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OFF THE RAILS

OFF THE RAILS

I wish I were the type of person who could easily have just one glass of wine or one brownie or shop for just one pair of shoes. I wish I were the type of cool chick who could stay on a consistent budget or stick to one goal I set for myself and just make it a lifestyle change because I feel so frickin good when I do. I wish I were the type of woman who had the discipline to stay focused on one idea and completely execute it from beginning to end.

But I am not. And this is who I am. And I accept myself for who I am. And I am wondering if any woman I know actually is this type of person. Where does the notion of all of this start to finish and completely following through on all of the ridiculous amounts of goals I set for myself even come from?

“You’re too hard on yourself,” my friend who is also the manager of my Providence location said when I was telling her that I wasn’t drinking (again). Of course she is of the French variety- stunning, thin, and eats chocolate and one, or more likely two, glasses of wine every day since I have known her for about thirteen years. I am too hard on myself- always have been. The good news is that I completely recognize this in myself. The upside of this trait is that it propels success. In business and in so many other facets of my life this invisible driving force makes me jump out of bed in the morning and carpe fucking diem pretty much 365 give or take a few.

I have a lot of energy and I really rely on my daily inner compass to set me on a path for the day. I may wake up one day with a plan and look outside and end up doing something totally different. This is one of the many luxuries of owning my own business- I don’t have to answer to anyone except my beating heart. This works for me most of the time.

My pattern with eating and drinking and spending money though comes from a long line of women before me and around me who have struggled with these three hot buttons. Like Pavlov’s dog I have found myself in auto pilot for most of my life trying to lose weight or see how long I can go without eating sugar or shopping and when I just can’t do it anymore, I splurge. Go big or go home type splurging. Almost self defeating on purpose and I know that this sounds absolutely crazy. But here I am. No Cape. Stripped and Bare. Open and Honest. Fucking Pure Raw Annoying Truth. But as I get older and head towards my sixties which still seem so far off but really less than seven years away, I am getting more comfortable with the ebb and flow of alayne’s brain. What I am curious about each and every time I set some off on some new plan is that despite the fact that I feel so good, great actually, I wonder what makes me do the slide backwards into almost manic shopping, eating or drinking.

With the wisdom of retrospect, I do know what causes the downhill slide and each time it happens I get closer to the realization of where its momentum stems from. But seriously, how much can I blame my mother? I am a grown up and I haven’t lived with her for almost forty years. It is too easy to blame external forces when the work that needs to be done always is the internal ones. I think that when a mom button gets pushed though even when it is not from my mother, but the essence of behavior that is familiar, this is when the dive down is usually the cause. In this case it is because of a major change in what I thought was a deep and solid friendship and this sad shift has created some apparent need to go rogue on myself. And this time around I have consciously allowed it to take its hold and just have fun with the escape. This is an interesting turn for me because in the slide south this time, I knew what I was doing in the middle of it and I just went with it trusting that it is what I needed to care for myself. Knowing that the jump in with both feet doesn’t have to sink me. I can come back up to the surface for air and swim out, dry off, get dressed and feel refreshed from the plunge. This is a unique shift for me as in the past when I have unconsciously and recklessly shopped till I dropped, (often a car purchase, which I know sounds completely insane) eaten sugar with total abandonment and every other carbohydrate that I had previously deprived myself of had lead me in a downward spiral of irritability and slight depression, this is no longer a part of who I am. I am so in tune with my body and my mind that I know myself inside these days. Emotional eating and shopping is definitely my nemesis as it is for lots of women I know. I write about it openly because I do think that the conversation helps us know we are all part of the same party. It is the awareness of the triggers and how the triggers show up in my behavior that is most evident in my quest for constant growth. It is like I am my own science project and I am constantly researching what makes me tick.

