I’ve had the most formidable (as the French say), chill summer. We hosted many special and dear friends and family that we ended up staying in Paris all summer. I started a new venture called Mon Ami Paree walking tours and this weekend we are hopping on a train for our 17th wedding anniversary. It’s completely bananas to me that I have done anything for as long as seventeen years but I’ve been with lovely Antz for half of my life so I consider myself lucky. I’ve been thinking about how I am getting closer to the midpoint of my life (fifty is creeping on me) and all the things I’ve learned, failed and grown from. Here’s my list of real talk life advice that have shaped me thus far.
Don’t pick at your face. I am so old school in my skin regime that I still use toothpaste on my pimples and I never touch my face. Now that I live in a city without a car, I feel the dirt and sun more than ever. So, everyday I wash my face with Bliss fab foaming 2-in-1 cleanser & exfoliator with bamboo buffers (I bought a huge bottle before we left LA) and moisturize with my Holy Grail Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizing Lotion. That’s it! I try my best not to frown but I am embracing my laugh-line wrinkles. Remember a pimple is temporary but a scar can be permanent.
Manners first in everyday situations. When I was 11, I spent a summer in the exciting state of Oklahoma with my Grandmother’s sister. My Great-Aunt was super traditionally strict and she basically put me in charm school boot camp that summer. No elbows on the table, ask to be excused from the table and always say Good morning when you greet someone. These are no-brainer rules for Liv, lucky me I rarely have to remind her but it’s such a dying part of our society. Bring a gift the first time you visit someone’s house, hold the door for people struggling, make eye contact when you speak to someone. So many people have a hard time learning names but I always say the person’s name when we meet to remember it. I also write myself notes to remind myself (cute family we met at the park with two kids and live in the 2eme). Please learn a strong handshake. When I meet someone with a weak handshake I want to head bump them so hard. How far will you get in life with that weak grip? I don’t trust weak hand shakers. I often have to catch myself from saying “Bless you” out loud when someone sneezes on the bus because I get such strange looks (I forget, no one speaks English). One of the most charming things I appreciate here in Paris is you must always speak to a shopkeeper or bus driver when you enter. I also love how people offer their seats to elderly or pregnant women without a thought. From my observations, pregnant ladies get treated like princesses here. Remember, politeness goes a long way and shows integrity.
Also, create your signature pose. I started looking up to the left when I noticed it makes my eyes look wider and brighter, it has become my default pose!
Always bring a umbrella! I have learned the hard way so many times since I moved to this land of unpredictable rain. I have gotten caught in rain and hailstorm without even a jacket. I am so LA that I forget to wear a jacket when I leave the house and the sun is shining bright. Little did I know it can take less than an hour for the weather to take a major turn. We have acquired so many cheap umbrellas because we get caught in the rain. Now I carry a bag every time we go out with two small umbrellas, my wireless headphones, a pack of wet wipes, portable phone charger and cords, hand sanitizer, our table tennis rackets (almost every park has a table) and a water bottle. These things used to live in the trunk of my car but now I have to schlep everything myself.
Invest in quality lip balm. I used to throw Vaseline on my lips if they were chapped for years in my twenties. Then I got an Anthropologie gift card for my birthday so I bought some fancy Smith Rosebud Salve. I loved the smell of the balm but the container would get bent in my bag and it was too cumbersome and messy to open. So when I found EOS in sweet mint at Target, I was addicted. I literally brought 20 of them to Paris with me because I fear running out. My Mom even sends me more in my care packages because she knows I am obsessed. Find a quality lip balm and never leave home without it in your purse. Trust me, I had to stop at a 24 hour grocery store to buy some lip balm while I was on my way to the hospital when I was in labor with Liv.
My Mommy keeps me stocked with necessities from LA. Still can’t ship In & Out burgers.
Don’t buy something with the hope of losing weight to wear it later. I bought a cute baby doll dress from Target thinking, it’s so cute and not expensive, I’ll lose some weight in my arms and be able to wear it in a few months. That dumb dress sat in my closet for five years. Why mentally psyche yourself up for something you can’t enjoy now? I no longer starve myself, or beat myself up about my weight. I am healthy and loved. I walk more now than I ever did and I feel great in my clothes. The apparel industry has come around to accepting that all women aren’t size six, so I feel great about being able to buy clothes that don’t look matronly or feel left out of what the cool girls are wearing. I was even asked to try-on clothes for two brands I adore (my darlings at Ace & Jig and Ban.do) This 42 year old lady is still as rad as I was at 22!
