Friday, February 9, 2018

The Trouble with Having a Blog

I'm sitting here, two eves before my 38th birthday slurping Chianti that was given to me upon advice to "let it breathe for a half hour" before I drink it because apparently that will change the taste of red wine. I'm watching The Crown on Netflix because ohmygosh if there's a bigger anglophile I haven't met her, and thinking about what I've accomplished in my 37-almost 38-years. If you round up, which I've been doing, terrifyingly, for the last 3 years, I'm almost 40 and I don't have as much as I wanted to my name by this age. I hear John Mahoney (Jack Maloney?), the dad from Frazier who just died, didn't start acting until 35 or some such age, and you can do a lot of things past the point of 30 that you never thought you'd do, or rather, had dreams to do, but my dreams that I had in high school and college have not come to fruition. I'm eating a sleeve of Ritz crackers that I found in the outskirts of the pantry cabinet, sitting at the laptop staring up at pictures of old Ollie, old me and old Doug wondering, have I made it as much as I wanted? I'm almost 40. Have I done things that speak to my legacy?

I have made and grown a human being, Ollie, and have a loving 10 year marriage to a wonderful man. I am happy in my job, I have a loving, supportive tribe of family and friends. Despite this, however, I keep going back to, and this is GROSS, my senior year of high school "will." Brandywine, God bless them, has seniors write a "will" for their, I don't know, last? publication of the school year. Mine had something about how I would buy Brandywine a real track when I was famous. A) Not Famous. B) Could give less than an eff about any track. But it was all about having the money and being in the position to make a difference. Have I made a difference in anyone's life but my own? Have I made a difference in my own life?

When we turned 30, Doug had a conniption and I didn't really see the point. Doug got a tattoo and made us skydive (which I was more than willing to do). It was fun. When I turned 30, I asked to be bought dinner. When I turned 35, I started and didn't complete a little list of things I wanted to accomplish by my birthday. I remember that ice-skating on a real pond (other than in Bryant Park or at Rockefeller Center) was on the list. what else have I done?

I helped start a theatre group. It's gone now.
I was in a film at the Museum of Modern Art. No one knows about it.

All I can think of is that in the Bible - somewhere - it talks about the main goal in life being to have a normal, Christian life. I don't know where this is in the Bible, and I honestly may have dreamed about it because my dreams lately have been incredibly real. But I feel like there's something to be said about not wanting more than what you're given - being content with what you have.

I've always been someone who wanted more. You give me candy, I want more. You say I'm pretty good; I want to be the best. You say I have talent, I want to be famous. I am an okay mother, I'm an okay wife, I'm an okay dog-mom, I'm an okay aunt, I'm an okay Sunday School teacher, I'm an okay blog-writer (who needs to write a blog anyway?), I'm an okay worker/colleague, I'm an okay daughter/sister. I don't need to be anything but average. I don't, really. Average pays the bills. Average gets the job done.

And one gets paid in love and forgiveness and generosity and happiness when one embraces contentment. And I don't mean that in the way of settling. Embracing contentment means that you're okay with the crazy, you're okay with the unknown - you're just happy to be. It doesn't mean settling for what you have even though you wanted - expected and frankly, deserved - more.

People think that they're old dreams are the ones that will last a lifetime. For example, I expected for the longest time that I would become a famous actress. But then again, I would've had to work much harder, and I would've had to suffer some aspect of my life for that to happen, or would've had to move, or would've had to kowtow to people that I thought were asses, or would've had to change something about myself that I shouldn't. At least, that's what I tell myself. After I'm done talking to myself in the mirror like I'm talking to Leno/Kimmel/Fallon on the couch, I realize that I'm awful at public interviewing. And then I think, THAT's why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or when I remember how I'd be paralyzed in my own barf before a show - THAT's why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or how I'd be bored OUT OF MY GOURD and I COULDN"T WAIT for the show to come to an end in the middle of the acts - THAT'S why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or how I'd act like Mister Big Shot after a show and annoy everyone around me - THAT's why God didnt' make me a famous actress.

You know what they don't tell yoy when you grow up? They don't tell you the world's best kept secret: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE HELL THEY"RE DOING.

