All Hail The Queen

Queen Latifah was absolutely stunning on the red carpet for the 2009 People’s Choice Awards, which aired January 7. She wore a purple Georges Chakra gown and looked royal indeed. Legendary make up artist, Sam Fine, kept the queen looking flawless. Her hair color is a little lighter than we’re used to and it works. She definitely made a statement. As for the entire look: I love it!

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The Definition

Remember when you were a kid and you did your first cart wheel? You ran to your parents, “Look, Ma. Look.” You waited so anxiously for her smile and if she didn’t look, you persisted, “Ma, watch me.” Then there was the gold star in class. I remember how proud those stars made me feel. Validation. It helped us shape our perception of who we were and our accomplishments. it was appreciated and needed. But now that we are women, we have to face the truth–validation is a luxury. If we get noticed great. If we have people who cheer us on as we run this race, that’s wonderful, too. But all too often, that doesn’t happen, at least not in every aspect of our lives. Sometimes the people we love the most don’t understand all of our hopes and dreams, they may not even understand us. So who will you be then?

It is up to you to validate your own dreams and goals. Become your biggest fan. Define who you are, no one else can truly do that for you. Whatever you do, don’t give up. If the cheers come, welcome them with open arms. If they don’t, continue to embrace who you are fully. You may encourage someone else to validate their own ticket.

Today’s Quote:
Remember Who You Are
–Mufasa, The Lion King

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Beauty Review

When it comes to foundation and mascara, I stick with what works for me. I usually test the waters every couple of years just to see what else is out there and haven’t come up with any winners yet. However, I was cruising through Sephora and discovered Make Up Forever (foundation, $40). The finish was smooth, flawless, and almost undetectable. They have an array of shades (always a must for my approval). Now I’m not convinced that it will work well for those of you who need full coverage, but visit Sephora and check it out.

They also have a mascara called Smoky Lash ($22), which raised my brow because you know I am a Lancome (Hypnose to be exact) kinda girl. Haven’t tried it yet, but I will add a tube to my make up kit.

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Let Me See Ya Shimmy, Girl!

We all want sexy abs, but for me, the word “crunches’ is instant workout repellent. If you want a unique way to help tone and strengthen your mid-section you have got to try out Shimmy. It’s a belly dancing workout. It airs daily on FitTV . You don’t have to invest in any equipment and the instructions are so easy to follow.

Now if you want to really feel the burn, TaeBo is classic and Billy Blanks has a new set of work out tapes called T3. If you’re not ready to invest in another set of DVDs just yet, check him out on Fitness on Demand. With the click of a button you can choose the trainer you want and start your warm up. In case you didn’t know, TaeBo really does work and you will feel the difference with this workout from the very first punch.

Just a few reminders about changes and decisions for 2009. A new year begins with a flip of the calendar, but a fresh start begins with clarity–and Clarity is power. Take a minute, get still and get clear on what is really going on in your life. Decide what you want to do, be honest about who you are and who you want to be. It may sting a bit at first, but it will set you in the right direction.

January is the month we hear all the promises: tackle clutter, lose weight, find love. And most are made with sincere intentions. But to truly be successful at any of these takes more than desire and sometimes it takes more than action. Sometimes it’s about our beliefs. Do you believe it is OK for you to have the things you want? It’s not the clutter in your closet that leads to a cluttered, stressed out mind and chaotic life. It’s a cluttered, stressed out mind that causes the clutter in your closet. Truth be told, it’s not a lack of peace in a foreign land that keeps you up at night, it’s the lack of peace you have inside that is robbing you.

So let’s debunk some negative and limiting beliefs right now:

1. You do not have to have a CD drop, a starring role, a modeling contract, or a boat load of money to be fit, to feel good, to look good or to be happy.

2. Being Kind, joyful, and positive has absolutely nothing to with your bank account or zip code.

3. You are not your family! This is huge. Because sometimes being the black sheep of the family is a good thing.

4. You don’t have to earn six figures to eat healthy.

5. You do not have to have a gym membership to work out.

6. Your life does not have to be scripted by statistics. Those news reporters and Ivy league graduates don’t know you, or have any hold on you.

7. It is completely acceptable to get Brand New! Forget about 2008, last year, or even last night. And if someone says, “You act different.” So what?! If people talk negatively or laugh about positive changes you make, imagine what they would say if you were to let your life go down the tubes.