Never not wearing my favorite Ace & Jig dress
Embrace your quirky self! I used to have an unhealthy relationship with my hair. I have bleached it to death, chemically straightened it for years and mistreated it out of sheer laziness. The straw that broke my hair unhappiness was in January 2017. I was putting a chemical straightener on my hair when I had to take off my Olivia pendant necklace (the chemicals would ruin it) I somehow lost my necklace that day so I vowed to never use that stupid (and damaging) stuff again. I haven’t put any chemicals or color on my hair since then. I replaced my necklace too. When I want to change my look, I get colorful braids. Now that I live in a more humid climate (my hair literally turns into a mushroom the second I go outside)
I’ve learned to embrace my natural curls. I have an established hair routine that I do once in a while because I’m still lazy but the less I mess with my hair the stronger and healthier it’s been. I invested in products I know keep my dry, damaged hair moisturized and leave it alone. I broke my expensive flat iron when I first moved her because of the dumb voltage. I bought a new Euro flat iron but it doesn’t work as well as my old one so I decided, why go through the time and energy trying to make my naturally curly hair straight? Now I throw tons of leave-in conditioner and twist my hair, or sometimes I wear flexi rods overnight and poof! I’m little orphan Lizzie.
Young Lizzie (with long locks like Olivia’s) and Lizzie in her 20s (with ridiculous hair extensions)
I’ve retired my signature braids for the summer to give my hair a rest and let it breathe. Braids are a protective hairstyle in the Black hair community but they can also cause breakage if you use the wrong type of hair or have them braided too tight. Plus they are annoyingly hot. I’m embracing my afro!
Please for the love of God know the difference between homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled and mean different things!) I am in a Facebook travel group and when I see adult people typing “I waisted a ticket because the whether was bad,” I have a brain meltdown. Listen, I am no grammar snob, I am completely aware my spelling is atrocious (thanks autocorrect for fixing that for me) and I am a serial run-on-sentence writer, but if you aren’t sure (not SHORE) which word to use, take a second and Google it. It took me years to grasp the difference between stationary and stationery. I subscribe to Word Genius which emails me a new word a day. I really wish I had a reason to use the word hornswoggle on my blog. Learn new things all the time. It’s cute to be smart.
Master your penmanship. I may sound so old-fashioned and prissy in my unsolicited advice here but have you ever tried to read a doctor’s prescription? I now live in a country where they write in lovely italic cursive however, I can’t tell an S from an R. Liv has beautiful penmanship, I have always instilled taking pride in your handwriting in her from an early age yet the French education system has taken over and she writes so teeny tiny, I can’t figure it out. I bought her a calligraphy set and she loves to practice writing fancy. Practice makes perfect and being able to write in legible handwriting is important even in today’s digital age.
Not everyone is going to like you. Believe it or not, this can be hard for extroverts like myself to accept. I can be hypersensitive and believe it or not I get anxiety around new people. I am an only child so my friendships are everything to me. I have been told that I am a people person but I really have a small inner circle of only about five or six people who really know the real uncensored me. I’ve had to deal with people flaking on me, people mischaracterizing me and many people underestimating me for years. My confidence comes from learning self-trust. I am okay being the loud girl who listens to weird music or dresses like a toddler obsessed with rainbows, that is who I am, not sorry about it. I can’t help but be selfish about my happiness. I try my best to set an example for my (sometimes shy and quiet) daughter because growing up is hard and things like bullying, eating disorders and now the fake Instagram perfection standard makes it even harder. I never had a sibling to give me advice or tell me I look crazy so I’ve made great friends and spent time listening and learning. I now have many sisters (by marriage and my bff) but I wish I knew at 13 that just because someone didn’t like me meant something was wrong with me. Your people will get you. As you get older, you stop caring what other people think.
What strangers think doesn’t matter and are inconsequential to your success!
Proud Pokemon Go nerd Mom. If you play too, let me know so we can be friends!
Fail, ugly cry and then try that shit again until you finally succeed! OMG, this was a hard lesson for me to learn y’all. I am notoriously impatient and when I don’t immediately get my way, I turn into the biggest brat ever. I have gone through every type of disappointment, felt like life was over for me and through all the drama and heartache, always came through better than I started. It’s weird when you are going through something serious, it feels like being stuck in quicksand. I now know that the harder something is for me to achieve, the more it’s worth it. I also know that anything worth doing requires sacrifice and commitment. You may sacrifice sleep, spending money, eating desserts but will it be worth the sacrifice in the end? Ask yourself this when going into a new venture. I have learned in the past twenty two years that my internal stress and anxiety is a complete overreaction. I know deep down things will work out because it always seems impossible until it’s done. The word is literally I’M POSSIBLE!!
Bonus Advice: Fresh flowers makes everything better!
Any life advice that you learned from past mistakes you want to share? Comment below.
Have a lovely rest of the summer. I am still working on last summer’s travel posts, it’s taking forever because my laptop memory is full so for every photo I upload I have to throw away three. It’s moving slow but it’s possible.
2 thoughts on “My mid-life check in”
That was wonderful. Learning to love who you are can be so difficult in this modern landscape and particularly when we all have had different family and life experiences. We learn to create our outer reflections through what we internalize from our experiences. But as time goes along we get who we get and love who we are.
I am so happy to pass this down to Liv who loves herself unconditionally!