She’s Losing Them

The acne scars, that is. I wonder what it’s like? How does she feel?

All scars fade in time. Even though we remember those moments of shame, small indignities or huge embarrassments as if branded into our hides, they’re mere echoes, not even close to the intensity of the first cut of them.

I have a scar on my finger that reminds me of trauma that appears to me in soundless, colorless flashes, disjointed and distorted, like a silent horror movie of muted screams against grainy screens of partially lit faces in terror: eyes widened, brows furrowed, and mouths in mid-howl.

It’s my index finger, the tip of which was chopped off when I was maybe 3. Memories fade. My mother wasn’t there that day, a rarity in itself. My sleeping father was in charge. In reality, my 8 and 6-year-old sisters were.

We lived in Brooklyn in a fourth-floor apartment with a heavy door that raced shut in the sheer massiveness of its weight, except for the last crack of the opening.  The door slammed shut with a boom after a second’s hesitation as if building up the ferocity to strike that door jamb with a definitive, angry commandment of closing. Boom! The hallway rang with its crashing steel on steel.

My sisters and I were playing in the hall, the door closing behind us, and I, ever one to tempt the gods to see how far their vision traveled, stuck my index finger in the slowly disappearing crack in the door. A few times actually. I think my game was to see how many times I could stick my finger in the diminishing space before the door slammed shut.

I lost. The door won and took the tip of my tiny finger off as a prize. My father, awakened by my sisters’ screaming, scooped me up and ran me down the stairs to the nearby doctor’s office.

I remember his powder-blue, terry cloth bathrobe, the belt swinging untied as he scrambled down the stairs, exposing his white undershirt and light blue boxers. I remember the heady height, scooped up atop his 6 foot 3 frame. I also remember looking down at the blood drops, one hitting every other stair or so, and the one splatter marring my mother’s mustard brown sandals dangling off my feet, six or more sizes too big for my little foot. I had been wearing them when the door hit.

I also remember the tip of my left index finger, lopped over to the side, hanging by a thread of skin. I don’t remember pain. I do recall the doctor flipping that finger tip right side up,  where it belonged with the rest of the finger, and bandaging it in place. And I do remember the doctor commenting on my pretty shoes, which I was quick to respond to, lest there be any misconceptions or false representations, that they were my mother’s.

When on occasion I notice the scar on the tip of my finger, I recall its story with detached interest and curiosity. Like childhood itself, the story becomes flat, distant and removed. Even the recalled emotions, like cells under a microscope, we adults observe them with the curiosity of a scientist.

All scars heal, even the ones that affect us all our lives. The scabs turn into protective walls that swallow up the wound as if it never was.

Do you still feel the pain?

My oldest daughter talks about the world, hers and everyone else’s, what she’s seen, heard, and whatever fascinates her at the moment. She’s easy to talk to, and we share similar visions about people, art, accountability, and human nature.

She’s a sensitive woman, but she appears so collected, unaffected, and strong. Quiet and reserved, many might say about her if they only knew her for a short time. So many times I’ve witnessed her courage in situations that would have crushed me–the pressure of a soccer goal keeper and scalding slights of social isolation in high school. In middle school, she developed a staph infection that caused scabs to form on her face. I agonized for her unwarranted shame.

I think of her plight with acne. Did she believe herself ugly because of the raging outbreaks her neck and jawline would scream out to anyone within sight?

(Jordyn using Unblemish after 5 and 1/2 weeks)

She recites her story–I was awkward, wasn’t popular–as if she were cast in High School Musical, allotted her clique. But does she feel it still? Or is it like a scar on a finger, faded and forgotten, even as it’s embedded in the movie reels of memory as clearly as it is inscribed in the disfigured flesh?

What’s it like to have acne? Your face is your calling card. Others judge you by what they see–if they see. Most don’t. They look at you with their own stories, select what’s important to them to “see” in you. But you, yourself, see your image from the inside, real and imagined.

What will she envision when the scars disappear altogether?




She’s the oldest of us. Five and a half years separate us–she and me–but only two and change separate her and Trudy. Karen and Trudy grew up together, while my brother and I, who are two and half years apart, grew up together. Trudy and I are nearly four years apart, and seven years separate my brother and younger sister.

