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A Look Back Jill Khoury & Sue Martin

Let’s Get Serious For a Moment

Foggy, misty day with weeping willow tree and solitary bench with a person sitting on it representative of depression found on Google
Image found on Google Website no longer online

Today’s post was originally intended to be published last Friday however as oftentimes is the case the day got away from me and I’m bound and determined to get this out today. My grandson will be here in a few hours and I’ve got to get crackin’ so here goes:

Lately I’ve been having a number of conversations with different people about numerous life issues from failed aspirations, rocky relationships, extreme traumatic episodes, death, and disabilities to depression. One of the common threads in many of these discussions is when we are going through a crisis we sometimes have a tendency to hide the pain especially if the difficulty is depression or some other mental illness.

I understand some of the hesitancy in sharing our anguish has to do with time and place although even when the timing may be good we can still hesitate to unburden ourselves. Perhaps we’re afraid of judgement and being seen as what we may perceive as weak. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve felt that bringing others into my pain was unfair and that I alone MUST be strong but I had to ask myself to what end?

A few months ago I hit a very rough patch and thankfully realized that I could no longer go it alone. It was the one time in recent memory when I put aside foolish pride and reached out for help.

Looking back over my life and those times when I stubbornly refused to admit I was hurting seems so silly now. I mean I sincerely doubt that on my deathbed I’ll regret not being a stronger person, on the contrary, I believe I’ll think about those missed opportunities of sharing with others.

Back in March and June of 2014 respectively, I wrote about two amazing women: Sue Wiygul Martin and Jill Khoury. To my knowledge these women do not know one another yet they share common bonds – one is they are extremely hard-working and good at what they do, and two is the topic of depression.

Sue Wiygul Martin

Sue with her Guide Dog
Sue with her guide dog

Sue wrote a book last year, Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation, on her experience with suicidal depression.  I found her honesty and frankness in talking about a very personal issue that many find difficult to discuss to be refreshing and extremely helpful.

In a recent communication with Sue, she said something that has stuck with me: “I think it’s important for people to know that even the most confident people are fallible. Having once been depressed doesn’t inoculate us to future trouble. Nor is having once been depressed a life sentence.” This was so powerful to me because 1) I sometimes forget I’m only human and therefore not perfect, 2) it’s highly probable that my depression will be ongoing unless I become the recipient of a welcomed miracle, and 3) more importantly it is not a life sentence.

To view a recent blog post that Sue shared with me click HERE. To read the article I wrote back in March click HERE. When I read Sue’s blog post it reminded me that real strength is facing the crisis, riding the wave to shallow water, thus coming through it. The reminder that this process can, and many times is repetitive, helped to put things in perspective for me.

Jill Khoury

Jill Khoury Reading at the Indiana Writers Consortium
Jill Khoury at the Indiana Writers Consortium

A very busy lady, Jill teaches writing and literature in high school, university, and enrichment environments. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Bone Bouquet, RHINO, Inter|rupture, and Stone Highway Review. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net award. Her chapbook Borrowed Bodies was released from Pudding House Press.

I wrote about Jill Khoury twice last year: once in June and a follow-up article in September. In my June post (HERE) I introduced Jill as a talented poet, artist, and activist. The follow-up post was about her decision to once again use the white cane, to read click HERE.

Since my last post, Jill did a reading in the Creative Writing Conference Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence at the Indiana Writers Consortium in October 2014. For those of you in the Pittsburgh area, starting at 7:00 p.m. on Feb 13, she will be doing a reading  in the MADFRIDAYS series with Bernadette Ulsamer at Delanie’s Coffee located on the South Side at 1737 E. Carson St.

With everything Jill has going on in her life I found a recent post she did on her blog (Visceral Poetics) very interesting. The post was the outcome from her experience at the Indiana Writers Consortium. I could feel Jill finding her voice after having come from an abusive background, struggling with her disability, dealing with childhood bullying, depression and other issues. Showing empathy with other women who aren’t as fortunate in finding an outlet for their similar circumstances and yet using her voice in an art form she is passionate about, can help these very women find the strength they need to make a move.

The issue of mental illness and depression are serious topics in our culture and just like stigmas associated with many disabilities, the only way we can get beyond the negativity is education and awareness. There is no shame in having a physical illness (no one chooses to be sick) so why can’t we show the same amount of compassion for those with mental illness?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

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How Can I Be Fashionable in the New Year If I Am a Blind or Visually Impaired Woman

Fashion versus Style?

