Lessons I have learned about professional skin care

As my regular readers may know, I recently started helping a friend of a friend launch her social media marketing for her solopreneurship, woman-owned business, Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing.

I hesitate to call her a client, because I help her with her publicity and she gives me a facial once a month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about skin care.

My interest in make-up and skin care came late in life and I think I was also a late bloomer when it came to developing my own sense of style. So to help Merri with her business is also a great way for me to grow and take better care of myself.

So, please please please if you are local to the Lehigh Valley consider checking out Lucha Bella, like the Facebook page, find Merri on Instagram at @luchabella_skincare and book online via http://www.luchabella.com.

I am by far no influencer, but I am a real person with a real life perspective so without further ado let me share with you what I have learned about getting a facial.

  1. It’s not just about your face. The Bella Facial at Lucha Bella involves the face, neck, shoulders, hands and arms.
  2. It’s a great stress reliever— the Bella Facial includes a variety of massage that leaves the upper body feeling loose and amazing.
  3. You esthetician can help you with your individual skin problems and work with you on how to not only look good but also maintain healthy skin.
  4. The attention and solace provides a mental rest and a sense of rejuvenation that matches the glow you will see in your skin.
  5. A Bella Facial includes waxing the chin, upper lip and eyebrows, so not only does losing the dead skin make you feel and look younger, but you don’t have to spend your time plucking. And professional products are less harsh on the skin, reducing redness and potential irritation.
  6. An esthetician has access to the latest industry products so you don’t have to waste your money on things you may not like or may forget to use.

The experience to me is about a place of peace, the fact that I come out with fresh skin and free of my physical tension is a bonus.

It’s a lovely reminder to slow down and be kind to yourself.

And for me it’s extra fun as I get to try adventurous new products like a collagen mask that dried like clay on my face. It went on super cold and thick like honey. My skin absorbed the collagen which made the mask warm and dried it out. Some of the pieces didn’t come off as nicely as Merri would have liked, but they made this amazing clinking sound as they hit each other.

It made my skin feel fresh and refreshed.

The Highlights

The last two days have involved trying to deal with the demands of house and health, applying for jobs, and keeping the pets alive and hopefully happy.

Today I learned county council passed a resolution appointing me to the Drug & Alcohol Advisory Board.

Yesterday and earlier today, I exchanged text with some of my peers volunteering with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. One person is updating Zeus and Apollo’s pictures on the web site and report that the pair are “playful” and becoming more outgoing. And as usual, Zeus is the attention hog.

I miss her so much. I haven’t stopped St. Chaar Pet Supply since Tuesday because it makes my heart hurt.

Zeus is the one in front

This morning I got my monthly Ipsy Glam Bag. It was due between October 6 and 16. So I was getting impatient. Especially since this is my last one until I get some income.

Ipsy Unboxing on YouTube

Later in the day I got some grey cat cuddles.

The teenagers had to go to Marching Band and record their performance for competition.

Click on the  image to see my recording
Click on the image to see my recording

So in the afternoon, I worked on posts for Lucha Bella’s social media. (Lucha Bella_skincare on Instagram)

Finally, the teenagers are off doing laundry and homework with the estranged husband at his parents’ house. I used the last $20 of my GrubHub gift card to order Taco Bell. I chose Taco Bell for several reasons:

  1. With a $15 order you got a free taco and free delivery (delivery is $3.99 plus $3 service fee plus tip)
  2. The food is cheap, so even with all those fees you can still get food for $20.
  3. My last two orders got screwed up— I blame the app not the restaurant. I don’t want small independent restaurants to be penalized for problems caused by the app and fault’s in GrubHub’s design. Ironically Taco Bell is the only order that came out right.

So finally, here is yet another video. Nala and I have Taco Bell

What day is it?

I believe I was talking to my traveling companion M about life with my teenagers and we were discussing how it’s impossible for anyone to develop a routine when basic public school looks like this:

MONDAY, TUESDAY: asynchronous learning online, students must fill out an attendance form by 10:30 a.m.

