs pointing at my head reading SHE DOES NOT BELONG. SEND HER HOME TO HER YOGA PANTS AND BREAST PUMP. Worse, I would have agreed. I didn’t belong in the outside world anymore. I smelled of breastmilk and my body was doughy soft. I was yawning by 8 pm. By 9 pm, I was panicking. If I don’t go to bed RIGHT NOW, I am going to miss out on HOURS of sleep. I’d get myself so worked up about the sleep I was potentially losing, that by the time I got into bed, I couldn’t sleep anyway. Those first months were a bizarre time. The whole world seemed in flux and I wasn’t sure I would fit in it anymore without having a baby strapped to my chest.
In an attempt to control something, I cut my hair. I dyed my hair. I bought eye cream for the wrinkles I started seeing around my eyes. Staring at a naked face with my hair pulled back most of the time showed me things that mascara might have hid. The sleepless year and rapidly diminishing hormones took a toll on my skin. But each time I looked in the mirror, I would brush away the image. That’s not really me. The real me has her hair done. Has mascara on, AT LEAST. My real face doesn’t look this haggard, this wan.
I’d ask myself, “Is this what I really look like?” And I didn’t want to answer my own question. I hated myself for the sheer vanity of it all, but not enough to examine why it mattered so much to me that I not look anything like what I really look like.
A few months ago I saw Terra’s posts about her Bare Naked campaign and wanted to submit a photo. I tried to take one and was horrified. I’ve always loved the transformational power of makeup, hair, clothes. I find it fun and enjoyable, but somewhere my wires got crossed and these things did not become something to enhance. They became disguises. And that’s fine sometimes. Disguising yourself in powerful clothes can be good armor for an interview. Another example: buying the most flattering or fun workout clothes you can find can be a reason to get out of the door at the crack of dawn to go for a run. Clothes, hairstyles and makeup can be useful or practical or fun or any number of other things. But somewhere along the way I stopped thinking of them as extras. I really believed they were necessary.
Then, out of no where, I got lazy. (Slug!) I want to write that I had a big OMG EPIPHANY, but honestly, I just got really lazy this past year. When summer started, I was so hot and miserable that I let my hair air dry. I didn’t have the energy to wear any makeup (it would melt off anyway), so I wore mascara and tinted moisturizer…and that was usually it. Brandon and I went out for a movie one night. He was like, “wow, your makeup looks really good like that!” I only had mascara on, told him so and brushed it off. Pfft, no. You should see me when I REALLY TRY. This isn’t really what my face looks like.
But it IS. It is what my face looks like. I’ve been trying to cover it up and change it and after I had a baby, I tried even harder, but for what? I have to take all of it off at the end of the day. I put my hair up and I wipe off my makeup and then I’m staring at a face that I refuse to believe is actually real.
I am completely dumb.
I am learning to let go of this hyper-vigilant control a bit at a time. I still wax my eyebrows and use a Clarisonic and get pedicures and touch up my roots because VANITY. On the other hand, I sometimes don’t do my hair. I also wear makeup much less often and when I do wear it, I wear less of it.
I do catch myself looking in the mirror and still thinking, “It’s okay, you can fix this,” but I think that will get better over time. When I look at Isobel’s face when she’s sleeping, the thought of her ever wanting to “fix it” with makeup makes me want to vomit. So, I’m actively trying to change my internal dialogue about those things because it’s important. It’s important for my daughter and I only have one chance to get this right: To show her that some things matter and some things don’t.
My face is just a face. I look mad when I’m not smiling and I have a mole on my eyebrow that lots of people think is a piercing until they get up close to me. The wrinkles around my eyes are something I’ve noticed within the past year, but I think it’s because I’ve smiled more in the past two years than I ever did before. I should note that I have a little frown line that developed too. (Therein lies the truth of motherhood.) My eyes are blue (but Isobel’s are an even deeper shade.) The undereye circles are still there too: a little souvenir. When I smile, I can actually see the tops of my cheeks. This is what my face looks like.
