Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Naked Face

I have made it to day eleven doing #30daysnomakeup. I have been so inspired by the founders beautiful and authentic blog encouraging me along the way. They put this quote on their 30 Days No Make-Up Blog that really sat with me.

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
– Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
This whole campaign has caused me to leave my ignorance behind and face myself with courage and respect. Some days my courage is small and more in the mustard seed genre, however think those are the days were I really grow. 
For Thanksgiving week I have been spending time with my husband's family in northern California. We are amidst the tall trees and cooler temperatures. As I write this I am surrounding by family and a cozy cracking fire in the fireplace.  I am really grateful to have kind and accepting in-laws. My mother-in-law totally supports me in my campaign and reminds me how beautiful I am even without the make-up. She skips the cosmetic ads on the TV because she knows how much I miss my make-up. It hasn't been as hard here. I don't have to go to work and feel the pressure to be on make-up. There isn't a lot of need to check the mirror here. We do other things like read books, make homemade food, go on walks and go shopping together for a 20 pound turkey at the farmer's market. We have quiet mornings of sleeping in and coffee. Here I feel like I can be a bit more gentle with myself and my face. (even though I have somehow created a monster zit right under my eyebrow: driving me nuts) 

Early this weekend though Scott and I were invited to a fancy exclusive club by his sweet and extravagant grandparents for dinner. There was a dress code: guys in suits and gals in dresses. We were not allowed to look at our phones. There was multiple courses and the wine flowed. The powder room was filled with women re-applying their make-up, hair spray and gloss. I was literally afraid I would be kicked out for not wearing make-up. I ran into a woman who "snuck" into the bathroom to check her phone so she could see if her kids were okay at home. She said it was her first time at the club. I said it was mine too and I shared about my campaign and how nervous I was. She was so inspired by this campaign and talked about how she chose not to wear make-up one day and that the world sees her real face now. I can't say I will give up make-up for all eternity but it certainly made me think. 
There is something intrinsically courageous as well as respectful and gentle to one's self to bare your real face to the world. Initially I thought, Is this disrespectful?! People don't want to see my real face! It's like I'm imposing my face on the public! But the more I think about it the more I realize how much it's an act of self-love. It takes a lot of guts as well as a TON of self-compassion to do this. I have to be on my side to do this and it's so much easier said than done. I can be very hostile to myself. I feel like this process is helping me be more gentle with me and in turn, more gentle with those around me. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for having people around me who encourage me and are kind to my face even when I snarl at it in the mirror. Besides no one needs lipgloss to fully engage one's senses in eating turkey! (or tons of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and STUFFING) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unfiltered thoughts from an unfiltered face

Well hello there day 5.

At this point in my 30daysnomakeup I'm feeling many different things.

Yesterday I found myself at the mall and felt entirely invisible (and utterly pale and like my eyes were going to shrink into my forehead). There was posters the size of garage doors staring me down. Air brushed and photo-shopped and perfect faces peered at me from every angle and corner. It's that time of year. The holidays. I love this time of year but the malls becomes progressively more and more crowded and chaotic. I feel like everything is screaming for my attention to consume. So many mirrors. The clothing department stores tell me I don't have enough. Never enough! The models plastered to every corner and square inch of space tell me I am not enough in my own skin.

My own skin.

My own skin is hard to be in. I'm embarrassed to say this is harder than I thought it would be. I often forget all about the fact I'm not wearing any make-up, until I look in the mirror. Rather than people being the ones who I fear to judge, I am the one judging myself. After all I don't feel the need to wear make-up around my closest friends or my husband. I never felt a need to wear make-up when I nannied Owen. I am beginning to observe the places and people I feel safe with and around. The little boy I spent years nannying=safe. My husband=safe. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters=safe. Library=safe. The garden outside of the monastery=safe.

I have never felt like "Oh I'm going to see Scott tonight, better put on some make-up or I want to head down to the library! Where is my mascara?!"

Nope. But when I am going somewhere I don't feel emotionally safe I want my make-up bag and I want all my Clinique make-up ready for action.  I am not talking about those times you get dressed up and put on make-up and you feel like a cool artist at work before a glitzy holiday party or a summer wedding or a work presentation. To me, those are fun events where I choose make-up as a form of creativity from my insides. But more often than not, I wear make-up as a barrier. It protects me from others. I don't have to let others really see me.

It's vulnerable.

It feels bare and uncomfortable.

And you know it's okay. Some people may have not earned my trust or respect enough to see the real me. The person behind the gloss. I think if someone doesn't want someone to see their acne because they feel nervous about what other people think that is understandable. It's normal and human. As a therapist working at a high-school I hear so much about bullying. I would never tell my clients to drop their shields if they don't feel safe. Maybe they need their shields.

Sometimes I need mine.

This month I'm observing what has sometimes been used as a shield in my life.

My hope for this month is that I can gradually come to love the woman behind the gloss, the paint, and the ever enticing mascara. She is worth loving and caring for. She is worth being brave for.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

30 Days of No Make-up

Yes. I have decided to join in on the fun challenge? I guess only the next 30 days will tell. As most of you know I am a huge fan of Darling Magazine. I found out yesterday on their online blog they are sponsoring a campaign. You can learn more about the 30DaysNoMakeup here.

The founders write, We are launching an open invitation to a bigger, personal conversation about identity and worth. It’s an experiment. It’s a curious, vulnerable, courageous offer to anyone anywhere who is brave enough to face themselves and the outside world for 30 days without anything on their face. It’s about observing what comes up for us, and remembering that who we are is enough. It’s an act of self-love"

The campaign lasts from November 15th-December 15th. Anyone can join at any time. You can follow them on Instagram (#30daysnomakeup) or on their online blog as well. I first saw the picture on Instagram yesterday and commented and tagged a friend telling her to do it with me! Literally 5 minutes later, to my surprise, one of the founders replied and told me to join them! 

