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Strength

Laneige Sleeping Mask Target
Laneige Sleeping Mask
Target

When facing new situations sometimes I wish so badly that I could fast forward to the point where I would feel comfortable, you know what I mean? Situations like the first day at a new school, new job, new church, new doctor, new dry cleaners, new social group, and so on.

As an introvert, new situations have always caused me to feel a certain amount of unease however depending on the circumstances, I can more easily adapt. Take work for example, when I traveled to the UK 17 years ago it was my first international trip that I took by myself to attend a huge conference sponsored by the company with whom I was employed. One of my British colleagues met me at Heathrow airport to take me to Stakis St. Ermin’s Hotel (where I would be staying) located in London. On the way to the hotel I felt like I was in a daze because I just could not believe I was in England but here I was riding on the opposite side of the road, seeing double decker red buses and the very cool black taxi cabs.

Getting outside of my comfort zone came very easy when it was work related I think because I viewed it as a task. It was so easy in fact that I found myself leaving the hotel in a strange country to take a walk and on my stroll I saw Buckingham Palace, then a little further came upon street blockades and tons of people milling about. I soon found out when I called my stateside office that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary and I walked right by the soiree completely unaware. My co-worker Cathy tried to coax me into going back and taking pictures however I had to decline as I had to prepare to visit the London office. The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me as only I could travel close to 4,000 miles and end up smack in the middle of an extraordinary event without a clue.

The rest of my stay in London was jam packed with a tour on the Thames, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Harrods, I had fish and chips at a little pub, did high tea and I even took the train to Gatwick to meet up with one of my previous bosses who lived in Pittsburgh as an expatriate. It was such a remarkable experience that really afforded me the opportunity to stretch myself in ways I didn’t think possible.

It’s when I remember past experiences like my London trip that I know I can get through most anything but it can still be difficult when in the midst of change. At present living in a new complex is causing me a little angst partly because I’m afraid of how I’m perceived. Case in point, my cousin Charese, brother, Robert, and a couple of other people were having a conversation and to make her point understood, Charese was telling us how rudely people act when I’m using my cane. Sometimes I too am aware of the stares but I can’t read the disgusted facial expressions that are aimed in my direction and for this at least I prefer to be in the dark, which leads me to the point of today’s post.

Laneige BB Cushion - Medium Target
Laneige BB Cushion – Medium
Target

In preparing for this post I came across a couple of facial products I wanted to share and during the process found an interview, and from a completely different blog, a Ted Talk from a motivational speaker named Lizzie Velasquez. The first time I saw Lizzie was on an episode of The Doctors a year or so ago.

I’ve always been fascinated by rare medical conditions and the people who live with and overcome these syndromes. Lizzie is only 1 of 3 people in the entire world who has this disorder that is so rare there isn’t even a name for it. In short, Lizzie cannot gain weight and while I’m sure there is more to the condition than a lack of body mass in Lizzie’s own words that’s how she sums it up.

The idealistic part of me likes to believe that most humans are good, kind, reasonable thinking people but then when I am faced with the unspeakable cruelty of folks I wonder how we can co-exist on the same planet. Why is it that just because a person doesn’t’ walk, talk, think, act, dress, or look like we think they should appear, that this gives us license to mistreat them?

As a skinny youngster I remember being taunted but to have someone actually say that “I should die” would seem to me to be overkill. But this is exactly what happened to Lizzie as a response to a YouTube video of her. She received thousands of hateful, nasty, malicious comments and her response was to take all that negativity and turn it into something positive.

Empathy, is it possible that this word no longer exist in our language? Are we so arrogant that we believe that we are immune to any serious malady that others encounter? Or is our hatred and lack of tolerance a much deeper symptom of where our society is headed? I don’t know the answers to these questions and honestly don’t care about the why because to me to be human means to have compassion, empathy and understanding for these traits separate us from the animal world.

Lizzie is an amazing 25 year old young woman who is on a path to achieving her personal goals and in the process is bestowing on us the gift of changing the way we view beauty. In my humble opinion I think Lizzie is one beautiful person who exudes courage, integrity, positivity, and strength. I actually feel sorry for the bullies who picked on Lizzie and I sincerely hope that they won’t have to go through any major life circumstances which may put them at the mercy of people like themselves.

