4 Ways I’m Combating “The Middle-Age Spread”

The first time I knew something was up was back in March. I was doing up my favourite red cocktail dress while getting ready for a fundraising event.

Thankfully, it’s a beautiful sheath dress, draped with an overlay, so only I could notice the difference.

Then, 2 weeks ago, while I was planning out which dresses to wear for some upcoming speaking events, it happened again and again. Four times, to be exact.

When my husband came home for lunch, I greeted him with:

“I need to go shopping! None of my dresses fit!!!”

Well, truth be told, yes I can do them up, but it’s not pretty, appropriate, or comfortable. And my audience certainly doesn’t need to see that I have a bellybutton ring poking through my clothes! (Although, I guess that cat is now out of the bag!)

I did not panic. I have not freaked out. Nor have I felt frumpy.

Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified that I might blow out a seam in that gorgeous red dress (it’s my all-time favourite!) whenever I sat down.

But I did not.

(Sidebar: sucking in my gut with all my power didn’t help)

The middle age spread.

It happens. In fact, it seems to have happened to me overnight, despite my activity level and eating habits.

I turn 48 this September and my metabolism is clearly slowing down – not that it was ever fast to begin with! My hormones are shifting and my body is preparing for the next stage in my life.

Yet, every morning when I wake up, I still feel like a young woman inside my heart and my head.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but my years of training and experience in my industry have taught me some ways to tackle it that not all women are aware of.

So what can you do if, like me, the next phase of your life is barreling through the front door instead of knocking politely and patiently waiting until you’re ready for it? Here are 4 things I did (and am still doing!) that you may find helpful:

Step 1: Most important of all, I didn’t have a meltdown. Long gone are the days where I identify the woman I am by my dress size or the number on the scale.

Instead, I listed and gave thanks to my body for all the great things I feel about it, from head to toe. Things like my strong legs and lungs that allow me to cycle all summer long, for example.

Step 2: I did go shopping. I replaced a couple of key dresses that I wear to networking events and speaking engagements. I feel comfortable and confident in my new outfits and I didn’t break the bank, even though I hadn’t budgeted for this dilemma.

Step 3: I reached out to my friend, Heather, a Holistic Nutritionist who also owns the gym where I work out, and asked her to assess my diet in relation to the maturing woman I am today.

I weighed in 5lbs heavier than I was exactly a year ago, which was another 5lbs heaver than the year before. (Note: I don’t actually own a scale. The only reason I know these weights is because this time a year ago, I weighed in for a tug-of-war competition.)

No wonder my clothes “fit” but are super-crazy-uncomfortably tight!!

Ideally, I want to lean out 5-10 lbs so I can fit into the clothing I love, but I am not willing to be drastic. I enjoy my life, entertaining, drinking wine and late night pizza every couple of weeks. I am fit, active, happy and healthy.

After reviewing my food diary and workout plan, Heather and I talked about a few little tweaks in both my eating and workout habits for this stage in my life. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Step 4: Acceptance. It isn’t “do or die” for me to lean out. I love who I am and who I have become. I love my body and I choose to honour it as a sacred temple that enjoys a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or piece of home baked strawberry rhubarb pie on occasion. Life is too short not to!

Do you have questions about navigating this new stage in your life? I’d love to talk to you about it and perhaps give you some suggestions. Just click here to book a complimentary Style Success Session with me.


3 Tips for Exploring Your Mid-Life Awakening

I often say that when women reach their 40s, they don’t have a mid-life crisis; they have an awakening.

Or, at least, that’s what happened to me!

I was having way too much fun celebrating my fortieth year to stop and listen to the stirrings of my awakening but, by the time I reached age 42, there was no denying them any longer.

I had a good life, a happy marriage, a great business and social life, and yet I kept feeling the pull of the word MORE. I need to be MORE, do MORE, create MORE.