WEDNESDAY: students have Zoom classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, FRIDAY: In-person school, 7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., though the teenager #1 leaves school somewhere around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday because her last class of the day is a study hall.

And MARCHING BAND is Tuesday 6 to 8:30 p.m, and Wednesday, Thursday 6 to 7:30 p.m. and often Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.

Not one single day is even similar to another. Mondays and Tuesdays are totally self-directed and then Wednesdays are super-regimented.

And then by Thursday we actually have to get up and go to school.

I spent yesterday primarily in a meeting with someone who may end up being our new editor-in-chief for the revived, repositioned and redesigned Lady Boss Magazine, a publication of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club/Network.

The most recent edition in the old format came out last month. Visit it here: Lady Boss on Issuu.

We have started planning some exciting content (and I hope my new client Merri of Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing and my step mom can get involved). And something about an Italian master chef who ended up with her own shoe line???

Speaking of Merri, she’s gotten her first original content off the ground, appearing on Instagram and Facebook today:

Winter Skin Tips

So please follow Lucha Bella, and of course, me!

Rejuvenation Dimension

I just had my first facial.

Merri at Lucha Bella taught me what healthy skin feels like, took 10 or more years off my face and had more more relaxed than I’ve been since my last intimate adult encounter which was quite some time ago.

And my skin feels energized and as fresh as soft as a baby’s.

I felt so good I stopped at Wawa and treated myself to a Fiji water. Because I had no idea my facial would come with so much massage and I could feel my body asking for the water. So I gave it fancy water.

Shall I back up? I’m just so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I want to write everything before I forget. Because oh my goodness gravy— we all need this.

I expected her to clean my face, apply some product and maybe address some stray hairs.

I was very, very wrong in such a good way.

She asked me to take off my clothes, put on the fancy Velcro towel and crawl under the covers. Well, while that seemed a little strange, because I didn’t expect to be going to bed during my facial, but I never miss the chance to curl up in some clean sheets.

What happened over the next hour transpired like you always see at spas as they are represented in the movies.

I didn’t ask questions because I wanted to feel the experience rather than dissect it. As I will be working with Merri on her marketing, I’m sure I will learn more about the process.

And the sensations were lovely. I don’t accurately remember the correct order, but she gently wiped away the grime of the day and applied some lovely feeling product I suppose to clean my skin. She waxed my upper lips and my chin.

I normally wax my own upper lip. And I have had my eyebrows and my bikini waxed professionally. Nothing beats a professional wax. And the hot wax they use is just feels good against the skin. And the way they prep and follow up with the skin minimizes irritation.

Merri came over with a super bright light so she could tweeze whatever she couldn’t lift with the wax. And she cleaned up the shape of my eyebrows.

There were lots of hot towels wrapped around my face. And the back and forth between hot towels and cool lotions felt so good.

She even had these little loofa like brushes. And I imagine they helped take off the dead skin.

And as if that wasn’t enough — she gave me the Bella facial which included massage on my face, neck, shoulders and arms. I keep all my tension in my neck and shoulders. Her attentions felt heavenly.

The facial massage is also good for sinus pressure.

I’m literally glowing.

What makes all of this even more amazing is that I ended up running from event to event all day, and giving myself to Merri’s treatment really did relax and revive me. She tried to talk business after, but I struggled to think!

And during much of the service, I felt my mind go blank. I envisioned sunflowers and daffodils and magenta petunias.

Why haven’t I done this before?

My day was hectic from the get go; I never even finished putting on my makeup!

Regardless of how my day went, when I left Lucha Bella, I felt soft, empowered and refreshed.

Does the pandemic have a fun side?

Sometimes I am reminded of my age— when I think of those summers of my girlhood circa the 1980s, when Pennsylvania experienced temperatures that averaged in the high seventies/low eighties and for about 2 weeks every August a heat wave of around 85 degrees.

It also snowed a lot more, and I can’t say I miss that.

Now I won’t be naive enough to suggest this pandemic has been fun. Some people have gotten seriously ill, others have died. Luckily in my circle, those who contracted Covid-19 survived and none ended up in the hospital.

