Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye Uncle Stanley

I haven't written a blog in awhile. I haven't been feeling very Sugary or Swanky. My uncle was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer in early July and the family has devoted the past two months to his comfort and care. Sadly, he lost the fight on August 21st. I'm not quite back to myself yet, but I will be soon. Thanks to everyone for their love and support.

Dear Anne

Today as my son and I drove down Bellevue way in my well-marked Sugar & Swank Mobile we watched a car abruptly change lanes and cut off another driver, almost causing an accident. Moments later the same car suddenly slowed to well below the speed limit. The driver behind (the same driver who was cut off just moments before) had to think quickly so as not to rear end Nutty Driver. Unfortunately, his best choice was to veer into my lane, almost running into me. I honked once at Nutty Driver. Then, as she (at this point I saw Nutty Driver was female) pulled into the Bellevue Park & Ride, I honked again. I was scared, shaken and shocked at her neglectful driving behavior. She almost caused three major accidents within seconds.

Then I got this e-mail:

Comments: If you hope to promote your business in a positive way, perhaps you should use better judgement whilst driving around in your logoed van. Honking your horn once to show annoyance is a gracious plenty! You scared me by laying on the horn to a driver, then you did it again as you passed the car. I was in the middle of changing lanes and felt like blaring my horn at you! You write in your blog about how you so selflessly go to hospitals for others' cancer treatments. I was headed in for mine and already stressed enough. Please be a sugar and show a little restraint in the future.

The essential message in this email is honest and makes sense. In honking at someone who was frightening me I in turn frightened someone else. But the writer suffocated this important lesson under oozing, toxic, judgmental, mean-spirited sarcasm, causing me to focus less on her message and more on how unkind she is.

Too bad she didn't have all the facts. Too bad, as well, she didn't provide an email address so that I could apologize and explain. If she reads my blog again maybe she'll see this and know that, even though it was buried under hate, I did get her message. Of course, she twisted me going to visit friends and family at the hospital into something bad (That part just makes me want to cry - especially since we laid my uncle to rest exactly one week ago today.) so she's likely to misinterpret me again.

In any case, next time she's upset with someone I would suggest skipping the hurtful words and just saying, clearly, what she means. It is a lot more effective.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Sugar & Swank History Lesson

While married I was happily able to live my dream of being a stay-at-home mom. But once I got divorced in 2001, staying home with my son was no longer possible. Out into the workforce I went, leaving my sweet baby boy in the care of others. I actually didn't mind working - I enjoyed using my brain. But I absolutely hated the fact that my son and I had gone from spending all day together to being apart for the majority of it.

For several years there was no way around it - I had to work and that meant working for others. I always felt I did neither my professional job nor my mommy job well enough because I could never give either 100%. My boss would say, "I need you here right at 8 am. I consider 8:05 late." Or, "Isn't there someone else who can stay home with your son when he's sick?" And my favorite: "Jennifer, you're not detail oriented."

I wanted to say, "I leave my sleeping son with a nanny at 7:15 am, before he's even awake, and fight horrible traffic to get here by 8. So it might be 8:05. Nope, there's no one else he can stay with when he's sick. And you would literally topple over if you had to balance the details I successfully manage on a regular basis. I'm just much better at managing said details when they benefit me rather than you." But I didn't fight back until 2006.

That's when I had enough and decided it was time to work for myself. My biggest goal in doing so was to have the ability to drive my son to and from school on my own. And I'm happy to say that by creating Sugar & Swank Skincare I consistently meet this goal. Even more, I also get to volunteer in my son's classroom, help out in the school's office, go on field trips and drive the carpool.

So what else do I strive for with regards to my career? In addition to offering the most effective treatments possible, Sugar & Swank strives to be a place where women can take a break for a moment and have their chance to be nurtured.

But after being a single mom for such a long time I know firsthand how hard it is to get to the spa. So if your son is in the hospital with cancer and you want a brow wax I'll bring the wax to you. If you can't drive due to a fall I'll come over to custom blend make-up right in your kitchen. I've done facials on women while they've breastfed and have fed and rocked babies while massaging their mom's shoulders. Today while I gave his mom a bikini wax a four-year-old watched Spongebob on my I-Pod and played with the toys I stash under my spa bed. It was the only "me time" she was going to get, so we made it work!

I always admire those who perservere in times of difficulty. I always wonder how I'd handle those times, and in writing this blog I see that I was actually faced with such challenges and pushed through until I created a new and better situation. Not just a situation, but a lifestyle. I am not just being. I am being Sugar & Swank.

You can do it too. Go after your dreams, my friends. Make it happen. I know you can.

And in the meantime, take care . . . of yourself.

Sunscreen Extreme

The two pictures above speak louder than any words I could ever write. Maybe, just maybe, I used to like laying out in the sun a little bit too much. I was never the girl slathering on baby oil while lying atop a reflective beach blanket. Nope, no Crisco and foil for me. I thought I was much smarter to catch the sun's love while floating in the ocean (um, also reflective) from a comfy raft while wearing absolutely no sunscreen at all. Oh, and then maintaining my natural tan with daily fake-n-bake visits to the tanning salon.

If going to skin care school and learning about the damage the sun can cause the skin didn't cure me of my sun-tanning addiction I'd say getting diagnosed with pre-melanoma on my left shin - two different times - nipped any residual desire in the bud. Yeah, you can look at that picture too. What a pretty shin I have now.