8. It is OK for you to have fun! Style and fun is not just for a privileged few–it is approved for all ages.

9. Hair is not that serious. People have rocked fake hair since George Washington crossed the Delaware. Stop analyzing how someone feels about who they are and Do You! That person is not representative of you and you are not the ambassador for anyone else. Know who you are and what you are about. As far as a representative is concerned: Tag-You’re It!!

10. It is up to you to create your life story. Forget about what happened in the past. Those chapters are closed. As of January 2009, what do you want/need to do? What happens next in your life? How does your story go? It’s true that sometimes we get stuck with a bad chapter, but it is still up to you how your story goes. What happens in the next paragraph, the next sentence, your dialogue? It is up to you. If you don’t like something change it.

11. The airlines are saying what many have known for years: Extra baggage carries a heavy price. Leave those bags behind in ’09 so you can fly!

Leave fear, doubt and other people’s expectations in the dust! Don’t just write down goals in January. Set reminders on your calendar through out the year! In 2009, don’t walk–run, zoom, fly towards something different.

It’s been an interesting weekend. I would love to say that I ushered in 2009 with lots of reflection and deep thought (that was the plan), but the truth is, I caught up on some much needed rest. For the most part I had a great time going home. I saw almost all of the family and a few other folks, ate all the foods that I can’t get in the North East, and crossed a few things off my to-do list. I was going to a shin dig and that is just what I needed: a little dancing, a little wining and dining.

When I first walked in, I could hear the band in the background. I saw some tuxedos, a few fur coats, caught a peek of a beautiful chandelier hanging in the ballroom. OK! But much to my surprise, when I walked in I was not prepared for what I saw.

I saw old people.

Not middle-aged people. I mean real senior citizens. Not Baby boomers–”Senior” senior ciitizens. Hip Hop for them is part of a nursery rhyme (hippity hoppity). I had landed at a Geriatric Ball-small wigs, walking canes, gloves and all-absolutely no chance of them playing my song. I was not feeling celebratory. In fact, I felt I had been hoodwinked, led astray, ran amuck…, I spent the first 40 minutes, looking for someone under 40–at least. They played a few big band hits (cause It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing) and some oldies from the 40′s and 50′s. I thought oldies started at Motown and ended with Planet Rock. This was definitely your grandmothers music. But as the night went on I softened a bit. I mean watching these old people take to the floor with smiles on their faces was somehow…encouraging. I mean, a lot of them still had it. Some of them didn’t. And it was obvious that a few of them never had “it” at all. But as they danced, you could see that their smiles transformed them, even if only for a few minutes, to happier times.

And so I began to ponder, finally, what will I be like? Will I still have it? What kind of little old lady will I be? Will I hold on to my youthful spirit, will I be ready to “get up and do my thing” on the dance floor and in life? What we do today and every day determines what kind of women we’ll be tomorrow. While I have decided not to attend the Seniors Soiree next year, I did have a good time. And they finally played one song from the millennium-Cupid Shuffle go-figure.

It’s 2009, ladies, let’s get the party started!

Today’s post is going to save your waist line just a bit. You know popcorn is a low-calorie snack. However, when you buy micro-wave popcorn with Butter, Extra Butter, or worse yet–Movie Theatre Butter, it packs more fat number two combo at your nearest drive-thru. Unfortunately the light, no butter, air popped version taste like styrofoam. So at the advice of a friend, I started popping my own popcorn. At first it felt archaic. All I remember from the days before microwave popcorn was Jiffy pop and that was always an adventure. But in time, I grew to love it and since I used just a few drops of olive oil to get the job done, I was good.

But alas, I’ve learned something new. You can pop popcorn in your microwave using a brown paper bag. You know, the kind people used to use to take lunch or the kind you get from a corner store. I tested this and it works like a charm. Pour kernels into the bag, then fold the bag close. Place into the microwave and choose the Popcorn setting. Presto! Hot, delicious popcorn and no greasy pan to clean.

I just follow that with a little I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray. You can add salt if you like. I prefer to pass on that. Just think of the calories you’ll save. And you can use that olive oil you saved to sautee something special for dinner.

Go Nude!

If you were thinking that because it is winter you should limit your lip color to deep burgundy’s and plums, guess again. The nude lip has been the rage in 2008 and I don’t think that trend is going to change any time soon. I’m glad because I love it. Just remember that the nude lip, is not the same as the Vaseline once over you did back in middle school. A few months ago, I had a mini make over and the makeup artist did an excellent job. So how do you get the nude lip right?