But as I said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has forced us to look at our health system, our purchasing habits, our supply chains, what we need and what we don’t. I have found a more relaxed pace of life, and while I have lost my job, I have found some inner truths that bring me hope. Perhaps that is where my naïveté lies.

Yesterday, I had a business meeting with my first client as a partner in Thrive Public Relations. Thrive is the brainchild of a friend— who has been searching for someone with media, print and editorial experience to complement his digital marketing, strategy and networking expertise. I have agreed to help him, and hopefully this will lead to some paying work that could help keep me afloat and allow me to rebuild my career portfolio.

I spent much of the last year as a grant writer, and would love to highlight some current public relations work to augment my grant writing potential.

So I was asked to attend a business lunch at Sogo Asian Fusion yesterday in one of my favorite environs, downtown Easton. I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 95 degree heat, dining on the patio. It felt lovely to build an outfit, put on make up and head into the world.

Then later that evening, my propensity for stress-related binge-eating led to me eating most of a jar of “trail mix” — I put that in quotes because it had walnuts and almonds but was mostly butterscotch and white chocolate chips— that my blind friend Nancy gave me for Christmas. I had it on my desk at work and it was one of my possessions that Mr. Accordion drove to my house.

The teenager doesn’t like almonds. So she gave them all to me.

And then my daughter cornered me. She started reciting old bits from Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians (from the golden age of the early 1990s, before I graduated high school and Nirvana changed the world).

Finally she got tired of her delivery falling flat and we spent an hour watching Brian Regan clips from YouTube on my phone. I grabbed a Diet Coke and finished the rest of the vanilla vodka from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager’s father, my husband of 20-years whom I separated from last summer, does not like stand-up comedy. But a good stand-up comic (like Regan, or Trevor Noah, or for those who have thicker skin and/or less sensitivities Denis Leary and George Carlin), can lift my darkest spirits. So I love the fact that our daughter inherited my taste in comedy.

And when I got up this morning, as mundane life started to overwhelm me with chores and commitments, Nan called.

The Mighty.com had published her piece on our summer picnic and shared it with Yahoo News. It features me, and the teenager, so I got to enjoy reading about my life.

You can read it here: Nan’s summer picnic article on Yahoo News

So maybe life doesn’t look the same as always, but the simple joys don’t really change.

Casual Update

There’s so much good activity in my life right now — I’ve been too busy to catch everyone up.

  • My last day at work is tomorrow and my colleague, Mr. Accordion, is coming over tonight.
  • I have been working hard publicizing Aspire to Autonomy’s upcoming events, and they have given me the title of Communications Director. I am working with a fantastic intern on public relations and I think, I hope, she is having fun.
  • Gayle, the teenager and I, went for a nice walk in Easton Cemetery last night. Every time I go up there I find more cool things!
  • Gayle, the teenager and I went to Porter’s Pub last night after the walk and they let me eat all the “stinky cheese.” Gayle bought me a very delicious salted caramel chocolate porter from Saucony Creek. To celebrate new beginnings!
  • I cashed in my free medium 2-topping pizza from Dominos.
  • I’ve been making Nala puzzles every morning to try and keep her busy.
  • We found someone that can get Mama cat spayed for free. (Did I mention we were out on a walk and our kittens’ mama came to us and we brought her home. She’s pregnant. Again.) We thought the organization would let us foster her and her kittens until they found homes… but now we’re being told they might keep her. So we are a tad sad.
  • And for multiple days in a row I have made 10,000 or more steps a day!

What a lovely Saturday morning should be

I slept in today— until 8:15 a.m.—which is both good (I needed the rest) and bad (I made plans to meet a work colleague and fellow cat lover at Easton Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m.

The cockatoo completely ate the rest of my cork board (see Cockatoo Mischief) while we visited our favorite familia yesterday (see Visit with La Familia).

And a mysterious feline decided to deposit a hair ball on the couch on the sun porch. So I tried my best to clean everything up and I took down the cork boards only to also remove great portions of the paint. The teenager assured me we have the paint to touch it up.