The sun is lower in the sky and each afternoon I yearn to get into bed. I want to sleep. I want to sleep for hours. I can’t, obviously, but I feel the exhaustion coming up through my feet and working its way up—until my head is clouded and I stare jealously, angrily at Milo curled up on the pillow. Fall is beautiful and I will always love winter too, but the sunlight hitting my cheek and not the top of my head is something I can’t entirely celebrate. Seasonal changes take a toll on me and it scares me that I’m already struggling this year. I think about that first winter, the one where I knew something was wrong because all I wanted to was sleep, and I catch myself thinking of the bed and oh shit. On top of this, the recent bouts of anxiety. On an average day, I have a normal amount of stress and do the playing-multiple-roles juggling act that so many of you are familiar with as well. It’s not always fun and can feel like Jenga—like one more thing goes to shit (illness, deadlines, unexpected financial burdens) and the whole mess will come crashing down. You understand what that’s like too, I know. That’s life! But the anxiety I’m feeling is compounding the everyday stress making small things seem like big things and big things absolutely insurmountable. I can’t turn off my brain. So I just want to sleep. I can’t though. If I do, I’ll know it’s back. And I don’t have time for that in my planner.
I was listening to Kojo Nnamdi’s interview with Miss Manners this morning in the car and she makes the below observation about halfway through the interview and I was like YES. YES.
Here is the section from the transcript:
KOJO NNAMDI: […] Judith, turning to the office there’s a notion one, parents in particular like to perpetuate, that if we just be ourselves then everyone will think we’re great. Why is this a misguided notion, especially for the workplace?
JUDITH MARTIN (MISS MANNERS): Well, it’s not very useful under any circumstances. What does that mean, be yourself? Who would you be otherwise? And they always mean be your worst self. People say, oh, I want to be myself at home. They mean they’re going to be really obnoxious. […]
KOJO NNAMDI: You’re really causing me to reflect here that indeed when people do say they want to be themselves that usually means they want to behave as badly as they feel like and have it nevertheless be acceptable.
They are talking about this in a workplace context, but this is so true of ALL LIFE. So many interviews or advice columns in articles, and it’s always “be yourself” or “be authentic.” Oprah and Joel-Fucking-Osteen have made their EMPIRES on catchy Be Yourself campaigns. And it seems like good advice, because it feels important and empowering to have the license to file all behavior under This Is Just Me, Being Myself! But, what if I am authentically kind of a dick? What if being myself means that I want to slug on the couch all day eating Doritos (I do)? Real adult life is constantly checking in to make sure I am not being my ACTUAL self, but the better-ish version of that. Of course, going all the way to the other side—where you are such a good version of yourself that it’s not even real—isn’t ideal either.
Deep thoughts on a Thursday morning.
I have a lot of unread email! (I won’t bother making excuses. THERE ARE NONE TO BE HAD.) This caused a kerfuffle. And got me thinking. There is this weird cultural perception that being Type A or claiming to be OCD* about something is directly related to work performance/organization/cleanliness (or not having red bubble notifications on your iPhone). This is a really strange phenomenon, since there are some not-so-great things about being Type A. I say this out of love, since I have a lot of Type A traits (and, worth noting, some Type B ones too). Being Type A-ish means that I have a tendency to swing all the way to Asshole Status pretty fast. Sometimes it comes out (Hulk Out Rage Temper) and sometimes it’s internal (pent-up hostility with laser beam eyes). From what I’ve read, Type A personalities seem to handle stress and competition in profoundly different ways than Type Bs. This hostility (“I should have gotten praise for X”) and stress (“I will never get ahead of my to-do list”) can even lead to some unfortunate health problems. Stress management and anxiety have always been problematic for me. Multitasking and an inability to really relax is another thing I struggle with. I can’t just watch TV: I like to watch TV AND read. Or watch TV AND work. Speaking of work, I have to force myself to focus on one work project at a time so I’m not bouncing between three things at once. I’m always thinking, “what’s next, what’s next, what’s next.” It’s exhausting and annoying.