Well start with one of my favorites-a lip pencil. Yes, even for the nude lip a pencil is employed. I start with Hodgepodge by MAC. Remember, this is a “nude” lip, so the pencil should closely match your fleshtone and not change the color of your lipstick of choice. Then I follow with High Tea lipstick, also by MAC and then add a hint of gloss. You want to use a pale, sheer gloss with a slight hint of pink or peach. Voila! It’s never too cold to go nude. And this look works well with light eye makeup for a more natural look or if you are going out on the town or even to the office you can still try a dramatic eye as shown above.

Oh, and don’t forget your blush. A nude lip will look even lovelier with a hint of color in your cheeks. Mwah!

I wasn’t going to tell, but I had an accident this weekend. Yep. I slipped and fell. I slipped right off my nutrition track, stumbled into a Baskin Robbins and fell into some ice cream. It was the most delicious experience ever. In case you didn’t know the flavors at Baskin Robbins are seasonal, and since Winter White Chocolate is one of my favorites, and it is Winter, oh well. All I have to do now is avoid Baskin Robbins until the spring.

Haven’t you ever just had to throw caution to the wind and have something tasty, sweet, and scrumptious? Have you ever driven extra miles for a craving, regardless of gas prices, traffic, or weather? I mean, strong winds, rain, and thunder doesn’t stop Krispy Kreme from making donuts after 11 p.m. and someone needs to hit the drive thru around midnight so they can know their work is appreciated, right? They don’t have Krispy Kreme in the North East, just nasty Dunkin Donuts, yuck.. I know I’m not the only one.

But as long as we don’t give in everyday, it’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up if it happens to you. Just curious, what is that must-have treat, that one thing that there is no substitute for, for you?

Thought for today:
If you fall down seven times, stand up eight.

About Face

If you have not gotten around to having a facial, please put that near the top of your list of things to do in 2009 and mark it ASAP. A facial is one of the most relaxing services you can experience, all while taking care of your skin. Now, I’m going to be real honest. A Mary Kay facial is NOT a facial, it is a sales demonstration. So that infomercial, pass the plate party at your co worker’s sister’s aunts cousins house six months ago does not count. I don’t care how good they say their products are or whether they work for you, it’s just not the same. If I were to concoct some hair potion in my kitchen that worked wonders, would that make me a licensed beautician trained in treating and styling hair? No. Owning a pink Grand Am does not make you an esthetician or mean that you know how to treat the skin. No disrespect to those who dream of pink Cadillacs.

Facials are performed by licensed and/or trained estheticians (skin care specialist). They pick up where your dermatologist leaves off, much like your hairstylist. In fact, many dermatologist now offer aesthetic services as part of their medical practices and have an esthetician on staff. A facial involves cleansing and exfoliation of the face and decollete (neck/chest area) using steam and massage. Yes, you will need to undress from the waist up at least (don’t worry, you’ll be wearing a robe). In fact a facial feels like a massage for the face. Your skin will love it! It’s nice as a treat, or part of a spa day, but to truly get the benefit, it is recommended that you have one every six weeks, to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Facials can be combined with anti-aging, aromatherapy, or deep pore cleansing services. It relieves the tension and muscles in your face, providing a most soothing experience. Try it, just once and you will love it. You will definitely want to have one again.

Now, I have to be honest. They don’t come cheap. Facials can range from $50 -$150 depending on the type of service you want. But there’s good news for Divas on a budget: many spas have “mini” or “quickie” facials that will run about $40 for 20-30 minutes (most facials are a full 60 minutes).

WARNING!: Always schedule your facial BEFORE your hair appointment. A facial involves direct steam to the face and hair line area which could ruin your “do”. Not to mention you will have to wear a bonnet or towel over your hair during the service that would definitely smoosh your pretty curls.

Word of caution: A facial is not something you want to do right before a big event, such as your wedding. It truly treats the skin and you may even need extractions (black head/pimple removal). While you will feel wonderful, depending on the condition of your skin, you may have a blotch that needs a few days to heal. So, check your calendar of events before you book your appointment. But don’t worry, you won’t look like a candidate for a ProActive commercial. And you will notice the benefits afterward.

If you would like to consider a career as an esthetician check out the Beauty School Directory.