We all have our ups and downs, I have learned how to lasso the downs with a little more frequency and poignancy, but more important patience. I have always said that grief is important. We can not circumvent it, we must go through it. When someone dies, grief comes more naturally, but grief shows up as a force in many other life experiences. Loss of friendships must be grieved too. Downs are a part of life; Life coming at us as my dear man likes to frequently say is part of the life we live. When the dearest of friendships leave us without so much as a goodbye, I think it is good enough reason to buy five pairs of shoes and let the boxes lie at my feet as I spoon hot fudge sauce on my ice cream and drink a glass of proseco with a tear in my eye. After all what is chocolate and bubbly for anyway?




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IT’S NOT ME

IT’S NOT ME

I love dresses. But dresses in the New England winter are not as convenient as they are in the warmer spring and summer days fast approaching. I have found myself in a bit of a fashion conundrum- totally hip and happy in the non winter months and, eeehhh gads, yoga pants and turtle necks in the blustery cold. I make no excuses. I like comfort and once I crossed the fifty mark and oh yeah, those pesky cancer diagnosis, comfort always prevails. I like comfort and ease, but I also like to look nice and let’s face it, yoga pants are not a fashion icon.

The month of May brought me to the five month mark of no shopping and I am pretty proud of my accomplishment, but as I looked around at my closet, I realized that with all of my cleaning out, what was left behind was a dismal collection of darkness. The lovely summer go to dresses of my past glorious travels to Spain and Israel were starting to have some wear and tear. With my son still having two more years in college to pay for, another trip other than a visit to Florida to see my grandfather is not part of the plan. Besides, I know how pretentious it sounds that I can only buy replacement dresses when I travel to Europe and Israel, but goodness their dresses are the best. So with no prospects that lay ahead, there just had to be a dress shop I can make my own.

Oh wait, but I am not shopping. A predicament. So I dropped the idea and blasted off to the new butcher shop that took the place of Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI. Barrington Butcher Shop. As it turns out, the proximity of the dress shop I have aimed to go into for a few years, happened to be right next door. So in my dingy yoga pants and Life is Good tshirt that I had been wearing for my gardening clothes all day, I walked in bright eyed and bushy tailed forgetting that I likely looked like a homeless person or one of those salty old money women from Bellevue Ave in Newport who used to come in to Cherry and Webb’s makeup counter for free samples. I worked behind the Estee Lauder counter in the early eighties fresh out of esthetic school and it was a trip down old Newport lane that I didn’t realize as a twenty two year old.

The woman at the dress shop behind the counter was clearly unimpressed with my potential as a shopper but I prevailed. “I always wanted to come in here, but never have!” I exclaimed happily to her giving her some bait so she could sell me some of her wears. No bite. She hesitated sizing me up as probably “not a chance.” I kept at it though because there have been so many milestones since last year. The breast cancer, the adjustment to the new boobs, the permanence of realizing that I am past the point of easily dropping even five pounds now that I have gone through menopause. All of the emotional and physical ins and outs that have been part of my last three years plus just a different person when I look at my reflection in the mirror. All of it was carried in with me when I walked into Zuzu’s all unbeknownst to the innocent salesgirl who had no idea who she was about to engage with. This is what I love about sales, you never know the stories of the people who walk in and it becomes your job to figure it all out without a preconceived notion that can make or break the whole experience. I decided not to go rogue in my usual fashion trying to teach her a sales lesson and just kept at it. When she finally came out from the counter realizing that I could actually be serious, she started to tell me a little about the mass of highly patterned dresses surrounding us. Judy something or other, and a variety of women’s names who apparently make the dresses that meant nothing to me frankly. I am standing there in hiking shoes and yoga pants- highly unlikely I was going to be the type of shopper who shops based on name recognition unless I am standing in the middle of a Lululemon store. I went along with her though because she looked so excited to let me know her knowledge of the clothes and the designers who made them. I kept thinking, Could I really wear these dresses? They are not me.

I love boutique shopping because it is so easy when you have a salesperson who understands client care. It took the saleswoman a few moments to warm up, but once she realized that I was truly interested in trying on clothes, she began the ascent into the glory land of my personal stylist. I tore off my clothes and began trying on dress after dress. I have a weird rule in the dressing room ( I am pretty sure those of you who know me are not surprised), that if the first item I try on looks great, it is going to be a successful shopping experience. First dress? Check! It looked stunning if I do say so myself. I felt amazing as I traipsed out of the dressing room into the bright light of the store and gazed at my reflection staring back in the big mirror. Then ‘the voice’ kicked in. It’s not me, it said. This dress is not me.