I ignored it for a while. “Don’t be greedy. Be content with where you’re at!” I would tell myself over and over again. I mean, who was I to think I could possibly have MORE?

But MORE took over. My curiosity and creative nature led me to do some soul-searching. I began to question my purpose and to realize which activities fulfilled me and which drained me. Ultimately, it led me to transitioning my career in the beauty industry as a master hairstylist and salon owner to an image coach and consultant – a move which has continued to allow me and my business to expand, blossom and grow. MORE!!

Have you felt the stirring?

Maybe the kids are off to college and you find yourself cooking the ‘usual’ Tuesday supper and thinking, I don’t even like tacos.

What do I want? What do like? Who am I now at this stage in my life? These are some of the many questions I pondered when I embraced my awakening, and you may be asking similar ones yourself. Here are 3 of the things I did to help find the answers:

1. Get off the hamster wheel.

And I don’t mean hop off for a quick 10-minute meditation and expect all the answers to your questions.

Stop, unplug, and listen.

Getting away from your usual surroundings works best. At the very least, take an afternoon off and go to a park or a secluded area on the beach, sit under a tree and just BE. No phone, no books, no magazine – nothing that will stimulate the mind. Just sit there or lie there, and breathe.

(That sounds glorious and scary, doesn’t it?!)

The brightest clarity and greatest ideas and ‘Ah-ha!’ moments have come to me when I’m not ‘thinking.’ Do bring a notebook and pen with you, and when your own thoughts, inspirations or ‘Ah-ha!’s surface, jot them down.

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2. Press play, record and erase.

Start to track how you feel in social groups, activity or club settings, and with people you are surrounding yourself with. Are you feeling stimulated, or drained?

Often, we just keep doing the same things we’ve always done because, well, that’s what we’ve always done!

If you find yourself bored or craving a different scene, that is totally OK. Having new experiences and meeting new people is exciting. Begin to explore by joining something new or reaching out to someone you’ve wanted to get to know better but is outside of your ‘regular circle.’

3. Find your inner child.

The popularity of adult colouring books is proof we’re craving simple ways to be creative again, like when we were kids!

Think back to the things you loved to do as a kid. How can you bring that into your life now?

When I explored this, 3 activities surfaced for me:

  1. Baking with my grandma: I’m still an avid baker!
  2. Playing “store”: Well, I’m an entrepreneur and I owned a spa.
  3. Entertaining/performing: BINGO! As a kid, I loved putting together dance or gymnastic routines with my friends for our parents, or singing in the school choir.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most graceful or musically talented, but it brings me JOY! So, when I got asked to join the community theatre, I said yes!

Now, I know that thinking about doing even one of these 3 suggestions can feel overwhelming. So many thoughts, fears, and reasons to not do anything can start bubbling up to the surface faster than we realizing what’s going on!

  • I have all this laundry to fold
  • Where am I going to find the time to do any of that? I already have way too much on my plate.
  • What if I find the answers I’m looking for, but my husband/parents/friends won’t support me?

Sound familiar?

This is why I’m hosting the Me, Myself & I Retreat on November 10 & 11, 2017, at the beautiful Hessenland Country Inn near Bayfield, Ontario.

To get more details about the retreat as they become available, enter your name and email below to be added to the Wait List!


Does Your Image on the Screen Represent Your Image Behind the Screen?

by Emily Crookston

 

I finally made it to the salon this week to get a cut and color. This is kind of big deal because I rescheduled the appointment 3 times (#freelancerlife). It’s also a big deal because I’m trying a new stylist and salon after a somewhat disastrous experience at a different salon back in December.

 

My new stylist absolutely blew me away! She talked with me for 15 minutes before she even moved me to her chair and she took the time to explain everything she wanted to do with my hair. As a result, I have a cut and color that I love for the first time in years. What an amazing first impression!

 

After my experience, I realized something: What I project in my virtual image is directly connected to how I present myself in my daily life.