Though my childhood memories of my oldest sister recall mostly annoyance–hers for my brother and me as we ran around the dinner table or wrestled or created some disturbance or other–our adult relationship closed the gap. We’re just friends and sisters now.

Age does that: closes the chasm between a teenager and her rambunctious, irritating little sister. Who could blame her for wanting to eat her dinner in the bathroom to get some peace? I wanted to do the same when my kids were young. And they were MY kids. Just desserts, I guess.

Another Rider on the Skincare Train

I was thrilled when Karen agreed to join the journey–be another of my test subjects. Her two-week results are dramatic. I just saw her at my house yesterday, so I know the pictures don’t do her justice.

Karen’s using the Reverse regimen with the eye cream. In just fourteen days, her skin brightened. That’s the first thing I noticed when I saw her after a couple of weeks. Brightness and smooth skin appear first on every person I know who’s started one of the regimens. And only in a matter of a couple of weeks.

But the eye cream! So surprised to see the noticeable reduction in puffiness under her eyes. Though I also use the eye cream, the results are more subtle on me. My eyes don’t get puffy or dark underneath. I just like the way it feels on my skin.

A Reason to be Happy

Karen’s having a tough time now. Between health and job changes, among the other less than stellar byproducts of aging, like aches and pains growing on you like moss on a musty old tree trunk. I know she’s stressed, but her face actually looked less stress-ravaged.

I hope she can look at herself in the mirror and see past her own judging eyes and belittling perceptions that she, like each of us has, of the mirror’s reflection. If she can, she’ll see how lovely her skin looks in just two short weeks.

It won’t solve her problems that make wrinkles or baggy eyes pale in comparison. I know that. But perhaps a small smile of momentary delight?

Trudy and I are happy for her. Perhaps the healthy changes on the outside will percolate down to the inside. I wish it so.


Image source

Trudy’s 5 weeks


Trudy’s been using Reverse Lightener to even her uneven skin tone, what she describes as blotchy skin. And you can see that the before picture to the left shows a red patch on her cheek. The photo on the right shows an evenness to her skin tone now.

Since she was overusing the Reverse Lightening treatment, the third step in the day and night regimen, she broke out on her forehead a week or so ago. So, she started on the Redefine regimen at night and the Reverse in the morning, which seems to have helped.

These photos don’t tell the true story. Her skin is transformed, smooth, bright, and even.

I’m so glad we have this time together.

My sisters and I are close but don’t get to see each other as often I’d like.  Since Trudy retired, she’s been the master of ceremonies, so to speak. She’s gathered sisters, sister-in-law, brother, nieces, cousins, brother-in-law, and friends to various activities, like a Beatles tribute/karaoke meet-up at a local tavern, a Billy Joel/Elton John monthly restaurant piano bar performance, and small playhouse productions.

And having this blogging excuse to have her come by for photos is one more reason to catch up, grab a hug, share a laugh or a painful moment watching our mother struggle to breathe here in a hospital bed next to my father’s bed in my backroom.

But she’s decided to go back to work a few days a week. Awww…the entertainment coordinator is returning to the grind. Will she still feel like coming out to play?

“How was it going back to work after retirement these past few months?” I asked her today as she posed for her week 5 ‘after’ photos. But I could guess what she’d say. I mean, who wants to work when you’ve had time off to do whatever you want?

She did say her hairdresser commented on how good her skin looked. That must have felt great. I like that. When someone beams about being noticed, I enjoy this journey into entrepreneurship that much more. Another pretty good part was my first paycheck today–a pleasant surprise.

Still, it’s about what works.

I’m trying to think about all the beauty products I’ve bought that make good on their promises. Let’s see. Longer lashes L’Oreal? Nah. Roq, L’Oreal, Oil of Olay, Lancome, Ponds cold cream, Lush soaps, and a host of anti-aging creams I’ve tried? Hell no!

Maybelline, Almay, Urban Decay, Cover Girl, Bare Naked, Yves St. Laurent, and others I don’t remember mascara…okay, yes, darker lashes for the day. I do love my shampoo and conditioner. I’ve used them for seven years without complaint. They do their job.

