If I Was a Beauty Blogger // Part Two

Ok.

I left a few items off the list in my last post. AND I promised my pal Alicia LaCasse that I’d try her favorite mascara and blog about it. So this obviously calls for round two. Here it is!

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Target Up & Up Skin Cleanser // $6.59

Even though Cetaphil gets dirty looks from the natural beauty crew, I’m sticking by it. It’s the *only* cleanser that keeps my skin clear. I tried to save a few bucks a few months ago and picked up this is knockoff Cetaphil at Target. Well, my face immediately exploded into a cystic acne breakout. Thankfully, I remembered that I’d read in Elle that Cetaphil makes a really great shaving cream. So I popped it in the shower and guess what–it’s the best! It keeps follicles tiny and skin smooth. And at $6.59 it lasts *forever*. If you don’t shave every day…guess what, boys? Most girls don’t shave everyday! #freedom

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Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara // $29

If you’re a relatively frequent Facebook user, chances are high that you know someone selling Younique cosmetics. More specifically, 3D Fiber Lash Mascara. This stuff is everywhere! I was hesitant to try it because I’m an editor/writer/word snob and the company name is an intentionally misspelled play on words. In the same way, I will drive 10 extra miles to the next gas station if yours is called Konvenient Korner. Also, at $29 I felt like the price was a little steep. I’d pay that much or more for some Marc Jacobs or Dior mascara, but to me, Younique is brand new. I wasn’t ready to drop the big bucks. Anyway. I got over myself when my friend Alicia read my last beauty blog and gave me some mascara to test drive! (WHAT A SWEETHEART!) So, I wore it fairly regularly for the past three weeks. Here’s my review: If you like big lashes and/or fake lashes, you’ll LOVE this stuff. Really, only good things can be said. I put on a light Rimmel mascara as a base, then the gel mascara from the kit, then swept the fibers onto the tips of my lashes, then sealed them in with another coat of the gel. My lashes got LONG. But not as long as some others I’ve seen who have tried it and photographed themselves on Facebook. I found that my L’Oreal Voluminous mascara got my lashes equally as long–so it’s probably just *my* lashes that are unable to get as crazy long as other people’s. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to play with makeup, though. It’s certainly worth the cash…and MUCH easier than falsies!

 

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Gucci Guilty To-Go Spray // $29 @ Sephora

When my pal Sarah and I snuck into Macy’s Glamorama afterparty two Summers ago (one of the most fun nights ever, seriously), I was given a small sample of Gucci Guilty in my swag bag. I’ve worn it most days of the week since and have been rationing it carefully. I decided to pick up a to-go size bottle for my bag recently and I’ve LOVED having it with me. It’s a nice boost on a humid day–just a spritz here and there can really be a nice pick-up! My only complaint is that it’s the ONLY to-go perfume at Sephora that isn’t a rollerball. I prefer rollerballs because they’re usually blended with oil which seeps into your skin and sticks around a lot longer than a spritz does. But that’s a minor complaint. I love it! Worth it. Get yourself one.

That’s all for part two. I don’t know if there will be a part three later this year. We’ll have to see what the Fall/Winter fashion and beauty fairies have in store for me. 😉

 

My Bossfriend, Johanna.

Tomorrow marks the end of a bit of an era. It was an era in my life, in the lives of many others, and in the history of Eagle Brook Church.

Tomorrow, my boss is moving from full-time work as the Communications Director at EBC and into the full-time+ job of being a kick-butt stay-at-home-and-party-with-the-kids-and-do-some-freelance-writing mom. I know she’s going to rock that job just like she rocked this one. Because that’s her style.

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My bossfriend Johanna was the person at Eagle Brook who finally decided I was worth taking a chance on. She saw something in me I’d prayed someone would see in me for years. As most people do post-college, I struggled. I had a few great bosses, a few wretched and highly-unqualified ones (I’m not Facebook friends with any of them… :)), and I worked for a few unhealthy organizations. I was let go due to restructuring twice and once for just being “not a good fit.”  I grew defeated, beaten down, minimized, in doubt of my value as a person, and in doubt of my talent as an artist, writer, creative person and strategic thinker.  I remember thinking to myself during my first month of work at Eagle Brook, “Poor Johanna. She doesn’t know she hired the mangey, beat-up, defeated, trembling puppy from the pound.” At every turn, I was sure danger was imminent. That other shoe was hovering over my head, ready to drop, I just knew it. I’m thankfully growing out of that mindset–thanks to time spent under Johanna’s leadership.