But I looked, and more importantly felt, so beautiful in almost every one of them. I had a sudden conflict that needed immediate correction. It’s not me. Why not? Where was this voice even coming from? The no shopping rule went out the door. And so did the commentary running like a wild animal in my brain. All of a sudden, a magic shift came to me like a bright light turned on in a pitch black room.

BUT IT CAN BE!

But It Can Be darted in as a replacement part for my brain. As I tried on the endless dresses and falling in love with each and every one of them, Leah, my new best friend saleswoman showed me a pair of the craziest wild patterned pants. They’re not me, I immediately thought. “BUT THEY CAN BE!” My new improved mind opened up like a peony in the morning. Before I knew it, I was buying three dresses, two pairs of the wildest pants and three tops to the tune of a trip to Europe. So much for not shopping, but this new mind shift was worth every penny. I work my ass off and I have worked my ass off even more these past three years. I have a brand new body, but even better a brand new way of thinking. This in itself was worth all of the tea in China as I can hear my grandmother’s voice saying if she were still alive.

As it turns out today in my inbox from one of my favorite alanon chicks was this daily and perfect quote.

“If you never change your mind, why have one?”

Yep. Now on to the shoe store because we all know that with new dresses one must need new shoes too…. I’m on a roll, might as well go till end of May, I can start my no shopping again June 1, I’m having way too much fun right now creating a new me. Because It Can Be.

Photo does not do this dress justice.
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CATCHING UP

CATCHING UP

I just noticed that I have not written in a full two weeks. Again. It is not because I haven’t wanted to but I had decided with the help of my stellar intern, Rachel, recent college graduate and my personal savior this past two months, to be completely focused on doing a first round edit of all of the writings I have already done. And done? Never done, but I had to come up with a cut off point and now seemed like as good as a time then ever. I have made it. I am alive. I have new boobs. I am fit and healthy and I can say I am on the other side. Fifty three and going strong.

585 pages of writing, SIX good sized pretend books on their way to the printer for the first run to take a look all neat and bound. My entire life for the past year and a half is bound up ready to be released in an orderly fashion for anyone who graces the doors of alayne white. I must confess, I am pretty excited and pretty proud of the results. I am in awe of how much work I have done this past year and I don’t know if I would feel as grounded, happy and adjusted if I hadn’t let all of these words work their way through me and out of me.

As I have begun the process of putting this massive amount of writing together, I am struck by rereading it and seeing where my thoughts were before, during and after. The anguish of the unknown is such a part of our human experience. No matter what mountains and trails lay ahead, the not knowing the ahead is the part of the travels that gives us the most excitement and the most fears. The emotions bing back and forth like a pinball machine. The not knowing is a part of the fears, but with the unique wisdom of retrospect, the unknown is a great example of using the angst as an excuse to just stay in the now.

I am guessing that the nervousness is the lack of control for control freaks like me. I have worked tirelessly and endlessly on trying to live in the almighty present. I have discovered activities that keep me in the glorious present, gardening, working out, writing, working, going to the movies, organizing are some examples for sure. All of these have kept me in my sense of the uninterrupted present. The work for myself for sure in this next however many years I have left on this planet is to stay present. The past is over with. The future is unknown and for all of the life events I have worried about in the past, worry hasn’t helped any of it and if anything, it has caused more problems. I have used words to replace worrier, like warrior instead. This always gives me a little internal shake up to bring me back down to earth and realize that this right now is all I have. This right now is enough just as it is. No amount of worrying will make me less of a warrior tomorrow when I have the luxury and privilege of waking up on the right side of the grass if this is what is intended. Stay present. Stay now. This always feels the best and it is a constant struggle or a planner like me, but patience and kindness is the answer to these struggles. For this, I am a happy warrior.