You want to know that the skin, hair, cosmetics, and any products you use and spend any money on, do what they say they’ll do. That’s my pet peeve. I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’ve bought tons of body products in my five-plus decades. When I look at my or my sister’s, daughter’s, and husband’s ‘before’ photos in this little experiment, I realize that none of our skincare products worked. My skin looked no better than if I’d used nothing at all. What would I do with all that money I poured down the drain? I can dream, can’t I?

These are our experiences. Others may have found the holy grail of skin care. Power to them. We all want to look our best.










7 Weeks


Yes, the products still work. Yes, my skin, eyelashes, and eyebrows continue to change.

My forehead creases are barely visible, and my skin is smoother, brighter, and moister. Look at the eyebrows and lashes. In the photo to the left–the before picture–I’m wearing mascara. On the right–7 weeks later–I’m not. They’re almost the same. My eyebrows and lashes have begun to thicken and darken. That’s the Lash Boost at work after only 3 weeks.

My eyebrows and lashes have begun to thicken and darken. That’s the Lash Boost at work after only 3 weeks.

And my journey’s unfinished. There’s more to the story.

Others Notice

A woman who hadn’t seen me at the froyo shop in a while remarked, “Your skin looks great. What did you do?”

My sister, Trudy, who’s been using Reverse for 5 weeks got her hair done recently from the same woman she sees every other month. She noticed how beautiful Trudy’s skin looked. For crying out loud, my oblivious father noticed how great her skin looks.

My friend, who started the Reverse Brightener regimen a few weeks ago, had a colleague mention how nice her skin looked when they met again after a month.

So why not?

I threw a big business launch party for a consultant who started her business with me. It was the first time I’d conducted this sort of affair.

Beforehand, I wondered what I should say. Should I get all teacherly on them and educate the partygoers with business and product facts. I knew a lot of them. I never get into something without excavating. A true researcher at heart, I want to know every inch of what interests me.

I chose to story tell, mostly, with some compelling fact spraying in between–the story of the business, the two women who own it, how I came to the business, and all the weaving, bobbing, and swerving that goes with the tales we tell.

The crowd was pleased, entertained, informed, even inspired–but not enough.

So I wondered after this party and in speaking with so many people about the skincare products, why people don’t jump on this stuff. Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about it agrees that the products do exactly what they claim to do.


But that’s typical of my thinking: It’s math. The products work. The ones they use don’t. They’re throwing money away on that stuff that doesn’t yield the results they want when this stuff does what they want.


Putting a premium on logic, it’s always been my downfall. What I’ve come to realize after a moment’s reflection (that’s all it took) is that buying–or not buying–is not logical. It’s almost entirely emotional. All kinds of wants and guilt and deserving and justification and preconceived notions about self and others and fear and you name it gets whipped up from the bowels of the sub and unconscious.

What I’ve come to realize after a moment’s reflection (that’s all it took) is that buying–or not buying–is not logical. It’s almost entirely emotional. All kinds of wants and guilt and deserving and justification and preconceived notions about self and others and fear and you name it gets whipped up from the bowels of the sub and unconscious.

It’s not math: 1+1=2 (skincare that works > skincare that doesn’t). It’s complicated. And all too human.


Observing human behavior is a hobby of sorts. I’m so sure that the rush of someone saying, “Hey, your skin looks great!” is powerful. I love it. But so many people, women especially, struggle with ‘deserving.’ I don’t know how else to describe it. But I recognize it.

We’re all a grab bag of experiences, inheritances, and cultural notions. And all these byproducts–ideas–compete in our heads for space and priority. Is it better to be self-effacing and humble or unabashedly proud of your best assets? When does confidence turn into arrogance? When did we draw those internal images of ourselves? And does that image ever change, have an expiration date, or come to light for interrogation?

Mesmerizing. Mind-blowing. Did we earn our birthrights? Did anyone “deserve” the lot they drew in being born rich, poor, healthy, ill, tall, short…?

What’s your story?

Though it’s exhausting (I’m out of practice), I’m enjoying the story swapping that goes on in socializing. Everyone is a story worth hearing. We’re all so different even as we’re all the same. That paradox never gets old.

The stories unfold daily. Mine’s longer than some, shorter than others’. My biographical facts differ from yours. But I think we’re all trying to eke out a little more happy before journey’s end. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it–for now.



