Monday, September 29, 2014

Keeping Perspective During the Highs and the Lows

The last two weeks I’ve attended two professional development workshops at the home office of my company. Since I am a member of two teams that focus on different aspects of claims handling, the training was completely different. But both programs provided me with valuable knowledge as well as affirmations that my work is appreciated and that I am a valued member of both teams.

For many years I’ve mistakenly believed that my work would speak for itself, despite development modules that emphasized the need for an employee to have an elevator speech at the ready and to accept the necessity of self-promotion.

Ultimately, as I approached my 55th birthday, I accepted that flying under the radar no longer served me. So I completed an application to participate in the Women’s Development Council Mentoring Program, was accepted, and selected a mentor that would be my advocate. Coincidentally, at nearly the same time, I was asked to interview for a role on the Corporate Liability team and found that I would have the chance to explore new opportunities within my company.

During my visits to our home office I learned there are positives and negatives about professional recognition.  Most colleagues celebrate the successes of a teammate. Some feel threatened and exhibit their self-defense tactics in questionable ways that can make one feel belittled.

Fortunately, the tools I’ve learned along my path to peace and serenity have provided me with an acceptance of the things I cannot change. I cannot change other people. But I can appreciate that what another person thinks or says reflects on them and not me. And I can also celebrate that when I face a challenge, I know I can rely upon the kindness and support of good people, friends, and supportive family.

Life is a journey that at times seems to simulate the highs and lows of a rollercoaster. There are the thrilling, exhilarating highs and the frightening, white-knuckle rides to the depths that cause nausea and the hairs to rise on one’s arms. But I’m fortunate that I’ve learned that it is only a ride and that any single experience be I fabulous or horrible it will eventually come to an end.

At the end of this week I enjoyed a three-day weekend at the New Market Heights Civil War Reenactment in Henrico County, Virginia. The countryside was beautiful. The thought of 80,000 Federal troops occupying a parcel of land and destroying Confederates with artillery fire helped me to put the events of the past two weeks into perspective. Thinking of what had occurred on the site of the Richmond battlefields humbled and haunted me. The courage and sacrifice of those who fought to preserve our nation helped me to appreciate that my frustrations really don’t amount to a hill of beans in comparison. 

Keep perspective! Don’t sweat the little things. And…. celebrate the little things.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Time For Some Changes~ Consider New Make-up For Fall!

Change can be transformative. Exploring new options keeps us relevant and interesting. At least twice per year it is a good idea to rethink our personal images.  Spring and fall are opportune times to try new make-up.

Makeup formulations change frequently. Try a new brand or go to the makeup counter at your favorite department store or Sephora or Ulta for advice from a trained consultant.  I stopped by the Estee Lauder counter at Belk a few weeks ago and found, to my amazement, the perfect foundation, Invisible Fluid Makeup.  The color match is perfect and blends invisibly. It is light - weight, sheer and makes me feel fabulous! What more can one ask for!  Recently I’ve tried Dior, Tarte, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, and LancĂ´me, but this Estee Lauder foundation is perfect for me. Experiment! Our skin changes as we age in color, texture and type. And what we are looking for changes as well.  Try something new! Look younger!

For cheeks I am completely blown away by the Nars Multiple stick. It purports to be a multi-purpose product that will work for cheeks, eyes and lips. I’m not convinced it is so multi-faceted. But this is the Holy Grail of cheek tints.  And if you’ve ignored the advice to date, please consider that powder blush is NOT a good product for women of a certain age. Really. Toss yours if you are over 50. I mean it!

There are a lot of fabulous eye shadows on the market, but for me the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes are awesome. I have all three palettes, but if you want to be fiscally responsible, I would go with Naked 2. It is the most versatile. Every color is wearable and build able.

My favorite eyeliner gel is the version by Smashbox. Bobbi Brown invented the concept and it was a revolutionary product. But if I have to give the nod to one, I would recommend Smashbox. It goes on smoothly and the colors are beautiful.

I’m still on the quest for the Holy Grail of mascara. I’ve tried Blinc “Tube”, Clinique, Diorshow, Benefit “They’re Real”, Estee Lauder, Buxum, MAC, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Chanel. Bare Minerals, and numerous others. Currently, I’m wearing Tarte “Lights, Camera, Lashes”.  It is an excellent mascara in a field of fine mascaras. But I’m still looking.

There are any number of really good moisturizers. My current moisturizing products are by Kiehl's. They eye cream and face moisturizers are lightweight and sink into my skin quickly without leaving any residue.

For nighttime skin products I’m sold on Dr. Brandt “Glow”. While it may not have the percentage of retinol that the product advertises, my skin does glow and the fine lines and wrinkles are minimized. I’m now on my 3rd pump bottle of Glow and am very pleased with the results. Additionally, it doesn’t burn my skin like more concentrated retinol creams.

