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.

So?

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.

So?

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.

Humans

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.”

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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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Mangled Angles

Not the proof I was looking for, but I have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that I’m not winning awards for my photography. This most difficult part of this excursion into skincare transformation is taking before and after pictures.

 

 

 

Jordyn’s acne scars are fading, though you can’t tell by my May 29 and June 25 comparison shots. The lighting and angles don’t tell the real life story. I see the drastic changes. So does she.

 

 

But I can tell you how you can tell. All photos on the left side were taken by me on May 29th. Just look in her eyes how thrilled (NOT!) she is for me to be taking these shots. Let’s just say she’s about 100 steps below enthusiastic.

 

But the photos on the right are Jordyn’s. She took them unsolicited by me. Her skin is clear and bright. She’s happy with the improvements. She tells me so almost daily. In fact, it’s a toss up these days as to whose face has changed the most.

Who cares? It’s all wonderful!

Happy Sunday! Though my stomach says “NO!!” to whatever I ate yesterday (bleh!), I’m happy with this beauty’s face first thing in the morning.

 

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5 weeks

When Worlds Collide

Worlds collide, unimagined life pieces fit together, and the puzzle starts to look like the picture on the box. Now, I’m not a subscriber to everything happens for a reason, but I’m comfortable with neither absolute certainty nor complete possibility. Some would say that qualifies me as a wishy-washy relativist.  Maybe. Label me if you must.

Who would have thought I’d love skincare products and big (for me) parties? But I do.  The only reason that’s surprising is I’ve labeled myself as an introvert writer typecast.  Indeed, I’ve spent a long time performing that persona.

Big Parties

So big parties, which I measure as more than four people without dinner and wine as a pretext for being there, test me. I’m talking about socializing, talking to people randomly. Yes, I can do that, have many times, but it never fails that I’ll find myself several times during the event

  1. not knowing where to stand
  2. not knowing what to say
  3. feeling overwhelmed
  4. wanting to find the quiet place

But I enjoyed the big business launch at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. I finally got to meet people I’ve only known on Facebook or gatherings where music precluded conversation.

I also got to learn more about the products and how to educate others about them from my incredible team leader, Lisa. She amazes and amuses me–boundless energy, drive, and creativity.  The edge of admiration and envy teeters.

I get why she’s always pumped about this biz. The quick promotion this generous company allows fuels the fire in me to expand, to build a thriving business. I’ve caught the entrepreneurial spirit. I’m all grown up now.

Go Team! The Team is Me, and You and Me Make Three.

Ordinarily, I don’t like surprises. It’s a control thing. But I like that little bubble that pops at the surface of consciousness occasionally that says, “Hey, look at you having fun breaking out of your self-made chains!”

So hell yeah, I like when someone tells me my face looks great. I like when people love their own changing faces with lotions and potions I’ve shared. I like learning, team-building, overcoming fear, reaching, learning, teaching, and creating.

I especially treasure the opportunity to practice patience, open-heartedness, detachment (in a healthy way), and synthesizing all of what fulfills me, like writing and speaking about health, diet, exercise, technology, and beauty in all its incarnations. And all of this in one place, one occupation–for the first time.

Integrating all the pieces of the puzzle that are my life heals the splinters. How long can you live splintered with what you crave here, you love there, you need there, and you avoid somewhere else? We all crave the union and unity (Isn’t that why we still marry despite the seeming impossibility of that institution?).

Documenting the changes in my face concretizes the seismic internal shift emerging–slowly, immensely.  It helps me stop and take stock, like, “Hey, my face is here 5 weeks into this. What does everything else look like at 5 weeks?”

It’s a great doubling exercise–journaling the outside and inside to audit the match-up. So, without further ado, heeeeeeere’s my face after 5 weeks! Brought to you by the good doctors at Rodan and Fields.