The facial products that I saw were on a May episode of The View which re-aired last Friday and unbeknownst to me was the interview with Lizzie which I felt compelled to watch after seeing her Ted Talk this morning. If you would like to view the Ted Talk you can get to it below:

It does my heart good to report that the video has received over 5 million views. Could it be Lizzie is making and impact?

In preparation for summer The View featured dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day, who presented several cosmetic products that do double duty as they contain sunscreen. The product line that captured my attention was Laneige carried by Target. Dr. Day demonstrated the BB Cream which comes in 3 shades (light, medium and dark) and it’s SPF 50. Since I do not like to wear foundation in the summer when Dr. Day said that this BB Cream contains optimized water that cools and hydrates the skin I thought it could be a possibility. The Laneige Sleeping Mask was another item recommended by Dr. Day that I might consider.

There were a few other products I found interesting that I will write about next week.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (NIV 1984)

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Freakin’ Fearful

Nature Breeze JOBURG-03 Sandal zooshoo.com
Nature Breeze JOBURG-03 Sandal zooshoo.com

“For those determined to conquer — or at least tame — their fears, however, there is ample help available: phobia workshops, exposure therapy, mental tricks, medication, self-help books.” This entry is from an article in the January 8, 2008 edition of the New York Times which discusses a specific phobia.

Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges and one that I’ve lived with for most of my life. People ask me all the time “Steph, how can you live in the city of bridges and be afraid of them?” The answer before I lost my vision was, in my mind, simple: I’d pick and choose which ones to cross. Many days I would go miles out of my way to avoid a particular bridge. My anxiety on bridges gets really bad depending on a number of factors like how much traffic is on the bridge, length, height, width, weather conditions, trucks, speed of other drivers, there are so many variables I could write an entire essay on my reasoning.

So what’s it like when someone like me gets stuck on a bridge? How do I react? The answer can be as convoluted as the factors of why I get so anxious. For example if I’m on a bus I start to sweat as my heartbeat quickens, while  surreptitiously glancing around to see if anyone else appears to be in discomfort, or worse, if my fellow passengers are watching me in the beginning stages of a panic attack. It’s getting difficult to breathe and I’m trying to get a grip so that I don’t start hyperventilating but I’m convinced the bridge is going to collapse and the more I think about it the more I believe. I begin to shake slightly and my mind, like a kaleidoscope, flashes images of me running to the door of the bus banging on it while screaming at the driver to let me out so I can run but my fear of looking like a loony is on par with the fear of the bridge.

If on the other hand I’m in a vehicle I feel a little safer losing my cookies; my brother, Robert, found this out first-hand about 11 years ago on a trip to Ocean City, Maryland. Prior to going on any road trip I always review the route so there won’t be any surprises and this trip was no exception. My research took me to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge a 4.3 mile long-span that crosses the Chesapeake Bay.

I was so excited to go on this trip with my husband and 2 of my 3 sons because it had been years since I last saw Robert who lived in Maryland about 10 years prior to our visit. The evening of our arrival we went to dinner then Robert took us on a tour of downtown Baltimore. At some point during our outing he tried to convince me to go to Ocean City the next day a plan that I firmly nixed because of the bridge.

The next morning Robert met us at our hotel for breakfast and talk began again about going to Ocean City. When I reaffirmed that I couldn’t cross the bridge he said the bridge we would cross is not the one I saw online. We went back and forth for I don’t know how long but in the end I was persuaded to change my mind although Robert would soon regret it.

Report (Atlanta on My Mind Flat in Blue) www.modcloth.com
Report (Atlanta on My Mind Flat in Blue)
www.modcloth.com

My brother being the magnanimous person he is offered to drive me across the bridge in his car which meant my husband would follow us in my vehicle. The trip went pretty smooth for a while but my nerves were on edge as I kept my eyes peeled for “THE” bridge. When we approached the slight incline to the toll booths Robert looks at me (with concern in his eyes) and says “you might want to recline your seat all the way back.” I thought I’d hurl and I hadn’t even seen the bridge yet but there’s no turning back so I turn up the volume to my gospel CD, recline my seat, and try to focus on anything but this awful situation.

Unbeknownst to me, when my husband and kids (who are following behind my brother’s car) see my seat going down they start laughing and are talking about how sorry they feel for my brother. I’m about to die, they’re feeling sorry for Robert and what’s even more despicable, they’re glad I’m not riding with them!