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Subject Spouse

My family’s tired of me exclaiming randomly, “You’re skin looks great!” Mostly, they roll their eyes while smiling just a little. I know they like the recognition, like that their skin looks noticeably clearer, brighter, and silkier. Everyone has an ego.



Even he, pictured here at a little over 4 weeks using Soothe regimen for sensitive skin, loves his new look. He’d never admit it. In fact, it’s much easier to be cynical in response to the discomfort of risking his vanity’s exposure.

We were at our friends’ house eating dinner with 8 other guests. I pulled a random, “You’re skin looks great!” after he spoke up and held the audience’s attention with his opinions (probably political) apropos of the conversation.

He smirked and said, “Of course. She’s selling the stuff.”

In the privacy of our home, he asks, “Really? Do you think so?” Yes, I definitely know so. So, why would he cast doubt on his own progress before the dinner gathering?

Well, for one, the host, who sees Pascal almost daily for the last several years, remarked, “Well, sure. He looks rested now that he’s not working,” dismissing the whole skin transformation fact.

I insisted, “And his changed skin.” I got the sympathetic quiet smiles shot at me, like, “Okay, if you insist.”


Oh, ye of little faith and attention.

Sure, they’re not experiencing the changes in living, photographic proof and daily observation. Their focus is distinct from mine. They’ve made up their minds as to the cause and effect of Pascal’s new looks. To them, he’s needed to quit that job for a long time. It was draining his life blood. I don’t disagree. But since they decided the reason that accorded with their own reasoning, they weren’t going to accept mine–especially since I’m selling it. That makes my opinion suspect, somehow–despite the truth.

That’s the way people sometimes think–plausible deniability, too.  Your mind controls what you want to see, know, and believe. Until you flip the light switch on to see the subject in a new light. It takes willingness, maybe self-awareness, and an openness to the possibility of error. Ah, we humans.

But there’s still evidentiary proof. I’m a believer in what my eyes image to my brain. I see the difference. I don’t think it’s mere suggestion, either.  What do you think?

6 weeks

Love, Business, and Cynicism

I read two articles this morning: one titled, “10 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You Happy and Successful” and one, “Why You’re Not the Success You Want to Be.” Both amount to a get-over-yourself-and-take-responsibility-for-your-(in)actions scolding or inspiriting, depending on how you feel about yourself.

The universe conspires to kick you where you most need kicking. Battling the daily should-I-Shouldn’t-I saps me. You can’t change without discomfort, disorientation, and discouragement.

It’s not just my face. I’m trying to build a business. No question, I love the company, love the motivational team spirit, and especially love the products and how they make me look and feel. The question is how to spread the love?

Seems like it’s so much easier to spread hate, gauging by the tenor of the news and social media. Hate’s easy. It’s a big emotion. Love’s both powerful and subtle. It’s expected yet exceptional.

But even if you’re not a hater, cynicism is an ugly offshoot–a not quite so mean relative. Cynicism safeguards us, makes us feel smart and smug. It’s also lazy, thinking of my own cynicism.  It derives from a knee-jerk preconceived notion that the world is suspect, the first line of defense that leaves me less vulnerable than keeping an open mind and waiting to see what’s what–which takes more work.

Fear and Loathing

I love what I’m doing. I’m afraid of what I’m doing. I love that I’m afraid and working on getting over my fears–eventually. Overcoming fear success stories are my favorite tangents when I’m lecturing the college kids on writing. The number one student writing challenge is fear: I’m not good at writing. I don’t know grammar. I can’t organize my thoughts. It’s so hard.

It’s hard because it’s daunting. Our thoughts don’t naturally form themselves into neat boxes called paragraphs on a page. They flit all over our messy brains in holy randomness. To capture one thought is to lose ten ones just forming. It’s chaotic, like lassoing cats.

Practice Makes Imperfect Less So

But there’s a proven method to successful writing (however that’s measured). It’s a formula + practice, practice, practice. It takes a shit ton of time to get better at it–those Gladwell 10,000 hours it takes to master something.

Okay, so Gladwell’s theory’s been debunked specifically vis a vis entrepreneurship (only 1% success attributable to practice), but practice is not irrelevant in writing or math for that matter.