I wrote the following article (posted Jan. 23, 2015) for

Raw sketch of 3 modelsTo answer this question we need to understand fashion. Fashion unlike style is ever-changing and dependent on current trends. A trend that looks nice on one person may not necessarily agree with someone else. Style on the other hand, like art, is a form of self-expression and communication which encompasses the whole person. An extension of oneself, style begins on the inside with our personality, lifestyle, values, likes, dislikes, mannerisms and it permeates all areas of our life. Since fashion and cosmetics are multi-billion dollar industries, the process of finding professionals to tailor a personalized style program for you can be relatively painless. One good resource to begin with is CitySearch where you can type in the name of your city to obtain a list of businesses that fit within the scope of what you are seeking. Hair stylists, makeup artists, tailors are also good sources to contact for help with color analysis, skin tone, face shape and body shape.

Determining Your Style

In determining an individual’s style there are a number of considerations such as body type (bone structure), body shape, height, skin tone and face shape to name a few. Combining all of the above traits can save you money, time and peace of mind because you will be buying and wearing only the clothing, makeup and accessories that compliment you and therefore make you look your fabulous best. Wearing clothing that fits your body in fabrics and colors that enhance your best features work miracles on the psyche and can help to hone your confidence.

Learning to Wear Your Clothes

Learning to wear your clothes and not let them wear you is key. All of us have something about our bodies that displeases us and we’d like to change. Little Miss Suzy Q down the street wants to be like Polished Polly who wants to be like Gorgeous Georgette who wants to be like Lovely Lorraine and it goes on and on. The point is rather than waste precious time and energy bemoaning those physical attributes that we can’t change why not celebrate what we do have and work it to the best of our ability?

Image of a blank recipe card Mrs. Greene crafts, food, fashion, life via Pinterest
Image Mrs. Greene crafts, food, fashion, life via Pinterest

Ingredients – Style, Makeup and Wardrobe

The subtitle to this section sounds similar to preparing for an onstage performance and if you think about it every time you leave your home you are presenting yourself to an audience in the world around you. Putting your best foot forward can bring about opportunities like that job you just interviewed for, that love interest you’ve been dying to meet or just make you feel so darn good about yourself no one can bring you down.

How to Define Your Personal Style

Defining your personal style begins with your personality, lifestyle, career, stage of life and circumstance in your life such as a disability. In broad terms style can be including but not limited to, classic, dramatic, elegant, natural, romantic or sporty. Once you’ve identified your personal style you can then begin building or rebuilding your wardrobe. A good place to start is with the basics such as a trouser suit, blazer, skirt, white button down, cotton t-shirt, jeans, little black dress, handbag, pumps, etc. These basic pieces are classics that will never go out of style and are well worth the investment.

Instructions – Caring for Your Style

  • Organizing Your Clothes. Enough can never be said about organization of clothing. When you are organized not only does it help with locating needed items it also lets you know when doing a periodic inventory what, if anything, needs replaced.
  • Creating a Capsule Wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe, a relatively small collection of clothes that all work together, helps to keep your sanity because everything in the capsule can be worn on all occasions. The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is it’s all about quality, not quantity, finding what suits you and what you absolutely love. Since all the clothes in the capsule can be mixed and matched, you can label the capsule with the appropriate colors of clothing that are enclosed. A talking color identifier can help with determining the colors of the clothing items you place in the capsule.
  • Using Closet Organizers. The assortment of closet organizers available is dizzying and dependent solely on your needs and allotted space. There are double and single rod organizers with shelf towers for shoes, sweaters, shirts, bags, etc.
  • Using Drawer Dividers. Dividers are great for keeping contents within neat and tidy. Likewise makeup/skincare organizers serve with the same function of keeping cosmetics and tools in their space. And you can bag easily lost items in plastic ziplock bags and label them.
  • Heeding Clothing Care Instructions. Following the care instructions on clothing will keep them looking and feeling fresh while at the same time increase their longevity. If you can’t read them, you can label them in a variety of ways or use a device like the RNIB pen friend voice labeling system to record instructions.

The Most Important Ingredient to Being Fashionable

Even with all the pointers the most important ingredient to being fashionable is the way you carry yourself. If you walk with confidence and feel good about yourself you will look good and feel good! And you will convey that to others you meet.


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The No Makeup, Makeup

Fresh Faced Minimalism

~YouTube Video: 100 Years of Beauty in 1 Minute from is a time-lapse of a model getting her hair and makeup done to match every decade from 1910 to 2010.