In Robert’s car I’m having a meltdown of all meltdowns and no one can convince me I’m going to make it out of this alive. If it weren’t for the fact that I was so out of my mind at the time I’d almost feel sorry for Robert because he kept asking me “are you okay?” “Are you going to be alright?” He was genuinely worried. At one point he tells me to lift up to look at the beautiful view because we are almost at the end of the bridge. I do, big mistake, all I can see is water everywhere. I’m so unbelievably scared, nauseous, crying, angry and out of control I start yelling at him telling him “this is the bridge I saw online, you lied to me!”

Yes, I had made it to the other side but the vacation was ruined because all I could think of for the next few days was returning home by way of this bridge. Since Robert didn’t stay on in Ocean City, my husband and kids would have to deal with me on the return trip. Funny thing though, my very wise husband perceived the signs of my eminent nervous breakdown and we went several hours (not to mention miles) out-of-the-way to avoid the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

So how can my fear of bridges relate to today’s post? It’s not so much about my fear of bridges as opposed to just plain fear. Remember how last week I talked about falling off Weight Watchers and eating stuff that isn’t good for me? Well my newest fear is my scale. Yes, you heard right I’m afraid to get on my scale.

I was doing so well and this set back is disappointing. The thing with the scale is this since it talks to me I’m afraid it will actually yell at me for my bad behavior.

“Hello” the very pleasant female voice says as I step on the scale. By the way there is no volume control on this device and it sounds like an explosion going off or it could be I’m just a little touchy.

“I’m ready” once she has calculated how much I weigh. I step off the scale.

“150.2 pounds” she says. Okay, that was anticlimactic and the damage isn’t as bad as I imagined.

The progress I made prior to moving made me feel so good and I’ve been looking forward to warmer weather, lighter clothes, and summer shoes. As I mentioned in earlier posts since I choose not to wear the high heels as in the past I’ve been on the lookout for some cute, flat gladiator sandals. The pair that I added to this post I got from zooshoo.com. These sandals are very comfortable and look great with my wide leg pants, maxi dresses, skirts, shorts. I love the strappy look and the metal looking beading which connects to all the straps makes them stand out. The zipper at the heel to ankle straps make them very easy to put on and take off.

The second pair of shoes are very pretty flat slingbacks that gained me quite a few compliments when I wore them a couple of weeks ago with a pair of jeans. I bought these shoes from www.modcloth.com and while they are described as a blue hue they are more of a mint color with white strap at the heel. Like the sandals these shoes are very comfortable and they would go well with just about anything casual or dressy.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  ~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969

 

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Women on the Move: Kerry Kijewski

Kerry Kijewski
Kerry Kijewski

I’ve said it before and as long as I continue to blog I will say it time and time again, I am so blessed to meet and write about some of the most phenomenal women. A couple of weeks before I moved I met Kerry Kijewski, a young woman who contacted me by email through Bold Blind Beauty. After we exchanged a few emails we set up a meeting via Skype to chat and we had such a great conversation.

Kerry, like other women that I’ve featured on Fierce Fridays was prompted to contact me after coming across my blog to give her feedback on the subject matter. We started out talking about make-up, fashion, beauty and how blind and vision impaired people are viewed as either uncaring or unconcerned about these topics and we both came to the same conclusion that nothing could be further from the truth.

My blog is where I hope to show the world what I have to offer and to do my part in hopes of making even the smallest difference. ~Kerry

Kerry went on to say just how good she feels when she buys a new outfit, it’s the same feeling shared by all women. You know the feeling of that initial rush of putting on new clothing especially depending on the occasion for which you are buying the apparel. For example a party, wedding, job interview, a date, vacation, the list goes on. Kerry affirmed that she is most definitely interested in fashion, trends and wanting to look her best.

On makeup Kerry told me that she tried wearing makeup when she was younger but since that time hasn’t really wanted to give it a go but since Bold Blind Beauty is here who knows? Just maybe she’ll give it another try. One of the things Kerry did share with me on dress is that she sometimes will get insight from her sister (who loves fashion) and can give Kerry helpful tips and advice.