 

Okay, so the face close-ups are not quite at the zen detached, non-judgmental stage yet. Getting closer, though. Better anyhow. The cringe is less visible, let’s just say. But that’s the price to pay for watching the transformation.

Come on now. Who wants to have this much fun watching their metamorphosis? I’ve bribed my family with product to take the plunge and be my living proof. Hit me up in the comments if you want to participate in “the experiment.”

You don’t have to do it here in public, so long as you send me your before and afters as you go.

Peace,

Pam

 

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I’m In

 

Today marks a day over four weeks since I’ve been using the Rodan and Fields Reverse skincare regimen and about two weeks since I added the Redefine regimen at night. So, I do Reverse in the morning and Redefine at night.

I also use the Enhancement products like the Active Hydration serum, the lip serum, Lash Boost, and the eye cream. Though I drank one glass of wine too many the night before this picture on the right and the bags under my eyes prove it, but my skin is so much better!

 

 

There’s more to go on the skincare front, but at least now I don’t cringe when I see a photo of me. I remember how it was a couple of years ago when I had to find an updated profile picture for my professional writing site. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My face looked so time-ravaged. That’s when I fully became aware of how awful my facial skin looked and made me feel.

I lost confidence. I’ve holed up for the last three years, not necessarily for my bad skin, but that didn’t help either. Now that I’ve forced myself (with the help of my business partner) to take care of myself, I’ve naturally evolved the urge to get out and talk to people, spread the good word, and share my story.

That’s not easy for someone who’s equally introvert and extrovert. The introvert gets overwhelmed while the extrovert keeps jabbering on. I mostly tell the story of and in my skin.

My face, like everyone’s, tells a story of where I’ve been. I’ve held my wrinkles out as the map of life on the soccer field or training circuit for running races.  The deep, pitted divots and creases signal painful anguish over the safety and successes of my children, the loss of my loved ones, and the possibility of failing people who entrusted their lives to me. But some of those deep ravines express loads of laughter and hard-earned wisdom.

Those disappearing lifelines strewn across a face once freckled and plump may not be legible to most people I meet–not even to those I know well.  Who really pays that close attention to my face, right?

I do.

We’re mostly invisible to others because we’re trapped inside minds and bodies that allow us to see only what our minds allow us. Mostly we see and hear our inner world, blind to much that surrounds us (or maybe that’s just me). Science tells us we don’t see reality as it truly exists (how can we know that if we don’t see reality as it exists?). I now see a face in the mirror that pleases me so much more, real or imagined. And that perception, that reaction of pleasure, has opened up possibilities.

We get opportunities, and we lose them.  The object is to grow the opportunities we dig up and those that get dropped in our laps more than we lose them. I’m not taking this progress of good skin, business opportunity, and expanded social networks for granted.

I’m all in.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and husband. Love is not a big enough word.

 

 

I’m Hooked

So this happened today…

I’m way too excited to be part of the Rodan and Fields company! I appreciate all the support from my friends, family, and mentor/team leader.  I’m so fortunate.

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Cheers!

Pascal

This is Pascal, the other half of my marital entity. He’s a good sport and a great friend. We’ve been married for 37 years, just about grown up together, so we naturally support each other’s endeavors as much as we’re critical of one another. But, he’s a hell of a lot better at withholding judgment about my new adventures than I am about his.

We complement each other that way. When he’s adventurous but unrealistic, I jump to the cautious curb and question his ideas until I’ve parsed everything that could possibly go wrong. When I’m not pursuing my dreams hard enough or not dreaming enough–period, he pushes me to let go, have faith.

But I’ve also been his voice of reason and cheerleader as he has been mine. We’re as different and separate and independent as two roommates paying the rent, sometimes, and life-long friends when we’re sitting down to dinner with a bottle of wine–and share that identical glint in our eyes and slight nod of the head after the first sip that we mutually silently agree, “uh huh, yep, she’s good.”

We share so many of the same tastes and values even as he appears to be from Venus and I from Earth. I know everything and nothing about him. I wonder if he’d say the same.