But getting back to fear, overcoming it IS a matter of practice in my own experience. I used to be deathly afraid to speak in public. I spent 18 years in school avoiding it by never raising my hand or bowing my head down into my book when the teacher scanned the class for willing victims to answer a question.

I was the quiet smart kid who never gambled on risking mistakes. If I couldn’t bear to be wrong, I couldn’t give my thoughts a spin out loud to try them out. I suffered in doubt alone.

Direct Sales, Ew!

Luckily, my own dissatisfaction or unconsciousness threw me into professions that forced me to speak. I recall coming within seconds of passing out when I first taught high school and my boss came in to review my lecture. I thought I’d spew from every orifice. It took five years of appearing in court sick and vomitous before one day I realized that I wasn’t. I somehow forced the fear out of me.

My students are amazed to hear the stories. You? Afraid to speak in front of an audience? Clearly, I’ve mastered the comfortable teacher-speaker role. I can’t say I’ve mastered teaching or public speaking, but I’ve whipped one of my fears.

But the process of doing so never gets easier. I love what I’m doing now–preaching the good word on lovely skin and a great company. Only, I’m craving companions who are equally enthusiastic and likewise motivated to build something with me.

It’s hard to find–companionship, business partners. Most people fear to fail before they start. I get that–daily. But I’ve started and don’t plan to stop until…who knows? That’s the best part. Who knows what lies ahead?

What I do know is “direct sales” is as dirty a word to too many people as “telemarketing” or “car sales.” People brace themselves to be taken or taken somewhere they naturally feel reluctant to go–spending money or spending more money than they want or feeling trapped or getting ripped off.

I’ve always felt the same. “What does this person want from me?” It’s uncomfortable to feel out of control, doubtful, and suspicious. Our overexposure to being advertised to and sold things has given us fear and skepticism. I just go near a car dealership and feel like I need to put on my armor.

Let’s Be Realistic and Do Math

Why is that? If you need and want to buy a car, why not let yourself be sold one? The best armor is information and knowing what you want, so long as it’s feasible. Humans fear change. People fear losing control.

I don’t like spending money. That’s what I tell myself. That’s been my mindset. But I spend money all the time on what’s important to me–besides the bills. I’ll overspend on eating out to enjoy a good meal with my daughters or husband. I’ll relish a delightful bottle of wine that’s sinfully expensive to accommodate a ridiculously lavish, absurdly expensive meal every once in a while. I deserve it.

I don’t afford myself those pleasures when it comes to my skin–not til now. I bought on sale (my favorite buying if I buy at all) and the least I can get away with. What? $26 for a small bottle of moisturizer?! What’s in it, the elixir of youth? I always buy anti-aging formula with retinol, higher priced than soap or cold cream, but none of it has worked, not for years. Yet, I bought it.

And I was happy splashing my face with water or soaps and smearing a dab of my retinol-infused moisturizer before passing out at night or before going out in the morning. I was doing what I thought I could, and old, tired, damaged skin was my lot to bear for living as I did. Grown ups face that sort of thing and make peace with it, right?

So, after using Rodan and Fields skincare–actually taking the time to apply all four steps of a regimen–I overcame a couple misconceptions: that I’m a savvy saver and don’t really care about what I look like. Neither is true.

I was throwing money away using products that didn’t work. I might have been financially smarter to use mere soap and water to achieve the same results. And I do care about having smooth, soft, brighter skin that makes me look more alive. What’s the price on happiness?

I know that price. I’ve spent it on momentary happiness: procrastinating on social media, eating an entire supersized bag of Miss Vicky’s Kettle Cooked Jalapeno Chips and other hedonistic pleasures. What about the long-lasting improvement that leads to a more confident and productive person? Yes, that’s important.

Just Doing It

How many people want to make money doing something they believe in, something that has changed their lives for the better? Lots. I’m one of them.

Simply (NOT!) a matter of getting over fears–of rejection, failing and succeeding. Yep, there’s even a fear of succeeding. Then what? What’s my responsibility when I’ve succeeded? What if it’s not what I wanted? Ugh. Pick a fear, any fear.

Come what may, changes come. Even if my face stays right where it is, for now, I’m happy. There will be other changes–to more than my face–and more after that. Guaranteed.

Week Six:


I predict that I’ll get the exact match up photo by week 8. I’m a slow learner. Any bets?


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