I do have some Type B traits. Some of this is me selectively pushing things to the periphery and getting really relaxed and laid back about them. Other times I think it has to do with confrontation avoidance. I can be randomly non-aggressive and easy-going. Brandon often gets frustrated at me: “You are so quick to yell about this, but you won’t confront X person about that?” I’ll let the item just sit and fester and I won’t think about it all—and then EXPLOSION OF SELF-LOATHING. I hate and berate myself for not taking care of it or for not being “better.” That would be my Type A asshole attacking my Type B-ness. There is more to Type A than liking daily planners and there is more to Type B than…well…what? It doesn’t seem like people own being Type B very often. But that’s probably only because being Type A has become a thing to be proud of. And it’s not! It’s not a thing to be ashamed of either, mind you. It’s just a thing. My Type A traits don’t mean I’m better at work or hyper-organized in every facet of my life, just like my Type B traits don’t mean that I’m always a pushover or too lackadaisical about various things. I get liking to be placed in a personality bucket. It’s neat and clean, the idea of “this is who I am, this is how I interact with the world.” But it’s so much more complex than that.
*Sidenote: I say this all the time too, but it’s really interesting how saying that you’re “OCD about something” has become such a colloquial phrase for “this is something that annoys me if it’s not done a certain way.”
I’ve been making a conscious effort over the past year+ to cut down on frivolous and/or unnecessary purchases. The problem of having too many clothes and not wearing them is such a stupid, privileged “problem” to have. Clothing is just a basic need and I’m trying to treat it like that. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring (although I like boring sometimes). I can fill a basic need—boots for winter—with something affordable and stylish. If I’m smart about it, I can wear those same boots for several seasons. And I have! A few years ago when I first started working from home, I made the mistake of still gravitating to and buying more traditional work attire—dresses, pencil skirts, heels. I was so used to purchasing these items that it was like second nature. A great deal on pumps? I’d buy them. But I (obviously) barely wore them. I don’t buy or wear those kinds of things now. They’re gone. They aren’t necessary for my life right now. That’s my new mantra: buy to fit my life. If it doesn’t work for the places I spend most of my time—the playground, my desk, errands, out and about with Brandon and Isobel—I don’t buy it. Before I click to confirm a purchase (since I do most of my shopping online), I ask myself if I could stand the item being vomited or pooped on. Smeared with food or dirt. If the answer is no—if the thought horrifies me—I don’t buy it. What do I need in this life to make me happy? Not very much. Clothes and shoes are a source of enjoyment for me, but the buying of them (NEWNEWNEW) doesn’t have to be where that enjoyment comes from. I’m trying to be strategic, smart and practical. To help me out with this, I made a little flowchart and wanted to share.
When I met Brandon, one of the first things he told me about himself was how he liked video games. For the next eight years he tried to get me to play with him. There was a Nintendo DS moment long ago (he bought me a DS, I played Pokemon). After a while, I sort of forgot about it. We did have fun with Rock Band back in its hayday and we laughed at each other playing Dance Central. One time he tried to teach me Gears of War. It was an utter disaster.
A couple weeks ago we were playing some card games sitting on the floor in our PJs in the living room. We hadn’t done this in a while, but I don’t know why we don’t do it more often. We always have a good time. Then, Brandon asked me if I wanted to try playing a video game with him and I agreed apprehensively, knowing I sucked, knowing that the suckage could frustrate him and turn a fun evening into an annoying one. I was tired and would have rather read a book but we were two (or three) beers in and I agreed.
He got SO EXCITED. He ran to find all of his co-op games and then got the controllers all set up. We both moved closer to the TV because I said I couldn’t see anything and needed to be super close to feel like I was IN THE GAME.
Two hours later, we were having a lot of fun.
Maybe it’s because we were playing together on the same team, or maybe it’s because he (very kindly) took a lot of time to show me the ropes. It could have been that we got WAY TOO into it and were acting like fools, drinking and high-fiving and planning strategies. But whatever my reasons for being apprehensive suddenly seemed pretty silly.
I don’t want to make this too LESSONY/METAPHORICAL, but honestly, it was kind of a moment for me. Our relationship took a big hit in the turmoil of adjusting our family to parenthood. We were both tired, frustrated and overworked for a long time. We each expected the other one to be the backup. He grew edgy and I became resentful. I’d let my frustrations build until they exploded. He’d explode back. We’d leave each other alone for a bit, him watching me warily, choosing the path of least resistance that sometimes became the path of nonexistence. Two ships passing in the night: one bleary-eyed and bitter, the other resigned and shell-shocked. He beg me angrily: “Tell me what you want!” I’d yell back: “Sleep! Sanity! Help! Help me! I can’t do this on my own anymore. I feel so alone.” I’d hurt his feelings a lot. I know I would because I could see the wounded expression on his face, the look in his eyes when I told him that he wasn’t doing enough or being enough, when I said that I needed more, more, more and he didn’t know what that “more” even was. Later he’d be snuggling with Isobel and I’d say, “You’re a wonderful father.” But it was a too-small Bandaid over a much larger wound.