I'm drunk. Well, I mean, close to. But Ollie, if you're reading this, know that it doesn't matter what you've done when you reach a pivotal birthday. It doesn't matter if you're famous or rich. It doesn't matter how many publications you have to your name or whose mind you've changed. It's about who you've been.

I can tell you, I've been a bully AND a believer.
I've been an asshole AND an angel.
But I've been chosen. By God and by my tribe - and I've been loved.

It turns out that that's all you have to be at whatever age you reach. You have to be loved. And I don't mean loved by acquaintances, or loved by those who have to love you. I don't mean "put up with" or loved conditionally. If you are LOVED by your TRIBE - family, friends, whathaveyou, you have built a solid life.

So yeah, part of me wishes that I could've been famous. And there's always the chance of my 15 minutes of fame. But really, when I look around myself, I'm so proud of the relationships that I've made, cultivated, and kept. Because that's all that really matters. That's all the legacy you need.

If this doesn't make sense, it's because it's written in drunk text font.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Better Me

The day after Thanksgiving, we got a dog.

Roxy Lane Turk is a laborador retriever. Her mom was a full bred golden retriever who went red-lighting one day and came back knocked up. So Roxy's technically a black lab, but she's also technically not a black lab. Daddy donor was anonymous. She's marginalized, and we love her.

Here's the thing: having a puppy is akin to having a newborn. You don't know what you're doing, you're up all night, you smell like piss and slobber, and you're forgetful AF. You didn't believe what everyone told you about the early months but now you realize they were right, you have no idea what's going on in the news, scheduling your life is unimaginable, and not only are you not taking care of the rest of your family, you're not taking care of yourself.

Or maybe that's just me.

We're getting better, though. Roxy's puppy teeth are starting to fall out - PTL! - and she hasn't had an accident in the house since early January. Ollie's cooled it on the "you love the dog more than me" guilt trips and Doug and I were able to talk last night during a pre-scheduled meeting about a lot of stuff we had been neglecting. I still have no clue about the news and I can't remember my name, but I tend to like it that way lately.

I'm also taking better care of myself, which as we know, not only helps me by making me feel cleaner, more in control and better about my image, but also helps the family because Mama's not so  irrational and uptight. I tossed old clothes and shoes and I cleaned out the bathroom closet.  I used Ipsy for a few months last year - the online makeup distributor that sends you 5 trial items and a little makeup bag every month for a small fee - and I tossed all the things I didn't like - which was a lot. IT WAS LIBERATING.

Through that purge, I realized that a) I don't like to wash my face at night and b) because I only use a few items on my skin: face wash and lotion, concealer, blush, mascara and eyebrow pencil, I should really buy only the best. I went through magazines, online articles, and word of mouth and tried TONS of products. I didn't love them, and I didn't love washing everything off my face. Until I found...


Have you heard of them? They are a personal care product company with everything from kid shampoo and sunscreen to makeup, masks and men's body lotion. Their whole idea is to get safer products into everyone's hands through consultants (just like Stella & Dot, Thirty-One and ItWorks!) because the FDA hasn't regulated the ingredients in personal care products since 1938. You may have to go back and read that again. Everything that you buy at Target, Whole Foods, wherever, that says organic is not certifiably organic because anyone could put that label on their products - it's not regulated by the American government. Europe has removed 1400 toxins out of their personal products, and US has taken 30. Beautycounter, however, has taken 1500 toxins out of their products and put them on a "never" list where they promise they've never put them into products and they never will. These toxins have been linked to many different kinds of cancer, asthma and infertility. HELLO.

I am not a consultant and I don't plan to be. I'm not selling you Beautycounter - I promise. But I do think it's important for you - for everyone - to look at what you're using and make a decision for yourselves.

Check this out:

I'm not going to lie to you. When my friend, Jennifer, became a consultant for Beautycounter, I wished her luck but I really didn't think that her job would amount to much. I feel like all companies like this are a flash in the pan (one point for outdated cliche), and all consultant-led retail business fizzle out. Even Mary Kay bit it for a while there before making a teeny come-back. Is it back? I'm not sure.