 

I had been putting off finding a new salon because, as a freelance content writer, I don’t often have face-to-face meetings with clients. So, it’s not a high priority for me to look my absolute best all the time. However, looking and, more importantly, feeling confident definitely helps me do my best work, even when my work goes on behind a computer screen.

 

First impressions are gold in business.

 

We all know someone who owns whatever room she walks into. These people always land the best jobs and find the right dates. Far from being born lucky, these successful types have figured out the right formula for making an amazing first impression. The good news is that anyone can learn these psychologically tested and proven skills.

 

Victoria rightly points out that it only takes 7 seconds for people to make a judgment based on a first impression. But in the digital age, first impressions mean something different from what they once meant. Depending on your industry, you are more likely to make that first impression virtually than in person.

 

This is certainly true of my work; most of the time I must rely on my virtual image to get my message out and build credibility. The problem is that I sometimes rely too much on my virtual image.

 

I love the flexibility and independence of being a freelancer. But too often that flexibility and independence manifests itself in wearing yoga pants, not wearing makeup, and throwing my wet hair up into a scrunchy (okay, I haven’t worn a scrunchy since the 90s, but you get the idea) as I run out the door to work in the coffee shop.

 

My experience feeling more confident after finding a great stylist made me stop to reflect on few points that might help you too:

 

  1. Consider all aspects of your brand.

 

Does your online image reflect who you are in the real world? Some days, I allow myself to wear what’s comfortable and that’s perfectly okay. I mark off content days in my calendar and spend these days hiding out in the coffee shop or co-working space just cranking out content. On these days I know I won’t be meeting with clients and my appearance won’t reflect back on my brand.

 

Other days, however, I will be networking and representing my business. During these times, I know that the people I meet will be considering not only my look, but also how I speak and what I say as they ask themselves whether they want to do business with me or refer me to others.

 

It’s always important, though, to make sure all aspects of your brand from the images on your website, to your business cards, to your 30-second spiel align with your brand and present you in the way you want to be perceived.

 

Quick take-away: You can’t afford to hide behind a vague description of your work or project a lack of confidence in any aspect of your brand whether in virtual or meat space.

 

  1. Your next client could be at the grocery store with you.

 

Does your line of work require that you project a certain type of personal image? Like it or not, image is highly subjective. This means that your industry, your position, your gender, even your personality and attitude can affect how others perceive you.

 

Stereotypes and assumptions abound. Whereas it may be fine for me to bump into a potential client at the grocery store or coffee shop sweaty after my hot yoga class, my realtor friend may lose a sale because she popped into the pharmacy after taking a run in the middle of the afternoon.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world, we would all be able to drop clients who have unreasonable expectations and who would judge us for getting away from our desks during the weekday. But in the real world where we all want to succeed, we need to be at least a little mindful of others’ expectations.

 

Quick take-away: Your next client could be right in front of you and you are making an impression without even knowing it.

 

  1. Be ready for anything.

 

Even freelancers work for others and can find themselves at the whim of other people’s schedules. Plans change. You could be called into a last-minute meeting. I once had a client call me out of the blue, months after our initial meeting and ask me to meet with her in her office in 30 minutes.

 

Sure, I could have bought myself some extra time to run home and change; however, being able to run over to meet her when she wanted me to definitely scored me some brownie points.

 

With video conferencing being so important to doing business today, the last-minute video meeting is another possibility. It helps if you already have on a decent shirt and your hair hasn’t been tossed up in a sassy bun. Plan your morning to put your best business face forward, you’ll more prepared to tackle the day.  

 

Quick take-away: Plan your outfits for the next day each evening and toss your favorite make-up essentials in a bag that you keep with you all the time, so that you never miss an opportunity to put forward your best self.

 

Above all: Treat yourself like a professional.

