Confessions: I Suck at Beauty Routines

I’m not a morning person. Nor am I much of a night owl. So morning and evening routines are not something I’m very strong in. I know, that probably sounds really strange to say in an era where “self care” is a huge a trend. But I just don’t care very much to set such habits, and I never understood them. I can’t really say for sure why.

My husband, on the other hand, has a very rich morning routine. Somehow he manages to get up early enough to get an hour or two of scrolling the internet reading articles, Facebook, and entertainment news in the film industry. Then he gets to his hygiene: He usually shaves if he needs to. Then he showers, washes/exfoliates and lotions his face and arms, puts on cologne or deodorant, and finishes off with doing his hair while examining himself in our full body mirror. The whole ordeal usually takes 45 min to an hour and puts most women I know to shame. Still, it helps him in some way organize his world, something I never seem to care to do, and always is a precursor to making me my morning tea. A service he provides me every morning when I wake up that acts as caffeinated bribery for committing the sin of having to wake me from my slumber.

I often wonder why he bothers putting so much effort into his morning routine? Is it vanity? Is it habit? Does he find pleasure in it? He must. He must in a way that I did not, and probably will not ever understand with such a lacking in my own routine.

My morning routine starts when his finishes. I usually am asked to get out of bed once my husband completes his hair styling, because I’ll be late for work if I take time to drink my detox tea and take my pills, much less put on makeup if I feel the urge. Which is the extent of my morning routine, a whole 15 min or less, with 5 mins to get to work, which is exactly 5 min from where I live if the traffic light stays green by the time I reach it. So my morning routine of tea drinking and pill popping is usually concluded with a frantic a grand finale of me cursing and kissing my husband while I’m flying out the door to get to work on time.

My showering routine is very uneventful as well. It happens every two or three days a week (to prevent skin dryness and irritation…and I’m apathetic). I shampoo, I exfoliate (as every diabetic really ought to with dry skin), I condition the hell out of my hair, wash my body, and get the hell out of the shower because I’ve wasted time self caring when there so much more important shit to do. I’m lucky if I shave my arm pits…and usually I only shave my legs once a month and remind myself why I just wear pants and don’t bother to shave in the first place. So I lose interest until a month has passed and I’ve forgotten why I don’t shave more and try again…only to remember and start the whole cycle all over again.

The truth is I have always struggled with self care. When I was a teenager my mother had to beg me to take showers, which I hated doing, because my diabetic skin was so sensitive that showering daily was irritating and there wasn’t a single body wash that didn’t dry out my skin so much that I could see dry skin marks and dust on my pants and shirts. Not only that but it dried out my curly hair and made it feel like cotton, no matter how much conditioner it took. But besides the irritation daily showers caused, I had little to no motivation to take care of myself, because I really just was apathetic about the whole thing.

Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize the importance of presentation in a professional environment, and I have adapted my life accordingly out of vanity and professionalism, and while I do shower much more often than I did as a kid, I really only shower about 3 times a week. I don’t do daily face washing. I don’t spend long hours in the bathroom making sure I’m shaved and primped for the day. I wake up with 20 min to get to work if I’m lucky, because I love sleep and procrastination to a fault. It’s a dangerous love affair, but one that has an exciting amount of risk if I’m going to be late for work or not in the morning. I’m lucky if I remember to brush my teeth in the morning (I’m more of an evening brusher anyway).

Still, what is odd about me is that I often have night every so often where I really focus on my self care even more than just taking a shower which is usually a requirement for basic hygiene in my book. An obligation rather than a luxury. I wash my face, do a mask, shave and lotion, do my nails. It’s like I suddenly get an urge to have a spa night, but it only seems to happen maybe once a month where I really go all out. Sure I’ll go all out with makeup pretty regularly, but even then I don’t really take my makeup off like I should. In fact I’m notorious for the big no no…I’ll wear my makeup overnight and just fix it the next day for work.

It’s a miracle that I never seem to smell bad.

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Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.