Somehow we made it downtown on time— and met our friends. The teenager spent her birthday money on a strawberry plant and some pickles and stuffed olives.

I bought her breakfast at Pie + Tart (apple turnover for her and mini strawberry rhubarb pie for me) and beverages from Fieldstone Coffee Roasters (mango black tea for her and bubble tea for me— which the server gave me a yellow straw to match my yellow pants).

After saying goodbye to our friends, we strolled the downtown so the teenager could visit The Loving Peace. They did not have any supplies she needs.

The teenager then directed my attention to The Carmelcorn Shop. She let me have anything I wanted!

In this video we review our haul from The Carmelcorn Shop. The biggest surprise was, as the clerk recommended, the tootsie roll balls were amazing. I don’t even like tootsie rolls! Review of Candy Haul

Life is certainly sweet!

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

Kicking off the weekend with hoagies and cocktails

I found out today that my blind friend Nan likes horseradish, would like to try Fireball whiskey and has never had a margarita.

Today, as it is the start of weekend and expected to be the hottest day of the week, Nan and I planned to head to Park Avenue Market to use some hoagie coupons from The Teenager’s marching band fundraiser.

But Nan hadn’t listened to the rest of my message— she was already distracted by thoughts of cucumber salad.

So we’re standing at the deli counter and I order a 10” Lebanon bologna hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese and lettuce, tomato and pickles for the teenager and I to share. And I order Nan’s turkey hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese, mayo, lettuce and onion.

We’re scoping out the salads and I ask her if she planned to take me up on my offer of coming over to eat our sandwiches together and mix up the apple pie cocktail from the ingredients I ordered from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager always likes to get one of the massive deli pickles. So as Nan was realizing we were about to have way more of an adventure than a simple trip to the grocery store, the teenager is pointing out to me that one giant pickle is 99 cents whereas two are $1.69.

Now no one needs two giant pickles.

But I say yes, get two.

She turns 16 Tuesday, I can’t deny her pickles.

So Nan excitedly accepts my offer to stay for dinner and promptly tells me that we need to buy apple juice.

While we wait for our deli orders— summer bean salad and cucumber salad for Nan and slab bacon and liverwurst for me—Nan and I explored the $1 bags of chips.

Apparently Nan loves horseradish so we picked up the horseradish cheddar potato chips for us and Jalapeño Popper Herr’s cheese puffs.

The teenager also wanted tuna salad, so I bought some celery and tuna.

And me, being me, I bought a cow tale and a coconut candy watermelon slice. You gotta have dessert.

We unpack the sandwiches and chips on my dining room table, and the chips were just like horseradish, some bites were just right and some the fumes went straight up your nose.

And then, we started mixing.

I get the vanilla vodka, cinnamon vodka, wine glasses, shot glasses, trays of ice and a cocktail shaker.

Nan is impressed that I have a cocktail shaker.

We pass the bottles around so everyone can smell the vodka. I usually hate vodka. This vodka is distilled from cane sugar and impresses me. The cinnamon vodka smells like Christmas.

First go:

  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces cinnamon vodka
  • 4 ounces apple juice

Result: strong

I add two more ounces of apple juice to the cocktail shaker. Nan approves.

I am merely tasting as someone has to drive Nan home.

I slice the candy.

Nan has never had a cow tail before.

The teenager tastes the alcoholic beverages and approves. We have a discussion about her 21st birthday.

Nan and I plot a trip to the liquor store and mixing Fireball with diet ginger ale.

I mix a batch of the cocktail which I put in a quart mason jar with a plastic screw lid so Nan can keep it in her fridge.

I drove Nan home as the rain started to fall. I had slipped a cocktail into the freezer for myself. This is good vodka.

The shifting psychology of chores

As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.

People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.

Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.

Mindful Self Compassion Can Help You Get the Dishes Done

I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.

I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.

My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.

But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.

Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.

Two kittens and 3-legged Overlord

I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.

And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.

And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”

But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.

All before 9:30.

And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.

So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?

Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.

Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.

PS—

Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.