 

Treating myself like a professional this week made me realize how much my outer appearance affects how I feel on the inside and how much how I feel on the inside affects the quality of my work. As often as I preach to my own clients about how their marketing content affects their image, I finally connected the dots for myself.

 

Going forward, I will definitely be paying more attention to my professional image both on the screen and behind the screen. Does your online image need a boost? Contact me and let’s chat about your content marketing needs.

 

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Emily Crookston is the owner of the Pocket PhD (thepocketphd.com). She is a copywriter, former professor, and pocket resource for your business. Emily specializes in creating captivating content that converts, influences, and sounds like YOU on your best day. When she’s not writing intensely, she’s most likely practicing yoga intensely.


Intuitive Eating – The Key to Never Dieting Again!

by Eleni Kapetanios

You’ve probably been on tons of diets before. Most women have. You followed a plan, were really good at first, then an event or a dinner out happened, and you cheated on your diet, fell off the wagon, and quit. Or you were successful at your diet, lost weight, then gained it back. Or you feel like you have to constantly diet and deny yourself the foods you love to stay at your desired weight. When you think about it, these are diets made up by someone who doesn’t know you or your body and has no idea how you respond to foods. Crazy, right?

But what if you never had to diet again? What if you could completely trust that your unconscious mind knew what you needed to eat, how much and when? What if you never had to worry about dieting again? With Intuitive Eating, you won’t have to.

Intuitive eating helps you to create a healthy relationship with food, and it is exactly what it sounds like: using your intuition and unconscious mind to know what your body needs. Your unconscious mind’s job is to preserve your body, and to make your body as healthy as possible. Sometimes, things like your conscious mind and limiting beliefs about food and other emotional baggage get in the way. When you eat intuitively, you are able to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, make peace with food, and get the joy and nutrition that your body craves. How can we do this?

  1. Reject the diet mentality. Stop reading about the latest diet craze, thinking “oh – THIS will be the one that works”, and setting yourself up for failure. When you are eating intuitively, you absolutely cannot fail.
  2. Honour your body’s cues. Eat slowly and realize when you are full. Stop eating then. Eat when you feel hungry and at no other time.
  3. Realize that food is just food. You are not “bad” because you ate pizza, nor are you “good” because you just ate lettuce all day. Take away its power. If you choose to eat a treat, enjoy it and move on. Give yourself permission to have treats occasionally.
  4. You are in control. Learn to control your emotional state. You decide what to eat, when and how much. Think before you eat.
  5. Eat often. If you eat every few hours, you will never feel starving and start shoving food in your mouth. Keep your blood sugar level and you will feel more in control.
  6. Find pleasure in healthy eating. Your body craves healthy food – lots of variety, greens, protein, fruit and fats. Healthy food can be delicious. Experiment with recipes. Every time you give your body healthy fuel, it makes it happy. Notice how good and energetic you feel when you eat well. Eating good food is showing your body the upmost respect.
  7. Exercise. Move your body and notice how different you feel. You want to fuel your body with healthy, life-affirming foods when you exercise.
  8. Honour your feelings without food. It’s ok to feel sad, lonely or angry. Find what works for you to help you handle these emotions without turning to food. Feel the emotion. You don’t need to numb them. Feel the emotion, know it will pass, and move on.

It is so empowering to realize that YOU are in control of your body – not some dude who wrote a crazy diet plan – and know exactly what it needs to maintain its desired state. Eat slowly, love food, nourish yourself. Ask your unconscious mind what it needs to be satisfied. Breathe. And most of all, forgive yourself. It’s just food, after all.

 

caa0dbf6-8fa2-46c4-bc0e-3d7ff602b602Eleni Kapetanios has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years. She approaches fitness holistically, knowing that mind and body are fully connected and, once you change your mindset, weight loss can be easy and effortless.
Eleni specializes in working with women with body image issues, chronic or yo-yo dieting, eating disorders, inability to lose weight, slow metabolism issues and women who want to lose weight or get healthy but don’t know where to start.
She uses a combination of exercise, Intuitive Eating, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy to help women manage their weight, feel beautiful and realize they can accomplish anything.