Sage Leaves and Dirt

When was the last time my feet had touched the ground? Like, the real ground? Dirt? It had been two weeks at least. Maybe three. So I wandered out to the garden, barefooted and spirit trapped within its own internal war, but he moment my feet hit the grass I felt all that stress and anxiety release. There was sage for picking in the garden. I would start there.

I did not start at the sage, but rather in a desperate moment of anxiety I laid on the grass and stared at the sky for a while. Why? Because I wanted to be reminded that I was so small in so vast of a world. That problems of mine were just as fleeting as my own life, and would soon drift away as time passed. That feelings were just feelings, no matter how strong they are, and that they too could fail me just as my own body could.

I needed to be reminded that I was finite. That a hundred years from now it is unlikely that I will continue to exists in the physical world, and all my emotions and problems would too.

I found comfort in this. As I laid on the ground staring into the sky, watching the clouds change from gold, to pink and purple hues, I found comfort in knowing the sun would also set on my stress, my sorrows, my anxieties, and my whole life. Maybe not today, but one day. I let that comfort wrap around me as the sky deepened in its blue.

I picked my sage and smelled it as I walked back to the stone steps of my tiny porch. Putting a soft leaf in my mouth to chew, I took my last deep breath of fresh air before entering and closing the door. Who knew I could feel so much better with just sage leaves and dirt?

Hospitals

I never really enjoy going around them, even if it’s for minor checkups. There’s just too many things wrong with them. Waiting room seating is uncomfortable. The furniture and floors everywhere are ugly. The television programs are really boring. The smell. The atmosphere. Everything about them seems to be uncomfortable.

The people are usually pretty friendly, as well as the coffee, which is not terrible as some might tell you…at least at our hospital. Because so many people rely on that coffee for so many things.

This time around it’s not an appointment for myself that I’m sitting in a hospital for. My mom needed someone to drive her. She’s getting an MRI for what she thinks might be another bulging disc in her neck, but of course you never know unless you get heavily sedated and shoved in a tube. She hates that part. I’ve never had an MRI before but I can’t imagine they’re very comfortable. Especially if you’re as claustrophobic as my mother is.

Recently a coworker of mine had their father-in-law pass away in this hospital. Which makes being here a little eerie. While I know hospitals that are associated with life and wellness, there is always that little shadowed part of the hospital for people who will not be getting better, and probably will not leave…and being so close to my late sisters birthday and the anniversary of her death, as well as the death of said coworker loved one…that shadow feels like it whispers a little louder than usual.

My coworkers father-in-law was not an old man. He’s younger than my own mother and about the same age as my father. Which puts life a little more in perspective and gives me somber and realistic realizations of the kind of deterioration I can expect for them in the years to come. Time that is flying so quickly it seems.

Sobering thoughts.

At Work

Today was not all it could have been. While I was paying attention to our task list at work before July 4th, others were requesting their vacation time for the rest of the week, including the higher ups who were more focused on their time off than realizing we needed direction on a package design that has artwork due this coming Tuesday. So without direction, with myself and one other designer in for the rest of the week, and employee photos to do all day today and Friday…I can feel myself panicking a little.

I actually stand corrected. I’m here alone for the graphics team tomorrow. And I have a list a mile long for employee photos and other things that need doing, but require approval from my management…who are all on vacation until Monday. When I am not here.

On Monday, I’ll be at the doctors office in the morning and taking the rest of the day to recover from the doctor appointment…which exhausts me to think about. So, I, team member who is doing the food styling and photography for the panel images, is not going to be around to even start the project. Which means that the day the packaging is due…is the only day all of us are back from our vacation time and can actually talk about the design and process, much less get groceries, do the shoot, and finalize the images in photoshop.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if the images did not require food styling. I was never trained in food styling, and my boss and coworkers are satisfied with my work, but because I am not experienced in it, I feel like I take such a long time to do things that my photo shoots for the front and back panels of our packaging take me all day to do. So of course my anxiety is higher than ever knowing our time crunch and many obstacles.