Beautycounter started in 2013 and is getting more acclaim every day. They've partnered with Environmental Working Group (use this database to check out your current products' ingredients), Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and Healthy Child Health World. They're certified by the American Sustainable Business Council, Benefit Corporation, Business-NGO Working Group,, and Safe Cosmetics Business Network. They've been featured on the Today Show, Glamour magazine, and have partnered with Target. Like, really, they're not messing around.

But the biggest point to make is that the products are GOOD. I'm in love with nearly all of them. And they ease you into their stuff - they have a Flawless in Five deal that's incredible - and I will be using these same containers for months. You know how you can get those little chin hairs that come out of nowhere and grow to 5 feet long before you notice them? No joke, I just realized this last week: using the charcoal mask and the face wash and moisturizer (I use the Nourishing line), has made it so that I can FEEL when one is coming in. And it turns out that I'm a hairy beast. But that's another post. The bottom line is that my skin is so smooth, soft, clean and HAPPY.

I really do look forward to washing my face now, because they have something called Cleansing Balm and it's REVOLUTIONIZED my nighttime routine. I don't like washing my face at night because I get water everywhere and not only does the water wake me up, but I also have to clean it up - waking me and angering me further. Here I am now, tired, with a wet pajama neck and sleeves and hair and I'm involved in this water war with my countertop. It's fierce. But with the Cleaning Balm, I put a little of the balm - it's like a wax - into my palm and rub it onto my face. I wet a washcloth and wipe it off. DONE. No mess. No stress.

FAQ Time:
Are the products more expensive than Walmart stuff? Yes.
Do the products cover as well as Cover Girl? Yes.
Do you have as many breakouts with this as with Cover Girl/Neutrogena/Maybelline/Almay, etc.? Nope. Not even close.
What about sensitive skin? What about eczema? Yup. You're good. I have dry, sensitive skin.
Have you tried Origins? Have you tried Rodan & Fields? Have you tried this one or that one or this department store one, or this unique one from Zimbabwe or that Mario Badescu one? 
YES. I have. And while all the items are great, this is the company I keep going back to because they are SAFE.

So do me a favor and check out Beautycounter. That's all. Check it out.
If you want to buy something and switch to safer, go to my social link. Where it says to select an upcoming social, click on my name. And hey, to entice you over to the bright side:

  • If you buy $50 worth of products through by February 16th, you get $10 off!
  • If you buy $100 worth of products through by February 16th, you get $20 off!
  • Anyone who buys using my link or this email by February 16th gets entered to win this No. 3 Balancing Spa Set (reg. $88!):

I really don't think you'll regret it! I know that I don't.

So when my life gets crazy - the dog refuses to get off the couch, my son is whining, or my husband is asking if I realized I didn't put soap in the dishwasher, at least I can get up, wash the dog slobber off my face and go to bed knowing that I'm treating myself to safer products.

And that makes me a better me!

Wouldn't it be nice if they sold wine?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Elliott Shay!

Elliott Shay Paff, the big five year old
Stood at the top of the mountain and told
God about her plans for her future and He
Said, “My, what a lot of things you want to be!

“I hear you when you say that you’ll
Be an astronaut and own a swimming pool.
I understand that you want to open a zoo
And train leopards, tigers, and even newts.

“I can see you as a ballerina who dances on stage,
And a writer and illustrator who livens up the page.
Wait - you want to be a doctor and a violin instructor
At the same time as a philanthropist and subway conductor?

“The President of the United States AND
A lobbyist for science and research?
A singer, a CEO, architect AND
A French cheese connoisseur?

“Whoa, Elliott, let me sit down a minute.
I think you ought to, maybe, put a pin in it.
I appreciate the thought you’ve given this, lamb,
But I want to hear your life’s ambition; your plan.

“You see, I, who have given life to mankind,
Sounds to the deaf, and sight to the blind,
Think no one should have to stifle their dreams
Even if they’re not completely mainstream.

“So if there’s a fire in your belly and few complications
Become a teacher and a fighter in a fire station.
But be sure to do so with the purest of heart
And unto the world, do love and compassion impart.”

Elliott smiled and gazed up at God’s face
She said, “Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and grace.
Can you, perhaps, do me a little favor
And help me face the rest of the world a little braver?