3 Secrets Women Can Use to Boost Their Self-Confidence

When I entered the women’s locker room after finishing my workout at the gym, I heard a conversation between two women who have been regulars since January; it’s now Feb 24th. The one woman was just furious and frustrated at her lack of weight loss, and her friend was making suggestions.

Try weighing yourself first thing in the morning. “I do.”

Are you on your period? “No!”

Then the woman stormed out. My heart broke for her. I’ve been there.

In fact, I bet most women reading this article have had a similar experience. Statistics vary, but one thing is certain: women, regardless of shape, size or age, have negative thoughts about themselves daily.

It might surprise you to know that learning to love myself, (ALL OF ME) has been a life long journey. I may give the appearance of ‘having it all together’ but I haven’t always felt it inside.

The road to self confidence has not been smooth.

As a young girl, I always felt I was a bit different. I had a knack of seeing and doing things differently than my peers; I danced to the beat of my own drum, so to speak. While friends played soccer, I was a baton-twirling majorette; while they played baseball, I performed dance and gymnastics routines – with neither grace nor training – for my parents on our front lawn, with the endgame of appearing on the Tiny Talent Time TV show.

Gosh, I laugh thinking back at how dreadful it must have been for them to endure. I’m sure they were grateful for a rye and coke and no, I never made it on the show. 🙁

Physically, I was the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed person in my family and my build was more ‘solid’ than my lean, thin parents and brother, and especially compared to the popular girls! I seriously was the oddball at school. I had a round booty before it was cool, thick thighs, small breasts, and gained 10 lbs within a month of going on birth control. (Oh, lucky me! I got to feel chubbier while exploring sex!)

Privately, I struggled with body image issues while simultaneously pushing the limits of what was the “norm” for fashion and hair trends in my small town. I am nothing if not a complex woman – LOL!

I was a yo-yo dieter for much of my teens and twenties. I deprived myself of much-needed calories while testing the latest fad diets, and I began drinking diet pop as soon as Diet Coke was an option. (And I still do – no lectures please!!! Yes, I know aspartame is bad for me.)

It wasn’t until my thirties that I really began to focus on eating to fuel my body and exercising as a means to a healthier, stronger body, mind and spirit, instead of a punishment for a binge meal or indulgent weekend.

Finally, I found a balance; I made peace with myself and my body.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to my parents for allowing me to own my quirks as a young girl, teaching me to stand my ground and accept who I am. Instead of coddling, I would be challenged to rise and show my strength, resiliency and individuality.

Personally, and in my work, unless YOU feel confident, beautiful, smart or whatever inside your own being, no one else can convince you otherwise. It’s an inside job, and for some it happens early on while for others it takes years to realize your greatness. And sometimes it gets lost in our journey after a tragic event or transition.

Here’s what I know for sure, women feel great about themselves when:

1. They are supported by a great group of friends.

I have said it before and I will say it again: my friends rock!

I am blessed to have friends who are supportive, fun-loving and non-judgmental. There is such diversity in my friendships and I love them all to pieces.

I once had a friend I actually dreaded spending time with. I remember saying things like “designers shouldn’t make white pants or bikinis for sizes larger than a 10!” I allowed her judgmental tendencies to influence my own self-image – and not in a positive way – so needless to say, I was happy when a move distanced us.

“If you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.” – Jim Rohn

2. They exercise and eat well.

I am 47 and my body is maturing.

“Maturing” is a nice way of saying my waist is thickening, I’ve got back fat in places I never knew were possible, and my ass is no longer a full, round booty – despite the hundreds of squats I subject myself to!

Seriously though, exercising keeps me feeling happy, strong and sexy.

3. They are playing.

I’m often enrolling into programs and signing up for new adventures where I may or may not know anyone else!

