The Pursuit of Slim -or- Shapewear That Doesn’t Make You Wanna Scream

A couple of years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to get a real, grown up job. One that required me to sit in an office, wear a blazer, and talk to other human beings, unlike the work-at-home job I’d been dealing with (and since, went back to).

The benefits of being gainfully employed did not quite outweigh the drawbacks. And, as a result of the stress, timesuckage, and daily takeout lunches (with a coworker whom I believe I was in competition with to see who could eat the most. Why, I will never know.) I ended up gaining about 20 extra pounds within a few months.

My clothes were too tight, and I really didn’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe, since I wasn’t planning to keep that 20 pounds, so I started seriously considering purchasing some type of slimming shapewear, which is a very serious and important decision, indeed.

So, I did a little research and found this gorgeous piece of aesthetic finery!  The fact alone, that I thought this would somehow improve my appearance, is a straightforward testiment to the level of cuckoory that I was experience during my stint as an office professional:

spanx2

Pure sex.

I wore it one time. It was hot, itchy, it created strange bulges on my thighs and belly, and when I leaned over to pick something up, was noticable to anyone checking for plumber butt (and yes, there were cries of disapproval from my honest-to-a-fault coworkers).

So when I was approached by Leonisa to review their Slimming Control Cami (yay, perks of blogging!), I was curious to see if the above is the type of thing one can expect from their shapewear. So, I put it to the TEST. Since there are all types of women, doing all types of jobs out there, I wore the cami for 12 hours on a day that included sitting at a computer, driving, walking, working in a kitchen, and taking care of children.  The results?

– I like how this cami looks. Unless you’re savvy to these kinds of things, no one would know that it’s shapewear, and not just a simple black tank.

– It’s good for layering under just about anything.

– It doesn’t flatten my chest any more than it already is.

– It didn’t cause me to overheat on an incredibly hot day.

– It’s cut on a nice bias, so it nipped my waist in, and wasn’t so tight that caused any weird blobby bulges.

– It’s comfortable, as long as you don’t mind having to pull it down from time to time, as tight things seem to want to creep themselves up into the smaller parts of your curves.  This was the only drawback for me, but wasn’t a huge problem, and mainly only happened while sitting and driving.

– I have willingly worn it again!

Don't look at the streaky fingerprints on my mirror. Dont.

Don’t look at the streaky fingerprints on my mirror. Dont.

All in all, if you’re looking for a nice, comfy way to give you a more toned looking body on days when you might be feeling a little fluffier than usual, I’d totally recommend this little number. You can check it out HERE

Great Skin Giveaway with Sibu Beauty!

seabuckthorn

I have a confession. Big surprise, right?

I am completely ridiculously inconsistent. I change my mind at the drop of a hat. My husband frequently says, “you sure don’t mind changing your mind” .

All throughout my life, I was CERTAIN that when the time came for me to get older, and start getting wrinkles and flab, I would accept it. I would grow old gracefully. (I am not afraid, however of a little preventative maintenance, and also not opposed to surgery if I can afford it and do it in moderation.) So I’ve never really been overly afraid of looking older.

Well, that is until about 2 months ago. I turned 34, and it’s like something switched inside of me, and I found myself terrified at the prospect of
aging.

Suddenly I’m frowning at my frown lines, and worrying about the way my jaw is starting to look a little different, more like my grandmom’s, who is BEAUTIFUL let me just say, but… grandmom’s…

So the dabbling began. I did research. I am into natural stuff. I hate gross artificial fragrances.  I have skin that starts out dry and gets oily by the end of day. Sometimes it’s a little flaky and oily at the same time, which is the WORST.  I wear makeup, and I want to be able to wash ALL of it off without hurting my skin.

I found a few really lovely things that I plan to share (and offer for a giveaway, below!), starting with a cleanser.  I can honestly say this cleanser has solved a lot of problems for me. It’s made by Sibu Beauty, and it makes me happy.

facial_cleanserBeing the natural-product-making mad scientist that I am, I really like the fact this one is natural. I get requests to make facial cleansers, and I’d like to someday, but do you know much work and money goes into new product development? OMG Let me tell you, it’s a lot. I can’t just wave my magic wand and POOF, cleanser (YET, we’re doing some R&D on a magic wand, which will soon be available on Etsy… just kidding).