As I write today’s post it just occurred to me that during our hour-long Skype conversation I neglected to ask Kerry the cause of her blindness and I now know why – it was irrelevant. It was also because though these Fierce Friday posts highlight extremely competent women, who happen to be blind or vision impaired, that isn’t the only reason. Kerry who is an aspiring writer is an extremely intelligent, caring, gifted and interesting person.

I want to bring attention to the issues that are most important to me: equal rights, organ donation, mental health awareness. ~Kerry

The one thing I do know as it relates to Kerry’s vision is that she was born blind and three years later so was her brother. Ironically the two siblings also have a shared experience of kidney transplants and in view of this they have a special bond between them that has assisted in their getting through the rough times. I mentioned that Kerry has a great love of writing and her brother found his gift in music.

When you have a chance I encourage you to visit her blog called Her Headache. On it you will find she writes about life, love, loss, family and all sorts of fascinating subjects including yesterday’s stirring tribute to Maya Angelou.

The things I’ve gone through and the experiences I’ve had have brought me to this place and I will never give up. ~Kerry

A love of all things literary, Kerry has found that books allow her to dream and provide an escape from reality. On her blog she has found a freedom like never before to come out of the comfort of her cocoon and to blossom into a beautiful butterfly charged with exploring this big world. Though she has expressed that she feels somewhat small in an out of control world, blogging has provided a platform for her to speak her mind.

Kerry, I applaud you and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share such a small piece of your life on my blog. You are a positive role model for all young women.

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.”  ~Mary Kay Ash

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Dogs, Gnats & Email…What?

Style&co. Curvy-Fit Rhinestone-Embellished Capri Pants
Style&co. Curvy-Fit Rhinestone-Embellished Capri Pants Macy’s

Dogs…you gotta love ‘em. My little dog Mollie, who I affectionately describe as one with the attention span of a gnat, is my heart.

December 15, 2007 began like any other day with one minor exception, my friend Lori called and suggested we stop by Animal Friends (one of the local animal shelters). For several weeks (or months if one were keeping track), I’d been scouring the internet in search of the perfect furry little friend. When I say “little” I mean I wanted a dog that I could put in my pocket. Since I already envisioned “the perfect dog” in my mind, I wasn’t overly concerned with going to the shelter so in response to Lori’s query I said “sure, I’m game let’s go.” Quiet as it’s kept I needed little prompting to go anywhere on the weekend since I was still driving at this point and I loved any reason to fire up the Jeep, throw on my shades and blast the music even if it was winter.

I swung by to pick up Lori and it was off to Animal Friends with the sole purpose of being on a research expedition. As soon as we trudged inside the shelter the first thing I noticed was how clean the facility was and of course the second thing was these ridiculously adorable kittens. These fuzzy, tiny, mewing babies were begging to be picked up and cuddled but to my dismay “Please Do Not Touch the Animals” signs abounded the joint.

It was with great difficulty I pulled myself away from the kitties and continued my research. Further down the hallway there were several small glassed in rooms, each containing one or two dogs. Though I tried with all my heart to look at them with a certain amount of detachment, it was really difficult especially when reading their individual profiles attached to the glass. One dog in particular named Ming was a very cute, timid, curly blond-haired, 6 month old Terrier/Chihuahua mix who caught my eye but she didn’t meet my criteria so we moved on to the caged section of the shelter.

Rock & Republic Mixed-Media Racerback Henley
Rock & Republic Mixed-Media Racerback Henley Kohl’s

There were so many dogs all of whom were very well cared for as Animal Friends is a no-kill shelter who recruits many volunteers within the community to provide the animals the attention they need. While I saw some interesting possibilities I just didn’t think any of the dogs were a match for me so we were preparing to leave.

As we passed by Ming’s enclosure I stopped and took a long look at her. She seemed so sweet and appeared scared and all I wanted to do was soothe her so I asked if I could meet her.

By now you know that I don’t have to tell you what happened next, I held this precious shaking little dog in my arms and I fell in love with her. Though it took “Mollie” as she came to be known, some time to become acclimated to her new surroundings (and I forgot to mention my two cats Sable and Tigress), she fit in perfectly with her new family.

KASIE ankle strap sandal from Sole Society
KASIE ankle strap sandal Sole Society

The folks at Animal Friends told me that Mollie was rescued from a very bad situation and they couldn’t provide the details. This may have attributed to her not barking or being afraid to ride with me in the vehicle.