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PROCESS NOT PERFECTION

PROCESS NOT PERFECTION

There is a famous twelve step quote Progress not Perfection and it’s meaning is significant for perfectionists like me and many women I know. The word PROGRESS though implies achievement so I have switched the word to say PROCESS instead. As I get older I have learned that relationships and life is indeed a process as I learn and continue to work on facets of myself to improve upon. At the same time I try to allow and accept them as they are knowing I when I place my head on my pillow I have been kind in my day. Perfectionism used to be my nemesis and its personality traits are the vaporous results of growing up with alcoholism or any ism for that matter. The need to get it right, the need for the outer veil to look gilded when the inner isn’t quite so. Perfectionism can be debilitating and energizing in the same span of the moment it takes its hold. Many perfectionists don’t even realize that their need to get it better than good enough is a driving force of the perpetual angst they feel as they try to achieve. I sure didn’t. I have struggled with the need for better and best for most of my life. It can be something that helps greatness in a business with the result ultimately ending in a successful company and it can also cause incredible disruption because nothing will ever be good enough. The latter can be the hardest for perfectionists because it is their own inner compass of feeling like nothing will ever be exactly a ten that drives the bus on the long trip with no final place on the map to actually stop and smell the roses.

Breast cancer the first time around started to free me a bit because as I went from doctor to doctor doing my own overachieving research, I realized that no matter how much I learned, how many tests I had, how many doctors I spoke with and google searches I navigated around, I still had breast cancer. Nothing was going to change the stark reality that it was out of my control. Breast cancer told me I am not in control. I can think I am, but none of us are. I can park the bus and take a nice nap in the resting spot coming up on the exit I would have otherwise driven past foot heavy on the accelerator. (unless I had to pee, which would have been highly likely, but if I didn’t I would have flown past onward and onward, no stopping necessary to get to that proverbial destination just around the corner over there some place).

Breast cancer twice sealed the deal, but in the middle of the first one and the second one, my mother decided it would be better if we didn’t speak. Again. Ever.

I prefer you never contact me again. She wrote this to me almost two years ago to the day. Mother’s Day time. My son’s high school graduation time. Between the first diagnosis and the unknown second one. I have written about this in my earlier writings and have done a lot of my work because of this significant event in my life, our lives. There is safety in I prefer you never contact me again. That last sentence may read strangely, but the finality of it and the response it requires is a large bold period at the time, not a comma, not a semicolon, not a dash. My first response besides the traditional sadness and fury one might expect was the word relief. It is no fun to be in a relationship with someone who you are on constant eggshell walking with; it is not a walk in the park to be on guard and feeling like everything I say has to be carefully orchestrated as to not invoke a negative. It is not enjoyable to be in a relationship with someone who seems completely disinterested in everything you say all the time, like you are a nuisance and like they are watching the clock to see when its over. This was how I always felt around my mother and it turns out, she seemed to feel the same way around me. Oil and water to say the least.

The second breast cancer diagnosis was actually easier because she wasn’t speaking to me, I just went through the entire experience without her, and instead surrounded myself with all of the women who have supplemented my mother for me. There are many and I am blessed with the superchick tribe I get to call my pretend mothers and sisters. But in the sadness of the reality, they are not my mother. So at the time of my grandfather’s one hundred year birthday party this past November, as I sat on the beach one of the days afterwards, an entire letter came to me in my head to write to her. Like the many eulogies that have come through me in the past, I scribbled it quickly to get it out of me and when I got back to his house, I feverishly typed it not knowing at the time if I would send it. So it sat. The fact that it came to me on my brother’s twenty third anniversary of his own passing because of cancer does not go unnoticed here. Death anniversaries are capable of this, bringing up unfinished business and previously thought surrendered emotion.

When I got home, I decided to mail it old school. The words were kind, gentle, understanding, but also truthful and direct and bare. They needed to be said and I said them as eloquently and heartfelt as I could. There is an old Indian saying that I have often referred to when I have needed to have courageous conversation as my social worker dearest mama friend, Karen calls it.