My coworker has been doing her best to calm me down. She keeps telling me “How can we move forward without a direction from the higher ups?” And “It really isn’t any of our faults that everyone took vacation on us without prioritizing tasks.” Not that it’s really helping. Because normally the graphics team is the last brick in the wall, and until that brick is placed, the wall isn’t complete. Us being behind, no matter who held up the process before the graphics team was even involved, means production is held up…and it ends up being our fault. So we get shafted. Which sucks.

So as I sit down here, waiting for employees to come to the photo studio for their photos to be taken, I cannot help but sit in a puddle of sweat, both from the heat and anxiety. Especially when the employees don’t show up for their photo and I have to fight with myself over if it’s really worth it to be doing the shoots today. Especially with so many people unexpectedly on vacation.

Here’s to hoping today and tomorrow go quickly.

Unhelpful Criticism

“I don’t mean to use such harsh words, but this look like something our China team would come up with.”

Please tell me what in this phrase is a helpful direction? What does that even mean? I guess you would have to be a racist to know.

Clearly, my boss really struggles with giving constructive criticism.

This particular phrase really bothers me, firstly, because it speaks badly of a team that the owners of the company chose to work with overseas and that we are trying to have good communication and relationship with. I haven’t ever seen our China team come up with a design, and if they work for us and were chosen by our leadership, why are you insulting them? Aren’t we all working for the same goal? Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same side? Saying things like this puts a bad taste in the domestic team’s mouth and just makes you look racist.

Secondly, “don’t mean to use harsh words,” is not an excuse to then use the harsh words. You do mean to use them. We all know it. It only makes people more aware of how much you actually mean to use and are going to use harsh words. It means you are aware of how you sound. It means the words you have chosen to use, were selected and intentional to be harsh and you know it. Foolishly, you are trying to remove yourself from your own responsibility, which is an indicator of bad leadership. To be a leader is to have responsibility, and to show you wish to remove yourself from the responsibility of your position and the tact you know you ought to have while holding it lessens your dependability.

Constructive criticism doesn’t use “I” or “Me” statements. It explains why a design or photograph does or doesn’t work based off of brand goals and statements. It doesn’t use insulting analogies. It builds up where it needs to and it makes helpful….emphasis on helpful…suggestions to give a better direction.

Consider this a public service announcement.

The Vacation That Wasn’t

When one goes on vacation in the area that family lives, one really isn’t on vacation. I have noticed this since becoming an adult, and it was further reinforced when I got married. We come to MI to relax, and we end up leaving way more tired than we came.

Were it my choice, and had I the funds to stay in the area without and family knowing, I would simply not notify anyone that I was around, and take time to myself to recover from the busy hustle and bustle of my own daily life, unfortunately, my husband is not that way. He would rather let everyone know we are around, and then let all others instigate our plans, by making them for us…because as I’ve said before, he is not a master of planning.

While well meaning, my family is not exactly a relaxing group of people to be around. They are intense, opinionated, loud, and not always the wisest. Still, they’re well meaning. They just think everyone should be happy. An opinion I have mentioned in previous posts, that I do not hold. I don’t think life is about being happy. I believe it is about doing the right thing, even when it is not in our nature to do so and can mean personal unhappiness. So I often just smile and tell them that everything is wonderful. Because that is easier than arguing with them about learning to ride the waves of that which we do not enjoy or find happiness in.

Coming to visit the family is very much a chore, but one that is an act of love I try to put efforts into all the same. I want to have a relationship with my family, even if it is a shallow one (because my family struggles with depth) and I want them to know that I am willing and glad to love them to the extent they’ll let me. However, this takes great effort from me, because the emotional toll of giving them my time when it often feels a bit wasteful, is difficult. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not good at talking about myself verbally. I’m not good at being around groups of people for very long amounts of time. So spending time with my family exhausts me. Which makes vacations to visit them, no vacation at all.