“I will be a woman, Lord, like the women before me.
And I will roar, and the whole world will hear me.
But they will try to squash my hopes and my dreams
And I want to face them with tighter seams.

“This world is broken, God, it’s bent.
I try to find generosity and friendliness, but I’m spent.
Is there a golden ticket to happiness?
Can I easily find a way out of crappiness?

“I want to be strong and I want to be useful.
I want to live a touching life that is truthful.
I don’t want to live in shame or in pain.
I don’t want to seek low where I have to gain.

“I want what I’m promised, by our community and elders:
I want warmth, love, food and some shelter,
I want joy in my heart and peace in my soul,
I want to learn everything – my life to be whole.”

And God said, “Oh, Elliott, there’s no golden ticket.
No matter your religion, you still have to live it.
There will be crappiness here, it’s not Paradise.
Make your own Heaven here, that’s my advice.

“What you just said, you’ve got it right there,
Look for the grace, the joy, the care.
But you get out of life what you put into it,
So you'll give more of love, don’t only take of it.

“Darling Eli, pick any career, go and choose!
The world is your oyster, you have nothing to lose.
Just remember, you must be the change, be the good.
If you want to see change, make it where you should.

“That’s all I ask, it has always been:
Love me, love yourself, and love your friends.
We all get downhearted, but as long as you try
To focus on LOVE, always LOVE, you’ll survive.

“You’ll volunteer, vote, donate and give.
You’ll see of the world, how others live.
You’ll build people up with your actions and voice.
To people who hurt you, you won't give them the choice.

“My girl, to thine own self you’ll be brave and true.
You’ll do such good work, I’m already proud of you.
Just remember where your home is, was and always will be:
True north on your compass, where your spirit’s at peace.”

Elliott Shay smiled and nodded.
She lifted her face to the Light and thanked God.
Turning around, tucking her hair back from her face,
Elliott gingerly stepped down and her steps she retraced.

I love you, Eli. You'll do great things!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Reformation Sunday

You know that I was born, saved and raised a Baptist and my husband called himself a "recovering Catholic," and that we now attend a Lutheran church. As members, I guess we get to call ourselves Lutherans now, and on the recent Reformation Sunday I was asked to give the children's sermon.

I was understandably anxious to speak about Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, because I'm a new Lutheran. A newbie, though, might have been the best approach, because I learned all about Monk Marty. Here's my sermon:

Today we're going to talk about gifts and how one man 500 years ago used his gifts to change the world.

Does anyone know what we're celebrating today?
(Not Halloween yet, one kid booed).

We're celebrating Reformation today.  On the last Sunday of October 500 years ago, a man named Martin Luther (not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr., who also changed the world), put up a list of 95 things that he thought was wrong with the churches at that time.

See, only priests could read the Bible and Martin Luther thought that everyone should be able to read and understand the Bible themselves.

(I wasn't going to go into that whole paying to get out of Purgatory thing).

His list of 95 things started a big conversation and got him in a lot of hot water!  Some very religious people told him to take back what he said because they thought it was wrong.  He didn't, though.  And we're so glad that he was brave and courageous because it changed the way that we praise God!

God gave Martin Luther the gifts of studying and writing, and used his gifts to change the course of religion.  Out of that new religion came lots of new churches, including the one that we're all sitting in right now!

We are all given gifts from God. We may not know what they are now, but in time, we're able to tell what they are because they are things that we're really good at, that make us feel nice and help others.

Devon: You care a lot about your family.
Avery: You show love like no one I've ever met.
Lauren: You say what's on your mind.
Drew: You're quiet and thoughtful, but you're a natural born leader.

You all have gifts just like David, who we learned about last week.  He had really good aim, didn't he?

So today, I want you to think about what your God-given gifts may be.  Think about ways to use them that God would like, and how you can get better at those gifts.  Remember, like Martin Luther God may need you to be brave and courageous to use them for His work.

Let's all pray together: heads down, eyes closed, hands together.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for giving me gifts like you gave Martin Luther.
Please help me to be brave and to use them in a way that is pleasing to you.
Thank you.