Friday, February 3, 2012

Birthdays, Lists, and Dolphins.

Last year at this time, I was closing in on forty. It felt like a big deal. It felt…kinda crappy, actually. Forty’s one of those “milestone” birthdays that you think about when you’re younger and imagine the kind of person you’ll be. (Spoiler alert for you younger folks: you’ll be EXACTLY THE SAME PERSON, but hopefully with better fashion sense and a lowered tolerance for bullshit.)

What wasn’t helping me feel better about reaching this so-called milestone were the “things to have done by the time you’re 21/25/30/40” checklists and the ever-popular “bucket lists.” (God, I hate that phrase. I don’t like the word bucket for starters, and it seems either weirdly arrogant; like you have any say in when you’re going to die, or profoundly sad; like you’re a kid in the Make-A-Wish Foundation program.)

Anyway! A year has gone by since then, and it turned out that forty wasn’t such a big deal after all. I’m still awesome, and I’m still stumbling around with no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time. Business as usual.

I'm really sorry you had to see this. Also, it's not true.

So I say we dispense with those other lifelong-to-do lists entirely. All they do is make you feel bad for whatever supposedly important/magical things you haven’t achieved yet:
  • “Have a substantial nest egg.” Oh shit, I must be a terrible person to not have a pile of money at my age.
  • “Swim with dolphins.” Um, okay, but I think I’d rather just leave them alone.
  • “Have a one-night stand?” ONE!? Is this even a thing?
  • “Ride a rollercoaster." Who gives a shit?
  • “Buy a Birkin/Rolex/diamond ring/pair of Manolos.” Oh, go piss up a rope.
"God, get off me, bitch!"

Rather than chart what other people should do by the time they’re any age, I suggest you look at your birthday this year as an opportunity to look back over all the great and interesting things you’ve accomplished in your life so far. It’s infinitely more random and rewarding. One size does not fit all (especially when it comes to swimming with dolphins), so write down your own unique and amazing story.

Here’s mine. It only took a few minutes. I’m sure there are loads of wonderful things I forgot to include, but maybe I’ll remember them next year.

Things I’ve done by 41
  • Forgot most of everything that seemed like a huge deal in high school
  • Got married
  • Had a kid who turned out just swell
  • Got divorced
  • Buried a parent
  • Got married again
  • Went on welfare
  • Got off welfare
  • Sowed my wild oats
  • Ran a small business
  • Ran that business into the ground
  • Went back to shcool
  • Figured out my “dream job”
  • Figured out that my “dream job” is actually the hardest job of all
  • Amassed an impressive collection of abdominal scars
  • Still wear a bikini
  • Learned how to cook some nice things
  • Set a kitchen on fire
  • Made some terrifically, jaw-droppingly ill-advised decisions
  • Gave my heart away to people who didn’t deserve it
  • Got it back again
  • Felt the depths of depression and despair
  • Went into therapy
  • Caught a fish and ate it
  • Wrote and published two books
  • Watched a beloved friend give birth
  • Discovered I know things that people want to learn
  • Started sharing those things
  • Lived half my life with a weird autoimmune disorder and never (okay, hardly ever) let it stop it from doing anything awesome
  • Learned to appreciate scotch
  • Learned to apply false eyelashes
  • Spent two weeks in relative solitude and didn’t go crazy
  • Got comfortable with the idea that I don’t know everything, won’t ever know everything, and that other people might not feel exactly the way I do about everything
  • Laughed loudly and often
  • Loved my friends and my family more than I could ever tell them
  • Realized how much they love me back
  • Began to realize I deserve it. 
So...what's on your list?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Shopping Enabler Strikes Again

The only thing better than picking out cosmetics is helping someone else do it (seriously, I'm that weird lady at the drugstore who tries to help you even though I don't work there). So imagine my delight when my pal Alyssa asked me to go makeup shopping with her! She was ready for a new look and needed some help. As a gal who hasn’t worn a lot of makeup in the past, she was facing the usual challenges:
  • A makeup bag with a few old and unsuitable products
  • Unsure what colours or formulas worked best for her skin
  • Option-paralysis caused by insane amount of makeup out there. 

I asked her a few key questions to help plan our trip. These are good starting points for anyone who’s ready to embark on a makeup overhaul.
  •      What’s your budget?
  •      How much time do you want to spend putting on your “face”?
  •     Are you aiming for a day-to-day look, or something fancier?
  •     What are your favourite things about your face? What are you slightly less in love with, or feel is an area you’d like to downplay?
  •      Any other concerns/issues? (e.g., allergies, animal testing, etc)

The answers to these questions will immediately help to narrow your focus and make shopping easier. Under the “other concerns” category, because Alyssa is an environmentally conscious gal (with a sweet baby who likes to nibble on his mama’s face), she wanted to choose products that were as natural and toxin-free as possible.

Armed with our plan, we met up after work to hit the Sephora and the Shoppers Drug Mart.
Let's DO this thing!

Here’s what we came away with:

Now that's how we fill a bag.

For those of you who are scared of Sephora, I want to tell you—don’t be! We rounded up the products we wanted to try, then sat down with a Sephora Colour Expert (aka, nice guy who works there and wears a toolbelt filled with brushes). He tried all the products on Alyssa, making sure the colours were the right ones for her, and showing her how to apply everything. This way, she got to try a couple things she wasn’t sure about and see the makeup “in action” before buying. The staff are there to help, so don’t be shy! (I think I’ll do a post soon about how to be brave at the makeup counter...)

These people have been sent from the future to help you.

Then we popped over to the drugstore (because there’s no reason to spend thirty bucks on mascara, truly!) and purchased:
  •  Maybelline Define-a-Lash Mascara in Brownish Black (A good basic mascara that gives definition and length while still keeping the look natural. Another good choice is L’Oreal’s original Voluminous mascara.)
  •  Maybelline Define-a-Brow brow pencil in Dark Blonde (My favourite brow pencil EVER at any price—soft enough to blend, but firm enough to stay where you put it.)

What it all adds up to is a ten-minute routine that brings out all of Alyssa’s natural beauty, but still lets her look like herself. And a couple of weeks later, she reports that everything is going well—she’s using and loving her new makeup, and is getting lots of compliments. She also says she might be ready to try adding another eyeshadow colour…so my evil plan to turn everyone into a makeup monster is working! Mwah-ha-ha!