But I digress. This stuff has a few ingredients that I had to Google, but from what I found the preservatives and agents pretty much come from corn, coconut, fruit sugars and/or fennel, and are considered generally safe, bonus!

I also really like that it has Sea Buckthorn Berry in it, because that’s actually one of my favorite skincare ingredients. This berry contains a large concentration of Omega 7’s, which are incredibly beneficial for skin. You can read about Omega 7’s on the Sibu website, here: http://www.sibubeauty.com/omega_7.php

Lastly, and importantly, it works well. It has little beads of something nice that give a very gentle exfoliation, it smells nice, it doesn’t quite foam, but doesn’t quite not foam. It feels good, and my skin looks clean, shiny and smooth, and not irritated in any way. It looks healthy, like you just had a good run. I like it.

It’s helped me to change my mind again, I don’t mind getting older. Yes I do. No I don’t…

SO, now for the important part. You can win one of your very own. There are multiple ways to enter, which you will do with this handy-dandy little widget from Rafflecopter, below.  You MUST either like Sibu on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. The tweeting option gives you a bonus chance to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

What’s Cookin?

I have not faded away, I am still here, remember me?

mixin

Oh my gosh you guys. It’s been a strange couple of months. Strange, wonderful, and eye opening. Turns out, starting a new business, when you’re already working full time, takes up a lot of your energy. Who knew? It’s been really wonderful though, and it feels good to be challenged by new things.

So, what’s new? Well, the Etsy shop is steady. I’ve done a few local events as a vendor, and it was amazing to get out into the world (away from the computer, whah?) and talk to real people. People who are interested in the same things as I am. People…who want to give me money! Wow! What a concept…

So, this is a short and sweet post. But I just wanted to say hi, and also welcome all the people who are taking part in Allie’s link parties. I am so excited to be getting a chance to know all of these other talented bloggers. Life is good!

Also I wanted to mention, there are going to be a few giveaways from a couple of different vendors coming up in the next month, so stay tuned, this is stuff you will LOVE!

xoxo,
Mere

So… Frankincense.

frankincense

Last week I was in Pennsylvania to be on Good Day Fox Philly with Allie, which was surreal, and more on that another day. In between filming segments, I was going on and on about Frankincense essential oil, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, and yes, I was getting some eye rolls because my claims are a little out there. When I’m in PA, everyone thinks I’m this big hippie, which is funny, because my hippie friends in CT think I’m the most mainstream person in their lives.

But, I don’t care, the stuff has literally been life changing for me, and I don’t claim to be sane.

So, what’s so great about this stuff? Let me tell you a little story…

As an entrepreneurial-type, I get hit up a lot to sell stuff. Mary Kay, Market America, that kind of thing. I always kind of roll my eyes, because it’s just never felt right to me. I know a lot of people make a good living selling that stuff, and I don’t judge, it’s just not stuff that I feel comfortable pushing people to buy, so I always politely decline.

When I got a message from my cousin recently, that he’s selling essential oils (doTerra), and that he thought I’d be a good candidate to be a reseller as well, I gave him my typical response, and said I’d take the samples, because I’ve always liked essential oils (clary sage really helped me get through natural childbirth), but I have no interest in being a reseller.

So, he sent the samples.

At that time, I was thisclose to launching my online store for my graphic design business. I’ve been talking about it and working on it for about a year. It was taking me forever to finish. I was my own worst enemy. I kept revising and re-revising. My head felt clouded and stressed. I was worried that once I launched, my life was going to change for the worst. I worried that I’d be so busy running that business that I wouldn’t have time for anything else. I’ve been a designer for 11 years now, so I’m kind of not that wowed by it anymore. BUT, ultimately, it’s good money, and I have a family to provide for, so I felt I needed to grow up and just do it, fulfillment be damned.