Yes, he’s a good guy. He agreed to be my guinea pig too.

He likes the skincare products I’ve asked him to diligently apply day and night. He uses the Rodan and Fields Soothe regimen for sensitive skin and psoriasis he’s battled since I’ve known him.

Judging from this two week before and after shot, it seems to be working.

 

You can see the flakiness between his eyebrows from psoriasis in the first photo. His forehead is dry and rough. But after two weeks, the flakes are gone and his forehead is smooth. Even the laugh lines around his eyes are not as deep. His skin is brighter too.

I’d say Rodan and Fields has been good to him. His skin, which is always dry, is sucking up the hydrating goodness. Although, he says it’s harder for him to see the changes since he sees his face every day. I think he’ll be pleased when he sees these two photos.

Can you see the difference?

Two-week Trudy

Trudy started the Reverse Lightening regimen two weeks ago and already her skin looks brighter and smoother. In fact, all four of us (my husband, daughter, Trudy, and I) glow. It seems the earliest results of this skin care line is brightening and smoothing. Fine with me.

 

In only two weeks, her skin is less bumpy and less dry. Compare the forehead, cheek, and eye edges to see the emerging effects. I know she’s happy with results so far.

After taking her picture last night, I showed her the amp roller, which I use to till my skin before bathing my skin in the liquid gold, Active hydration serum. It’s a funny sort of toy-looking object with its own little case that I still can’t quite figure out.

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Yeah, that guy. Except I use the Active hydration serum after rolling instead of the Redefine Night Renewing Serum. This week, anyhow. I have to admit that I’ve been having fun just trying everything to see how it all works and feels.

Trudy likes the both products–roller and serum–and wasn’t deterred by the whole Medieval torture-like poking holes in her skin. The tiny pricklings have grown on me. The price, however, was a little startling

I have to admit I didn’t know how much the thing cost and would not have guessed it cost over a hundred bucks. I guess that’s because it’s not perishable but a staple (hopefully for a lifetime to get the most bang for your buck).

Then again, given that women spend 2.9 billion a year on anti-aging skincare products a year, maybe that shouldn’t surprise me. 

What absolutely stunned me was the cost of laser surgery. While I waited for my daughter to get her Rejuvederm several months ago, the esthetician visited me and my wrinkly-ass face to recommend a “procedure.” The awful one would confine me to solitary for something like five days, and the other one was not as life-altering but also not as deeply curative.

It costs anywhere from 2 to 8k to get face laser surgery.  A chemical peel costs about a grand to 3 grand. It all depends on your location and doctor.  Ouch, ouch, and ouch.  It’s not even so much the cost as the pain and pulverizing of a laser. I only endure pain when absolutely necessary (dentistry and childbirth). But that’s me.

As for my sister and me, we’ve got time to peel away the years sunken into our cheeks and jowls. Although, she’s got far less to repair than I do. She’s nearly four years older than I, and people have always asked if I was the older one, even when we were teenagers. She inherited the good skin and the good hair.

I’m grateful for my sister, not only for being my guinea pig, supporting me in this new endeavor, and knowing every lyric to every Beatle song ever written but for telling me the truth.  My skin has changed dramatically. Pictures don’t tell the true story. She showed me the real state of my skin before embarking on this journey.

The true picture: my skin is badly damaged. I always knew it. But hearing it from someone I trust looking from the outside, I was both confirmed and astonished.  You know how you’re sometimes shocked by a truth you’ve  always already known? I thought because it was my eyes surveying the damage on my face, my opinion was untrustworthy. But I was right. It was as bad as I thought.

Yes, I’m pleased to be on the road to repairing my skin so that I don’t look 15 years older than I am.  More than that, the pleasure of seeing and feeling silkier, brighter, and well-hydrated skin on and around me grows daily.

I can’t wait for next week’s check-in. Hopefully, with a new business partner too!

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