In case you haven’t heard, the spring 2015 trend in the cosmetic realm is the no makeup look. So how does one wear makeup to appear as if they aren’t wearing any? And why wear it in the first place if the objective is to look natural?

Last weeks’ post: Your Best Skin Ever partially answers the first question in that a good skin care routine is the start of the no makeup look. Toning down makeup by using less, opting for a more neutral color palette, and learning subtle contouring techniques combined, add to the ‘less is more’ fresh-faced, natural look.

When taking proper care of the skin achieving a dewy au naturel appearance is a cinch. I have a good friend from childhood days who, with the exception of a little lip color, has never worn makeup but she has always taken great care of her skin and let me you she is gorgeous. Her skin always looks healthy and luminous and honestly adding makeup to the mix would be an unnecessary extra step.

The answer to the second question – why wear makeup if the objective is to look natural is two-fold: number 1 – it’s still fun and number 2 – it’s an art to wear cosmetics with goal of looking healthy and makeupless. Who would have thought from back in the glamour days of “Greta Garbo, and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio” we would come to this point in time where going bare-faced or at least appearing to would be in Vogue?

Less Really is More

For those of us over 50 who are blind or vision impaired, swapping out cosmetics better suited to our evolving skin and having to contend with fewer products is not only beneficial to our skin but also makes it considerably easier to apply. If you have never worn makeup because you weren’t sure you could pull it off, now’s your chance.

A good place to start would be a department store cosmetics counter (I recommend taking a trusted friend or relative) for a makeover where you can learn what products are suited to your skin tone and how to use them. Sephora is one of my faves specifically for their beauty services. You can opt for a free 15 minute walk-in makeup session or a full-blown 90 minute custom makeover and personal shopping session (complimentary with a $125 minimum purchase).

Last summer I stopped by my local Sephora to get my foundation Color IQ (individualized color-matching service to find my precise foundation shade) and ended up with a mini makeover. I used to swear by mineral powder foundations but have since switched to a sheer liquid formula that is so weightless it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything on my face. What I like most about this foundation is when I apply it with my fingers, because it is so light-weight, it’s remarkably easy to blend without streaking and my skin looks and feels great without that cakey, made-up look.

The consultant who helped me also showed me how to use concealer over my foundation then taught me how to use a highlighter to accentuate positive features and deflect flaws while using a bronzer to contour. A couple of notes on the concealer: like the liquid foundation, I find creamy formulas easier to apply with the fingers as I can feel when the product is absorbed, the color should match the foundation, and it can be used either before or after the foundation is applied, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Subtle is the Keyword

If you are like my friend who was blessed with great skin (and to keep it she took great care of it) then you will not need to use concealer, primer, or foundation all over your face. Rather you can spot use these products or if they aren’t needed then go without.

For lip color (just a dab) you’ll want a shade very near the natural color of your lips. A very minute amount of this same color can be used on your cheeks for blush. Curl your lashes then call it a day or you can work some no-makeup magic on your eyes (discussion for another day).

Following is a list of products referenced in this post at three price points from lowest to highest in each category. Please keep in mind this is just a small sampling and does not represent products for every skintype. All the products listed are free from animal testing and are rated the Best on Paula’s Choice Beautypedia:

  • Concealers (Cream)
  1. Soft Cream Concealer by Paula’s Choice
  2. Maracuja Creaseless Waterproof Concealer by Tarte Cosmetics
  3. Cancellation Conditioning Concealer SPF 25 by Mally Beauty
  • Primers
  1. Studio Hydrating Face Primer by e.l.f. Cosmetics – Studio
  2. Prime Objective Skin Perfecting Face Primer by Studio Gear
  3. Age Intervention Prime Face Primer by Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. – Age Intervention Line
  • Foundations (Liquid)
  1. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation SPF 15 by e.l.f. Cosmetics – Studio
  2. Stay Perfect Foundation SPF 15 by Boots – No7
  3. Liquid Halo HD Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 by Smashbox
  • Lip Colors (Sheer)
  1. Lip Service Lip Butter by Flower Beauty
  2. Sheer Temptation Lipstick by Boots – No7
  3. Sheer Lipstick by NARS

Takeaways from today’s post: To achieve a no-makeup look implement a good skincare regimen, concealing where needed, using less product (no harsh lines) and working with neutral shades that compliment your skin tone.

And remember – when you feel good, you look good!

Questions, comments, suggestions? Leave a message in the comment box or email me directly at

Have a wonderful week!!   