SHOW UP

BE PRESENT

SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

DON’T BE ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME

The reason for the bold fourth line is because this is the hardest one to have to deal with. It really means LET GO OF CONTROL, EXPECTATIONS, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE REPLY. Like an eager child though, it is a natural feeling to be hopeful that you will get the fantasy reply you dream of or any reply for that matter. This wasn’t the point though. The point was to let my mother know that her request was not something I agreed with. That I honored it to let the boiling water reduce to a slow simmer, to give it the time it needed, but that it wasn’t the finality she may have hoped for. I am not even sure it is what she wanted when she hit the send button that contained those seven words that made up the sentence difficult to unsend.

It took her awhile but she did write me back, and this started a very very light dialogue as we began our dance of reconnection. Distant, both physically as she lives in Alabama, and mentally as the fragility of our connection is like a frayed wire being slowly and carefully wrapped back up in electrical tape.

I decided this year to send her a Mother’s Day Card. Mother’s Day is difficult when the Hallmark version doesn’t match your own. So I created my own, handwritten in one of the beautiful cards a client of ours draws.

You are still my mother. I wrote. Thinking of you this Mother’s Day.

Process not Perfection. Baby steps on a path that will never complete other than the kind truth of the millions of pebbles sprinkled along the way. This is good enough and this is what makes my Mother’s Day this year better. Not only because I get to spend it with my son in the way we have defined for ourselves over the last twenty years, but because my mother and I are at least making an attempt in the way it works for us, throwing the pebbles towards the middle hoping they don’t take out an eye, but land gently at each other’s feet to keep the path open.


Happy Mother’s Day out there to all of you Moms whether you are one, have one or act like one.
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UNINTENDED UNPLANNED EMOTION

UNINTENDED UNPLANNED EMOTION

The slightly bouffanted blonde older (older, like my age older) woman with black eye liner and nude glossy lips was waiting for me. To be perfectly frank, I had my eye on a younger more tattooed woman to do my hair for the fashion show I was privileged to be a part of last night. I had decided to be completely open to the entire event as previously written about in my last writing so when Lori approached me, I just went with her and the flow of the beautifully crafted and organized like Swiss clockwork evening. These ladies from the Paul Mitchell School in Cranston, RI were volunteering their time on a Saturday afternoon doing all of the models’ hair and makeup and I just wanted to be a part of the total experience. I wanted to let them take care of me and free myself of the ridiculous incessant need to control every waking moment of my existence. I am sure that this need for control is one of the more esoteric reasons I got breast cancer in the first place. It seems like a common denominator in the personality traits of so many survivor chicks I have had the fortune to cross paths with over the last three years.

She gazed at my thick, long salt and pepper hair with a sparkle in her eye. I had no idea what she was thinking and I really didn’t care. There were no mirrors around for me to have to watch and I really used the time to just enjoy the experience. Typical of hairdressers and their clients, we began a light Q and A session to pass the time. Especially since I have been in the beauty business for over thirty years, I am always curious why people land there, she seemed about my age so I asked if this were a second career. It was. These are some of my favorite women to speak with because it usually means that they have headed down the path with an inner calling fueled by a long time dream to be part of the hair world. I admire women who follow their calling the later years of their career and I love to speak about it with them over the pulls and twists of getting my hair to do what they envisioned. She flat ironed, and marcel ironed and sprayed and teased. The aroma of heat with hairspray melting into my hair brought me back to my old days having to attend hair shows when I worked with Aveda. Meanwhile the twenty something tattooed waif of a girl standing across from us was thinking about my makeup and looking at me with her artistic eye. An hour later, I was the embodiment of a vintage pinup girl and I LOVED the whole look, the preparation and the end result. I was slowly learning that the whole point of the night was to celebrate the collective US. The cancer survivors, the caregivers, our families, our friends. I never really felt the need to have a group celebration like that, it never occurred to me that it was even necessary. As I plodded through the blur of the Kentucky Derby themed evening sitting with my only two friends who didn’t have plans that evening, I leaned in. Sheryl Sandberg would have been proud. I applied the wonderful five A’s that don’t always need to be reserved for intimate relationships. I Allowed. Appreciated. Accepted. I Attended and I had deep Affection for the women and men who made it all possible. What I assumed would be a silly and fun wacky evening was remarkable and the deep layers of emotion surprised me.