Being a pretty crazy meditator, I kept focusing on gaining clarity. Clarity, clarity clarity. Just unfog my brain so I can think clearly and ultimately run my life/career from a balanced perspective. It was coming here and there a little bit, but mostly I felt like I just couldn’t quite find what I was looking for. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, but I knew there was something in the back of my mind, waiting for me to find it. It was pretty frustrating, to be honest.

The essential oil samples arrived. I liked them. A lot. At home, alone every day, I would just sit there and breath the frankincense, non-stop. There was just something about that smell that just seemed to reach into my core and grab me. I was like an addict, it was crazy.

One morning, sitting on the floor meditating, breathing it in, I was overcome with something similar to a vision. Thoughts suddenly just filled my entire brain, it was like a voice telling me, “you don’t have to launch that graphic design website. You don’t want to, and why should you? You’ve been working as a business owner for 10 years, you know how to do it right, and you can do anything you want. You can do it on your own terms. There’s plenty of room for another successful entrepreneur in any field you choose”. It was staggering. THERE WAS MY CLARITY!!!! It was something I was so certain of, immediately, all my wishy-washiness was GONE! I became ecstatic, and honestly, a lot of that ecstasy is still running through me. It was an epiphany, and those are awesome, and should be listened to.

SO, (not to brag or anything) after working conflictedly for a year on a website that was never finished, I dove in, made skincare products (which I’ve been dabbling with and giving away to friends over the past few months), and opened my Etsy shop. It took me two weeks to design all the packaging, make all the products, and set up the website. Two weeks. I was like a girl en fuego. Now, a little over 4 weeks later, I’ve made 57 online sales, and 15 in-person sales. I’m set up to sell at several local shows/events in town here, and have 5 offers to sell in retail establishments. This is the kind of turn-around I’ve been wishing for my whole life.

All in all, after reading about the benefits of frankincense, I am convinced that all of this positive change was a result using it. I think it would have taken me at least another year of hard core reflection to even come close to the decisions that I came to in a few days. So, I don’t mind if people roll their eyes at me, because I feel like the proof is clear.

There’s my frankincense story. And to be honest, since trying out some other oils, I’ve had similar results. Patchouli gets rid of my nervous stomach. Rosemary gives me confidence and gets rid of self destructive thoughts and guilt. Grapefruit makes me feel like life’s just one big party. Seriously. It’s pretty awesome. I’ve successfully fought off several colds that went around my house, without Airborne. I could go on and on.

I did end up signing up as a reseller as well. The investment to do so is very low, compared to a lot of the multi-level marketing programs I’ve researched in the past, and the discounts you get on the oils are substantial, so at the very least, that’s enough for me. (I am in no way being paid by doTerra to write about any of this stuff, although that would be nice. Anyone want to pay me?)

So, if you’d like to learn more about frankincense, here are some interesting links.

http://doterralife.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/fabulous-frankincense-the-king-of-essential-oils/

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-frankincense-essential-oil.html

http://www.naturalhealth365.com/natural_healing/frankincense.html

If you’d be interested in checking out doTerra, which are super high quality, can safely be ingested, applied directly to skin with no adverse reactions, here’s that:

http://doterra.com

And for the science-minded: http://modernessentialoils.com/Resources/SAB_Compendium.pdf (particularly interesting is the part on page 3 about Vanderbilt University Medical Center).

And if you have any questions, or want to share a similar experience, please chime in!

xo,
Mere

Gratitude

True ForgivenessI recently posted about self-forgiveness, which is something that has contributed greatly to any iota of mental “health” that I may be experiencing in this time of my life.  I believe it’s truly something that is one of the keys to nirvana (or even just simple happiness and fulfillment).

Recently, I’ve learned that gratitude is possibly another one of those keys. With our unbelievably busy lives, rife with expectations, goals and failures, sometimes it’s really hard to feel grateful. It’s not even something that crosses our mind, let alone our to-do list.