Seven years later I’ve got a lovable lunatic on my hands. Mollie loves to bark, run around the house, ride in cars with her head out the window, belly rubs and Scooby (pronounced “Ruby”) snacks after the cartoon dog Scooby Doo.

I wanted to provide you with this little background history on Mollie so that you can see how similar and perfectly matched we are. Granted Mollie isn’t the little fru-fru dog I was looking for but to be honest I probably would have accidentally stepped on or crushed a smaller dog and she ended up being the perfect dog for me.

Cutout Cuff from Forever 21
Cutout Cuff Forever 21

Back to Mollie having the attention span of a gnat, she comes by it honestly as attested to by my friends and family. While I am very detail oriented when faced with too much stimuli I have these little mini melt downs that cumulate in my having difficulty being able to focus.

For example, last week with the advent of Memorial Day my email inbox exploded with all kinds of holiday deals. There were so many in fact that I began to hyperventilate as I try at all times to maintain a minimum of no more than 20 emails (yes, I have a serious filing system for handling emails that have been read). So when I periodically checked my inbox and found over 70 I began having a panic attack. How can I quickly sift through all this mess? I toyed with the idea of deleting them all but what if there was something buried within that needed addressed? Oh help me, I’m losing control!!

F4374 Iconic Aviator Sunglasses Forever 21
F4374 Iconic Aviator Sunglasses Forever 21

Eventually I had to set aside time to deal with the email situation and so it was one by one I handled each and every single email to clear out my inbox. Now that I my mind is semi-clear I can focus on today’s thrifty finds.

Fossil Earrings Ashford
Fossil Earrings Ashford

The pieces pictured throughout this post I acquired from several different retailers during the Memorial Day sales. As always I’ve provided brief descriptions and links to each item below:

  1. The first item is the Rock & Republic Mixed-Media Racerback Henley top that I got from Kohl’s for $19.99. This top was originally $40 and I found that it is still a bargain at $24 today. Its mixed-media design combines a lightweight crepe front and jersey back for one-of-a-kind look. This lovely, sleeveless, 3-button top, features a trendy drop-tail hem and shirred racerback and is perfect for summer. It comes in 4 colors (Soda Lite Blue, Olive Night, Cayenne, and Black), I chose the Cayenne as it looks more coral colored. www.kohls.com
  2. The second, and one of my favorite purchases from Macy’s, are Bright White, Style&co. Curvy-Fit Rhinestone-Embellished Capri Pants. Due to my curvaceous hindquarters it’s challenging to find pants, and jeans in particular that fit me well and Style&co. always fit the bill. Sparkling rhinestone accents add a dash of flair to these casual-glam capris. Triple rhinestone button closure with zipper fly and rhinestone snap closures at hem make pants pop. I paid $27.99 for these capris that were originally $49.00. Today they are priced at $34.99 www1.macys.com
  3. What would a cute summer outfit be without sandals? These faux leather KASIE ankle strap sandals from Sole Society cost me $35.97 down from $59.95. The Adobe color is a neutral color within the taupe family that will go with most any color. The feature I like most on these sandals is the classy turn lock closure located on the ankle strap. www.solesociety.com
  4. Forever 21 has quickly become one of my favorite go-tos for reasonably priced clothing and accessories. I got this silver Cutout Cuff bracelet for $4.80 several weeks ago. The bracelet is a very lightweight 3 inch high cuff that features a decorative cutout pattern. www.forever21.com
  5. The fifth item for this particular ensemble, are the lightweight, silver, F4374 Iconic Aviator Sunglasses I got for $5.80 from Forever 21. www.forever21.com
  6. Number 6, and last are these elegant Fossil earrings I got from Ashford several months ago via www.bradsdeals.com. The sterling silver, dangling, post earrings are about 1 and ½ inches in length and contain Cubic Zirconia and Smokey Quartz stones. If memory serves, I think I paid $25 for them however today they are on clearance for $18.99 www.ashford.com

I hope you like my outfit of choice for today. Going forward my intention is to take photos (I have to settle on a good spot, I’m hoping the lighting will work on the balcony) and once I do I’ll post the pictures with me wearing the clothing I’m describing. So stay tuned!

“True elegance and style comes from being confident and feeling comfortable in your skin” ~Tory Burch.