But it’s often at these places where I form strong bonds with like-minded people who understand my desire for trying something new. The challenge of learning anything new totally creates more confidence and expands our sense of what’s possible!


6 Ways to Beat the Mid-Winter Blahs That Don’t Require a Tropical Vacation

The weather outside is still frightful!

Going from bitter cold and snow storms, to rain with dampness that chills us to our bones – and it’s the middle of February! Sunshine has not been our friend this winter; usually I prefer the cold days with snow, as long as the sun is shining. Just the other day we had gorgeous, sunny weather and I could feel everyone’s energy lifting and becoming happier.

According to the groundhog, we still have 6 weeks left of winter! So, if you aren’t hitting Caribbean beaches this year for that extra boost of warmth and sun, here are some of my favourite, sure-fire ways to take those mid-winter blahs and kick them to the curb:

1. Add a pop of colour!

Our eyes (and spirits) have already seen enough black, grey, brown, maroon and navy this year. We are craving COLOUR in our lives.

Shake it up by adding colour in your ensemble. I have broken all the rules and pulled out my summer turquoise purse. As I frequently wear black, this works as a statement piece and I get a ton of compliments.

P.S. My toenails are a hot pink (just for me)!

2. Freshen up your ‘do.’

This is the time of year when I get the most requests from clients for “something different.”

The power of a fresh new cut, colour, or a few hilites, is often all you need to feel perky and put that extra bounce in your step.

Swapping out lipsticks from the rich darks or neutral tones to brighter shades will both enhance your new do and add that pop of colour you’re craving.

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3. Buy yourself fresh flowers.

Adding a spring bouquet or even a single daisy to your desk, work area, or bedside table will bring a smile to your face whenever you look at it.

4. Bring your sexy back!

That frumpy feeling from being bundled up in several layers of winter clothing needs to go!

Embracing your feminine, sexy side is fun and builds confidence. Try wearing a lacy bra and panties, just for you. Join a pole dancing class; it’s a great way to get in touch with yourself, plus you get an incredible workout.

Or oil up your partner and take turns massaging each other. This is the month of love, after all! #loveyourself

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5. Get outdoors.

Don’t roll your eyes at this one – I know you dread the thought of doing anything more than getting into and out of your car in weather like this! 😉

Trust me, spending time properly dressed for the elements and getting some fresh air will do wonders. A 15-minute walk or shovelling your driveway will increase your energy and improve your attitude.

6. Be sun-kissed without the sun.

Grab a self-tanner, bronzer, or an illuminating cream, spray or foam, and give your skin that golden glow without exposing yourself to harmful rays.

Read the directions to be sure to get the right shade and to avoid streaking.

Do you have any other tricks for beating the mid-winter blahs? Tell me in the comments!


Fashion: It’s not only about the clothes!

By Kay Habib

Do you see your personal style reflected in your home?

If so, you are not the only one! It’s quite natural, as fashion and interior design go hand in hand.

Fashion is not only about clothes and shoes anymore: fashion is a form of self-expression. What we wear says a lot about who we are, but it doesn’t just stop at our wardrobes. Trends in fashion are constantly impacting the interior design world.

Homeowners and designers are taking more risks to create the interiors that truly show their personal style. A huge contributing factor to this is the ever-growing influence of social media. As soon as Fashion Week ends, the latest trends are all over the internet and our inboxes.

Of course, some trends are accepted more than others. The ones that have a captivating story behind them tend to have the most impact, as it relates to our personal story and style driving an emotional response. Every fashion or celebrity event evokes a discussion in the media (and in our homes) about the guest lounges, the after-party décor and the outfits.

These discussions hold such influence that it takes only days for the same to show up in the retail stores. As a result of this, attitudes about interior design are changing, and interiors are becoming a place where we embrace rapid change and feel excited to openly express ourselves!