“If you feel beautiful, then you are. Even if you don’t, you still are.” ~Terri Guillemets

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You’re Absolutely Fabulous Dahling!!

Photo of a snow covered lane lined with snow covered trees on both sides. Photo by Ali Inay of Unsplash
Image by Ali Inay courtesy of Unsplash

Happy New Year!!

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve last spoken with you. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a prosperous 2015.

Before I catch you up on a few things I need to share some exciting news!! The other day, (it was probably more like a couple of weeks ago but who’s keeping track?) As I was saying, not too long ago when I was walking Mollie I had an epiphany that I am going to be absolutely fabulous this year and so can you.

So here’s my thinking: typically when I do not have any physical appointments on the calendar and I don’t have to run on any errands I look a hot mess. Yup, I’ve admitted it and for many years was quite pleased with this mode of behavior until that day when Mollie and I were like “why, why, why are we settling when we can be fabulous and not just fabulous on the outside but through and through?”

You know how I’m always saying when you feel good, you look good and while the word good, is, well, good, it lacks that certain je ne sais quoi. Then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me – Fabulous.

Fabulous is not just a way of appearing it is a mindset. When we care for ourselves, take pride in who we are and are unafraid to be our unique selves, it is then where we can embrace our fabulousness.

One universal truth – we will never be able to please all of the people all of the time. So rather than adjusting ourselves for the acceptance of others, let’s work on being our fabulous best. This year is going to be the year of being fabulous!

Photo of clouds taken from a plane, The sky is blue and there are golden rays of sunshine in the upper right corner of the photo. The clouds are so think they look like you could literally leap out up on them. Photo by Liane Metzler of Unsplash
Image by Liane Metzler courtesy of Unsplash

A few things I had to do to embrace my fabulous was to let go, clear the brain clutter, email inbox, inability to say no, being judicious in my activities, and finally, recall past victories. When I think back to where I came from and how I overcame the odds (I’m not supposed to even be here) I can’t help but to share my enthusiasm. Each and every day I live is another opportunity to #1 be thankful for God’s grace to draw another breath, #2 make the most out of every moment and #3 share what I’ve learned along the way.

When I started this blog over a year ago I knew it was going to be a daunting task. Being the writer, editor, curator, publisher, administrator, photographer, researcher, designer, organizer, trouble-shooter, has challenged me to the max and at the same time has put me in a position to meet people who want to work with me. One of those people is Paul Mitchell hair stylist extraordinaire, Bryan Hartman, who happens to be my personal stylist.

I was blown away when Bryan expressed an interest in wanting to share his expertise with my readership and though we are still working out the details on how we’re going to make this partnership work I’m thrilled that we’re finally starting the process. Bryan’s talents extend well beyond hair styling as I hear he’s a great cook, baker, painter, plumber, interior designer, with a personality as big as his heart and did I mention he’s funny? I mean this man is hilarious!! Every time I get my hair done I’m left thinking “I really need to invest in some Depends.”

Bryan’s clientele come from all over the tristate area and I have no doubt that we will all reap style benefits under his tutelage.


My computer woes are in the process of being rectified as I write this post (yeah, I’m going for a Chromebook). Since most of my work is cloud-based a Chromebook is right up my alley and I’m hoping the shift from Windows to Chrome OS (operating system) will increase my productivity by streamlining workflow processes but I digress.

I’ve encountered a snag on the two glossaries that I want to publish to the blog. Since the platform I’m using isn’t self-hosted I have to get some help. I believe the glossaries (one for fashion terms and one for eye diseases) are necessary for the benefit of my readers.

The issues I experienced when shooting pictures and videos, such as image quality, uploading and storage have also been resolved with a simple little gadget I never even thought to Google – thanks cousin Antoine. A universal tripod stand mount holder for use with my smart phone camera and a bluetooth self-timer remote were the best, simple solutions I’ve come across in a while.

Since my last post I thought I’d provide a few bullet points on topics of interest:

  • Articles based on a few intriguing emails I received will be published in the upcoming weeks
  • Some attention will be focused on styles by body type and shape
  • Demonstrations on how to do specific styles well
  • More attention on best makeup, clothing & accessory colors based on skin, hair and eyes
  • Shopping your closet articles
  • Fashion and makeup hacks

Barring any unforeseen circumstances I should have my Chromebook in hand by the end of this week and by next week I hope to get back to posting regularly. Until then Ciao ~Steph

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ~Ellen Goodman