So, knowing this, I decided to do a little experiment, and I decided to sit still, close my eyes, give my busy monkey mind permission to go play on the swingset, think of passing thoughts as passing clouds (that go unnoticed), and focus on the word gratitude. Say thank you, to myself, my home, my shoes, the sounds of passing cars, anything I was conscious of in that moment, but MOSTLY, thank you to ME, for being me, the me that got me here, the me that keeps me happy.

And you know what happened?  I became overwhelmed with a feeling of euphoria.

I think these feelings are catching.

Please, if you have a chance, try this exersize.  Maybe if we all do this every day, we’ll all see more magic happening all around us.

SPOILED! (and some printable behavior charts)

As some of you may know, we’ve been dealing with the terrible twos for a while now.  We’ve tried dealing with my son’s tantrums in a variety of ways, some more effective than others.  It’s tricky, because we’re never quite sure if he’s just lacking discipline and we need to crack down, or if it’s something he’s unable to control, so we need to be sensitive.  I’d say we were kind of 50/50 with our approaches, but maybe veering a little more on the side of trying to be sensitive and wait it out.

Meanwhile, I must confess, in an effort to avoid conflict, I have been buying my kids toys every time we go anywhere.  Toys at the grocery store, toys at the dollar store, toys at the gas station. If a store has a toy, we are buying it.  If a store doesn’t have a toy, people are crying at that store and begging to go to another store with toys.

I like toys.

I like toys.

At a soccer game, I talked with one of my friends, who also happens to be a kindergarten teacher.  She told me that she uses a sticker chart.  When the chart is filled up, her boys get to pick a treat.  No toys, just simple stuff, like playing a game or making popcorn.

I was blown away.  If I told my kids that their treat was a game, they would devour me.  If a “treat” involves anything other than merchandise, it’s no treat. For anyone. Me or them.

Reflecting on that truth opened my eyes to something that was happening, that I was completely oblivious to… my kids are becoming spoiled.  Whoops!

spoiled_2So… sticker charts it is!!!  I came up with two age-appropriate charts.  For every sticker, they get a coin (any random coin will do).  For certain behaviors that need more work, I’ll throw out an offer of DOUBLE STICKERS! (marketing!)

At the end of the week, we count up the coins, and that’s how much they can spend or save.  We only buy a toy once they’ve saved up enough.  It’s helpful that we have a store called Five Below (everything $5 or below), because it’s pretty predictable that they receive at least that much in a week, and then there’s no sadness over wanting something that’s $20, because there’s nothing over $5 there.

We also decided to match whatever they make that week, and put that amount into their little banks, so we can start a savings for their little futures.

After 2 weeks of charts, I am pretty impressed with my little guy.  As soon as he starts a tantrum, I remind him that he might lose his sticker, and he thinks about it, and usually decides to be nice.

Positive reinforcement was something we weren’t doing enough of, mainly because he was almost NEVER good (it pains me to say that).  I could see right away how proud he was when he could see tangible evidence of the power of kindness.

Here’s something else that really blew my mind.  Just after we initiated this, I had to get some mailing supplies at the craft store. There are a lot of toys at AC Moore.  I told my daughter that there would be NO TOYS that day, since she hadn’t saved enough coins. After we left, she revealed that she’d stolen something.  I was so shocked, she is normally so well behaved, and it made me realize that my spoiling was breeding this idea in her mind that she’s entitled to these things, and if someone says no, or there’s not enough money, she would just take them anyway.

I had no idea that this thought pattern was being created in her little mind.  I’m so glad to know that now though. (We did go back to the store to give back the item)

In case you’d like to try out my charts, you can download the behavior charts below.  I tried to make them age-appropriate for my own kids, but of course, I’m sure that varies by family. I’d be curious to hear your experiences with this kind of thing!

Younger Kids (approx. 2-4): http://yinmomyangmom.com/printables/chart_ages2-4.pdf

Older Kids (approx. 4-6): http://yinmomyangmom.com/printables/chart_ages4-6.pdf

And here’s a blank version, if you’d like to make your own: http://yinmomyangmom.com/printables/chart_blank.pdf

Success is more than what we've been taught.