We did get better over time, of course. Like with all the other myriad curveballs in parenting, if you can just wait it out—if you can make it another month, two months, six months—that problem will be replaced by another one and you’ll have trouble even remembering what made you collapse crying in the corner that one day so long ago. We still argue, but it’s normal human arguing…not like the wounded howling or angry barbs we’d launch at one another back then.
So where am I going with this? I guess I started talking about one thing and it’s led to another and to another. Anyway, the other night, we were playing video games and I was sitting on a chair with my legs thrown over his. We were wearing at least 3 separate items of flannel between us. We clinked bottles. “I’m really having fun doing this with you,” I said. He said, “Me too. You’re doing really good.” I thought to myself, “I remember us again.”
And then we started up a new game. Brandon let me go first so he could watch my back.
When I went to get my roots touched up last week, I was really nervous that my hairstylist would want to do a major trim to get rid of split ends. I’m trying to grow my hair out and it’s at that REALLY annoying medium length so I’m hoarding the length like crazy. She looked at my hair closely and was like, “It’s in really good shape! We’ll just do a trim next time.”
I wish I could take credit for this, but it’s actually due to recommendations from her and the fact that I’ve been pretty slug-like the last few months and cut down on heat styling.
Anyway, here are the products she has suggested to me and that I’ve been using:
- Pureology’s Perfect 4 Platinum line is relatively new and also relatively expensy (ugh), but it’s worth the money (ugh squared). The good news is that it’s super-concentrated so you don’t have to use much and an 8.5 oz bottle will last you a long time. I love the smell and have noticed a big difference in the softness/shine of my hair. If you don’t want to buy both, choose the conditioner.
- I’ve written about It’s a 10 Leave-In with Keratin before on here but THERE IS A REASON I KEEP MENTIONING IT. My hair has never been as healthy as it is now (I use this every time I wash my hair, even if I don’t blow it dry). The best benefit of using this is that my hair blow dries in about half the time it used to. I spritz it on, brush it through and then blow dry. From start to finish, it’s about 10 minutes (or less).
- I was an initial fan of L’Oreal’s EverPure shampoo (I’ve tried both the Smooth and Volume ones), but I found it to be a little heavy on my hair and made it stringy and difficult to style. I think I was using too much (sulfate-free shampoos require much less product than regular shampoos). I haven’t tried it since, but I still use the L’Oreal EverPure Volume Conditioner about once a week. It’s safe for color-treated hair and smells great. I usually only use this if I know I’m going to be blowing out my hair—it makes my hair really smooth for straight styles.
- If you’ve lightened your hair several levels, Clairol’s Shimmer Lights shampoo is a must-have. It helps correct brassiness (good if you spend a lot of time in the sun) and you can use it as kind of a toner dupe by applying once, washing it out and applying it a second time and leaving it for several minutes. Depending on how much time I’m spending in the sun, I’ll either use this every time I shampoo or once a week.
Obviously the best thing for keeping hair healthy is to cut down on heat styling but that’s not always possible/desirable. I’ve been lazy this summer and experimenting with using different products and then air-drying, but it’s definitely not a polished look and probably wouldn’t work if I was going into an office every day. If you can’t avoid blow-drying, the next best thing is to blow dry as fast as possible to keep your hair’s exposure to heat at a minimum. That’s why my hairstylist recommended using It’s a 10. Once I’ve applied it and brushed it through (with a wide tooth comb), I blow dry all over on medium heat on high without an attachment. It takes maybe 5 minutes to get my hair mostly dry. Then I attach the concentrator nozzle, turn the blow dryer down to medium heat with medium air flow and use a round brush to smooth over sections. Or, instead of using the nozzle/round brush, I’ll use the Infiniti spin brush for more volume/curl. I’ve been trying to perfect my blow drying skills so I can spend less time using a flat iron or curling iron to touch it up afterward but alas, cowlicks. And I hate sectioning out my hair to dry it, which you really HAVE TO in order to avoid using a flat iron for touch ups. Ain’t nobody got time for that.