Johanna was my guide. She encouraged me to be my real self. She gave me the freedom to be honest. She convinced me that I didn’t have to fear making mistakes. She insisted that I was valued, wanted, appreciated, and heard. When I messed up, she corrected my course without imparting shame. When I succeeded, she never missed an opportunity to point it out. When I was exasperated, she listened. When I was heartbroken or struggling in my personal life, she put her hand on my shoulder when she passed by my desk–knowing I’m not really a physical touch person, but knowing that I really need that sometimes. Because I’m a human person. As much as I try to deny it…

When Christie was sick and approaching her final days in January 2013, Johanna always asked me for updates. And when I had the last-minute chance to drop everything at work and bolt down to Rochester to be with Christie one last time on the afternoon before she passed away, Johanna said, “GO.” I can’t tell you how many previous jobs I’ve had where I would’ve been way too scared to even ask to go. I can’t tell you how many previous jobs I’ve had where that would’ve been completely impossible because the clients would’ve needed me to put on a bright shiny face and the work would’ve been raining down relentless, wiggle-room something of a far-off fantasy. I will never forget the grace and understanding and love I received from Johanna (and let’s be real…ALL of my coworkers) during that time. It’s certainly not lost on me how incredibly God-ordained the timing was for me to be at that desk, in that office, under Johanna’s leadership at that time in my life. After a couple of days away from work to attend Christie’s visitation, funeral and burial, Johanna told me to take as much time as I needed and to not feel like I had to rush right back to work. Well, as previously mentioned, I like to pretend I’m superhuman and void of emotion, so I returned to work the morning after we buried Christie. I started returning emails that very afternoon. When I sat at my desk the next day, nervous about my emotional frailty but ready to be distracted by work, it was Johanna’s knowing hand on my shoulder as she passed by my desk that brought me comfort and communicated grace to me.

A few weeks before Christie passed away, I attended Johanna’s baby shower for Posey. I was so honored to be invited. Even though I was the only non-Mom in the room and I could’ve easily felt miserable and alien, I felt included by this super cool group of Jesus ladies. I’ll always remember gathering to pray for Johanna and Posey at the end of her shower. I don’t have much else to say about that except that it was powerful and emotional and it just meant so much to be included.

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Johanna encouraged me to write, to express myself, and to grow as an editor of other people’s work as well as my own. She entrusted me with responsibilities that gave me opportunities to grow and to learn from her experience. She quietly taught me about choosing my battles at work–knowing when to fight and when to float until it’s my time to chime in. I’ve admired her ability to speak only when necessary and to keep things locked under her hat when they needed to be, no matter how much she probably wanted to spill the beans and process with us as teammates and friends. People–when you’re a communicator, you’re often a verbal processor, and that’s not easy. It’s certainly a learned skill and I’d have to say that Johanna is a master. It’s an area that I’m easily weakened in. I can only hope that some of that skill rubbed off on me!

I’m going to miss a lot of little things about working with Johanna. These are just some:

  • WAY TOO MANY trips to Starbucks. Especially in the winter, when it’s hard to make it through the day without one on the way into work and one to break up the afternoon. Working toward that freebie on the app and swearing to cut back at the same time.
  • Her laugh. It’s high-pitched and sing-songy and our entire team loves it. When she was gone on maternity leave almost two years ago, we talked about it as a team. When she returned, we laughed whenever her contagious hee-hee-hee came trailing out of her office.
  • Having another person in the office who ALWAYS gets my Friends episode references. (And there are many.)

At the 2014 Global Leadership Summit, one of the speakers said that the mark of a great leader, and also the greatest part of leadership, is the desire and ability to pull those great things out of someone else and develop them. I feel so lucky that Johanna plucked this puppy out of the pound and let me learn from her for the past two years.

We’ve been marching through a season at Eagle Brook I’ve dubbed The Change Avalanche, and I see Johanna’s exit as kind of the epilogue. It’s the wrap-up of some hard, driving rain storms. Her wave goodbye feels like a peaceful, quiet sunset after the rain. I’m sad to see the day end, but it’s still beautiful. And it means there’s a tomorrow. And that’s exciting.

I’m going to miss her a lot. And this better not be the end of things, bossfriend. 😉

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The Death of the Seeker.

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I saw this tweet and took a screenshot right away.

A couple of things struck me:

  1. How unnatural and clunky the phrasing is…but that’s the curse of being an editor.
  2. Are people outside of Christianity actually looking in and wondering what it’s all about?

When I first started following Jesus in high school, Christian books taught me that I needed to “be Jesus” to the people around me. They told me that if I reflected Christ well enough, people I interacted with would sense something different about me and wonder what it was–they’d then investigate what that uniqueness was about me and they’d discover Jesus. I do think that can be true…but I’ve learned over the years that human people are really terrible examples of Christ. Even those following Jesus so intently, so closely, can say something hurtful or ignorant and smear the name of Christ in the public eye.