Thursday Randoms

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.  I’ve been working on my Etsy store for 2 and a half weeks, and yesterday I finished, and launched it!  I felt so amazing after I launched it, and then it got better, I made 11 sales.

I’m telling you, the feeling that comes over you when you get an unexpected email saying you’ve got MONEY, is purely a joyful one.  I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.

Then, it got better.  I had a night out, getting mani/pedi’s with a bunch of amazing working mamas, some of whom purchased some of my products on the spot.  Cash is nice.

I want to tell you a little bit about this group.  A few months ago, a fellow entrepreneurial mama-friend and I set it up, and named it the As-Yet Unnamed Self Starting Moms Networking Group, because we didn’t feel like arguing over a name.

We did this because we have businesses to promote, networking is critical, but were tired of going to stuffy networking meetings, filled with lawyers and insurance salespeople (not that there’s anything wrong with those jobs, they’re just different than what we’re into, and those were the types who were dominating the meetings, so it just wasn’t a perfect fit) who sit around and drink wine and hope something good will come of it. We wanted to do something a little different, and limited it to self-starting mothers.  My husband jokes that it’s a little sexist, and he would probably be right, but I wanted it to be a place where women could come together and talk about our deepest fears and dreams, and sometimes it can be intimidating to do that around the opposite sex.  We will have specific events that men are invited to, because we really do value their perspective and input, but mainly it’s just us girls.

The reason I’m telling you about all of this is two-fold.  I wanted to tell you that it’s completely do-able to chase a business venture without spending a ton of money,  Etsy’s just one of the ways, there’s probably a million other great ways to do it, but this one’s good for me right now. It’s making me feel very happy and fulfilled, and I highly recommend checking it out.  Also, I want to encourage you to join our networking group on Facebook, because it’s a safe place to connect with other working women and promote your business.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this little piece of graphical wisdom, because it’s something that has been a little difficult for me to grasp over the last year, because I’ve (we’ve) been conditioned to think that money=success and that’s that, but once I practiced, I did grasp it, and it’s been making me very happy, and making me feel very successful ever since.

Success is more than what we've been taught.

Chase those dreams, they’re more attainable than you may realize (I’m aware that I sound like a cheeseball, and I don’t care).

xoxo, Mere

LTB – Never Stop Trying

For today’s episode of Let’s Talk Business, I’d like to tell you a story about epic fails!

When I was five, I was gifted with a beautiful, plastic self-inking stamp.  The image was a strawberry with a happy face, and the ink was strawberry scented.  I was pleased.  I realized that I really enjoyed the important, business-like feeling it gave me to powerfully stamp it all over a manilla folder.  Then I had an idea.

I would go door-to-door, soliciting my neighbors to purchase a hand made candy dish (which I would later figure out how to make out of cut up manilla folders and glue).  If they desired to purchase a dish, I would smartly and professionally smack a stamp on my folder, then on a little card, and give it to them as a receipt.

Every single person ordered a dish.  Thankfully, I wasn’t smart enough at the time to ask for payment, because I completely failed get around to making the dishes, therefore my only loss was maybe a little credibility, meh.

Clearly, I understand the importance of shoulder pads in business at a young age.

Clearly, I understand the importance of shoulder pads in business at an early age.

I just really enjoyed pretending to be a professional, and the thrill of a sale was all the reward I needed.  That, and some pretty sassy office supplies.  The success for me at that tender age, was the experience of the task, not the money.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of major epiphanies for new business ideas. Unfortunately, my epiphanies have not resulted in creating 50+ jobs for people, have not landed me on the cover of Forbes, and have not allowed me to finally trade-in my 96 Geo Prizm for my dream car…YET.