My husband, of course, is completely in his element on these occasions, so much of the time he drags me around to the homes of friends and family at his own pace, and often I have to tell him to leave me be for a bit and go visit people without me, simply because I cannot people anymore. Only yesterday I had driven two hours from where we were staying to visit my brother and sister-in-law because we had not yet seen their new house up north. It’s a lovely place, but of course, after having driven two hours back home, my husband wants to go spend time with his own grandmother, by this point I’ve spent a total of 9 hours driving in two days time and seen not only both brother and his wife and my aunts (whom we are staying with), but also my in-laws, a couple friends, and my grand parents. In two days. That’s just too much for me. So I sent him off to visit his grandmother on his own, because I just couldn’t make it happen. I was too exhausted.

This afternoon we have a lunch at my grandparents house. Both my aunts, my in-laws, and us will be there. After that we may go spend time with my sister-in-law to watch movies, or I’ll just send my husband and hope she understands that is have spent far too much time with people to have energy for that sort of thing. I just need to take a long nap or something.

Panic Attacks and Long Drives

I was never this way before. I didn’t start having panic attacks until I was in college. Ever since then I feel like I’ve had them regularly for a few years. Medications don’t seem to help. In fact they make me lose my appetite with the knot it puts in my stomach. Then the shaky feeling that feels like a low blood sugar. Which as a diabetic can be super distracting when I constantly feel like I’m dying.

Last night was no exception. When I was thinking about having to drive through Milwaukee and Chicago to visit family in Michigan, I had yet another panic attack. When my husband came home from work around 11pm he asked me why I looked like I had been crying and all I could do was express how much I hated driving and how I had a bad emotional reaction to thinking about it. He said nothing of course. What can he say? He hates driving just as much as I do. Still, I wish he would at least try. Mainly because I feel like if he only tried, he’d realize that it is possible. He can do it. Just like I can do it even in my deep dislike of driving and my fear of driving in large cities.

It really isn’t that bad once you do it. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. Most of it is pretty normal interstate driving. Yes there are lots of cars and lane switches. Yes there can be bumper to bumper traffic and all you have to do is breath and keep driving. In the moment of driving I’m too focused on driving to be concerned with anything else, including the fear of driving.

I still have to be careful with all these assumptions. Mainly because just because that is my experience, that doesn’t mean it’ll be his. I just wish I knew how to encourage him.

“Just rest.” He said tucking me in. Assuring me that I did not have to people anymore. Though my mind swirled with too much. Too much from the work day had happened. Too many different projects suddenly became fires. Too many fires became too much crunch time. Too much crunch time became too much for me. Too many people came in and out of my office looking for results from me, and I delivered, but at a cost.

I came home feeling like I was hung over. A common trait that happens when I desperately need to introvert. My husband knew the moment he saw me laying in the middle of the yard on a blanket that I had peopled enough. He ran to DQ, let me eat, and then ushered me inside the house and put me in bed.

“No more peopling today baby.”

Of course he retreated to his man cave to watch a particularly loud war film of some sort, and I laid in bed. Sun pouring through the window, head aching, and noise upon noise pouring out of the basement directly beneath our bedroom.

Did I want to rest? Yes and no. Yes, because I was exhausted. No because I had so much I could be doing. Like digging the hole for the fire pit we were going to build, or sanding and staining the cabinets in the bathroom before my father changed the floor and toilet for us. I could stand to vacuum the whole house and clean the bathroom too. I could go through my closet and see what I could stand to get rid of. I could dig up my garden.

None of it was getting done though. Not until I was able to people again. Or at least after a nap…a nap that probably wouldn’t come.

Friday to Saturday

It was in the hours of that morning that I sat listening to thunder overhead. The office was warm while I kept the door closed and I found myself quite alone. Finally.

He was upstairs on third taking product photographs soon to leave for the day, and she did not come in on Fridays usually, but perhaps for a couple of hours as necessary. Today she didn’t come at all, and I found myself entirely alone. Peace and quiet amidst my design work. Read more