I stood in the line in my David’s Bridal coral chiffon dress and my five inch wedge shoes from Off Broadway Shoes from The Warwick Mall waiting my turn. I was second to last and stood a person away from the only young man in the lineup assuming he was the son of one of the cancer survivors modeling in her honor. “How did you get roped into this?” I asked with a playful curiosity.

“I had lymphoma.” He said with a gentle spirit.

“You are alive!” I said with utter happiness. “I bet you have a lot of people here who are so happy you are alive, how old are you?”

“Twenty.” he said. I smiled firmly. “I’m so happy you are here.”

Then out of nowhere, the tears flooded my mascara lined and ladened lashes. I had to turn my head so the floodgates wouldn’t open five minutes before I was supposed to sass my silly #lovelybadass self on the runway to the beat of some more music my fifty three year old self didn’t recogize. My brother. Yep, there he was in the center of the tears, just like thirty years ago when I was getting ready to speak in front of over one thousand attendees at an Aveda business conference, my first speaking appearance at the tender age of twenty nine. I had learned just the night before that my brother had adeno carcinoma of the lung, at the time a fatal diagnosis and had just asked the leader of the company five minutes before going on stage if he knew of a healing place in the country that may offer alternative medicine. My eyes had filled up then five minutes before going on the stage. Here I was thirty years later and it was a reenactment. So much had happened in thirty years and here I was standing in front of a twenty year young man very much alive who triggered my entire thirty years in one short sentence. I had lymphoma. Twenty. The same age as my son now. My son who was also diagnosed with the BRCH 2 gene. I got home and realized I didn’t want to be alone last night. I was mixed with joyful sorrow so I got my stuff together and drove to my partner’s house and promptly into his arms, tears flowing with the sadness of loss and the joy of life all mix and matched. All because Maria Gemma asked me to be the fashion show. It’s like she knew it was exactly where I should be on a Saturday evening. I would do it all over again in a nanosecond. This is the power of not only a powerhouse woman but a powerhouse organization filled with powerhouses on a mission to get people like me to say yes instead of no. More yesses for the right reasons, for the right causes. The unintended and unplanned emotions that came up last night despite the tears keeps my life in perspective. This was the gift that keeps on giving from all of this cancer. #LUCKYINDEEDAGAIN.




i didn’t want to take my hair down or wash my makeup off. My two superchick friends who gave up their Saturday eve to cheer me on. Runway pictures will follow soon. Lori the magnificent goddess who make this hair do what it did. And another survivor chick, Ali also modeling last night.
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A FASHION SHOW

A FASHION SHOW

“You are really inspiring, Alayne.” Or something to that effect, my friend Maria said as she coupled the kindness with the request to be part of the Gloria Gemma Fashion Show, named Our Heroes Fashion Show, this upcoming Saturday evening. She has been one of the many lovely women who has read my writings and usually gives an enthusiastic thumbs up when something strikes her.

I write so much and many people read what I write especially around the time of before and after breast cancer. I am one of the lucky ones because there is the after breast cancer I get to write about. What I learned from the cliché gifts many people mentioned when they first learned of my diagnosis is the permission slip to say no to many invites that came my way. In this particular instant, I would have never even considered a no. First off, I met Maria at a RI Hospital breakfast I was fortunate enough to be invited to by my lovely bad ass Dr. W. Maria and I formed one of those instant chick connections, not the kind where we are hanging out and drinking Proseco together every summer eve, though I would love that, as a matter of fact, we haven’t seen each other since. Actually we haven’t even spoken since that lovely breakfast with the brilliant female doctors who RI Hospital is lucky to have so when I got the ask to be part of this fashion show, how could I say anything but a big happy yes. That was like five months ago and here I am, my fashion show debut at the RHODES ON THE PAWTUXET. The west bay version of the Venus De Milo, the mecca event space where weddings, proms, charitable events take place and I am going to be very small part of a really big and impressive effort from all of the people who support the work of the Gloria Gemma Foundation.