The businesses I’ve started (and ended) are:
– Online store selling handmade baby clothes and silk baby slings
– A service similar to SpaBoom for spa owners to sell gift cards online
– A shared workspace/child care co-op

These businesses failed, for various reasons, despite my initial passion for them.  I lost money.  I lost friends.  I lost faith in myself, and most importantly, I lost the ability to enjoy the successes that are in addition to money. In each of these failures was a common thread.  I was crippled with fear of losing money.  It consumed me, and eventually I wasn’t able to enjoy them, so I closed the doors, one by one.

What I learned, is that if I had been capable of figuring out smarter ways to keep my investments within my means, giving myself the time and patience to think things through carefully, and overall, staying like that wide eyed five year old, focused on feeling fulfilled by my trust in the process, I think things would have been different.

I had to fail in order to learn those lessons.

So, with those lessons simmering on the back burner or my mind, for 1 year I put aside any thoughts of making money in new ventures.

I allowed myself to enjoy writing for this blog, and plug away in my graphic design business, which is the only thing in my career that has withstood the test of time.

Anything else had to be purely hobby, when there was time and money.

It was liberating to be free from the pressure to make money from those wonderful, hobby-ish things, and just enjoy the process of being creative.  It’s been teaching me SO MUCH.  It allowed me to make mistakes, which eventually turned into happy accidents (ie, innovations).  Without the pressure to make things quickly and efficiently, with the expectation of making money, I was able to create things that I was extremely proud of. Things that I used on myself, and gifted to my loves ones, instead of rushing them out the door to the public in hopes to turn a profit.

Essentially, it’s teaching me to care for myself, which might just be the most important thing to be able to understand, in order to create a successful career, and life in general.  It taught me that success isn’t just money, it’s an overall picture of your life, and how comfortable and joyful you feel. Frequent, regular comfort and joy are true successes.

Now that I’m at the one-year mark of being safe, figuring out what I really love to do, without the pressure of making money at it, I’m releasing myself from these restrictions, forgiving my 5 year old self for never fulfilling those candy dish orders, harnessing that wide-eyed wonderment that I relished at that age, and THEN revisiting the money questions with a clear head, and asking friends for advice. I am now ready to gear up, and start Entrepreneurial Venture #725 – the Etsy Shop.  I’ll be keeping y’all in the loop on that project, stay tuned!

If you’re interested in exploring the notion of starting your own business (but maybe feeling a little crippled with fears related to past failures), here are some excellent books to get you going:

The E-Myth
$100 Startup
The Four Agreements
Think and Grow Rich
The Circle

But most of all, just enjoy the process and try not to psych yourself out.

I’d love to hear your experiences and lessons learned from successes and failures alike, please feel free to chime in here!

xoxo, Mere

 

Story Time!

Sometimes blogging is kind of hard. There’s a TON of competition, people have short attention spans, and if you don’t include some beautiful photos (these days, photos with pretty WORDS on top of them) you can’t Pin It on Pinterest, thereby excluding you from the “third most popular social network”.  Horrors!

January is particularly hard, because who the hell feels like doing anything that month?  It’s cold, so you don’t want to go outside and take pictures, and it’s dark, so pictures you take inside are going to look funky.

So, today I’m throwing caution to the wind and I’m just going to write words.  I’m going to tell you a small story, because this story came out of me while on the phone with a friend today, and she really seemed to enjoy it, so maybe you might too.

A (True) Story:

Two years ago I got a sassy new hairdo and bought some new clothes and makeup.  I was looking GOOD. Good, for the first time in about 4 years, because in those four years I’d given life to two small people.

Feeling good, I went to the wine store to buy wine, and feel even BETTER.  Bending over to examine some cool wine bottles, I was approached by a cute guy who worked there.  He asked if I needed help, I said no thank you.

He stood there, staring at me, kind of with a twinkle in his eye.  I got a little nervous.  I was afraid he was going to hit on me or something, which in a way would make me happy, (confirmation that I indeed, look GOOD!), but would also make me scared because, of course I’m married, and rejection isn’t fun for people.

I waited, and he finally spoke.

He said, “I’m not sure how to say this, but…
you have a granola bar stuck to your butt.”

THE END