These days you won't find me in the sun at all. In fact, now you'll find me in a pleasant spot in the shade, lathered in sunscreen, wearing a light sweater and a floppy hat.

The recent warm weather in Seattle plus a recent trip to Hawaii has made me even more of a sunscreen expert. So in addition to staying well-shaded and covered up, let me share a couple personally tested tips.

Sunless Spray Tanning - Get the suntanned look without the sun. Wendy Smith of Divine Tan comes right to your home to spray you with the most natural, even, odor-free, sunless spray tan imaginable. Plus she's a freak about chemicals so she uses the most organic products she can find.

Super Duper Sunscreen - I use Dermaware's Screenplay on a daily basis. It is an SPF 30, contains zinc and titanium dioxide which absorb the sun's rays and reflect them like a mirror, and lasts all day!

Custom Blended Mineral Make-Up - Sugar & Swank's custom blended mineral make-up has a natural SPF 26 and literally reflects the sun away from the skin like a mirror. Not only does it last all day, but it gets more and more creamy and dewy the longer you wear it. It isn't 100% waterproof, but it lasts well in the water as long as you don't directly rub it off with your hands or a towel.

Before 10 and After 4
Let's face it, staying entirely outside of the sun isn't much fun. Experts say that before 10 am and after 4 pm are the safest hours to be outside, so simply try get things done in the early morning or late afternoon. Even more important, skip noontime outdoor activities that put you directly in the sun.

Post-Sun Peel Party - Don't worry if you got too much sun. Just come into Sugar & Swank for a peel at the end of summer to help eliminate the damage. Look at the difference in my skin after I started peeling regularly. (Plus an "after" picture of me which shows what a difference the custom blended minerals make.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Follow Up to Lifestyle Managment Lesson 1

Just a little follow-up to my previous blog:

There will be no snuggling with my son while watching movies. He came home tired, just had a mini-fit and was sent to his room. But part of being Sugar & Swank is being OK with drawing lines with our kids. Be firm and strong! Positive Discipline will make them into better adults.

Have a good evening!

Lifestyle Management Lesson 1

OK. So in my blog below I mention wanting to help people who are so spread thin from giving to others they have no time for themselves. One of the first things I'd recommend to them is actually carving out and scheduling downtime. No excuses. For some this might be harder than for others, but even if you can only sneak in five minutes once a day you gotta do it. Sometimes guilt might stop you, as though time away will make you a bad parent, spouse, friend, family member or employee. But the truth is, time off will make you better at any role you take on.

As Sugar & Swank's representative I need to model the same, right? What kind of hypocrite would I be if I went around caring continually for others with no time for myself? Plus, if I don't get a break I get really crabby. And no surprise, I'm way more present and agreeable upon my return.

I don't have a problem taking time for myself. My problem is that I tend to take it about three minutes and twenty seconds after blowing a gasket. So I've been working on taking it earlier rather than "Oops. Too late!"

This new approach to preserving my mental sanity has been really importantl as of late because I have some very sick relatives I'm trying to care for while still being a good wife, mom and business owner. So today, instead of using my free time to visit Grandma at her nursing home I took care of immediate responsibilities (making breakfast for my dog and son, feeding and showering myself, getting my son to camp)and then got back in bed to watch TV.

To me, a day in bed catching up on Tivo is a total luxury. And I knew I needed it when the thought of seeing a Chick Flick or getting a spa treatment for myself seemed like too much.

Camp's almost over now, which means my day in bed is almost over too. Who knows, I might be able to extend my lazy day by talking my son into cuddling up to watch a movie for a bit once he's home.

Either way, I won't just be. I'll be Sugar & Swank.

Back to the Not-So-Basics

Back in October, 2006, when I launched my business I decided to call it Sugar & Swank Lifestyle Management. I felt I could offer my clients more than just help with their skin and wanted to teach them how to live a Sugar & Swank lifestyle. My tagline was, "Don't Just Be. Be Sugar & Swank." (That's how my website became, not just Basically this meant teaching my clients ways to love, respect and care for themselves better.

Sugar & Swank's philosophy has never changed. But as Sugar & Swank's evolved over the years I've come to market "lifestyle management" less and skincare more:

Custom Blended Make-Up
Body Scrubs
Ear Piercing

And oh how I love these aspects of my Sugar & Swank. I mean it! I get to care for others while listening to soothing music in a cozy, yummy smelling room filled with my favorite decor.

But it is time to go back to the basics. Well, the no-so-basic-basics. I'm tired of people believing they are not good enough. I'm tired of people believing they are somehow failing someone or something in their lives. I'm tired of people believing they aren't worthy of love or respect. I want to care for people who are so spread thin giving to others they can't find a moment for themselves. I want to tell people to stop hating how they look. I want to tell people to stop hating their bodies - how can you hate your body when your heart pumps and your lungs expand and contract? And getting old is beautiful! Embrace it! In fact, embrace whatever it is that your hung-up on!

But I know it isn't so easy. And I hope I can help with the process by offering bits of advice and from spilling the beans on my own struggles.

From here on out you will notice my blogs once again reflecting the Sugar & Swank lifestyle.

In the meantime, take care . . . of yourself. And Don't Just Be. Be Sugar & Swank.