I love powerhouse women. I love knowing them, being in their company, engaging with their energy fields and watching their tireless work ethic that their deep passion fuels. I could probably name fifty women in RI alone without so much as a blink of an eye. They are not in it for the accolades; the accolades are the result of their efforts. The efforts come from a deep special space only accessed by passion. I know that feeling and when I am around it, it is magnetic. This is why I said an uninterrupted yes when Maria asked me. This is why I traipsed to David’s Bridal in North Attleboro, Mass on our first 85 degree gorgeous could have been at the beach but wasn’t going to happen day to try on the selection of dresses that awaited. I hadn’t realized until I got there all of the intense efforts by Mandy Zito who was there waiting with a big confident assuring smile to try on the last seven choices left from the other twenty two models who had made their way there prior. The pickings were slim, but as I started to head into that judgmental place so easy to head to I was quickly brought back to the point of this whole event. We are raising money for a powerful and focused grassroots RI organization that does only amazing things for breast cancer and survivorship. Wearing a dress that wasn’t perfect or to my likings was the whole point of this entire breast cancer experience anyway. Releasing control. Allowing the natural unfolding of things to take place for a higher purpose and good. The peaks and valleys along the way are the point.

From the day late call I made to plead for two tickets for my only two chick friends who were available to come cheer me on in my coral taffeta as me and my fabulous breasts would be sporting down the runway and Jane not sighing and only smiling to try to help me get the tickets I had procrastinated in ordering. Then there was lovely Mandy at David’s Bridal saying with a perfectly straight face, “You will need to be at Rhodes at 2:45 to have your hair and makeup done.” The event isn’t until six pm, I immediately thought, I have gardening and barn cleaning and a workout to get to on Saturday. There I went, that self-serving mind chatter forgetting albeit briefly that this day was not about me. I was here to serve, not be served. I was here to be humbled and appreciative of all of the care and love that has been graciously offered for the past three years. And to support the thousands of other women who had the diagnosis and needed help and support from their friends, their families, their doctors and Gloria Gemma.

“Yes, of course I will be there.”

“Did you want to do your own makeup and hair?” She asked knowing my business of beauty.

“No of course not,” I said, hopefully without hesitation. I want to be part of the whole event, not just a snippet. When was the last time I got to sit and have someone do my hair in some fun wacky fashion show way, or some crazy runway too much makeup application. Breast cancer from the get go has been an out of the box experience. I joke that it is the gift that keeps on giving. From these events, from the relationships I have formed and the ones that have left me, from the appreciation of the medical professionals we have right here in our own state who have brought me to my knees (and not the way I prefer, haha). I have a softness in my heart that I am not sure I had before and a humility that is now a permanent fixture in most of my decision making. There is a sense of urgency to get shit done, to make life happen and to also try not to over commit to the undeserving time sucking that no longer serves my soul.

I bow humbly to the women I know and I don’t know yet who cheer me on and support everything that Gloria Gemma stands for. And I can’t wait for my recap of what I know is going to be a super fun experience completely out of my comfort zone as I lean in to all of the nuggets that have tumbled towards me since this whole shebang began right after my fiftieth birthday three short years ago.

#Luckyindeed #lovelybadass

the other rockstars in the party.
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WAITING, LOOKING AND UPGRADING

WAITING, LOOKING AND UPGRADING

Has it ever occurred to you how much time we spend involuntarily waiting and looking for things?

Waiting for technology to upload, to turn off, to turn on, to reboot, to disconnect, to reconnect? Has it ever occurred how much of our daily clock we spend being asked to upgrade our multitude of electronics- ipads, iphones, laptops, computers, televisions, sonos all in the name of saving time and efficiency? I usually decline all upgrade requests because I am usually doing something like opening my business or starting my day and don’t have the time scheduled to add the time it takes to do this. Frankly once I select the upgrade now choice, I have no idea how much time it is going to take because it usually doesn’t tell you and I find myself stuck in the vortex of the time sucking machine we now call necessary technology.