I was totally called out. 

I rationalized a lot of things to myself such as I don't wear THAT much make-up. I don't want to look tired everyday. I don't want to be look unprofessional at work. I don't want to look younger than my age. I have definitely been addressed as a student walking the high school halls. It is WEIRD. I had other thoughts too like I am creative! I like art. I like to paint anything with or without a canvas. I paint my toes and nails. I will paint a purse or a drawer. I love color. And I love my make-up. I am a big Clinique fan. I adore the way it smells and the way it feels on my skin. I am OBSESSED with their chubby stick moisturizing color lip balm. 

Also I am not anti-girly or anti-make-up. I have nothing against it. But do I have something against NOT wearing make-up? (hmmm double negative there…) I didn't think so… As I pondered this I thought about how awesome social experiments are and if anything they teach you more about yourself and those around you. Doing brave things isn't about doing the most comfortable things. When I am most brave I am usually my most anxious. Brave looks different for everyone too. So for some people make-up might not be where it's at. 

I thought about my creativity and how it flows out of a place of freedom, desire and choice. I thought about putting on make-up 6 days out of 7. Some days it flows from a place of creativity and passion and my artistic heart. Other days I literally feel like I HAVE TO wear make-up. I feel like "shoulds" and "have tos  and "must or else" REALLY stunt creativity. Some days I just wear make-up so no one asks why I look so tired/sick/pale/16. I don't want that to be my reason for wearing make-up.

I decided to do it and to simply observe and not judge myself or others in this nerve wracking process. I will try not to read minds and guess what others are thinking. I will be gentle and tender with myself during this time. These are my mantras.  I will try to blog so you too can observe my observations and hopefully find encouragement through it as well! Who we are is enough. Always enough. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Holidays: A Cocoon Blanket

I love this time of year. From September till Christmas I live in a state of pure joyous anticipation. I even like labor day weekend. Its the beginning of all the fun. The cooler season.  Orange and White Pancho. The holiday decorating and baking (YES. I baked those very difficult pumpkin muffins Trader Joes had) Halloween. Birthday parties. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Cozy pajamas. Holiday scented candles. The pumpkin spice latte. Vacations and plane flights to visit family. Festive parties with friends. Thoughtful gifts. Counting down days. Making lists and checking it twice  ten times.

The holidays and this time of year feels like a warm cozy blanket that wraps me up and carries me for the next few months. My husband, Scott looks so cute in the mornings when I have to leave for work early. He wraps himself up with all the blankets in our bed and tucks himself in like a little cocoon. (truly I think he is relieved because I am a cover-stealer... apparently?!!!!?…) He looks the way I feel during the holidays. I feel like I am in a safe, warm and cozy cocoon blanket. 

I like being busy, my life being fat, rich and full with holiday goodness. What is it about this time of year that makes me live in a smitten fog of joy that is not really grounded to reality? In my head everything will work out. I ride the train of the holidays gladly and happily. It feels secure here. My problems can be ignored by the rush and zip of holiday bliss. Honestly sometimes it’s good to take a “mental break” from problems. Besides often the more I obsess about my problems the worse they become. Often when I have a “brain break” I come back with more energy. I don’t necessarily have an answer but at least I can face it and tolerate my uncomfortable feelings. I feel bigger than my problem and that is a huge win.

Of course I come home from my family Christmas with presents and filled with happy memories. But I also enter January with no one to buy gifts for anymore and no one to send Christmas/Thanksgiving/Halloween cards too. There is no more left over Turkey (and mashed potatoes: YUM) and the apple cider has sold out. January is that time of year where the school year suddenly starts to feel mind numbingly long and since I work at a school I especially feel this. However I don’t look forward to summer as most teachers do because as a therapist I don’t receive a pay check in the summer and it is terribly and unbearably hot in our bedroom without air conditioning and I digress….

Because right now

Right now.

Right now is a tight cozy holiday blanket all wrapping me up and I cocoon in it and soak up it’s smell and goodness. I embrace now so that I can have courage for January.

Isnt’ that true with life? When the good times are here we have to soak up the joy. We can’t turn joy on mute. We need our joy to get us through those hard times that will come. 

I need the strength that comes with joy.

 Even if I do feel like a happy hedonist throughout the holiday season. So be it. The blissful fog is really alright. It’s okay to be happy. So much of life makes us feel guilty about being happy. We experience “forboding joy” as Brene Brown puts it.  We are terrified to feel happy because we live in a culture of scarcity and we assume the minute we feel anything good something, someone will come snatch it away from us. I mean maybe this is a little superstitious of us right? Like we are going to be punished for celebrating? Better not get too happy or else…. (stomp stomp, fe, fi, fo, fum…I smell happiness)

There is a myth surrounding the idea of experiencing happiness and it’s that it is innately selfish. I reject this notion. I’ve been reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin and she writes, “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.

I don’t know what the holiday season is like for you. It might be a difficult time with traumatic memories that lurk nearby. The holidays might not be “your blanket”. Your cocoon might rest in something else.  As much as my conscientious side tells me this is hedonistic; another part of me, the part where my gut and intuition lie, where the critic has no place, tells me that celebrating and encountering happiness does good for our souls and for the souls around us. It nourishes and self-soothes. It’s contagious just like anger, sadness and anxiety it is.

So blame it on me. Your fellow blogger. I gave you permission. Give yourself permission. Whatever you enjoy, do that this holiday season. Whatever gives you that cocoon blanket feeling, do that and do more of it. You are worth the celebration.