Open any home style books for 2016 or 2017, and you’ll see styles reflecting what is predominant in the fashion world:

  • Jewel tones with greys and blacks.
  • Chevron and geometrical patterns placed with beautiful florals.
  • Patterns and fabrics typically used for dresses and gowns being used for decorative pillows, drapes, and wallpaper. (This reminds me of 18th century fashion and interior design, although not as intricate or heavy!)

It’s safe to say it’s time to stop looking at the worlds of fashion and décor as two separate entities. If you’re a fashion diva, there’s no doubt your personal style is reflected in your home décor!

Subtle Ways to Reflect Your Personal Style in Your Home Décor

On a daily basis, I witness my clients becoming more and more interested in staying on-trend and making sure their living spaces are as current as their wardrobes. Here are some ways you can do the same:

  • Use a luscious velvet for throw pillows or drapes in homage to a luxurious evening gown
  • Pair rich colours like purple or emerald green with greys and gold tones

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No More Beige!

No more sticking with white or beige walls with mellow drapes! It’s time to stop avoiding bold colors or patterns in your upholstery. Now, if you like black and white stripes, you can happily wear it as a skirt, top or a dress, or have a gorgeous rug or accent chair in the same pattern, and still pull it off!

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Kay Habib is an Interior Decorator and Certified Home Stager, and owner of SkillDecor. She is passionate about helping her client create beautiful spaces keeping in mind the purpose behind it, such as selling a home or customized interior decorating. Kay also has a line of custom decorative pillows that are produced in London, ON. To learn more about Kay and her services, you can find her online at www.skilldecor.com.

 


Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways: Why I Decided to Return to Hairstyling

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. Not because I am middle aged woman suffering insomnia or night sweats. Not from drinking caffeine past 5 pm. Nor was my mind racing due to stress.

Instead, I was anxious and excited to pick up my scissors today at the salon and work my magic with clients – for the first time in over a year.

How is it possible that at 47 years old I still get excited like a kid in a candy store about a job I have had for almost 30 years?

Just 17 months after selling my spa and launching my new business, Beautiful You by Victoria, I announced my return (on a limited, part-time basis) to hairstyling. I suspect there are many people thinking, “Why did she leave only to return? Why wouldn’t she have built the new business while winding down her old one?”

Believe me, even I have spent time questioning my rationale behind my decisions!

Did I turn 360 degrees? No.

Rotating 360 degrees, or going “full circle,” suggests a person ended up where they began. I did not.

2016 sent me on a journey that was crucial for my personal growth and development, as a woman and entrepreneur. My guess is that if I hadn’t left the comfort in the salon, I would have given up on my new dreams!

I was excited about the new venture, yet fearful of the unknown. Not only was I about to change careers but I also moved to a new town. I experienced panic attacks (new to me), crying fits, many highs and lows… was it hormones or stress?

One thing that kept me going was this quote from Seth Godin: “If it scares you a little it might be a good thing to try.”

My mission (purpose) is helping women build confidence, discover their beauty inside-out, reach their true potential and live an authentic life. So, I jumped in with two feet and with these two thoughts: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Feel the fear and do it anyways!

I am nothing if not consistent, persistent and intentional!

This is what 2016 taught me, all of which were outside of my comfort zone:

1. Why networking is important.

I had to get outta the house!

Having a great website, social media presence and blog is great, but without getting out and meeting new people (networking) my vision for my image consulting business would have phased out before it even began.

I had only ever been to a couple networking events in my past and they made me so nervous. Even as an extrovert, I became anxious. The term “networking” was where I got caught up… but lo and behold I now LOVE networking events. I feel (mostly) at ease and it has been pivotal in building my clientele and building new relationships both professionally and personally.

2. The value of saying YES.

Saying yes to what excited me even if I didn’t feel ready or have any clue how to get started opened me up to a whole new world of experiences.

I wrote about this more in-depth last summer, and it continued to be true for the rest of the year.