I haven’t personally met anyone who is legitimately seeking Christ or investigating Christianity since I was in college. And I went to a Bible college. So if anyone was looking into Christianity, it was doubting and questioning what they’d always believed to be true, and finding deeper faith through that…or losing faith altogether. I’ve worked with plenty of people who aren’t Christians and none of them were looking for anything within Christianity–they already knew what they’d find there. And when I’ve had conversations with people who have questions about Christianity, it’s rarely about the details of the Resurrection or why Communion is important–it’s about things they’ve seen Christians do and things they’ve heard Christians say. That’s what they want explanations for.

Since I was in college (from 2003-2007), the internet and social media have exploded. Journalism/media report 24-hours-a-day. There’s an incredible amount of language being thrown at people, an incredible amount of information, and in my opinion–less than half of it is entirely correct or true. But most people believe everything they read. And more today than ever before, Christians are written off as ignorant, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-women, anti, anti anti. I believe it’s a widespread understanding that the book on Christians has been written and it has been closed. The bummer is that few people write about the fact that Christians aren’t Christianity. Christ is Christianity. 

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I’m someone who prides themselves on keeping a finger on the pulse of culture and society at all times, someone whose StrengthsFinder strengths are Connectedness, Strategy, Context, Belief, Ideation and Communication (which feels a bit like a curse sometimes, honestly). And what I’m feeling is happening is that people think they know Christianity and have written it off. Very few people are actually looking in. Very few are wondering what it’s all about. Because of the unprecedented amount of information (correct and incorrect) available–people think they already know what it’s all about. Their minds are made up. It’s my opinion that “seeker” is a dead term. Seekers go online, read a a few of the billions of articles available to them, and make up their minds. Seekers don’t have to try churches on to decide how they feel about Christianity. They make their decision behind a computer or TV screen based on what information lands in their laps.

Now, this doesn’t mean people can’t change their minds. Jesus still saves people, he still reaches people, with very little effort from us humans pointing people toward him. We see it all the time at Eagle Brook. This just means that my job, as a communicator at a church, is that much more difficult. We have to think about how to cut through the chatter, how to wake people up to Truth, how to negate the untruths. We have to overthink language and messaging. We have to find creative ways to get people’s attention who probably aren’t looking at Christianity because they’ve made their minds up–but they still need Hope and don’t realize it’s right here.

It’s right here. 

I want to put it on a billboard, stand next to it with a megaphone, and screech it out to the masses. But I won’t. Because we all know how unhelpful that is. 🙂 I’ll keep on keeping on. I’ll pray for the growth of His Kingdom and for Truth to permeate untruths, for Love to overshadow the actions of imperfect people. For the name of Jesus to become famous, not infamous. I believe He will do it and I pray he’ll use me.

Shall I Be Her?

Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?

I’ll never forget this scene from Mad Men. It has stuck with me because it was a perfect use of the art form, bringing empathy and understanding, illuminating a real issue women face. This attempt at navigating between what the world expects of us and what we’re able to present to the world is something that probably started with The Fall and continues today. Peggy can’t measure up. Gertrude Stein? Thanks. And if she can’t measure up…what does that mean for her? Anyone who watches the series knows that Peggy eventually has to change her appearance to begin to make headway in her career. As she’s noticed more, she’s given more opportunities, and as her career evolves, she settles into a style of her own. Neither Jackie nor Marilyn. Peggy. (I love Peggy.) 7fdd4da67a54ff46c5e0535c65c58799 I would argue that not much has changed in modern society. I’ve noticed that when the media defends women against the insane expectations they’ve helped set for centuries, they typically speak to women who have had children. I hear a lot of things like, “I’m proud of my body. It’s done amazing things for me.” “I have no shame in a body that birthed two children and recovered from a c-section.” “My focus is on my family and my career–not on satisfying society’s demands on my body.” I think that’s a fine sentiment. But the chorus of those statements is loud enough that I’ve often thought–What about women who haven’t had children? What about women who’ve had stillbirths and miscarriages and don’t have a physical living child to prove their body endured a pregnancy, even if not through to the end? Are these women held to different standards than the mass majority who’ve had children?

I was recently with a dear friend of mine who has had two children. She made a comment about how her tummy has changed and that her pants don’t fit the way they used to. I laughed and said, “Um, mine too! I’m approaching 30…I hear that happens. At least you have an excuse!” And she said something interesting, “Well, not exactly! It’s not as if I walk around with a sign on my back that tells people I’ve had two children. If my kids aren’t with me, people don’t know.” It’s true. So as I’ve been growing more insecure about my own body while it seemed like society gave birth moms a pass at having a less-than-Hollywood-caliber tummy, I didn’t realize that the pass they’ve been given is a fallacy. Nothing has changed, really. The unattainable expectations still exist. We’re only pretending to have moved beyond them.