Finally, I’ve concluded the absolute best product to rehabilitate over-tweezed brows – MAC eyebrow pencil.  I used it 15 years ago and then tried numerous other products. But I’ve kept coming back to MAC. People complain because the pencil doesn’t last. But it is the absolute best product to fill in thin brows and look natural. I buy several at one time. And shipping is free from the MAC website.  Read the reviews. I’m done experimenting with brow products. This is it!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why I Avoid Using Company Resources for Personal Use!

For the past week I was on business travel attending a workshop and meeting colleagues in my new workgroup.  The workshop was well-organized, filled with valuable information, and included group dinners with team members and some of the presenters.  This made for long days – particularly since my husband and I are committed to completing our Power 90 boot camp – which resulted in early rising to exercise together via Face Time. 

That is my excuse for not posting on my Blog the past week. Well, it is part of the reason. If I am traveling by train or automobile, I am inclined to take my personal laptop as well as my corporate technology. But if I am flying and want to avoid checking baggage, I try to keep clothes, makeup, and technology to a minimum. For those of you that remember me in my formative years - lugging sofa sized bags to even a weekend retreat – I am reformed! My preference for ease of traversing post 9/11 airports combined with the prohibitive cost of overweight luggage – contributed to my modern travel paradigm.  And I WILL NOT USE MY COMPANY LAPTOP FOR PERSONAL BUSINESS!

I am aware that hordes of folks use their employer issued computers or cell phones to conduct personal business. Most companies allow an employee to use company resources for limited personal business. But I make a concerted effort to keep my business life and personal life completely separate. That is why I always carry two cell phones. While there are a few business contacts that call me on my personal cell, I do not give my personal contacts my business cell.

REMEMBER THIS!  If you use a company asset for personal business, the information transmitted is no longer your personal business! The IT department can search your emails, the websites you visited, the telephone numbers you called, and log the amount of time spent on your personal business. Any exchanges, exploring, searches or documents you write on your company laptop belongs to the company. Every number you dial or every text or email you send or receive on the company cell phone is saved and can be investigated. The litigation environment in the USA requires companies to save all documents for potential use as evidence in a lawsuit or government investigation. Every email you send or receive on corporate technology can be read, saved, and made available for subpoena.  If a company is looking for a reason to terminate an employee, misuse of company assets is a good reason. Emails and texts can be used as evidence.

While I do not write anything on my Blog that I would not want the people I work with to read, what I write is my personal opinion or observation and not the business of my employer. I do not identify my employer or any individuals with whom I work. The opinions I voice are my own. Maintaining the separation of business and personal is an important concept to me.  So, I do not write my Blog on my company laptop. I don’t conduct my online banking, shopping, or personal business on my company technology.

So if anybody reviewing my web searches or emails finds anything odd, I can state with absolute certainty that it was work related.  And I can affirm that my job has taught me thoroughly that life is stranger than fiction – so I’ve had cause to research some odd topics.

I digress – but I digress on my personal MacBook!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Absolute Luxury – 100% Linen Sheets

I turned 55 several weeks ago and decided at that milestone that I would not deny myself the little luxuries that make life delicious. I have no children – only cats. While I do have some grandchildren they are not nearby. Hopefully, in a few years, they will have the benefit of allowing us to indulge them. But for now, I’m all about self-indulgence and allowing myself to enjoy the fruits of my labors over the past 30 + years of working in the corporate world. ( and that does include the 5 years that I spent having to pose as the perfect corporate wife in Asia eating unsavory concoctions of “delicacies” that would not have otherwise passed my lips. Believe me, munching on a sea slug is no doubt akin to chewing on a Michelin tire!

My husband is enamored with high count Egyptian cotton bedding. While it is soft, it does not breathe quite well enough to enable my post -menopausal self to enjoy a complete night’s sleep. My inner temperature gauge alternates between sub-zero and the fires of hell. Really, night sweats only serve to make cotton – no matter how fancy – wet. I’m tired of trudging to the bathroom to find a nice fluffy bath-sheet to lie on once I’ve experienced my nightly “personal equatorial summer”.

After a bit of research I discovered that multitude of women rave about the resiliency of linen sheets. They breathe, dry quickly and naturally wick moisture. Not only that, they are pretty darn luxurious. Yes, I know they are ridiculously expensive. But, at 55 I deserve the luxury. So, I’ll go on the wagon and avoid all purveyors of pretty footwear for a couple of months.

My new sheets from arrived today.
They are eco-friendly, made in the USA, wash and wear and are shipped ready to put on the bed.  The company has received rave reviews. The sheets come in 19 colors and it is possible to have them custom made.

I’m excited. If linen sheets were good enough for Queen Victoria, they are no doubt perfect for me. And linen is far more durable than cotton. Today’s cotton sheets do not stand up to laundering well. But linen will get better with age and use. There is a reason that one does not find antique cotton pillowcases. But linen stands the test of time.  I am ready to embrace this little bit of heaven and wallow in comfortable luxury!