I turned on the news the other morning and Sling tv needed to upgrade. My partner took the bait and selected upgrade, after about fifteen minutes of precious morning time we couldn’t get on to Sling Tv, hence no morning news.

Ok, so let’s listen to music instead, I turn on Sonos through the app on my Iphone, upgrade again, again a long wait, then the fateful request to re- enter my password. A password I don’t of course remember so I have to go to my files and find it praying that I actually wrote it down somewhere three years ago when I set it up. We always write them down, right?

I just changed my phone to a new phone because I guess the one I bought last year was not sufficient enough and all of my stuff transferred over ‘seamlessly’… well kind of, none of my passwords to my hundreds of apps transferred. The “simple” transfer the twenty something tattoo ladened way too much cologne kid at the ATT store assured me it would be an easy and efficient shift. It has been two weeks and I still haven’t re entered my passwords because frankly I don’t want three quarters of the crap on my phone anyway. I decided to stop doing email on my phone, to stop checking facebook, yelp, instagram, twitter from the convenience of my phone. But wait! I own a business! How can I do that?!! My colleagues, my friends scream out in dismay! Why have I allowed technology to control my lifestyle. My mantra in this quest for more regular joy is, “Will it make me happier? Does it make me happy now?” I would say no. I would say it doesn’t make my life more efficient either. It costs more of my time which seems to be getting shorter every year. It costs my precious energy field because I usually don’t feel energized after scrolling facebook or instagram. Is it a necessary evil? I am not so sure. I know that when events get posted on Facebook and I don’t go on there, there is a chance that I am not going to be in the know. Will this affect my social life, my social standing? Doubtful. Will it harm my business? Word’s out on that. We post constantly, I am not sure if this equals more business or simply more knowledge about my business. There is a distinct difference of someone knowing about my business and someone actually walking in the door because of social media.

Technology is a useful tool, but so are gardening tools. Gardening tools aren’t used every waking hour. Gardening tools are used for a specific amount of time, tilling time, prepping time, digging and planting time. When the work is done, those tools go back in the shed put away neatly until the next time. The spade and the shovel isn’t on my hip every waking moment and guess what, the garden still grows and it is still beautiful. All of these passwords, all of this stuff we are putting into our phones to simplify actually make us more reliant ultimately, right? How much time do you spend looking for your phone? About as much time as I spend looking for my glasses and my car keys, for sure. The panicked sound of “Have you seen my phone?” has become an almost daily mantra as I am fully aware that if I just put it down in the same place every time, this would be a mute point, but alas, if it were that simple, well I would just do it.

All of this technology has made me a bit scattered and fragmented over time. It has taken me from my garden, my walks, my meditations because ultimately it requires chunks of attention from my already chock filled day. Are we connecting more because of it? I don’t think we are. I think we are actually becoming more isolated because we are under the illusion we are connecting. When we put something on Facebook are we assuming that our circle of peers are all in the know? If we miss something on Facebook, do we know we missed it if we never knew it was there in the first place? Does it make a difference in our already over scheduled lives? There is that old saying, When a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I don’t know the answer, but at this point, I vote for the visit to the woods to see the trees. If I am going to me the odd woman out, I’d rather be alone in the woods to gather my thoughts and feel the pulse of nature.

Time is short. Today is a beautiful day. I am going to try for an early morning walk in the garden, a short bike ride to breathe in some of that fresh air we have all been pining for and try to live in the outside world a little more. I am a realist to know well enough that technology is here to stay, I am not going to go off the grid anytime soon, but this latest chance to not add my passwords to my apps has in many ways freed me from the incessant amount of time I didn’t realize how much of it I was spending on things that don’t really nourish my soul. I want to live my life with a more nourished soul. It makes me way happier and healthier for sure. And happier and healthier are two obsessions I have a deep need for. Don’t we all?