Women have jumped through these hoops for centuries. Starved ourselves. Compared ourselves. Worn tiny bikinis because society tells us that’s what’s expected unless you’re 45 or older, all the while feeling insecure and inevitably ashamed of our inability to measure up to how the bikini was intended to be “rocked”.  A few years ago I purchased a retro style black one-piece. Believe it or not, Walmart was the only place I could find one. Thanks to this Q Ideas speech on modesty given by Jessica Rey that went viral last year, retro one-pieces are enjoying a resurrection this year. I made the decision two years ago that I’m no longer going to wear bikinis. Not because I take issue with them, but because not once, not ever have I felt confident in one. In middle school and high school I worried about my bony hips and how I couldn’t fill out the top, in college and beyond I worried about the disappearance of my thigh gap, my milky white legs that won’t tan, and the rolls that appeared on my tummy. It dawned on me that the only reason I had ever worn a bikini was simply because–that’s what other people did. One-pieces weren’t cool. But you know what? At 27 I decided that I didn’t care what was cool. I didn’t care if one-pieces had historically been reserved for old moms. I went for it because that’s what made me comfortable. And I found a way to make it girly and young–something I felt good about wearing in public. And I’m never going back. It was my first battle victory in the war women have fought for centuries–to be who we are physically despite what society expects. Not because we’re giving up, letting it all go, but because we want to feel beautiful for being ourselves. For once I wasn’t trying to be Kate Moss in a bikini. I’m just Andrea. And it’s a relief.

I love the movie, “My Week with Marilyn”. It’s a true story of a young man who had the incredible opportunity to work as a third assistant on Marilyn Monroe’s only film with Laurence Olivier. Marilyn grew to trust him and spent a good deal of time alone with him during filming. One day, Marilyn took him on an adventure. They visited sites around England and while they were touring an old castle, a group of workers at the museum ended up hearing Marilyn was there and congregated at the bottom of a staircase, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Throughout the day, Marilyn’s guard was down. She was like a little girl. Honest almost to a fault. Filterless. Emotionally naked. When she spotted the crowd gathered waiting for her, she whispered, “Shall I be her?” Instantly she turned on her Marilyn and shut off her Norma Jean. I’ve read many books about Marilyn’s life and watched many interviews with her. I’d feel comfortable saying that this relentless and exhausting pursuit of an unattainable perfection is what inevitably took her joy–and probably her life. Watch:

How many of us do this every single day? How many of us turn our true selves off and turn on a more societally congruent version of ourselves? Maybe we don’t do it everyday…but how often do we find ourselves tempted to do just that? If you want my answer–I’d have to say–often. It’s not necessarily about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s not really about contouring like a Kardashian. It’s not about being as thin and beautiful as Kate Middleton or as sweet and girl-next-door as Rachel McAdams. It’s about struggling to accept the fact that not one of us will ever live up to the expectations set for us by the media. Not one. And part of that is believing that while we can’t measure up, we are more beautiful and more perfect than the media could ever hope to set a standard for. It’s the truth.

When I was 14/15, I put on a lot of costumes. I tried to be this goth/skater poser because I’d become SO EXHAUSTED from trying to keep up with the Joneses, to be as trendy and beautiful as the most popular girl in my grade, from crying in humiliation over the fact that I didn’t have the right brand of shoes to wear to school, from realizing every single day, when I walked through the doors of my middle school, that I did. not. measure. up. I knew I couldn’t acquire what was required to be beautiful, popular, and middle-school-societally acceptable. It was impossible. I’d never be HER. So I bucked everything and tried as hard as I could to look like I didn’t care about any of that. I tried to look so opposite of what was expected of beautiful and popular girls so that it would appear that I wasn’t trying at all. But if you read that sentence correctly, you’ve picked up on the fact that I was trying. REALLY trying. Trying to fit in somewhere. And because I wasn’t myself, it only ended in more exhaustion, more self-hatred, more heartache and frustration.

While we grow up and care less and less about adolescent hierarchy, I think most women carry that same desperation with them. That desire to somehow be the most beautiful girl in the room, with the best figure, the best clothes, the best personality–that never goes away. As adults, I think these feelings are far more well-masked than they are as teens. But they’re there. We walk into a room, we gage the crowd, and our hearts whisper, “Shall I be her?”

I’m interested in figuring out how women can stop asking ourselves if we’re more of a Marilyn or a Jackie then trying to fit into the narrow options for existence the media has placed in our laps. I’m interested in figuring out how women can start walking into a room and be confident enough to be fully ourselves, no matter how old our dress is, no matter how unmanicured our nails are, no matter how badly we need our roots done, no matter how tired or lackluster we feel that day. I’m interested in figuring out how women, as a group, can collectively say–the show has gone on for far too long. We’ve come a long way, but it’s curtain call. And that tired, inadequate version of ourselves we parade around for approval? She’s taking a bow. And retiring from acting. For good. How can we get there?