3. Speaking gigs rock!

momondaykwSpeaking professionally had been a dream of mine for years, but I had no clue what I would speak about what or even how to get started.

With some coaching, I learned the anatomy of creating a talk, presentation or speaking gig. Next, I said yes (see above), over and over again, to different types of speaking opportunities (big, small, virtual and podcasts – 16 engagements in total!!!!). With my stomach in knots, hands shaking and heart pounding, I took to the stage! Now granted there wasn’t always a stage, but still the nerves were there.

Speaking has been the #1 key thing in building my business, by sharing a piece of me and my story.

4. Align myself with strong, powerful, likeminded women.

mastermindgroupI have a wonderful diverse group of friends who are positive, inspiring and caring! I was fortunate to align myself with a group of very strong business women in a coaching and mastermind program. I am not gonna lie…. a couple of them scared the crap outta me and I was intimidated initially thinking I was out of my league in the group! But as Brené Brown says, “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

These gals are in the arena, taking risks, pushing their limits and sometimes getting an ass kicking. The movers, the shakers and the actions takers get things done! We had each other’s backs, and continue to do so. They challenge and support me.

After all the excitement and growth I experienced throughout the past year, I still felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing: the salon atmosphere, the day-to-day hustle, and working with clients longer term. I thrive on that stimulation, plus the requests for hair services were plenty!

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Steve Jobs

Did I fail? No.

Did I give up? No.

Did I learn? Absolutely!

So yes, I am behind the chair again; this time as a new and improved version of myself! I’m loving the ability to combine these services with my image consulting, and my life experiences will enhance the quality of service I am able to be to others.

Mission possible.

 

 


How to Create a Beautiful Holiday Tablescape with Items You Already Have!

By MaryAnn Skaro

tablescape1One of my favourite ways to decorate a table is by using things I find around my house.  For a last-minute holiday look, I went into my recycling bin to see what I could find.  I picked up a few empty beer bottles, one empty wine bottle, and a string of white lights I found in our garage.  I was going to let these few items guide my inspiration.  Of course, I had my doubts, but I didn’t let that stand in my way of creating something my family was going to love.

Using these and other items I already had in my home, here’s how I created this festive tablescape:

I already had a red and green festive tablecloth that was going to serve as a backdrop to my creative scape.  On my way into the kitchen, I noticed martini glasses that I knew would somehow add to the ambiance of my table.  

Next, I soaked the beer bottles and peeled off the labels. I had a feeling they were going to act as a vessel for my lighting.  I knew I wanted greenery, so I cut off a few fresh branches from our Christmas tree, and grabbed some pine cones I had lying around in a decorative bowl on my coffee table.  I had left over gold and silver ribbon that I was going to use, as well.

I placed all these items on the table and, before long, a rustic theme emerged!  

tablescape2I filled the beer bottles with the white lights, and filled the martini glasses with the evergreen cuttings and pine combs.  I used the leftover ribbon to wrap the wine bottle, which became my candle holder.   I also decided to mix and match the placemats, so I ended up using festive green and red napkins. (By the way, my kids ended up loving these placemats the best.)

To be completely honest, I surprised myself with the quality and the aesthetics of our holiday table!  I turned on the lights, and the subtle yellow glow from the beer bottles transformed our dining experience.  It was a fun table, a great conversation piece, and, best of all it was easy, effortless, and inexpensive.

About MaryAnn Skaro:

 

maryannskaro-headshotAs a joy coach, I’m here to inspire you through great food, delicious conversation and elegant ambience.

I host healthy, beautifully crafted luncheons for busy Moms who are ready to pause, find their joy and reconnect to the things that matter most. As a busy Mom myself, I know the importance of recharging my body, mind, and soul.

As your hostess, I am ready to feed and serve you, so that you leave my table feeling inspired and filled with a sense of purpose to fuel the success of your business. You can find me online at www.maryannskaro.com.